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Secret documents show 2nd Police Officer lied about Jelani Barr arrest

Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 7:50 pm News Flash Archive

The Taxpayers Channel has obtained documents that the Greenwood Police Department sought to keep secret from the public.

These documents show that a second police officer, Sgt. Michael Hoskins, lied in the Investigative Report that he filed about the Jelani Barr arrest incident that took place the evening of April 7. Some of Hoskins' lies were then repeated to the public by Police Chief Ray Moore the following day when they were published in the Greenwood Commonwealth.

But a video of the entire event, taken by Barr, showed that both Lt. Ray Powell and Sgt. Michael Hoskins repeatedly lied, first on the arrest affidavit, and now in their Investigative Report which they filed the morning after the arrest.

The Taxpayers Channel had requested these documents from the City of Greenwood back on April 9th, 2015, but our request was denied, with Police Chief Ray Moore stating that they were part of an ongoing investigation.

The Investigative Report may be viewed here:
Secret Investigative Report re: Barr arrest

In it, Lt. Powell made the following false statements about Mr. Barr:

1. that Barr used "insulting degrading language" directed at himself and other officers.

2. that "Barr stated and continued to stated [sic] that members of the police department are not trained and are harassing our black men."

3. that "The investigation could not be performed properly due to the interference of Mr. Barr."

But a complete transcript of the encounter shows that Barr never uttered any insulting or degrading language. That transcript may be viewed here:
Barr arrest video transcript

Barr's only statements regarding police misconduct were that their action "more of less borderlines on harassment, in my opinion." Barr then stated that the police were "always doing something to people."

Barr's statements were not made to the officers, but rather were made in a conversational tone of voice as audio commentary for the video that Barr was recording. Barr never yelled at the police at any time, or attempted to communicate with them until he was ordered to leave the scene.

The transcript also shows clearly that Barr never referred at all to lack of police training, and never referred to any "black men."

In the video, five law enforcement officers are standing in a circle, casually speaking with one another, while Powell, Hoskins, and a another law enforcement officer are 30 to 40 feet away, clustered around the rear door of a police cruiser.

At no time did Barr interfere with the investigation, which appeared to have already concluded.

Sgt. Michael Hoskins made the following false statements about Mr. Barr in his Investigative Report:

1. that Barr "walked into the safe area of the investigation."

2. that Barr "began to yell insults at myself and Lt. Powell and other officers at the scene."

3. that Barr "began to district Lt. Powell and I from conducting our official police duty."

4. that Barr refused to leave the scene after being ordered several times to do so.

5. that Barr began to walk away only after he was advised that he was under arrest.

The video, as well as the transcript, clearly show each of these statements by Sgt. Hoskins to be lies. In particular, Barr turned his back to leave the scene a mere 8 seconds after first being ordered to do so.

Perhaps what is most frightening about the Investigative Report is Lt. Powell's citation of an old City Ordinance, Section 13-10, adopted in 1963, which states: "It shall be unlawful for any person to curse, insult, deride, ridicule or use abusive language towards a member of the police department of the city, or a member of the auxiliary police force of the city, or a member of the fire department of the city, while said member of the police department, or member of the auxiliary police force, or member of the fire department is properly performing his official duties."

Powell quoted from the statute and claimed, falsely, that Barr had breached it. But nothing Barr said, as shown in the transcript, in any way breached the language of the ordinance.

This citation by Powell shows that he was arresting Barr, at least in part, because he did not like Barr's criticism of police conduct - criticism that is entirely protected by the United States Constitution.

Additionally, statutes of this type have been overturned by the United States Supreme Court, which has repeatedly held that the public has a right to rebuke and even to insult police officers as part of their First Amendment Freedom of Speech privilege. See, for example, Lewis v. City of New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130 (USSC 1974).

This afternoon, The Taxpayers Channel submitted the following questions to both Mayor Carolyn McAdams and Chief Ray Moore:

1. Does this city ordinance reflect the official policy of the City of Greenwood?

2. Does the City of Greenwood instruct its officers or train its officers to apply such an unlawful ordinance, or to otherwise arrest citizens who insult or degrade police officers?

3. Has Sgt. Hoskins been suspended, or has an internal investigation been initiated due to these clearly false statements made by Sgt. Hoskins in his report?

4. Has Powell's disciplinary hearing held this morning reached a decision? If so, what was the decision of the hearing, or when, if ever, will the decision be made public?

Mayor McAdams declined to answer any of our questions, stating that this was a personnel matter, and that she did not attend the disciplinary hearing.

She further stated: "I will read the reports and hear from Chief Moore and the H/R Director. Also the employee has a right to request a hearing from the Civil Service Commission as well so that being said this a process and it will be dealt with carefully."

Police Chief Ray Moore did not respond to our questions.

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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