Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Former Officer Gerald Copeland Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Prostitutes

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office is investigating three cases where prostitutes were picked up in Atlanta and brought to Fayette County. In all three cases, victims were sexually assaulted and beaten then abandoned in north Fayette County.

On April 20, 2009 during the early morning hours, Fayette County Sheriff’s deputies responded to north Fayette County when a motorist observed a partially clothed female, with no shoes, walking in an undeveloped subdivision.

The victim provided Sheriff Deputies with a description of the suspect and the vehicle that the suspect was driving. Evidence left at the scene led investigators to the suspect in this case.

Gerald Copeland, 48, a former 20 year veteran of the Fulton County Police Department and current resident of Fayette County was arrested for aggravated sexual battery, battery and false imprisonment. While other charges are pending, Copeland will appear before a Magistrate Judge for a first appearance hearing at 2:00 p.m. today.


Former Officer Robert Vargas Guilty of Stalking

A jury found a former Lansing police officer guilty on Tuesday of stalking a Blackman Township public safety officer who arrested him in 2007.

After nearly a day of deliberations, jurors acquitted Robert Vargas, 39, of Mason of aggravated stalking, a felony, and convicted him of the lesser charge of misdemeanor stalking.

They also found him not guilty of malicious use of a telephone, a misdemeanor.

Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson is to sentence Vargas May 28. His crime is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Public Safety Officer Joseph Merritt testified that Vargas twice called him in April 2008 and made threatening statements.

The threats occurred after Merritt arrested Vargas in 2007 in Blackman Township on a domestic violence charge.

A Jackson County jury found Vargas not guilty of domestic violence, but guilty of harassing his former girlfriend with a telephone. He was sentenced to probation.

Soon after his probation ended, Vargas called Merritt, according to Merritt and cell phone and court records.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Mark Blumer argued the threats "terrified" Merritt, who sent his wife and children from their home after he received the first call.

Merritt testified he worried often about Vargas, who lives within a half mile of Merritt's home.

"I think about it when I am out plowing snow, I think about it when I am weeding flower beds. I think about it all the time," Merritt testified.

Defense lawyer Fred Blackmond argued Merritt was not really afraid of Vargas.

Blackmond said the elements to prove the felony charge of aggravated stalking "weren't really there."

Blackmond said Vargas, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, is retired from the Lansing Police Department. He received a duty disability pension after he was shot four times and killed one of the suspects during a robbery in progress in April 2004.

Officer Derek Dayoub Charged with Assaulting McDonald's Employee

A suburban Pittsburgh police officer faces preliminary hearings on charges he assaulted an employee at a McDonald's restaurant in October and another man in September.

Washington County District Attorney Steven Toprani says 26-year-old Derek Dayoub is charged with simple assault, official oppression and harassment in both incidents. Dayoub has not commented and is suspended from the Smith Township police department.

Toprani says Dayoub threw a man headfirst into the rear tail light of a car then emptied a can of pepper spray on him without being provoked.

Dayoub had previously been accused of squeezing a pressure point near the McDonald's worker's collarbone during a dispute. The nerve hold caused the 19-year-old worker to collapse.

Dayoub's hearings are scheduled Tuesday.

Former Deputy Brandon Claggett Arrested for Domestic Violence

A former Clackamas County sheriff's deputy was arrested late Monday night after an incident in Oregon City.

Officers were called to a home near the intersection of South Meyers and Deer Meadows roads at about 7:30 p.m. after a report of a domestic situation. A woman had run away from the home and called police from the nearby Haggen grocery store, according to authorities.

She told police that she had been injured in a fight with her estranged husband Brandon Claggett, who was suicidal, authorities said.

A standoff ensued at the home, but police said they later reached Claggett on his cell phone and learned that he had left his home and was in Salem to pick up his children. Officers said they convinced Claggett to meet them at the Haggen's grocery store, where he was arrested without incident.

Neighbors described the situation as hectic during the brief standoff.

"There was cops up and down the road and like 30 minutes later there was ten more cop cars. We saw them running back and forth between the street and Haggens," neighbor Nicole Beach said. "They had every street blocked in the neighborhood. My mom could not even come up. They made her turn around and leave."

Police returned to his house Tuesday with search warrants and reported recovering evidence along with several guns and one from his truck.

Claggett made his first court appearance by camera in Oregon City on Tuesday. His charges include kidnapping, menacing, unlawful use of a weapon and assault. His bail was set at more than $250,000.

Claggett, who was a 14-year deputy with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, resigned in October 2008 after being accused of inappropriately touching a 20-year-old woman who was participating in a ride-along with him. An internal investigation into the incident was suspended when Claggett resigned.
Video: Ex-Sheriff's Deputy Arrested In Oregon City
Other information: http://www.kgw.com/news-local/stories/kgw_042109_news_deputy_assault.f7ed80aa.html

Two Florida Officers Arrested on Drug Charges

Two law enforcement officers in the Florida Keys were arrested on drug charges in an FBI-led undercover operation, a U.S. attorney's spokeswoman said.

Shawn Hernandez, a corrections officer with the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, and Jonathon Jacox, a officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, were charged with possession with intent to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to traffic in narcotics and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony, The Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

Hernandez and Jacox were arrested after allegedly accepting and transporting in Florida what they believed were cocaine and heroin, said Alicia Valle, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office.

Florida fish and wildlife officers "are an exemplary group of people and we offer no refuge to those within our ranks who choose to break the law,'' said commission Chairman Rodney Barreto.

Former Officer Ken Hammond Gets 90 Days for Sexual Battery

As the judge called his case number, Ken Hammond stood up from the audience and began the long walk to the podium to face his sentence.

He passed the sort of people he had once arrested as an Ogden police officer — people facing charges for DUI, assault and domestic problems. This time, he was the one facing a charge.

The ex-cop who was hailed as a hero for stopping the killing spree at the Trolley Square mall was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Tuesday, having pleaded no contest to a class A misdemeanor charge of sexual battery.

"There are a lot of good people who do bad things," 2nd District Judge Pamela Heffernan told him.

Hammond, 35, was ordered to report to the Weber County Jail on April 29. He will be allowed out of jail to go to work each day, and he will remain on probation for a year. He was also ordered to pay a $370 fine, undergo a mental-health evaluation and pay for counseling for his victim.

Hammond was originally charged with unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old, a third-degree felony, but struck a plea deal with Weber County prosecutors. In 2005, the officer responded to a disturbance at an apartment where a 17-year-old girl had been staying with her friend. He ran background checks and left, but returned two hours later.

Prosecutors said that the girl performed oral sex on Hammond, at the encouragement of others at the apartment.

"This case is not the fault of the victim. The law protects a 17-year-old girl from a 32-year-old," prosecutor Sandra Corp said. "As a police officer, he was in a position to know this was wrong."

Hammond said nothing during his sentencing and declined to talk about it outside of court. Supporters flooded the judge with letters, including one from Stacy Hanson, who was shot during the mall massacre. Hanson wrote that if it weren't for Hammond's actions, he would be dead.

Hammond was decorated as a hero for his role in ending the 2007 shooting rampage at the Trolley Square mall. The officer was off duty and on an early Valentine's date with his wife when Sulejman Talovic, 18, entered the mall and began shooting.

Five people were killed and four were wounded before Hammond got into a shootout with Talovic, keeping him distracted until Salt Lake police arrived. Talovic was shot and killed by police.

On Tuesday, as Hammond stood silently before the judge, his lawyer, Brenda Beaton, said, "He has been punished already." She noted Hammond's notoriety and the "media onslaught" that has followed him since his heroic actions at the Trolley Square mall. Hammond quit the Ogden police force and will never be a police officer again in Utah.

The alleged victim in the case did not show up to speak, and in a letter, supported a sentence that is proportionate to what others facing a misdemeanor charge would receive, Beaton said. She reported the actions years after they occurred.

Hammond also is facing a civil lawsuit from another woman accusing him of misconduct.

Heffernan said that because Hammond was a police officer and on duty, his case was more egregious. His actions at Trolley Square, she said, "to some degree are irrelevant in this case."

Beaton said that if sentenced to jail time, Hammond would become an immediate security risk.

"In light of the fact that you are recognizable, that makes you more vulnerable," Heffernan said, giving Weber County authorities options for his jail sentence. "They will determine what is most appropriate and safe."