Amid growing criticism of the military-style equipment and tactics deployed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, a Democrat from Georgia plans to introduce the “Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act” in Congress next month.
Rep. Hank Johnson asked his all his colleagues Thursday to join him in supporting the bill, which he said in a letter “will end the free transfers of certain aggressive military equipment to local law enforcement and ensure that all equipment can be accounted for.”
Images of assault rifle-carrying camouflaged police riding through Ferguson on military vehicles similar to the IED-resistant equipment used by American armed forces in combat have proven to be a jolt of energy for a long-simmering debate about police militarization.
In his letter to Congress, Johnson signaled that he expects his bill to break through the partisan gridlock in the House.
In his letter to Congress, Johnson signaled that he expects his bill to break through the partisan gridlock in the House.
A VOTE FOR JOHN FOUST
IS A VOTE FOR
THE FAIRFAX COUNTY POLICE
LIVE IN LOUDON COUNTY
Brooklyn Police Officer Charged With Soliciting Sex From NYPD Candidate In Exchange For Helping To Get Her Hired
A 34-year-old New York City police officer has been indicted on charges that he contacted a woman with a pending application to the New York Police Department and offered to expedite the hiring process in return for sex. District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant shamefully violated his duty to uphold the law by demanding sex from a woman who simply wanted to become a police officer. He will now be prosecuted for his outrageous conduct.” The defendant, Delfin Lantigua, 34, of 170 E. 4th Street in the Kensington area, was arraigned this morning on charges of third-degree bribe receiving, second-degree coercion and official misconduct before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun in Brooklyn Supreme Court. Lantigua faces up to seven years in prison According to the investigation, Lantigua, an NYPD officer since 2005 who is assigned to the Brooklyn North Task Force, contacted the applicant via Facebook on February 9, 2014, and told her he could get her hired. District Attorney Thompson said the woman contacted the Police Department and consented to wear a wire when she met Lantigua at a Dunkin Donuts in Brooklyn on March 11, 2014. In that meeting, according to the investigation, Lantigua allegedly demanded multiple instances of sex from the woman, as well as $1,000 and other conditions. The woman agreed to meet Lantigua at a Brooklyn motel on March 13, 2014, and when he arrived, Internal Affairs Bureau officers arrested him. -
TABOR CITY - Kidnapping, assault and weapon charges were filed against an auxiliary police officer Wednesday, just hours after he resigned from the Tabor City Police Department.
Tommy Garland Lovett, 41, was denied bail during a hearing before a magistrate Thursday morning, Marion County, South Carolina Sheriff Mark Richardson said.
Lovett, of Nichols, South Carolina, is charged with kidnapping, assault and battery in the first-degree, pointing and presenting a firearm, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
Lovett's girlfriend told investigators that he struck her during an altercation Wednesday morning, held a gun to her head, would not allow her to leave her home, and threatened to kill her if she told anyone, Richardson said.
Lovett had been an auxiliary (unpaid) Tabor City officer for 26 days, and had only been on patrol briefly, Chief Donald Dowless said.
"He told me there was a problem, and submitted his resignation," Dowless said.
Lovett called the issue a "misunderstanding," Dowless said.
Sledgehammers, threats and stolen designer suits: Breaking down the Philadelphia police corruption case
Six Philadelphia narcotics officers threatened and intimidated targets, extorting them for money, clothes and drugs, authorities claimed in an explosive indictment this week.
Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser — all members of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Narcotics Field Unit — have pleaded not guilty, the Associated Press reports. They face several charges — including racketeering conspiracy, robbery and extortion — and are due back in federal court Monday.
“Words just don’t describe the degree to which their acts have brought discredit,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said at a news conference, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Ramsey called the charges “one of the worst cases of corruption I have ever heard.”
Among the accusations:
November 2007: Authorities believe Norman lifted a man up and “leaned him over a balcony railing on the 18th floor of his apartment house.” Members of the group that’s now under indictment also entered the man’s apartment and ordered pizza using money they had taken from his nightstand. They are accused of stealing about $8,000 worth of items from the man.
October 2008: Liciardello allegedly transported a suspected drug dealer to his parents’ Philadelphia home and threatened to seize the house unless the man opened a safe. The man did, and the defendants then stole about $20,000.
February 2010: After Liciardello, Reynolds, Betts and Spicer used a sledgehammer to break into an apartment, Spicer punched a suspected drug dealer in the mouth, then held him off a balcony to get the man to tell the group where money and drugs were in the home. More than $200,000 was seized from the apartment, and one of the defendants stole a Calvin Klein suit.
Defense attorneys noted that the sources for the allegations were drug dealers and another officer who was arrested in 2012, the AP reported. “I’m surprised the government will give them so much deference and credence,” said Betts’s lawyer, Gregory Pagano, according to the AP.
“That many of the victims were drug dealers, not Boy Scouts, is irrelevant,” Edward Hanko, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia office, said in a statement. “This corrupt group chose to make their own rules. Now they will have to answer for it.”
U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said in a statement that the district attorney’s office will review old convictions that involved the six officers, who have been suspended, according to the Inquirer. The office had stopped relying on testimony from Liciardello, Reynolds, Spicer, Betts and Speiser two years ago.
According to the Inquirer:
Their arrests, during predawn raids Wednesday, threaten to throw dozens of their past cases into doubt and reopen a pipeline of civil rights lawsuits from suspects they arrested that has already cost the city at least $777,000.
If convicted, five of the defendants face possible life sentences; Speiser faces a maximum 40-year term.
Ersula Ore. Eric Garner. Jahmil-El Cuffee. Rosan Miller. Marlene Pinnock. Al Flowers. Alonzo Grant. This is just a sample of the men and women who have been savagely, and unnecessarily, beaten by police officers this summer. Garner's case, in which an NYPD officer used a chokehold to restrain the 43-year-old Staten Island father, resulted in death (On Friday a medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide at the hands of the NYPD). Since then, the topic of "police brutality" has gained momentum nationwide and has sparked outcry from elected officials and community members asking for police reform. Just last week, in a meeting at New York City Hall, Rev. Al Sharpton told Mayor Bill De Blasio of his biracial son: "If Dante wasn't your son, he'd be a candidate for a chokehold." And it's true. But why? How, in Obama's America, did we end up here?
Looking to make sense of it all, I spoke with Mychal Denzel Smith, a writer who covers race and politics for The Nation, Ruby-Beth Buitekant, a community organizer in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and Darnell L. Moore, writer, activist, and managing editor of The Feminist Wire. Our conversation appears below.
Jason Parham: I have a confession to make; I haven't watched the Eric Garner video. I can't. I refuse to see another black man murdered on tape. It's all so maddening. James Baldwin had it right, you know: This thing of being black and conscious in America is "to be in a rage almost all the time." In early July, I heard of the incidents involving Marlene Pinnock, a homeless woman in Los Angeles, and Dr. Ersula Ore, a professor at Arizona State University—both women were viciously accosted by police; Pinnock savagely beaten in the face repeatedly—and knew there was something horrible and toxic happening across the nation. I grew up in 90s L.A. so I'm very familiar with police brutality and the assault on black and brown bodies by the very officers that are supposed to be protecting us, but watching the videos of Pinnock and Ore had me sick to my stomach. All I could think was: no no no no no!
Weekly in Bed-Stuy, where I live, I see young boys being hassled by the police for no reason whatsoever, for basically walking down the street and minding their business. Mychal, you recently wrote something I've been thinking about a lot. New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton doesn't think race had anything to do with Eric Garner's death three weeks ago. You write: "But history is present whether we invite it to the table or not. We don't escape America's history of racism because we believe ourselves to be good people, or that we're just doing our jobs. It's already defined our lives." Will we ever be able to escape this history, this reality where we're automatically presumed for thugs and criminals? How do we reclaim our humanity? How do we make them see us?
Mychal Denzel Smith: It's a question I've thought about a lot, and I'm starting to wonder if it's the right one. I'm not so sure. When you see Marlene Pinnock repeatedly punched in the face, or Ersula Ore manhandled, or Eric Garner choked to death, it becomes a question of our basic humanity because the images are so startling. We can't imagine someone doing that to a person they value as human. And I certainly think that's part of it. Black people are still fighting to be seen as human. But why? As long as our history of resistance is in this country, it's hard to believe that there isn't enough evidence that, hey, we feel. We breathe, we eat, we shit, we sleep, we love, we cry, we mourn (over and over again). We experience the breadth of humanity in full. The police have to know that. America has to know that. But they keep killing us. Why? To answer that, we have to know what is gained by not seeing our humanity. Someone is benefitting from the fact we are beaten and gunned down. Someone else's livelihood depends on it. Once you start addressing that, you're getting to the root.
Ruby-Beth Buitekant: Jason and Mychal, I'm thankful to hear your thoughts as well as your pain around all this. A discussion of police "brutality" implies that officers are breaking a social contract when they use violence as they did in the instances you both mentioned. In reality, the use of violence is simply a part of officers effectively executing their role. We treat these instances of "brutality" like the exception to the rule but if, like Mychal is saying, this is hardly the exception and is in fact the process by which we keep white as more powerful, then "brutality" is clearly a tactic.
I am disproportionately less harassed by the NYPD than black male friends and neighbors of similar class and age and I'm still so scared of the police. I notice how my body and mind feel walking by undercovers or the beat cops in my neighborhood. I feel anxious and unsafe. I feel watched and controlled. I often joke with my roommates when I come home feeling particularly rattled that "they are winning."
A black young man came into my office last Tuesday morning and we started chatting about his weekend. He told me about work, spending time with friends in the park, and going on an audition for a commercial. In passing he mentioned an interaction with a police officer and I asked him to tell me the whole story. As it turned out, his time spent playing basketball in the park had also included: witnessing a basketball teammate tackled by two cops, seeing two friends cuffed for "talking back," and facing interrogation from an officer who asked why he was in a park two blocks from his home. I asked him to retell me about his weekend, now including police interactions. Five in total. So commonplace that he didn't mention them until I asked. Things are out of control. This is much bigger than "brutality."
Darnell L. Moore: What is most apparent, as you all have suggested, is the fact that the seemingly extraordinary acts of police sanctioned violence, now easily captured on smart phones, are, in fact, common. If anything, acts of state violence inflicted upon black and brown people in the U.S. are only extraordinary because they have for so long been—without any broad public outcry, without the creation and implementation of any substantial national public policy, without collective mourning and outrage—rendered acceptable and legal practices. Black and brown folk are the only bodies in this country ever accounted by the state as valueless and, therefore, appropriate for hyper criminalization and death by hands or bullet.
Many of us have been harmed by police without our verbal or physical attacks captured by phone, store, or street cameras. I know I have. Yet, not many U.S. citizens seem to actually give a damn unless some black or brown person's death or brutal beating is captured on video. And even then I am left to believe the lives of the black and brown in the U.S. do not matter.
Police violence is a problem that impacts all of us, black and brown men and women, adults and youth. Ruby-Beth, I especially appreciate you naming your fear of police. There's something particularly insidious about the ways that police forces, which are already steeped in cultures of power-driven, thuggish masculinity, also specifically excuse the abuses inflicted upon black and brown women, especially at the hands of male cops. The cases of Rosan Miller and Marlene Pinnock are just two examples.
I long for the day when elected and appointed government officials will acknowledge the pervasive forms of police violence impacting black and brown people nationally. If the wrongful arrest of black Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr., prompted President Obama to speak out about and host a beer talk at the White House regarding Professor Gates's individual incident, then surely the many forms of abuse, arrests, and murders of lesser known black and brown folk from Cambridge to Chicago to Compton can instigate a public conversation that begins in his office.
Jason Parham: Yes, Ruby-Beth, this is much bigger than "brutality." Let's look at some statistics: From 2009 to 2013 over 1,000 complaints were filed by New Yorkers in which they said NYPD officers used chokeholds, which, I should note, have been prohibited since the death of Michael Stewart in 1983. Of the 1,000 complaints, only nine were substantiated. Nine out of 1,ooo?! In Central New Jersey, 99 percent of all police brutality allegations are not investigated by the city. And earlier this year, the Justice Department released a report chastising the Albuquerque Police Department for its history of employing unnecessary and deadly force in various cases—described as "the department's pattern or practice of unconstitutional force." The DOJ wrote: "As a result of the department's inadequate accountability systems, the department often endorses questionable and sometimes unlawful conduct by officers." This is exactly what Darnell was getting at; the culture of the police in America seems to incite violence just as much as it attempts to prevent it. The problem is much more multifaceted than people are willing to admit: officer training, departmental supervision and accountability, policy—these are areas that need massive reform. How do we even begin to attack the problem?
Mychal Denzel Smith: We have to ask what we're trying to accomplish with policing. The mantra is "to protect and serve" but what it comes down to is "to protect property and serve rich white people." We've also handed over the task of preventing crime to police. That doesn't make any sense. One, they're not in the business of preventing every crime. The idea of "broken windows" is that if you crack down on the smaller infractions, you'll prevent the larger ones. But which smaller crimes do they target? They don't go hard after mail fraud in hopes that they'll prevent insider trading. No, they target poor communities of black and brown people and arrest folks for things like loitering. So the first step is admitting what policing currently consists of. It is surveillance and harassment of poor black and brown people in the service of maintaining white supremacy.
OK, so, what then should policing be about? That's a question that needs answering, but not until you address the root causes of the behaviors we find so undesirable that we have regulated them through violent policing. We have to start with a model that sees justice not as arrest, trial, and incarceration. Justice needs to look like jobs, affordable housing, healthcare, education, economic security. That doesn't mean all of what we now consider crime would disappear, but if we start from there we can then map out what fair, equitable, just policing would look like. What we have now is a white supremacist patriarchy, and thus police that serve to uphold that structure. We need to attack the root.
Darnell L. Moore: Mychal is right. Much work remains to be done addressing the "root" of the problem. There are innovative approaches that we can turn to and support like Eddie Ellis' (who recently passed) non-traditional approach to addressing the criminal punishment system. There are community-based crime prevention strategies that can be employed and there are thought leaders, activists, elected officials, and policy makers who work daily to address police violence, criminalization, and ever-increasing prison industry. The work of redressing a system that was inevitably created to break black and brown people requires a commitment to eradicating the root, as Mychal pointed out, of white racial supremacy, male-centered culture, and capitalist greed. Yet, too many of us benefit from the very ingredients that make our communities sick. We won't fix anything until we remain steadfast and make a choice daily to confront these structural issues. We won't fix anything if we are only moved to speak up or protest when a death-by-police lands its way on our computer or smartphone screen.
Ruby-Beth Buitekant: Anything short of a complete overhaul of the system of policing would be a farce. It's no coincidence that we are discussing violent policing at the same time that we are facing an unprecedented amount of people in prison. While important, reforming policing tactics will only go so far. We have to address our national obsession with imprisoning people and de-incentivize locking people in cages. One solution could be changing the mindset that it's good for society to arrest and incarcerate people of color. It's not good. It's terrible. It sucks. If we want real change I'd love to see Bratton and all precinct captains attend an "End Mass Incarceration" conference this year.
Can we imagine, for a minute, what it would look like if officers were trained in mediation? What if you called the police when you witnessed a violent fight; officers arrived ready to separate the parties, come to a non-violent resolution, and make sure each person got home safely. As long as they are connected to the system of incarceration, we cannot expect the police to take this role. Thankfully, there are organizers, outreach workers, and neighbors who have been practicing alternative ways to build community safety for years. Another solution, I would like to propose, is to continue to fund alternative programs that work. Programs like Save Our Streets Crown Heights, Cure Violence, Man Up Inc, iLive, and others work to prevent, interrupt and mediate violence by harnessing people's potential and changing the mindset that violence is normal. This already exists. Let's work on that. Let's fund these programs as a direct alternative to more officers.
By Scott Rasmussen, Rasmussen Media Group
In Florida recently, police pulled up to a young boy playing in the park and asked where his mother lived. According to a report on WPTV, the mom was then arrested for "allowing her son to go to the park alone." Her son had a cellphone, and she would check in with him along the way. The mom believes "he's old enough, but Port St. Lucie Police disagree."
There is a tendency to dismiss stories such as this as a silly mistake by an overzealous police officer, but sadly it's part of a larger problem. In fact, a similar story of arresting a mom for not supervising her child 24/7/365 took place a few weeks back in South Carolina. A Washington Post column reported these incidents as part of a series on "the increasing criminalization of everything and the use of the criminal justice system to address problems that were once (and better) handled by families, friends, communities and other institutions
There is a tendency to dismiss stories such as this as a silly mistake by an overzealous police officer, but sadly it's part of a larger problem. In fact, a similar story of arresting a mom for not supervising her child 24/7/365 took place a few weeks back in South Carolina. A Washington Post column reported these incidents as part of a series on "the increasing criminalization of everything and the use of the criminal justice system to address problems that were once (and better) handled by families, friends, communities and other institutions."
This abuse of governmental authority is the natural extension of nanny-state efforts such as the crusade to ban large sugary drinks. Once you accept the premise that so-called experts should decide what's best for the rest of us, the only question remaining is how to deal with people who don't comply.
It's the same mindset that believes the National Security Agency should be allowed to read all our emails and monitor our phone calls in the name of national security. Just trust us, they say. We're from the government, and we're here to help.
How's this for help? In Georgia, a SWAT team broke into a house searching for drugs and threw a flash-bang grenade inside a child's crib.
The excessive force was disgusting to begin with. Even worse is the fact that the police had the wrong house and there were no drugs. The child is in critical condition.
Amazingly, the local sherriff and other Georgia authorities said the officers didn't do anything wrong. That's ludicrous. They deployed a grenade developed for war in a private home and sent a child to the hospital fighting for his life. Something is terribly wrong.
It's important to note that most police officers are great public servants. Just a few years ago, a local officer in my hometown literally saved my life and the lives of my family. We called him a hero. He said he was just doing his job. Naturally, we have tremendous respect for the job that such officers do and the courage they display.
However, a National Review article correctly notes that "respecting good police work means being willing to speak out against civil-liberties-breaking thugs who shrug their shoulders after brutalizing citizens." That means speaking out against stories like this:
"On Thursday in Staten Island, an asthmatic 43-year-old father of six, Eric Garner, died after a group of policemen descended on him, placing him in a chokehold while attempting to arrest him for allegedly selling cigarettes."
Stories like these are not random exceptions. They are the natural result of a governing philosophy that believes government experts should dictate how the rest of us live. If we want to reign in such over-the-top police actions, the first step must be to get rid of the nanny-state mindset. This means recognizing every American has the right to make decisions about how to live his or her own life.
Elon Williams, a 20-year-old high school graduate, was working as a car mechanic in the Bronx. On the night of the attack by the police, Elon was testing his car out in a vacant shopping center parking lot in the Bronx. When he saw several police cars heading right for him at high speed, Williams had the presence of mind to drive to the TGI Friday’s at the end of the lot where he knew there was a surveillance camera. He stopped his car right in front of the camera and what happened then is horrifying. Police got out of the cars with their guns drawn. Williams got out of his car with his hands up. The officers threw him to the ground and proceeded to punch and kick him in the body and the head while he lay on the ground.
Williams was then arrested and taken to the precinct where he was booked and released. He told his parents what happened and they noticed that he appeared bruised and badly shaken up. They took him to the ER where he was treated and released. Their wors fears were confirmed. Elon had become yet another victim of NYPD police brutality . He had sustained back injuries including a herniated disc in his lumbar spine.
Following the assault, Williams began experiencing difficulty with memory and his ability to think clearly. Eventually he lost his job as a car mechanic because of his inability to function in his job. He was diagnosed by a neurologist with post-concussion syndrome from a traumatic brain injury and also with psychological injuries including PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
The City of New York offered 150K to settle the case and Ronemus & Vilensky refused the offer as too low. The police involved denied that they punched or kicked Mr. Williams. They claimed to have used reasonable force and said that Mr. Williams was resisting arrest. After viewing the video, the jury understood that the police were lying and awarded the victim $2.3 million dollars.
PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) -
The Perryville Police Department has suspended a patrol officer without pay during the course of an investigation.
Police say the investigation began with a 911 call about a domestic incident at the officer's home.
Because it involved one of their own officers, it was referred to the Perry County Sheriff's Department for a full investigation.
This off-duty event follows workplace incidents that are being reviewed internally and may also warrant discipline.
According to the police department, they expect the investigation will be finished in the next few weeks and there will be a determination made at that time as to what, if any, additional discipline will be imposed.
By Caroline Bankoff
In mid-June, NYPD officer Eugene Donnelly was given the department's second-highest honor, the Police Combat Cross, for arresting a man who fired at him in 2012. The 27-year-old decided to celebrate the award with a night of drinking, which is normal enough. What he did after passing out at a pal's apartment in Woodlawn was less normal, though definitely not unprecedented.
According to the New York Daily News, Donnelly woke up sometime in the middle of the night and, wearing only his underwear, wandered out of a Bronx building. After he went back inside, he mistook a neighbor's apartment for his friend's place (or something) and broke down the door. Donnelly then walked into the bedroom of the 30-year-old woman who lived there, a complete stranger, and punched her more than 20 times in her bed. He also drank a carton of milk he found in the fridge before fleeing.
Luckily, a surveillance camera captured some of Donnelly's disturbing late-night episode, and his photo was distributed around the neighborhood before the NYPD realized that the suspect was one of their own. The Daily News reports that he was placed on modified duty and stripped of his gun and badge after the incident. On Monday, he was finally arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and burglary, and has now been suspended without pay. At least he wasn't carrying a weapon when he felt compelled to attack a random person, unlike that other guy.
Three of the six Philadelphia police officers accused in a conspiracy to steal from alleged drug dealers will be under house arrest while awaiting their trial.
Thomas Liciardello's wife swayed and sobbed in her seat as U.S. Magistrate Tim Rice decided Monday afternoon her husband will remain in prison while awaiting trial. Liciardello is suspected of leading the conspiracy to rip off drug dealers in the city to the tune of $500,000.
Three other officers -- Linwood Norman, Perry Betz and Brian Reynolds -- are not a threat to the public, Rice ruled. They were allowed to post property and remain on house arrest while preparing for their trial.
Attorney Jack McMahon, who represents Reynolds, said federal prosecutors do not have a strong case against the six narcotics officers who have been indicted on charges of using violence and falsifying police reports to steal everything from drugs and cash to Rolex watches from the drug dealers they arrested. U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger has said six resorted to extreme violence to force the drug dealers to give up their cash and valuables.
"We believe that the weight of the evidence is suspect, we look forward to our day in court, and we really believe that eventually Mr. Reynolds will be vindicated," McMahon said Monday. Referring to Jeffrey Walker, an officer who testified against the six, McMahon said, "This was a desperate cop."
Of the alleged drug dealers who supplied testimony, McMahon said, "We have 11 different people whose criminal histories are not favorable to police. And when we put the two together and the jury is able to see all the facts of the case instead of allegations, we eventually will be successful."
The attorney representing Perry Betts, another of the officers granted house arrest, also questioned the credibility of Walker and others testifying against the officers.
"There's no corroborating evidence," said Greg Pagano. "The kind of evidence you would look for in a case like this would be wiretaps, videotapes ... he kind of evidence they have against Police Officer Walker, he was caught with the money in his pocket, the FBI's money. He had no place to run, no place to hide but to implicate these defendants."
Federal prosecutors argued that the men shouldn't be given special treatment because they are police officers.
Officer Michael Spicer, another of the six, was held without bail during a separate hearing with Magistrate Richard Lloret, who agreed that Spicer does represent a threat. The sixth defendant, John Speiser, will have a bail hearing next week.
By DYLAN GOFORTH
An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper who was suspended last month for “allegations of conduct violations” is the latest trooper placed on paid leave by the agency, Capt. George Brown said.
Eric Roberts, a 16-year veteran assigned to the Turner Turnpike, was suspended with pay July 24, Brown said. He did not go into specifics about why Roberts was suspended.
A representative of the Creek County District Attorney’s Office said that office was aware of allegations made against Roberts, but he could not yet comment on the case, calling it an “Oklahoma Highway Patrol personnel matter for the time being.”
Roberts was suspended about three weeks after Trooper Joshua Eli Davies, 33, was arrested on allegations that he was under the influence of alcohol while driving on duty. Davies, according to court documents, had a breath alcohol reading of 0.27 — more than three times the legal limit — hours after he crashed his patrol vehicle and destroyed the OHP boat he was towing south of Sallisaw in Sequoyah County.
Davies has been charged with misdemeanor DUI and possession of a firearm while intoxicated, according to Sequoyah County First Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp.
In the public eye
Roberts and Davies are the latest troopers to face public scrutiny. Last week, Brown said Sheldon Robinson, who shot and killed a man outside a Tulsa motel last September, remained suspended with pay despite having been cleared by the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office in January.
Robinson, 45, fatally shot Michael Troy Swatosh, 25, outside the Best Budget Inn at Admiral Place and Sheridan Road about 1 a.m. Sept. 1, authorities said. Robinson, a highly decorated 16-year veteran of the OHP, was off duty at the time.
In January, Tulsa County First Assistant District Attorney Doug Drummond announced that Robinson would not face criminal charges stemming from the shooting, the second time Robinson — the 2012 recipient of the OHP’s Humanitarian Award — had shot a man while off duty.
Drummond said the DA’s Office’s investigation, which included the review of a comprehensive 502-page report from an OHP investigator, was only “part of the puzzle.”
On Thursday, OHP Capt. George Brown classified Robinson’s status within the agency as a “personnel issue,” saying that while the DA’s Office in Tulsa had not found Robinson criminally liable, an internal investigation was ongoing.
Brown said he expected a final determination on Robinson’s status “within the next two weeks.”
An affidavit filed last year states that Robinson reported that he stopped at the motel after he saw Swatosh and another man point a gun at his vehicle as Robinson was driving on Admiral Boulevard.
However, that same affidavit states that surveillance video shows Robinson on a second-floor “hallway” on the exterior of the motel before the shooting and then at a pharmacy across the street.
Swatosh, according to the affidavit, had been seen at the motel before the shooting with a gun tucked into the front of his pants, and a woman who had been staying there with Swatosh and another man said the two men had been playing with air-propellant guns that day.
Witnesses told investigators they had seen a dark Mercedes — Robinson was driving a dark Mercedes that day, according to the affidavit — driving around the area of the motel in the hours before the shooting.
Other high-profile cases
Robinson’s case was the first of three shootings involving OHP troopers last September. Trooper Bobby Raines fatally shot Tel Levi Rodgers on Sept. 21 after a physical struggle outside a Tulsa apartment complex.
A day later, Trooper Joe Kimmons shot a teenager while responding to a road-rage incident in Norman. The teenager, who survived, reportedly had reached for another responding officer’s gun.
Robinson, Raines and Kimmons were all cleared by their respective district attorney’s offices. Robinson remains suspended, but information on Raines’ and Kimmons’ status with the agency will not be available until Tuesday due to a manpower crunch, Brown said. Also, the patrol could not release Kimmons’ photo on Monday.
Following that trio of shootings, the OHP sent out a media release detailing the dangers troopers face while on the job.
Brown said at the time that the news release was meant to raise awareness about the dangers law enforcement officers face in their line of work.
“It’s very concerning, and if we have that many people willing to assault officers, think about what they would be capable of against civilians,” he said at the time.
Two other troopers were placed on administrative leave in January pending the outcome of an investigation into the fatal shooting of Zachary J. Sumner, 34, of Midwest City on Jan. 25.
Troopers had pursued Sumner from Oklahoma City to Del City, patrol Lt. Brian Orr said at the time. At the end of the chase, Sumner got out of the car and exchanged gunfire with Troopers Ryan Smith and Chris Bunch, Orr said.
Smith was shot in the face, and Bunch was injured in the leg. Both men were treated at an Oklahoma City hospital and released, Orr said.
The Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office was not available Monday to comment on whether Smith and Bunch were cleared in the shooting, but records show that no charges were filed.
As with Raines’ and Kimmons’ cases, Brown said information regarding Smith’s and Bunch’s status would not be released until Tuesday.
One other trooper remains on routine paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, the OHP reported. The Nowata County District Attorney’s Office is still awaiting the medical examiner’s report in the death of Joshua Stand, 35, of Delaware, Oklahoma, in that case.
The trooper, Jerrod Martin, responded on June 16 to a call about a man walking a Delaware street with a weapon. After a brief foot pursuit, Martin fatally shot Stand, who witnesses said had a knife.
By Ken Daley
A New Orleans police officer was placed on emergency suspension without pay Tuesday, following a weekend arrest in which he was accused of driving while intoxicated on the Causeway Bridge.
David Aranda, 26, became the fifth NOPD officer in the last 26 days to be suspended by the department while facing criminal allegations.
The NOPD said Aranda was arrested around 9 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 2) after Causeway Police spotted him driving erratically in his personal vehicle. They said Aranda was traveling northbound on the Causeway Bridge in St. Tammany Parish.
Causeway Police said they stopped Aranda, detected alcohol on his breath, and conducted a standard field sobriety test, which they said he failed. Aranda was arrested and booked with driving while intoxicated.
Aranda most recently was assigned to the NOPD's 1st District, which polices Treme and Mid-City.
Since July 11, four other NOPD officers have been placed on emergency suspension.
Officer Willie Gant, 57, was arrested July 29, booked with two counts each of sexual battery on a juvenile and indecent behavior with a juvenile after allegedly fondling a 12-year-old relative visiting his home on two occasions.
Tactical Officer Stephanie Caldwell was arrested July 27, booked with two felony charges of domestic violence after being accused of trying to run down a man with her car before crashing her personal car into a utility pole in the 7th Ward.
On July 14, fellow SWAT Officer Christopher Carter was suspended and booked with domestic abuse battery and domestic abuse battery involving strangulation.
Three days earlier, Detective Robert Hurst was booked with simple battery and attempted murder following an argument with his former girlfriend. Prosecutors later dropped an attempted murder charge in that case.
Carter and Hurst have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
by Todd Dunn
NORTH PORT, Fla. -- North Port police Officer Shawn Rice is serving a 30-day unpaid suspension for kissing a 16-year-old girl. Rice, a five-year veteran with the North Port P.D., served in the K-9 unit and was an adviser to the Explorer program. In April, the father of the 16-year-old girl came to the police department to report Rice kissed his daughter against her will.
“For impartiality I asked the Venice Police Department to conduct the criminal portion of the investigation to which they did," said Police Chief Kevin Vespia. "Upon conclusion of there investigation they determined there was not sufficient probable cause of any wrong doing.”
Vespia said there were no witnesses to the kiss which both sides acknowledge took place. According to the Internal affairs report, the juvenile said she was kissed by Rice four times, all against her will.
“The officer's claim is that a kiss occurred where she was the aggressor, meaning the sixteen year old," Chief Vespia says. "He pushed her away and felt that it was inappropriate.”
Rice did not tell the girl's parents or report the incident to his superiors, and he allowed the girl into his house and bedroom on multiple occasions.
“He should have never been in that position. There were comments made that the girl had a crush on him. She would visit the house with her friend who was the babysitter and she would leave notes on the refrigerator referring to herself as future ex-wife or FEW,” Chief Vespia says.
Rice maintains that the girl is lying; though he declined to take a polygraph test.
“The fact of the matter is there were signs there that were pretty evident based on his testimony and admissions were he should have put a stop to it before it even got to that level,” says Chief Vespia.
Rice is the fourth North Port officer to be disciplined for his actions this year.
“It makes everybody in the community a little nervous because these people are supposed to protect us,” said North Port resident Cythia Morse.
“I just think it is ridiculous," said resident Debbie Bischoff. "If you are in that position, you know better.”
Chief Vespia agrees and hopes the public will not judge the entire department based on the actions of a few.
“There's a handful of people that have made poor decisions and we are dealing with them,” he says.
After his 30 day suspension, Rice will be on probation for one year. He will not be a part of the K-9 unit or the police Explorer program and will be assigned back to street patrol.
Rice was given a 30 day suspension without pay for conduct unbecoming a North Port Officer and Moral Character Violation. After he serves the suspension (which started July 22), Rice will be on probation for a year. He will no longer be a part of the K-9 unit or the police Explorer program and will be assigned back to street patrol.
BY DUNCAN MCFADYEN
A Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officer and his wife face charges of sexually assaulting a family member 15 years ago. Reginald and Dia Harris were arrested Wednesday.
Reginald Harris, who goes by the nickname “Rock,” is 52 and has been with CMPD since 1988. For the last 10 years, he was a patrol officer in the North Tryon Division. Both Harris and his wife are charged with three counts each of first degree sex offense, taking indecent liberties with a minor, and crimes against nature. Dia Harris, who is 40, is also charged with three counts of felony child abuse. Police say the abuse started in 1999 when the child was 8 years old, and continued until 2002.
CMPD Deputy Chief Kerr Putney says the investigation suggests the abuse was limited to one victim. That person initially came forward in 2009, but soon decided not to cooperate. So Officer Harris stayed on the job.
“We never achieved a level of probable cause to charge in 09. The victim in circumstances like this is sometimes is hesitant to move forward, and that was our obstacle at the time,” Putney explains.
But the accuser came forward again last month. Putney says the person’s story remained consistent.
“The allegations have never changed; they’ve been consistent. And, at this age, the victim is much more mature and wants justice served,” he says.
Harris had been on paid administrative leave since the investigation began. He was placed on unpaid leave Wednesday.
By CHUCK WILLIAMS
A former Columbus Police officer was arrested Wednesday and charged with two felony counts of violation of oath of office and two misdemeanor counts of simple battery as part of a Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into his on-duty conduct.
John Allen Jr. turned himself into the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office and was released. Allen, 40, had been with the department for 13 years and is currently working with Abercrombie Bonding of Columbus. Allen was released on bonds totaling $6,000.
Allen resigned from the police department May 19, one month after he was placed on paid administrative leave, according to Assistant Police Chief Lem Miller. Allen is the son of retired Muscogee County Superior Court Judge John Allen.
Allen is accused of physically assaulting two juvenile burglary suspects who were in custody about 8:30 a.m. April 14, Miller said. Allen was a corporal in the fugitive unit of the Bureau of Investigative Services when he responded to a reported burglary at a relative's home on Whippoorwill Lane, Miller said. The alleged burglary was at the home of Allen’s mother, said attorney Stacey Jackson, who represents Allen.
After a foot chase, two officers apprehended two suspects, one 15 and the other 16, according to GBI agent in charge Fred Wimberly. “After the arrests had been made, Corporal Allen Jr. responded to the scene, got into the rear of each patrol vehicle and physically hit and choked the juveniles,” according to a GBI release. The suspects were handcuffed when Allen approached them, Miller said. Portions of Allen’s interactions with each suspect were captured on audio and video, Miller said.
“This happened in front of several officers and the conduct was such that he was reported,” Miller said.
Jackson said Thursday he has been involved throughout the process but he did not want to get into the specifics of the case.
“I don’t know what the police officers on the scene saw or didn’t see,” Jackson said. “We will conduct our own investigation to see what neighbors in the neighborhood saw.”
The department’s Office of Professional Standards began an investigation when the police department suspected possible criminal conduct. Chief Ricky Boren called for a simultaneous GBI investigation on April 29, Miller said.
The police department’s internal investigation concluded on June 6 with the finding that Allen committed eight policy violations, the most serious of which were violation of oath of office and willful or neglectful mistreatment of a prisoner.
According to Georgia Code, any public officer who willfully and intentionally violates the terms of his oath as prescribed by law shall, faces between one and five years in prison if convicted.
The case is now assigned to Superior Court. Jackson said he did not think it had been assigned to a judge yet. Allen’s father retired from Superior Court in 2013, which could force a number of the local judges to recuse themselves.
“It could go to a senior judge or a judge from another circuit,” Jackson said
The Woodstock Police Service says one of their officers is facing charges after a vehicle collided with a mailbox and fence before leaving the scene.
Officials say the single-vehicle crash happened around 1:45 a.m. on Friday, July 4th at the intersection of Dundas and Oxford Streets.
Police were called to the scene, but the vehicle had already left the area.
An investigation found the vehicle was northbound on Mill Street, crossed Dundas Street onto Oxford and then left the roadway and struck a Canada Post mailbox, coming to rest against a wooden fence.
Damage to the mailbox and fence was minimal and there were no injuries in the collision.
As a result of the investigation, Const. Mitchell Blair, 29, of Woodstock, has been charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle and failing to report damage to property.
He was off duty at the time of the incident.
Woodstock Police Chief Rod Freeman said in a statement, “It is always regrettable when an officer becomes involved in an offence such as these allegations...However, it is important to allow the charges to move through the court process without prejudice.”
Blair is schedule to appear in court on Aug. 19th.
A Plano police officer is out of jail on bond, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Officer Joshua Randall Caussey was arrested Tuesday by McKinney police, an official with the McKinney Police Department confirmed Wednesday.
Investigators aren't saying much about the case, other than that the charge stems from a family violence incident that happened Aug. 1.
Caussey has been with the Plano Police Department for 15 years and is assigned to the criminal investigation division.
Michael Schoener gave mastermind police badge, handcuffs, officials say\
DEDHAM, Mass. —A Dedham police officer was arrested in connection with the kidnapping of an Avon man earlier this year.
David Robertson remembers watching the silver Toyota drive away, his son James J. Robertson, 37, in the back seat accompanied by two men with badges and guns.
Officer Michael Schoener, 40, of Dedham, was held on $5,000 bail after he pleading not guilty to being an accessory before the fact of kidnapping in the case of James Robertson, who was last seen on Jan. 1.
Officials said Schoener gave his Dedham Police Department issued badge, handcuffs and empty holster to the mastermind of the kidnapping, James Feeney.
Schoener also allegedly used department equipment to provide Feeney with a photograph and board of probation record of Robertson.
Robertson, who was on probation, was last seen when two people posing as constables came to his home in Avon and kidnapped him under the guise of Robertson having to be drug tested by probation.
Robertson has not been seen from since that encounter and is presumed dead.
Schoener has been placed on leave from the Dedham Police Department. He will also be on a GPS monitor and subject to random drug and alcohol testing.
TULSA, Okla. - Two married, veteran Tulsa police officers have been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old man who was walking with their daughter, authorities said.
Jeremy Lake was found shot to death Tuesday night on a street near downtown, a Tulsa police spokeswoman said.
Shannon Kepler, 54, was arrested on a complaint of first-degree murder and Gina Kepler, 48, was arrested on a complaint of accessory to murder after the fact. Both were booked in the Tulsa County jail Tuesday night.
Tulsa police say both suspects have been with the department for 24 years, and were off duty when the shooting occurred.
Jail records say that Lake and the Keplers' daughter were confronted by a man driving a black 2007 Suburban while they were walking.
Police told CBS affiliate KWTV that the daughter approached the SUV when she recognized it as her father's vehicle. Lake then reportedly came up to the car and told Kepler he was their daughter's boyfriend.
"The suspect had words with the female and Lake. The suspect shot Lake and the female fled," Roberson said in an email. "The suspect shot at the female but missed."
According to jail records, Sgt. Dave Walker said detectives called Kepler's wife, Gina, and she said she was with her husband, but they were not at their home. After "an extended period of time," Gina Kepler allegedly called back and said she and her husband would surrender.
According to KWTV, she told authorities she would put the weapon used in the shooting in the trunk of her car. The Keplers later arrived at the detective division with an attorney, says the station.
In a news release, Sgt. Walker said "enough evidence was developed to arrest Shannon Kepler for first-degree murder and Gina Kepler for accessory to murder after the fact." Police arrested both Keplers.
The Keplers were both placed on administrative leave from the police department.
Police are searching for the gun and black Suburban.