Judging from Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova’s Feb. 6 letter [“The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is committed to justice ”] and Supervisor Michael R. Frey’s (R-Sully) comments in the Feb. 3 Metro article “Handling of police shooting criticized,” the job description of a supervisor apparently does not include the task of supervising county employees, including the police.
To read that the board needs to hire a consultant, contact the state attorney general and initiate studies to see what policies are needed to get county management to do their jobs — that is, supervise — is a clear sign of an organization that does not have a culture of accountability. The first step for Ms. Bulova and the board is to hold accountable all managers who have been complicit in this sad situation and make the hard changes that are clearly necessary.
Fred Walker, Centreville
By Antonio Olivo
Fairfax County officials Friday were preparing to seek bids from private consultants who can recommend changes in how information is handled in police-involved shootings, the result of a backlash over the county’s long delay in sharing details behind the John B. Geer shooting.
County officials will also seek community input on such cases, said Sharon Bulova, the chair of the board of supervisors. The process, she said, will likely provoke “hard questions” over the public’s right to know about fatal police shootings while protecting those officers’ legal rights.
“I don’t know what the change would be, I just know there must be places where we can find some examples of changes we want to make,” said Bulova (D), who consulted with Virginia state attorney Mark R. Herring (D) over the case on Thursday.
County officials have been in a period of self-reflection over the 2013 Geer shooting, where police Officer Adam D. Torres shot an unarmed Geer once in the chest, killing him, during a confrontation that began as a domestic dispute call outside Geer’s home in Springfield.
Last week, after refusing to share details of the shooting for 17 months, the county posted 11,000 pages of a police investigation on its Web site — some of which contradicted Torres’s assertion that Geer had been reaching for a gun.
The U.S. Justice Department has been reviewing the case for more than a year after Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh (D) decided his office couldn’t effectively investigate the case when Fairfax police refused to turn over some details of the shooting. Federal prosecutors have yet to decide on whether to file criminal charges against Torres.
Attorneys for Geer’s family — which is suing Fairfax police and Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. for wrongful death in Fairfax circuit court — are seeking Torres’s internal-affairs files.
Fairfax Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee) said the board should have known earlier about the stalemate with Morrogh’s office, which might have avoided the long delay in sharing details.
The board wasn’t aware the case would be referred to federal prosecutors until after the fact, McKay said, though he characterized that outcome as part of routine procedures in dealing with legal matters.
But, by then, it was locked into a decision against sharing the case’s details out of worry over jeopardizing the federal criminal investigation, McKay said.
“We were never given a very clear indication of what our options are when there is that kind of disagreement with the commonwealth attorney,” McKay said.
“On a case where someone was shot and killed, I think you’d want to get the pulse of the board before the commonwealth attorney kicked [the case] somewhere else,” McKay said. “We were never given a clear indication of what our options were.”
Antonio covers government, politics and other regional issues in Fairfax County. He worked in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago before joining the Post in September of 2013.
Holder limits police ability to seize assets
Attorney General Eric Holder is barring local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without evidence that a crime occurred. The Post's Robert O'Harrow Jr. explains the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago. (The Washington Post)
By Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Steven Rich February 11
The Justice Department on Tuesday underscored its intention to curb questionable civil seizures by local and state police with new rules that require direct involvement and review by federal authorities before a seizure can be processed under federal law.
The rules, issued as a policy directive, are aimed at clarifying the scope and application of a Jan. 16 order by U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. That order prohibited federal agencies from “adopting” seizures from local and state police into the department’s asset forfeiture program.
Under the department’s Equitable Sharing Program, police can keep up to 80 percent of their seizure proceeds, with the rest going to federal agencies.
A Washington Post investigation last year found that since 2001, police nationwide have seized $2.5 billion in cash from almost 62,000 people — without warrants or indictments — that was forfeited through Equitable Sharing. Thousands of people had to fight long legal battles to get some or all of their money back.
Holder’s announcement last month was hailed as a civil liberties triumph. But some critics complained that “adoptions” accounted for less than 16 percent of the Equitable Sharing seizures in recent years. They also said that the order left open loopholes that would enable federal agencies to continue accepting seizures from local and state police that are labeled as being from drug task forces¬¬ or the result of “joint investigations.”
Tuesday’s directive makes clear that the order will have a broader impact than the simple prohibition of “adoptions” because it also would block an array of seizures — including those labeled as arising from joint investigations — that have no federal involvement until after the fact.
It is unclear exactly how many joint investigation seizures would be prohibited under the new rules. More than 50,000 seizures have been labeled joint investigations since 2008, most of them claimed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The Post examined two dozen federal asset forfeiture court cases labeled joint investigations and found that 18 had no apparent federal law enforcement involvement before the seizure.
Tuesday’s directive requires a new level of review by federal authorities before a seizure can be accepted into federal asset forfeiture programs. A lawyer from a federal agency, such as the DEA, will be required to provide written justification for the federal forfeiture. A federal prosecutor also must endorse the seizure before the federal government accepts it. Those provisions will take effect March 1.
“Central to the application of the Attorney General’s order is whether there was federal law enforcement oversight or participation at the time of seizure by state and local law enforcement,” the directive said. “To ensure sufficient federal participation in all seizures that lead to federal forfeiture, an attorney from a federal agency must provide justification in writing for the federal forfeiture of an asset that is seized by a state or local law enforcement officer as a task force or joint investigation seizure.”
The order does not apply to civil seizures by state and local police pursuant to federal seizure warrants.
Members of the House are set to hold hearings Wednesday about planned legislative remedies to further restrict or even abolish federal civil asset forfeiture programs. The House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism, homeland security and investigations will focus on Equitable Sharing. The House Ways and Means subcommittee on oversight will receive testimony about an Internal Revenue Service program.
Several lawmakers were among those who praised Holder’s order last month even as they questioned whether it went far enough. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said the directive addressed loopholes left behind by Holder’s order.
“The Justice Department’s revised guidance expands protections against unnecessary asset seizures and takes an important step toward limiting the Justice Department’s use of adoption and equitable sharing,” Grassley said in a statement Tuesday night. “I appreciate that Attorney General Eric Holder took my concerns about these exceptions seriously, and I will continue to seek legislative fixes¬ to protect small-business owners and innocent motorists.”
The Institute for Justice, a civil libertarian group that specializes in asset forfeiture law, also praised Holder’s order, but said it did not go far enough. The group said the directive was open to interpretation that could lead to abuse.
In his announcement last month, Holder made clear that his order was a first step in a comprehensive review of federal asset forfeiture programs, indicating that other changes¬ may be coming.
The uncertainty about the breadth of the order stemmed in part from the complexity of the regulations and the way the Justice Department classified local and state agency activity. Before the new rules, there were two main ways for local and state authorities to participate in sharing under federal law: adoptions and joint investigations.
The guidelines said that an “adoption occurs when a state or local law enforcement agency seizes property and requests one of the federal seizing agencies to adopt the seizure and proceed with federal forfeiture.”
Joint investigations were broadly defined as those that “may originate from participation on a federal task force or a formal task force comprised of state and local agencies or from state or local investigations that are developed into federal cases.”
Under Holder’s order, one case that was labeled as a joint investigation that would now be prohibited involved Mandrel Stuart of Staunton, Va.
Stuart, a barbecue restaurant owner, was stopped by Fairfax County officers in August 2012 for driving a car with tinted windows and having a video playing in his line of sight. He was detained without charges¬ and ultimately set free, but police seized his money — $17,550 in cash that he said was for equipment and supplies for his restaurant.
The officers involved were with the Fairfax County Police Highway Interdiction Team on Interstate 66. According to police reports, no federal agents were involved in the seizure.
Two weeks after the seizure, a DEA agent filled out a form detailing how Fairfax County police made the seizure. The agent described himself as a DEA task force officer “working with the Fairfax County Police interdiction unit.” He later listed himself as the “Seizing Agent” in court filings.
Stuart had to fight the federal government for a year to get his money back. A jury awarded him legal fees. But he lost his business because he had no working capital.
Robert O’Harrow Jr. is a reporter on the investigative unit of The Washington Post. He writes about law enforcement, national security, federal contracting and the financial world.
Steven Rich is the database editor for investigations at The Washington Post. While at The Post, he’s worked on investigations involving tax liens, civil forfeiture, cartels and government oversight. He was also a member of the reporting team awarded the Pulitzer for NSA revelations.
By Tom Jackman February 11
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) on Wednesday released two new letters he has sent to the Justice Department and the Fairfax County Police Department seeking further information about the investigation into the fatal police shooting of a Springfield man nearly 18 months ago.
Also on Wednesday, Fairfax disclosed that it has paid $130,000 to the District law firm Hunton and Williams to help prepare a response to a November letter Grassley sent to county police about John B. Geer’s death. No decision has been made on whether to charge Adam D. Torres, the officer who fired the fatal shot, prompting Grassley’s inquiries.
The letter sent Tuesday to Fairfax police asks when they and elected county officials knew that four officers who were at the scene of the 2013 shooting had contradicted Torres’s claim that Geer had quickly lowered his hands to his waist before he was shot.
In his letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the senator asks whether the Justice Department will share information with Fairfax’s chief prosecutor and whether federal authorities would object to the county prosecutor’s resuming his investigation.
Grassley’s initial inquiry to the Justice Department in November helped unlock a torrent of information. Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Randy I. Bellows cited Justice’s response to Grassley when he ordered Fairfax police to provide extensive portions of their investigative file to the Geer family’s attorneys and declined to place the file under seal. In the response to Grassley’s letter, an assistant attorney general said Justice had not instructed Fairfax to remain silent on the case.
Last week, Bellows again cited the Justice Department’s letter to Grassley when he ordered Fairfax to turn over police internal affairs files on Torres and again declined to impose a protective order on the material. The judge said he would allow federal officials to file a motion for a protective order by Feb. 20 if they wanted internal materials withheld from the public.
Geer, 46, had been involved in a domestic dispute with his partner of 24 years when police arrived at his Springfield townhouse Aug. 29, 2013. According to police records, he showed officers a holstered handgun, placed it at his feet and then kept his hands on the top of a screen door for 42 minutes before Torres shot him.
Torres remains on paid administrative duty.
After Fairfax police refused to provide Torres’s internal affairs files to Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh, he referred the case to the Justice Department in January 2014, where it has remained.
In an interview Wednesday, Grassley said he decided to get involved in the incident both because it had become a federal matter, one in which the Senate Judiciary Committee has oversight, and because “transparency brings accountability. The big picture is what can police departments learn from this?”
In Tuesday’s letter to Fairfax Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr., Grassley said the police department’s “refusal to cooperate with the Commonwealth Attorney” led Morrogh to shift the case to the U.S. attorney. This forced “the expenditure of limited federal resources on an investigation that should have been handled at the state level,” the senator wrote.
Grassley noted that after the case went to federal prosecutors, Fairfax police still refused to provide Torres’s internal affairs files “until ordered to do so by the court, after over two months of litigation.”
Grassley said Fairfax police used the federal investigation as an excuse not to release any information about the case, and “now we know that FCPD unnecessarily prolonged that investigation by its failure to cooperate.”
Grassley asked Roessler to provide the date when he learned that “at least four of these officers provided accounts of the shooting that conflicted with that of Officer Torres.” He also asked what information the police had provided to members of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors.
The county’s chief spokesman, Tony Castrilli, said Fairfax “will continue to cooperate fully with the Senate inquiries.” He said the county had no experience with Senate inquiries and had hired “additional legal expertise,” led by Mark Bierbower, who represented baseball slugger Mark McGwire during congressional inquiries into his use of steroids.
A Justice Department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on Grassley’s letter.
Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.
Secrecy around police shootings has been a problem for at least a decade.
By Mary Kimm
The official position of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on the need for changes in policy after the shooting of John Geer by police in Springfield in August of 2013 appears to be that this is the first time police policies have been a problem:
“Policies for handling police-involved incidents, which served us well for decades, were inadequate in this complicated situation.”
Police-involved shootings have resulted in excruciating obfuscation and delay by Fairfax County Police dating back more than a decade. In this editorial, we refer to two high-profile cases, but these are not the only cases where police secrecy had caused incalculable pain to families while damaging the credibility of the police and other county officials. And this issue is not limited to Fairfax County. Alexandria and Arlington use similar approaches to limit public access to information.
Most Northern Virginia residents think very highly of their police. We are very safe here. People understand that sometimes mistakes happen, that sometimes force is needed, and that sometimes police will exercise deadly force. What they are unlikely to accept is secrecy that shrouds mistakes, and failure to take responsibility for explaining events of deadly force.
We’ll quote the father of David Masters who wrote a letter to the Mount Vernon Gazette (a Connection Newspaper) in June, 2013, two months before John Geer was shot:
“I am the father of David Masters. David was shot to death by a Fairfax County police officer on Nov. 13, 2009 while sitting in his truck at a stop at the intersection of Route 1 and Fort Hunt Road. I don’t know any more about the circumstances of this grim fatality now than I did then and now, as then, the records of this tragedy are not available to anyone outside the police department. The officer who shot my son was ultimately and I must say secretly fired by the then police chief, David Rohrer. But even that was done without any admission of culpability by anyone in the county. … I don’t understand why the Virginia Freedom of Information Act gives blanket exemption to police matters. ... As it is now, the police department can, and seemingly does, operate in a culture of complete autonomy without fear that its actions will be held up to any kind of scrutiny.”
The Connection reported in 2006 about the accidental shooting of an unarmed Salvatore J. "Sal" Culosi Jr. during his arrest on gambling charges:
“With red-rimmed eyes and her voice cracking, Anita Culosi expressed outrage Thursday evening [March 30, 2006] that a Fairfax County police officer will not be charged with a crime for accidentally killing her 37-year-old son. ‘My son is laying in a cemetery,’ she said, surrounded by family members holding framed pictures of her son. “That man pulled a trigger and shot my son dead.’"
Anita Culosi's son, Salvatore J. "Sal" Culosi Jr., was accidentally shot to death by a Fairfax County SWAT team officer on Jan. 24 outside his Fair Oaks townhouse. He had been under investigation for illegal sports gambling for the previous three months, accepting at least $28,000 in bets from an undercover Fairfax County detective.
In July, 2012, more than a year before John Geer was shot and killed, a group of citizens identified four cases, including Masters and Culosi, where police secrecy continued to block questions about shooting deaths. Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability characterized “questionable circumstances” around the shootings, noted that no one, including the families of the deceased victims, had been able to obtain a police incident report despite the fact that the four cases are closed.
CCPA Executive Director Nicholas Beltrante sent letters asking for the release of documents, “to find out what happened in the shooting deaths, why deadly force was used instead of a taser gun or beanbag gun, and to find out if police misconduct took place.”
Beltrante said: “Our letters will highlight to the public the importance of amending the Virginia FOIA to require the release of police incident reports, and the value of improving police accountability by creating an independent police citizen oversight panel made up of Fairfax county citizens …. Unnecessary use of deadly force by the police, if it is occurring, will undermine the integrity and confidence of the public in our police and our elected officials.”
The revelations about the shooting of John Geer as a result of a civil lawsuit seriously undermine the credibility of the investigation process.
Aside from the officer who shot Geer, four other officers on the scene told investigators that same day that they were shocked by the shot that killed Geer and thought the shooting was unnecessary. (One officer described his first reaction: “WTF.”) There was no weapon in view, although Geer was a gun owner and had a holstered gun nearby. Geer made great effort to be predictable in his actions, asking permission to scratch his nose, otherwise keeping his hands up on the doorframe.
But a day after the shooting, police released the following update:
“The preliminary investigation indicates that when officers arrived on the scene, they were met by an individual who displayed what appeared to be a weapon in a threatening manner and was subsequently shot.”
And last month, before the statements of the other officers were released, the police released this update with the name of the officer:
“Geer was reported as having multiple firearms inside the home, displaying a firearm that he threatened to use against the police, and refused the officers’ requests that he remain outside and speak to them. Officers, including a trained negotiator, attempted to peaceably resolve the situation. They spoke with Geer for more than 30 minutes as he stood in the doorway of his home. When Geer began lowering his hands at one point during the negotiations, PFC Adam Torres fired a single shot that struck Geer.”
But investigators knew that the negotiator had not seen Geer holding a weapon.
We don’t agree with this statement by Bulova: “The Board of Supervisors has taken the steps needed to ensure its policies allow for justice to be fairly and swiftly served.”
This is not an isolated case. The Board of Supervisors must demand transparency from the police.
By Editorial Board February 12
NATASHA McKENNA, a 37-year-old woman who had been diagnosed as a child with schizophrenia, died Sunday, five days after she struggled with guards at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. The struggle ended when they shot her with a stun gun, apparently multiple times. As Ms. McKenna lay on life support in a hospital before dying, her mother took photos of her battered body — two black eyes, a missing or amputated finger, severe bruises running the length of her left arm.
Fairfax County authorities — the sheriff’s department, which runs the jail, and the police department are investigating — now face a choice: They can promptly release full details of the circumstances that led to her death, including video of the incident at the jail. Or they can delay, stonewall and attempt to evade accountability — a pattern of conduct in another recent case that has tainted the county’s reputation.
Ms. McKenna, an African American woman with a 7-year-old daughter, had a history of erratic behavior but no serious criminal convictions. She was detained Jan. 15 after making a commotion in public, then struggling with Alexandria police officers who tried to restrain her. She punched one officer in the face and tried to bite others.
Rather than jail her, Alexandria police did the sensible thing: They brought her to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation, then moved her two days later to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital in Fairfax, where she received psychiatric care for several more days.
Then the system broke down. Rather than being transferred to a state psychiatric facility, Ms. McKenna was picked up on Jan. 26 by Fairfax County police. Acting on a felony-assault warrant from Alexandria for punching the cop, they delivered her to the detention center, the main jail in Fairfax. There she sat for eight days. Why?
The violent encounter took place Feb. 3, when the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team — at least five officers in black helmets, visors and heavy padding — tried to transfer her to Alexandria.
According to Pete Earley, a writer in Fairfax who covers mental health issues, the officers entered her isolation cell, struggled with Ms. McKenna, who stood about 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 130 pounds, and shot her with the stun gun. Transported to a local hospital, she never regained consciousness.
Fairfax Sheriff Stacey Kincaid, who oversees the jail, Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. and Sharon Bulova (D), chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, are all promising a prompt and transparent investigation.
That must include releasing the video of the violent encounter (whose existence county officials confirm), the medical examiner’s report and relevant documents from both the sheriff’s and police department’s investigations. The public also deserves to know whether guards at the jail, including the emergency response team, have received training in crisis intervention — training that Ms. Kincaid, in¬cred¬ibly, has suggested is not important for officers who deal with inmates.
Full disclosure would be a departure from the county’s 18-month exercise in foot-dragging and obfuscation in the death of John Geer, the unarmed man shot by a Fairfax police officer in 2013 as he stood in the doorway of his home. The handling of Ms. McKenna’s death will determine whether the county has learned any lessons.
Family’s lawyer’s motions supported.
By Tim Peterson
Though extensive, the thousands of pages of documents, dozens of audio files and handful of videos released last month by Fairfax County, documenting the shooting death of Springfield resident John Geer, aren’t exhaustive.
On Feb. 6, Michael Lieberman, the lawyer representing Geer’s family and partner Maura Harrington, brought several motions to Fairfax County Circuit Court, compelling the county to produce additional materials.
Geer was shot by Fairfax County Police Officer PFC Adam Torres Aug. 29, 2013, while he stood in the doorway of his home with hands raised. The county’s Jan. 30 public release includes documentation of the initial internal criminal investigation of the incident by the Fairfax County Police Department.
Judge Randy I. Bellows granted some of Lieberman’s requests and deferred the one for Torres’ closed Internal Affairs personnel file.
“What did county know, when did they know it and what did they do about it?” said Lieberman, who first filed a $12 million civil suit in December 2014 against FCPD Police Chief Edwin C Roessler and unknown officers who were involved with the incident.
Lieberman is seeking “factual and evaluative” information regarding another incident, when Torres reportedly had an outburst with Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Charles Peters in a courtroom, in March 2013. The county has a Feb. 20 deadline to produce that investigation file.
Since Lieberman’s suit was filed before Fairfax County released the name of Geer’s shooter, he is also planning to amend the initial complaint, adding Torres’ name and names of the FCPD supervisors who were on the scene and assisted remotely.
Bellows’ ruling favors Lieberman’s request for release of those other officers’ information, and gives Lieberman until March 6 to file an amendment to the complaint.
In an interview, Lieberman said this case has “very similar attributes” to the 2006 death of Salvatore J Culosi, with which he was also involved. Culosi was killed by another FCPD officer in front of his Fair Lakes area townhouse.
Lieberman said “through expert testimony and through a test of the police department officer who shot Dr. Culosi,” it was clear the officers were violating rules of weapon control, including pointing at people without imminent danger.
In addition to his other discovery requests, the lawyer wants to know if Fairfax County has made an effort to retrain officers since the Culosi killing.
“From our mind, the county should’ve been on notice,” Lieberman said. “You have a problem: No one’s doing it. That’s called a custom. It was a problem in 2006 and surely was a problem in 2013. Maybe it was all avoidable if they had just done something different. Maybe Mr. Geer would be alive today.”
Police Evaluate Natasha McKenna's In-Custody Death for Criminal Violations
By Jackie Bensen
Fairfax County Police are investigating the death of a 37-year-old inmate who was placed on life support and later died after being Tased by deputies. News4's Jackie Bensen reports.
Fairfax County Police are investigating the death of a 37-year-old inmate who was placed on life support and later died after being Tased by deputies.
Natasha McKenna was seen at a Hertz Rental car location on Pickett Street on Jan. 15, where employees said she was being disruptive and acting strangely, police said. She ran from police, who found her in a Home Depot. McKenna ran again, police said.
More police responded and caught McKenna. Police said she resisted their attempts to arrest her, including punching one officer and trying to bite them. Police said they put her in a "hobble restraint device" to restrict her movements and a "spit sock" to prevent biting.
McKenna was hospitalized at INOVA Alexandria Hospital, where she remained until she was arrested Jan. 26 and charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer.
Inmate Dies While In Custody of Fairfax County Police
An inmate was pulled off life support Sunday after she had a medical emergency at the Fairfax County Detention Center. (Published Sunday, Feb 8, 2015)
McKenna was in the process of being transported from the Fairfax County jail to the Alexandria city jail Feb. 3 when deputies say she failed to comply with their commands and resisted them. A deputy then used a Taser multiple times to restrain her.
After being stunned, Elbert said a medic checked on and cleared McKenna, and that she was then moved to another area of the jail, where she began experiencing a medical emergency. Deputies and medical staff began life-saving measures before McKenna was taken to a hospital and put on life support.
Elbert said minutes passed between when McKenna was stunned and her medical emergency but didn't know how many. "It was not an immediate thing,'' he said.
"Based on the family pictures, bruising on the arm, two black eyes, a missing finger ... I mean, this was a violent exchange," advocate for the mentally ill Peter Earley said.
Elbert declined to say how many times the deputy stunned McKenna and where on her body she was hit. He also declined to elaborate about how she resisted the deputies trying to transport her.
Sources told News4 the first officers who responded to the jail for the report of an unconscious inmate were turned away from the jail, and told they were not needed. Those same sources said it wasn't until four or five days later when McKenna died that detectives were able to start their investigation.
The Fairfax County Police Department launched an investigation into her death, and announced Thursday they'll search for any criminal liability that may have been committed during the incident.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A fired Albuquerque police officer and his wife appeared in court Sunday for allegedly abusing the woman's son.
KOB-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1MoKBS9) that 31-year-old Skyler McClaskey and 34-year-old Jodi McClaskey were arraigned on one count each of child abuse.
A judge ordered the couple held on $15,000 cash bond and to not have contact with the boy.
New Mexico State Police say officials at Edgewood Middle School noticed several bruises on the boy's body on Friday.
According to a criminal complaint, Skyler McClaskey's stepson told police his stepfather slapped him for getting into a spat with his sister. He allegedly slapped the boy repeatedly and the mother grabbed the boy's hair.
NYPD cop accused of raping girlfriend’s teen daughter
By Natasha Velez
An off-duty NYPD sergeant carried on a sexual relationship with his girlfriend’s underage daughter for a year and a half before the child reported it to police, cops said Wednesday.
Vladimir Krull, 37, allegedly carried out the relationship with the girl, 14, in The Bronx, while he was dating her mother, according to sources.
He and the mother have since split, a police source said.
The child told police they started the inappropriate relationship in September 2013 and continued it through Sunday, when she reported it, according to a criminal-court complaint.
Krull was assigned to the Midtown North Precinct.
He joined the force in July 2004 and was promoted to sergeant in 2013. Krull earned $112,185 last year, according to public records.
He was arrested Tuesday afternoon and has been charged with rape, criminal sex act, sexual misconduct, endangering the welfare of a child, forcible touching and sex misconduct, cops said. He is suspended without pay.
Veteran Miami-Dade officer accused of possessing child porn
James Edwards arrested while on house arrest from prior case
Author: Andrew Perez,
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. -
A veteran Miami-Dade police sergeant is back in jail facing charges on 12 counts of possessing child pornography.
James Edwards was arrested Thursday and taken to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
The 27-year veteran officer was already on house arrest from an open case from August.
According to documents, Edwards was first arrested after he brought two teen brothers to his home to do some landscaping.
He allegedly admitted to giving the teens marijuana, the drug "Molly" and then began touching himself and masturbating in front of the minors.
It was after that arrest that detectives began examining his electronics.
Several hard drives and computers were removed from the residence, according to sources. Several explicit images and videos of underage boys engaging in sexual acts were uncovered during the investigation.
The images and videos were sent to a doctor, who confirmed the boys were underage.
Sources said some of the images were downloaded from the Internet and others were generated by Edwards himself.
Edwards also faces charges of lewd and lascivious conduct and exhibition.
Wewoka police officer sentenced for rape of 15-year-old
OKLAHOMA CITY —A former Wewoka police officer was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday after he pleaded guilty to second-degree rape.
According to the attorney general's office, former Officer Trever Blackwell had sex with a 15-year-old girl while on duty between August 2011 and January 2012.
The crimes, some of which occurred in a cop car, took place while the girl was taking part in Wewoka PD's Explorer program.
Blackwell will be required to register as a sex offender after being released from prison.
Coroner questions police in cop's case
Cincinnati police have closed the criminal case of former officer Darrell Beavers, without doing any DNA testing to determine who else might have been involved in the sexual activity that took place in his false police substation scheme. Police said the $10,000 cost to do DNA testing was too expensive – comments Hamilton County's coroner questions.
"We never said, 'No, we're not going to do this' or 'This is going to cost $10,000,' " Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco said.
Beavers pleaded guilty in June to illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material and attempted tampering with evidence and was sentenced to one year in prison. Last week, a judge allowed Beavers to leave prison to serve six months in the Hamilton County Justice Center and the rest of his sentence under house arrest.
Beavers, a Cincinnati police officer since 2002, set up two fake police substations where police said, and evidence indicated, that frequent sexual activity took place. After Beavers' guilty plea and sentence, police dropped the case. The Enquirer asked why, and why no DNA testing was done to see if others, especially police officers, were involved.
Police spokeswoman Tiffaney Hardy told The Enquirer on Thursday that the $10,000 cost to test DNA from the Beavers case was prohibitive. As a result, police closed the case.
"We're still processing the evidence, so I don't know why they'd say that," coroner Sammarco said of Cincinnati police.
When contacted Monday, Hardy said she'd look into the issue.
Chief Jeffrey Blackwell reopened the case last fall. Bedding from the substation was submitted to the coroner's office for DNA testing. The difficulty, Blackwell said at the time, is getting police to voluntarily submit to DNA testing if DNA other than Beavers' is found. The case, Hardy said, was closed "unless other victims or people come forward."
At Beavers' sentencing, police said they asked Beavers to talk to them about who else, including other police officers, might have been involved, but he refused.
"We have quite a few stains on sheets, several semen stains," Sammarco said.
Sammarco admits other samples are needed to compare against the stains, but wonders why police haven't contacted her recently about this and haven't even passed along Beavers' DNA which was taken as part of the investigation.
That may not be an issue now.
Upon entering prison, all Ohio inmates have DNA taken by having the insides of their mouths swabbed. Now, Beavers' DNA can be requested by Sammarco from the state prison system. If anyone other than Beavers' DNA is found at the scene, that means others were involved.
Animal Hearing Will Determine If Man Who Lost His Wife Will Also Lose His Dog Too
By Jared Keever
An Iowa man whose wife was fatally shot by a police officer in front of him last month now stands to lose his dog as well.
Burlington, Iowa, newspaper, The Hawk Eye, reports police there have scheduled an animal hearing board to convene Feb. 25 to determine if the dog is vicious and decide its fate.
Police believe the dog may have been the catalyst for the apparent accidental shooting on Jan. 6 that left 34-year-old Autumn Steele dead.
The Des Moines Register reported police visited Steele’s home that day in response to a domestic disturbance call. Police found Steele and her husband, Gabriel Steele, outside, in front of their home when they arrived.
Initial reports indicate that as Burlington Police Officer Jesse Hill was working to resolve the conflict between the couple, the family dog, Sammy, jumped on the officer.
A neighbor, Ed Ranck, said it appeared as though the German Shepherd startled the officer who in turn tried to shoot the animal.
Investigators believe Hill fired two shots, one of which struck Autumn Steele in the torso. She was taken to a nearby hospital and later died from the wound.
“It appeared he was shooting at the dog when (the officer) fell to the ground. It’s my belief the woman was shot accidentally,” said another witness quoted by The Free Thought Project.
Hill was later treated for a single dog bite. Animal control workers took the dog from the home.
Burlington Police Maj. Dennis Kramer told The Hawk Eye that the hearing for the dog is in compliance with the law.
“We are following city ordinance concerning dog bites,” he said. “The dog attacked a person (Hill), off its property, on the sidewalk. Therefore, our animal control officer was notified.”
Kramer indicated there had been other reports that the dog had shown aggression to postal carriers and other police officers in the past.
If Sammy is declared a vicious dog by the five-person board he will be euthanized.
A Change.org has been started urging the animal hearing board to release Sammy back to the family.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is still investigating the Jan. 6 shooting. Hill remains on administrative leave pending the outcome of that investigation.
Probation Office Shoots and Kills Dog After Allegedly Pushing the Door Open to Let Him Out
Probation officer was looking for someone who wasn't at the home. Resident says she tried to keep the dog from running outside but the officer prevented her.
KA probation officer in Kern County, California was looking to serve a felony warrant on Faustino Ponce when he tried to push his way into the home of Monica Montoya, where he says he was told Ponce was staying. Montoya says she opened the door to talk to the probation officer but tried to close it again when her dog, a five year old German shepherd chow chow mix named Buddy, got too close. Because the probation officer tried to push the door open, she says, Buddy was able to run out into the front yard. That's when the probation officer feared for his safety and fired a single shot at Buddy, killing him.
KBAK in Bakersfield reports:
"I'm not against probation or police, at all, but I think that they could use different tactics to get him down," [Montoya] said. "He wasn't just our dog, he was like my son, my family. He'd been through everything with us."
Montoya claims her dog's death is unjustified, because the wanted man had never been inside her home.
Chief probation officer T.R. Merickle said he can relate to why the Montoya family is upset.
"I know how much a dog can be a part of the family. I'm a dog owner, I understand that. It's just very unfortunate," he said.
Merickle said his officers are sent into unpredictable situations and trained to make split-second decisions.
"Since AB 109, the probation department has also had to supervise people that are directly released from prison. That raises a different type of population than we've ever had in the past; and it's raised that level of seriousness," he said.
The county probation office says it won't talk about the case specifically since it's under investigation, but Merickle insists probation officers aren't just responsible for protecting themselves in dangerous situations but the community too.
AB109 (and AB117) are public safety "realignment" laws meant to reduce the prison population by keeping "low-level" inmates out of the system.
You want an answer? Here’s you’re answer: Because he’s a punk and because he can and will get away with shooting your dog. There’s your answer
Fort Worth officer shoots dog, family demands answers
FORT WORTH — Robin Ollar Fairchild wants to remember her dog, Shadow, as the sweet, playful pooch she watches now on cell phone videos. But it's the image of her dog clinging to life she can't get out of her head.
"When I walked in, I wasn't expecting to see what I saw," she recalls of yesterday's trip to the vet's office. "My baby. My child. Sitting there on a table with a gunshot wound."
Shadow, a seven-year-old pit bull/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, was shot by Fort Worth police Thursday morning. Police say they were investigating a call about a homeless camp and a loose pit bull in the woods near Loop 820 and Heron Drive.
Fairchild's ex-husband, Lonnie Reynolds, was camping in a tent with Shadow when they heard a noise that startled them.
And he jumped out the door," he says of Shadow, "and as soon as he jumped out the door I heard 'hold your dog'… boom!"
That was the sound of Shadow getting shot once in the shoulder.
In a press release, police say they'd announced themselves first and they shot Shadow because he charged at officers, who feared for their safety. The former couple, who raised Shadow since he was five weeks old, don't buy it.
They've now filed a complaint against Fort Worth PD, which is also conducting its own investigation. A statement from the police department released Friday states that the dog charged toward the officers, and that those officers felt "in fear of their safety." The statement described the dog as an "aggressive animal."
There is lapel camera video of the incident, which police say they will release when the investigation is complete. They also say it supports officers' account of events.
The family hasn't seen it yet but say Shadow didn't have a chance; that police were feet away from the tent when he came out.
As for Shadow, his injuries were so bad, he had to be put down.
"I feel like he was shot for no reason," Fairchild says.
Now all they have are memories and questions, neither of which are very comforting at this moment.
Think you would get the same treatment? Well, think again.
Tempe cop sentenced to probation
Jessica Dever-Jakusz says she regrets everything.
A former Tempe police officer has been sentenced to probation for her role in an undercover drug sting that cost the department the case against a drug suspect.
In 2013 Jessica Dever-Jakusz was working alongside undercover officers to infiltrate an illegal drug operation on Mill Avenue, records show. But instead began a romantic relationship with Ryan Liming and eventually revealed to him that she was a cop.
Liming went straight to Tempe police and told them about the encounters and stated that the department was responsible for her actions while she was on-duty. Dever-Jakusz abruptly resigned when told she was being placed under internal affairs investigation.
Last month, Dever-Jakusz struck a deal with prosecutors and agreed to plead guilty to attempt to hinder prosecution, a Class 6 Felony.
During the sentencing hearing, attorneys' for the state told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Gass, Dever-Jakusz put undercover officers at risk and they were not able to prosecute Liming as a result of her actions.
They also told the judge, she left the state without permission from the court. To which Dever-Jakusz' attorney stated she did not understand she was not allowed to leave the state under the terms of her release.
Choked up and barely able to speak, Dever-Jakusz addressed the court Wednesday reading off of a prepared statement.
"I've always prided myself on making good decisions and doing the right thing. In this specific matter, I failed at that and I'm very sorry. It cost me a career that I loved and dedicated many years to, it almost cost me my marriage. Though I cannot change what I've done, I have worked very hard the past 16 months to be sure that this does not happen again."
Her husband also addressed the judge, since he's a police officer he asked the court not to allow the media to show his identity.
He said, "In this case, I feel there was a mistake of the mind that was made. An occasional lack of good judgment or using poor judgment is something we all do on a fairly regular basis. No one is going to deny that there was a mistake made. There has been a lot of suffering due to the mistake that was made. I've suffered, our marriage has suffered, there's been embarrassment, sadness but I will tell you, that no one has suffered more than Jess has at this point."
Judge Gass admonished Dever-Jakusz calling it a very sad case in which she let a lot of people down and hurt many. He also said she threw away her career and committed a criminal offense so there would be consequences for that.
Gass handed down a sentence of 18-months probation.
This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories
A suburban Philly cop is under suspicion in a case of missing drug evidence, a former Philly cop who worked with a dealer to rip off other dealers is heading to prison, and so is a former Virginia cop and DEA task force member who used his position to gain sexual favors. Let's get to it:
In Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, an unnamed police is under investigation after drugs and cash went missing from evidence. The Delaware County DA's Office is looking into it.
In Philadelphia, a former Philadelphia police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to conspiring with drug dealers to steal money and drugs from other dealers. Christopher Saravello, 37, admitted working with South Philly drug dealer Robert Nagy in committing between 10 and 20 robberies, as well as three more robberies with two other dealers. The dealers would set up a drug buy, then Saravello would show up in uniform and pretend to bust the deal. He allegedly scored at least $9,800 in cash from the scheme. He resigned from the force in 2012, when the department discovered he was strung out on pain pills. He's now looking at up to 120 years in federal prison.
In Roanoke, Virginia, a former Salem police officer and DEA task force member was sentenced Tuesday to 2 ½ years in federal prison for soliciting and receiving sexual favors from defendants in return for agreeing to recommend leniency for them. Kevin Moore, 42, admitted that while he served as a DEA task force officer, he told a female meth defendant he could get her a lighter sentence if she performed a sex act on him. She did. He also admitted doing the same thing with two other female defendants in federal drug investigations dating back to 2009. In those cases, he admitted lying to the women, saying he had already convinced prosecutors not to charge them with crimes that would carry a heavy prison sentence. He had not.
Erie officers still off duty as DA's Office reviews information in crash cases
By Tim Hahn
An Erie police officer suspended from the force since early November is now off work without pay as the criminal case against him in a reported off-duty drunken driving accident that damaged a city fire truck on Thanksgiving Day awaits action from the Erie County District Attorney's Office.
Gabriel A. Carducci, 28, of Erie, was moved from paid administrative leave from the 173-member police bureau to unpaid leave, pending further disposition in the accident case, on Feb. 2, Police Chief Randy Bowers said Thursday.
Carducci, who joined the city police force in October 2013, had been on paid administrative leave since Nov. 10, as an investigation by an outside law enforcement agency commenced into another reported incident, from October, that involved Carducci.
Authorities have not commented on the nature of the incident, which was investigated by the Erie County District Attorney's Office, other than to say that it was not related to any on-duty activity.
District Attorney Jack Daneri announced Jan. 2 that Carducci would not face criminal charges in connection with the incident because there was insufficient evidence to secure a guilty verdict at trial. He said investigators spoke to witnesses and others who had information, and they conducted a search as part of the probe.
"After reviewing all of the evidence, it was determined that we would not be able to meet our burden of proof at trial," Daneri said Jan. 2.
The Erie Bureau of Police then conducted its own administrative investigation into the incident to determine whether there was any violation of department policies and procedures regarding off-duty conduct. The bureau has completed its investigation, and no disciplinary action against Carducci will result from it, Bowers said.
The Nov. 27 traffic accident involving Carducci happened shortly after 5 a.m. in the 1700 block of West 26th Street. Police charged that Carducci was driving a 2006 Mercury Milan west at a high rate of speed when he crashed into Erie Engine 6, which had its emergency lights on and was backing into the Engine 6 station at 1740 W. 26th St.
Police wrote in the criminal complaint that Carducci had glassy eyes and had a strong odor of alcohol on him, and that he failed the three field sobriety tests he was given. Carducci was also given a portable breath test that registered his alcohol level at 0.161 percent, according to the complaint.
Police said Carducci also agreed to a blood test and was taken to Saint Vincent Hospital for it. The results were not listed in the complaint.
Engine 6, a 2000 KME that served as a front-line engine for the Erie Bureau of fire, received moderate to heavy damage in the accident, officials said. It remains in Buffalo undergoing repair.
The city is still waiting for a final repair cost for the rig, Fire Chief Tony Pol said Thursday. The cost is expected to be covered by insurance, he said.
Carducci was charged by Erie police with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence and summary counts of careless driving and failure to yield to an emergency vehicle entering or leaving an official garage. He waived his preliminary hearing on the charges Jan. 14 and applied Feb. 5 for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, a program that grants probation to first-time, nonviolent offenders, according to court documents.
The ARD application will be reviewed by the Erie County District Attorney's Office, which will either approve or reject it. Daneri said his office typically makes a decision on ARD applications within 30 days of filing.
A second Erie police officer, Patrolman John Popovic, is on paid leave from the department as an investigation continues into another Thanksgiving Day crash in Erie.
Popovic, a 16-year veteran of the bureau, was placed on paid administrative leave Dec. 2. He was on duty and was driving a Ford Interceptor utility patrol vehicle when it collided with a Chevrolet Cavalier at the intersection of West 10th and Sassafras streets on Nov. 27 at about 3:15 p.m.
The driver of the Chevrolet, Dorothy Baginski Lamison, 87, of Erie, died later that day at UPMC Hamot of complications of blunt-force trauma, according to the Erie County Coroner's Office.
Bowers said Popovic will remain on administrative leave until it is determined whether charges will be filed in the accident.
The Pennsylvania State Police investigated the crash and has turned its investigation over to the District Attorney's Office. Daneri said his office has talked to the investigating trooper and is reviewing the case.
Myrtle Beach police officer charged with DUI following crash
An off-duty Myrtle Beach police officer was charged with Driving Under the Influence after wrecking his car on Feb. 5, according to an incident report from the S.C. Highway Patrol.
Ricky Eric Norris, 29, of Myrtle Beach, was charged after troopers were called to a vehicle wreck with one truck overturned in a ditch on Gardner Lacy Road near Postal Way in Carolina Forest.
Records tie suspended officer to drug user
Alison Dirr, Daily Herald Media 1:48 p.m. CST February 14, 2015
The village released disciplinary records involving Kronenwetter Officer Andrew Zortman under the threat of a Daily Herald Media lawsuit.
KRONENWETTER — A Kronenwetter police officer was disciplined last year for having an inappropriate relationship with a woman known to be an illegal drug user and for using a restricted police database to look up personal information about her.
Kronenwetter Police Chief Dan Joling suspended officer Andrew Zortman for six days without pay for on- and off-duty violations of department policies that occurred from the late 2000s to 2013. Zortman served his suspension from July 28 to Aug. 2 of last year, according to previously released documents.
Joling refused to say precisely why Zortman was disciplined and would not release records detailing his offenses. Daily Herald Media sued for access to those records and Kronenwetter agreed to release the documents but blacked out the names of most people involved.
The newly released records show that Zortman was disciplined a number of times over the course of his career in Kronenwetter, starting just a year after he took the job. Twice before, he was found to have violated department policies regarding integrity and officer conduct.
The exact nature of Zortman's relationship with the woman was unclear from the documents, which were censored to obscure details of his personal connections with those involved. But it is clear the officer's violations were considered a serious threat to the Police Department's reputation.
"The actions diminish public confidence and bring discredit upon not only (officer) Zortman, but also our entire department and profession," Kronenwetter Police Lt. Terry McHugh, who investigated Zortman's behavior, wrote in his report. "The circumstances certainly call into question the soundness of (officer) Zortman's decision-making skills, judgment and credibility."
Zortman, who was found to have violated department policies regarding officers' conduct in their private lives, improper use of a state database and general behavior that reflected badly on the department, remains employed as an officer at the Kronenwetter Police Department.
Daily Herald suit prompts village to release records
Village Administrator Richard Downey said he is confident in Zortman's ability to perform his duties as a police officer, noting a recent letter of recognition that Zortman received from Joling for saving a woman who was choking.
"I think it's a matter of, are you throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or are you helping your employees correct their mistakes that have occurred?" Downey said.
Downey said that Joling holds employees to a "very high standard" and that he trusted the police chief's decision to return Zortman to duty.
Joling said via email that he had "no further comment" on the case and directed questions to an attorney representing the village on the records lawsuit. Kronenwetter Police and Fire Commission Chairman Paul Raymond did not respond to requests for comment.
Zortman did not respond to requests for comment.
Hillview Police Chief Convicted of Making a False Statement to Federal Agents
U.S. Attorney’s Office February 13, 2015
Western District of Kentucky (502) 582-5911
LOUISVILLE, KY—Hillview, Kentucky Police Chief Glenn A. Caple was convicted today of making a false statement to federal agents when questioned about his knowledge and involvement in moving evidence found on an elected official’s property on January 4, 2012, announced Acting United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.
“We thank the jurors for their consideration of the evidence in reaching a unanimous guilty verdict,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney John Kuhn. “We must have faith and trust in our police that they will follow the letter of the law – and will be honest with other law enforcement agents investigating crimes. We cannot have our police knowingly and willfully lying to federal agents out of expedience or self-interest. Chief Caple knew better; he broke the law and an important public trust.”
During the four-day trial, the United States proved that Caple lied to federal agents on April 26, 2012, when he was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about his involvement in directing subordinate Hillview Police officers to move evidence, a backpack characterized as a mobile meth lab, from its original location on the residence of the Hillview mayor and/or initially stating to federal agents that the suspected backpack was not found by Hillview police on the mayor’s property.
Hillview, Kentucky is a city of approximately 9,400 residents located in Bullitt County, Kentucky near Jefferson County. Hillview police officers testified under oath that a mobile meth lab in a black backpack was found in a tire next to a garage on the mayor’s property. They further testified that Chief Caple asked a Hillview police officer to move the backpack to a location believed to be off of the mayor’s property and failed to report the incident, in order to protect the mayor from bad publicity.
Jurors deliberated just over one hour before reaching a guilty verdict. Sentencing is scheduled before Senior District Judge Charles R. Simpson III on May 18, 2015, in Louisville. Caple faces no more than five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and a three year period of supervised release.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Dyke and Marisa Ford and was investigated by the Louisville field office of the FBI.