Saturday, March 29, 2014

Albuquerque Cops Murder Homeless Man, Then Sick Dog on Him

A graphic video that shows a police shooting of a homeless man in the Albuquerque foothills is raising a firestorm of controversy, and it’s not the first time police there have faced backlash over citizen shootings.

Hundreds have posted outraged comments online and a public protest of the Albuquerque Police Department is planned for Tuesday evening after police last week released the helmet-cam video, which shows officers shooting at a homeless man March 16 who they said was illegally camping, reports CBS affiliate KRQE.

 In the video, the man, James Boyd, 38, appears to turn away before he is shot by police. Boyd later died. He was struck by at least one live round, but the medical investigator’s office hasn’t determined what killed him, reports the Albuquerque Journal.

According to an Albuquerque police spokeswoman, Boyd was carrying knives and threatening to kill the officers. But critics say the incident raises alarming questions about how Albuquerque police use deadly force.

“We’ve reviewed the video, and like many people who have seen it, we found it to be fairly disturbing,” Steve Allen, public policy director for the ACLU of New Mexico, told CBS News’ Crimesider. “It certainly does raise questions about why this tragedy couldn’t have been avoided.”

For critics, the police shooting is an all-too-common occurrence in Albuquerque. Boyd’s death marks the 22nd deadly police-involved shooting since early 2010, said Andrew Lipman, who chaired the city council’s Police Oversight Task Force.

Lipman’s 11-member task force released recommendations in January calling for the creation of a totally new and independent body to act as a citizen oversight group for police.

The task force also called Tuesday for an independent review of Boyd’s shooting.
“They’re viewing this man as kind of the enemy, in a combat situation, and that’s not really what they’re there to do — they’re there to ensure public safety,” Lipman said. “…This man lost his life because he was illegally camping.”

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Jailer Bobby Byargeon Arrested for Child Molestation

A Stephens County jailer was arrested Friday and charged with aggravated child molestation, the GBI said.

Bobby Byargeon, 57, of Toccoa, faces 10 charges related to the alleged molestation and was booked into the Rabun County jail, GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang said in an emailed statement.

On Thursday, the Toccoa Police Department requested the GBI's assistance with an investigation after a victim came forward alleging Byargeon had been molesting them for over a year," Lang said. Byargeon's residence was searched for evidence related to the allegations, she said.

The GBI then obtained arrest warrants for Byargeon, Lang said.

Byargeon has worked as a jailer at the Stephens County jail for seven months, according to the GBI.

Former Officer Alvin Brook Charged with Robbing Bank

A disgraced former officer with the  Mukwonago Police Department was charged on Jan. 17 in federal court with robbing a M&I Bank in June 2010.

According to the federal complaint, Alvin J. Brook was off-duty on June 15, 2010 when he allegedly jumped over the service counter at the M&I Bank in Mukwonago and used his department-issued firearm to strong arm three clerks into giving him more than $50,000 in unmarked cash.

The complaint states that Brooks, 41, threatened to kill the employees if they exited the bank vault and then fled the scene.

One clerk told police investigating the robbery at the time that the suspect seemed to have police or military training, according to the complaint. Another employee said the gun used in the robbery resembled one issued to the investigating officer, a glock model 23.

Police noted that in the surveillance footage it appeared the robber had a hand-held radio antenna protruding from his pocket. One victim said in the complaint that she heard “police chatter” during the incident, as if the suspect had a police scanner on him, the complaint states.

The Wisconsin State Crime Lab was able to pull a latent finger print from a plastic bag left at the scene, according to the complaint, but they could find no matches for the print in the state database.

That changed after Brook was charged in November 2010 with felony misconduct. According to the criminal complaint in that case, Brook falsified preliminary breath tests for his 39-year-old live-in girlfriend, who was ordered to maintain absolute sobriety by a Waukesha County court after being convicted of her third drunken-driving offense.

Brook resigned from the Mukwonago Police Department in December 2010 after 21 years of service. He pleaded no contest to the charges in September 2011 and was sentenced to two years probation with a minimum five-month jail sentence.

Last August law enforcement received information from an unspecified source that Brook had committed the M&I Bank robbery, according to the federal complaint.

The Wisconsin Crime Lab tested the latent print developed from the plastic bag and found it matched a print for Brook. Investigators note in the complaint that it was standard procedure for Mukwonago Police officers to take home hand-held radios and Brook was issued a glock model 22 by the department.

Brook is expected to appear at a bond hearing at the Milwaukee federal courthouse on Monday, Jan. 27.

Brook’s attorney Paul Bucher said that he hopes to get his client out on bail.

“He is presumed innocent and we will have to look at the evidence available to us,” Bucher said.

Brook is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret B. Honrath, according to court records.

Officer Michael Baggett Charged with Domestic Violence

A St. Cloud police officer is under criminal and internal investigations after he was accused of domestic violence, authorities said today.

Officer Michael Baggett was arrested today and charged with domestic violence after he was served with a domestic-violence injunction, St. Cloud Sgt. Denise Roberts said in an email.

Baggett was immediately relieved of his duty as a law enforcement officer and was placed on administrative leave pending a criminal and internal investigation, Roberts said..

Baggett has been employed with the St. Cloud Police Department since June 2011.

He was taken to the Osceola County Jail, where he is being held without bond.

His photo wasn't released. Other details aren't available.

"This is an ongoing 'open' investigation; more information will be released at a later time when it becomes available," Roberts said.

Former Chief Michael Parker Facing Child Sex Charges

 Everyone, we received a message earlier stating that this cop may have all charges against him dropped in a plea deal because the chief has twice tried to commit suicide. This cop raped and sodomized a little 7-year-old boy dozens of times in the police chief's office at the police department. We ask that all of our followers like and share this post in hopes it goes viral and that the resulting publicity shames the district attorney enough so that he reconsiders and prosecutes this case.

A big development in case we've been following. You may recall when the former West Columbia police chief disappeared. Now more than a month later, he's turned up again, and he's been indicted on some very serious charges.

As the child sexual assault case against him moves forward, everyone wants to know -- where had he been?

Last August, Michael Parker was running the West Columbia Police Department. We talked to him then about a suspicious letter he was investigating.

"Given the way things are these days, you never know what's going to show up in your mailbox anymore," Parker told us in August 2012.

Now a year later, Palmer is facing multiple charges, including aggravated sexual assault of a child, and eight counts of tampering with evidence.

The former chief went on the run over a month ago when investigators turned up evidence that he'd bound, gagged and sexually assaulted a young boy, repeatedly, beginning in 1998. They even say they found bondage gear in Palmer's office at the police department.

Police and EquuSearch volunteers spent days trying to find him. He finally turned up Monday, near the town of Brazoria, where investigators with the county district attorney's arrested him.

The DA won't say exactly where he was arrested or where he'd been hiding. Palmer was released Tuesday after posting a $75,000 bond.

He wasn't home Friday when we stopped by.

West Columbia residents we talked to said they're glad he's off the street.

"He's got a problem. He's a sick fella evidently. They certainly need to take care of somebody like that," said resident Ike French.

Palmer lost his job in February before the child sex charges were filed when fellow officers complained he was stealing pain killers taken as evidence in police investigations.

Palmer still faces trial on all of the charges against him. The child sex abuse charges alone are enough to send him to prison for life if he's convicted.

Officer Desmond Pleads Guilty to Sex Charges

New Orleans police Officer Desmond Pratt, a former homicide detective who investigated a 2009 murder pinned on accused Central City crime boss Telly Hankton, stood up in orange jail scrubs Friday and lightly fist-bumped a courtroom bailiff.

He crossed his chest with a shackled hand, heaved a nervous breath and gestured to a pair of relatives sitting in the gallery. Pratt then turned to the judge and pleaded guilty to three felony sex charges stemming from separate allegations spanning 15 years, back to his days as a rookie cop.

Criminal District Court Judge Franz Zibilich recited the rights Pratt already knew and was giving up with his plea, then handed him a three-year prison sentence.

Pratt pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery and one count of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. He shook his head and frequently glanced back at his weeping family, who sat alongside the dry-eyed mother of the most recent victim.

The deal culminated weeks of plea negotiations between prosecutors and Pratt’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, before a trial scheduled for Tuesday.

Indicted in August, Pratt, 43, faced as much as two decades behind bars if convicted in an aggravated sex crime involving the most recent victim, whose allegation dates from last spring.

The allegation in that case was reduced to sexual battery. Pratt also faced charges of aggravated sexual assault and carnal knowledge of a juvenile from earlier incidents in 1998 and 2001. He pleaded guilty as charged to those counts. All three victims were from 13 to 15 years old at the time of the incidents.

The two older allegations stemmed from complaints made after Pratt was arrested last April.

First, a Texas woman came forward to say Pratt had abused her while she was a student at a New Orleans public school. Police then unearthed an old complaint against Pratt from 2001, when another victim accused him of abuse; NOPD detectives at the time of that complaint determined the evidence to be “inconclusive.”

Prosecutor Jason Napoli acknowledged that the two earlier victims refused to testify in the case and rebuffed prosecutors’ attempts to gain their cooperation. Most recently, Napoli said, the victim from the 1998 incident last week “informed us she was not willing to get on that flight.”

Also, the victim in the most recent incident “does not wish a severe penalty on him,” Napoli told Zibilich.

The girl’s desire, and the lack of cooperation from the others, weighed on the sentence, said Zibilich, who also noted that none of the victims wanted to make a statement in court following Pratt’s plea, as the law allows.

Still, “one can only assume at least some activity occurred,” the judge said of the allegations.

“Whether these victims have actually forgiven you is something I don’t really know,” Zibilich told Pratt. The judge urged Pratt to “address this issue” while in prison and said he would recommend that the state assign him to a special facility for security reasons.

At an earlier hearing, Zibilich had urged Pratt to consider a plea deal, noting that the most serious of the charges in the indictment could have landed him in prison for 20 years if he was convicted. “You’re at risk here,” he said at the March 13 hearing.

Just how Pratt’s conviction could affect pending criminal cases in which he has played a role remains uncertain.

Hankton, who is serving a life prison sentence for a 2008 murder, is among 13 family members and alleged associates charged in a federal racketeering case that wraps together other murders, violent crimes and an alleged drug ring dating back decades.

Among the murders was the slaying of Hankton rival Jessie “TuTu” Reed in 2009. A witness in that case, Hasan “Hockie” Williams, identified Hankton as one of the shooters, according to police, and was gunned down a few weeks later. Pratt played a lead role in the investigation of Reed’s murder, and he requested witness protection for Williams shortly before his killing, according to police documents.

In the meantime, Pratt’s involvement in another case already has caused trouble for District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office. Last year, Pratt refused to testify about a murder investigation. Through his testimony, prosecutors were trying to introduce witness statements that he took, but they were stymied by his silence on the witness stand.

That prosecution, accusing Terrance Nobles, 22, and Demond Taylor, 29, of gunning down 18-year-old Roderick Sheppard in October 2010, remains pending.

Christopher Bowman, a spokesman for Cannizzaro’s office, said he didn’t know how many pending cases may still involve Pratt as a potential witness or what will become of them.

“We’re going to deal with those on a case-by-case basis,” Bowman said.

He also said he didn’t know whether any criminal cases had been scuttled because of the sex allegations against Pratt.

Although Napoli offered no opinion in court Friday about what sentence Zibilich should impose — sexual battery carries a possible sentence of zero to 10 years — Cannizzaro agreed to the plea deal because it locked in prison time for the officer, Bowman said.

“What we got out of the deal was a guarantee for years in prison,” Bowman said. “Also, for the crimes he was convicted of, he will have to register for the rest of his life as a sex offender. We were able to satisfy our public safety objectives as well as the desires of the victims, so this was a good day.”

Pratt will get credit for the 11 months he has spent behind bars, mostly in St. Charles Parish. As he left the courtroom accompanied by an Orleans Parish sheriff’s deputy, Pratt mouthed, “I didn’t do it.” Ambling down the hallway in chains, he stopped to chat with family members and the mother of the most recent victim.

Prosecutors said she had been uncooperative in their investigation — a claim she hotly disputed to the judge.

Former Officer Alexis Robinson Arrested for Child Sex Crimes

A former police officer and head of security at a school district was arrested for multiple child sex crimes, now spanning two states.

Alexis Robinson, 51, was out on bond for sex assault charges in Kansas, when he was recently arrested by El Paso County deputies.

Robinson served as a police officer in Wichita, Kan. for 22 years. He retired as a sergeant in 2006. Then he signed on as a security supervisor with a school district in that community.

More than a year ago, police in Kansas started investigating Robinson for sexually assaulting several children after a 24-year-old man came forward saying he had been molested a decade earlier.

According to arrest papers, during that investigation detectives say an accuser in Colorado came forward, years after the alleged sex abuse. The papers say Robinson visited a family several times at their home in El Paso County in the 1990s. During those visits, the papers allege the suspect made the young boy watch pornographic movies and had him perform sexual acts.

Three victims came forward in Wichita and one has come forward in El Paso County. We are told they were all between the ages of 12 and 15 at the time of those alleged crimes.

Robinson is scheduled to be in court again later this week to discuss his bond.

Officer John T McCavitt Arrested Again for Unauthorized Videotaping

A Peoria police officer who was acquitted of rape charges last week has been arrested again — this time in connection with video recording a different alleged victim without permission.

    John T. McCavitt, 32, of 1710 W. Westaire Ave. was booked Friday into the Peoria County Jail on a felony charge of unauthorized videotaping.

    He admitted in testimony last week that he did not have his alleged victim’s permission in that case to take photographs or video recordings of their sexual encounter.

    But the new arrest stems from a different incident than the one for which he was previously charged, said Peoria police Capt. Mike Eddlemon.

    “We discovered some more information that hadn’t come to light, which led to the new criminal case,” Eddlemon said Friday. “It’s a totally different victim.”

    The evidence for the new case was uncovered during an internal investigation into McCavitt, which commenced after the criminal case concluded. The Peoria Police Department by policy waits to conduct an internal investigation until pending criminal matters against officers are resolved.

    McCavitt was taken into custody at 7:35 p.m. Friday in the 5900 block of North Sherwood Place, according to a news release from the department. Eddlemon said the alleged unauthorized video recording took place at McCavitt’s home on Westaire Avenue last year.

    When the allegation of sexual assault surfaced in July, the Illinois State Police were called in to investigate, and McCavitt was placed on paid administrative leave. The trial on that case commenced last week. A jury deliberated for only 40 minutes March 19 after a two-day trial before acquitting McCavitt of a charge of sexual assault.

    His alleged victim was an acquaintance who had been out drinking with McCavitt and his live-in girlfriend on the night of July 16 before the trio ended up back at McCavitt’s home early on the morning of July 17.

    The woman testified she went to sleep in a spare bedroom fully clothed and woke up in restraints before she was sexually assaulted. She claimed she “played possum” while she was being raped out of fear.

    McCavitt, however, told jurors the sex was consensual after she flirted with him, and he stopped and removed the restraints when the acquaintance asked him.

    The day after the alleged rape, McCavitt called in sick for his patrol shift, would not answer the door for Illinois State Police investigators and attempted to delete files from his phone and computer, according to court documents and trial testimony.

    McCavitt remains on leave from the department and will be kept on that status until the new criminal charges are resolved.