Fired cop asks judge to toss assault charge
Mark Richardson's court motion filed under seal
By Kyle Stucker
SEABROOK — The defense attorney for a former town officer facing a police brutality charge has filed under seal a motion to dismiss the indictment against his client.
Mark Richardson, 39, of West Newbury, Mass., is scheduled for trial in November on one count of enhanced misdemeanor simple assault by an on-duty law enforcement officer. Richardson is accused of slamming then-19-year-old Seabrook resident Michael Bergeron Jr. head-first into a Seabrook police station wall on Nov. 11, 2009.
Attorney Peter Perroni's motion is 15 pages long and raises "six legal issues," according to a document filed in Rockingham Superior Court by prosecutor and Assistant Attorney General Jay McCormack.
Details of Perroni's motion aren't available, though, as the motion itself is under seal.
McCormack hasn't yet filed a response to Perroni's motion. He has until Sept. 8 to do so because a judge has extended the deadline on Aug. 21. When reached by phone, McCormack said he "cannot speak to anything under seal," comment on whether the state will file an objection, or comment on further aspects of the case.
Richardson allegedly slammed Bergeron, now 23, face-first into the cell block wall after Bergeron was arrested for driving while intoxicated on Nov. 11, 2009. The incident first came to light on Jan. 6 of this year after Bergeron posted station surveillance video of the incident on YouTube. Richardson is the only officer facing criminal charges, although he and officer Adam Laurent were fired July 23 after the completion of an independent internal affairs investigation into the incident.
Laurent allegedly pepper sprayed Bergeron while he was on the floor after Richardson slammed him into the wall.
Officer Keith Dietenhofer was present during the incident and was suspended for two days for his failure to adequately report it.
John Wasson was demoted from lieutenant to patrolman because he failed to report the incident to superiors and failed to look into the matter when asked by the alleged victim's mother. Wasson is fighting his demotion. Town Manager Bill Manzi denied his grievance on Aug. 21, although Wasson has the option to appeal that decision with the Board of Selectmen or go right to binding arbitration.
U.N. urges U.S. to stop police brutality after Missouri shooting
Incident casts spotlight on state of race relations in America
By Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters
Protesters call for a thorough investigation of the shooting death of teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on a street in front of the White House in Washington, August 28, 2014. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)
GENEVA — The U.N. racism watchdog urged the United States on Friday to halt the excessive use of force by police after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman touched off riots in Ferguson, Mo.
Minorities, particularly African Americans, are victims of disparities, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) said after examining the U.S. record.
“Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing,” Noureddine Amir, CERD committee vice chairman, told a news briefing.
Teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer on Aug. 9, triggering violent protests that rocked Ferguson — a St. Louis suburb — and shone a global spotlight on the state of race relations in America.
“The excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities is an ongoing issue of concern and particularly in light of the shooting of Michael Brown,” said Amir, an expert from Algeria.
“This is not an isolated event and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials.”
The panel of 18 independent experts grilled a senior U.S. delegation on Aug. 13 about what they said was persistent racial discrimination against African-Americans and other minorities, including within the criminal justice system.
U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper told the panel that his nation had made “great strides toward eliminating racial discrimination” but conceded that “we have much left to do”.
Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown, has been put on paid leave and is in hiding. A St. Louis County grand jury has begun hearing evidence and the U.S. Justice Department has opened its own investigation.
Police have said Brown struggled with Wilson when shot. But some witnesses say Brown held up his hands and was surrendering when he was shot multiple times in the head and chest.
‘STAND YOUR GROUND’ LAWS
In its conclusions issued on Friday, the U.N. panel said “Stand Your Ground” Laws, a controversial self-defense statute in 22 U.S. states, should be reviewed to “remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to principles of necessity and proportionality when deadly force is used for self-defense”.
Ron Davis, father of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old shot dead in a car in Jacksonville, Florida during an argument over loud rap music in November 2012, attended the Geneva session. Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen killed in Miami, Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, testified.
The U.N. panel monitors compliance with a treaty ratified by 177 countries including the United States.
“The Committee remains concerned at the practice of racial profiling of racial or ethnic minorities by law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration, border enforcement officials and local police,” it said, urging investigations.
The experts called for addressing obstacles faced by minorities and indigenous peoples to exercise their right to vote effectively. This was due to restrictive voter identification laws, district gerrymandering and state-level laws that disenfranchise people convicted of felonies, it said.
Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the U.N. recommendations highlighted “shortcomings on racial equality that we are seeing play out today on our streets, at our borders and in the voting booth.
“When it comes to human rights, the United States must practice at home what it preaches abroad,” he said.
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Former officer contends run for office triggered suspension in gun-grab case
By Brendan J. Lyons
Updated 7:21 am, Friday, September 5, 20
A former town police officer who is running for public office quit his job last month after being suspended by Waterford Public Safety Commissioner John Tanchak as questions surfaced about the arrest of a man charged with trying to grab the officer's gun.
Video of the arrest was captured by a dashboard police camera that officials said showed the incident didn't unfold as the officer and a witness claimed. The video has prompted prosecutors to say they will dismiss the charge against the suspect, while the witness, a local funeral home director, supports the officer's account.
The former officer, Jeremy W. Connors, 37, who is running for a Halfmoon Town Board seat, said the witness signed a statement backing up his version of what unfolded. Connors believes he was targeted for discipline, in part, because of dissatisfaction by some town leaders with his decision to enter politics, and without seeking their approval beforehand. Connors was a Waterford police officer for nine years until his resignation following the Aug. 4 traffic stop.
"I have a stellar reputation ... a stellar background in law enforcement," Connors said. "I've been in law enforcement for 14 years and the guy came at me, plain and simple. ... I felt his hand toward my right-waist side, which was my gun side. That's when it became for real. It was not just a resisting arrest at that point."
The motorist, Mark J. Riley of Troy, was charged with attempted robbery, a felony, and resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.
He was also issued four tickets, including driving with a revoked registration and following too closely.
Connors said he pulled Riley over for tailgating another motorist, and the traffic stop spiraled out of control when he went to handcuff Riley.
Attorneys for the town, citing the ongoing criminal case, declined to release a copy of the video.
But officials with the Saratoga County district attorney's office said they will move to dismiss the felony robbery charge, which related to the suspect's alleged grab at Connors' gun, because of what they saw on the video.
"Based upon our review of that, that information was turned over immediately to the defense attorney, as soon as we got it, and we indicated that based upon that review we believe it may be considered exculpatory evidence in favor of the defendant," First Assistant District Attorney Karen A. Heggen said, declining to elaborate because the case is pending. "I think the focus of the prosecution is not going to be on the attempted robbery, but on the other charges pending from that incident."
Waterford Supervisor Jack Lawler said the town's decision to suspend Connors had nothing to do with politics.
"Mr. Connors was suspended for 30 days by Public Safety Commissioner John Tanchak and he faced additional possible disciplinary action," Lawler said. "Mr. Connors chose not to avail himself of his right to contest the suspension, or to go forward and defend himself from the pending disciplinary action. Mr. Connors instead chose to resign his position as a police officer in the town of Waterford."
Tanchak, a former Albany police officer, did not respond to a request for comment. He suspended Connors last month after reviewing the video.
Lawler said he also reviewed the video of the arrest but declined comment on what he saw, adding it may become public when the criminal case is resolved. But Lawler insisted that town leaders had known for months about Connors' candidacy in Halfmoon and had no issue with it.
The supervisor noted that both he and Connors are Republicans. Connors was endorsed by the Halfmoon Republican Committee and filed nominating petitions two months ago to be on the ballot in November.
"In fact, I had wished him good luck in his political career," Lawler said, recounting a brief conversation when he ran into Connors over the summer at a party. "One has nothing to do with the other. ... He wasn't required to seek permission. There was nothing in the contract that would have prevented him from running for office. His employment has nothing to do, as far as we were concerned, with his political aspirations."
Connors' version of the arrest is backed by Walter J. DeWitt of Watervliet, who signed a written statement indicating Riley, a burly construction worker, fought hard as the officer tried to handcuff him and then tried to grab the officer's handgun, according to court records. DeWitt, a funeral director, said that he pulled his vehicle over and went to the officer's aid as he drove home from work along Middletown Road.
"I thought he had the officer's gun," DeWitt said. "I honestly believed that he was going to murder the officer and then turn the gun on me."
DeWitt said Riley "did a spin move" as Connors tried to handcuff him. "It was definitely an attempt for him going after the gun, no doubt in my mind," Dewitt added. During the struggle, an ammunition clip on Connors' belt fell to the ground and DeWitt said he picked it up for Connors after Riley was placed in a patrol car.
Former Hoosick Falls Police Chief Bob Whalen, who supervised Connors when he worked in that department for several years prior to joining the Waterford force, supported Connors. "I would trust him with my family's life.
"He's probably one of the best officers I ever had working for me," Whalen said.
Riley's attorney, Robert W. Pulsifer of Wilton, said his client has no violent criminal history and the video supports Riley's version of the incident.
"There is nothing on that video that shows any attempt to reach for a weapon," Pulsifer said. "This is a decent guy, and this is an unfortunate traffic stop that maybe the police officer was a little too heavy-handed about."
By Editorial Board September 5
AT POINT-BLANK range, a Fairfax County police officer a year ago fired one shot, killing an unarmed man standing inside his home. The man, John Geer, was distraught and had been drinking — his longtime girlfriend had moved out and called police when he threw her things into the front yard — but he held no hostages, brandished no weapons and, so far as we have learned, posed no serious threat either to police or to public order. (Mr. Geer did own guns, which he apparently told police.)
Shot in the chest, he was left to bleed to death inside his doorway while police officers, remaining outside the house, did nothing for an hour. Five and a half hours after the shooting, his body remained sprawled on the floor where he died.
Incredibly, the authorities in Northern Virginia — including Fairfax County police and state and federal prosecutors — have refused to furnish any explanation for this stupefying sequence of events last Aug. 29 in Springfield. They have stonewalled.
Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. promised to “hold myself accountable” to Mr. Geer’s family, which includes two young daughters. He has done nothing of the kind. No official information about the shooting has been forthcoming. The officer who fired the shot, who remains on the force with full pay, has not been identified.
The authorities conduct themselves as if the case presented insurmountable complexities. This strains credulity. It involved one shot, one gun, one shooter and one fatality. It took place in broad daylight, at mid-afternoon. It was witnessed at close range by at least two other police officers, as well as friends and neighbors of Mr. Geer. And still authorities refuse to act or discuss Mr. Geer’s death.
Some witnesses have spoken with The Post’s Tom Jackman, who has reported their accounts as well as their mounting frustration at the official paralysis that has ensued for more than 12 months.
At every juncture, the authorities appear to have abdicated their duty of accountability, both to Mr. Geer’s loved ones and to the public. Police took more than three months to furnish reports on the shooting to state prosecutors in the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office. More than another month elapsed before the chief prosecutor, Raymond F. Morrogh, citing unspecified conflicts of interest, punted the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, then stopped taking questions on the matter.
That was in February. Since then, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente has refused even to acknowledge that his office is looking into the case, although Justice Department lawyers have interviewed witnesses.
On Tuesday, Mr. Geer’s longtime partner, Maura Harrington, who is the mother of his two daughters, sued the county police, the police chief and three unnamed officers, alleging gross negligence. She seeks $12 million — in addition to some answers that she and Mr. Geer’s other loved ones clearly deserve.
Will no one take responsibility and make some decisions in the unexplained death of Mr. Geer?
Cop arrested in Queens after allegedly getting into fight with mechanic, refusing to pay
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/arrested-queens-allegedly-fighting-mechanic-article-1.1928952#ixzz3CdmYd0U8
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