Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Man Dies of Broken Neck After Deputy Chris Sturdivant Pulls Him Over

A 42-year-old Louisiana man has died, apparently of a broken neck, after being pulled over by a police deputy.

A dash cam video shows Deputy Chris Sturdivant of the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office with his arms around Adam Stogner’s neck after the officer suspected the man of putting a small quantity of drugs into his mouth.

Stogner died along Interstate 12. Preliminary results from the coroner show that Stogner died from “severe coronary artery disease, an enlarged heart, and a fracture of the hyoid bone in his neck.”

According to CBS affiliate WAFB, the sheriff’s office says Stogner did not put his truck in park when he was pulled over. This may have led the officer to believe Stogner was planning to flee the scene. And the deputy believed Stogner was impaired.

A substantial portion of the dash cam video can be seen here.

Sgt. Robert Trowbridge Arrested for Giving False Report

Greece police Sgt. Robert Trowbridge, who was suspended by town officials last week, was arraigned today after being arrested by State Police.

Trowbridge has been charged with the felony of offering a false instrument in the first degree.

Trowbridge was arraigned in Riga Town Court this afternoon and pleaded not guilty.

Read the felony complaint

A felony complaint filed in Riga Town Court alleges that in April 2002, Trowbridge falsified information in a background check of former Officer Gary Pignato, who was convicted this year of coercing a woman into sex. The complaint says he attributed the information to several Rochester Police Department command officers, including Chief Robert Duffy, now the Rochester mayor, and former deputy chiefs Vincent Faggiano and James Sheppard.

The filing of a false report by a police officer can be the basis of a criminal charge.

Faggiano and Sheppard declined to comment today. Duffy said that he has talked recently with investigators about the Pignato background report. Duffy said he did not provide any information to Trowbridge or Greece police for a check into Pignato’s background in 2002.

“There was no way I would ever give a positive job recommendation (for Pignato),” said Duffy, who noted that Pignato unsuccessfully sued the city in 1997 over his firing from Rochester police.

Prosecutors say Trowbridge admitted falsifying the background report, and said he did so at the direction of now-suspended Police Chief Merritt Rahn.

“We believe he was acting at the direction of someone else,” DA Green said today.
Green said the ongoing investigation into the Greece police continues to grow.

“This investigation unfortunately seems to expand every time we turn a corner,” he said. ” … In my mind, my estimation, it is a large investigation, a very serious investigation.”

The disciplinary charges that led to Trowbridge’s suspension stem from an ongoing internal probe of the Greece Police Department by acting Director of Public Safety Joseph Loszynski.

Loszynski said the investigation does not end with Trowbridge’s arrest.

“This will end when I make the determination there are no more viable leads to follow.”

He said he is looking into any role that Rahn may have played in Pignato’s background check.

Town Supervisor John Auberger said the allegedly falsified report “has had very serious implications” for the town and residents.

“If an accurate background had been provided, Mr. Pignato would not have been hired,” he said.

Officer Charles Dean & David Gaither Terminated for Exposing Themselves


Two local officers are no longer with their respective police forces after witnesses said they were intoxicated and exposed themselves in front of families on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Officer Charles Henry Dean, 30, of the Horry County Police Department resigned on Monday, according to Sgt. Robert Kegler. Dean recently was involved in a videotaped beating of a Longs man during an arrest on Bellamy Road in Little River.

Officer David Gaither, 50, was terminated from his position Monday with the Myrtle Beach Police Department as of Monday, according to Capt. David Knipes.

Both police departments conducted their own internal investigations before it was announced the officers were no longer on the job.

It is not known whether charges will be filed against Dean or Gaither in connection with the incident, Kegler said.

Sarah Delosantos of Conway said Tuesday that she saw Dean ``shaking his butt and mooning everybody'' on July 5 near The Boathouse, located Hard Rock Parkway in Horry County.

Delosantos said she was with four children _ ages 7, 10, 12 and 14 _ who witnessed the acts. One of Delosantos' friends took photos of Dean and about 15 other people near him who were ``shotgunning alcohol,'' she said.

``We didn't even know Charles Dean was a cop until we showed the officer the photos and he said `I think he's an officer,''' Delosantos said. ``We know Gaither was a cop.''

Delosantos said one of her friends confronted Gaither at the time of the incident and asked him to stop what he was doing.

On May 18, a video from an officer's dashboard-mounted camera shows Dean punching Krishmer Shamar Bessent, 30, several times in the face and kicking him once in the abdomen, just minutes after the man had taken the officer's Taser and fired it. An internal investigation cleared Dean of wrongdoing.

Dean, a patrol officer, was hired by Horry County police in October, 2006.

Gaither, a traffic officer, was hired by Myrtle Beach police in September, 2000, according to city records.

Officer Anthony Hebert Arrested for 7 Counts of False Imprisonment & Other Charges

From the Sulphur Police Department:

According to Chief of Police Chris Abrahams, on Monday, July 13, 2009 at approximately 9:09 PM, officers of the Sulphur Police Department were dispatched to North Stanford Street in reference to a man with a gun.

Upon arriving, officers were advised that a male subject, later identified as Anthony J. Hebert, 31, an off-duty Lake Charles Police Officer, went to the residence to see a subject concerning a child custody dispute.

After a confrontation in the yard with the subject, Hebert allegedly entered the residence with a handgun. Officers were advised that Hebert then pointed the gun at everyone inside the residence and refused to allow anyone to leave the residence or call 911 and struck one of the victims on the side of the head with the handgun. Hebert later left the residence and was notified that the Sulphur Police were at his home looking for him.

Hebert went home where he was arrested for aggravated burglary, seven counts of false imprisonment with a dangerous weapon, aggravated battery and six counts of aggravated assault.

Hebert was booked into the Sulphur City Jail and later released on $140,000 bond per Judge Mike Canaday.

The Sulphur Police Detective Division is still investigating this incident.

Deputy Barry Taylor Charged with Obstruction of Justice

Lincoln County's second-highest ranking law officer was indicted Monday and charged with helping an acquaintance get out of a drunken driving arrest in 2007.

Sheriff's Chief Deputy Barry Eugene Taylor, 38, is charged with felony obstruction of justice. The alleged incident was investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation, said Gwynn Radeker, senior assistant district attorney for Lincoln and Cleveland counties.

“Regardless of what you do or who you are, we cannot operate under the good ol' boy framework like we did 50 years ago,” Radeker told The Observer on Monday.

District Attorney Rick Shaffer scheduled a news conference for 8 a.m. today at the Lincoln County commissioners' chamber in Lincolnton, Radeker said.

Taylor is accused of intervening on Feb 25, 2007, when Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Dombrowski arrested a man on suspicion of drunken driving and brought him to the detention center for sobriety tests and booking, Radeker said. The driver's name has not been released by investigators.

If convicted, Taylor could be sentenced to probation or up to 10 months in jail, Radeker said.

Taylor couldn't be reached Monday. Sheriff Tim Daugherty didn't have a comment for The Observer on Monday, said spokesman Jon Mayhew. As of Monday evening, Taylor was not suspended and was scheduled for regular duty, Mayhew said.

Daugherty is a first-term sheriff who won election by a slim margin as a Democrat in the heavily Republican county.

The months-old SBI investigation has become well-known in the community with details covered by newspapers and a controversial blog, called the Lake Norman Bath. The blog has pilloried the sheriff and his office with accusations of impropriety.

The blog has posted comments from the sheriff responding to allegations not related to the Taylor case.

Radeker said information from the blog served as tips and was instrumental in the state's investigation and the grand jury indictment.

The news@norman, a weekly newspaper with an online edition, said the SBI investigation involved off-site interviews with deputies who feared for their jobs.

According to Observer interviews and the news@norman, the unidentified driver is a Lincolnton doctor who was arrested in Denver, N.C., by Dombrowski. On his way to jail, he allegedly called his wife who then contacted a third party who knew Taylor.

According to the news@norman, Taylor then met Dombrowski and the doctor at the jail and released the doctor. Taylor later said the doctor wasn't impaired.