Entries Tagged 'Homelessness' ↓
September 30th, 2011 — Excessive Force, Homelessness, Police Departments, Rights
Eureka Officers Viciously Beat Martin and Left Him to Die in Jail Cell
Contact: Verbena Lea, Redwood Curtain CopWatch (707) 633-4493, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vicki Sarmiento, Esq. (626) 308-1171, Vsarmiento@vis-law.com
Eureka, CA: A jury delivered a resounding victory for plaintiffs in a police misconduct civil rights case by awarding the total sum of $4,575,000 against the City of Eureka and Eureka police officers Adam Laird, Justin Winkle, and Gary Whitmer for the death of Martin Cotton II. Punitive damages were assessed against the three officers. Mr. Cotton, a 26 year-old man living on the streets died of blunt force head trauma. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys Dale K. Galipo and Vicki I. Sarmiento of Los Angeles County, were Mr. Cotton’s 5 year-old daughter and his father. The jury found that Officers Laird and Winkle used excessive force, and that all three officers failed to provide medical care.
On August 9th, 2007, Eureka police officers Winkle, Laird, Whitmer, and five others were involved in beating an unarmed Martin Cotton II to death. In broad daylight, officers pummeled Mr. Cotton’s head and body then brought Mr. Cotton to jail, failing to seek medical assistance for him. Expert testimony presented by the plaintiffs established that timely medical care would have saved Mr. Cotton’s life. Mr. Cotton died in the jail cell within two hours. Painful video of Mr. Cotton dying in jail was presented during the trial.
The fatal beating of Mr. Cotton occurred outside the Eureka Rescue Mission. Police were dispatched to the Mission for a disturbance involving Mr. Cotton. When they arrived, Mr. Cotton was no longer in the Mission and was alone and defenseless. Laird and Winkle claim they ordered him to put his hands behind his back and he did not move. Both officers pepper sprayed him, Officer Winkle kneed him in the ribs and forced him to the ground where the officers beat him. Mr. Cotton made no moves against the police and remained prone on the concrete. Officer Whitmer (the third officer on the scene) gave a running kick to Mr. Cotton, battered him with a baton, and pepper-sprayed him. More officers arrived and joined in the beating. The trial of Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka included police readily admitting they they sat on Mr. Cotton, forced his head onto the concrete throughout the beating, kicked him, hit him with a metal baton, kneed at his vulnerable organs, deployed pepper spray three times, and did not seek medical assistance for him afterward. The officers, however, denied hitting Mr. Cotton in the head, most likely because blunt force head trauma was determined as the cause of death. Crucial testimony came from two civilian witnesses who bravely reported that they had indeed seen at least Officer Winkle pounding on Mr. Cotton’s skull multiple times on the concrete. One witness said he heard “fist-to-skull”, “bone-on-bone” from those head strikes.
The verdict was announced September 23, 2011 after a two week trial and 7 hours of jury deliberation in Federal Court in Oakland. Siehna Cotton was awarded $1,250,000 for the pain her father suffered and $2,750,000 for wrongful death damages. Marty Cotton Sr. was awarded $500,000, which required plaintiffs to show that the officers’ actions “shocked the conscience.” The jury also found that the officers acted with “malice, oppression, or reckless disregard” to the decedent’s or plaintiffs’ rights, and assessed punitive damages, $30,000 from officer Winkle, $30,000 from officer Laird, and $15,000 from officer Whitmer.
Mr. Cotton was one of many people killed by police in the Humboldt region from fall 2005 to fall 2007. Attorney Vicki Sarmiento hopes the verdict sends shockwaves to other officers who may consider committing such atrocities in the future. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else. We as a community, we as a society, cannot tolerate it.” Ms. Sarmiento speaks of the victory, “The jury’s decision showed respect for Martin Cotton’s life. They acknowledge the wrong that occurred and acknowledge that Martin’s life had value. The issue of human dignity and humanity is what this is about, and that everyone has a right to have that.”
September 30th, 2011 — Excessive Force, Homelessness, Police Departments, Rights
Martin Cotton Family Awarded Over $4.5 Million in Trial Against Eureka Police
From: People’s Action for Rights and Community
This link will also bring you to a video-taped interview.
The resounding jury decision could not have happened without the years of dedication by Redwood Curtain CopWatch; the courage, strength, and graciousness of Marty Cotton Sr.; the critical solidarity and organizing of the Oscar Grant Committee; the generosity of a few righteous Oakland attorneys; the networking and sharing of resources by Berkeley CopWatch; the bravery of the civilian witnesses to tell the truth; and the sharp, brilliant, hard work from the Cottons’ attorneys, Vicki I. Sarmiento and Dale K. Galipo.
Solidarity from people in and near Oakland throughout the trial – some being folks in the IWW, the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, the SDS and MDS – has been so important.
Having read yesterday’s article from the Eureka Times-Standard, I want to make something clear. Contrary to how the local Humboldt mainstream media would like to misconstrue reality, the Eureka cops, through their brutal punches and slamming of Martin’s head on the concrete, then throwing him in a cell without medical help, killed Martin. The cops caused his painful death and used their hands to do it. And the jury get a grave understanding of that, and decided on a “wrongful death” verdict.
This federal jury decision in the Cotton case is a victory and gift for the people. I hope that people who live outside, live on the streets in and around Eureka can breathe easier; feel proud for the marching, protesting and speaking out about Martin’s death; and also feel some vindication because the brazen intimidation and violence that the cops inflict on people living on the streets has been officially recognized.
Thank You, Martin “Fred” Cotton.
We will continue to work together for DIGNITY for all lives.
Long Live Martin Cotton! Long Live Troy Davis!
Long Live the Strength of the People and Power of the Truth!
–People’s Action for Rights and Community
Martin Cotton Family Awarded Over $4.5 Million in Trial Against Eureka Police, Interview: Video
by dave id
Friday Sep 23rd, 2011
On August 9th, 2007, Eureka police officers Justin Winkle, Gary Whitmer, Adam Laird, and five others were involved in beating an unarmed Martin Cotton II to death. Eureka police pummeled Martin Cotton’s body and head in broad daylight, using pepper spray repeatedly. Martin Cotton was then sent to jail without being offered medical treatment. He died in jail within about an hour. A federal civil rights trial in Oakland was filed to seek justice for Martin on behalf of his young daughter. The case, Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka, included the testimony of police readily admitting they beat Martin Cotton all over his body and did not seek medical assistance for him afterward. The police however denied that they hit Martin Cotton in the head, most likely because blows to the head were determined to be the cause of death. At about 1pm on September 23rd, the verdict was announced for the two-week trial. A seven-person jury found unanimously in favor of the plaintiffs, big time. Siehna Cotton was awarded $1,250,000 for the pain Martin Cotton suffered at the hands of Eureka police and $2,750,000 for wrongful death damages. Additionally, Marty Cotton Sr. was awarded $500,000, which required plaintiffs to meet the highest burden of proof in a civil trial, that is that the murder of Martin Cotton “shocked the conscience.” A rare award of punitive damages against the three officers required a finding of “malice, oppression, or reckless disregard” to the decedent’s or plaintiffs’ rights, for which the jury assessed $30,000 from officer Winkle, $30,000 from officer Laird, and $15,000 from officer Whitmer, who arrived at the scene late but joined in on the beating. Crucial to the verdict was the testimony of two witnesses who bravely reported that they had indeed seen at least officer Winkle striking Martin Cotton’s skull. Painful video of Martin Cotton dying in jail was presented during the trial which obviously effected jurors, four of whom wore black in solidarity with the family today as the verdict was read. In the video below, Cotton family attorney Vicki Sarmiento and Verbena Lea of Redwood Curtain CopWatch speak about the verdict re-establishing Martin Cotton’s humanity and the shockwaves they hope the decision will send through the ranks of police who may consider committing such atrocities in the future.
Quote from MDS, SDS, and Oscar Grant Committee:
“This victory uplifts our spirits and gives us strength to step up the struggle against police violence, brutality, murder and other forms of state repression that occur on a regular basis. One victory , many battles
still to be fought”
Video from the Sept. 21st press conference held in front of the Federal Building in Oakland:
September 18th, 2011 — Excessive Force, Homelessness, Rights
by Redwood Curtain CopWatch
Thursday Sep 15th, 2011 11:13 PM
Currently, the civil rights trial about the August 9, 2007 police murder of Martin Frederick Cotton II is in its last couple of days. The Eureka Police beat Martin Cotton brutally- in fact- beat him to death in broad daylight, in front of the Eureka Rescue Mission and many (other) houseless people. The civil trial, brought by Martin Cotton’s father, Marty Cotton, and Martin’s young daughter, Siehna Cotton.
Support for the Cottons has been wonderful from the Oscar Grant Committee, Redwood Curtain CopWatch, and Transport Workers Solidarity Committee.
On Wednesday (9/14) and Monday (9/12), two Eureka cops have been testifying, Justin Winkle and Adam Laird.. Thursday, EPD Officer Gary Whitmer.
While the Eureka cops have admitted that Martin Cotton was unarmed and on the ground defenseless, and that they inflicted many baton strikes, knee strikes, multiple pepper spray canisters, bending his wrist back, and doing nothing for him medically, they’ve blatantly lied, denying that any of them punched Martin Cotton in the head many times.
Two civilian, unrelated witnesses testified Wednesday (9/14) that they saw one of the Eureka cops hammerfisting Martin’s head. One witness said he heard fist-to-skull bone-on-bone from very hard blows.
STOP POLICE BRUTALITY & MURDER!
JUSTICE FOR MARTIN COTTON!
Trial is from 8:30am – 2:30 pm, on the 4th floor of the 1301 Clay Street, Oakland Federal Building. Bring ID to come in and be present at the trial.
Trial Update from 1st day of Trial: www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/15/18690439.php
September 18th, 2011 — Excessive Force, Homelessness
Media Contact: Verbena of Redwood Curtain CopWatch 707.633.4493 email@example.com
Oakland, CA: On the morning of September 12, 2011 in U.S. District Court, Northern District in Oakland, CA, a seven person jury was sworn in to hear the civil trial brought by the family of Martin Frederick Cotton II, who was killed by a fatal police beating in Eureka, California four years ago. Supporters and members of Redwood Curtain CopWatch and the Oscar Grant Committee Against Police Brutality rallied outside the courthouse early in the morning, spreading the word about the trial about to occur, speaking out against state butality, and holding signs “Cops Beat Martin To Death. Justice For Martin Cotton!” Cotton family supporters, opposed to police violence, were present in the courtroom for the trial while attorneys Vicki Sarmiento and Dale Galipo represented Martin’s six year old daughter, Siehna (who was at the Plaintiffs’ table for less graphic parts of the day) and her grandfather, Martin Cotton Sr.
After the jury was finalized, the attorneys gave opening statements. Mr. Galipo calmly told the jury what the evidence would show- that the Eureka Police used excessive, and indeed, fatal, force against Martin, in front of the Eureka Rescue Mission, when Martin was unarmed and made no moves against the police. Also, Attorney Gailpo explained that the jury would learn that the Eureka Police Department (EPD) did nothing for Martin in terms of getting him medical treatment after using batons, pepper spray, kicks, knee strikes, and hits to his head.
Although eight EPD officers were involved in the beating and torture of Martin Cotton on August 9, 2007, the lawsuit is now focused only on three of the officers, EPD’s Justin Winkle, Gary Whitmer, and Adam Laird (who has since been promoted to EPD Sergeant).
The Attorney for the Eureka Police, Nancy Delaney, took 2-3 times longer with her opening statement, trying to convince the jury that Martin was dangerous, that the police thought he was heavily influenced by drugs, that he appeared unaffected by massive pepper spray, and that the officers, with those impressions, had to use extreme force to merely detain and question him. Even though Martin Cotton died from the police encounter, Delaney claimed that EPD action was protecting him!
In the last part of Monday’s court proceedings, the Cotton family called the first witness, EPD officer Justin Winkle, who testified, contrary to most of what his attorney said, that he did not believe Martin Cotton was on drugs, that he saw Martin Cotton react normally and in pain to the pepper spray, that it was clear Martin had no weapons, and other statements that wholly contradicted his attorney’s attempt to vilify Martin and lie about the circumstances of his death.
Trial will resume at 8:30am Wednesday morning, and go until 2 or 2:30pm. The trial will continue at those times Thursday and Friday. The video that many people in the Eureka area have heard about, of Martin in the Humboldt County Correctional Facility as he is dying, is likely to be shown in this trial.
The Eureka Police Department, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department, the Humboldt Coroner, District Attorney, the management of the Eureka Rescue Mission, and, in particular, the Humboldt County media, have fabricated facts and actively covered up the police murder of Martin Cotton for four years. Redwood Curtain CopWatch, the Cotton family, and all people who know about Martin’s death from the police beating are hopeful that much of the truth will be exposed through this trial.
*Clarification: Redwood Curtain CopWatch has received communications from media and non-media in the Northcoast region indicating that the case has been settled out. That is INCORRECT. The lawsuit by Siehna and Martin Cotton Sr. was originally against the Eureka Police and the Humboldt Sheriff’s. The Correctional Officers of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department failed to do anything for Martin Cotton before he died in their custody. On the eve of trial, the County settled out of the case. The Eureka Police are still on trial. It is not over!
May 3rd, 2011 — Berkeley, Homelessness, Rights
From Adelyn Baxter, Daily Cal
April 27, 2011
“What’s happening is corporate real estate interests are initiating the proposal and trying to convince businesses to come out in support of it,” Worthington said. “Really they just want to maximize their high rents.”
April 15th, 2011 — Berkeley, Homelessness, Local Law, Rights
Yet again, the forces of reaction and ignorance in Berkeley have
gathered their forces and are trying to make the simple act of sitting on a
sidewalk illegal. Though it has been tried many times in the past, the folks
with money and lobbyists seem determined to blame their economic woes on the
poor people of this city.
Here at Copwatch, we are determined to resist such legislation. There
is already a law which makes laying down on a sidewalk a crime, but the wording
for a new anti-sitting law has not yet been approved. Let’s stop this nonsense
where it starts. Please read and sign the on-line petition and let the City
Council know that you are watching and intend to hold politicians accountable
for scapegoating the poor.
Forward the petition. Send it to friends. These simple acts could make
a huge difference in the way police treat homeless people in our city. Thanks
The link to the petition is:
To contact the coalition email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
April 3rd, 2011 — Berkeley, Homelessness, Local Law, Rights
“The City of Berkeley Chamber of Commerce will be considering whether to push forward as the leader in this fight at its meeting on Monday April 4 Noon to 1pm at the Chamber office located at: 1834 University Avenue–near MLK.”
Sally Hindman of Youth Spirit Artworks offers up all kinds of ways to plug in immediately to oppose these vicious laws:
April 1st, 2011 — Homelessness, Rights, San Francisco PD
This article focuses attention on sit/lie citations in the upper Haight and explains how cops are “bundling together” disorderly conduct, public nuisance, open container laws, and others to insure criminal court and jail time. The article cites an alleged act of roguish arrogance (the “scruffy” male defiantly mooning police) in a bid for public support, sketching a caricature of street life that masks the difficult lived reality when one doesn’t have a home–whether this is youth, elders, people from a span of genders, of color or white people, people with mental illnesses or experiences of violence or substance addictions, families or individuals. Berkeley Copwatch on the streets of San Francisco yesterday saw and heard something much different than the facile version of the privileged faux-runaway that is continously deployed in the media as the central target of these citations. We spoke with regular Street Sheet vendors on Van Ness, who have regular followings of folks who stop and talk and purchase the paper to learn the latest budget and other news, and share stories about the weather. These older people–men and women–who come to work every morning to sell their papers and greet folks, often with small folding nylon camp chairs or pillows, are now forced to pace, or sit uncomfortably and warily on the cement, constantly looking over a shoulder to try to spot a cop car on the street so they can stand up quickly if necessary. People that we spoke with have already been issued warnings, and have received $50 tickets which of course they have no means to pay. The sit/lie citations are not limited to the upper Haight.
March 23rd, 2011 — Berkeley, Homelessness, Local Law, Rights
From the Committee on Government Affairs, Berkeley Chamber of Commerce
Tuesday March 22, 2011
“The San Francisco ordinance has sparked interest in the Berkeley community to investigate whether similar legislation in Berkeley would be appropriate and/or strategic to making the city’s commercial districts more vibrant places in which to do business.”
March 2nd, 2010 — Homelessness
From the Chronicle:
“It could soon be illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks anywhere in San Francisco, a law Mayor Gavin Newsom says would make city life safer for pedestrians and merchants, but that homeless advocates and others say would amount to profiling against the poor.
Newsom will introduce two separate versions of a sit/lie law today at the Board of Supervisors. One version would prohibit sitting or lying on public sidewalks in about 20 commercial corridors throughout the city and is modeled on a similar law in Seattle that was upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals.”
In one of the most expensive cities in the US where homelessness is VERY OBVIOUSLY produced by capitalism, they have decided openly that homelessness is illegal. GO TEAM! Why stop there? Why not make it illegal to be unemployed? or just poor? Don’t get me wrong… I understand that they’re working up to it. And, sometimes its hard to tell the difference between the “creative” trust-funders and Google programmers and the REAL social SCOURGE. I’m sure they’ll figure out the details though.
If they really want to “clean up the streets”, I’ve got a proposal: FANCY NEW CONDOS FOR EVERYONE! FIRST OPTION TO THE POOREST AMONG US!
Also, fuck the Chronicle repeating this “thugs” noise. I don’t pretend to believe that they should be “objective”, but seriously!