Thursday, May 21, 2009

East Chicago Officer Accused of Biting and Scratching Woman

Highland police are investigating the allegations and have confirmed they involve an East Chicago officer, Highland police Cmdr. George Georgeff said.

Highland police would not release the incident report and would not confirm the name of the officer because no charges have been filed and because it still is under investigation, Georgeff said.

Georgeff said a woman filed a report at the Highland police station Wednesday morning. She indicated some things were taken from her, and she had bite marks and minor scratches resulting from an incident Wednesday morning at Corker's Tavern & Grill, 9500 Indianapolis Blvd.

The woman gave police the name of the man whom she said caused the injuries and told Highland police he was an officer in East Chicago. Highland police advised the East Chicago Police Department of the incident, and its administration is aware, Georgeff said.

East Chicago police are investigating the case and checking with Highland authorities to see if the allegations are accurate, city spokesman Damian Rico said.

No action has been taken against the officer so far, as East Chicago police verify the accuracy of the accusations, Rico said.

Once that is complete, East Chicago will determine what happens from there with the officer, Rico said.

Officer Johnathon Rogers Arrested for Larceny

A Marion police officer has been fired because of criminal charges he faces, Marion Police Chief Willie L. Smith said.

Johnathon M. Rogers, 27, of Gresham was arrested May 11 by Marion County sheriff’s deputies on larceny, counterfeiting and forgery charges.

Rogers is accused of stealing a Social Security card and birth certificate from a woman’s purse, according to a Marion County Sheriff’s Office incident report.

The report said Rogers admitted to claiming the victim’s daughter on his federal income tax. Rogers isn’t related to the victim and provided deputies with a copy of his 2008 tax returns.

Rogers was a police officer when he was arrested, but Smith said Rogers cannot serve on the force with those charges against him and was dismissed. Smith said he thought Rogers had been with the police department for about two years.

Former Officer Calvin Schaffer Remains Free on Fraud Charges

A former Goddard police officer will remain free as he continues to face a federal fraud charge.

The former officer, Calvin Schaffer, 44, entered a not-guilty plea Wednesday in his first court appearance since being charged last month.

Unless Schaffer violates terms of his release, he will remain free. His bond has been set at $10,000.

Authorities have alleged that Schaffer offered to help dismiss a DUI charge against a woman he arrested if she would have sex with him.

Authorities also alleged that while Schaffer was an officer, he used a Goddard police computer to send photos of himself -- nude and seminude -- in e-mails to the woman.

Schaffer is charged with defrauding the Goddard Police Department and the people of Goddard.

Officer Vanessa Mason Accused of Tipping Off Drug Dealers

A Rochester police officer accused of tipping off drug dealers about narcotics investigations and taking money to help pick up and deliver drugs made her first court appearance Thursday.

Vanessa Nicole Mason, 31, is charged with three felony and two gross misdemeanor counts. The complaint was filed in mid-April. Mason has been on administrative leave since April 7.

Olmsted District Judge Joseph Chase ordered that Mason be released on her own recognizance. Chase ordered Mason not to initiate contact with the people in the complaint and to terminate the conversation if one of them phones her.

Her next hearing is July 7. Some evidence must still be analyzed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

After the complaint was filed, her attorney, Fred Bruno of Minneapolis, called the case "a piece of garbage that's based on the uncorroborated word of criminals looking for favors." He said Mason denies the allegations.

Mason has been a patrol officer in Rochester for 41/2 years.

The case is being prosecuted by Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster to avoid any conflict of interest.

Five Birmingham Officers Fired After Videotape Shows Them Beating Suspect

An attorney for five Birmingham police officers who were fired after being shown on videotape beating an inert suspect said Thursday they thought the man was conscious and armed.

Attorney Gayle Gear said the officers who approached Anthony Warren had not seen him thrown from his van when it overturned at the end of a police chase, and they assumed he was a threat.

Gear said the officers were following their training to force Warren to submit and they have appealed their dismissal to the Jefferson County Personnel Board.

As Gear defended their actions, an attorney for Warren said a lawsuit is expected to be filed this week against the officers and the police department. An internal investigation was ordered by Police Chief A.C. Roper to determine if others in the department knew about the beating, recorded by a patrol car camera, but did not report it.

The video surfaced by surprise in March more than a year after the Jan. 23, 2008 chase. Warren, 38, was nearing trial for attempted murder, a charge stemming from the chase, and a copy of the video given to prosecutors didn't include the beating. But when the chief prosecutor sought the original tape for technical reasons, the beating was discovered.

Warren's attorney, Wendy Crew, said the suit would seek monetary damages and ask the court to order the city to change the way it trains police officers.

Gear said the officers responded at the end of a hair-raising chase in which Warren appeared to try to hit several vehicles and a Hoover police officer.

"He was trying to hit everybody. You can't just run from police like that," Gear said.

She said the officers who first arrived didn't know if Warren was armed and assumed he had a weapon under his body. She said the officers were not trying to injure Warren, but hit him in pressure spots, such as behind the neck, that would force him to submit.

She said David Doran was the first officer to approach Warren and shouted "show me your hands." She said Doran then struck Warren with a baton to get him to comply. She said one officer hit Warren on a part of the leg to disable him.

Birmingham police have not released the names of the police officers. But Gear identified them as Doran, Heath Boackle, Thomas Cleveland, Barrett Dewitt, and Kenneth Prevo. The officers were fired by the police chief on accusations they used unnecessary and excessive force and failed to submit required reports.

Governor Bob Riley said Thursday the officers appeared to over-react to the situation.

"You have to give police officers some latitude, to go through what they go through every day, and the adrenaline's pumping and everything is moving very quickly, but you should never tolerate that type of reaction from any segment of law enforcement," Riley said.

A spokesman for Birmingham police, Sgt. Johnny Williams, said Roper decided to fire the officers based on the department's policies and procedures and "the actions he observed" on the video.

Crew questioned why police were chasing Warren in the first place. She said he never was charged with any drug offense, which was the alleged reason police first approached him.

"We are seeking systematic changes in the Birmingham Police Department," Crew said. She said business has been conducted in the department in a way that creates "a culture of tolerance for this type of behavior."

She said it concerns her that the incident involved at least five police officers and that it took 14 months before the videotape surfaced and details of the incident were revealed to the public.

"This was not just one rogue police officer," Crew said. "It took many more than the five officers involved in this to keep it from coming to life for 14 months."

Williams said the officers were disciplined as soon as top police officials became aware of the videotape.

"Chief Roper addressed it right off," Williams said.

Deputy Eric Kennedy Arrested for Stealing Football Cards

A Polk County Sheriff's deputy could lose his job after being accused of stealing from a Casey's convenience store.

Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy said Wednesday that Eric Kennedy, 36, was on duty and in uniform when he walked into this Casey's near Highway 65 in Bondurant.

The store manger saw him put several packs of football trading cards in his pockets and leave without paying for them.

"It's beyond me," McCarthy said. "I absolutely do not understand that."

The Manager called the Sheriff's Department and they installed a hidden camera. When the footage seemed to show Kennedy taking more cards, Kennedy was arrested and charged him with fifth-degree theft.

Investigators said they found boxes of trading cards in his squad car. They said they think he was selling the cards online to buyers all over the country.

The stolen cards were worth about $140, investigators said.

"I've been around long enough to know that people and people and they succumb to weakness," McCarthy said. "It's disappointing and it does reflect on the department, unfortunately."

McCarthy said most of his 150 deputies are good workers. He said he has put Kennedy on suspension and may base his fate on the outcome of his legal case.

"We have to move forward and not have him part of the sheriff's office," said McCarthy.