Monday, August 25, 2008

Probation Officer David Williams Accused of Harassment


The Idaho Department of Correction has put a felony probation officer on paid leave for the second time in two years after a probationer complained she was harassed.

David L. Williams, 42, of Coeur d'Alene, was placed on leave in July after Wanda Arrington complained he called her at odd hours, sounding intoxicated and asking inappropriate questions.

"We take those types of allegations very serious," Eric Kiehl, district manager for the Department of Correction Community Corrections Division, told The Spokesman-Review. While the Office of Professional Standards investigates Arrington's claim and decides on a course of action, Kiehl said, Williams remains on paid administrative leave, earning an annual salary of about $43,000 as a senior probation officer. Williams is responsible for supervising felons, and he has the ability to arrest probationers and parolees.

Williams has worked with the Idaho Department of Correction since 1992.

Arrington complained that Williams called and asked if her fiance was naked and what color panties she was wearing.

Kiehl said Arrington, who is on probation for felony DUI, was the only person among the 80 to 85 probationers Williams supervised who has complained. At least one other person Williams supervised may have been interviewed after a review of Williams' phone records, Kiehl said.

It's not unheard of for probation officers to call clients at all hours, Kiehl said, to check if probationers are home by curfew or intoxicated.

"I'm not saying what Dave Williams is accused of doing is a normal operation, but it does happen," he said.

Williams was first placed on leave in March 2007 after he was arrested on charges of stalking his estranged wife. Tamara Dulhanty called police after her husband allegedly followed her as she delivered newspapers for the Coeur d'Alene Press.

She told police that an intoxicated Williams was driving erratically and called her and said he was going to "do something sick."

Williams was taken to Kootenai Medical Center, placed on a mental hold, then arrested at the hospital.

The Coeur d'Alene City Attorney's Office agreed to a conditional dismissal of the charges if Williams would seek treatment.

While Williams is on leave, other probation officers and supervisors including Kiehl are handling his caseload.

"Offenders on his caseload aren't just running around wild out there," Kiehl said. "They're being supervised."

Officer Ross Magnuson Charged with Pointing Weapon at Motorist


A Superior, Wis., police officer is charged with second-degree assault for allegedly pulling a gun and pointing it at a motorist in an apparent road rage incident.

Ross W. Magnuson, 45, of Knife River also faces charges of making terroristic threats, recklessly handling a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct.

According to the criminal complaint, a motorist, his girlfriend and her son were driving near Two Harbors last Sunday when they passed a vehicle whose driver flipped them off.

After pulling into a service station and waiting to pump gas, the driver who gestured at them pulled up next to the group, got out and began yelling, the complaint said.

The motorist, who provided a license plate number to police that eventually led to Magnuson and later identified Magnuson in a police lineup, said Magnuson pulled a silver and black gun and pointed it at him, the complaint stated.

Police executed a search warrant at Magnuson's home and he provided a silver and black Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol.

Magnuson, who was off duty and not wearing a police uniform on the day of the incident, told officers that he had been driving when he was passed by a car driving erratically.

He said he pulled off at the station to speak with the motorist about his driving conduct, and feeling threatened upon their encounter, Magnuson "broke leather" on his firearm, according to the complaint.

Superior Police Chief Floyd Peters said he was shocked by the allegations when notified of the charges filed against the 12-year veteran of the force.

"He's been a very well respected officer in our department and in the community," Peters said.

The chief then read a prepared statement declining any additional comment. Magnuson, who was arraigned Friday, was placed on administrative leave pending criminal and internal investigations into the incident.

Peters said no internal review would begin until the criminal investigation is completed.

Peters said no internal review would begin until the criminal investigation is completed.

Officer Steven Boyle Didn't Enter Plea

A former Amboy and Vernon Center police officer didn’t enter a plea during his first court appearance Friday for a gross misdemeanor charge of misconduct of a public official.

Steven Patrick Boyle, 23, of Austin is accused of pulling a prank where he faked the arrest of an 18-year-old woman, then having her flash her breasts to avoid arrest. Other friends of the woman were allegedly in on the prank.

Boyle resigned from his position as a part-time police officer with the Amboy and Vernon Center department Friday.

Former Austin Police Officer Accused of Sexual Assault

Former Austin Police Officer Reynaldo Ramon Canizales, of Round Rock, is alleged to have committed two sexual assaults.

The 35-year-old was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on Friday. He also faces two counts of official oppression.

The assault charges are punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The official oppression charges are punishable with a jail term of up to one year, and another fine of up to $4,000.

Canizales resigned from the Austin Police Department September 15, 2007. The alleged crimes happened while he was on the job.

Officer Curt Suskevich Charged with Possession of Marijuana

A Cape Coral police officer and his wife were arrested in Key West on a misdemeanor drug charge Tuesday.

The officer’s wife was additionally charged with using a firearm under the influence of alcohol, also a misdemeanor.

According to booking records, Curt Edward Suskevich, 37, a Cape Coral patrol officer, was charged Tuesday by the Key West Police Department with possession of marijuana not more than 20 grams.

Christine Michelle Suskevich, 34, was also charged with possession of marijuana not more than 20 grams along with using a firearm under the influence of alcohol.

Both were held in the Monroe County Detention Facility Tuesday. Jail officials said Curt Suskevich bonded out on Wednesday on $338, and Christine posted a $2,000 bond.

Following the outcome of the criminal investigations and subsequent criminal proceedings, the Cape Coral Police Department will conduct an internal investigation to determine what, if any, action should be taken against Curt Suskevich, according to city spokesperson Connie Barron.

“We have an administrative process in place that we will follow to ensure a fair and equitable outcome,” Barron said.

A Key West Police Department spokesperson could not be immediately reached Friday afternoon for comment.

Suskevich, a Cape Coral officer since 1999, was not in uniform or on police duty in Key West during the time of his arrest, Barron said.

She said it is unclear if Christine Suskevich fired a police issued firearm when allegedly using a gun while intoxicated.

Curt Suskevich has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Police Chief Rob Petrovich will not comment at this time due to his active role in the internal investigation of the officer.

Officer Torray Walker Arrested for Domestic Assault

A six-year-veteran of the Jeffersontown Police Department has been arrested on an assault charge after a domestic dispute with his wife.

Officer Torray Walker, 39, was arrested early Wednesday after police responded to a call from his wife, said Jeffersontown Police Chief Rick Sanders.

"There were no visible injuries, but there was a little bit of pushing and shoving," Sanders said.

"According to law, when we have a complaint of domestic violence, major or minor, we have to charge," he said.

Walker was charged with assault in the fourth degree and placed on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation, Sanders said. He said Walker was booked at Louisville Metro Corrections and released Wednesday night.

There were no published telephone listings for Walker in Louisville.

Sanders described Walker as an "exemplary officer" who has 26 letters of commendation in his file and no history of complaints or disciplinary action. Sanders said that prior to joining the Jeffersontown police force, Walker worked for the Lexington Police Department, where he also had an excellent record.

Convicted Officer Paid $270,000 in Salary After Being Stripped of his Badge

Kenneth Earl Williams, the disgraced San Jose cop who resigned last week after he was convicted of soliciting naked photographs from a Scotts Valley teenager, spent almost 1,000 days on leave from the department stripped of his badge and gun after he was charged.

Yet San Jose police paid the 22-year veteran more than $270,000 in salary plus benefits during his leave, according to police records.

His only job requirement -- to call the SJPD Internal Affairs unit every weekday to see if he was needed for desk duty.

San Jose police say they put such officers on paid leave to get them off the streets and -- at the same time -- protect their due process rights by not firing them on charges that could ultimately turn out to be false. But the Williams example shows how that approach can financially backfire when a criminal prosecution drags on -- in this case for 2½ years.

"No one was happy this took as long as it did," said Deputy Police Chief David Cavallaro. "But in America you are innocent until proven guilty and things are not always as they appear to be. Every person, police officer or not, still has rights."

Cavallaro, the former commander of the department's Internal Affairs unit, said that the paid leave for Williams was the longest he could recall.

Although San Jose's police command staff decides case-by-case how to handle allegations against its officers, it is routine procedure to put officers who face criminal charges or criminal investigations on paid leave. The department can also open an internal affairs investigation, but the ultimate decision on an officer's future with the department is usually left until a criminal case is completed.

The San Francisco Police Department, with its unique civilian review board, sometimes places officers on unpaid leave, but this is rare throughout the state.

San Jose recently suspended with pay an officer charged with time sheet fraud, another charged with stealing from a departmental athletic fund and two officers being criminally probed to see if they tried to cover up a former officer's alleged involvement in a drunken driving accident.

The amount of money Williams received while on leave raised concerns with city leaders, but few saw a good alternative to the SJPD's wait-and-see approach.

"My reaction is that the court system works too bloody slow," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. "But there aren't a lot of options. What can we do, given our responsibilities to every officer's due process rights?."

Barbara Attard, the city's Independent Police Auditor, said: "It makes me angry, but I don't see any way around it."

Some departments have moved to fire or discipline officers before their criminal cases are resolved. But these usually involve cases where the evidence against the police officer is more clear-cut, such as a drunken driving charge.

More complex and serious cases require a more measured and cautious response, experts and police say.

And disciplining an officer who is later acquitted can lead to expensive lawsuits.

The Oakland Police Department learned that lesson during one of the Bay Area's most high profile police brutality cases, known as the Riders case. Three officers were charged with the kidnapping, assault and false arrest of suspected drug dealers in West Oakland in 2000, but were either acquitted or the cases ended in a mistrial. One officer settled a lawsuit against the city for more than $1.5 million.

In San Jose, Williams was placed on administrative leave on Jan. 1, 2006, and remained there until his conviction Aug. 5 in Santa Cruz, according to police records. He was sentenced Monday to two years in prison.

Attorney Larry Peterson, who defended Williams during the administrative hearing, said the department interviewed the officer in February, but waited for a verdict before it took action.

"Kenny has a wonderful reputation on the police department," Peterson said "I don't think anybody actually believed the allegations. I get a feeling the department said, 'Wait a minute, this is not the Ken we know.' "

It was unclear this week if Williams' pension will be at risk, but he was apparently earning credit during the 2½ years he stayed home.

Pensions can be taken away if an officer commits treason or is convicted of a felony. But Ken Heredia, vice chairman of the San Jose Police and Fire Department Retirement Plan Board, said he was unaware of an example in which a pension had been withdrawn under those circumstances. There may be some questions about the legality of such an action, Heredia said.

When asked if he regretted paying so much money and not getting any service from an officer for so long, Chief Rob Davis replied: "To be quite candid what concerns me is that there is a victim of a crime committed by a former officer. I'm more concerned about the victim and her family."

Press Photographer Sues Over Arrest


An Oakland Tribune photographer filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Oakland Friday, saying police illegally barred him from taking pictures at a freeway crash scene and handcuffed him when he persisted.

Ray Chavez, 44, said officers had interfered with his right as a member of the press to cover news, specifically a car crash and the emergency response time. The incident last year caused him to be "arrested and handcuffed without justification solely due to the exercise of First Amendment rights," said his suit, filed in U.S. District Court.

"It has been very stressful since I was humiliated by the OPD officers," Chavez said in an interview. "They should do their jobs and not interfere with ours as media members. These cops need to be re-educated. I don't think they know what the First Amendment and freedom of the press means."

Alex Katz, spokesman for City Attorney John Russo, declined to comment. The city previously rejected a claim, the first step in litigation, that Chavez filed in connection with the incident.

On May 4, 2007, Chavez was driving north on Interstate 880 near the 29th Avenue exit in Oakland when a car in front of him crashed and rolled over in the fast lane. Chavez, wearing his press credential around his neck, got out of his car and began taking pictures, "considering this a spot news matter," the suit said.

Oakland police Officer Kevin Reynolds told Chavez that he should leave, the suit said. When Chavez replied that he had a right to be there as a member of the press. Reynolds angrily told him that he "didn't have any business here (and) that it was a crime scene," the suit said.

When Chavez took photos of an arriving ambulance, Reynolds blocked his camera and told him, "You don't need to take these kind of photos," according to the suit.

Reynolds asked for Chavez's identification and began writing him a citation, the suit said. As a California Highway Patrol cruiser arrived, Chavez again took pictures. That prompted Reynolds to say, "That's it. You're under arrest," the suit said.

The officer made Chavez sit next to the overturned car with his hands behind his back for a half-hour, the suit said. Passing motorists mistakenly believed Chavez had caused the crash and "cursed and made derogatory references to and signs at plaintiff while he sat on the ground handcuffed," the suit said.

Oakland police Officer Cesar Garcia told Chavez that he would be cited for impeding traffic and failing to obey a lawful order. The officers gave him the citation, removed the handcuffs and let him go, but not before Reynolds warned him, "Don't ever come here again to take these kinds of photos," the suit said.

The suit names the city, Police Chief Wayne Tucker, Reynolds and Garcia. It seeks unspecified monetary damages and a court injunction directing police to train its officers about allowing the media "reasonable access to accident and crime scenes and behind police lines."

Chavez was named photojournalist of the year earlier this month by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He has been with the Tribune for 14 years.

"The Oakland Police Department must abide by state statute and their own regulations as to what is appropriate, to allow the press to adequately cover newsworthy events," said Chavez's attorney, Terry Gross. "Whenever there's an incident, a crime scene, if there's no interference going on, then the OPD rules and state statute provide this right of access to the scene."

Officer Anthony Smith Allegedly Rapes Woman While on Duty


The SWAT team arrested a metro police officer for allegedly raping a woman while on duty.

Investigators said it happened on the east side last Friday.

Officer Anthony Smith is facing seven felonies including rape and sexual misconduct. The Marion County prosecutor said Smith is the tenth metro police officer to be charged in the past four months.

Investigators said former police officer Anthony Smith first made contact with the victim at a gas station on 21st and Emerson. Smith told the victim she had pretty teeth. The victim left and drove toward I-70. That's when police said Smith pulled her over for an outstanding warrant.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Smith told the victim he could lock her up, but wouldn't if she rode with him on a few runs.

"This officer used his authority, his position to satisfy his own selfish desires rather than protect someone who needed protection," said Chief Michael Spears of the Indianapolis Metro Police Department.

Investigators said Smith eventually took the victim to his "spot" in an east side industrial park where he allegedly raped her.

"I'm sickened by his conduct. Literally sickened," said Chief Spears.

Police said they didn't find the used condom at Smith's spot, but they did find unused condoms in his trunk. Police are also trying to figure out if Smith has brought other victims to his spot in the past.

"We will continue to look at other traffic stops he's made in the past," said Chief Spears.

Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said, "The alleged conduct is egregious and Officer Smith is not above the law."

The prosecutor said Smith admitted to having sex with the victim in his police car, but claims it was consensual. The chief dismissed him from the force on Monday.

In wake of the recent arrests with in the metro police department, the prosecutor's office has set up the Justice Integrity Hotline at (317) 327-5437. The prosecutor said it'll allow people to report misconduct without going to the police.

Officer Scott Nugent Arraigned For Taser Death


A former police officer accused of repeatedly jolting a central Louisiana man with a Taser before he died has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and malfeasance in office.

Officer Scott Nugent was arraigned Thursday in a Winn Parish courtroom.
He was freed on $45,000 bond last week after a grand jury indicted him on both charges in the January 17 death of 21-year-old Baron Pikes.

Pikes was handcuffed when Nugent allegedly shocked him nine times with a 50,000-volt Taser while arresting him on a drug possession warrant.

Nugent faces up to 45 years in prison if he is convicted on both charges. He was fired but is appealing his dismissal.