Thursday, July 17, 2008

Probation Officer David Williams Accused of Harassing Client


He's supposed to keep her on the right side of the law, but a North Idaho woman says her probation officer is harassing her instead.

Wanda Arrington says David Williams left drunk voice messages on her phone and tried to have inappropriate conversations with her.

The 44-year-old Coeur d'Alene woman says she received the disturbing phone calls last Thursday. Now, she wants to make sure other women aren't harrassed.

Arrington is trying to stay out of trouble. She's on probation after being charged with multiple DUIs.

"I was asleep Thursday and I heard my phone ringing at 2:26 in the morning," she says. "I got up and answered it and it was my probation officer."

But now she says the man in charge of keeping her on track abused his power. She says Williams tried having inappropriate conversations, accused her of violating her probation, and threatened to arrest her.

"When I told him I was going to put my jail clothes on, 'cause you can wear white, he wanted to know what color my panties were," says Arrington, "and he wanted to know and as soon as he found out my fiance was there, he wanted to know if he was naked."

Not only did Arrington feel her probation officer's comments were offensive, she says Williams left over a half dozen messages for her in a two-hour period. Some sounded drunk.

One saved message from 2:07 a.m. Thursday says, "Yes, Wanda, I received a call (hiccup) not so long ago from your phone, give me a call back."

The Idaho Department of Corrections declined an interview request for an on-camera interview, but officials did say the allegations of misconduct against Williams are being investigated and that he was put on paid administrative leave.

"If we violated, we have a drink, we go to jail for discrecianary time," Arrington says. "How come he can get drunk and harrass us on the phone?"

Idaho DOC officials say Williams has been a probation officer for 16 years and this is the first complaint filed against him by an offender. But court documents show williams was charged with stalking his ex-wife back in 2007.

Arrington wants make sure there aren't other victims.

"Not all probation officers are like that," she says. "I do believe that and there's going to be good and bad in everyone. I just want to make sure he didn't wrong someone that didn't deserve it."

The Department of Corrections expects to wrap up their investigation by next week.

Ex-officer Accused of Shooting His Son


A former town police officer is free on bond after being charged with a felony and two misdemeanors for allegedly shooting at his son.

James Douglas "J.D." Striker, 51, of 4437 Remount Road, Front Royal, is charged with feloniously discharging a firearm within a dwelling on Tuesday and misdemeanors of reckless handling of a firearm and brandishing a firearm.

On Wednesday, Striker appeared in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and pleaded with Judge Ronald L. Napier to be released on bond. In contrast to the blue uniform that he had worn as a Front Royal police officer for 25 years, Striker was dressed in an orange jail-issued jumpsuit and was in leg irons.

Despite argument from Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Nicholas L. Manthos that Striker continue to be held without bond due to the nature of the charges, Napier set bond at $15,000 secured. A Warren County jailer said Striker posted bond within about an hour of his court appearance.

Before providing the court with a summation of the evidence, Manthos said that Commonwealth's Attorney Brian M. Madden was reviewing the case and that the office may choose to have a special prosecutor appointed.

Napier scheduled a preliminary hearing for 10:15 a.m. on Aug. 21.

In his evidentiary summary, Manthos said Striker and his wife, Cathy Sue Striker, 49, had been arguing most of the day on Tuesday. Manthos said Mrs. Striker left the residence, saying that she was not coming back, and then locked herself in her van.

The Strikers' oldest son, Brian Striker, 29, who lives in the basement of the home with his fiancee, Mary Brennan, and two children, was concerned about his mother's mental state, Manthos said. Brian Striker banged on a window of his mother's van in an attempt to get her to come out, Manthos added.

J.D. Striker observed what was happening from his bedroom window and retrieved a .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol, Manthos said. Manthos said Striker claims to have fired a shot up in the air through a bedroom window.

Manthos said Brian Striker and Brennan's version of events is that J.D. Striker fired the pistol through a screen in their direction. Manthos said he was concerned about the volatility of J.D. Striker's actions.

J.D. Striker told the court that it appeared to him that his son was trying to break the glass out of Mrs. Striker's van. J.D. Striker said he never pointed the gun at anyone.

The class 1 misdemeanors each carry a maximum punishment of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine, while the class 4 felony carries range of punishment of two to 10 years in prison.

J.D. Striker called the felony charge a "smokescreen."

"I am a pillar of this community," he said.

One of the features of Striker's 2003 bid for sheriff in a race won by Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron came when Striker claimed that he could have information on the 1983 slaying of Front Royal police Sgt. Dennis Smedley. The case was reopened by the Police Department and Striker met with the state police, but the case remains unsolved.

"My wife needs me," Striker told the court, crying. "I need to be with my children."

Striker said his wife took two butcher's knives with her when she left to get in her van and that she is being treated for mental problems at an in-patient facility in Winchester.

The Strikers have a 20-year-old son, Bradley, who has cerebral palsy, and adopted daughters, 11 and 10.

Napier ordered that J.D. Striker have no contact with Brian Striker or Brennan, that he not possess firearms and that he not leave the state. Napier asked J.D. Striker how he would avoid contact with Brian Striker after learning they reside at the same house.

"We don't really mingle," J.D. Striker said.

Manthos appeared to be perplexed that Napier did not order J.D. Striker to stay away from the residence.

J.D. Striker's brother, John Striker, 57, said his brother retired from the Front Royal Police Department about a year ago after 25 years of service. John Striker, who was in court for the bond hearing, said his brother had lost his former residence as a result of foreclosure.

"I'm going to try to help him get out and wherever he wants to go to get hisself straightened out," John Striker said.

Warren County Sheriff's Office investigator L.M. Nelson says on the complaint form on file in court that she interviewed J.D. Striker, who told her that he shot through his master bedroom window "to scare his son into not beating on his mother's vehicle window." Nelson says she discovered a hole in the screen of a window in the master bedroom "along with 1 spent shell coming from a .25 semi-automatic handgun."

Nelson also appeared in court on Wednesday.

"Sometimes people make personal mistakes in their lives for a long time before they finally get help for their problems," Nelson said following the proceeding.

Officer Joseph Hughes Back in Custody


A police officer already facing charges, including one count of theft in office, is back in custody.

Joseph Q. Hughes, 21, formerly of the Mount Gilead Police Department, has been charged with five more felonies, states a press release issued Tuesday by the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office.

Hughes posted bond after his original arrest on July 8 and was immediately placed on unpaid administrative leave. He is no longer employed by the Mount Gilead Police Department and as of Tuesday still was incarcerated.

Hughes is accused of being connected with two different thefts, one involving 12 window air conditioners and a single-axle trailer and the other involving a lawn mower.

The air conditioners and trailer were found behind Hughes’ home on July 8 during a search. Warrants for a second search of his home and a property on County Road 11 in Morrow County recovered the stolen lawn mower.

Chief Deputy David Davis said Hughes’ second arrest resulted from those search warrants.

“We continued to check out information and obtain the additional warrants,” he said. “We believed there was more stolen property there.”

The five new charges against Hughes include two counts of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony; one count of breaking and entering, a fifth-degree felony; one count of grand theft, a fourth-degree felony; and a second count of grand theft, a fifth-degree felony.

The fifth-degree felonies carry a possible sentence of 6-12 months in jail, the fourth-degree felonies 6-18 months and the third-degree felonies 1-5 years. Bond is set at $35,000.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Brent Yager was assigned to the case and declined to comment on the charges.

With Hughes’ dismissal and another Mount Gilead Police officer on medical leave, the normal force of seven full-time officers is two members short, said Police Chief Brian Zerman.

The situation has caused other changes in the department.

“It puts a lot of pressure on the officers,” Zerman said. “We’ve sat down with our officers and talked about what’s going on.

“Regardless of who it is and what it is, we still have a job to do and an obligation to the public.”

The Mount Gilead Police were investigating the June 9 report of the air conditioner theft. When Hughes became a suspect, Zerman called on the sheriff’s office to take over the investigation.

“Everybody was in shock at first. I guess it was disappointing. It’s one of those things that nobody wants to believe it,” he said.

“There was never indication that this was going on.”

Hughes’ was charged on July 8 with one count of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony; one count of theft in office, a fourth-degree felony; two counts of receiving stolen property, fifth-degree felonies; and one-count of obstruction of justice, a fifth-degree felony.

As an officer, Hughes made $17.35 an hour, and a normal work week was 40 hours.
When asked if there were any other suspects connected with the thefts in question, Davis said the investigation still is pending.

Retired Sgt David Roythorne Accused of Sexual Assaults

A "locker room culture" of racism and homophobia exists within the police service, according to an ex-officer accused of sex assaults.

Retired Sgt David Roythorne, 52, denies nine indecent assaults and three sexual assaults, allegedly committed while serving with the Northumbria force.

He told a jury at Newcastle Crown Court that antics like flicking naked colleagues with towels was commonplace.

He said no-one had ever complained during his time with the force.

During the trial, which is in its third week, Mr Roythorne, of Westmoor, North Tyneside, has been portrayed as a bully, who told some of his victims "RHIP - Rank Has Its Privileges" after subjecting them to alleged sex attacks.

It's like saying homophobia doesn't exist and racism doesn't exist, it does, only people are more aware of who they say it to

David Roythorne

He is alleged to have frequently grabbed other officers and members of the public by the crotch, and thrust his genitals into other officers' faces and simulated sex.

The charges followed an IPCC investigation into the incidents, which were alleged to have happened between July 2001 and August 2006.

Giving evidence, Mr Roythorne said: "In my whole life as a police officer, I have never heard anybody say 'Don't do that.'

"Of course, the image projected to the general public, the government and the press, is that it doesn't happen any more, it does.

"It's like saying homophobia doesn't exist and racism doesn't exist, it does, only people are more aware of who they say it to."

Car washing

Mr Roythorne said the complaints against him were made from within a department he had taken over and which he dubbed "sleepy hollow" because of the level of laziness.

He said some staff would clean their cars when they should have been working and that the department had not made an arrest for at least 15 years.

Mr Roythorne transferred to Northumbria Police in 1997 from the Met in London and retired from the police force in May 2007.

The trial continues.

Judge Modifies Drew Peterson Bond


A Will County judge modified Drew Peterson's bond Monday, allowing him to leave Illinois on vacation with his children while the judge mulls a defense motion to dismiss felony weapons charges.

A grand jury indicted the former Bolingbrook police sergeant Thursday on two felonies related to a semiautomatic rifle seized by authorities investigating the disappearance of his wife, Stacy. The new charges, filed Friday, supersede a single felony weapons charge filed May 21, alleging Peterson possessed an assault rifle with a barrel shorter than allowed by law.

The new indictment alleges Peterson possessed a modified assault rifle and that he unlawfully transferred the rifle to his son, Stephen. Police seized the rifle and 10 other guns during a Nov. 1 search at Peterson's house for clues after Stacy Peterson disappeared.

Peterson has been named a suspect in his wife's disappearance but hasn't been charged. Investigators have also exhumed the body of Peterson's third wife Kathleen. Her death was ruled a homicide.

During the two-hour hearing Monday, Peterson's lawyer, Joel Brodsky, argued his client was immune from prosecution for the gun charges because he was still a police officer when authorities seized the weapon.

Drew Peterson Charged With Felony Weapons Offense After Surrendering to Police Photo Essays
Search Continues for Missing Chicago Mom Drew Peterson Brodsky repeatedly referred to the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, legislation passed by Congress in 2004, that Brodsky said entitled Peterson to possess a rifle not allowed for private citizens.

The law allows police officers to carry and conceal weapons as long as they have been transported through interstate commerce. It prohibits three categories of weapons that police may not carry, including machine guns, weapons equipped with silencers and explosives.

Brodsky did not contest that the barrel on Peterson's rifle was too short under state law. Instead, he argued Peterson cannot be charged because federal law supersedes state law.

"The state can't void the cloak of immunity by charging (Peterson with) possessing but not illegal carrying," Brodsky said. "They are manipulating the charges. Clearly, you can not conceal carry without possessing."

The federal law shields officers from prosecution by allowing them to carry weapons that some states may deem illegal, Brodsky said.

Assistant State's Attorney John Connor said the immunity does not extend to a police officer who knowingly carries or keeps a weapon that is illegal in his home state.

The legislation was meant to protect police officers who cross state lines from being prosecuted if they have handguns that are legal in their home state but banned in another jurisdiction, he said.

Connor noted Peterson had the rifle modified, resulting in the shorter barrel. As a police officer Peterson should have known the modification made the weapon illegal, he said.

"Our officers are expected to know the law under which they operate," Connor said.

Will County Judge Richard Schoenstedt scheduled a hearing for July 30, when he said he would likely give his decision.

Schoenstedt said if Peterson leaves the state, he has to file a travel itinerary in advance with the county probation department. Peterson waived his extradition rights and agreed to be tried in absentia should he miss any legal proceedings to win the judge's approval to travel to Florida to vacation with his children.

Officer Killed Man after being Distracted by Texting


A state employee from Stoughton was distracted by his cellphone when he struck and killed a man with his car last weekend, in the latest fatal accident in Massachusetts involving text messaging, authorities say.

Michael L. Faria, whom Easton police identified as a police officer for the Department of Mental Health, pleaded not guilty in Taunton District Court yesterday to charges stemming from an accident that killed John J. McCarthy, 58, of Brockton, as McCarthy walked on Washington Street in Easton early Saturday.

Judge Kevan Cunningham ordered Faria, 33, held on $50,000 cash bail on charges of homicide by motor vehicle, operating to endanger, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Alison Goodwin, Health and Human Services spokeswoman, confirmed that Faria worked for the department, but said she could not comment on his position or status.

The accident followed two deaths believed to have been related, at least in part, to text messaging. In December, 13-year-old Earman Machado was struck and killed in Taunton by a driver who later told police he was trying to send a text message. In October, 17-year-old Amanda Martin of Southbridge was killed when she drove off the road after receiving a text message.

The deaths occurred as lawmakers were considering a ban on using hand-held cellphones while driving. A bill that passed in the House in January is now in the Senate, said Representative Joseph F. Wagner, a Chicopee Democrat who sponsored the bill.

Wagner said he has long felt text messaging was dangerous.

"It is a major distraction to the safe operation of a motor vehicle, and I think if we can eliminate that distraction, we should," he said.

McCarthy, a Vietnam War veteran and father of two who often walked in the early morning for exercise, was believed to have been struck about 4:15 a.m. Saturday, said Bristol Assistant District Attorney Jessica Lennon. Outside court after yesterday's hearing, the McCarthy family's lawyer, Thomas J. Minichiello, said a Good Samaritan called police at 4:41 a.m. Lennon said McCarthy was alive but bleeding heavily from his head, arms, and legs when police arrived.

McCarthy later died at Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton.

Reading from the police report yesterday, Lennon said that, based on a tip, police went to the home of an Easton man, who told them that Faria had been drinking earlier that evening and had been at his house until just before the accident. The man said Faria called him sometime after he left and said he had been looking down at his phone, text messaging, when he thought he hit someone, Lennon said.

When the man asked what happened, Faria responded, "I don't know; I didn't go back," according to the police report.

"It is quite possible that if the defendant had contacted 911 at the time of the crash, the victim would be alive today," Lennon said.

Lennon argued for $250,000 bail, calling Faria a flight risk.

Faria, Lennon said, went to Maine after the accident. An anonymous caller told police Monday that her daughter was at the Easton home where Faria had been and overheard a phone conversation about the accident. Police tried to call Faria later that day, Lennon said, but he did not return their calls. He also made some repairs to his sport utility vehicle, which was damaged in the accident, Lennon said.

Faria's lawyer, John LaChance of Framingham, said his client had no obligation to return phone calls until a warrant was issued on Tuesday, when he turned himself in.

Faria "could have crossed over to Canada, gone anywhere he wanted to," said LaChance, who argued for $5,000 bail.

Detective Sergeant John Lynn of the Easton Police Department said he did not know whether police would file charges against anyone else.

Donald Fisher, a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst who studies distracted driving, said he considers text messaging "probably the single most dangerous" activity someone could do while driving.

A study released last year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that nearly 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near crashes occur when drivers are distracted and that the leading cause of distraction is dialing or talking on cellphones.

A survey released last year by Nationwide Mutual Insurance indicated that 19 percent of all drivers - and 37 percent of drivers ages 18 to 27 - engage in text messaging while driving.

"It requires a lot of your mental focus, and it occurs over a long period of time," Fisher said.

Officer Failed Required Sobriety Test After Shooting


An off-duty police detective failed a required sobriety test after wounding an armed suspect, leading a union official to suggest Tuesday that officers will think twice about stepping in when they're off the job.

The shooting early Sunday was the first time an officer failed a Breathalyzer test since a rule took effect last September. The test — the same one used in drunken-driving stops — is now administered to any officer who kills or wounds someone. Previously, a senior officer at the scene would determine whether those involved appeared sober at the time.

In this case, the detective's blood alcohol content was 0.09 percent, and the legal limit is 0.08 percent, authorities said Tuesday.

Police officials said the shooting appeared to be justified; a preliminary investigation showed the officer faced an imminent threat of serious physical injury or death. But it wasn't clear whether the detective would face disciplinary charges over the test results.

"The fact that alcohol may have been consumed off duty doesn't necessarily mean that a shooting was outside of department guidelines," said police spokesman Paul Browne.

The police union contends the new rule is excessive.

"Among its problems is that it fails to take real-life police situations into account," said Patrick Lynch, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president. "It sends a message to off-duty officers not to get involved in crime-fighting and prevention. It can make them hesitate to use their weapons even when quick action is called for."

The longtime detective, whose name was not released, was placed on modified duty while the case is reviewed.

Police said he saw a man being attacked near a Queens club and stepped in to stop it. A suspect opened fire and missed; the detective fired back, hitting the man in the arm and leg.

The attackers fled, but the 22-year-old shooter was later arrested at a Long Island hospital where he went for treatment, police said. On Tuesday, he remained hospitalized and faced charges of attempted murder. Two others were also arrested and charged with gang assault.

The Breathalyzer rule stemmed from an NYPD review of undercover work after the police killing of an unarmed man on his wedding day.

The union, which represents 23,000 officers, is challenging the rule in a federal lawsuit, arguing that it is flawed and violates officers' protection against unreasonable government searches.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that he would leave the decision to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, but that it appeared the detective did the right thing.

"He was off duty, he was enjoying himself — he has a right to do that; off-duty police officers have the right to carry weapons. He, by accident, saw something where people's lives were threatened, and he took appropriate action to stop that," Bloomberg said.

Officer Tommy Sanders III Charged with Manslaughter

A Baltimore grand jury indicted a city police officer yesterday on charges of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man he was questioning in Northeast Baltimore in January, according to the state's attorney's office.

It is only the second time since 1996 that a Baltimore officer has been indicted in an on-duty police-involved shooting. The January shooting was one of 16 by city officers this year that have resulted in a dozen fatalities, one short of the number killed in all of last year.

Officer Tommy Sanders III, 37, is expected to surrender to authorities, city prosecutors said in a statement released after the indictment was returned. He is a six-year veteran of the force.

Paul Blair, the head of the city's Fraternal Order of Police, described Sanders as "very upset" and added: "He's got a family. ... He lives in the city, the type of police we want working in this department. Hopefully, he will have a fair day in court, and all of the facts will come out."

Sanders is charged with shooting Edward Lamont Hunt, a 27-year-old man he had deemed suspicious and had stopped about noon in the Hamilton Park Shopping Center on Northern Parkway. Sanders and Hunt struggled,and Hunt pulled away, police said.

Police said at the time that Sanders, fearing for his life, shot Hunt. Witnesses told The Sun that the officer searched Hunt before letting him go and shot him in the back a few moments later. Police have said that no weapon was found, but that drugs were discovered near the location.

Eddie Moore, 32, told The Sun that he was with his young daughter and watched the officer search Hunt twice and make him put his hands on his head before Hunt pulled away. Moore said the officer went after Hunt, firing at his back.

"They were standing there for a few minutes," Moore said. "Then the officer frisked Hunt again, patting down both of his legs. When the officer pulled out a pair of handcuffs, Hunt pulled away, and the officer ran after him firing."

The shooting elicited anger from the city branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which called for an independent investigation. The FBI is conducting a civil rights investigation. Hunt was black, as is Sanders.

When told of the indictment yesterday, Hunt's girlfriend, Lakia Jeter, said: "I'm glad. I just hope it sticks. I hope that they found him guilty." Jeter said that she'd never seen Hunt with a weapon. She said Hunt had worked in Owings Mills and had moved from Virginia to live with her and their young son.

"That's what makes me feel bad, he came here to start a family for me," Jeter said. "This man was killed for nothing, as far as I can tell. Police cannot just go around killing people because they have a weapon and a badge."

But Michael J. Belsky, the officer's attorney, said Sanders has not been accused of any malice. "It is a very explainable and defensible situation," he said. "We intend to present evidence in court to explain that his was a fully explainable correct decision on the part of the officer." Sanders did not testify before the grand jury, said Michael Davey, another attorney representing him.

Sterling Clifford, a city police spokesman, said Sanders has been on administrative duty since the Jan. 30 shooting. The homicide unit investigates all police-involved shootings and turns its investigation over the prosecutor's office to review. State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy examines each case to determine whether she believes laws have been broken.

The last city officer to be indicted and convicted of a police-involved shooting while on duty was Sgt. Stephen R. Pagotto, who shot Preston E. Barnes in 1996 and was convicted of manslaughter in 1997. The conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeals, which concluded that the departmental guidelines he violated did not rise to the level of a criminal act.

Most shootings by city police are ruled justified. Jessamy has refused to take some to a grand jury, including one in 1997 in which an officer shot a man armed with a knife outside Lexington Market. The shooting was captured on videotape and sparked an outcry over the use of force. The city paid relatives of the man a half-million-dollar settlement, but the officer was never criminally charged.

"We can count on one hand the number of police officers who've been indicted for police-involved shootings," said Tim Dixon, a trial attorney who used to be a city police lieutenant. "Mrs. Jessamy doesn't take a lot of them there. There must be something particular about this that she wants the community to weigh in on."

Yesterday's indictment means that the grand jury believes there is probable cause that the officer committed a crime, but a trial will be needed to determine guilt or innocence. An arraignment is set for Aug. 29. The two counts, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, represent the lowest charges for a homicide under Maryland law.

To convict on a charge of voluntary manslaughter, prosecutors must prove the officer honestly believed he needed to take a life, but any other reasonable person in the same situation would not have felt that way. To prove involuntary manslaughter, prosecutors must show that the officer acted in a "grossly negligent" manner.

"Neither is more culpable than the other," said Byron L. Warnken, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. "One is voluntary. Both are felonies with a 10-year sentence."

Officer Charged with Stealing Water Hose


Decorated Ansonia police officer Mustafa Salahuddin has turned himself in to State Police on a theft charge.

Salahuddin's lawyer says his client has been charged with larceny for allegedly stealing a garden hose from the police department. Ansonia Police Chief Kevin Hale is declining to discuss details, but attorney Rob Serafinowicz says it's a case of retribution.

Serafinowicz believes the investigation is retribution for a successful complaint Salahuddin filed a decade ago with the state civil rights agency over his right as a Muslim to wear a trimmed beard.

Serafinowicz says the alleged theft involved a $25 garden hose that the department has in its possession.

Salahuddin has received the department's Distinguished Service Award and last year he received a Life-Saving Award.

Officer Charged with Domestic Battery


A Dunbar police officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations that he slapped his wife about 20 times.

Fifty-year-old George Ike Rader is also accused of pressing his finger into his wife’s chest. He was charged Sunday with domestic battery.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court, Rader and his wife were arguing over showing favoritism to their children.

Rader acknowledges that he argued with his wife but says he only pushed her with his finger to get her out of his face. He denies slapping her.

Rader is free on bond.

Dunbar Police Chief Earl Whittington says criminal and internal investigations are being conducted.