Friday, July 10, 2009

Trooper Whitney Elizabeth Small Pleads Guilty to DUI

Kentucky State Police Trooper Whitney Elizabeth Small pleaded guilty to DUI Monday and remains on administrative leave from her position at Post 8 in Morehead while an internal investigation is conducted.

Small, 27, was arrested June 19, just after midnight, following a non-injury accident at the intersection of KY 32 and US 60, where she allegedly drove her vehicle into the opposite lane, striking another car, said Morehead Police Chief Mike Adams.

The driver of the other car, 19-year-old Alyssa Dulen of West Liberty, was not injured in the crash. Also in the vehicle with Dulen were four passengers who escaped injury, as well.

“Officer Phillip Blackburn responded to the accident and was able to determine that Small was allegedly DUI,” Adams commented following the arrest. “Apparently, Small was turning onto KY 32 at Rodburn Elementary when she turned too wide and went into the other lane.”

Small appeared in Rowan District Court Monday where she entered a guilty plea before Judge Don Blair. This was her first offense. Small’s driver’s license was revoked for 45 days and she was fined $200. Blair also ordered Small to attend the ADE (Alcohol and Drug Education) Program.

Small, of Georgetown, was among 62 troopers to graduate Feb.25, 2008 from the Kentucky State Police Academy.

Trooper Eric Schonfarber Arrested for Assaulting Judge

A state trooper was booked today for allegedly roughing up a Red River Parish district judge during a traffic stop June 29 in the courthouse parking lot.

Trooper Eric Schonfarber, a 14-year state police veteran, was arrested this morning after turning himself into Red River Parish sheriff’s authorities on three warrants signed late Thursday afternoon by a New Orleans district judge. The warrants charge Schonfarber with aggravated assault, simple battery and false imprisonment.

Schonfarber was working this morning when he was called to the Troop G headquarters in Bossier City. An internal investigation had been ongoing since the incident involving District Judge Lewis Sams took place.

“We don’t know precisely what happened after our trooper stopped the judge for not wearing a seat belt, but we’re going to find out. As soon as we learned that a confrontation between the trooper and the judge had occurred, we began an internal administrative inquiry. We hope to wrap that investigation soon and will share our findings. If those findings deem further action on our part, we’ll do what is necessary and appropriate,” state police Col. Mike Edmonson said in a news release.

Schonfarber initiated the traffic stop after spotting Sams without his seat belt on. Sams had just left the courthouse and was making a quick return trip when Schonfarber pulled into the courthouse parking lot behind him.

Schonfarber asked for Sams’ identification and he complied. The trooper informed him of the violation and Sams admitted he was not wearing a seat belt. Sams told the trooper to write the ticket.

During the discussion, Sams identified himself as a district judge and Schonfarber asked to see a badge that was in Sams’ wallet. Sams refused, saying he wasn’t going to use his position to get out of a ticket.

That’s when the confrontation allegedly became physical. Schonfarber pulled out his Taser and threatened the judge, and also threw him onto the hood of his patrol car. A Red River Parish constable and occupants of the courthouse witnessed the events.

Schonfarber released the judge and issued the seat belt violation.

While all personally assigned state police vehicles are equipped with in-car video recording systems, Schonfarber was using a pool unit while his vehicle was out of service. Pool vehicles do not have the recording equipment, so there is no video of the incident, Edmonson said in the news release.

“We know that nothing is more important than public confidence in this agency, and I intend to maintain that confidence. Neither our troopers nor those they come in contact with are above the law,” Edmonson said.

Deputy Michael Nix Arrested for Molesting 3-year-old


A 20-year veteran with the Hall County Sheriff's Office has been arrested for molesting a 3-year-old girl.

Hall County Sheriff's Col. Jeff Strickland said 42-year-old Michael D. Nix was arrested Thursday afternoon following an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

"The preliminary investigation revealed an allegation of aggravated child molestation involving a 3-year-old female that Nix's wife had been babysitting in their Clermont home," said Strickland.

He said Nix was put on administrative leave Monday when the allegations surfaced and was then terminated following his arrest.

Strickland said Nix served as an investigator in the internal affairs unit.

"It is unfortunate to have a veteran officer arrested on such serious charges, we take this very serious, therefore as a result of today's arrest the officer has been terminated and jailed," he said.

Nix is being held in the Hall County Jail without bond.

Officers Donald Clark & Nicky Bryant Accused of Giving Teens Liquor Then Enticed them to do Striptease

The two Knoxville Police Department officers who resigned this week are the same ones under a criminal investigation, the lawyer for one officer said this afternoon.

Gregory P. Isaacs, one of East Tennessee’s best-known defense lawyers, said he represents Donald Scott Clark, who turned in his resignation Tuesday along with former officer Nicky R. Bryant.

“Our firm has been retained to represent Scott Clark regarding his former employment with KPD,” Isaacs said. “Our firm has notified Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols and Police Chief Sterling Owen this afternoon.

“We are in the process of conducting our own parallel investigation and would strongly caution anyone against jumping to conclusions as it relates to unsubstantiated allegations involving Mr. Clark.”

The officers, suspended last week, resigned Tuesday after being faced with the accusation that they plied two teenage girls with liquor and enticed them to perform a striptease, according to sources.

KPD spokesman Darrell DeBusk has refused to identify the two officers under investigation. He said the KPD has launched criminal and internal probes into the alleged misconduct of two officers.

Isaacs wouldn’t discuss the accusations against his client but asked the public and authorities to keep an open mind.

“We’re confident at the end of the day that there will be favorable information that comes forward as relates to Scott Clark,” Isaacs said. “We want to ensure my client is treated as an individual as this process goes forward and is not painted with a broad brush regarding any other individual’s culpability.”

Bryant, the other officer, hasn’t responded to attempts to contact him.

Both officers had been suspended with pay July 3, records show.

“When they were placed on administrative leave, their police powers were suspended at that time,” DeBusk.

Sources with knowledge of the probes said the officers provided liquor to two girls, ages 13 and 14, at the residence of one of the officers.

After providing the alcohol, the officers are accused of enticing the girls to perform a striptease for them. The allegations include that the naked girls then danced for the men.

DeBusk has refused to disclose the nature of the allegations against the officers. He noted the state Department of Children’s Services was involved in investigating the allegations, but he declined to say the DCS probe indicated juveniles were involved.

DCS spokesman Rob Johnson said his agency joined the case only to assist.

“Our role is to help children who are abused or neglected,” he said.

The Knox County Sheriff’s Office also is investigating the officers, according to Martha Dooley, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re investigating, and that’s all I can say,” Dooley said Thursday.

Clark has been with the Police Department for five years. Bryant has been with the department six years. Both officers had multiple reprimands in their personnel files and also commendations from the public for their professional demeanor.

Records show Bryant was suspended for two days in 2005 for not following policy in working an extra job. In 2004 he was suspended for one day for “a preventable crash,” according to records.

Clark was suspended for one day last year after he drove his cruiser out of state, records show. He was reprimanded this year for providing sensitive information to a civilian from the National Crime Information Center and in 2007 for having a dirty and unloaded firearm.

Both men continue to hold police certifications from the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission. The POST Commission certifies officers across the state.

DeBusk said KPD will alert the POST Commission that the officers “resigned under internal investigation.” If warranted, DeBusk said, KPD would ask POST to decertify the officers at the conclusion of the probe.

The commission hasn’t yet received that alert, said Christopher Garrett, spokesman for the state Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works with the POST Commission.

Garrett said any other police agency would be expected to conduct a background check, which would turn up the circumstances of the former officers’ resignations, and to notify the POST Commission, which would ask whether the agency knew how the applicants left their jobs.

Most agencies would at least hesitate to hire someone who left under such a cloud, Garrett said.

“It’s certainly discouraged, but it does happen occasionally,” he said.
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Officer Bryan Womble Now Being Charged with Hit and Run

A Virginia Beach police officer accused of drunk driving is now also being charged with hit and run.

All of the charges stem from accident officer Bryan Womble had in June.

Virginia Beach police say Womble hit another car -- but drove two blocks away before police pulled him over.

He failed a sobriety test and had a blood alcohol level of .15.

The hit and run charge is only a misdemeanor because the crash caused less than one thousand dollars in damage.
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Officer Kendal Smith Arrested for Driving Patrol Car Impaired

A Holden Beach police officer was arrested Thursday and charged with driving his patrol car while impaired.

Kendal Roy Smith, a 42-year-old lieutenant with the Holden Beach Police Department, was arrested in Shallotte about 7 p.m. Thursday after pulling out of a parking lot at a high speed and out of control, according to the arrest report. Smith was driving a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria patrol car.

“The suspect was very impaired,” the report reads.

Smith, of 329 Paul’s Trail in Shallotte, has a court hearing scheduled on Aug. 6.

It wasn’t immediately clear what Smith’s status was with the Holden Beach Police. Chief Wally Layne has not yet returned a phone message seeking comment.