Thursday, May 22, 2008

Maywood Officer Charged With Raping Three Women

Former Maywood police officer Ryan Allen West, 28, has been charged with 12 felony counts, including rape by threat to arrest or deport, sexual penetration by a foreign object, oral copulation under color of authority, assault by a public officer, burglary and sexual battery by restraint. All these crimes happened while Officer West was in uniform and on duty.

The investigation began last year after one of the women went to a hospital and reported that she had been raped by an officer. Two more victims were discovered during the investigation, authorities said.

West was arrested at his Riverside County home by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation, and was charged Wednesday. All the crimes were committed while Officer West was on duty in 2006 and 2007.

West was the Maywood Police Department’s canine officer until March of this year.

He was taken to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Station in San Dimas, where he is being held on a $640,000 bail. West faces up to 24 years in prison.

This is another black eye for the small southeast L.A. County police department, which has long had a reputation of hiring MISFIT cops. Last year, the city’s police department found that at least one third of the officers on the force had either left other police jobs under a cloud or had brushes with the law while working for Maywood. Several officers in recent years left Maywood after being convicted of crimes.

West was hired by Maywood in September 2004 after he resigned amid allegations of misconduct in his job as a police officer in Brawley, Calif., about 30 miles north of Mexicali, Mexico, according to a law enforcement source.

West also was the subject of misconduct allegations in Maywood.

In July 2006, two students accused him and two other officers of handcuffing them and using a Taser on their genitals in an attack outside a Maywood bar. The students, who were not arrested, later filed a civil rights lawsuit against the officers and the department. West had been scheduled to give a deposition Wednesday, said the students' attorney, Ralph M. Rios.

The officers and the city have denied any wrongdoing.

Francisco Leal, who worked as the Maywood city attorney from November 2006 until March, said West was fired in March after a woman accused him of rape.

The woman alleged that West approached her while on duty and in uniform on May 18, 2007, and threatened to take her into custody on an outstanding warrant unless she met him at a local hotel, Leal said. West admitted that he had sex with the woman at the hotel but insisted that the encounter was consensual, Leal said.

Police officials did not determine whether West's actions amounted to rape but decided that he should be fired anyway.

"Our officers cannot be having sex on duty, period," Leal said.

West's attorney who represented him in the disciplinary case declined to comment Wednesday.

Maywood Mayor Felipe Aguirre said city officials were working to restore trust in the department and praised Police Chief Frank Hauptmann for firing West.

"We're not going to tolerate this type of situation. We're going to move on it," Aguirre said. "This shouldn't reflect on the rest of the department."

The woman's complaint also triggered a criminal investigation into West's conduct.

Similar complaints from two other women also surfaced, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Margo Baxter, who is assigned to the district attorney's division that prosecutes law enforcement officers.

Baxter said a prosecutor handling an unrelated case learned that a second woman alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by a Maywood officer and forwarded the information to the district attorney's justice system integrity division.

A third woman, who was a witness in another unrelated case, told a defense attorney that she had been sexually assaulted by a Maywood officer, Baxter said. The attorney then notified the district attorney's office. Investigators identified West as the assailant in all three cases, she said.

Prosecutors said the attacks occurred between September 2006 and May 2007. Baxter declined to discuss the evidence against West or describe the assaults.

Chicago Cop Accused of Attacking Bar Patrons

Only a day after ABC’s 20/20’s “Are Cops Above the Law?” exposé, where Chicago police were highlighted for their recent rash of drunken cop beaters, another cop is on the beat, so to speak. Gerald Callahan, an off-duty Chicago cop, was arrested for allegedly attacking two patrons at Chambers Seafood Grill & Chop in Niles. Niles police were called to the lounge about 1:50 a.m. Saturday morning, but Callahan had fled. At 2:30 a.m., he was found a few blocks away, passed out in bushes. He was arrested and charged with two counts of battery.

The Chicago Police Department was notified, and they announced Saturday that Callahan had been relieved of his duties pending an investigation. According to the Sun-Times, Callahan has a history:

Callahan has a history of alleged erratic behavior -- keeping his job only after the Police Board rejected former Police Supt. Phil Cline's move to dismiss him in 2006 for threatening his fellow officers.
Callahan was released on bond, and will appear in court on June 17.