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Controversial District Attorney Charges California Officer For Stolen Handgun

The prosecutor rarely holds officers accountable.

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Controversial District Attorney Charges California Officer For Stolen Handgun

The prosecutor rarely holds officers accountable.

A member of the Bakersfield Police Department in California is being prosecuted by a district attorney who typically refuses to hold cops accountable. Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green charged Officer Kevin Schindler with embezzlement, possession of stolen property, and possession of illegal steroids early this month, after a stolen shotgun and injectable testosterone were found in his home.

The property was discovered in Schindler’s house in October, when his colleagues followed up on reports of a verbal dispute. There, responding officers found the testosterone, a BPD shotgun that was not registered to Schindler, as well as a firearm locking rack that belonged to the department. Green’s office launched an investigation, and Schindler was immediately placed on administrative leave. Misdemeanor criminal charges were filed on November 3.

The decision to prosecute Schindler is a rare one. Time and time again, prosecutors have demonstrated a reluctance to charge police for wrongdoing, and Green is notorious for letting officers get away with misconduct and criminal behavior.

According to the Guardian, there are more officer and deputy-involved shootings in Kern County per capita than every other U.S. county. In light of accusations that BPD officers and Kern County Sheriff’s Office deputies use excessive force and commit other forms of “serious misconduct,” the Department of Justice launched an investigation of both agencies last year. The ACLU of Southern California recently slammed BPD and KCSO for “a disturbing pattern of shootings, beatings and canine attacks.” Despite these allegations of excessive force and rampant use of firearms, no BPD officer has been charged for a police shooting by the district attorney.

Last year, Green also refused to prosecute corrupt detectives who admittedly stole and sold drugs, stole evidence from BPD, and took bribes.

The district attorney’s reluctance to hold officers accountable has continued this year. After a deputy from the KCSO shot an unarmed man in the abdomen, the Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation and concluded that the deputy broke protocol. Despite this conclusion, the district attorney decided the deputy’s decision to shoot was “objectively reasonable” in July. Green also declined to charge BPD officers who illegally stopped and arrested two black college students — even though she acknowledged that the officers’ actions were unlawful.

“Sometimes officers can make good faith mistakes and there’s exceptions built into the law that allows them to conduct a search. In this case there’s no exception that allows them to,” she said. “They didn’t have any reason to contact them.”

Within this context, Schindler’s case is an anomaly.

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