Thursday, July 02, 2009

Officer Gregory Zach Investigated for Punching Woman

The Stamford Police Department is investigating the conduct of a police officer who assaulted a woman during an arrest last week.

According to Lt. Sean Cooney, Officer Gregory Zach punched Brenda Mazariegos, 40, while arresting her for driving without a license Friday in the parking lot behind The Palms nightclub - a nightclub Mazariegos owns.

A photograph of a Mazariegos, that has been splashed on local newspapers and TV stations, shows the victim with a large bump on her head - a result from her alleged assault by the officer.

Mazariegos has yet to file a formal complaint, but it's not preventing the department from investigating the incident.

Cooney told PIX News that officials are pursuing the investigation due in part by the serious allegations and the fact that the incident occurred at a public event. The release of the photograph has made the incident a high-profile case, prompting a probe in the assault, he added.

According to Cooney, the officer is not denying that he assaulted Mazariegos and in fact says the woman was the one who attacked him first, forcing him to protect himself by punching her back, he said.

A surveillance video from the parking lot where the assault occurred has surfaced, however investigators say the video is too grainy to make anything out.

"We hold our officers to very high standards and know that the public is entitled to expect nothing less," said Cooney.


Former Officer Mike Shamahs Sentenced to 19 Years

A federal judge sentenced a former Chicago police officer to more than 19 years in prison Thursday for raiding a storage locker and stealing what he believed was $30,000 in drug cash.

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said he believes there are two Mahmoud "Mike" Shamahs -- one the loving husband of a schoolteacher and father of a 4-year-old boy and the other a South Side tactical officer who thought he could brazenly steal on the job.

Some of the victims were drug dealers who had a few hundred dollars taken from them at a time, the judge noted.

"But the most direct victims are the people you love the most," Gettleman told Shamah before sentencing him to 19 years and 4 months in prison. "I'm sorry you didn't think about that before you did your first robbery."

A federal jury convicted Shamah in December of racketeering and conspiracy in a series of robberies while working in the Morgan Park District with partner Richard Doroniuk. They were snared in an FBI sting in 2006.

Doroniuk testified against his partner at the trial, saying officers routinely carried a little crack cocaine to plant on suspects when searches came up empty and stole cash from drug dealers during raids and traffic stops. He also said they routinely paid informants, falsified reports, lied in court and even kicked back cash to an undisclosed judge for pushing through a bogus warrant.

Gettleman said he thought federal guidelines that called for a minimum sentence of about 24 years in prison were too harsh, especially because Doroniuk was sentenced to less than 11 years earlier this week.

Shamah, dressed in a gray pinstriped suit, pulled a prepared statement from a jacket pocket and pleaded for mercy. He said he took responsibility for his actions, but he also blamed a system that stresses arrests over good policework for eroding how he thought of his duties.

"I lost respect for my job, your honor," Shamah said. "I lost the police officer I wanted to be."

Assistant U.S. Atty. Meghan Morrissey called for a stiffer sentence because Shamah used a weapon and body armor during the robberies.

Prosecutors said Shamah pocketed half of the $30,000 in the FBI sting and about $1,700 more from traffic stops and arrests.

Morrissey said Shamah contributed to the general distrust of the police.

Oregon Wrongful Death Settlement Reached Between the City of Sandy and the Family of Man Shot by Police

Last December, in the Portland, Oregon personal injury law firm blog post about a wrongful death case filed against the city of Sandy and a number of individuals over the police shooting death of a Gresham man. This week, an announcement was made that the family of 27-year-old Fouad Kaady has reached a $1 million settlement with the Oregon city and former police officer William J. Bergin.

Kaady was burned, naked, and bleeding when Officer Bergin and Clackamas County sheriff's Deputy David E. Willard approached him on September 8, 2005. Kaady reportedly was behaving erratically and would not cooperate with police. He had also just rear-ended three motor vehicles and damaged the vehicle he was driving. According to witnesses, Kaady, who has a history of mental illness, was making wolf-like sounds.

To apprehend Kaady, police at first used a stun gun and shocked him several times. They then shot him seven times after he jumped on top of a police car.

Kaady’s family says that the reason he was in such a disturbed state was that the can of gas he was transporting caught on fire, which caused him to hit another motor vehicle. He ripped his clothes off to get away from the flames and was in need of help. The 27-year-old's family believes that he sustained head injuries during the crash that caused him to behave strangely.

The plaintiffs have accused police of not knowing how to deal with someone coping with mental illness. Their Oregon wrongful death lawsuit accused police of excessive use of force and civil rights violations.

By settling, the city of Sandy is not admitting liability. The family's Clackamas County wrongful death lawsuit against the County and Willard is still moving forward.

Police BrutalityPolice are never supposed to use excessive force in any situation. Police brutality is a civil rights violation and an abuse of police power that can be a reason for why a victim or his or her family might choose to file a Portland, Oregon personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death claim.

Just last week, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners gave its stamp of approval for a $925,000 Portland, Oregon wrongful death settlement to be paid to the family of James Chasse for his police brutality-related death in 2006.

Police chased down Chasse after they spotted him urinating in public. There are conflicting reports as to how they apprehended him. However, he sustained 16 broken ribs and a punctured lung. Chasse died while being transported in a police car to a hospital. Chasse suffered from schizophrenia.

Multco board approves $925,000 payment for Chasse's family,, July 2, 2009
$1 million settlement reached in 2005 shooting near Sandy,, July 1, 2009
Oregon Wrongful Death Trial Alleging Police Brutality Toward Unarmed Portland Man Can Move Forward, Says Federal Judge,, December 1, 2008
Related Web Resources:Clackamas County, Oregon
Multnomah County
Truly Reforming Law Enforcement-Ending Police Brutality!

Detention Officer Gregory Heiser Arrested for Having Sex with 16-year-old

A 43-year-old detention officer at the Hernando County jail was arrested Tuesday on charges that he had sex with a 16-year-old girl.

The girl told Pasco deputies that in February and May, she had sex with Gregory C. Heiser of Hudson. Two juveniles told authorities they saw Heiser at the girl's bedroom window one night, and the girl later told them that Heiser told her that her pregnancy test came back negative.

According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Heiser told the girl's mother that he was in love with the girl, who is not being identified because of the nature of the allegations. He gave the girl a cell phone and a key to his house, which deputies found and placed into evidence, the sheriff's report said.

Hernando jail Warden Russell Washburn said Heiser has been placed on paid leave while the jail conducts its own investigation into the allegations.

"Anytime a person in this industry finds themselves on the opposite side," Washburn said, "it's a blemish on the entire industry."

Heiser faces two charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. He is also being held on a warrant for a sexual battery charge involving a 39-year-old victim.

That victim told authorities that Heiser invited her to his home last year and sexually assaulted her, Pasco sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said. He declined to provide any further details, saying that case is under investigation.

Heiser has worked as a corrections officer for 13 years, starting in 1996 through 1999 at the Hernando County jail, according to his personnel file.

Since then, Heiser, who is divorced and has a son, has worked various stints for the state Department of Corrections and the Sumter and Pasco jails.

Heiser returned to the Hernando County jail for a second time in April 2008, but soon faced disciplinary action. He twice received written reprimands for sleeping at his post — once on the day he was hired.

In January, he again fell asleep at work, and received a three-day suspension without pay.

In April, he was suspended for three days without pay for violating security procedures involving an incident where corrections officers used excessive force on an inmate.

His annual review in 2008 said he "seriously compromises security when he is not attentive while on duty."

Records indicate Heiser was convicted of DUI charges in 1998 and 2008.

He remains at the Land O'Lakes jail for the latest charges on $70,000 bail.