Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sgt Sid Jackson Arrested for Drunk Driving


An Iowa City police sergeant has been charged with drunken driving and interference with official acts.

Police say that Sgt. Sid Jackson was arrested early Saturday by University of Iowa police after an officer saw him sitting in his car with the door open.

Police say that Jackson denied he was driving, refused to take a breath test and fought with officers when they tried to put him in a patrol car. A police report says Jackson was injured in the struggle.

Police would not say whether Jackson was on duty, but the Iowa City Police Department Web site shows he is assigned to the overnight shift.

Iowa City police Lt. Doug Hart says the department is conducting an internal investigation into the incident.


Cpl Anthony Williams Fired Again for Sex Charges

In 1992, a woman told police that the man fondled her while her 6-year-old child watched. In 1995, a high school student told police she'd been sleeping with him since she was 16.

In 1996, investigators concluded he'd had sex with a woman while on duty. He was fired from his job – as a Dallas police officer – but Senior Cpl. Anthony Williams was reinstated after appealing the decision.

He went on to be accused and investigated again and again for allegedly making improper advances, some while on duty. Each time, Williams denied any inappropriate behavior. Each time, he was cleared or faced minor discipline.

The latest complaint about a sexual advance led to his firing last month for, among other things, failing to respond to an emergency call. The Williams case may test whether numerous complaints in the career of an officer can merit the loss of his job when the findings of misconduct in an individual case might not typically lead to firing.

Law enforcement experts see Williams' 20-year career as a prime example of a problem police departments have faced for years: How does a city rid itself of an officer whose record is riddled with serious misconduct allegations if you can't prove he's guilty or if he keeps getting his job back?
Anthony Williams

The experts cite lack of evidence, questionable witnesses and sloppy investigations as key hurdles to keeping problematic officers off the streets. An appeals system that in the past has overturned many firings exacerbated the difficulties. David Kunkle has seen 12 of his 62 firings reversed since he became Dallas police chief nearly five years ago.

Keeping an officer on the job after he's been repeatedly investigated has its own risks.

"You are opening yourself up to huge lawsuits and one of the charges will be negligent retention, which means that you knew you shouldn't keep this person as a police officer but you did it anyway," said Penny Harrington, an expert on police employee misconduct and former chief of the Portland Police Department in Oregon.

Williams declined repeated interview requests. Phil Burleson Jr., Williams' attorney, said he is innocent of the allegation that led to his firing last month.

"It's just an irate girlfriend; I don't understand the big deal on this one," said Burleson. "We believe that the termination was not justified."

Of the other complaints during Williams' career, Burleson said, "He says they've all been fully investigated and found that he didn't commit those allegations."

Lessons in Army

Before he was hired by the Dallas Police Department in 1989, background investigators learned that Williams, a Cincinnati native, had resigned as a first lieutenant in the Army rather than face a court-martial or other discipline for having sex with a married soldier.

He wrote to his military commanders that he'd thought the woman was divorced and had learned an unforgettable lesson.

In August 1992, Bridget Bell complained that he made sexual advances to her after he went to her home on a harassment call. Bell told investigators that Williams fondled her as her 6-year-old son watched.

She said he flattered her and asked her whether she was married or seeing anyone. She said they began a brief sexual relationship.

Williams denied doing anything inappropriate while on duty. Bell eventually stopped cooperating with investigators, and the investigation ended with a finding of "unfounded." She could not be reached for comment.

It was a pattern that would be repeated. Some women failed to follow through on their complaints, or their word was considered questionable by investigators.

Predators often choose women who aren't viewed as credible, said Kimberly Lonsway, a psychologist and expert on police sexual misconduct.

"If you're going to engage in sexual misconduct, are you going to do it against a nun or are you doing to do it to someone who people don't see as credible?" Lonsway said. "It's a way that these guys can keep on doing this."

On July 30, 1994, Williams went to the home of 16-year-old Tarria "Cookey" Newsome, who called 911 to report an attempted molestation. Tarria later told investigators that shortly after Williams left her home, he called her to ask when they could "hook up."

She said that several days later he took her to his house, where they began having sex. Tarria told investigators the relationship lasted a few months.

She also said she had a special way of contacting him: After her grandmother dropped her off at school, she would page him with a "3" – their signal that all was clear for him to pick her up in his squad car and take her to his home.

"I did this because my grandmother would not approve of Tony," Tarria wrote to investigators.

Tarria's grandmother, Laverne Carter, complained to police commanders about the relationship.

"We told him that he didn't need to be going with her," she said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News.

Carter is adamant that Williams started having sex with Tarria when she was underage. Carter said she did not see them having sex, but she said Tarria told her about the relationship.

But Williams told investigators that he didn't have sex with Tarria until after she turned 17 and denied ever having sex while on duty.

Public integrity investigators wrote that they believed that the relationship began when she was 16, and they sought to charge him with criminal sexual assault. But a grand jury declined to indict him and a police internal investigation ended with a finding of "inconclusive."

The standards for criminal law – in which a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – are different from civil procedures that are the final threshold for disciplining an officer.

In administrative investigations, there is generally a lower "preponderance of evidence" standard.

But in this investigation, internal affairs detectives concluded that there was not enough evidence to prove that Williams had sex with Tarria while on duty or before she turned 17.

Even though her grandmother insists Tarria was a minor. "He set up in my house, and I told him she was 16 years old," she recalled.

Kunkle said that when he became chief in 2004, he found a severely backlogged internal affairs unit, with investigations lingering for as long as two years. Investigators often focused on peripheral issues rather than on serious misconduct allegations.

Today, improvements include typically more thorough investigations that are completed in a more timely fashion. But over the years, there has been a tacit admission that some investigations may have been sloppy.

"You've got to have evidence to make the discipline stick," said Sam Walker, a national police accountability expert. "You've got to have good investigations to develop the evidence that will make the case."

Tarria died in October 2000. She was shot in the head by her boyfriend as they argued while smoking PCP-laced marijuana at Glendale Park on Ledbetter Road in southeast Oak Cliff. Her body was dumped in a creek. A gold necklace, with a pendant spelling out "Cookey," was snatched from her neck and pawned.

First firing

In 1996, Sonya Cleveland told investigators that Williams, whom she'd known for a few years, gave her a ride from a store to the Circle Inn Motel on South Ewing Avenue in north Oak Cliff.

"He was gonna help me get an apartment and a job and help me look nice and all this," she told police investigators.

They returned to her room and had sex, she said. "It didn't last that long and he got up and he put his uniform back on and left," she told investigators.

Cleveland told investigators that afterward, she left the area where she'd been staying because she feared Williams would arrest her on prostitution charges.

She didn't complain to police, but hotel officials did. A maintenance worker told investigators he saw Williams having sex with Cleveland.

Williams denied having sex with her that day but admitted they had a prior sexual encounter.

Police Chief Ben Click fired Williams in January 1997, a month after the investigation concluded. A civil service trial board reinstated him five months later, publicly offering no reason for its ruling.

Click, now an independent police consultant, said he is still infuriated that Williams got his job back.

"How much damage does this guy get to do to the reputation of the department before you finally wind up having enough evidence to get rid of him?" Click said.

In the past, officers fired for serious misconduct were frequently reinstated by administrative law judges, civil service boards or other city officials. Usually, on appeal the decision-maker found that the burden of proof had not been met or punishment was too harsh. Often, no reason was cited for reinstatement.

"Those are the ones that have always bothered me," said Kunkle. "As a chief, I am held accountable. I'm the one who is going to have to go in front of community groups, deal with media stories and also very likely be sued if there is inappropriate police behavior."


Two reforms have more recently sharply reduced the likelihood of reinstatement: The city manager now hears all first-round appeals of fired officers, rather than assistant city managers.

And changes to the city charter in 2005 gave civil service trial boards and administrative law judges less discretion in reversing disciplinary decisions during appeals. Previously, they had determined whether discipline was "just and equitable." Now the disciplinary action must be upheld "if a reasonable person could have taken the same disciplinary action against the employee."

When a firing doesn't stick, chiefs can transfer an officer to a position with little public contact.

"It's difficult and probably impossible for the officer to challenge," said Walker, the police accountability expert. "It also sends a message you're not going anywhere on this department."

Dallas has a history of stashing problematic officers in out-of-the way spots, such as the property room, communications and the auto pound. But "increasingly there's fewer and fewer spots," Kunkle said.

And experts say keeping them around creates the potential for other problems.

After Williams returned to work, he was transferred from one patrol division to another. But the complaints continued, including a 2004 case in which a woman alleged that Williams came to her house uninvited while on duty, began to undress, and wanted sex. He denied it.

When a department can't prove more serious misconduct, said Walker, then departments should consider the Al Capone lesson: Capone was convicted of tax evasion and not of the many more serious crimes he was thought to have committed.

"If you can't get them on their primary offense, you get them on something that's related," said Walker, author of the book The New World of Police Accountability.

Dallas' personnel rules don't prohibit taking an officer's entire complaint history into account when meting out discipline, but attorneys for fired officers can fight to keep unsustained allegations from being entered into evidence during appeals.

"There are due process concerns about using prior unproved acts to prove the current act," said Richard Rosenthal, independent police monitor for Denver. "It's permitted in certain circumstances, but it's got to be very convincing. More often than not, you cannot do it."

Kunkle will not comment specifically on Williams' case, but it appears that his entire record may have been taken into consideration in the run up to his latest firing.

In November 2007, Williams responded to a 911 call at the apartment of Felisha Taylor.

She told investigators that from then until February 2008, she and Williams would have sex while he was on duty, usually every other Thursday, Friday and Monday. He would remain 15 to 20 minutes each visit, she said.

Investigators found that he "marked out" – or assigned himself – to her apartment complex four times during that period. On four other occasions, he assigned himself to where he lived. All eight incidents were on Thursday, Friday or Monday, lasting between 20 and 40 minutes.

Williams admitted having sex with the woman. Again, he denied having sex while on duty.

He said he'd only been to her apartment once while on duty, to use the bathroom. Witnesses told investigators they'd seen him going to her apartment several times.

On June 19, 2008, Williams was on duty when he went to Taylor's apartment complex to confront her because he believed she'd slashed his tires. She said he blocked her car as he argued with her in front of her children. The loud argument, witnessed by a neighbor, lasted for an hour and a half.

During that exchange, Williams received a call to check on a residential burglary alarm. He never answered the call, records show.

Again, investigators concluded they couldn't prove sexual misconduct allegations. But they concluded, among other things, that he violated policy when he failed to answer the burglary alarm call, didn't devote full attention to his job and became involved in an on-duty disturbance.

Williams' supervisors, from sergeant all the way up to his assistant chief, recommended he be fired. Calvin Cunigan, who retired recently as head of the internal affairs department, also took the unusual step of writing a six-page memo that outlined the prior sexual misconduct allegations against Williams.

Click said Williams should be fired.

"You don't have anything to lose," he said. "When you get a guy with that kind of history of sexually related allegations, how much work is the guy doing out there? You make that decision and then you defend it the best you can. Who knows, maybe you do get it upheld."

Kunkle fired Williams on Jan. 29. Burleson said Williams plans to appeal. No date has been set for his hearing before City Manager Mary Suhm.

Taylor said she expects Williams will get his job back.

"I really do believe that," Taylor said in an interview with The News. "He's just going to continue doing what he's doing."

Between his first firing in January 1997 and the November 2007 events that led to his most recent firing, Senior Cpl. Anthony Williams was investigated several more times:

•In 1999, a woman wrote to complain that Williams, who had investigated a hit-and-run accident in which she was the victim, called her and "had the audacity to tell me ... that he was going to ask me out on a date." Williams told investigators that he thought he was talking to a different woman, and the investigation ended with a finding of inconclusive.

•In 2000, Williams warned a woman that the vice squad was planning to investigate fliers that had been posted around an apartment complex advertising her fee-for-sex services. She said he then called her two days later, asking if he could come over "to suck on a breast or two," she wrote in her statement to investigators. He denied any wrongdoing. Investigators also found that Williams lied to them. He was suspended for five days.

•In 2004, a woman filed a sexual misconduct complaint against Williams after she said he went to her apartment while on duty and began to undress because he wanted to have sex. Williams didn't deny they had a relationship, but he denied going to her house that day and having sex while on duty. Investigators couldn't prove the allegations, but he received a minor form of discipline for being in the area when he should have been elsewhere.

•In 2005, a woman complained that Williams had threatened to take her son to juvenile detention if she didn't have sex with him. But the woman did not make herself available for interviews with public integrity detectives and the investigation was closed.


SOURCE: Dallas Police Department documents
Other Information:

Officer Meredith Shook Charged with DUI


Police arrested one of their own officers Thursday and charged her with driving under the influence after crashing her personal SUV while off duty last month.

Meredith Shook, 33, of Humphrey Street, was also charged with risk of injury to a minor and failure to drive in the proper lane after the Jan. 15 incident. She was released on a written promise to appear March 2 at Derby Superior Court.

Lt. Paul Satkowski, the department's spokesman, said that Shook had been placed on paid administrative leave Friday, but declined to comment further on the investigation.

It remained unclear Friday why Shook was charged with risk of injury to a minor, or if police had conducted a breathalyzer test at the scene of the incident last month. Police also would not explain why it took more than month to file charges against Shook.

At about 11:36 p.m. on Jan. 15, Shook was driving her Ford Explorer south on Derby Avenue close to the Tri-Town Plaza when police said the SUV Shook, along with two other Seymour officers, was the subject of an internal affairs investigation in September 2006 after police were called to the Derby home of state police Trooper Karen Nixon, where Shook and Sgt. Richard Gittings were having drinks.

According to the investigation, Nixon felt threatened when Officer Thomas Scharf sent text messages to Shook and later drove by the residence.

Gittings left the premises before police arrived and later agreed to forfeit four days' vacation pay in connection with the incident. The investigation was later closed and no charges were filed against Shook or Scharf.