PAR: Body camera caught cops lying, this is what happened when we asked police to explain

Michael Q. Banks was in his car one evening when a specialized crime unit of Trenton police suddenly pulled him from his vehicle and slammed him on the pavement, breaking his nose. Police proceeded to tear apart Banks’ car without his consent. Banks invoked his Fourth Amendment rights, but to no avail. Police later justified their search by claiming Banks had displayed “aggressive behavior” and given police a “startled look” upon being accosted. The crime rate of the neighborhood Banks was parked in was also used to justify police actions. One of the officers, Michael Gelton, was later responsible for shooting and paralyzing Jajuan Henderson.

Banks’s ordeal exemplifies how police departments treat poor communities and communities of color across the country, as well as the dangerous implications such tactics have on the erosion of Fourth Amendment rights. Police have used the high crime rates that often occur in poor neighborhoods to justify violent tactics that frequently result in civil rights violations. Yet police aggression has failed to have a measurable impact on local crime or its underlying causes of poverty and systemic neglect. Banks spoke with Police Accountability Report about his ordeal. A Trenton police spokesperson failed to appear for a previously scheduled interview with PAR.

Studio: Stephen Janis
Post-Production: Stephen Janis, Adam Coley


Transcript

Taya Graham:  Hello, my name is Taya Graham, and welcome to the Police Accountability Report. As I always make clear, this show has a single purpose: holding the politically powerful institution of policing accountable. And to do so, we don’t just focus on the bad behavior of individual cops. Instead, we examine the system that makes bad policing possible.

And to achieve that goal today, we will show you this stop conducted by Trenton, New Jersey Police, after they removed a man from his car without accusing him of a crime. A possible violation of his rights that did not end here, because the police continued to target the subject of this search in a possible effort to silence his efforts to fight back.

But before we get started, I want you watching to know that if you have evidence of police misconduct, please email it to us privately at par@therealnews.com. And please like, share and comment on our videos. You know I read your comments and that I appreciate them, and you can always, always reach out to me directly @tayasbaltimore on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, if you can, please hit the Patreon donate link pinned in the comments below, because we do have some extras there for our PAR family. Okay, we’ve gotten that out of the way.

Now, as we have often highlighted on this show, the growth of police power in the US has come at a price, often at the expense of our Constitutional rights. I mean, I doubt anyone could argue against the fact that our Fourth Amendment protection against unwarranted search and seizures has been eroded by legal precedent which gives police vast discretion to ignore it.

I think it is safe to say that, for any given scenario where police might want to search your car or your person or your property, the courts have conjured an exception which makes Fourth Amendment protections porous at best.

But of course, the best way to demonstrate how this works is through the video I’m about to show you right now. It’s a video of a car stop in January 2021 in Trenton, New Jersey, that involves the stop, the search, and violent arrest of an Uber Eats driver.

The story starts when a specialized crime unit was patrolling an area in Trenton. They designated it in their charging documents as high crime. Their basis for this assessment? The usual American police rationalization of impoverished, neglected, and over-policed. There, according to charging documents, officers encountered the ominous behavior of a motorist who – Wait for it – Was parked. Seriously. When they approached the vehicle, the officers wrote the person in the driver’s seat, Michael Cue Banks looked – Okay, wait for it – Startled. And for that reason, officers felt justified to do this.

Let’s watch.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Police Officer:  Yep.

What up, man?

Michael Banks:  Excuse me. What can [inaudible].

Police Officer:  How you doing tonight? Just keep your hands up for me.

Michael Banks:  No, no. Excuse me, sir. [crosstalk]

Police Officer:  Keep your hands up for me. All right?

Michael Banks:  Sir, sir, sir.

Police Officer:  Keep your hands up for me.

Michael Banks:  Sir, why are you grabbing me?

Police Officer:  Keep your hands up.

Keep your hands up.

Is the vehicle in park?

Michael Banks:  Excuse me, I have my Fourth Amendment. I just came out from my establishment.

Police Officer:  Hold on, I don’t know if the car’s in park.

Michael Banks:  Excuse me, sir.

Police Officer:  Hey, how are you, sir?

Michael Banks:  I’m all right. Is there something I can help you guys with? Y’all are pulling me out my car.

Police Officer:  Get out of the car.

Michael Banks:  Are you all –

Police Officer:  Get out of the car. I’m going to remove you.

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:  Now, it’s interesting to read between the lines of the so-called statement of probable cause and relate it back to my statement about the erosion of our Fourth Amendment rights. That’s because the first prong of the officer’s argument that Mr. Banks’s car could be searched was based upon where it was parked.

That’s right. Apparently parking in a bad neighborhood is probable cause for a crime. Let me repeat that the officer believes Mr. Banks had waived his Fourth Amendment rights because of where he decided to stop. Notably, it was also where he was trying to make a living delivering food. But it doesn’t end there.

Because the second prong of his argument is the so-called startled look. That’s right, because Mr. Banks was surprised by the presence of several plain clothes police officers, well, then he must have been committing a crime, not delivering food.

So on that basis, police decided to engage with Mr. Banks and asked him to get out of the car. But the cops had a different version of what happened than what appears to be shown on the video. Let’s watch and then compare.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Police Officer:  Hold on, man.

Michael Banks:  Excuse me –

Police Officer:  How you doing tonight?

Michael Banks:  What can I do for –

Police Officer:  How are you doing tonight? Keep your hands up for me [crosstalk].

Michael Banks:  No, no. Excuse me, sir.

Police Officer:  Keep your hands up for me, all right?

Michael Banks:  Sir, sir, sir.

Police Officer:  Keep your hands up for me.

Michael Banks:  Why are you grabbing me?

Police Officer:  Keep your hands up.

Michael Banks:  I have my Fourth Amendment.

Police Officer:  Is the vehicle in park?

Michael Banks:  Excuse me. I have my Fourth Amendment. I just came out of that establishment. Excuse me? Excuse me, sir.

Police Officer:  Hey, how are you, sir?

Michael Banks:  I’m all right.

Police Officer:  Oh, okay.

Michael Banks:  Is there something I can help you guys with? You guys are pulling me out my car.

Police Officer:  Get out of the car.

Michael Banks:  Are you all –

Police Officer:  Get out of the car. I’m going to remove you.

You’re under arrest.

You’re under arrest. Get on the ground [music playing from radio]

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:  So as you can see, Mr. Banks complied, but also asked reasonable questions, but not according to the sworn statement signed under the penalty of perjury by the cops themselves.

Let me read it as we watch what actually happened. Take a look.

“I heard Banks yelling through the driver’s side door as he displayed aggressive behavior.” Really? Is that really what happened? Let’s take another look.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Police Officer:  What’s up, man?

Michael Banks:  Excuse me.

Police Officer:  How you doing tonight?

Michael Banks:  What can I do for you?

Police Officer:  Just keep your hands for me?

Michael Banks:  No, no, excuse me, sir.

Police Officer:  Keep your hands up for me, all right?

Michael Banks:  Sir, sir, sir.

Police Officer:  Keep your hands up for me.

Michael Banks:  Sir, why are you grabbing me? 

Police Officer:  Keep your hands up [crosstalk]. Is the vehicle in park?

Michael Banks:  Excuse me. I have my Fourth Amendment. I just came out from that establishment.

Police Officer:  Hold on. I don’t know if the car’s in park.

Michael Banks:  Excuse me? Excuse me, sir.

Police Officer:  Hey, how are you, sir?

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:  But that’s not where this…Intriguing narrative ends, because as they continue to drag Banks out of the car, the officer again had an interesting interpretation of what happened. Let’s watch, and again, I’ll read the officers’ sworn statements as we watch.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

Michael Banks:  I just came out of my establishment.

Police Officer:  I don’t know if the car’s in park.

Michael Banks:  Excuse me?

Taya Graham:  [narration over video clip] “Due to Banks’s aggressive behavior, I removed banks from the driver’s seat and took him to the ground.”

Police Officer:  Get out of the car. Get out of the car, I’m going to remove you. Get out. You’re under arrest. [music plays from radio]

You’re under arrest.

On the ground.

– Car.

Michael Banks:  Sir, sir.

Police Officer:  Put your hands up for me.

Michael Banks:  Sir, why are you grabbing me?

Police Officer:  Keep your hands up.

Michael Banks:  I have my Fourth Amendment.

Police Officer:  Keep your hands up.

Michael Banks:  [crosstalk] Excuse me. I have my Fourth Amendment. I just came out from my establishment.

Police Officer:  Hold on. I don’t know if the car’s in park.

Michael Banks:  Excuse me? Excuse me, sir.

Police Officer:  Hey, how are you, sir?

Michael Banks:  I’m all right. Is there something I can help you guys with? Y’all pulling me out my car.

Police Officer:  Get out of the car. Get out of the car. [scuffling] I’m going to put you under arrest.

You’re under arrest.

You’re under arrest.

Michael Banks:  What did I do?

Police Officer:  You’re under arrest.

Michael Banks:  This is [inaudible]. I just came out.

Police Officer:  You’re under arrest, [inaudible] on your back. It’s over, bud. Relax. Just relax. It’s over.

Yeah.

Michael Banks:  Over for what?

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Taya Graham:  Now, I don’t know what you saw on the body camera video, but I think Mr. Banks’s so-called aggressive behavior could be interpreted quite differently. What I saw was a man who was startled by the sudden presence of cops in apparent plain clothes armed with guns suddenly pouncing on his vehicle, ordering him out of it without explanation.

I saw a man who was simply asking questions after being set upon. I mean, how would any of us react to the scenario we just watched? Cops suddenly descend upon your vehicle and demand you comply with orders, barking orders at you that you might not understand. Especially when you know you haven’t committed a crime. What exactly do police expect when they use these types of tactics?

But of course, the cops weren’t done, not hardly. Because after they have removed Mr. Banks from his car, they searched it. But this was not some sort of casual inspection. Instead, they literally tore the car apart. Just take a look.

[VIDEO CLIP BEGINS]

[shuffling, objects being moved]

[zipper pulled]

[shuffling]

[VIDEO CLIP ENDS]

Now before I go any further ON reporting the details of Mr. Banks’s ordeal and how this aggressive policing affected his life, I want to make a point about these types of tactics. This manner of policing has been touted as the tough on crime solution to the country’s continuing plague of violence.

But this is also a perfect example of why this approach continues to fail. Whatever you think of the officer’s actions, the net result is this: the disruption of a man working to make a living; the violent and dangerous encroachment on his personal freedom; and the entanglement of a person in the highly suspect criminal justice system which is best known for exacting fines, fees, and entrapping people who are vulnerable and ill-equipped to fight back.

And for what? Simply because he was in the wrong neighborhood? Are we really adding geography to the vast litany of BS crimes in this country? Are we really going to start prosecuting people for where they park? Well, if you think what happened in this video is good policing, that’s the policy you are endorsing.

And so soon, I will be talking to Mr. Banks himself about how this has affected him. But before I do, I’m joined by my reporting partner, Stephen Janis, who has been reaching out to the police department for comment.

But there’s a caveat here, because this time Stephen is actually in Trenton, New Jersey, where he has been trying to get comment from the police department. Stephen, thank you for joining me.

Stephen Janis:  Taya, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Taya Graham:  So first, what was Mr. Banks charged with, and how did police justify the charges?

Stephen Janis:  Well, right now I’m actually in Trenton, New Jersey. We came to talk to the Trenton Police spokesperson. This case raised a lot of questions for us, questions that we thought we might have to answer by coming up here. We kind of get tired of people not answering questions, and I was so disturbed by what I saw in that statement of probable cause and so familiar with it, being a reporter from Baltimore, where I’ve seen these kind of policing applied to poor neighborhoods and applied to working class neighborhoods, that I thought it was worth the trip to come up here and to see it for ourselves. And actually talk to people in the community and kind of see what’s going on here.

Taya Graham:  So you are there in Trenton. What are police saying about Banks’s arrest?

Stephen Janis:  Well, there was no real justification if you really read the probable cause closely. The Trenton Police, as you can see, here are the headquarters in the background, really charge him with obstruction, administrative obstruction, and then they charge him for not having a license.

But we talked to Mr. Banks and he said that was not true. But of course if you listen to the body camera footage, you don’t see any sort of sign that they’re going, hey, can I look at your license? For example, when they walk up to the car, they don’t say, could you present your license? They, in fact, did the exact opposite, which is just drag him out of the car. So there really wasn’t a chance for Mr. Banks to produce his license.

So those are the primary charges. They obviously didn’t find anything in his car. They searched it with what they call so-called negative results. So the charges were extremely minimal and really not justified in any way I can see by watching the body camera video.

So we had spoken to them on the phone and then they agreed to do an interview with us and we talked to them specifically. We had four major questions, which I’m showing you on the screen right now, mostly related to how they justified the difference between what the officers said they did and what happened on body camera footage. I wanted the salaries of these officers, but also I wanted an explanation for this type of unit. What was this unit? What are the tactics of this unit targeting poor neighborhoods? Or targeting neighborhoods that they say, hey, if you’re there, you committed a crime. I wanted more explanation on that.

But, Taya, with that being said, we had a real lesson in police accountability because, as I said, before we came up to Trenton to get comment from police, we had every assurance we would get comment from police. And then the police spokesperson, who is paid to talk to the press about problems with policing, disappeared.

Taya Graham:  I did speak with her yesterday. She did say she’d be really available after 2:00. She just hadn’t decided if she wanted to do it on camera, which is fine. It didn’t have to be on camera. I just needed to get comment. And there’s no one else that’s available to speak to media? Okay. Well, I really appreciate your help and your time. Thank you.

Okay, I’m a little pissed. We contacted her back when we were in Baltimore. We made a point of telling her that we want to speak to her in person, and get comment. We spoke to her on the phone yesterday. She said she would be available after 2:00. She wasn’t sure if she felt comfortable being on camera. I said that it is no problem, we could simply record her voice or just talk in person and I would take notes.

However, I was not expecting her to not be in the building at all. When I spoke to her yesterday, she said she wasn’t unavailable because she was taking a half-day. Today, she’s not in the building at all. And apparently the entire Trenton, New Jersey, Police Department only has one person who’s available to give comment to the media. One person, and that person is not in the building.

So we are here in Trenton, New Jersey, without anyone in the Trenton, New Jersey Police Department available to talk to us about A, what happened to Michael Banks, B, their process for investigating excessive force complaints, C, I’m a little mad, so I’m going to stop talking now.

Stephen Janis:  But we also said, while we’re here, why don’t we go to the place where it occurred and take a look around and see what’s going on in that neighborhood and see if we can find out what people think about police there?

So Taya, we’re here right in the neighborhood where Mr. Banks was pulled over by police. As you can see, right across the street is the La Terraza restaurant. You go over here, you have a hair salon, and this way is a bakery. And, of course, right behind us is a funeral home.

Now the point I’m trying to make is that yes, this is an active neighborhood. And yes, the crime statistics show that Trenton is a violent city. However, this is a very active, bustling neighborhood where people are going about their business, where people have businesses and restaurants and funeral homes and are more complex than, I think, police description in the statement of probable cause and it being a high crime neighborhood.

I think there’s more to it. That’s why we came here. And what I see is a neighborhood that is trying to grow and also struggling, but not necessarily are going to be helped by police dragging people out of cars.

Speaker:  It doesn’t make a difference whether they’re Black, Hispanic, white. They all need training in how to deal with the public, because they don’t have that. Trenton Police Department, I think they accuse everybody of being bad until proven innocent.

Stephen Janis:  And Taya, you can see there are a lot of questions about this policy and there’s concerns in the community about this policy. Not all people agree with it, but of course Trenton is a city that has more violent crime than the surrounding area. So a lot of times police departments turn to these kinds of techniques. But we’ve seen in Baltimore they are not effective long term. They often create more problems, and, certainly, in this case they seem to suspend the Constitution, which is our primary concern. People say you can’t enforce the law by breaking it.

Well, this is a good example and I think you can see in the community that is a definite concern.

Taya Graham:  And now to discuss the repercussions of this arrest and how it has impacted his life, I’m joined by Michael Banks.

Michael Banks:  Thank you. Pleasure.

Taya Graham:  So first tell me about what you were doing right before you were pulled over. You were working, right?

Michael Banks:  I was getting off of work, went to the liquor store, stopped at my friend’s establishment, which is a bar/restaurant. And where I do security, I know the owner and the security that’s there. We normally group up there. So stop in, check-in to say, what’s up? And basically I was only there for I’d say 15 minutes, and got in my car, and I was about to travel home.

Taya Graham:  So the officer pulls you over. Does he even ask for ID? He seems extremely aggressive from the initial point of contact.

Michael Banks:  It wasn’t a mobile vehicle stop. I see them, and as I was leaving, I was in my car. I was about to travel home, as I said, and my music wasn’t working. So as I’m in my vehicle, which was parked I won’t say 25 feet, but my vehicle was parked before a traffic light. I was parked on that side of the street. So as I was trying to fix my music with the 3.5 jack, it was almost working. So I decided, I was like, I’m about to leave.

So as I’m pulling off, a vehicle approaches me at the traffic light. And it had one head lamp, and it’s raining, and I had a pedestrian come past me, and then this car comes. And as I’m making the right turn, it almost sideswiped, it almost hit me. It came across the little yellow line with the crosswalk.

So I stopped. I’m like, yo, are you serious? And I looked at him, and they turned around and got me out of my vehicle. That’s when the lights came on, they could see my vehicle. That was from the body cam footage. That’s when the interaction happened. They pulled me out of my vehicle. No motor vehicle [inaudible], no nothing. And fractured my nose.

Taya Graham:  So you had your hands up and you were complying, but you were immediately placed in handcuffs. Did the officer ever tell you why you were pulled over?

Michael Banks:  Nothing at all. It’s nothing.

Taya Graham:  Did you give the officers permission to search your car? Did you even know they were conducting a search?

Michael Banks:  All I seen was, I heard something at my right door. I heard something, I looked, and then I looked to my left, and my driver’s side door was open and I’m getting yanked out of the vehicle. So at that time it was… I’m not sure how many officers were in that vehicle, but it was one, and then it was a whole swarm of them. They were like bees.

Taya Graham:  Were you concerned about your safety? I mean, how rough were the officers with you?

Michael Banks:  Yes. I didn’t realize that when they slammed me on the street and it’s raining, that I had sustained injuries. Like everybody, adrenalin, my adrenaline, your adrenaline is going to be rushing. Pull me up, what can I help you with? Why are you – Like, hello? It’s not a normal traffic stop. So you can just say like, hey, you know the reason why I’m pulling you over for? There’s none of that.

Taya Graham:  Were you charged with any crimes?

Michael Banks:  The initial charge was obstruction and resisting arrest. After I went to an in-custody, they had me with… They started hitting me with traffic tickets afterwards. They said that 25 feet from parking and unlicensed driver. They didn’t even give me the opportunity to do anything, you know what I mean?

Taya Graham:  How has this cost you, financially or otherwise?

Michael Banks:  After I was released, they… Basically, I had to walk. They towed the vehicle and I had to walk from the precinct back home, which is basically over, it’s like a mile and some change. Hurt, not even hurting and everything else, but my knees, my back is already hurting. I got bulging discs in my back.

But I didn’t even notice, like my nose. Right now, it’s still… I need to rest. I mean, how can I say this? Oh, give me one second, one second. Every time I look at the vehicle, I think about the incident. It’s like post traumatic stress. And basically I’ve been harassed since the incident, which is… I can’t even go outside sometimes. You know what I mean?

Taya Graham:  I would like to add a point that Mr. Banks and I discussed that was not a part of the earlier interview. The officer, Michael Getler, that stopped him and pulled him out of his car without articulating probable cause was the same Officer Getler that later stopped Jajuan Henderson without articulating probable cause, smashed his car window, and shot him four times, paralyzing him from the waist down. Perhaps if Internal Affairs had taken Mr Banks’s complaint more seriously, that tragedy may have been avoided.

So usually at this point in the show I share a specific case of bad policing to make a broader point about the system which enables it. In other words, I try to illustrate through examples why policing in this country cannot be reformed without addressing issues like inequality, unchecked judicial power, overloaded defense attorneys, and other aspects of our often uncivil society which makes bad policing possible.

But the video I showed you and the rationale police used to justify the arrest of Mr. Banks hit home for me in a way that compels me to speak from a more personal perspective, because what I witnessed on the body camera footage and read in charging documents hit very close to home for me.

That’s because in my hometown, police used a similar tactic, a brand of policing that I am all too familiar with. During the aughts, my city, hometown of Baltimore, conducted one of the most massive violations of civil rights in recent American history. From 2001 to about 2008, roughly 700,000 people were arrested under a policy known as zero tolerance. That’s in a city of just 600,000 people.

Nearly 100,000 people were arrested each and every year. And this wasn’t for murder or violent crimes or any real matter of public safety. Most of these arrests were for so-called quality of life offenses: Spitting on the sidewalk, or drinking a beer on a stoop, or the crime that affected me personally: walking on a public street without ID, which is the reason I’m bringing this policy up again on this show. Because during the city’s obsession with zero tolerance, I had a personal rule. Whenever I left my apartment for school or work, I always made sure I had my ID. And this wasn’t because I was driving or going to a bar. Honestly, I didn’t even own a car. The reason I was so obsessive about having ID was because in Baltimore you could be arrested for not having one. That’s right.

Despite the protections outlined in the First Amendment to travel and assemble freely without having to show a government official identification, in Baltimore, if you didn’t have a license or government identity card, you could be locked up. Meaning any officer at any time could simply get out of his car and ask you for ID. And I know this because it happened to me more than once.

But of course, there was a catch. Because this power to demand ID only applied to certain neighborhoods, just like Trenton. The only people who had to worry about being arrested for not having ID were those of us who lived in struggling, working-class neighborhoods. In fact, it was so bad that even if you had an ID, an officer could and would still arrest you if you didn’t live in the neighborhood where the cops stopped you. Meanwhile, residents in the city’s wealthy neighborhoods were still able to exercise their Constitutional rights fully and freely.

That’s right. While myself and the rest of the city were literally subject to on the spot detainment, no matter if we had committed a crime, the wealthy could simply sit back and laugh at our predicament, if they were even aware of it at all.

But the worst part about this story is not just the fact that I was fearful of walking in my own neighborhood or that hundreds of thousands of people were locked up for no reason. That’s tragic, of course. But what might be even worse is this: It didn’t work. Crime didn’t go down, poverty only got worse.

My city’s population continues to shrink, and today we are facing the same problems, if not worse problems, than we were then. In fact, in my opinion, zero tolerance took what little was left of the soul of our city and ripped it out and threw it in the trash marked American social neglect. It criminalized and demonized working class people to the extent that we have never really recovered here. It turned the city into a bastion of geographical fascism, forged by indiscriminate law enforcement, permanently staining the psyche of my city and its people.

And that’s why when I watched the officers use the pretense of a bad neighborhood to ignore the rights of Mr. Banks, I was reminded of how that type of policing affected my life and my city. Just reading the statement of criminalizing being parked in a bad neighborhood echoed for me all the injustice and stupidity of the zero tolerance policy in Baltimore.

I mean, seriously, how on earth can you address poverty and isolation with state sponsored indiscriminate violence? Who on earth is going to want to live in a neighborhood already suffering from civil neglect if your solution is to send in armed thugs who simply ignore the law to enforce it? What literal sense does that make to create a class of criminals based upon their address?

How cruel is a system that literally presumes people are criminals based on where they have to live? I mean, it’s really odd when you think about what’s really happening with policies like zero tolerance and the arrest we just witnessed. How on earth can you literally disqualify an entire census tract from Constitutional protections? How can a law enforcement agency have a formal policy that allows officers to break the law with impunity and then expect everyone else to follow it?

To me, the policies that led to Mr. Banks’s arrest or zero tolerance in my city are just an effort to cover up a bigger crime. It is simply a ruse to obscure the fact that the last 40 years of American policies have made the rich richer at the expense of the rest of us. I liken it to a criminal conspiracy to make us guilty for the crimes of wealth extraction, which have literally sucked the life out of cities like Baltimore and the working class in general across the country. I mean, how else can armed government enforcers rip a person’s personal property apart, put them in handcuffs, cage them, without the supporting rhetoric of failure that makes anyone not rich or conventionally successful guilty by association?

I mean seriously, how else can you literally carve our Constitutional rights into pieces, without wielding the blade of inequality over our heads? It is like the Sword of Damocles has been bought by a bunch of billionaires to dangle over us while they steal the foundation of freedom and justice out from under us like some sort of Constitutional foreclosure sale.

Let me tell you this: I have seen and lived under this type of regime. I have struggled and walked on the sidewalk in fear, not just of crime, but of the law itself. I literally live in a city where the Constitution had been suspended, a land where the rights of the people had simply been dissolved. A world where the crime was not how a neighborhood was allowed to degenerate in the wealthiest country on earth, but instead a place where the system could indict a person simply for not being able to afford to live someplace else. How’s that for injustice?

Well, I can tell you this. That’s just one of the reasons I do this show and share with you videos like this, because I’m not going to let them hide what they do.

I would like to thank my guest, Michael Banks and his lovely family for letting me speak with him today. Thank you, Michael.

And of course, I want to thank intrepid reporter Stephen Janis for his writing, research, and editing on this piece. Thank you, Stephen.

Stephen Janis:  Taya, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Taya Graham:  And I want to thank mods of the show, Noli Dee and Lacey R for their support. Thank you both.

And a very special thanks to our Patreons. We appreciate you, and I look forward to thanking each and every one of you personally in our next livestream.

And I want you watching to know that if you have evidence of police misconduct or brutality, please share it with us and we might be able to investigate for you. Please reach out to us. You can email us tips privately at par@therealnews.com and share your evidence of police misconduct. You can also message us @police_accountability_report on Facebook or Instagram, or @eyesonpolice on Twitter.

And of course, you can always message me directly @tayasbaltimore on Twitter or Facebook. And please like and comment. I promise you I do read the comments and appreciate them even if I don’t always get a chance to write a comment back.

And we do have a Patreon link pinned in the comments below. So if you do feel inspired to donate, please do. We don’t run ads or take corporate dollars, so anything you can spare is greatly appreciated.

My name is Taya Graham and I am your host of the Police Accountability Report. Please be safe out there.

Taya Graham

Host & Producer
Taya Graham is an award-winning investigative reporter who has covered U.S. politics, local government, and the criminal justice system. She is the host of TRNN's "Police Accountability Report," and producer and co-creator of the award-winning podcast "Truth and Reconciliation" on Baltimore's NPR affiliate WYPR. She has written extensively for a variety of publications including the Afro American Newspaper, the oldest black-owned publication in the country, and was a frequent contributor to Morgan State Radio at a historic HBCU. She has also produced two documentaries, including the feature-length film "The Friendliest Town." Although her reporting focuses on the criminal justice system and government accountability, she has provided on the ground coverage of presidential primaries and elections as well as local and state campaigns. Follow her on Twitter.

Stephen Janis

Host & Producer
Stephen Janis is an award winning investigative reporter turned documentary filmmaker. His first feature film, The Friendliest Town was distributed by Gravitas Ventures and won an award of distinction from The Impact Doc Film Festival, and a humanitarian award from The Indie Film Fest. He is the co-host and creator of The Police Accountability Report on The Real News Network, which has received more than 10,000,000 views on YouTube. His work as a reporter has been featured on a variety of national shows including the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries, Dead of Night on Investigation Discovery Channel, Relentless on NBC, and Sins of the City on TV One.

He has co-authored several books on policing, corruption, and the root causes of violence including Why Do We Kill: The Pathology of Murder in Baltimore and You Can’t Stop Murder: Truths about Policing in Baltimore and Beyond. He is also the co-host of the true crime podcast Land of the Unsolved. Prior to joining The Real News, Janis won three Capital Emmys for investigative series working as an investigative producer for WBFF. Follow him on Twitter.