Table of Contents

Brian the Writer

Dangerous Investigators

Brian McCorkle

It is unfortunate that some police investigators create crimes rather than solve them,

Some criminal cases have me shivering in wonderment about the way a few police investigators behave. Sometimes, investigators appear to be lying from the start. In other cases, investigators make things up as they go along. Sometimes, they are simply incompetent.

There are many police officers and investigators who do their jobs with integrity and competence. These are the ones who don't decide immediately on the guilt of an individual, do not ask leading questions that takes advantage of mental states, and do not assume their immediate interpretation of evidence and statements is absolutely correct.

The arresting officer in the Senator Larry Craig case made a statement in his filings that was bizarre. When Sergeant Dave Karsnia was placed on gay patrol at the Minneapolis Airport, he claimed that Craig placed his roller luggage inside his stall against the door which in his experience was meant to facilitate a homosexual encounter.

I doubt that anyone will leave their roller luggage outside a bathroom stall. If they did and the luggage rolled away, they would be castigated for their foolishness. Now perhaps the luggage placement is used by lovers, but this would also be used by most other travelers as well and is not a very selective measure of an attempted sexual encounter. Plus, one man in a stall does not equal a homosexual tryst. It might be an autoerotic encounter, but it takes two or more for homosexual or heterosexual liaisons.

Karsnia credited his experience for knowing the taking one's luggage in a stall trick. Well, his experience was actually electric cart patrol at the Airport. And, there were an excessive number of travelers hurt by carts during his watch. Perhaps he was studying gays rather than paying attention to his responsibilities.

Karsnia also edited the arrest and followup notes without leaving a record of what was changed. So we are in the dark about the transition of his allegations. But, we do know that his big piece of evidence, the secured luggage, is not even close to being his claimed evidence of a homosexual encounter.

Early in 2007, Detective James Busha of the Oshkosh, Wisconsin, police department submitted a court document detailing a horrifying tale a child abuse. He claimed a teenager was locked in her room without food, blankets or warmth. He further stated that the girl was required to sleep on urine soaked bedding because her parents refused to allow her to use the bathroom. The local television news teams ate this up and reveled in dispensing this "disturbing" news.

Earlier, a police officer had been called to the home and the officer issued a ticket to the girl's grandmother. The grandmother stormed the residence despite being told not to. The officer interviewed the parties, including the children. There was nothing to indicate any misbehavior except by the grandmother.

Reporters wanted to know what consequences this officer paid. Oshkosh police spokesman Sgt. Steve Sagmeister said that he had a "talking to."

It turns out; the detective lied. There were some inappropriate behaviors by the girl's parents, but she was not locked in her room. She was allowed to eat. Her bedding was clean.

Busha also implicated the alleged victim’s psychiatrist with other bogus claims. When the claims by Busha proved to be false, the Oshkosh Police Chief made no effort to correct the damage done by the detective.

In the end, the parents agreed to a deferred adjudication in exchange for no contest pleas. Despite all the mouthing from this detective, the prosecution knew there were problems. It was not the slam dunk the news media reported.

The reporters who had a fit about the earlier reports were silent at the outcome. The outcome was not "emotional" enough or "disturbing" enough for their taste. The officer who was wrongfully accused of not doing his job was ignored. These reporters did a great disservice to local citizens by not investigating why the lie took place. They also did a great disservice to the original police officer who did his job professionally and did not deserve the shoddy treatment from the management of the Oshkosh Police Department.

Nor, did the Oshkosh Police Department issue a statement rescinding the "talking to" against an officer who was doing his job. They didn't issue a "talking to" against the detective who fabricated and maliciously spread false information. The Supreme Court has said police could lie to gain a confession. That was not carte blanch permission to lie about everything.

Busha was also involved in an infant homicide case where he was found to deliberately withhold the required Miranda warning and then use the ill-gotten statements to gain a later properly Mirandized statement. The appeals court said his behavior was an intentional violation of the rights of the accused. Due to Busha’s attempt to circumvent law and protocol, the first-degree murder charge against the accused was thrown out.

The worst incident I have observed lately is one involving sex charges against two early teen boys. This began in February, 2007.

The case in McMinnville, Oregon, started when a female school employee reported that a boy slapped a girl on the butt.

McMinnville Officer Marshall Roache wrote in an arrest report about the two male juveniles that they had been dry humping girls. Officer Roache had been informed that these two boys were involved in party boy dancing, but he translated that to dry humping.

This was the beginning of a case that involved the coercing of juvenile witnesses, attempted coercion of juveniles into victims, and coercing juvenile suspects, by taking advantage of the knowledge that children are taught to be compliant to police officers. This was severe misconduct by the officers involved, school officials, and the prosecution. Patton Middle School Vice Principal Steve Tillery took part in the initial witness interrogations, insisting that the girls claim they were assaulted. Fortunately, the girls turned out to be more honest that Roache and his accomplices.

Activities that were charged against the boys were also admitted by girls, but no charges were filed. The boys were charged with felony sex abuse and prosecuted by Yamhill County Deputy District Attorney Debra J. Markham.

One question is why Roache changed the party boy dance to dry humping. There is a world of difference. If he did not know what party boy was, didn't he, as an investigator, have the obligation to find out? Why was he so determined to ruin the lives of two boys? This was clearly a case of falsifying police reports and court filings. And, the prosecutor’s office shirked responsibility with its zombie prosecution.

The charges were finally dropped, but the prosecutor’s office was obligated to save face.

Yamhill County District Attorney Bradley Berry defended the case despite its shaky basis and the falsifications in the charging documents. In the final agreement, the boys were forced to pay the girls $250.00 each, thus engaging in pay for touch, and write letters of apology. Again, the girls who engaged in the same activity were uncharged; evidence of the embedded sexism in our legal process. But, they were also treated as prostitutes when the prosecution forced the boys to pay the girls.

This last clearly demonstrates the corruption that affects some members of the law enforcement community, the ease which principals sell out their students, and the support prosecutors give to incompetence. Clearly both the vice-principal and the officer were intent on coercing witnesses for the purpose of incriminating and destroying two male juveniles.

And, the damage that would be done to juveniles coerced into giving false testimony was completely ignored by the District Attorney. The criminal justice system is adept at blaming and manipulating us mere mortals while justifying thuggish and dishonest behaviors by those in the system.

And there are many more cases. The fact that so many death row exonerations occur is due to false statements by authorities and evidence falsely construed to be incriminating by overzealous police and prosecutors. And at least twenty-five percent of the known wrongful death row convictions resulted from a coerced false confession. Where are the open-minded and careful investigators?

I know there are many good investigators who are conversant with the difference between identifiable fact and making things up. The incompetent seem to get the good attention though. And the liars get the awards - and the promotions.

Appeared in Ego Trips Number Seven (Autumn 2008)

Experimental Literary Journal of the
Fox Valley Writers Club (Wisconsin)