Thursday, January 08, 2009

Trooper Brian Smith was Questioned before Going on Shooting Spree


Just hours before he went on a shooting spree that left two people dead last month, a former Utah state trooper was questioned by Southlake police and learned he’d soon be arrested on burglary and robbery charges, according to police documents released Thursday.

Brian Gamble Smith, 37, shot himself early Dec. 23 in Garland during a standoff with police that followed three shootings on Interstate 635 in Dallas and a shooting and pharmacy robbery in Garland. He died the next day.

The documents released Thursday detail Southlake police officers’ investigation into a Dec. 17 mugging and a Dec. 22 vehicle burglary. Detectives connected Smith to crimes after a witness to the vehicle burglary wrote down his license plate number.

Southlake Detective Richard Anderson interviewed Gamble about the burglary about 12:45 p.m. Dec. 22, about two hours after it was reported, according to the documents.

Gamble was cooperative and "very calm" at first, denying any involvement, Anderson wrote in his arrest warrant affidavit. After about half an hour of questioning, Smith grew "irritated" and said he wanted to end the interview, Anderson wrote. Anderson agreed but told Smith he was going to obtain a warrant for Smith’s arrest later that day.

Anderson then walked Smith to the police department lobby and asked him to wait so Anderson could give him a business card. When Anderson returned, he told Smith he had surveillance video showing Smith committing the burglary, according to the affidavit. Anderson also said the video showed a woman in the car and asked if she was Smith’s wife. Smith said the woman wasn’t his wife but declined to identify her and asked to stop the interview.

Anderson then walked Smith to the parking lot, the affidavit states.

About 5:30 that night, a man identified himself as Brian Smith and said he needed to refill a prescription, then produced a handgun and stole OxyContin from behind the counter of a Kroger pharmacy in Garland. By 6 p.m., four shootings had been reported in the area and two men were dead.

Smith left the Utah state troopers after an investigation that found he was abusing prescription drugs and alcohol. The investigation was prompted by a January 2008 incident in which he threatened to commit suicide.

Officer Nicholas Parks Tasers Hula Hoop Lady


The officer who used a Taser to shock the Hula Hoop Lady of Granby Street in October felt he had no choice but to do so, according to Norfolk's city attorney.

On Tuesday, lawyers for Pamela Brown filed a lawsuit in Norfolk Circuit Court, seeking $5 million in damages against Officer Nicholas Parks. The lawsuit says Parks violated Brown's civil rights and used excessive force during the incident.

Brown, 49, was charged with making excessive noise and assaulting Parks after he responded to a noise complaint on the median of Granby Street near Wards Corner, where she hula-hoops. Brown suffered a brain injury in 1977 when she was hit by a truck, and she has seizures and short-term memory loss. A prosecutor dropped the charges in November.

According to the lawsuit, Parks disregarded Brown's repeated statements that her injuries prevented her from putting her arm behind her back, as the officer had ordered. The lawsuit says Parks ignored Brown's efforts to tell him about the documents she had with her that described her condition.

The exchange was captured on a camera mounted on Parks' Taser. City Attorney Bernard Pishko said Tuesday that he had reviewed the tape with Parks.

"We're not defending it as best practice," Pishko said. However, "Officer Parks didn't know he was dealing with a citizen who was brain-injured.... All he knew was she was noncompliant and agitated."

Pishko said he supported dismissing the criminal charges against Brown because there wouldn't have been any point to prosecuting them. Further, he said, Brown had not suffered any serious injury from the shocks.

"The officer misjudged," Pishko said. "He didn't realize she was brain-damaged and overreacted."

Earlier Tuesday, Brown's lawyers gathered outside the courthouse. They said Brown had been injured by the Taser.

"She's a cracked egg to begin with," said Stephen Smith, one of her lawyers. "When she was out there with her hula hoop, she was somebody. Now she's scared. She needs more and intensive psychological therapy and rehabilitation."

Former Officer Arrested for Not Paying Child Support

A former Police officer was the latest father to be arrested for not paying child support; as ordered by the court.

On January 8, 2009 at 12:30 p.m. the defendant walked into the Road Town Police Station to conduct business in the Administration Office, when he was spotted by the Senior Court Officer.

A default warrant of $2,717.50 is in existence for the arrest and imprisonment of the defendant for not paying child support to the mother of his child as maintenance. The defendant had not paid for a period of over six (6) months.

He had informed local court marshals that he would have paid the money in December, 2008, but he did not pay as promised.

If the defendant does not pay the sum of $2,717.50 by 3p.m. on 8th January, 2009, he will be transported to Her Majesty’s Prison where he will be detained for six (6) months until the monies are paid.

If the monies are not paid after six (6) months period, he will spend a further six (6) months in prison.

Former Officer Jeffery Webb Sr. Charged Again with Statutory Rape of Minor


A judge has set a $100,000 bond for a former police officer accused of raping a minor.

Jeffery Webb Sr. is charged with statutory rape and sexual battery, according to the Jackson police docket. Details of the crime have not been made public.

This is the second time the 50-year-old former Jackson officer has been accused of rape.

Webb was charged with rape in 2002 for allegedly forcing a 16-year-old girl to have sex. He was acquitted of the charges in 2006.

Webb was found not guilty of the crime in March 2006 following a jury trial in Hinds County.

Information from: The Clarion-Ledger,

More Information:

Former Sheriff Jim Williamson Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud


Former Telfair County Sheriff Jim Williamson pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal charge of mail fraud and deprivation of honest services stemming from allegations that he embezzled fine money, accepted bribes and purchased personal items with county funds.

Williamson, 48, waived his right to indictment by a grand jury and the right to have his case tried by a jury. He instead signed a plea agreement. A sentencing date was not set, but he could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

As part of the agreement, Williamson, who did not seek re-election last year under the county’s two-term limit, agreed to pay restitution of $10,000. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Tanner said receipt books from the sheriff’s office were never recovered, so investigators are not sure how much county money is actually missing.

“Mr. Williamson has made it very difficult for us to do that ... without having to track down every citation that was issued in the last eight years and tracking down every person who was issued a citation,” FBI agent Robert Jones said.

Jones testified Wednesday that a joint investigation by the FBI and GBI alleged that Williamson collected fines that were never paid to the county’s probate court and that he kept $5,000 seized in a traffic stop. The sheriff also mailed a letter and a check drawn from a county account to make a monthly payment on an all-terrain vehicle kept for his personal use, Jones said.

Williamson also was accused of accepting money to get a Telfair State Prison inmate transferred to the county jail so the inmate “could spend time with his girlfriend,” Jones said.

Williamson told U.S. District Judge Dudley Bowen that he denied accepting money from the inmate and pocketing the cash from the traffic stop but still wanted to plead guilty. He said he accepted the $10,000 restitution figure as a fair estimate.

“There’s probably one person who knows the extent of the malfeasance, and that’s you,” Bowen told Williamson.

Prosecutors allege that Williamson’s misconduct began in January 2004, about the time he began his second term. Jones’ testimony provided some details of the investigation:

Former sheriff’s deputy Glenn Giles told investigators that Williamson dropped charges from a traffic stop the deputy had made but kept the fine money with the intent of paying for a party celebrating his re-election. Giles said the party was never held.

Giles also said Williamson said he planned to buy shotguns and Tasers with the $5,000 seized in a separate traffic stop but that the items were never purchased. No charges were filed in the case. Williamson testified Wednesday that he believes the money was used to buy cars for the sheriff’s office.

Probate Judge Diane Walker and a probate court employee told investigators of four or five instances in which citations and paperwork were turned in by the sheriff but fines were not included. They also reported instances in which residents brought receipts to the probate court, showing they had paid the fines to the sheriff’s office but the money was not turned in.

A man charged with driving under the influence paid an $850 fine to the sheriff’s office. Williamson reduced the charge to driving too fast for conditions and returned some of the money but did not send the rest to the probate court.

Former deputy Johnny Smith, who is now sheriff, arrested a suspect on multiple counts of theft by taking involving automobiles. The man was released on a $15,000 cash bond. Later, while incarcerated in Telfair State Prison, the man asked Williamson to get him transferred to the county jail, saying it would be “worth something to him.” The bond money was never deposited in a sheriff’s office account, and eventually $6,500 was given back to the suspect. Williamson received $4,200, and $4,300 was sent to the court.

Williamson used county funds to buy a 2006 Polaris ATV for $6,100. He twice refinanced the loan for the four-wheeler, with the second loan on Aug. 20, 2008, also intended to buy another ATV. Investigators recovered the four-wheeler at Williamson’s home in Milan. “The interviews we conducted indicated that the four-wheeler was never used for official business, only personal business,” Jones said.

As terms of his bond, Bowen ordered Williamson to get rid of any firearms he still possessed and to not engage in law enforcement activities. The judge also restricted his travel to within the court’s Southern District of Georgia.

Though Williamson disputed some of the allegations, “he is cooperating fully,” his attorney, Ashley McLaughlin, said after the hearing.

Williamson was released on a $10,000 bond until a sentencing hearing is held.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” Williamson said outside the courtroom.

Former Officer Chu Vue Arrested for 23 Counts of Computer Access Violations

A former Sacramento sheriff's deputy who police have called a "principal" in the slaying of a California Medical Facility correctional officer last October was arrested Wednesday in connection with misusing Sheriff's Department computers.

Chu Vue, 43, was taken into custody around 8:30 a.m. in front of his Elk Grove residence on a warrant citing 23 counts of computer access violations.

"We believe that he accessed work computers to locate variations of the name Steve Lo and that he used that information to access Steve Lo's address," said Sgt. Norm Leong, spokesman for the Sacramento Police Department.

Vue was later booked into Sacramento County Jail and subsequently posted bail.

Steve Lo, 39, was gunned down outside his Sacramento residence on Oct. 15 as he was leaving for work early that morning. He later died at a local hospital.

Though Vue has not been arrested in connection with Lo's death, he later was arrested on suspicion of possessing an unregistered illegal assault rifle, which was discovered during a search of his residence. He later posted bail.

A record of the search warrant for Vue's residence linked Vue to the killing.

"Your affiant is confident that Chu Vue is not the perpetrator of this homicide, but he remains a principal in this case," the document stated. "Chu Vue's activities in the weeks and months leading up to this homicide strongly indicate that he was involved in the planning and/or the execution of this crime."

The Sacramento Police Department urges anyone with information regarding this homicide to contact Crime Alert at 916-443-HELP. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000. An additional $50,000 reward is being offered by the Lo Family and the California Correctional Peace Officer's Association.

Trial for Sgt. Shawn Scott Accused of Killing Man Rescheduled for May


The trial of a Farmington police officer accused of wrongfully shooting and killing Kirtland resident Clint John is scheduled for May.

The trial was scheduled for November in a Santa Fe federal court, but scheduling conflicts prevented it from taking place. It is set for May 18 to 22, said Kate Burke, a Durango-based attorney for John's family. She expects the trial to take place this time.

Burke said the delay is typical of a lawsuit of its kind.

"The more complicated and serious the issues are, the longer it does tend to take," she said.

The trial would come almost two years after John's family filed a lawsuit against the city and Farmington police Sgt. Shawn Scott.

Scott shot and killed John in 2006. John's mother, Della John; his girlfriend, Lynn Negale; and her daughter filed the lawsuit in June 2007.

John's family contends Scott battered John with his baton, wrongfully killed him and violated his constitutional rights. The city contends Scott followed Farmington Police Department policies.

After a June 10, 2006, scuffle, John charged Scott with the officer's baton in the East Main Street Wal-Mart parking lot as Scott drew his gun and stepped backward, the city claims.

John raised the baton over his head and moved toward Scott, who shot John four times, the city contends. But witnesses say John was not holding the baton when Scott fired, Burke said.

The lawsuit names the city, former Farmington Police Chief Mike Burridge and Scott as defendants.

The chances of a settlement are "less than they were," Burke said, considering neither side has decided to settle when given the opportunity. Either side still could settle.

City Attorney Jay Burnham declined to comment on the likelihood of a settlement.

City councilors met privately in October and rejected an offer from John's family to settle the Navajo Nation-financed lawsuit, Burke said.

Councilors have met privately three times since September to discuss the lawsuit and officials have declined to comment in the past on specifics of those meetings.

"Anytime you settle... it's easy for people to imagine you're admitting fault and so people don't like that," Burke said. "Even though when you settle, you don't admit fault."

That thinking has influenced the city's decision to avoid settling so far, Burnham said.

"We believe the officer acted correctly," he said. "We don't want people to perceive that we believe otherwise."