Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Officer Marvetia Richardson Files Suit Against Officers who Tasered Her

A San Francisco police inspector has filed a federal civil rights suit against Antioch, arguing that officers in the East County city illegally broke into her home and Tasered her last year during a dispute involving a tenant she was evicting.

Marvetia Lynn Richardson contends the officers' actions represent an Antioch Police Department policy to harass African-American residents to drive them out of certain neighborhoods in the city.

The allegations are denied by the defendants, who include the city, its police department, police Chief James Hyde, Sgt. Thomas Fuhrmann and several named officers. They state in court documents that Richardson was arrested with probable cause and that limited force was used. Antioch's city attorney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The lawsuit says that two officers responded to Richardson's house on Mokelumne Drive after midnight on June 7, 2007, after a noise complaint by Bridget Reed, who lived with her teenage daughter in Richardson's upstairs bedroom. Richardson had served her with a 30-day eviction notice the week before.

Richardson at the time was entertaining two women friends — also plaintiffs in the suit — a teenager and several children who were excited about a trip to Great America the next day, the suit says.

Richardson asserts that after she invited the officers inside, they were rude and unprofessional, one telling her, "You wish you owned this home," after she identified herself as the homeowner.

The officers left the house and were standing outside when they heard screams and sounds indicating a struggle inside. Reed and her daughter then ran outside, saying that Richardson's teenage guest had threatened to shoot them.

During the conversation with Reed, officers began an audio recording in which they refer to Richardson as the "alleged homeowner" and "supposed homeowner." The lawsuit says that much of what followed was caught on that recording.

The officers then called Fuhrmann to the house, the lawsuit says. When no one answered the door, he ordered the officers to break it down. The teenager and another minor in a bedroom "pretending to be asleep" were immediately on suspicion of resisting arrest, the lawsuit says. The officers confronted Richardson as she stood in a bedroom doorway in her bedclothes.

The lawsuit says that in the audio recording, Richardson sounds irritated but is calmly answering the officers' questions when one suddenly shocks her with a Taser.

"How do you justify that?" the suit says Richardson asked the officers, who then arrested her and her two adult guests on suspicion of resisting arrest.

All charges filed against the women were dismissed this year after Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Charles Treat ruled that the officers entered Richardson's house illegally, according to the suit. The two minors arrested were not prosecuted.

The San Francisco Police Department placed Richardson on unpaid leave after her arrest. She is seeking compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and emotional distress. Her friends also seek compensation for emotional distress, with one asking for lost wages because the arrest prohibited her from obtaining a license to become a day care provider.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco in July and is scheduled for jury trial in December 2009.

Former Deputy Darrell Thornton Accused of Embezzlement


A former Yadkin County deputy is being accused of embezzlement and lying about a cancer diagnosis.

A report stats that 33-year-old Darrell Brian Thornton of Clemmons collected $1,800 from a hot dog benefit in April after co-workers and church members were told he had cancer. Investigators say Thornton had changed a doctor’s report to show the diagnosis.

He is also accused of drug possession and taking money from the sheriff’s drug fund.

Thornton is in the Forsyth County jail under a $500,000 bond.

Officer Glen Mearls Arrested for DWI


State police arrested an off-duty Farmington police officer on charges of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the Farmington Police Department parking lot, state police officials said.

At about 8 a.m. Wednesday Officer Glen Mearls, who was off duty, pulled into the Farmington Police Department parking lot in his privately owned vehicle and struck a parked vehicle.

Supervisors with the Farmington Police Department were notified and came to the scene to investigate. Upon learning that Mearls had possibly been driving under the influence of liquor or drugs and to avoid a conflict of interest, they contacted the State Police to conduct an investigation.

New Mexico State Police officers were called at about 8:30 a.m. by the Farmington Police Department and began a DWI investigation. After administering field sobriety tests, state police officers concluded that Mearls was impaired, possibly under the influence of prescription drugs.

He was placed under arrest on charges of DWI.

Mearls, a 14-year veteran of the Farmington Police Department, was booked into the San Juan County Detention Center.

The Farmington Police Department is conducting a separate internal investigation on the matter and has placed Mearls on paid administrative leave.

Officer Alphonso Sloan Arrested for 'Mutual Physical Domestic'

A Pittsburgh police detective is assigned to desk duty, after he and his girlfriend were arrested for a "mutual physical domestic" at a Hill District apartment early today.

Alphonso Sloan, 37, a 14-year veteran of the department, will work in the Police Bureau's records office in Pittsburgh Municipal Court because of the fight with Yvonne Williams, whose age wasn't available. Department officials took Sloan's service gun.

Police were called to Williams' Elmore Square apartment just after 2 a.m. for a domestic disturbance, according to an arrest affidavit. Officers found Sloan, who was working in the department's graffiti task force, sitting inside the building's entryway with a small cut on his forehead and "noticeable swelling" and redness on his right cheek, the affidavit states.

Sloan of Lawrenceville told officers he had a fight with Williams and she hit him in the head with a cell phone.

Inside the apartment, officers found Williams sitting on the bedroom floor. She had a piece of glass from a broken mirror stuck in her foot and a cut to her upper left forearm, according to the affidavit. She told police she and Sloan came home from a bar and began arguing because she was "talking to some girls," the affidavit states.

Williams, who appeared visibly intoxicated, repeatedly told police Sloan pushed her into the mirror, according to the affidavit.

Sloan told investigators he and Williams came home and she "started trippin' " when he was in the kitchen eating a hoagie. He said she started punching him and then threw the mirror at him. He left the apartment for a few minutes and when he returned, she threw the cell phone at him, Sloan told police.

Officers weren't able to determine who started the fight and arrested both, according to the affidavit.

Medics treated Williams at the scene but Sloan refused treatment. Both were taken to jail and given information on victim's services, police said. Several police supervisors were notified.

Bond information for Sloan and Williams wasn't immediately available.

Sloan will remain on desk duty "pending the outcome of the investigation," police department spokeswoman Diane Richard said. Richard said the department's policies on domestic violence incidents involving police officers were followed.

Changes were made to the department's policies after women's groups and others protested the promotions of three Pittsburgh police officers who had a history of domestic violence arrests.

Corrections Officer Leah Fragua Arrested for Smuggling Drugs into Jail

A corrections officer has been arrested for smuggling drugs into the Santa Fe County jail.

Investigators say the jail guard used a pack of cigarettes to smuggle in cocaine and marijuana.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office says Leah Fragua, a 21-year-old rookie guard, was getting the drugs from the wife of an inmate, 25-year-old Alishia Marquez.

Detectives say the two women would meet at a local bank to exchange the drugs before Fragua would smuggle them inside the jail.

Correction officials were tipped off after listening in on an inmate's phone calls.

The sheriff says because Fragua worked at the jail, she was not locked up with the inmates she once guarded.

Grand Jury Hearing Evidence in Inmates Death


We could be very close to learning whether any charges will be filed in the jail-cell death of Ronnie White, an accused cop killer.

According to several sources, prosecutors have begun presenting evidence about White's jailhouse death to a grand jury. The sources say at least one of the prison guards considered a focus of the investigation has already testified; another has been subpoenaed to appear next week. The sources say they believe the Maryland State Police homicide division has finished its investigation and delivered its report to Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey.

What cannot be known at this point is what the outcome of the grand jury proceedings will be. Generally speaking, prosecutors present evidence in hopes of gaining indictments. But a grand jury can also decline to indict if the evidence isn't compelling enough.

Ronnie White was found dead in his jail cell back in June. The prison guard who admits to finding him says it was a suicide.

The state medical examiner, however, after an exhaustive investigation of his own, ruled the death a homicide by strangulation.

White was accused of killing Prince George's County police Sgt. Richard Findley.

Corrections Officer Juan Nunez Arrested for trying to Bring Cocaine into Prison

A 39-year-old Coolidge man was arrested last week by the FBI on charges of trying to bring cocaine into a Corrections Corporation of America prison here.

Juan Nunez was charged with attempted provision of a prohibited object to an inmate and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Nunez has been a corrections officer at CCA's Central Arizona Detention Center. The CCA facility houses inmates for the federal government.

The criminal complaint alleges that since Oct. 30, Nunez had been negotiating with an inmate to bring cocaine into the prison from an outside source on the inmate's behalf.

On Nov. 6 he met with an undercover FBI agent acting as the outside source. During the meeting, Nunez accepted half an ounce of cocaine for the inmate and a $1,600 payment for agreeing to smuggle the cocaine into the facility.

Nunez was arrested after he took the cocaine and money. At his initial appearance Friday in federal court in Phoenix, Nunez was held over for a detention hearing set for Monday.

A conviction for trying to bring a prohibited object to an inmate in this case carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine or both, and a conviction for possession of cocaine for sale carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $1 million fine or both.

In determining an actual sentence, the judge ultimately assigned to the case will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, but is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

The investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Marana Police Department, the Tucson Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Frederick Battista, an assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, is the prosecutor.