Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jeremy Stevens Claims Police Brutality

A case of mistaken identity allegedly turns into a brutal scene that leaves two young Opelousas men battered and members of OPD being investigated.

Eighteen year old Jeremy Stevens says he was shocked when six members of the Opelousas Police Department Crime Suppression Team stormed into this home in Opelousas Tuesday.

"They were looking for someone they thought ran in the house. All the cops ran in the house. We all ran. I ran in the closet. They found me in the closet put me in handcuffs and started beating me."

Stevens says he and his friend ran from police and were subsequently beaten.

"They'll hold me. One would hit me in my ribs and the other throw CD cases at my face, kicking, scratching in my face, my sides are bruised, sore. I had to miss a couple days of work."

Stevens says after the officers left without making any arrests, he called his grandmother and mother who took him to the hospital.

Morris filed a complaint with the Opelousas Police Department. Chief Perry Gallow says the incident is under investigation

"All of that are just accusations at this point and we're going to get to the bottom of the incident and make sure our officers we're just in what they were doing" says Gallow.

Christy Morris says her son is not the only victim of Opelousas Police brutality.

"Any children that's getting harassed and beat, need to come forward. Because if they don't it's gonna keep going on. This is my child. I love my child and I will do something about it. I'm doing something about it."

Christy Morris says she has not heard back from Chief Gallow since filing the report on Wednesday.

Morris says she will follow up with the Chief on Monday and will not settle for anything less than a full-fledged investigation.

Deputy Justin Sumner Charged with Shooting out Lights

A Craig County, Oklahoma deputy is charged with felony destruction of property.

Justin Sumner is charged in neighboring Delaware County with two counts of maliciously defacing property of another.

Sumner is accused of shooting and damaging lights on the Arrowhead Yacht Club sign and shooting and damaging a power transformer.

The incident happened in late January and according to court documents, a security guard witnessed someone shooting the lights out.

That security guard told police he followed the suspect vehicle from the Yacht Club into Craig County.

Along the way, the witness told investigators he saw another Craig County deputy, and confirmed it was Sumner’s vehicle.

Sumner has plead not guilty to the charges and will be back in court in April.

Complaints Against Officers for Excessive Force Rarely Upheld


Suspects have complained over the years that Fort Lauderdale police are too rough, city records show. But in the last eight years, not one of those citizen complaints was upheld by investigators, or led to discipline of an officer.

All complaints lodged against Fort Lauderdale police since 2001 for excessive or unnecessary use of force were thrown out by internal affairs investigators, or were closed because the person making the complaint didn't follow up, the city's records show and officials confirmed. The agency couldn't easily retrieve records prior to 2001 because they're not electronic.

Fort Lauderdale's records show many complaints aren't fully investigated. Internal Affairs officials read the arrest reports and close many cases without getting sworn statements or launching a full probe.

Experts said it's not unusual for the vast majority of excessive force complaints to be closed in favor of law enforcement officers. The trend holds true at Broward Sheriff's Office and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, where few complaints led to officer punishment.

In Fort Lauderdale, the brutality track record for officers was perfect, according to the Internal Affairs files. That agency is in the spotlight after a videotape was made public this month showing police officers manhandling a 22-year-old Sunrise man in an elevator. One officer punched Joshua Daniel Ortiz in the face, breaking his nose in the Dec. 5 altercation in a downtown Fort Lauderdale bank lobby.

Ortiz was facing a charge of felony battery on a law enforcement officer, but Broward prosecutors dropped the charge after reviewing the tapes.

Many viewers were outraged, saying the officers should be punished, particularly after reading the police report that described Ortiz as the aggressor. The case was another in which Fort Lauderdale officers were cleared after a review of the tape and reports, without a full investigation.

Experts say the case is typical because often what's perceived by the public as excessive is ruled to be well within with the rules by police officials. Even videotape doesn't always change the outcome.

Police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sousa said the department's clearing of all brutality complaints shows that "the officers are doing their jobs the way they're supposed to."

"We're not in the business of inviting people over for coffee and tea," Sousa said. "Sometimes you have to pull out a gun and shoot someone."

He said each complaint is taken seriously and those that are fully investigated are also reviewed by an independent citizen's board and the State Attorney's Office.

Sousa himself was caught up in a controversy when a German tourist videotaped him kicking a suspect during an arrest outside a bar in September 2006. He was cleared by Fort Lauderdale police and the State Attorney's Office, but his video continues to draw attention on YouTube. "Perception isn't always reality," Sousa said.

Fort Lauderdale's track record isn't far afield from other agencies.

Tod Burke, a former police officer who teaches criminal justice at Radford University in Virginia, said that nationally, the same is true.

"Very few police brutality complaints are actually sustained," he said. " ... What some people will perceive as police brutality really is not."

The person lodging the complaint is often someone charged with crimes, including battery on a law enforcement officer, or resisting arrest, and might not be seen as credible, experts noted.

Lewis Katz, a law professor at Case Western University, said he thinks "we have a national problem with the use of excessive force." The system of investigating complaints is often heavily weighted in favor of police, he said, so most complaints go away.

The public tends to believe a police officer over a suspect, said Katz.

From 2005 through 2008, the years for which all three agencies provided data, Fort Lauderdale had no sustained cases of the 23 investigated, Broward Sheriff's Office had one sustained case out of 50 complaints against deputies that were investigated, or 2 percent; and Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office sustained 11 complaints out of 199 investigated, or 5.5 percent, a number that also includes complaints against jail deputies.

Ortiz said without the video, he'd be facing up to 20 years in prison. His college plans were delayed by his legal troubles, he said, but he'll be enrolling in college classes this fall.

That night, he said, he was sticking up for his girlfriend. Some strangers picked a fight in the bank lobby, and their acquaintances were involved. Police arrived, and grabbed a friend of his girlfriend's, Ortiz said.

He said the officers were "telling her to shut the 'F' up and 'I'll take your a-- to jail' because she was crying and begging for the cops to give her her friend back."

Ortiz intervened, shouting at officers on her behalf, when they came into the elevator after him.

Ortiz "walked right up to me, hitting his nose to my nose," Officer Derek Lade wrote in his report.

Ortiz didn't think he deserved to be punched, or charged with battery.

"It's a big problem. They have to do something about it. This is crazy," he said Wednesday. "If it wasn't for that tape, I'd be pretty ruined right now ... I still had my hands in my pockets when he came and rushed in to the elevator and started hitting me. There was really just no need for that."

Sousa said a person screaming on the sidelines of a fight is inciting more violence, and adding to the mayhem. He noted that the videotape didn't include audio. Sousa also defended Lade's report about the incident, which said that Ortiz came after him.

That was true, Sousa said, because Ortiz leaned toward Lade in the elevator.

Frank Scafidi, a former sheriff's deputy in Los Angeles County who is director of public affairs at the National Insurance Crime Bureau in Sacramento, said you can't expect police to enforce laws when some people won't do what they're told unless they're forced to. Public opinion is often on the officer's side, he said.

"Most people understand that there are a lot of knot heads in the world," Scafidi said, "and that they will need to get their head cracked now and then if they get crossways with the cops."

Use of force complaints
Database: Complaints against police

Officer Tarin Miller Charged with Drunk Driving


A Yakima police officer will be arraigned April 15 after being charged with drunken driving.

A judge found probable cause for the charge against Officer Tarin Miller at a Wednesday hearing in Yakima County District Court.

Miller, 39, was placed on paid administrative leave following the March 2 arrest while the police department conducts a routine internal investigation, deputy police chief Kelly Rosenow said Wednesday.

A Yakima police officer stopped Miller shortly before midnight March 2 near Tieton Drive and 35th Avenue, according to a citation filed by the Washington State Patrol.

Breath tests showed her blood-alcohol level at .168 and .174, more than double the .08 legal threshold for driving, according to the ticket.

Troopers handled the case at the request of Yakima police.

Miller is a charter member of the police department's Gang Enforcement Team.

She is known for handling graffiti cases, including a downtown spree that caused thousands of dollars in damage in 2006 and resulted in two men being convicted.


Officer Darrius Clipps Charged with Home Invasions

A rookie New Orleans police officer has found himself on the other side of the law. That's after a number of home invasions, thought to have been committed by a police impersonator.

Officer Darrius Clipps is charged with aggravated burglary and sexual assault. New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley says Clipps was on the force about a year. Clipps is accused of bursting into homes, demanding drugs and money, and asking the homeowners to take off their clothes.

After a composite sketch came forward of the suspect, several officers recognized Clipps. One witness even remembered Clipps' badge number. He resigned after his arrest.

Clipps has been booked with malfeasance in office, sexual battery, false imprisonment with a weapon, simple and aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling.

Killeen Officer Being Investigated After Shooting Soldier


A Killeen police officer early Saturday morning fatally shot a Fort Hood soldier driving an SUV after authorities said the officer was dragged through a parking lot as he tried to detain a man while others inside the vehicle were trying to pull the man inside.

The name of the 21-year-old soldier was being withheld until his family was notified, authorities said.

The officer, whose name also was not disclosed, was able to free himself from the SUV and fell to the ground. He was treated at a hospital and released and was placed on administrative leave.

Police said when the officer spotted a disturbance early Saturday in the parking lot of a nightclub and went to investigate, one of the participants ran.

As the officer gave chase, the fleeing man tried to jump through the passenger window of a Chevrolet Trailblazer. The policeman attempted to stop him by grabbing him around his waist as he was half into the sport utility vehicle. The officer's arms became pinned as the driver began to leave.

The officer was able to break one arm free and fire at the driver. The officer continued to be dragged until he was able free his other arm and fell to the ground. The fleeing vehicle then continued through the parking lot, hitting a car and several handrails before coming to a stop. Police said the man who initially ran was still hanging in the window when the car wrecked.

Killeen police spokeswoman Carroll Smith said several people were arrested in relation to the incident, including the man in the window. She did not have any information on charges.

Federal Prosecutors Want to Keep Judge Cletus Maricle Behind Bars

Federal prosecutors want to keep a former Clay County circuit judge charged in a vote-buying scheme behind bars until his trial.

Former Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle and seven others charged with him in the federal case pleaded not guilty at their first court appearance Friday.

After spending the night in jail Thursday, all but Maricle, 65, were released until the trial, scheduled for May 19. They didn't have to post a financial bond.

Freddy Thompson is running for County Clerk against Jennings White who says he (White) was shot at in one of several election-related shootings in Clay County, Manchester, KY, Tuesday, May 21, 2002.

Clay County Clerk Freddy Thompson. Several prominent officials in Clay County schemed to buy votes in the May 2004 primary election, a federal grand jury has alleged. Manchester Enterprise

- Clay County school superintendent Doug Adams. Several prominent officials in Clay County schemed to buy votes in the May 2004 primary election, a federal grand jury has alleged. Photo provided by the Laurel County Detention Center

- Wayne Jones, chairman of the Clay County Democratic Party. Several prominent officials in Clay County schemed to buy votes in the May 2004 primary election, a federal grand jury has alleged. Photo provided by the Laurel County Detention Center

- Paul E. Bishop of Manchester, Ky. Several prominent officials in Clay County schemed to buy votes in the May 2004 primary election, a federal grand jury has alleged.

- William E. Stivers, an election officer in Clay County. Several prominent officials in Clay County schemed to buy votes in the May 2004 primary election, a federal grand jury has alleged. Photo provided by the Laurel County Detention Center

- Cletus Maricle, a Kentucky Circuit Court Judge, in an undated file photo supplied by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen C. Smith asked that Maricle remain in jail.

Smith said Maricle, facing a potential maximum sentence of 20 years, has been charged with asking a witness to lie and has hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets, raising the potential that he has the money to flee.

The prosecutor also said that Maricle told people cooperating in the case that he was trying to find out where the FBI agent investigating the allegations lived and what kind of vehicle he drove.

Smith didn't say why Maricle allegedly wanted that information, but said there was no reason he would seek it "unless he was up to no good."

Smith also said Maricle had indicated some instability in an interview after his arrest, telling a probation officer he had "struggled with the will to live" recently.

Maricle's son died several weeks ago of a heart attack.

Maricle's attorney, former federal prosecutor Mark Wohlander, argued that Maricle is not a flight risk or a danger to anyone. Maricle hasn't said he wants to kill himself, just that things had been rough since his son's death, Wohlander said.

And the incident when Maricle allegedly sought information about an officer in the investigation was in May 2007, Wohlander said.

"If it was so serious, why wasn't my client arrested a year and a half ago?" he said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Wier ruled that Maricle would have to stay in jail at least until another hearing scheduled for Monday.

Also Friday, state Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton suspended Maricle from the senior judge program.

Maricle was circuit judge in Clay County from 1991 until July 2007. Since then, he has been a senior judge, meaning he fills in for other judges.

Those charged with Maricle are Doug Adams, school superintendent in Clay County; County Clerk Freddy W. Thompson; Charles Wayne Jones, the county's Democratic election commissioner; William E. Stivers, who has been an election officer and is chairman of the county Democratic Party; Paul E. Bishop; and William and Debra Morris.

All eight are charged with racketeering for allegedly using the county election board as a vehicle to corrupt elections. All but Adams and Bishop face at least one additional charge of conspiracy to buy votes, while some face several additional charges.

Wearing handcuffs, they said little during their first court appearance other than to acknowledge they understood the charges. Family members, some emotional, crowded the courtroom for the hearing at the federal building in London.

Smith told Wier the trial could take four weeks.

Smith said in a court motion that the case involving Maricle and the others was opened in March 2006. The eight were indicted March 3, but the charges were sealed until after they were arrested Thursday.

The charges are the latest in a federal investigation in which several officials who once held prominent roles in the county have already gone to prison.

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