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MICHIGAN CASE HIGHLIGHTS PUBLIC TRUST EROSION DUE TO POLICE DISHONESTY

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In Keego Harbor, Michigan, a white police officer, Richard Lindquist, was accused of lying to a Black pedestrian, Brian Chaney, during a 2021 stop. Chaney, who was detained and accused of planning a car break-in, requested a supervisor, but Lindquist falsely identified another officer as his superior. This officer was neither a supervisor nor a member of the Keego Harbor Police Department. Despite this, Lindquist faced no disciplinary action, with Police Chief John Fitzgerald stating that officers are permitted to lie in the field when not under oath.

 

In fact, in the 1969 Supreme Court case of Frazier v. Cupp, the Supreme Court ruled that deceptive tactics used by police during an interrogation did not necessarily violate the Constitution. The decision acknowledged that some level of deception is permissible, but it must not be so coercive as to render a confession involuntary and thus inadmissible in court. This ruling has since been a part of the legal framework that guides police conduct during interrogations in the United States.

 

The Keego Harbor incident is just one of a series of examples of police dishonesty during interrogations. Recent cases across the country, including in Washington, D.C., Portland, Oregon, and Louisville, Kentucky, have involved officers lying or providing false information. These incidents contribute to a decline in public confidence in the police, as evidenced by a Gallup poll showing only 43% of respondents having a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the police, a significant drop from previous years.

 

Chaney's experience, detailed in his $10 million wrongful detention lawsuit, underscores the personal impact of police dishonesty. During the encounter, Lindquist accused Chaney of appearing to have a weapon and intending to break into cars, subjected him to physical force, and only released him after a tense exchange. The incident, which lasted over 20 minutes, resulted in physical injuries to Chaney. Despite the right of detained individuals to request a supervisor, Lindquist did not comply with this protocol, nor did he provide Chaney with the chief's contact information.

 

Attorney Leonard Mungo, representing Chaney, emphasizes that the right to lie should not be ingrained in police culture. Lying by police officers breeds suspicion and undermines the police’s credibility. The case highlights broader concerns about police honesty and its impact on public trust.

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