Former Connecticut cop David Cari, who was filmed by a priest as he harassed an Ecuadorian immigrant in 2009, has been given a 30-month prison sentence after having been convicted of civil rights abuses.
From Photography is Not a Crime:
An East Haven cop who claimed he was in fear for his life when he arrested a priest for video recording him as he bullied an Ecuadorian immigrant in a convenience store was sentenced to 30 months in prison Tuesday, indicating that justice prevails every once in a while.
Even if the cop was allowed to retire with a full pension.
The 2009 incident, which went viral, opened a federal investigation against David Cari and several other officers, revealing that they were engaging in an ongoing harassment campaign against the immigrants living in that community.
But it was only because Father James Manship filed a federal complaint after his charges were dropped two weeks after his arrest.
And it was only because it was all caught on video.
The New Haven Register reports that audio from the footage shot by Rev. James Manship discredited Cari's arrest report:
Lima Church in Fair Haven and the man whose 26-second video shotwhile inside an East Haven general store proved to be the most crucial piece of evidence in the government’s case against Cari.
“Never did I think that video would get us to where we are today,” he said outside the courthouse, after Thompson handed down Cari’s 30-month sentence.
But it was precisely the audio of Manship’s February 2009 video that proved to discredit the arrest report Cari filed when he slapped handcuffs on the priest for filming him and Spaulding in the process of ordering employees at the Hispanic-owned My Country Store to remove more than 70 license plates mounted on the back wall.
Reason's Jacob Sullum wrote about the case and the harassment suffered by East Haven's Latino residents in January 2012.
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By MICHAEL P. RELLAHAN, email@example.com
WEST CHESTER – A former Chester County police officer was sent to state prison Thursday for a 2012 “drugged driving” crash that took the life of a West Caln woman.
Denise Knoke, 44, of West Bradford was under the influence of Oxycodone and other prescription drugs when she drove through an intersection in West Caln as a woman who lived nearby was crossing the road on her afternoon walk, striking her.
The woman, 86-year-old Alice Stephens of West Caln, died of her injuries several days later after lingering in pain, said the prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney Mark Conte.
Knoke, a one-time K-9 police officer, entered a plea of guilty to the charges of homicide by vehicle while DUI and DUI, as well as a summary traffic citation. She was sentenced to 3½ to seven years in state prison, six months more than the mandatory three-year minimum sentence for such cases.
Conte told Senior Judge Charles Smith, who accepted the plea and handed down the sentence, that the penalty was higher for the charge because it was Knoke’s third drunk driving charge, and her second within 10 years.
Conte negotiated the plea agreement with Knoke’s attorney, Vincent DiFabio of Paoli. The prosecutor said Stephens’ three daughters attended the proceeding and spoke about their mother and the pain they felt in losing her to the crash.
“They spoke about what a vibrant and active woman she was, and how she was the hub of their family,” Conte said afterwards. “But they also described how devastating it was to see this woman who had never had any health problems linger in the state she was in the days before her death.”
According to court records, the crash occurred at about 1:45 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2012 at the intersection of Telegraph Road and Sunnyview Court in West Caln. Township officer William Smith said when he arrived at the scene he saw an elderly woman lying on her side next to a 1999 green Chevrolet Malibu. She was complaining of shoulder pain on her right side as she was treated by emergency personnel.
Smith saw skid marks on the road, as well as items that had been knocked off the elderly woman when she was struck by the car. He approached the woman who was identified as the driver of the car, and asked what happened. The driver, Knoke, said she could not clearly remember striking the pedestrian.
As she was speaking, Smith said, he noticed that her pupils were constricted and her speech was slurred. Knoke admitted that she was on several medications, and had been coming from a doctor’s appointment for her recurring pain. When Smith asked if she normally drove while under medication, Knoke said she usually got a ride to and from her appointments.
She was taken to Brandywine Hospital where her blood was drawn and later tested for drugs. The lab results showed that she had recently used Oxycodone in significant amounts that would have made her unsafe to operate a car, Smith wrote in his criminal complaint.
Stephens, who had also been taken to the hospital for injuries she suffered, died as a result of those injuries on Dec. 21, 2012. Knoke was charged in February.
Conte said his review of criminal records showed that Knoke had been charged with DUI in 1993, for which she was apparently given ARD, and then again in 2010.
“Obviously, everyone should know not to drive under the influence,” he said after the sentencing. “But a former police officer should know full well the serious consequences that can come fro driving while impaired.
“Unfortunately, those consequences became too real in this case.”
Knoke had been on a disability from the East Brandywine Regional Police Department at the time of the crash. She made a short apology to Stephens’ family. “She said she wishes she could substitute her life for that of Mrs. Stephens,” Conte said.
Knoke was a K-9 officer in East Brandywine when her charge, Nelo, a Czech Shepherd, escaped from her when she was walking in the woods near her home in late November 2006. The dog’s was found in a marshy area of the woods several days later.
By Mary Beth Lane
A former Nelsonville police officer has been sentenced to a 30-day, suspended jail term and ordered to permanently surrender his peace-officer certification after he admitted roughing up a teenager he had taken into custody.
Athens County Common Pleas Judge L. Alan Goldsberry sentenced Randy Secoy, 42, of Amesville, on Friday, county Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said.
Secoy pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of persistent disorderly conduct. He initially was charged with abduction and assault.
Secoy, who was fired from the Nelsonville Police Department after the incident, took a 15-year-old boy into custody on March 6 after a fight at a pizza restaurant. At the police station, Secoy was caught on surveillance tape grabbing the boy underneath his chin and shoving him against a wall. No charges were filed against the boy, Blackburn said.
“He was unfit to be a police officer,” Blackburn said of Secoy. “The best interest of the state was to ensure that he no longer was a police officer.”
By Tony Holt
PALM COAST — Jared Parkey’s SUV had been forced off the road by another motorist after he hurled a gallon-sized water jug at that person’s vehicle.
Parkey got out and walked toward the back of his SUV and saw Nathaniel David Juratovac aiming a gun at him.
Parkey extended his arms to the side to let Juratovac know he was unarmed.
Juratovac shot him twice in the chest.
That was the account Parkey gave to investigators with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, according to court documents.
Juratovac, 41, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday afternoon in a St. Augustine courtroom. He pleaded no contest last month to one count of attempted manslaughter with a firearm. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
Parkey, a Flagler County firefighter, was released from the hospital the morning after the March 29, 2013, shooting along U.S. 1 in St. Augustine Shores.
Juratovac, a former Flagler Beach police officer, was arrested at the scene.
Each man had his wife and a child with him during the incident, deputies said. Juratovac’s wife, a St. Johns County deputy, was one of the witnesses who called 9-1-1.
The incident started when Juratovac “brake checked” Parkey because he thought he was following too closely, deputies said. Parkey responded by throwing a jug at Juratovac’s vehicle. The two SUVs collided and both vehicles swerved off the highway and stopped, according to the arrest reports.
The shooting took place seconds later, deputies said.
Juratovac originally was charged with attempted murder and Circuit Judge J. Michael Traynor denied bail following the defendant’s first request.
The defendant remained in a Clay County jail under protective custody.
Juratovac, his wife and his father all wrote to Traynor last spring asking for bail to be set. The judge would eventually set bail at $300,000. Juratovac posted it and was released after 84 days behind bars.
In his letter, Juratovac, a father to three daughters, pleaded with the judge to allow him to return to his family and his power-washing business, which he described as “operational, however struggling.”
In the same letter to the judge, Juratovac said after he resigned from his job as a police officer, he allowed his concealed weapons license to expire because he no longer chose to carry a weapon.
He also said business owners and others in the community would vouch for him and insist that his charges “are completely out of character” for him.
Juratovac stated his actions were “in response to numerous acts of violence presented upon me, my wife and our 4-year-old daughter.”
In the next sentence, he revealed his intentions to pray for Parkey’s recovery.
“He can now reflect upon that day and be with his family,” Juratovac stated in his letter.
He also conveyed his intention at the time to contest the allegations that were included in the charging affidavit. He entered his plea less than eight months later.
Juratovac resigned from the Flagler Beach Police Department in June 2008, one month after he stood trial on allegations of perjury. The judge in the case threw out the charge based on unreliable testimony from one of the prosecution’s witnesses
That case stemmed from his highly publicized arrest of Lisa Tanner, daughter of former State Attorney John Tanner.
In his letter to the judge, Juratovac pointed out the judge in that case described his actions as those of a “seasoned officer” and his former chief described his record as “exemplary.”
However, the chief at the time of Juratovac’s trial sent a letter to the then-city manager requesting that Juratovac be fired in spite of his acquittal.
That request was denied, but Juratovac agreed to resign.
Juratovac has declined interview requests while his case remains active.
BENTON, AR -- A city police officer has been arrested and charged with raping a juvenile, according to reports.
Lt. Monte Hodge, an 18-year veteran with the Benton Police Department (BPD), was arrested Wednesday after the Arkansas State Police notified the BPD of the alleged incident on Oct. 26.
The Benton Police Department sent the following statement out via email on the case:
On 10/26/13, the Benton Police Department was notified by the Arkansas State Police that an officer with our agency was allegedly involved in an off-duty incident they were investigating. The officer in question, Lt. Monte Hodge, was immediately placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
An internal investigation was immediately launched into this allegation and we’ve worked closely with investigators throughout the entire ordeal. The internal investigation is still on-going at this time.
Lt. Hodge has been with the Benton Police Department for over 18 years and was assigned to the patrol division until Oct. 26th. We respectively refer all questions regarding the investigation to the Arkansas State Police or Special Prosecutor Chuck Graham, the Lonoke County Prosecutor.
By Jason Geary
BARTOW | A former Haines City police officer told jurors Wednesday that he was trying to help fellow officers when he attempted to kick a suspect being handcuffed.
Juan Caamano, 30, took the witness stand in his trial on charges of using excessive force. He faces one count of misdemeanor attempted battery.
Prosecutors could question Caamano this morning.
During Wednesday's opening statements, Assistant State Attorney Kyle McNeal described Caamano's actions as "pure, unjustified violence" and an unnecessary use of force against a defenseless suspect.
But Lawrence Collins, one of Caamano's lawyers, told jurors that his client's actions were reasonable, and officers are allowed to use physical force in the exercise of their duties.
On a large screen television, jurors watched video footage taken from a patrol vehicle's dashboard camera showing the actions of Caamano and other officers in the arrest of Mathew Manigault.
The footage was shown numerous times in the courtroom as witnesses were asked to explain details of what was happening.
Manigault, 66, was one of three people arrested on the night of Oct. 22, 2010, when a street party on Pearl Street in Lake Hamilton became too large and rowdy.
Lake Hamilton police officers requested help from the Haines City Police Department and the Polk County Sheriff's Office, reports state.
Officers testified the crowd became hostile when ordered to leave, and some people began throwing bottles and rocks toward officers and their patrol vehicles.
Officers testified that Manigault was taken into custody when he refused to leave the area.
Manigault was taken to the ground by a leg sweep from one officer, according to courtroom testimony.
Witnesses testified that officers trying to handcuff Manigault used knee strikes and a stun gun to get him to comply with commands to put his hands behind his back.
Caamano testified he came over to help the officers trying to take Manigault into custody.
Caamano said he attempted to kick Manigault's leg with the intention of hurting him so he would put his hands behind his back.
He said he missed with his kick and decided not to attempt another kick because he heard one officer yell that a stun gun was going to be used on Manigault.
Manigault was arrested on charges of disorderly intoxication and resisting officers without violence, but the State Attorney's Office later declined to prosecute him, records show.
Caamano was fired April 7, 2011, following an internal investigation that concluded he violated city policies. The State Attorney's Office then filed criminal charges against him.
A Salem police officer has been fired after being charged with assaulting a man during an arrest in October.
Officer Joseph Freda was charged last week with two counts of simple assault stemming from the Oct. 6 arrest of 39-year-old Thomas Templeton. Freda is accused of striking Templeton in the head with a flashlight and stepping on his hand while Templeton was sitting on the ground, handcuffed.
Freda was put on paid leave when the investigation began Oct. 23, then was put on unpaid leave. He waived administrative hearings. Town Manager Keith Hickey terminated his employment Tuesday, upon recommendation from Police Chief Paul Donovan, citing the town’s no-tolerance policy with respect to excessive use of force.
In 2009, following a June 5 traffic stop, Brookline resident Sharon Ryherd, accused Freda of using excessive force and charging her with a crime without cause.
By Tom Jackman
In the small town of Haymarket in western Prince William County, half of the police force have just had their badges, guns and cars taken away by the town council. Chief James E. Roop and Deputy Chief Gregory Breeden were both suspended for 60 days without pay, Roop for “loss of confidence and inappropriate actions,” during a cryptic council meeting Monday night. This follows both men’s 15-day suspensions for alleged sexual harassment in 2005. A third member of the six-person force, Officer Jake Davis, also was suspended without pay for 60 days.
In addition, the Virginia State Police confirmed Wednesday that they are investigating an allegation made against Roop. Roop and Breeden did not return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment. Davis declined to comment.
So what exactly did the three officers do to merit two-month suspensions? No one would say, citing the confidentiality of personnel matters. But Roop was ordered to undergo 24 hours of professional counseling to include the topics of sexual harassment, sensitivity training and ethics in the work place. Davis received the same order. Breeden’s order did not include sexual harassment. All three were instructed to turn in their badges, guns and equipment by Friday.
The council appointed Town Manager Brian Henshaw, who just took the job last May, as administrator of the six-officer police department, though he said he has no police experience. Officer Jeff Shaver was appointed to run the remaining Haymarket Police Department in the absence of its two top administrators. The council also prohibited Roop from hiring, firing or disciplining any police employee until June 30.
town officials said, so suspending him should save the town of 1,900 residents about $12,600. Breeden, 55, joined Haymarket in 2000 and earns $59,400, meaning his time off will save Haymarket about $9,500. Davis, whose age was not available, joined Haymarket in December 2012 and earns $38,000, so his suspension could keep about $6,000 in Haymarket coffers. But if the police have to start paying overtime to make up for the missed officers, that could all be back out the window.
Haymarket Deputy Police Chief Gregory A. Breeden, suspended along with his police chief for 60 days without pay this week. Was previously suspended for 15 days, also with Chief James E. Roop. (Town of Haymarket)
Haymarket Mayor David Leake said in an e-mail that “these are serious allegations against the chief and unfortunately I’m not at liberty to discuss them.” He also said he was “extremely disappointed and concerned with the minimal consequences the Council imposed on the chief considering the seriousness of the allegations made against him,” though the two council members who investigated the situation seemed to seek to terminate all three officers. The motion failed 4-2 (the mayor only votes in case of a tie), everyone looked at each other in confusion, they went back into closed session and emerged later with the 60-day terms. All six council members declined to comment. Town attorney Martin Crim did not return a call seeking comment.
In June 2005, Roop and Breeden were suspended for 15 days and no one would say why then, either. But in September of that year, the 10-page memo written by the lawyer who investigated Roop and Breeden was leaked to Ian Shapira of The Post. It said the two men were making “sex-related comments” on a “pervasive basis” and exposed the town to possible lawsuits. The lawyer, Jennifer Parrish of Fredericksburg, recommended that Roop and Breeden be fired. Instead, the town council gave them 15 days off without pay.
Also in September 2005, Breeden’s wife obtained a temporary restraining order against him because he smashed down a garage door with a hammer. Breeden was acting chief at the time while Roop was on a leave of absence, but he had to forfeit his gun and forego patrol duties while under the restraining order, which was not made permanent. In March 2006, the town prosecutor resigned because she “cannot be certain that the facts are accurate” when provided by Roop, her (leaked) resignation letter stated.
The latest dustup erupted into public view in mid-December, when the council appointed Vice Mayor Jay Tobias and council member Steve Aitken to investigate “certain alleged personnel matters.” Leake, as mayor, tried to veto this, saying that “the town attorney advised that an outside investigation was necessary and should be initiated immediately.” But the council overrode Leake’s veto and Tobias and Aitken proceeded. In late December, a letter from “Residents For a Better Haymarket” was sent to the council, and later to me, alleging misdeeds by both the chief and the council in a symbiotic “good ol’ boys” relationship.
On Monday night, the meeting video shows that Tobias and Aitken made a motion to suspend the three officers until Feb. 3, while directing the town attorney “to proceed as discussed in closed session with regard to employment issues,” which sounds like a move to fire them. But council members Milt Kenworthy, Rebecca Bare, Mary Lou Scarbrough and Katherine Harnest voted no. Harnest appeared to be upset, wiping her face with her hands.
The badge of the Town of Haymarket Police Department. Only a select few may wear this badge, because half of the department has been suspended. (Town of Haymarket)
So they went back behind closed doors, emerged later Monday night and voted on 60-day suspensions with mandatory counseling. Aitken said in the meeting, “I still don’t believe we’re tackling the root cause here, but that’s just my opinion.” Tobias agreed, saying, “This is not solving the problem.” Leake said he also agreed.
Breeden and Davis were only suspended for “loss of confidence,” presumably not their own but the council’s. Leake said he was disappointed that the council saw fit to impose the same penalty on them as on the chief. Instead of using an outside investigator, as in 2005, the council “proceeded with their own internal questioning, resulting in the consequences they wanted to impose. To handle this correctly it needs to be taken out of the council’s hands. We need to eliminate the input of personal relationships and any future risk to our town, and to have an official outside independent investigation.”
That may be where the state police come in. Corinne Geller, the state police spokeswoman, said the state police are investigating an allegation against Roop. She would say no more. For now.
Tom Jackman is a reporter for The Washington Post who has covered Northern Virginia since 1998.
By Ari Mason and Amy Parmenter
A Hartford police detective, the subject of a fraud investigation, is on paid administrative leave and an officer who has been previously suspended is now on desk duty and at risk of losing his job pending an internal investigation.
According to police sources, Hartford Police Det. Tishay Johnson has been placed on paid administrative leave and is the subject of a criminal fraud investigation.
Johnson is responsible for overseeing gun permit approvals in Hartford, which typically require several payments. An internal audit is working to determine where that money ended up.
“The matter with the pistol permits was an audit that we conducted on ourselves,” said Hartford police spokesman Lt. Brian Foley. “Unfortunately, there was a discrepancy in some of the funds.”
In keeping with the investigation, Johnson is no longer allowed in the police administrative building. He has not been charged criminally at this point.
Officer William Smith is also under investigation after a dead body was overlooked on Linnmoore Street in August, according to police sources. Smith has an extensive personnel file and has been previously suspended.
“He’s been put on desk duty within the department,” Foley said. “There’s an administrative process going on, and we should know more within the next few weeks.”
The Hartford Police Union did not return a request for comment on Thursday.
By Chad Petri
Mobile Police dish out disciplinary action following an investigation into misconduct by officers on MPD’s vice unit. Police say a complaint was filed against members of the vice unit on October 21st of last year. A hearing was conducted yesterday.
Mobile Police say both Officers Brandon Cotton and Timothy Johnson went back to different strip clubs after compliance checks on August 13th. Police say Cotton returned to the now closed Vixens night club. Police say he received sexual favors in exchange for not arresting a dancer for an outstanding warrant and not turning in her compliance violations. Cotton has been terminated from the force.
That same evening police say Officer Timothy Johnson returned to the Candy Store strip club on highway 90. Police say people at the club talked him out of turning in compliance violations against the establishment. Johnson has been disciplined with a six week unpaid suspension.
Mobile Police say they also demoted Lt. Ronald Brown to Sergeant for failing to supervise the officers in the vice unit. Brown is no longer the head of the vice unit and has been replaced.
The incidents come on the heels of series incidents against certain officers both from within the department and other agencies. Last month, several officers stepped down and a precinct Captain Eddie Patrick was demoted following an investigation into claims some crimes were being misreported. Also last month precinct Commander Carla Longmire was demoted for having a sexual relationship with Officer Bradley Latham. He was suspended. Also last month, Mobile Police Homicide Detective Donald Pears was indicted on tax evasion and fraud charges.
By Karen Zapf
A Plum police officer has been suspended indefinitely for what borough officials said was an internal breach of the municipal computer system.
Ptl. Jeremy Cumberledge, a seven-year veteran of the department, was suspended with pay on Jan. 11, according to two council members close to the matter.
The computer system contained records for the borough's 67 employees.
Officials said that security issues have been addressed.
“The borough's computer network was accessed inappropriately,” police Chief Jeff Armstrong said. “It isn't police department specific.”
The breach did not involve any resident information such as tax records, municipal manager Mike Thomas said.
“I have no reason to suspect that any residents' information was compromised,” he said.
Plum Mayor Richard Hrivnak did not comment.
Thomas declined to disclose how the breach occurred or a timeframe for when it occurred.
Cumberledge could not be reached for comment. His base salary is $78,817, Thomas said.
“We have turned over whatever information we have to another law enforcement agency,” Thomas said.
Thomas declined to disclose the name of the law enforcement agency.
Once the breach was discovered, measures were taken to ensure it didn't happen again.
“The (information technology) director made modifications to the security design to prevent further compromising of information and data,” Thomas said.
Plum Councilman Leonard Szarmach, personnel committee chairman, said he wasn't happy to hear of the situation.
“I was shocked and quite disappointed,” Szarmach said.
Councilman Dave Vento said council members first learned of the situation in a closed session before the Jan. 14 council meeting.
“You don't want that stuff going on,” Vento said.
“The police department is the best it has ever been. It is a shame when someone goes against the public trust.”
Vento said if the allegations against Cumberledge are true, Cumberledge's work status would be in jeopardy.
“He would not have much of a future with our department,” Vento said.
“It is an ongoing investigation, and it is out of council's hands,” council President Mike Doyle said.
Vento hopes for a quick conclusion to the investigation.
“Hopefully, it won't take long,” he said. “We need to get closure.”
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753