Saturday, February 28, 2009

Former Sheriff Bill Keating Charged with Having Sex with Inmates


A former sheriff and several ex-jailers were among 17 people named Friday in a 106-count indictment on charges ranging from having sex with inmates to bringing them drugs at a now-closed county jail.

Former Montague County Sheriff Bill Keating was charged with official oppression and having sex with inmates, according to the indictment. Keating was defeated in a primary election last spring.

Several female jailers were charged with having sex with inmates and bringing them drugs, cell phones and cigarettes, while several male jailers were charged with drug possession and with bringing inmates banned items, according to the indictment.

Several inmates also were charged with drug possession, according to the indictment.

State District Judge Roger Towery has sealed the names in the indictments until the suspects are arrested, but their jobs and charges were made public....

Video Shows Deputy Beating 15-year-old Girl

A video showing a King County Sheriff's deputy pummeling a 15-year-old girl in a holding cell was released Friday over the strenuous objections of the officer's attorney.

The case goes beyond police misconduct, County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a prepared statement.

"It's about criminal misconduct. And that's why he needs to be prosecuted," he said.

The video of the Nov. 29 incident was disclosed Friday, one day after Deputy Paul Schene, 31, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault in King County District Court.

Schene, an eight-year veteran, works out of Precinct 4, which covers SeaTac, Burien and high crime areas in White Center and Skyway.

He is the third sheriff's deputy since 2006 to face charges on allegations of excessive force. All three are from the Burien precinct.

A detective assigned to the girl's case discovered the video Dec. 1 and immediately forwarded it to supervisors.

The Seattle P-I requested a copy of the holding cell video and all reports from the incident under the state's open records law. A judge on Thursday denied a request from Schene's attorney to bar the video from public disclosure.

"We take this very seriously and we're very concerned about this," sheriff's Sgt. Jim Laing said Friday. An internal investigation would begin after the criminal case is finished.

The girl was arrested after she was caught in her parents' car, which had been reported stolen from her parents' Tukwila home. Deputy Travis Brunner spotted the car driving without headlights about 3:45 a.m. on 32nd Avenue South in SeaTac and pulled it over.

She and another 15-yearold girl were arrested and taken to SeaTac City Hall to be fingerprinted before being transported to the youth detention center.

The P-I is not naming the girl because she is a minor.

The deputies apparently didn't know until later that the girl, who was in the passenger seat, was related to the car's owner.

"We had argued strenuously that the videotape released to the media this morning not be released because it does not tell the whole story of the incident," attorney Anne Bremner said in a statement.

"As we argued to the judge, it will inflame public opinion and will severely impact the deputy's right to a fair trial."

The video shows Schene and Brunner as they escorted the girl into the holding cell. Schene had asked her to remove her basketball shoes, and, as she slipped out of her left shoe, she appeared to kick it at Schene.

Schene then lunged through the door and kicked her, striking either her stomach or upper thigh area, court documents say. He pushed her against a corner wall before flinging her to the floor by her hair. He then squatted down on her and made "two overhead strikes," although it's unclear where the blows landed.

The detective who reviewed the video said it appeared Schene and Brunner had the girl under control when Schene struck her. Schene, who is 6 feet 2 and weighs 195 pounds, did not explain his action to investigators, court documents say.

He and the girl exchanged words. Brunner said she was "real lippy" after being informed she was under arrest and called them "fat pigs."

The Sheriff's Office policy manual says deputies should use physical or deadly force only when "necessary to effect an arrest, to defend themselves or others from violence, or to otherwise accomplish police duties according to law."

Schene could face up to a year in jail if convicted. He has been on administrative leave since early December.

The girl said that she couldn't breathe after the incident, prompting the deputies to call paramedics.

Paramedics decided that she didn't require hospitalization. Felony charges require proof of serious injury.

"If the matter were to go to trial, he could face additional charges," said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff in the Prosecutor's Office.

In his own report from the incident, Schene wrote that the shoe hit him in the right shin, "causing injury and pain." He wrote that he "placed" her into handcuffs and that she needed medical attention for a "panic attack."

He said a "blood filled pocket" formed on his shin, requiring treatment at Auburn General Hospital, according to his report. The video, however, appears to show his shin strike a metal toilet as he pushes the girl against the wall.

The girl told investigators that she didn't intend for the shoe to hit him, court documents say.

Schene had previously been in the news in 2006 after he fatally shot Pedro Jo, a mentally ill man, during a struggle after a traffic stop on Interstate 5. It was the second officer-involved shooting of his career.

An inquest jury ruled the shooting was justified. Jo viciously attacked Schene, trying to strangle him with his own radio cord.

Jo then ran back to his car and disobeyed Schene's orders to stop. Schene said he saw Jo reach for something in the seat, so Schene fired 11 times after Jo ran back to his car.

Shortly after the shooting while on administrative leave, Schene was stopped for driving under the influence.

He had been drinking and taking prescription medication, according to court records. He received a deferred sentence and was placed on probation, records show.

Schene works in an urban precinct with higher rates of violent crime and gang activity than other precincts. Officers assigned there more often report having to use physical force in arrest situations, Laing said.

Schene is the second officer from the precinct in three months to face charges. In addition, a third deputy, Brian Bonnar, was acquitted in January of civil rights violations during a trial in U.S. District Court. Bonnar, who patrolled in the precinct, was accused by other deputies of using excessive force on a woman who'd been restrained after a high-speed pursuit.

Legal costs for Bonnar's private attorneys, David Allen and Todd Maybrown, as well as lawyer costs for other deputies involved, cost the county's insurer $315,000, according to records the P-I obtained.

In December, Deputy Don Griffee was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching a handcuffed male suspect. The state Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the case.



Friday, February 27, 2009

Sheriff Charlie Morris Arrested for Theft, Fraud & other Charges

An emotional start to a Friday morning for the employees of Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office.Just before 9 o'clock they were informed their boss, Sheriff Charlie Morris, was behind bars.

"I don't know if i can do this Charlie Morris has been like a father to me and to say that we are hurt, to say that we are stunned to say that we are disappointed does not even begin to describe it," says Michele Nickelson the O.C.S.O. public information officer.

Federal agents arrested Morris in Las Vegas, Friday morning on theft, fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy charges.

Around the same time, authorities in Shalimar arrested Morris' director of administration and finance, 50-year-old Theresa "Terry" Adams, escorting her out of her office.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Morris and Adams were conducting a scheme to steal money from the sheriff's office payroll account, enlisting the help of unwitting employees. Several of those employees got suspicious and began working with local FBI agents.

Those agents say the scheme worked like this:

Adams or Morris or both, would tell the employee the sheriff's office charity account was out of money. They'd ask the employee to help them transfer money from the payroll account to the charity account, in the form of kick-backs.Those employees told federal agents they would receive thousands of dollars in bonuses, then give most or all of the money back to Adams as either cash or a cashier's check.
The say Morris never gave any of the money to charity, but pocketed it for his own use.

After Morris' arrest, Gov. Charlie Crist suspended him from office and appointed FDLE Agent Edward Spooner as the acting sheriff. Friday afternoon, Spooner reacted to the situation.

"It's a bad day for all of us I've known charlie Morris for 16 years..I've worked with him quite a's tough for all of us." But he refused to answer any questions about the investigation, like are there any more arrests pending.

"This involved a very small group of employees in the sheriff's office that is being investigated by the FBI."

If the allegations are true, the nagging question is why would Morris do it. Some claim Morris has a gambling problem.

"I don't know that he has a gambling problem I have no knowledge of that and it's an issue i will not discuss," says Spooner.

When asked why Morris was in Las Vegas, Spooner would only answer he was on vacation.
As for his stay at the sheriff's office, Spooner says he's only there for a short time.

"It's my understanding I'll be here for 4 to 6 or even 8 weeks to come in and keep the sheriff's office running the same and give the same service to the citizens, the members and the employees, but the agency is who will make the difference."

There is no word on who will step-up and permanently replace Morris, not only as sheriff, but also as the president of the Florida Sheriff's Association.

Morris is due in Federal Court in Las Vegas for a bond hearing.

He'll then be extradited back to the Pensacola where he'll face the charges.

Teresa Adams Arrested with Sheriff Charlie Morris

Another person has been arrested in connection to the arrest of Okaloosa County Sheriff Charlie Morris.

Along with the Arrest of 59-year-old Sheriff Charlie Morris, Teresa Adams, age 50, of Niceville, Florida, were arrested Friday based upon a federal criminal complaint alleging violations of Theft or Fraud from Federally Funded Programs, Wire Fraud, Fraud or Theft of Honest Services, Money Laundering and Money Laundering Conspiracy.

Sheriff Morris was arrested by federal agents in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is expected to make an initial appearance in United States District Court for the District of Nevada Friday.

Thereafter, he is expected to be returned to the Northern District of Florida.

According to the complaint filed in federal court, Morris, with the assistance of his Director of Administration and Finance, Adams, created fictitious bonuses to sheriff’s department employees.

The complaint alleges the employees were directed to return all or a portion of the bonuses in the form of cash and cashier’s checks under the pretense that these returned funds were to be used for charitable purposes.

Adams is expected to make an initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Elizabeth M. Timothy in Pensacola Friday.

A criminal complaint is merely a charging instrument. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in United States District Court.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Randall J.

Officer Paul Cervantes Charged with Stealing Drug Dealers SUV

A judge ruled this afternoon that there was sufficient evidence to order one Fresno police officer to stand trial on a charge of helping an informant steal a suspected drug dealer's SUV, but another officer charged in the case was allowed to go free.

Judge Gary Orozco said in Fresno County Superior Court there was probable cause to believe officer Paul Cervantes helped steal a 2001 Ford Explorer that belonged to Humberto Ortega Quintero, who was arrested Jan. 7, 2008, during a drug bust in Fresno.

But Orozco said there was little evidence to link officer Hector Becerra to the theft.

The judge also ruled that the informant, Jesus Jose Mendoza Valles, should stand trial.

1:38 p.m.: A preliminary hearing began this morning in Fresno County Superior Court for two Fresno police officers and a confidential informant accused of stealing a suspected drug dealer's SUV in January last year.

Randy Royal, an investigator with the California Highway Patrol, testified he interviewed the informant, Jesus Jose Mendoza Valles.

Royal said Valles told him police officers Paul Cervantes and Hector Becerra gave him permission to take an SUV owned by Humberto Ortega Quintero after Quintero was arrested in a drug bust on Jan. 7, 2008.

The next day, Valles went to the Department of Motor Vehicles and registered the SUV in his name, Royal said.

Royal also testified he interviewed Quintero and learned Valles never paid him $5,000 for his 2001 Ford Explorer.

Valles was booked into the downtown jail Dec. 29 on a charge of stealing Quintero's car. Before the two officers were arrested, Royal said, they went to the jail to visit Valles. The officers interviewed Valles for about 20 minutes, Royal testified.

What was discussed has not yet been disclosed in Judge Gary Orozco's courtroom.

Before the lunch break, another witness, Fresno Sgt. Walter Boston, said he received a tip from Cervantes after the officer was arrested. The tip led him to a female confidential informant who works for the Fresno Police Department. Cervantes told Boston that Valles told the woman he felt pressured by the CHP and Fresno police detective Brad Alcorn to "give up the officers."

Cervantes, 32, Becerra, 34, and Valles, 45, each face a charge of felony auto theft.

The preliminary hearing will determine whether there is enough evidence to order the three men to stand trial. The hearing resumes after the lunch break.

Trooper Leslie Hoover Arrested for DUI was Wearing a Red Dress

A South Carolina Highway Patrol officer is off the job after being arrested under bizarre circumstances on Wednesday.

Officials say trooper Leslie C. Hoover was pulled over on John Dodd Road in Spartanburg County under suspicion of DUI. This came after a motorist called 911 to report Hoover’s personal vehicle, an Isuzu Rodeo, swerving erratically on Insterstate 26 about 6:40pm in heavy rush hour traffic. The SC Department of Public Safety says Hoover refused a breathalyzer and failed a field sobriety test. He was charged with driving under the influence.

Thursday morning, Hoover appeared before a magistrate and was released on his own recognizance. But his appearance when he entered the jail has stirred more discussion than his legal troubles.

A high-ranking official who wished to remain anonymous tells News Channel 7 he saw Hoover brought into the jail “wearing a red dress”. He says Hoover was also wearing a bra and was seen “adjusting his bra” while he waited to be processed. And he says the shamed trooper had a pair of thong panties “in his possession”.

That would explain statements made by the man who made the 911 call on the interstate. The driver, who asked not to be identified, said Hoover “appeared to be wearing a blonde wig” when he came flying past him near exit 22. On a recording of his 911 call - which was obtained by News Channel 7 - the man refers to Hoover as “she” several times.

“Yes, I’m on interstate 26 heading west at exit 22 and there is a red, I think it’s an Isuzu or a Rodeo, and she - I think it’s a she - is weaving all over the road,“ says the caller on the 911 tape.
Dispatcher: “Do you think she’s intoxicated or….?“
Caller: “I can’t tell but she is weaving all over the road!“.

Sid Gaulden, spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, says Hoover is from Lexington County and was on his personal time when he was arrested. He says Hoover was terminated Thursday morning. He had worked for the Highway Patrol for 30 years. He says Hoover retired in 2000 but came back to work in 2002 as a member of the patrol’s Insurance Enforcement Team. The team works with the Department of Motor Vehicles to seize license plates from car owners who have allowed their insurance coverage to lapse.

“They are part-time employees but they have the same authority to conduct traffic stops and issue citations as a full-time state trooper,“ says Gaulden. He says Hoover did not have any disciplanary actions against him as a patrol officer from 1976 to 2000. But after he came back in 2002, he had to attend one counseling session for “negligent operation of a state vehicle”. Gaulden says that stemmed from an incident in which Hoover rear-ended a civilian’s vehicle. He says “there was no indication alcohol was a factor” in that crash.

The man who called 911 raises another interesting issue: he says another state trooper could have stopped Hoover before he called 911 but did not pull him over. He says as Hoover’s vehicle swerved all over the road near exit 22, a state trooper in an SUV pulled “right up behind” Hoover and followed him. He says at the time, Hoover’s vehicle was straddling the divided white line that separates lanes.

“I really thought (the trooper) was going to pull him over because he was clearly weaving,“ says the caller. “But he just went right around him and took off real fast like he was in a hurry.“

He says as the trooper was going around Hoover’s vehicle, Hoover swerved off the shoulder of the interstate.

“I thought that would have been obvious enough for the trooper to notice that but I guess he didn’t,“ says the man. He says minutes later, after he saw Hoover almost collide with several vehicles, he picked up his cell phone and dialed 911.

We informed Department of Public Safety of the man’s statement about the trooper failing to pull over Hoover. Gaulden said they were not aware of the scenario “but we will investigate it fully” to see if it was indeed a state trooper who pulled up behind Hoover and if so, why they opted not to pull him over.


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Veteran Officer Javier Alonzo Arrested for Sexual Assault

EL PASO, Texas

A 16-year veteran of the El Paso Police Department has been arrested in Austin on a charge of aggravated sexual assault.

El Paso police announced Friday that Javier Alonzo was arrested by Austin police without incident. Alonzo's whereabouts had been unknown since El Paso police issued a warrant for his arrest Tuesday, according to the news release.

Alonzo was booked into the Travis County jail but is expected to be moved to El Paso, the news release said.

The alleged victim was identified in the news release as a woman living in El Paso.


Officers Hector Becerra & Paul Cervantes Return to Court for Auto Theft

Two Fresno Police Officers, accused of felony auto theft, will return to court Friday morning.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Hector Becerra and Paul Cervantes, at which prosecutors will present evidence to hold the two over for trial.

The two are accused of stealing a car they were supposedly seizing, and turning it over to a chop shop. They were arrested back on January 30th, and made their first court appearance on February 17th, where they pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A third Fresno Police Officer, 40-year-old Robert Eddings is facing charges related to the case, for giving false information.

Other Information:
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Officer Joseph Houston Investigated for Exposing Himself


Selectmen met for a second, and final, time yesterday afternoon in a closed-door session to decide whether to discipline or dismiss Brewster police Officer Joseph Houston for alledgedly exposing himself and assaulting other patrons at a Jan. 18 rock concert in Boston.

The hearing took nearly two hours and allowed Houston's attorney to present his client's side of the case to the board. Afterward, selectmen chairman Peter Norton said the rules regarding executive session prohibited him from commenting on the meeting other than to say that the board had concluded its deliberations on the matter.

Leaving the meeting, Houston did not appear to be a man who had been vindicated. He and his attorney walked briskly past reporters, who had been excluded from the hearing. Neither Houston nor his attorney, Patrick Bryant, would comment on whether Houston still had a job as a Brewster police officer.

"There will be no comment at this time," Bryant said.

The municipal payroll is considered a public record, and, after the meeting, Police Chief Richard Koch said that Houston, who had been on paid administrative leave since the January incident, would not be on paid leave as of today, or any time thereafter.

Houston was allegedly intoxicated while at a Metallica concert at TD Banknorth Garden on Jan. 18. At one point, he allegedly pulled down his pants and urinated on a man in the row in front of him. According to a complaint filed with Boston police after the concert, Houston also physically and verbally harassed the female members of the party, identified only as a family from out of state, and allegedly lunged at the man's sister with his pants still down and genitals exposed.

When he was ejected by security guards for fighting with the first victim, Houston allegedly flashed his Brewster police badge, identified himself as an officer and demanded he be allowed back into the concert. At one point, he allegedly said "Look at Obama" to a black Transit police officer.

Houston was arrested by the Transit Police and charged with trespassing for trying to get back into the concert. He has been arraigned on that charge. Boston detectives have also requested a clerk's hearing, set for March 5, on possible felony charges against the officer.

Executive session is typically invoked in personnel cases, especially disciplinary and dismissal hearings. The sessions are closed to the public and media unless the defendant asks them to be conducted in open session. Houston requested a closed hearing. Executive session minutes and the record of decision is generally public information, once selectmen have reviewed and approved them.

Chief Koch said his department's own internal investigation into Houston's conduct at the concert would not be released until after all avenues of appeal had been exhausted, including any possible union grievance.


Deputy Mario Carey Charged with Domestic Violence

A Pierce County sheriff’s deputy was charged with domestic violence Wednesday after an argument with his girlfriend.

Mario Carey, 37, was charged with fourth-degree domestic violence, a misdemeanor, in Bonney Lake Municipal Court.

Carey’s girlfriend called police to a residence near Lake Tapps about 6:40 a.m. Feb. 16 after she and Carey had an argument, said Bonney Lake police spokesman Tony Rice. Officers interviewed the two and found probable cause to arrest the deputy, Rice said.

The woman didn’t need medical assistance at the scene, Rice said.

Carey, an eight-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, was placed on paid administrative leave and, following standard procedure, his weapon was confiscated, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

The Sheriff’s Department will conduct an internal investigation of the incident, Troyer said.

Sgt Ronald Jones Arrested for Fraudulently Obtaining Prescription Medication


A veteran Alameda police officer was arrested this morning and now faces felony charges after authorities said that he fraudulently obtained prescription medication.

Ronald R. Jones, a sergeant who has been with the department for 26 years, is accused of visiting a residence of someone who was terminally ill and telling the family that police provided a disposal service for medication.

Jones allegedly took the medications and never placed them into evidence for destruction.

As an administrative sergeant there was no reason for Jones to have been collecting items at the scene, said Alameda police Lt. Bill Scott, who also noted that it does not appear to have been an isolated incident.

Alameda police launched an internal affairs investigation last month.

Jones was arrested this morning in Pleasanton by agents from the state Department of Justice's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.

Jones was booked at the Alameda County Sheriff's Office on two felony counts of using fraud, deceit or misrepresentation to obtain a controlled substance.

He has been placed on paid administrative leave.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don Ickes Files Lawsuit After Being Tasered

An Osterburg man who said he was doing tax research before being tasered at the county courthouse is suing Bedford Borough and one of its officers.

And the tape recorder that got Don Ralph Ickes in trouble in the first place – if admissible in court – may have captured key evidence in the case.

Ickes said he went to the Bedford County Courthouse on Feb. 13, 2008, to visit the law library.

Told that it was closed, he went to the tax assessor’s office to review tax maps.

Borough police Officer Dean Kensinger Jr. saw Ickes there and asked to speak with him in the hallway.

According to the lawsuit Ickes filed in U.S. District Court in Johnstown, Kensinger said “(Ickes) was violating the law by using a tape recorder in public without the consent of those who may be recorded.”

Ickes replied that he was recording his research. With the tape machine still running, Ickes said he was not violating the law and started to walk away.

“Officer Kensinger then grabbed the plaintiff and forcefully attempted to stop him from leaving the area and to force him to turn off his tape recorder,” the suit claims.

Ickes said he pulled away, they parted and Ickes questioned the officer, saying he had not violated any laws.

“Officer Kensinger then tasered plaintiff multiple times, which caused plaintiff to fall to the floor in great agony and pain,” the lawsuit claims.

He then was arrested and taken to jail. The suit says Ickes began to have breathing problems and spent four days in UPMC Bedford Memorial. Upon leaving the hospital, he was jailed again but posted bond and was released a day later.

Ickes is suing Kensinger for arrest and imprisonment without cause and use of excessive force, and the borough for failing to ensure the officer was properly trained. He is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

Borough Manager John Montgomery said Wednesday he wasn’t aware of the case and said it would be turned over to attorneys.

Ickes’ criminal case still is pending. He faces charges of intercepting communications, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Officer A.R. Caruana Arrested for Making Threats

A Raleigh police officer is charged with assault after an off-duty arrest.

Police Chief Harry Dolan said in a statement Wednesday that officers went to a disturbance call around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the 10000 block of Heather Meadow Lane.

When they got there, they say their investigation found that 32-year-old A.R. Caruana had been pointing a gun and making threats.

Caruana was arrested and taken to the Wake County Jail.

The chief said Caruana was off-duty at the time of the incident and his service weapon was not involved.

Caruana joined the department on June 4, 2000, holds the rank of senior officer, and has most recently been assigned to the department's Gang Suppression Unit.

Police say the dispute that led to the charges was a domestic related incident and not related to Caruana's law enforcement duties. The investigation continues.


Police Taser 14-year-old Autistic Boy

The family of a 14-year-old autistic boy is suing police and his school after authorities Tasered him until he lost consciousness.

The student attended Creekside Middle School in Carmel, Ind., and remains unnamed in the complaint. He is described as having "affective disorder and has been diagnosed with autism, manic-depressive disorder and bipolar disorder."

According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, the boy's mother, Dianne Bell, was late dropping him off for school and called to tell the administration. However, the student received detention and became "frustrated and began to act out."

"During this outburst he is saying outrageous things," Bells' attorney, Ronald Frazier, told the Indianapolis Star. He said the student said he would call his gang as retaliation against his teachers.

"They know there is no gang there," Frazier said. "They know he has no way of acting on what he is saying. They are taking these idle threats and calling police."

The family claims the school district did not abide by established procedures for dealing with the outbursts

"When a child like (the Bells' son) starts to have emotional problems, the (individual procedure) is supposed to be followed," Frazier told the Star. "It has specific steps that are to be taken in order to keep the child from melting totally down."

The administration dialed 9-1-1 instead.

The family claims Carmel police officer Matthew Kinkade restrained the 5-foot, 90-pound boy and forced him onto a bench in the school lobby. When his outburst continued, the officer allegedly Tasered the boy two times – leaving him unconscious.

"Officer Kinkade used unreasonable and excessive force by failing to follow policies and procedures that were in place for dealing with autistic children," according to the complaint.

The Police Department claims the school never notified officers of the boy's condition, although school officials say they did.

"Autistic children have a great difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they don't understand social cues," Frazier told the Star. "(The Bell child) gets confronted with violence, with Tasers, and he is flipping out because of his sensory overload."

Noblesville Police Department Lt. Bruce Barnes trains officers in the use of Tasers.

"You can use the Taser anytime anybody is punching, kicking or threatening to punch or kick," Barnes said. "We can use it when we tell someone to do something, they refuse, lesser-force options are not available and they are a credible threat to you."

Barnes wouldn't speculate about whether the autistic boy actually posed a legitimate threat to police, according to the report.

Sheila Wolfe, director of the Indianapolis-based Autism Education and Training Center, told the Star school officials and police who responded to the outburst actually made it worse.

"You need to step away and leave them alone so that they can decompress," she said. "I have a hard time believing that a trained officer would Taser a child with a disability if they fully understood the situation they were walking into.

"I know from experience that the people in Carmel (Clay schools) know better. As a school system, they have the expertise and they have the people available that know better. I'm surprised."

The Bell family is now suing the Carmel Police Department, officer Matthew Kinkade and Carmel Clay Schools. They are seeking damages for medical expenses, pain, suffering and mental anguish.

Family of Iman Morales Suing the City for Tasering Death

The family of a Brooklyn man who died after police Tasered him is suing the city, a cop and the estate of another officer who killed himself for $10 million.

Relatives of Iman Morales, 35, want the money and a review of police protocols and training in the use of Tasers.

"He didn't deserve any of this," said Morales' mother, Olga Negron, 55, who was at the scene when her mentally ill son was struck and then fell headfirst from a ledge onto the concrete 10 feet below. "It was horrible."

The suit names the city; the estate of Lt. Michael Pigott, who ordered the Tasing, and Officer Nicholas Marchesona, who fired the 50,000-volt electroshock as Morales was teetering on a 10-foot-high ledge Sept. 24.

A remorseful Pigott committed suicide days later. Marchesona was promoted to detective five weeks after Morales died.

Police have said the incident violated department guidelines, which prohibit stun gun use "in situations where the subject may fall from an elevated surface."

"What went wrong, clearly, was the training," the family's lawyer, Seth Harris, said Wednesday. "They have to train how to properly use this weapon."

He questioned why the Brooklyn district attorney's office didn't open a criminal probe.

A spokesman said the district attorney accepted cops' version that Morales' death was a tragic accident.


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Trooper Leslie Hoover Arrested for DUI

A South Carolina Highway Patrol officer has been arrested in Spartanburg County, charged with DUI.

The SC Department Of Public Safety tells us Officer Leslie Hoover, who is from Lexington County, and works in the Insurance Enforcement Team of the Highway Patrol, was taken into custody at around 6:30 this evening.

Troopers stopped him on Interstate 26 at John Dodd Road in Spartanburg County, after a motorist called 911 to report a car swerving.

Two troopers pulled him over, and say he failed a field sobriety test.

Troopers tell us he was in his personal car, not a patrol car.

He has been booked at the Spartanburg County Detention Center.

Public Safety tells us, the Public Safety Director has taken steps to terminate Hoover.

The High Cost of Police Brutality


Abusive cops are costing already cash-strapped cities across the U.S. millions of dollars in settlements but civil rights activists and attorneys warn that the payouts will continue unless the criminal justice system begins to prosecute its out-of-control officers.

“Obviously we are in a major budget crisis, which has personally affected me,” said author, activist and syndicated columnist Dr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, referring to a local community college Spanish class he had signed up for, but was cancelled due to state budget cuts.

“Already within a space of three months we’ve seen how this crisis has gotten bigger and bigger and people are hurt by this. This is not just some abstract numbers, but this affects real peoples’ lives. We’ve seen how it affects healthcare, education, welfare, and jobs—whether public or private—public services, DMV, mental health facilities and processing job applications.There is real pain and suffering,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

On Feb. 4, the Los Angeles City Council authorized a $12.85 million settlement to demonstrators who were injured when officers from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) used excessive force to break up a peaceful May Day rally in MacArthur Park last year.More than 300 claims were filed against the city.

That same day in Oakland, Atty. John Burris filed a $1.5 million claim against the Bay Area Rapid Transit District and former transit officer Johannes Mehserle.Mr. Mehserle shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant, III in the back while he had apparently been subdued.

Atty. Burris filed the claim on behalf of five others who were with Mr. Grant that New Year’s Day and alleged that they were also abused by BART police.

On Jan. 28, the L.A. City Council also approved a $20.5 million settlement for four LAPD officers who charged that they were wrongfully prosecuted during the 1990s Rampart corruption scandal. But previous settlements to Rampart victims of police misconduct totaled about $75.5 million.The notorious scandal was uncovered when Rafael Perez, a member of the CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) Gang Unit, testified as a police informant that he and other officers often falsely accused and framed gang members for crimes.

“Cities and counties around the nation are hurting badly but is that to say that it’s going to make the LAPD any better in terms of how they police, hire and promote in terms of more minority sensitive?I don’t think so.I just think it’s going to increase the liability of taxpayers,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

If cities have to pay $12 million settlements, they simply rob Peter to pay Paul. “They will pull the money from somewhere else, library, park, playground service hours.They’ll find it by not funding after school nutrition programs.It has a rippling effect and it is caused by a mandated court order,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

According to the non-partisan California Budget Project, which works to improve “public policies affecting the economic and social well-being of low- and middle-income Californians,” people who have been and stand to be impacted by the current statewide budget crisis include:

• 1,544,710 public school students, due to cuts to five of the largest funding allocations;

• 66,140 low-income children dropped from the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids Program;

• 418,840 low-income seniors and persons with disabilities who would lose the state cost-of-living adjustment for Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment cash assistance grants;

• 61,590 low-income children in 2008-09—and a total of 112,140 children by 2009-10 —who would lose Medi-Cal coverage due to increased paperwork requirements; and

• 249,220 children enrolled in the Healthy Families Program, which provides low-cost health coverage for children in low-income working families.

In Chicago the mayor has put city employees on unpaid leave to help fill a budget shortfall. But a little over a year ago, Chicago officials agreed to pay $19.8 million to four men who suffered police torture under then-commander Jon Burge.Some $30 million has been spent to settle assorted lawsuits connected with the case, which stretches back to abuses during the 1980s and 1990s. Mayor Richard Daley proposed a two-to-three day furlough for more than 4,000 non-union workers to ease the city’s budgetary crisis.

The $30 million payout doesn’t count millions of dollars spent defending Mr. Burge after he was fired by the police department in 1993, said a staffer at the People’s Law Office, which has represented torture victims. City attorneys and private attorneys were paid to defend a man whose firing bore witness to his guilt, said the staffer. This doesn’t even count the human toll, which is worse, because of how Blacks, Latinos and the poor are abused by officers, said the staffer.

Big price tags for cop abuses aren’t new

Current budget problems may cause taxpayers to take a look at how their money is spent, but in Chicago $18 million was paid to the family of LaTanya Haggerty, a Black woman shot to death by police in 1999. In 1995, a New York Times editorial noted that in the “cash-starved” Big Apple, brutality settlements and court judgments cost the city $87 million over five years. The Rodney King beating cost Los Angeles $3.8 million in a settlement and estimates for property damage hit $700 million after riots when officers involved were acquitted. In 2001, the city of New York shelled out $7.125 million in the infamous Abner Louima case, in which the Haitian immigrant was assaulted with a plunger by officers in a precinct bathroom.

“This is shameful because right now if you’re already suffering from a $150 million budget deficit and you have three or four huge lawsuits, you have to find that money, so it makes sense to train and educate officers on the front end rather than pay for settlements on the back,” said Ronald Hampton, executive director of the National Black Police Association.

“All their priorities are turned upside down and instead of discouraging more police brutality from occurring, they are basically encouraging it.The money could have been used to offset all of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s budget cuts,” said John Parker, west coast coordinator of the International Action Center, in Los Angeles.With the exception of the Grant case, it is rare that police officers face any possible penalty for excessive force and misconduct, Mr. Parker said.

Police watch groups say that another challenge to police misconduct is being able to track the numerous settlement cases and how they balance with criminal prosecutions of officers.

Information about settlements may be secret

The ease or difficulty of getting records of payments in police misconduct cases depends on the particular state and state law, according to Brigitt Keller, executive director of the National Police Accountability Project. For example, Ms. Keller said, in Massachusetts, settlements paid out of the city’s budget are public record and the terms can be made available with a public records request.However, settlements paid through insurance companies may be confidential.

According to civil rights attorneys, since many abuse cases never make it to trial, the real costs of these settlements are unknown.“Many civil rights cases are dismissed on summary judgment, a method that individual judges use to dismiss or get rid of cases.Many are dismissed by White judges, often in federal court, and there’s no recognition by the judge of the racial issues in the case,” said civil rights attorney Christopher Cooper, of Merrillville, Ind., outside of Chicago.Lawyers’ best advice to plaintiffs, especially if they are Black, is for them to take the settlement or risk having their case tossed out, he said.

Atty. Michael Haddad, who has been fighting civil rights cases for 17 years, said the settlements are only the tip of the iceberg because attorneys probably talk to 100 people who say police abused them before they can take one case. “It’s so hard to prove these cases because the juries like to give police the benefit of the doubt … so the high cost is high but the human cost is much higher because the vast majority of victims never get compensated,” said the Oakland-based lawyer.

Unfortunately, Atty. Haddad added, the settlements create budgetary problems because most cities don’t plan for it, but some cities have insurance that kicks in after so many millions. They could save so much more if they spent money to prevent the misconduct in the first place, he said.

Atty. Haddad said that in a 2004 lawsuit he filed in Oakland, the police chief acknowledged a longstanding pattern of improper strip searches of people on the street.After four years, his firm uncovered some 40 victims of the strip searches. In 2008, although a federal judge ruled that the policies were unconstitutional, the city has not revised the policy and continues to use it.

“Now they’re facing a very big case with these 40 plaintiffs and probably will end up having to pay a significant amount of money to these victims,” Atty. Haddad said.

Legal challenges to police abuse expensive, rare

Kenavon “KC” Carter, an Austin, Texas-based criminal defense attorney, said it is important to understand that the battle against police brutality will not be won with lawsuits alone.“It’s going to take community organizing, public education and a legislative strategy to put pressure on police departments and city councils to hold their officers accountable,” he said.

According to Atty. Carter, it takes at least $50,000 to even bring a civil rights lawsuit alleging police brutality.Such cases are difficult to win because police officers are protected by the principle of qualified immunity, he said.“All an officer has to say when they’ve shot some brother down in the street, in the back, is that they had to make a split second decision, and that decision was to use deadly force.The courts allow them to get a pass,” he said.

“A lot of civil rights organizations, ACLU, NAACP and others are really picking and choosing cases to litigate on because they’re so expensive.They’re not successful and really not an effective strategy on holding police accountable for the conduct of their officers.”

Atty. Carter established Hip Hop Against Police Brutality Project under the sponsorship of the Texas ACLU’s Police Accountability Office. What he has found throughout his legal career is that along with city councils,the real power brokers for police misconduct are district attorneys and police chiefs from civil settlements to criminal prosecutions.

District attorneys are elected officials, so if communities are dissatisfied with their performances, one option is to vote them out, Atty. Carter said.The problem is, however, police officers have strong police unions that put a great deal of pressure on police chiefs, district attorneys and whoever they feel is a threat to cops who step out of line.

On the other hand, Atty. Carter added, citizens have to give good D.A.s political cover when they try to do the right thing.“D.A. Craig Watkins in Dallas, Texas, who is Black, has reopened and overturned 20 wrongful convictions placed on the books by the former D.A. because he saw a pattern of wrongdoing, but now he’s under pressure by the rest of his class of prosecutors to ease up.He’s going to be in trouble in the next election if people don’t stand up and when we finally have somebody really about justice, doing the right thing, we can’t afford to leave him out to dry,” he said.

In its 1999 report entitled, “Shielded From Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States,” Human Rights Watch indicated that race has played a central role in police brutality in the United States. “In the cities we have examined where such data are available, minorities have alleged human rights violations by police more frequently than white residents and far out of proportion to their representation in those cities. Police have subjected minorities to apparently discriminatory treatment and have physically abused minorities while using racial epithets,” the document read. Human Rights Watch hasn’t followed up on that major report made a decade ago because of money problems and has discontinued domestic monitoring of police misconduct.

Officer Richard Fiorito Accused of Framing Man

When James Dean Jr. left a North Side police station after his arrest for driving on a suspended license in February 2007, he thought the day’s problems were behind him.

A sergeant at the Town Hall police station near Wrigley Field warned him not to drive again, according to his lawyer, Jon Erickson.

Dean asked if he could get his coat from his car and the sergeant said yes, Erickson said.

Dean got into his car and Officer Richard Fiorito ordered him to move it, Erickson said. When Dean complied, the officer switched on the emergency lights on his squad car and pulled over Dean, arresting him for making an illegal U-turn, driving on a suspended license and driving under the influence, according to a lawsuit Dean filed Tuesday in federal court accusing Fiorito of framing him.

Dean said the police would not have initially released him on a personal recognizance bond if he were drunk, pointing out that he was arrested for DUI only four minutes after leaving the station. All the charges were eventually dropped by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, his lawsuit said.

“This has been going on for years and it’s time to put a stop to it,” Erickson said.

The city’s Law Department, which is defending the 60-year-old Fiorito in a separate traffic-related lawsuit, would not comment on Dean’s lawsuit because the city’s lawyers have not seen it, spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle said.

In the past year, two other officers have been the subject of internal police investigations for their DUI arrests.

Joe D. Parker, 59, an officer in the Chicago Police Department’s Traffic Enforcement Unit, has been placed on desk duty, sources said. Prosecutors have moved to dismiss dozens of Parker’s DUI arrests.

Officer John Haleas, meanwhile, has been charged by Cook County prosecutors with perjury, official misconduct and obstructing justice. He is accused of failing to take important steps in making a DUI arrest in 2005. Prosecutors said Haleas failed to perform a field-sobriety test and lied in his reports. As a result, they have dropped more than 50 cases stemming from DUI arrests made by Haleas, 38.

Erickson said he believes officers have an incentive to make false DUI arrests: overtime from court appearances. He thinks they also do it to gain recognition from anti-DUI organizations such as the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, which has named Parker, Haleas and Fiorito “top cops” in making DUI arrests. In 2006, Fiorito made 230 DUI arrests, according to AAIM.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lt Joseph Buzdziol Arrested for Possession & Drunk Driving

The head of a drug unit for the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office faces charges of marijuana possession, drunken driving and resisting and obstructing police after state troopers pulled him over in Bay County, according to Bay County Prosecutor Kurt Asbury.

Lt. Joseph Guzdziol faces up to two years in prison after state police stopped his car in Monitor Township at 11 p.m. Friday.

Police said Guzdziol was driving drunk with a minor in the car when troopers stopped him. Police said Guzdziol was unruly and resisted arrest.

“This is an unfortunate situation because it involves an officer,” Asbury said.

Guzdziol, who worked as an undercover drug officer before taking the helm at the sheriff’s drug unit, was placed on leave without pay.

Troopers tracked down Guzdziol’s car after 911 callers reported an erratic driver.

Guzdziol was released from the Bay County Jail on Saturday after posting a $10,000 bond. He is to be arraigned on March 6 at 74th District Court in Bay City.

Guzdziol has been with the sheriff’s department for 22 years.

Assistant Chief Andre Rogers Arrested for Trying to Strangle his Wife


An Ark-La-Tex officer is locked-up tonight accused of trying to strangle his wife.

The Bienville Parish Sheriff's Office arrested Assistant Police Chief of Arcadia Andre Rogers.

This is the second time in four months that he's been arrested on domestic violence charges.

He is being held in the Bienville Parish Jail on charges of domestic violence.


Three Former Atlanta Officers Senteced to Prison for Fatal Shooting of Woman

Three former Atlanta Police Department (APD) officers were sentenced to prison today by Chief U.S. District Judge Julie E. Carnes on a charge of conspiracy to violate civil rights resulting in death, arising from the fatal police shooting of Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year old Atlanta woman. Johnston was fatally shot at her home during the execution of a search warrant obtained by the defendants based upon false information on Nov. 21, 2006. The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King of the Civil Rights Division; U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias for the Northern District of Georgia; and Gregory Jones, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Atlanta office.

Jason R. Smith, 36, of Oxford, Ga., was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison; Gregg Junnier, 42, of Woodstock, Ga., was sentenced to 6 years in federal prison; and Arthur Tesler, 42, of Acworth, Ga., was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison. There is no parole in the federal system. Each defendant was also sentenced to serve 3 years of supervised release following his prison term, and collectively to pay $8,180 in restitution for the costs of Johnston's funeral and burying.

"The Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting law enforcement officers who willfully disregard the Constitution and abuse their authority to violate the rights of others," said Acting Assistance Attorney General Loretta King. "This sort of unlawful behavior, resulting in Ms. Johnston's tragic death, undermines the efforts of law enforcement officers who honorably perform their duties."

In a news conference after the sentencing hearings, U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias said in part, "As Atlanta police narcotics officers, these three defendants repeatedly failed to follow proper procedures and then lied under oath to obtain search warrants. Their routine violations of the Fourth Amendment led to the death of an innocent citizen. The death of Kathryn Johnson in a police shooting was a terrible tragedy for a law-abiding elderly woman, her family, and our entire community. But as her family and others hoped, from this tragedy have come two positive results. First, it has led the Atlanta Police Department to implement useful reforms in training and supervision and to entirely revamp its Narcotics Unit, reducing the possibility of a similar tragedy in the future. Second, the significant prison sentences imposed by the Court today should send a strong message to other law enforcement officers who may be tempted to lie under oath or otherwise violate the law. Officers who think, as these defendants once did, that the ends justify the means or that 'taking shortcuts' and telling lies will not be discovered and punished should realize that they are risking their careers and their liberty. And officers who try to obstruct justice when their misconduct faces exposure, rather than cooperating in the investigation, should realize that they will be face even more severe punishment."

Gregory Jones, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta, said, "This is a sad day in the law enforcement community. Few crimes are as reprehensible as those committed by police officers who violate the very laws they have sworn to uphold. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Johnston family, and we hope today's sentencing helps bring closure to this tragedy. Further, we want the public to know the FBI will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who violate their oaths of office and the civil rights of others."

Junnier and Smith pleaded guilty to the federal charge, as well as to voluntary manslaughter and related state charges in Fulton County, Ga., Superior Court, on April 26, 2007. According to their plea agreements, they will be sentenced in state court on March 5, 2009, to the same sentence imposed in federal court, with the sentences to be served concurrently. Tesler initially declined to plead guilty and was indicted in state court on charges of violation of oath of office by a public officer, false imprisonment and false statements. In 2008, Tesler was convicted at trial in state court on the false statement charges, but that conviction was reversed on appeal. Following the state trial, federal authorities re-evaluated Tesler's case, conducted further investigation, and determined that federal prosecution of Tesler was appropriate. Tesler pleaded guilty to the federal charge on Oct. 30, 2008.

Junnier began cooperating truthfully with federal authorities shortly after the incident and provided valuable assistance in the investigation and prosecution of Smith and Tesler. Additionally, Junnier's cooperation led to guilty pleas by two additional APD officers to federal charges, including the sergeant who commanded the narcotics team involved in the shooting. Smith cooperated to a more limited extent. Both former officers provided information relevant to a broader FBI investigation of misconduct by APD narcotics and other officers, which culminated in a report provided by the FBI to APD Chief Richard Pennington in October 2008 for consideration of potential administrative discipline against other APD officers. As a result of their cooperation, the court reduced Junnier's sentence by 40 percent and Smith's sentence by 20 percent. Tesler did not provide substantial assistance in the investigation and received no sentence reduction on that ground, although his sentence was reduced based on his lesser role in the conspiracy.

According to information presented in court, on Nov. 21, 2006, APD officers Junnier, Smith and Tesler participated along with other narcotics team officers in the execution of a search warrant at 933 Neal Street in Atlanta. During the execution of the warrant, the 92-year old owner of the home, Johnston, who apparently believed her home was being invaded by criminals, fired her revolver once at those entering her home as the front door was being breached. Her shot did not hit anyone. Six officers, including Junnier and Smith returned fire. Johnston was hit by five or six shots, one of which was fatal.

According to the information presented in court, while working as APD narcotics officers, Junnier, Smith and Tesler routinely made false statements in sworn affidavits to state magistrate judges in order to procure search warrants for residences and other locations where the officers believed illegal drugs would be found. These false statements included representations that confidential reliable informants (CRIs) had made drug purchases that never actually took place; that information was provided to officers by CRIs when the information was actually provided by unreliable informants; that the officers had personally observed a purchase by a CRI when they had not in fact observed the events described in the affidavit; that CRIs were searched before and after drug purchases when the CRIs were not searched; and that the occupants of the residence to be searched had surveillance cameras, were armed with firearms, or were dangerous in other ways in order to obtain "no-knock" warrants.

Junnier, Smith, Tesler and other officers would execute the search warrants, according to court documents, and if contraband were found, the occupants would be arrested and charged. If asked about the search executed under fraudulently procured warrants, Junnier, Smith and Tesler would make statements consistent with the false statements made to procure the warrant. Junnier, Smith and Tesler falsified affidavits for search warrants to be considered productive officers and to meet APD's performance targets. They believed that these ends justified their falsifying search warrant affidavits.

On the afternoon of Nov. 21, 2006, Smith, Junnier and Tessler arrested an individual for drug possession. That individual told the officers that he had purchased crack cocaine from a man named "Sam" at a house that he later identified as 933 Neal Street and claimed that he had seen a kilogram of cocaine in that house earlier that day. Junnier contacted a CRI to have the CRI attempt to make a purchase from 933 Neal Street, but the CRI did not have transportation. The officers did nothing else to corroborate or verify the information the person they had arrested provided.

Smith, Junnier and Tessler then obtained a search warrant for 933 Neal Street after Smith submitted a sworn affidavit to a magistrate judge falsely stating that Smith and Tessler had directed a CRI to make a purchase of cocaine from 933 Neal Street; that the CRI was searched before the purchase; that the CRI purchased $50 of crack from a man named "Sam"; and that a no-knock warrant should be issued because the CRI stated that "Sam" had electronic surveillance equipment in the house, which "Sam" carefully monitored.

At about 6:40 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2006, Junnier, Smith, Tessler and other narcotics officers attempted to execute the search warrant. Tessler was assigned to guard the back door. As officers rammed open the front door of 933 Neal Street, Kathryn Johnson, an elderly woman who was the owner and only resident of the house, fired a single shot from a .38 caliber revolver through the door, which hit no one. Junnier, Smith, and four other officers returned fire, hitting Ms. Johnston with five or six shots, one of which was fatal. Ballistics and other forensic analysis are unable to establish which of the officers fired the fatal shot or the other shots. Three officers, including Junnier, were injured by shots fired by other officers, or resulting shrapnel or debris, but all were released from the hospital by the following morning.

According to court documents, no other occupants or drugs were found at 933 Neal Street. After the shooting, Smith planted three bag of marijuana, which the officers had seized somewhere else earlier that day, in the basement of the house. Tesler filed a false APD incident report stating that a purchase of crack had been made at 933 Neal Street earlier that day, and Smith submitted two bags containing crack that falsely indicated the drugs were bought by an informant at 933 Neal Street. On Nov. 22, 2006, Smith and another officer disposed of the remainder of the marijuana from which Smith had taken the planted marijuana, by throwing it down a sewer drain. Smith, Junnier and Tessler also met to fabricate a story that would explain the events leading to the shooting of Kathryn Johnston. Smith, Junnier and Tessler then recounted the fabricated story to APD homicide investigators.

After Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington turned the investigation of the Kathryn Johnston case over to the FBI to lead, Junnier was interviewed by FBI agents and admitted the facts about the conspiracy rather than giving the false cover story. Smith continued to cover up the conspiracy in his first interview with federal agents, but subsequently admitted to the conspiracy.

This case was investigated by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon-Peter Kelly, U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias and Special Litigation Counsel Paige M. Fitzgerald of the Civil Rights Division.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice

Officer Vincent DiBernardino Charged with Domestic Violence

A Danbury police officer who has been on disability leave for more than three years was charged Saturday night with two counts of battery in Florida, according to an arrest report from the Hendry County Sheriff's Office.

The battery charges -- both misdemeanors -- were filed against 42-year-old Vincent J. DiBernardino, the report said.

DiBernardino has been out of work on disability leave from the Danbury Police Department since January 2006, according to Danbury Capt. Thomas Wendel. He has asked to go before the pension board.

Wendel said an internal affairs officer from the Danbury department has the arrest report from Florida and is conducting an investigation. Any disciplinary action will depend on the outcome of that investigation.

In the report, the Hendry County Sheriff's Office said officers went to a disturbance at a home in LaBelle and were told the cause of the disturbance, DiBernardino, had left the house. He was later found by police.

The report says two women -- one DiBernardino's sister and another apparently not related -- alleged DiBernardino attacked them. The non-relative, according to the report, said DiBernardino "knocked her and the child she was holding to the ground."

According to the report, the child was the 11-month-old daughter of DiBernardino and his wife.

The charge against DiBernardino for the alleged attack of his sister was for battery/domestic violence and the other charge was for battery.

Both women, according to the report, also said DiBernardino attacked his wife and mother. But the report says the mother and wife said DiBernardino did not attack anyone.

DiBernardino could not be reached for comment.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Deputy Lt Joseph Guzdziol Arrested for Drunk Driving


A Macomb County Sheriff's deputy was arrested for allegedly driving drunk in Bay County over the weekend, officials said.

Lt. Joseph Guzdziol was arrested Friday night by Michigan State Police under suspicion of driving while intoxicated on US-10 near Three Mile Road near Monitor Township, just outside of Bay City, said Shanon Akans, a spokeswoman for the state police.

Guzdziol is head of the Macomb County Sheriff Office's Special Enforcement Team, which performs criminal surveillance, narcotics enforcement and vice operations.

Police received a 911 call about Guzdziol, who was driving erratically on the highway at about 11 p.m., Akans said.

He was arrested Friday night and then released on bond on Saturday, she said.

Guzdziol is scheduled to be arraigned at the 74th District Court in Bay City on the drunk driving charge March 6, officials said.

Other charges may be pending in the case, which has been turned over to the Bay County Prosecutor's Office, Akans said.

Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said Guzdziol, who has been with the department for 22 years, has been suspended without pay. He declined to comment further.


Officer Pedro Martinez Arrested for Child Rape & Incest


A 20-year- veteran of the Springfield Police Department was arrested at police headquarters Monday afternoon on child rape and incest charges.

Pedro J. Martinez, an officer with the squad A uniformed patrol, was arrested at the end of his shift at 3 p.m., said Springfield Police Sgt. John M. Delaney, aide to Commissioner William J. Fitchet.

Martinez was charged with three counts of forcible rape of a child and three counts of incest.

Delaney said Martinez was allowed to change out of his police uniform before he was booked and placed in the police lock up.

The arrest was made by acting Deputy Chief Charles Arpin, Capt. Kevin M. Dudley and Lt. Cheryl C. Clapprood of the Special Victims Unit.

The investigation remains ongoing, Delaney said.

Springfield Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet said that Martinez has been suspended immediately without pay for 5 days pending a grand jury indictment.

When the indictment comes in, Martinez will be suspended indefinitely without pay pending the outcome of a trial, Delaney said.

Martinez was appointed to the Springfield Police Department on Nov. 14, 1988.

Officer Joe Parker Suspected of Framing Drivers

Another Chicago cop is suspected of framing drivers with false arrests for drunken driving, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Joe D. Parker, 59, an officer in the Chicago Police Department's Traffic Enforcement Unit, has been placed on desk duty pending an internal police investigation.

The Cook County state's attorney's office, which is also investigating Parker, has moved to dismiss dozens of DUI arrests he made, according to sources who said investigators began scrutinizing the 23-year police veteran's DUI arrests after video from his squad car did not appear to match an account he gave in an arrest report.

In another case, the city paid Vanessa Davis $100,000 to settle a lawsuit against Parker in which she claimed he wrongly arrested her for DUI in 2005. Davis, a well-known blues singer who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said her anxiety from the arrest caused severe medical complications.

"She was hospitalized for a few days because of a flare-up of her MS," said her attorney, Dan Hefter.

The city also paid $5,000 to settle another false-arrest claim against Parker, who could not be reached for comment.

And he faces a federal lawsuit by Wayne Jackson, who said that, while driving home from work on Lake Shore Drive in 2006, he was stopped by Parker and given a field-sobriety test, which he said he passed. Parker's arrest report said Jackson was swaying and that his speech was slurred.

Jackson said he passed a Breathalyzer test. Parker tried to explain that away, writing in his arrest report that Jackson "attempted to circumvent" the machine.

The scrutiny over Parker's DUI arrests comes almost a year after another Chicago cop, Officer John Haleas, was charged by Cook County prosecutors with perjury, official misconduct and obstructing justice, accused of failing to take important steps in making a DUI arrest in 2005. Prosecutors said Haleas failed to perform a field-sobriety test and lied in his reports. As a result, they dropped more than 50 cases stemming from DUI arrests made by Haleas.

The criminal case is still pending against Haleas, who was honored three times by the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists as the cop with the most DUI busts in Illinois.

Parker also made the private organization's top DUI cop list when he made 153 drunken-driving arrests in 2006 -- fourth-highest among Chicago officers that year, according to the group.

In 2007, Parker was spotlighted in a Chicago Sun-Times investigation, headlined "Handi-cop parking," that revealed the Police Department was looking into a handful of police employees for suspected misuse of disabled-parking signs.

Parker was using a disabled spot in the 2700 block of West 86th Place even though he had been cleared for regular duty by the department, a police spokeswoman said at the time. He had been injured in a car crash three years earlier but was deemed "fit for duty" since then, the spokeswoman said.

Parker is still using the space, parking his Toyota Camry Solara in the spot -- which still has disabled-parking signs on both sides.

In 2007, Chicago Revenue Director Bea Reyna-Hickey said she was going to ferret out disabled-parking cheaters. She did not respond to a request for comment on Parker's continued use of a disabled-parking spot.

Bill Bogdan, disability liaison to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, said Parker was given Illinois disability license plates in 2006, after a physician certified he was eligible. The plates must be renewed every four years, Bogdan said.

While it appears Parker received the plates legitimately, Bogdan questioned why the officer would be parking in a disabled spot if he had been deemed fit for police duty.

"If he is at work with no restrictions, you would want to question his use of a disability placard or sign in front of his house," Bogdan said.


CHP Officer Being Investigated for Shooting her Husband


A California Highway Patrol officer was under investigation Monday for allegedly shooting her husband, 31-year-old Marcus Lavar Lemons in Compton, to death Saturday night, authorities said.

Marcus Lavar Lemons, 31, died after the shooting, according to a coroner's investigator, who said an autopsy was expected to be completed Tuesday.

The officer, whose name was withheld, reported fatally shooting her husband in the upper body at 11:07 p.m. Saturday in the 400 block of Amantha Avenue, saying he was "verbally and physically combative," sheriff's Deputy Rick Pedroza said.

The CHP officer was not arrested, but her husband's death was under investigation.

The couple ate at a T.G.I. Friday's restaurant before heading to a Carl's Jr. restaurant and getting into a fight.

The slain man's 13-year-old son, Demarco Lemons, said he used to bowl with his father "and sometimes he'd train me to be better at football."

Darian Milow, the man's former fiancee, questioned Lemons' aggressiveness.

"We were together for years, and he's never touched me in any way; so for them to portray him as this monster is unbelievable," Darian Milow said.

A friend seconded that opinion.

"He would never hurt anybody. Nobody. Nobody. It's not him. It's not," Crystal Barhee said.

Sheriff's detectives will hand their case over to the District Attorney's Office, and prosecutors will decide whether to charge the woman with a crime.


Officer Rafael Lora Waived his Right to Jury Trial

Police Officer Rafael Lora, who is facing manslaughter charges for allegedly fatally shooting unarmed man in 2007, waived his right to a jury on Monday.

Fermin Arzu's family and friends were at Bronx Supreme Court Monday -- in their words -- to see justice served.

They say the absence of the 41-year-old father of six has been difficult, even as the second anniversary of his death approaches.

"My life has been hard without my dad. He always has been there for me. I miss him and everything. I hope that justice can be made for him so he can rest in peace," said Katherine Arzu, Fermin's daughter.

On the first day of his trial, police officer Rafael Lora waived his right to a jury. A Bronx grand jury indicted him in late 2007 on first degree manslaughter for shooting Arzu.

Arzu family attorneys expressed some concern over the prospect of a trial by judge.

"It means the citizens of this county won't decide this case. A judge will decide this case," said Michael Hardy, Arzu Family Attorney.

"We look for the judge, after the evidence is in, to do justice," said Sanford Rubenstein, Arzu Family Attorney.

The judge also heard from two witnesses who responded to the scene the night in May 2007 when Arzu died. The investigation showed Arzu had been driving with a blood alcohol level higher than the legal limit.

Driving on the wrong side of the road in Longwood, he crashed into a parked car, a crash that Lora -- who was off duty at the time -- heard from his home.

With his gun and his shield, Lora came out to investigate but soon got into a fight with Arzu.

There were five shots, one hit Arzu in his back.

An officer testified she spoke to Lora soon after the incident, saying he seemed shocked and traumatized. Lora's lawyer has said his client fired shots to protect himself from being dragged underneath Arzu's car.

There is still some dispute whether the shots rang out before or after the car started to move.

"Obviously the case is a tragedy because there's a life lost but Officer Lora committed no misconduct," said Stuart London, Defense Attorney.

The witnesses testified as part of a hearing Monday to determine which statements made to the grand jury will be allowed in the trial.

Although prosecutors did call their first witnesses on Monday, opening arguments aren't scheduled to begin until Wednesday.


Cpl Anthony Williams Has History of Complaints


Last month a 20-year Dallas police veteran was fired for failing to respond to an emergency call — but it is not the first time he has been fired or accused of wrongdoing, and some wonder if he will be reinstated again.

Law enforcement experts see Senior Cpl. Anthony Williams' career as a prime example of a recurring dilemma in police departments: how to rid a city of an officer whose record is riddled with serious misconduct allegations when his guilt can't be proven or he keeps getting his job back.

Experts cite lack of evidence, questionable witnesses and sloppy investigations as key hurdles to keeping problematic officers off the streets, The Dallas Morning News reported in Sunday editions. And the situation is made worse by an appeals system that has overturned many firings. Since David Kunkle became Dallas police chief nearly five years ago, 12 of his 62 firings have been reversed.

Keeping an officer on the job after he has been repeatedly investigated has its own risks.

"You are opening yourself up to huge lawsuits and one of the charges will be negligent retention, which means that you knew you shouldn't keep this person as a police officer but you did it anyway," Penny Harrington, an expert on police employee misconduct and former chief of the Portland Police Department in Oregon, told the newspaper.

Williams declined to comment. His attorney Phil Burleson Jr. said Williams is innocent of the allegation that led to his recent firing. He said the firing was "not justified."

Of the sexual misconduct complaints during Williams' career, Burleson said, "He says they've all been fully investigated and found that he didn't commit those allegations."

Among the complaints:

_ A woman in 1992 said that after Williams went to her home on a harassment call, he fondled her as her 6-year-old son watched. She said he flattered her, and they began a brief sexual relationship.

_ A woman said Williams began a sexual relationship with her 16-year-old granddaughter in 1994 after the teen called to report an attempted molestation.

_ A woman in 1996 said Williams had sex with her in a motel after he gave her a ride from a store. She said she left the area later because she was afraid he would arrest her for prostitution.

In all cases, Williams denied doing anything inappropriate or having sex on duty. In the 1992 case, the woman eventually stopped cooperating, and the probe ended with a finding of "unfounded."

In the teen's case, Williams denied having sex until she turned 17. Authorities sought to charge him with criminal sexual assault, believing the relationship began when she was 16. But a grand jury declined to indict him, and a police internal investigation ended with an "inconclusive" finding.

The standards for criminal law, in which someone is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, are different from civil procedures involving discipline of an officer. The evidence standard is generally lower in the administrative hearings.

In the 1996 case, then-Police Chief Ben Click fired Williams in 1997. But a civil service trial board reinstated him five months later.

"How much damage does this guy get to do to the reputation of the department before you finally wind up having enough evidence to get rid of him?" said Click, now an independent police consultant.

Officers fired for serious misconduct have frequently been reinstated by administrative law judges, civil service boards or other city officials. Usually, on appeal the decision-maker found that the burden of proof had not been met or punishment was too harsh. Often, no reason was cited.

Kunkle said those cases bother him because "as a chief, I am held accountable. I'm the one who is going to have to go in front of community groups, deal with media stories and also very likely be sued if there is inappropriate police behavior."

Two recent reforms have sharply reduced the likelihood of reinstatement: The city manager now hears all first-round appeals of fired officers, rather than assistant city managers.

And 2005 changes to the city charter gave civil service trial boards and administrative law judges less discretion in reversing disciplinary decisions during appeals.

After Williams returned to work, he was transferred to different patrol divisions. But the complaints continued, including a woman's 2004 allegation that Williams went to her house uninvited while on duty, began to undress and wanted sex. He denied it.

Kunkle will not comment specifically on Williams' case, but it appears that his entire complaint history may have been taken into account before his latest firing — something not prohibited under the city's personnel rules, the newspaper reported.

In November 2007, Williams responded to a 911 call at a woman's apartment. Over the next three months, they had sex several times a month while he was on duty, she later told authorities. Williams admitted having sex with her but denied he was on duty.

On June 19, Williams was on duty when he went to her apartment complex because he believed she slashed his tires, and the loud argument witnessed by a neighbor lasted for an hour and a half.

During that exchange, Williams received a call to check on a residential burglary alarm but never answered the call, records show.

Investigators could not prove sexual misconduct allegations but found that he violated policy when he failed to answer the burglary alarm call, didn't devote full attention to his job and became involved in an on-duty disturbance.

He was fired Jan. 29. Burleson said Williams plans to appeal.

No date has been set for his hearing before the city manager.


Deputy Jamar Thomas Charged with DWI After Crashing Patrol Car


A Plaquemines Parish sheriff's deputy has been suspended indefinitely without pay after being arrested and charged with DWI Saturday night.

Police said Jamar Thomas was off-duty when he crashed his patrol car on a curb in Lakeview at Pontchartrain Boulevard and 12th Street at about 6 p.m.

The 10-year veteran has been suspended without pay by Sheriff I.F. "Jiff" Hingle. Authorities said he has been out on extended sick leave and should not have been driving the patrol car off-duty.

Gregory Dillard In Critical Condition After Being Tasered


An Akron man is in critical condition after being tasered by Sheriff's Deputies at the Summit County Jail.

Twenty-one-year-old Gregory Dillard stripped his clothes off around 5:25 p.m. Saturday, and when deputies brought him a new set of clothes, he attacked them in a hallway, according to Christine Croce, spokeswoman.

The deputies tasered Dillard, but when he had no heartbeat, an AED was used to resuscitate him. Paramedics arrived within five minutes and took Dillard to Akron General Medical Center where he is in Intensive Care, Croce said.

Akron Police arrested Dillard Feb. 16 on drug charges, but Dillard has been an inmate at the jail 11 previous times, Croce said.

During this recent incarceration, Dillard had become out-of-control several times and at one point was placed in four-point restraints until he agreed to take his medication, Croce said.

Officer Andre Rogers Arrested for the 2nd Time for Domestic Violence Won't Get a Deal

An Arcadia police officer who has been arrested for domestic violence for the second time in less than three months will be prosecuted by the district attorney as authorities move to prevent the sweetheart deal he got on city charges the first time.

Andre Rogers was arrested by Bienville Parish sheriff's deputies over the weekend on charges he choked his wife in front of their 3-year-old child.

An Arcadia police officer called to Rogers' house Saturday night to investigate a family fight notified sheriff's deputies when he saw who the suspect was, Bienville Sheriff John Ballance said. Deputies arrested Rogers when he returned to his home and booked him into the Bienville Parish Jail.

Ballance said bond for Rogers had not been set early this afternoon.

Rogers was arrested last November on simple battery charges that alleged he hit his wife. He settled the matter quickly in Arcadia town court -- paying a fine the morning of the first business day after his arrest -- and was eventually allowed to return to work.

At the time, Rogers was the assistant police chief. He was demoted to patrolman and suspended through the end of the year.

The new charges will be prosecuted in Bienville District Court and will be handled by the district attorney's office, Ballance said.

Ballance said the couple is divorced but are living together.

Arcadia Police Chief Victor Rogers did not return a call for comment today.

Jones said after the earlier arrest that his assistant chief did not get preferential treatment by settling the case quickly. There are provisions in the way city court operates that would allow people charged with certain offenses to go ahead and pay their fines, he said.


Attorney Bob Seale who Served as Judge Arrested for Theft


An attorney who served as municipal judge in two west Alabama cities resigned after being arrested on charges of stealing about $80,000 from a client, police said Monday.

Attorney Bob Seale of Livingston was charged with theft last week after an audit revealed money missing from the account of a person for whom he was serving as legal guardian, said Police Chief Ashley Wellborn.

No city funds were involved in the case, Wellborn said. "He did not in any way have any access to any city money," said the chief.

Seale confirmed in a phone interview that he had resigned his position as municipal judge in Livingston and nearby York, both located in Sumter County near the Mississippi line, but he declined comment on the charges.

Wellborn said Seale is free on $15,000 bond. Wellborn said Seale had served as municipal judge in Livingston for at least two decades.


Chicago Police Jody Weis Refuses Judge's Order to Turn over Officers Names

Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis has refused a federal judge’s order to release the names of officers who have at least five citizen complaints filed against them since 2000.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez had given Weis until 4 p.m. Friday to do so.

The list was being sought, along with a list of excessive-force complaints, by attorneys suing the city over an allegation that an officer falsely arrested and used excessive force against two children.

In court papers, Weis said handing over the names would “compromise officers’ performance, threaten safety, reduce morale and improperly impugn many officers’ otherwise well-deserved good reputations.”

Flint Taylor, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, called Weis’ decision “an outrageous abuse by someone who is charged with enforcing the law and constitution.”

Taylor wants the names to show a pattern by the Chicago Police Department of covering up ’ misconduct. He said the names, if released, would be put under a court order limiting their use to the lawyers in the case.

The city also is fighting a judge’s order to release a similar list in another excessive-force lawsuit. That list names 662 officers who faced 10 or more citizen complaints between 2001 and 2006.

Twenty-eight Chicago aldermen want access to the list, too. The federal appeals court in Chicago is deciding whether the department should make it public.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Is this Police Brutality? What do you think?

Officer Carlyle Cokke Arrested for DUI


A Navajo Nation Police officer from Dilkon Police District was arrested early Wednesday morning by Flagstaff Police for DUI and extreme DUI. This was his third offense, according to Dilkon’s Lt. Emerson Lee.

According to the report, Sgt. James Jackson was working a special detail, patrolling the area of Fourth Street around 1 a.m., when he saw a red 2001 Neon being driven through the parking lots of several closed businesses. When the vehicle pulled into the parking lot of B&T Glass and shut off its lights Sgt. Jackson drove around to the business and informed dispatch that he would be checking on a suspicious vehicle.

As he approached the vehicle the driver, identified as Carlyle Cokke, 27, a Dilkon Police officer, got out of the car and stood by the driver’s side door. Jackson identified himself and asked Cokke why he was driving in the area of the closed businesses. Cokke stated he had just parked the vehicle, the report states.

“I told him I had seen him drive across Fourth Street from the other parking lot, and he stated, ‘I know,’” according to Jackson, who noted that he smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Cokke’s breath and that his eyes were bloodshot and speech slurred.

Upon questioning, Cokke told the officer that he had consumed six Budweisers that evening. “After answering the questions, he stated, ‘I’m screwed.’ I asked him what he was referring to and he did not answer. I asked again what he was talking about and he stated, ‘I’m NPD.’ I asked him what that was and he stated, ‘Navajo Police,’” according to the report.

Cokke told the officer, “’I just want to go home. Just take me home.’”

Jackson stated he told Cokke that if, in fact, he was a police officer, he should know the severity of driving while intoxicated. “The driver stated, ‘I know. I’ve done this before.’ I asked what he did before and he did not answer,” Jackson said.

The officer asked Cokke for his driver’s license, at which point Cokke reached back inside the vehicle, turned off the ignition and pulled the keys out, dropping them on the floor, the report states.

Cokke was asked by another officer on the scene, Matthew Schmidt, if he was armed or had any weapons in the vehicle and Cokke said no. A duty belt with loaded gun was located later on the rear seat, driver’s side.

Cokke was asked to perform a couple field sobriety tests, including the one-leg stand and walk and turn, to which he agreed, but after attempting each one reportedly told the officer, “I can’t do the test.”

Cokke was placed under arrest at 1:36 a.m. for DUI, and his duty belt, handgun, law enforcement paper work, ballistic vest, uniform and police laptop were collected and booked into safekeeping. Schmidt transported Cokke to the Coconino County Jail where he was read his rights and submitted to breath tests showing a blood alcohol content of .187, .212, and .217 — nearly three times the legal limit for intoxication, or .08.

The first time Cokke provided a sample of breath he blew into the machine for a very short time, paused, and did it again. The second and third samples were given with controlled blowing into the machine, the report states.

When Jackson arrived at the jail, Cokke asked him to contact his supervisor and advise him of the situation, which the officer did. After being issued a citation and given a court date, Cokke was given a ride by Schmidt to a local residence and released to a responsible party. His vehicle was towed.

“Normally, if it was any other Joe Schmoe, he would probably still be in jail,” Lt. Emerson Lee said. “This is the third arrest of Carlyle Cokke. The first one was off the reservation in Flagstaff and the second one was off the reservation in Holbrook. He was incarcerated and went on parole and we took disciplinary action on that.

“Now he’s done this again. Nobody’s above the law. This is really an unethical and unprofessional example.” Now, Lee said, Cooke will have to “face the consequences.”

“Any civil or criminal issues are at the hand of the justice system off the reservation. We have no input. The only thing we are dealing with is the administrative issues according to the Navajo Nation Personnel Policies Manual,” Lee said.

Cokke is scheduled to appear in Flagstaff Municipal Court Feb. 25.


Other Information:

Taser Use by Massachusetts Officers on the Rise

The use of Tasers by police in Massachusetts has soared in recent years.

The Boston Globe reports police used Tasers in 229 incidents between September 2007 and September 2008. That’s a fourfold increase from three years ago.

Fall River police reported 45 Tasers incidents last year, the most in the state, at one point firing the weapon 11 times to subdue a man his family described as mentally ill.

Police say Tasers, which deliver a five second, 50,000-volt shock, are an effective, non-lethal way to subdue violent suspects.

Amnesty International said at least 334 people across the United States died after police used Tasers on them since 2001. The human rights group said it’s difficult to know if the Tasers caused the deaths.

Feds Investigating Alleged Brutality by Officers


The private investigator hired to determine whether or not police officers violated the rights of a local teen has requested federal authorities to assist in finding out what happened to Calvin Wilkerson.

As previously reported, private investigator Donald Stephens was hired by Crystal Wilkerson to investigate an incident in which citizens claim law enforcement officials from three agencies beat her son and allowed a police dog to attack him outside the Williamson State Police barracks. Police escorted him there after arresting him when he allegedly became disorderly at the attorney’s office where he and his mother attended a mental hygiene hearing. Crystal Wilkerson told a Daily News reporter she feared for her son’s safety due to his mental state and was seeking help for him.

A man contacted the Wilkerson family, claiming he saw officers with the West Virginia State Police, the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department, and the Williamson City Police Department trip Calvin Wilkerson when he got out of a police cruiser on Third Street. He told the Wilkersons and later Stephens that officers allowed the police dog to attack Calvin Wilkerson while they kicked him and shouted at him with racially-charged language.

Wilkerson was taken to Williamson Memorial Hospital that night and treated for four different lacerations, including two dog bites.

There has been a total of eight people to give Stephens statements about seeing an altercation outside the police barracks, he said, adding, ‘After questioning all the witnesses, I found that they are credible.’

However, as Stephens pointed out, allegations are just that until an investigation is complete.

Asserting he believes there are other witnesses, as police waved people through on the street the night of the incident, Stephens said, ‘It’s crucial that people come forward and tell me what they know so we can get to the bottom of this issue.’

He has requested the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to assist in the case, taking what evidence he has to the Williamson agent, who will formulate a preliminary report for Washington officials, who will decide whether or not the incident warrants a probe.

‘I’m sure the people of Mingo County want to know what happened,’ Stephens said. ‘Also, I’m sure its in the best interest of the city, the county and the state to find out what the truth is regarding the case.’

The National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP) has been involved in the investigation since a day or so after the incident occurred in January 2009, but is leaving the probe in Stephens’ hands, he said.

Taking the case of Calvin and Crystal Wilkerson this week, Wayne County attorney Gary L. Michaels said he does not know what the status is for the federal investigation, but will be working with the NAACP and Stephens in finding the truth.

‘I want to make sure the facts are clear, and at this time it is unclear as to what the facts are,’ Michaels said. ‘There are several witnesses and I’m resolved to help the Wilkerson’s to fully develop the facts in this case and, if necessary, to file any appropriate civil action.’

Although unsure what the NAACP’s role is in the case at this point, Michaels said they are involved.

Stephens urges anyone with information about the case in question to call him at (304) 234-3355.

Having received numerous reports alleging past abuse from the officers named in the Wilkerson case, Stephens said there is nothing he can do about those occasions, and people sometimes say stuff out of anger.

This is why is so important not to point fingers or make statements that could be harmful to anyone, he said adding, ‘We are just looking for the truth.’