Friday, May 01, 2009

Officer Michael Leepper Arrested for Drunk Driving

A Metro police officer is facing charges after he was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

An Indiana State Trooper pulled over Michael Leepper of Indianapolis at the I-65 southbound ramp to East Street for an unsafe lane movement at around 2:00 am. Leepper is an officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

The trooper noticed a strong smell of alcohol in Leepper's vehicle. The trooper conducted an investigation that resulted in Leepper being arrested, and taken to the Marion County Adult Processing Center.

Leepper was driving his personal vehicle at the time of the traffic stop. He faces a Class A misdemeanor of Operating While Intoxicated and Class B misdemeanor of Public Intoxication.

Officer Michael Wooton Accused of Shooting Neighbor's Dog

An off-duty Essex police officer could face charges for shooting his allegedly neighbor’s dog after it tangled with his Pug, state police say.

Michael J. Wootton, 34, an Essex police officer who lives in Waterville, allegedly shot and killed the mixed-breed dog Thursday afternoon.

Police say his Pug went to a neighbor’s property on Phyllis Lane and became involved in a fight with a dog belonging to Melinda Maskell, 28. Wootton returned home, obtained a hand gun and fired one shot into the dog, according to a state police.

Wootton could face charges of cruelty to animals and recklessly endangering another person. An investigation is under way.

Officer Calvin Schaffer Accused of Offering to Dismiss Case in Exchange for Sex

A Wichita woman secretly recorded conversations with a police officer accused of offering to get a case dismissed in exchange for sex.

According to recently unsealed court documents, Angelique Mason also sent nude pictures of herself from her cell phone to Goddard police officer Calvin Schaffer's (SHAY'-fur) cell phone. The 44-year-old Schaffer had arrested her in February for allegedly driving drunk.

He was charged Wednesday with wire fraud for allegedly sending naked pictures of himself to Mason from a computer at the Goddard Police Department while he was on duty. He no longer works for the department.

Prosecutors claim he offered to help get the case dismissed in exchange for sex.

According to court records, Mason had filed a complaint about Schaffer with the FBI.

Schaffer declined to comment Friday. Mason did not return a message seeking comment.

Taser Death of Roger Holyfield Quietly Settled

The mother of a teenager who died after being Tased by police officers has quietly settled her wrongful death lawsuit.

Rita Cummings is the mother of Roger Holyfield of Dow, who died at age 17 after a run-in with local police in 2006.

Cummings had a civil suit pending against dispatchers and members of the Jerseyville Police Department, Illinois State Police and the city of Jerseyville after authorities refused to file criminal charges in 2007.

According to Jersey County Circuit Court records, the civil suit was settled earlier this spring.

"They just swept it under the rug," said Rayburn Holyfield, Roger's grandfather. "The two guys that killed him just went on their merry way."

The civil suit alleged that on Oct. 28, 2006, Holyfield was abused by Officers Matt Witt and Todd Wagner of the Jerseyville Police Department, assisted by Officer John Lawson and Trooper Jeff Bridges of the State Police. The defendants allegedly abused Holyfield mentally and physically by shooting him multiple times with a Taser and using forcible restraint when it allegedly was not needed.

The suit claimed that Witt, Wagner, Lawson and Bridges responded that day to the 600 block of South State Street in Jerseyville, where they found Holyfield holding a telephone and a Bible, stating, "I want my mother."

Without sufficient cause, the suit contended, the officers placed Holyfield under arrest, and Holyfield allegedly made no attempts to resist.

The suit alleged that the officers shot Holyfield with Tasers multiple times, even though he was handcuffed and face-down on the ground, and allegedly abused him physically while putting him in a squad car.

After this abuse, the suit claimed, Holyfield began to vomit, and an ambulance was called.

Holyfield died on the way to a St. Louis hospital on Oct. 29, 2006.

Cummings claimed "wrongful death" against the defendants on the grounds that Holyfield suffered severe pain and injury in the incident without just cause or imminent threat of bodily harm toward the officers.

The suit further alleged that the Jerseyville Police Department failed to adequately train or control its dispatchers and officers.

Attorney Mark Niemeyer, who represented Cummings in the suit, could not be reached Friday for comment, nor could attorney Charles Pierce, who represented Jerseyville Police Chief Brad Blackorby.

Robyn Ziegler, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Attorney General's Office, which was the legal representation for the State Police in the civil case, said the two sides settled but that there was no amount of money involved.

"The plaintiff dismissed the suit against the Illinois State Police because they recognized that the State Police had no involvement," Ziegler said.

In November 2007, Wagner and Witt were cleared of criminal responsibility in Holyfield's death.

According to special prosecutor Chuck Colburn of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, the officers were not found to have caused Holyfield's death or to have possessed the mental state or recklessness to be held criminally responsible for it.

A number of witnesses, 40 hours of interviews and more than 1,000 pages of reports were taken into account, Colburn said.

The office's findings included:

- A report by St. Louis Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Phillip Burch, who performed the teen's autopsy, that said Holyfield's death was from natural causes as a result of "excited delirium" and not caused by the use of the Tasers; and

- That officers Wagner and Witt were not found to have had the intention to kill or cause great bodily harm to Holyfield and were following proper police procedure when the incident occurred.

After the report came out, the Appellate Prosecutor's Office and Jerseyville Police Department issued statements of sympathy toward Holyfield's family. The Police Department maintained that officers Wagner and Witt followed procedure in the incident.

Holyfield's family then went on with the civil case against the defendants, pursuing compensatory damages, punitive damages, and court costs and fees.

Officer Alberto Perez Arrested for Extortion & Threats

Avon Park Police Officer Alberto Perez was out of jail Friday on a $6,000 bond following his second arrest Thursday for allegations of police misconduct.

Perez, 34, was arrested on warrants charging extortion or threats and official misconduct.

The new charges stem from the original investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's (FDLE) Sebring field office and the Avon Park Police Department into allegations of police misconduct.

"For us, it's still under the same case, but a new victim and new witnesses," said Yolanda Carbia, resident agent in charge of the Sebring FDLE office.

Perez, an APPD officer since July 2007, was first arrested in December 2008 and charged with one count of extortion or threats. The allegation was that, during an April 19, 2008 traffic stop, the officer told the victim to pay him $200 or get a ticket.

On June 28, 2008, Perez reportedly responded to a two-vehicle accident at the intersection of Main Street and South Lake Avenue in Avon Park, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The driver of a Dodge truck was responsible because he reportedly rear-ended a van with his vehicle. Perez arrived at the accident and took the truck driver's license. The officer told the Hispanic male that his license was invalid and that he could be arrested, the affidavit stated.

"OK, take me to jail," the man reportedly told Perez.

Perez allegedly told the man he could keep him out of jail if he paid the officer $300. The driver then got the money out of his truck and put it in the back of Perez's ticket book, according to the affidavit. The man was released and given a copy of the crash report.

With this second arrest, Carbia hopes that others who may have been victims of this type of extortion will come forward. She said they may fear punishment because, by their paying the officer, they are now involved in his crime.

"I think people are kind of hesitant to come forward," Carbia said.

Perez has been on unpaid administrative leave from the APPD since the first arrest.


Officer Ernie Miller Accused of Sending Racially Charged Text Message

State police are investigating allegations that a Keyser city police officer sent a local family a racially-charged text message.

Anthony and Samantha Lockett say in February they received a vicious text that threatened their home and their young children.

The Locketts say after they got the text they called the number back and got Officer Ernie Miller.

Investigators say the text was sent from a computer, not from a cell phone.

A spokeswoman for the Keyser Police Department says they're standing behind Officer Miller, and that there's no evidence to substantiate the Locketts' claims.

"I was shocked. I was surprised that anyone could write anything like that because that could be anyone's kids. I think it affects people more who have black kids or biracial kids," Samantha said.

State police say Officer Miller will voluntarily take a lie detector test next week. Anthony Lockett says he would do the same.