Friday, December 18, 2009

Officer Edward Krawetz Charged with Assaulting Woman

A Rhode Island police officer has been charged with assaulting a woman after she was taken out of a slot parlor for being disorderly, authorities said Friday.

Officer Edward Krawetz has been suspended without pay and faces administrative charges as well, Lincoln police Capt. Raymond Bousquet said.

A person with knowledge of the May 31 incident tells The Associated Press a videotape shows Krawetz kicking the handcuffed woman in the head as the two waited outside for a patrol car to arrive. The person is not authorized to publicly discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

A telephone listing for Krawetz could not immediately be found and it was not immediately known if he has an attorney. Krawetz has been with the department for 12 1/2 years, Bousquet said.

The state attorney general's office is handling the criminal case and did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

A spokeswoman for Twin River in Lincoln, just north of Providence, also did not immediately comment.

Krawetz, who was in uniform and working at the slots parlor, is charged with felony assault. He will be arraigned Jan. 6, said Capt. David Neill, a state police spokesman.

He is the second Rhode Island officer to be charged in an alleged beating in the past two weeks. A Woonsocket officer was indicted last week on federal civil rights charges accusing him of beating a 16-year-old boy and urging fellow officers to lie about it to the FBI.

The FBI is also investigating a separate beating of a suspect by Providence police officers

Former Officer Stephanie Lazarus Bail Set At $10 Million

The judge in the Stephanie Lazarus trial today set a $10-million bail for the LAPD detective accused of murder, saying he believed it was a “near certainty” she would flee if granted a lower amount.

Lazarus, a 26-year veteran of the LAPD, is accused of bludgeoning and then shooting to death the wife of a man she had dated. She was arrested earlier this year after cold case detectives reexamined the murder and linked Lazarus to the killing through saliva found in a bite mark on the victim.

The unusually high amount, which Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry compounded, Lazarus' attorney said, by requiring it to be presented in cash, sent a wave of gasps through the courtroom. Lazarus showed a rare sign of emotion as her head fell in disappointment.

Her attorney, Mark Overland, said his client had no way to amass the money – meaning she will remain in detention until her trial, which is not likely to open for several months.

As they have throughout the trial proceedings, the parents of the victim, Sherri Rae Rasmussen, sat stoically in the courtroom.

The amount was double what prosecutors had requested and far greater than the $300,000 to $500,000 Overland had sought.

In leading up to his decision, Perry summarized the reasoning behind his decision. Calling it “an admittedly unusual case,” he said prosecutors had presented “compelling evidence” at a preliminary hearing that spoke to Lazarus’ “motive, means, opportunity and identity.”

He acknowledged that Lazarus, if freed on bail, would have access to weapons through her husband, who is also an LAPD detective, and could be a risk to herself and others. The most pressing issue for Perry, however, was the “strong incentive,” he concluded, that Lazarus has to flee and the likelihood she would in fact do so.

The usually even-keeled Overland reacted with dismay afterward, saying he interpreted Perry’s decision as a de facto denial of bail and plans to appeal the amount.

“It’s ridiculous. Phil Spector gets $1 million bail? Robert Blake get’s $1 million bail? They’ve got the money to go anywhere,” he said, referring to the celebrity music producer and actor recently tried on murder charges. “Who has $10 million cash? It is basically preventative detention.”

Perry “does not know the case,” Overland said, reacting to the judge’s forceful comments about Lazarus and the evidence against her. “He’s only seen bits of it.”

Sherri Rae Rasmussen, 29, was killed in her Van Nuys condominium Feb. 24, 1986. The original investigators on the case were convinced that Rasmussen had been killed by a pair of men who were burglarizing the home. Detectives concluded that was wrong when they reopened the case early this year and DNA tests on the saliva showed that it belonged to a woman.

They retraced the investigation, once again interviewing Rasmussen's parents and her husband, John Ruetten. As they had at the time of the killing, the family and Ruetten told investigators about Lazarus, whom Ruetten had dated for several years before meeting Rasmussen.

An undercover officer surreptitiously trailed Lazarus, 49, as she ran errands, waiting until she discarded a plastic utensil or other object with her saliva on it. The DNA in her saliva was compared with evidence collected from the murder scene. The genetic code in the samples matched conclusively, police and prosecutors have said.

John Taylor, an attorney representing Rasmussen’s parents, said it has been “extremely hard” for the couple and their other children to revisit the death of their daughter in court and said the family “would like to proceed as quickly as possible to trail.”
If convicted, Lazarus would face up to life in prison.

Officer Richard Kleinpass Accused of Animal Cruelty

A Chicago cop is in the doghouse after being accused of neglecting animals he was keeping at his north suburban weekend getaway.

Officer Richard Kleinpass, 49, faces seven misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals after five dogs and two birds were removed from his Lake County home in Grayslake last month.

Grayslake authorities say they seized five neglected dogs and two birds from this house, owned by Chicago Police Officer Richard J. Kleinpass. He says the village has been harassing him over the condition of his property and that the animal case is a result of that.

Appearing in court Thursday, Kleinpass agreed to forfeit the animals and pay $3,375 to reimburse Lake County for the cost of veterinary bills, food and shelter since Nov. 30, when they were seized.

Lake County Judge Charles Johnson scheduled a Jan. 28 pretrial hearing for Kleinpass, who is facing a separate investigation by the Chicago Police Department's Internal Affairs Division. Kleinpass, a patrol officer in the Albany Park District, has been stripped of his police powers.

Kleinpass said the Village of Grayslake has been harassing him over the condition of his property and that the animal case is a result of that. He called the charges against him an overreaction. The animals were safe and secure, he said.

Kleinpass said he has owned the home since 2000 as a place to get away from Chicago, where he is required to live as a police officer.

But the home, which is across a road from a lake, has been anything but relaxing lately, Kleinpass said. "They won't even let you build a campfire out here," he said.

According to Grayslake police, Kleinpass brought on the problems because of the poor condition of his home. The condition of the animals was deplorable, Grayslake police officer Joe Manges said.

"I've never smelled anything like it," Manges said. "They were living in their own urine and feces."

Some of the dogs' teeth were rotted, and the animals are now on soft-food diets, Manges said. Others were suffering from skin diseases and were emaciated, he said.

The trouble for Kleinpass started in late November, when a Grayslake building inspector and village attorney were visiting the property to check for possible code violations, Manges said. They heard dogs barking and called the police.

Manges said police made several attempts to contact Kleinpass. After four days, police got a warrant to enter the property and rescue the animals, which they said were left without food or water. The home wasn't heated, and the temperature dipped to about 30 degrees at night, Manges said.

Lake County authorities plan to seek new homes for the animals. If they fail, the animals will be donated to Orphans of the Storm, a private no-kill shelter, Manges said.

"We're hoping the animals will have a good Christmas this year," he said.

Officer Jack Tiller Accused of Abusing Daughter

Charges have been filed against the Walkerton police officer accused of abusing his teenage daughter.

36-year-old Walkerton Officer Jack Tiller is being charged with misdemeanor battery on accusations of abusing his 16-year-old daughter.

Tiller must appear in court on January 12th.

You may remember Tiller from his time as a Roseland police officer, when he was accused of hitting David Snyder during a town meeting.

Fast forward to the present: Tiller's daughter apparently reported the abuse to a resource officer at Penn High School. According to the police report, she had several bruises on her body.

Tiller was apparently upset because his daughter was late when he picked her up from an after-school activity.

Tiller has not been arrested. The St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office has not decided if charges will be filed.

Officer Sean Heyenga Accused of Trying to Strangle His Wife

An Omaha police officer has been accused of trying to strangle his wife.

Sean Heyenga appeared in Douglas County Court on Friday on charges of domestic assault and making terroristic threats. He was ordered held on $20,000 bail.

He requested a public defender, but one hadn't been assigned to represent him as of Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors say Heyenga came home after drinking Thursday night and got into an argument with his wife. They say he then tried to strangle her, caused her to pass out and threatened to kill her.

Heyenga was sworn in as an officer in June 2008.

He has been placed on administrative leave pending a criminal and internal investigation.

A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 12.