Monday, March 02, 2009

Former Sheriff Jim Dorion Arrested on Warrant for Burglary


Late Monday afternoon authorities confirmed they had tracked down former Nez Perce County Sheriff Jim Dorion to Louisiana after a nationwide arrest warrant was issued for him last Friday.

Dorion was arrested at 4:28 PM local time in the Caddo Parish in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was arrested by deputies from the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office and booked into the jail as "Jimmy Dorion" and was listed as an out of state fugitive.

He is wanted on three counts of accessory to burglary which were filed by the Idaho Attorney General's office last Friday. The Nez Perce County Court said early Monday it would not release the records related to the case until Dorion was found.

Sources close to the case however indicated that Dorion withheld information involving a burglary at Lewiston High School in June of 2006, a year after he took over as sheriff.

The Idaho Attorney General's Office began investigating Dorion last May after he was accused of misconduct. Around that same time Dorion went on paid medical leave for pancreatic cancer but was fired three months later from his post when he failed to prove his medical condition before the end of his 90-day medical leave from his post.

However Dorion's revelation last May that he had pancreatic cancer came as he was facing increasing scrutiny for on-the-job behavior that included failing to show up for work and falling off his horse while riding with the sheriff's posse at the Asotin County Parade.

The incident at the Asotin County parade led to Dorion confessing he had been "self-medicating" due to his cancer diagnosis which was never substantiated.

Dorion's successor, Sheriff Dale Buttrey, says he find the whole situation his predecessor is involved in is both a surprise and disgusting. Sheriff Buttrey said that if Dorion was brought to trial and found guilty he would be a disgrace to their office and law enforcement in general.

Buttrey said he's now working on restoring the public's trust.

Jury Awards $3 million for Mentally Ill Man who Died after being Tasered


A Harris County jury on Monday awarded $3 million to the mother of a mentally ill man who died after he was shocked 18 times with a Taser gun and hogtied during an arrest four years ago.

Shirley Nagel sued four deputies with the Precinct One Constable's Office after they arrested her schizophrenic son, Joel Don Casey, in 2005 on a mental health warrant and he died.

Casey's death was later ruled a homicide. An autopsy concluded he died of psychotic delirium with physical restraint associated with heart disease.

The jury found three of the four deputies used unreasonable and excessive force during the arrest, the Houston Chronicle reported on its online edition Monday.

Nagel, 74, wept after the jury's verdict was read.

"The jurors were listening," she said. "We need a policy change. They really need to outlaw hogtying."

Nagel indicated she and others are forming an advocacy group to outlaw such restraint practices and to push for humane treatment of the mentally ill.

Assistant Harris County Attorney Frank Sanders said the deputies were not trying to hurt Casey, 52, or violate his constitutional rights. The county planned to appeal the verdict.

Casey was arrested in his mother's home. After he complained one of the handcuffs hurt him, deputies used a Taser on him multiple times, said Nagel's attorney, Kent Spence.

Casey was thrown down on the street and hogtied before one deputy dropped a knee on his neck and popped his head back, Spence said.

Sanders, who alleged that Casey was resisting the deputies, said the deputies have a dangerous job, doing 5,000 to 6,000 mental commitments a year.

Fire Island's Reputation Under Scrutiny as Police Abuse Trial Begins

Fire Island's reputation as a safe getaway could come under scrutiny this week when a police abuse trial begins.

George Hesse, 40, the acting police chief of one of the island's main party towns, Ocean Beach, is charged with stomping a tourist so badly he needed emergency surgery.

Part-time Officer Arnold Hardman, 58, is accused of not telling paramedics the victim had been beaten and had instead overdosed on drugs.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota called them "thugs in police uniforms" and an example of "a police department gone wild."

The attack took place early on Aug. 28, 2005, after vacationing Samuel Gilberd, a Manhattan software exec, drunkenly threw a beer glass from a bar into the street. After he was given a summons for littering, he angrily kicked the station house door.

Hesse dragged Gilberd back into the station for a beating, Spota said, and when he was already unconcious, Hesse stomped on his mid-section so hard that he ruptured Gilberd's bladder.

Gilberd's wife, Kana Manglapus, found him out cold on the station house floor. He spent ten days in the hospital.

A week after the incident, the Ocean Beach cops filed charges of resisting arrest against Gilberd. They were later dismissed.

The chief and thee cops were indicted in 2007, a week after five officers he fired filed suit claiming he ran a corrupt department where cops routinely covered up police brutality.

When bringing the charges, Spota criticized Ocean Beach officials for quietly settling numerous police brutality lawsuits over the last two decades.

Over the last year, charges were dismissed against ex-NYPD officer William Emburey, 43. The fourth cop, Paul Carollo, 48, of Commack, has taken a plea in exchange for testifying.

Gilberd, who has also filed a $22 million civil suit against the village, has since moved to California but will return to testify.

Jury selection in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead will resume Tuesday.

Minnesota Plaintiffs File Lawsuit Against Officers

Plaintiffs are suing for nearly $2 million in seven suits that name police, law enforcement agencies and the Twin Cities as defendants.

Plaintiffs who say they’ve been beaten, violated and robbed of their rights filed civil suits in federal court late last week, alleging significant misconduct during the Republican National Convention and seeking nearly $2 million in damages.

The suits, the first major action since the September convention, request damages ranging from $100,000 to $1 million, and name Ramsey County and its sheriff’s department, St. Paul and its police and Minneapolis and its police as defendants.

For example, a University of Minnesota employee alleges that she was singled out by law enforcement officers and strip-searched in front of men. Others claim unlawful suppression of both individuals and independent media.

Attorney Ted Dooley, who is representing seven of the plaintiffs who filed the cases, said he’s optimistic about his clients’ chances either in out-of-court settlements or before juries, should any of the cases make it to trial.

“The specifics in the cases vary as you’d expect, but the underlying harm is either the willful or blatantly ignorant attack of the people who were there to express political dissent,” he said. “There was an utter disregard for the right to do that.”

As a condition of hosting the RNC, the city of St. Paul requested the convention host committee pay the $1.1 million premium on a $10 million insurance policy that would cover suits stemming from RNC-related police action.

St. Paul City Attorney John Choi said the city has forwarded the lawsuits to the insurance company providing the policy.

“I expect that the insurance policy would cover the other defendants,” he said.

The insurance company will hire outside counsel to handle the defense of the defendants named in the suits.

Minneapolis spokesman Matt Laible said the city attorney’s office has not yet seen the suits against Minneapolis and also said it is policy not to comment on pending litigation.

The much-scrutinized Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department and St. Paul Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.

'I think it was meant to degrade me'

Michelle Gross, president of the civil rights group Communities United Against Police Brutality, also works as manager of staff training and development for University of Minnesota Physicians.

In her $250,000 suit, she alleges Ramsey County Sheriff’s deputies strip-searched her, and only her, in the presence of men during the Aug. 29 raid of a meeting space used by protesters.

Gross said she was compliant with the deputy, but believes she was targeted because she was wearing an anti-police brutality T-shirt and videotaping the raid.

She says the officer touched under her bra and around the top of her underwear while she was being merely detained, not arrested.

“I felt pretty weird about it at the time, but there was so much other weirdness going on,” Gross said. “The whole thing was surreal, it was just bizarre.”

The rented house that was raided was used only as a central point for protesters to meet and talk — First Amendment-protected activities, Gross said.

In addition to the monetary damages she’s seeking, Gross also said she hopes her suit forces policy changes.

“I want them to not do this to anybody else,” she said. “I think it was a power move and I think was meant to degrade me.”

'This series of attacks on free speech…'

Protester Jason Johnson of Oakland, Calif., filed a $1 million suit against the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and more than a dozen officers from the two departments.

Officers at a protest in Mears Park on Sept. 2, the second day of the convention, plucked Johnson from a crowd of protesters and used a Taser on him.

Afterward, according to the suit, Johnson raised his hands and offered no resistance. Police continued to repeatedly use the Taser on Johnson.

The suit states Johnson required medical attention for seven separate Taser wounds and was bloodied during “the battery.” He also reportedly suffered “severe emotional distress” and requires “continuing medical care for the trauma of the unlawful tasering .”

Johnson said the police action was unprovoked.

“At all times relevant to this lawsuit, [he] acted peaceably and in a law-abiding fashion before he was tasered,” the suit reads.

Though the incident in question happened in downtown St. Paul, the city of Minneapolis is also named in the suit because some officers from its police department were involved.

'…and particularly on our freedom of the press'

Wendy Binion of Portland, Ore., came to the RNC as a journalist for Portland Indymedia. She filed a $100,000 suit against the city of St. Paul and more than a dozen St. Paul police officers who took her into custody during the same Mears Park protest where police used a Taser on Johnson.

She was one of the first people arrested at the start of an evening that would hours later culminate in police using tear gas, concussion grenades and “less-lethal” projectiles.

The diminutive Binion questioned the force of multiple riot gear-clad police that handled her. Police also seized the camera she was using to videotape the demonstration and other personal effects.

She was initially charged with a riot-related felony, but that was dismissed. She faces no charges now, but she said she’s heard she’s under investigation for criminal conspiracy to commit riot, a probe that could be open for several years.

Binion said she was peacefully carrying out her duties as a journalist, but was targeted because she is part of the independent media.

Police took her camera and by the time she got it back, Binion said, it was damaged.

“They were taking away people’s right to document their own history,” she said.

Attorney Dooley said the police force at the RNC, made up of more than 100 different law enforcement entities that signed joint-powers agreements, “coordinated this series of attacks on free speech and particularly freedom of the press.”


Officer Douglas Whitten Charged with Drunk Driving after Hitting Bus


A veteran township police officer was charged with driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident early Saturday after he allegedly sideswiped an NJ Transit bus.

Police were called to an accident in Town Bank around 1:40 a.m. A driver for NJ Transit said the bus was traveling west on Town Bank Road near Bayshore Road when an oncoming gray pickup truck swerved into the westbound lane and sideswiped the bus.

The truck then drove away, police said. Neither the two passengers aboard nor the bus driver were injured. The bus sustained minor damage and did not have to be towed.

Officers began to search the area for a truck with front-end damage. About four hours later, police Sgt. John Chew saw scrape marks gouged in the pavement on Crawford Road that led to a home. Parked there was a gray pickup truck with heavy front-end damage.

The truck was registered to Lower Township Police Officer Douglas Whitten, 44. Investigators spoke to Whitten and took him to the police station where an alcohol breath test was administered.

Police charged Whitten with drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to report an accident. The department immediately suspended Whitten, a 14-year veteran with Lower Township. The department also notified the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office about the arrest of a police officer.

In a statement, Police Chief Ed Donohue said he was disappointed with the officer, adding that Whitten had served Lower Township well for 14 years.


Officer Michael Brown Accused of Drunk Driving

Another Schenectady city police officer has been arrested, tacking on to the department's ever-growing list of members who have gotten into trouble with the law.

This latest arrest involved 27-year-old officer Michael R. Brown of Pattersonville, who allegedly drove drunk on Sunday night before rear-ending another vehicle at Route 9 and Osborne Rd. in Colonie, said Colonie Det. Lt. John Van Alstyne.

Brown sustained injury to his head in the crash, which occurred at around 10:30 p.m.. He was off-duty and driving his 2005 Toyota pickup truck, said Lt. Van Alstyne.

He continued to drive after hitting the car, then stopped about two-tenths of a mile down the road, said Lt. Van Alstyne.

Brown refused a breathalyzer test at the scene. He faces misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.

He was treated at the scene and released for a cut to his head. A passenger in the car Brown struck was also treated for a non life-threatening injury,.

Brown, who's been with the Schenectady Police Department since 2004, has been suspended from the force for 30 days without pay. The department's professional standards unit has initiated an internal investigation, said a spokesperson.

The department was recently restructured, adding two non-union management positions of assistant police chief and captain of internal affairs, as part of a move to shake up an agency that's become increasingly blemished with reports of troubled officers.

Said Commissioner Wayne Bennett, "The majority of the Schenectady Police Officers conduct themselves in compliance with all laws as well as department rules and regulations. Regrettably, a few officers continue to refuse to abide by these mandates. In such cases, where evidence corroborates non-compliance, I will utilize my authority as disciplinary officer to assess penalties, including termination where appropriate, to put an end to this behavior and further criticism of the Schenectady Police Department. The case of Patrolman Michael R. Brown will be handled consistent with this policy."