Monday, February 23, 2009

Deputy Lt Joseph Guzdziol Arrested for Drunk Driving


A Macomb County Sheriff's deputy was arrested for allegedly driving drunk in Bay County over the weekend, officials said.

Lt. Joseph Guzdziol was arrested Friday night by Michigan State Police under suspicion of driving while intoxicated on US-10 near Three Mile Road near Monitor Township, just outside of Bay City, said Shanon Akans, a spokeswoman for the state police.

Guzdziol is head of the Macomb County Sheriff Office's Special Enforcement Team, which performs criminal surveillance, narcotics enforcement and vice operations.

Police received a 911 call about Guzdziol, who was driving erratically on the highway at about 11 p.m., Akans said.

He was arrested Friday night and then released on bond on Saturday, she said.

Guzdziol is scheduled to be arraigned at the 74th District Court in Bay City on the drunk driving charge March 6, officials said.

Other charges may be pending in the case, which has been turned over to the Bay County Prosecutor's Office, Akans said.

Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said Guzdziol, who has been with the department for 22 years, has been suspended without pay. He declined to comment further.


Officer Pedro Martinez Arrested for Child Rape & Incest


A 20-year- veteran of the Springfield Police Department was arrested at police headquarters Monday afternoon on child rape and incest charges.

Pedro J. Martinez, an officer with the squad A uniformed patrol, was arrested at the end of his shift at 3 p.m., said Springfield Police Sgt. John M. Delaney, aide to Commissioner William J. Fitchet.

Martinez was charged with three counts of forcible rape of a child and three counts of incest.

Delaney said Martinez was allowed to change out of his police uniform before he was booked and placed in the police lock up.

The arrest was made by acting Deputy Chief Charles Arpin, Capt. Kevin M. Dudley and Lt. Cheryl C. Clapprood of the Special Victims Unit.

The investigation remains ongoing, Delaney said.

Springfield Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet said that Martinez has been suspended immediately without pay for 5 days pending a grand jury indictment.

When the indictment comes in, Martinez will be suspended indefinitely without pay pending the outcome of a trial, Delaney said.

Martinez was appointed to the Springfield Police Department on Nov. 14, 1988.

Officer Joe Parker Suspected of Framing Drivers

Another Chicago cop is suspected of framing drivers with false arrests for drunken driving, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Joe D. Parker, 59, an officer in the Chicago Police Department's Traffic Enforcement Unit, has been placed on desk duty pending an internal police investigation.

The Cook County state's attorney's office, which is also investigating Parker, has moved to dismiss dozens of DUI arrests he made, according to sources who said investigators began scrutinizing the 23-year police veteran's DUI arrests after video from his squad car did not appear to match an account he gave in an arrest report.

In another case, the city paid Vanessa Davis $100,000 to settle a lawsuit against Parker in which she claimed he wrongly arrested her for DUI in 2005. Davis, a well-known blues singer who suffers from multiple sclerosis, said her anxiety from the arrest caused severe medical complications.

"She was hospitalized for a few days because of a flare-up of her MS," said her attorney, Dan Hefter.

The city also paid $5,000 to settle another false-arrest claim against Parker, who could not be reached for comment.

And he faces a federal lawsuit by Wayne Jackson, who said that, while driving home from work on Lake Shore Drive in 2006, he was stopped by Parker and given a field-sobriety test, which he said he passed. Parker's arrest report said Jackson was swaying and that his speech was slurred.

Jackson said he passed a Breathalyzer test. Parker tried to explain that away, writing in his arrest report that Jackson "attempted to circumvent" the machine.

The scrutiny over Parker's DUI arrests comes almost a year after another Chicago cop, Officer John Haleas, was charged by Cook County prosecutors with perjury, official misconduct and obstructing justice, accused of failing to take important steps in making a DUI arrest in 2005. Prosecutors said Haleas failed to perform a field-sobriety test and lied in his reports. As a result, they dropped more than 50 cases stemming from DUI arrests made by Haleas.

The criminal case is still pending against Haleas, who was honored three times by the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists as the cop with the most DUI busts in Illinois.

Parker also made the private organization's top DUI cop list when he made 153 drunken-driving arrests in 2006 -- fourth-highest among Chicago officers that year, according to the group.

In 2007, Parker was spotlighted in a Chicago Sun-Times investigation, headlined "Handi-cop parking," that revealed the Police Department was looking into a handful of police employees for suspected misuse of disabled-parking signs.

Parker was using a disabled spot in the 2700 block of West 86th Place even though he had been cleared for regular duty by the department, a police spokeswoman said at the time. He had been injured in a car crash three years earlier but was deemed "fit for duty" since then, the spokeswoman said.

Parker is still using the space, parking his Toyota Camry Solara in the spot -- which still has disabled-parking signs on both sides.

In 2007, Chicago Revenue Director Bea Reyna-Hickey said she was going to ferret out disabled-parking cheaters. She did not respond to a request for comment on Parker's continued use of a disabled-parking spot.

Bill Bogdan, disability liaison to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, said Parker was given Illinois disability license plates in 2006, after a physician certified he was eligible. The plates must be renewed every four years, Bogdan said.

While it appears Parker received the plates legitimately, Bogdan questioned why the officer would be parking in a disabled spot if he had been deemed fit for police duty.

"If he is at work with no restrictions, you would want to question his use of a disability placard or sign in front of his house," Bogdan said.


CHP Officer Being Investigated for Shooting her Husband


A California Highway Patrol officer was under investigation Monday for allegedly shooting her husband, 31-year-old Marcus Lavar Lemons in Compton, to death Saturday night, authorities said.

Marcus Lavar Lemons, 31, died after the shooting, according to a coroner's investigator, who said an autopsy was expected to be completed Tuesday.

The officer, whose name was withheld, reported fatally shooting her husband in the upper body at 11:07 p.m. Saturday in the 400 block of Amantha Avenue, saying he was "verbally and physically combative," sheriff's Deputy Rick Pedroza said.

The CHP officer was not arrested, but her husband's death was under investigation.

The couple ate at a T.G.I. Friday's restaurant before heading to a Carl's Jr. restaurant and getting into a fight.

The slain man's 13-year-old son, Demarco Lemons, said he used to bowl with his father "and sometimes he'd train me to be better at football."

Darian Milow, the man's former fiancee, questioned Lemons' aggressiveness.

"We were together for years, and he's never touched me in any way; so for them to portray him as this monster is unbelievable," Darian Milow said.

A friend seconded that opinion.

"He would never hurt anybody. Nobody. Nobody. It's not him. It's not," Crystal Barhee said.

Sheriff's detectives will hand their case over to the District Attorney's Office, and prosecutors will decide whether to charge the woman with a crime.


Officer Rafael Lora Waived his Right to Jury Trial

Police Officer Rafael Lora, who is facing manslaughter charges for allegedly fatally shooting unarmed man in 2007, waived his right to a jury on Monday.

Fermin Arzu's family and friends were at Bronx Supreme Court Monday -- in their words -- to see justice served.

They say the absence of the 41-year-old father of six has been difficult, even as the second anniversary of his death approaches.

"My life has been hard without my dad. He always has been there for me. I miss him and everything. I hope that justice can be made for him so he can rest in peace," said Katherine Arzu, Fermin's daughter.

On the first day of his trial, police officer Rafael Lora waived his right to a jury. A Bronx grand jury indicted him in late 2007 on first degree manslaughter for shooting Arzu.

Arzu family attorneys expressed some concern over the prospect of a trial by judge.

"It means the citizens of this county won't decide this case. A judge will decide this case," said Michael Hardy, Arzu Family Attorney.

"We look for the judge, after the evidence is in, to do justice," said Sanford Rubenstein, Arzu Family Attorney.

The judge also heard from two witnesses who responded to the scene the night in May 2007 when Arzu died. The investigation showed Arzu had been driving with a blood alcohol level higher than the legal limit.

Driving on the wrong side of the road in Longwood, he crashed into a parked car, a crash that Lora -- who was off duty at the time -- heard from his home.

With his gun and his shield, Lora came out to investigate but soon got into a fight with Arzu.

There were five shots, one hit Arzu in his back.

An officer testified she spoke to Lora soon after the incident, saying he seemed shocked and traumatized. Lora's lawyer has said his client fired shots to protect himself from being dragged underneath Arzu's car.

There is still some dispute whether the shots rang out before or after the car started to move.

"Obviously the case is a tragedy because there's a life lost but Officer Lora committed no misconduct," said Stuart London, Defense Attorney.

The witnesses testified as part of a hearing Monday to determine which statements made to the grand jury will be allowed in the trial.

Although prosecutors did call their first witnesses on Monday, opening arguments aren't scheduled to begin until Wednesday.


Cpl Anthony Williams Has History of Complaints


Last month a 20-year Dallas police veteran was fired for failing to respond to an emergency call — but it is not the first time he has been fired or accused of wrongdoing, and some wonder if he will be reinstated again.

Law enforcement experts see Senior Cpl. Anthony Williams' career as a prime example of a recurring dilemma in police departments: how to rid a city of an officer whose record is riddled with serious misconduct allegations when his guilt can't be proven or he keeps getting his job back.

Experts cite lack of evidence, questionable witnesses and sloppy investigations as key hurdles to keeping problematic officers off the streets, The Dallas Morning News reported in Sunday editions. And the situation is made worse by an appeals system that has overturned many firings. Since David Kunkle became Dallas police chief nearly five years ago, 12 of his 62 firings have been reversed.

Keeping an officer on the job after he has been repeatedly investigated has its own risks.

"You are opening yourself up to huge lawsuits and one of the charges will be negligent retention, which means that you knew you shouldn't keep this person as a police officer but you did it anyway," Penny Harrington, an expert on police employee misconduct and former chief of the Portland Police Department in Oregon, told the newspaper.

Williams declined to comment. His attorney Phil Burleson Jr. said Williams is innocent of the allegation that led to his recent firing. He said the firing was "not justified."

Of the sexual misconduct complaints during Williams' career, Burleson said, "He says they've all been fully investigated and found that he didn't commit those allegations."

Among the complaints:

_ A woman in 1992 said that after Williams went to her home on a harassment call, he fondled her as her 6-year-old son watched. She said he flattered her, and they began a brief sexual relationship.

_ A woman said Williams began a sexual relationship with her 16-year-old granddaughter in 1994 after the teen called to report an attempted molestation.

_ A woman in 1996 said Williams had sex with her in a motel after he gave her a ride from a store. She said she left the area later because she was afraid he would arrest her for prostitution.

In all cases, Williams denied doing anything inappropriate or having sex on duty. In the 1992 case, the woman eventually stopped cooperating, and the probe ended with a finding of "unfounded."

In the teen's case, Williams denied having sex until she turned 17. Authorities sought to charge him with criminal sexual assault, believing the relationship began when she was 16. But a grand jury declined to indict him, and a police internal investigation ended with an "inconclusive" finding.

The standards for criminal law, in which someone is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, are different from civil procedures involving discipline of an officer. The evidence standard is generally lower in the administrative hearings.

In the 1996 case, then-Police Chief Ben Click fired Williams in 1997. But a civil service trial board reinstated him five months later.

"How much damage does this guy get to do to the reputation of the department before you finally wind up having enough evidence to get rid of him?" said Click, now an independent police consultant.

Officers fired for serious misconduct have frequently been reinstated by administrative law judges, civil service boards or other city officials. Usually, on appeal the decision-maker found that the burden of proof had not been met or punishment was too harsh. Often, no reason was cited.

Kunkle said those cases bother him because "as a chief, I am held accountable. I'm the one who is going to have to go in front of community groups, deal with media stories and also very likely be sued if there is inappropriate police behavior."

Two recent reforms have sharply reduced the likelihood of reinstatement: The city manager now hears all first-round appeals of fired officers, rather than assistant city managers.

And 2005 changes to the city charter gave civil service trial boards and administrative law judges less discretion in reversing disciplinary decisions during appeals.

After Williams returned to work, he was transferred to different patrol divisions. But the complaints continued, including a woman's 2004 allegation that Williams went to her house uninvited while on duty, began to undress and wanted sex. He denied it.

Kunkle will not comment specifically on Williams' case, but it appears that his entire complaint history may have been taken into account before his latest firing — something not prohibited under the city's personnel rules, the newspaper reported.

In November 2007, Williams responded to a 911 call at a woman's apartment. Over the next three months, they had sex several times a month while he was on duty, she later told authorities. Williams admitted having sex with her but denied he was on duty.

On June 19, Williams was on duty when he went to her apartment complex because he believed she slashed his tires, and the loud argument witnessed by a neighbor lasted for an hour and a half.

During that exchange, Williams received a call to check on a residential burglary alarm but never answered the call, records show.

Investigators could not prove sexual misconduct allegations but found that he violated policy when he failed to answer the burglary alarm call, didn't devote full attention to his job and became involved in an on-duty disturbance.

He was fired Jan. 29. Burleson said Williams plans to appeal.

No date has been set for his hearing before the city manager.


Deputy Jamar Thomas Charged with DWI After Crashing Patrol Car


A Plaquemines Parish sheriff's deputy has been suspended indefinitely without pay after being arrested and charged with DWI Saturday night.

Police said Jamar Thomas was off-duty when he crashed his patrol car on a curb in Lakeview at Pontchartrain Boulevard and 12th Street at about 6 p.m.

The 10-year veteran has been suspended without pay by Sheriff I.F. "Jiff" Hingle. Authorities said he has been out on extended sick leave and should not have been driving the patrol car off-duty.

Gregory Dillard In Critical Condition After Being Tasered


An Akron man is in critical condition after being tasered by Sheriff's Deputies at the Summit County Jail.

Twenty-one-year-old Gregory Dillard stripped his clothes off around 5:25 p.m. Saturday, and when deputies brought him a new set of clothes, he attacked them in a hallway, according to Christine Croce, spokeswoman.

The deputies tasered Dillard, but when he had no heartbeat, an AED was used to resuscitate him. Paramedics arrived within five minutes and took Dillard to Akron General Medical Center where he is in Intensive Care, Croce said.

Akron Police arrested Dillard Feb. 16 on drug charges, but Dillard has been an inmate at the jail 11 previous times, Croce said.

During this recent incarceration, Dillard had become out-of-control several times and at one point was placed in four-point restraints until he agreed to take his medication, Croce said.

Officer Andre Rogers Arrested for the 2nd Time for Domestic Violence Won't Get a Deal

An Arcadia police officer who has been arrested for domestic violence for the second time in less than three months will be prosecuted by the district attorney as authorities move to prevent the sweetheart deal he got on city charges the first time.

Andre Rogers was arrested by Bienville Parish sheriff's deputies over the weekend on charges he choked his wife in front of their 3-year-old child.

An Arcadia police officer called to Rogers' house Saturday night to investigate a family fight notified sheriff's deputies when he saw who the suspect was, Bienville Sheriff John Ballance said. Deputies arrested Rogers when he returned to his home and booked him into the Bienville Parish Jail.

Ballance said bond for Rogers had not been set early this afternoon.

Rogers was arrested last November on simple battery charges that alleged he hit his wife. He settled the matter quickly in Arcadia town court -- paying a fine the morning of the first business day after his arrest -- and was eventually allowed to return to work.

At the time, Rogers was the assistant police chief. He was demoted to patrolman and suspended through the end of the year.

The new charges will be prosecuted in Bienville District Court and will be handled by the district attorney's office, Ballance said.

Ballance said the couple is divorced but are living together.

Arcadia Police Chief Victor Rogers did not return a call for comment today.

Jones said after the earlier arrest that his assistant chief did not get preferential treatment by settling the case quickly. There are provisions in the way city court operates that would allow people charged with certain offenses to go ahead and pay their fines, he said.


Attorney Bob Seale who Served as Judge Arrested for Theft


An attorney who served as municipal judge in two west Alabama cities resigned after being arrested on charges of stealing about $80,000 from a client, police said Monday.

Attorney Bob Seale of Livingston was charged with theft last week after an audit revealed money missing from the account of a person for whom he was serving as legal guardian, said Police Chief Ashley Wellborn.

No city funds were involved in the case, Wellborn said. "He did not in any way have any access to any city money," said the chief.

Seale confirmed in a phone interview that he had resigned his position as municipal judge in Livingston and nearby York, both located in Sumter County near the Mississippi line, but he declined comment on the charges.

Wellborn said Seale is free on $15,000 bond. Wellborn said Seale had served as municipal judge in Livingston for at least two decades.


Chicago Police Jody Weis Refuses Judge's Order to Turn over Officers Names

Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis has refused a federal judge’s order to release the names of officers who have at least five citizen complaints filed against them since 2000.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez had given Weis until 4 p.m. Friday to do so.

The list was being sought, along with a list of excessive-force complaints, by attorneys suing the city over an allegation that an officer falsely arrested and used excessive force against two children.

In court papers, Weis said handing over the names would “compromise officers’ performance, threaten safety, reduce morale and improperly impugn many officers’ otherwise well-deserved good reputations.”

Flint Taylor, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, called Weis’ decision “an outrageous abuse by someone who is charged with enforcing the law and constitution.”

Taylor wants the names to show a pattern by the Chicago Police Department of covering up ’ misconduct. He said the names, if released, would be put under a court order limiting their use to the lawyers in the case.

The city also is fighting a judge’s order to release a similar list in another excessive-force lawsuit. That list names 662 officers who faced 10 or more citizen complaints between 2001 and 2006.

Twenty-eight Chicago aldermen want access to the list, too. The federal appeals court in Chicago is deciding whether the department should make it public.