Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Arrest of Brandon Backe leads to Galveston PD Internal Probe


Police have begun an internal investigation of a weekend confrontation between police and members of a wedding party that led to the arrest of Astros pitcher Brandon Backe.

Witnesses said Monday that police needlessly beat, Tasered and pepper-sprayed wedding guests who were trying to comply with police commands during an incident in which officers arrested 10 people, including Backe, at an outdoor bar at the San Luis Hotel on Seawall Boulevard.

Daniel Cole O'Balle, 19, was injured during the incident and flown by helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. Backe was charged with three counts of assault on a public servant and two counts of retaliation. He was released on $115,000 bond.

Galveston police spokesman Cpt. Walter Braun said the department's office of professional conduct was conducting an internal investigation, although no formal complaints of officer misconduct had been received. "This administration is taking a proactive step," Braun said.

Police said a melee ensued after an officer approached O'Balle about entering the pool area with an open container of alcohol.

Witnesses' versions of the Saturday night confrontation differ widely from the description in the police report. Five witnesses told the Houston Chronicle they saw no one, including Backe, resist police.

They also said that there was no fight in the bar as described by police.

Witnesses described dozens of police storming a shocked and unresisting wedding party, shouting profanity and roughly shoving men and women.

Michael McMillan, 36, of Houston, said he and Backe walked up to see what the commotion was about and saw O'Balle on the ground bleeding, being shocked with a Taser and handcuffed. Police began shouting at them to back up and they complied, he said.

After they backed up as far as they could, McMillan said, officers continued shouting, "and Brandon Backe said, 'Sir, be cool, we're backed up as far as we can go.' "

As soon as Backe spoke, several officers wrestled him to the ground, punching him as he went down, McMillan said.

"A police officer kicks him right in the face," he said.

Backe never used profanity, insults or resisted the officers, McMillan said.

McMillan said he moved away and began walking down the hill with his wife when an officer ran at him and struck him with an elbow, knocking him to the ground. Several officers piled on and one put a foot in his back, he said.

He was put in a police car with Backe, he said. When they complained about their handcuffs being painfully tight, officers increased the pain by cornering at high speeds and forcing them to slide along the seat, he said. He said officers laughed as they cried out in pain.

Describing the experience, McMillan said, "You will feel the most helpless, humiliated, betrayed, that you will ever feel."

Chris Cornwell, 26, of Galveston, said police threw him to the ground when he asked them to stop shoving his pregnant wife. An officer put his foot on Cornwell's head until he stopped talking, he said.

Matt Goodson, 26, of Galveston, said he was taken down next to Cornwell. One of the officers picked up his head and pepper-sprayed him in the face for no reason, he said.


Deputy Randall Creek Wanted for Murder has been Captured

A Kentucky sheriff's deputy accused of killing his ex-girlfriend was captured in Iowa early Tuesday after an officer spotted his car at a hotel.

Randall Creek, 41, of Bowling Green, Ky., was taken into custody without incident shortly after midnight at a motel in Evansdale, about 600 miles from Smiths Grove, Ky., where his ex-girlfriend, Debbie Rediess, was gunned down Sunday.

Black Hawk County sheriff's Capt. Reid Corson said they had information that Creek was in Iowa, and officers started checking motels. A police officer on routine patrol spotted Creek's car at a Days Inn and officers set up surveillance.

"He exited the hotel room unaware that they were there and they grabbed him," Corson said.

Corson said Creek had no ties to Iowa and was just "traveling through."

Kentucky authorities have said Creek confessed to the killing in an e-mail exchange Monday that was sent to a newspaper, Kentucky State Police and about 30 other recipients.

"I am not running to get away but I am going to make the KSP earn their money on this one," Creek said in the e-mail, which was posted on the Daily News of Bowling Green's Web site. "I have never been armed after the encounter and there will be no chase or struggle I assure you."

Late Monday afternoon, Creek sent another e-mail to law enforcement and media in which he threatened a county jailer.

Creek waived extradition during a court appearance Tuesday morning, Black Hawk County sheriff's Sgt. Pat Hagerty said.

Creek was represented by the public defender's office. Bond was set at $1 million.

Hagerty said Creek will return to Kentucky. He declined to say when that might happen.

More Information: http://www.gazetteonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081007/NEWS/710079940/1006/news

Deputy Randall Creek Wanted for Murder Taunts Police

A sheriff's deputy accused of killing his ex-girlfriend in Kentucky taunted state police in an e-mail exchange Monday, threatening a county jailer and telling police he was going to "make them earn their money" in their search for him.

Simpson County Sheriff's Deputy Randall Creek, 41, is wanted on a warrant for murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend, Debbie R. Rediess, 46, authorities said. Rediess was shot to death outside her home Sunday morning in Smiths Grove, 85 miles south of Louisville.

In an e-mail that was sent to a newspaper, Kentucky State Police and about 30 other recipients, Creek confesses to the killing, trooper Todd Holder said.

"I am not running to get away but I am going to make the KSP earn their money on this one," Creek said in the e-mail, which was posted on The Daily News of Bowling Green's Web site. "I have never been armed after the encounter and there will be no chase or struggle I assure you."

Authorities, however, said they think Creek is armed with at least a handgun, and they said they had evidence that he had been in the Louisville area.

Late Monday afternoon, Creek sent another e-mail to law enforcement and media in which he threatened Warren County Jailer Jackie Strode. Creek ran as a Republican in the 2002 jailer's race and was defeated by Strode, the incumbent. Creek also said in the e-mail that Strode fired him from a job at the county jail in 1999.

"If I have contact with him at his facility I assure you I will kill him with my bare hands and he knows I am capable even before this encounter happened," he said in the e-mail.

Holder said police had notified Strode, the jail and area law enforcement.

"We know he's stopping and using computers. We know he's alive," Holder said.

Hours before Rediess was shot, Creek sent an e-mail to The Daily News describing his feelings for her. It was one of several letters Creek had written to the paper in recent years, the newspaper reported.

In the letter, Creek said Rediess ended their relationship after five years because he wouldn't set a wedding date.

"I don't blame her for leaving but I guess the message I am trying to get across to couples in this area is never take for granted that your spouse or girlfriend will always be there," he wrote in the e-mail. "To my darling Debbie I love you very much and I hope that one day we will be married and live happily ever after."

State police got Creek's personal e-mail address from the suspect's brother and sent their own message asking Creek to turn himself in. Three hours and 35 minutes later, Creek responded, saying he had become jealous after seeing his ex-girlfriend with another man.

Louisville police, state troopers and U.S. marshals were searching for Creek.

Two Officers Charged with Beating Pasadena Officer

An apparent love triangle among three police officers erupted in violence last week, landing two of them in court Monday, officials said.

Tina Marie Perez, 37, a Pasadena police officer, and Timothy Robert Troxell, 38, a South Houston police sergeant, are charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a confrontation between them and another Pasadena police officer, said John Cannon, spokesman for the Houston Police Department.

Cannon said Houston police investigated the case. The three officers were off-duty at the time.

Perez and Troxell appeared in court Monday but were rescheduled to appear Nov. 12. They are free on $30,000 bond each. Perez's attorney, Charles Adams, said the incident is a case of self-defense.

"I am saying emphatically that Ms. Perez and Troxell did nothing wrong in this case," Adams said outside the courtroom.

Troxell's attorney, Cristobal Galindo, said his client had come to Perez's aid after she was attacked.

Assistant District Attorney Katie Warren declined to discuss the case, saying it is under investigation.

Houston police identified the third officer as Marvin Ouellette, 36.

The officers could not be reached for comment.

Houston police said Perez told investigators she had broken off her relationship with Ouellette. She said Troxell was her boyfriend.

Ouellette told investigators that he and Perez had an on-again, off-again relationship and that they were trying to reconcile, police said.

Police said that Ouellette arrived at Perez's home in the 9700 block of Ebb about 3 a.m. Friday after he had tried in vain to reach Perez by telephone.

Perez told investigators, police said, that Ouellette assaulted her outside her house in the driveway and that Troxell defended her.

Troxell, police said, hit Ouellette several times with a pistol, and Perez kicked and punched him. Ouellette did not admit hitting Perez, police said.

A witness saw two people beating a third person, police said.

Ouellette was treated at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital and later released, said Vance Mitchell, spokesman for the Pasadena Police Department. Mitchell said Perez is temporarily suspended without pay. He said she was rehired by the department in June 2005 after leaving the force to work for another law enforcement agency.

Mitchell said he could not release information about Ouellette's status in the department because he has not been charged with a crime.

Troxell has been temporarily suspended without pay, said South Houston Police Chief Herbert Gilbert.

Gilbert declined to discuss the allegations, but added that Troxell has been with the department for 5 1/2 years.

Perez and Troxell each could face up to 20 years in prison if they are convicted of the second-degree felony.