By Dave Schratwieser
CENTER CITY -
The fallout from the arrest of narcotics officer Jeffrey Walker continued Friday at the Criminal Justice Center when a judge threw out more than a dozen drug convictions tied to the admittedly corrupt officer.
"We'll look at every case, we'll look at it the same way, we'll look at the evidence, where appropriate, we'll dismiss, where it isn't we will not," said Assistant DA Robin Godfrey.
"It will be a black eye on the police department until they do something structurally different," said Public Defender Bradley Bridge.
Eighty-five drug cases have now been tossed out since Walker's arrest last May with more potentially to come. The 24 year police veteran plead guilty to robbery and weapons charges in federal court earlier this week. He was arrested in an FBI sting last May. On Monday, his lawyer said Walker is cooperating with the FBI. He predicted other officers and suspects will fall
These are dangerous people who engaged in significant criminal activity for quite some time," said Thomas Fitzpatrick, Walker's defense attorney.
"I want to get it rooted out now," Commissioner Charles Ramsey told Fox 29 on Friday following a police graduation ceremony.
Commissioner ramsey has already said a federal grand jury is investigating at least half a dozen former narcotics officers. They have been removed from street duty. Ramsey's committed to getting rid of corrupt cops.
"Anytime you can rid your ranks of a corrupt officer, it's a good day," Ramsey added. "The honest men and women who are working hard every day, they don't deserve to have guys like this working along side them, they truly don't."
Bridge says there has to be significant change at the department for corruption to end, especially in the area of narcotics investigations and arrests.
"You can't have narcotics officers being there for a continuing period of time where they are involved with large amounts of money, large amounts of drugs and very little oversight," he said.
A Liberty man arrested last fall on federal child pornography charges has signed an agreement in which he would plead guilty to two counts of child exploitation, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said Wednesday.
Derek D. Walton, 31, was arrested in August 2013 after FBI agents raided his home at 5242 Greenwood Church Road. At the time, authorities located a laptop computer, a USB flash drive and a video camera, which allegedly contained images of Walton and a female victim.
“Today’s announcement is that Mr. Walton acknowledges his guilt for the production of child pornography,” Hogsett said during a visit Wednesday to the Palladium-Item.
Walton will appear in court to formally accept the plea agreement and then later face sentencing. Dates for those two hearings in federal court have not been set yet, Hogsett said.
If accepted, the agreement would see Walton face a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 60 years in prison, Hogsett said. Federal laws also require that Walton will serve at least 85 percent of the sentence handed down in the case. He also could face lifetime supervised release upon completion of his prison time.
Walton had a history spanning a decade as a law enforcement official in eastern Indiana, including a stint as a reserve officer with the Richmond Police Department and as a deputy marshal for the Laurel Police Department. Most recently, Walton had been a reserve deputy with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department since 2004 and had served as a reserve deputy and jail officer with the Union County Sheriff’s Department before his arrest.
An investigation by the FBI revealed Walton had used an AOL email account to exchange child pornographic images and videos. In addition to using his home computer, investigators uncovered 29 instances where Walton accessed his AOL account while at the Franklin County Security Center between October and November 2011 to engage in illegal child pornographic activity and conversations.
During a search of his home in August 2013, authorities found a USB drive and a camera hidden in different locations within the home. Those items contained 17 still images and two videos of a nude female victim between the ages of 13 and 14. The videos include images of the victim showering and changing clothes while being secretly recorded inside Walton’s home in November 2012.
The arrest was part of the U.S. Attorney’s Operation Community Watch, a program that allows federal investigators and prosecutors the use of cutting-edge techniques to identify and charge individuals in Indiana engaged in the receipt and trafficking of child pornography. Hogsett said this case involved efforts by the FBI, the Indiana State Police, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.
“The reason Operation Community Watch is so important is because the goal is to identify pornographers in southern Indiana in an effort to prevent Hoosier children from being victimized,” Hogsett said.
“In this case, we not only caught someone who was a trusted member of the community and a part of law enforcement involved in trafficking child pornographic images, but also someone who was victimizing Hoosier children as a pornographic producer.”
TREMONTON -- Investigation continues on accusations of child pornography against a police officer who was arrested and booked into jail last summer but yet to be charged in court.
The arrest came in June of Jeremy Rose, 37, a 12-year-veteran of the Tremonton force. He was booked into the Box Elder County Jail on suspicion of sexual exploitation of a minor.
The charge can include possession of child porn as well as its manufacture, but officials this week declined to narrow down the allegations against Rose.
Shortly after he was arrested and posted bail at the Box Elder jail, Rose resigned from the Tremonton department in July, Tremonton Police Chief Dave Nance said.
Rose was arrested after an investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force operated out of the Utah Attorney General's Office. ICAC's mission is to track child predators online.
Misty Larsen, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said she could only say the case is still ongoing. "They are still finishing up the investigation and the charges are still pending," she said.
Nance said the last he heard the investigation was waiting on results from the state Crime Laboratory, and possibly a computer forensics examination unit. He declined comment on Rose's whereabouts or his employment status.
Meanwhile, a woman in Logan in December filed for a protective order against Rose.
It was granted Jan. 2 by 1st District Judge Kevin Allen.
Heidi Nestel, the woman's attorney, said she was aware of the criminal investigation against Rose. But Nestel said she couldn't comment on the protective order and any possible link to the attorney general's probe out of concern for her client's confidentiality.
Another former member of the Unionville Police Department was arrested after an investigation by the Kirksville Regional Computer Crimes Unit.
Clinton Montalbetti, 23, was arrested by Kirksville detectives and the Linn County Sheriff’s Office at the Linn County Sheriff’s Office for an outstanding warrant for possession of child pornography Tuesday.
Montalbetti was investigated by the Kirksville Regional Computer Crimes Unit after images of suspected child pornography were located on a flash drive used by the suspect while he had been employed as a police officer with the Unionville Police in late 2013.
Police executed a search warrant at Montalbetti’s residence outside of Brookfield Tuesday and collected evidence.
Montalbetti was being held on a $10,000 cash-only bond. The investigation continues with the possibility of additional charges.
Montalbetti’s arrest comes on the heels of the arrest of former Unionville Police Officer David Banks, who was arrested last week for sexual misconduct with a minor.
MONTROSE, Pa. (AP) -- A former police officer in northeastern Pennsylvania has pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in the death of his estranged wife more than 30 years ago.
The Times-Tribune (http://bit.ly/1exkOre) said former Montrose police Sgt. John Walker was immediately sentenced Thursday to two to four years behind bars in the 1983 death of Lynda Walker in New Milford, Susquehanna County.
Walker was charged with first-degree murder in October 2012 after a grand jury investigation and has been in prison since then. The murder charge was dropped in exchange for Walker's voluntary manslaughter no-contest plea.
Walker told authorities he found his wife's body with a gun in her hand. Her death was initially ruled a suicide.
Her body was exhumed in 2011 and a forensic examination concluded the gunshot wasn't self-inflicted.
WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A former Northern California police officer is facing the possibility of life behind bars after he was convicted of sexually assaulting five women while authorities said he was on patrol.
The Sacramento Bee reports (http://bit.ly/1jFSymO) that a Yolo County jury found Sergio Alvarez guilty on Thursday of 18 counts of kidnapping, rape and forced oral copulation. The jury could not reach a decision on ten other counts, including counts related to Alvarez's alleged attack on a sixth woman. Prosecutors said Alvarez, while serving as a West Sacramento police officer in 2011 and 2012, targeted drug addicts and prostitutes. He allegedly forced them to perform sex acts in his cruiser, back alleys and wooded lots. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 4 and faces the possibility of multiple life sentences.
Daniel Lanious, 50, allegedly sent sexually explicit text messages to a 13-year-old girl
By Mark Walters
email@example.com @walt_walters on Twitter
A former Carroll Valley Police officer has been accused of sending "flirtatious and sexual" text messages to a 13-year-old girl, police state in charging documents.
Daniel Lanious, 50, of South Middleton Township, Cumberland County, was charged with corruption of a minor, according to a police criminal complaint filed at District Justice Susan Day's office in Mount Holly Springs.
The teenager's mother told police that Lanious met her daughter in July 2013, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
The girl received a text message from Lanious out of nowhere, the affidavit states. The messages quickly became "flirtatious and sexual," the affidavit continues.
The girl said she believed Lanious obtained her cellphone number from her Facebook page, the affidavit states.
The girl told police Lanious often mentioned wanting to have sex with her, according to the affidavit. She said she played along to an extent, but was not as graphic as he was, the affidavit continues.
The messages reportedly stopped on Aug. 13, when the girl's mother caught the last text, which read ""¦ I wish you were home"¦ I wish you were on birth control"¦ I have a condom," according to the affidavit.
The mother replied to the message and told Lanious she hoped he was not over 18 because her daughter is only 13, according to the affidavit.
A day or two later the mother was visited by Lanious' son, who asked the mother if she would be contacting police, the affidavit states.
During an interview with state police Trooper Matthew Johnston from the Carlisle barracks, Lanious admitted to sending sexual text messages to the 13-year-old girl, the affidavit states.
Lanious apologized repeatedly for his actions and admitted what he did was "very stupid," according to the affidavit.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Lanious on April 2 in front of Day. He is being represented by Gettysburg attorney Steve Rice. Rice declined to comment on the case until he has spoken further with his client.
"As a well respected law enforcement officer, it would be nice if people could give him the benefit of the doubt," Rice said.
Mark Walters covers Adams County for The Evening Sun. Contact him at 717-637-3736 ext. 147.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal prosecutors say grand juries have returned indictments against five San Francisco police officers, two of whom were charged with stealing money and drugs seized as part of investigations. A former officer has also been charged, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The U.S. Attorney's Office announced the indictments on Thursday.
Sgt. Ian Furminger, 47, Officer Edmond Robles, 46, and former Officer Reynaldo Vargas, 45, are all charged with distributing controlled substances along with stealing money, drugs, computers, electronic devices and gift cards from suspects, according to the Chronicle.
Furminger is also accused of extorting property from an individual, though that was not among the listed charges, reports the paper.
Separately, the other three officers are charged with civil rights violations for allegedly entering single occupancy hotel rooms and intimidating their occupants. The Chronicle identified the officers as 41-year-old Arshad Razzak, 36-year-old Richard Yick and 44-year-old Raul Eric Elias.
Prosecutors say those allegations are based on surveillance footage released by the city's public defender, Jeff Adachi, in 2011.
San Francisco police have scheduled a news conference at 11:45 a.m. PST to discuss the indictments.
An allegation of brutality is being made against the Stockton Police Department, but the accuser is well known at Stockton City Hall.
Former Stockton City Councilman Ralph White says he has video of the fatal Feb. 9, police shooting of Donald Haynes.
At Tuesday night's council meeting he said officers in that shooting are guilty of police brutality.
Police say Haynes confronted the officers with a bayonet during a traffic stop and left them with no choice but shoot.
The Stockton Record says White plans to hold a news conference Wednesday morning to talk about that incident.
He claims officers were influenced by a domestic violence call involving Haynes and his wife.
An internal police investigation is being conducted.
Read more: Stockton Man Dead After Officer Involved Shooting
By Lauren Gold,
PASADENA A group of protesters that got into a scuffle with police outside a lecture by former Mexican president Vicente Fox has filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the city and the Police Department.
The complaint alleges that Pasadena police violated the protesters’ right to free speech and assembly, and right to be free from unreasonable use of force. The suit further alleges assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress on protesters by at least 10 police officers during the incident at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in November 2012.
Protester Clarence Smith, 36, of Los Angeles, said he was beaten by the police along with many others around him. Smith said he is a member of the Los Angeles Community Action Network.
“For me it was very traumatic. I have dreams of being beat up by Pasadena police,” Smith said. “And for what? For a peaceful protest? People have to know what these police are doing to the activist community. ... I don’t want to be in this city. At least in Los Angeles the police don’t beat you like they do in Pasadena. L.A. is one of the worst units out there but Pasadena P.D. is unreal.”
Attorney James Segall-Gutierrez filed the suit on behalf of 16 people, including two minors. The officers are not specifically named in the lawsuit and Segall-Gutierrez said he is still working to determine their identities.
Segall-Gutierrez filed the complaint in federal court Feb. 14 and served the lawsuit on the city Thursday. City spokesman William Boyer, who filmed part of Thursday’s press conference with a cellphone, and police spokeswoman Lt. Tracey Ibarra declined to comment on the case.
At the time of the protest, police said the group became violent and unruly after one woman burst through a police blockade. Six of the protesters were convicted of misdemeanor charges after the incident.
Segall-Gutierrez released a police body camera video of the incident he said he obtained while he was briefly representing some of the protesters in the criminal cases filed against them. None of those who had criminal charges are part of the lawsuit.
The video shows a handful of protesters standing outside the auditorium and a police officer tells them to go across the street where the rest of the group is standing. Segall-Gutierrez said the city obtained a permit for the space in front of the auditorium upon learning that the group planned to protest the lecture, forcing the protesters to stand across the street.
As the officer wearing the camera walks across the street, he yells at the protesters to follow him. Then, the video shows, a struggle begins. During the 16-minute video, the camera is often covered by the officer’s hand or cellphone, so the incident is not clearly visible.
Throughout the video, protesters can be heard yelling expletives at the officers and asking them for their business cards. One man yells at the officers for hitting a pregnant woman. At the end of the video the officer wearing the camera can be heard talking about which of the protesters “committed battery” on him and needed to be arrested. The officers joke about how they “didn’t expect to get into a fight with five” of the protesters.
“These were pacifists holding a peaceful protest,” Segall-Gutierrez said at a press conference outside Pasadena City Hall on Thursday. “I would like it if the city would appropriately train their officers and get rid of the aggression within the Police Department. My clients should get monetary compensation from the city as well as an apology from the Police Department.”
Last month, felony charges were dismissed against four of the protesters who were arrested, and last year two others also had their charges reduced.
Three protesters agreed to plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of disturbing a public meeting, with a sentence of seven days of community service and two years of probation. The fourth protester agreed to plead no contest to misdemeanor battery with injury to a peace officer with 10 days community service and two years probation, District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
In exchange, the DA’s Office dropped the two felony charges of resisting a police officer and battery with injury on a peace officer for three of the protesters, their attorney Tarek Shawkey said.
Two other protesters were originally charged with six misdemeanor counts, but the charges were reduced to one count each of jaywalking.
In the end Shawkey said he was pleased that the case was resolved with no felony charges for his clients.
“It was absolutely a victory for them,” Shawkey said. “The DA and the police chief came around after they saw all the evidence.”
As Oakland County attorney Timothy Corr sat in the private chambers of Novi District Judge Brian MacKenzie in the spring of 2010, he couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing.
The judge — in the presence of a Walled Lake police officer — was encouraging Corr to get his client in a drunken-driving case to back off from a related police brutality lawsuit. If the client backed off, the implication was, the judge would go easier on his sentencing, Corr recalled recently in an interview with the Free Press. If he didn’t, he was going to jail.
“It was clear we had a sitting judge telling me I had to violate my client’s rights by waiving his right to pursue a civil rights violation against a police department,” said Corr, who was representing Marquin Stanley. “I was astonished.”
Corr’s handwritten notes from the March 24, 2010, meeting, which he shared with the Free Press, back the claim. “If I relieve police of liability for brutality, they would dismiss the charge,” the note read.
Corr took the deal back to Stanley — who had been Tasered and kicked while in police custody — and advised him to reject it, which Stanley did. Later that day, MacKenzie sentenced Stanley to 93 days in jail, the maximum allowed.
MacKenzie, a well-known judge who also serves as president-elect of the American Judges Association, adamantly denies ever pressuring Corr or his client, saying he sentences all drunken drivers to the maximum if they are caught again while on probation.
“The suggestion that I would threaten Mr. Stanley is not only false, it’s offensive.” MacKenzie said.
A series of allegations
The case — a rare instance of a practicing attorney speaking out publicly against a sitting judge — is the latest in a series of allegations against MacKenzie, who has gained national acclaim as one of the foremost advocates of the intensive probation style treatment of drunken-driving suspects.
In December, the Free Press reported that McKenzie’s son had worked for a drug and alcohol testing agency that the judge often orders defendants to use and that his wife runs a nonprofit that is funded in part by companies that provide services ordered by the judge. MacKenzie denied any conflict of interest.
On Feb. 13, at the urging of county Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, Oakland County Circuit Judge Colleen O’Brien took superintending control of MacKenzie’s docket, saying the lower court judge had flouted state law and “has given illegal sentences.”
“Judge MacKenzie has chosen not to follow the law on at least eight occasions,” O’Brien wrote in her ruling. “A judge cannot ignore the law.”
O’Brien ordered what she described as the “extraordinary remedy” of taking superintending control of MacKenzie’s docket, a measure that requires him to follow several strict protocols when handling future domestic violence cases.
In asking O’Brien to take control of the docket, Cooper accused MacKenzie of running a rogue court, complete with illegal sentencing practices, hidden files and inaccurate transcripts. Her office is also reviewing transcripts in the Stanley case, although that case was not cited in the motion to have the circuit court take superintending control.
In reporting this story, the Free Press reviewed hundreds of public records, including police reports, court filings and transcripts and conducted numerous interviews, which offer a glimpse of the way things work in a judge’s private chambers, where no transcripts are kept.
Video changes minds
Marquin Stanley was a troublemaker. Arrested in 1996 at age 18, he spent two years behind bars on a felony firearm charge. By the time Walled Lake police arrested him on Jan. 10, 2010, he had picked up a scattering of misdemeanors, including domestic assault. And he was already on probation to MacKenzie for a 2009 drunken-driving conviction.
When police took him to the Wixom police station that night — Walled Lake uses the Wixom lockup to house prisoners — Stanley was using offensive language, according to police reports. As he stood in the booking area, talking on a pay phone, a video shows a police officer taking the phone from him and hanging it up.
Stanley appears to argue with the officer but then turns his back to the officer and begins emptying his pockets onto a bench. The officer then walks behind Stanley and Tasers him in the back, sending Stanley crashing into the bench, then onto the ground.
The video shows the officer kicking Stanley over onto his stomach while he is on the ground convulsing. An ambulance later took Stanley to a hospital where he was treated for facial injuries.
Police sought warrants charging Stanley with resisting and obstructing arrest, a felony, along with driving while drunk and driving with a suspended license. Oakland County prosecutors issued the warrants.
But when prosecutors viewed the video on March 12, 2010, they changed their mind. They concluded that Stanley had not resisted arrest and decided to drop that charge, leaving him with only misdemeanors.
Prosecutor’s office records show the assistant prosecutor told that to MacKenzie and defense attorney Corr in MacKenzie’s chamber on March 24, 2010.
Corr said MacKenzie waited until the assistant prosecutor left the chambers on another matter, then made the pitch. By that time, the Walled Lake police officer in charge of the case was present in the judge’s chambers, Corr said.
The judge’s proposal was clear, Corr said. “If I didn’t have Marquin admit resisting and obstructing, then he’s going to give him 93 days in jail,” the maximum sentence allowed.
Corr said they weren’t pressuring Stanley to plead guilty to a felony, but merely to acknowledge it on the record. Such an on-the-record statement would clearly be used to torpedo Stanley’s upcoming civil suit, which claimed he was Tasered for no reason.
A year and a half later, Walled Lake police and other defendants in the civil rights suit agreed to pay Stanley $150,000 to settle it, though they denied any wrongdoing.
While both the assistant prosecutor and the defense attorney say that MacKenzie was told in chambers the felony charges were being dropped, MacKenzie denied to the Free Press that such a conversation occurred.
“The prosecutor never notified me, prior to May 13, 2010 (when the felony dismissal was put on the formal record), that they would be moving to dismiss the case,” MacKenzie said. And he denied he waited until the assistant prosecutor was out of the chambers to make his pitch.
“Mr. Corr has said a number of things in this claim that are problematic. He has said that he and I engaged in unethical ex parte conversation. That didn’t happen,” MacKenzie said. “I don’t engage in prohibited ex parte discussions with either the prosecutor or the defense counsel on pending matters.”
Ex parte communications are when one party to a pending case talks to a judge without the other party present.
MacKenzie said it was the prosecutor who had offered a deal, a claim that Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton said is a lie.
“There was no deal, there was never a discussion of a deal,” Walton said.
Corr said that he never discussed a deal with prosecutors, and that the only deal on the table was the one MacKenzie was offering behind closed doors.
MacKenzie points to a transcript of the hearing, during which he says, from the bench, “the prosecutor will not reduce the charge without the understanding mentioned to him, he chooses not do that, I can’t solve the problem.”
Walton said that statement was “absolutely false.”
MacKenzie told the Free Press he would have had no motive to try to harm Stanley’s civil rights case in federal court. But both the defense attorney and prosecutor say Walled Lake police were pushing hard to find a way to avoid the suit.
According to prosecutor’s office records, the Walled Lake officer in charge, in urging prosecutors to reconsider their decision not to charge Stanley with resisting arrest, claimed MacKenzie had already promised to bind Stanley over for trial in circuit court on that charge, even though there had been no evidence presented. That officer, who has since been laid off from the department, could not be reached for comment for this story.
And defense attorney Corr said he took notes as he overheard the police officer in the hallway trying to convince the assistant prosecutor to keep the charges or pursue new ones.
That same police officer was sitting in MacKenzie’s chambers, Corr said, when MacKenzie offered the deal a short time later.
After his release from jail, Stanley was placed on two years of probation. In 2012, with less than two months to complete probation, MacKenzie found him in violation after he left the Novi courthouse without completing a drug test. This time, MacKenzie sentenced him to the Oakland Couny Jail for a year. He served 270 days, then was released after earning good time.
Stanley, now living in Detroit after MacKenzie ordered him to stay out of Walled Lake, says the ordeal was a string of injustices, first the Tasering, then MacKenzie’s heavy-handed deal, then the jailing. “They did me wrong,” he said. “I shouldn’t have been drinking, but there was no cause to do all that.”
By Nick Grube
Nick Grube/Honolulu Civil Beat
A Honolulu police cruiser on the corner of 10th and Waialae avenues.
Hawaii lawmakers want the chance to research police misconduct without being told an officer’s disciplinary file has already been destroyed.
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that seeks to increase transparency about bad behavior inside Hawaii’s county police departments by forcing agencies to include more information in annual misconduct reports to the Legislature.
But the committee also amended the measure to force county departments to hold on to fired officers’ disciplinary files for at least 18 months after those annual reports are submitted.
The original version of the bill — introduced by Rep. Karl Rhaods, who chairs the Judiciary Committee — only called on departments to keep a fired cop’s file for six months.
“We wanted to extend it to 18 months,” Rhoads said. “We were concerned that if it were only six months long that when the reports come to us we would not be able to review anything.”
House Bill 1812 seeks to shed more light on the misconduct that takes place inside Hawaii’s four county police departments for forcing those agencies to disclose more information about bad cops.
Each year county police chiefs are required to submit a report the Legislature that provides a brief summary of misconduct incidents and whether an officer was suspended or discharged.
No names are provided, and the reader is often left guessing as to what actually transpired. There’s also no way to tell if a disciplinary action has been overturned as a result of a union grievance procedure.
But HB 1812 propose to increase the amount of information given to lawmakers in the annual reports. Not only would the bill require better descriptions of the misconduct, but it would also note which incidents constituted criminal conduct and whether an officer was prosecuted.
The bill would also require county police departments to describe whether an officer has appealed a disciplinary action and whether it was still proceeding through a union grievance process.
HB 1812 has a companion bill in the Senate that also passed another legislative hurdle Tuesday. Senate Bill 2591 — introduced by Sen. WIll Espero — was approved by the Sen. Clayton Hee’s Judiciary Committee after first passing out of the Senate Public Safety Committee.
The State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO) is the only group to oppose the bills so far.
In written testimony, SHOPO President Tenari Ma’afala said that providing more details about misconduct could lead to the identification of police officers.
He also said the bills contradict Hawaii’s public records law, the Uniform Information Practices Act, that states that only the details on discharged officers can be made public.
SHOPO did not oppose the provisions that would force county police departments to identify which incidents were committed by the same officer.
The union also did not oppose saying in the reports whether an officer has fully exhausted the grievance process.
Support for the bill comes from the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter and the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest.
In written testimony SPJ President Stirling Morita blamed the Legislature for making police officers’ names secret.
He recounted the story of how the Legislature in 1995 exempted suspended cops from having to reveal details about their misconduct at the behest of SHOPO.
At that time, the union was on the losing end of a legal battle with a group of University of Hawaii journalism students who wanted police disciplinary records.
Morita noted that the Legislature in 1995 required the annual misconduct reports to be submitted as a way to measure whether the secrecy was warranted.
“But we wonder how the public and the Legislature can gauge whether the law is having bad results because the summaries of offenses are so bereft of details,” Morita said. “How can anyone get a picture of offenses within a police department with such inadequate descriptions as hindering a federal investigation?”
He added that giving the public more detail about the various incidents of misconduct would identify individual officers. Rather he said it would give the public a better handle on whether the police department, its administration and the police commission were providing adequate oversight.
“This bill does not violate any privacy rights of the individual police officers,” Morita said. “Please pass this bill.”
Both HB 1812 and SB 2591 were drafted in response to Civil Beat’s series, In The Name of the Law, that examined police misconduct and the secrecy surrounding it.
Should the bills become law, it would help reverse what has been a decades long trend to cover up police misconduct in the Hawaiian isles.
Civil Beat also recently won a lawsuit that challenged the confidentiality surrounding suspended police officers.
Should that ruling stand it could mean that all suspended and discharged police officers’ disciplinary files will be publicly available and the records haven't been destroyed.
Local NAACP leaders and other activists say the city’s Civilian Police Review Board ought to demand more authority to handle complaints, including the right to conduct its own investigations of police officers.
The board now has the authority only to look over the shoulder of the Durham Police Department’s internal affairs detectives, weighing in on whether they’re doing their jobs properly when someone alleges police misconduct.
As a result, “people are not convinced the board as presently constituted will provide relief,” Ian Mance, a lawyer with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, told members of the advisory panel.
Mance’s comments came during a hearing that members said will set the stage for them to confer next month on whether to ask the City Council to change the board’s operating procedures.
The lawyer and other speakers said the board should seek independence from the city manager, who by law has final say over employee discipline, including of the police.
The council in setting up the Civilian Police Review Board in 1999 made it an arm of the manager’s office. The manager appoints its members, and the board reports findings to the manager.
But James Chavis, a former Partners Against Crime District 1 co-facilitator, said the board should report directly to the City Council so the public can hold elected officials accountable for the Police Department’s actions.
Given the current system, there’s reason to think the manager “will not accept your recommendation [on a case] if it’s not for the benefit of his bosses,” Chavis said, adding the review board needs make sure elected officials hear about misconduct complaints “face to face” and in public.
NAACP activists, Mance and local defense lawyer David Hall all said the board should ask for the independent investigative authority it presently lacks.
Now, “you are relying on the Police Department to provide you the information you consider,” Mance said. “If there’s a compelling statement from a citizen that’s not in interests of the Police Department, all they have to do is withhold it. Make it easier for people to get face time with you.”
The Durham NAACP, represented by chapter First Vice President Roland Staton, said the board should have the power to compel police cooperation, if necessary through subpoenas.
But the group – whose leader is County Commissioner Fred Foster – stopped short of asking that the board receive binding authority over disciplinary matters.
Mance did not, in written comments arguing the panel should be able “to overrule police and city manager decisions regarding police discipline.”
He acknowledged that would require a change in state law, which now withholds even from the City Council the authority to overrule the manager’s disciplinary decisions.
But he argued that the council can expand the review board’s powers in lesser ways without asking the N.C. General Assembly to change the law.
Wednesday’s hearing was the latest in a series of advisory-board meetings that have followed complaints about alleged racial profiling and the Police Department’s handling of a spate of officer-involved shootings.
All the previous hearings were by the city’s Human Relations Commission, a separate panel that’s working on the issue at the City Council’s request. It held weekly meetings in January to gather information to use in drafting advice to the council.
Three Millville officers allege police misconduct
By THOMAS BARLAS
MILLVILLE — A trio of local law-enforcement officers have stung the Police Department in the past year and a half with allegations that would indicate the agency is in turmoil.
The officers allege everything in their Superior Court lawsuits from unwarranted disciplinary action to ticket-fixing on behalf of senior staff.
Perhaps the most serious allegations are contained in a lawsuit filed recently by Detective Jeremy Miller, who charges that some Police Department detectives have closed burglary, robbery, sexual assault, shooting and aggravated assault cases before investigations into those crimes were complete.
City officials contend the lawsuits contain only allegations of improper action.
However, City Commission in July agreed to pay $65,000 in legal fees to the attorney representing Patrolman Edmund Ansara in his lawsuit. The commission found that Ansara was disciplined under departmental charges that were ultimately found to be unsustainable.
Police Chief Thomas Haas did not respond to a request by The Press of Atlantic City for comment regarding the lawsuits and whether the allegations contained in those lawsuits are damaging public confidence in his department.
Mayor Michael Santiago said he was told by city legal staff not to comment on the lawsuits. Santiago, who took office in January, is a former local police officer who serves as City Commission’s public safety director.
Former Commissioner David Vanaman, who served as public safety director before Santiago, said he is certain the lawsuits are affecting the public’s perception of the Police Department.
“And it’s not good,” Vanaman said.
While Vanaman would not comment directly about the lawsuits and their impact on local law-enforcement efforts, he said there are “many good officers in the Millville Police Department.” He also said that a review of the Police Department performed several months ago resulted in “no negative reports.” He would provide no additional information about the review.
“I’ve said more than I should,” he said.
Miller is represented by Northfield attorney Michelle Douglass, who said she has handled many cases involving police departments in more than two decades of practicing law. One thread that runs through the lawsuits seems to be a lack of management training on behalf of upper-level officers who handle disciplinary matters, she said.
“Discipline should be for teaching,” Douglass said. “Not in a police department. Discipline is totally viewed as punishment. These supervisors throw the book at police officers, charging them with everything under the sun.”
“It’s my way or the highway,” she said. “There is a power control element from the higher-ups that causes resentment a lot of times. Oftentimes, it’s abused.”
Douglass said the result is often a “fiercely scorched-earth kind of legal action.”
Santiago disagrees, saying police officers do undergo supervisory training. He would not comment further on that issue.
Along with the lawsuits filed by Ansara and Miller, the Police Department is defending itself against legal action taken by Lt. Ed. Zadroga. All of the lawsuits are linked in some way.
Ansara and Zadroga alleged they were unfairly disciplined and harassed for providing information about an alleged ticket-fixing incident involving one of their captains.
Ansara allegedly followed orders to void a traffic ticket he wrote on Nov. 7, 2011. Zadroga claims to have told the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office about the incident two weeks later. Ansara eventually gave testimony about the alleged ticket fix to the Prosecutor’s Office.
The person who received the ticket for allegedly running the red light at Main and Buck streets is not identified by name in either lawsuit. Zadroga’s lawsuit identifies the person as the daughter of a retired police officer and a family friend of the police captain who ordered the ticket voided.
Ansara stated in his lawsuit that he wound up being suspended from Feb. 27, 2012, through March 17, 2013. He further charged that he was “humiliated by being pegged as the individual making up an alleged ticket-fixing scheme” and that he had “inappropriate comments continually directed at him by supervisors.”
In his lawsuit, Zadroga states that he has endured “a steady barrage of retaliation” because he reported the alleged ticket-fixing to the Prosecutor's Office. That included having a stuffed rat placed in front of his office door and “being targeted for unwarranted discipline.”
Along with alleging that some detectives were not fully investigating cases, Miller claims in his lawsuit that he was treated unfairly after refusing to take sides in ongoing disputes involving Zadroga and Haas. Part of that dispute involved an alleged effort by Zadroga to remove Haas as police chief, Miller’s lawsuit reads.
Miller, a 10-year-veteran of the Police Department, alleges his decision to stay neutral prompted Zadroga to unfairly give him more cases to investigate than other detectives, the lawsuit states.
A new report faults Lowell Police in the death of a 31-year-old woman being held in custody. The officers responsible might get "disciplined" -- but Eileen McNamara says they should be prosecuted. (davidsonscott15/flickr)
Let’s withhold kudos for candor from the Lowell Police Department until it fires the officers responsible for the deliberate, negligent treatment of a 31-year-old woman who died in their custody 13 months ago.
Middlesex County prosecutors did not even try to indict them for involuntary manslaughter. The least the City of Lowell can do is fire them.
The department’s just released internal report of events surrounding the death of Alyssa Brame is blunt in its assessment of the rank incompetence and callous indifference of seven officers and civilian employees the night the homeless woman was picked up for prostitution.
in Massachusetts, history suggests police officers guilty of misconduct are more likely to face a wrist slap than a judge or a pink slip.
“Some Lowell police employees displayed, in my opinion, conduct which could be described as deliberate indifference for Ms. Brame and that such conduct should shock the conscience of us all,” Lowell Police Supt. William Taylor wrote to the department last week. “Throughout this process, we have kept the family of Ms. Brame in our thoughts.”
Good, but not nearly good enough.
Determining that Brame was too drunk to be booked on Jan. 12, 2013, Taylor’s employees ignored their training, myriad state laws and departmental regulations and failed to summon medical help. Instead, they dumped the by-then-unconscious woman onto a bench in a holding cell where she would lay ignored for more than an hour before she died of acute alcohol poisoning.
Taylor met with Brame’s mother and apologized. Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan suggested better police training. City Manager Bernard F. Lynch promised closed-door hearings to consider disciplinary action. But, in Massachusetts, history suggests police officers guilty of misconduct are more likely to face a wrist slap than a judge or a pink slip. TWEET
Ryan, for one, declared Brame’s death “accidental” in a report that said police conduct did not “rise to the level of wanton and reckless conduct that would support or warrant criminal charges.” Even though Lt. Thomas Siopes, the officer in charge that night, misled investigators about her condition. Even though officers failed to check on Brame every 30 minutes as legally required. Even though Siopes has said he sees no reason, even now, to reconsider his decision not to call an ambulance.
“If your child came home drunk and collapsed in front of you and you went off to watch TV or play video games, which is what, in effect, these officers did, you would be indicted,” said Howard Friedman, a Boston civil rights attorney who often represents survivors in police misconduct cases, including this one. Impressed as he is that Taylor acknowledged the department’s negligence, Friedman noted that real accountability in police misconduct cases is harder to come by.
A New Bedford case is typical. After a man succumbed to a drug overdose while in police custody on July 22, 2010, a review board recommended discipline for five police officers that ranged from a six-month suspension to termination. Investigators had determined that officers did nothing while 42-year-old Erik Aguilar overdosed. They did not intervene until the handcuffed man had been motionless for nine minutes, inaction that an internal report labeled “an embarrassing disgrace to the New Bedford Police Department and a case of absolute negligence…”
Those disciplinary cases were resolved last year. The five officers all received four-day suspensions without pay.
The outcomes are even more lopsided in favor of the police when officers are involved in deadly shootings. Of the 73 people killed by police in Massachusetts since 2002 — 12 of them last year alone — all but one resulted in no discipline against the officers, according to an examination of those cases by Jack Sullivan of CommonWealth magazine.
Quality policing cannot exist if citizens can’t trust that the police who are sworn to protect them use excessive force and lie about their actions.
– U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz
District attorneys in Massachusetts are responsible for investigating police shootings, an inherent conflict of interest that helps explain why prosecutors invariably deem such deadly shootings “justified.”
Victims of police misconduct might need to look beyond the commonwealth’s legal system to find justice. This week, a jury did convict Shawn Coughlin, 47, of beating a handcuffed drunken driving suspect and then doctoring his incident reports to cover the crimes he committed when he was a Plymouth police sergeant.
“Quality policing cannot exist if citizens can’t trust that the police who are sworn to protect them use excessive force and lie about their actions. It is very important to our entire system of justice that individuals who violate that trust are held accountable,” U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said after the verdict in federal court.
Had Massachusetts prosecutors only felt the same, there might have been some justice for Alyssa Brame.
BRIDGEPORT - The Bridgeport police officer who accidentally shot himself in a bagel shop is due in court today on gun charges. Juan Santiago was arrested earlier this month. State police say he shot himself in the leg at the Bagel King in December.Police say the gun was not Santiago's service weapon.
By Mark D. Wilson, San Antonio Express-News : February 27, 2014 : Updated: February 28, 2014 11:35am
SAN ANTONIO — A San Antonio police officer was arrested for driving while intoxicated early Thursday morning.
San Marcos Police Department Chief Howard Williams said James Henry Ferguson, 37, was arrested around 2:30 a.m. He was held in the Hays County Jail overnight and released in lieu of $3,000 bail at 12:45 Thursday afternoon.
Ferguson, a six-year veteran of the department, will be placed on administrative leave while authorities investigate, according to SAPD.
Christopher Pagano, 41, was finally arrested in January as police identified him as the man who had apparently been roaming the Mayfair neighborhood of Philadelphia for several weeks exposing his genitals while lovingly fondling a hunk of Swiss cheese ("cheese-accessorized" genitals, wrote a Philadelphia Daily News reporter). The case was broken when a 2012 victim recalled a "Swiss cheese pervert" in the Philadelphia area and searched for him on the Internet, locating a man who rhapsodized as much about cheese as about having sex. "I started to compare girls to cheese due to their milky (complexions)," the man (Pagano) wrote. "(G)irls are soft, smooth-feeling, and tend to like dairy products more." [Philly.com, 1-20-2014; Philadelphia Daily News, 1-31- 2014]
Police charged a New Jersey man with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer, but recently revealed footage from a dashboard camera told a different story: Not only did the officers start beating the man for no apparent reason, but they actually crashed one of their vehicles into the man’s car.
Then they allegedly lied about what transpired and suppressed the evidence, but were somehow found innocent during an internal investigation.
Prosecutors, however, dropped all charges against 30-year-old Marcus Jeter, a black man, once they saw the incredible video footage, which fully corroborates Jeter’s side of the story.
Jeter’s nightmare began when Bloomfield police pulled him over on the highway. Police claimed that Jeter eluded them, even though the footage clearly shows him pulling over promptly.
One of the officer’s approached Jeter’s vehicle with his gun raised, and pointed it directly in Jeter’s face. Another officer was carrying a shotgun in the altercation.
“I was afraid that I might get shot,” said Jeter in an interview with WABC.
What happened next was so crazy that Jeter’s lawyer didn’t believe it–until he saw the footage for himself. Another cop car responded to the scene and crashed right into Jeter’s vehicle. This detail was not mentioned at all in the police report, and the officers pretended like it never happened–until the video contradicted them.
Next, the footage clearly shows Jeter raising his hands in the air, initiating no violence against the officers. The cops respond by punching him repeatedly, all while yelling at him, “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!”
Jeter was not resisting in the slightest. And yet he was eventually charged with eluding arrest, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. Prosecutors offered him a plea deal of 5 years in prison, according to Watchdog Wire.
Thankfully, local reporters were able to dig up the video footage–which prosecutors claimed they had never seen. After watching it, they dropped all charges against Jeter.
The officers involved are now facing various charges, including assault, misconduct and tampering with evidence.
One of those officers, Orlando Trinidad, gave an interview on Wednesday in which he claimed that his behavior toward Jeter is explained by the fact that he didn’t know whether Jeter had a gun. Trinidad was scared for his life, he said.
But Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia was outraged, and said the police had clearly attempted a cover-up, according to the New York Daily News.
Another disturbing detail–an internal affairs investigation conducted by the Bloomfield police department found no wrongdoing on the part of the officers.
In a statement, Jeter told reporters that he would likely be in jail if the video footage was never released.
“I’m sure that if this happened to me, this could happen to a bunch of other people,” he said.