Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Border Protection Officer Eric Higgins Indicted for Child Porn

A Customs and Border Protection officer has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges that he received child pornography.

Eric Higgins, 31, an officer at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, is accused of receiving images of child pornography via the Internet between February and June. Receipt of child pornography is punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison. He has been employed with the agency since 2002. His employment status will depend on the outcome of the case, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Ron Smith said.

Corrections Officer Michael Combs Charged with Battery

A central Florida corrections officer has been charged with battery after two female inmates told investigators he inappropriately touched them.

Michael Combs was arrested at his home in Lake County on Monday and later released on bond.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office says the inmates claim Combs inappropriately touched them while awaiting trial in holding cells. When contacted by detectives, Combs allegedly admitted to patting two of the women on the buttocks, but said his actions weren't sexually motivated.

Combs has been placed on paid administrative leave and could not be reached for comment. Jail records did not indicate if he has obtained an attorney.
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Former Officer Tyrone Wiggins Charged with Rape

Allegations of rape, physical and psychological abuse and now a police cover up have been raised against the case involving a former Philadelphia cop.

Tyrone Wiggins faces charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and statutory sexual assault for allegedly abusing a girl over an eight-year period.

The 50-year-old former Philly police officer and karate instructor met the girl in 1995 at the Olney Recreation Center -- where he operates a karate academy.

Two years later, the girl says Wiggins drove her to Fairmount Park and demanded oral sex, according to court documents.

The girl, who's now 24-years-old, alleges that first encounter grew into eight years of sexual assault and abuse. Court documents say the girl was forced to perform oral sex, was anally raped and physically beaten.

In 2005, the then 20-year-old told police Wiggins began to punch her, court documents said. She finally came forward to Internal Affairs investigators after a co-worker found out about the attacks.

"The allegation was made in '06, it went to the D.A. in '07 and an arrest was made a few weeks ago," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said Tuesday.

Wiggins was arrested in November, a day after he retired from the police force. He had been with the department for 23 years.

"This is something that we obviously take very seriously and if he's guilty, he should do time in jail," Ramsey said.

The alleged victim apparently joined the police force after telling her story to investigators, police sources told the Philadelphia Daily News. They said Wiggins offered to personally vouch for the woman after learning of her application.

NBC Philadelphia visited the man's home Tuesday, but a person inside the home -- believed to be Wiggins -- refused to talk.

After his arrest, the man continued to operate his karate classes at the Olney center, because the police department failed to notify the city recreation department.

"As soon as you and I are finished talking, I'm going to make sure he won't be running any more programs," Recreation Commissioner Sue Slawson told the Daily News' David Gambacorta.

As of now, the woman is the only alleged victim to come forward, but Ramsey says they will obviously investigate any further claims.

The department faced allegations of a cover up after they failed to notify the press about Wiggins' arrest especially after another man in blue was paraded in front of reporters for a similar case.

Adrian Makuch was arrested and charged with prostitution and related offenses on Dec. 9 for allegedly soliciting a 15-year-old boy.

"It's my mistake not getting it out in a press release," Ramsey said. "There was no effort to hide it in any way."

City Councilwoman Marian Tasco sent a letter to Ramsey Tuesday seeking answers regarding the oversight and investigation.

Wiggins is due in court for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 14.

Officer Alain Jones Charged with Domestic Abuse

A 14-year member of the Shreveport police department was charged with domestic abuse Monday evening and was immediately placed on paid administrative leave.

Alain Jones, 43, of Shreveport, is accused of attacking his wife during a fight about 6:30 p.m.

Shreveport police issued the off-duty officer a misdemeanor summons for one count of domestic abuse battery.

Sgt Bradley Thoma Involved in Drunken Hit and Run Crash Has Been Fired

A police sergeant involved in a drunken hit-and-run crash in September has been fired.

Bradley N. Thoma, 44, is no longer employed by the Spokane Police Department as of Monday, the department announced Tuesday.

Thoma, a 20-year police veteran, will avoid criminal prosecution for the crash if he stays out of trouble for five years under an agreement approved in District Court in November.

But the agreement requires him to use a breathalyzer device to start his car, which Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said prohibits him from completing the duties of a police officer.

“A valid driver’s license without restrictions is essential for the job,” Kirkpatrick said in a prepared statement.

Thoma was driving his personal Dodge Ram pickup on Sept. 23 when he hit the back of Sherry L. Prickett’s Ford Ranger near the intersection of Farwell Road and U.S. Highway 2. He then drove away.

Prickett, 51, and another driver followed Thoma to the parking lot of a Yoke’s Fresh Market, where Thoma told a state trooper he’d been planning to buy steaks.

Thoma smelled strongly of alcohol, troopers said. He told them he had just golfed at Wandermere Golf Course and “knew he had hit someone’s car and not stopped to give her his information,” according to a report from the Washington State Patrol.

“He talked about how he was probably going to lose his job or at least lose his supervisory position,” the arresting officer wrote. “He also told me he knew I was just doing my job and he was sorry for putting me in the position of arresting a fellow officer.”

Under the deferred prosecution agreement, Thoma – whose blood-alcohol level was 0.171, more than twice the legal limit for driving – will basically be on probation for five years and be required to complete a rehabilitation program in the first two years.

The DUI won’t appear on his record if he completes the program. The misdemeanor hit-and-run charge was dismissed under a “misdemeanor compromise” agreement after a judge read a letter from Prickett that said she’d been paid for the damage to her vehicle and was “not interested in (pursuing) Mr. Thoma any further.”

Prickett later said she didn’t know the letter would lead to the hit-and-run charge being dismissed.

Thoma joined the Spokane Police Department in October 1989. He’s worked in the drug unit and on the SWAT team. In 1991, he was one of two officers involved in a gunfight with a fugitive that killed an innocent bystander. A jury cleared both of wrongdoing in a civil case in 1994.

In January, Thoma suffered a minor stab wound to the jaw outside a downtown Spokane restaurant in a confrontation with two men he said were harassing his fiancé, Spokane police Officer Amy Ross. Charges against one of the men, Shannon Dogskin, were dismissed; another, Kenneth J. Kheel, is serving two years in prison.

Thoma made $91,141 a year as a sergeant.

Texas Woman Says Waco Police Used Excessive Force

One Central Texas woman says she feels Waco Police were putting on a show and using excessive force when they used a Taser on her brother-in-law last week.

Waco resident Jessica Smith says her brother-in-law, Brent Smith, was stunned and arrested by police at Cricket's Bar and Grill last week after he confronted another patron who publicly molested her.

“The guy walked by and squeezed my breast and I wasn't the only one who felt it and saw it," Smith told News 10.

Cell phone video shows a man being stunned with a Taser and then taken into police custody inside the doorway of the popular downtown pub.

“We thought the police were there to help us,” Smith said “I was so relieved when we heard police were coming because maybe somebody would listen to us.”

But Waco Police Sgt Melvin Roseborough says there is more to the story than what is shown by the dark, shaky video.

“Whenever the officer tried to handcuff this individual, he got one handcuff on,” Roseborough said.

The man in the video then pulled away from the police officer, Roseborough told News 10, and the handcuff became a weapon.

The officers responded in a manner to keep anyone from getting hurt in that situation, Roseborough said.

“I don’t feel my brother-in-law deserves this at all,” says Smith.

Brent Smith agreed, “My civil rights were violated by the city in which I pay my bills and that that’s what bothers me.”

Roseborough says an entire division exists within the Waco Police Department to hold officers accountable by listening to complaints.

Waco Police say, however, that no complaints have been filed in connection with the incident.

Officer Thomas Walker Arrested for Drunk Driving

An off-duty South Fayette Township police officer accused of driving under the influence of alcohol in a Cecil Township crash that injured two Bridgeville police officers was suspended from his job without pay Monday night.

Thomas J. Walker, 38, of 7 S. DePaoli Road, Cecil, was arrested Friday after his vehicle crashed into a Bridgeville police cruiser and knocked it into another, injuring two officers who were assisting on a call in Cecil. He also was charged with aggravated assault by motor vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Bridgeville police Chief Chad King said Tuesday that the two officers, Sgt. Gary James and Officer Chris Manolakos, are recovering at home. The officers were assisting Cecil police on a report of shots fired in a home on Millers Run Road (Route 50.)

"Sgt. James is in a lot of pain. He had to have part of his ear reattached and suffered a concussion," said King, who just took over as chief earlier this month. "He was partially ejected through the door of his cruiser. He was knocked totally out."

James was getting into his unmarked cruiser when it was hit by Walker's Hummer H-3. The door on the cruiser was not completely closed.

The unmarked car was knocked into Manolakos' marked car. King said he also suffered a concussion.

James will be off work for at least a month, while Manolakos' is awaiting clearance from his doctor to return to work.

Meanwhile, the eight-man Bridgeville department is down a quarter of its force and two of its fleet of four cruisers are off the road.

"Two of the six (officers) that are still working are on vacation," said King. "We are in a bind. I'm doubling out Christmas Day."

A preliminary hearing for Walker, scheduled for Tuesday, was continued at the request of his attorney, Noah Geary. Walker, who is a former police officer for Hanover and North Franklin townships, twice refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test.

South Fayette Township commissioners voted following an executive session Monday to suspend Walker without pay pending the investigation and disposition of charges, said Commissioner Deron Gabriel.

"Initially, (Chief Louis Volle) had suspended him with pay and we took action to make certain not to give Officer Walker a paid vacation based on his egregious actions," Gabriel said.