Saturday, January 23, 2010

Man Death in Police Custody Ruled Homicide

A 45-year-old man’s death in police custody at a North Andover sobriety checkpoint was caused by a beating and has been ruled a homicide, the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said.

But two months after Kenneth Howe of Worcester died, all of the officers involved in the case remain on full duty, his lawyer said.

And the account given by a state trooper differs from the one initially issued by Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s Office.

“I’m not surprised, the way this investigation is proceeding,” the lawyer, Frances King, said.

The ME’s office determined the cause of death was “blunt impact of head and torso with compression of chest,” with “atherosclerosis and hypertensive cardiovascular disease” as “other contributory conditions.”

The homicide ruling assigns no blame or criminal wrongdoing, the medical examiner’s office said.

Steve O’Connell, a spokesman for Blodgett’s office, which is investigating Howe’s death, said investigators have conducted more than 50 interviews and are awaiting a final autopsy report and forensic results. Asked whether the probe is now a murder investigation, O’Connell said: “We’re not characterizing it.”

State police spokesman David Procopio declined to comment, other than to say the status of the troopers involved has not changed. North Andover police and the Essex Sheriff’s department referred all questions to Blodgett’s office.

Howe was a passenger in a car stopped on Thanksgiving Eve at a checkpoint manned by state and North Andover police and sheriff’s personnel when a trooper saw him making “furtive” movements, according to a statement Blodgett’s office released two days after the incident.

Howe “jumped out the window, struck the trooper and fled,” according to that statement, and was handcuffed after a brief foot chase and an “ensuing struggle.” Police later found 15 mg of Oxycodone, for which Howe had a prescription, in his pocket, Blodgett’s office said.

In her own statement, trooper Jodi A. Gerardi says Howe hit her twice before he got out of the vehicle, striking her a third time with the door. Gerardi yelled “help,” she says, and several troopers and town police ran after Howe, who “continued to assault everyone in his path” as a pit bull he released charged at officers.

Howe “was eventually taken to the ground, where he continued to disobey orders to ‘stop resisting’ by several other officers,” according to Gerardi’s report, which says he was charged with assaulting a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana and a controlled substance, OxyContin. The report makes no mention of Oxycodone.

Former Officer Adam Lee Meacham in Court for Sexually Abusing Teen in Ride-Along Program

A circuit court judge in Rawlins has opted to take under advisement a case against a former Rawlins police captain and Carbon County commissioner charged with sexual assault, soliciting a child to participate in illicit acts, furnishing alcohol to minors and other crimes.

Carbon County Circuit Court Judge Jane Eakin at a preliminary hearing on Friday did not make a ruling to send the felony counts faced by 45-year-old Adam "Lee" Meacham to Carbon County District Court.

Meacham has yet to enter pleas, and it's unclear when Eakin will make a ruling.

Authorities say Meacham sexually abused a teen between the ages of 15 and 17 while the girl was participating in a police department ride-along program. He faces 15 criminal charges in the case.

A former Rawlins resident sued Meacham and the city in 2007, contending Meacham sexually assaulted her. The lawsuit was settled for $250,000.

Information from: Rawlins Daily Times

Former Officer Geoffrey Presco Sentenced to More Than 3 Years in Prison

The former Yuma police officer convicted of stealing cash from evidence storage to support an addiction to prescription drugs has been sentenced to three years and four months in prison.

The sentence for Geoffrey Michael Presco was handed down Friday afternoon in Yuma County Superior Court.

Presco was convicted of stealing nearly $11,000 from evidence storage at the police department.

In his rookie year on the force, Presco was selected as the Yuma Police Department's 2008 Patrol Officer of the Year.

The former lawman offered apologies to his family, the court and prosecution, the department and to the community.

Presco says he had a knee injury and became addicted to the prescription drug Oxycontin.

Information from: The Sun,
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Couple File Civil Suit Alleging Abuse of Power

A couple has sued North Carolina's largest city and a former Charlotte police officer who is accused of sexually assaulting women while in uniform.

The Charlotte Observer reports the couple filed the civil suits Friday, alleging abuse of power by former Office Marcus Jackson and "inept" hiring practices.

They say the 26-year-old officer pulled them over Dec. 28 and made them follow him to a church parking lot. They say he fondled the woman, claiming he needed to search her, then ordered her boyfriend to fondle her as Jackson watched.

Six women over the past month have accused Jackson of sexually assaulting them. A grand jury has indicted Jackson in three cases. Jackson was arrested Dec. 30 and is in the Mecklenburg County jail.

An attorney for the city declined comment.