In June, a Houston police officer was shot in the back, prompting an immediate search for a black man and a pregnant woman in a champagne-colored Buick.
Then, three months later in September, an Illinois police officer was shot to death with a bullet to the chest, prompting another manhunt, this time for two white men and one black man who were seen in the area on surveillance video.
And just one day after that, a Massachusetts police officer was shot at while driving his patrol car, causing it to lose control and catch on fire, prompting a manhunt for a white man in a maroon pickup truck.
All of these incidents added fuel to this so-called “War on Police” that cops in this country claim has left them fearing for their lives every time they don the uniform.
But all of these stories are turning out to be fabricated.
And we now know that the Massachusetts cop, Millis police officer Bryan Johnson, made up the story about the random white man in a pickup truck who took a shot at him while passing him in the opposite lane, causing him to crash into a tree and engulf his vehicle in flames. Ballistics from his own gun indicate he shot up the SUV.
And we are now only waiting for police in Illinois to admit that Fox Lake police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz killed himself with his own gun, something that should have been evident when police abruptly called off an intense manhunt less than 24 hours after the shooting, announcing they are shifting from an active search to an open investigation.
And that War on Police we keep hearing about? The one that has been blamed on everybody from President Obama to the Black Lives Matter movement to even us here at Photography is Not a Crime?
So far, 2015 is on pace to see 35 felonious killings of police officers. If that pace holds, this year would end with the second lowest number of murdered cops in decades.
But the Police PR Spin Machine is strong. It knows how to play to people’s emotions and fears. It knows how to manipulate the truth.
And way too many cops,unfortunately, have a tendency to fabricate the facts, even going as far as fabricating their own shootings as we have seen in recent years with Baltimore Police Detective Anthony Fata, Los Angeles School Police Department Officer Jeff Stenroos, North Las Vegas police officer Bryan Kolstad and Gowanda (NY) police officer Jason Miller.
Nevertheless, a recent Rasmussen survey determined 58 percent of Americans truly do believe there is a war on cops. A surprisedly high percentage considering hardly a day goes by without a new video surfacing showing police brutality, incidents that are now being reported by both the mainstream media and the multitude of police accountability sites that have surfaced in recent years.
So it’s not necessarily a War on Police as much as it is a public relations war. Or more precisely, a desperate attempt at damage control; a frantic grab for the narrative they once controlled so firmly, but has now been stripped from their hands by citizen journalists, social media and sites like PINAC.
Let’s take a deeper look at the cases mentioned above.
The Houston Case
The incident took place on June 9 in front of a Sears and near a METRO rail line as Houston motorcycle police officer Terry Smith along with METRO motorcycle cop Gregory Hudson were making traffic stops.
Police told the media that they were looking for a champagne-colored Buick with a black man and a pregnant woman. And the local police union had harsh words for the shooter, calling him a “cowardly thug” to shoot a cop in the back. And, of course, they were sure to hype the War on Police.
“All over the nation you see attacks on police officers for no apparent reason other than they’re wearing a uniform,” said Douglas Griffith, the union’s vice president. “It saddens me.”
But news coverage of the incident abruptly ended after June 10, a day after the incident even though the shooter was supposedly still at large. The media had lost interest because police had stopped talking about it, which should have been our first warning sign that things were not adding up.
After all, police usually go all-out in hunting down a potential cop killer.
Now almost four months after the shooting, we are learning that Smith was most likely shot by Hudson, the METRO cop who is known to be his friend.
On the afternoon of June 9, Houston motorcycle police officer Terry Smith was shot in the back while parked at that spot, in the Sears parking lot. Within hours, HPD released information to the public that it was looking for a champagne colored vehicle with a man and a pregnant woman inside. They were considered possible suspects. At the time, the Houston Police Officers’ Union had harsh words for the unknown shooter: “He’s a coward to shoot a man in the back when he’s not even looking at you,” said HPOU board member Joseph Gamaldi on that day.
Now, there is one major problem. Multiple sources close to the investigation have told Eyewitness News that investigators now believe the story was fabricated. They are coming to the conclusion there may never have been a champagne colored car with two people inside.
Sources close to the investigation say HPD is working on the theory that Officer Smith may have been hit by gunfire from his friend at the scene, METRO Police Officer Gregory Hudson. METRO confirms Hudson was placed on desk duty on September 2. The agency says the move was made after HPD investigators began requesting information, including firearms records from METRO. Sources say there is also apparently no surveillance video to back up the original story.
No surveillance video to back up the original story?
So does that mean there is video that confirms Hudson shot Smith? The incident took place near a METRO rail line and Google Earth shows there is at least one camera in the area. And initial media reports describe cops as reviewing footage from nearby surveillance cameras.
Perhaps that explains why police suddenly went mum on the shooting. But whether the shooting was intentional or unintentional, don’t police owe it to the public to provide us with the truth?
The Illinois Case
The incident took place on September 1 when Fox Lake police officer Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was found bleeding to death from a bullet wound. Immediately, a massive manhunt began in search of two white males and a black male, whom, according to police, were being pursued by the slain officer prior to him being shot.
And, of course, the Police PR Spin Machine went into full effect with police officers across the country decrying this War on Police. CNN referred to the shooting as the “latest in a troubling wave of police deaths across the country.”
But when the manhunt ended after 14 hours, it should have become evident that there was no killer on the loose.
After all, police don’t just end manhunts for cop killers less than 24 hours after a shooting if a suspect is still at large. They will search the world for a cop killer. It’s part of their Just Us Over Justice cop code.
Let’s not forget that when a sniper shot and killed a Pennsylvania state trooper inside the police barracks last year, local, state and federal police embarked on a 48-day manhunt, costing more than a million dollars a week, until they finally captured suspect Eric Frein, who had been living in the woods as a survivalist.
And who can forget the 2013 manhunt for Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles cop turned cop killer, which lasted nine days until police tracked him down to a cabin in the mountains where he was said to have died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head?
It was a retired Chicago police officer named Joseph Battaglia who first publicly suggested it was a suicide.
But police were quick to shut him down by throwing him in jail and charging him with two felony counts of disorderly conduct after he began calling the coroner’s office, allegedly threatening to harm them if they did not rule the Gliniewicz killing a suicide.
Then the Chicago Tribune began citing “multiple sources close to the investigation” who were speaking on the condition of anonymity about the possibility that Gliniewicz died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd also raised the possibility that the police officer died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, saying the only way he could rule that out suicide is if police provide him with evidence from their investigation, including DNA samples from beneath Gliniewicz’s fingernails as well as gunshot residue results found on his body – which they have refused to do.
But many times, suicide takes place without warning. And denial is not uncommon for mourning family members.
“Gliniewicz’s body was found face down in a remote area, his service weapon next to him,” reported Fox News’s Matt Finn, citing the unnamed Task Force member. “Two shell casings were found: one came from a shot that hit Gliniewicz’s Kevlar vest; roughly 100 feet away, another casing was found from the fatal shot that struck Gliniewicz underneath his bulletproof vest in a downward trajectory, hitting him near the heart.”
“Sources say one hand was found underneath his chest in what’s described as a gun-holding position,” Finn continued. “Two separate sources say Gliniewicz had no defensive wounds and there was no sign of a struggle, especially one to save his own life.”
Today, almost a month after the shooting, police have yet to say whether Gliniewicz was killed by his own gun, which should be one of the easiest questions to answer.
Lake County authorities said Monday that they continue to investigate the death as a homicide — but they won’t disclose what they’ve learned from gunshot residue and ballistics testing. The statement of a sheriff’s detective that the homicide theory is supported by “the facts and the evidence” squared uneasily with an official posture that the test results “do not support or exclude any specific theory.”
This isn’t TV; citizens aren’t entitled to the rapid solution of complex cases. They are, though, entitled to candor about a case that frightened — perhaps still frightens — many of them. Among many questions authorities could answer now: Had Gliniewicz fired a weapon before his death? Did his own gun fire the fatal shot? And how likely is it that three other people were present when he died?
In regards to Officer Joe Gliniewicz. This is week five of this dog and pony show investigation in Fox Lake. I wish they would just come out and tell us the truth rather than running us around in circles. I know it may hurt the family but the public needs to know what’s happening with this investigation instead of sitting in their homes wondering if there’s danger lurking about in their neighborhoods or not. It reminds me of an old cliche: “You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
Further complicating issues is the fact that Fox Lake Police Chief Michael Behan was placed on paid administrative leavejust over a week before the shooting over an incident in which he and another cop, who was also placed on paid leave, were caught on jailhouse surveillance video beating an intoxicated man. Behan ended up retiring just over a week after the shooting.
Despite speculation from online conspiracy-minded commenters, there is nothing to confirm that Gliniewicz was applying for the chief’s position. And even if he was, it still would not make sense to kill him because Behan’s days were already numbered. Investigators, of course, have refused to release the video of the jail cell beating.
And now there is also the question about the amount of money Gliniewicz’s family will receive through his pension. If it turns out he killed himself, then they would likely receive less than if he had been killed by armed suspects.
And there is also the question that if police intentionally fabricated the story of Gliniewicz’s death, shouldn’t they be charged with a crime?
After all, less than 48 hours after his shooting, police arrested a 30-year-old woman for fabricating a story that she was approached by two suspicious men, who then fled into a cornfield, leading police on a five-hour search of the area.
The Massachusetts Case
The incident took place on September 2 when Millis police officer Bryan Johnson reported that he was driving down the road when a white man in a maroon pickup truck drove past him in the opposite direction, firing several shots at him, causing him to drive off the road and crash into a tree.
Johnson, 24, then stepped out of the police SUV and began firing back as his vehicle became engulfed in flames, according to the initial report.
As in the Illinois case, a massive manhunt ensued with dogs, helicopters and armored cars taken over the small Massachusetts town.
Yesterday afternoon, members of the Millis Department, along with police from surrounding towns and the State Police, responded to Forest Road for the report of shots being fired into a Millis Police cruiser being operated by a part-time town officer, or what is called a permanent intermittent officer. The cruiser then went off the road and caught on fire.
Over the next several hours, numerous officers, troopers, K9 units and a State Police helicopter conducted an intensive search for the reported suspect. Neither the suspect nor the vehicle he was said to be driving were found.
An extensive search for ballistics evidence at and around the scene was also conducted. As a result of that search, the only ballistics evidence recovered was that belonging to the part-time officer.
Additionally, several interviews were conducted with the officer.
Upon conclusion of those interviews, and as a result of all other evidence, we have determined that the officer’s story was fabricated, specifically that he fired shots at his own cruiser as part of a plan to concoct a story that he was fired upon. The evidence indicates that the shots were not fired by a suspect and there is no gunman at-large in or around the town.
It was, without a doubt, an embarrassing moment for the Millis Police Department as the national media had a field day with the story.
But it allowed them to distance themselves from the lying police officer without having to spend tax dollars on needless manhunts for the sole purpose of fueling the fabricated War on Police.
And it made them credible at a time when credibility is seriously lacking within our police forces.