Thursday, January 14, 2010

Officer Jeffrey Leavey Arrested for Violating Court Order

A Spokane County Jail deputy accused of attacking his wife last month was arrested again today after police say he violated a court order.

Jeffrey S. Leavey, 40, was booked into jail just after noon. He was arrested at his lawyer’s office after his wife told police he’d been sending her text messages, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Leavey reportedly sent the woman more than a dozen text messages Wednesday, despite a court order prohibiting him from contacting her.

Leavey was first arrested Dec. 19 at his home in Colbert and placed on paid administrative leave with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, where he’s worked for two years.

Leavey reportedly told investigators he’d held his wife down on their bed, told her she couldn’t leave, threw a box at her and hit her in the arms “five to 25 times,” according to court documents. His wife had red marks on her arms and chest, deputies said. He was released from jail on his own recognizance Dec. 21.

Leavey is charged with unlawful imprisonment, two counts of fourth-degree assault and third-degree malicious mischief.

He’s in jail without bail for violating a court order, according to jail records.

Former Sheriff Wesley Wells Pleads Guilty to Lying to Federal Investigators

Acting United States Attorney Kevin F. McDonald stated today that guilty pleas were entered by former Union County Sheriff Wesley Howard Wells, Former County Tax Assessor Willie E. Randall, Jr., and Union County residents Willard Dee Farr and Lapriest Darnell Beacham to charges stemming from four separate indictments issued by a federal grand jury in September 2009 as a result of a long term investigation into public corruption in Union County.

1. Former Union County Sheriff Wesley Howard Wells pled guilty today in federal court in Spartanburg to lying to federal investigators. Evidence presented at today’s hearing established that Wells made sizeable loans to an individual, resulting in significant interest income to Wells. In March 2009, Wells made false statements to federal law enforcement agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation concerning his involvement in concealing his receipt of taxable interest income and the existence of documents acknowledging the same. Wells faces a maximum possible sentence of five years' imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

2. Former Union County Tax Assessor Willie E. Randall, Jr., pled guilty to conspiracy, extortion, soliciting and accepting bribes, money laundering, structuring financial transactions to evade federal reporting requirements, and knowingly allowing the Union County Tax Assessor’s Office to be used as a “stash house” for the storage and distribution of cocaine and hydrocodone. Randall faces a maximum possible sentence of 190 years' imprisonment and a fine of $5.25 million dollars.

In addition, Randall also pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and a mixture containing methamphetamine. Randall faces an additional maximum possible sentence of 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of $1 million dollars.
3. Union County Resident Lapriest Darnell Beacham was also named as a co-defendant in a separate indictment along with Willie E. Randall, Jr. Beacham pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Beacham faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of $1 million dollars.

4. Union County Resident Willard Dee Farr pled guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion. Farr faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

United States District Judge Henry F. Floyd accepted the guilty pleas and will sentence the defendants at a later date.

Mr. McDonald stated that the case was investigated by agents of the FBI, the IRS-Criminal Investigation, and SLED, and that Assistant United States Attorneys Mark C. Moore, Nancy C. Wicker, and J.D. Rowell of the Columbia office prosecuted the cases.
Information - SC FBI

Officer David Childers Plead Guilty to Possession of Child Porn

Acting United States Attorney Kevin F. McDonald stated that David Courtney Childers, age 45, of Myrtle Beach, plead guilty in federal court to possession of child pornography, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252A(a)(5)(B). United States District Judge R. Bryan Harwell accepted the plea and will sentence Childers at a later date.

In June 2008, FBI agents in Illinois conducted an undercover online investigation using the identification of a known child pornographer. Using “peer to peer” sharing software, the agents made contact with Childers, who was offering to share child pornography. Agents downloaded the child pornography, and traced the communication back to Childers’ computer at his Myrtle Beach residence. A search of Childers’ computer confirmed the presence of child pornography. At the time of the incident, Childers was employed as a police officer with Horry County.

Mr. McDonald stated the maximum penalty Childers can receive is a fine of $250,000.00 and imprisonment for 10 years.

The case was investigated by agents of the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney William E. Day, II, of the Florence office handled the case.

Source: FBI

American Law Enforcement Must Demand the Removal of Sheriff Arpaio from Duty

In my 29-year career as a police officer and detective with the Madison Police Department, in Madison, Wisconsin, I have witnessed and experienced many instances of hatred, violence and racism. In most cases, those negative things were not initiated by law enforcement; sometimes, unfortunately, they were.

The 95% of us who sincerely strive to "serve and protect" are tarnished by the 5% of us who intentionally "disserve and destroy." Nowhere is this more apparent in current American law enforcement than in Maricopa County, Arizona, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio has taken the law into his own hands, at the expense of the Constitution, professional ethics, and proper police conduct. Earlier this year, the mayor of Phoenix wrote a letter to the U.S. attorney general's office, asking the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division to investigate Arpaio's aggressive illegal immigration crackdowns. Mayor Phil Brown wrote that Arpaio's sweeps show "a pattern and practice of conduct that includes discriminatory harassment, improper stops, searches and arrests."

Using local law enforcement to enforce Federal immigration laws, as Sheriff Arpaio is doing, weakens the very community links local police and sheriffs' departments work so hard daily to maintain and build upon. Having community members who are afraid of local police should not be the goal of a department; instead, a far more wide-reaching and positive effect is gained by police-community trust, interaction and collaboration.

This might sound too much like social work to Sheriff Arpaio, whose top-down, dictatorial methods favor humiliation, degradation, prisoner abuse, racial profiling, terrorizing Latino residents, and cavorting with local neo-Nazi groups. And according to a 2008 policy report on effective law enforcement by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian-leaning watchdog group based in Phoenix, Sheriff Arpaio's department "falls seriously short of fulfilling its mission." The report found that Maricopa County has "diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration."

As we all know, police need the community's trust to help solve crime and make our country stronger and safer for everyone living here, regardless of immigration status. I'm sure Sheriff Arpaio's department is having a terrible time finding Latino witnesses and victims of crimes willing to report incidents or testify, but that supposes that he cares about them enough to take reports or help develop their cases for court in the first place. Dehumanizing is another strategy used by Sheriff Arpaio, parading inmates through the streets in funky clothes, "sheltering" them in sweltering desert tents, treating them like vermin, forgetting that he is as bound to them by a universal bond of humanity as much as he is bent on eradicating them.

When chief executives of local law enforcement agencies effectively target subgroups of persons who are not committing crimes, they not only alienate the community, they make it much harder for their agencies to recruit high caliber persons with integrity who reflect the faces of the community to take on the very hard job of policing. A sheriff like Joe Arpaio must have the hardest of times making those hires, and the more the world hears about him, the harder it is for more grounded, public spirited police agencies to hire the best of the best.

American law enforcement must demand the removal of Sheriff Arpaio from duty. He is truly a menace to the residents of Arizona, and our country. Simply stated, Sheriff Arpaio has marred the reputation of law enforcement for generations to come.

His warped sense of "justice" has no place in our society, unless we support Japanese internment camps, the ghetto-ization of African-Americans, and the deaths of countless Latinos attempting to survive their own countries' destruction at the hands of US foreign and economic policies by struggling to come here to live, work and protect their families. I call upon the International Association of Chiefs of Police, as well as the US Department of Justice, to work diligently to remove him from the office he has squandered with racism and hate. Those of us in law enforcement working hard to build bridges of respect and trust with our communities don't need another Theophilus Eugene "Bull" Connor erasing our progress.

Originally posted on Imagine2050, by Detective Alix Olson, Madison Police Department, Wisconsin

Charges Will Not be Dismissed Against Officer Vanessa Mason

A motion to dismiss the remaining criminal charges against a Rochester police officer accused of misconduct has been denied.

Judge Joseph Chase issued his findings in an order dated Tuesday in the case of Vanessa Mason. She now returns to court Feb. 4 for a plea hearing.

Mason was put on administrative leave in April and charged with three felonies and two gross misdemeanors. She was accused of tipping off drug dealers about narcotics investigations and taking money to help pick up and deliver drugs.

Paul Beaumaster, Rice County attorney, is serving as special prosecutor for Olmsted County to avoid a conflict of interest because Mason, 32, is a city employee. At a hearing in October, Beaumaster dismissed the two felony bribery charges against Mason. A key witness had recanted his testimony, but Beaumaster would not say if that was behind the dismissal.

The remaining felony alleges Mason gave a warning about an impending narcotics search warrant. The two gross misdemeanor charges allege misconduct by a public employee. She denies all the allegations.

Her attorney, Fred Bruno of Minneapolis, said prosecutors can't prove the charges and asked that the charges be dismissed.

Chase heard the attorneys' arguments in October and gave them time to submit written briefs.

In his opinion issued Tuesday, Chase called it an interesting case involving unique circumstances and questions of law.

The remaining felony count alleges that Mason called an acquaintance, Terrance Burkhalter, a drug dealer, about a planned drug raid at the home of Bryan Piens.

Bruno contends there's no proof she warned the people at Piens' house. He said they were still in the house when the search was conducted. He said the alleged tip-off was to Burkhalter's phone and no connection has been shown or suggested between Burkhalter and Piens.

Burkhalter has recanted a statement he allegedly gave police about letting someone know the police were coming. Chase said Burkhalter's credibility is a question for jurors.

The gross misdemeanor counts allege misconduct on Mason's part, such as providing restricted information and doing warrant checks for Burkhalter and another drug dealer, Jerell Moore, who now is in federal prison.

Chase denied the motions to dismiss those charges.
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Sheriff Arpaio Investigated for Abuse of Power

The chief financial officer for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has been summoned to appear this week before a federal grand jury that's examining whether Sheriff Joe Arpaio and others on his staff abused their power.

Loretta Barkell, who manages the sheriff's $271 million budget, said Monday the FBI asked her to appear at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix.

Barkell said she was issued a subpoena on Dec. 18.

Barkell will be at least the third Maricopa County employee testifying that day as County Manager David Smith and Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson are slated to give their testimony that morning.

Barkell has worked nine years for the sheriff.

Arpaio last week denied knowledge of the grand jury, but Barkell said she told the sheriff and Chief Deputy David Hendershott about the subpoena right after she received it. She said both men told her to tell the truth. Barkell said she has not been told what kind of questions the U.S. Attorney will ask.

Federal grand juries are composed of local residents who meet once a month to hear testimony and determine if there is enough evidence to hold a trial. The proceedings are secret. Witnesses are free to say if they have been subpoenaed.

Sgt. David Cullop Charged with DUI & Partying with Underage Drinkers

Chilhowie town officials a year ago reviewed photographs that appear to show off-duty Police Sgt. David Conley Cullop – who resigned late Tuesday after being charged last week with driving under the influence – partying with underage drinkers.

One of the partygoers pictured is town Mayor Gary Heninger’s son, then just shy of the legal drinking age of 21.

Town officials dismissed the complaint, sent anonymously in the mail, following an investigation by two separate law enforcement agencies, Chilhowie Police Chief Steve Price told the Bristol Herald Courier on Tuesday.

But a Herald Courier inquiry raises questions about the veracity of those police investigations: Neither of the two agencies cited by Price have records of ever looking into the matter.

Price, when confronted with this information on Wednesday, acknowledged that official investigations never happened. Instead, Price said, he sought opinions about the pictures from a friend who is a ranking officer with the Smyth County Sheriff’s Department and also from another friend with the Virginia State Police.

“There was nothing to document,” said Price, who dismissed the photos’ relevance. “It’s been over a year ago, and this is a done issue.”

Price refused to name the two law enforcement friends.

Anonymous mail

Cullop, 34, resigned four days after State Police said he smashed head-on into a truck while driving off-duty in the wrong lane across a bridge.

No one was injured in the crash. Police charged Cullop with driving under the influence and with refusal to take a breath test.

The Chilhowie Police Department responded to the accident, but called in the State Police when it was discovered that one of its own was involved.

Cullop, reached by the Herald Courier at his Chilhowie home Tuesday evening, declined to discuss the charges or questions of past conduct.

Heninger said he would not allow his son to be interviewed.

The photos arrived in 2009 on a compact disc anonymously mailed to Councilman Lewis Shortt. Pictures obtained by the Herald Courier appear to show an off-duty Cullop partying with others in January 2008.

Shortt said he didn’t pay much attention to the photos, and that he has only a vague recollection of the matter. He added that he was not sure if the mayor’s son, Garrett Heninger, is among the people with Cullop.

Little credence was given to the photos because they were sent anonymously, Shortt said.

“You can’t go on an anonymous letter,” he said. “If no one comes forward, you can’t do anything about it.”

Mayor Heninger readily acknowledged that his son is among the partygoers pictured sitting next to Cullop.

The son, then 19 or 20 years old, is laughing as he clutches in his right hand an open Coors Light beer bottle.

The father does have his doubts about whether the bottle contained any beer, though. Heninger said his son claimed the bottle was empty of alcohol.

“It’s hard to say about pictures because he dips Skoal tobacco, and he uses a bottle as a spittoon,” Heninger said. “I don’t know if it was alcohol or spit.”

Chief Price made the same argument.

“You’ve got to prove there’s alcohol in them,” Price said. “[Cullop] said there was nothing in them.”


On Tuesday, Price said the photos were dismissed as an unfounded complaint after investigations by the Smyth County Sheriff’s Department and State Police cleared Cullop of any wrongdoing.

But there never was an official investigation.

“I don’t know what [Price is] talking about,” Smyth County Sheriff R. David Bradley said Wednesday. “I asked my chief investigator about it this morning, and he doesn’t know anything about it.”

State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Conroy also couldn’t find records of an investigation. He added that an initial, undocumented inquiry could have been done to determine if an investigation was necessary, however.

On Wednesday, Price said the investigation boiled down to him asking two friends in law enforcement whether the photos were worthy of investigation.

The investigation consisted of “an opinion of a sworn law enforcement officer that there was nothing there,” Price said.

When asked Wednesday, Price said he was not sure if he ever handed the photos to county Commonwealth’s Attorney Roy Evans for a legal opinion.

Evans, when called later, said he vaguely remembered a conversation about pictures a year ago, but was not sure what it was about. He said he would check.

In a follow-up conversation, Evans said that Price did ask for an opinion about a series of photos involving Cullop and possible underage drinkers.

The conclusion, Evans said, was that underage drinking is a misdemeanor with a 12-month statute of limitations. Even if some partygoers were underage, nothing could be done because the photos were a year old.

Evans, asked if he remembered that conversation with Price, laughed and said no. Evans said he had talked with Price minutes earlier and was relaying the police chief’s recollection of events.

“I don’t have a vivid recollection of that event, but [Price] did say that’s what happened, and I don’t doubt it,” Evans said.

Two New Orleans Officers Arrested

Two New Orleans police officers were booked into jail Thursday in separate criminal incidents.

In one case, a 6th District officer was indicted on charges that he participated in kidnapping a woman last summer. His partner, who was indicted last fall, is accused of undressing and raping the woman while she remained shackled, according to court documents.

In Thursday's other arrest, an officer was booked into jail for allegedly firing his weapon into his car at a downtown hotel parking garage while off-duty.

The arrests are the latest in a steady stream of misconduct cases to hit the New Orleans Police Department, which finds itself under federal investigation for possible deadly misconduct in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

NOPD spokesman Bob Young acknowledged the indictment of officer Thomas Clark, 36, on a count of second-degree kidnapping, adding that the allegations stem from the same incident as an alleged rape by Clark's partner, Henry Hollins.

Henry Hollins is being held in lieu of $1.5 million bail.

In November, Hollins was indicted both with aggravated rape and kidnapping. He is being held in jail in lieu of $1.5 million bail, according to court records.

Young said Clark is suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case. Clark, who joined the NOPD in 2001, remained in jail on Thursday evening.

The Clark and Hollins indictments were unusual in that they stemmed from investigations conducted by the Orleans Parish district attorney's office, not the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau.

Chris Bowman, a spokesman for the DA, acknowledged Clark's indictment, but declined to elaborate on the circumstances of the case.

Court documents allege that Hollins, 46, drove a woman to the intersection of Tchoupitoulas and Felicity streets "where he completely disrobed and raped the victim while she remained in handcuffs."

Hollins then drove the woman to an unknown location and released her from custody, the arrest warrant states.

Months prior to his indictment in the alleged rape, Hollins, a 12-year police veteran, was arrested and booked with domestic abuse for allegedly punching his wife in the mouth with a closed fist.

He was placed on desk duty following the domestic violence arrest in late August. After his indictment in November, NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley said Hollins was suspended without pay.

Clark's attorney, Frank DeSalvo, criticized the district attorney's office for its handling of the case.

"It's extortion," he said.

DeSalvo said that Howard Robertson, the head of the investigative unit for the district attorney, only made the case on Clark because the officer refused to implicate his partner by admitting to certain details of the crime.

"He wanted (Clark) to come in and tell him what he wanted to hear," DeSalvo claimed.

Bowman declined to respond to DeSalvo's accusation, saying "the district attorney's office is not going to try this or any other case in the media."

In Thursday's other arrest, police booked Officer Patrick O'Hern for illegally discharging a weapon on Dec. 12. The incident occurred about 2 p.m. on the rooftop parking lot of the Hilton New Orleans Riverside hotel at 2 Poydras St., said Officer Shereese Harper, a police spokeswoman.

Young said O'Hern fired his weapon several times into his personal vehicle. O'Hern was put on desk duty following the incident and now, after his arrest, is suspended without pay, Young said.

O'Hern was released from the Orleans Parish jail not long after he was booked. It is unclear who is representing him.

Officer Kachina McAlexander Accused of Shooting at Officers

The jury trial has begun for a former Denver Police officer accused of firing her handgun at law enforcement officers in South Dakota.

Kachina McAlexander, who resigned from her DPD job last April, faces three counts of aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of reckless use of a firearm.

Her trial began Tuesday and was continuing Thursday, according to the Custer County court clerk's office.

McAlexander was holed up in a Custer motel room on March 24, 2009 when local officers arrived in response to a report that McAlexander might be suicidal.

The 10-year DPD veteran is accused of firing her weapon at the responding officers, none of whom was injured.

Attempted murder charges were initially filed but then thrown out nine months ago.

At the time, Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler expressed disappointment at the ruling.

"I really thought we would get a conviction," Wheeler, who had argued that his deputies' lives were clearly in danger during the incident, said.

McAlexander and her family have not returned repeated calls requesting comment.

According to The Denver Post, McAlexander faced weapons charges in 2006 after firing at a television and at the walls of her home in Adams County. Like the March 24 incident, McAlexander was reportedly suicidal at the time.

A judge acquitted McAlexander of the charges and an appeal by prosecutors was not successful.

A spokesperson for the Adams County District Attorney would not provide information on the case to 9NEWS saying the case information is sealed.

A 2009 request by 9NEWS to view McAlexander's Denver Police disciplinary file was rejected on the grounds that an internal investigation was either ongoing or imminent.

Denver Police declined to discuss McAlexander's situation on-camera after she was charged.

Officer David Barnes Charged with Perjury & Harassment

Authorities say a blogger critical of Phoenix police and an officer accused of feeding him material have been indicted on felony charges.

The Arizona Attorney General's Office says David Barnes is charged with one count of perjury and two counts of harassment and blogger Jeffrey Pataky is charged with one count each of perjury and false swearing.

Barnes is former Phoenix homicide detective and patrol officer who worked on the high-profile Baseline Killer case.

An indictment released Thursday says the two lied about knowing each other and that Barnes repeatedly harassed two Phoenix police officers who are married to each other, through an anonymous letter and e-mails.

Barnes is currently on administrative leave and could not be reached for comment. Pataky says the accusations are "absurd beyond belief" and are in retaliation for his blog called Bad Phoenix Cops, where authorities say some of Barnes' material was posted.

Officer Christine Phinney Charged with Disorderly Conduct & Reckless Driving

A North Charleston police officer is placed on administrative duty and under investigation after Dorchester deputies pulled her over for speeding.

On Christmas Eve, officers charged 41-year-old Christine Phinney, the wife of a Dorchester County Sheriff's Lieutenant, with offenses that could have put her behind bars, but she never went to jail.

"I'm a police officer," yelled Phinney on the dash cam video. "Do you know see my torn lip? Do you not see my lip?"

Police say she was handcuffed and wrestled to the ground. After the small fight she said, "He's going to love it when he gets sued for a (expletive) fat lip."

Phinney worked as an officer with North Charleston Police Department. "I pull people for driving 100 mph, you know what they say? I'm a narcotics officer in an unmarked vehicle. Well just slow it down and have a good night. As long as the show me a badge, I don't care," said Phinney.

She tells the deputy she is Tony Phinney's wife, a lieutenant with the same agency that pulled her over.

Despite her connection, they charged her with disorderly conduct and reckless driving. Maj. John Garrison says the majority of people with those charges get a court date, but they're not taken to jail.

"It's not like there was preference shown it was treated like any other case," said Garrison.

It all started after officers saw Phinney speeding down Central Avenue in Summerville.

They say she drove in the median and passed cars pulled over for the blue lights. Eventually she turned in to the White Gables subdivision and stopped for officers. An incident report says they clocked her going 65 in a 40 mph speed zone.

"In this instance it did involve another police officer. Her supervisors in North Charleston were notified. They responded and requested that they be allowed to take custody of her. They did what they had to do as far as department police and their internal affairs investigation," said Maj. Garrison.

He says she could be fined, spend up to 60 days in jail, and get six points on her license for the charges. He says alcohol was not a factor.

North Charleston Police department has placed Phinney on administrative duty as she is being investigated.
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Officer Leonardo Quintana Arrested for DWI

Austin police officer Leonardo Quintana was arrested in Leander for Driving While Intoxicated Tuesday. Quintana is in the middle of a federal civil rights lawsuit brought against him by the family of Nathanial Sanders II, the 18-year-old he fatally shot at an East Austin apartment complex more than eight months ago.

Quintana was held in Williamson County Jail on $1,000 bail, which was posted by 9:30 a.m Tuesday morning.

Quintana was found at the scene of a crash at the intersection of Osage and Saddle Blanket in Leander at 5:15 a.m. by Leander police officers, according to an arrest affidavit.

After smelling alcohol on Quintana's breath, officers had him perform a field sobriety test and concluded he showed signs of intoxication. Quintana refused to take a breath or blood test.

Quintana fatally shot Sanders, on May 11, 2009, while Sanders was sitting in the back of a Mercedes-Benz station wagon in the apartment complex's parking lot.

With two other APD officers Quintana investigated the vehicle, which was linked to a series of robberies, but only one officer recorded the incident that morning.

A Travis County grand jury in August 2009 no-billed Quintana after determining that he did not violate criminal law.

APD Chief Art Acevedo said in November that Quintana did not use excessive force and that his use of force was "objectively reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances." However, as a result of violating APD's mobile video recorder policy by not recording the incident, Acevedo suspended Quintana for 15 days.

Quintana's attorney Robert Icenhauer-Ramirez said he does not anticipate that the arrest will have any affect on the lawsuit at all.

Icenhauer-Ramirez said he has not spoken to Quintana about the incident, but that "[Quintana] is going to be retaining an independent council" on the matter.

"These are very stressful circumstances that officer Quintana has been under for the last year," Icenhauer-Ramirez said. "I just don't judge people on these sort of minor pitfalls that they get into when they are under this amount of stress."

Austin Police Association President Wayne Vincent said he does not think the

incident affects Quintana's credibility and that Quintana has been "under a

tremendous amount of stress after what he has gone through."

"He is going to have to answer to the charges,” Vincent said. "The police association is going to support him as any family member going through a crisis. He is going to face what has occurred and we will see what happens."

Quintana has been placed on paid, but restrictive leave by Austin police officials for the DWI arrest.
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Baltimore Officer Charged with Raping His Wife at Gunpoint

A Baltimore police officer has been suspended from the force after his arrest on charges that he raped his wife at gunpoint during an argument over her marital infidelity, according to court charging documents.

The 37-year-old officer, an Iraq war veteran, is charged with felonies that include rape, assault and using a handgun in the commission of a violent crime. The officer, whom The Baltimore Sun is not naming to shield the woman's identity, is being held at the Baltimore City Detention Center on $500,000 bail.

The officer joined the Police Department in February 2001 and was most recently assigned to the Special Operations Section.

The officer's attorney, Shaun Owens, declined to comment on the case.

Officer Andrew Gill Resigns After Being Charged with Assault

A probationary police officer in the Town of Lancaster submitted his resignation late Wednesday, two days after he was charged with assaulting a 17-year-old in an off-duty incident.

His attorney confirmed that Officer Andrew T. Gill, 23, resigned from the town police force.

“This was a very difficult decision. He greatly enjoyed being a police officer,” Gill’s attorney, Patrick J. Brown, told The Buffalo News. “He has tremendous respect for the people of Lancaster, and he knows his situation was causing distress for a lot of people.”

Monday, police filed a misdemeanor assault charge against Gill, based on a complaint by a town teenager, Justin Mangold, who said Gill attacked and injured him during a New Year’s party at a home on Via Donato Drive.

Town officials said Tuesday that they were trying to decide whether to suspend or terminate Gill, who began working in the department about two weeks before the alleged Jan. 1 assault.

Mangold had told police that Gill began punching him in the face, without provocation, during a “beer pong” drinking game at the New Year’s party. Mangold’s attorneys, Scott F. Riordan and David S. Kelly, said Mangold suffered a broken nose, black eyes and facial injuries that required hospital treatment.

Gill’s attorney said Gill hit Mangold as a “defensive” measure after the teen moved toward him.

Riordan contended that Gill received lenient treatment from the town because his father, Gerald J. Gill, is a lieutenant in the department’s Detective Bureau. That allegation was denied by Brown.

At this point, it is unlikely that Andrew Gill will pursue a police job with another department, Brown said.

“At the present time, he doesn’t anticipate doing that,” Brown said. “He’s evaluating career possibilities outside of police work.”

Authorities said the assault case is expected to be moved out of Lancaster to another jurisdiction because of the Gill family’s close association with law enforcement.

Speaking about the assault case, Brown said: “Because we don’t know what court we will be in, we’re in a holding pattern right now. We plan to fight it, unless there is some way of resolving it that is fair to all parties.”

Riordan said he is “not surprised” by Gill’s resignation, which means he won’t have a termination on his record that might be a red flag for future employers.

“Now he will be free to apply for police work somewhere else one day,” Riordan said, “and we don’t think that is right.”
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Officer Bryan Crews Terminated for Sending Sexually Explicit Material on His Cell Phone

A Dallas police officer was terminated Thursday for a series of department violations, including sending and receiving "inappropriate and/or sexually explicit material on his cell phone."

Police Chief David Kunkle said the actions of Officer Bryan Crews — a 4 1/2-year veteran of the force — had a tendency to adversely affect, lower, or destroy public respect and confidence in the department.

Police said Crews' other violations included:

• taking unauthorized photos of crime scenes

• failing to follow procedures concerning the return of a citizen's identification card

• failing to provide violators with a copy of their citations

• displaying inappropriate photos to co-workers while on duty

Crews served at the Southeast Patrol Division.
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Former Officer Tyrone Wiggins Will Face Trial for Raping Young Girl

A former Philadelphia police officer who retired just before he was charged with repeatedly raping a girl starting when she was 12 will face trial, a judge ruled Thursday.

Tyrone Wiggins, 50, was arrested in November, a day after he retired following a two-year police investigation into the case.

During a hearing in Municipal Court, Judge Alfred J. DiBona ordered Wiggins held for trial on rape, statutory rape, and other charges.

The victim testified that the assaults had continued for eight years. She described a "series of horrible acts" by "someone who abused his position over years," Assistant District Attorney Mark Cipolletti said.

At the time of his arrest, Wiggins was teaching martial-arts classes at the Olney Recreation Center. The city Recreation Department did not know of his arrest until media reports a month later.

Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said there had been no deal to allow Wiggins to retire with his pension.

The victim has told police that Wiggins befriended her and her family when she started attending his karate class when she was 10.

Two years later, according to court records, Wiggins drove her to Fairmount Park in his van and exposed himself to her. A week later, he again took her to the park in his van and sexually assaulted her, the records said.

Over eight years, Wiggins sexually and physically assault the girl in his van, at his home, and elsewhere, the records said.

Internal Affairs first interviewed the victim in August 2007.
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Lawswuit Filed by Two Students Who Were Tasered

Two federal lawsuits each seek more than $10 million on behalf of two Illinois 12-year-olds allegedly shocked during an unauthorized Taser demonstration by a school officer.

Police say the officer is on administrative leave following the Tuesday incident at a junior high in Kankakee, about 60 miles south of Chicago.

The officer allegedly used the Taser on three students who volunteered for the demonstration. A parent later took one student to a hospital, where he was examined and released.

The lawsuits filed Thursday name the police officer, the city, the school district and two teachers. Messages seeking comment have been left with city and school district officials.

The boys' attorney, James Meeks, says they also want the officer fired and criminal charges filed.

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Sheriff Deputy Investigated for Sex with Teen Boy

A Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy is being investigated after reports that he had sex with a teenage boy he met on the Internet.

Another man, from West Carrollton, was arrested in the case after the 17-year-old said he engaged in separate sexual encounters with both men.

The sergeant, whose name was not released, has been placed on medical leave while the case is investigated, and he has not been charged with anything.

Warren County is handling the investigation into the deputy because the alleged incident occurred there.

Deputies arrested 49-year-old Kevin Hetzer on three charges – unlawful sexual contact, pandering obscenity and pandering sexually-oriented material – after searching his home Thursday.

Investigators said Hetzer owns a transportation company and often travels out of state with youth groups in the community.

The boy said he met Hetzer through, investigators said, and is currently undergoing treatment for drug addiction, where he told a counselor about the alleged encounters.

Authorities said the teen likely had sexual encounters with other area men.

Officer Raymond Bessette Has History of Complaints

Even before the videotape surfaced of a Nov. 27 arrest which shows him striking a drug suspect with a flashlight, the record of police misconduct allegations involving patrolman Jeffrey M. Asher was coming under increased scrutiny.

Details of the Police Department’s handling of seven civilian complaints brought against Asher over the past 12 years will play a role in the defense of New York man accused of assaulting Asher during his arrest at a downtown club in October 2008.

The Police Department internal investigations records about Asher were turned over in November by the city to a lawyer for Raymond Bessette, 34, of North Granville, N.Y.

Bessette is due to face trial on Jan. 22 in District Court where he has pleaded innocent to charges of assault and battery on a police officer and trespassing. He may claim self-defense, his lawyer Frank Flannery advised the court in filings.

Flannery was successful in seeking access to the Police Department internal investigations records for Asher, including those involving incidents in which the 16-year veteran was charged with using excessive force and inappropriate conduct.

Jeffrey M. Asher Asher is now among four officers under both internal and criminal investigations in connection with the Nov. 27 arrest of Melvin Jones III during a traffic stop on Rifle Street. Asher was identified in a police report of that incident as having struck Jones repeatedly during a scuffle which ensued when the suspect tried to flee the scene and then grabbed another officer’s gun.

According to a police report of the Oct. 19, 2008, incident, police were called to the Salty Dog club at 280 Bridge St. Asher and another officer were taking Bessette, who they said was drunk and disruptive, out of the club shortly after midnight when Bessette struck Asher open-handed in the chest, according to the report.

The report states that as the police officers were escorting Bessette from the bar he lost his footing and fell in the parking lot outside, getting a minor scrape.

In preparation for trial, Flannery filed a motion asking that the city be ordered to provide all internal investigation records about Asher for seven different incidents, including the 1997 case in which Asher and the department drew national attention. In that case, Asher was also caught on videotape, kicking a suspect in the head while he was restrained by other officers.

District Court Judge Jacques C. Leroy ordered the city to provide the records. Only the defense can look at the records, and they are sealed from public review, according to the judge’s order. Flannery confirmed that he has seen the records but declined to comment further.

The defense filing states that Bessette says he never struck Asher. Bessette claims Asher struck him in the shoulder with his fist, shoved him down a hallway and then threw him through swinging doors, according to the court document.

In the most recent incident involving Asher, the suspect, the 28-year-old Jones, according to his father, reportedly suffered fractures to the bones in his face and remains partially blind in one eye.

Among the incidents for which Flannery sought records are:

• The 1997 suspension of Asher without pay by the Police Commission for kicking Roy Parker, a drug suspect, who was restrained and being handcuffed by two officers. Asher was cleared of criminal wrongdoing, and an original year-long suspension was later overturned and reduced to six months.

• A 2004 incident in which Asher was among a group of officers who were the subjects of a brutality complaint by a black school principal injured by police while he was in the throes of a diabetic seizure in his car at a South End gas station. After a month-long review, the Police Commission voted 3-2 to exonerate the officers. The city paid a $180,000 settlement.

• A 1994 incident which did not come to light until after the Parker case in which the city paid $75,000 in 2000 to settle a brutality complaint against Asher and another officer, Daniel Brunton. Michael J. Cuzzone, of Springfield, claimed he was beaten unconscious by Asher on May 26, 1994, after Cuzzone’s friend had a dispute with Asher’s father, Michael Asher, a bartender at Donnie’s Cafe on Chestnut Street. The city made no admission of wrongdoing in paying the settlement, and neither Asher nor Brunton was disciplined by the Police Department.

• A 12-day suspension of Asher without pay for violation of departmental rules and regulations for an incident that occurred on Clyde Street on Jan. 29, 2001. A complaint was filed by a 12-year-old boy, Luis D. Soto, and his mother, Rosa M. Sepulveda, both of Springfield. They said the side mirror of Asher’s cruiser hit the boy’s right arm while the boy was walking with friends. The child required treatment at Baystate Medical Center.

• Asher’s reprimand in 2005 by then acting Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet for “failing to show respectful treatment” in connection with a resident’s complaint of mistreatment in April related to Asher’s response to a dog attack. Jerry A. Belair, of Nassau Drive, said his encounter with Asher occurred when he was attempting to take his injured dog to an animal hospital after the pet was attacked by a pit bull outside his home. Belair said that despite repeated pleas to take his bleeding dog to the hospital, Asher detained him for more than 90 minutes, stated he was under arrest, handcuffed him and placed him a cruiser, all without cause. Asher denied wrongdoing, but Fitchet issued the reprimand and it was about this time that Asher was transferred to inside duty in the department’s Records Division.

• A 1995 case which resulted in a civil lawsuit filed by a former Springfield man, Brent Whitley. The Whitley case was dismissed in 1999 after Whitley appeared to lose interest in the matter and failed to contact his lawyer or appear in U.S. District Court. Whitley had claimed he was doused with a chemical spray, clubbed, arrested and pushed down stairs by Asher and another officer during his arrest on charges for which he was later acquitted.

• A 2004 incident in which, Holly M. Marion, 24, filed a complaint with the Police Department, saying Asher punched her in the face and broke her left leg on Oct. 7 as emergency workers responded to a call about a drug overdose at 75 Avon Place. Marion admitted, according to police reports of the incident, that she threatened to “stab” Asher with a hypodermic needle if he “didn’t let go” but later told him she did not have a weapon.

Probation Official Richard Asperger Charged with Theft

A long-time Madison County probation official faces felony charges of theft and obstructing justice.

A grand jury today accused 53-year-old Richard N. Asperger of stealing $355 cash from a woman’s purse in Troy, Ill., on Nov. 22 and lying to police about it. Bail was set at $5,000 and Asperger was expected to surrender to authorities.

Asperger is human services administrator in the county’s Probation and Court Services Department and has been with the department for 25 years. Chief Judge Ann Callis and Probation and Court Services Director Judith Dallas late today said they planned “prompt and appropriate action” regarding Asperger’s employment status.

Charles Zalar, a special prosecutor with the state’s appellate prosecutor’s office, said an 85-year-old Troy woman left her purse in a shopping cart at a Walgreens store. Zalar said the woman soon realized the purse was missing, returned to the store and was given the purse and a bank envelope that had been in the purse. There was some money in the envelope but $355 was missing.

Zalar said Asperger gave the purse to a pharmacist and later pointed out the envelope to store personnel. The prosecutor said a surveillance video contradicted Asperger’s statements to police about the matter.

Madison County State’s Attorney William Mudge requested a special prosecutor for the case to avoid potential conflict of interest.
Other Information

Officer Lawrence Furlow Arrested For Shaking Down Drug Dealers

The state Attorney General’s Office has decided to retry its case against a Newark police officer accused of shaking down drug dealers for money, drugs and guns, after his first trial ended last month with a hung jury.

The officer, Lawrence Furlow, 49, was arrested in 2004 and charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and theft, according to the original indictment.

A new trial isn’t expected to begin until May because Furlow’s attorney, Thomas Ashley, is handling a death penalty case in Philadelphia, authorities said.

Attorneys on both sides will meet Friday morning with Superior Court Judge Peter Ryan in Newark to set a new trial date, said Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.

Ashley, who represented Furlow in the previous trial that ended Dec. 16 with a hung jury, said he intends to stay on as counsel. He said his client was "heartened" when the jury revealed it had voted, 8-4, in favor of acquittal, before deadlocking.

Furlow’s arrest — along with fellow officer Darius Smith — was part of a larger investigation by the state Division of Criminal Justice and Newark police into allegations so-called rogue officers robbed drug dealers and prostitutes, resold drugs and sold guns, planted drugs on victims and filed false reports over a three-year period.

Smith, 38, whose charges mirror Furlow’s, will be tried separately. His trial will start March 23, according to court records.

Both men, who are out on bail, have been suspended from the police department since their arrests more than five years ago. Ashley said Furlow, who has been on the force since 1996, has found other employment, but is only making "a modicum of a living."

Smith’s attorney, Raymond Beam Jr., could not be reached for comment.

Deputy Attorneys General Annmarie Taggart and Mark Ondris will prosecute the case against Furlow. Office policy prohibits attorneys from discussing an ongoing case, Aseltine said.

Furlow and Smith were implicated by another police officer, Tyrone Dudley, who went into witness protection after pleading guilty to participating in the thefts.

The charges against Furlow cover December 2001 to 2003, when he patrolled the West Ward. Authorities say he took cash, drugs and weapons from drug dealers, criminal suspects and others by shaking them down. He also planted drugs on other victims to increase his arrests and cover up his illegal actions, according to the original indictment.

Ashley said his client denies any wrongdoing and "professes his innocence. I am very confident that at the end of the day, he will be absolutely innocent."

Kind Act of Stranger Lands Him in Jail

We're learning more about a Eugene man, Ben Bond, who was fined $810 after a confrontation with a meter maid. The trouble started Wednesday when Bond tried paying the expired parking meters of strangers.

Outside the Fifth Street Market is where Ben Bond was arrested. He admits he fed the expired meters of strangers and used profanity at one point when he stopped his truck and confronted a Eugene parking enforcement officer. He says he never physically got in her way and was just trying to make sure other people avoided getting hit with parking tickets.

"They asked me what I was doing and I said 'Trying to keep the meter maid from getting a cramp in her hand from writing tickets'. And they instantly said 'Put your change in your pocket. You are under arrest,' " said Bond.

Ben Bond never believed putting a few coins in a few parking meters could lead to this. "The handcuff marks are still on my hands," said Bond.

The 30-year old was arrested by Eugene Police Wednesday and charged with Harassment and Obstruction of Governmental Administration after a run in with one of the city's parking enforcement officers. What sparked the incident was what Bond considered an act of kindness: putting coins in the expired parking meters of strangers.

"Got into my truck, and she pulled right here right as I was getting ready to put the money in and she said she saw that it was expired and that she's still getting a ticket," said Bond.

The parking services employee advised him to stop, then she moved on down Fifth Street.

"Had a pocket full of change and decided nobody else needs to get a ticket on this street and decided to change everybody up," said Bond.

Bond admits to stopping his truck next to the parking attendant outside the Fifth Street Market and confronting her. "I told her 'I don't think you're a crappy person, but what you're doing is a crappy ordeal," said Bond.

Bond parked, paid his own meter, then continued to pay others. "When I pulled up across the block, she instantly just stopped doing her job and I figured she was calling the police and I stuck around and waited for them," said Bond.

Three officers arrived, and within moments Bond was in cuffs and in a police cruiser. "I didn't have a chance from the get go. As soon as they showed up, I think minds were made up that I was going to be arrested and fined," said Bond.

Meanwhile, KEZI 9 News spoke with another witness to this incident. He didn't want to go on camera, but what he says corroborates much of Bond's recollection of events that the only time Bond confronted the parking officer was from inside his truck and he did not block her from doing her job. He says Bond disappeared for a short time as police were called to the scene. Bond says he intends to fight his charges in court.

When our photographer arrived at the scene Wednesday night, the responding police officers left before we could contact them. We made four separate calls to the Eugene Police Department. None were returned before our story first aired.

The Eugene Police Department spoke with KEZI 9 News Thursday morning. They were eager to talk with us and tell their side of the story. We sat down with EPD's Patrol Captain Rich Stronach.

It should be noted though, Captain Stronach was not on the scene, had not seen a copy of the report, and said he only had a brief talk with one of the responding police officers.

"This guy was running ahead and putting coins in the meters as the parking control officer would stop to begin writing citations," said Eugene Police Capt. Rich Stronach.

Captain Rich Stronach says that's not what led to 30-year-old Ben Bond's arrest, but he claims Bond's verbal assaults and following a parking enforcement officer is what landed him in the back of a patrol car.

"She did finally start to feel physically intimidated. I can't tell you what was said, I haven't seen the report like I said, I don't know what exactly he said," said Capt. Stronach. "Eventually got to the point where she felt threatened enough where she contacted police."

KEZI 9 News asked further about that physical intimidation.

"What the officer described to me was over the course of several blocks, of this parking control officer trying to do her job, that he continually followed along was interfering with her. I'm going to assume her way was blocked, exactly what went on I can't tell you. Like I said I wasn't there, I haven't even read the report. I spoke with the officer briefly this morning about it," said Capt. Stronach.

But after our cameras were off, Stronach called the officer and told KEZI 9 News that Bond did not physically block the parking enforcement officer from doing her job. Stronach says when officers arrived on the scene Bond wasn't around. It was later while three EPD officers were talking to the parking control officer that Bond walked by. According to Capt. Stronach, after talking with him, police put him in handcuffs and into the patrol car. "The officers elected to put him in handcuffs, and it was very non eventful. Contrary to one account where he was thrown up against the wall, that did not occur," said Stronach.

However, five witnesses who spoke with KEZI 9 News say otherwise. They say he was handled harshly. "The only thing I can suggest to the people that reported to your cameraman that they're perception is that they were seeing what was going on at this one particular point. Again, parking control officers deal with this stuff all the time just not to this extent," said Capt. Stronach.

Police cited Bond for Harassment and Obstructing Governmental Administration. With Bond's citations, he had two options: spend the night in jail or receive a citation for $810, stop his behavior, and leave the area. He opted for the fine and left.

The harassment charge comes with a $280 fine. Obstructing Governmental Administration packs a $530 fine. The harassment charge is for those verbal assaults, but what is the obstruction of governmental administration for if it wasn't for plugging parking meters?

The definition according to Oregon law states, "If the person intentionally obstructs, impairs or hinders the administration of law or other governmental or judicial function by means of intimidation, force, physical or economic interference or obstacle."

So how was Bond hindering the parking enforcement officer from doing her job? Police say he did not block her, those verbal assaults were for the harassment charge. He was filling those meters though, but police say he wasn't charged for that. Bond is set to appear in court on January 28th, and he plans to fight it.

KEZI 9 News also spoke to Mayor Kitty Piercy about the incident. She maintains this is not a case about plugging a meter but rather someone harassing a city employee.

While EPD maintains that Bond was not actually fined for plugging meters, there is an ordinance on the books that says it's illegal to feed other people's meters.

The city though says that law's not enforced. In turn, Mayor Piercy says she stands by the actions of everyone involved on the city's side of things.

"The message from me to the people of this community is if they think we would ever send an officer out over a meter plugging incident, we wouldn't. And secondly, we do support and admire people who try to be Good Samaritans and help their fellow citizens," said Piercy.

Mayor Piercy says, while Ben Bond may have been trying to be a Good Samaritan, that's not what this case is about.

"It's really about what happened after that where an employee doing her job was harassed and intimidated and felt so frightened for her well being she had to call the police to help her out. That's the issue that's at hand," says Piercy.

City Councilor Mike Clark agrees. "At the end of the day, I think it's a good idea to try and do the Good Samaritan type of thing that he was doing, but it's a bad idea to harass and follow people down the street when you're mad about it," said Clark. "You don't get to yell and you don't get to threaten city employees, even if they behave dumb or mean."

What both Clark and the mayor are assuming of course is that Bond's story isn't true. As it stands, the city has yet to offer up an interview with any of the officers who were on the scene or the woman who Bond had the confrontation with. That's all stacked against the eyewitness accounts who say Bond was not physically threatening or impeding the officer.

Meanwhile, Clark says situations like this could be avoided if the city would just get rid of meters in the first place. "People are sick to death of getting tickets at parking meters, and that's why I've been trying to get rid of them for a year. I think that's what really creates the rub her," said Clark.

When KEZI 9 News spoke to parking services Wednesday morning, they initially agreed to speak to us, though they stipulated they would only talk about parking operations and not about the incident itself. They told KEZI 9 News they first needed to check in with the police department. From that point on though, they did not get back to us and did not return any of our calls.

Three Calgary Officers Charged with Using Excessive Force

Three Calgary police officers were charged with assault Wednesday after motorists in two separate incidents accused them of using excessive force.

In the first case, which dates back to December 2008, a pair of officers were charged with assault following a physical altercation with a 50-year-old man they pulled over.

The second incident involved a single officer who used a Taser during a struggle with a 73-year-old man pulled over for a traffic violation.

Police said they have interviewed independent witnesses who saw the second encounter in April 2009.

While police and the association that represents the rank-and-file stressed they will let the courts decide whether the actions were justified, officials on both sides said they don't believe the officers deliberately crossed the line.

"Our officers are called upon to make split-second decisions," said deputy Chief Al Redford.

"I am totally confident none of these three officers reported for duty . . . with the intention of committing a criminal offence; they reported for duty with the intention of enforcing the law."

President of the Calgary Police Association, John Dooks, echoed Redford's sentiment, and added the officers in both cases were reacting to a perceived threat from the motorists.

In the 2008 incident, the two officers were responding to a call about a motorist behaving erratically in the area around 17th Avenue S.E. in Forest Lawn, Dooks said.

The man didn't pull over when the officers first activated the lights and sirens on their marked cruiser, Dooks said.

When the 50-year-old motorist did pull over, he didn't comply with instructions and reached for one of the officers while still behind the wheel of his vehicle, said Dooks.

"That is a grave risk," he said, adding an officer had been dragged by a motorist the night before.

There was a struggle between the man and the officers, resulting in the motorist filing a formal complaint with police.

The incident happened at 2:15 a.m. and there were no independent witnesses, but an independent Crown prosecutor recommended charging the officers after reviewing the findings of an investigation by the Calgary police professional standards section.

The two officers, who each have four years' experience, have been charged with assault and are on administrative duties pending the outcome of the court case.

In the second case, a six-year member of the force patrolling in a marked cruiser pulled over a 73-year-old man for a traffic violation in the northeast Calgary on the afternoon of April 17, 2009.

"During his dealings with the officer, the motorist was non-compliant with the officer's demands and instructions," Dooks said.

The two became involved in a physical confrontation -- though neither police nor the association said what sparked it -- and the officer had to defend himself, said Dooks.

"The officer was losing the struggle and as a result, resorted to the Taser to subdue the individual," he said.

The officer involved in the Taser incident has been charged with assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm. He is also on administrative duties until the allegations are dealt with. The driver of the car was charged with a traffic violation.

The courts will render a verdict on whether the officers should have reacted the way they did, but Dooks said both confrontations could have been avoided if the motorists simply followed instructions.

"I would not, in either case, try to paint these motorists as sinister individuals."

But traffic stops are high-risk situations for officers because motorists can easily conceal weapons or use their vehicles to injure officers, making immediate compliance especially vital, said Dooks.

"Any time an officer approaches a vehicle, it's always the motorist or the offender who has the advantage. There are lots of grey areas for officers, and on safety issues, they'll err on the side of safety."

Police did not release the names of the officers who have been charged, citing a recently instituted policy against publicly identifying members who have been accused of an offence while carrying out their duties.

The intent, Redford said, is to prevent harassment against the officers and their families in cases where they may have simply been doing their jobs.

"We will give them the benefit of the doubt," he said.

Under the policy, police will release the names of the officers if they are convicted. As well, the policy does not protect the identity of officers accused of committing serious crimes while off-duty.

Former Officer Stephen Wassel Pleads Guilty to Using Excessive Force

A former police officer has admitted to using excessive force on a 12-year-old concerning a stolen bike.

Stephen Wassel pleaded guilty Wednesday to a disorderly persons offense and paid a $750 fine. The 47-year-old Hamburg resident retired from the Fair Lawn Police force after the April incident.

The child's mother said her son's friend was stopped after stealing a bike. Police also called for the boy to stop. But Hansel Castillo ran away.

Authorities said the officer grabbed the boy by his head and smashed his face into the pavement.

The boy was never charged in the bike case. A lawyer for the child said he plans to file a lawsuit against Fair Lawn.

Two Detroit Officer Under Investigation for Fraud

One Detroit police officer is suspended and another is under investigation in alleged time-card fraud that has cost the department more than $15,000, the Free Press has learned.

Police Chief Warren Evans confirmed the internal investigation, which he said could lead to criminal charges against at least two officers. The cases will be forwarded to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office to determine if charges such as fraud or obtaining money under false pretenses are warranted.

The department declined to release the officers’ names, citing personnel issues, but said that both work in the department’s Eastern District. Their supervisor is also under investigation for approving their fraudulent time cards, said police spokesman John Roach.

“I’m trying to find money to hire police officers and get equipment to make our streets safer,” Evans said today. “There’s no way in the world I’m going to tolerate this.”

He said some of the officers’ colleagues alerted the administration to the alleged fraud, prompting the month-long investigation.

In one case, a male officer was moonlighting working security at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, and his shifts overlapped by up to a couple of hours, Evans said. The officer would leave his department patrol early to go to his night hospital job, while still getting paid by the city.

Roach said the department estimates the officer bilked the city out of $15,000 over more than a year.

The other case involved a female officer who submitted fraudulent activity logs while on vacation out of the country, Evans said. The department confirmed she was not in Detroit, as her time logs stated, and was paid her normal salary for what should have been vacation days.

“I’m running a police department, but I’m running a business, too,” Evans said. “This cannot happen.”

The male officer is suspended with pay until the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners meeting today, when Evans said he plans to recommend that he be suspended without pay. Evans said he intends to follow suit with the female officer.

Officer Andrew Biggs Demoted for Shooting Wal-Mart Shoplifter

Gilbert Police Chief Tim Dorn has demoted a police officer who was off duty when he shot an alleged accomplice to a shoplifting suspect during a scuffle.

Gilbert Police Officer Andrew "Chad" Biggs said he feared for his life after being physically attacked by a Sacaton woman he suspected of shoplifting from a Walmart late Aug. 9.

As Veronica Rodriguez, 25, continued threw punches and slaps upon the off-duty officer, her boyfriend, Therin Castillo, 28, advanced on him, recently released police reports state.

Biggs, the son of state Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, pulled his handgun tucked in a cargo pant pocket and fired, hitting Castillo in the groin.

While a Maricopa County Attorney's Office shooting review panel last month cleared Biggs of criminal wrongdoing, an internal investigation approved by Dorn found differently.

On Dec. 16, an internal affairs panel ruled Biggs broke four policies and recommended the officer of more than two years be fired. In a Dec. 29 memo to Biggs, Dorn opted to demote the officer to a 911 dispatcher.

"Based on your actions and decisions, continued assignment as a police officer exposes you, your family, your fellow officers and the public to unacceptable risk," Dorn wrote.

Biggs began his position as a dispatcher Jan. 4, but is contesting the chief's decision.

"It's very sad to see a chief do this type of action," said Biggs' attorney, Kathryn Baillie. "What he's telling his officers is that they don't have a right to defend themselves."

The internal affairs panel found Biggs violated four policies including: use of force, wearing a uniform in public view, wearing a uniform while off duty, and taking action while off duty.

Criminal charges are pending against Castillo and Rodriguez, who recently went before a grand jury, said Sgt. Mark Marino, a police spokesman. Castillo has convictions for shoplifting in December 2006 and June 2009, and failure to appear in June 2009 on the latter shoplifting charge, records show.

After the shooting, Biggs was treated at Mercy Gilbert Medical Center for a contusion to his head and abrasions suffered from Rodriguez's alleged assault.

But therein lies the problem, Dorn writes.

"You utilized deadly force on the male suspect who had made no verbal threats and had not committed any physical assault on you," Dorn states. "She was obviously the aggressor in this incident."

Biggs told internal investigators his wife and their two young children picked him up from the department's San Tan District office after he finished his shift just after 9 a.m. Aug. 9.

He and his family were on their way home about 11 p.m. when they decided to stop at the Walmart at 2501 S. Market Street.

Biggs told investigators his wife advised him against going into the store in his partial uniform, which is against department policy. However, Biggs "reasoned" with her and the family went inside the store, the report states.

As Biggs walked into the store, he saw Rodriguez giggling as she allegedly placed an object under her shirt and proceed out the door.

"Officer Biggs then advised Rodriguez, 'Gilbert Police, you need to come back in the store,'" internal police documents state.

He reached for the woman's arm, and she then turned around and "began flailing" punches and slaps at him. Biggs then yelled for someone to call 911 as Rodriguez continued walking to the parking lot with Biggs and Castillo following.

"I knew there was nobody else there that'd be able to stop them," Biggs told investigators. "Initially I was going to stop her for the property and then, you know, then I have a fleeing suspect who's now assaulted a police officer. It's, you know, it's my duty to protect life and property."

In an interview with police, Rodriguez said she didn't recall anything that happened "due to the amount of alcohol she consumed."

While in the parking lot, Castillo walked between 15 to 30 feet of Biggs, who ordered him to "get on the ground." Castillo refused, Biggs said, and Rodriguez came at him punching again.

Biggs' cell phone and eye glasses were knocked away from him and he drew his gun "because I thought they were going to hurt me."

Biggs managed to knock Rodriguez to the ground, but let her up when Castillo advanced on him. The officer then backed up to near the entrance to the store, as Rodriguez and Castillo followed.

Castillo continued to advance on Biggs and the officer pulled his handgun again.

"I don't know if backup's coming and (Castillo) was now coming at me," Biggs stated. "He was coming to beat me up and I thought that he was going to kill me . . . he continued to come at me and that's at the point I shot."

"I didn't want to shoot him at the time either, but I kind of felt - I just felt I had to stop him. I felt sick to my stomach."

The bullet hit Castillo in the scrotum. Rodriguez then advanced and began hitting the officer again.

Biggs holstered his gun and "punched her right in the face and she completely collapsed right in front of me," he stated. Seconds later additional officers arrived and Rodriguez was handcuffed and dragged to a nearby police car.

Castillo was transported to a local hospital.

Lt. Gregory Melvin Accused of Belittling Officers

A rift in the Police Department has resulted in an investigation into a police lieutenant whose behavior, in a letter from 20 fellow officers to city leaders, was described as belittling and unprofessional.

The investigation into Lt. Gregory Melvin was prompted by the allegations officers made in their complaint, Orange City Police Chief Jeffrey Baskoff said.

Melvin is not on suspension or under any disciplinary action while the investigation is conducted, City Attorney Gary Glassman said.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal obtained a copy of the complaint, written on Police Department letterhead, sent to Baskoff. It is signed by 20 officers who wrote down their badge numbers next to their signatures. The only officers excluded are the chief, Melvin, a commander and a sergeant. The officers who signed the complaint said they no longer have confidence in Melvin's leadership.

In the letter, the officers accuse Melvin of belittling them in public time and time again, ignoring the chain of command and being unprofessional on the road, "so much so, that every one of us would prefer that he not respond to our calls."

Melvin has an "unharnessed and unpredictable temper and escalates every scene he responds to," the officers also said in the letter.

The complaint states that many officers are on the verge of resignation because of Melvin's behavior and that morale in the department has reached an all-time low, and "nothing short of the lieutenant's resignation/termination will rectify the irreparable damage he caused."

Melvin could not be reached for comment Wednesday, and Baskoff said neither he nor Melvin will speak on the matter.

"We will not discuss anything whatsoever that has to do with that complaint," Baskoff said.

Information in the complaint is all the information about Melvin that could be obtained by The News-Journal as the chief and city officials are keeping his records secret.

Baskoff ignored a written public records request from the newspaper for documents regarding Melvin. The request asked for Melvin's personnel, disciplinary, performance and evaluation files. The newspaper also asked for Melvin's job specifications, records of suspension, commendations and completed internal affairs reports.

Baskoff responded to the newspaper's request after nine days, only after The News-Journal made repeated calls to the city attorney, Glassman, and after a visit to the police station and City Hall. Glassman promised the records would be available for inspection Wednesday morning but by late Wednesday, Baskoff had not granted access to the files.

"We are not official record-keepers," Baskoff said. "We don't hold the records. You sent me the request and I sent it to the city clerk."

City Clerk Debbie Renner said Wednesday staff members are working on the request.

Barbara Petersen, attorney and president of the First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee, said the "jerking around" by officials goes against the requirement of the public records law.

"There is a requirement under public records law that requires an agency to respond promptly and in good faith, and produce records within a reasonable time," Petersen said. "For it to take eight days to get a copy of a personnel file is not prompt and reasonable. There is a violation of the prompt-response requirement."

"You are asking for something for which you have the constitutional right to have access to."

Orange City Mayor Harley Strickland also declined to comment, stating the city attorney directed him not to say anything about the complaint.

But the mayor's brother James Hugh Strickland, a lifelong resident who maintains a blog about city affairs called "Birds Sleep With One Eye Open," said there is concern in the community about how the chief and city manager are handling the situation.

James Strickland said when officers "are willing to put their names and badge numbers in a complaint, it's an indication that the problem has been going on for a long time."

Chief Matthew Nestor Charged with Obstructing Justice

A police chief charged with obstructing justice in the fatal beating of a Mexican immigrant by white teenagers in northeastern Pennsylvania can be released from jail until his trial.

A federal judge granted bail to Shenandoah police Chief Matthew Nestor on Thursday. Nestor and two other officers are accused of orchestrating a cover-up as the FBI investigated the fatal attack on Luis Ramirez in July 2008.

Two teens were convicted of assault in Ramirez's death. They also face federal hate crime charges.

Nestor is also awaiting trial in another case. Prosecutors charged him and another officer in December with extorting cash payoffs from illegal gambling operations and a local businessman.

The other officers charged have been released on home confinement.

Former Officer Frank Suprenard Trying to Clear His Name

A former police officer accused of doctoring his time sheets is trying to clear his name.

A court found Frank Suprenard guilty of stealing from the town of Freedom, N.H., while he worked for the Police Department. The Carroll County Attorney’s Office said Suprenard now wants a jury to reconsider that conviction.

Suprenard’s appeal is scheduled for later this month.

Suprenard is free because the court decided not to sentence him to jail time for the conviction.

Officer Daniel Shafranek Charged with OWI

Ottumwa Police Chief Jim Clark confirmed Tuesday that one of his officers is on administrative leave after a weekend arrest.

Officer Daniel Shafranek, 33, was charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by an Iowa State Patrol trooper on Sunday. The charge is a serious misdemeanor but could have a major impact on Shafranek’s career with the OPD.

Clark said his department is conducting an internal investigation into the arrest.

Shafranek is a relatively new hire for the department. He started work in Ottumwa last February.

This appears to be Shafranek’s first OWI charge. Aggravated misdemeanors can carry up to two years in prison upon conviction, but such a stiff penalty would be very unusual for a first-time offense.