Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Former Officer Hamilton Riley Arrested for Child Sexual Assault

A former Searcy police officer was arrested at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning in the bedroom of a 16-year-old girl, according to the White County Prosecuting Attorneys Office.

"Usually, he's here directing the kids and getting them across the street. That's about it," says Andrew Briggs, who saw Hamilton Riley outside Ahlf Junior High on several occasions.

Riley served as the school resource officer for more than three years, and more than seven on the Searcy Police Department.

News that Riley was arrested in the home of a 16-year-old girl is upsetting to parents.

Briggs explains, "Having a son-in-law for a police officer and having children, it's just not right. It's just not right.

Prosecutors confirm information about an inappropriate relationship was developed only on Monday. Special agents from the state police were brought in. And at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, those special agents arrested Riley inside the victim's home. By 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, Riley had offered his resignation as an officer with the Searcy Police Department.

White County Prosecutor Chris Raff says, "Anytime you see someone that has the trust and authority that a police officer does, and they are further placed in the position of being the go-to person for children and students, it's really a damning thing. It's a terrible situation. What we are alleging he has done is a terrible thing. And we're going to see that the law punishes him."

Tuesday, students at the school were not told about Riley's arrest. Now shocked parents are finding a way to tell their children their police officer won't be coming back

Briggs says, "Young girls and adults, that's just not the way it is."

Authorities released Riley after he posted a $100,000 bond. His next court appearance is in March

Former Officer Wilbert Jamison Fined in Child Abuse Case

Judge Cole sentenced Wilbert Jamison -- a former Gaffney police officer -- to 90 days in jail or a $500 fine plus one year of probation including 50 hours of community service.

He faced up to 10 years in prison.

Jamison has opted to pay the fine and walked out of court practically a free man.

The victim's mother -- Jamison's ex-wife -- said she is just glad the ordeal is over and glad her son did not have to testify during a trial.

In an exclusive on-camera interview with News Channel 7 after the plea hearing, Jamison said he never hit the boy with a belt as the victim alleged in Jan. 2009.

"I did make him run laps in the backyard as punishment because he had gotten in trouble at school for stealing," said Jamison. "But no abuse took place. I never hand-cuffed him and whipped him with a belt. I feel like this is just going to hurt children who really are victims of abuse."

Jamison says he agreed to plead guilty to the assault and battery high and aggravated charge because "you never know what a jury is going to do."

Former Officer Joshua Wiley Sentenced to 3 Years for Stealing from 89-Year-Old Woman

A Gary, Ind., police officer is sentenced to 3 years on work release after he stole money and a home from an 89-year-old neighbor who suffered from dementia.

Prosecutors say Joshua Wiley knew his neighbor had dementia and Alzheimer's and was not competent to make financial decisions on her own behalf.

Helen Chentnik died in 2006.

Wiley pled guilty to theft back in September. He has to pay restitution to Chentnik's estate and he'll be on probation for 5 years after finishing the work release program.

Detective Raphael Garcia Indicted for Aggravated Assault

A Passaic County sheriff’s officer charged with aggravated assault went to state court in Paterson Tuesday to defend himself against allegations he was reckless when shooting a drug suspect who eluded his pursuit.

The man defendant Raphael Garcia of Haledon shot and wounded in the left arm testified before state Superior Court Judge Raymond A. Reddin that Garcia was in plain clothes, wore no badge and never identified himself as an officer as he walked toward his car “at a fast pace” with gun drawn.

“I thought he was a gang member or something who was trying to rob me,” said Todd De Lucca, 36, of Park Ridge. De Lucca, an unemployed construction worker and printer, said he had driven to the Riverside Terrace Housing Complex at Plesinger Place and 5th Avenue in Paterson on Feb. 27, 2009, about 2:45 p.m. to buy $18 worth of heroin and visit friends.

His account contradicted earlier testimony from a 20-year veteran Passaic County sheriff’s officer, who was on the warrant detail with Garcia that day. He testified that Garcia was clearly wearing his badge when he emerged from the unmarked vehicle they were both in and approached the suspect. Lt. Francesco Lombardo said he saw De Lucca’s vehicle moving forward and then heard a pop.

A grand jury indicted Detective Raphael Garcia on one count of fourth-degree aggravated assault in July. He faces as much as 18 months in state prison if found guilty.

The trial is being held without a jury. The defendant, with the prosecutor’s assent, chose a non-jury trial before state Superior Court Judge Raymond A. Reddin in Paterson.

Garcia was put on modified duty following his indictment in July. County officials said at the time that he was taken off the street and would not carry a weapon pending the case’s outcome.

Garcia is the son of former Passaic County Jail Warden Felix Garcia, who in 2008 announced he was gearing up to challenge Sheriff Jerry Speziale in 2010. The 30-year veteran of the Passaic County Sheriff's Department was embroiled in a wrongful termination lawsuit against Speziale for four years. Speziale fired Garcia in February 2003 for allegedly disregarding department regulations. The litigation was eventually settled.

De Lucca, In explaining his actions, said, “It’s a high-crime, drug-dealing, gang-related area. It’s extremely dangerous.” Thus, when he saw Garcia coming toward him in street clothes and aiming a gun, the last thing he thought was that he was about to be arrested.

“I immediately thought to get the hell out of there, to avoid bodily injury. I hit the gas. But at no time was he in front of my car,” he testified, noting he never aimed the car directly at Garcia. “I heard a bang. The glass in my car shattered on the driver’s side door window.”

At that point, he testified that things got “foggy” and he can’t remember every detail. “I was in a daze,” he said, as he realized he’d been shot in the left arm. He said he heard people screaming at him and only then did they identify themselves as officers.

De Lucca, who was treated for his injury and recovered, was charged and pleaded guilty to drug possession. He is currently serving a two-year probationary sentence. He appeared in court limping and with a cane, explaining that it was due to lower back problems that he has suffered for some 15 years and for which he takes a variety of pain medications.

“If you knew this was a police officer, would you have stopped?” asked Passaic County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Di Lella.

“Yes, I would have. I could have avoided a lot of trouble.” He later added: “I know better.”

The defense argues that Garcia was acting in self defense, as DeLucca gunned the car toward him and failed to heed Garcia’s warnings to stop. Under cross examination by defense attorney Robert Galantucci of Hackensack, De Lucca admitted he’d been charged seven times in the past with resisting arrest.

Di Lella strenuously objected to the introduction of that history, as only one of those arrests resulted in a conviction and the other charges were dismissed. Reddin allowed it, however, saying the charge Garcia faces is too serious to discount it as part of his defense.

“So you’re saying these officers came after you and shot you because you bought $18 worth of heroin,” Galantucci said, sounding skeptical.

“Yes,” De Lucca responded, noting he only gunned his engine when he was parallel to – or alongside – Garcia and that he was never driving straight at him.

Former Officer Michael Lohman Preparing to Enter Guilty Plea

A former New Orleans police official is preparing to enter a guilty plea in connection with a federal probe of a deadly police shooting in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, two people familiar with the case said Tuesday.

Former police Lt. Michael Lohman is expected to enter the plea Wednesday in U.S. District Court, and he is cooperating with prosecutors, said the two people. They requested anonymity because the charge would not be announced before his court appearance.

It's unclear what charge he faces because the case hasn't been unsealed. Lohman wasn't one of the seven police officers charged in the shooting on the Danziger bridge several days after Katrina's landfall in August 2005. He helped oversee a department probe of the men's actions.

A lawyer for one of the original defendants said federal investigators have been looking into what they described as a "corrupt investigation" of the fatal shootings of Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally disabled man, and James Brissette, 19.

The Justice Department's civil rights division opened its investigation after a judge threw out state murder and attempted murder charges against the seven in 2008. So far, lawyers for two other officers have identified their clients as targets of the current probe.

Sgt. Robert Gisevius, who was charged in state court with first-degree murder and attempted murder, received a letter informing federal authorities were targeting him. His attorney, Eric Hessler, said the letter accused him of using excessive force and participating in a "corrupt investigation" of the shooting. Hessler defended his client's actions.

"By all accounts, he was involved in a situation where a reasonable person would be in fear for his life," he said.

Steve London, a lawyer for New Orleans police Sgt. Arthur Kaufman, said his client also received a letter informing him he is a target of a federal investigation. The letter doesn't specify why, but Kaufman worked on the department's investigation of the bridge shooting. Kaufman wasn't one of the seven who faced state charges.

London said his client denies any wrongdoing.

"My client is a 30-year police veteran with not one complaint, has received many awards and is considered an exemplary officer," he said.

Lohman, who retired earlier this month, helped supervise the department's investigation of the fatal shootings, said Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Donovan Livaccari.

Lohman's attorney, Dylan Utley, and U.S. Attorney Jim Letten wouldn't comment Tuesday.

Police superintendent Warren Riley said, "We hope that justice is served," declining to elaborate.

The case is among several involving New Orleans police in Katrina's aftermath that are being probed by the federal government. The others include the fatal shooting of Danny Brumfield Sr. outside the New Orleans convention center; the death of Henry Glover, whom witnesses claim died in police custody; and the fatal police shooting of a Connecticut man, Matthew McDonald.

Survivors of the Sept. 4, 2005, shootings on the Danziger bridge have said the officers fired at unarmed people who were crossing to get food at a grocery store. Madison and Brissette were shot and killed by police; four other people were wounded.

The officers acknowledged shooting at people on the bridge, but said they did so only after taking fire.

Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005. In its aftermath, levees broke, flooding 80 percent of New Orleans. Chaos gripped the city, and looting was reported in some areas. Rescuers sometimes said they thought gunfire was directed at them.

Survivors of the bridge shooting said in civil suits that they were ambushed by the officers who jumped out of the back of a rental truck.

Daniel G. Abel, a lawyer for the Brissette family, said they are grateful for investigators' work on the case.

"This first conviction bolsters their hope that the individuals responsible for these and related crimes will be brought to justice," Abel said.

Gisevius, Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Officer Anthony Villavaso II and former Officer Robert Faulcon Jr. each faced first-degree murder and attempted murder charges in the case. State district Judge Raymond Bigelow also threw out attempted first-degree murder charges against Officer Mike Hunter Jr. and Officer Robert Barrios and attempted second-degree murder charges against Officer Ignatius Hills.

Faulcon resigned from the police force; the other officers were assigned to desk duty after their indictment.

Reserve Officer Jenna Maldonado Charged with Threatened to Shoot Boyfriend

A reserve police officer has been suspended after, investigators said, she threatened her boyfriend with a firearm.

Jenna Maldonado, 28, is a single mother with four children. As a reserve officer with the Homestead Police Department, she gets paid $1 a year and goes into work when needed, on a voluntary bases but has all the duties of a police officer.

Maldonado turned herself in to police Monday night on a charge of aggravated assault with a firearm. She was released on a $5,000 bond Tuesday.

According to Miami-Dade Police, Maldonado was trying to get a hold of her boyfriend on Super Bowl Sunday. When the 28-year-old could not get a hold of him, she went to the boyfriend's friends' house, and that is when, investigators said, she put her gun in her boyfriend's face and threatened to shoot him. Police said some friends were able to subdue Maldonado, and the incident ended peacefully.

Maldonado is the daughter of Linda Bell, who is the former mayor of Homestead. Maldonado's attorney argues that there is politics at play, and calls this a vendetta against the family. "Unfortunately, Ms. Maldonado is being wrongly accused in this circumstance. Not only was she the actual victim here, but she's also the victim of a political vendetta. She's the daughter of the former mayor of the City of Homestead, and there is certainly some ill winds behind these charges," Sean O'Connor said.

Homestead Police said Maldonado is suspended until further notice.

Officer John McCalister Sentenced to Probation for Punching Man

The former Oakwood Public Safety officer who was caught on surveillance tape punching a Dayton man inside a local convenient store while off-duty, was sentenced Tuesday, Feb. 23, to one year of non-reporting probation.

John McCalister was originally charged with misdemeanor assault, but he entered a plea of guilty for disorderly conduct before Dayton Municipal Court Judge John Pickrel sentenced him.

The misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge was the result of an agreement between McCalister’s attorney, Richard Skelton, and the Springfield Prosecutor’s Office, the special prosecutor assigned to the case.

Pickrel also ordered McCalister to pay $42 in restitution to victim Paul Watts and not to have any contact with Watts.

The incident occurred Oct. 14 at the Rite Aid, 1158 Wilmington Ave., after Watts, who was 48 years old at the time, asked McCalister for some change.

Video surveillance, which did not have audio, showed McCalister striking Watts twice without Watts attempting to strike McCalister back.

Watts arrived at the court building on Tuesday but did want to appear in Pickrel’s courtroom, according to Elizabeth Smith, assistant Springfield City Prosecutor.

McCalister’s wife and fellow Oakwood officer Tiffany McCalister witnessed the Oct. 14 event but was not charged.

John McCalister, who for 25 years has served both as a public safety officer and a Dayton firefighter, declined to speak in court.

McCalister resigned from the public safety department in December. Tiffany McCalister, who is a former Dayton police officer, was still listed on Oakwood’s payroll as of Tuesday, Feb. 23. However, Oakwood’s Assistant City Manager Jay Weiskircher said she is expected to resign in April.

Officer Nick Gattermeyer Suspended for High Speed Crash

A West Chester police officer critically hurt in a crash has been punished for his actions leading up to the crash.

West Chester police said Officer Nick Gattermeyer was driving more than 100 mph prior to losing control of his cruiser and crashing into a tree while responding to a burglary call.

Gattermeyer spent several weeks in the hospital and returned to light duty.

West Chester police said Gattermeyer has been suspended for four days without pay for his actions.

Officer Jim Torrez Being Investigated in Shooting Death

The Platteville police officer who is being investigated for his role in the shooting death of a 30-year-old man last month was fired from his previous job as Frederick Police Chief.

In 2006, Frederick's town administrator Derek Todd accused Jim Torrez, 50, of using town resources to run his personal firearms-training business, Tactical Skills Institute, according to a Longmont Times-Call article dated June 20, 2006.

Torrez was terminated on March 20, 2006.

In the article, Todd said he cited Torrez with 12 personnel policy violations. He said some of those were related to his business and some were not. Todd did not elaborate on the other citations.

Torrez had been with the Frederick Police Department since 1993, according to the article. In the article, Todd said, "Many of these violations have taken place for many years."

Torrez is now an officer with the Platteville Police Department.

On Jan. 24 of this year, Torrez shot and killed Matt Herrera in a mobile home park in Platteville.

The shooting occurred after a brief car chase. Torrez told police that Herrera tried to run him over with his car, but Herrera's fiancée, who witnessed the shooting, says Herrera did nothing to provoke Torrez.

The Weld County District Attorney has asked a grand jury to review the report and decide if charges against Torrez are warranted.

He is currently on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Cape Coral Officer Fails to Put Car in Park

A Cape Coral Police Officer responds to a call, gets out of his car, but forgets to put the car in park.

It all started as a disturbance report at the Dek Bar. Witnesses say someone was causing trouble after having one too many drinks. A Cape Coral Police Officer arrived on scene, and soon after, a second came to assist. Witnesses say the second officer got out of his car, closed and locked the door, but there was one little problem - the car was still in drive.

The officer couldn't get back into the car to take control of the wheel, and according to the police report, the runaway cruiser coasted into 4 parked Harley's. Like dominoes, the car collided with bikes 1 and 2, and the momentum from that knocked bikes 1 and 2 into bikes 3 and 4. They all fell onto the blacktop.

Although bar management and witnesses were hesitant to go on camera, one witness sent us several pictures. All four motorcycles had only minor damages, estimated at about $1,000 each, while the damage to the police car is estimated at $500.

The Police Department plans to conduct an administrative review of the incident within the next several days. The city wouldn't give us any more information about the officer.

Council Overrules Mayor to Discuss Officer Frank Carter's Arrest

Melbourne Mayor Harry Goode made a motion tonight to prevent another discussion about officer Frank Carter, but it was overruled by the council, revealing public discontent over the Melbourne police department, and bitter comments between City Manager Jack Schluckebiar and Council Member Joanne Corby .

When she questioned the Schluckebiar on his promise to investigate how race became an issue in the suspension of officer Frank Carter, the fireworks began.

"I believe I can appropriately assign tasks as I deem appropriate" said the city manager. Corby fired back. "I want to make sure that your lack of management and attention to this matter goes on the record

One month ago, officer Frank Carter was arrested for writing bogus tickets on quote "people of color." But two weeks later, the Melbourne Police department backed off their insinuation Carter was racially profiling.

Since then, the issue of his suspension has motivated Carters supporters to vent their anger at the council.

"Put officer Carter back on the payroll and make the community a better place," said resident Mike Kelly.

Gurdy O'Conner, a young African American woman followed. "Officer Carter has been a good mentor in my life and help me purchase my first car. I've always called him and he's always been there for me."

The Fraternal Order of Police, is accusing Melbourne Police Chief Donald Carey of playing politics against union leaders by insinuating officer Carter was racist, and intimidating officers. The matter is being reviewed by the Seminole county state attorney's office, but it is not a formal investigation.

Melbourne resident Bruce Daufort extolled, "If Chief Carey is wrong about the racism issue, what else is he wrong about? I think the council should look into the police chief."

Dale Davis went a step further. "I'm going to call on the Fraternal Order of Police to hold a vote of no confidence on the chief of police, and I'm going to ask the city manager to suspend him without pay, because he doesn't belong here."
Previous Post

Lafayette Officer on Leave After Video Shows Him Shaking Girl

The Lafayette Police Department has placed an officer on paid administrative leave after a video surfaced that showed him raising his voice and shaking a girl who was being detained.

The video was posted on CNN’s ireport.com, a site where the public can post their own stories and videos.

The footage was taken Feb. 16, Mardi Gras day, in the downtown Lafayette area and showed several officers handling an incident involving several young people.

The Lafayette Police Department was informed of the incident Feb. 19 at about 5 p.m., according to a news release.

Chief Jim Craft ordered an immediate criminal and administrative investigation into the incident and placed the officer on leave pending the outcome, the release stated.

Cpl. Paul Mouton, spokesman for the department, declined to release the officer’s name.

The department stated that it would offer no further comment until the investigation is complete.

Internal investigations typically take 60 days to complete.

The video was posted Feb. 17 and had garnered more than 2,000 views as of Tuesday afternoon.

The person who posted the video lists his username as “MEspree” and states in the synopsis that the police chased and tackled the teen and then shook her.

Police later attempted to arrest “MEspree” and take his iPhone, which prompted him to ask “Is this Iran?”

The video, which is more than five minutes long and was recorded with an iPhone, does not appear to show officers tackling the girl.

The video shows the girl sitting on the street talking and pointing around when the officer leans over and screams “shut up” repeatedly at her while he shakes her by the shoulders.

Afterward, another officer walks over and handcuffs the girl. She is one of three teens being detained by officers.

The man continues to film officers as they walk the teens through the parade barricades toward nearby police units.

Toward the end of the video, an officer approaches the man behind the camera and asks him if has video of the fight.

The man tells officers that he only has video of the arrest and then adds, “I’ve got a video of somebody tackling a little girl.”

Another officer approaches him and gives him a warning that he’ll be taken to jail if he continues to cause a disturbance.

“You can go ahead and put that in your video,” the officer says. “One more warning and that’s it.”

Afterward, yet another officer approaches and appears to reach for the man’s arm while informing him that he’ll get a receipt for his phone.

“You can’t take my phone,” the man says.

“You want to bet,” the officer says.

The video ends soon after while the two continue to argue over the phone.

Detective Robert DeCarlo Indicted for Beating Handcuffed Man with Flashlight

A Providence police officer was indicted yesterday on charges that he beat a handcuffed man with a flashlight, prosecutors said.

A Providence County grand jury charged Detective Robert DeCarlo with assault with a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor simple assault in the Oct. 20 arrest of Luis Mendonca, 21, who was taken into custody following a chase.

Surveillance video in a Providence parking lot shows police surrounding an apparently handcuffed Mendonca as one officer kicks and strikes him. A lawyer for Mendonca has said his client was in a coma for two days and needed staples to close a gash on his head. Mendonca is in the custody of federal immigration authorities.

“Today’s indictment is a reminder that everybody is the same in the eyes of the law,’’ Attorney General Patrick Lynch said in a statement. Providence Mayor David Cicilline said the alleged actions were unacceptable and would not be tolerated.

DeCarlo, 45, is to be arraigned tomorrow in Providence Superior Court.

DeCarlo’s attorney, Peter DiBiase, said yesterday he had not seen the indictment. But he said the surveillance footage does not show the full story and pointed out that DeCarlo was responding to a dangerous situation at night involving a suspected robber who allegedly assaulted a police officer.

“What you’ve seen in that video does not tell you what was happening for the 20 minutes this suspect was running through the city of Providence and assaulting people and running away from police,’’ DiBiase said. He said the suspect refused police commands to stop fighting and resisting. “None of that is seen on the video,’’ DiBiase said.

Police say Mendonca was stopped by campus police for the Rhode Island School of Design but struck one of the officers and ran away. A group of Providence police officers tracked him down in a parking lot, where his arrest was recorded by a nearby surveillance camera.

DeCarlo is the third Rhode Island officer since December to be charged with beating a suspect.

A Woonsocket police officer, John H. Douglas, is accused of federal civil rights abuses in the alleged assault of a teenager, and Lincoln police officer Edward Krawetz is facing state charges that he kicked a handcuffed woman in the head outside the Twin River slot parlor. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Assault with a dangerous weapon carries a maximum 20-year sentence, while misdemeanor assault is punishable by up to a year in prison.

Deputy Samantha Lewis Being Investigated for Going 100mph in Her Personal Vehicle

A vehicle crash that involved a Brunswick County, N.C., sheriff deputy, who was estimated at going 100 mph in her personal vehicle while off-duty, remains under investigation, according to authorities.

Samantha Lewis, a 24-year-old deputy who has been with the department since August 2007, crashed her 2010 Ford while off-duty about 12:30 a.m. Thursday along U.S. 17 Bypass in Shallotte near Smith Avenue, according to police.

Lewis was traveling south when her vehicle ran off the road, into a ditch and the vehicle overturned several times, according to the report. Lewis was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where she is being treated for her injuries.

The posted speed limit is 60 mph in the area where the crash occurred, but according to the report.

Officers wrote in the report they did not suspect drugs or alcohol in the crash in which Lewis was traveling at an estimated speed of 100 mph.

Shallotte police continue to investigate the crash and charges are pending against Lewis, according to authorities.

Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram issued a release Tuesday that showed Lewis came upon two on-duty deputies, who had cleared a domestic disturbance call when Lewis drove up next to them and attempted to pass one deputy on the right at a high rate of speed.

Lewis lost control of her vehicle and crashed suffering life threatening injuries, Ingram said in the release. Drag racing was not an issue, according to an internal investigation by the department’s professional standards unit.

“At this time our concern is for the well being of Ms. Lewis,” Ingram said in a release. “Our prayers go out for her and her family and for her recovery.”