Sergeant Myers in Court Monday 3pm for Taser Torture

Sergeant Myers, accused of tasing inmates in the Champaign County jail is in court Monday, November 20 at 3pm in Courtroom A. We will be a demonstration at 2pm outside the court house. This story is particularly relevant given the recent footage of 23 year old Iranian-American student Mostafa Tabatabainejad being tased 5 times by UCLA campus police in the library. For more information read below or see my article in the public i. Tasers are torture! BD Torture Exposed In The Champaign County Jail By Brian Dolinar Many are now familiar with the infamous story of Sergeant Jon Burge in Chicago. In 2002, it was found that Sgt. Burge and his underlings had tortured over 150 Black men in Chicago jails. Burge had used a hand-cranked army field phone to deliver electric shocks to criminal suspects. We often assume that these incidents of police brutality only occur in big cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Yet the discovery of these abuses in Champaign-Urbana, a sleepy Midwestern college town in downstate Illinois, is a sign that they are going on all over the country. As violence escalates overseas, with the United States tightening its imperial grip in the Middle East, we see a corresponding rise in violence at home. Like Sgt. Burge who learned his torture techniques in Vietnam, the use of hoods to torture individuals was discovered in Champaign County jails not long after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in the media. In November 2005, Sergeant William Alan Myers, a 14 year veteran of the Sheriff’s office, was turned in by fellow officers for illegally using a Taser on an inmate in the Champaign County jail. The story also involved placing hoods over inmates. An investigation was conducted by the Sheriff’s office and its report is where much of the following information was gained. In the investigation, it was also found that 21 year old Michael Rich was hooded and tased a year earlier in November 2004. These revelations are a textbook example of police corruption and what it takes for cops to cross the “blue line” of silence. Sheriff Dan Walsh praised the “professionalism and integrity” of the correctional officers who turned Myers in. Yet the same officers who ratted on Myers had been involved in previous beatings of Michael Rich and willingly falsified police reports about the incident. Additionally, Sheriff Dan Walsh had already been notified about his rogue correctional officer. He Looked Like A Taliban Prisoner Sgt. Myers is currently being prosecuted by State’s Attorney Julia Rietz on charges of aggravated battery, obstruction of justice, and disorderly conduct (Case no. 05CF2105). The incident involved inmate Ray Hsieh, a 31 year-old Chinese man who was in jail for stealing a car. To stop an argument between Hsieh and another inmate, correctional officers sprayed a heavy cloud of pepper spray. Hsieh was cleaned up in a cell shower and placed in a restraint chair. Due to the amount of pepper spray he had inhaled, Hsieh could not stop spitting and officers had placed a “spit hood” on him for their protection. According to correctional officers Jeremy Heath and Joshua Jones, who eventually turned Myers in, Hsieh was always in handcuffs and was not trying to spit on them. Myers would later try to convince his fellow officers to say Hsieh was not restrained, was spitting on officers, and resisting their demands, hence his need to use a Taser to subdue him. After hearing about an altercation between two inmates, Myers arrived at the downtown jail at approximately 8:00 pm on November 14, 2005. He had called Sgt. Mennenga from the satellite jail and requested the use of a Taser. When others saw Myers enter the shower room where Hsieh was being held, they say he had a look of determination on his face and was holding a Taser. Breaking police procedure requiring that other assisting officers always be present when handling an inmate, Myers sent officers Heath and Jones, as well as correctional officers Arnold Matthews and Craig Wakefield, out of the room. Sgt. Myers was their superior and they obeyed his orders. But they stood at the door and watched as Myers, by himself, tortured the fully restrained Hsieh. When interviewed by investigators, Ray Hsieh recalls he had a “mask on” while he was attacked. An inmate who witnessed the incident told an investigator that Hsieh “looked like a Taliban prisoner” with the hood on. Hsieh was tased four times at 50,000 volts, with several minutes between each shot. He was later found to be mentally ill and probably needed medication for his behavior in the jail. But before he could be treated by a nurse, he was treated with the brutal shock therapy of Sgt. Myers. One inmate told an investigator that the officers “were just kind of laughing it off and stuff.” Another inmate who was interviewed said that officer Matthews joked, “He’s going to have a bad headache.” Afterwards, Myers told Heath, “This is going to take some creative report writing.” Myers typed up a falsified police report and emailed it to Heath, telling him “Make your report look like mine.” Myers’ report read: “Hsieh stood up and spit on my shirt and I fired the Taser again. I had to fire the Taser one more time until Officers Mathews and Heath were able to handcuff Hsieh behind his back. We placed Hsieh in the restraint chair. The entire time we were doing this, Hsieh was spitting so I ordered a spit hood placed over Hsieh’s head to prevent him spitting on us anymore.” When officer Heath saw the report, he was offended that Myers had included his name. “He says that I was there,” Heath told an investigator. “The main thing that really bothers me is that he said I was there while he was being tased.” Of course, Heath was not bothered by the torture of an inmate, but that he was implicated in the incident. Officer Heath left the jail that night without finishing his report. His defiance angered Myers, who told officer Jones to relay a message to Heath: “You tell him his ass is mine tomorrow.” This tale of police corruption reveals the power that superiors hold over their subordinates, as well as the routine practice of falsifying police reports. That night the officers involved – Heath, Jones, Matthews, and Wakefield – met at Todd and John’s bar for beers and discussed what they should do. Officer Wakefield told an investigator about their decision to turn Myers in, “we knew what we needed to do from the beginning. It was more a matter of, I don’t even know what it was a matter of, but we knew what we had to do from the beginning. It was just a matter of doing it, I guess.” Officer Mathews was also named in the report. When he read it he responded, “the report kinda like made, I felt, kinda like made me look like a jack ass.” Matthews also was not concerned for the health of Hsieh, but for the future of his job. He told an investigator, “I got a house and kids, I can’t lie.” It was primarily Jones and Heath who decided to go to the police union representative, who notified Captain James Young that night. Sgt. Myers was arrested on November 16 and taken to the Piatt County Jail in Monticello for his own safety. An internal investigation was conducted that involved interviewing several witnesses, whose testimony is included in Myers’ criminal case file and is the basis of this account. When investigators finally cornered Myers about his lying, they lectured to him, “when someone does that, then they question the integrity of us all.” Myers claimed he panicked and said he didn’t realize he had committed a crime, “I didn’t think about it till now.” Ray Hsieh was one of two inmates Myers had tortured that very same week. According to Sgt. Mennenga, Myers later joked about torturing inmates, “I have had to Taser somebody twice within the past week, they might start thinking I am getting trigger happy.” Myers had also used a Taser on inmate Michael Alexander that same week. He even bragged to Mennenga, “it seems like I am the only one with enough balls to use the Taser.” On September 19, 2005, Sgt. Myers also used a Taser on Trina Fairley, a Black woman who was one month pregnant. But Myers’ use of Tasers and torture goes back even further, to an incident with Michael Rich a year before the Sergeant was turned in. This Is The Way We Do Things Down Here On November 6, 2004, just days after George W. Bush was reelected, Michael Rich was picked up by Urbana police at the Canopy Club. This was Rich’s first visit to Urbana-Champaign. He had come down from Chicago to go to a show with some friends. Staff at the Canopy Club called the police on Rich, claiming he was drunk and had failed to pay admission. Rich admits he had a few drinks that night but says he sobered up quickly after the police arrived. In the report, Urbana police officer Daniel Bailey writes that the staff member at the Canopy Club, “said Rich was just verbally abusive and not physically” (Case no. UU0407560). Rich told me he was still reeling from Bush’s reelection when he had his encounter with Myers. A 21 year-old, long-haired college student from Northern Illinois University, Rich was rebellious but not ignorant of his rights. Rich says when he entered the jail he still had not been read his Miranda rights. When he asked what his charges were, the response was “shut the fuck up.” He called Myers a “fascist,” and Myers proved Rich’s observation to be true. Sgt. Myers grabbed Rich by his hair and slammed his head repeatedly into a wall. He told Rich, “This is the way we do things down here.” Already in handcuffs, Rich was placed in a restraint chair, what the police call being “hog-tied.” A hood was placed over his head while Sgt. Myers and another correctional officer who Rich could not identify took turns hitting him in the back of the head with an open hand. As they were beating him, Rich asked how they were going to explain his bloody condition. The unidentified officer said, “You came in here like that.” In the supplemental report authored by Sgt. Myers it states, “Mr. Rich was bleeding from his mouth area from the altercation he had prior to coming to the jail” (Case no. S-2004-5123). Ironically, also present were Jeremy Heath and Joshua Jones, the same two officers who turned in Myers a year later. This time Heath went along with Myers, even helping to cover up his torture and abuse. Heath wrote in his report on Rich, “his lip was bleeding a little when UPD brought him in.” After leaving Rich tied up for some time, Sgt. Myers returned to take him out of the restraint chair and uncuffed his hands. Rich immediately grabbed the hood, which was soaked in blood. Myers screamed at him to let it go, but Rich refused, believing the bloody hood was evidence of the beating. Myers drew his Taser gun and fired it at Rich, who fell to the ground. Myers, who is six feet, three inches tall and nearly 300 pounds, climbed on top of Rich. According to a complaint filed by Rich: “Sgt. Myers then tasered me in the upper left side of my back and I fell to the ground. He then dropped to the ground and began tasering me in my chest and arms and I gave up and turned over onto my stomach so he could cuff me. He then tried to push the taser in the crack of my butt and I rolled back onto my side and pushed Sgt. Myers off me.” This account is included in a formal complaint Rich filed with Sheriff Dan Walsh’s office, which I acquired from Rich himself. The complaint was filed in May 2005. Captain James Young wrote a letter to Rich dated August 3, 2005 in which he replied, “I have determined that the force used in controlling you while in the booking area was justified.” Nevertheless, Rich met personally with Dan Walsh in late August and the Sheriff told him he would investigate the case. Walsh apparently did nothing. Rich wishes to see Myers fully prosecuted and is willing to testify in the case against Myers. Still, Rich wonders why he was not asked to identify the second officer who participated in his beating. He was later contacted by Civil Division Assistant States Attorney Susan McGraff who offered him a cash settlement contingent upon his not pressing charges against Myers. Just recently, in July 2005, Rich had all the charges against him dropped. Not only did Sgt. Myers physically abuse Rich, put him in a hood, but he tried to sodomize him with a Taser. This kind of sadistic behavior, the practice of hooding prisoners, has been banned by an Army Field Manual recently released by the Pentagon and is officially prohibited in the now notorious prisons of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Are we going to let this be tolerated in our local jails? Rich was just one semester from finishing his B.A. at Northern Illinois University, but after the November incident, subsequent court dates, and personal trauma, Rich was expelled from school. His life was literally ruined by Sgt. Myers. Will State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, who often speaks on conservative talk radio about her concern for victim’s rights, ensure that Michael Rich sees justice? I have personally brought these documents to the attention of Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Ziegler, who is handling the Myers case. We will see if Rietz’s office fully prosecutes Sgt. Myers or if he receives a plea bargain with no time served. Rietz herself is married to an Urbana police officer, an obvious conflict of interest in prosecuting cases. If the treatment of Urbana officer Kurt Hjort, who escaped prosecution for his alleged rape of a 25 year-old woman, is an indication of the special favors accorded to law enforcement officers in this community, we can expect no real punishment for Sgt. Myers. What if Sgt. Myers had tortured a U of I student? What if Officer Hjort would have raped a 25 year-old woman attending the U of I and not a gas station attendant? What will it take before we as a community are disturbed enough to take action? Often, we refuse to believe that the those who are hired to “serve and protect” could beat citizens and falsify police reports to justify their abuses. The Myers story shows that this occurs regularly and is covered up by fellow officers. To avoid a civil law suit, Ray Hsieh was paid an undisclosed amount of up to $10,000 and his charges were dropped. We cannot let them buy us all off. We can no longer be silent. With over 2.3 million people in our jails and prisons, with massive overcrowding, abuse is predictable. Both at home and overseas, the United States is creating a culture of imprisonment that betrays the intentions of the founding fathers who wished to create a democracy where “cruel and unusual punishment” is a thing of the past. This story is largely based on public court documents. For more information search the Circuit Clerk website at https://secure.jtsmith.com/clerk/clerk.asp.

Plea bargain for Myers

Myers was offered a plea bargain. He would plead guilty to disorderly conduct for lying about Ray Hsieh spitting on cops Matthews and Heath. NO PUNISHMENT FOR ILLEGALLY USING A TASER!!! Punishment would be 2 years conditional discharge. No probation, no jail time. If he commits no crimes in 2 years, he's off scott free. Shame, shame, shame. Justice is a game. Another man in court just before Myers got 4 years for 15 rocks - a non-violent crime. Myers tased 4 individuals, 2 of them repeatedly. Michael Rich was beaten, his head bashed against a wall. BUT - there was a last minute problem and the St. Atty. asst. asked for a continuance. Perhaps the presence of Court Watchers made them think twice. Just before Myers' deal, Julia Rietz came into the court room. Rietz whispered to Mary Shenk, News Gazette reporter, then whispered to Tony Novak, Myers' lawyer. Then Rietz left and the asst. St. Atty. asked for a continuance. Myers will be in court to seal the deal on December 1 at 2pm, Courtroom A. If the deal goes through, this will be the 3rd cop Julia Rietz has let off. Shame. BD

Rietz's Clear Bias

Once again, with the Hjort Case, The Griffet Case, and now the Myers Case, State's Attorney Julia Rietz shows her true colors once more. Whatever the cops want, Julia will do their bidding. Whether it's to build a new jail, help the county avoid civil lawsuits, or just plain look good in the press, Julia will do whatever Sugar Daddy Difanis wants. There never was going to be a trial nor guilty plea regarding Sgt. Myers use of the taser. Like in the Michael Rich torture, Julia was part of the cover-up, using Susan McGrath to do her dirty work with hush money. Ray Hsieh, the victim in the Sgt. Myers case was paid off by Julia Rietz to not sue the county. If Julia goes for a conviction over William Alan Myers' use of the taser, that opens the county to civil lawsuits for victims Michael Alexander, Trina Fairley, and Michael Rich. (all unnecessarily tased by Myers.) Sherriff Dan Walsh becomes culpable for allowing Myers to stay employed despite knowing Myers had become a loose canon, long before Myers unleashed his fury on Ray Hsieh. It's surprising Julia is even part of the prosecution of Myers. How can she prosecute an employee of the county, when she is the lawyer who would defend the county against any future lawsuit against this county for what this employee did? It is a clear conflict of interest, and what we are seeing in the prosecution of Myers is the county lawyer defending the county from future financial liability by dismissing the torture Myers inflicted to inmates. The reason this went anywhere at all was because some other officers at the county jail were too chicken to help Myers fabricate his police report when he tased Hsieh. That's why Julia has to do something, like get Myers to plead guilty to "disorderly conduct" for falsifying the police report. The actual tasing and abuse will be dropped because Julia knows that exposes the county to civil lawsuits. Afterall, Sugar Daddy Difanis wants a new jail in a few years, and Julia doesn't want to disappoint her real benefactors by tying up the county's finances with those annoying lawsuits. Myers abuse will go unpunished by a prosecutor who has a clear conflict of interest. Just watch.

Thou Shalt Not Be a Bystander

The UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment provides the following definition of torture: "For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. " The description of Myers' actions appears to meet the UN definition of torture; I doubt that using a taser on a restrained inmate would be part of "lawful sanctions" in any civilized country. The Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition says, "Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, and above all, thou shalt not be a bystander." I'm glad that the Champaign County State's Attorney's office has pressed charges against Myers. However, I'll be very disappointed if he's allowed to plea-bargain his way out of serious consequences for torturing an inmate.

NJ Opinion on Conflict of Interest Issues

This is a 1978 opinion authored by the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, which was appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court. They concluded that it was considered a conflict of interest for a municipal prosecutor to prosecute a police officer employed by the same municipality. The article can be found at http://lawlibrary.rutgers.edu/ethics/acpe/acp394_1.html

OPINION 394

Conflict of Interest: Municipal
Prosecutor Prosecuting Police Officer

The inquirer asks whether a municipal prosecutor should act as prosecutor for the State in a municipality where he serves as prosecutor and where the defendant is a police officer or other officer or employee of the same municipality.

This Committee previously decided the "other side of the coin" in Opinion 140, 91 N.J.L.J. 805 (1968), in which it was held that no member of the city's law department who prosecutes cases in the municipal court should be permitted to defend a police officer in the same court. In Opinion 351, 99 N.J.L.J. 798 (1976), we held that a municipal attorney should not represent the municipal police officer on a probable cause hearing in the municipal court. In both instances, therefore, the police officer had the statutory right to engage independent counsel at the cost and expense of the municipality.

We are now asked whether the municipal prosecutor may prosecute the case against the police officer. If it is unethical for the municipal prosecutor to prosecute a police officer of the same municipality, it will then be necessary for the municipality to engage a special prosecutor to prosecute the police officer and to engage independent counsel to defend the police officer.

The inquirer persuasively points out that the public believes that the prosecutor and the police are, as a practical matter, "on the same team" and inevitably develop a close working relationship with each other. Conceivably, the public would have the tendency to believe that the municipal prosecutor would be less than zealous in his prosecution of a municipal police officer. In Opinion 88, 89 N.J.L.J. 49 (1966), we pointed out that the profession "must avoid not only all evil, but must likewise avoid the appearance of evil." The question in Opinion 351, 99 N.J.L.J. 798 (1976), was whether a municipal attorney might represent a municipal police officer on a probable cause hearing in the same municipal court. The opinion took for granted without raising a question that the assistant municipal prosecutor of the municipality would present the State's case against the police officer. The question as to the propriety of the municipal prosecutor presenting the State's case having now been directly raised, we herewith decide that it is unethical for the municipal prosecutor to act as prosecutor for the State in a case in the municipality where he serves as prosecutor and where the defendant is a police officer or other officer or employee of the same municipality. We leave it to the discretion of the municipality as to whether or not to engage and pay for independent counsel as special prosecutor or to request the county to supply a special prosecutor so as to eliminate the double expense which would ensue if the municipality must engage independent counsel to defend the police officer and pay a special prosecutor to prosecute the police officer.

Good job! pretty sure the

Good job! pretty sure the conflict of interest laws applys here Illinois.

Realistically, that was an

Realistically, that was an opinion written by a New Jersey committee in 1978, not a law.

Tasers/preferrential treatment/conflict of interest..

WOW! Reads like someone is really doing their homework...I am appalled that this is going on in my County, in my City and I haven't read or heard about this mess anywhere in my press!! No news coverage and to hear that my State's Attorney is not sticking it to this guy for such abovious abuse of power and TORTURE is mind boggling! If this officer is not prosecuted to the fullest extent, then I will not be voting for her this time, that's for sure!!!!!

Media blackout

I have repeatedly spoke to the News Gazoo - Mike Howie and Mary Schenk - and they won't touch it. How can this not be news? With the 5 deaths in the county jail, they know how political this is. Walsh must go. Julia is next. BD

Inexpert Opinion

OK, I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV. From an amateur perspective, I think that it was appropriate to hand the Thompson and Hjort cases to a special prosecutor, and am not sure why this wasn't also done with Griffet and Myers. Also, I'm not a politician, but I've met a number of them and know a little about the campaigning process. Griffet and Myers are - how do I say this - not the kind of people who would be desirable friends for an ambitious public official. Neither of them seem to be too bright, and I'm guessing that neither of them have much political pull. (I could be wrong on this, but the big-time political hacks back in Springfield generally had cushier jobs.) And Myers in particular doesn't sound like the kind of guy you'd like just for his personality. As far as county liability, I think that prosecuting Myers at all is an admission that something happened, so I'm not sure that allowing him to plea bargain affects the county's exposure one way or another. However, Champaign County apparently settled with Hsieh earlier for less than $10000, so Hsieh suing the county may be a non-issue. The amount of money surprised me a little, though; I would have guessed that a good lawyer would have been able to get a lot more. Plea bargaining isn't uncommon, since going to trial is apparently risky and expensive. Giving Myers "conditional release" seems quite generous, though, and I'm not sure what the rationale is for that. If Hsieh is a homeless man with mental health issues, it seems possible that he might not do too well on the stand. The other deputies should be more coherent, but the defense might be able to take them apart - as the original article pointed out, they didn't sound too concerned about Hsieh in the reports. So I'm wondering if the State's Attorney's office just didn't like the risks of taking the case to trial.

Slam dunk

The prosecuting attorney, Steve Ziegler, told me he could get ahold of Hsieh and Michael Rich told me personally he was willing to testify. I couldn't find Trina Fairley and Michael Alexander with my limited resources. But it seems to me with Hsieh's testimony and Rich's story it would be a slam dunk case. BD

More inexpert opinions

I don't think the question is whether it's possible to get ahold of Ray Hsieh - rather, it's whether he'd do well on the stand. It's not clear to me whether Rich's testimony would be admissible - Illinois has laws about testimony related to "prior bad acts" during trials. So I'd guess the state definitely has a case, but maybe not a "slam-dunk" one.

Duties of the State's Attorney

THIS BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DUTIES OF THE STATE'S ATTORNEY IS OFF THE COUNTY WEBSITE: Office of the State's Attorney Julia Rietz State's Attorney Duties The Office of the State's Attorney commences and prosecutes all criminal and traffic cases in the Circuit Court and initiates all dependency, neglect, abuse and delinquency juvenile petitions and proceedings. The Office also commences and prosecutes all actions and proceedings brought by any County officer and defends actions and proceedings brought against the County or against County officers. In addition, the Office also gives opinions to any County officer upon request and provides interpretation of the law relating to concerns of the County. SO THE QUESTION IS: HOW CAN THE ATTORNEY CHARGED WITH DEFENDING COUNTY OFFICERS BE ENTRUSTED WITH PROSECUTING COUNTY OFFICERS? IS THIS NOT A CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

Slam Dunk

Actually, the prosecutor simply needs to call the other officers to the stand to stick it to Myers. A fact much celebrated by local authorities - it was Jones and Heath turned Myers in. Officers are trusted witnesses and if they took the stand it would be a reverse slam dunk. Why isn't this being pursued by the St. Attorney? Would it leave Jones and Heath vulnerable to questions about their involvement in other beatings? According to Michael Rich either Heath or Jones participated in his beating. I have the falsified police reports on Rich. Dan Walsh has them too. This is a cover up simple and plain. Legal sweeping under the rug. BD

Additional information

OK, I made a few inquiries the other day, and this is what's apparently going on. There's a possibility of a plea bargain, but nothing is certain at this point. The case is pretty good, but nothing is a "slam-dunk." For example, consider OJ ("If I Did It") Simpson. So they're still weighing the alternatives and trying to decide how to proceed. If he's offered a plea bargain, he'll at least still become a convicted felon, which will mean that he can never own a gun or work as a correctional officer again. It may also affect his pension eligibility. As far as the possible conflict of interest, Hsieh and Champaign County have already settled. So from what I understand, that means that the State's Attorney's office is no longer in the position of defending the county in liability charges. I'm not sure if the county has any obligation to provide Myers with defense counsel, given that he would not be considered a "County officer" at this point. So given the settlement with the victim and Myers' firing, there may no longer be a conflict of interest.

Wayward, "Conditional

Wayward, "Conditional Discharge" which is what Myers is being offered, is sentence passed by a court whereby the defendant is not punished provided he complies with certain conditions. If he completes this successfully, it is as if he had never been convicted. So no record will exist. Hsieh and the County settled, but Michael Rich did not even though he was offered a settlement (before he even brought a case forward). Michael Rich was tortured and tased as well several years ago. So far, even though the prosecutor has plenty of evidence in his hands, and a willing victim to speak on the stand, he is choosing not to bring Michael Rich's case in. Why would the county take Michael Rich's complaint of mistreatment so seriously that they offer him a money before he even sued the county and yet not take it seriously enough to include his claims in the case against Myers? This is very very fishy.

Conditional Discharge

No, completing conditional discharge does not automatically expunge the conviction from your record. Here's a link to an appellate court case where the defendant was sentenced to conditional discharge, completed it, and petitioned to have his record expunged. The lower court said no, and the appellate court affirmed the decision. http://www.state.il.us/COURT/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2003/2ndDistrict/June/Html/2020315.htm The Illinois Dept of Employment Security has a "rap sheet" page that lists conditional discharge as a kind of case that cannot be expunged from a person's record. http://www.ides.state.il.us/ExOffenders/rap.shtml

Conditional discharge vs. 1st offenders probation

There should be more inquiry into the plea bargain that was originally offered. Conditional discharge is a form of probation that may well stay on your record. However, if you "qualify" for 1st offenders probation, if and when, you complete the terms of your conditional discharge 1st offenders probation, without further violations of the law, there will be NO RECORD of your transgressions. Further, you must understand that that means it will not show up when you go look for a job, a house, or to get a loan, but it will still be present in your files if you have another encounter with law enforcement. I hope this is clear.

Abuse the Public Trust? It Must be on Your Permanent Record

Anyone who is convicted of or pleads guilty to any violation of a position of public trust needs to have this go on their permenent record. First, those in positions of public trust, like police officers, jailers, elected officials, judges, prosecutors, etc, all are acutely aware of the law. Of all citizens, they have the least excuse of "ignorance of the law" -- and since that is no excuse for a citizen, it is even less of an excuse for someone like them. What is more, when any violation like this becomes public, it is usually not a single violation, but part of a pattern of abuse, as is clearly the case with Myers. Second, anyone who has abused a position of public trust must NEVER be able to gain such a position again. The slap on the wrist that Hjort got just encouraged him to apply for another police job in a nearby community. Sorry, but if you violate the public trust, it should be the "death penalty" for your career in public service.

Sealing records?

It sounds like you're talking about sealing records. Based on what the IDES page says, it looks like the only felony offenses that can be sealed are low-level drug possession and prostitution. So I don't think that Myers' record could be sealed.

Whatever It Takes, No Secrecy for Abusive Public Servants

I think my position is that it is inappropriate -- even if first-offender's conviction or whatever else might ordinarily apply to an offense -- if it was committed by someone in the course of their official duties in Illinois (or anywhere else for that matter) for the offender to be offered a plea bargain that would have the possibility of a result where the public would not be protected from such an offender in the future. Better yet would be a "one-strike" law that would prohibit the reemployment of any public official with such a conviction in any other position of public trust. Currently, I suppose some other community in Illinois might be able to give Hjort a job as a police officer or Myers a job as a jailer or, heaven forbid, an animal control officer. This would be a travesty of justice and a threat to the public. The culture of public and official corruption is deep and wide in Illinois. It is time for a crackdown. If lengthy, mandatory sentences, heavy fines, and life-altering post-sentence requirements are the solution to every other crime problem in Illinois, just how come the single exception to this trend is in this area of crime? From the governor's office down to the local jailers, our communities have suffered enough at the hands of these career criminals.

Hjort, maybe. Myers, no.

Hjort, maybe. Myers, no. In fact, Myers may lose his pension if he's convicted of a felony, even if the sentence is conditional release.

The Worst Thing

The worst thing about this situation is that some of the people who have been trained by our country make Myers look like a gentleman. For example, Roberto d'Aubuisson graduated from the School of the Americas (now called "WHINSEC") and masterminded the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. He earned the nickname "Major Blowtorch" because of his quaint habit of applying a blowtorch to his victims' faces during interrogations. Our government has actually put out manuals on "coercive counterintelligence interrogation of resistant sources" and waterboarding isn't the only trick in its bag. The National Security Archive has an excerpt of the 1962 "Kubark" document online at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB122/Kubark%2082-104.pdf. See also: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB122/index.htm The BBC has an timeline related to US involvement in torture at http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A4364020. It refers to another former police officer named Dan Mitrione, who taught torture techniques to Uruguayan police until he was killed by rebels. The article says, "The torture techniques he taught to the death squads rival the Nazis'." The U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, John Negroponte, armed the Nicaraguan contras and also tolerated torture and murder by the Honduran government. In 2005, Negroponte was appointed Director of National Intelligence. Our current attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, has called the Geneva Convention "quaint" and claimed that there were no laws against our CIA performing "cruel, inhumane, or degrading" treatment on detainees in other countries. At least the Champaign County State's Attorney's office is going to go for a felony conviction of some kind. If it were up to the Bush administration, they'd probably give Myers a job working for the CIA.

Press Conference with Michael Rich, Taser Victim of Sgt. Myers

Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice and Community Court Watch Present: Tasers and Torture: Sgt. Myers in the Champaign County Jail Friday, December 1 at 1 p.m. Champaign County Courthouse, downtown Urbana Sgt. Myers will be in court at 2 p.m. in courtroom A. In 2004, Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice stopped the purchase of $30,000 worth of Tasers requested by the Champaign police. Putting Tasers in the hands of police, they said, would easily lead to abuse and blacks would be more likely to get shot with Tasers than whites. Both of these predictions came true. A study found that 64% of those Tasered in Champaign County last year were African American (while Tasers are not carried by Champaign city police, they are used by Champaign County Sheriff’s deputies). And in November 2005, Sergeant William Alan Myers was turned in for his illegal use of Tasers on inmates in the county jail. Michael Rich, one of Myers’ victims, will be at the press conference to tell his story of how he was brutalized, hooded, and Tasered several times. Sgt. Myers has been offered a plea bargain by State’s Attorney Julia Rietz. He would plead guilty to disorderly conduct and receive 2 years conditional discharge. If he commits no crimes in the two years, his record can be expunged. The charges of aggravated battery and obstructing justice will be dismissed. NO PUNISHMENT FOR ILLEGALLY USING A TASER! They are expected to seal the deal Friday, December 1 at 2 p.m. in courtroom A. This case is of special importance after the recent incident at UCLA where a student was Tasered repeatedly by university police. The discovery of Myers’ abuses also sheds new light on the suspicious occurrence of 5 deaths during the last 2 years in the Champaign County jail.

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