Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Orleans Officers shoot Man in Back 12 Times

A man's death from gunshot wounds fired by New Orleans police officers has prompted outraged protests for what family members are calling a "murder."

The man, 22-year-old Adolph Grimes III, traveled to his grandmother's home near the French Quarter in order to celebrate New Year's Eve with his fiance and their 17-month-old son.

Three hours after arrival, at about 3 a.m., he was found dead a block from the front door.

The Orleans Parish coroner said Grimes was shot 14 times, including 12 times in the back.

"This violence has to stop. My child's death will not be meaningless. He did not die in vain," said Grimes' mother, Patricia Grimes.

An editorial in The Times-Picayune said the shooting "demands answers."

Despite the fact that the seven officers involved in the incident have been reassigned, Superintendent Warren Riley has refused to answer "fundamental questions" about the shooting and maintains that Grimes fired upon his men first.

Several dozen people protested the New Orleans Police Department on Thursday morning to demand justice for Grimes' death.

A mix of people walked paced in front of a police station carrying signs with slogans like "Down with the government" and shouting to passers-by "You could be next!"

A group of black ministers and advocates has called for the department to be purged of "trigger-happy" officers and the Grimes family's attorney, Richard Jenkins is certain an investigation will show rogue cops and sloppy police work.

"I just think it was some bad officers who were out there and imposing their will on the community," Jenkins said.

Deputy Standric Choice Arrested by FBI

Federal authorities arrested a Dallas County sheriff's deputy while he was on patrol duty Friday afternoon. Neither the FBI nor the U.S. attorney's office would say why Standric Choice, 36, was arrested, citing an ongoing investigation. He was being held at the Mansfield Law Enforcement Center, which also houses federal prisoners, but officials there would not release details on his case.

Kim Leach, spokeswoman for the Dallas sheriff, would not talk about the case in detail but released a statement: "The sheriff's department will not tolerate any misconduct or illegal activity from anyone in our department. If an employee is found to be engaged in any criminal activity, or violation of departmental code of conduct policies they will be dealt with accordingly. We take any violation seriously and will act swiftly to take action."

Choice began working for the Dallas County sheriff's office as a jailer in the 1990s and became a deputy in 2000, county officials said.

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Law Enforcement Agencies Trying to Clean Up Their Act?

When the news broke last month that Niagara Falls Police Officer Ryan Warme had been arrested, reactions across the community were mixed.

Some were surprised that a police officer — a man charged with protecting residents — would find himself on the other side of the law.

Other more jaded residents pointed to the arrest as just another example of someone on the force abusing their power.

For local law enforcement officials, the prevailing mood was one of disappointment.

“You’re let down,” Sheriff James Voutour said. “You take an oath of office, and you trust the people you’re working with respect that oath. When someone lets you down like that, it does give a black eye to law enforcement.”

Warme, 27, was arrested Dec. 2 by his fellow Falls police, along with federal agents. Warme was charged with raping and tormenting women and buying cocaine on duty.

Warme has now been suspended from the Falls police, and he remains in custody.

He will return to court Jan. 23.

Lockport Police Chief Larry Eggert said when a law enforcement official goes corrupt, officers throughout the area feel the effects.

“Generally, what the repercussions are, of course, are the eroding of the public trust,” he said. “I like to think we have a pretty clean department here, and I wouldn’t tolerate anything else, but the perception the public sometimes gets is that, ‘Well, gee, if he’s dirty, then everybody else is.’ ”

Court records accuse Warme of providing information about undercover Falls police to cocaine dealers. He allegedly gave a crack cocaine dealer a heads-up about police investigation.

That charge, in particular, was upsetting to Voutour.

“It was very difficult to swallow, because of the danger he put his fellow officers in,” Voutour said. “(Telling the criminals) who the undercover drug officers are, what cars they’re driving, that even goes beyond criminal.”


Far away from Niagara Falls, in the small village of Barker, the reverberations of incidents like the one in Niagara Falls are still felt.

“Anytime a police officer does an act like that, it does put a black mark on officers,” Barker Police Chief Ross Annable said. “I think everybody takes a hard look at police officers because of the job, and you get singled out a little more than the average job.”

According to a 2006 Harris Interactive poll, 76 percent of Americans trust police officers to tell the truth. The profession was ranked fourth in trustworthiness, behind doctors, teachers and scientists.

Even with such a high ranking, the Internet abounds with Web sites keeping track of police activities, with addresses such as and

If a police officer is arrested or suspected of a crime, it can erode the community’s trust to the point where that officer is no longer effective, Annable said.

“If you work at some manufacturing company, and you get arrested for something, you go back to work on Monday,” Annable said. “At a law enforcement agency, you get arrested for something and Monday’s a whole new ballgame. It’s going to change your life.”

Background checks

The Lockport Police Department hired two new officers — Ryan Adams and Tricia Denny — on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, four binders full of stacks of paper sat on a chair in Eggert’s office, each one containing background check information for all eight candidates for the two positions.

“Each candidate’s got a quarter-inch stack of paper,” Eggert said.

The background checks include interviews with people in all aspects of the candidate’s lives: Parents, spouses, former and current bosses, teachers, neighbors and others.

Interviewers go back as far as high school transcripts, looking at how many times the candidate was marked late or how many absences they had.

“People generally don’t change the way they are,” Eggert said. “If you go back far enough, you can kind of determine what kind of person they are.”

He said the department is also considering running psychological exams on potential officers before they are hired.

In the past year, City of Tonawanda Police Chief Cindy Young has instituted a separate, psychological evaluation for her department's potential officers. The evaluations are conducted by Dr. Jay Supnick of Law Enforcement Psychological Associates in Rochester.

At the sheriff’s department, Voutour said they also do extensive background checks, checking financial histories for any sign the candidate has problems with money.

“(If they do), they have more tendency to maybe be corrupt,” Voutour said. “It’s difficult to predict the future character of a person, and the only way you can predict the future is to look at the past.”

In smaller communities like Barker, the application process also includes a background check, but the applicants are usually locals who are already known by the agency, Annable said.

No matter how much preparation is done, things can change. Eggert said there’s always an “unknown quantity” that can make otherwise good people go bad.

“Sometimes things happen in people’s lives. Bankruptcy, bad marriage, a hundred different things that could trigger an unintended problem,” he said.

Taking complaints

So far, the background checks and intense interview process have proven successful, Eggert said.

Still, complaints from the public are a common instance, and Eggert said each complaint that comes into the LPD is treated equally.

“No matter who comes in, or for what reason, or what condition they’re in, we take the information from them,” he said. “They get attention. There’s no, ‘Come back and see the guy tomorrow,’ or ‘We don’t do those.’ If someone comes in to file a complaint, we are bound by the rules to do it.”

Depending on the complaint, there are different avenues it may take. Some complaints are simple — for instance, a driver complaining an officer was rude during a traffic stop — while others may be more complex or serious.

The complaints go up the chain of command. Depending on the seriousness, they may result in a verbal warning, or they could potentially result in an investigation by an outside agency.

People who are uncomfortable going to the LPD to complain about an officer can go to the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office. Some law enforcement agencies, including the New York State Police, have internal affairs units that deal specifically with complaints and allegations of misconduct within that department.

“There’s a lot of different options that people have,” Eggert sad. “The DA’s office, they have investigators, and they’ll entertain the complaint the same as we will.”

District Attorney Michael Violante could not be reached to comment on how his office handles complaints and allegations of police misconduct.

At the sheriff’s department, anyone with a complaint should call dispatch and ask to speak to a shift supervisor, Voutour said.

He said they entertain a variety of complaints.

“We’ll look at it and get both sides of the story,” he said. “Obviously, if it’s just, ‘The officer was short with me,’ that may be handled at the shift supervisor level. Anything (at a) criminal level will come to me quickly.”

In Barker, Annable said, anyone who has a complaint is welcome to file it in person and sign a statement — but most of the time, people who call just want to blow off some steam.

“I’ve found 90 percent of the people will call and complain, and you invite them to come down and they never show up,” he said. “We do take complaints seriously.”

Bank Teller Who Helped Former Officer Christian Torres to Rob Bank Sentenced to Jail

A bank teller who helped a rookie cop pull off two downtown Manhattan bank heists that netted $118,000 was sentenced Friday to 2-1/2 years in jail.

Christina Dasrath burst into tears as she told Manhattan Federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain that ex-NYPD cop Christian Torres walked into a Sovereign bank branch in June 2007 and gave her a note threatening to "start shooting."

"I was duped by my first love," Dasrath said, as her parents, who had opposed her relationship with Torres, wept. "I am 21 years old....They need me at home."

Dasrath met Torres when they were classmates at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She's been working as an emergency medical technician since her arrest. "Every day I help people," she said. "I try my best to make it up in that manner."

Two former co-workers who were forced into a bank vault and tied up told Swain they're still traumatized.

Isabel Sanchez said Torres repeatedly threatened her, leaving her fearing for her life. She said Dasrath watched as she walked into the vault, her legs trembling uncontrollably. "Everything goes through your mind, everything," Sanchez said.

For five months - until after Torres pulled the second robbery in November 2007 - Dasrath never let on that she knew Torres. "She looked at us in the face like nothing happened," Sanchez said.

Swain said Dasrath should have gone to the authorities after the first robbery, but instead took some of the money. "She continued to cover up and deceive people she had put at risk over several months," Swain said.

Deputy Mark Martin Accused of Sexually Assaulting Woman

A former Poweshiek County deputy is in trouble with the law. Thirty-seven-year-old Mark Martin is accused of assaulting and trying to sexually assault a woman in Grinnell last fall.

Investigators say it happened October 3 at Midwest Ambulance Service in Grinnell. The woman said Martin confronted her and then tackled her after she refused his advances.

The sheriff would not comment on the case, except to say Martin resigned on December 31. He said Martin planned to pursue other career opportunities.

While officials declined to talk, some others in the community have plenty to say.

"If you can't trust your policeman or sheriff department, who can you trust? That's the sad part of it. Because you believe in these people," said Gary Gibson of Grinnell.

The Mahaska County attorney is handling the case. Martin is scheduled to be arraigned on January 23.

Former Jailer Accused of Sexually Assaulting Inmate

Durant, Oklahma

A former Bryan County jailer has been accused of sexually assaulting a female prisoner at the auxiliary jail in 2007.

Twenty-year-old Andrew Duane Sloan was charged Wednesday with sexual battery. Court papers say Sloan, while serving as a jailer, groped a 25-year-old inmate in August 2007.

Sloan was fired that month, but no charges were filed at that time.

He was later charged with unrelated sex crimes. In July 2008, he was charged with raping a woman and in August he was charged with sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 14.

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