Friday, August 14, 2009

David Burke & James Guedry Indicted for Beating & Tasering Man

Two Beaumont police officers indicted Thursday on charges they improperly beat and Tasered a man during a routine traffic stop have been placed on administrative leave until the case is resolved, department officials said.

Officers David Todd Burke and James Cody Guedry were indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on misdemeanor charges of official oppression in the Aug. 24, 2007, arrest of Beaumont resident Derrick Newman.

The charges carry punishment of as much as a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

The officers, who were not available for comment Thursday, will be paid while they are on administrative leave.

Attorney Mitch Adams of the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas said his group will represent the officers.

The indictments disappointed the officers, Adams said.

Newman said the officers not only should receive the maximum punishment, but no longer should be allowed to continue their careers in law enforcement.

"The actions that the police officers made wasn't right. Their actions were unnecessary and uncalled for," Newman said Thursday after learning of the indictments.

"I feel vindicated now that the grand jury felt that I was right. They believed me," Newman said.

Former Chief David Baker Pleads Guilty to DUI

Former Alexandria police chief David P. Baker pleaded guilty Friday to driving under the influence and is expected to turn himself in to the Arlington County jail to serve a five-day sentence.

Baker's plea before Arlington General District Court Chief Judge Dorothy H. Clarke brought to a swift end an embarrassing episode that began last month for the popular chief. Baker was arrested July 25 after his city-issued Ford Explorer collided with another vehicle in Arlington County and he failed a series of sobriety tests. Arlington records indicate that he had a blood alcohol level of 0.19, more than twice the 0.08 legal limit in Virginia. Baker acknowledged with his guilty plea Friday that his blood alcohol content was between 0.15 and 0.20.

Baker retired from the Alexandria Police Department three days after the incident, ending a 40-year career that many have called exemplary with a remorseful letter to the officers he supervised. Baker has not said publicly what he did that Saturday night before the crash. Instead of enduring an internal police investigation, Baker instead accepted responsibility for his actions.

"He is supposed to be a role model, an example," said James Clark, Baker's attorney. "He believes he made a mistake and he should pay the appropriate price for it. . . . He used bad judgment; he drank too much, and he got behind the wheel of a car."

Clarke accepted the plea without comment during a brief hearing, sentencing Baker to 180 days in jail and imposing a fine of $1,500. The judge suspended 175 days of the sentence, meaning Baker will have to serve the mandatory five-day minimum sentence for driving at such a high level of intoxication. Clarke also suspended all but $300 of the fine and ordered Baker to attend the county's Alcohol Safety Action Program for DUI offenders. Baker will also lose his driver's license for the next year.

Baker said little in court other than to answer the judge's questions in a soft voice. When asked whether he was pleading guilty because he was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 to 0.20, he answered: "Yes, your honor."

In a written statement released after the hearing, Baker apologized to the woman whose car he ran into as he merged onto Interstate 66 from North Fairfax Drive, and he praised Arlington officials for treating him fairly and with dignity during his arrest and detention. He also noted that drinking and driving is dangerous and against the law and that as police chief he "had an even higher responsibility not to engage in such behavior."

"As much as it pained me, resigning from my post as Chief was the appropriate decision given my actions," Baker said in the statement, saying he let down the community he has loved and served for 19 years. "I offer no excuses for my bad decisions and behavior because there are none. And I am, and will be, forever haunted by the personal embarrassment and humiliation I caused to those who have supported, mentored and guided me through my personal life and long and rewarding public safety career."

Clark said that Baker did not have to retire from police service but that he decided that as the public face of the police department, it would be "impossible to overcome" the repercussions of his arrest. By retiring, Baker will collect his city pension.

Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur, who runs the county jail, said Friday that she considers Baker a "high-profile, high-security-risk inmate" and will keep him separated from the approximately 515 other inmates there during his brief jail term.

"Because of his history in law enforcement in the area and his high-profile job over the past few years, I'm concerned about his safety and well-being while incarcerated," Arthur said, adding that Baker will not be in the general population and will have his own cell, although he will not enjoy any special privileges. "We understand the possibility that he has crossed paths with some of the people here."

Also Friday, Arlington police announced the department's participation in an intensive national campaign against drunken driving that runs from Aug. 21 to Sept. 7, known as "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." Police announced a focus on drunken driving during high-risk nighttime hours, which coincidentally was when Baker was caught.

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Sgt Bill Arganda Accused of Using Database to Meet Women

The Westminster Police Department has given a termination notice to a sergeant accused of using law enforcement databases to meet women, investigate romantic rivals and keep tabs on ex-girlfriends.

The department announced this morning only that it has sent the District Attorney's Office a case against an unnamed sergeant for personal use of the CLETS system, which connects to DMV and state and federal law enforcement databases. The department did not disclose any details about the investigation of Sgt. Bill Arganda, 39, or other allegations against him.

Arganda has also been accused of domestic violence against two women.

The first accusation, which did not lead to criminal charges, resulted in an unpaid suspension in 2007.

Arganda has been on administrative leave since late May of this year, when the Orange Police Department went to Arganda's house on a domestic violence call.

In a follow-up interview with Orange police detectives the next day, Arganda's girlfriend "disclosed that her boyfriend placed a gun to her head on a different occasion," according to a restraining order issued by the Orange Police Department.

The Orange Police Department has finished its investigation and sent the case to the District Attorney's office for review, said Sgt. Matt Miller.

Arganda, an 18-year veteran of the Westminster Police Department, was already under investigation by his own department when he was recently suspended.

The internal investigation, which started April 4 with a citizen complaint, found that Arganda used the CLETS system to look up thousands of names and license plates for his personal use.

Among the more than 4,000 names searched are a blond Fox news correspondent, a woman from a gym class, a mother from his daughter's kindergarten class, his ex-wife and ex-girlfriends as well as the new men in their lives.

None of the people that investigators contacted had given Arganda permission to conduct the searches, according to a search warrant.

In the period of April 2007 to May 2009, Arganda ran 1,020 searches on CLETS, according to a warrant. By comparison, of the eight other sergeants the department employed during the time, five conducted no searches, and the other three averaged around 100 searches each.

The district attorney has not yet filed charges.

Arganda is still employed and paid by the Westminster Police Department; the "intent to terminate" notice he received is the start of a disciplinary procedure required by law for his dismissal.

Contacted Thursday morning, Arganda declined to comment for this report.

Arganda joined the department in January 1991 and was promoted to sergeant in April 2004, but his career started to hit the rocks late in 2006. He often argued with his wife - Cyndie Sanders-Arganda, who is the risk manager for the city of Westminster - while at work, to the point that they were told to avoid contact during work hours.

In October 2006, his sister-in-law accused him of beating his wife. Sanders-Arganda denied the claims at the time, taking her husband's side.

Then in December, Arganda abandoned his post as watch commander to drive home in the middle of the night.

That incident led to the first black mark on his resume; Arganda was denied an annual pay raise and given an unpaid week off.

Around the same time, a dispatcher that had been fired - in part because of Arganda -accused him of propositioning her for sex in exchange for giving her job back.

In Arganda's account to police officials, he writes of the accusation: "An investigation was initiated and to the best of my knowledge everything originally inquired upon has proven NOT to be true. I don't know the final outcome as of yet, but was told no violations were found on my part."

On May 14, amid a contentious divorce, Sanders-Arganda went to city officials, including the police chief, and said her sister had been telling the truth about the abuse.

The Westminster Police Department issued a restraining order against him, which states: "Family and friends have reported that Cindy (sic) has been victim of emotional and physical abuse over the past several months. Today, Cindy admitted to being victim of abuse…"

The department suspended him the next day.

Sanders-Arganda's accusation was supported by a letter sent May 19 by her doctor regarding a visit on Dec. 20, 2006: "… she had contusions on her left thoracic region, left rib region, left lateral wrist and right deltoid regions as well as her left scalp. These appeared to be caused by someone grabbing her tightly and squeezing these areas…. it was disclosed that these contusions were the result of an altercation with her husband and there had been many of these attacks."

Sanders-Arganda went to the police the day after a confrontation with Arganda on Mother's Day, 2007, when she went to pick up their two children. She gives her account in a request for a court protective order: "At that time, our children were coming down the stairs and the Respondent (Arganda) started telling our children that I had 'traded' them for other kids. He further said that 'there are other children calling me mommy, that they should not call me mommy and that I chose to be with other kids instead of them this weekend…'

"I immediately started to cry and said that I won't leave without my kids. The Respondent then went outside to his car, as though he was leaving, but returned to our home and said, 'No, I am not leaving, you need to leave.' The Respondent then told our son… that 'the reason that mommy and daddy are getting a divorce is because mommy sends naked pictures of herself to other men.' 'Do you want to see them?' He then opened his phone to show the pictures to (him). I said, 'No, no, I will leave.'"

After an argument at their daughter's school the following morning ended with Arganda chasing her in his car and throwing a can of soda at her car, she went to work in tears and told her supervisor what had been happening, according to the request for court order.

She accused Arganda of hitting, slapping, pushing, hair-pulling, threatening to rape her, threatening to kill her, and of manipulative and pyschologically abusive behavior.

Arganda denied the accusations of abuse in a court filing, saying that she and her mother were telling the children lies about him.

Kyle Willaford Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges

There is a guilty plea from a retired Bartlesville Police officer to a number of drug charges.

On Thursday, 10th Judicial District Judge John Kane accepted a guilty plea to 14 counts of felony larceny of a controlled dangerous substance from Kyle Willaford.

The 48-year-old Willaford was originally charged with 18 counts of the crime, but on Wednesday, the state dropped four of the counts. The charges were the result of the alleged theft of drugs, including Lortab and Hydrocodone, from the Bartlesville Police Department's evidence room.

The thefts began in 2000 while Willaford was employed by the Bartlesville Police Department. He later retired.

Sentencing is set for September 10th.

Officer Joseph Gray Pleads Guilty to DUI

Peoria police Officer Joseph A. Gray pleaded guilty Friday to driving under the influence of alcohol and causing criminal damage to government property for breaking the window of a Metamora Police Department cruiser.

A separate charge of failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident was dropped.

By pleading guilty, Gray, who appeared before Woodford County Circuit Judge John Huschen, waived his right to a jury trial.

Gray, 33, who has been with the Peoria Police Department since September 1999, has been on unpaid leave since March, after the charges were filed. On Friday, Doug Burgess, the spokesman for Peoria police, said Gray's status remains unchanged.

"Until we see the court ruling and receive all the paperwork, he is still on unpaid leave." Burgess said. "We'll address it after that."

Gray, a Metamora resident, was arrested in March for driving under the influence after a single-vehicle rollover accident on Hickory Point Road near Santa Fe Trail in Metamora.

In a statement after the incident, Woodford County State's Attorney Mike Stroh said police found Gray alone in his car after the crash and arrested him for DUI based on their observations.

While being transported to the county jail, Gray apparently began hitting and kicking the rear passenger-side window of the Metamora squad car, which resulted in a broken window and trim.

Kicking out the window of a Metamora squad car, which is government-supported property, is a Class 4 felony, which carries maximum penalties of three years in prison and a $25,000 fine. A convicted felon cannot legally carry a weapon. Gray is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 28.
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Vancouver Officer Charged with Incest & Sexual Assault

A long-serving Vancouver police officer has been charged with incest and sexual assault after being arrested by Burnaby RCMP officers Thursday afternoon.

The male officer was arrested in south Burnaby after a tip led Mounties to investigate allegations of sexual assault, said Burnaby RCMP Sgt. Jane Baptista.

Mounties started investigating the officer last week, Baptista said. The alleged sexual assault occurred between July 31 and August 1.

Charges of one count of sexual assault and one count of incest were sworn against the man on Friday morning.

Baptista said incest was a rare charge and involves sexual relations with a blood-relative.

"According to Section 155 of the Criminal Code, everyone commits incest knowing another person is by blood relationship his or her parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent or grandchild, and as the case may be, has sexual intercourse with that person. Brother and sister, respectively, include half-brother and half-sister," Baptista said.

"As you can see from that, it does not pertain to any specific age group, sex or anything else," she said.

Baptista said she did not know if the officer had any previous run-ins with the law.

The Vancouver Police Department immediately suspended the officer with pay according to the Police Act. The department has the option of suspending pay after 30 days.

The department's professional standards section will be shadowing the RCMP's criminal investigation.

"The VPD considers the nature of the offense to be very serious and abhors the actions attributed to this member," said Insp. Mario Giardini from the Vancouver police department's professional standards section. Vancouver police department officials would not say how long the officer had been serving or which division he worked in.

The RCMP are not releasing any further details about the identities of anyone involved in the case due to a strict publication ban.

"At this point we are not allowed to say any names or give any information to do with the people involved," Baptista said. "That's quite common in many, many sexual assault cases. It's usually in order to protect the victims and any revictimization of anybody associated with [the case]."

The male will appear in Vancouver Provincial Court in September.

Deputy Accused of Sexual Assault

A Bexar County deputy is accused of sexually assaulting a woman on the South Side on Tuesday morning while he was on duty, authorities said Wednesday.

A San Antonio police officer was called to a home for a disturbance around 11 a.m. and found the deputy naked on the woman's couch, with his uniform and gear nearby, according to an incident report.

The deputy, a 23-year veteran whose name has not been released, has not been arrested, officials said.

He has been removed from the Judicial Service Division Civil Warrants section and placed on administrative leave pending the criminal investigation, said Deputy Ino Badillo, a Sheriff's Office spokesman.

The woman told police she was walking home around 9:15 a.m. when the deputy stopped her in his patrol car. She said the deputy has approached her in the past and checked her for outstanding warrants, which he did Tuesday, the report states. He told her she had warrants and asked where she lives. The woman, thinking she was being arrested, got into the patrol car, but the deputy drove her home, according to the report.

As she was unlocking the door, the report states he moved her out of the way to get inside. He told her that he likes Hispanic women and said, “You know, we can take care of these warrants,” the report states, and she alleges he then grabbed her by the neck and sexually assaulted her.

He left the home soon after, and she then called a man for help.

According to the report, which does not identify the man the victim called, she was on the phone with that man when the deputy returned.

At that time, the deputy allegedly showed the woman a piece of paper that he claimed was her warrant. She stayed on the phone and told the deputy she was talking to a girlfriend, and according to the report, the deputy suggested that she tell her friend to come over for a threesome.

The man on the phone said the woman “sounded distraught and wouldn't make sense at times,” and he realized the alleged assailant had returned, so he called police to report the disturbance.

That's when the officer found the deputy naked on the couch, the report states.

A Police Department spokeswoman said no arrests had been made in connection with the alleged assault. Badillo said police contacted the Sheriff's Office around 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon to inform them of the allegations. He declined to further discuss the details of the incident — specifically, why it took deputies so long to learn of the investigation.

San Antonio police will continue to investigate the alleged assault, a spokeswoman said. Badillo said once police complete the criminal investigation, the Sheriff's Office will review the incident further.