Saturday, March 07, 2009

Sergeant Timothy Richissin Arrested for Video Taping Women in Bathroom


A Cleveland police sergeant was suspended without pay following his arrest in connection with a video camera in a bathroom at a Medina County business.

Cleveland Public Safety Director Martin Flask said he suspended Sgt. Timothy Richissin Friday and that the officer will remain on suspension until the criminal charges in Medina are resolved.

Police say Richissin hid a small camera inside a bathroom at a warehouse in Medina County. An employee at the company found the images taken in the bathroom on Richissin's computer. Police said he invited a female Cleveland officer to work at the facility and recorded her in the bathroom. The crimes occurred in June, November and December, police said.

Richissin, of Brunswick, has been a Cleveland police officer since 1982.

He turned himself in Friday and will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Monday in Medina County Common Pleas Court. He's free on bond.

Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman said Richissin faces charges of tampering with evidence, voyeurism, possession of criminal tools and obstructing official business.

Crowd Protest Alleged Brutality by Hartwell Police


Hundreds of people hit the streets in Hartwell, Ga., on Saturday calling for justice.

The crowd marched Saturday morning in support of Jimmy Lee Blackwell. Blackwell lost his eye in a fight with a police officer Feb. 16.

About 200 people attended the march, and some came from as far away as New York.

"He went in with two eyes and came out with one eye," a protester said. "That's bad."

Blackwell was walking and had been stopped by a police officer.

"We need the police to be on our side, not against us," another protester said.

He wound up in a hospital after a run-in with the officer.

"If someone's 51 years old and intoxicated, there's no reason you should beat him beyond recognition, first of all," said Tariq Alexander, president of Ruff Riders Films.

It's not exactly clear what happened between the time Blackwell met up with the officer and when he ended up in the hospital.

"It's just a shame the way that man was beat," Alexander said. "There's no justification for that."

The protesters said they're determined to keep it from happening again.

"We must stand up and say enough is enough," they said.

The Jimmy Lee Blackwell Support Group is named for one man, but the organizers said it's about the problems of many people. They said that what happened to Blackwell was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

"I think it's one of those things that's been swept under the rug so long that people thought, 'Hey, we can continue to sweep it under the rug,'" said Apostle Roderick Hughey, of the Jimmy Lee Blackwell Support Group. "But the rug has gotten so high off of the ground by the pile of the things that's been swept up under it that you can't hide it anymore."

The protesters walked a two-mile silent march. They said the idea is to let the talking do the walking, but everyone had so much to say.

"Everybody feels like it's wrong, regardless of what color you are," one person said.

"Stop giving thugs a badge," another person said.

The walk ended on the spot where Blackwell was injured. He was there with his family, who shielded him from questions about his legal record. But his friends said that the past is the past and they're ready to move forward.

The incident between Blackwell and the police officer is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. That officer was also injured in the altercation. He is on paid administrative leave.

Officer Stephen Vega Accused of Assaulting Girlfriend


A Fort Worth police officer was arrested Friday on accusations that he tried to force his girlfriend from a car while on duty, telling witnesses who came to her defense, "This is a police matter; you don’t need to get involved," court documents show.

Stephen R. Vega, who has been with the department almost 18 years, surrendered at the Tarrant County Jail on Friday morning on warrants accusing him of assault with bodily injury and official oppression. He was released on $20,000 bail.

Both charges are Class A misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Vega’s attorney, Kyle Whitaker, was out of the office Friday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.

Terry Daffron Hickey, who is representing Vega in the administrative investigation, said "all the facts, circumstances and details are not known at this time."

"It is my hope and my expectation that IAD [internal affairs division] will actually conduct a thorough, fair and impartial investigation into this matter revealing a complete and accurate account of the events that transpired," she said.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Vega and the 38-year-old victim had known each other for six years and had been romantically involved for the last two.

Vega confronted the woman at her workplace in late February, apparently agitated that their relationship was not progressing and that she had not proceeded with a divorce from her husband, the affidavit states.

On Monday morning, outside the Starbucks at 2600 W. Seventh St., the girlfriend was in the passenger seat of a car, waiting for a friend, when Vega pulled into the parking lot and parked one space away. According to the affidavit, Vega approached the car, opened the passenger door and demanded that his girlfriend come with him, grabbing her by the right arm and trying to force her from the car.

Sgt. Pedro Criado, a police spokesman, said Vega, most recently assigned to the department’s gang unit, was in civilian clothes during the encounter but was on duty.

The girlfriend, who witnesses told investigators appeared extremely frightened, began struggling with Vega in an attempt to pull away. A witness tried to break the officer’s grip on the woman’s arm, the affidavit states.

"Vega continued to pull [the victim] from the vehicle and proceeded to drag her against her will to his vehicle," the affidavit states.

Six other people also saw the incident, the affidavit states, at least one of whom also tried to get Vega to release his grip and another who called 911. According to a police report, patrol officers were sent to the scene on a reported kidnapping.

"This is a police matter; you don’t need to get involved," Vega told witnesses.

When a witness demanded to see the officer’s badge, Vega, his grasp on his girlfriend finally broken, said, "I’ll show you my badge." He then reached into his car through an open window and pulled out a police vest.

"Stay out of it. I’m a cop," the affidavit quotes Vega as telling the witness.

The victim then ran inside the Starbucks. Vega left in his car before patrol officers arrived, the affidavit states.

The woman told major case investigators that she had been surprised to see Vega at the coffee shop and that she was stunned and frightened by his actions. Officers observed bruises on both of the woman’s upper biceps and forearms, the affidavit stated.

"The detectives do believe that a crime did occur," Criado said.

Vega is on restricted duty during the internal investigation. Criado said Police Chief Jeff Halstead has 180 days to determine discipline.

Lt Joseph Gudziol Charged with DWI


A Macomb County deputy sheriff faces charges after he was arrested late Friday in Bay Countyon suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

Lt. Joseph Guzdziol was arrested at 11 p.m. Friday by two state troopers who received a call about a driver who was suspected to be drunk. The troopers stopped and arrested Guzdziol on U.S. 10 near Three Mile Road in Monitor Township.

After being held overnight on Friday and Saturday morning, Guzdziol posted bond and was freed from Bay County Jail, according to Shanon Akans, spokeswoman for the Michigan State Police in Lansing.


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Deputy Jeffrey Douglas Fleig Charged with Drunk Driving

An off-duty Pierce County sheriff’s deputy found passed out behind the wheel of a running car was charged Friday with drunken driving.

Charging documents filed in District Court say Jeffrey Douglas Fleig, 53, registered a 0.18 reading on a blood-alcohol breath test after he was stopped early Monday. The legal limit in Washington is 0.08.

Another sheriff’s deputy spotted Fleig about 2:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of 85th Street East, near Dawson Playfield, records state. The car Fleig was driving blocked the southbound lane.

The deputy drove past in the opposite direction, noticed the car wasn’t moving, and circled back. Fleig was behind the wheel, unconscious, his foot on the brake, records state. The car was in gear.

The deputy “had a difficult time waking the defendant,” records state. “The defendant finally awoke, but was fairly incoherent. The defendant stated he had too much to drink.”

Fleig had a hard time standing, according to the records. A deputy had to hold him upright.

Fleig “demonstrated six of six clues on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test,” records state, referring to a field sobriety test that measures visual reaction to a held finger or pen light.

He has been placed on paid administrative leave, pending an internal investigation, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Friday.

Fleig is a 23-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department. Troyer said he did not know whether Fleig’s prior record included similar incidents.

A survey of court records shows Fleig was cited for drunken driving in 2002 in Pierce County. He received a deferred sentence, stipulating no further violations for five years. Records indicate he met the standard. The charge was dismissed in October 2007.