Thursday, January 15, 2009

Danville Organization Wants State Wide Moratorium on Use of Tasers

Danville, VA

A Danville organization is calling for a state wide moratorium on the use of a taser. The city's chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference held a press conference at the Mount Caramel Baptist Church -- to address the use of tasers by law enforcement.

The conference comes exactly one week after a 17 year old Martinsville boy died after an officer tasered him. Organization leaders say they understand tasers can be used to save lives but say the risks may outweigh the benefits.

Rev. William Keen, Southern Christian Leadership Conference - "We want a moratorium on the taser ‘til further study is done to prove what is causing the deaths of those that are tasered."

The organization says they'd like to hold public hearings in Martinsville to raise awareness about the use of tasers.

Non-Lethal Tasers Have Killed More than 400 People

They are marketed as non-lethal weapons that allow police to capture suspects or criminals without causing any permanent harm.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and businessman Bernard Kerik made millions selling the idea to police departments across the country.

But Tasers have killed more than 400 people in the United States and Canada since 2001, according to a new study commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Police departments across Canada began banning use of Tasers by their officers after the report found that Tasers deliver more power than the manufacturer says is possible.

It is unknown if U.S. police departments will follow suit.

The study includes a medical analysis that concluded someone shot with a Taser could face as high as a 50 percent chance of cardiac arrest.

The Taser company, however, still says its weapons can't kill.

"It is unfortunate that false allegations based on scientifically flawed data can create such uncertainty," Steve Tuttle, a Taser vice president, told The Arizona Republic.

Stories of Taser-related deaths have stacked up over the years, many involving police officers who never realized the harm their Taser could cause.

A man described as "emotionally disturbed" fell to his death after police Tasered him on a fire escape. Not long after, the officer who gave the order took a Glock 9mm from the locker room and shot himself in the head.

Police Tasered a man who had gone into Diabetic shock while driving. The officers later said they felt "extremely bad" about shocking him when they realized he wasn't drunk or high but in need of medical attention.

"Taser's marketing coup has been to convince consumers that there is such a thing as a gun that won't kill," AlterNet reported. On the Taser Web site, a marketing slogan reads: "Who says safety can't be stylish?"

Henry Tavarez & Stephen Anderson Charged with Tampering with Evidence

A pair of undercover cops were indicted Thursday for boosting their arrest figures and their paychecks by busting four innocent men on bogus cocaine charges.

Henry Tavarez, 27, and Stephen Anderson, 33, surrendered on a 42-count indictment stemming from the January 2008 "buy and bust" operation in a Queens tavern, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The officers tampered with evidence to arrest four innocent men - including one who spent three days behind bars before making bail, Brown said.

"Such egregious conduct not only taints the reputation of their fellow officers, but erodes public confidence and trust in the department," Brown said. "Conduct like this can never be tolerated."

Maximo Colon, 24, who was wrongly arrested with his brother Jose, was at the Queens courthouse after the indictment was announced.

"I want to know what's going to happen," he said. "I want justice."

The Colon brothers filed a $20 million lawsuit earlier this month against the city and the NYPD over the fake arrest.

The two undercover cops were working inside the Club Delicioso on January 5, 2008 when Anderson purchased three bags of cocaine for $60 from a pair of suspects, Brown said.

Anderson then slipped two of the bags to Tavarez, who claimed he purchased the cocaine from four other men inside the bar, Brown said. All six defendants were arrested; charges were dropped against the four innocent men last June.

Maximo Colon was jailed for three days before he could post $2,500 bail. The rigged charges disappeared after Jose Colon went back to the bar and found a security video showing no contact between the undercover cops and the suspects, authorities said.

Brown, asked about the officers' motive, said the duo "wanted to appear as if they were doing their job, and make a little extra overtime."

Anderson has since retired from the NYPD, while Tavarez was placed on desk duty. Each faces up to nine years in prison for unlawful imprisonment, conspiracy, official misconduct and other charges.

Information and Pictures:

Mayor Gary Becker Arrested for Child Enticement

Racine Mayor Gary Becker was held in the Kenosha County Jail for a short time Wednesday, after being arrested on tentative charges of child enticement and several other offenses.

Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation agents took Becker into custody Tuesday night at Brookfield Square Mall in suburban Milwaukee.

He was taken to Racine and later booked into the Kenosha jail to avoid conflict-of-interest issues, as he is a high-profile Racine official, a Racine County Sheriff’s official said. He was released at 5:30 p.m. after a relative posted his $165,000 cash bond.

The Division of Criminal Investigation is recommending charges including child enticement, possession of child pornography, exposing a child to harmful materials, attempted second-degree sexual assault, use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and misconduct in public office.

Racine County District Attorney Michael Niekes said he was reviewing documents Wednesday, and that any formal charges would likely be filed this morning. If he is charged, Becker is expected to make an initial appearance in Racine County Circuit Court this afternoon.

State Department of Justice spokesman Bill Cosh declined to comment Wednesday on the details of Becker’s alleged offenses. Cosh said the information will likely emerge along with a criminal complaint from Nieskes’ office. Cosh would not confirm whether Becker was arrested as part of a sting operation.

Racine Police Lt. James Dobbs said his department was made aware of possible allegations against Becker several weeks ago, at which time the investigation was referred to the state.

Becker, 51, was first elected mayor in April 2003 and re-elected unopposed in 2007.

He has been a vocal supporter of the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter rail proposal.

The city’s Web site states Becker has been married since 1981 and has two daughters.

In Becker’s absence, Racine City Council President David Maack will serve as acting mayor, City Administrator Ben Hughes said. Hughes said preparations were being made to make sure city government operations would continue without interruption.

“This city will continue to operate smoothly, and we will not miss a beat,” Hughes said.

Racine County Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Klatt said his department requested Becker’s transfer to the Kenosha County Jail.

If Becker is charged formally and does not post bond, Klatt said Becker will be jailed in Kenosha and be transported to his Racine court appearances.

“We’ve kept people for Kenosha County, and they keep people for us occasionally,” Klatt said.

In an unrelated matter, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department was asked in June 2006 to investigate a Racine Police Department action against Becker.

That investigation found Racine police did not commit misconduct when squads were dispatched to search for and intercept Becker on a report he was driving drunk. Becker, who was not arrested at the time, said then he believed police were acting on a tip from a political opponent.

Former Corrections Officer Jarrod Yates Sentenced to Prison for Beating Inmate


A former Sequoyah County corrections officer has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for beating an arrestee.

U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling said Wednesday 24-year-old Jarrod Yates was sentenced on a charge that he violated the civil rights of an arrestee.

Sperling said that on June 25, 2006, at the Sequoyah County Jail in Sallisaw, Yates punched, kneed and stomped an arrestee on his head and face, causing serious injuries, including a fractured orbital socket and severe lacerations that required stitches.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office.

Officer James Stafford Pleads Not Guilty to Stalking


A Lafayette police officer pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he gave his ex’s new boyfriend a traffic ticket, kept both under “surveillance” and damaged the hood of her car during an argument.

James Edward Stafford, 34, was arrested by the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office in July on suspicion of stalking, a felony, harassment, official misconduct and criminal mischief related to domestic violence.

On Thursday, Stafford’s attorney, Michael T. Lowe, arranged for a three-day jury trial beginning June 22.

Lowe declined to comment on the case and said his client also would not answer questions.

Lafayette Cmdr. Mark Battersby attended the brief hearing. He said he was there to keep up to date on the case because it involves one of his officers — who remains on unpaid leave.

According to sheriff’s investigators, Stafford’s ex-girlfriend, a manager at Sonic in Lafayette whose name wasn’t released, told police she met Stafford in the summer of 2007 and that they had an on-and-off relationship.

The official misconduct charge stems from the traffic ticket, issued July 23.

Stafford, while driving an unmarked Lafayette police truck equipped with warning sirens, gave the woman’s boyfriend a ticket for weaving. Stafford then sent the woman a text message that said, “Your boyfriend just received a ticket, ha ha,” according to the arrest affidavit.

Lafayette police have since cleared the ticket.

In an interview with police, Stafford said he pulled the man over after he swerved over the yellow line into the oncoming lane of traffic, believing the man might be drunk. He told police he didn’t know the driver was the new boyfriend until after he pulled him over.

Battersby said police have since been able to recover video footage of the traffic stop from the truck’s dash-mounted camera.

The other charges stem from various other encounters.

In June, the woman told police, Stafford called her boss at Sonic and told him to fire her because she was stealing money and dating an employee.

She also told police Stafford sent her text messages while she was at work that indicated he was watching her.

Stafford remains free on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. Police also took 13 guns from Stafford’s home, including rifles, pistols and a shotgun.

Lawsuit Filed Against Officer Accused of Planting Drugs


A lawsuit has been filed after a Huntsville police officer was accused of planting drugs in a man's car.

Quincy Turner filed suit against the city of Huntsville, Officer Wesley Little and Chief Henry Reyes.

Turner was stopped by Officer Little in September 2007.

He was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana after Little allegedly found drugs in the car.

However, Turner claims the marijuana was planted by Officer Little. The charges against Turner were dropped last year.

Turner is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in the suit.

Little and another officer, Ryan Moore, were indicted May 2008 on criminal charges, including evidence tampering.

An investigation was launched after a statement allegedly made by Little in October 2007 that, "there could be some marijuana inside the vehicle if it needed to be."

They both resigned from the HPD last June.

Former Officer Teddy Nobles Charged with Robbing Bank

Austin police today have charged a former officer with aggravated robbery after they said he robbed a Northwest Austin bank on Wednesday.

Teddy Nobles, 48, who resigned from the force in 2001, is being held at the Williamson County Jail, Lt. Mark Spangler said. Bail has been set at $250,000.

Spangler said that Nobles walked into a Compass Bank in the 13000 block of Research Boulevard and demanded money from a teller while reaching toward his waist. Nobles fled after receiving an undisclosed amount of cash, Spangler said. Police do not know whether he was armed, and nobody was injured, Spangler said.

Spangler said witnesses provided a description of Nobles and his burgundy Dodge pickup. After a search by ground and air, officers spotted the truck in the apartment complex where they said Nobles was living in the 5200 block of Thunder Creek Road.

He was arrested without incident outside his apartment, Spangler said.

Investigators have since searched Nobles’ apartment and found evidence of the robbery, Spangler said.

“He never made any positive comments about why he was doing what he was doing,” Spangler said. “I think he realized he was caught. I think this was something motivated by the need for money and greed.”

Mark Miles & James Balelo Arrested for Filing False Reports

Two North Las Vegas police officers were arrested Thursday, both accused of filing a false report stemming from an December incident in which a man was tossed from a casino.

Mark Alan Miles and James F. Balelo, both 27, were arrested Thursday by North Las Vegas police detectives, police Sgt. Tim Bedwell said.

Miles, who has been with the department for a year, was booked for filing a false report by a public officer, a gross misdemeanor, and for a felony charge of oppression under color of office. Balelo was booked on one count of false report by a public officer.

The criminal complaint alleges that Miles and Balelo responded at 11:45 p.m. on Dec. 6 to a report of an uncooperative person detained by security at the Cannery Casino, 2121 E. Craig Road. When Miles and Balelo arrived at the casino, they found a 31-year-old California man secured and handcuffed in a security holding cell.

The man was under citizen arrest by security guards at the time for causing a disturbance in a casino bar, refusing to leave and waving a beer bottle that was alleged to be a potential weapon, Bedwell said.

Miles and Balelo took the man into custody and booked him into the North Las Vegas Detention Center for assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest, Bedwell said.

The criminal complaint alleges that during the arrest, Miles committed oppression under color of office by using physical force and threat of physical force by arresting a person and holding him against his will -- and injuring the person during the process.

The criminal complaint also alleges that Miles and Balelo committed false reporting by a public officer in written reports that contained an inaccurate account of their actions and the actions of the suspect while in a holding cell.

The officers were arrested on warrants obtained after a criminal investigation by the North Las Vegas Police Department.

An internal complaint initiated by a North Las Vegas police supervisor on Dec. 7 led to the arrest, Bedwell said. Both men have been booked into the Clark County Detention Center.

The investigation included interviews of people involved and examination of evidence, including a surveillance recording the incident, which resulted in warrants of arrest being issued.

Police officers are held to a higher standard because they are entrusted with powers exceeding that of the average citizen, Bedwell said. Miles and Balelo are on paid administrative leave during the investigation, Bedwell said.

Animal Control Officer Accused of Sexual Assault

Lawton, Oklahoma

Twenty-seven-year-old Christopher Mayer already had been fired from his job as a City of Lawton Animal Control officer, and now he's being accused of using his former position to attempt to sexually assault a woman. Police say Mayer showed up on the woman's doorstep claiming to be an animal control officer. She says that when she let him in her home, he tried to sexually assault her - not once, but twice. She said he returned three days later and tried to get in again, but a friend helped her keep him away.

Mayer had only been fired from the city days before arriving at the woman's house. She says she recognized him because less than one month earlier, he had worked on a dog bite case involving her dog, and claimed to be checking on the case. Lawton Police Chief Ronnie Smith says that an animal control officer is like any other officer when it comes to credentials - they carry a badge, wear a uniform and a nameplate that proves who they are or the department they represent.

Police say if there is no proof of their position, they probably are not who they claim to be - which is what happened in this incident. "He went back out there and used his former position to take advantage of this young lady - and he was in civilian clothes," said Smith.

The former animal control officer was wearing civilian clothes because he no longer had a uniform. "The uniform is supposed to be turned in, it's like the police department when you retire or leave, or if you're terminated, you turn in all your stuff, and you don't get a final paycheck until it's all turned in," said Smith.

The woman says that against her better judgment she let him in her house. "She opened the door, let him in, and in the process of letting him in, he checked the dog, and he committed sexual battery on her," said Smith.

Smith says the woman asked Mayer to leave - and, he did. However, soon after the incident, another animal control officer saw his car outside the woman's home, and asked what he was doing there. Mayer told the animal control officer that he was visiting a friend, and after the officer left, Smith says Mayer forced the woman's front door open, and attacked her again. "She told him to get away from her, and finally he left," said Smith. "After he left, she was afraid to report it for a couple of days."

Three days later the woman says it happened again. "Monday afternoon he came back again, knocked on the door," said Smith. "This time her friend answered the door and told him to leave and not come back." Police say the woman was afraid to press charges because she mistakenly thought the man was a city employee, although he had been terminated ten days prior to the first incident, and was with the city for only three months.

Smith says the city hasn't had a problem like this with one of its employees. He says that if you ever question whether someone is a city employee, call dispatch or the organization they claim to be associated with, and request information.

Deputy James Spates Faces 2 Counts of Sexual Battery

A Grand Jury has indicted a law officer on charges of Sexual misconduct.

Hamilton County Deputy James Spates faces two counts of Sexual Battery by an authority figure and a count of official misconduct.

Sheriff Jim Hammond today said the alleged victim was an underage female the deputy was escorting to the juvenile detention center.

Sheriff Jim Hammond:

"Anytime you transport a juvenile, especially a female, in particluar female juveniles as well as female adults, that you do give your time date and mileage, so we make sure you proceed directly to where you are supposed to. He deviated from this policy by pulling off to a different location, conducted a search of her body in an inappropriate manner. He subsequent to that did give her some information where she could reach him and based on the complaint made and filed with us, and us making an investigation, the charges were filed."

The Sheriff fired Spate Tuesday and he was taken into custody today.

Archie Stallworth Said he was Undercover

The feds say Archie Stallworth is a crooked suburban cop who sold out his badge to provide muscle for a drug dealer -- who actually was an undercover FBI agent.

But Stallworth, 36, insists he was simply playing a bad guy, too.

"If he's going to get an Oscar, I should get an Oscar because we were doing the same thing," Stallworth said of the FBI agent.

Stallworth -- who also worked as a Metra train conductor -- says he was also undercover, gathering intelligence on a narcotics ring. He provided the Chicago Sun-Times with police reports that he says prove his innocence by showing that he and a partner were documenting their own investigation months before the FBI arrested Stallworth on Nov. 19.

But a federal grand jury last month indicted Stallworth on charges of drug conspiracy as well as filing fake police reports. He provided the Sun-Times with those same reports but insisted they weren't fake.

Stallworth is among four Harvey officers, 10 Cook County sheriff's corrections officers and a Chicago Police officer who have been charged with drug conspiracy. He says that after his arrest, the FBI asked him to wear a hidden microphone in an attempt to capture remarks by Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg, but he refused.

On May 27, the undercover FBI agent told Stallworth's partner at the Harvey Police Department that he needed protection for a shipment of up to a kilogram of cocaine, Stallworth said. Stallworth provided the Sun-Times with a document entitled "Harvey Police Persons Incident Report" dated May 28. The report, supposedly written by Stallworth's partner, details the May 27 conversation.

Stallworth says his partner faxed the report to the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, which coordinates narcotics investigations.

The Harvey Police Department refused to vouch for the authenticity of the police reports, referring questions to the U.S. attorney's office, which declined to comment. Stallworth's partner could not be reached for comment. Stallworth said he was forced to resign from the department but now wants his job back.

According to the charges against Stallworth, he met the undercover FBI agent at a south suburban fast-food restaurant July 26 to provide security for a meeting. Afterward, the agent paid Stallworth $300 and said he needed someone to provide security for drug deals.

Stallworth provided the Sun-Times with a July 27 police report he said he filed after the meeting at the restaurant. The report says he met with a man who "began to speak in detail about his interaction in trafficking narcotics." Stallworth wrote that he planned to contact federal authorities when he received more information on the drug operation.

Prosecutors say Stallworth met with the undercover agent Aug. 11 at DuPage Airport, where he agreed to help make a drug pickup for $1,000. He is accused of moving several duffel bags from a plane to the undercover agent's car. Prosecutors said Stallworth, who was armed with a pistol, thought the bags contained 30 kilograms of cocaine, but it was actually fake.

Stallworth gave the Sun-Times a purported Harvey police report dated Aug. 12 in which he detailed the drug exchange at the airport and said he would store his $1,000 payment in a safe until he could turn it over to federal authorities. Stallworth said he did not make an arrest at the airport because he was worried it might lead to a shoot-out.

Corrections Officer Maurice Bush Accused of Giving Porn Magazines and Lube to Inmate


A corrections officer for the Genesee Valley Regional Detention Center is accused of giving pornographic magazines and a lubricant to a 16-year-old inmate.

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell said an investigation revealed that Maurice Bush, 47, of Genesee County told the youth that he wanted to watch the teen masturbate after Bush gave him the materials in October.

"Maurice Bush was placed in a very sensitive position with children, and he violated that trust," Pickell said during a news conference today.

"This kind of guy is a dangerous person."

Bush has been charged with furnishing obscenity to children and willful neglect of duty. He faces 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine on the first charge and up to 1 year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine on he second charge.

The six-year employee with the Genesee Valley Regional Detention Center was suspended after officials were notified of the alleged incident.

Officer Derek Dayoub Charged with Assaulting McDonald's Employee

A municipal police officer in Washington County was arrested Tuesday on charges that he assaulted an employee at a McDonald's restaurant in October in Burgettstown.

Derek A. Dayoub, 26, of Scott, was arrested and arraigned, three months after the reported incident, on charges of simple assault, official oppression and harassment. He has been suspended from the job since his arrest, police said.

The charges stem from an incident Oct. 11 at a McDonald's restaurant where he confronted an employee, Brandon Lancaster, 19. The officer accused the teen of having talked about him, according to the affidavit that supports Mr. Dayoub's arrest.

When Mr. Lancaster denied talking about the officer, Mr. Dayoub grabbed him, squeezing a pressure point that caused the victim to collapse, the affidavit said.

Officer North also has since been suspended from the Smith Township police force, pending his prosecution on charges that he illegally obtained oxycodone pills from a police informant. He was charged last week with possession.