No incidence of false police reporting is as widely known and more consequential than one by the Minneapolis Police Department that described George Floyd’s death as a “medical incident during police interaction.” Fortunately, that false account did not stand as fact, because a video captured an officer with his knee pressed on Floyd’s neck for about 9 minutes, leading to his death.
There have been countless incidents in which the victims did not have the benefit of video evidence of innocence, or even when there was a video but it was dismissed or discounted by police reports.
Two years ago in South Carolina, Travis Price was charged with “hindering police” when a police body camera clearly showed he calmly followed the instructions of officers before they roughly pinned him to the ground. A prosecutor charged the officer with assault and battery, and later when brought to trial, the fired officer apologized.
Such an outcome did not arrive for the falsely accused Rev. Keith Gadson and Anthony Dolci. Gadson was arrested in 1995 by a detective who assaulted and threatened to frame him, but never testified during trial to show probable cause for the arrest. Gadson was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life, denied parole seven times, and spent 32 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
In 2018 and 2019, Dolci was falsely accused and wrongfully placed in handcuffs 10 times. These arrests were the result of his management company instructing the employees of Dorchester Towers to call the police on his LGBT family. “By August 2020,” Dolci wrote in an email, “all criminal charges were dismissed” after he turned down four plea bargains with the Manhattan DA’s office, “despite the evidence of false police reporting and more than 30 911 calls against the couple.”
On Sunday, Oct. 29, the Stop False Police Reporting Group stood in solidarity with Gadson and Dolci. Highlighted at the event were reports about their cases, which remain unresolved, and the ongoing dangers of false police reporting.
To offset further situations of injustice, the Stop False Police Reporting Group & Initiatives, a not-for-profit organization, is demanding accountability from the DA’s office and City Council members to “ensure marginalized communities are being helped and perpetrators of false police reporting are punished for harming innocent lives and their families.”
We gladly add our voice to this quest and the Universal Stop False Police Reporting Act, the first legislation in the state that calls for “Felony charges for both law enforcement and civilians who file false reports and the creation of a Public Database that will track and record law enforcement and civilians who are convicted of making false police reports.”
The death of George Floyd was a lightning rod, setting us in motion about a persistent injustice, but each day, we witness all the more reason to remain vigilant and halt the misinformation and lies from our law enforcement officers.