Friday, January 30, 2009

Former Officer Norman Wesley Berry Charged with Stabbing Man & Stealing Marijuana

Prosecutors charge that a former St. Paul police officer stabbed a man he accused of stealing thousands of dollars' worth of marijuana from him.

Norman Wesley Berry, 52, is charged with second-degree assault and fifth-degree possession of marijuana. He resigned from the St. Paul Police Department in 1993 after he was suspended for assaulting a teen during the Hmong New Year celebration.

In the current case, the Ramsey County attorney's office alleges that Berry told someone he was currently an officer and that the victim told police he was afraid of Berry because he knew he used to be an officer.

Berry is under arrest in Stockton, Calif.

The criminal complaint, filed Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court, gives this account:

On Nov. 19, a St. Paul police officer received information from a confidential informant about a marijuana-growing operation at Berry's home in the 900 block of Fuller Avenue. Police searched the home Dec. 11 and found 6.5 ounces of marijuana and "what was left of a marijuana grow operation," the complaint said. "It appeared that Berry had dismantled the grow operation and was no longer living in his residence."

On Dec. 3, police were called to the 1000 block of Carroll Avenue about a man who had been stabbed. Courtney Allen Bivens, then 26, was "bleeding profusely" from his forearm, the complaint said.

Bivens told police he had gone to the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center, 1063 Iglehart Ave., to play basketball and was confronted by a man he identified as Berry. Berry accused Bivens of breaking into his home and stealing $3,200 worth of marijuana from him. Berry told Bivens to get into his vehicle or he would kill him.

Bivens said he walked with Berry toward his vehicle "and was afraid to run away because he knew Berry, an ex-St. Paul police officer, sometimes carries a 9mm handgun and was afraid Berry would shoot him," the complaint said.

Berry told Bivens to get in the trunk, but Bivens refused. Bivens punched Berry to get away. Berry pulled out a kitchen knife and slashed at Bivens, cutting his arm several times. Bivens ran to a friend's home and called police.

Bivens was taken to Regions Hospital and treated for at least five cuts to his arm. One had cut the ligaments in his hand. He has had several surgeries to restore use of his hand and fingers.

Police later showed Bivens a photo lineup, and he identified Berry, saying he was "110 percent sure" he was the man who had stabbed him, the complaint said.

Bivens denied breaking into Berry's home. He told police he knew Berry grew and sold marijuana because his cousin helps Berry with the grow operation. Bivens also said he helped a female friend move out of Bivens' home three to four months ago and she commented about Berry having "a lot of weed" in the basement, the complaint said.

Bivens told police he heard Berry was "robbed" Nov. 28.

On Nov. 29, Berry went to Bivens' workplace looking for him, Bivens told police. Berry identified himself to Bivens' manager as a St. Paul police officer and said he was looking for Bivens because he had been involved in a robbery.

Sgt. Paul Schnell, St. Paul police spokesman, said Berry has "zero affiliation" with the police department. "Any representations he made about being a police officer are clearly wrong," he said.

Police verified Bivens' account by viewing surveillance video from Bivens' employer. They also spoke with Bivens' manager, who said Berry identified himself as a St. Paul officer. The manager told Berry she didn't know where Bivens was.

Officers went to Berry's home and couldn't find him. They also went to the Greenway Liquor Store in Minneapolis, where Berry worked. The owner told them Berry called Dec. 4 to say he couldn't work that weekend and that he hadn't heard from Berry since.

Police spoke with people Berry had contacted after Bivens was assaulted and learned Berry had "asked them to pack up his things, sell his furniture and send the money to Berry at an address in Iowa," the complaint said.

Officers tried to locate Berry there but believed he had gone to Stockton, Calif.

A warrant was issued when Berry was charged, and police arrested him Wednesday in Stockton. He was booked into the San Joaquin County Jail.

In November 1992, Berry was accused of striking a 16-year-old boy with his baton during the Hmong New Year's Celebration in St. Paul. He was suspended after a homemade videotape showed the officer striking the teen on the back of the head with no apparent provocation. Berry, a St. Paul officer for five years, resigned in March 1993.

Tasered Woman Files Claim Against Officers for Excessive Force

University of Wisconsin football fans Roman and Margaret Hiebing, who have strong ties to the university, have filed claims against the state of Wisconsin claiming police officers used excessive force, including a Taser, when arresting Margaret for sitting in the wrong place at the crowded Penn State football game in October.

The Hiebings were among the 81,524 fans who packed into Camp Randall Stadium on Oct. 11 to watch the Nittany Lions pound the Badgers, 48-7.

Like many others in section U on the east side of the stadium, Margaret Hiebing could not sit in her regular seat in row 69 because it had already been taken. So she sat at the end of the row, partially in the aisle, and that led to confrontation with police, which led to Margaret being handcuffed, stung by a Taser, and being ticketed for disorderly conduct on university property.

In a notice of claim filed with the State Justice Department earlier this week, the Hiebings say the conduct of the seven police officers who were eventually involved in arresting Margaret Hiebing, 54, "committed assault on (Margaret); committed, aided and/or abetted battery; used excessive force in an arrest; and falsely imprisoned," her.

Margaret suffered physical and emotional injuries from the conduct of the officers, the filing says, while Roman, who tried to come to his wife's aide, was battered by two officers, falsely imprisoned, and also suffered from emotional and physical injuries. He was also ticketed for disorderly conduct on university lands.

The Hiebings live in Maple Bluff and Roman is retired after a lengthy career in advertising, including 25 years as head of the Hiebing Group, a premier advertising firm in Madison, and he taught in both the business and journalism schools at UW. Margaret worked for many years as a nurse at University Hospital. The couple has had Badger football tickets for the past 25 years, the notice of claim says, and are members of the Bascom Hill Society.

The notice of claim makes UW-Madison Police Officer Tamara Kowalski out to the prime culprit of what the couple calls "excessive force." As Margaret Hiebing was trying to watch the game from her makeshift seat at the end of the aisle, Kowalski approached and told her to get in her seat. Roman Hiebing then asked the officer to check tickets of those in row 69, because some people were obviously in the wrong seats.

Kowalski, the notice of claim says, "did not check the tickets; in fact, (did) nothing to rectify the situation in response to (Roman's) request."

"Without provocation, Kowalski then grabbed (Margaret's) hair, pulling it backwards," and threatened to spray Margaret with pepper spray, the filing says. Kowalski then called six other officers to the area, and they in turned grabbed Margaret and started hauling up the stairs, the notice of claim says.

Margaret Hiebing tried to warn officers that she had previous knee surgery which made her prone to injuries, but said in an affidavit her pleas were ignored. When she got to the top of the stairs, Officer Peter Grimsyer "Tasered her repeatedly," the notice of claim says.

Roman, the claim says, was battered and falsely imprisoned by Officers Benjamin Newman and Nicolas Banuelos when he tried to help his wife.

State Justice Department spokesman William Cosh declined to discuss the claim. "We are reviewing the allegations and have no comment," he said.

Police said at the time that Margaret Hiebing was "kicking and screaming" when officers tried to handcuff her. "That's when one of the officers discharged a Taser weapon on her," said UW Police Sgt. Jason Whitney.

Whitney said UW officers asked Margaret Hiebing to go to her seat and attempted to contact guest services to help her to her seat. "But that didn't happen, so our policy is if you are not in your seat, you get ejected," he said at the time.

Filings of notices of claims with the state are usually precusors to the parties filing of a lawsuit, and must be done according to state statutes, so the Justice Department can analyze the validity of the claim. The Hiebings' claim was filed by Madison attorneys Robert Gingras and Paul Kinne.

Former Deputy Kyle Yates Accused of Raping & Molesting Child

A former Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy accused of raping and molesting a child gave up his right to a speedy trial Thursday, allowing more time for his attorney to work on his defense.

Kyle Yates, 38, faces three charges of sexual battery on a minor under 12 years old and a charge each of lewd and lascivious molestation and distributing obscene materials to a minor. After being confronted with the accusations in July, investigators say he fled to Texas. He was arrested in November, authorities said.

Yates has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Former Officer Nelson Tuatagaloa Kisses Suicidal Woman Ordered to Stand Trial

As West Jordan police officer Nelson Tuatagaloa was kissing a reportedly suicidal woman while on duty last year, he allegedly told investigators he thought to himself: "What are you doing?"

But, according to Tuatagaloa's statement, he continued kissing the woman, and went on to touch her breasts and genital area before dropping her at a hospital for a mental evaluation.

Based on testimony Friday from Salt Lake County district attorney investigator Travis Peterson and the alleged victim, 3rd District Judge Sheila McCleve ordered Tuatagaloa to stand trial on two counts of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse.

If convicted, Tuatagaloa, 34, -- who no longer is working for the police department -- could face

Nelson Tuatagaloa up to 15 years in prison on each count. A scheduling hearing was set for Feb. 27.

The alleged victim testified that while she never said no or pushed Tuatagaloa away the night of Sept. 30, she did not want or welcome his advances. The woman said she felt she had to do everything Tuatagaloa wanted because he was a police officer and, based on what she had seen on television shows, he could say or do anything, even kill her.

She testified she had called her estranged husband that night and threatened to kill herself even though she had no intention of committing suicide. She left her house with a handgun but called police after she learned they were looking for her.

Tuatagaloa and another officer arrested her. On the way to a hospital in Tuatagaloa's cruiser, the woman said he held her hand and told her, "You've made a new friend tonight."

As they approached the hospital, the woman saw two friends by the entrance and told Tuatagaloa she didn't want to see them. He responded by pulling over on a darkened side of the building.

Tuatagaloa -- who had accused the woman of being intoxicated by alcohol -- asked to smell her breath, then started kissing her, she testified. The alleged victim said when she put on her seat belt, indicating she was ready to go, he took it off and started kissing her again. He put his hand inside her clothing and touched her breasts, she said.

According to police dispatch times, Tuatagaloa and the woman were parked for about 40 minutes.

The woman said that when she told her friends what had happened, they insisted she tell hospital personnel who notified police.

Officer Anthony Miller Resigns After Being Charged with Possession of Child Porn

Anthony Miller, the Hastings Police Department officer charged for possession of child pornography, has resigned from the department, effective Jan. 27.

City officials issued a short press release about Miller's resignation on Friday (Jan. 30).

Miller, who lives in New Richmond, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to the criminal complaint filed in December in St. Croix County, Wis., Miller allegedly admitted to agents from the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation that he downloaded, possessed and traded or distributed child pornography for approximately the previous two years, consisting of images of girls Miller estimated to be between the ages of nine and 15.

DOJ officials say Miller also admitted he used his personal laptop while on duty as a police officer in Hastings in order to obtain Internet access via unencrypted wireless signals from random locations throughout the Hastings area.

Both charges against Miller are felonies and carry a combined maximum sentence of 65 years in prison and a $200,000 fine. They have a combined minimum sentence of eight years in prison and a $1,000 fine for each illegal image.

Former Officer Sgt. Faron White Hearing Set for Friday Morning


A former north Alabama police officer accused of staging his own disappearance to cover up the theft of funds from his own department is due in court in Birmingham.

A hearing was set for Friday morning for former Decatur police Sgt. Faron White of Falkville. It will be his first court appearance since his indictment earlier this week on federal theft charges.

Prosecutors say White stage his disappearance from his office on Jan. 2 to cover up the fact that more than $5,000 in confiscated drug money was missing from a safe at work. He was arrested three days later in a hotel in Las Vegas.

A former police volunteer is accused of helping White.
Other Information:

Officer Jimmie L Akins Faces Federal Corruption Charges

Chicago police officer Jimmie L. Akins won’t have his day in court — at least the court of “Judge Jeanine Pirro.”

Akins, who faces federal corruptions charges in an alleged tow truck bribery scheme, played the part of the bailiff on Pirro’s courtroom show.

He has since lost the gig, said Laura Mandel, a spokeswoman with Telepictures Productions.

“Telepictures did its due diligence during the hiring process which included a background check,” Mandel said in a statement. “It did not reveal a federal investigation nor was Akins a member of the Chicago Police Department at the time. The show has completed taping of the first season and Jimmie Akins is no longer associated with the show.”

Pirro, a former district attorney in a county outside New York City, rules in her Chicago-based courtroom every day at 3 p.m. on WGN-Channel 9.

On today’s show, for instance, two friends “duke it out” over teenage pregnancy and drug use, according to Pirro’s Web site.

Akins will still appear in episodes that were previously taped.

The 41-year-old Akins allegedly charged tow truck drivers $100 each time they towed a car from a wreck he was supervising. He was the fourth Chicago police officer arrested in the scheme, which federal agents have been investigating since 2003.

Akins joined the police force in 1998, and declared bankruptcy in 2001, federal court documents said. He is no longer a Chicago police officer.

Officer Ravell Slayton Arrested for Theft & Misconduct

A Memphis police officer who was arrested on theft and misconduct charges turned in his badge Friday.

Ravell Slayton, 36, had been placed on paid leave Thursday, along with another officer who was arrested in a separate investigation.

That officer, Lt. Billy Smallwood, 45, remains with the police department pending an administrative hearing.

Slayton quit before his administrative hearing, which had been scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday.

He is believed to have participated with his brother and another man in a stolen-property scheme.

Acting on a tip, undercover officers sold Slayton three 52-inch TVs he believed were stolen, police said.

He also told investigators he sat in uniform in a marked squad car outside a house where his brother sold drugs more than 50 times.

A Shelby County grand jury indicted Slayton on two counts of official misconduct, one count of theft and another count of attempted theft. If convicted of all charges, he could face up to two years in prison.

A federal grand jury charged Smallwood with using a fake identity to access Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and FBI databases, then selling personal information to a third party.

He's charged with three counts of wire fraud, one count of creating a false document in a matter within FBI jurisdiction and another count of computer fraud.


Kenton Officer Arrested for Rape still on Duty

MORE allegations of police brutality in Kenton-on-Sea are being investigated after a woman was allegedly raped at the police station and two other people were allegedly assaulted.

The police officer suspected of rape was arrested on Monday and appeared briefly in the Alexandria Magistrate’s Court before being released on R500 bail.

He was, however, back on duty this week pending a police decision on whether or not to suspend him.

The latest allegations come about two weeks after an alleged late night attack on 25-year- old Vusi Mbabela.

He was taken to hospital under a false name and treated for a broken rib and other injuries.

Ekuphumleni community leader Zache Ngxingo yesterday said emotions were running high after the 24-year-old woman had been arrested for being drunk and disorderly and then allegedly raped by the policeman in the victim empowerment room at the local police station.

The rape allegedly took place two days after 500 people had protested Mbabela’s beating.

They handed over a memorandum calling for an investigation into alleged police brutality .

“The young woman was at home with her parents and was a bit drunk and shouting at them when they decided to call the police to take her away so she could cool off.”

He said after the alleged rape, the policeman told her not to tell anybody before releasing her.

Police spokesperson Captain Mali Govender yesterday confirmed a policeman had been arrested for the alleged rape and that two other cases of alleged assault by police were being investigated.

Ngxingo said a man and a woman had allegedly been beaten up by patrolling police a day after the protest march.

“ The people want police from out of town to investigate these allegations of police brutality.”