Friday, April 10, 2009

Sgt. Jeff Cotton Indicted for Shooting Civilian

The Bellaire police sergeant charged in the shooting of a civilian that raised accusations of racial profiling was shocked by his indictment and maintains that he “in no way is a racist,” a spokesman for his lawyer said Tuesday.

A grand jury on Monday indicted Sgt. Jeff Cotton, who is white, in the Dec. 31 shooting of a black man in the driveway of his own home near a vehicle that Cotton mistakenly believed was stolen. The shooting prompted allegations that Cotton’s actions were racially motivated and ignited concerns about the treatment of minorities in Bellaire.

Cotton’s representatives, offering his perspective for the first time Tuesday, said race played no role in the encounter.

“Sgt. Cotton did what any prudent officer would have done in the same circumstances,” said David Donahue, an assistant to attorney Paul Aman. “This was a split-second decision and he is not a racial profiler.”

Cotton, 39, stands charged with first-degree aggravated assault by a public servant. He turned himself in Monday night and is free on a $20,000 bail.

Since 2004, five local officers have faced charges after incidents ranging from questionable use of a Taser to the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen. Prosecutors won a conviction against only one, Arthur Carbonneau, who killed 14-year-old Eli Escobar in November 2003.

Cotton’s case will be the first test of new District Attorney Pat Lykos’ police integrity division. The prosecutor who led investigations into law officers before Lykos’ arrival, Joe Owmby, left the office in December.

The incident that led to Cotton’s indictment began shortly after 2 a.m. Dec. 31. Robert Tolan, a 23-year-old former Bellaire High School baseball player who has tried to play professionally, drove toward his parents’ home after getting off of work at a restaurant.

An officer ran the plates on Tolan’s Nissan Xterra but pulled up the wrong information, leading him to believe the car was stolen. Several officers approached Tolan and his cousin as they got out of the SUV, ordering them to the ground.

Tolan’s family came outside and tried to convince officers of their mistake. During the exchange, Tolan’s mother was pushed against a wall. When Tolan rose to protest, Cotton fired several times, striking him once in the chest.

A grand jury began hearing testimony about the incident last week. Cotton spoke to them for two hours.

“He felt positive,” Donahue said of Cotton. “He was quite shocked the grand jury even came up with the conclusion to indict him.”

Cotton’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 17. The Bellaire Police Department’s own investigation is ongoing, and Cotton remains suspended with pay.

Phoenix Police Raid Bloggers Home

In what should send a frightening chill down the spine of every blogger, writer, journalist and First Amendment advocate in the United States, Phoenix police raided the home of a blogger who has been highly critical of the department.

Jeff Pataky, who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, said the officers confiscated three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging.

The 41-year-old software engineer said they also confiscated numerous personal files and documents relating to a pending lawsuit he has against the department alleging harassment - which he says makes it obvious the raid was an act of retaliation.

Maricopa County Judge Gary Donahoe signed the search warrant that allowed at least ten cops to raid his home in North Phoenix on March 12 while handcuffing his female roommate for three hours as they tore the place apart.

Pataky, who was out of town on a business trip during the raid, also believes police were retaliating against him for the content of his blog, much of it which comes from inside sources within the department.

“They broke into my safe and took the backups of my backups,” he said in a phone interview with Photography is Not a Crime on Wednesday.

“I can’t even file my taxes because all my business plans are gone. They took everything.”

The search warrant lists “petty theft” and “computer tampering with the intent to harass” as probable causes. He has yet to see an actual affidavit that lists in detail the probable cause and is skeptical that one even exists.

“They say everything has been sealed,” he said.

The conflict between Pataky and the Phoenix Police Department began two years ago during “a nasty divorce” after moving out of the house he had shared with his wife. His said she was not taking the divorce too well and began filing false allegations against him accusing him of stalking and harassing her.

Many of the reports she filed accused him of doing things when he was out of town, he said.

So he began filing complaints with everybody from Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon down to Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris to no avail. He was eventually indicted for harassing his ex-wife.

A month before the trial, he and a few friends launched the website as a rant against the police department. When he went to trial in May 2008, his charges were immediately dismissed because of lack of evidence, he said.

“We were going to shut down the website after that but then all of a sudden all these good cops started hitting the site and sending us tips,” he said.

He said they would also deliver all kinds of internal documents from within the department exposing everything from a cop with multiple DUIs to another cop whose son was a child molester and was trying to get on the force (and was eventually arrested).

“We have about 50 to 100 retired and active cops who provide us information,” he said.

Police apparently believe one of the tipsters is an officer named David Barnes, who fell out of favor with the department in 2007 when he was a detective and went public with claims of mismanaged evidence at the city crime lab.

Police also raided Barnes’ home and according to Pataky’s inside sources, plan to raid the homes of more cops.

Police have been extremely vague about the nature of the raids, according to the arizona republic.

Police officials said Wednesday that a Phoenix detective prompted the investigation after complaining about harassment, though they declined further comment…

Phoenix Assistant Chief Andy Anderson said the harassment case is unique because of the connection to an unaccredited grassroots Web site. He said the blog is one part of the case, though he did not provide specifics of the ongoing investigation.

“This isn’t about the blog,” Anderson said. “That’s just where the investigation led.”

The allegation of “petty theft” against Pataky stem from photos he posted on his blog of police name plates that appear to have been taken from within the department. He said he actually made the plates himself.

The allegation of “computer tampering with the intent to harass” obviously has to do with his no holds barred criticism of the department.

Pataky, who has since purchased a new laptop, is taking the raid in stride and has added it to the allegations in his pending lawsuit.

And he has not let it stop him from blogging.

“They thought they were going to scare us into a corner but they just made us stronger.”

New School Occupation: What The Fuck Happened Friday Morning?


That's the question on just about every New School student's mind right now. Too make a long story short what happened was a peaceful act of civil disobedience and reclaimation of space was violently evicted by the NYPD in cooperation with the New School administration. But here's the full story:

5:00 AM: About 60 Students enter 65 5th Avenue. No property was destroyed in the process. Students begin to lock doors and barricade themselves in the building.

5:30: Two maintainence individuals in the building were asked to leave. One individual who the students believe was another maintainence employee attempted to open a door from the outside as the building was being barricaded, students pull the door shut and the individual's leg was momentarily accidently caught in the door in the process. His leg was not injured, he did not need to be hospitalized.

5:45: Police arrive

6:00: More police arrive and they work out their gameplan with New School security and Linda Reimer. Police use Fanton hall as a planning area.

6:30: A picket begins in front of the building, but is shut down by police move supporters from corner to corner. One officer is heard to say "get them as far back as possible." Media begins to arrive

7:00: More supporters are arriving only to be constantly dispersed by police.

7:30: Student representives of the "Advisory Committee on Free Speech Activities" set up to determine what should happen in just such an instance as this attempt to meet with Linda Reimer. Linda Reimer refuses to meet with them, saying that this is "the big time." Predictabally, this committee is revealed to be a sham. The administration calls the shots, not the students
The student occupiers appear on the roof and start giving speeches.

8:30: Supporters continue to be pushed away from 5th Avenue. Kerrey releases a statement that he "no longer considers [the protesters] students." This despite the statement in the University's 'Guidelines for Demonstrations at University Facilities' that states: "The Code of Conduct indicates that when members of the university community are alleged to have committed violations, 'they will be accorded the due process to which they are entitled. Members of the university community are granted a fair hearing: they are fully advised of any charges against them, they are afforded ample opportunity to respond to accusations, and they are given a clear explanation of the right to an appeal.'"

9:00: Many police are showing up now. It becomes clear there is going to be a raid. Police appear on the roof of the building.

10:30: The occupiers attempt to leave peacefully out of a door on 14th street. Cops slam the doors closed and spray pepper-spray at the students. This incredible incident was captured on video and can be viewed on the New York Times webpage. Supporters, including at least one New School student, apprently vocally shaming the police for their brutality, and beaten up, pepper-sprayed, and arrested.

11:00: There are hundreds of police now. The entire area is shut down. Helicopters circle in the sky. Confused spectators think this is some kind of bomb threat. Police throw tear gas into the building, presumably to move the students towards the first floor.

11:30: 19 are arrested from within the occupation. The rest presumably escaped safely sometime throughout the morning. Police begin to get rough with spectators outraged by the absurd excessive force and brutality they have witnessed.

12:00: The arrested students are brought to central booking. Shock begins to spread with the rumors of beatings and teargas.

12:40: Bob Kerrey releases a message wiping his hands clean of the situation and justifying the police intervention by fabricating an incident where a security guard had been injured. Upon talking to security guards, students discover that this a complete lie, no security guard has been involved in any physical altercation with protesters throughout the morning. It appears Kerrey purposefully twisted the incident at 5:30 AM to justify the use of violence.

After this, things begin to settle down. Legal aid goes to central booking, a support rally is called for Union Square at 10PM.

How can we make sense of what happened here? The president of the New School authorized the use of teargas and pepper-spray against his own students. When he realizes what a disgrace he has caused he invents a story to justify it. As word spreads from student to student rage about how this action was handled reaches a fury. Videos surface of the brutality. People's friends and classmates are in jail.

This has to be the last straw. Bob Kerrey, the students who were ambivlent towards you before certainly fucking hate you now. You gassed our friends, you locked them up. You will never be able to walk through your campus again. We need to get this violent fucker out of our school now in solidarity with the beaten and choked students sitting in jail. Write Bob Kerrey and tell him how disgusted you are, write the Free Press, write the board of trustees, student senators, deans, administrators, anyone you can. Kerrey needs to understand what a disgrace his handling of this event was for our university.

Officer Jionta L Gary Arrested for Assaulting Girlfriend


A Cleveland Police Officer has been arrest for felonious assault after police say he assaulted and threatened his live-in girlfriend following an argument in the home they share.

According to Cleveland Police Lt. Thomas Stacho, internal affairs detectives arrested 23-year old Cleveland Police Officer Jionta L. Gary on Thursday.

Gary, who has been with Cleveland P.D. since October, 2007, was charged on Friday with one count of felonious assault. Prosecutors say Gary allegedly battered the victim so severely that she suffered a fractured orbital bone. The alleged victim is being treated at MetroHealth Medical Center.

According to the victim, Gary then threatened to kill her if she reported the assault to police. He was arrested after reporting for work at the 2nd District Police Headquarters yesterday afternoon and is being held in Cleveland City Jail.

Gary will be suspended from duty without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case against him.

Cpl Jason King Accused of Hitting Man laying on Ground

An internal police investigation alleges that a city officer should be suspended from the force after he repeatedly hit a man as he lay unresisting in the street.

Cpl. Jason King has been accused of conduct unbecoming of an officer because of the attack and allegations that he falsified a police report in an effort to cover up the incident.

According to a letter outlining the allegations, written by Police Chief Darryl Boykins and addressed to the Board of Public Safety, King is accused of attacking Skee Katlun after a high-speed car chase on the city’s southwest side on the evening of Feb. 14.

In King’s police report, he writes that Katlun left the car and took a defensive stance, forcing King to hit him. A video recorded at the scene from a police cruiser, however, allegedly shows Katlun dropping face down on the ground, with his arms and legs spread.

Boykins’ letter, written after an internal investigation, said King began to repeatedly hit Katlun, using his right fist to deliver blows to Katlun’s head and back.

King’s police report states that Katlun struggled with officers and attempted to kick them.

But Boykins said the video shows that Katlun, now handcuffed and held by Patrolman David Klein and Sgt. Joseph Leszczynski, showed no signs of aggression as King pinned his leg back toward his buttock.

Those allegations, which Boykins said violate the department’s duty manual and constitute “duty unbecoming of an officer,” will be heard Wednesday, when the Board of Public Safety holds a special meeting to discuss the charges.

Boykins has requested that King, who has been working on “light duty” for several weeks, be suspended from the force, without pay, for 30 days. He also recommended that King be demoted from corporal to patrolman for one year.

Capt. Phil Trent, South Bend police spokesman, said King has been on “light duty” because of a medical condition and not because of the allegations. Light duty typically requires officers to do work inside the police station that does not include contact with the public.

Katlun, who has a criminal history including time in prison for theft, resisting law enforcement and drug possession, remains in jail on charges stemming from the February incident.

Court and police records do not indicate the extent of Katlun’s injuries, if any, from the incident. A relative contacted by The Tribune said Katlun said he had been in the jail’s infirmary, but county officials were unavailable to provide confirmation of that or a jail mug shot of Katlun on Thursday.

The charges

Katlun has been charged with resisting law enforcement and criminal confinement.

According to court documents, King spotted Katlun driving in a stolen car about 6 p.m. Feb. 14.

King, with lights activated, pursued Katlun, who allegedly ran several red lights and stop signs before forcing a police car off the road and crashing his car against a curb.

The criminal confinement charge stems from the accusations of a woman in Katlun’s car, who says she begged him to stop.

Trent said the investigation into the incident didn’t begin with a complaint, but with the routine review of police video footage.

He said police routinely review footage from high-speed pursuits or uses of force, as a way to ensure that proper procedures are followed.

The other two officers involved are not under investigation, Trent said.

Other incidents

King — who won the Chief’s Award of Valor in 2005 for attempting to pull a man out of a burning vehicle — has had physical altercations with suspects before.

In June 2006, King was hospitalized with a broken hand and cuts to his face after fighting a man while reportedly breaking up an alleged drug exchange.

In November 2006, King shot and killed 25-year-old Joseph Hanrath in the yard of a home in the 1900 block of South Vernon Street.

King shot Hanrath in the chest after the two began fighting. Hanrath grabbed King in a “military hold,” authorities said, forcing the officer to shoot from close range.

An investigation by the St. Joseph County Homicide Unit later declared the shooting justifiable.

In December 2007, King was critically injured in a traffic accident after his patrol car collided with that of another officer while responding to a burglary alarm. King reportedly fractured two vertebra in his neck and spent several days in the hospital before returning to the force several weeks later.

Officer Brian Adams Arrested for Tasering his Brother

A South Carolina police officer has been fired and faces a criminal charge after authorities say he used his department-issued Taser to attack his older brother.

Kershaw County deputies say 35-year-old Brian Adams has been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

Authorities say Adams' brother came to the officer's home in Lugoff to pick up his four kids Tuesday when the brothers started arguing and Adams fired his Taser while the children watched.

Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy says Adams was fired Wednesday after working for the force since 2000.

A number for Adams was not published and a message left at the Kershaw County jail was not immediately returned.

15-Year-Old Teen Dies After Being Tasered by Warren Police

A 15-year-old male who ran from police died after an officer used an electronic stun gun on him during a confrontation, Warren police said today.

The teen, whose name isn't being released because he is a minor, died about an hour after officers tried to pull over the vehicle he was riding in because of an expired license plate, said Deputy Commissioner Gere Green.

"For some unknown reason, he ran. He bolted across 8 Mile" into Detroit's east side, Green said.

Officers chased the teen south on Pelkey into an abandoned home, Green said. The teen resisted and got into a physical altercation with the officers, he said.

"He was Tasered once by one of our officers," Green said. "After that, he became unresponsive."

Officers administered CPR and the teen was rushed to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital's Warren campus, where he died at 10:17 a.m.

"It just turned bad, fast," Green said. "It's a sad situation."

Green said of the four officers at the scene, two have been placed on administrative leave because they are emotionally shaken by the incident.

Family members told police that the teen had some medical issues. An autopsy is being conducted by the Macomb County Medical Examiner's Office this weekend to determine the exact cause of death.

Green said the teen had no outstanding warrants or other issues that explained why he ran when pulled over. Two other young adults in the car were reportedly cooperative.

Detroit Police spokesman James Tate earlier today said his department would handle the death investigation. Green said that investigation instead will be handled by Macomb officials.

Other information:

Randy Huffman Files Brutality Lawsuit Against Bradley Police Department

Randy Huffman of Bourbonnais filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Bradley Police Department and an off-duty Bourbonnais police detective alleging he was the victim of police brutality.


For the rest of the story please click on this link:

Lansing Officer Accused of Using Excessive Force

A Lansing police officer is accused of using excessive force. A Lansing couple filed a complaint with the police department about an incident that happened Sunday at the Richwood apartment complex in Lansing. Raymond Gee is a 62-year-old man who lives in the apartment complex. He says he was sitting Sunday when a police officer asked him to move his car.

I said yeah as soon as my friend comes out.

He says the officer asked him again, and again, but he refused to move, and he says that's when the officer crossed the line.

Raymond Gee, filed a complaint against officer: "Next thing I'm getting hit in the neck and then next thing I turn my head towards him I get sprayed."

So Raymond's wife, Maryann, says she came outside and started arguing with the officer.

Maryann Gee, filed a complaint against officer: "I started walking away, he comes behind me and grabs me, pulls me down to the ground, puts the cuffs on me and he maced me."

Noel Garcia, Lansing Police Department: "The officer struggled in trying to get both of the Gees under arrest. Pepper spray was used and a taser was deployed."

Police say the officer reported the need to use force during the arrest, but the Gees say he went too far. Maryann's arm is in a sling and Raymond has cuts on his wrist and face. They filed a complaint with the Lansing Police Department. The department is investigating the incident.

Noel Garcia: "That process is interviewing a number of people that were witnesses."

We spoke to two people who say they saw everything, but tell different stories.

Doris Williams, witness: "I think he acted appropriately and I think he done his job to the best of his ability."

David Bosse, witness: "The cop started it. I mean, Raymond didn't do nothing."

So who was in the wrong? It's now up to those investigating the incident to decide. The Gees are both charged with resisting arrest and obstructing an officer. They will be back in court next week.

Officer Vonquita Tobias Arrested for Shooting Acquaintance

An off-duty Jackson police officer reportedly shot an acquaintance this evening at an apartment complex on Ridgewood Road and was arrested.

Precinct 2 officer Vonquita Tobias “was allegedly defending herself from attack during the course of a domestic dispute when she shot 31-year-old Terry Kaho in the foot,” JPD spokesman Lt. Jeffery Scott said in a news release.

The shooting happened just after 6 p.m. at Parham Pointe Apartments.

Kaho was taken to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. His injury was not considered life-threatening.

Tobias was arrested and charged with domestic violence and taken to the Hinds County Detention Center, police said.

Kaho will also be arrested on a domestic violence charge on his release from the hospital, police said.

No further information was immediately available.