Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trooper Arturo Perez Charged with Using Excessive Force

A state trooper has retired and is being criminally investigated by the Texas Rangers after he allegedly used excessive force during a DWI arrest earlier this month on the Dallas North Tollway.

Department of Public Safety officials say that the incident involving Trooper Arturo Perez, 42, was captured on his in-car video camera. The Texas Rangers will turn their findings over to Dallas County prosecutors, according to a media release.

"The videotape is one of the most horrific videotapes I've ever seen," said Randall Isenberg, an attorney representing the woman arrested that night.

On Oct. 23, DPS Director Steven McCraw began the process to fire Perez over misconduct that included the excessive force incident, the release said. He retired before that process was complete.

Perez told officials that he encountered the 22-year-old Plano woman shortly before 3 a.m. on Oct. 11. The woman had been involved in an accident near Lemmon Avenue, smelled of alcohol and failed several field sobriety reports, he told officials.

He also told officials that she resisted him throughout the encounter and tried to walk away from him before he handcuffed her. He repeatedly told her to stop resisting or she would get hurt.

He told officials that as he escorted her to his squad car, she jerked away violently and threw her elbow up, so he jerked her toward the ground. She instead struck a concrete ledge, injuring her chin. He denied using excessive force.

"I did not intend for [the woman] to be injured in any way," he wrote.

Isenberg, a former prosecutor and state district judge, said she was not drunk and was not physically resisting Perez. He said she was trying to explain to him that a drunken friend whom she was taking home had jerked on the wheel, causing her to hit a concrete wall.

"The officer is handcuffing her and it's apparent that she's not happy with being arrested," Isenberg said. "She uses inappropriate verbal words to express her displeasure."

Isenberg, who has viewed the in-car video, said Perez pushes his handcuffed client chin-first into the ledge, causing her feet to leave the ground.

"She crumples to the ground like a sack of potatoes," Isenberg said. "Even if she's trying to resist, he doesn't need to use any force; all he needs to do is ask his partner standing three feet away to help him."

Perez joined the DPS in 2006 and previously worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for nearly 16 years.

Detective Kevin Spellman Charged with Killing Pedestrian While Drunk Driving

One day after the arrest of an off-duty police detective on charges he killed a pedestrian while driving drunk, the authorities provided more details about the five-hour gap between the accident and the time the police were able to obtain a sample of the detective’s blood, saying the detective’s case was processed more quickly than is normal in such cases.

Prosecutors said the detective, Kevin C. Spellman, 42, a 22-year veteran of the force, was driving a Chevrolet Malibu that struck and killed Drana Nikac, 67, as she crossed Kingsbridge Avenue in the Bronx early on Friday morning. He was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, criminally negligent homicide and driving while intoxicated.

It was the second time in five weeks that an off-duty police officer was charged with killing a civilian when driving drunk. On Sept. 27, Officer Andrew Kelly, 30, was arrested after the sport-utility vehicle he was driving struck Vionique Valnord-Kassime as she tried to flag a cab, the authorities said.

In that case, prosecutors said Officer Kelly refused a breath test at the scene, and a blood test seven hours later showed he had no alcohol in his system. He has pleaded not guilty.

Police officials said they worked quickly to process Detective Spellman’s case in the hours between the 6:30 a.m. accident, and noon, when they drew the blood sample. Steven Reed, a spokesman for the Bronx district attorney, said his office also moved promptly, and he disputed the idea that the time frame of more than five hours represented any kind of delay.

“Focusing solely on a time line in a vacuum is an oversimplification of what’s involved,” Mr. Reed said in a statement. “The mere notification of an incident is not the same as having all of the information that the law requires before a search warrant can be issued.”

On Friday morning, a sergeant at the scene told prosecutors that Detective Spellman’s speech was slurred, his eyes were glassy and he smelled of alcohol, according to the text of the criminal complaint. About 7:40 a.m., another officer heard Detective Spellman say that had not seen the victim, who “came out of nowhere,” the complaint said.

At 8 a.m., Detective Spellman refused a breath test at the scene, according to Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman. Shortly afterward, police officials contacted prosecutors to make them aware of the case, Mr. Browne said.

Detective Spellman was taken to the 45th Precinct station house, and by 9:46 a.m., he was videotaped refusing a second, more sophisticated breath test, Mr. Browne said.

With that refusal, police officials and prosecutors set about trying to obtain the blood sample.

Shortly after 10 a.m., a sergeant who had been at the scene of the accident arrived at the Bronx district attorney’s office to work with prosecutors on an application for a court order. Mr. Reed said that by law, a police officer was required to request such an order in person.

In the meantime, officials with the Internal Affairs Bureau ordered Detective Spellman be taken to Jacobi Medical Center to await a blood test.

State Supreme Court Justice Harold Adler signed an order to take the detective’s blood at 11:39 a.m. Friday, said Kali Holloway, a spokeswoman for the State Office of Court Administration.

By noon, Detective Spellman’s blood was drawn, the authorities said.

Sgt Chad Lakey Arrested for Sexual Battery on Child

An Osceola sheriff's sergeant arrested Friday on a domestic child-sex charge was moved Saturday to the Orange County Jail for his protection.

Chad Lakey, 33, who comes from a family of law officers, was arrested after a South Carolina woman told police he molested her daughter. The incident is said to have happened at Lakey's St. Cloud home in summer 2008. It was reported three weeks ago, St. Cloud Capt. Bret Dunn said.

Bail on the charge of domestic sexual battery of a child older than 12 is $2,500. Lakey, a former St. Cloud police detective, was placed on administrative leave while the Sheriff's Office conducts an internal investigation, department spokeswoman Twis Lizasuain said Saturday.

Lakey is married to St. Cloud police Sgt. Dhalyn Lakey, and his father, Jim Lakey, is a retired Kissimmee police sergeant who lost in the Republican primary for Osceola sheriff in 2004.

Officer David Reeves Charged with Armed Robbery

An ex-Riverside police officer accused of carrying out several off-duty armed robberies in Moreno Valley and Riverside while still on the force pleaded not guilty today to multiple felony charges.

David R. Reeves, 28, of Moreno Valley, is charged with four counts of armed robbery, two counts of attempted armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted kidnapping, burglary, being in possession of stolen property and enhancements alleging the use of a gun in the commission of a felony.

He's being held in lieu of $500,000 bail at the Robert Presley jail in Riverside.

Reeves, along with his two lawyers, appeared before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Richard Fields, who set a felony settlement conference in the case for Dec. 12.

The defendant was arrested Oct. 14 after allegedly trying to rob an AutoZone on Sunnymead Boulevard in Moreno Valley. He was terminated from the Riverside police force, after seven years on the job, the day after his arrest.

"These alleged crimes are extremely serious," Riverside police Sgt. Jaybee Brennan said when Reeves was charged. "Quite frankly, if the allegations are true, nobody here will be standing by him. A lot of people are upset. It's a shock."

The first robbery occurred Oct. 13 at an AutoZone at 19486 Van Buren Blvd. in south Riverside.

The criminal complaint alleges that the following day, Reeves robbed three men, one of whom he allegedly tried to abduct, and then broke into and attempted to rob the AutoZone at 23510 Sunnymead Ave. in Moreno Valley, where he was apprehended.

He was carrying a stolen Itratec 9 mm handgun at the time of his arrest, according to court papers.

If convicted on all counts, Reeves could face more than 30 years in prison.