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4 times police interrogations have gone drastically wrong

A policeman charges a man detained in handcuffs while inside an interrogation room.

If you're a true crime addict, it’s possible to watch entire historic police interrogations online. For most, watching hours of grainy footage with poor audio can be a little testing, but for those of us fascinated by the nature of criminality, police procedures, and the use of interrogation techniques, streaming culture presents a treasure trove of fly-on-the-wall, as-it-happened video footage of cops attempting to get the truth out of potential perps.

These videos often show us that the methods employed by law enforcement can be breathtaking, with the intense manipulation of suspects causing them to fall apart. However, sometimes these situations can go in a completely different direction with interviewees doing whatever they can to escape punishment. Sadly there are also instances where justice is not served due to gross incompetence or negligence.

Here are four instances of when criminal interrogations have gotten out of hand.

1. Bizarre behaviour - Charles Shoulders

Kentucky man Charles Shoulders called the police in July 2015 and told them that he had just killed his wife. Once he was brought into the Louisville police station for questioning, Shoulders proceeded to launch into a blast of verbal abuse aimed at the police officers. Things only escalated from there as he then used the floor as a toilet, stood on the table, and damaged furniture by throwing it around the interrogation room. The CCTV footage is something to behold.

Ultimately, in addition to the charge of murder, Shoulders added extra charges including criminal mischief and making terror threats to his already heavy rap sheet - and the cops had $500 of repairs to carry out.

2. The great escape - Alonzo Perez

Sometimes chivalry can go too far, as Alonzo Perez proved when he was taken into custody by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in August 2016. His crime? He shot and killed a man who refused to hold the door of a McDonald's open for a woman who was on her way into the fast-food restaurant.

After being placed in the interrogation room and left alone, Perez somehow managed to wriggle free from his handcuffs and - as though he were starring in his own movie - climbed up into the roof of the building. He then navigated his way out, stole a pickup truck, and escaped. He was on the run for four days before finally being arrested again. You can only presume he was monitored a lot more closely during his second stint in custody.

3. Impossible suicide - Ricardo Alfonso Cerna

It was December 2003 when Ricardo Alfonso was spotted by police, driving through San Bernardino, California. He was wanted for a minor traffic violation. The officers gave chase and, rather than pulling over and facing justice, Cerna decided to attempt an escape. It didn’t work out and the escalating situation resulted in a shootout, in which he shot the county Sheriff twice.

Back at the station, Cerna requested a bottle of water. After taking a sip, he pulled a concealed gun from his belt and shot himself in the side of the head, killing himself instantly.

The officer who attended in the moments after the self-shooting simply said “nobody shook him”. Whoever conducted the arrest had failed to properly search Cerna, with fatal consequences.

4. Gross incompetence - Ryan Waller

On Christmas Day 2006, Ryan Waller’s girlfriend, Heather Quan was visiting him at his home when they were both brutally attacked by Richie Lee Carver and his father, Larry Lloyd Carver. Looking to burgle the property, Richie was a former resident of the apartment.

Expecting Waller and Quan to be away from the apartment and spending time with family given it was 25th December, both Larry and Richie entered the property, armed, and were surprised by the presence of the young couple. They shot Quan - who died at the scene - and fired twice at Waller. Both bullets caused facial injuries and one lodged deep inside his brain. The thieves then robbed the residence and left the scene.

When Waller didn’t appear at his parents' home for Christmas dinner later that day, a series of police blunders began. It took four hours for a welfare check to be carried out by the Phoenix Police Department. Secondly, when they finally showed up, they decided that they needed a search warrant despite the fact a motionless body was visible through the window. This process wasted another hour.

Ryan Waller survived both bullets to the face and was conscious when police eventually entered his home. Thinking the injury to his eye was bruising from a fight, they took him back to the station under the assumption he had murdered Heather after an altercation. There followed a six-hour interrogation during which Waller was clearly disorientated.

He spoke incoherently, mixing up names and events, frustrating the police officers who were completely unaware that he was a victim and had just witnessed the murder of his girlfriend. Somehow they also missed that he had a bullet stuck in his head which was causing his brain to swell with every passing second.

The video of his questioning is a truly troubling watch, all the more so when you find out that as a result of the police overlooking his shooting, Ryan Waller was left a shadow of himself. He lost an eye and suffered from continued memory loss. He ultimately died from a seizure 10 years later, which was a direct result of his injuries and police incompetence.