by Nick Chiles
A citizens panel in Portland, Ore., that investigates police misconduct is looking into an incident from last year during which two officers arrested and handcuffed a 9-year-old Black girl who had gotten into a fight with two other girls outside a local Boys & Girls Club.
The arrest on April 26, 2013, occurred when the mother of one of the girls called police and demanded that the 9-year-old be arrested for hitting her child in the face.
A week later, Officers David McCarthy and Matthew Huspek questioned the girl and arrested her on a fourth-degree assault charge.
The girl was taken in handcuffs to police headquarters in a wet bathing suit, where she was fingerprinted and photographed and put in a cell for an hour.
The girl’s mother, Latoya Harris, was not allowed to ride in the patrol car with her.
“When they put handcuffs on, I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this has got to be a joke,’” Harris told The Portland Oregonian. “The look on my daughter’s face went from humiliation and fear, to a look of sheer panic.”
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Joseph Hagedon, chief supervising attorney for the Metropolitan Public Defender’s juvenile unit, said the actions of the officers, who showed up a week later at the girl’s home, “was way over the top.”
But police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson told the Daily Mail that Portland officers use handcuffs as a safeguard, and the two officers were following proper procedure.
The now-10-year-old girl was traumatized by the incident and had to change schools because of teasing. She has been in counseling since last June.
The girl’s mother last month went to the Citizen Review Committee, an advisory and monitoring panel that hears complaints of alleged officer misconduct against Portland police. The committee agreed to hear her testimony and it was first reported in the weekly Portland Mercury. Harris said she is planning to sue the department.
Critics of the department are asking for a change in policy to sharply restrict officers from taking a child younger than 10 years old into custody.
After she was held in a cell for an hour, the 9-year-old girl was released. Prosecutors declined to pursue prosecuting the little girl.
The fight occurred between two girls because one of them tattled on the other in school for drawing on a desk. After a staff member broke up the fight, Harris’ daughter continued trying to kick and punch her nemesis — though the girls eventually apologized to one another and the 9-year-old was suspended from the club for a week.
But the parents got involved when the mother of one of the girls in the altercation called police and demanded that Harris’ daughter be arrested for slamming her child’s head against a wall and leaving a contusion on her face.
Harris said the experience has changed her little girl, a gifted student.
“I didn’t get the same girl back,” she said.
NEW YORK — The Society of the Silurians will honor outstanding reporting achievements at its semi-annual Excellence in Journalism awards dinner Thursday evening.
A nine-month investigation by Newsday into misconduct by dozens of Long Island police officers will receive two medallions. They are for public service in the print category and in online investigative reporting.
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St. Pete officer suspended for lying about wreck
By Stephen Thompson |
ST. PETERSBURG — A city police officer has been suspended for 60 days after he got into a wreck with a Pasco County sheriff’s undercover vehicle that his wife, then a Pasco deputy, was supposed to be driving, and then lied about it, according to a memorandum issued Thursday by Interim Chief of Police Dave DeKay.
Officer Kevin Haskins, 37, had dropped off his wife, Jessica Haskins, at a Home Depot in New Port Richey on Jan. 19, 2013, while he went to look for a parking space for her vehicle, leased by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, the memorandum says.
Haskins called his wife and, after she showed up, the two spoke privately, the summary says. According to Shurtleff, Kevin Haskins asked Shurtleff if she were willing to say Jessica Haskins was driving, rather than Kevin, as she would get into trouble otherwise, the summary says.
Later, Jessica Haskins would claim she had the conversation with Shurtleff, in an apparent effort to protect her husband’s job.
Shurtleff waited with Jessica for nearly two hours before Pasco sheriff’s deputies arrived, and they never spoke to Shurtleff to get her input, the summary says. Sheriff’s Cpl. John Spicuglia gave Shurtleff a crash report, and she left.
When Shurtleff took her car for repairs, she discovered the sheriff’s office was paying only for half of the damage, as Shurtleff was deemed half responsible for the crash, the case summary says.
Shurtleff looked into the matter and discovered Jessica Haskins claimed Shurtleff’s car was moving at the time of the collision. Shurtleff brought the matter up with the sheriff’s office and told deputies Kevin Haskins was the one driving, not Jessica Haskins.
The sheriff’s office began an investigation, during which Jessica Haskins, who was working as a vice and narcotics detective, resigned on March 28, 2013 instead of being fired.
In December, St. Petersburg police learned of Haskins’ deception after his wife applied for a job with the agency. Investigators did a background check, and found Kevin Haskins’ potential involvement in the Home Depot wreck.
“Officer Haskins stated his wife had been dealing with a number of personal issues, and he could see she was afraid she would get in trouble for allowing him to operate her work vehicle,” the summary says. “Officer Haskins said he was trying to protect his wife, and it was then that he suggested the idea to her that they report the incident as her driving.”
Kevin Haskins has been with the St. Petersburg police department since 2011.
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Ex-Nassau cop accused of on-duty trysts pleads guilty to misconduct charges
May 12, 2014
A former Nassau County police officer was sentenced to community service Monday after pleading guilty to official misconduct charges after he was indicted on more than a hundred criminal charges for allegedly spending hours at his mistress’ homes while he was supposed to be responding to 911 calls, Nassau County prosecutors said.
Michael Tedesco, 45, of Holbrook, pleaded guilty to 75 misdemeanor counts of official misconduct and was sentenced to serve 100 hours of community service, the Nassau County district attorney’s office said. Under a plea deal with prosecutors, Tedesco will forfeit his nearly $195,000 termination package and will also personally repay the county close to $4,000. He could not be reached Monday evening for comment.
Tedesco, who retired from the police force in April 2012, was accused of spending “a considerable amount of on-duty time” at two women’s homes between 2010 and 2012. Prosecutors said he would travel out of his sector – in the Massapequa and Seaford area – to stay at the women’s homes extended periods of time during his shift. When Tedesco was indicted in December 2012, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said he was caught staying at the homes for numerous hours on several occasions.
The district attorney’s office said Tedesco would also fail to update his police communication system – through a computer in his patrol car – and would “linger” at the women’s homes before he would respond to 911 calls. Those calls, they say, included reports of alarms, domestic disturbances and a possible cardiac arrest. Other times, according to authorities, Tedesco would falsely update his police computer to show he was responding to a call, when GPS records from his patrol car showed he was really at his mistress’ home.
Prosecutors said he would also spend at his girlfriend’s home while he was supposed to be “engaged in strategic crime prevention.” Internal affairs investigators were tipped off after a neighbor of one of the women reported seeing Tedesco’s police cruiser in her driveway on a regular basis. He was arrested and charged in December 2012.
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In narcotics probe, one officer fired, others suspended
By Mike Newall and Aubrey Whelan, Inquirer Staff Writers
POSTED: MAY 14, 2014
A Philadelphia narcotics officer who lied on a search warrant in a drug investigation and concealed a business relationship with an informant has been suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Monday.
Jeffrey Cujdik will be fired, and three officers will be suspended and transferred from the narcotics squad, he said.
Cujdik and three of his colleagues have been on desk duty for five years, since a 2009 series in the Philadelphia Daily News reported that they had fabricated evidence, given gifts to informants, and robbed bodegas of cash and merchandise.
The newspaper also reported that one of the officers, Thomas Tolstoy, assaulted three women sexually. A criminal investigation into those allegations is ongoing.
Ramsey's actions come after federal and local law enforcement officials declined to bring criminal charges against the officers.
Federal authorities spent four years investigating allegations of falsified warrants and thefts from bodegas, and in March 2013, declined to file criminal charges. The U.S. Attorney's Office cited a lack of evidence and problems with witnesses' credibility.
After it became clear that no criminal charges would be filed in connection with the alleged thefts and falsified warrants, the department began an internal investigation to see whether the officers had violated department policy. That inquiry, which concluded last month, sustained eight findings of misconduct against the squad.
Ramsey said he took into account "the seriousness of the accusations" and also the time that had elapsed.
"This is a black mark on the department," he said. He stressed that the wrongdoing did not reflect on the "overwhelming majority of officers" on the force, but rather on "a few who lost sight of the values of the department."
Cujdik, a 17-year veteran and the scandal's most public face, will receive the most severe punishment.
Two other officers were suspended for 30 days, the harshest punishment Ramsey could levy other than termination, he said. Another officer and a supervisor also face suspensions.
Efforts to reach Cujdik and the other officers were unsuccessful Monday. John McNesby, president of Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police, said, "We are aware of the pending discipline and will be speaking to the commissioner in the coming days."
Tolstoy will be suspended for 30 days for giving gifts to informants and lying to investigators about it, Ramsey said. Tolstoy could not be reached for comment.
The District Attorney's Office is reviewing two sexual assault allegations against Tolstoy. Ramsey said Monday that the officer would not return to street duty while that investigation is pending.
The department investigated three allegations by women who said Tolstoy sexually assaulted them during drug raids. In two of those cases, Ramsey said, Internal Affairs found insufficient evidence to support the women's accounts.
In the third case, which was reviewed by a federal grand jury, DNA evidence did not match Tolstoy, the commissioner said.
Officer Robert McDonnell will be suspended for 30 days and transferred to a different squad for fabricating evidence on a search warrant, Ramsey said.
Officer Richard Cujdik, Jeffrey Cujdik's brother, will be suspended for two days and transferred to another squad for searching a bodega owner's van without a warrant, he said. His supervisor at the time, Capt. Joseph Bologna, will be suspended for three days for failure to properly supervise.
Jeffrey Cujdik's misconduct was the most extensive and thus his punishment the most severe, Ramsey said.
According to people familiar with the inquiry, investigators found that Jeffrey Cujdik and McDonnell intentionally fabricated evidence on one warrant.
Investigators say they believe Jeffrey Cujdik often attributed buys to an informant who was renting a house from him so he could use his reward money to pay rent. The department found Cujdik had violated guidelines by allowing the informant to live in his house, and cited Cujdik for lying about it.
Internal Affairs investigators also found that Cujdik and Tolstoy gave informants cigarettes, money, cellphones, and prepaid phone cards, sources said.
One informant called Cujdik a "true friend" who had made several small loans to the informant's girlfriend, according to investigators.
Another informant said Cujdik have him clothing, alcohol, and money for cases he had not worked on, investigators said.
A third informant said Cujdik gave her mother $300 to bail her out of jail, sources said.
The investigators concluded that both officers lied when asked about the gift-giving.
Richard Cujdik admitted to investigators that he had searched a van without a warrant in the raid of a bodega. The department cited Bologna for failing to supervise him.
One bodega owner captured video of the officers cutting wires to security cameras during a raid, according to sources. Bologna, the supervisor, told investigators the camera was dismantled for safety reasons - to protect plainclothes officers' identities.
The cameras were seized as evidence and placed on a property receipt - standard procedure, the officers told investigators.
There was no department policy at the time on dismantling security cameras, so investigators concluded the officers had not violated any departmental policies. Investigators did, however, recommend that the department establish a clear policy on such practices.
Former Centerville police officer charged with burglary, heroin possession
BY SCOTT BEVERIDGE
CENTERVILLE – A former Centerville police officer was arrested by state police Tuesday on charges he broke into his grandmother’s house and stole $275 from a pouch on her walker while she was asleep.
Joseph Impiccini Jr., 36, of 230 Low Hill Road in Centerville, became a suspect in the case after the woman awoke and found his ball cap on a chair in her residence, state police noted in the affidavit supporting the charges.
Police said it appeared a piece of metal was used to pop off a lock on a sliding glass door to enter the victim’s Centerville residence. It was about the same time, 11 p.m. Monday, when another relative noticed him in the victim’s driveway, the court record indicates.
When a trooper went to Impiccini’s residence Tuesday, he confessed to stealing the money in order buy heroin, police say. He allegedly had three stamp bags of the drug in his possession at the time.
Impiccini, who rose to the rank of corporal after working for Centerville police for three years, was removed from the police schedule in May 2003 after wrecking a cruiser. Four months later, he was arrested by the state attorney general’s office and later sentenced in Fayette County Court to its Intermediate Punishment Program for possessing $80 worth of heroin. He also was sentenced in Washington County Court to three years of probation after pleading guilty in 2008 to forging six checks written out to laid-off employees of Impiccini School Bus Lines in Centerville.
State police on Tuesday charged him with burglary, drug possession, theft and receiving stolen property. He was placed in Washington County Jail on $25,000 bond set by District Judge Joshua Kanalis.
Ex Rockford Cop Sentenced To 8 Years After DUI Crash
Daniel Cruz came face to face with the women he ran off the road while driving drunk back in 2012. Women he tried to run away from, when they needed the then police officer's help the most.
ROCKFORD - Daniel Cruz, the former Rockford Police officer who pled guilty to aggravated drinking and driving, has been sentenced to 8 years in prison. Police say in May 2012, Cruz was passing an SUV in a no-passing zone southbound on Beloit Road when he struck a pick-up truck and collided with the SUV near Townhall Road. All four passengers of the SUV were taken to the hospital, one of the passengers 61 year old Suzie Danielson was paralyzed from the neck down as a result of a spinal cord injury. Following the crash, Cruz began walking away from the scene and was stopped by a firefighter approximately ¾ of a mile from the accident scene. Cruz refused all chemical testing. A search warrant was then obtained for an involuntary blood draw. Lab results later revealed Cruz’s blood alcohol content to be .14 grams per deciliter. Cruz was a 13 year veteran of the Rockford Police Department who was off duty at the time of the crash. He is no longer with the Department. His ex wife pled with the judge to give Cruz probation, so that he would be able to see his children.
On the stand, Sarah Cerenhous remembers May 2, 2012. She was on the way home with three friends, when they were run off of Beloit Road. “We went to the right Suzie flew over me to the left and I grabbed her so she did not fly out of the car.”
The three car crash would leave one of her friends paralyzed. The man that caused the crash was Rockford police officer Daniel Cruz. The victims testified that Cruz checked on them. “Oh cool, you guys are all okay…at which point, Suzie’s head was on my lap and her body was laying across the back seat, and I started screaming; we are not okay, we are not okay!" said Cerenhous
Dash Cam video then shows Cruz leaving the scene. You can see him on the Right side of the video walking away, phone in hand. He also lied to a firefighter about being the driver. “Stop right there, you lied to me, you are the driver of the car that we have been looking for.” Said Frank Perez
Through tears, Cruz’s ex-wife asked the judge for probation so could be around for his kids. “The kids are his world, and he is there world. Their dad is their superman.” Said Angela Cruz.
Cruz proceeded to ask the judge to show him mercy, saying he has changed since crash. “Your honor, please show me mercy.”
The judge sentenced to eight years in prison, a sentence prosecutors agree with.
“He left the scene of that accident, and he could have provided those people help. He made that choice, and we believe that this punishment meets the crime.” Said Michelle Courier, Boone County States Attorney
HPD officer found guilty of DUI
A Hattiesburg Police Department officer involved in a 2013 vehicle accident that left a 3-year-old injured has been found guilty of driving under the influence and one count of endangering a child by DUI.
Petal court clerk Michelle Strebeck said Zachary Rooke was adjudicated May 6 and has been ordered to pay an undisclosed fine with no jail time.
“He’s got fines on each one of those charges to pay,” Strebeck said. “Of course, as you would anywhere, he has the opportunity to appeal his case, and he’s got 30 days to do that.”
Rooke was charged with first-offense driving under the influence July 7, when officers responded to an accident on the Evelyn Gandy Parkway near the Leeville Road intersection.
Then-Petal Police Department Detective Mitch Nobles said Rooke was allegedly driving a utility task vehicle, or four-wheeled side-by side motorized buggy, at the time of the single-vehicle accident.
Rooke had at least one other passenger with him — a 3-year-old who was transported from the scene to receive medical treatment. Nobles declined to release the condition of the child as well as the injuries the child sustained, citing an ongoing investigation into the incident.
Rooke was honored two years in a row at HPD’s annual awards ceremony for leading the department in misdemeanor arrests, with 129 in 2011 and 203 in 2012.
HPD Maj. Hardy Sims declined to confirm whether Rooke is still employed with the police department.
“That’s a personnel matter, and that’s where we’re going to leave it,” he said.
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