Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lt Gerald Copeland Arrested for Abducting Prostitute and Raping Her

Gerald Copeland, a retired Lieutenant with the Fulton County Police Department was back in trouble with the law Thursday. Police said Copeland's crimes involve a prostitute.

In a widening investigation, another prostitute is claiming Copeland abducted her, robbed her and raped her.

Union City police have charged Copeland in connection with the discovery of a half-clothed Atlanta prostitute found wandering in a subdivision off Highway 92.

A passerby found the victim wandering down a deserted road. The woman was described as half beaten, robbed and raped.

The 48-year old former cop was arrested in Fayette County last month, charged in similar crimes with two other alleged prostitutes.

Police said other victims had also been taken to vacant subdivisions, where Copeland is accused of raping, assaulting and robbing them.

Investigators searched Copeland's home in North Fulton County. Copeland remained in the Fayette County Jail without bond Thursday.

Police said the Fayette County crimes happened in April, the Union City assault happened in March.

Police said they suspect there are many more victims out there who are too afraid to come forward.


Deputy Brian Vigil Charged with Robbing Pharmacy

A Rio Arriba County sheriff's deputy is facing charges following an armed standoff with police after he allegedly robbed a pharmacy.

Santa Fe Police Capt. Gary Johnson says negotiators got 37-year-old Brian Vigil to give up Monday afternoon and he was transported to a Santa Fe hospital.

Police say they followed Vigil from the pharmacy to a nearby field, where he alternated between sitting down, standing up and cursing at police, all while holding a gun to his own head.

No one was injured and no shots were fired during the two-hour standoff.

Vigil faces charges of robbery, tampering with evidence and five counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Vigil had been on light duty since January because of a head injury he received while on the job.


Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com
More Information: http://www.kcbd.com/Global/story.asp?S=10345696

Cpl Michael Wootton Accused of Shooting Neighbor's Dog

What are they thinking up in Essex? A police officer is charged with a crime involving a gun, yet the department fails to immediately relieve him of duty. For the sake of keeping the public's trust, the officer should have been placed on leave until the matter is settled.

Cpl. Michael J. Wootton is accused of shooting and killing a neighbor's dog which was fighting with his own dog and was charged with animal cruelty after a state police investigation. The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison, a fine of up to $2,000 or both.

In a news release issued Tuesday, The Essex Police Department stated in part: "The department continues to review the incident administratively. At this time, Corporal Wootton has not been placed on administrative leave and we cannot comment further due to the ongoing administrative investigation."

This refusal to comment on an investigation into the conduct of a police officer has become an all too familiar refrain that undermines confidence in law enforcement. An employer needs to respect the right of privacy in a personnel matter, but a government has to weigh that right against the public interest, which requires transparency when looking into charges of wrongdoing.

The least the Essex Police Department should do is put the officer at a desk in a job that doesn't involve guns and involves minimal contact with the public until the matter is settled, and let the public know that this action has been taken.

A better move would be to put in him on leave and out of uniform until his court case runs its course, if for no other reason than to reassure the public that the department takes the safety of the public seriously.

We don't know all the circumstances surrounding the shooting of the dog, but the bare facts are enough to raise concern about Wootton's judgment when it comes to the use of his gun. If there are good reasons to allow the officer to remain on duty and carry a gun, they need to be made clear to the public.

Until the concerns can be cleared up -- and without passing judgment on Cpl. Wootton -- the officer should not be placed in an official role that involves carrying a gun.

When a police officer has been charged with a crime, his superiors must do everything it can to protect the reputation of the department and ensure the public's faith in the police. So far, the Essex Police Department's response to the Wootton affair serves neither interest well.


Sgt Steven Mark Flamm Arrrested for Shoplifting & Child Endangerment

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant could face charges of grand theft and child endangerment in connection to the shoplifting of $790 in clothing from a store in Thousand Oaks, authorities said Tuesday.

Sgt. Steven Mark Flamm, 42, was booked into Ventura County Jail Monday after he turned himself in at the Thousand Oaks police station, said Detective Eric Buschow, a spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

Flamm, of Simi Valley, came to the police station voluntarily after Ventura County sheriff’s investigators contacted him and explained he was a suspect in the theft of two jackets worth a total of $790 from the Nordstrom store at The Oaks, Buschow said.

Flamm was initially stopped by Nordstrom’s loss prevention officers outside the store after the alleged theft, which occurred on the afternoon of May 1.

A Ventura County sheriff’s deputy responded to the scene at 346 W. Hillcrest Drive, and decided, along with store officials, to release Flamm pending further investigation, Buschow said. Authorities determined they had probable cause to arrest Flamm after reviewing surveillance video and the circumstances of the incident, he said.

Flamm was booked into jail on suspicion of felony grand theft and misdemeanor child endangerment, Buschow said. The child endangerment charge relates to Flamm’s alleged use of his young daughter as a participant in the crime, he said.

The girl is younger than 10 years old, Buschow said. He declined to discuss the specifics of the girl’s alleged involvement in the theft.

Flamm was released from custody Monday on $10,000 bail, Buschow said. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Ventura County Superior Court on May 18.

He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Flamm has been relieved of his law enforcement powers and placed on paid leave from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said department spokesman Steve Whitmore.

If the Ventura County District Attorney charges Flamm with a felony, he will be placed on unpaid leave, Whitmore said.

Emphasizing that Flamm is presumed innocent until proven guilty, Whitmore said the allegations are disturbing.

Flamm will remain on leave until the criminal proceedings are concluded, Whitmore said. If he is found guilty, he could be fired.

A member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department since 1988, Flamm recently worked in the department’s training bureau, Whitmore said.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeants can earn between $75,000 and $98,000 a year, plus overtime, according to documents posted on the county’s Web site.

Deputy Scott Payne Arrested for Theft and Drug Charges

A Gordon County Sheriff’s deputy has been arrested after an investigation linked him to the theft of fuel.

Scott W. Payne, 37, of Derby Lane, Calhoun, has been terminated as a deputy sheriff and jailed on theft and drug charges, Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston said.

According to Ralston:

Upon assuming office on Jan. 1, 2009, Ralton ordered a thorough audit and review of the operation of the Sheriff’s Office.

Part of this audit included an examination of fuel consumption in official vehicles. A serious discrepancy was noted concerning a particular deputy sheriff in the patrol division. As this discrepancy appeared very serious, Ralston contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to conduct an independent criminal investigation.

This investigation, which began in April, spanned several weeks and concluded with Payne’s arrest Monday by the GBI on theft charges.

When Payne was being allowed to retrieve personal belongings from a patrol car, he attempted to grab and destroy a cigarette box found to contain what is believed to be marijuana.

In addition to the theft charge, Payne will be charged with violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act by the GBI. He was booked at the Gordon County Jail and housed in a neighboring jurisdiction pending bond proceedings.

Payne had been employed in the Sheriff’s Office since November 1995, serving under two previous administrations. He was certified as a peace officer in October 1997.


Officer Robert Cirello Arrested for Road Rage

A Baltimore City police officer who is no stranger to controversy was arrested Friday and charged with assault and reckless endangerment in connection with a road rage incident in Harford County, Maryland State Police said Monday.

Officer Robert G. Cirello, 30, of Abingdon was driving in Bel Air about noon Friday when he and another driver got into an unspecified disagreement in traffic, state police said.

As the two vehicles reached Emmorton and Plumtree roads, the second driver said Cirello, who was off duty, flashed a gun, according to Sgt. Arthur Betts, a state police spokesman. The driver called police with a description of the vehicle.

Shortly afterward, officers located a vehicle matching that description at U.S. 1 and Route 24, found Cirello in possession of a handgun and made the arrest, Betts said. Cirello was booked at the Harford County Detention Center on two counts of first-degree assault, two of second-degree assault and two of reckless endangerment, police said.

He was released on $20,000 bond. Cirello did not immediately respond to phone messages left by The Baltimore Sun.

A New Jersey native and seven-year veteran of the city police, Cirello was the key figure in a 2006 incident in which four men said the officer improperly arrested them as they finished a game of pickup basketball in Patterson Park.

A jury agreed and awarded them a total of $1.85 million last May. The city ultimately settled the case for $320,000.

The men had said Cirello - in attempt to "prove he was King of the Park," according to court documents - drew his weapon in the process of arresting two of them, used pepper spray on the two and called for backup. Some spent weeks or months in jail awaiting trial before a jury acquitted all the men of assault charges.

Cirello asserted in a countersuit that the men converged on him in a hostile manner, one brandishing a knife, as he tried to evict them from the closed park. The jury rejected those counterclaims.

In a subsequent filing, the officer implied the men were responsible for an incident in which he was shot while patrolling the same park later that year.

As TheSun reported at the time, unknown assailants ambushed Cirello as he got out of his patrol car in Patterson Park on Sept. 7, 2006, shooting him twice in the chest at close range. Police said body armor saved him.

That part of Cirello's countersuit was dropped when the plaintiffs requested documents related to the shooting investigation.

A paramedic before becoming a police officer, Cirello was among those who aided victims at the World Trade Center towers in New York after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Cirello has been suspended from police duty pending the outcome of the criminal case and a department investigation, said Detective Nicole Monroe, a city police spokeswoman.

His preliminary hearing is set for June 4 in Harford County District Court.


Trooper Charles Davis Arrested for Hitting Boy with Handgun

A veteran Florida Highway Patrol trooper was fired today after he was arrested this weekend for allegedly hitting a 17-year-old boy with his handgun.

Charles Davis, 47, was booked into the Orange County Jail Sunday morning on a charge of aggravated battery. He has since been released.

According to police reports, Davis had two separate altercations with teens in his Lake Como neighborhood early Sunday morning. The first incident occurred around 1:40 a.m. when Davis left his house to buy peanuts.

He found a group of teens, three girls and a boy, standing near his front yard and asked them to leave because they were being noisy. Davis thought they were in the area for a party because there were several cars in the neighborhood.

He and a teen, Lucas L. Lopez, began arguing and Davis allegedly swung his fist at the teen. Lopez grabbed Davis and put him in a "choke hold" and told the man he would let him go if he calmed down.

Davis told the teen he would calm down and was released. He told the teens he was going to get his gun, so they ran toward a car and left the area, reports show.

Shortly after this incident, Davis began yelling at another group of teens who were standing across the street from his home. He swung his gun at 17-year-old Justin Roy's head and shoulder, which caused a cut and a scrape, reports show.

During the investigation by Orlando Police, Davis was allegedly verbally abusive toward officers. While filling out a statement, he told police, "next time he would kill them and leave the bodies for us to clean up on his lawn," an officer wrote in a report.

While officers were at his house, Davis left in his marked, FHP patrol car. He was arrested when he returned.

Davis, who has been with FHP since 1984, investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol in 2007 for disorderly conduct. Records also show he was arrested by Orlando Police in 2006 for a similar charge. It's unknown if the two are related.

A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said said Davis faced an 80-hour suspension after the 2006 incident.


Officer Scott Crawford Accused of Brutality for 7th Time

A local police officer is accused of brutality for a seventh time. He's now racked up lawsuits in all of those cases, and has been caught on camera twice allegedly using excessive force. CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini exposes an officer accused of "Abusing the Badge."

John Thompson, a champion pool player, was playing a game in a Round Lake Heights bar in March of 2008. That's when he says an out-of control police officer brutally beat him. It was caught on a bar security camera.

"He punched me full force," Thompson said. "It hurt enough to knock me down."

The 37-year-old truck driver says he accidentally bumped a female customer during a shot.

"I tried to apologize to her, but she didn't want to accept my apology," Thompson said.

Thompson continued to play pool. Meanwhile police officers start talking to his friend.

Then as he's about to take a shot, Round Lake Heights Police Officer Scott Crawford grabs the stick.

"It just happened so quick, I can't believe the officer punched me," Thompson said.

The punch threw Thompson to the ground, and two more officers from another department, Round Lake Beach, tried to hold him there.

"They were stepping on me, kneeing me in the back," Thompson said.

Even though they had three officers on top of Thompson, a fourth whips out a Taser gun and fires.

"I got hit in the chest here, right where my heart is, I got hit here," Thompson said.

Then, from a different camera, you can see a light flashing. That's yet another officer Tasering Thompson while he's on the ground.

"They hit me in the chest, they hit me in the leg," Thompson said.

Thompson showed CBS 2 his Taser wounds and his bruised face from Crawford's punch, but it's not the first time Crawford's been caught on camera punching someone.

In 2001, Crawford, as a Waukegan police officer, was caught on camera hitting a handcuffed man in the back of his squad car. That man sued, and the case settled.

Crawford next became a Marengo police officer, and again was accused of police brutality.

"He tackled me to the ground," said Marengo teen Nicole Surber.

Nicole Surber, and Brian and Kevin Gaughn, are among the five residents who are suing Marengo for police brutality; all the cases involve Scott Crawford.

"I had a cerebral concussion right here," Brian Gaughn said.

"I can't stop thinking about what happened, I was terrified," Kevin Gaughn said.

The 2 Investigators discovered that when Crawford applied for his Marengo job, he checked 'no' when asked if he had ever been involved in a lawsuit, despite being sued in Waukegan.

Back to Thompson's case: Crawford arrested him for aggravated battery of a police officer saying Thompson hit him with a pool stick.

But Thompson's lawyer Paul Oleksak says watch the video and you'll see Crawford lied about being struck. And a judge convicted Thompson on a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.

"How can somebody like Officer Crawford continue to maintain a job as a police officer?" Oleksak said. "It's absolutely incredulous that he can go from Waukegan to Marengo to Round Lake Heights, and still keep his job."

CBS 2 tried talking to Crawford, but he called the police on us.

"I refer all questions to my attorney," Crawford said.

"I don't think it's coincidental, I think he's he a hothead," Thompson said. "He's got a bad temper and he shouldn't be an officer."

John Thompson has filed a lawsuit against all of the officers and both police departments involved in his case.

In an e-mail, the attorney representing Round Lake Heights Police said Thompson became verbally and physically aggressive towards Crawford and that Crawford denies he acted unreasonably.

Round Lake Beach's attorney has not returned our call.

The Marengo cases are ongoing.

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