Monday, May 18, 2009

Officer David Chong Pleaded Guilty to Pulling Handgun on Man During Argument

A Los Angeles police officer pleaded guilty Monday to pulling a .45-caliber handgun on a man during an off-duty argument on the Redondo Beach pier, prosecutors said.

David Woon Chong, 39, faces up to six years in state prison at his sentencing Aug. 14 in Los Angeles Superior Court, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office.

The charge stemmed from a dispute March 15, 2008, between Chong and two diners at Old Tony's restaurant on the Redondo Beach pier.

Prosecutors said the 10-year department veteran pulled a knife and threatened one of the men. Chong left, but returned, kicked food out of the victim's hand and pointed the Glock semiautomatic handgun at his head.

A Redondo Beach police officer arrested Chong as he drove out of the parking garage.

His blood-alcohol level was 0.11, three ticks above California's legal limit for driving.

Chong entered a rehabilitation program, but was arrested May 1, 2008, for allegedly threatening a man during a treatment session.

Prosecutors with the district attorney's Justice System Integrity Division charged him with felony counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and making a criminal threat.

He also was charged with misdemeanor counts of exhibiting a deadly weapon, making a criminal threat, driving under the influence and having a 0.08 percent or higher blood-alcohol level.

In exchange for his guilty plea and admitting the gun allegation, two felony counts of making criminal threats and three misdemeanors will be dismissed.

Chong was placed on paid leave after the incident. His status Monday was not immediately available.

Judge Stephen Marcus ordered Chong to undergo a 90-day evaluation before sentencing.

Inglewood Police Killed Man At Birthday Party

Inglewood police shot and killed a man who allegedly brandished a weapon early Sunday while officers were attempting to break up a birthday party, authorities said.

The shooting was the latest deadly incident involving Inglewood's Police Department, which is under investigation by two outside agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, over its use of deadly force.

Police said officers responded to reports of a fight shortly after 12:45 a.m. in the 800 block of South Osage Avenue. Officers opened fire on Marcus Smith, 31, of Compton after he pointed a semiautomatic handgun at them, Lt. Mike McBride said.

"He had it in his hand. He drew it and pointed it in the direction of the officers," McBride said. "So I would say that's threatening the officers."

One officer was shot in the right leg in the incident. He was taken to a hospital, treated and released, McBride said. Police suspect the officer was shot by Smith, but they need to conduct more tests on his gun to be sure, he said.

A woman who identified herself as Smith's fiancee said she did not see him brandish a weapon. Kalonna LaCount said she and Smith were leaving the party together after police called on guests to disperse.

LaCount said she and Smith were walking down a stairway when Smith slipped. LaCount said she then saw Smith's body jerk as police fired their weapons.

"He had his hands in the air," she said. "The more he stumbled, the more they shot."

LaCount said she was not certain whether Smith was armed or even owned a gun. LaCount, wearing a green dress stained with Smith's blood, sat on the steps of the apartment building Sunday and wept as she recounted the moments before his death. LaCount said she and Smith had been together for 18 years and have three daughters, all under the age of 12.

Turning to her brother, Taqwa LaCount, she said: "He's dead. Can you believe it? What am I going to do?"

The Inglewood Police Department is under investigation by the Justice Department and the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review over incidents in which officers have been accused of using excessive force.

The Justice Department's investigation is being handled by the federal agency's civil rights division in Washington. The county's independent review office, which monitors the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, has promised to look at the Inglewood department's training, supervision, policies and protocol.

The Police Department was the subject of community protests last year from residents angry over four incidents between May and September in which officers shot and killed unarmed suspects. A Times investigation last year also found that five of 11 people shot and killed by Inglewood police since 2003 were unarmed.

On Sunday, police and witnesses described the scene at the two-story apartment building as chaotic, with dozens of people attending the party as officers arrived.

Morris Griffin, 50, who lives in a ground-floor apartment directly below the scene of the shooting, said he heard an argument, went upstairs and saw two men wrestling. He said he separated them, but they continued arguing, so he ran back to his apartment and called police.

Griffin said he heard officers shout "Police! Gun!" before at least seven to eight shots were fired. Smith was struck on the outdoor stairs leading to the second floor, Griffin said. "The officers appeared to be intimidated by the size of the individuals," he said.

Inglewood resident Charisma Bailey, 28, who lives in the apartment where the Mardi Gras-themed party was held, said party-goers were wearing masks and beads.

Bailey said she was standing next to the window of her apartment, looking down the stairs when officers approached the building holding flashlights and guns.

"The next thing you know, they're shooting, and he's falling down the steps," she said of Smith.

Trial Begins Monday for Officer Keith Peoples

The trial is expected to begin on Monday in the case of the fifth Charleston Police officer to face charges of double dipping.

Keith Peoples is charged with obtaining by fraudulent schemes and computer fraud.

He's accused of working security at the Charleston Town Center Mall while he was on the clock for the Charleston Police Department.

It allegedly happened several times between January 2000 and August 2004.

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Police Brutality Caught on Film by Neighbor


The family of a Toledo teenager say their 14-year-old son and brother was the victim of an alleged act of police brutality.

What makes the case even more dramatic is that a neighbor captured the episode on video. The incident happened on Friday at the Brand Whitlock housing projects in South Toledo.

The video shows two officers trying to subdue 14-year-old Trevor Casey at the Brand Whitlock housing projects in South Toledo. The video shows one officer covering Casey's mouth with his hand and when the officer removes his hand Casey's face can be seen covered with blood.

The teen's older brother, David Casey, believes the polices handling of the situation was excessive. "In my opinion one officer could've subdued him even if he was resisting or doing anything remotely close to that, he's only 120 pounds, the officers as you can see 250 pounds plus with muscle," Mr. Casey said.

The teen's older sister , Sharise Woodard,says she has not been the same since seeing the video and directs her anger at the officers in question. "I want them to experience what we've experienced in our family, I want them to feel all the pain they put my brother through," Ms. Woodard said.

The Casey family says that Trevor has a 10a.m. hearing scheduled for Monday morning in Juvenile Court.