Monday, April 06, 2009

Manhunt Continues for Former Deputy Derrick Yancey Wanted for Murder

The manhunt continued Sunday for a former DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputy who had been under home arrest as he awaited trial in the deaths of his wife and a day laborer.

Derrick Yancey, 49, was wearing an electronic ankle monitor and was restricted to the Jonesboro home of his mother and stepfather as he awaited an undetermined trial date. He was last seen there Friday night, authorities said.

DeKalb County news Officials said Yancey got a substantial head start on the law.

The private probation company charged with Yancey’s case did not notify the county that the signal had been lost from Yancey’s bracelet until about 4 p.m. Saturday, 11 hours after a monitoring outfit notified the company, DeKalb Sheriff Thomas Brown said Sunday.

“What happened as to why we got this delay is for another day and another investigation,” Brown said.

Brown said information about Yancey has been submitted to a national crime database. Additionally, authorities were notified in Detroit, where Yancey has relatives, and on the Canadian border, in case he attempts to flee the country, Brown said.

Yancey was indicted and arrested in August for the June shooting death of his wife Linda, 44, and day laborer Marcial Cax Puluc, 20.

The deputy told police he killed Puluc in self-defense after Puluc killed his wife. But authorities said lab tests showed Yancey shot both victims.

Yancey had been released from jail on $150,000 bond with the condition that he remain under house arrest.

Yancey’s attorney, Keith Adams, said Yancey had been “a bit depressed and despondent” over the past few weeks.

“We’re concerned that the sheriff’s department is labeling him armed and dangerous,” Adams said. “We’re hoping that he doesn’t do anything to hurt himself and that law enforcement, if they catch up with him, doesn’t hurt him.”

The court ruling last August by now-retired Judge Anne Workman that allowed Yancey to be released drew a sharp response from his wife’s siblings.

Workman’s order quoted a Georgia law that makes defendants eligible for release on bond if they pose “no significant risk” of fleeing, intimidating witnesses or committing other crimes. Unlike many other states, Workman wrote, Georgia does not further restrict bond for murder defendants unless they have been convicted of a prior violent crime.

In a statement made then, lawyer Loletha Denise Hale, who said she spoke for siblings Eugene Thomas and Gloria Thomas Sanders, accused prosecutors of giving Yancey “preferential treatment as a result of his previous employment with the DeKalb County court system.”

On Sunday, the family was under protective care. Hale said Sanders has custody of the Yanceys’ 8-year-old son.

“The family just wants them to find him as quickly as possible,” Hale said.

Sanders spoke only briefly of Yancey’s escape.

“It’s a shame, isn’t it?” she said. “He should have been behind bars.”

Sheriff’s deputies ask anyone with information to call the DeKalb’s fugitive squad at 404-298-8200.

Dallas Chief Fires 4 Officers

Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle fired four police officers Monday morning, including a lieutenant who internal investigators concluded made a series of heated, profanity-laced calls to Waxahachie school officials.

Kunkle has fired 66 officers since he became chief in June 2004.

Dallas police Lt. Paul Wisdom's troubles began last May when he used a city phone to leave a profane message for David Nix, the principal of Waxahachie High School. Nix told investigators that he had a previous confrontation with Wisdom and that he was concerned about his and his wife's safety.

Wisdom told investigators that he didn't intend the message as a threat but only to express his displeasure.

Internal investigators concluded that he violated department policy when he used a city phone to leave a profane and intimidating message while on duty. In September, Wisdom was told he'd be suspended for three days over the incident.

On the same day that Wisdom received that suspension, he left another series of profane and intimidating messages for Nix and other school officials, police records show.

Wisdom told investigators that he made the second round of calls after his supervisor gave him a copy of the criminal trespass warning that had been issued by the school district. He also said he regretted the profanity he used in the voice mail, but said he felt like he had been baited into making the phone calls.

"I'm very disappointed in Chief Kunkle's lack of judgment and foresight," Wisdom said Monday after he was fired.

His wife, Velmea Wisdom, says her husband is being treated unfairly and that there are other officers, including supervisors, in the department who have done worse things and haven't lost their jobs.

She is a former Dallas police officer who is currently running for the Waxahachie school board.

Also fired:

•Police Officer Daniel Hageman, who was indicted last month after being accused of shooting at a woman's vehicle in Garland in what prosecutors say was a road-rage incident. Hageman, hired in 2001, is charged with deadly conduct in the May 2008 incident, a third-degree felony.

He has denied firing his weapon at the car. "I'm being falsely accused," he said in a brief interview after being fired. "I don't want that job back. I think the chances of me appealing are pretty slim."

•Senior Cpl. James Sims, 45, was fired after internal investigators concluded that he didn't pay his debts and that hot checks were written on his bank accounts. Two landlords obtained civil judgments against him after hot checks were written for his rent, records show.

Sims told internal investigators that he was having financial trouble and that he did not write all of the checks. He also stated that he unknowingly wrote hot checks on a closed account.

Sims said he plans to appeal his firing but declined to comment further. He was hired in 1988.

•Officer Jeffrey Fowler faces a felony charge of intoxication assault for an incident last month in which Fowler hit another car while driving near the intersection of Midway Road and Bonham Street. Takiyan Brown, a passenger in his pickup, was critically injured, suffering fractures to her skull, pelvis, ribs and spine as well as a lacerated kidney and liver, court records state.

When police arrived at the scene of the accident, Fowler smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes, slurred his speech and was unsteady on his feet, records state.

In mid-January, Fowler was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication while he was off duty and riding in a vehicle that was involved in an accident in the Oak Lawn area on his 28th birthday. He was hired in 2007.

Fowler declined to comment.

Chief Oly Yahnson Ivy Arrested for Aggravated Assault

The police chief of the Leon County community of Oakwood was arrested early Monday in Palestine on a warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to authorities.

Oly Yahnson Ivy, 30, was taken into custody without incident shortly after 2 a.m. Monday after Anderson County sheriff’s deputies stopped his vehicle near the intersection of Loop 256 and West Oak Street, according to Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor.

Ivy was arrested on an “aggravated assault with a deadly weapon warrant” out of Leon County, according to Taylor. The sheriff said the warrant did not have a pre-set bond amount.

The police chief was booked into the Anderson County Jail and arraigned by Anderson County Justice of the Peace Carl Davis before being released into the custody of Leon County sheriff’s authorities at 3:22 a.m. Monday, according to Taylor.

Taylor said his agency received a teletype around 1:30 a.m. Monday, “advising us that this subject would possibly be traveling through our area (in a tan 2006 four-door Dodge pickup) en route to a jurisdiction outside of our area.”

The sheriff said Ivy was believed to be traveling to Hillsboro.

Also, Taylor said the teletype advised that the wanted individual was a peace officer who was possibly in possession of a badge, police radio and weapons.

Anderson County sheriff’s Sgt. Ronnie Foster and deputy Chris Crowley then traveled to the Westwood area on West Oak Street to await the possible arrival of the suspect.

Ivy was subsequently pulled over by the officers at 2:08 a.m. Monday and arrested without incident, according to the sheriff, who was uncertain whether the suspect was in possession of any weapons or other contraband.

Taylor was also unsure about the specific allegations against Ivy.

“For the record, I don’t know what the warrant was a result of,” Taylor said. “No one’s immune. There are people who make bad choices in all professions.”

Deputy Scott Masterson Arrested for Stealing Farm Equipment

Greenwood County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Masterson was arrested and charged with Misconduct In Office after a SLED investigation.

SLED agents say Masterson possessed stolen farming equipment at his Abbeville County home.

According to a SLED warrant, between September 1, 2008 and April 2, 2009, Masterson acted willfully, intentionally and dishonestly with bad faith and corrupt intentions engage in acts of misconduct in office by committing acts and omissions in breech of his duties of good faith and accountability in violation of South Carolina laws.

They say Masterson turned himself into SLED agents.

“We are always disappointed when we find that someone the public trusts to enforce the laws is breaking the laws themselves,” said Sheriff Tony Davis. “It is a breach of that trust and a slap in the face for honest members of law enforcement. For those who believe that such serious crimes would be overlooked, or punished only by reassignment or termination, today’s action should serve as a wake-up call. Those who engage in such crimes and place themselves above the law should expect to be arrested, as this officer was today. The law enforcement badge has been tarnished. Every proud and honorable member of our profession at the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office is outraged by what we have witnessed in this case, and with good cause. Our badges represent a sacred promise to protect and serve, not a shield behind which rogue officers may hide and abuse their authority. The behavior described in this criminal case is not representative of the hard work and dedication of other employees at the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office.”

Jury Still Deliberating Police Brutality Case

A Suffolk jury entered its fifth day of deliberations Monday in a case that has featured sharply divided explanations of how a tourist on Fire Island suffered a ruptured bladder in police custody.

Prosecutors say Ocean Beach's former acting police chief, George Hesse, 40, of East Islip, caused the injury when he punched and stomped on the former Manhattan man, Sam Gilberd, 36, on Aug. 28, 2005. Hesse faces first-degree assault, gang assault and other charges.

Prosecutors say another officer, Arnold Hardman, 53, of St. James failed to seek medical attention for Gilberd and concealed the extent of his injuries. Hardman faces reckless endangerment, conspiracy and other charges.

Lawyers for both defendants say Gilberd ruptured his own bladder in a fall. After being ticketed for drunkenly smashing a glass outside a bar, Gilberd became belligerent and struggled with police, the defense lawyers have said. They say that during the scuffle, Gilberd fell on an aluminum scooter parked inside the police station and his bladder, swollen from hard drinking, tore open.

After one day of deliberations, an elderly male juror was hospitalized for a nosebleed and had to be replaced with an alternate.

Upon making the switch, State Supreme Court Justice William Condon instructed the group to begin deliberations anew.

In the days that followed, the group has asked for hours of testimony to be read back, including testimony from two Ocean Beach police officers who said they witnessed the attack and are now cooperating with prosecutors.

Two Des Moines Officers on Paid Leave Accused of Police Brutality

Des Moines police officers left fourteen marks on Octavius Bonds' back with batons after a traffic stop in September. Police say they had no choice but to use force, but Bonds and his passenger claim it was police brutality.

Now the officers responsible have been taken off duty.

The two officers have been put on paid administrative leave as an investigation continues into their conduct at the traffic stop. Last month, Octavius Bonds and Erin Evans were found not guilty of provoking police during the September traffic stop. The officers are off duty after investigators found inconsistencies in their stories.

Defense attorney Peter Berger told Channel 13 that his clients have been cooperative with police during this investigation, and says he is glad to see something is finally being done about an inappropriate use of force.

"Erin Evans did pull over to the left lane, it just wasn't fast enough. So over a suspected traffic violation, these people were hurt permanently and here we are," Berger said.

According to testimony, on September 13, officers John Mailender and Mersed Dautovic hit Bonds with batons fourteen times in the head, back, arms and legs. The department says one reason it has taken over six months to take any sort of action is that Evans and Bonds would not agree to an interview at department headquarters.

Berger says his clients have provided the department with sworn statements and testimony in open court, and that the department had more than enough to take action much earlier.

"We've cooperated, and they've both been diagnosed with emotional injuries, severe emotional injuries from what happened to them and that would be the last place they should go down and be interviewed again by police officers," Berger said.

The Des Moines Police Department told Channel 13 Monday that their internal investigation continues and more departmental action against the officers is possible.


Sgt Jeff Cotton Indicted for Shooting Robbie Tolan

A Bellaire police sergeant has been indicted in the shooting of Robbie Tolan. It happened on December 31 as Tolan, an aspiring baseball player, was returning to his Bellaire home on New Year's Eve.

Saying Monday's indictment of Sergeant Jeff Cotton is one step in a very long legal road, Tolan's attorney commended the Harris County grand jury, while saving harsh criticism for the city of Bellaire.

"The grand jurors are citizens, just like the Tolans and it's obvious the grand jurors, when they heard the facts, wanted to take a stand and decided not to whitewash, not to cover up, like Bellaire has been trying to do since the beginning," said Tolan's attorney, George Gibson.

Noticeably absent was Tolan, the man the epicenter of the case. He testified last week before the grand jury. Tolan was shot New Year's Eve by Cotton. He was stopped in front of his home when, according to Bellaire officials, Cotton mistakenly believed Tolan's care was stolen. Cotton arrived as backup. Bellaire police officer John Edwards made the initial stop.

"The question remains. Why did he pull over Robbie in the first place? We think we know the answer. Robbie was committing the crime of driving while black in Bellaire," said Geoffrey Berg, who's also representing Tolan.

"There is nothing about the indictment or any investigation which even suggests that race played any role in the stop or Sergeant Cotton's actions when he arrived as a backup officer," said Bellaire City Manager Bernie Satterwhie.

City of Bellaire officials did not answer any question Monday, instead reading only from a prepared statement. In the meantime, the grand jury foreman gave little insight for the indictment.

"Well, now it's going to go to trial and the public will know what we know," said grand jury foreman Michael Kubash. "We covet your prayers. That's all we can tell you. We ask you to pray for everyone involved."

Grand jurors decided that Officer Edwards' action didn't warrant indictment.

A trial date for Cotton hasn't been set yet. If convicted, Cotton faces anywhere from five years to life in prison. Meantime, Cotton is on administrative leave with pay with the Bellaire Police Department.

Deputy Murray Campbell Arrested for Drunk Driving while still in Uniform

A Harris County Sheriff's deputy is accused of driving while intoxicated. Investigators say he was arrested -- still in his uniform and driving a patrol car -- shortly after he got off duty this weekend.

The deputy has been identified as Murray Campbell. He has been with the sheriff's department for 17 years. According to the department, Campbell worked a 16 hour day when he was arrested Saturday night outside the Montgomery Trace subdivision where he lives in Montgomery County.

A sheriff's office spokesman said Campbell reported he had pulled over to help a deputy constable on a traffic stop when an off-duty DPS trooper stopped in her car and told him he had been speeding and weaving. Campbell is said to have refused a Breathalyzer test when another trooper arrived, so he was arrested and a blood sample was taken. For now, Campbell is on desk duty.

HCSO Spokesperson Bob Dogium explained, "Until there's a final determination, which will come from the blood test, I don't think it's inappropriate or out of line to consider fatigue."

A DPS spokesman in Austin says there is nothing in their arrest report to indicate that the deputy had pulled over to help another officer when he was arrested.

Campbell remains on desk duty and his patrol car has been taken away until the blood test results come back and the case is resolved.