Thursday, December 31, 2009

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Connecticut Man Dies After Being Tasered

Authorities say a man has died of unknown causes after struggling with Stamford police officers who were called to a city home to detain him.

The man, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at Stamford Hospital after the incident Wednesday morning.

Connecticut State Police say Stamford officers were called to a Lafayette Street home on a report that the man was agitated and aggressive, and that officers had to use pepper spray and a Taser to subdue him.

They say he went into "medical distress" after being handcuffed, and was treated at the scene until an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital.

State police officers are investigating the incident.

Deputy Brian Weber Arrested for Domestic Violence

A Washoe County Sheriff’s Deputy has been arrested, accused of domestic battery. Brian Weber was booked into the jail Wednesday night.

There are not a lot of details regarding his arrest. The Sheriff’s department tells us that Weber has been with the department for the fast five years and was assigned to patrol.

Weber has been reassigned to other duties while the Reno Police Department investigates the allegations against him.

Former Chief Knew Officer Michael Mabe was Accused of Touching Child

The Walnut Cove Police Department allegedly knew of allegations against an officer that he was accused of inappropriately touching a child, according to officials with the Stokes County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators say Michael Mabe, a former Walnut Cove police officer, was arrested in mid-December and charged with 15 counts of indecent liberties with a child. According to officials, the alleged incidents took place more than 20 years ago.

Mabe worked as a part-time deputy for the Stokes County Sheriff's office until the mid-1990's. Officials say he left the Stokes County department when allegations of his alleged contact with a child surfaced in the mid-1990's. Mabe left the department and began working in Walnut Cove.

According to Stokes County Sheriff's officials, former Walnut Cove Police Chief Barry Conaway was aware of the allegations against Mabe while he was employed with the department. Capt. Craig Carico with the Stokes County Sheriff's Office said their records indicate Stokes County Deputies were sent to Walnut Cove to inform and discuss the allegations against Mabe.

"The Walnut Cove Police Department was notified at the time the allegations were made available to us," said capt. Carico.

Former Walnut Cove Police Chief Barry Conaway served as chief in the mid-1990's but is no longer with the department.

"I've had a lot of people concerned with the fact that it was known about and nothing done about it. I had a lot of people ask, why... and I can't tell them why...because I wasn't here," said James Hill, the current Police Chief for the Walnut Cove Police Department. "I feel like that should have happened... I feel like it should have been taken care of."

Hill, the current Walnut Cove Police Chief, said Mabe was a good officer. "He was a good person. I never had any problems with him whatsoever," said Hill.

Stokes County officials said Michael Mabe's wife works in the Child Support division in the Department of Social Services where the allegations were initially filed.

Mabe resigned from his position in the police department the day he was arrest, Walnut Cove Town Manager Homer Dearmin said.

Mabe is currently out on bond. His court date is set for January 20.

Deputy James Pruitt Arrested for Drunk Driving

Polk County deputies arrested one of their own this morning after finding the officer passed out behind the steering wheel of his Jeep.

Sheriff's Deputy James Pruitt was charged with driving under the influence, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies found Pruitt, 37, passed out at the steering wheel of his 1997 Jeep about 7 a.m. The engine was running when deputies found the vehicle at the entrance of the Pier Place subdivision, the sheriff's office said.

Pruitt was taken to the Polk County Jail after deputies gave him field sobriety tests. He refused to submit to a breath test, the sheriff's office said.

The department hired Pruitt in April 1994 and he was assigned to the Southeast Division patrol. He is suspended without pay until the department finishes an internal investigation, the sheriff's office said.

Lt William Scott Richard Accused of Stalking

A University of Florida police officer accused of stalking a woman the past two years was charged with aggravated stalking and obstructing justice, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

UF Police Department Lt. William Scott Richard, 38, was arrested and booked into the Alachua County Jail. He posted $250,000 bond and was released late Wednesday on several conditions, including that Richard surrender all firearms to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office and he be placed on electronic monitoring.

The arrest affidavit accuses Richard of sexually battering and stalking a woman in the fall of 2007 and winter of 2008. The crimes went unreported at the time, but the stalking started again over the summer when the woman moved back to Gainesville, according to court documents.

In July 2009, Richard was placed on administrative leave and ordered him to not have any contact with the victim. Authorities report that Richard was seen driving back and forth by the victim's home in November and December. The affidavit said he was arrested after he made contact with the woman on Tuesday.

Officer Eric Boughton Accused of Drunk Driving

A Shreveport police officer is on paid administrative leave as a result of being accused of drunken driving in DeSoto, according to a Police Department news release.

Eric Boughton, 29, of the 800 block of Francine Drive in Shreveport, was booked into DeSoto Detention Center about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on one count of first-offense driving while intoxicated. He was released on $1,088 bond at 11:30 a.m.

About the same time, Police Chief Henry Whitehorn received a call from the DeSoto sheriff's office informing him of the officer's arrest. Boughton, who was hired in 2007, immediately was placed on leave pending an internal investigation.

Officer Jeff Redcross Accused of Theft

A Florence police officer who was terminated Monday was issued a summons Thursday to appear in Florence Municipal Court on a charge of theft of lost property, officials said.

Jeff Redcross, 38, is being represented by Florence attorney Tim Case. Case said the summons is not a warrant and Redcross was not arrested.

"It just summons him to appear in court on the allegations," Case said.

Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton said Redcross' termination had nothing to do with the summons. He said Redcross has filed an appeal with the city's civil service board and is on paid administrative leave while the appeals process continues.

The chief said his recommendation to terminate Redcross' employment was a result of an administrative hearing and was based on a violation of departmental rules not a violation of the law.

"My decision had nothing to do with the summons or what's going on with the court," Singleton said. "We have rules and they are to be followed."

According to the summons, which was issued by the municipal magistrate's office, Redcross is to appear at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, in Florence City Court.

The charge of third-degree theft of lost property is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a year in jail and a fine, if convicted.

A person with direct knowledge of the case said Tony Armstead is accusing Redcross of taking money that Armstead claims to have lost on the dance floor of a local nightclub.

According to an incident report filed at the Florence Police Department, the 38-year-old Florence man claimed $300 in $100 bills were taken from him at Side Pockets Billiards on Darby Drive between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Dec. 3-4. The report was filed Dec. 8.

Authorities said Redcross was off duty and was a customer at the business when the theft is supposed to have taken place.

"I've known Jeff Redcross for 17 years. He's enjoyed a good reputation as a UNA football standout, as a radio announcer and as a person in the community," said Case.

Case said this is the first time in his 17 years as a defense attorney that he has ever "defended or been confronted" with a charge like this.

"We look forward to defending this in court and based upon our initial investigations and interviewing the witnesses we have done so far, we feel like we should prevail and Jeff will and should be exonerated of these charges," Case said.

Case said he is also representing Redcross in the termination appeal process.

"We are anxious to present his case before the civil service board," Case said.

Redcross has been a member of the department for 17 years and has been a patrol sergeant for the past three years.

Four Officers Face Federal Charges for Trying to Cover up Beating Death

Four police officers who are facing federal charges are now officially off the force. The borough council in Shenandoah, Schuylkill County accepted the resignations of Chief Matthew Nestor and three of his fellow officers last night. Nestor and two others are accused of trying to cover up the beating death of illegal immigrant Luis Ramirez last summer.

Nestor and a fourth officer are charged with extortion and civil rights violations in a separate case. Now the police department has only three officers, so state police are stepping in to help patrol the town.

Former Officer Marcus Tafoya Accused of Trying to Intimidate Witnesses

A former Fresno police officer on trial for accusations of using excessive force faces new allegations of witness tampering.

During a special hearing Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court called to investigate the allegations, prosecutor Blake Gunderson accused Marcus Tafoya of trying to intimidate witnesses.

A police officer called to testify at the hearing broke down on the stand and exercised his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. Judge John Vogt ordered a police cell phone be turned over to the District Attorney's Office before ending the surprising day in court. No jury was present.

Tafoya, 39, went on trial Nov. 17 on eight felony counts of excessive force at a welcome-home party for a soldier returning from Iraq in March 2005. Tafoya has pleaded not guilty. The trial is scheduled to resume Monday.

Gunderson alleges that Tafoya wanted a fellow police officer to appear in the courtroom audience when officer Steve Gonzales testified Dec. 17.

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Gonzales was back in court Thursday for the special hearing. He said that after he testified at Tafoya's trial, he returned to a police substation to go off duty.

Gonzales said while he was at the substation, Sgt. Cary Weigant pulled him aside and confided in him: Another officer, Sgt. Dave Madrigal, wanted Weigant to be in the courtroom during Tafoya's trial. Gonzales said he thought the purpose was to interfere with the trial.

"I had a nauseous feeling in my stomach," Gonzales said. "I didn't know if they were trying to intimidate by putting Weigant and Madrigal in the audience.

"I felt someone was trying to underhand the investigation."

Gonzales said he then contacted the District Attorney's Office.

Madrigal, who was subpoenaed to appear at Thursday's hearing, broke down in tears when Gunderson asked him whether he knew prosecutors had been trying to reach him since Dec. 18.

Superior Court Judge John Vogt called a recess to allow Madrigal to compose himself. When testimony resumed, Madrigal asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, declining to answer Gunderson's questions. Vogt then excused him from the hearing.

Vogt ordered Madrigal's cell phone be turned over to the District Attorney's Office. Specifically, prosecutors want to examine calls and text messages between Madrigal and Tafoya and between Madrigal and Weigant. The cell phone was given to prosecutors Thursday.

Tafoya was fired from the Fresno Police Department in July 2007.

During his trial, jurors heard from partygoers who said Tafoya struck them with a police baton for no reason. Several police officers have given testimony that supported Tafoya, including Sgt. Michael Manfredi, who last week said that Tafoya made the right call to order another officer to shoot partygoers with bean bags.

Manfredi rebutted another officer who testified that he was shocked to hear Tafoya tell him to start shooting defenseless partygoers with bean bags. The officer refused to do it.

And earlier in the trial, a former Fresno police officer who now works for the Santa Maria Police Department testified that Tafoya slugged a partygoer for no apparent reason.

The city of Fresno agreed in 2006 to pay $1.6 million to settle an excessive-force case stemming from the party. Tafoya, Manfredi, the city of Fresno and Police Chief Jerry Dyer are defendants in a related civil-rights trial pending in Fresno federal court.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sgt. Laura Delgado Arrested for Shoplifting

A Bexar County Sheriff's Office sergeant is one of two women accused of shoplifting nearly $200 worth of clothing and jewelry from Macy's in South Park Mall on Tuesday evening, officials said.

San Antonio police arrested Sgt. Laura Delgado, 31, and Lori Marsden, 36, about 6 p.m. on one count each of theft from $50 to $500. They were held on $1,000 bail, with Delgado released after posting it early Wednesday.

An 11-year veteran most recently assigned to the detention unit, Delgado was placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Deputy Ino Badillo. Delgado was off duty Tuesday night, he said.

A police report says the women were seen going into dressing rooms with merchandise that was not in sight when they emerged. When a security guard detained them, Delgado tried to escape and was aggressive, the report says.

The women continued to be argumentative in the store's loss-prevention office, where police found two shirts, a pair of jeans, a watch, two pairs of earrings and a bracelet in their purses, the police report says.

Delgado told police she works for the Sheriff's Office and her duty weapon was in her personal car in the mall parking lot. A deputy picked up the gun.

Corrections Officer Tonya Henderson Arrested for Stealing from Target

A state corrections officer clad in her uniform and with her 6-year-old son in tow allegedly stole items worth about $2,800 from a Target store in Victorville.

Tonya Henderson, 40, of Adelanto left the store on Palmdale Road about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday without paying for a big-screen television, steam cleaner and Xbox 360 video-game console, San Bernardino County sheriff's officials said.

Henderson works at the California Institution for Men in Chino. The state Department of Corrections on Wednesday placed Henderson on paid leave. Department officials are investigating the incident.

"We don't know how long (the investigation) could last," said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections.

A loss-prevention officer at the Target noticed Henderson loading the items into her vehicle and informed the Sheriff's Department. Deputies tracked Henderson's license-plate number to her home. She was arrested on suspicion of commercial burglary.

"If someone is found guilty of a felony, that would disqualify them from a peace officer position," Thornton said.

Henderson was released on bail Wednesday morning from West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

Henderson was hired July 1, 2002, by the Department of Corrections.

She has worked full time as a relief corrections officer and has filled in for officers on vacation or furlough, Thornton said.

Lt Steven Hanners Charged with Theft

The Eufaula Police Department arrested and charged one of their own on Monday. According to EPD Chief Jim West, Lt. Steven Hanners, who joined the force in 1998, has been charged with a Class B felony for theft of property.

West said the investigation continues and additional charges could be filed. “We are currently examining all of Lt. Hanners’ case files and paperwork.”

According to West, Hanners has been the Eufaula Police Department supervisor over Special Operations and the SWAT team.

“The public trusts us and we are going to be worthy of that trust. We will be spotless” West said. “This must not taint the reputation of other officers or the department.”

Eufaula Mayor Jay Jaxon echoed those sentiments. “I hate that this has happened. I see that the chief was on top of this and has acted on his concerns.”

Two Officers Fired, One Arrested After Standoff

Two police officers in the small town of West Tawakoni have been fired amid an investigation into alleged misconduct, and one of them was arrested after a standoff.

West Tawakoni Police Chief Jack Schultz tells The Greenville Herald-Banner that the men violated department policy and are being investigated by the Texas Rangers.

One of the men, Perry Reed, remained jailed Wednesday on a charge of assault after his arrest in nearby Greenville following a standoff Tuesday night. Details regarding the assault and standoff weren't immediately available.

Reed and the other officer don't yet have attorneys who can comment on their behalf.

West Tawakoni is a town of about 1,000 residents located about 45 miles east of Dallas.


Information from: Herald-Banner,

Corrections Officer Mark Barber Accused of Extorting Sexual Favors From Inmates

A Long Island corrections officer is being accused of extorting sexual favors from female inmates.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice says 47-year-old Mark Barber, of Levittown, was arrested Wednesday and charged with multiple counts of rape, sexual abuse, and forcible touching.

Rice says Barber used his position as a grievance officer for the Nassau County Correctional Center to engage in various sexual activity with female inmates.

Rice says Barber, a corrections officer since 1987, would target inmates who had histories of drug abuse, prostitution, or mental health treatment.

Barber's lawyer, Frederick James Annibale Jr., told reporters that his client denies the charges.

Barber is due back in court Jan. 4. If convicted, he faces up to 16 years in prison.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Deputy John Franklin Accused of Shaking Down Priest

A San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s deputy has filed a civil claim seeking an unspecified amount of money against a Roman Catholic priest whom he said emotionally traumatized him during an undercover sting operation.

Claiming personal injuries, Sheriff’s Deputy John Franklin filed a civil claim against a Roman Catholic priest he arrested in 2007 for lewd conduct in a public place near Avila Beach. Franklin claims he suffers “mental and emotional distress including feelings of anger, rage, disgust, revulsion and embarrassment as a result of the despicable and oppressive behavior” of the former assistant pastor of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Nipomo.

“It is not so much monetary as a position of principal he is seeking. My client is making a statement that this is not acceptable behavior,” said James R. Murphy, the deputy’s attorney.

Church officials, their attorneys and the priest’s attorney contend Franklin is attempting to strong-arm the priest and the church for monetary gain.

“I think John Franklin is just looking for money,” said Thomas Riordan, vicar for temporalities for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey, which includes San Luis Obispo County. “We continue to be surprised by his actions.”

On July 18, 2007, Franklin was working undercover at the area around Pirate’s Cove, a nude beach with a reputation as a hook-up spot for homosexuals, when he spotted the priest, Geronimo Cuevas, standing in the brush rubbing his genitals through his shorts.

“I asked him (Cuevas), ‘What have you got over there,” Franklin said in the arrest report. “With his right hand he motioned for me to come towards me and he stated, ‘Touch me.’”

“I took two steps towards him asking him, ‘What did you say?’ He reached out with his right hand and touched my genitals,” Franklin said in the report.

Franklin then informed Cuevas, who claimed he was unemployed and living in Las Vegas, that he was under arrest for sexual battery and lewd acts.

Cuevas was convicted in 2008 of two misdemeanor counts of lewd conduct in a public place, ordered to take an AIDS awareness course and placed on three years probation. The church also stripped the fallen priest of his “faculties” (permission to perform church duties).

“My client (Franklin) was ordered to do patrol duty there,” Murphy said. “While he was minding his own business, he was grabbed by a priest.”

Following Cuevas’ conviction, Murphy sent a letter to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey stating his client’s plans to seek monetary damages for injuries incurred during the arrest.

“A demand was made upon the diocese and refused,” said attorney for the Diocese of Monterey, Paul Gaspari of the San Francisco-based Tobin and Tobin law firm. “I think it was a claim that had no foundation in law or fact.”

Murphy said he wrote the diocese a letter at the time because he assumed Cuevas was still a priest. Later, he was informed that Cuevas was no longer performing priestly duties. He contends that, due to past transgressions, attorneys for the church should not be discussing his client’s case.

“The attorney for the diocese is a rude and tasteless individual,” Murphy said. “With the past cover-ups of indecent conduct, he should mind his own business.”

Both James McKiernan, attorney for Cuevas, as well as Gaspri contend that the case has no merit and, because of the Fireman’s Rule, Franklin has no legal standing to seek damages.

California’s Fireman’s Rule bars lawsuits by police officers and firefighters for collecting on damages that occur in the course of their duties, even when there is negligence by another party.

Two of the precedent-setting cases that form the basis for the Fireman’s Rule involving law enforcement cases occurred in San Luis Obispo County.

In 1982, San Luis Obispo police officer and ex-county supervisor, Jerry Lenthall, filed an injury claim against an assailant who shot him. The case was dismissed under the Fireman’s Rule.

In 1999, a psychiatric patient shot Atascadero Police Officer William Tilley. Tilley’s attorney, Eric Parkinson, then filed suit against the man’s psychiatrist, claiming negligent care. Again, the case was dismissed because of the Fireman’s Rule.

“In a nutshell, firemen get burned, dog catchers get bitten, police get shot and vice cops get groped,” McKiernan says in court documents. “A person, like the defendant, specifically hired to encounter and combat particular dangers is owed no independent tort duty by the party who created the dangers.”

Murphy’s rebuttal is that in some cases of intentional criminal activity the rule has been overridden.

“Just because you are on duty, someone has a right to grab your scrotum and penis?” Murphy asked. “How much has the diocese spent paying out claims of sexual abuse by priests and they dump Cuevas?”

In the past, Franklin has filed numerous workers’ compensation claims for incidents such as slipping down an embankment and multiple exposures to blood and toxic mold, according to court documents. However, he has not filed a workers’ compensation claim or received medical assistance regarding the Pirates Cove incident.

“This is the type of lawsuit that gives the judicial system and lawyers a bad name” McKiernan said. “This is a case when the ranting, raving, threatening and blustering is over, the Fireman’s Rule will kick it out of court.”

Another bone of contention centers around why Franklin has continued to serve as an armed sheriff’s deputy when he states in his civil claim that he suffers from daily feelings of anger and rage.

“We have programs available to our staff suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after highly special incidents,” said Rob Bryn, spokesman for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, who said because of personnel privacy issues he was not permitted to say if Franklin informed the sheriff’s department of his alleged emotional injuries.

“If someone is allegedly suffering some type of emotional distress, tell someone and we would assist them.”

Officer Eugene Hlavac Fired for Slapping Girlfriend so Hard he Dislocated Her Jaw

Pittsburgh's police chief has suspended a sergeant for five days pending his eventual firing for allegedly slapping his former girlfriend so hard he dislocated her jaw.

Chief Nate Harper made that decision following a 90-minute disciplinary hearing Tuesday for 42-year-old Eugene Hlavac (huh-LAH'-vac) Jr. The sergeant is awaiting trial on a simple assault charge in the incident Dec. 18.

Authorities say Hlavac slapped the 23-year-old woman because she was late picking up their son, making him late for work.

Hlavac's attorney has said the sergeant was attacked and merely defending himself.

Hlavac told reporters he'll fight the decision, saying "I've been a police officer since 1991 and I've never been more eager to go to court."

Officer Doyle Braden Arrested for Threatening Neighbor with Gun

A Belton Police Officer, who lives in Killeen, is under arrest for threatening his neighbor with a hand gun.

The incident happened Sunday in the 4300 Block of Neta Drive, and has been under investigation by Killeen Police since then.

This evening Killeen Police arrested a 44-year-old Doyle Ray Braden on a warrant charging him with aggravated assault. Braden is currently an officer with the Belton PD, but was placed on administrative leave Monday.

The below is a description from the Killeen Police Department of what happened leading up to Doyle's arrest:

"Officers responded to the 4300 block of Neta Drive on Sunday, December 27, 2009 at 6:10pm, after a 911 call was received stating that one neighbor threatened another neighbor with a handgun. Officers responded to Neta Drive to speak with the victim, who advised she was having a verbal altercation with the neighbor when he threatened her with a gun. The victim and her husband went back to their residence and called 911. Officers spoke with all the parties involved and a report was filed.

The suspect in this case is employed as an officer with the Belton Police Department; he was placed on administrative leave by his department on Monday, December 28, 2009, pending the results of this investigation."

This case was reviewed by the Bell County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 and a complaint was returned charging Doyle Ray Braden with Aggravated Assault with a Firearm; a warrant was issued by Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin."

Braden was arrested by officers at the Killeen Police Department at 6:13pm without incident; he is currently in the Killeen City Jail with a $100,000 bond issued by Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin."

Patrolman Scott Garan Arrested Again for Drunk Driving

Aurora Patrolman Scott A. Garan was arrested Dec. 19 in Kent, where he lives, on drunken driving and criminal damaging charges.

Kent Patrolman Martin Gilliland stopped Garan, 41, driving his wife's car. Garan refused to take a breath-alcohol test, so his driver's license was automatically suspended. Kent Patrolman John Altomare brought the criminal damaging charge. Kent police would not discuss the case.

Mayor Lynn McGill placed Garan on leave from the police force he has been a part of for 17 years.

Kent Municipal Court Judge John Plough ordered Garan to wear a SCRAM alcohol monitoring device. The ankle bracelet will detect around the clock whether Garan drinks alcohol. Court records indicate that this was Garan's second drunken driving charge.

And Garan has a prior conviction in Kent for disorderly conduct. Then-Sgt. Garan pleaded guilty July 23, 2007, and was fined $130. McGill took away Garan's sergeant stripes.

McGill said any misbehavior is unacceptable for a police officer, "but I can't prejudge. We have to have the appropriate hearings" about the latest charges.

Garan is on paid leave for now. He's due back in Kent Municipal Court Jan. 20.

In October, the Portage County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving named Garan Aurora's top cop for getting drunken drivers off the road, McGill said.

Three years ago, an Aurora lieutenant was demoted to patrolman after a drunken driving conviction.
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Corrections Officer Caught Asleep on the Job

Maybe the inmates really are running the asylum.

A correction officer has been disciplined for dozing on the job after a colleague snapped a picture of her asleep while on post at a Rikers Island infirmary, officials said yesterday.

A clearly conked-out Nadja Green is leaning in a chair with her head back, arms folded, eyes closed and mouth open.

But even more alarming is an amused inmate seen hovering above her, mere inches from a set of keys that hangs from her belt.

Green was transferred on the island and placed on modified duty watching female inmates. She will face charges of sleeping on the job and other security- and performance-related charges.

"We do not expect this type of behavior or performance from our officers, nor do we tolerate it," said city correction spokesman Steve Morello.

The officer who took the picture, Claudel Barrau, was also transferred and placed on modified duty.

Morello said possession and use of cellphones in jails, even by guards, is prohibited.

"They are only allowed to carry a cell into a property locker and not into jail proper," Morello said. "And not where inmates circulate. It's a basic and obvious regulation and this represents a breach."

Officials said the embarrassing photo was taken earlier this month in the prison's North Infirmary Command, formerly Rikers Island Hospital, which houses nearly 400 sick prisoners.

The facility includes a wing for AIDS patients, one for sex offenders and one for exceptionally violent inmates.

The disciplined officers will not be supervising inmates, according to officials.

Morello said the picture was brought to the attention of the department's senior management.

He said officials do not believe the sleeping officer was ever in any danger. There will be no charges against the inmate in the picture.

Green, who turned 30 yesterday, has been on the job 4½ years. She lives in Queens and could not be reached for comment.

Barrau, 47, has been on the job 18 years. When approached by a Post photographer at his Long Island home, he asked, "Why are you taking my picture?"

A prison source described Green as "the Precious of Corrections," a reference to the movie about a teen from a dysfunctional family.

A source said Green had a difficult upbringing and is the mother of several children. The source said she worked 96 hours of overtime this month.

A union official said prison authorities should avoid a rush to judgment.

"Many correction officers are forced to work 70 to 80 hours of mandatory overtime," said Correction Officer Benevolent Association spokesman Michael Skelly.

"Since we don't know the particular circumstances of that particular officer, we are not going to condemn her. She may have been sick.

"We believe it was highly suspect for the other officer to take a picture and potentially jeopardize her safety."

Cameras to Record Contacts with Civilians

San Jose police, under fire for interactions with the public that have turned violent, this weekend launched a pilot project equipping officers with head-mounted cameras to record contacts with civilians.

Officers will activate the cameras, about the size of a Bluetooth device and attached by a headband above the ear, every time they respond or make contact with a person. At the end of the officer's shift, the recording will be downloaded to a central server.

Chief Rob Davis said the devices, to be tested by 18 patrol officers, are a technological advance comparable to the advent of police cars, two-way radios and the 911 emergency system.

San Jose is the first major U.S. city to try out the devices, known as AXON.

Although officers are already bearing vests, weapons and radios, most of them welcome adding a camera to record their actions, Davis said. In addition, he said, "We're making it so it has cachet."

A leading critic of the department welcomed the cameras as a tool to provide useful evidence, but dismissed their significance as a solution to rocky police-community relations.

"The AXON project is unfortunately a positive thing right now because the level of distrust is so high," said Raj Jayadev, director of the community organization Silicon Valley De-Bug. "But it doesn't address the more fundamental problem: What stereotypes police may carry when they see people of color on the street and make assumptions about character."

The cost of the trial is being shouldered by maker Taser International Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz.

The kit includes a camera, a control piece and a computer that can hang from the belt. In the pilot project, officers have been directed to switch on the camera as they are about to contact a civilian.

The cameras, equipped with an audio recorder, align with the officer's viewpoint, and can be switched to standby mode.

Afterward, the officer can switch the camera to a "buffer" mode, where it still records limited segments of video, and a non-record mode. The officer may review the tape, but it may not be erased. At the end of the shift, the device's memory is downloaded onto a central server.

Davis said commanders will randomly review the tapes, to evaluate the system and to gather information that could help assess police policies and procedures.

Officers, he said, welcomed the devices.

"I used it this morning in making an arrest," said William Doane, one of the AXON test officers. "It verified what I saw." In the two days of testing, he generally remembered to turn on the AXON before incidents, but sometimes forgot to turn it off afterward, he said. Overall, he said, "It's a good system."

The devices could provide evidence of crimes, timely information about suspects, help with police training and be a resource in investigations of complaints against police and deterrence of public misbehavior, Davis said. Critics, however, are interested in how the cameras might prevent police from overstepping bounds.

Over several months, groups representing Latinos, Asians and African-Americans have criticized San Jose police for too easily resorting to force. Per capita, San Jose police make more arrests for resisting arrest than does any other major California city, according to a San Jose Mercury News investigation.

Criticism spiked after police fatally shot a mentally ill man, Daniel Pham, in May and after a cell phone video showed officers apparently beating Phuong Ho, a San Jose State University student from Vietnam.

A detailed review by the Mercury News showed that San Jose police have repeatedly used force in incidents that began as seemingly benign situations. In response, Davis has formed a panel to review the department's use of force.

In 2008, police received 117 use-of-force complaints, but said none of the complaints was justified.

Davis said that the department will balance privacy concerns in making the camera footage public.

Cost per officer in first year if San Jose fully adopted the police camera system. Chief Rob Davis said he expected the price would decrease.

Sgt Steve Pelligra Arrested for Drunk Driving

A New Jersey State Police sergeant faces drunken-driving and other charges following a Dec. 17 two-vehicle crash on Route 517 north of Hackettstown, state police Capt. Gerald Lewis said Thursday.

Sgt. Steve Pelligra, 45, of Sussex County, was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation, Lewis said. Pelligra is assigned to state police at Hope Township.

He was off duty and driving a Nissan Frontier pickup north on Route 517 when his vehicle crashed into the driver's side of a southbound 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by Scott Lehnes, 40, of Vernon, N.J., said Lewis, who is based at state police headquarters in West Trenton, N.J.

The 10 p.m. crash occurred near Johnson Road just north of the Route 517 interchange on Interstate 80.

Pelligra fled after the crash, Lewis said.

The police sergeant was also charged with refusing to submit to an alcohol breath test, leaving the scene of a crash and failing to report a crash with injuries.

A person who is convicted for the first time of refusing to submit to a breath test faces a driver's license suspension between seven months and one year, according to the state Motor Vehicle Commission.

Details, including where Pelligra fled, who suffered injuries and the extent of those injuries were not immediately available from Lewis.

Pelligra could not be reached for comment. It was unknown if he had retained an attorney.

Another sergeant at the Hope Township barracks referred inquiries to the state police public information office at headquarters.

Officer Eugene Hlavac Jr Charged with Assaulting Ex-Girlfriend

A Pittsburgh police officer who was arrested after assaulting his ex-girlfriend earlier this month will have an internal hearing regarding the incident today.

Eugene F. Hlavac Jr., 42, of Greenfield, was originally charged with aggravated assault, but that count was reduced to simple assault during a preliminary hearing.

According to Lauren Maughan, 23, Sgt. Hlavac slapped her face during an argument. She said she sustained a dislocated jaw in the incident.

Sgt. Hlavac claims he was defending himself.

Phillip DiLucente, who is representing Sgt. Hlavac in his criminal case, said all he hopes for is a thorough investigation.

"I truly believe if there is a complete and thorough investigation the disposition will be that Sgt. Hlavac should be able to maintain his job," Mr. DiLucente said.

While a judge last week approved a protection from abuse order in the matter requiring Sgt. Hlavac to stay away from Ms. Maughan and to give up all of his weapons, a final hearing on the matter is scheduled for Monday morning before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kathryn Hens-Greco.

In the meantime, Sgt. Hlavac late last week filed for shared custody of the 3-year-old boy he has with Ms. Maughan.

Judge David Wecht, who is assigned to the custody matter, has ordered that both Ms. Maughan and Sgt. Hlavac attend an education and mediation session on Jan. 16 at the Wightman School Community Building. Further, the judge scheduled mandatory mediation on the matter for Feb. 5.

Sgt. Hlavac said in the court filing asking for shared custody that the best interest of the child would be served because he "has and will continue to provide the minor child with love, affection, care, treatment and all of the other necessary and proper parental duties and obligations which the said minor child needs and deserves."

Sgt. Hlavac, a night shift supervisor at the Zone 2 police station in the Hill District, has temporarily been assigned to the warrant office.

Officer Willie James Sharp Arrested for DUI

Gallatin police officer Willie James Sharp, 43, of 1200 Woodvale Drive, was arrested in Hendersonville and charged with driving under the influence on Saturday, Dec. 26.

According to a Hendersonville police, Sharp was spotted driving “all over the road” just before midnight driving eastbound on Vietnam Veterans Boulevard near New Shackle Island Road.

“The vehicle sped up and slowed down while having the right turning signal on moving in the left lane,” according to the affidavit filed in Sumner County General Sessions Court.

According to Hendersonville police affidavit, Sharp admitted he’d had “one Jack and Coke drink around 7 p.m.”

Police found Sharp’s police –issued .45-caliber Glock pistol in his vehicle. Sharp was charged with possessing a handgun while under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor.

He had two flasks full of Jack Daniels whiskey and another 20-ounce water bottle with a whiskey and Coke mixture, police said. Sharp is also charged with violation of the open container law, and an implied consent violation after refusing a blood alcohol test, the police affidavit said.

Gallatin Police Chief John Tisdale said Sharp was off duty and driving his personal vehicle when the arrest was made.

Sharp was released on $1,500 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Sumner County General Sessions Court on Jan. 12 at 9 a.m.

Sharp has been suspended from duty without pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Tisdale said.

“We’ll deal with it just like we would with anybody else,” Tisdale said on Monday. “Police officers are not above the law.”

He has been a police officer with the Gallatin Police Department for approximately four years, according to Tisdale.

Officer Miguel Gallegos Arrested for Drunk Driving

A member of the law enforcement community finds himself behind bars over the weekend for drunk driving.

Fifty five year old Miguel Angel Gallegos was arrested shortly after midnight on December 27th.

According to DPS reports, Gallegos was pulled over off Highway 83, outside Rio Bravo, for failing to use a turn signal.

He was arrested after failing a field sobriety test.

Sheriff Martin Cuellar says this sort of conduct is unbecoming for a member of the law enforcement community and will not be tolerated:

“That’s embarrassing, for someone like that to get arrested, one of our own. But again, we have to follow the procedures and protocol of the Civil Service Commission and we have to abide by what they say.”

Gallegos was charged with driving while intoxicated and has been placed on administrative duty.

Disciplinary action may be taken against Gallegos if convicted on the charge.

He has served as a corrections officer since 1988.

Officers Dana & James DeVries Involved in Domestic Violence

Public Safety Officer Dana Bryce DeVries and her husband and fellow officer, James "Todd" DeVries, are no longer working for the department. The revelation comes nearly two months after allegations that Dana DeVries kicked her husband during a domestic assault.

"They no longer work for the city," Capt. Rick Yonker said of the couple today.

He would not say if the officers resigned or were terminated, and would not disclose any internal findings.

Dana DeVries was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence after allegedly kicking her husband in a Nov. 3 incident. Her employment ended Dec. 16. Her husband's employment ended Nov. 25.

The couple had been married about two years, each bringing a child from previous relationships, records showed. No serious injuries were reported after the alleged fight, but police said the husband had a red mark on his body.

Officer Anthony Plummer Fired for Using Excessive Force

A Cincinnati police officer at the center of a Taser scandal is no longer employed with the city.

Officials said Officer Anthony Plummer, 32, was fired from the police force earlier this month.

Plummer was accused of using excessive force during a traffic stop involving a city councilman's daughter.

Police said Chief Thomas Streicher made the recommendation to the city and that it was upheld.

Managers said Plummer had 10 days to appeal the ruling and has done so.

The case will go before a civil service review board and the board will make the final decision whether the termination was warranted.

Police said that for the moment, Plummer is no longer with the police force. No time line was provided for when the board would make its decision.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Officer Joseph Kraus Arrested for DWI

A suburban New York police officer accused of an off-duty drunken driving accident that injured another police officer had been featured in a television news story warning against driving while distracted.

Scarsdale police say Westchester County Police Officer Joseph Kraus was released without bail Monday, pending a future court date on a misdemeanor DWI charge. He was not represented by a lawyer.

Police records show Kraus refused to take a breathalyzer test after driving through a blinking red light in the village on Sunday and hitting a marked police car.

Kraus was suspended with pay after the accident. The injured Scarsdale police officer underwent surgery Monday for injuries that were not considered life threatening.

A WABC-TV news video showed Kraus as part of the county's Crash Reduction Unit, which tries to prevent accidents.

Man says Officer Struck Him with Night Stick

Montreal police on Monday defended the “heavy-handed” tactics used when evacuating a downtown métro station Saturday night, saying they were dealing with a volatile situation that came close to being a full-scale riot.

Several innocent passengers caught up in the brawl say they were struck by aggressive police officers wielding night sticks and screaming at them to leave the Place des Arts station.

“It was a very dangerous situation and we had to restore order,” said Sergeant Ian Lafrenière of the Montreal police’s media relations division.

“I am not going to tell you that everything went perfectly. I am sorry if people weren’t treated the right way.”

Lafrenière said some youths were running in the tunnel between the stations and others were pelting police with bottles. The trouble started after a fight broke out between a large group of youths in a métro car between the McGill and Place des Arts stations.

Police, who were called after the emergency brake was pulled several times, were attacked by a large gang of youths on the platform. They called for backup and dozens of tactical squad officers with helmets and night sticks arrived to clear the station, which was packed with Boxing Day shoppers who were heading home.

“When you are facing an aggressive group who are throwing objects, it requires a huge police presence,” he said.

Bill Ryan, 50, was heading to Longueuil to visit family when he was caught up in the near-riot.

“There were hundreds of people, people who had come out of stores with bags, elderly people and children,” Ryan said.

Ryan said he takes issue with the manner in which police evacuated the station. When the order to evacuate was given, Ryan and his partner headed toward the Bleury St. exit, which was about six metres from the last métro car, where they had been standing.

But Ryan said a large group of officers refused to let them use that exit and ordered them to walk the entire length of platform to the Jeanne Mance St. exit. In doing so, they herded many passengers toward the middle of the platform, where a large group of youths were jostling with police.

“They were pushing us toward the problem – we weren’t being protected,” Ryan said. “I don’t think we were being handled like innocent citizens caught up in a situation.”

When he eventually made it past the unruly crowd to the other exit, Ryan said he couldn’t get up the stairs because a large group of youths were streaming down the stairs. When he complained to an officer, he said the officer struck him with a night stick and told him to get outside.

Ryan also questioned why police allowed so many passengers to get off at the Place des Arts station when there was a large group of youths trying to fight with police on the platform. “It was like New York City at rush hour – we were shoulder to shoulder,” he said.

Lafrenière said he couldn’t comment on those specific complaints. However, he said police officers who have orders to evacuate a métro station don’t have time to talk to citizens, who are seeking explanations for what is going on.

“This isn’t the kind of situation when you have time to talk to people,” he said. “When you see officers in helmets, you have to leave.”

Apart from the métro patrol squad, officers from downtown stations and the tactical squad were also deployed to the stations during the brawl.

As is the case with all major police interventions, senior officers will meet to review how the situation was handled, Lafrenière said.

“We were able to restore order and no one was seriously injured,” he said. “But we can do better.”

Officer Luic Mendonca Accused of Beating Suspect

The FBI is investigating Providence police after an officer was caught on videotape beating a restrained suspect, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office said Thursday.

A separate probe by the attorney general into the Oct. 20 arrest of Luis Mendonca will continue as the FBI conducts its own investigation, attorney general spokesman Michael Healey told The Associated Press.

The FBI would not confirm or deny an investigation, and Providence police did not immediately comment. The FBI investigation was first reported by WPRI-TV.

Surveillance video from the arrest in a parking lot shows police surrounding an apparently handcuffed Mendonca as one officer kicks and strikes him.

A lawyer for the 20-year-old Mendonca has said his client was so badly hurt that he was in a coma for two days and needed staples to close a gash in his head.

Cliff Montiero, head of the Providence branch of the NAACP, said he asked the FBI on Monday to investigate. He also spoke with Mendonca’s family, and said they filed a complaint Monday with the FBI. Montiero said he visited Mendonca on Wednesday at the state prison, where he is being held as a probation violator.

“He was angry and felt he hadn’t done anything wrong,” Montiero said. “He didn’t understand why they had to beat him so badly.”

Police have previously said that Mendonca was stopped by campus police for the Rhode Island School of Design, then told he could go but struck one of the officers and ran away as they waited for Providence police to arrive. A group of officers tracked him down in a parking lot, where his arrest was videotaped by a nearby surveillance camera.

A spokeswoman for RISD did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the FBI investigation.

Two unidentified Providence officers were placed on administrative duty earlier this month.

Montiero, a former Providence police officer and deputy sheriff, said the case had been “terribly handled,” and that he believed if there was no videotape the officers would not have been disciplined at all.

“If a Providence police officer, or several of them, go to jail over this, it’s going to send a lesson to all police officers,” he said. “It’s your job to detain them, not to punish them.”

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Officer Joseph Kraus Charged with DWI

An off-duty Westchester County police officer was charged today with driving while intoxicated after going through a red light and hitting into a Scarsdale police cruiser, sending the on-duty Scarsdale officer inside to the hospital.

The county officer, Joseph A. Kraus, was suspended with pay pending a county police investigation after the 1:24 a.m. crash at the intersection of East Parkway and Popham Road.

"I was upset and angered and surprised," Deputy County Executive Susan Tolchin said about hearing the news this morning. "This does not reflect at all on the Westchester County Police Department. This reflects on what one police officer did and shouldn't have done."

Kieran O'Leary, a county police spokesman, said Kraus' immediate suspension and a pending internal investigation were standard procedures for any officer arrested and accused of a crime.

"Our best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to the Scarsdale police officer who was injured in this incident," O'Leary added.

A press release by Scarsdale Det. Lt. Bryant Clark detailing the incident was read to The Journal News by phone this morning.

A Scarsdale officer who read the release to the paper said the detective was unavailable to answer further questions and there was no additional information being released at this time, including the injured Scarsdale officer's name or the extent of her injuries.

According to the release, Kraus passed through a steady red light while driving a Chevy pickup truck, then hit into the Scarsdale officer's cruiser.

The officer had to be extricated from her vehicle by the Scarsdale Fire Department and she was transported to Westchester Medical Center by the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

Kraus was charged with a single count of driving while intoxicated and released on his own recognizance after being processed at Scarsdale police headquarters.

Officer Stephane Prevot Charged with DUI & Hit and Run

A Virginia Beach police officer – the second this year – was charged with driving under the influence and hit-and-run Saturday morning.

Dorienne Boykin, Chesapeake police spokeswoman, said Stephane Prevot was charged after striking a neighbor’s mailbox in the 1100 block of Myrtle Ave. about 11:30 a.m. She had no additional details about the incident and would have no more until after the weekend.

Prevot has been a police officer in Virginia Beach since January 2005, said Adam Bernstein, Virginia Beach police spokesman. He said that if an officer is arrested, the officer is automatically placed on administrative duty. Bernstein was unaware of Prevot’s status and said a decision will likely be made this week.

In June, Bryan K. Womble, an off-duty Virginia Beach police officer, was involved in a car crash at the Oceanfront. He was charged with hit-and-run and drunken driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15.

A General District Court judge convicted Womble on Sept. 21 and sentenced him to five days in jail, which he served last month. The judge also suspended his driver's license for a year and ordered him to pay $500 in fines, attend alcohol safety awareness classes and use an ignition interlock device for six months.

Womble, 37, joined the police force in 2002. He was a celebrated member of the Police Department's Traffic Safety Unit, formerly the Selective Enforcement Team. The unit specializes in stopping impaired driving. On May 15, he arrested retired NFL star Bruce Smith for DUI.

Womble is no longer with Virginia Beach police.

Officer Edward Stapinski Charged in Drunk Driving Crash

The Lockport police officer charged in connection with a fatal crash on the Stevenson Expressway is out of jail on bond.

Edward Stapinski, 34, was released after paying $75,000 bond.

The crash last Sunday night near Cicero killed Man Wong, who was on his way home from his second job.

Witnesses reported seeing Stapinski's car weaving and traveling at a high rate of speed before the crash.

The hospital where he was taken revealed his blood alcohol content was three times the legal limit.

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Officer Andre Ellison Charged with Domestic Violence

Montgomery Police units responded to the 6700 block of Taylor Ridge Road in reference to a domestic violence dispute.

A female complaint indicated that she and her husband, Montgomery Police Officer Andre L. Ellison, were involved in a physical altercation.

After determining that Officer Ellison was the primary aggressor, he was taken into custody and charged with domestic violence in the third degree (harassment).

No injuries were reported.

Ellison was placed on administrative duties as MPD prepares to conduct an internal investigation.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Officer Dwayne Johnson Accused of Defrauding the Government

Prosecutors say for roughly four months Officer Dwayne Johnson worked private security at the Hess Express gas station near Route 890 when he should have been on patrol, then tried to cover himself by lying on police department time sheets.

With his attorney by his side Wednesday, Johnson answered "yes" to several questions from Schenectady County Judge Karen Drago ensuring he understood his legal rights and the 15-count indictment that accuses him of defrauding the government, two counts of offering a false instrument for filing and grand larceny. He pleaded not guilty to those felonies and the 11 misdemeanors that Drago unsealed. He left court on his own recognizance without comment, leaving his attorney Gaspar Castillo to do the talking.

The Albany lawyer said his client, who earned an all-time city pay record of $168,000 in 2008, is being punished for being a "hard working man," that the city was well aware he was moonlighting and who never worked his private security and city job simultaneously.

"He has served the city and served it well and loves being a cop," said Castillo. "When everything comes out, it will become clear he has not done anything wrong."

But Gerald Dwyer, counsel to the district attorney, said the charging document only deals with the alleged double dipping from Oct. 25, 2008 to Feb. 7 at the Brandywine Avenue business and not accusations Johnson remained inside a Woodlawn apartment earlier this year when he should have been on patrol. Outside police headquarters, Mayor Brian U. Stratton said the department is still looking into what Johnson, 50, was doing there as part of its ongoing internal probe.

He said his administration will continue to aggressively go after cops who cross the line and that in Johnson's case they would be seeking to fire him and try to recoup any monies he was paid by the city while working his private job.

"The public should know we're not tolerating this," he said, adding he was still hopeful that any police commanders who may have turned a blind eye to Johnson's alleged misdeeds should be punished.

Later Wednesday, the police department released a statement saying Johnson had been suspended 30 days without pay and that it would be seeking to fire him through disciplinary hearings.

Besides the felonies, Johnson is also charged with five each of counts of official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities and scheme to defraud, all misdemeanors. On the top count felony alone, he could face a maximum four-year prison term

In February, he was suspended without pay for 30 days amid an internal probe into allegations that he spent several hours on a number of Tuesdays in an apartment in the Woodlawn section during his midnight-to-8 a.m. shift.

The revelation came less than a month after city payroll records for 2008 showed that Johnson, who has been on the force since 2001, had the highest earnings for one year in the department's history.

At the time, the department's Office of Professional Standards was looking into allegations he spent time at the apartment at the corner of Queen Philomena Boulevard and Sir Benjamin Way when he should have been working.

Police said the officer's cruiser, equipped with a GPS, was parked outside the location around 4 a.m. even though he was scheduled to work until 8 a.m. Months later, the department launched a second in-house investigation into fresh allegations that Johnson was working security at Hess when he should have been on patrol.

Chief Mark Chaires has said tax-related documents reviewed by investigators showed Johnson was "simultaneously being paid by two employers."

With overtime and about $35,000 in retroactive pay, he made $168,921 last year, nearly triple his base salary.

Johnson is one of several city police officers scheduled for disciplinary hearings next year.

Detention Officer Alfred Casas Arrested for Helping with Jailbreak

A Bexar County Jail detention officer was arrested Thursday afternoon after an investigation revealed he supplied inmates with a hacksaw for an attempted jailbreak late last week, officials said.

Alfred Casas, 30, was arrested on the job without incident and is charged with providing implements for escape — deadly weapon, which is a second-degree felony, officials said. The officer has been with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office for three years, said Roger Dovalina, deputy chief of the detention division. Casas' bail was set at $15,000.

Dovalina said he is trying to restore confidence in his officers because their morale is low after hearing about the incident. He said he told them “to keep their heads up” and that “one bad apple” is not a reflection of every officer in the division.

A fifth inmate also has been charged in the escape plot. All five unidentified inmates were facing long sentences and high bail amounts. They are being held in separate high-security cells, Dovalina said.

Since sheriff's deputies and the district attorney's office still are investigating the incident, he said, many details couldn't be released. It wasn't disclosed if investigators are looking for any other suspects or exactly how Casas may have benefited from helping the inmates.

Dovalina said the men had been planning the escape since early September and that they were able to saw off a metal bracket on a window in an outside recreation area. If the men had been able to proceed with the plan, the deputy chief said, the only extra line of security keeping them from freedom was a metal screen covering the window.

The plan was thwarted Saturday when officials found two 30-foot ropes, dyed prisoner clothing and a hacksaw blade. The hand-braided ropes were made from strips of bedsheets and blankets. A few cells down, authorities found dyed clothing and a 5-inch hacksaw blade. Officials said the inmates used teabags to dye their jail-issued orange jumpsuits dark brown. Authorities also found a broken window and a brick that had been chipped away.

Up until Saturday's incident, the jail did not have a “set procedure to check officers” for foul play, Dovalina said. Now, he said, the jail will implement “daily inspections targeting the entire facility.”

“We want the public to know we perform our jobs in a professional manner,” Dovalina said. “We have a case here that doesn't happen very often. We will continue the investigation and take all steps to ensure safety and security.”

Deputy Brian Hillis Accused of DUI While on the Job

Shocking new information about a Fresno county Sheriff’s Deputy accused of driving under the influence while on the job.

A newly released incident report says Deputy Brian Hillis was driving on a suspended license.

The deputy’s suspension was based on him not paying child support.

The report also reveals that Deputy Hillis told a Fresno Police Officer he was taking a mixture of the prescription drug Klonopin, used to treat a variety of things from anxiety to bipolar disorder to seizures, and the over the counter anti histamine Benadryl.

Following his medical exam, it was determined Hillis was under the influence of both a depressant, and a stimulant.

Deputy Hillis is on paid administrative leave.

Officer Calvin Ingram Indicted for Computer Tampering

A police officer who lost his job is now under indictment, accused of accessing computer police databases for personal use.

Calvin Ingram is facing 25 counts of computer tampering, and two other counts related to identity theft.

Prosecutors say Ingram took information from the computer databases and gave that information to people who weren't in law enforcement. The databases contain addresses, criminal records and other personal data.

Ingram served nearly 11 years as a Marana police officer before he was terminated in September. He is appealing his termination.

Officer Vernon Wolford Pleads Guilty to Sexual Battery

An Obetz police officer accused of engaging in sexual activity with a woman he had just arrested has agreed to plead guilty to sexual battery next month.

Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Ron O’Brien said officer Vernon Wolford still faces up to five years in prison for the sexual battery charge - a third-degree felony.

Last month, Vernon arrested a woman wanted in Florida for probation violation. According to a search warrant, she told investigators that Vernon asked her “you want to go home,“ as she sat in the back of the police cruiser in handcuffs. The woman said she then performed the sex act and later reported the incident after arriving at the Franklin County Corrections Center.

A state crime lab later tested a substance on the woman’s tennis shoe and determined it was Wolford’s semen.

“Even while someone may claim that conduct was consensual the law pre-supposes that people cannot under that kind of circumstance give consent. And that’s what would be the basis for the charge in this case,“ O’Brien said

Wolford’s plea hearing in front of Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Julie Lynch is scheduled for January 25. O’Brien said Wolford has been placed on administrative leave by the Obetz Police Department.

Officer Rhashim Campbell Accused of Assaulting Prisoner

A city police officer accused of assaulting a prisoner in November allegedly boasted to several fellow officers about beating the man.

One of those officers was Sgt. Robert E. Ford Jr., who is assigned to the internal affairs division, which investigates allegations of police misconduct.

Ford immediately began an investigation of Officer Rhashim Campbell's conduct during the early morning hours of Nov. 1 and prepared a warrant seeking his arrest on charges of third-degree assault and fabricating evidence. Hartford State's Attorney Gail Hardy signed that warrant Dec. 4 and Campbell was arrested Dec. 10. Campbell's lawyer, Salvatore Bonanno of Hartford, said Campbell denies the charges and maintains his innocence.

The warrant affidavit was made public this week, after Campbell's arraignment Tuesday in Superior Court in Hartford.

According to the warrant, Campbell told officers gathered in a report writing room on Nov. 2 that a prisoner had punched him in the face, then bitten his finger as he tried to restrain him. Campbell then allegedly told the assembled group that he went into the cell holding Michael Stewart, 41, of Ridge, N.Y., and beat him.

"I opened the door and whooped his ass," Campbell said, according to the warrant. "I tried to kill him, I tried to [expletive] him up." Two officers quickly grabbed Campbell and escorted him from the room. On the way out they told Ford that Campbell was on medication and may not have been aware of what he was saying.

Ford then viewed a video of the cell that allegedly shows Campbell using his hands and a knee to strike Campbell several times. A second officer, Kent Lee, allegedly helped push Stewart to the floor. Police prepared a warrant for Lee's arrest as well, but prosecutors declined to sign it.

Stewart was in custody after being arrested earlier in the evening on charges of breach of peace and resisting arrest. Police described him as being drunk and belligerent at the time of his arrest. An officer had to use pepper spray to get him to cooperate when he was arrested.

The charges against Campbell are for allegedly assaulting Stewart and for allegedly writing a false report on the incident.

Bonanno said Campbell "denies assaulting Mr. Stewart" and "he denies fabricating any evidence."

As to what was said in that report room, Bonanno said Campbell has no specific recollection.

"Officer Campbell does not remember the specific words he may or may not have used in the report room and his remarks were not directed at Sgt. Ford. Whether some of that was bravado, it remains to be seen. Often times we make comments that we don't mean literally."

During Tuesday's arraignment, Bonanno did file a motion asking that all audio and video recordings of the discussion in the report room be preserved. Bonanno said he's received information that an officer who was present may have recorded the conversation on an iPhone, or other device.

"If there was a recording of anything said in the report room, that would be the best evidence of what was said," Bonanno said.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Border Protection Officer Eric Higgins Indicted for Child Porn

A Customs and Border Protection officer has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges that he received child pornography.

Eric Higgins, 31, an officer at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, is accused of receiving images of child pornography via the Internet between February and June. Receipt of child pornography is punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison. He has been employed with the agency since 2002. His employment status will depend on the outcome of the case, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Ron Smith said.

Corrections Officer Michael Combs Charged with Battery

A central Florida corrections officer has been charged with battery after two female inmates told investigators he inappropriately touched them.

Michael Combs was arrested at his home in Lake County on Monday and later released on bond.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office says the inmates claim Combs inappropriately touched them while awaiting trial in holding cells. When contacted by detectives, Combs allegedly admitted to patting two of the women on the buttocks, but said his actions weren't sexually motivated.

Combs has been placed on paid administrative leave and could not be reached for comment. Jail records did not indicate if he has obtained an attorney.
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Former Officer Tyrone Wiggins Charged with Rape

Allegations of rape, physical and psychological abuse and now a police cover up have been raised against the case involving a former Philadelphia cop.

Tyrone Wiggins faces charges of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and statutory sexual assault for allegedly abusing a girl over an eight-year period.

The 50-year-old former Philly police officer and karate instructor met the girl in 1995 at the Olney Recreation Center -- where he operates a karate academy.

Two years later, the girl says Wiggins drove her to Fairmount Park and demanded oral sex, according to court documents.

The girl, who's now 24-years-old, alleges that first encounter grew into eight years of sexual assault and abuse. Court documents say the girl was forced to perform oral sex, was anally raped and physically beaten.

In 2005, the then 20-year-old told police Wiggins began to punch her, court documents said. She finally came forward to Internal Affairs investigators after a co-worker found out about the attacks.

"The allegation was made in '06, it went to the D.A. in '07 and an arrest was made a few weeks ago," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said Tuesday.

Wiggins was arrested in November, a day after he retired from the police force. He had been with the department for 23 years.

"This is something that we obviously take very seriously and if he's guilty, he should do time in jail," Ramsey said.

The alleged victim apparently joined the police force after telling her story to investigators, police sources told the Philadelphia Daily News. They said Wiggins offered to personally vouch for the woman after learning of her application.

NBC Philadelphia visited the man's home Tuesday, but a person inside the home -- believed to be Wiggins -- refused to talk.

After his arrest, the man continued to operate his karate classes at the Olney center, because the police department failed to notify the city recreation department.

"As soon as you and I are finished talking, I'm going to make sure he won't be running any more programs," Recreation Commissioner Sue Slawson told the Daily News' David Gambacorta.

As of now, the woman is the only alleged victim to come forward, but Ramsey says they will obviously investigate any further claims.

The department faced allegations of a cover up after they failed to notify the press about Wiggins' arrest especially after another man in blue was paraded in front of reporters for a similar case.

Adrian Makuch was arrested and charged with prostitution and related offenses on Dec. 9 for allegedly soliciting a 15-year-old boy.

"It's my mistake not getting it out in a press release," Ramsey said. "There was no effort to hide it in any way."

City Councilwoman Marian Tasco sent a letter to Ramsey Tuesday seeking answers regarding the oversight and investigation.

Wiggins is due in court for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 14.

Officer Alain Jones Charged with Domestic Abuse

A 14-year member of the Shreveport police department was charged with domestic abuse Monday evening and was immediately placed on paid administrative leave.

Alain Jones, 43, of Shreveport, is accused of attacking his wife during a fight about 6:30 p.m.

Shreveport police issued the off-duty officer a misdemeanor summons for one count of domestic abuse battery.

Sgt Bradley Thoma Involved in Drunken Hit and Run Crash Has Been Fired

A police sergeant involved in a drunken hit-and-run crash in September has been fired.

Bradley N. Thoma, 44, is no longer employed by the Spokane Police Department as of Monday, the department announced Tuesday.

Thoma, a 20-year police veteran, will avoid criminal prosecution for the crash if he stays out of trouble for five years under an agreement approved in District Court in November.

But the agreement requires him to use a breathalyzer device to start his car, which Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said prohibits him from completing the duties of a police officer.

“A valid driver’s license without restrictions is essential for the job,” Kirkpatrick said in a prepared statement.

Thoma was driving his personal Dodge Ram pickup on Sept. 23 when he hit the back of Sherry L. Prickett’s Ford Ranger near the intersection of Farwell Road and U.S. Highway 2. He then drove away.

Prickett, 51, and another driver followed Thoma to the parking lot of a Yoke’s Fresh Market, where Thoma told a state trooper he’d been planning to buy steaks.

Thoma smelled strongly of alcohol, troopers said. He told them he had just golfed at Wandermere Golf Course and “knew he had hit someone’s car and not stopped to give her his information,” according to a report from the Washington State Patrol.

“He talked about how he was probably going to lose his job or at least lose his supervisory position,” the arresting officer wrote. “He also told me he knew I was just doing my job and he was sorry for putting me in the position of arresting a fellow officer.”

Under the deferred prosecution agreement, Thoma – whose blood-alcohol level was 0.171, more than twice the legal limit for driving – will basically be on probation for five years and be required to complete a rehabilitation program in the first two years.

The DUI won’t appear on his record if he completes the program. The misdemeanor hit-and-run charge was dismissed under a “misdemeanor compromise” agreement after a judge read a letter from Prickett that said she’d been paid for the damage to her vehicle and was “not interested in (pursuing) Mr. Thoma any further.”

Prickett later said she didn’t know the letter would lead to the hit-and-run charge being dismissed.

Thoma joined the Spokane Police Department in October 1989. He’s worked in the drug unit and on the SWAT team. In 1991, he was one of two officers involved in a gunfight with a fugitive that killed an innocent bystander. A jury cleared both of wrongdoing in a civil case in 1994.

In January, Thoma suffered a minor stab wound to the jaw outside a downtown Spokane restaurant in a confrontation with two men he said were harassing his fiancé, Spokane police Officer Amy Ross. Charges against one of the men, Shannon Dogskin, were dismissed; another, Kenneth J. Kheel, is serving two years in prison.

Thoma made $91,141 a year as a sergeant.

Texas Woman Says Waco Police Used Excessive Force

One Central Texas woman says she feels Waco Police were putting on a show and using excessive force when they used a Taser on her brother-in-law last week.

Waco resident Jessica Smith says her brother-in-law, Brent Smith, was stunned and arrested by police at Cricket's Bar and Grill last week after he confronted another patron who publicly molested her.

“The guy walked by and squeezed my breast and I wasn't the only one who felt it and saw it," Smith told News 10.

Cell phone video shows a man being stunned with a Taser and then taken into police custody inside the doorway of the popular downtown pub.

“We thought the police were there to help us,” Smith said “I was so relieved when we heard police were coming because maybe somebody would listen to us.”

But Waco Police Sgt Melvin Roseborough says there is more to the story than what is shown by the dark, shaky video.

“Whenever the officer tried to handcuff this individual, he got one handcuff on,” Roseborough said.

The man in the video then pulled away from the police officer, Roseborough told News 10, and the handcuff became a weapon.

The officers responded in a manner to keep anyone from getting hurt in that situation, Roseborough said.

“I don’t feel my brother-in-law deserves this at all,” says Smith.

Brent Smith agreed, “My civil rights were violated by the city in which I pay my bills and that that’s what bothers me.”

Roseborough says an entire division exists within the Waco Police Department to hold officers accountable by listening to complaints.

Waco Police say, however, that no complaints have been filed in connection with the incident.

Officer Thomas Walker Arrested for Drunk Driving

An off-duty South Fayette Township police officer accused of driving under the influence of alcohol in a Cecil Township crash that injured two Bridgeville police officers was suspended from his job without pay Monday night.

Thomas J. Walker, 38, of 7 S. DePaoli Road, Cecil, was arrested Friday after his vehicle crashed into a Bridgeville police cruiser and knocked it into another, injuring two officers who were assisting on a call in Cecil. He also was charged with aggravated assault by motor vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Bridgeville police Chief Chad King said Tuesday that the two officers, Sgt. Gary James and Officer Chris Manolakos, are recovering at home. The officers were assisting Cecil police on a report of shots fired in a home on Millers Run Road (Route 50.)

"Sgt. James is in a lot of pain. He had to have part of his ear reattached and suffered a concussion," said King, who just took over as chief earlier this month. "He was partially ejected through the door of his cruiser. He was knocked totally out."

James was getting into his unmarked cruiser when it was hit by Walker's Hummer H-3. The door on the cruiser was not completely closed.

The unmarked car was knocked into Manolakos' marked car. King said he also suffered a concussion.

James will be off work for at least a month, while Manolakos' is awaiting clearance from his doctor to return to work.

Meanwhile, the eight-man Bridgeville department is down a quarter of its force and two of its fleet of four cruisers are off the road.

"Two of the six (officers) that are still working are on vacation," said King. "We are in a bind. I'm doubling out Christmas Day."

A preliminary hearing for Walker, scheduled for Tuesday, was continued at the request of his attorney, Noah Geary. Walker, who is a former police officer for Hanover and North Franklin townships, twice refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test.

South Fayette Township commissioners voted following an executive session Monday to suspend Walker without pay pending the investigation and disposition of charges, said Commissioner Deron Gabriel.

"Initially, (Chief Louis Volle) had suspended him with pay and we took action to make certain not to give Officer Walker a paid vacation based on his egregious actions," Gabriel said.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Retired Officer Stephen Robert Deck Found Guilty of Attempted Lewd Act with Child

A retired California Highway Patrol lieutenant was convicted today of trying to have sex with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl who was actually an adult undercover officer.

Stephen Robert Deck, 55, a Carlsbad resident who spent 23 years with the CHP, was found guilty of one felony count of attempted lewd acts on a child under 14, the Orange County district attorney's office said.

StephenDeck Deck was among 13 men swept up in a 2006 undercover sting by the Laguna Beach Police Department.

He initially had conversations over the Internet with a person he believed was a 13-year-old girl. He was in fact communicating with an adult volunteer from, a nonprofit organization that works with law enforcement nationwide to catch Internet sexual predators, prosecutors said.

Deck continued online communications and phone calls with an undercover officer who sounded young, authorities said. He made graphic sexual comments, including a statement about eating pie, according to prosecutors.

After arranging to meet the girl, Deck showed up at a Laguna Beach apartment with a key lime pie and a digital camera, prosecutors said. He was arrested at the scene.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 22 at the Santa Ana courthouse. He could serve up to four years in state prison.

Officer John McCalister Charged with Assault

John McCalister, the Oakwood police officer who was charged with misdemeanor assault after striking a man inside a Dayton Rite Aid Pharmacy, submitted a letter of retirement, according to Oakwood Public Safety Chief Alex Bebris.

The letter said McCalister’s retirement was effective Dec. 18, Bebris said Monday, Dec. 21.

McCalister, 46, was caught on the pharmacy’s surveillance camera, striking Paul Watts, 48, of Dayton on Oct. 14 at 1158 Wilmington Ave. Watts did not attempt to strike back at McCalister, according to the video.

McCalister retired as a part of a written agreement between himself, the City of Oakwood and his union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #107, Bebris said.

McCalister has been with the Oakwood Public Safety Department for 14 years and was a former Dayton Firefighter.

Neither John McCalister nor his attorney, Richard Skelton, could be reached for comment.

McCalister, along with wife and fellow Oakwood Officer Tiffany McCalister, had been on administrative leave since Oct. 30, according to letters filed in their personnel files.

John McCalister turned in his retirement letter before he was interviewed for the city’s internal investigation, Bebris said.

Tiffany McCalister witnessed the Oct. 14 event, according to a Dayton police report. She has not been charged.

The portion of the report that was released to the public said John McCalister advised his wife to go to a car and get a gun, but did not say if she actually sought a weapon.

“It is my understanding that no gun was shown,” said special prosecutor Michael Shiels, the city of Springfield’s chief prosecutor. However, he also said, “I don’t want to discuss the details of the case.”

Stephanie Cook, Dayton’s chief prosecutor, recused her office from the case because of a conflict of interest.

John McCalister is scheduled to appear at a pre-trial hearing before Judge John Pickrel on Feb. 23.

Tiffany McCalister was taken off of administrative leave last week and is now on sick leave, Bebris said.

“She is welcomed to come back to work,” Bebris said. He didn’t know when she would return, but said she is currently scheduled to return to work this week. He said also her internal investigation will be finished when she returns to work.

“I’m hoping that everyone involved is able to move forward on this,” Bebris said.

Former Officer Jay Simon Will be Allowed to Speak with His Children

A former Gurnee police officer accused of molesting two preteen girls will be allowed to speak with his children over the holidays - if the children elect to do so.

A Lake County circuit court judge on Monday granted the request of Jay Simon, 37, of Round Lake Park, to speak with his sons during the holidays, provided the sons contact Simon first.

Simon was arrested in June 2008 and charged with predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal abuse for, authorities said, molesting the two girls following an investigation by the Lake County Children's Advocacy Center.

The girls, who were under the age of 13, were molested in three separate attacks dating to November 2006, prosecutors said.

He was also charged with aggravated unlawful restraint, official misconduct and aggravated assault following a 2007 incident in which he identified himself as a police officer and used his duty handgun to threaten a man linked to his estranged wife, authorities said.

Simon has pleaded not guilty. He faces the possibility of multiple prison sentences of up to 30 years if convicted of all the most serious charges.

Simon has been released on $1 million bond since his arrest but is under a 24-hour home confinement and is allowed to leave only to go to court or to meet with his lawyer.

His trial is expected to begin Jan. 15.

Officer Anthony Green Arrested for DUI

Patrol Officer Anthony Mathew Green repeatedly expressed interest in joining the St. Petersburg Police Department's traffic enforcement division.

But that goal and his law enforcement career were endangered by his arrest this weekend on charges that the off-duty officer drunkenly crashed into two different vehicles, then drove away.

Green, 30, was arrested early Saturday on charges of driving under the influence/crash, DUI involving property damage and two counts of leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage.

Both incidents took place on Fourth Street N about 10 p.m. Friday, according to St. Petersburg police.

The first crash took place as Green attempted to pass a vehicle near the 3500 block of Fourth Street.

Both vehicles were headed north. Green drove over the raised concrete median while passing a 2009 Honda sedan, police said, and struck the driver's side mirror of that vehicle.

The Honda's driver was not injured, but police said the officer didn't stop after the collision.

Instead, Green continued north on Fourth. Police said Green's vehicle struck another vehicle at 38th Avenue N and Fourth Street. Police said no one was injured in that crash, but that Green kept going.

After the incidents, officers searched the area and found Green's damaged vehicle parked outside his Shore Acres home.

Green, who was off duty, was still inside the vehicle, according to police. His blood-alcohol level tested at 0.179 and 0.173. Florida law presumes a driver is impaired at 0.08 or greater.

He was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County jail about 3:30 a.m. Saturday. He could not be reached for comment Monday.

Green, a graduate of Lakewood High School and the University of South Florida, has been a patrol officer since November 2005. His personnel file shows nothing but positive reviews.

His file also showed that he has never been disciplined by the department. Green was involved in three crashes while driving his police cruiser, according to records, but only one incident was declared "preventable." He received a warning for that incident.

According to police, he was placed on administrative duty pending an internal investigation. After the investigation, a chain-of-command board will determine any disciplinary action.

Officer Jason East Arrested for Drunk Driving

A Forest Hill police officer accused of driving while intoxicated early Sunday in Johnson County has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, city officials said.

Officer Jason East was arrested by the Texas Department of Public Safety about midnight Sunday. He was released from the Johnson County Jail later that morning, according to a statement issued Monday by the city.

East has been with the department since 2000, a city spokeswoman said.

Officer Rhashim Campbell Accused of Using Excessive Force Faces Judge

A Hartford police officer, accused of using excessive force against a suspect, faced a judge Tuesday morning.

Rhashim Campbell's attorney, Salvatore Bonanno, wants to preserve any recordings involving his client.

Bonanno said, "I'm a little bit in the dark because I don't know what the video shows yet. I'm certain I'll have an opportunity to review that once I have my own copy."

Campbell is accused, along with now-retired Officer Kent Lee, of assaulting 41-year-old Michael Stewart of Long Island N.Y., in the early-morning hours after Halloween.

Campbell, not Lee, was arrested on charges including assault and fabricating physical evidence, a felony.

In the police report Campbell filed on the incident, he said Stewart struck him in the head, bit his finger, and Lee had to wrestle Stewart to a bench.

Campbell has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the case. He is due back in court on Feb. 2.

Corporal Meredith Hanley Arrested for Attacking her Husband

A South Bend police officer accused of attacking her husband was in court Tuesday. Corporal Meredith Hanley was arrested over the weekend. She is accused in a domestic violence attack on her husband. Her husband is also a South Bend police officer, but he was not arrested in the incident.

A special prosecutor from LaPorte County has been appointed to handle the case to avoid any conflict of interest.

Hanley will be back in court January 12th.

Officer Vernon Wolford Charged with Sexual Battery on Woman Prisoner

A police officer has been charged with a felony after he was accused of sexually assaulting a prisoner in handcuffs.

Officer Vernon Wolford was charged with sexual battery, after investigators said he offered a woman freedom in exchange for sex.

A woman was arrested, handcuffed, and put in an Obetz police cruiser on Nov. 10, and then driven to a private drive off Groveport Road.

A search warrant revealed investigators believe Wolford stopped the cruiser, walked around the car, and asked the female prisoner "You want to go home?"

Investigators said the woman asked to be un-handcuffed but the officer refused - and that is when they said she performed a sex act on the officer.

The warrant revealed that investigators found DNA evidence on the prisoner's tennis shoes, Kocot reported.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said by law a prisoner cannot give consent to have sex with an arresting officer.

"Some instances, such as statutory rape, teachers have sex with students it may be so called consensual - again, that's all sexual battery because of the nature of the relationship," O'Brien said.

Prosecutors said Wolford did not take the prisoner home, but instead he took her to the Franklin County Jail, where the woman told her story to deputies.

Wolford has been working as a full time officer for a year. He was placed on administrative leave during the investigation.

The charge of sexual battery is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Wolford is scheduled to be in court in January for a plea hearing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Michael Hawkins Dies After Being Tasered

Springfield Police Department news release:

The Springfield Police Department is investigating the death of a suspect who was arrested Sunday morning just before 10:00 a.m. for burglary. Michael D. Hawkins, 39, of Springfield was arrested at the Eagles Lodge Motel, 2611 N. Glenstone, after police were called there reference a person hiding in a storage room and refusing to come out.

After police arrived they found Hawkins hiding in a crawl space just above the storage room. Police attempted to talk Hawkins down, but he refused to leave the crawl space. Officers entered the crawl space, along with a police service dog. The dog engaged the suspect in the crawl space. During the engagement the dog broke through the ceiling and fell on to the balcony. The suspect was able to hold on to a rafter and climb back into the crawl space.

After Hawkins got back into the crawl space officers located him, and after he refused to obey several police commands to surrender a Taser was deployed. Hawkins then was taken into custody.

Once in custody police had Hawkins transported by ambulance to the hospital for the dog bite that he received on his upper thigh. After arriving at the hospital Hawkins died.

An autopsy is pending to determine the cause of death.

9 p.m. Update:

Motel guests say they could hear someone crawling through their ceilings just before the confrontation with police. "From what I gathered he was hopped up on drugs," motel tenant Rob Perakis said. "He was on a no-rent list he had been here before."

Hawkins family says he was not an angel but he did just as much good as he did wrong. "I'm sure a lot of these days I’ll look over my shoulder and not see him, wishing he was there," said Greg Hawkins, the dead man's brother.

He says he wishes police just would have waited for his brother to come out. He says he saw the spot his brother's body was Tasered at the hospital. "It was about two inches below the heart," Hawkins says.

According to a training bulletin from the company, Taser International, officers should avoid chest shots to avoid controversy about whether or not the Taser caused a cardiac event.

In the same bulletin the company says those events are rare. “The available research does not support the idea that a TASER ECD can cause ventricular Fibrillation (VF) and demonstrates that while it may not be possible to say that an ECD could never affect the heart under any circumstances, the risk of VF is extremely rare and would be rounded to near zero,” according to the bulletin. It also states in changing situations an officer isn't always able to hit the preferred stomach and leg target areas.

"I just question the location I'm sure with all that voltage it caused his heart to beat irregular," Hawkins says. Police haven't confirmed where Hawkins was Tasered or details leading up to the deployment of the device. They aren't releasing more information until the autopsy is complete. "Whatever crime he was committing was it causing the officers a life and death situation, the dog a life and death,” Hawkins says. “The thing is he had no where to go."

The family says Hawkins did have some drugs in his system. They say they don't know how much. They, too, are waiting on autopsy results to know the exact cause of death.

Officer Draws Gun During Snow Ball Fight

A senior police official in Washington DC has said an off-duty officer who drew a gun at a snowball fight behaved in a "totally inappropriate" way.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said video footage left "no doubt" the officer drew his gun after his vehicle, a Hummer, was pelted with snowballs.

The footage showed an angry crowd gathering, chanting: "You don't bring a gun to a snowball fight".

Ms Lanier said the officer had been placed on desk duty.

She said he had not denied the allegations.

Is a statement, Ms Lanier said she had reviewed all the video footage of the incident taken by the public and it was "very obvious" the officer had drawn his police-issue gun "in response to the snowballs hitting his vehicle".

"I have no doubt about this, nor has the officer denied the accusations," she said.

"Let me be very clear in stating that I believe the actions of the officer were totally inappropriate!

"In no way, should he have handled the situation in this manner."

Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters the detective, who has not been officially named, had more than 25 years of experience.

"He has a very good reputation," he told the Associated Press.


The incident took place on Saturday, as a large crowd of people were taking part in a mass snowball fight in the US capital during a blizzard.
Snow in Washington DC, US (19 December 2009)
Washington DC has been hit by the worst snow storms in years

Snowballs were thrown at the man's car and as he got out he exposed his gun briefly, always pointing towards the snow on the ground.

Panicked residents can be heard shouting, "He's got a gun," but others continue to throw snowballs his way.

At one point on the video - shown on YouTube - the man identifies himself as a "detective", but refuses to give his full name.

Then he proceeds to admit to pulling his gun.

"Yes I did because I got hit by snowballs," he tells angry residents who demand to know his badge number.

He challenges them to "throw another snowball".

The confrontation ended only when other policemen were despatched to the scene, and managed to calm everyone down.

Ms Lanier said the officer's actions "in no way, reflects the training and the standards" of the Washington DC Police Department.

She said it was disturbing that the "negative actions of one officer" had eclipsed the work of the police force during the blizzard