Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Newly Weds Tasered and Arrested

The wedding was on a Michigan beach, the reception was in an art gallery -- but a former Chicago couple's wedding night was spent in separate jail cells after both bride and groom got shocked by a police Taser and arrested at their raucous reception.

Andy Somora and Anna Pastuszwska's July 19 wedding reception in tiny Lakeside, Mich., is still the talk of the town after officers from 14 police departments swarmed the art gallery to quell a melee. The groom's father, uncle, aunt and cousin -- several of whom hail from Villa Park and La Grange Park -- also got arrested.

"The short version of the story is they didn't want to quit their partying," said Mike Sepic, Berrien County, Mich., chief assistant prosecutor. "If you put this in the class of wedding receptions gone bad, I guess this would take the cake."

And the story didn't end after the reception. Two nights later, the bride and groom were again arrested in Michigan -- and again shocked by a stun gun -- after struggling with police investigating a noise complaint, Sepic said. The groom was charged with pushing his new wife down during that incident, but the charge was later dropped as part of a plea bargain, Sepic said.

It all played out across the Michigan border in Harbor Country, a sleepy summer vacation area known for its antiques, dune-filled beaches and sun-burned Chicagoans.

The wedding couple had moved to Colorado from Chicago in recent years, but they chose Lakeside for their wedding because of past times spent there, a friend said. It rained during their beachside ceremony, but the 100 or more guests huddled under umbrellas before heading to Burnison Galleries on the Red Arrow Highway for the reception.

Wedding photographer Kacper Skowron, a friend of the bride, said the party was "civilized" and "top-notch," with guests from around the country.

Gallery co-owner Tom Burnison, however, said that, fueled by alcohol, it got out of control and potentially dangerous, including when a guest heaved a metal lamp into a plate glass window. "Calling the police was a last resort," Burnison said.

When the only local police officer on duty that night arrived, Burnison and his wife asked him to help break up the party because it had gotten "out of hand," with booze, water and broken glass on the floor, Chikaming Township police said. One guest was seen drinking straight out of a vodka bottle, Sepic said.

The officer called for backup and told everyone the party was over. Many guests left, but some refused and began cursing at officers, police said.

"Andy got angry and started yelling, 'What are you doing? This is my wedding! You're making my wife cry!' " Skowron said.

"The crowd was trying to hold back the groom from mouthing off more, but finally he broke free, and they had to take him down," Sepic said of police. "He was heading for the officers. . . . Then the bride moved in and tried to interfere."

As the newlyweds struggled on the ground, a police officer used a Taser on Somora, 29, police said. Pastuszwska, 28, was holding her new husband tight, and was shocked as well, Skowron and authorities said.

"Imagine the kids and grandma seeing the bride and groom getting Tasered on the floor," said Skowron. "In my opinion, the police totally overreacted."

The couple ended up spending the night with strangers in separate holding cells about 50 feet apart.

The groom was hit with charges of resisting and obstructing police, a felony, and with disturbing the peace. He pleaded guilty to the felony July 30 and could face jail time when sentenced Sept. 15, Sepic said.

The bride was charged with resisting and obstructing, and she pleaded guilty to a reduced charge, Sepic said. She was fined $600.

Members of the groom's family were arrested on resisting and obstructing charges, but they pleaded guilty to lesser charges and were each fined $450. One person was ordered to pay $75 for the broken lamp.

Redemptor Acharon Charged with Murder

MANILA, Philippines

A junior police officer has been charged for the murder of broadcaster Dennis Cuesta, who died five days after he was shot in General Santos City on August 4.

Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman, said Inspector Redemptor Acharon was charged with murder before the Department of Justice Sunday for the death of Dennis Cuesta, program director of Radio Mindanao Network’s dxMD.

Bartolome said officers of the National Union of the Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP) met with Director General Avelino Razon Jr. about the case.

Razon has ordered the immediate transfer of Acharon from Central Mindanao (Region 12) to PNP headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City, Bartolome said.

Police said the charges against the police officer were filed after two eyewitnesses tagged him as the gunman. Investigators will also cross-match Acharon with the artist’s sketch earlier released by the police.

The NUJP sought the meeting with the PNP leadership and Task Force Usig, the special police unit tasked to probe media and political killings, after receiving reports there were efforts to whitewash Cuesta’s murder because one of the suspects is a policeman.

Cuesta, who anchored the public affairs program "Straight to the Point" and was known for hard-hitting commentaries on issues like illegal gambling, graft and corruption in government, and illegal drugs, slipped into a coma after he was shot in the head and hip, the NUJP said.

He died two days after another RMN broadcaster, Martin Roxas, was gunned down in Roxas City, Capiz. Roxas was also an officer of the NUJP chapter in Capiz and was the first member of the media organization to be killed.

The two broadcasters brought the total number of journalists murdered since 2001, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power, to 90, the highest death toll under any administration, including the 14-year Marcos dictatorship.

Officer Dawn Hodge Arrested


A North Randall police officer ends up behind bars. Early Saturday morning, Highland Hills police noticed a limo driving erratically near the intersection of Harvard and Richmond Roads.

After the limo pulled over, police say the passenger, Dawn Hodge pulled out her badge and then began screaming and yelling.

Investigators say Hodge, who is a North Randall police officer, refused to tell them her department. Police say it took several officers to arrest her. Hodge was booked into jail but was later released.

Neighbors like Rod Johnstone say, "Being an officer of the law, you should carry yourself in a situation where you don't bring shame or dishonor to your department."

"Everybody's human. No matter what position you hold, you're still a human being," says Ralph Williams.

No word on whether the limo driver will be charged.

Police say the officer will most likely face charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing justice.

Officers Don't Care if Someones Loved Pet Dies

San Marcos, Texas, police officer has been accused of inappropriate behavior during a traffic stop which may have lead to a dog's death.

Pet owners were stopped for speeding while rushing dying pet to vet. Officer Paul Stephens spotted driver Michael Gonzalez speeding down Interstate 35 and pulled him over for clocking 100 miles per hour. After a brief pursuit, Gonzalez pulled alongside the highway and emerged from his car, saying, "He's dying."

"Who's dying? Relax," Stephens said as his cruiser's dashboard camera captured the interaction.

"My dog," Gonzalez said during the Aug. 5 traffic stop.

Gonzalez and his girlfriend said they were speeding because they were rushing their choking teacup poodle Missy to an emergency veterinary clinic for treatment.

But on the video, Stephens sounded less than empathetic as he berated the driver for putting others' lives at risk as he sped down the highway.

"You're driving down the highway at 100 per hour," he said sternly. "It's a dog, it's OK. You can get another one. Relax."

For 15 minutes, Stephens kept Gonzalez on the roadside.

"He said, 'You need to chill out. It's just a dog.' And I said, 'It's not just a dog; it's my family,'" Gonzalez said.

Missy died as Gonzalez waited for the Stephens to issue a citation.

Though Stephens' supervisors found him not guilty of misconduct, they did agree he handled the situation poorly.

"His world was collapsing. And what the officer says to him, basically, is, 'I don't care,'" said San Marcos police department chief Howard Williams.