Thursday, May 07, 2009
A state trooper who was captured on video kicking a handcuffed woman faces a misdemeanor assault and battery charge.
Trooper Barry Jacob E. Rowland, 32, of Bixby has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the charge against him, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Chris West said.
Rowland has been a trooper since May 2006.
He was charged March 3 in Okmulgee County District Court. He is accused of repeatedly kicking Dana Michelle Walls, 32, of Tulsa on Nov. 21 while she lay handcuffed on the ground outside Carolina's Trail Club in Henryetta.
Calls to Rowland and his attorney, Gary James, were not returned.
District Attorney Tom Giulioli said Walls didn't file a complaint against Rowland. The charge stems from allegations made by other officers who responded to a call for assistance at the club that night.
The Highway Patrol oversaw the investigation, which includes statements from other troopers and Henryetta and Dewar police officers.
Giulioli said video from Rowland's patrol car and another trooper's vehicle shows Rowland kicking Walls in the chest at least three times.
Rowland claims that Walls spit on him and was drunk. Walls is charged in Okmulgee County District Court with public intoxication and placing bodily fluid on an officer.
Walls told The Oklahoman that she doesn't recall how many times Rowland kicked her, but she woke up in the county jail the next morning with large bruises.
"I didn't file a complaint because I figured I wasn't the first person this had happened to," she said. "I doubt I'll be the last. Besides, he's a cop. I figured nothing would probably happen if I did" file a complaint.
She said she didn't spit on Rowland but remembers him asking her several times on the way to jail why she did it.
"I kept telling him, 'I didn't spit on you,' " Walls said.
Giulioli said the video doesn't show Walls spitting on Rowland.
West would not release the patrol video to The Oklahoman, saying it is part of an ongoing investigation.
If convicted of the misdemeanor assault, Rowland could face as much as 90 days in jail and be fined as much as $1,000.
If Walls is convicted of spitting on Rowland, a felony, she could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison.
Giulioli said there are strict statutes protecting law enforcement officers.
"It may not seem fair, but I'm not the one that makes the laws," he said. "Take that up with the state Legislature."
Walls spent nearly a week in the county jail before posting $250 bond. Jail officials have no record of Rowland being booked into jail, although Giulioli said he should have been.
The owner says police shot and killed the dog as it was running away. Police disagree. And, finding out what really happened could be hard to do.
The only thing agreed upon about this story is that it's about a dead dog. Whether or not he should have wound up that way is highly debatable.
The sidewalk is still stained with a blood trail that leads straight to controversy. Police Chief Tom Holland and dog owner Demetrius Morales have a tale of one dog from two different views.
Moose was a five-month-old pit bull, similar in color to one of Demetrius's other pits. Yesterday, Moose got out of the house, after which cops were called.
"Several neighbors were yelling be careful, he's vicious," Chief Holland says.
"My neighbors over here told them that dog's not aggressive, we play with him every day," says Demetrius.
Holland says the dog turned and came at both of the responding officers.
"Out of concern for their own safety, officers drew their weapons and the officer shot the dog in the shoulder," Holland says.
"Do you believe the officer?"
"No, I do not believe that officer," Morales said. "I have never showed my dogs how to be aggressive and they're not aggressive."
Holland says the department believes no police procedures were violated. But now, the controversial death of Moose might end up in court, where two views of what's right will be argued next.
"Get this officer either disciplined or he's gonna at least admit 'Okay I was wrong'," says Morales.
"Both of these are good officers," Holland says. "They did the right thing."
The controversy doesn't end there. Morales is upset that his dog's body was taken to the landfill. He says he wanted to bury his dog himself.
A 23-year-old Maricopa County Sheriff's Office detention officer has been arrested by Phoenix police and charged with prostitution in connection with a second wave of arrests in the Desert Divas case, said Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Jillian Lybarger was placed on administrative leave shortly after Wednesday's arrest, Arpaio said.
She was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail and was released on her own recognizance.
Ronald S. Martin, 36, of St. Regis Falls was charged with second-degree sexual abuse and official misconduct.
State Police say the abuse occurred on April 10, while he was working as a correction officer at the County Jail and the woman was incarcerated there.
Sheriff Jack Pelkey said he suspended Martin without pay on April 30 and asked the State Police to conduct an investigation, which ended in the arrest Thursday.
The sheriff was careful with his comments so as not to jeopardize the investigation, but said two other women being held at the jail had complained about Martin’s actions toward the 24-year-old female.
“Two female inmates approached a guard and said something’s going on with a guard and another female,” said Pelkey.
“They thought his behavior was inappropriate for a correction officer and didn’t think it was right what he was doing to the other female.”
Pelkey said he could not elaborate on what Martin is accused of doing, saying only that it was alleged “sexual contact” with the woman.
If a woman is in jail, she cannot legally give consent to any sexual act, the sheriff noted.
Martin has been employed by the county since March 31, 2000, first as a per-diem correction officer and then a full-time employee as of Aug. 3, 2001, according to the county Personnel Office.
He was released without bail and is to appear in Town of Malone Court at 9 a.m. next Thursday.
It was the deputy's fixation with women's breasts that was his undoing.
It cost him his job. It cost him his state law-enforcement certification. And now it has cost him two misdemeanor convictions on his criminal record.
Former Broward Sheriff's Deputy Charles E. Grady Jr. pleaded no contest Thursday to accusations that he ogled women's breasts after traffic stops last year.
Abiding by the terms of a negotiated plea deal, County Court Judge Mary Rudd Robinson sentenced Grady to two years' probation and ordered that he undergo psychological evaluation.
Grady, 39, resigned from the Sheriff's Office on April 1, two days after prosecutors filed two misdemeanor battery charges related to incidents reported during drunken-driving traffic stops last September and December.
As required for the plea deal, Grady relinquished his state law-enforcement certification April 6. He had been with the agency for 12 years and worked with the DUI task force.
Looking thin, pale and downcast, Grady left the courtroom without comment Thursday after sentencing.
In court, prosecutor David Schulson recounted Grady's actions during the traffic stops.
He said that on Sept. 19, Grady was called out by another deputy to give a field sobriety test to a 38-year-old old Boca Raton woman after she was pulled over about 3 a.m. near the Solid Gold strip club where she worked as a dancer.
When Grady took her to a holding cell, Schulson said, Grady pulled her shirt away from her chest and stared at her breasts.
On Dec. 19, when Grady stopped a 20-year-old Coral Springs woman at 2:45 a.m., Schulson said, Grady reached through her open car window and pulled on her bra strap to jiggle her breasts.
The woman in the September incident attended the hearing. To protect her identity, the Sun Sentinel is not publishing her name.
Outside court, she said it was scary to have been taken advantage of by someone in authority.
"I do have a fear that there are more victims out there, but who didn't come forward," she said.
Each of the first-degree misdemeanors could have carried a maximum penalty of a year in jail.
"The primary goal was to remove him from law enforcement not only in the state of Florida, but throughout the country," Schulson said.
The guilty convictions on Grady's criminal record should ensure that, Schulson said.
Jack Comeaux, 61, was arrested Tuesday on a charge of aggravated assault by a public servant in connection with the Jan. 17 incident. He posted bail the same day.
Texas Rangers had confirmed in March that an investigation was under way into Comeaux’s actions at the traffic stop.
Rosebud Police Chief Tim Wells had said that at 12:30 a.m. Jan. 17, Comeaux responded to a call for backup from a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who had encountered a truck with a blown tire north of Rosebud. The truck’s occupants told the trooper they had been assaulted during a fight earlier in the night, Wells had said.
Comeaux ordered the 17-year-old driver to remove his hands from his pockets, and the teen refused. Wells said the officer then choked him into unconsciousness. Comeaux later told Wells that he believed the teen had a gun in his pocket, Wells said.
The DPS trooper’s dashboard camera recorded the exchange.
Comeaux resigned from the department after the incident.
Comeaux told the Tribune-Herald that the video didn’t begin recording early enough to capture the teen’s growing belligerence.
Comeaux insisted the teen was not hurt, that he never lost consciousness and that the hold he used to pin the teen against the vehicle was a tactical restraint that applied no pressure to the teen’s neck.
A Folsom police officer was arrested for suspected drunken driving and battery stemming from an altercation at a Mexican restaurant Saturday night.
Officer Evan Fardanesh, 34, was at the Mexquite restaurant on Blue Ravine Road when he got into an argument with a female patron, according to police spokeswoman Michelle Beattie. The patron called police to say Fardanesh had shoved her and when officers arrived they found Fardanesh trying to drive out of the parking lot.
Fardanesh was arrested with a blood alcohol content of .19 percent, more than double the legal limit. Officers also charged him with battery based on the complaint from the female patron.
Restaurant manager Claudia Vasquez witnessed the altercation and told News10 she was surprised it resulted in a criminal charge. But Beattie said it was not a judgment call made by the responding officers.
"No matter how minor or major, if the allegation of battery is made we are obligated to take the arrest if a citizen insists upon it," Beattie said.
Fardanesh has been with the Folsom Police Department for nine years and has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation. The criminal complaint has been forwarded to the Sacramento District Attorney.
Antonio Buonanno pleaded not guilty Thursday in District Court to a misdemeanor charge of domestic disorderly conduct.
A Cranston police report said Buonanno was having an argument with his daughter, Christine, at their home in Cranston and that Buonanno “pulled out a butcher’s knife” and threatened the woman.
The report said that a few minutes later, “Buonanno put on his shoulder gun holster and taunted Christine” in a hallway.
Police said Buonanno had a pistol tucked into the back of his pants.
Christine Buonnano told NBC 10 that her father didn’t threaten her and that “it’s a resolved issue between me and the family.“
Buonanno can be prosecuted without his daughter’s cooperation.
Deborah DeBare, the executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said she is outraged by the use of a misdemeanor charge in cases like this.
“Unfortunately, it’s very common in domestic violence cases for first charges to result in a filing, which doesn’t even show up as a conviction on someone’s record,“ DeBare said.
DeBare said the coalition has been trying for several years to compel the General Assembly to include the domestic disorderly conduct charge penalties included in the stiffer mandatory penalities for domestic violence charges.
But sources tell NBC 10 that defense attorneys, the legislature and the American Civil Liberities Union oppose the legislation.
Ronald S. Martin, 36, of St. Regis Falls was charged with second-degree sexual abuse and official misconduct.
State Police say the abuse occurred April 10, while Martin was working as a correction officer at the County Jail and the woman was incarcerated there.
Sheriff Jack Pelkey said he suspended Martin without pay April 30 and asked the State Police to conduct an investigation, which ended in the arrest Thursday.
The sheriff was careful with his comments so as not to jeopardize the investigation but said two other women being held at the jail had complained about Martin's actions toward the 24-year-old female.
"Two female inmates approached a guard and said something's going on with a guard and another female," Pelkey said.
"They thought his behavior was inappropriate for a correction officer and didn't think it was right what he was doing to the other female."
Pelkey said he could not elaborate on what Martin is accused of doing, saying only that it was alleged "sexual contact" with the woman.
If a woman is in jail, she cannot legally give consent to any sexual act, the sheriff noted.
Martin has been employed by the county since March 31, 2000, first as a per-diem correction officer and then as full-time employee as of Aug. 3, 2001, according to the Franklin County Personnel Office.
He was released without bail and is to appear in Malone Town Court at 9 a.m. next Thursday.
Officer Scott Geving is accused of harassment, stalking, and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Police say he assaulted and stalked a woman after he pulled her over for allegedly driving drunk.
According to the criminal complaint, the 10-year veteran drove the woman home and started a pattern of unwelcomed visits to the victim's residence. The complaint says on one occasion, Geving kissed the woman on the mouth and touched her under her shirt.
Geving, 49, has not been on patrol since August 2008 when he was placed on administrative leave after he was accused in a similar case. He’s been paid for his time absent.
According to the other criminal complaint, Geving and a 46-year-old female motel employee had done a walk through of the building on Aug. 20.
Geving, who was on duty at the time, began to rub the woman’s back and told her he could relieve her stress. She declined, but the officer then followed her and kissed her on the mouth, according to court documents.
The complaint states Geving then pushed her against a washing machine in the laundry area of the motel and grabbed her hand in an attempt to have her touch his genitals.
Geving left the motel, but returned after his shift. The woman says officials Geving inquired about the price of a hotel room and whispered things to her.
Stillwater Police Chief John Gannaway declined to comment on camera, but gave a statement.
"We wish to remind the community that this is the exception to the rule, as there are 21 other officers who do fine and commendable work for the City of Stillwater," he said.
A Wolcott police officer faces assault charges following the arrest of a DUI suspect. Now surveillance video from inside the police station has just been released and Ofc. Brian Spiotti says he was just following police procedure.
The 12-year veteran is accused of beating 26-year old Glenn Pelletier while in lock-up back in January. There is no audio on the surveillance tape , but cops say the suspect was verbally abusive and even came at them in a threatening manner.
The tape shows Spiotti pinning Pelletier against a wall, striking him a few moments later and then kicking him into the holding cell.
"Everything that Spiotti did was taught to him at the police academy and he acted appropriately," said Spiotti's defense lawyer, Martin Minnella.
Minnella says Pelletier was not compliant with the officers and makes a move toward Spiotti before he hits him with his left hand.
"Spiotti merely gets him out of his space by using his non-dominant hand to push him away," Minnella explained.
Getting Pelletier into the holding cell wasn't easy either.
"He took a sideways stance, Pelletier, and kept his left foot outside the cage," said Minnella.
And the kick? Minnella calls it a push.
"It was a push that's taught at the State Police Academy for the police to use," Minnella said.
Spiotti pled not guilty to third-degree assault in court today.
Pelletier says he did nothing wrong and claims he wasn't drunk but he admits there were words exchanged that night. He wasn't injured, never went to a doctor and didn't file the complaint against Spiotti.
The state's attorney's office actually brought the charges against Spiotti, but the investigation was not done by State Police, as is common. It was done by Wolcott police themselves.
Spiotti's wife is also a cop and she successfully sued the department in an unrelated case last year.
"Wolcott, especially with the situation with his wife, should've immediately turned this over to the State Police to avoid even the appearance of impropriety," Minnella said.
Minnella has filed a motion to dismiss the criminal case.
There is a new police chief, but a controversy is following him to his new job. People are still speaking out against Pembroke police Chief Mark Crowe.
Many at Thursday night's meeting wanted a full investigation into a fight that Chief Crowe had that lead to the arrests of several people.
"We're going to pursue justice with all the force and relentless. Pursue justice until justice comes home," said Liston Singletary with NAACP.
The crowd was thin, but that's not stopping the NACCP from demanding answers. They say the crowd would be larger but many are scared to speak out against the people who are sworn in to serve and protect them.
The NAACP wanted to make sure people knew what they're rights are and that if they're civil rights are being violated that needs to be dealt with by the justice system.
One by one people stood up telling their stories of how they felt they were wronged by police.
"My heart is aching right now because there's a legacy in Pembroke, I'm 4th generation, and there's a legacy of police harassment and intimidation," said one woman.
Some say this has been going on for a while, but no one stood up; until the latest incident involving Mark Crowe. At the time Crowe worked for the Bryan County Sheriff's Office. Just before they named him chief of Pembroke, he was involved in a fight. Several people were hurt, including officers.
Many are outraged, including the President of the Georgia chapter of the NAACP. He couldn't attend the meeting, but called in and spoke to the crowd.
"We want to send a strong message to the mayor, we want to send a strong message to community leaders, we want to send a strong message to the sheriff and all law enforcement down there that you cannot beat our folk down here and not expect retaliation," said Edward Dubois.
They say Pembroke is known for sweeping things under the rug, but that's not happening this time around.
"It might not stop all of the brutality, but at least we will make them think," said Bryan Williams with NAACP.
No charges have been filed against Mark Crowe. The city of Pembroke said until there are charges they will continue backing him.
Other Information: http://www.wsav.com/sav/news/local/article/racial_allegations_against_law_enforcement_officer_in_bryan_county/12132/
Peterson was arrested Thursday evening during a traffic stop in Bolingbrook, said Chuck Pelkie, spokesman for Will County state's attorney.
Authorities declined to immediately release further details.
Savio's body was found in an empty bathtub. Her death was originally ruled an accidental drowning but authorities later said it was a homicide staged to look like an accident.
Savio's family has long voiced suspicions about the circumstances surrounding her death, especially after the October 2007 disappearance of Stacy Peterson, then 23.
Peterson, 55, is a suspect in the disappearance but has not been charged in that case. He has repeatedly said he thinks Stacy Peterson ran off with another man.
Peterson's attorney, Joel Brodsky, said in an e-mail Thursday he was on his way to New York and referred messages to Peterson's publicist, Glenn Selig. Selig said only that he could not confirm Peterson's arrest.
Savio's 73-year-old father, Henry, said Thursday that an arrest should have been made long ago.
"I always wondered" about her death, he said. "I was never pleased with the (coroner's finding of suicide) from the beginning."
In more than a year and a half since Stacy Peterson's disappearance, Drew Peterson has been under a media microscope, and at times he has seemed to relish the attention.
This week Selig said Peterson was interested in a job offer from a Nevada brothel that is the setting for the HBO reality show "Cathouse." An HBO spokeswoman said the network would sooner cancel the show than allow Peterson to appear on it.
Jones, a 23-year veteran of the department, had a warrant issued against him out of Chattahoochee County around two weeks ago, Darr said. When Darr learned of the warrant, Jones was called to the Sheriff’s office on the fourth floor of the Columbus Government Center.
“We arrested him, just like we’re supposed to, and took him to Chattahoochee County, where he made bond,” Darr said. “It involved an alleged domestic dispute.”
Jones has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation and the case against him, Darr said.
As a deputy, Jones was assigned to courtroom detail, Darr said. His duties included security and escorting prisoners.