Friday, February 07, 2014

Federal Officer Randal Sutterfield Arrested for Attempted Murder

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer was arrested Friday at the Border Patrol  checkpoint in Falfurrias in connection with an early morning shooting in McAllen, said Lt. Joel Morales, a McAllen police spokesman.

Morales said the shooting involved CBP Officer Randal Wayne Sutterfield, 41, and his girlfriend's brother, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head. The victim is in stable condition but was taken to the McAllen Medical Center for treatment.

It took place about 2:30 a.m. in a residential area.

Sutterfield was transported to McAllen where he was charged with criminal attempted murder, a second-degree felony, and was waiting arraignment later Friday or Saturday, Morales said.

Sutterfield served as an agriculture specialist at the international bridge in Hidalgo for about four years, but is not on active duty, CBP said in a statement, adding that the agency is reviewing the matter.

“CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelming majority of CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction,” according to the CBP statement. “We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigation of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.”

Retired Officer Curtis Reeves Accused of Shooting Man in Movie Theater Denied Bail

The 71-year-old ex-police officer accused of shooting dead a man inside a Florida movie theater won't get the chance to go home -- at least for now -- after a judge Friday decided not to grant him bail.

Judge Pat Siracusa made his decision after two days of wrenching, evocative, at times seemingly contradictory testimony inside a Dade City, Florida, courtroom.
"The state did, in fact, meet their standard," Siracusa said of prosecutors argument that Curtis Reeves shouldn't be allowed to post bond. "And I am going to detain Mr. Reeves, pretrial. He will remain in custody."
Reeves' lawyer signaled his intention to appeal a decision that -- while not unexpected, given this is a homicide case -- he believes is unwarranted. The attorney, Richard Escobar, said that he's optimistic about not only the appeal on bail, but that a jury of six citizens will side with his client.
"Mr. Reeves is truly an innocent man," Escobar told reporters. "And we look forward to proving that at a jury trial at some point."
The widow of the man that Reeves killed, meanwhile, applauded Siracusa's decision.
"I'm just very happy and relieved," Nicole Oulson said. "... I have no doubt in my mind that it was the right decision."

Was it self-defense or an overreaction?
As Siracusa took pains to point out, his opting not to grant bail has nothing to do with his or others assessment of Reeves' guilt or innocence. That won't happen until trial.
The date for that hasn't been set, though Siracusa did schedule the next pretrial hearing for March 12.
That falls on one day under two full months since Chad Oulson was shot dead inside the Grove 16 theater in the Tampa suburb of Wesley Chapel.
Was the younger, more physically imposing Oulson killed in self-defense, as Reeves' lawyer claims? Or did Reeves overreact -- to the idea that Oulson was texting his toddler daughter as movie previews played -- by taking out his gun inside the theater and firing, as the prosecution argues?
The bail hearing, which began Wednesday and resumed Friday after a day off, served almost as a mini-trial in itself.
Both sides called witnesses, then often strongly challenged those put on the stand by the other side.
Reeves' daughter, Jennifer Shaw, testified that her father was supportive and even-keeled, having never erupted in anger at a stranger from her recollection.
The prosecution called a number of people who'd been in the Florida theater the afternoon of January 13.
Charles Cummings talked about overhearing Reeves and Oulson talking, and at one point, the latter said, "I'm just texting my 2-year-old daughter." Soon after that, a "very agitated" Reeves left the theater, then returned a few minutes later.
At that point, a fairly calm Oulson -- according to Mark Douglas Turner, a retired Air Force veteran who worked as a clandestine officer -- asked aloud whether he could check a voice mail from his daughter's babysitter.
The situation devolved after more words were exchanged. Alan Hamilton, an off-duty Sumter County sheriff's corporal, said he heard Oulson say, "I am trying to text my f**king daughter, if you don't mind" -- using graphic language that Reeves' lawyer said suggested Oulson was angry and threatening.
Popcorn flew in Reeves' direction soon thereafter.
"And almost immediately," recalled Turner, who said Oulson threw the bag, "the gun comes out and there are shots fired."
Reeves to police: Oulson 'scared the crap out of me'
Hamilton testified that, soon thereafter, Reeves' wife told her husband "that was no cause to shoot anyone."
Reeves responded by pointing his finger at her and saying, according to Hamilton, "You shut your f**king mouth and don't say another word."
On Friday, those in the Dade City courtroom got to hear from Reeves himself -- not because he took the stand, but because audio of his interview with police was played in court.
During that interview, Reeves told police he had "reason to believe (Oulson) was going to kick my ass" after Reeves confronted the 43-year-old Navy veteran over his texting during the previews to "Lone Survivor."
Reeves and his wife both told police that Oulson began using foul language, and Reeves left to talk to a theater manager. When he returned, Oulson stood up and turned to confront Reeves, he said.
"I see that he's very explosive, unnecessarily," Reeves told police. "It scared the crap out of me."
Oulson edged toward Reeves -- and "he's virtually on top of me" -- and Reeves told him either "no, no, no" or "whoa, whoa, whoa," he couldn't remember which, he told the police interrogator.
"He hit me with something. I assume it was his fist," Reeves told police. "I think he had a cell phone in his hand because I saw the blur of the screen. ... My face went sideways. My glasses came partially off."
In her own interview with police, Vivian Reeves backed much of her husband's story, spelling out the f-word for police as she described Oulson's language during the altercation.
Asked, though, whether she saw Chad Oulson strike Curtis Reeves, she replied no -- though she said it's what her husband told her after the shooting.
The same went for the various theater witnesses who testified earlier for the prosecution. None of whom said that they saw Reeves getting hit by anything beyond perhaps a bag or some kernels of popcorn before he opened fire.
Surveillance video captures theater shooting
Beyond hearing from various witnesses, the public -- thanks to the gathered media -- got their own glimpse of what happened inside that movie theater, thanks to surveillance video.

The jumpy, grainy footage shows Reeves return to his seat at 1:26:19 p.m., according to the video's time stamp. Six seconds later, Reeves appears to lean forward, but only for a second.

At 1:26:30 p.m., the video stops -- likely because the motion sensors weren't activated, according to previous testimony in Reeves' bail hearing this week -- but it starts recording again five seconds later.

That's when a hand extends in front of Reeves, from the seat where victim Chad Oulson was reportedly sitting, and appears to snatch something from Reeves -- the defense has repeatedly said Oulson threw popcorn -- and throws it into Reeves' face.

Reeves' right hand, the one Reeves told police he used to shoot Oulson, thrusts forward at 1:26:37 p.m. A strange dust falls in front of the surveillance video lens as theater patrons begin walking over to the area where Reeves remains seated.

It's the row behind where a mortally wounded Oulson -- after stumbling then collapsing on another moviegoer -- is taking his last breaths.

Dentention Officer Claude Goines Arrested for Idenity Fraud

A DeKalb County detention officer accused of identity fraud was arrested when he showed up for work, the spokesman for the police department said Friday.

Sgt. Claude Goines, who is assigned to the evening watch shift at the jail, was arrested Wednesday in connection with an ongoing investigation that could lead to additional arrests, DeKalb police Capt. Steven Fore told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While Fore did not have details of the investigation, Channel 2 Action News reported that Goines is the alleged ringleader in a credit card fraud ring. Goines allegedly made more than 100 fake credit cards and three Ohio driver’s licenses, according to Channel 2.

Police have arrested another alleged member of the ring and are looking for a third, the television station reported. That third person, identified as Ashley Dunlap, was fired from Marlow’s Tavern in Tucker after she allegedly used her position to steal customers’ credit card numbers, according to Channel 2.

Goines, who has been employed with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office since April 2011, is being held in the Clayton County jail on a charge of identity fraud.

Officer Richardo Rodriguez Arrested for Public Intoxication

An Odessa Police Department officer has been placed on administrative leave after, the Odessa chief of police said, he was arrested and charged with public intoxication in a North Texas town.

Officer Richardo Rodriguez was placed on administrative leave with pay Tuesday after checking in with OPD’s internal affairs division, Odessa Police Chief Tim Burton said. Burton also said the department will be doing an internal investigation.

Rodriguez has been a patrol officer with the department since December 2012.
The arrest happened Saturday around 2:02 a.m. after Rowlett police officers were called out to a Whataburger at 8700 Lakeview Parkway in Rowlett, in reference to a driving while intoxicated call, Burton said. The driver of the vehicle, who was unknown as of press time, was charged with driving while intoxicated while Rodriguez was charged with public intoxication.

Public intoxication is defined by the Texas Penal code as “an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.”

Attempts to get the police report from the arrest from the Rowlett Police Department were not successful Thursday.

Burton said placing officers on administrative leave pending a criminal charge was “standard procedure,” and that police officers should be held to a higher standard when it comes to following the law.

However, Burton said that in a department “made up of humans,” there are going to be times people make mistakes.

“Occasionally, with an organization this size, we’re going to have incidents,” Burton said.
Burton said he could not comment on what it takes for an officer to be dismissed from the police department, saying each case depends on “circumstances and the nature of the charges."

The incident is not the first time officers have showed up to a late-night call that involved Rodriguez.

On Jan. 27, Odessa Police officers were called to IHOP, 2973 JBS Parkway, in reference to a “disturbance” that involved Rodriguez, Maria Baeza and two other men.

One of those men, 38-year-old Jose Antonio Estrada, was charged with public intoxication and was treated at Medical Center Hospital, a previous Odessa American article stated.

The same article also stated 31-year-old Homer Gomez, of Decatur, was also charged and released on bond.

Rodriguez was not charged in connection to the case and was being investigated by the internal affairs investigation, a previous article stated.

Rodriguez was also investigated by the police department’s Professional Standards Unit in March after he and another officer, Cpl. Joshua Aguilar, reportedly illegally searched a home in the 100 block of West Mable Street and arrested a man they believed to be someone else.

Both officers were issued written reprimands and ordered to complete additional training.
Burton said while Rodriguez has been reported on in the news for several incidents, Odessa residents should not be quick to judge the department as a whole for the work they do because of one person’s actions.

Burton also said that it was too early to decide Rodriguez’s fate with the department, pending the outcome of both the internal and Rowlett investigation.

“We have to remember, a charge is just that,” Burton said. “Everyone is entitled to a fair and objective investigation as to what occurred.”

Officer Kevin Burgs Arrested for Stealing Watch from Jared's Galleria

A Pembroke Pines Police officer was arrested after authorities said he was caught on video stealing a watch when he responded to a burglary at a jewelry store, police said Thursday.
A Pembroke Pines Police officer was arrested after authorities said he was caught on video stealing a watch when he responded to a burglary at a jewelry store, police said Thursday.

Officer Kevin Burgs was arrested and charged with grand theft after he took a watch worth $795 from the Jared's Galleria of Jewelry at 11077 Pines Boulevard Wednesday morning. He bonded out around 4:30 a.m. and it was unknown whether he has an attorney.

Police said two suspects cut a hole in the roof of the building and got away with $75,000 worth of merchandise and caused about $10,000 in damages early Wednesday.
Burgs, a 9-year veteran of the department, was one of the responding officers to the business, police said. He was caught on surveillance video cameras removing the watch, police said.

"Public trust is vital to our partnership with the community. It is important to note that we held this officer accountable for his actions and charged him appropriately," the police department said in a statement. "We will remain transparent and provide updates as this matter progresses.  This one act is not representative of the rest of our police department.  We are extremely proud of our employees and thankful for their constant dedication and hard work."

Burgs was suspended with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
Residents in Pembroke Pines said they were shocked to hear of the arrest.

"That’s really bad, if you can’t trust the police who can you trust?" Flor Morales said.

"We don’t like to see any of our police officers do anything like that but what can you do?" Dudley Smart said. "There are good people and bad people."


Officer Candice LeForest Charged with DUI

Oakland County prosecutors charged 12-year veteran Troy Police Officer Candice LeForest with driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level greater than .17.A $1,000 bond was set during her arraignment Tuesday. The case has been transferred from Troy to Novi's 52nd District Court to avoid any possible conflict of interest in the officer's jurisdiction.

Troy police pulled LeForest over after observing her strike the median curb twice on eastbound Big Beaver Road about 12:30 a.m. Jan. 18.

LeForest, a 34-year-old Macomb resident, declined a breathalyzer and officers obtained a search warrant authorizing a blood test be conducted. State police forensic analysts determined LeForest had a blood-alcohol content of .27, three times the maximum allowed while driving in Michigan.

A blood-alcohol level above .17 percent qualifies as "super drunk." Under Michigan's Super Drunk law, penalties increase from up to 93 to 180 days of possible jail time and nearly doubles the cost of court fines. Anyone convicted under the Super Drunk law loses their driver's license for 45 days, is under restricted driving limitations for 320 days and required to install an ignition device that forces the driver to take a breathalyzer each time they start their vehicle. 

MLive Detroit could not reach Troy Police Department spokesman Sgt. Andy Breidenich for comment Friday.

Troy police issued a statement regarding LeForest's arrest on Jan. 28. As of Tuesday, LeForest was on paid administrative leave.

Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton said his office can charge based on field sobriety tests but usually waits for blood-test results in cases when a breathalyzer is declined.

He said getting the authority for blood sample in suspected DUI cases is "routine" but rather complex. 

The agency completes paperwork requesting a search warrant, sends it to a judge or magistrate and awaits a signature. The officers then transport the suspect to a hospital where a certified nurse or doctor must extract several blood samples using a special kit that stops blood coagulation. Samples throughout the state are then sent to the state police crime lab for analysis. Results can take weeks.