Law enforcement is given an incredible amount of leeway to keep us safe.
Everyday, police across the country have immense discretion in deciding how to treat those they suspect of a crime.
Sometimes, however, their decisions make headlines for the wrong reasons.
Here are the top stories in police misconduct in 2013.
In a lawsuit filed July 26 Shoshoni police chief Andy Rodriguez was accused of using a Taser
on a man whose lawyer refers to him as a "cat guy." A police report explains what happened when Rodriguez tried to arrest the "cat guy," L.J. Faith, for animal cruelty.
"I deployed the Taser to Faith's left side arm. During the attempt to control Faith's arm, I realized the Taser was not having a meaningful affect [sic]..."
Not deterred, the officer loaded another probe, but something went awry:
"As I was attaching [another] probe cartridge to the Taser, I had the sensation of falling backwards... I recall the Taser discharging... a probe had penetrated my right index finger... I pulled the probe out of my finger and was going to reload with a second probe cartridge when officer Cruche told me he had been hit as well. I looked over and [he] was bleeding from the top of his head near the hair line."
Texas Deputy Constable Jimmy Drummond.
was charged in the brutal 2011 beating of a young man and his family.
Police dashboard camera footage, released in September, allegedly shows Drummond beating a man who was pulled over for speeding. The suspect's father and mother also claim they were dragged and kicked by deputies. The beatings left the son's ribs broken and his father's face bruised.
A criminal complaint filed against Drummond said his actions were "gratuitous" and "furthered no law enforcement purpose."
New Mexico resident Marlene Tapia filed a lawsuit
in November over an incident that took place two years prior. KOB explains what allegedly happened:
According to court records, police arrested Tapia for a probation violation tied to a previous drug case. While at the Metropolitan Detention Center, Tapia said two officers strip searched her and asked her to bend over at the waist. That’s when they noticed a plastic baggie protruding from Tapia’s vagina.
Instead of taking Tapia to a doctor to have the baggie removed, she said one of the officers – Blanca Zapater – sprayed a chemical agent directly on her genitals twice.
In January, New Mexico man David Eckert was subjected to a series of invasive and degrading drug search procedures after a traffic stop. The procedures, which included x-rays, digital anal penetration, enemas and a colonoscopy, were all performed without Eckert's consent.
Authorities conducted the searches because Eckert allegedly clinched his buttocks.
Michael Saffioti's family filed a lawsuit
in November after the 22-year-old Washington resident died in his cell following an arrest for pot possession.
According to the lawsuit, Saffioti may have suffered an allergic reaction in his jail cell caused by the food he was given while behind bars. He made several attempts to call for help, but guards ignored his requests until it was too late, according to the suit.
An investigative report released
in October, 2013 by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found that the St. Louis Police Department had accidentally arrested 100 people over the last seven years. The department said that mistakes will happen in a city where officers make 30,000 arrests every year.
But Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, told The Huffington Post that these accidents are unacceptable.
"To say we are a large city and mistakes will happen as if that justifies a depravation of liberty is simply incorrect," Mittman said.
An audit filed in October, 2013
found that law enforcement offices in Fulton County, Georgia are using asset forfeiture money on galas, back-rent, fancy restaurants and a field trip to see Headline News anchor Nancy Grace, among other questionable expenditures.
Fulton County D.A. Paul Howard said he disagreed with the report and said he'd continue spending the money as he saw fit.
A report by the Los Angeles Times
in December, 2013 found
that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department had made several sketchy hires including a man who said he kissed and groped a 14-year-old girl when he was 28.
Three high school teens in Rochester, N.Y., were arrested
while they waited for a bus, but authorities claimed the trio was obstructing the flow of other pedestrians on the sidewalk.
"We tried to tell them that we were waiting for the bus," One of the students, Wan'Tauhjs Weathers said. "We weren't catching a city bus, we were catching a yellow bus. He didn't care. He arrested us anyways."
The police department denied any wrongdoing but prosecutors elected not to bring charges.