Once Again, Lying to Courts to Protect Banks Goes Unpunished

This story — about how Occupy Wall Street protestor Michael Premo beat an assaulting an officer charge when his lawyers found video evidence to disprove the NYPD’s claims — might make you believe in justice.

Except for this. Premo’s lawyers first went to the cops for video, knowing they had tons of officers deployed with cameras during the protests. They found the cop who had relevant video. And … he apparently lied in court about whether he had that video.

Prosecutors told them that police TARU units, who filmed virtually every moment of Occupy street protests, didn’t have any footage of the entire incident. But [Premo’s lawyer Meghan] Maurus knew from video evidence she had received while representing another defendant arrested that day that there was at least one TARU officer with relevant footage. Reviewing video shot by a citizen-journalist livestreamer during Premo’s arrest, she learned that a Democracy Nowcameraman was right in the middle of the fray, and when she tracked him down, he showed her a video that so perfectly suited her needs it brought a tear to her eye.

For one thing, the video prominently shows a TARU cop named Bosco, holding up his camera, which is on, and pointing at the action around the kettle. When Premo’s lawyers subpoenaed Bosco, they were told he was on a secret mission at “an undisclosed location,” and couldn’t respond to the subpoena. Judge Robert Mandelbaum didn’t accept that, and Bosco ultimately had to testify [Correction: Bosco didn’t take the stand; he had to appear at the District Attorney’s office for a meeting with Maurus and prosecutors. Judge Mandelbaum accepted that Bosco would likely say on the stand what he said in the meeting, and didn’t require him to testify.] Bosco claimed, straining credibility, that though the camera is clearly on and he can be seen in the video pointing it as though to frame a shot, he didn’t actually shoot any video that evening.

Bosco almost certainly lied. The NYPD clearly lied, repeatedly.

And yet there’s no hint they’ll be charged with obstructing justice.

While you’re reflecting on that, remember what the cops were doing (funded, in part, by JP Morgan Chase $4.6 million donation to the NYPD Foundation). They were making sure that a bunch of hippies could not continue to engage in a highly visible challenge to bank power, and certainly not in the banks’ turf around Wall Street.

Sure, OWS did not present as significant a financial threat as preventing banks from foreclosing on homes they did not hold the proper paperwork on — the threat that robosigners lied under oath to combat. But they did present an ideological threat to the banks.

And here we are, again finding people — cops! — lying in court to protect the banks. And here we are, once again, finding those liars go unpunished.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

10 replies
  1. guest says:

    Can you imagine what his superiors and colleagues would have done to him for telling the truth? Rotten filth, from top to bottom.

  2. P J Evans says:

    Protecting their own power, even when they know they’re wrong. WTF did the judge believe them?

  3. What Constitution says:

    If they had told the truth, the terrorists would have won. So it’s OK. Or maybe the footage was a state secret. And besides, the court would have had to defer to the presumption of regularity afforded governmental action. And, actually, the defendant was lucky even to get to put this question before a state court– he probably wouldn’t have standing to question government surveillance in a federal court any more, since he couldn’t prove he was surveilled because the government denied it. Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

  4. thatvisionthing says:

    What I see:

    “this story” — the linked article is: “Jury Finds Occupy Wall Street Protester Innocent After Video Contradicts Police Testimony [Updated: VIDEO]”

    and the thing thing thing is

    Premo celebrated his not-guilty verdict by quoting the lawyer Elizabeth Fink: “There is no justice in the American justice system, but you can sometimes find it in a jury.”

    jury

  5. What Constitution? says:

    @What Constitution: Coming back and re-reading this later, please suffer me to plainly state that each of the horribles in this parade is intended as a joke or, rather, as an untenable extrapolation beyond even the absurd of the reality of existing mindsets and correlative court decisions. No court should accept, and No self-respecting government lawyer should try to invoke any of these arguments. But bet your ass some might try. Sorry.

  6. Bitter Angry Drunk says:

    I always laugh extra hard whenever I read about any gun nut/gold bug claim that Obama is coming for their weapons, when King Obeez has killer robots at his disposal. Sorry white guys with invasion fantasies, you’re just not seen as any threat.

    Who’s a threat? Mooslims of course, along with Occupy, Wikileaks and random hippies. Quakers will do in a pinch as well.

    Know who else isn’t a threat? Elizabeth Warren. I trust you noticed she (and every other Dem) obediently voted to confirm run-of-the-mill Wall Street slimeball Jack Lew the other day.

  7. Heron says:

    To be fair, cops lie on the stand with frequency and for many reasons without getting punished; this is merely the extension of a typical professional courtesy to the officer at issue.

  8. orionATL says:

    @Heron:

    “… Judge Mandelbaum accepted that Bosco would likely say on the stand what he said in the meeting, and didn’t require him to testify…”

    is this what you meant by “professional courtesy”?

    because i too thought the judge gave the cop a pass when i read that passage.

    some folks can be prosecuted for perjury, and then some folks can’t!

  9. thatvisionthing says:

    @orionATL: I wondered about that too. What did the jury hear from the judge — did judge act out Bosco’s testimony for the jury, or did jury even hear any version of it? Took jury four hours to decide? Wonder how that played.

    http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/03/jury_finds_occu.php

    In the police version of events, Premo charged the police like a linebacker, taking out a lieutenant and resisting arrest so forcefully that he fractured an officer’s bone. That’s the story prosecutors told in Premo’s trial, and it’s the general story his arresting officer testified to under oath as well.

    […]

    [Correction: Bosco didn’t take the stand; he had to appear at the District Attorney’s office for a meeting with Maurus and prosecutors. Judge Mandelbaum accepted that Bosco would likely say on the stand what he said in the meeting, and didn’t require him to testify.] Bosco claimed, straining credibility, that though the camera is clearly on and he can be seen in the video pointing it as though to frame a shot, he didn’t actually shoot any video that evening.

    […]

    Even more importantly, the Democracy Now video also flipped the police version of events on its head. Far from showing Premo tackling a police officer, it shows cops tackling him as he attempted to get back on his feet.

    After watching the video, the jury deliberated for several hours before returning a verdict of not guilty on all counts.

    Like, the more I think about it… what was Bosco’s likely testimony, had he appeared in court? His lie that he filmed nothing? And the judge saved him from perjury? And the judge wasn’t even at the meeting in the DA’s office, just the lawyers? What about Premo’s right to confront evidence and witnesses?

    And there are at least two and maybe more cops lying in court, right? There’s the unnamed arresting officer, and “likely” the photographer Bosco (statement of?). Could be more, if it’s a different officer who says Premo fractured his bone, and if you watch the video, there’s a glimpse of another officer (bareheaded at 0:24) filming the incident — what happened to his film? I assume that’s Bosco at 0:59 in a knit hat, different guy. That’s three or four right there. Plus look at the number of officers in the pile. They could all have been subpoenaed to testify, and if they all lied, they all could have been charged… how does that work? And then there’s all their spokespersons, the immune prosecutors.

    I wouldn’t blame the banks first, I’d blame the police and their protectors/enablers in the DA’s office and in court.

  10. cynthiakouril says:

    Premo has a nice civil suit if he cares to bring one. And it is through the civil suit, that he can subpoena all those cops and the footage. In fact, through that civil suit, he could pry out all sorts of details about how the footage is logged and the chain of custody of that footage which might result in NYPD not being able to use said footage in evidence, if it turns out that they don’t have good chain of custody procedures over the footage.

    Just a thought

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