Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lawsuit Filed In Mount Juliet Officer Incident

Alleged Victim Seeks $1 Million In Damages


Video of a Mount Juliet police officer accused of choking a driver in April could cost the city quite a bit of cash after a lawsuit was filed on Monday.

A lawsuit filed in district court accuses the Mount Juliet Police Department of being negligent in hiring the officer and should be liable for his actions. The traffic stop in early April violated James Anders constitutional rights, according to his attorney.

Police video shows that for nearly two minutes, police officer William Cosby had his hands around Anders' neck until he passed out.

Cosby said he was doing the choke move to keep Anders from swallowing marijuana, but his attorney said an independent drug test found no drugs in Anders system and all charges against him have been dropped

"We have alleged Officer Cosby violated 42 USC 1983, what is commonly known as police brutality statute," said attorney Gary Vandever.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of Anders, his attorney said the incident caused Anders physical pain and suffering extreme emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life.

"He has lost respect for the police. He's having nightmares about this," said Vandever.

The lawsuit said both Cosby and Officer James Crosslin should be held responsible personally along with the city of Mount Juliet Police Department.

They are asking for $1 million in punitive damages as punishment and $500,000 to compensate Anders.

The lawsuit alleges the police department is liable for failing to control and discipline the officers and was negligent in ever hiring Cosby because he had been accused of abuse when he worked as a police officer for the city of Lebanon.

"They had knowledge of his prior problems, and it's like the old adage every dog gets it's first bite free. Well, apparently he had several bites," said Vandever.

Cosby remains a police officer in Mount Juliet and received only a written reprimand. Because of this, the lawsuit said Mount Juliet police created an atmosphere of lawlessness and had a policy of inaction.

UPDATE: Officer Arrested for Murder

Grand Haven

Testimony in the trial of a Holland police officer accused of killing his wife began Tuesday afternoon with the first police officer to arrive at the murder scene.

Sgt. Jeff Belthouse is on the stand as the trial's first witness. He is testifying on what he saw at the murder scene when he arrived. The jury is also hearing the 911 call from the DeKleine home reporting the murder.

Ken DeKleine is accused of killing his wife, Lori DeKleine on January 10, 2008 at her home on Calvin Avenue in Holland. Police believe Ken DeKleine snuck into the house, hiding until his children left for school, then strangled his wife.

Lori DeKleine had a protection order against her estranged husband for almost a year before her death. Investigators say DeKleine tried to make Lori's death look like a suicide.

Ken DeKleine spent time in Iraq training police officers there about a year before his wife's murder. After his return, he said the hardest part of going to Iraq was being away from his family.

Waterbury officer fired, accused of warning friend


A Waterbury police officer accused of warning a friend about a drug investigation has been fired.

Twenty-nine-year-old Israel Lugo had been accused last month of illegally disclosing information about a state police drug investigation that netted 20 pounds of marijuana.

Lugo was arrested June 23 after police said he illegally used a police computer to check the license plate of a state police vehicle that was tailing the target of a drug investigation.

Police say that Lugo was lifelong friends with 29-year-old Shaun Ducham who was arrested June 20 after state police raided his home and seized guns, 20 pounds of marijuana and about $1,000 in cash.

Lugo was with the department for three years.

Officer Drives Drunk and Flips Truck

Chamblee police have arrested DeKalb County police officer Jose Vizcaino-Caro, 22, Sunday morning for driving drunk and crashing into another car has quit the force.

Officials said around 5:30 am, the officer’s truck crossed the center line on Clairmont Road, hit another car and flipped. Investigators said Officer Vizcaino-Caro tried to then run from the scene, but was quickly captured.

The victim in the other car was slightly injured.

Besides the DUI charge, Caro has also been charged with failure to stop and render aid. A judge released Caro after he posted a $2,000 bond.

UPDATE: Officer Christopher Paciorkowski Arrested for Domestic Battery


An Elkhart police officer accused of domestic battery is being placed on administrative leave without pay.

Christopher Paciorkowski was arrested on June 25 for felony domestic battery after his fiancée told police he pushed her. Paciorkowski is also accused of interfering with reporting a crime.

The Elkhart Safety Board decided Tuesday morning to stop paying Paciorkowski until the case against him is resolved.

If convicted, Packorkowski would not be able to carry a firearm so he could not be a police officer. Paciorkowski is a five-year veteran of the department.

UPDATE: Officer Accused of Gas Theft Has Been Fired


A suspended Minden police officer accused in May of felony theft was fired Monday night by the Minden City Council.

The vote was unanimous to fire Craigburke Bucknor, effective on the date of his May 2 suspension. Bucknor’s suspension has been without pay.

Bucknor, 30, was arrested by Minden police detectives after an investigation indicated he had accessed another officer’s gas card to charge $400 in fuel for personal use.

Bucknor confessed to detectives after being confronted. He had been employed with the department since 2005 and had no prior disciplinary problems.

In other police-related matters Monday, the City Council:

* Accepted the resignation of police officer David Bradshaw, effective Sunday. Bradshaw had been recommended for termination by the Personnel Committee.

* Confirmed the employment of Heath Humble as a Minden police officer, subject to his successfully passing all applicable tests.

* Reappointed firefighter Tom Guy Mandino and police officer Julie Harmon to the Minden Municipal Fire & Police Civil Service Board. Both will serve three-year terms.

Officer Charged with Multiple Traffic Offenses

A New Orleans Police officer has been suspended without pay from the force after being charged with multiple traffic offenses, including hit and run.

The high speed chase was caught by the dashboard camera of a Crescent City Connection police cruiser.

It was almost 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 5, when two Crescent City police officers noticed a black pickup truck traveling east across the Crescent City Connection.

The officers reported that the truck was going in excess of 90 mph in a 50-mph-zone and switched lanes erratically.

The driver of the truck was identified as New Orleans police officer Donyell Sanchell, a four-year veteran of the department.

The police report states that despite having their lights and siren on the pickup truck didn’t pull over and continued east until taking the Vieux Carre exit and coming to a stop at the bottom of the exit.

The report states Officer Sanchell was irate and he said that was not going to stop because he was late for work, and, as the Crescent City officers were questioning Sanchell, he sped off hitting CCC Officer Jeremy Wright in the left forearm with his truck.

The officers began pursuit again and it ended a short distance later when the pickup truck pulled into First District headquarters on North Rampart Street.

The report states that Officer Sanchell got out of the truck and hit Officer Wright in the face with an open hand and went inside – that was not captured by the cruiser’s dashboard camera because of other vehicles in between.

Officer Sanchell was not arrested and was given a municipal summons for two counts of battery and traffic citations for hit and run and careless operation.

Officer Daniel Venegas Charged With Beating His Wife

Merrillville police officer Daniel Venegas, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, is on administrative leave without pay after being charged with battering his wife.

The 25-year-old was expected to be released Monday afternoon from the Porter County Jail where he has been held since the Wednesday incident at his Portage home.

Venegas is charged with a felony count of strangulation and misdemeanor domestic battery with injury, according to police.

Anyone convicted of domestic battery is prohibited by federal law from having a firearm -- so a battery conviction for Venegas could spell the end of his career in law enforcement.

The incident involved an argument over finances and his wife's use of Internet, said Portage police spokesman Sgt. Keith Hughes.

Police removed five weapons from the home and turned three over to the Merrillville police department, according to a report.

The Merrillville police department is conducting an internal investigation, according to Chief Joseph Petruch.

Venegas has been with the department since Feb. 27, 2007 and currently serves as a patrolman, Petruch said.

He has been on disability for several weeks as a result of a motorcycle injury, said defense attorney Larry Rogers.

Venegas was to be placed on pretrial supervision, which requires he receive counseling from the Veteran's Administration for post traumatic stress disorder and report to a probation officer, Rogers said.

Rogers believes PTSD is behind his client's actions. Venegas was wounded twice while in Iraq, Rogers said.

PTSD is brought on when an individual experiences a severe threat and then suffers a repeated fear as a result, said Sandy Carlson, vice president of clinical services at Porter-Starke Services.

The disorder can cause reoccurring bad dreams, loss of sleep and flashbacks of the initial threat, she said. It can also result in hyper vigilance, irritability and angry outbursts.

The goal of therapy is to desensitize the person to the trauma and the sooner the better, she said.

"To wait it out and hope it goes away is a huge mistake," Carlson said.

Officer Arrested in Sex Sting

Pennsylvania police officer posed as 14-year-old girl in Internet fetish room.

"Chancemaycome" and "Jess" met during an online chat on Yahoo Messenger last year.

Chancemaycome claimed to be a 56-year-old man from Canada. Jess said she was a teenage girl, but was actually an undercover police officer in Pennsylvania.

Their conversations became sexual. The man masturbated and said what he'd like to do to the teen. He sent photographs of children having sex. They eventually agreed to meet up.

Now, a 57-year-old former Ottawa police officer is accused of driving more than nine hours to the U.S. to have sex with a minor.

Paul Maher, who was an officer with the former City of Ottawa police force between 1974 and 1988, is accused of knowingly travelling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and distributing child pornography, according to an affidavit for a criminal complaint filed in a U.S. District Court.

Mr. Maher was arrested in New York state at the end of last month. He has allegedly made several admissions, a document filed in court shows.

Based on information from U.S. officials, Ottawa police executed a search warrant at a home in Richmond last week and seized computer equipment and two firearms.

Yesterday, they issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Maher on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography, child luring and seven firearms offences including unsafe storage and possession of prohibited weapons.

Ottawa police are awaiting the outcome of Mr. Maher's U.S. proceedings before determining whether an extradition order will be necessary to have him answer to their charges.

A document filed in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Pennsylvania states that on Oct. 14, 2007, a police officer from Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, posed as a 14-year-old girl in an online fetish room and chatted with a person identified as "chancemaycome."

When the pair exchanged photographs, the officer sent a photo of a girl.

Chat between them became sexual and took place over multiple days. The man could be seen masturbating on his webcam and transmitted images of his penis, the affidavit for a criminal complaint states.

As early as Oct. 17, the man raised the issue of travelling to Pennsylvania to meet and engage in sex with the undercover officer, explaining that it would take nine hours and 13 minutes to drive to the Pittsburgh area from his home, according to the affidavit.

In November, the man told the officer that he worked for the Canadian government, but that his passport was expired and needed to be renewed before he could travel to the U.S.

The man, who also used the name "Pablo Mendez," also allegedly sent the officer about 227 images and 37 videos, many of which depict children engaged in sexual conduct.

He said he had a desire to have the gift of the girl's virginity, the affidavit states.

The man and the undercover officer arranged to meet at a Mount Pleasant convenience store at about 10 a.m. on June 27.

After 8 a.m. that day, officers conducting surveillance saw a black Dodge SUV with Ontario licence plates in the area and recognized the man from the photos and images seen during the online chats.

The man failed to show up to the scheduled meeting, but later that morning confirmed during a telephone call to a "civilian decoy" who was helping with the investigation that he had travelled to Mount Pleasant to meet the girl, but became nervous and left the area after he saw two people talking on radios and a red pickup truck following him, the affidavit states.

The FBI sent out law enforcement bulletins and Mr. Maher was arrested in his vehicle in New York State.

He has made statements that he had a webcam in his vehicle that he had brought for "Jess" and admitted that he sent photographs of his penis, according to the affidavit.

He also "acknowledges that he could have sent child pornography and probably sent it," the document states. Mr. Maher admitted to travelling to Mount Pleasant but claimed he did not believe the undercover officer was 14 years old, the affidavit states.

Mr. Maher was in Binghamton, New York, yesterday, awaiting transfer to Pittsburgh, according to a spokeswoman from the U.S. Attorney's office in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Officer Xavier Herrera Arrested for Attempting to Purchase Cocaine

A man prosecutors identify as a Northwest Indiana police officer is facing federal drug charges.

The Drug Enforcement Agency arrested Officer Xavier Herrera and two other men in a Burger King parking lot. The 47-year old East Chicago police officer had been set-up in a sting operation. A paid government source offered to sell him cocaine for 19-thousand dollars a kilogram.

According to the criminal complaint, Herrera told arresting officers he was the deal's middle-man, and stood to make only $500. He's been detained since his arrest last week, with a hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning.

The police chief and mayor of East Chicago did not return calls for comment

No Mug Shot Taken of Officer Christopher Vesey Arrested for Drunk Driving

Waukee police officers forgot to take a mug shot of an off-duty undercover police officer arrested last week, officials said Monday.

Officer Christopher Vesey, a Waukee resident and member of the West Des Moines narcotics task force, was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated at 2:20 a.m. July 2. Waukee police took his fingerprints and impounded his car.

Waukee Police Chief L.J. Phillips said that it is department policy to take a booking photo but that each of the two officers involved in Vesey's booking thought the other had taken one. It's not the first time it has happened, Phillips said: "It was not done deliberately."

Ben Stone, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, said the incident should be investigated. "Circumstances would certainly raise strong suspicions that there was favorable treatment," he said.

West Des Moines police have so far refused to release a photo of Vesey, 33, who joined the department in 1999. Authorities said because of his undercover work, releasing a photo of Vesey could jeopardize cases he has pending.

Waukee police found Vesey after another motorist spotted his car being driven in an irregular manner. Officers found Vesey in his car, stopped near the intersection of Hickman Road and North 10th Street. Vesey refused to take a breath analysis test.

Iowa law suspends the licenses of drivers who refuse to take a breath test.

Vesey is on paid administrative leave from the West Des Moines Police Department. The department said it will conduct an investigation to determine whether he violated department policy and whether any action will be taken on his employment.