Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sgt. David J Muehl Accused of Drunk Driving

An off-duty Milwaukee police supervisor had a blood-alcohol level more than four times the level that's evidence of intoxication when he was arrested over the weekend at Mitchell International Airport, according to information released by the Milwaukee County sheriff's office.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Kim Brooks confirmed Tuesday that David J. Muehl, 42, a sergeant with 15 years of service, registered 0.37 on a breath test before he was taken to a hospital for a blood test to support a ticket issued by a deputy early Saturday accusing him of first offense operating while intoxicated.

A blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 is considered legal evidence of intoxication.

Muehl has been placed on administrative duty pending an internal investigation, according to Milwaukee Police Department spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz. He is assigned to the department's Neighborhood Task Force. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

According to the sheriff's office:

Another driver called 911 when a Honda CRV nearly struck another car while eastbound on W. Layton Ave. near S. 6th St. The caller said the Honda had made abrupt moves and was swerving from lane to lane.

The caller followed the vehicle to the airport and alerted a deputy to his suspicion of drunken driving.

At 6:12 a.m., the deputy found Muehl in the Honda parked along a departing flights lane at the airport. Brooks said the engine was still running.

Muehl rolled down his window and "displayed signs of intoxication - slurred speech, a strong odor of alcohol, and he appeared to be confused," Brooks said.

The deputy had Muehl exit the vehicle, and he was unable to stand without assistance, according to Brooks, quoting a department report. Muehl told the deputy he was on his way to catch a flight.

After being taken to the hospital, Muehl was taken back to the sheriff's substation at the airport for booking and then released to a responsible party at 9:25 a.m.

A court hearing on the ticket is scheduled for April 29. If convicted, Muehl could pay a forfeiture of $796.50. Brooks said he was also issued a second ticket for having a prohibited alcohol content.

Officer Chris Bake Fired for Attacking Mentally Challenged Man

The chief of the Freeport Police Department says he fired the officer for attacking a mentally challenged man and pepper-spraying him.

The confrontation happened on March 9 at the intersection of Avenue I and Skinner. Somehow, Officer Chris Bake mistook a vehicle the mentally challenged man was riding in for a stolen one. In an effort to stop it, Bake rear-ended the SUV.

All four people inside were pulled out and told to sit on the curb. When mentally-challenged 65-year-old Albert Mendoza, who owns the vehicle, became frustrated and stood up, Officer Bake pepper-sprayed him and then gave him a knee to the face.

Most of the incident was captured on video from the police cruiser and it was enough to spark an investigation for excessive use of force.

"Once we did our administrative review of our use of force, we initiated the investigation," said Chief Jeff Pynes with the Freeport Police Department. "I contacted the caretaker of the victim and asked them to come in because I was concerned about what I saw and that time, I immediately removed him from the streets."

Bake's badge and weapon were confiscated last Friday. The case has now been referred to the Brazoria County district attorney's office for review.

As for Mendoza, he suffered a bruise to the eye and cuts to the back of the head. He and his family also relocated to nearby Clute.


Officer Billy Hurst Accused of Watching Porn While on Duty


A Clinton police officer accused of watching more than 23 hours of pornography while on duty has asked that disciplinary hearings be closed to keep confidential his allegations that others in the department also may have behaved inappropriately. Read full complaint (PDF) Read defense's motion (PDF)

Patrolman Billy Hurst faces a May 21 hearing before the Clinton Police and Fire Commission on charges that he violated department policy by using city-owned computers to watch adult pornography in his squad car.

According to documents obtained by The Pantagraph under a Freedom of Information Act request, Hurst allegedly viewed a total of 23 hours and 22 minutes of pornography during portions of 15 working days between Nov. 13 and Jan. 24.

The 15-year veteran of the Clinton department does not face criminal charges. He is paid $22.06 per hour for an annual salary of $45,892 and remains on duty pending the outcome of the police board hearings. He has declined to comment on the charges.

Shane Voyles, labor attorney with the Policemen’s Benevolent in Springfield, said Hurst will disprove the suggestion that Hurst’s conduct “is unusual or singular at the Clinton Police Department.”

When contacted by The Pantagraph Tuesday, Voyles declined to provide specifics about the statements contained in his motion.

City Police Commissioner Jerry Milton said he is not aware of any accusations involving other officers. “I’ve not heard any of that,” said Milton.

Two hearings have been closed to the media and public. Voyles suggested hearings remain closed “with all due haste, out of abundance of caution (if for no other reason.)”

City officials monitored computers starting in November after viruses were detected on city computers.

The time Hurst spent on alleged inappropriate activity ranged from three minutes on Nov. 13 to 217 minutes on Jan. 22, according to the complaint filed by the city.

Hurst violated nine departmental rules, including acting in a manner disrespectful of the law, violation of public trust and conduct unbecoming an officer, said the police documents.

The initial complaint, filed Jan. 30 by Chief Michael Reidy, recommended that Hurst be suspended for 30 days without pay. In an amended complaint filed Feb. 19, Reidy changed his recommendation to ask that Hurst be terminated if found guilty by the commission.

Potential witnesses against Hurst include DeWitt County State’s Attorney Richard Koritz, according to commission records. Koritz told city officials in February that he is concerned that Hurst’s alleged behavior may make him unsuitable as a witness in criminal cases.

The disciplinary action follows a 2003 action against Hurst for exposing himself at a local bar. He was given 15 days suspension without pay and reduced in rank from sergeant to patrolman.



Federal Judge Rules on Strip Search Case

Prisons cannot routinely strip search drunk drivers and other non-drug, non-violent arrestees without reason to think they are hiding contraband, a federal judge ruled in a potential class-action suit.

The ruling in Pennsylvania follows those in nine other federal circuits, although the 11th U.S. Circuit recently disagreed in a case involving a prison in Fulton County, Ga.

Senior U.S. District Judge Jan E. DuBois, though, rejected that court's reasoning and said in a 49-page opinion that plaintiffs strip searched at the Delaware County Prison can proceed with their suit against the Geo Group.

The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company, which operates dozens of prisons around the country, ran the nearly 1,900-bed Delaware County Prison until ending the contract last year.

Courts have typically noted the humiliation inherent in visual or bodily searches and rely on a 1979 U.S. Supreme Court case to balance the Fourth Amendment protection from search and seizure against a prison's need to maintain order.

Lead plaintiff Penny Allison was searched on each of 15 weekends she spent at the prison for a second drunken-driving offense, according to the suit, while plaintiff Zoran Hocevar was arrested and searched for missing a court date in a domestic dispute.

"Conducting strip searches on persons who are not arrested for offenses associated with contraband, have never been arrested on any such charges, and who are not carrying any contraband at the time of the arrest bears 'no ... discernible relationship to security needs,'" DuBois wrote, citing an earlier federal case.

More than a decade ago, a group of women protesting a pigeon shoot were arrested and strip-searched in the Schuylkill County jail. The led U.S. District Judge Franklin Van Antwerpen to write in 1993: "The feelings of humiliation and degradation associated with being forced to expose one's nude body to strangers for visual inspection is beyond dispute."

Civil rights lawyer David Rudovsky, who represents the plaintiffs, and lawyer Carolyn Short, representing the Geo Group, did not immediately return messages Tuesday.

In the 1979 "Bell" case, the Supreme Court upheld blanket strip searches following contact visits but said that inmates nonetheless maintain some Fourth Amendment rights.

Numerous class-action suits have followed, including a case in Camden, N.J., that was settled in 2007 for $7.5 million.

The Geo Group, previously known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., relied in part on the Fulton County ruling in asking DuBois to dismiss the case. The judge issued his ruling March 25.



Sgt. Jeffrey Garcia Arrested for Child Rape

An Alexander police officer has been arrested on rape charges.

Sergeant Jeffrey Garcia was taken into custody on Monday by the Benton Police Department.

His arrest followed an investigation in which three children claimed to have been sexually assaulted by him while in the city of Benton.

Saline County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Bush made the decision to have Garcia arrrested.

The Benton Police Department's Criminal Investigations Division is continuing the investigation and is not releasing any further information.

As a sergeant for the Alexander police department, people who live there say Jeffrey Garcia is someone they've counted on.

"Garcia's always the one you know, you call up if you need help, Garcia always the one showing up," Maria Beard of Alexander said.

Maria Beard is one of many in the small town of Alexander, shocked to learned garcia is now charged with rape.

"I never suspected anything. I always thought he was a nice guy,” Beard said.

"It was a shock, I never thought he would do something like that, he was a good guy. I don't know what happened, but it's wrong. If he did it, he's wrong for doing it," James Freeman of Alexander said.

The investigation started in Benton Monday morning, when three children claimed Garcia sexually assaulted them.

The Benton police department arrested him the same day.

"He was arrested and charged with rape. He was transported to the Saline County Jail and booked into jail," Lt. Mike Treasitti with the Benton Police Department said.

Benton police are not releasing the ages of the children accusing Garcia, but they do say they're both boys and girls.



Monday, March 30, 2009

911 Operator William West Admitts to Molesting Child


A 911 operator was fired Monday from the sheriff's office in Seminole County and arrested for a sex crime. The operator is charged with lewd and lascivious behavior with a young girl and apparently the girl is not a random victim; it is someone he knew.

Over the years, deputies said 39-year-old William West has probably taken several calls about kids being abused. Now he's admitted to molesting a child.

For the past 9 years, West has been on the other end of the line when frantic victims called 911 for help, but Seminole County deputies said he also had a very dark secret; he was abusing a child.

"Unfortunately, it appears he was sexually molesting, inappropriate touching, making inappropriate comments for the last few years, so that's very concerning to us," said Lt. James Clark of the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said West admitted to molesting the girl, who he is familiar with. The victim, now in her teens, came forward and said West has been touching her for the past five years.

"We don't believe he was perpetrating these acts on other victims, these are isolated acts," said Clark.

The sheriff's office said West was once a supervisor in the 911 center, but was demoted because he wasn't showing up for work. He had also been disciplined for inappropriately using a computer. Deputies said he brought a CD full of games and tried to play them in the office.

Residents in West's neighborhood said they are shocked.

"It's sad, of course, it's sad. It's surprise me too," said Sam Filippelli, neighbor.

West is being held in the Seminole County jail on a $10,000 bond. If he does post bond, deputies say he is prohibited from having any contact with children.



Three Windsor Officers on Trial for Beating Man in Handcuffs

Three Windsor police officers — one of them the son of the chief of police — Tasered a man two years ago and beat him while he was in handcuffs, a complainant alleged Monday at the start of a Police Services Act hearing.

Constables David Tennent, Ken Price and Tony Smith each face one count of using excessive force and one count of discreditable conduct.

Tony Smith is the son of Chief Gary Smith. All three officers are members of the Windsor police tactical team, the Emergency Services Unit.

The complainant, Leke Vushaj, was born in Albania and testified through an interpreter.

“They grabbed me by the arms and put me in a chair and started beating me,” Vushaj testified. “They were punching me in the face. They were hitting me all over. They grabbed me by the hair and were punching me.”

The incident took place around 4:20 p.m. Feb. 13, 2007. Vushaj alleged that several masked police officers broke open the door to his apartment in the 1100 block of Lillian Avenue. He said the officers burst into his bedroom pointing guns and flashlights at him, ordering him to lay down.

Vushaj said he complied and was handcuffed, but the officers then brought him to the kitchen and repeatedly struck him with their fists, knees and feet. Vushaj said he was also tasered, lost consciousness, and was woken with water for the beating to continue.

He alleged that the beating went on for an hour or more. He said his face was covered in blood, and that officers wiped the blood off, but continued to strike him.

Under examination by defence lawyer Andrew Bradie, Vushaj said he was eventually brought to downtown police headquarters, then taken to hospital by ambulance. He said a doctor told him his nose was dislocated, and he was given pills for the pain. No X-rays were taken.

A member of the Windsor police drug unit testified that officers went to Vushaj’s residence because they had received information there were illegal drugs and a firearm there.

A 9-millimetre semi-automatic handgun was found between the mattresses in Vushaj’s bedroom. The drug unit officer also testified that a digital scale was found in the kitchen.

Vushaj has a pending court date on a firearm possession charge.

While questioning Vushaj, Bradie suggested that Vushaj was simply trying to win himself a better deal by filing a complaint against police. Vushaj denied this.

Under examination, Vushaj maintained that he did not know who owned the gun, and questioned why he was being grilled on a firearm charge when the hearing revolved around officers’ conduct.

Bradie also noted that Vushaj did not file the complaint until the case had reached the disclosure stage in court — 31⁄2 months after the alleged beating took place.

Vushaj said he felt the need to complain after reading “things that were untrue” in the disclosure documents. But he also testified that he would’ve made the complaint anyway.

The adjudicator, Toronto Police Services Supt. Jane Wilcox, heard through testimony that Vushaj had two other run-ins with Windsor police after the raid, including an incident on July 7, 2007, when he was arrested in front of a downtown nightclub.

Vushaj had been drinking alcohol — a breach of his bail conditions. Vushaj said the arresting officer was Smith. Vushaj alleged that Smith smiled at him and asked him if he recognized him.

Through further questioning by Bradie, the hearing was told that Vushaj has previously pleaded guilty to a drug charge. Vushaj refused to elaborate on the nature of the drug charge.

Officer Todd Kidwell Accused of Punching His Ex-Boyfriend

A Denton police officer accused of punching his ex-boyfriend in the face was arrested early Saturday, a Denton County Sheriff's Department spokesman said.

Todd Kidwell, 39, apparently got into an argument with the man in the parking lot of a restaurant in the 1000 block of U.S. Highway 380.

A passing motorist saw the men fighting and flagged down a deputy, the Dallas morning news reported.

The officer was taken to the Denton County jail and charged with assault. He was released at about 4 p.m. Saturday after posting a $2,500 bond.

The Denton County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident as The Denton Police Department conducts its own internal investigation.


Officer James Parker III Charged with Aggravated Child Abuse


Avon Park police officer James Hilton Parker III remained in Highlands County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond Monday, after being charged Sunday with aggravated child abuse of the 20-month-old baby girl of his live-in girlfriend.

The child, who had multiple bruises over her body and an apparent fractured skull, was on life support Monday at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, according to the sheriff's office. She remained in "very very critical condition," according to Sheriff's Capt. Randy LaBelle.

Parker, 32, of Sebring, was arrested at 1:18 p.m. Sunday at his home, hours after he and the child's mother brought the girl in at 12:45 that morning to Highlands Regional Medical Center in Sebring.

Parker reportedly called the child's mother between 12:15 and 12:30 a.m. Sunday to tell her the girl was "not acting right."

Authorities learned of the incident after getting a call around 1:25 a.m. Sunday from hospital personnel, according to the sheriff's arrest report.

While at the hospital, detectives learned that Parker was taking care of the girl while the mother was at work, according to the Highlands County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's Sgt. Darin Hood said Parker did not have "a plausible explanation that was consistent with the injuries of the child."

Hood was not at liberty to say what explanation Parker offered the detectives.

The mother, who reportedly works as a nurse, began her shift at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and Parker was at their home watching several children, the report stated.

When the mom walked into the home, she reportedly told investigators she saw her daughter lying in Parker's arms as he sat in a recliner in the living room, the affidavit added.

She saw the child "had a bad color, was limp and was breathing shallow" and immediately grabbed the girl and had Parker drive them to HRMC, the report stated.

Doctors told detectives the child suffered multiple skull fractures, according to a sheriff's news release.

A helicopter could not take the child to a trauma center due to inclement weather, so All Children's Hospital sent a staffed mobile pediatric unit to Sebring to transport the child to the hospital around 6:40 a.m. Sunday.

The child was listed in very critical condition Sunday evening after undergoing surgery, the sheriff's report stated.

According to doctors, the use of extremely high force on the girl's head caused the severe injury to the skull, the report stated.

Aggravated child abuse is a first-degree felony.

Parker has been with the Avon Park Police department since 2006 and worked for the department for about 20 months between 2002 and 2004.

He has been placed on administrative leave without pay, pending further investigation, according to Avon Park City Manager Sarah Adelt.

"I think it's an opportunity for the community to see we all live under the same rules and everyone will be treated equally," Adelt said.

The recent death of Sgt. Marc Wilbur, along with Parker's arrest and the November arrests of officers Alberto Perez and Adam Willis, leaves the department short staffed by at least four officers.

Police Chief Matthew Doughney said Monday he did not wish to discuss his department's staffing issues.

As far as the three recent arrests tarnishing his department's image, Doughney said it's been difficult, with him having been there only 10 months.

"It's hurtful to the men and women who work here when other officers are arrested while they are working hard to make a difference in the community," he said. "My concern right now is for the child."

The case continues to be investigated jointly by the Highlands County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Unit and the Special Victims Unit along with the state Department of Children & Families.

Parker also was involved in a 2008 New Year's Eve ruckus case involving Pete and Sue Diaz. A jury recently cleared the Diazes of battery charges against Parker.

Parker was also arrested in June 26, 2004 on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge involving his former wife. He entered into a diversion program and the States Attorney's Office eventually deferred prosecution.

Parker, then 27, was reinstated in late July 2004 after completing a two-day suspension without pay, according to former Police Chief Frank Mercurio in a previous report.

When Parker attended his arraignment on July 19, 2004, his ex wife withdrew charges, Mercurio said.

A deferred prosecution agreement was signed in lieu of Parker attending an anger management program for 12 weeks. All criminal charges were dismissed after he successfully completed the class.

Parker was initially held Sunday without bond. Monday afternoon, bond was set at $250,000, along with conditions that include:

That Parker not have contact with the victim or the victim's mother nor come within 300 yards of victim's residence without having this order lifted by the judge.

Parker was not to harass, touch, strike or threaten to touch or strike the victim against her will.

He was to check in with Pre-Trial Release by landline or in person twice a week.

He could not leave the county without the court's written approval.

He had to turn in all weapons.

Parker's next court appearance is scheduled for April 27.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Officer David Rodriguez Accused of Slamming 10-year-old Against His Cruiser


A rookie police officer accused of slamming a 10-year-old boy against his cruiser for skateboarding in the street has received a two-day suspension and been ordered to attend anger management classes.

"He threw him like he was a rag doll," said the boy's father, Joseph Smith, who witnessed the April 6, 2008, incident and filed a complaint the next day.

Smith says his son was left with a cut on his knee, a bruise on his chest and a fear of police.

Officer David Rodriguez, 25, declined to comment through his lawyer. But in December he told internal affairs investigator Sgt. Kelly Drum the boy never made contact with his patrol car, according to newly released records.

The Sun Sentinel is not naming the boy because of his age.

After interviewing witnesses, Drum said Rodriguez was guilty of "improper use of force" and failing to file a "use of force" police report. Drum closed his investigation on Jan. 9.

John Fry, the officer's attorney, chalked it up to a miscommunication between Rodriguez and the boy's father.

"He doesn't feel he did anything wrong," Fry said of Rodriguez, who was hired in October 2006 and earns $56,326 a year. "He pulled a kid out of the street. There were different takes on what took place."

Rodriguez was facing a battery charge, but Broward prosecutors closed the case on Nov. 17 after both parties agreed to mediation and the boy's father decided not to press charges.

Smith, 45, said he didn't want to put his son through more trauma.

According to Drum's report, the boy was skateboarding in front of his home when the officer pulled up and told him to ride in the cul de sac.

The boy told Rodriguez his father wanted him to ride near the house where he could watch him. At that point, according to the boy and his father, who was watching from inside the house, Rodriguez jumped out of his cruiser, grabbed the boy by one arm and slammed his chest against the car.

Smith said he immediately dashed outside to defend his 65-pound son, who had burst into tears.

"The cop told me, 'I'm the authority and no one tells me no,'" Smith said last week outside his Orange Park home. Smith said his son's feet were dangling in the air while Rodriguez had him pinned against the car.

Neighbor Michael Santo JimRusti, now 15, said he saw the same thing. "The cop slammed him like the kid was an adult," said JimRusti. "The cop had his arm pinned behind him."

Rodriguez told a different story.

"I put my arm on his shoulder," Rodriguez said. He said the boy told him not to touch him and pushed the officer's hand away. "So I grabbed him by the shoulder and turned him and we start walking towards my car ... and that's when, as I turned around, I saw his father coming towards me."

Rodriguez called for backup and told the boy to sit on the ground. Several officers arrived, then left after they heard what happened, Smith said.

Mitzi Clark, Smith's neighbor, described the boy as a polite child who listens to his father.

Councilman Bryan Caletka worried about the long-term impact, saying, "The kid's not going to like cops now."

Smith's son said he's not afraid of all police officers, just some. During the mediation, the officer apologized to Smith and his son, Fry said.

"He told them, 'I'm sorry if you feel this way. ... I was looking to look out for your son,'" Fry said.

But in Smith's eyes, Rodriguez never gave a true apology.

"He said he was sorry I took it that way. He never apologized," Smith said. "He knew he was wrong. You don't do that to a kid."

Sgt. Andrew Gallegos Could Face Charges in Woman's Death

The attorney for an Albuquerque police officer accused of driving over and killing a woman in the parking lot of a bar last year questions whether any crime was committed.

Prosecutors and the defense were both presenting testimony Monday morning in a hearing to determine whether there is probable cause for Sgt. Andrew Gallegos to stand trial for the death of 47-year-old Vera Haskell.

Officials contend that Gallegos was at Sidewinders bar on east Central Avenue in April of last year.

They say security video of the bar’s parking lot show Gallegos getting into his pickup truck and backing over the prone body of Haskell twice.

Investigators say the video shows Haskell’s body being dragged beneath the truck’s right front tire. She died of multiple internal injuries and almost all of her ribs were fractured.

Gallegos’ defense says investigators never positively identified the person driving the truck and that Haskell’s blood-alcohol level was nearly fatal.

“Is there a reason to believe that a crime was actually committed?” asked attorney Sam Bregman. “This person didn’t get hit by a car and go down. This person was at 0.436, highly intoxicated, lying underneath the truck.”

Gallegos has never been formally charged and wasn’t arrested until last December – eight months after the death.

Gallegos has said that he was at a party the night Haskell was killed and blacked out.

The probable cause hearing is expected to continue through Tuesday.



Saturday, March 28, 2009

Marcus D Moore Dies After Being Tasered

The Winnebago County coroner says 40-year-old Marcus D. Moore from Freeport, has died from his injuries after being tasered by police.

Freeport Police say Moore was wanted for robbery. When they tracked him down Thursday night, they say he fought with authorities, causing them to use the stun gun.

Shortly after, Moore complained of being unable to breathe. He was taken to Rockford Memorial Hospital and was later pronounced dead.

Police think Moore was on drugs at the time of his arrest and that taser use was warranted. They won't say whether the responding offer will be reprimanded. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

Trooper Paul Vera Pleads No Contest to Pointing Weapon

A state trooper has pleaded "no contest" after he was accused of storming into an ex-girlfriend's house in Groton and threatening her boyfriend with a gun.

Paul Vera of Waterford was charged with second degree breach of peace and third degree criminal mischief, both misdemeanors.

A judge ordered Vera to attend 26 sessions of an anti-domestic violence program. If he doesn't complete the program, he could be sentenced to six months in prison. Vera is a 22-year veteran of state police.


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57 Felony Counts Filed Against Ex-Judge Herman Thomas

A special Mobile County grand jury today returned indictments on 57 felony counts against ex-circuit court judge Herman Thomas, including ethics violations, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sex abuse, first-and-second-degree extortion and first-degree sodomy.

The indictments involve eight alleged victims Thomas supposedly extorted for sexual favors during his time as a judge. Thomas resigned from the circuit court just over two years ago amid an Alabama Judicial Inquiries Commission investigation into allegations he spanked inmates in a secret room in the courthouse and also surreptitiously removed cases from other judges’ dockets and had them placed on his own. Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, Jr. delivered the indictments during a 2:30 press conference at the Mobile County Courthouse.

Named as victims in the indictments were Jhordis Woods, Necester Warmack, Douglas Hill, Akil Figures, Mitee Meardry, Thaddeus Hale, Deangelo Daughtry, Marcus Vaughn and Darrius Lane. Figures is the son of State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures. All men are either currently housed in the Mobile Metro Jail, or have spent time there. Normally Lagniappe would not name victims of alleged sexual abuse, but given the highly charged political nature of this case we believe it is unrealistic to expect they will stay secret and even unfair to Thomas.

The grand jury charged Thomas with sexually violating all of the men and with using his position to solicit sexual favors from them. In the case of some alleged victims like Woods, the grand jury also found that Thomas used Woods’ labor for his private benefit to materially affect his financial interest. Tyson would not elaborate on the specifics of what the charges meant, saying he was going to be extremely careful with information surrounding the case, and that he was unhappy with what he considered to be the dissemination of sensitive information. “I’m really disturbed about some of the leaks that I have been reading about in that regard. We’re going to find out as best we can from where all that came,” Tyson said.

Thomas was arrested outside of Mobile County Metro Jail just minutes before Tyson’s press conference. His attorney “Cowboy” Bob Clark was holding his own press conference when D.A.’s investigators walked up and arrested Thomas and took him into the jail to be booked. Prior to the arrest, Clark categorized the indictments as a, “high-tech lynching. It’s racism at its finest by the white folks at the courthouse.”

Tyson dismissed the charges of racism out of hand. All of Thomas’ alleged victims are black.

Prior to Tyson’s press conference, there was a brief moment of drama when Clark showed up and was told by one of Tyson’s investigators, Tony Goubil, that he couldn’t stay. Clark said Goubilwould have to arrest him if he wanted him to leave. Finally the Goubil told Clark he was under arrest. “One of your goons is going to arrest me,” Clark hollered as he was lead down the hallway to an awaiting Tyson. After a short meeting, Clark was allowed to return, although he sat quietly. Tyson later made certain to point out that Clark was not under arrest.

Thomas faced a bond of $287,500. He was bonded out of jail Friday afternoon.

If convicted, the former judge could face an extremely long stretch in jail, as the charges against him carry some pretty severe penalties.

“The grand jury leveled what I consider to be very serious charges. The most serious is a Class A felony. There are a number of Class Bs here and Class C felonies. The Class A is punishable by a range of 10 to 99 Bs 2 to 20, Cs 1 to 10. I would say anytime you return a felony indictment in the judicial profession you have a very serious set of circumstances,” Tyson said.

Tyson also said he does not think Thomas poses a flight risk, but his office did set three conditions upon his release. He is to have no contact with any males under the age of 21, he is to have no contact with any of the complaining victims or family members of the complaining witness and he must surrender his passport. When asked whether Thomas’ work with the Mobile County School System, specifically the Phoenix Program which deals with at-risk youth, is something that concerns his office as the investigation moves forward, Tyson pointed out the stipulation that Thomas not have contact with young men under 21. Most of his alleged victims were young inmates in their late teens or early 20s at the time they claim Thomas abused them.

Tyson said his office has been in contact with the Alabama State Bar and gave them a copy of the indictments. The bar has been in contact with Thomas in the past month. Thomas is still practicing as an attorney with the Brandyburg firm.

If Thomas is eventually convicted, Tyson said it will create a situation in which the cases he presided over will have to be examined to determine what, if any, problems there may have been related to his behavior.

“We’re going to have to take that on a case-by-case basis. I suspect we’ll get what we have been getting in that regard. I think there have been a number of inquiries, but we’ll have to do it on a case-by-case basis,” Tyson said.

Tyson also said he has been in touch with the state Supreme Court in order to begin the process of getting a judge to hear Thomas’ trial, as he expects all of the Mobile County Circuit Court judges to recuse themselves from the case.

“I don’t know if that has formally happened, but I expect it to,” he said.

He said he asked Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb to appoint a judge for the case.

“Once we’ve done that I suspect we’ll have an arraignment and set a calendar,” Tyson said.

He does expect the trial to take place in Mobile County.

Tyson has faced some criticism in recent months for the length of time Thomas has gone without being indicted. The first allegations of his paddling of prisoners and changing of court dockets started coming to light almost three years ago and he resigned from the bench just over two years ago. A series of articles in this publication brought to light complaints that Tyson’s office had stopped investigating Thomas, and also highlighted the efforts of attorney Joe Kulakowski who has independently investigated Thomas over the past two years. Tyson said this investigation has been going on for a long time, but did say the special grand jury was empanelled just a few weeks ago during the trial of Lam Luong, the man who was recently convicted of throwing his four children off the Dauphin Island Bridge.

“We used the cover of the Lam Luong trial to ask for the jurors for this special grand jury,” Tyson said. He added that they have not released the grand jury and that it will continue to investigate the case.

Clark summarized the entire list of indictments with one word – “bullshit.”

“This ain’t even close enough for government work. It ain’t close enough for hand grenades,” he said.

He went on to say the indictments came strictly from racism from other judges and members of the local legal community. He specifically named Circuit Judge Rusty Johnston and Kulakowski .

“I would start with the sixth floor then wander up to the seventh floor in this building, that’s where it’s coming from,” Clark said from the atrium of Government Plaza after Tyson’s press conference. “You don’t read the newspaper? They talked about Herman being suspended from Judge Johnston’s courtroom, Joe Koolaid hanging out in Judge Johnston’s courtroom all the time. That’s where it’s coming from, people who’ve got 20 and 30 years for Herman. If you went over to that jail and said say something bad about that judge that sentenced you we’ll let you go, they’d talk.”

Clark also disparaged the fact that the alleged victims are all people who have criminal histories.

“What’s unusual is to take the word of convicted felons and mash it into a 58-count (the grand jury handed out a 57- count indictment) indictment,” Clark said.

Asked why Thomas resigned his position on the bench if all the charges against him were false, Clark said he would have had different advice for the ex-judge.

“I didn’t represent the judge. It’s all made up. I didn’t represent the judge back then. I would not have handled it the way it was handled,” Clark said.



Two Officers Arrested - One Charged with Beating Pregnant Wife- Other Charged with Rape


Two police officers have been relieved of duty after one was charged with beating his pregnant wife while another was charged with raping a woman while his wife slept in the same bed, police said Friday.

The more recent arrest took place Thursday, when Officer Stephen Kenneth Olenchak, 34, was arrested for two counts of rape. According to an arrest report, the victim told investigators that Olenchak brought his wife a drink before going to bed on Sunday. When his wife fell asleep, he then brought the victim something to drink, according to the report.

Davie Police spokesman Lt. Bill Coyne said police are investigating whether drugs were used in the drinks. According to the report, Olenchak then fondled and had intercourse with the victim, who said she did not consent and was not coherent enough to call out to Olenchak's wife for help.

At one point, the report states, Olenchak's wife got up to use the bathroom, and the victim said she "looked like a zombie."

Olenchak, who has been with the Police Department 11 years, is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. He is out of jail on a $10,000 bond.

Earlier this month, police arrested Vally Getejanc, 25, who has been with the Davie department since September 2007. Getejanc has been charged with one count of battery for a February 27 incident during which he was accused of throwing his wife to the ground. The two had been married just four days, and the wife was five months pregnant, according to an arrest report.

Police on March 19 charged him with aggravated assault with a firearm following an investigation into more allegations brought by the wife, who said Getejanc took his duty weapon and held it to her head during a Feb. 3 argument, according to a separate arrest report.

Information on Getejanc's bond was not available, but he is not currently in the Broward jail system, according to records.

Corporal Fernando Martinez Arrested for Drunk Driving after Crashing his Cruiser


A Montgomery County police officer was arrested for drunk driving in a marked police car Friday night.

Police say Corporal Fernando Martinez crashed his police cruiser into a concrete barrier northbound on Route 270 just south of the Montrose Road exit in Rockville.

The accident happened just after 11p.m.

The police cruiser had minor damage to the front and driver's side.

When police arrived they smelled alcohol on the officer's breath and arrested him for drunk driving after he failed a sobriety test.

Martinez who is assigned to the Wheaton district did not suffer any injuries in the accident. He is a 33-year veteran of the Montgomery County police department and his arresting powers have been suspended.

Montgomery County police say the accident is still under investigation.

Officer Kyle Hunter Arrested for Stealing Girlfriend's Car

Another schenectady police officer has been arrested. He's accused of stealing his girlfriend's car.

Police Chief Mark Chaires says patrolman Kyle Hunter has been charged.

According to Chaires, officers went to check out a domestic dispute allegation last night around quarter to six, when a woman's BMW had been taken.

Chaires says Hunter was located around 11:30 and charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

He spent the night in jail and was suspended without pay for 30 days.

Chaires says Hunter joined the force in 2001--and he did say there is "a previous administrative history" with Hunter.

Hunter's arrest brings the total number of Schenectady cops in trouble to eight.



Friday, March 27, 2009

Porter Officer Accused of Shooting Dog at Animal Shelter


An animal cruelty investigation is underway after an allegations that a dog was shot to death by a police officer while inside an animal shelter.

It allegedly happened earlier this month in Porter, about 30 miles east of Tulsa in Wagoner County. Former officer Bobby Bacon says he pulled up at the animal shelter and didn't like what he heard.

"I heard a 'pop, arf, pop, arf, pop, arf', three times the dog was screaming."

Bacon says next, he was called to the police station by the officer who allegedly pulled the trigger.

"They said they were on a budget and we don't have the money to get them properly euthanized," Bacon says. "A life is a life, a dog, cat, cow. They have a life. They live and breathe and that's not policy and procedure. That's animal cruelty to me."

Bacon says the dog was shot by a weapon from the police evidence room. We tried to reach the Porter Animal Control officer, but she had no comment. Also, our repeated efforts to contact the officer involved were unsuccessful.

Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert confirms he is looking into the case.

"They have made a complaint that the dog was shot with an evidence rifle in the custody of the Porter Police Department," Colbert said. "We've seen no animal. Again, if they would have made the complaint at the time when this allegedly happened, we could have investigated it better."

Bacon left the police department after an arrest on his record several years ago came to light. He says the allegation of animal cruelty is not him wanting to get back at the department. He says animals should not be euthanized this way and has contacted the Governor's office.

We don't know how long it will take for the investigation to be completed. The results of the investigation will determine whether or not charges are filed.

Officer Vally Getejanc Arrested for Putting Gun to Pregnant Wife's Head

A Davie police officer was arrested in February after he allegedly pressed his pistol against his pregnant wife's head during an argument, police said.

Vally Getejanc, a 25-year-old policeman, was charged with aggravated assault and was relieved of duty until further notice. He was taken to the Broward jail, police said.

Getejanc's pregnant wife, 25-year-old Sheena Banks, accused her husband of threatening her life after an argument at their Davie home on Feb. 3, according to the police report.

The topic of discussion that day: door slamming.

According to the Banks' account in the police report, Banks and Getejanc were arguing about the way Banks slammed doors around the house. While both were arguing, Banks turned away, walked into the bedroom and slammed the door behind her. Getejanc entered the room shortly after and demanded that she close the door properly. When she refused, he turned around and reached down to his duty belt, which was lying on the floor.

He then pulled out his Sig Sauer .45 pistol and pressed the gun against the left side of her head, police said.

''Say one more f---ing word and I will shoot you!'' Getejanc told her, according to the report.

Banks remained silent -- and Getejanc later apologized to her, police said.

Although weeks passed before Banks notified police, she told detectives that she did so to give her husband time to ''cool off,'' according to police.

Getejanc was arrested on Feb. 27 by Davie police officer Patricia Charboneau. The next day, he was released on $1,000 bond.

Davie police completed a probable cause affidavit on March 19 and released documents about the event on Friday afternoon.

Officer Stephen Olenchak Accused of Raping Teen

A Davie police officer was arrested Thursday, accused of raping a teenage girl while his wife lay unconscious next to them, according to police.

Stephen Olenchak, a 34-year-old police officer, was charged with two counts of sexual battery without consent on a girl over 12 years old. Police said the teenage girl was at Olenchak's home on March 22 when he, his wife and the girl watched the HBO television show Big Love.

The girl told police that Olenchak served the girl and his wife drinks that made them drowsy. While his wife slept nearby, Olenchak grabbed the girl from behind and raped her, according to the police report.

The girl told police she was not coherent enough to call out to Olenchak's wife for help.

Olenchak was arrested Thursday evening and taken to a Broward jail. He was released on $10,000 bond at 3:34 a.m. Friday, according to prison personnel.

Davie police spokesman William Coyne said that Olenchak will be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into his actions.

The girl's family placed a restraining order on Olenchak, and a Davie police officer was assigned to keep watch over the family, Coyne said.

Trooper Joseph Ryle Arrested for Kidnapping


Federal authorities have arrested a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper on a criminal complaint alleging the unlawful arrest and kidnapping of a person in January.

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a statement saying that trooper Franklin Joseph Ryle was arrested late Thursday in Douglas.

Ryle was scheduled to appear in federal court Friday afternoon in Casper.

Col. Sam Powell, administrator of the Wyoming Highway Patrol, confirms the arrest but declined comment on the investigation.

Powell says Ryle has been on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

No other information was immediately available.



Officer Kachina McAlexander Arrested for Attempted Murder


South Dakota officials say a Denver police officer has been arrested on three counts of attempted murder after she fired a gun in the direction of 3 law officers who were checking on her at a motel near Custer.

Attorney General Larry Long's office says 31-year-old Kachina McAlexander was arrested Tuesday.

Two Custer County deputies and a Highway Patrol officer had gone to the motel to check on McAlexander. The attorney general's office said the officers found the woman with a gun in her hand, and she fired the gun several times in the direction of the officers.

The officers were not hurt.

Denver police Det. Sharon Avendano told The Denver Post she could not comment on McAlexander's arrest because another jurisdiction was in charge.

Officer Alhinde Weems Accused of Selling Cocaine


A Philadelphia police officer was accused Friday of selling cocaine to an informant and later plotting with an undercover agent to conduct an armed raid on the home of a person he believed to be a drug supplier.

Alhinde Weems, 33, was a longtime drug dealer prior to becoming an officer more than five years ago and continued to deal drugs while he was on the force, federal authorities alleged in an affidavit. The FBI arrested Weems Friday, authorities said.

Police said they do not believe any other officers are involved.

"This man dishonored the badge in a way that's unconscionable to us," Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross said at a news conference, adding that Weems has been suspended with intent to dismiss. "This case starts and stops with Weems. This is it."

Ross said the department thoroughly screens police candidates and will conduct an internal investigation to see how an alleged drug dealer got onto the force.

Investigators with the FBI, the U.S. attorney's office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives declined to say where Weems was allegedly dealing or if he is alleged to have dealt drugs while on the job.

Weems and a co-defendant are charged with conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery, and a firearms charge. Federal authorities said additional charges could be filed.

The investigation began in December when an informant told authorities that Weems was a drug dealer, according to the affidavit. The informant bought about one ounce of crack cocaine from Weems on Dec. 17, followed by a purchase of two ounces on Jan. 14, authorities allege.

On Jan. 29, Weems and the informant bought a kilogram of simulated cocaine from an undercover ATF agent, according to the affidavit.

A month later, authorities allege, Weems told the undercover agent he was interested in robbing the agent's drug supplier. A home invasion was scheduled for Friday, authorities said, and Weems and another man stated they "would be ready to shoot if necessary."

Friday's arrest happened at an undisclosed location where Weems and Smith had planned to meet with the undercover agent, according to the affidavit. Weems had a gun and his police badge on him when he was arrested, the affidavit said.

Tom Stankiewicz, assistant special agent with the ATF, said the arrest shows that authorities will not tolerate wrongdoing by police officers or anyone else.

"It doesn't matter if you're wearing a badge, a gun or a uniform," Stankiewicz said.

Authorities did not know if Weems, who is being held without bail, had obtained an attorney. His telephone number was unlisted.

John McNesby, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Philadelphia, said the organization would not be representing Weems.

"The FOP is not going to stand behind a drug dealer cop," McNesby said.

Weems is married and a father of five.

If convicted, he faces 5-25 years behind bars. He is being held without bail.

Officer Matthew Raymond Arrested for Domestic Violence

ELIOT, Maine

A six-year veteran of the Eliot Police Department was arrested on a charge of domestic violence stalking Friday afternoon, 12 days after he was put on administrative leave in connection with the incident.

Matthew Raymond, 27, of Sanford, was arrested at his home by Maine State Police on the charge, a Class D misdemeanor, following an investigation into an incident on Saturday, March 14.

Eliot Police Chief Theodor Short said he was “made aware of this situation on Saturday night and after interviewing the victim, a woman that Raymond once dated, he was relieved from duty when he came to work Sunday evening (March 15).”

Short declined to give any further information about the incident.
Short said Raymond remains on paid leave, but now that there has been an arrest in the case, “that may change. We need to explore that a little more.”

The chief said he turned the investigation over to state police on March 16, the same day he launched an internal investigation into allegations of police department policy and criminal violations.
That internal investigation remains ongoing, Short said, and Raymond will remain on leave until its completion.

“There’s still documents we need to get, witnesses we need to interview. We’re looking for more information,” he said.

He said Raymond posted bail following his arrest Friday, but he did not know the date of his first court appearance. He said the arraignment would be in York District Court.

Judge Herman Thomas Faces Several Charges Including Kidnapping


Herman Thomas, while a Mobile County circuit judge, checked male inmates out of Metro Jail to exert control over them and force them into sexual activity, according to indictments released today.

About 1½ years after stepping down from the bench, Thomas was arrested today outside the same jail on charges of kidnapping, sodomy, extortion, sex abuse and ethics violations.

A special grand jury met for three weeks this month and returned 57 felony charges against Thomas. The indictment lists nine alleged victims, each of them current or former inmates.

"These are very serious charges," some carrying up to life in prison, said District Attorney John Tyson Jr. Thomas was taken into custody outside the jail as his attorney, Robert "Cowboy Bob" Clark, held an afternoon news conference amid reports of an impending arrest.

Clark suggested his client's indictment was motivated by racism.

"This is racism at its very finest. We ought to be proud we elected those bastards," said Clark in an apparent reference to Tyson and former Thomas colleagues on the bench.

As Clark was speaking, an investigator with the District Attorney's Office quietly walked up to Thomas, tapped him on the shoulder, whispered something to him and then accompanied Thomas -- without placing him in handcuffs -- to the jail 10 feet away.

There, Thomas was photographed and booked, with bail set at $287,500, according to the jail log. He was later released.

Each of Thomas' alleged victims at one time faced charges in Mobile County Circuit Court, according to online court records. The allegations against them ranged from criminal mischief to murder.

One of the inmates went before Thomas on multiple occasions over the years for several felony charges. He was eventually sent to prison for a short time, but Thomas ordered him released early.

Finally, he ended up sentenced in federal court and later released. He has since been accused of murder and attempted murder.

According to Friday's grand jury allegations, Thomas "knowingly" subjected the young men "to sexual contact, by forcible compulsion."

Thomas' resignation came in the face of a pending trial before Alabama's Court of the Judiciary, where he was charged with dozens of ethical violations.

Tyson said Clark's accusations that Thomas' troubles stem from racism at Government Plaza are "absolute nonsense."

Nicki Patterson, the chief assistant district attorney, later pointed out that all the alleged victims are black. Thomas is black.

Tyson said his investigation is not over and that the special grand jury could be called back into session at any time.


Sgt Brian Thies Accused of Masturbating at Work


Late on a cold February night, a police sergeant working the third shift sought comfort in the cell detention area and lay down on a bed.

What Sgt. Brian Thies, 36, did next — with his police radio inadvertently keyed on — is the subject of a state police investigation.

A recording of the police radio at 11:23 p.m. on Feb. 18 reveals a series of moans, vulgar-sounding intonations and deep breaths lasting for about 40 seconds.

Thies contends that he was sick and went into the cell area to rest. He told a dispatcher he was saying things such as "come on heat" and groaning because he had a fever. Then he fell asleep.

Other interpretations suggest that Thies was masturbating.

The garbled audio recording seems to include language such as "that's what you want puppy" and "that's what you like."

"I had no doubt in my mind that these sounds I heard were those of someone getting themselves off," according to a complaint filed with the mayor by dispatcher Linda Lanosa. She goes on to say that she was mortified and "embarrassed for both me and him."

Mayor Thomas G. Dunn has forwarded the complaint to state police. He said it would be a conflict of interest for Wolcott police to conduct an internal affairs investigation because Thies is Capt. Domenic Angiolillo's son-in-law. Angiolillo is the third highest-ranking officer in the 33-member department.


For more on this story, read the Republican-American in print or online. Subscribers may log in to the e-edition at http://republicanamerican.ct.newsmemory.com.

Officer Michael Hansen Arrested for DWI

A Clearlake police officer who shot and killed a man last year was arrested this week on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and possession of a loaded firearm.

Michael Hansen, 24, who is on leave from the Police Department, also had a small amount of marijuana in his vehicle when he was stopped near Williams but he had a doctor's prescription for its use, CHP spokesman John Waggoner said.

Hansen, who gave an Oroville address when arrested, could not be reached for comment.

Hansen has been on unpaid administrative leave from the Clearlake Police Department for several months, Police Lt. Mike Hermann said.

He said he cannot divulge why but that "it's not related to the shooting."

Hansen shot and killed Clearlake resident David Clinton Vestal, 63, in June while responding with other officers to reports of an altercation at a mobile home park.

Vestal had pointed a .410 shotgun at another officer when Hansen fired four shots. One struck Vestal in the neck, killing him, according the the Lake County district attorney's report on the shooting.

The district attorney's investigation found the shooting to be justified.

Vestal's family claims otherwise. His daughter has filed a civil lawsuit against the city and Police Department in federal court.

Hansen was driving on Highway 20 west of King Road late Monday night when he was stopped by a Colusa County sheriff's deputy because his vehicle was missing a rear license plate, according to the CHP. The deputy observed signs of intoxication and notified the CHP.

CHP officers conducted sobriety tests and determined Hansen was under the influence of alcohol, the CHP said.

The deputy conducted a search of Hansen's vehicle and located "a very small amount" of marijuana and four handguns, one of which was loaded, Waggoner said.

Because Hansen is on administrative leave from the police department, he is not, under CHP regulations, allowed to carry a loaded firearm, he said.

Hansen was booked into the Colusa County jail and later released.



Dallas Officer Robert Powell Apologizes

His actions pilloried on national television and disowned by his commanders, Dallas police Officer Robert Powell came forward Friday afternoon to say he was sorry for detaining a family rushing to the hospital to visit a dying loved one.

Powell, 25, said he had tried to contact NFL player Ryan Moats and his family to apologize directly but so far had not reached them.

"I wish to publicly and sincerely apologize to the Moats family, my colleagues in the Dallas Police Department, and to all those who have been rightfully angered by my actions," he said in a written statement issued by his attorney.

The attorney, Bob Gorsky, works with the Dallas Police Association. He said that despite news reports to the contrary, the officer is remorseful.

The day before, police commanders said Powell told them he saw nothing wrong with his behavior even after reviewing video of the episode.

The video, recorded by his in-car camera, shows him berating Moats, threatening him with arrest and holding him for 13 minutes over a traffic violation while his mother-in-law died at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano.

In his apology, Powell said he regretted adding to the family's grief in an already difficult time.

"After stopping Mr. Moats' vehicle, I showed poor judgment and insensitivity to Mr. Moats and his family by my words and actions," the statement said.

Gorsky released little information about his client, saying only that he came to the department straight out of college in January 2006.

Powell, from the Amarillo area, was married not long ago and the couple has an infant, said an officer who knows him but declined to be identified.

"He's semi-quiet," the officer said. "He's not one you'd ever think would ever embarrass the department in any way. I've never heard him raise his voice."

Shortly after being hired, Powell was assigned to the city's north-central patrol station. During his short tenure, he has received some minor discipline, including a one-day suspension for violating sick-time policy.

"There is a complaint involving use of force, but his record's relatively clean," Police Chief David Kunkle said Thursday during an apologetic news conference. "That complaint was not sustained."

'Trying to do his job'

The chief called Powell's actions "inappropriate," "troublesome," "embarrassing" and "extraordinarily disappointing."

But one fellow officer spoke up for Powell on Friday.

"Right now he feels the world is against him," said Detective Ron Pinkston, secretary-treasurer of the Dallas Police Association. "He was trying to do his job out there."

Pinkston said that he sympathized with Powell and that it's been rough on the three-year officer, under the weight of nationwide derision.

He said that he isn't sure Powell should be disciplined and that he certainly shouldn't be fired. He stressed that Powell is still essentially a rookie.

"I think an older officer who'd been out there could de-escalate quicker than a younger officer," he said. "When any officer stops somebody on a traffic stop, there's a high level of anxiety for the unknown."

The situation Powell faced isn't something that figures into academy curriculum, said Lt. Vernon Hale, commander of the Dallas police academy.

"I don't think it's a situation that anybody's ever anticipated," he said, "or it wouldn't be national news."

Different officers will respond differently to the same situation, Hale said.

"You have a traffic stop, someone not stopping and people jumping out of the vehicle," the lieutenant said. "However, at some point, the light should come on is my thinking."

Outrage continues

The Moats family declined to speak about the episode Friday. But a man who witnessed it said he found Powell's apology suspect.

"An apology was very much needed after the fact, but the way he conducted himself, the way he enforced his side of the law, there wasn't no mistake about it," said Jason Brown, 23, who was at the hospital on the night of March 17 and can be seen in the video.

Others outraged by the incident continue to register their displeasure. A secretary at Dallas police headquarters said Friday that irate callers were still inundating the phone lines.

And even officials of a neighboring police department took steps to distance themselves from the incident.

"The Plano Police Department requests the media's assistance in clarifying the fact that this is a Dallas Police Department incident," said a news release. Plano police said e-mails and phone calls of complaints have rained on them from across the country.

The red light Moats ran is just inside the Dallas city limits and just down the street from the Plano hospital where Moats was pulled over.

"Thus, all comments regarding this incident should be directed to the Dallas Police Department," the news release pointed out.

Even others sharing Powell's name found themselves the unfortunate targets of ridicule.

"I am not the cop who pulled over Ryan Moats in Dallas ... so please stop sending me msgs about how much you hate me," said one Robert Powell on his Facebook page. "I'M NOT HIM!"

Other Information: http://police-brutality-blog.blogspot.com/2009/03/dallas-police-officer-should-be-fired.html

Officer Mark Phillip Arrested for Driving BMW that He Owes Taxes On

A Newport News police officer was arrested Thursday for driving a 2000 BMW he owed property taxes on.

According to Hampton police, officials from the Treasurer's Office put a distress warrant on Mark Andrew Phillip's car Monday that prohibited him from driving it, and took the state tags. Phillips, 45, is a Hampton resident.

On Wednesday, officials found his BMW in Newport News displaying tags he'd put on from a different vehicle he owned.

They put a boot on it, took the tags off, and called the police, said Hampton Police Spokeswoman Allison Quinones. Phillips was charged with one count of removal of levied goods and one count of improper use of stage tags.

He has been released from jail.

Phillips has worked for Newport News Police since April 2007, said Spokesman Lou Thurston. At the time of his arrest he was assigned to the North Precinct as a patrol officer.

He is on administrative leave while the division does an internal investigation, Thurston said.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Officer Robert Powell Delays NFL Player as Relative Died

A police officer was placed on administrative leave Thursday over a traffic stop involving an NFL player whom he kept in a hospital parking lot and threatened to arrest while his mother-in-law died inside the building. Officer Robert Powell also drew his gun during the March 18 incident involving Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats in the Dallas suburb of Plano, police said.

"I can screw you over," he said at one point in the videotaped incident. When another officer came with word that Moats' mother-in-law was indeed dying, Powell's response was: "All right. I'm almost done."

Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle apologized to the family and announced that Powell would be on paid leave pending an internal investigation.

"When we at the command staff reviewed the tape, we were embarrassed, disappointed," Kunkle said. "It's hard to find the right word and still be professional in my role as the police chief. But the behavior was not appropriate."

Powell, 25, a three-year member of the force, stopped Moats' SUV outside Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano after Moats rolled through a red light.

Police officials said Powell told his commanders he believed he was doing his job, and that he drew his gun but did not point it. Kunkle said Powell was not necessarily acting improperly when he pulled his weapon out, but that once he realized what was happening should have put the gun back, apologized and offered to help the family in any way.

"His behavior, in my opinion, did not exhibit the common sense, the discretion, the compassion that we expect our officers to exhibit," Kunkle said.

Moats' wife, who was in the car along with other relatives, said Powell pointed his weapon at her.

"He was pointing a gun at me as soon as I got out of the car," Tamishia Moats told The Dallas Morning News.

The Moats family did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press. Powell did not respond to requests for comment through the Dallas police union.

Video from a dashboard camera inside the officer's vehicle, obtained by Dallas-Fort Worth station WFAA-TV, revealed an intense exchange in which the officer threatened to jail Moats.

He ordered Tamishia Moats, 27, to get back in the SUV, but after pausing for a few seconds, she and another woman rushed into the hospital. She was by the side of her mother, 45-year-old Jonetta Collinsworth, when she died a short time later from breast cancer.

"Get in there," said Powell, yelling at Tamishia Moats as she exited the vehicle. "Let me see your hands!"

"Excuse me, my mom is dying," Tamishia Moats said. "Do you understand?"

Ryan Moats explained that he waited until there was no traffic before proceeding through the red light. When Powell asked for proof of insurance, Moats grew more agitated and told the officer to go find it.

"My mother-in-law is dying! Right now! You're wasting my time!" Moats yelled. "I don't understand why you can't understand that."

As they argued, the officer got irritated.

"Shut your mouth," the officer said. "You can either settle down and cooperate or I can just take you to jail for running a red light."

By the time the 26-year-old NFL player received a ticket and a lecture from Powell, about 13 minutes had passed. When he and Collinsworth's father entered the hospital, they learned Collinsworth was dead.

Kunkle said the video showed that Moats and his wife "exercised extraordinary patience, restraint in dealing with the behavior of our officer."

"At no time did Mr. Moats identify himself as an NFL football player or expect any kind of special consideration," Kunkle said. "He handled himself very, very well."

The Moats family, who are black, said they can't help but think that race might have played a part in the white officer's behavior.

"I think he should lose his job," Ryan Moats said.

When the exchange was at its most contentious, Powell said he could tow Moats' SUV if he didn't have insurance and that he could arrest him for fleeing because he didn't immediately stop when Powell turned on his sirens. The pursuit lasted a little more than a minute.

"I can screw you over," Powell said. "I'd rather not do that. Your attitude will dictate everything that happens."

The ticket issued to Moats was dismissed, Dallas police spokesman Lt. Andy Harvey said.

Texans spokesman Kevin Cooper said the team had no comment.

Moats, a third-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005 out of Louisiana Tech, was cut by the Eagles in August and later signed with the Texans. In three seasons as a backup, he's rushed for 441 yards and scored four touchdowns.

He was a standout at Bishop Lynch High School, a private school in Dallas, rushing for more than 2,600 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior.

Veteran Officer Donald Greer Arrested for Domestic Incident


A 24-year veteran police officer was called into city headquarters while on duty Wednesday and arrested on threatening and disorderly conduct charges, a department spokesman said.

Police said the charges against Officer Donald Greer, 46, stem from an domestic incident but provided no details. Greer was released on a promise to appear in court Thursday.

"The details of the arrest are a personal issue," Lt. Sean Cooney said.

Cooney said he would not comment further and would not identify where the alleged incident occurred or where Greer resides.

Cooney said Greer turned in his badge and firearm and was placed on paid suspension, pending a review of the charges by the department's Internal Affairs division.

State domestic violence laws require residents to give up their firearms if they are accused of a crime from a domestic incident until the courts resolve the case, Cooney said. That could be a factor when police determine the length of Greer's suspension, Cooney said.

"He's been a good policeman for 24 years," Cooney said.

Former Officer Clovis Lovelace Faces Several Charges


A former Paducah police officer was arrested on several charges.

Clovis L. Lovelace, 63, a retired Paducah police officer, was arrested at his home on the 1400 block of Reed Avenue.

Lovelace was arrested on charges of first-degree stalking, first-degree criminal mischief, first-degree possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), first-degree possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, second-degree fleeing or evading police and resisting arrest.

Police received a report from Paul Bell that someone had shot out two windows and three tires on his pickup truck parked on North 11th Street sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning.

An investigation by Det. Mike Wentworth of the Paducah Police Department identified Lovelace as a suspect.

Det. Joe Hayes with the Paducah Police Department watched Lovelaces's home while search warrants were being obtained.

According to authorities, Lovelace confronted Det. Hayes and left the home in his vehicle when police attempted to arrest him.

Police say Lovelace later drove back to his home and was then arrested by police.

Police found more than 15 guns, one of which is believed to be the gun used to shoot Bell's vehicle as well as drugs and drug paraphernalia in Lovelace's home.

Clovis L. Lovelace was booked into the McCracken County Regional Jail.



Arraignment Set for Officer Joseph Houston Charged with Assault & Battery


The Associated Press reported that former Brewster Police Officer Joseph Houston,29, is charged with assault and battery and open and gross lewdness stemming from an incident at a Metallica concert Jan. 18.

Houston, who is no longer with the Brewster Police Department, was accused by parents of a concertgoer of allegedly urinating on the concertgoer and harassing his 17 year-old sister in a lewd manner. He was later arrested for trespassing by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police.

Arraignment is scheduled for April 8.

Previous Post: http://whathappenedtoprotectandserve.blogspot.com/2009/02/officer-joseph-houston-investiegated.html

Other Information: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090326/NEWS/903260322

Officer Richard Geib Charged with Assault


A police officer who lives in the township was charged Tuesday with simple assault against a 20-year-old woman at his home last week, police said Thursday.

Patrolman Richard Geib, 50, according to a police complaint, allegedly grabbed the woman around her neck, shoved her to the ground causing bruising and minor injury.

The incident allegedly happened on St. Patrick’s Day, and the woman reported it to police a week later.

Police said the woman obtained a restraining order against him.

Geib posted $1,000 bail with a 10 percent option, and has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the case, police said.

He is scheduled to appear before a judge in Morristown on Wednesday.

Officer Russell Bushaw Arrested for Shoplifting


A Logansport police officer with nearly 20 years on the force has been suspended after he was arrested on charges of shoplifting.

Russell J. Bushaw was arrested Monday after employees at a Target store in Kokomo told police he was caught on surveillance video trying to swipe three Blue Ray DVDs.

Store officials said they have been trying to catch Bushaw for several months in connection with a handful of thefts.

Bushaw was suspended from the police department without pay pending an investigation.


Trial Under Way for Officer Allen Bonds Charged with Stomping Teenager


A trial is under way for an East St. Louis police officer accused of kicking and stomping a teenager nearly three years ago.

Allen Bonds is charged with aggravated assault in his confrontation with 18-year-old Jermond Owens.

Owens testified that he took a bike from outside a home in May 2006. He contends Bonds then followed him and eventually pulled him off the bike.

Owens says he doesn't remember anything after that.

A Belleville emergency room doctor testified that Owens' head injuries were so severe he required a breathing tube and he was airlifted to a St. Louis trauma unit.

Under cross-examination, Owens said he's hired a lawyer to pursue a civil case against Bonds.

Information from: Belleville News-Democrat, http://www.bnd.com

More Information: http://www.bnd.com/news/local/story/704482.html

Hearing Will Continue for Officer Jason Judd Accused of Shooting Men

Parties will meet again April 24 in the case of Topeka police officer Jason Judd.

The date was set during a hearing this morning. Last week, a special prosecutor filed a motion asking that charges against Judd be dropped.

Last year Judd was accused of shooting two Topeka men, Daniel and Devin Llamas. The Llamas family today tells 49 News they are happy with the way today's proceedings went and say they are just looking for justice to be served.

Judd was with 3 other off-duty officers at the time.

Video & More Information: http://www.ktka.com/news/2009/mar/26/hearing_case_duty_officer_allegedly_shooting_men/

Previous Post:http://whathappenedtoprotectandserve.blogspot.com/2008/07/topeka-officer-charged-in-off-duty.html

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Officer Michael Messenger & Wife Arrested for Shoplifing

State police arrested a New Jersey cop and his wife Monday afternoon on suspicions of shoplifting at the Galleria at Crystal Run.

Police said Michael J. Messenger, 39, of Glenwood Park, N.J., and a police officer in Cliffside Park, N.J., stole items worth a combined $510 from Sears and J.C. Penney, along with his wife, Christine. Their three children – ages 4, 2 and 1 – were with them, police said.

The Messengers were each charged with two counts of petty larceny and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, misdemeanors, and issued appearance tickets.

Bill Maer, a Cliffside Park borough spokesman, said Michael Messenger, a seven-year veteran of the police department, was suspended Tuesday without pay pending the resolution of the case and an internal investigation.

Deputy Chu Vue Arrested for Murder


Chu Vue, a former Sacramento County sheriff's deputy, was arrested Thursday morning for the murder of a correctional officer suspected of having an affair with his wife, says the Sacramento Police Department.

Vue, 44, was taken into custody near his Elk Grove home without incident, said police Sgt. Norm Leong. Also arrested in the Oct. 15, 2008 murder of Steve Lo, 39, were Chu's brothers Gary and Chong Vue, and Lang Vue, a friend of Chu Vue.

Leong says detectives believe Gary and Chong Vue killed Lo at the direction of their older brother Chu Vue. Lo, who worked at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, was found shot in the garage of his Elk Grove home as he apparently was leaving for work.

Investigators say in July 2008, Chu Vue learned his wife was having an affair with Lo.

During the course of the investigation, Vue was accused of weapon and illegal computer access charges. The latter was his alleged illegal use of sheriff's department computers for personal information about Lo.

Earlier this month, Gary and Chong Vue were arrested in Minnesota on an unrelated 2001 murder.

Four others were also arrested Thursday in connection with the case. Leong said Mason Vue, Lee Vue, Allysa Vue and Khoe Vue are suspected of harboring fugitives.

Detectives say in April 2007, Chu Vue put a mobile home on property in Corning in the name of Khoe Vue for the purpose of hiding his brothers.

Lang Vue rented cars and motels for Gary and Chong Vue, according to investigators. They believe Lang Vue bought the vehicle used by the brothers on the day of Lo's murder.

Detectives learned that Allysa Vue, who is Chu Vue's sister, rented a motel in Sacramento they think was used by Gary and Chong Vue a few weeks before the murder.

Mason and Lee Vue, brothers of Lang Vue are suspected by police of hiding the younger Vue brothers, knowing that they were wanted in Minnesota.

Investigators say Chu Vue and the others bought cell phones under fake names and used them to talk to each other.


Photos & More Information: http://www.kcra.com/news/19019942/detail.html

Taser Use Being Questioned After Teen Death

Many are questioning the safety of tasers after the death of 15-year-old Brett Elder of Bay City, who was killed after a police officer shot him with a taser gun.

But local police agencies, like the Ingham County Sheriff's Office, said the tool is not only effective, but safe.

"It's just safer for the officer, and the offender, both at the same time," said Gasper Mendez, Ingham County Sheriff.

Calling it a middle ground between a gun and a baton, Dewitt Police Chief Larry Jerue echoes that notion, "It's another tool in the toolbox. It's another piece of equipment that can be utilized in a less lethal fashion."

Jerue said his officers understand the responsibility that comes with using a taser. He claims they all understand that the offender's size, stature and mental state must be taken into consideration before delpoying a taser.

"In a force continuum, what the officer does is use only the force necessary," said Jerue. "Just slightly above what is being used on them in order to secure the arrest."

But some say Bay City Police could have secured the arrest of the the 5-foot-6, 140-pound teen without a taser.

However, while Jerue won't speak directly about the Bay City incident, he did say he doesn't know of anyone being killed by a taser alone.

"Depending on the psychological makeup of what the perpetrator or assialant has injested, it could have other effects. In most of the fatalities that I've heard, there is some narcotic that has been injected into the system."

Jerue said choosing to use a taser should never be taken lightly, "You have to justify that, you have to be held accountable for that."

Bay City Police are still investigating whether officers followed department policy in using the taser.



Reversal of Decision for Former Officer Mark Delapaz

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday reversed a decision that had overturned two of the three convictions of a former Dallas police officer at the center of the city's fake-drug scandal.

The 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas ruled in December 2007 that evidence Mark Delapaz lied in other investigations should not have been introduced at the trial.

The Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed. In its ruling, the court said the value of the testimony of other wrongdoing outweighed the negative light it cast on the former officer.

Delapaz is already serving a five-year sentence from another trial. He lied to a judge to obtain a search warrant in connection with the scandal, in which more than two dozen people were falsely arrested when paid Dallas police informants planted fake drugs on them.

Many of those arrested were Hispanic immigrants. The wrongdoing came to light in 2001 and forced the city to pay millions in settlements and led to negative publicity along with personnel changes at the Police Department.

But this week's ruling does not end the Delapaz case. The Criminal Court of Appeals ordered the lower court, whose decision it just overturned, to examine the other issues Delapaz has appealed.

Those remaining issues are whether Delapaz should have been granted a change of venue and whether two concurrent five-year sentences he received for tampering with evidence and aggravated perjury should be served consecutive to his current sentence, as the judge ordered, said April Smith, who represents Delapaz.

If the convictions ultimately stand, Delapaz would begin serving another five years when he is either paroled or serves the time for the first five-year sentence.

Smith said that she was "disappointed" by the decision and that she has not yet spoken to her client about it. She may ask for a rehearing on the issue but she said it is unlikely to change the decision.

But Toby Shook, who prosecuted the case but is now a defense attorney, concurred with the Court of Criminal Appeals. "Obviously, I think it's the correct ruling," he said.

Delapaz was charged after the wrongful arrest of Jose Vega in August 2001. Prosecutors said that the day before Vega's arrest, a paid Dallas police informant, Daniel Alonso, and his friend Roberto Gonzalez planted fake cocaine in a car at a service station where Vega worked.

The following day, video surveillance was set up. Delapaz met with Alonso, but in violation of a police procedure intended to ensure that an informant is not already carrying drugs, he did not search Alonso or his car.

After the supposed buy from Vega, Alonso met Mr. Delapaz at a convenience store and gave him two kilos of what appeared to be cocaine. Police found about 20 more kilos of the substance at the service station.

After Vega's arrest, Delapaz said in a police report and at a trial that he saw Mr. Alonso meet Mr. Vega outside the garage. But video surveillance did not show any such contact.

Another officer, Eddie Herrera, who is also charged with wrongdoing, testified that he did not see Vega and Alonso meet and that Delapaz asked him to lie.

In addition to Delapaz and Herrera, other officers were charged criminally for their role in wrongly sending people to jail.

Jeffrey Haywood was sentenced to two years probation by a judge in May 2007. This month, David Larsen pleaded guilty to misdemeanor attempted tampering with evidence in exchange for two years probation.

Herrera, who testified against Delapaz and Haywood at their trials, will likely plead guilty in exchange for probation, prosecutors say. None of the four are still police officers.


Trooper Thomas Bledsoe Charged with Indecent Exposure

A Texas State Trooper, Thomas James Bledsoe, has been suspended with pay after he was charged with indecent exposure, a class B misdemeanor, in the Cherokee County Court-at-Law.

Mr. Bledsoe is charged with exposing himself before another department employee while standing in his office on Feb. 3.

The complaint alleged Sgt. Bledsoe was "reckless about whether another person was present who would be offended or alarmed by his act."

The complaint was filed with County Attorney Craig Caldwell by Jo Anna Miles, an employee of the DPS office in Jacksonville.

Sgt. Bledsoe turned himself in to authorities last week and immediately posted a $1,000 bond after being arraigned by Justice of the Peace James Morris, Precinct 3.

Although Ms. Miles is an employee of the Texas Department of Public Safety, her salary is paid by Cherokee County.

Sgt. Bledsoe completed his trooper training and had been assigned to the Jacksonville office since February 2004.

He was promoted to sergeant in December 2008.

He was suspended with pay on Friday, March 20.



Capt. Clarence Arthur Ebarb Jr. Arrested for Family Assault

San Benito Police Capt. Clarence Arthur Ebarb Jr. was arrested on a family assault charge by Harlingen police.

Ebarb, a 58-year-old Harlingen resident, was arrested about 3:20 a.m. Saturday after a disturbance at the Palm Terrace Apartments, 1501 Sam Houston St., jail records show.

According to a Harlingen police news release, Ebarb's wife told police he had "forcefully grabbed her arms and repeatedly pushed and pulled her."

Ebarb has been placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of his case.

San Benito Mayor Joe Hernandez said, "It's surprising. It's a shocker, but we have to continue going forward. It hurts because, with one little incident, (people) label every (police officer) as a bad person. They don't look at all the good they do."

Officer Armando Posada Arrested for Drunk Driving


A San Benito police officer was arrested last week on a drunken driving charge while he was driving an unmarked San Benito police vehicle, Department of Public Safety spokesman Trooper Johnny Hernandez said Wednesday.

Hernandez said Armando Posada, a 40-year-old San Benito resident, was off duty when he was pulled over for speeding while travelling east on FM 510 near Bayview about 12:30 a.m. Friday.

"He refused a field sobriety test and he refused a breath test," Hernandez said. "But he was highly intoxicated."

The DPS spokesman said Posada did not identify himself as a police officer at the time of his arrest and was driving an unmarked police pickup.

Acting police chief George Gomez said officers are allowed to take unmarked police vehicles home with them.

Posada was jailed at the Los Fresnos Police department but was no longer held there or in the Cameron County jail late Wednesday.

Military Officer Sgt. Grady Riley Arrested on Child Porn Charges

A Fort Bliss military police officer has been indicted on child pornography charges, federal agents announced Tuesday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Staff Sgt. Grady Michael Riley on Monday at the Army post.

Riley, 33, was charged with one count of possession of child pornography and one count of receiving child porn ography, said Leticia Zamarripa, an ICE spokeswoman. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison, she said.

U.S. Magistrate Norbert J. Garney read Riley the charges at a preliminary hearing Tues day.

Zamarripa said Riley was the object of a yearlong investigation.

ICE agents in February seized two computers from his home in the 12000 block of Hosea. They found 2,822 sexually explicit images and 150 child pornography videos, Zamarripa said.

Jail records show Riley was being held in the El Paso County Jail without bond.

Zamarripa said child porn ography cases often fall under ICE's jurisdiction because most of the illicit material is imported.

Riley was the second Fort Bliss soldier in a year arrested on child pornography charges. Arkon Christopher Caldwell, also a military police officer, was sentenced in July to 96 months in federal prison after being convicted on child pornography charges.

Former Officer Dennis Tasker Charged with Sex Abuse Involving Child


A former upstate police officer is charged with multiple counts of sex abuse involving at least one child.

Dennis Tasker of New Paltz was charged Monday with two counts of felony criminal sexual act and one count of sexual course of conduct to a child. He's also charged with sexual abuse, forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a minor. He was being held in Ulster County Jail without bail.

State police say the 61-year-old performed sexual acts on a child during a 12- to 18-month period. Tasker was previously a police officer with the New Paltz and Town of Ulster police departments. He resigned from the Town of Ulster department after he was accused of stalking an ex-girlfriend.

New Paltz court officials had no attorney listed for him as of Tuesday afternoon.