Thursday, December 10, 2009

Detective Janet Hawkins Charged with Resisting Arrest

Veteran Daytona Beach police detective Janet Laverne Hawkins was formally charged with resisting arrest with violence — a felony — after allegedly scuffling with Holly Hill officers during a traffic stop.

A law-enforcement official from Daytona Beach was formally charged with a felony after being arrested in September, a newspaper is reporting.

Daytona Beach Police detective Janet Laverne Hawkins was formally charged with resisting arrest with violence — a felony — after allegedly scuffling with Holly Hill officers during a traffic stop, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.She will likely lose her job, the newspaper said.

To read the story, click here.

Officer Ronald Cuen Charged with Drunk Driving

A veteran Calexico police officer faces a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after pulling into the police station in the company of his wife and 11-year-son with a blood-alcohol level of .23, Calexico Police Chief Jim Neujahr said Wednesday.

Officer Ronald Cuen, a 17-year member of the Calexico Police Department who already had been placed on paid administrative leave four weeks ago, was cited and released Dec. 1 for the DUI offense as his wife was available to drive him home safely, Neujahr said.

Cuen’s blood-alcohol level was nearly three times over the legal limit, which is .08, California Highway Patrol Officer Pablo Torrez said.

Imperial County Assistant District Attorney Joe Beard said that as a courtesy he’ll inform Neujahr that charges will be filed against Cuen.

Cuen had a prior DUI-related arrest 14 years ago in Imperial County but that he did not know what measures, if any, were taken to deal with Cuen, Neujahr said. Calexico Police Department is the only law enforcement agency for which Cuen has worked.

Questions about the arrest were referred to Neujahr who said Cuen pulled into the parking lot of the Calexico police station to use the restroom. Neujahr said he did not know why Cuen’s wife did not drive the vehicle they traveled in.

It was not known where Cuen was coming from when he arrived at the police station, but he was not involved in any DUI-related traffic accidents at the time of the latest arrest, Neujahr said.

Citing personnel issues, Neujahr declined to say why Cuen had been placed on administrative leave but said he’ll remain on it pending the outcome of his current case.

Asked why Cuen was not booked into county jail, Neujahr said all police departments generally release people suspected of misdemeanor DUI driving if there is someone available to drive them home safely. Torrez confirmed the policy is standard practice.

A report of the Dec. 1 incident has been sent to the Imperial County District Attorney’s Office for review and Cuen is expected to appear in court for this matter, Neujahr said.

Cuen’s arrest is the latest in a series of situations, or incidents, involving members of the Calexico Police Department.

In October, a five-year Calexico police officer and his wife were arrested on suspicion of allegedly beating up the officer’s former girlfriend. The officer, Juan Garcia, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of his case.

Also in October, an officer and a sergeant angrily claimed during a City Council meeting that Neujahr and other high-ranking Calexico police officers were “out of control” and failed to do their part in reducing crime.

Calexico police Sgt. Shaun Sundahl, who was on temporary disability for a knee injury he received while on duty, was one of the two officers who spoke out. He was fired last month, a dismissal for which Neujahr and city officials declined to discuss the specifics.

While he said it was not up to him to comment on another police department, Imperial Police Chief Miguel Colon, who chairs the Imperial Valley Police Chiefs Association, said law enforcement’s reputation suffers anytime an officer runs afoul of the law.

“Any time a peace officer gets arrested it reflects negatively on the profession to some extent,” Colon said.

Cuen will not receive any preferential treatment and matters involving anyone suspected of breaking the law will be handled fairly, Neujahr said.

“We have the highest ethical standards,” Neujahr said. “There’s no officer who is above the law, and we’re going to enforce the law equally.”

Three Connecticut Officers Arrested

Three police officers in three Connecticut towns were arrested Wednesday and Thursday.

Police said officers from Naugatuck, Middletown and Hartford were all arrested and were not connected.

Hartford police Officer Rhashim Campbell was arrested on Thursday after an internal investigation into an assault in the city lockup.

Police said Campbell was arrested on Thursday.

Campbell was charged with assault and fabricating physical evidence.

Police said Campbell was released on a promise to appear.

In addition to the criminal charges, Campbell also faces administrative charges, according to police.

Campbell is suspended without pay from the Hartford Police Department.

Hartford Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said, "We take the care of persons in our custody very seriously. The inappropriate acts of these officers are not representative of the dedicated and professional officers of the Hartford Police Department. The Hartford Police Department will continue to serve our community with the highest professional standards, always focusing on service, relationships and safety."

A New York man who said Hartford police assaulted him while he was in the city lockup stood before a judge on Thursday.

Michael Stewart appeared in court on his breach of peace arrest that occurred the morning after Halloween.

Peter Oldum, Stewart's attorney did all the talking.

The Long Island man was charged in connection with an arrest in the early morning the day after Halloween. Hartford police reports said Stewart had to be pepper sprayed twice.

It's what happened after Stewart's arrest, in the city lockup, that has generated the most attention.

Officers Kent Lee and Rhashim Campbell were suspended with pay after a confrontation between them and Stewart was caught on the city lockup's surveillance cameras.

In court on Thursday, Oldum asked the judge to make sure that the recording is preserved.

Judge Glen Woods granted the request.

Lee has since retired since the incident took place.

In Middletown, police Officer Angelo Passanisi surrendered to Capt. William McKenna at the Middletown Police Department.

Police said Passanisi was charged with insurance fraud, fabricating evidence and falsely reporting an incident.

Officials said the arrest followed a lengthy investigation conducted by McKenna.

In September, Passanisi filed a police report with the Middletown Police Department in which he reported that his parked car had been struck by another vehicle that then fled the scene.

In October, after receiving information that Passanisi crashed the vehicle himself and staged an accident scene to make it appear that the accident was a hit-and-run, he was placed on administrative leave.

After his arrest, Passanisi was processed and released on a $2,500 non-surety bond and was scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 23.

In Naugatuck, Officer David Reilly was arrested by Wallingford police and is facing felony charges involving larceny and computer crimes.

Police said they received a complaint from a resident in April.

Police would not elaborate on the actual crime but Wallingford police said Reilly was charged with larceny, computer crimes and coercion.

Officer John Douglas Accused of Brutally Beating Teen

A Rhode Island police officer was arrested Thursday, accused of brutally beating a teenage boy and then encouraging fellow officers to lie about it to the FBI.

Woonsocket police Officer John H. Douglas pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges of violating a person’s civil rights and obstruction of justice. He was released on $10,000 unsecured bond.

He did not speak during his brief arraignment. But his lawyer defended him afterward, saying he was “a model policeman.“

In September, the FBI launched an investigation after the 16-year-old boy appeared in state juvenile court severely injured and said several police officers beat him up.

Chief Family Court Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah said at the time that the boy had a boot mark on his back and that one of his eyes was swollen shut. The boy’s lawyer, Robert Laren, said the boy suffered a broken eye socket, was shot by a stun gun and had been badly beaten in the police station.

“It shouldn’t have happened. I’m upset that it happened,“ Jeremiah told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The indictment, handed down Wednesday, said Douglas punched and struck a 16-year-old juvenile Sept. 15. It did not go into other detail, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not say if other officers would be indicted. The two counts together carry a maximum 30-year sentence.

The boy has not been identified because he is a juvenile.

Cliff Montiero, the Providence NAACP president who had called for the FBI investigation, said he was pleased with the charges and hoped other officers who may have been involved would be held accountable.

“If one person was charged, it’s better than what we’ve gotten historically” in other cases of alleged police abuse, Montiero said. “I’m happy that we have one, this is unusual - that a police officer is being charged by doing something that’s disrespectful to the uniform that he wears.“

Douglas, 34, of Blackstone, Mass., has been with the Woonsocket police department for five years and spent four years in the Marine Corps before being honorably discharged, his lawyer Peter DiBiase said.

“Excellent family man, excellent husband. I think that speaks for his version of facts,“ DiBiase told NBC 10.

Douglas remains on unpaid administrative leave, where he was placed after the allegations were made, said Woonsocket police spokesman Detective Lt. Eugene Jalette.

Jalette previously said the boy was acting suspiciously when the police stopped him. An officer recognized the boy as having escaped from a probation program. When officers tried to arrest him, the teenager threw one of them to the ground, splitting the officer’s lip, Jalette said in September.

He said there was a foot chase and a struggle, then the boy was taken to a hospital for injuries that officers described as minor. Afterward, the boy was taken to the police station and then turned over to the custody of the state agency that runs the probation program.

Montiero and Laren said the boy told them he was beaten by several officers during the arrest and then twice more at the police station.

The boy is black and Douglas is white. Montiero, a former Providence police officer, said he did not know if race played a role in the alleged beating, but said blacks historically have not been treated well by police in the state.

Deputy Eric Mayo Charged with Patronizing a Prostitute

A Monroe County reserve deputy who also worked for the Indiana University Police Department is now suspended after Bloomington Police say he patronized a prostitute.

A court document states that 30-year-old Eric Mayo must appear in court January 6 for the charge of patronizing a prostitute. The case was filed in court last week even though the document states Mayo was served the summons last month.

Bloomington Police would only say that they were investigating a report of a 19-year-old woman who claimed that a man, who said he was a photographer, offered her five dollars and a pack of cigarettes in exchange for sexual favors.

Police worked with the woman to set up a meeting with the photographer at a Big Lots store parking lot in Bloomington. Bloomington Police said that's when Eric Mayo showed up. Police said Mayo again asked for "the same deal" -- money and cigarettes for a sexual favor. That's when police served Mayo the summons to appear in court for the preliminary charge of patronizing a prostitute.

Mayo lives less than a block away from the Big Lots. He did not answer his door Tuesday but he did tell Lieutenant Craig Munroe at the IU Police Department about his court summons.

Mayo has worked for IU Police as a dispatcher and police officer for five years.

Lt. Munroe said, "(Mayo) called me up Friday and advised me of the charges had been filed against him. And so I was notified by Mr. Mayo."

Mayo is suspended with pay. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department also suspended Mayo. Both agencies said his employment status depends on the outcome of the case.

Former Officer Troy Gee Sr Receives Suspended Sentence for Child Sexual Abuse

A former Baltimore police officer received a five-year suspended sentence this week and was ordered to refrain from unsupervised contact with children after pleading guilty in September to second-degree assault.

Troy Jaquan Gee Sr., 34, had been charged in Baltimore Circuit Court with child sexual abuse for allegedly fondling a 13-year-old relative in March 2008. The girl reported the incident to police, and Gee was suspended without pay from the Police Department upon his arrest.

He has since resigned.

FBI Officer Charles Homemma Found Guilty of Watching Girls in Dressing Room

After a daylong bench trial Marion County Magistrate Hank Middlemas found FBI Police Officer Charles Homemma, of Buckhannon guilty of invasion of privacy and not guilty of conspiracy.

Middlemas sentenced Hommema to six months in prison, then suspended that sentence and placed Hommema on a year of probation.

Hommema will also have to pay a $250 fine plus arrest fees and court costs.

Hommema and another officer, Gary Sutton Jr., of New Milton, were arrested in April for using a security camera to watch girls in a dressing room, during the Cinderella Project event held at the Middletown Mall on April 4.

Between 9:34 a.m. and 11 a.m. they pointed the FBI security cameras used in the mall at one of five makeshift dressing rooms set up for the event, court documents say, and caught one of the young women topless.

Sutton pleaded guilty to conspiracy on Nov. 3, and was sentenced to six months on probation.

The Marion County Sheriff's Department arrested the men.

The FBI declined to comment on either man's employment status.

"I spoke to our attorneys and was advised that, until we get the official documentation from the court, we are precluded, by Department of Justice guidelines, from making any comment," said Stephen Fischer

However, an FBI Agent testified during the trial that Sutton resigned his position and Hommema has had his clearance pulled.

Officer John Douglas Accused of Beating 16-year-old

A Rhode Island police officer, accused of beating a 16-year-old boy, then encouraging fellow officers to lie about it to the FBI, maintains his innocence.

Woonsocket Officer John H. Douglas pleaded not guilty Thursday in Providence to charges of violating a person's civil rights and obstruction of justice.

The charges stem from an FBI investigation launched in September after the 16-year-old boy appeared in a juvenile court severely injured and said several police officers beat him up. The judge in that case said one of the teenager's eyes was swollen shut.

Woonsocket police say the boy was wanted for escape from a probation program and he suffered minor injuries during a struggle with arresting officers.

Former Officer Raymond Ramos is Subject of Lawsuit

A fired San Antonio police officer awaiting trial on the allegation he raped a woman while on duty is now the subject of a civil lawsuit.

The suit — which also names the city, the San Antonio Police Department and Chief William McManus — seeks compensation for emotional anguish, medical expenses and pain and suffering resulting from the alleged rape that then-Officer Raymond Ramos is charged with committing Nov. 11, 2007.

Ramos, 30, faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. He is currently free on bail and is set to appear in court in January.

Ramos was arrested in December 2007 after an internal investigation was launched when a woman, 30, complained she was raped when the officer stopped her as she was walking along Somerset Road near Pitluck Avenue.

Upon dumping the contents of the woman's purse onto the hood of his patrol car, Ramos found cocaine, heroin and syringes, the woman said. She said he then took her to Golden Park and had her use some of the drugs to calm down before raping her, then let her go, according to court documents.

“The facts of this case are just horrendous,” attorney Neil Calfas said. “It's just an egregious case.”

The lawsuit alleges the city also is liable because the officer should have been better trained and supervised. A Police Department spokesperson deferred comment to the city attorney's office.

Winning such a lawsuit against a city is generally difficult unless the plaintiff can prove the actions were part of a custom or policy, City Attorney Michael Bernard said. That certainly wasn't the case here, he said.

“Obviously, we take immediate action when these types of things are brought forward,” Bernard said. “Any criminal act like that is beyond the scope of an officer.”

The suit was initially filed in state district court, but last week attorneys for the city filed documents in federal court asking that it be transferred there.

Three Officers Indicted for Malfeasance in Office

Two former and one current Eunice police officers have been indicted for malfeasance in office in connection with charges of police brutality.

A St. Landry Parish Grand Jury this week indicted former Eunice Police Officer Micah Arceneaux on four counts of malfeasance in office.

Arceneaux had resigned from the Eunice force earlier this year after being placed on administrative leave pending the results of a State Police investigation into the police brutality charges.

Also indicted were current officer Jeremy Ivory and former officer and now St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Billy McCauley Jr., who were each charged with one count of malfeasance in office.

Jimmy Darbonne with the Sheriff’s office said McCauley has been placed on unpaid leave.

Eunice Police Chief Gary Fontenot declined to comment on the status of officer Ivory.
Warrants have been issued for the arrest of all three men.

The indictments do not mean the men are guilty. The true bills returned by the grand jury late Tuesday instead mean the jurors found there is sufficient evidence to bring the cases to trial where the question of guilt or innocence will be decided.

If found guilty, the men face up to five years imprisonment on each charge.

Judge Gary Donahoe Charged with Bribery

The Maricopa County judge who sent a detention officer to jail recently could end up in jail himself thanks to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.

Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe has been charged with a number of crimes, including bribery and obstructing a criminal investigation.

County Attorney Andrew Thomas insisted the charges against Donohoe are about justice and putting an end to corruption; they have nothing to do with any issues his office has had with the judge.

"We cannot allow the precedent to be set that if you are a powerful politician and have powerful friends in court you can avoid prosecution or investigation for crimes," Thomas said.

Thomas and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio held a joint news conference Wednesday to explain the charges against the judge.

They allege that Donahoe participated in a scheme to hinder an investigation into possible criminal conduct by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and to block an investigation into the judge himself.

The charges center on Donahoe's role in the new court tower under construction in downtown Phoenix and whether the judge received any benefits from the project.

The judge is also accused of failing to disclose an attorney-client relationship with two lawyers involved in the court tower's construction.

"I've worked corruption around the world and never seen this type of situation," Arpaio said. "It gets worse and worse as time goes on."

The sheriff and the county attorney said the charges against the judge have nothing to do with Donahoe holding a sheriff's detention officer in contempt and putting him in jail for looking through a defense attorney's papers.

They also insisted that the Sheriff's Office's dispute with Donahoe over transportation of prisoners is unrelated.

"The issues with transportation and the deputy incarcerated had nothing to do with it, other than the fact that it is simply interesting that the pattern of outrageous conduct by the judge involves these other matters," Thomas said.

CBS 5 News contacted Donahoe's office to get reaction to the criminal complaint, but the judge had no comment.

A preliminary hearing has been set for Jan. 11.