Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fomre Deputy Thomas Taylor III Accused of Having On-Duty Sex May Lose Peace Officer's Certificate

A former Pima County sheriff's deputy accused of having on-duty sex with a fellow deputy's wife could find himself unable to work as a law officer in Arizona.

Thomas E. Taylor III resigned his deputy's job Jan. 20, and the Arizona Peace Officer's Standards and Training Board voted this week to review the case and determine whether Taylor should keep his peace officer's certificate, or have it suspended or revoked.

Without the certificate issued by the board, also known as Az POST, a person cannot work as a law enforcement officer in the state.

According to a report from Az POST, Taylor, 28, who started as a deputy May 11, 2007, scheduled a rendezvous with the other man's wife for Jan. 12 at a secluded spot east of the city in the Rincon Patrol District, where Taylor was assigned patrol duties.

The couple met about 3 a.m., with Taylor in uniform and driving a marked patrol car, the report said. Taylor directed the woman to a secluded parking area where they kissed, fondled and engaged in oral sex, the report said.

The woman, not identified in the report, also is a Sheriff's Department employee, but she was off duty and in her own car.

The alleged incident came to official attention after the woman, feeling "very guilty" about the matter, told her husband that night. Two days later, the husband sent a memorandum through the chain of command to the Internal Affairs Section.

The woman's husband also called Taylor, confronting him about the affair and Taylor admitted to it and "apologized to him for what he had done," according to the board.

Taylor was interviewed by an internal affairs detective Jan. 14 and his account of what happened "mirrored" the woman's account, except for the specific sex act in which they had engaged, the board said.

The internal affairs detective told an Az POST staff member that there was no evidence Taylor missed calls to duty while with the woman, the report said.

The woman involved is a civilian employee assigned to duties at the Pima County Jail, said Bureau Chief Richard Kastigar, in charge of uniformed patrol operations.

Kastigar said she violated no departmental rules as she was off duty when she met with Taylor and she is not facing discipline.

Taylor is not eligible for being rehired by the department, Kastigar said.

Several Sheriff Department Employees Arrested for Alcohol Related Charges


The number of Sheriff’s Department employees arrested here on alcohol-related charges has risen sharply since 2004, an independent report has found. Those arrested were often charged with driving under the influence and included off-duty deputies carrying guns while drunk.

Seventy Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employees, sworn deputies and civilian staff members were arrested in 2008 on alcohol-related charges, according to the annual report released Wednesday by the Office of Independent Review, a six-member independent agency that monitors the department. None of those arrested were on duty. The agency reported 24 such arrests five years ago.

“Deputies, as all peace officers, are entrusted with enforcing laws and given a lot of awesome authority,” said Michael Gennaco, who heads the agency. “They are expected to be officers 24 hours a day, so they are held to a higher standard. This is a problem.”

The year began with one deputy’s accidental shooting of his cousin in the abdomen at a New Year’s Eve house party, Mr. Gennaco said. In separate incidents cited in the report, two deputies brandished their weapons in and around bars after drinking.

“This is a personal failure,” said Steve Whitmore, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman. “Everything that can humanly be done for this issue is being done.”

In November, Sheriff Lee Baca proposed a policy prohibiting off-duty deputies from carrying firearms while drinking. Unions representing department employees opposed the policy, saying it could place deputies in danger without adequate defense. The county Employee Relations Commission is reviewing the proposal, Mr. Whitmore said.

“The department doesn’t need a new policy,” said Brian Moriguchi, president of the Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association, a union representing Sheriff’s Department employees. “What they need to do is start enforcing their existing policies. There’s no need to create a new policy related to alcohol.”

Mr. Moriguchi added, “There are more incidents of accidental discharges of firearms by those who are sober.”

With about 17,000 employees, including almost 9,500 sworn deputies, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is the largest in the country, Mr. Gennaco said. The higher number of arrests, he said, may indicate a shift in the culture of law enforcement here.

“In the old days, maybe 10 years ago, there was the concept of what officers called ‘professional courtesy,’ ” when off-duty officers caught driving drunk would “get a pass,” he said. “That’s gone away.”


A version of this article appeared in print on April 16, 2009, on page A16 of the New York edition.

Metro Man Mistakenly Tasered by US Marshals


A metro man and father of four found himself caught up in a case of mistaken identity after he was yanked off a community center basketball court and tasered by U.S. Marshals.

Surveillance video released on Friday shows Stuart Wright, 30, was playing basketball at the Grandview Community Center when U.S. Marshals, acting on a tip from an informant, surrounded him with guns drawn and hit him with a Taser.

"I just heard all this commotion and screaming, and as I turned I heard this gentleman screaming and he had a gun pointed at me," said Wright. "And as I put my hands up I guess he was screaming the gentleman's name who they were after, and I said my name is Stuart Wright, that's not my name and I heard pop,pop and I felt my body tense up, and I was on the ground."

Officials with the U.S. Marshals Office says that an informant told them that their suspect was at the community center playing basketball, wearing a jersey with the number 23 on the back and with braids in his hair. That description fit Wright, who happened to be given that particular shirt for the game.

"I honestly think it was poor planning and strategy, and I think somebody didn't do their homework," said Wright. "I think they were out of control."

Pip Dukes, who organizes the men's basketball league, says he was working the scoreboard when the U.S. Marshals entered the gym, telling him to stop the game.

"Those guys just bum rushed the gentleman, and it was maybe 8 of them and they had their guns out and where they approached him at it was a stand behind him full of kids," said Dukes. "I'm still disappointed because it was a stand full of kids."

The U.S. Marshals Office admitted that entering a crowded community center with guns drawn was not an ideal situation, but they said that the man they were looking for was armed and dangerous.

Officials with the agency said that they thought Wright, who works for the Wyandotte County Unified Government, was going to hit a deputy who had grabbed his arm. They say that's why he was tasered.

"It just humiliated me," said Wright, who says he hopes law enforcement will learn from the incident before they act in the future. "I was so embarrassed, honestly."
Information & Video:,0,4275021.story

Judge Christine McEvoy Arrested for Drunk Driving

An esteemed judge of the state Superior Court has been arrested for drunken driving, but is already taking responsibility for her alleged actions.

Judge Christine M. McEvoy, 58, of Belmont, was stopped by police in Lexington at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. She was released on personal recognizance following her arraignment yesterday in Concord District Court.

McEvoy is due back in court May 8 for a pretrial conference. Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone Jr.’s office will be calling in an outside prosecutor to handle her case because McEvoy is the sister of his chief trial counsel, John McEvoy Jr., spokesman Corey Welford said.

Defense attorney William H. Kettlewell said in a statement, “Judge McEvoy has the greatest respect for the institution of the court. She deeply regrets the fact that her actions may have cast the court in an unfavorable light and intends to deal with the pending case as swiftly as possible.

“Judge McEvoy,” he continued, “has requested that the chief justice of the Superior Court not assign her to any matters, civil or criminal, involving a charge of operating under the influence for the foreseeable future.”

Superior Court Chief Justice Barbara J. Rouse, who issued her own statement, said, “I have agreed to her request. Judge McEvoy for now will continue to sit in civil sessions in Woburn, where she is currently assigned.”

McEvoy, a mother of two, has presided over several of the state’s most high-profile cases, including the trial of Dr. Richard Sharpe, the cross-dressing dermatologist who shot his estranged wife to death in Wenham in 2000. Sharpe hanged himself in prison last year.

In 2005, McEvoy sentenced Saudi Prince Bader Al Saud to one year in the Dukes County House of Correction on Martha’s Vineyard for killing a pedestrian with his BMW SUV in a drunken-driving crash.

Last month, she ran the trial of Casimiro Barros, the first of two men convicted for the 2007 shooting death of Chiara Levin.

Camille Laffoon Claims Officer Roger Peele Slammed her into Squad Car


A Portage police officer who was twice cleared of brutality allegations by the city now faces a federal lawsuit from a woman who claims she was beaten in a parking lot in 2007.

Camille Laffoon claims Officer Roger Peele slammed her into a squad car, threw her to the ground and pulled her hair in April 14, when Laffoon was arrested for firing a handgun during a brawl in the parking lot of a Denny's on U.S. 20.

Laffoon was charged with multiple counts in the incident, but video taken by the Portage Fire Department, and shown during police Merit Board disciplinary hearings, shows Peele manhandling Laffoon.

After an 11-hour hearing, Merit Board members voted unanimously to dismiss disciplinary charges against Peele.

Peele also faced charges of excessive force in connection with another arrest that year. He was briefly assigned to desk duty before he was cleared of wrongdoing by the board.

Laffoon's suit also names several other officers who were on hand, the city and police department.

Peele's attorney and attorneys for the city could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Officer James Cousins II Suspended After Video Posted on YouTube

A city police officer was suspended after someone posted to the Web a video of him, in a bar and apparently intoxicated, joking about a homicide victim.

In his profanity-laced rant, James Cousins II talks about the victim being shot in the forehead and his body lying outside a bar below a malt liquor sign that reads, "take it to the head." He laughs as he recounts seeing the dead man's leg twitch and the reaction of the victim's mother as she identifies him. Cousins also says he used his camera phone to take photos of the victim.

"We're looking at it like, 'One less drug dealer to deal with. Cool,'" he says on the video.

Cousins, who was hired in 2004, was suspended with pay Wednesday after the Erie Times-News asked about the video. A phone message left Thursday at a number for a James Cousins was not immediately returned.

Erie Police Chief Steve Franklin said Cousins was apparently drunk, but that an investigation would place the officer's comments in context.

"We see what's on the picture," Franklin said. "Let's see what's behind the picture before we make any rash decisions."

It's not clear when the nearly eight-minute video was recorded. The shooting occurred in late March and the video was posted to YouTube on April 6. The video was still up Thursday, but Erie police said they were trying to have it removed.

The county's district attorney called Cousin's behavior unacceptable and apologized to the victim's family.

The victim, who had convictions including possessing drugs and paraphernalia, was shot outside a bar after fighting with another man, police have said.
Other information:
Erie police try to remove video from YouTube
Videotaped policeman suspended from part-time job in Girard