Thursday, December 31, 2009

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Connecticut Man Dies After Being Tasered

Authorities say a man has died of unknown causes after struggling with Stamford police officers who were called to a city home to detain him.

The man, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at Stamford Hospital after the incident Wednesday morning.

Connecticut State Police say Stamford officers were called to a Lafayette Street home on a report that the man was agitated and aggressive, and that officers had to use pepper spray and a Taser to subdue him.

They say he went into "medical distress" after being handcuffed, and was treated at the scene until an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital.

State police officers are investigating the incident.

Deputy Brian Weber Arrested for Domestic Violence

A Washoe County Sheriff’s Deputy has been arrested, accused of domestic battery. Brian Weber was booked into the jail Wednesday night.

There are not a lot of details regarding his arrest. The Sheriff’s department tells us that Weber has been with the department for the fast five years and was assigned to patrol.

Weber has been reassigned to other duties while the Reno Police Department investigates the allegations against him.

Former Chief Knew Officer Michael Mabe was Accused of Touching Child

The Walnut Cove Police Department allegedly knew of allegations against an officer that he was accused of inappropriately touching a child, according to officials with the Stokes County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators say Michael Mabe, a former Walnut Cove police officer, was arrested in mid-December and charged with 15 counts of indecent liberties with a child. According to officials, the alleged incidents took place more than 20 years ago.

Mabe worked as a part-time deputy for the Stokes County Sheriff's office until the mid-1990's. Officials say he left the Stokes County department when allegations of his alleged contact with a child surfaced in the mid-1990's. Mabe left the department and began working in Walnut Cove.

According to Stokes County Sheriff's officials, former Walnut Cove Police Chief Barry Conaway was aware of the allegations against Mabe while he was employed with the department. Capt. Craig Carico with the Stokes County Sheriff's Office said their records indicate Stokes County Deputies were sent to Walnut Cove to inform and discuss the allegations against Mabe.

"The Walnut Cove Police Department was notified at the time the allegations were made available to us," said capt. Carico.

Former Walnut Cove Police Chief Barry Conaway served as chief in the mid-1990's but is no longer with the department.

"I've had a lot of people concerned with the fact that it was known about and nothing done about it. I had a lot of people ask, why... and I can't tell them why...because I wasn't here," said James Hill, the current Police Chief for the Walnut Cove Police Department. "I feel like that should have happened... I feel like it should have been taken care of."

Hill, the current Walnut Cove Police Chief, said Mabe was a good officer. "He was a good person. I never had any problems with him whatsoever," said Hill.

Stokes County officials said Michael Mabe's wife works in the Child Support division in the Department of Social Services where the allegations were initially filed.

Mabe resigned from his position in the police department the day he was arrest, Walnut Cove Town Manager Homer Dearmin said.

Mabe is currently out on bond. His court date is set for January 20.

Deputy James Pruitt Arrested for Drunk Driving

Polk County deputies arrested one of their own this morning after finding the officer passed out behind the steering wheel of his Jeep.

Sheriff's Deputy James Pruitt was charged with driving under the influence, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies found Pruitt, 37, passed out at the steering wheel of his 1997 Jeep about 7 a.m. The engine was running when deputies found the vehicle at the entrance of the Pier Place subdivision, the sheriff's office said.

Pruitt was taken to the Polk County Jail after deputies gave him field sobriety tests. He refused to submit to a breath test, the sheriff's office said.

The department hired Pruitt in April 1994 and he was assigned to the Southeast Division patrol. He is suspended without pay until the department finishes an internal investigation, the sheriff's office said.

Lt William Scott Richard Accused of Stalking

A University of Florida police officer accused of stalking a woman the past two years was charged with aggravated stalking and obstructing justice, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

UF Police Department Lt. William Scott Richard, 38, was arrested and booked into the Alachua County Jail. He posted $250,000 bond and was released late Wednesday on several conditions, including that Richard surrender all firearms to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office and he be placed on electronic monitoring.

The arrest affidavit accuses Richard of sexually battering and stalking a woman in the fall of 2007 and winter of 2008. The crimes went unreported at the time, but the stalking started again over the summer when the woman moved back to Gainesville, according to court documents.

In July 2009, Richard was placed on administrative leave and ordered him to not have any contact with the victim. Authorities report that Richard was seen driving back and forth by the victim's home in November and December. The affidavit said he was arrested after he made contact with the woman on Tuesday.

Officer Eric Boughton Accused of Drunk Driving

A Shreveport police officer is on paid administrative leave as a result of being accused of drunken driving in DeSoto, according to a Police Department news release.

Eric Boughton, 29, of the 800 block of Francine Drive in Shreveport, was booked into DeSoto Detention Center about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on one count of first-offense driving while intoxicated. He was released on $1,088 bond at 11:30 a.m.

About the same time, Police Chief Henry Whitehorn received a call from the DeSoto sheriff's office informing him of the officer's arrest. Boughton, who was hired in 2007, immediately was placed on leave pending an internal investigation.

Officer Jeff Redcross Accused of Theft

A Florence police officer who was terminated Monday was issued a summons Thursday to appear in Florence Municipal Court on a charge of theft of lost property, officials said.

Jeff Redcross, 38, is being represented by Florence attorney Tim Case. Case said the summons is not a warrant and Redcross was not arrested.

"It just summons him to appear in court on the allegations," Case said.

Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton said Redcross' termination had nothing to do with the summons. He said Redcross has filed an appeal with the city's civil service board and is on paid administrative leave while the appeals process continues.

The chief said his recommendation to terminate Redcross' employment was a result of an administrative hearing and was based on a violation of departmental rules not a violation of the law.

"My decision had nothing to do with the summons or what's going on with the court," Singleton said. "We have rules and they are to be followed."

According to the summons, which was issued by the municipal magistrate's office, Redcross is to appear at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, in Florence City Court.

The charge of third-degree theft of lost property is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a year in jail and a fine, if convicted.

A person with direct knowledge of the case said Tony Armstead is accusing Redcross of taking money that Armstead claims to have lost on the dance floor of a local nightclub.

According to an incident report filed at the Florence Police Department, the 38-year-old Florence man claimed $300 in $100 bills were taken from him at Side Pockets Billiards on Darby Drive between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Dec. 3-4. The report was filed Dec. 8.

Authorities said Redcross was off duty and was a customer at the business when the theft is supposed to have taken place.

"I've known Jeff Redcross for 17 years. He's enjoyed a good reputation as a UNA football standout, as a radio announcer and as a person in the community," said Case.

Case said this is the first time in his 17 years as a defense attorney that he has ever "defended or been confronted" with a charge like this.

"We look forward to defending this in court and based upon our initial investigations and interviewing the witnesses we have done so far, we feel like we should prevail and Jeff will and should be exonerated of these charges," Case said.

Case said he is also representing Redcross in the termination appeal process.

"We are anxious to present his case before the civil service board," Case said.

Redcross has been a member of the department for 17 years and has been a patrol sergeant for the past three years.

Four Officers Face Federal Charges for Trying to Cover up Beating Death

Four police officers who are facing federal charges are now officially off the force. The borough council in Shenandoah, Schuylkill County accepted the resignations of Chief Matthew Nestor and three of his fellow officers last night. Nestor and two others are accused of trying to cover up the beating death of illegal immigrant Luis Ramirez last summer.

Nestor and a fourth officer are charged with extortion and civil rights violations in a separate case. Now the police department has only three officers, so state police are stepping in to help patrol the town.

Former Officer Marcus Tafoya Accused of Trying to Intimidate Witnesses

A former Fresno police officer on trial for accusations of using excessive force faces new allegations of witness tampering.

During a special hearing Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court called to investigate the allegations, prosecutor Blake Gunderson accused Marcus Tafoya of trying to intimidate witnesses.

A police officer called to testify at the hearing broke down on the stand and exercised his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. Judge John Vogt ordered a police cell phone be turned over to the District Attorney's Office before ending the surprising day in court. No jury was present.

Tafoya, 39, went on trial Nov. 17 on eight felony counts of excessive force at a welcome-home party for a soldier returning from Iraq in March 2005. Tafoya has pleaded not guilty. The trial is scheduled to resume Monday.

Gunderson alleges that Tafoya wanted a fellow police officer to appear in the courtroom audience when officer Steve Gonzales testified Dec. 17.

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Gonzales was back in court Thursday for the special hearing. He said that after he testified at Tafoya's trial, he returned to a police substation to go off duty.

Gonzales said while he was at the substation, Sgt. Cary Weigant pulled him aside and confided in him: Another officer, Sgt. Dave Madrigal, wanted Weigant to be in the courtroom during Tafoya's trial. Gonzales said he thought the purpose was to interfere with the trial.

"I had a nauseous feeling in my stomach," Gonzales said. "I didn't know if they were trying to intimidate by putting Weigant and Madrigal in the audience.

"I felt someone was trying to underhand the investigation."

Gonzales said he then contacted the District Attorney's Office.

Madrigal, who was subpoenaed to appear at Thursday's hearing, broke down in tears when Gunderson asked him whether he knew prosecutors had been trying to reach him since Dec. 18.

Superior Court Judge John Vogt called a recess to allow Madrigal to compose himself. When testimony resumed, Madrigal asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, declining to answer Gunderson's questions. Vogt then excused him from the hearing.

Vogt ordered Madrigal's cell phone be turned over to the District Attorney's Office. Specifically, prosecutors want to examine calls and text messages between Madrigal and Tafoya and between Madrigal and Weigant. The cell phone was given to prosecutors Thursday.

Tafoya was fired from the Fresno Police Department in July 2007.

During his trial, jurors heard from partygoers who said Tafoya struck them with a police baton for no reason. Several police officers have given testimony that supported Tafoya, including Sgt. Michael Manfredi, who last week said that Tafoya made the right call to order another officer to shoot partygoers with bean bags.

Manfredi rebutted another officer who testified that he was shocked to hear Tafoya tell him to start shooting defenseless partygoers with bean bags. The officer refused to do it.

And earlier in the trial, a former Fresno police officer who now works for the Santa Maria Police Department testified that Tafoya slugged a partygoer for no apparent reason.

The city of Fresno agreed in 2006 to pay $1.6 million to settle an excessive-force case stemming from the party. Tafoya, Manfredi, the city of Fresno and Police Chief Jerry Dyer are defendants in a related civil-rights trial pending in Fresno federal court.