Thursday, June 04, 2009

Five Mesa Officers On Paid Leave After Flushing Fetus Down Toilet

Five Mesa police officers have been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of criminal and administrative investigations including an incident where an officer allegedly flushed a small fetus down a toilet.

Police Chief George Gascón said he believes one officer used excessive force in the other case.

Gascón said he became aware of both incidents Tuesday and held a news conference Wednesday.

Four officers responded to a call of a possible miscarriage Monday at the Motel 6 in Mesa where they arrested a man on suspicion of drug-related offenses and discovered a woman in the room apparently had miscarried a 4-inch fetus that was an estimated 12 to 14 weeks old, according to Gascón.

Although both Mesa fire and police were present in the motel room, Lt. Lynn Young told the officers and fire personnel over the phone not to take the fetus but to flush it down the toilet, according to Gascón.

A supervisor who was reading incident reports at the Dobson District station first came across details about the disposal of the fetus and brought it to the attention of a division commander, who contacted the assistant chief of operations who called Gascón.

Police said Young was placed on paid administrative leave along with the other three officers who responded to the call involving the miscarriage — Kristen Johnson, Robert Buquo and Glenn Pearson, who was the lead officer in the case.

In the other incident, police said officer Nicholas Webster was seen on an arrest video May 16 shoving a handcuffed man's head into the rear windshield of a patrol cruiser before repeatedly pushing his face and shoulder into a chain-link fence inside the inmate booking area.

Gascón said police plan to forward both cases to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office within the next few days to see if prosecutors will recommend any charges against any of the officers involved in the incidents.

Response from the Mesa Police Association

"It is the position of the Mesa Police Association that the press conference held last night was immensely early in regards to the preliminary investigations conducted by the Police Department. The press conference simply marked the beginning of the investigations.

The facts are not yet established. There should be no rush to judgment, bias, premature accusations or political posturing against any officer.

The MPA is urging all parties and the public to not rush to judgment and allow the investigation to establish the facts. We are concerned some statements made were prejudicial in nature and may interfere with a professional and thorough investigation.

We affirm to our members the MPA will ensure Police Officer's rights and due process are not violated. Our members will receive fair legal representation throughout this process."
Other information:

Correctional Officer James Sheerin Arrested for Smuggling Contraband into Prison

Police arrested Wabash Valley Correctional Facility officer for attempting to smuggling contraband into the prison.

Officials said staff members stopped and searched 25-year-old James Sheerin, of Terre Haute.

Sheerin allegedly was hiding cell phones in a drink cup when he came into work. He tried to enter the correctional facility through the visitor processing center with 250 grams of marijuana.

Sheerin also had six cell phones with chargers, 75 grams of tobacco and a video game player. Officials searched his car and found an additional 18 grams of heroin and even more cell phones.

Officials arrested Sheerin after monitoring him for more than a week.

"Justice will run it course and the Wabash Valley Facility will continue to do its job protect the public and the vast majority of the folks do a very credible, very honest, very professional job," public information officer Rich Larsen said.

Sheerin is facing felony charges of possession of heroin, cocaine and marijuana, along with trafficking with an inmate. A court date has not yet been set.

The attempted smuggling has resulted in two housing units at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility to be put under lockdown pending an investigation.