Last week’s news, from The Washington Post, that the survivors of a Springfield man have been forced to sue the Fairfax County government in order to obtain information about the police shooting that left him dead will come as no particular surprise to anyone who has tried to pry loose information, even of the most benign nature, from the county police.
There are two sides to every story, and there is not enough information related to the August 2013 incident to say whether the shooting of an unarmed man was justified, or not.
What we do know is that, with increasing regularity, police across the nation, and in some cases locally, appear to be taking a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach to their job, often leaving innocent people dead or seriously injured.
Law enforcement is not easy in an increasingly urban environment like Northern Virginia, but residents have the right to be concerned about (a) the increasingly paramilitary nature of law-enforcement training and equipment, and (b) the trait of law-enforcement agencies in the area to hide behind legalities in refusing to provide a full accounting when things go awry.
Having watched both of these tendencies unfold in recent years across Fairfax, we have a simple question: Where is Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova on this issue, and where are her board colleagues?
The county’s elected leadership has the ability to force a change in attitude toward policing, and to address valid public concerns that what should be a culture of serve-and-protect appears to be morphing into one of us-vs.-them – and not just in places like Ferguson, Mo.
Bulova and her nine colleagues on the Board of Supervisors will be asking voters next year to bring them back for new terms. Between now and then, they’d better come up with leadership on the issue of transparency in the county’s public-safety arena. The public is taking notice of the deficiencies.
By Sarah Willets
A second Pembroke police officer has been suspended from his position, and a Red Springs police lieutenant has been charged with drug crimes for a second time.
Pembroke Officer Dean Simmons was suspended with pay for 30 days effective Wednesday, according to Gary Locklear, the town’s attorney.
“He is suspended pending the results of an investigation,” Locklear said, declining to release any further details and saying it is a personnel matter. An SBI spokeswoman said the agency is conducting an investigation into the department, but would not say if Simmns is the target.
Locklear said Simmons has been with the Pembroke Police Department for about a year. Police Chief Grant Florita did not return a reporter’s call.
Earlier this week, Detective Reese Oxendine was suspended after he was arrested Monday. Oxendine is charged with two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery for events that allegedly occured earlier this year and led to a three-day suspension in March while the town investigated the allegations.
On Wednesday, Red Springs police Lt. George “Tommy” Thomas Wright, Jr. was arrested in Lumberton for fraudulently obtaining hydrocodone. He was jailed under a $25,000 secured bond.
According to a statement from the SBI, Wright “saw numerous doctors and dentists in Cumberland, Robeson, Hoke and Scotland counties complaining of back, neck or tooth pain to obtain hydrocodone.”
Wright was charged with five counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, four counts of level 3 trafficking and one count of level 1 trafficking by possession of opiates.
Wright faced similar charges in Cumberland County in July. At that time, he was charged with four counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, three counts of level 1 trafficking by possession in an opiate and one count of level 2 trafficking by possession of an opiate.
Wright, who had recently been made the head of Red Springs’ detective division, was put on paid leave. Red Springs officials declined to comment.
YOU would get arrested for this...they got sent home for a paid vacation
Posted 4:38 pm, September 12, 2014, by Nikki Krize,
MOUNT CARMEL TOWNSHIP — Officers blamed for misbehavior are off the job in Northumberland County.
Four officers in Mount Carmel Township are suspended after being blamed for throwing fireworks at another police officer on duty in a neighboring department.
And although it may sound like a prank, local leaders are taking it seriously.
Officers Michael Pitcavage, Matthew Filarski, Patrick McAndrew and David Stamets were suspended last week after an incident that happened on Labor Day, according to Mount Carmel Township’s police chief.
A township official says the four officers were off-duty when they were allegedly driving through Kulpmont and threw a lit firework at a Kulpmont police officer’s car.
“I do feel what they did was wrong as far as throwing something at a passing car. If you think about that lady who got hit by that rock, that officer could’ve wrecked too,” Terry Goguts said.
Authorities said the Kulpmont police officer then chased the four off-duty cops and pulled them over. No charges have been filed yet and the case was handed over to state police.
“They could have been reprimanded other ways I think than being suspended. We need our cops in our town,” Donna Kehler said.
The chief said because of the suspensions, the department went from six full-time and six part-time officers to four full-time and four-part time officers. But he said the Mount Carmel Township police department still has 24/7 coverage.
The two full-time officers were suspended with pay.
“Cops are held to a higher standard. But they’re a bunch of young kids out having a good time,” Kehler said.
“Why should somebody of that authority not get in trouble for it?” Theresa Freeman asked.
Pitcavage is the police chief of Kulpmont and McAndrew is also a part-time officer there. Both are still on the job in Kulpmont. Borough officials in Kulpmont said it is a personnel matter.
“I don’t think that’s right, I really don’t,” Joe Bender said.
Newswatch 16 was unable to get in touch with any of the suspended police officers.
and they got away with it.....where the hell is the federal government on this? All local cops take federal money WE HAVE A SAY IN WHAT THEY DO
Police officer suspended without pay pending investigation
by Chelsea Rabideau
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Louisville Metro Police officer was suspended for 30 days without pay after an investigation. It’s the maximum suspension LMPD hands out.
According to police records, Officer Timothy Boling admitted to texting a woman pictures of himself holding a gun to his head and chest. The SWAT team was called out and saw officers fire his gun. “SWAT officers did see him fire into the dirt,” said Special Investigations Major Don Burbrink, “He wasn’t really intending to hurt anybody. He was just frustrated is, I think, what it was, and was firing into the dirt. So, really, there was no victim per se.”
Boling also admitted to driving his police car drunk and hitting a curb in June 2013. No criminal charges will be filed. After a lengthy investigation, Chief Steve Conrad punished him with 30 days without pay. “I don’t think a lot of people realize, that’s a substantial punishment,” Burbrink explained, “He lost his car for good. He’s not going to be able to have a take home car. He’s got other things that he’s got to do to continue to be employed here.”
Major Burbrink also explained part of the reasoning behind keeping Boling on the force. “We’ve been through this once before, years ago. Another officer, similar situation and Chief White fired him and merit court gave him his job back and the circuit court gave him his job back and we ended up having to settle with him for a substantial amount of money because we didn’t feel comfortable bringing him back,” he said.
Boling will be under close watch back at work. He’s also ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings weekly for the next two years. Any mistakes, and he could be fired.
By Eva Zymaris - email
CHICOPEE, Mass. (WGGB) — A Chicopee Police officer has been suspended after he was caught in bed with a teenager.
Officer Michael Gendron, 43, was found in bed with a 17-year-old girl by her mother. A restraining order has been filed against Gendron, and he is prohibited to go near the teenager’s home, school, and workplace.
The family’s attorney, Daniel Kelly, has confirmed the relationship was going on when the teenager was 16-years-old. Detectives are now working to find out if the relationship started before then — before the legal age of consent.
Gendron is on administrative leave until the investigation is complete. He will appear before Mayor Kos for final disciplinary action.
AUSTIN -- Police Chief Art Acevedo suspended one of his officers for 15 days. According to his disciplinary memo, Officer Wallace Johnson was rude to a man who turned in a purse he found, then failed to process it properly.
That purse belonged to a woman who was the victim of a purse-snatching. The memo says he violated department policies on courtesy, evidence processing and neglect of duty.
Johnson waived his right to appeal the suspension, which began Friday.
Senators: 'Police militarization' needs more oversight
Deirdre Shesgreen, USATODAY
An earlier version of this story included incorrect information from Sen. McCaskill about the status of an Oklahoma county sheriff's department.
WASHINGTON — The federal government is sending more than $1 billion a year to police departments across the country — in the form of equipment and grants — with little assessment of whether that aid is needed and with minimal follow-up on how the weapons or money is used, according to testimony at a Senate committee on Tuesday.
The hearing — co-chaired by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., to probe "police militarization" in the wake of the police response to protests in Ferguson, Mo. — focused on three federal programs designed to help local police departments respond to drug crime and terrorist attacks. Lawmakers and witnesses suggested those programs have run amok, haphazardly doling out military equipment and federal funds and transforming some local police into paramilitary forces.
Pressed by McCaskill and others on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, federal officials who oversee the programs testified they had no way to track any "military-grade" equipment supplied by the government or purchased with federal dollars.
"How in the world can anyone say that this program has one lick of oversight?" McCaskill declared, specifically referring to a Pentagon program that gives surplus military equipment to local police at little or no cost.
She said the Defense Department has given away high-powered equipment — such as Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles — without any evidence that such tools are needed and with no assurance that local police know how to use them.
She said, for example, a one-officer agency in Michigan received 13 military assault rifles.
"That is almost comical, it's so out-of-bounds," she said.
Tuesday's hearing was sparked by the military-style police response to protests in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, after an officer there fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old African-American man. Images of the police in body armor and camouflage, driving armored vehicles, and carrying assault rifles inflamed tensions in the community and opened a national debate about "police militarization."
Tuesday's hearing focused on three separate programs that provide money and equipment to local police. The Pentagon program transfers extra equipment to local departments, while the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security provide grants to state and local law enforcement agencies.
Top officials from each of those agencies said the federal aid has helped law enforcement agencies prepare for terrorist attacks, respond to natural disasters and protect officers who would otherwise be outgunned by drug gangs and hostage-takers.
"During the height of Superstorm Sandy, Jersey Shore police drove two cargo trucks and three Humvees through water too deep for commercial vehicles to save 64 people," said Alan Estevez, a Pentagon official who oversees the military surplus program. "In Texas, armored vehicles received through the program protected police officers during a standoff and shootout with a gang member."
Estevez added, "We are buying down risk out there for our law enforcement agencies,"
Brian Kamoie, an administrator with the Department of Homeland Security, said federal counterterrorism funds provided to Boston proved to be critical when law enforcement there had to deal with the Boston Marathon bombings.
At the same time, Kamoie and others conceded that the three agencies have failed to coordinate with each other on what tools and funding they are supplying. And they said they had limited ability to assess how the weapons and money are used once it leaves Washington.
"We cannot manage local police forces," said Estevez, adding that the Pentagon doesn't have the capacity to train local law enforcement officers on how to use military equipment for civilian purposes.
He said the Defense Department relies on state coordinators to oversee the program. Those officials certify that local agencies need the items they're asking for and have "the ability to train themselves to use it."
McCaskill said there was a similar lack of oversight at Homeland Security and Justice, saying "it's impossible to tell how these federal funds are being spent."
Other lawmakers said the three programs have blurred the line between civilian police who are supposed to protect their communities and military forces geared for war.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., noted that the DOD has given out 12,000 bayonets and asked Estevez what purpose those would serve local police.
"I can't answer what a local police force would need a bayonet for," Estevez responded.
"I can answer: None," Paul said.
He and others suggested the three federal programs needed to be dramatically revamped, with some weapons taken off the available list.
"How did we ever get to the point where we think states need MRAPs?" asked an incredulous Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. The vehicles are valued at about $500,000 to $1 million apiece.
Two local law enforcement representatives testified that such items were necessary in certain situations, but they agreed that Congress should add restrictions to the program — such as training and accountability requirements.
"Anybody who thinks we're not going to have tactical teams or high-powered weapons in American policing is not paying attention to the reality of police officers," said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a law enforcement advocacy group.
He said Congress should tweak the programs to promote leadership and training, so law enforcement officials know when it's appropriate to use those tools and when it's not.
McCaskill said she would work with her Senate colleagues to craft bipartisan legislation that puts some limits on all three programs.
Spring Hill officer arrested on domestic assault, false imprisonment charges
SPRING HILL, TN (WSMV) -
An officer with the Spring Hill Police Department has been arrested on domestic assault and false imprisonment charges.
Officer Eric Pinkerton was arrested by the Columbia Police Department and was taken into custody at the Spring Hill Police Department on Friday.
The police department fired Pinkerton after the arrest.
"This is the second incident Columbia Police Department has been involved with," Lt. Joey Gideon said.
This is Pinkerton's second arrest on domestic violence charges since January.
"SHPD notified us on Aug. 9 that one of their officers, Eric Pinkerton, had been involved in a domestic disturbance here in Columbia with his wife, so our Special Victims Unit got involved," Gideon said.
Pinkerton was told after this January arrest to stay out of trouble for a year and his case would be dismissed.
Gideon said the investigation is still ongoing.
"They are still collecting evidence, but the allegations were that he grabbed her by the hair and kept her from leaving the house for a short period of time," Gideon said.
Pinkerton had worked for the department since Oct. 27, 2008.
A human rights lawyer who was formerly the top attorney for Public Advocate Tish James was arrested for blocking the sidewalk following a pro-Palestinian rally in Times Square while waiting for her children to use the bathroom.
Chaumtoli Huq, 42, was standing outside of Ruby Tuesday on July 19th when her husband and children went into the restaurant to use the restroom. Police officers told her to keep moving down the sidewalk.
"I'm not in anybody's way. Why do I have to move? What's the problem?" Huq told police, according to the criminal complaint obtained by DNAinfo.
Police officer Ryan Lathrop and his partner then pinned her against a wall and arrested her.
“At that point I didn’t know what was happening. I was just thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ and all of a sudden the officer flips me [around]…he [turns] my body and presses me against the wall of the restaurant,” Huq told DNAinfo. “He shoved my left arm all the way and kept pushing it and handcuffed me. At that point I just like instinctively yelled, ‘Help!’ because I was alone. I screamed, ‘Help!’"
In her lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan Federal Court, Huq claims the NYPD acted with “unreasonable and wholly unprovoked force” and that their behavior was “characteristic of a pattern and practice of the NYPD in aggressive overpolicing of people of color and persons lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Huq, who is Muslim, says the officers searched through her purse without probable cause, and took her to the precinct before her husband and children had even returned from the restaurant. When her husband went to go find his wife at the Midtown South Precinct, officers became suspicious of him because he had a last name different than his wife's. "In America wives take the names of their husbands,” an officer allegedly told Huq.
Huq was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, and took an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal to the charges.
The day before her arrest, Huq had taken a leave of absence from the Public Advocate's office so she could focus her attention on human rights abuses against garment workers in her native Bangladesh.
“I was hesitant to bring a case. My job is to be behind the scenes, and help all New Yorkers,” she told the Daily News. But, upon reflection, she decided she could use her experience to "raise awareness about overpolicing in communities of color. I want there to be a dialogue on policing and community relations."
By Katie SolaSep 03, 2014
A Minnesota man filmed police arresting and tasing him as he waited in a public place to pick up his kids from daycare, and posted the results on YouTube. It's now received over a million views and raised more questions about police use of excessive force against African-Americans.
Chris Lollie, a father of four and an aspiring rapper, said he had just finished the night shift cleaning at an Italian restaurant in St. Paul. He said in an interview on the Filter Free Amerika podcast that he had finished work early on Jan. 31, so he took a seat in the skyway outside the First National Bank as he waited to pick up his kids from daycare.
See also: How Big Data Could Help Prevent the Next Ferguson
Lollie says a bank security officer told him the area was private and threatened to call the police. Because Lollie saw no sign saying the area was private property, he says he didn't think a police officer would mind his presence. When a cop showed up, Lollie videotaped the encounter.
The video, titled "Black man taken to jail for sitting in public area," was uploaded to YouTube on Aug. 26. (Lollie says the police department retained his phone for six months after the incident.) It quickly caused an uproar in the media, online and among civil rights groups.
In the video, a female cop, later identified as Lori Hayne, asks Lollie to identify himself. "I wanna find out who you are," the video records her as saying, which Lollie refuses to do. "I know my rights first off, I don't have to let you know who I am," he says.
In this case, he's right. Police have the right to stop and identify passersby in 24 states, but not Minnesota, according to the ACLU's Minnesota chapter. (Arizona, Colorado and New York are three states that do.) These stop and identify laws only apply to situations where the police have a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. In no state can police require a person to show an ID for no reason.
The problem is I'm black. No, that's the problem. It really is," Lollie says in the video.
Lollie repeatedly tells the police officer that he hasn't done anything wrong and that he's picking up his kids from New Horizons daycare. At that point male officers Michael Johnson and Bruce Schmidt arrive and tell Lollie he's going to jail. The video goes black as the officers restrain and tase Lollie.
"Can somebody please help me?" Lollie shouts, "That's my kids right there! My kids are right there!" The viewer can hear what sound like children's wails in the background as Lollie pleads to passersby: "Please help me! Please help me!"
Lollie calls the officers "racist motherfuckers," and accuses them of assault. "I don't have any weapons. You are the one with the weapons here."
According to St. Paul Police Department's statements on Facebook about the incident, Lollie was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process. The charges were dropped in July. The SPPD's post, however, had over 2,000 comments at time of writing, mostly expressing outrage along the lines of reminding police to "protect and serve, not harass and taser."
The St. Paul police union defended the officers' actions, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune, saying Lollie was to blame for the escalation of the situation. “He refused numerous lawful orders for an extended period of time. The only person who brought race into this situation was Mr. Lollie,” the statement said.
In the podcast interview, Lollie shows a text from white reporter Kim Johnson, who says a security guard in that same skyway told her that the seats were open to the public. Citypages.com unearthed a 2009 First National Bank Facebook post inviting passersby to enjoy a "quick five" on those same seats.
The St. Paul police chief Tom Smith also defended the officers' actions. "At one point, the officers believed he might either run or fight with them," he said in an explanatory statement released by a local Fox affiliate on Aug. 26. That caused them to use "the force necessary to safely take him into custody."
The Star Tribune reports that St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has requested a full review of the arrest. "It raises a great deal of concern, especially given this summer’s shooting death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri," he said in a statement.
The Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission (PCIARC), which is made up of five citizens and two members of the police union, will be responsible for the investigation. Lollie has not yet filed an official complaint, though a local news station reported he was planning a federal civil rights lawsuit.
PEMBROKE - A Pembroke police detective charged with two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery has been suspended without pay, the town's lawyer said.
Detective Reese Oxendine, 45, was notified of the decision late Tuesday, a day after the State Bureau of Investigation filed the criminal charges, Gary Locklear said Wednesday.
The charges stem from allegations of sexual harassment made in March by a female Pembroke town employee. Police conducted an internal investigation and Oxendine was suspended for three days, Locklear said.
No criminal charges were filed.
"The town took the appropriate action," Locklear said.
However, Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt asked the State Bureau of Investigation to investigate, Locklear said.
The charges, which were filed Monday, were a result of the SBI investigation.
Oxendine will remain on suspension until the case is resolved, Locklear said.
- Nancy McCleary
2:32 p.m. CDT September 9, 2014
Terry Javery, a 12-year veteran of Harbor Police, was arrested Monday. He was charged with one count of malfeasance in office, 18 counts of access device fraud, eight counts of attempted access device fraud, 18 counts of theft, eight counts of attempted theft, and two counts of possession of stolen property, according to the Port of New Orleans.
NEW ORLEANS -- A Harbor Police officer was arrested by New Orleans police officers for the fraudulent use of a fuel card.
Terry Javery, a 12-year veteran of Harbor Police, was arrested Monday. He was charged with one count of malfeasance in office, 18 counts of access device fraud, eight counts of attempted access device fraud, 18 counts of theft, eight counts of attempted theft, and two counts of possession of stolen property, according to the Port of New Orleans.
A routine audit discovered the possible misuse of the fuel card, and an investigation was launched by authorities.
"The alleged fraudulent use of the card spanned into other parishes, thus NOPD and JPSO were notified. HPD and NOPD initiated a joint investigation with NOPD taking the lead on the criminal investigation and HPD handling the administrative investigation," said a statement from the Port of New Orleans
Javery has been placed on suspension, pending the outcome of the administrative investigation per civil service rules.
The epidemic of mentally unstable cops in American continues: 2 Indianapolis Officers Charged With Bar Beating
INDIANAPOLIS — Sep 10, 2014, 7:02 PM ET
By KEN KUSMER Associated Press
Two Indianapolis police officers who were off duty at a bar drinking shots with a pregnant bartender beat up a patron who began arguing with the woman, an affidavit released Wednesday said.
John Serban and Michael Reiger face felony battery charges over the Aug. 7 incident, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said. According to the probable cause affidavit, 29-year-old patron Bradford Bohanon was put in a chokehold, kicked and had his face ground into the pavement outside the bar, and the officers went back inside afterward and resumed drinking.
Serban, a 16-year police veteran, and Reiger, a 15-year veteran, were arrested without incident Tuesday. A news release from the department said both officers have been suspended without pay pending termination.
"This is a disappointing day for the Police Department and the Department of Public Safety," Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said at a news conference Wednesday.
The affidavit said Serban, 40, and Reiger, 46, were drinking cinnamon whiskey shots with a pregnant bartender along with beer at Mikie's Pub on Indianapolis' south side when Serban became annoyed at patron Bradford Bohanon, who was getting loud, cursing and getting belligerent with the bartender, the probable cause affidavit said.
A videotape of the incident showed the bartender and Bohanon having a disagreement — she had asked Bohanon to leave — when Serban went behind the bar and placed his badge in front of Bohanon's face, according to the affidavit. However, Bohanon, believing the badge was fake, threw it to the ground before the melee broke out, the affidavit said.
Serban placed Bohanon in a chokehold and the three men tumbled into tables, the affidavit said. The videotape showed Reiger then dragged Bohanon facedown by his legs across the bar and out the door while Serban continued punching him, according to the affidavit.
A doorman told investigators he tried to intervene in the fight, only to get punched in the face by Serban. He later saw Serban grind his foot in Bohanon's face while it was on the pavement, "like you're putting out a cigarette," according to the affidavit.
"For trained police officers to react and overreact in this way, it's unacceptable," Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told WRTV-TV.
Published phone numbers could not be found for Reiger, Serban and Bohanon.
According to the affidavit, a server at the bar said Reiger approached her once he was back inside after the beating and said, "What happens here, stays here, right?"
The officers did not seek medical help for Bohanon or call an on-duty officer or supervisor to come to the scene, the affidavit said.
Bohanon suffered scrapes, a boot mark on his head, knots on the back of his head and wounds to his legs, stomach and eye sockets, the affidavit said. He was treated at a hospital in Indianapolis.
Durham police officer charged with assaulting wife
DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham police officer faces misdemeanor charges after he allegedly assaulted his wife.
Kammie Michael, a spokeswoman for the Durham Police Department, said Wednesday that Michael Ladle Hodrick Jr., 27, was arrested Aug. 31 on misdemeanor charges of assault on a female.
According to a magistrate's order dated Aug. 30, he's accused of grabbing and twisting his wife's right arm, pushing her against a wall and grabbing her right shoulder.
Hodrick, a patrol officer who joined Durham police in 2011, is on administrative leave with pay while the department's Professional Standards Division investigates the case, Michael said.
Aurelia Sands Belle, executive director of the Durham Crisis Center, said Wednesday that studies have shown an increase in violent behavior for some people whose jobs deal with violence – such as police officers and military members – because of an inability to separate work and home.
"They learn and are taught how to fight. They have weapons at their disposal, and they do have their own internal support system," Belle said.
That can sometimes make getting out of an abusive situation more difficult, she said.
Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez couldn't comment on Hodrick's case but said that the city of Durham offers an employee assistance program that provides relevant counseling to employees, including officers.
He said officers also go through domestic violence training during police academy and that recruits also come in with family members to get a better understanding of what life is like for an officer and what it's like living with one.
"We, as an organization, really work toward understanding the family dynamic," Lopez said. "We take any allegation of wrongdoings by an officer seriously."
BY DAVID GAMBACORTA & DANA DIFILIPPO, Daily News Staff Writers
THE CHILDREN sobbed while they watched.
The shouting had given way to the sickening sound of fury meeting flesh as their father started beating their mother, wrapping his hands around her neck, the terror spilling from one room of their North Philly home to another on March 31, 2012.
Ricardo Gonzalez, an off-duty Philadelphia police officer, ended up on top of his wife, hissing threats, promising to kill her and stuff her body into a trash bag, according to court records.
To calm the couple's four hysterical children, he yelled: "Stop crying! Daddy is only playing with Mommy!"
Gonzalez had previously threatened to kill his wife and their kids if she ever left.
This time, he added a soul-crushing taunt. Go ahead and call 9-1-1, Gonzalez told his wife.
"The cops are not going to do anything," he said.
He was wrong. Gonzalez was arrested two months after the terrifying assault and booted from the force. He was found guilty of simple assault earlier this summer and faces sentencing on Sept. 26.
Unfortunately, the scene that played out in Gonzalez's home wasn't an isolated horror story.
National studies show that 40 percent of police families experience domestic violence, compared with about 10 percent of the general public.
It is a silent epidemic, its victims often trapped in the shadows of their own homes, lost in a debilitating mix of fear, confusion, anxiety and doubt.
The Daily News asked the Philadelphia Police Department for statistics on officer-involved domestic disputes after being contacted by wives and girlfriends of Philly cops who claimed they suffered in silence for years - but also still felt too vulnerable to speak on the record.
The department's data show that 164 officers have had domestic-abuse complaints filed against them in the past five years.
Of that lot, 11 cops were fired and criminally charged, and only three have been successfully prosecuted. Most got back their old jobs.
The numbers suggest that the problem is small, but domestic-violence experts say the issue is bigger than what the stats show.
"That [figure] seems incredibly low to me, although not terribly surprising in that domestic-violence incidents are vastly underreported," said Debasri Ghosh, director of education and communications at Women's Way, which advocates for women and funds projects to help them.
Women battered by men with a badge are even less likely to report their abuse, Ghosh said.
Some worry that their complaints will be covered up by their spouse's colleagues, or have ruinous financial repercussions, like the loss of their spouse's salary and benefits.
Others fear that filing a complaint could lead their significant other to completely snap, and fulfill the darkest of their threats.
Rosaura Torres suffered in silence for years.
The Northeast Philadelphia woman, 54, was married to a Philadelphia police officer who eventually ascended into the top ranks of the department. He beat, kicked and choked her for 16 years until one especially brutal beating left her with a detached retina that left her partially blind.
Throughout, she begged him to stop and threatened to report him.
"He made it very clear that no one would listen to me because of his position in the community," Torres said. "He said: 'No one's going to listen to you. They'll all say you're crazy.' And he was right."
She wrote a letter to city and police officials in 2001 to protest his promotion, citing his history of domestic abuse. He was promoted anyway.
The couple divorced in 2004.
The Daily News is not naming her ex-husband, who has since retired in Philadelphia and now works outside the city, because he was never criminally charged.
Since then, Torres has become an activist. She chronicled her experience in a 2010 book, Abuse Hidden Behind the Badge, and has periodically testified before lawmakers as a victim of police violence.
Torres never travels alone, fearful that her activism might incite her ex-husband and his supporters.
"It's horrible because you don't know who to trust, you don't know who's watching you," Torres said. "He still has power here in Philadelphia."
She added: "There is a unique injustice that takes place when the abuser is a police officer, because the people who should help you would rather protect him because of the title he holds."
Blame the victim
James Carpenter, the chief of the District Attorney's Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, has spent 16 years overseeing domestic-violence cases.
His deputy, John Delaney, has spent 20 years dealing with them.
Both men said domestic-violence incidents that involve cops are prosecuted as aggressively as those involving civilian offenders.
"Years and years ago, you wouldn't have seen a police officer arrested for hitting his wife," Delaney said. "A responding officer would have said to the wife, 'What did you do to deserve this?' But for the most part, those days are gone."
A retired female Philadelphia police officer who spent more than two decades on the force said she routinely saw police-involved domestic cases ignored by her peers and her supervisors.
The issue is a personal one for the retired cop: She didn't want her name used because her daughter is trying to extricate herself from a dangerous, violent relationship with an officer.
"The Police Department does not hold their officers accountable for acts of violence in the home unless their hand is forced," said the officer, who shared her experiences with the Daily News.
She recalled responding to a domestic-violence call in West Philly's 19th District in 1995 and finding a middle-age woman with bruises around her neck. The woman's husband was a cop.
The retired officer said she called a supervisor to the scene. Her boss told her to leave. The abuser wasn't arrested.
"I've seen numerous officers put on desk duty after being served with a protection-from-abuse order, but very few of them lost their job or even received any type of discipline," she said.
"The last I remember, assaulting someone is a crime. Police officers are not exempt!"
Delaney said it might seem as if police-involved domestics are making headlines more frequently now because more women are finding the courage to speak out.
That's not to say, though, that it's easy for victims to ask for help or get away from toxic situations.
According to court records, Ricardo Gonzalez was involved in three other domestic incidents before the 2012 arrest.
In one of those instances, Gonzalez allegedly pulled out a gun and told his wife that he wanted to kill her and himself - but his wife did not file a complaint.
"It's hard for domestic-violence victims to leave, especially when they've been told by their abuser, 'No one's going to believe you,' " said Molly Callahan, the legal center director for Women Against Abuse.
"When the abuser is a police officer, they have that credibility built in, which makes it that much harder for victims to feel like they can leave."
Traumatized by stress
So what is it about the profession that makes police officers more likely than others to be involved in domestic violence?
Different theories abound.
The retired female Philly cop said she came across scores of male and female officers who were traumatized by the stress of their job - the constant exposure to death and violence and hostility - but few seemed to consider seeking professional help.
"Some people would drink," she said. "Some people would go home and beat their wives."
Carpenter said people who have stressful jobs and a lack of outlets could turn to substance abuse, which could lead to a higher risk of domestic abuse.
But make no mistake: Having a stressful job doesn't mean a person has to smack around his spouse.
"With most domestic-violence cases, you have men with control issues - the guy who is checking his girlfriend's phone every night, accusing her of stuff and gradually destroying her self-esteem," Carpenter said.
"Stress and drug and alcohol abuse doesn't cause that."
Lt. John Stanford, a police spokesman, said officers can get confidential family, couples or individual counseling through an employee assistance program.
The department also regularly trains officers on how to respond to domestic-abuse calls, and that training "touches on" abuse within an officer's home, he added.
Stanford agreed that the reported number of police-involved domestics in Philly seems low.
"I personally think domestic violence is underreported, period, not just in the police profession," he said.
The department overhauled the way officers process domestic calls after the rate of all domestic homicides spiked in 2009.
Under the guidance of then-Deputy Commissioner Patricia Giorgio-Fox, the report officers file when they respond to a domestic - called a 75-48D - was revamped, requiring officers to ask more than two dozen questions of the victims and input a variety of details about the personal histories of the abuser and the victim.
The department also formed a domestic-violence law-enforcement committee that includes Women Against Abuse, the District Attorney's Office and other agencies to further fine-tune the collective response to domestic assaults.
Directive 90, the department's domestic-abuse policy, includes an appendix on how to handle police-involved domestics: Responding cops are required to call for a supervisor and confiscate city-issued firearms if a spouse gets a protection-from-abuse order.
"I think the Police Department does take this issue seriously. They have good policies and procedures in place," Callahan said.
"The hardest thing for victims - and rightly so - is feeling everyone from the courts to whomever else they're talking to is taking them less seriously because the abuser is a police officer."
Convictions are difficult
Even if an officer is fired for domestic abuse and arrested, it's not uncommon for the wheels to fall off the case.
"It can be a very difficult dynamic to get a conviction because of the way the cycle of abuse works," Carpenter said.
"If the abuser has a job supporting the victim, and they have a child together . . . the victim may not want to pursue it as you move forward," he said. "A woman might feel that she loves her husband and doesn't want him to go to jail."
Teresa Garvey, an attorney adviser for AEquitas, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that provides resources to prosecutors handling domestic-violence cases, said victims are often afraid of participating in a trial.
"I know some of the intimidation and fear and pressure is greater on those victims, for a few different reasons," she said.
"Often, law-enforcement families have very active social relationships where all the families do things together, so you know there's going to be pressure from [the abusers'] friends and their families," she said.
"We also have the fact that police officers in general are often specifically trained on manipulative techniques . . . even without laying a hand on the victim, they know how to intimidate."
Last fall, Lt. Marques Newsome was fired and arrested after he pinned his girlfriend against a couch in her parents' house and broke her nose while he was off-duty, according to court records.
But when Newsome was locked up a week after the incident, his attorney, Anthony Voci, said Newsome's girlfriend didn't want to pursue the charges.
Voci noted at the time that the couple had an infant together.
The charges against Newsome - aggravated assault, simple assault, stalking and possessing an instrument of crime - were withdrawn in March after the victim missed a preliminary hearing.
Newsome got his job back.
- Staff writer Morgan Zalot