Queens man who severely beat off-duty sergeant says he fought back in self-defense after drunken cop threatened him
BY GRAHAM RAYMAN NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Hayden Holder claims off-duty cop started 2013 brawl that left him in jail waiting trial
An off-duty police sergeant severely pummeled by a Queens man in 2013 actually started the fight and he was extremely drunk, his blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit.
Now the man who delivered the beating hopes the revelations — based on witness interviews, newly released video and hospital records — shed new light on a criminal case that once appeared a slam dunk. But union leaders say that even if then-Sgt. Mohamed Deen started the fight, the physical response was so violent that any claim of self-defense disappeared in the midst of the street fight.
In November 2013, auto mechanic Hayden Holder decked Deen with one punch outside a gyro joint on Liberty Ave. in Ozone Park, Queens. Then Holder pounced on the cop, hitting him 11 more times in the pre-dawn hours. Deen, 42, had bleeding on the brain and needed surgery to repair broken bones in his face. He was in a medically induced coma for several days.
Police and prosecutors said Holder, 32, was trying to kill Deen. They said the attack came out of nowhere.
A video uploaded to YouTube shows Hayden Holder attacking Mohamed Deen in 2013. Holder claims that he was acting in self-defense.
A video uploaded to YouTube shows Hayden Holder attacking Mohamed Deen in 2013. Holder claims that he was acting in self-defense.
“It’s really hard to overstate the savageness of this attack,” prosecutor John Ruane said during Holder’s Nov. 18, 2013, arraignment, as cops packed the courtroom.
Holder, a mechanic with no prior criminal record, says Deen initiated the whole thing — first outside the Maracas nightclub on Jamaica Ave. in Richmond Hill, and then later about a mile south outside the Liberty Express gyro spot.
“I had no idea who this guy was, I had never seen him before,” Holder said. “I had no idea he was a cop.”
Indeed, security video from the nightclub shows that Deen suddenly walked up to Holder and became more and more enraged, ultimately ripping off his shirt and coming at Holder with his fists clenched and biceps bulging.
Holder's mother, Madonna Jagdeo — shown here with her husband, Patrick — said that their son was trying to hold himself back during the assault.
In November, 2013, auto mechanic Hayden Holder (pictured) decked then-Sgt. Muhamad Deen with one punch outside a gyro joint and then hit him as many as 11 more times in the pre-dawn hours on Liberty Ave. in Ozone Park.
Holder's mother, Madonna Jagdeo — shown here with her husband, Patrick — said that their son was trying to hold himself back during the brutal assault.
Bouncers pulled Deen away, but he tried to get at Holder twice more, before unsuccessfully lunging at him. The sergeant left when cops arrived.
Jamaica Hospital records show that Deen had a blood-alcohol level of .26. Even while off-duty, police officers are supposed to be fit for work, according to NYPD regulations.
Throughout most of the five-minute encounter captured on video, Holder had his arms behind his back and just stood there.
“He’s got his hands behind his back, and he’s trying avoid the man,” his stepfather Patrick Jagdeo, 45, said. “You can see it on the video.”
Holder and his friend, Bernard Joseph, 33, hung around briefly and then left to go to the Liberty Express gyro joint, which was one of the only restaurants open in the area at that hour.
“As we were walking to the car, we were like, ‘This is why we don’t come to clubs, because people don’t know how to handle their liquor,’" Joseph recalled.
Once there, Holder ordered two gyros for himself and Joseph, and bought sodas. As Holder walked back to the car, Deen pulled up, Joseph said.
As a result of the attack, Sgt. Mohamed Deen had to be put in a medically induced coma for several days. He had bleeding on the brain and needed surgery to repair broken bones in his face.
It may have been a random encounter, but Holder and his family believe Deen followed him there to confront him again.
“That’s where they meet, and Deen’s yelling at him and threatening him,” Joseph said.
Holder says he tried to walk away, but Deen threatened him, spit on him, and then pushed him once or twice.
“Deen walks fast back to his car like he’s going to get a baseball bat,” Joseph said. “Hayden walked right behind him, and blocked him from opening the door. Hayden is screaming, ‘Why did you push me!’”
Holder's lawyer contends that he was being pursued by Deen, who had a blood alcohol level of .26 at the time of the attack.
Holder, who had also been drinking, said Deen then took a swing at him. Holder then dropped Deen with a left.
As Holder kept punching Deen, some onlookers shouted, “Stop!” Others egged him on.
Holder said he doesn’t remember hitting Deen more than once, and admits he was drunk, too.
“He kept taunting and threatening me, he took a swing at me, and I guess I just lost it,” he said.
Holder's family saw their son's charges reduced after grand jury testimony in 2014, but lawyers for Deen say that Holder was no longer acting defensively when he continued his attack.
Holder said he doesn’t remember hitting Deen more than once, and admits he was drunk, too.
Holder's family saw their son's charges reduced after grand jury testimony in 2014, but lawyers for Deen say that Holder was no longer acting defensively when he continued his attack.
Holder testified in front of a grand jury. In March 2014, prosecutors reduced the charge against him from attempted murder to first-degree assault, which carries a sentence of up to 25 years. He’s been in jail for over two years without bail. His trial is scheduled to begin on April 29.
Holder grew up in Queens and went to Hillcrest High School, before working as a home health aide and as a mechanic at an AAMCO garage.
He could have a tough road in court. The video itself is damning enough, and the fact that he hit Deen so many times weakens any self-defense case. In addition, it’s going to be hard to convince a jury that he blacked out and can’t remember repeatedly hitting Deen.
Now retired from the 32nd Precinct in Washington Heights, Deen declined to comment. But Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said Holder’s claims don’t change the fact that he viciously beat Deen.
There’s a point in the video of no return,” Mullins said. “Once he continues to strike, he goes from being defensive to being offensive and that’s a crime. He had options.”
By John Lovaas/Reston Impact Producer/Host
#COMMUNITY NOTE: Reston Association election ballots must be returned for counting by COB Monday, April 4. There is only one real race—the At-Large seat. I suggest John Bowman, a person of integrity, knowledge and experience who cares about the community first. There is only one candidate for the other two posts. Both are excellent, not conflicted. Sherri Hebert is great, new blood for Lake Anne; Danielle La Rosa deserves a second term for North Point.
#Remember the Ad Hoc Commission to Review Police Practices created by Chairman Sharon Bulova after the 2013 police killing of unarmed John Geer and the outrage after two years of stonewalling by County Police and silence from the Board of Supervisors (BOS)? The 40-member Commission submitted its final report, with 142 unanimously adopted recommendations, to the BOS last October. In the five months since, the BOS has met just once to consider specific actions. It has agreed in principle to adopt the Report of the Commission, but not yet acted to initiate implementation of all its recommendations. The BOS just announced a second meeting planned for 10 a.m. on May 10 in Rooms 9/10 of the Fairfax County Gov’t. Center (Taj Mahal). Why the delay? In a recent Reston Forum on “Making Justice Work”, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins erroneously stated that the Board had in fact approved all recommendations, but additional careful consideration of implementation was required. She said the Board was “having a hard time organizing another meeting.”
#Meanwhile, the Washington Post sharply criticized the BOS for the delay and for preparing to undermine the Commission’s unanimous recommendation for oversight of police internal investigations by an independent auditor and for a Civilian Review Panel to receive citizen complaints about police abuses. In other words, it seems the delay may not be because the Supes can’t organize their own meeting, but because there are internal struggles going on over reform.
#Police organizations (would-be unions) whose reps (including Fairfax Coalition of Police President sitting across from me) voted for the Civilian Review Panel apparently are now trying to kill it. At the one BOS meeting held to date, the President of the Fairfax Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 77, Brad Carruthers, told assembled Supervisors they should exercise caution in considering the recommendations since the whole Commission was only created because of complaints “from ten percent of the population who are anti-cops.” What!
#If reform is to be implemented and effect real change, independent oversight and civilian review advisory functions are indispensable for assuring the integrity of the changes. Experts stress the importance of independence of oversight. Although Police Chief Roessler and Chairman Bulova both say they support oversight and civilian review, the devil is likely in the details. Specifically, the more extreme voices are demanding that police be included on the Civilian Review Panel because only they truly understand the work of the police. In fact, we are where we are in Fairfax County today because there has been no oversight behind the steel blue curtain. A Civilian Review Panel is exactly that—civilian. It represents the community and provides an independent view. Let’s hope Chairman Bulova, Supervisor Hudgins and other Supervisors stand firm and are neither distracted nor intimidated from transforming the Fairfax County Police Department into a more responsive, topnotch force of which we all can be proud.
Fairfax County Attorney David Bobzien, who showed how much of a priority ethics are in the county when his office helped engineer the cover-up after a police officer shot John Geer, has issued some new ethical guidelines for the board of supervisors.
Because of new state gift standards adopted after the scandal involving former Governor Bob McDonnell, Bobzien believes supervisors should no longer accept free passes to county facilities, including golf memberships and fitness passes.
That’s interesting and may be a good idea. But the article by Anthony Olivo also illustrates much more important issues related to ethics that Fairfax County continues to ignore – transparency and accountability. When transparency and accountability are absent, your ethics will almost always be questioned.
Bobzien himself is a great illustration of the accountability problem. It’s ridiculous that he’s still employed by Fairfax County, after the Geer debacle. Failing to hold the top officials accountable who engineered a plan to withhold key information about that case from the public, prosecutors, Geer’s family and a U.S. senator, should be a major embarrassment for our elected officials. Unfortunately, it isn’t.
Now, you have the laughable situation of Bobzien setting ethics policy. This is just as comical as the board of supervisors expecting the police department leadership responsible for the Geer cover-up to now “change the culture” to prevent a Geer type situation in the future. What Chairman Sharon Bulova and the other supervisors have consistently refused to admit is that these leaders are the “culture” that needs changing.
The article also shows at least three great examples of the failure by Bulova and company to embrace transparency. Just read this paragraph:
Bobzien declined to discuss the county’s policy change, and the county park authority would not say which other Fairfax officials are given free passes and whether they will continue to receive them.
Bobzien has such contempt for the citizens, he’s unwilling to explain to a reporter anything about this policy change.
Then, the park authority says “screw you” to all of us who pay their salaries when asked a question that should be easily answered. No one should have to jump through hoops to get that kind of information.
Sadly, these are not isolated examples and remain the standard operating procedure in Fairfax County. Bulova created a commission and claimed multiple times that lessons were learned from the two-year embarrassment following John Geer’s killing. If lessons were learned, they were quickly forgotten. More likely, lessons weren’t learned at all and it was just lip service during an election year.
If the board of supervisors was at all serious about change they would have immediately adopted important, no-cost, policies put forth by the communications subcommittee of the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission (Full disclosure: I was appointed to that commission by Sharon Bulova and helped write the communications report — The following sentence in Olivo’s article convinces me that the board of supervisors has no intention of changing the status quo when it comes to ethics and the related issues of accountability and transparency:
Supervisor Penelope A. Gross (D-Mason), in office since 1996, would not say whether she has ever used her parks pass.
How can we even expect the county attorney, the leadership of the park authority, those in charge of the police department, or any other Fairfax County officials to be responsive to the citizens if the supervisors themselves don’t think it’s important?
What possible reason does Penny Gross have for not telling us if she used her parks pass? Where is Penny’s accountability? Where is the transparency in government when an elected official shows such contempt for the concept?
Penny is my representative on the board of supervisors and I have known her for years and actually like her. I personally don’t care if she used the free parks pass. It’s not that important of an issue and wouldn’t think less of her, even if she used it every day of the week. But I care greatly that Penny Gross won’t say if she used that pass. And everyone else who lives in Fairfax County should care too.
BY MATTHEW BARAKAT
A police officer charged with murder for shooting a man during a 2013 domestic standoff questioned himself about whether he acted out of anger over his own deteriorating marriage, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Adam Torres, a former Fairfax County police officer, is scheduled to go on trial for murder April 18 in the August 2013 shooting death of John Geer, 46, of Springfield. Officers had been called to Geer's home because of a domestic dispute. Torres shot Geer after a 45-minute standoff. Witnesses, including other officers, said Geer was unarmed with his hands up when he was shot. Torres told investigators he thought Geer might have a weapon hidden in his waistband, and was concerned Geer might reach for a gun he had previously set at his feet.
At a pretrial hearing Thursday, defense attorneys sought to suppress numerous statements Torres made to other officers before and after the shooting about his anger over his marriage and his concerns that his wife was cheating on him. On three different days in the year leading up to the shooting, either Torres or his supervisors decided he was emotionally unfit to work because of his distress over his marital woes, prosecutor Robert McClain said.
On the day of the shooting, Torres had been arguing with his wife on the phone for 15 minutes immediately before reporting to the standoff at the Geer home. Within a minute or two of firing the shot, he told another officer out of the blue, "I had a fight with my wife."
A few days later, when detectives asked Torres why he brought that up, Torres responded that he wondered "for a split second" whether he fired out of anger but quickly concluded in his own mind the shooting was justified, according to a transcript of the interrogation.
Defense lawyers argued that the statements were irrelevant, unfairly prejudicial to their client, and should not be used against him because he felt compelled to speak to supervisors to keep his job.
Prosecutors said the statements were relevant to establish Torres' state of mind, and said Torres made the statements voluntarily.
Judge Robert Smith ruled that the statements made immediately after the shooting and in the days after are admissible. But he ruled that two discussions Torres had with his supervisor in September 2012 were too far removed from the actual shooting to be relevant. He withheld judgment on a statement Torres made a month before the shooting that he needed to take a sick day because he was "fed up with everything."
While Geer was killed in 2013, Torres was not indicted until 2015. The two-year delay led to allegations that Fairfax County was stonewalling the investigation. Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh said the county's own lawyers refused to provide internal police documents he needed to conduct his investigation until a federal court, a civil lawsuit and an inquiry from Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, prodded the county to relent.
By Ilya Somin March 30
Back in December, the Justice Department suspended its dangerous “equitable sharing” program, which helps state law enforcement agencies get around state law restrictions on asset forfeiture: the seizure of property from people who, in many cases, have never been convicted of any crime, or even charged with one. Sadly, the program is now back in force:
The Justice Department has announced that it is resuming a controversial practice that allows local police departments to funnel a large portion of assets seized from citizens into their own coffers under federal law.
The “Equitable Sharing Program” gives police the option of prosecuting some asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law, particularly in instances where local law enforcement officers have a relationship with federal authorities as part of a joint task force. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize.
Letting law enforcement agencies keep the assets they seize creates dangerous perverse incentives, and often leads to the victimization of innocent people – so much so that the practice has attracted opposition from across the political spectrum. In some states, owners must wait many months or even years before they can even begin to challenge the seizure of their property, a particularly severe burden for relatively poor people, who are the most common victims of such practices. Even those owners who have committed a crime don’t thereby deserve to have their property seized as a result, in addition to the usual punishment imposed on violators. There is no reason why an owner who happened to use, say, his car to commit Crime X should suffer the additional penalty of losing the car, while a criminal who committed the exact same offense without using a car will only suffer the usual fine or jail term associated with the offense.
Sadly, asset forfeiture has become so widespread that law enforcement agencies now use it to take more property than all the burglars in the entire United States. Something is obviously rotten in the legal system when cops steal more property than this large subset of actual robbers.
In recent years, several states have adopted strong reform laws curbing asset forfeiture abuse. But such state reforms will not be fully effective so long as law enforcement agencies can use federal equitable sharing to get around them. As one of his final official acts before stepping down, Attorney General Eric Holder imposed some constraints on equitable sharing last year. But his reforms fell far short of terminating the program entirely. It is long past time that we get the federal government completely out of the business of helping state cops function as robbers.
lya Somin is Professor of Law at George Mason University. His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, and popular political participation. He is the author of "The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain" and "Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter."
By Chelsea Davis, Reporter
A Maui police officer has been arrested five times in just over a year for offenses ranging from child endangerment to DUI to skipping court.
Rachel Garvin's five arrests happened between early January 2015 to late January 2016.
Her trouble began in 2014 when she went by her married name, Kealoha. While picking up her son at school one day, two teachers believed she was intoxicated, but allowed her to leave with her son. A few minutes later, she crashed into a guardrail.
Responding Maui police officers, including a lieutenant, didn't give her a field sobriety test and allowed her to leave the scene with a friend.
An internal probe led to a criminal investigation and she eventually pleaded no contest to a child endangerment charge in January 2015. She was put on probation for a year.
Four months later, in May 2015, Garvin was arrested for allegedly driving drunk and refusing to submit to a breathalyzer. The Maui Police Department sent out a news release about the incident, but never mentioned that it was Garvin's second arrest or that she violated the terms and conditions of her probation.
Those two cases eventually led to three more arrests, which include violating her probation and missing two court dates that were scheduled back-to-back weeks in January 2016.
Arkie Koehl, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said the situation puts the Maui Police Department in a difficult position.
"It's kind of awkward for Mothers Against Drunk Driving because the police are our closest partners and we totally depend on the police, just as the public depends on the police to protect us from drunk drivers," Koehl said.
The Maui Police Department and the police union did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Koehl said the case illustrates that no one is immune from alcohol abuse.
"Misuse and abuse of alcohol and drugs does not discriminate by what company you work for, what government agency you work for, what race, nationality, or religion you are … alcohol strikes anybody," he said.
The eight-year MPD veteran is currently assigned to desk duties. Her credentials and firearms have been surrendered.
For all the talk in the last couple of years about reforming police, there are limits to what the government can do. But there may be another way, and it involves insurance companies.
John Rappaport, an assistant law professor at the University of Chicago, says he spent years studying police reform before it dawned on him to ask a basic question: What were the insurance companies doing?
"I just went on to Google and started searching and was just instantly amazed with the stuff I was finding," Rappaport says.
It turned out insurers were trying to limit the liability of the police departments they cover.
"One of the first things I found was this pamphlet from Travelers Insurance about how to do a strip search, and I just thought people in my world have no idea that this stuff is out there and it's really fascinating," Rappaport says.
It was fascinating to him, because it seemed to offer a solution to a fundamental problem when it comes to reform: police departments usually don't feel the financial pain of a lawsuit. It's not the officers' personal money, obviously, and even the department budget is not usually at stake when somebody sues. If the city has liability insurance, on the other hand, the insurer does feel the pain — and it may try to do something to lessen it.
"They look for ways to push police departments in a direction of reduced risk," Rappaport says.
That's been the experience of William T. Riley III. When he was chief of police in Selma, Ala., he says the city's insurer made a point of getting together with him after a use-of-force incident to see what could be learned.
"And one of the things that we did when we had somebody sue us or whatever is we went over it with a fine-tooth comb to see if there's some place that we fell short on," Riley says.
Most of the time, the insurers' role is informational. They send out bulletins to police departments about the latest court precedents on, say, use of force. But some go further, paying for special training for the police departments.
Steve Albrecht does that kind of training in California.
"We're seeing forward-thinking chiefs and forward-thinking insurance companies that are working in partnership and I think that's a benefit. And I think if that's driven by the business part of that then so much the better to get the changes we need," Albrecht says.
This kind of hands-on approach is most common with insurance pools, non-profit entities that cover groups of police agencies, especially in Western states. As membership organizations, they see it as part of their function to give advice to police departments. Commercial insurance companies, on the other hand, take a more market-oriented approach.
"Ultimately, the way we can influence behavior does come down to price," says Tim McAuliffe, who's with a commerical insurer called Ironshore. He's actually a little dubious about this idea that insurance companies can promote reform. He says companies like his don't really get into the minutiae of recommending best practices or training to police departments.
"They may do, like, a conference call if it was specific to a police incident. They may ask for a conference call with a police chief but that's generally as far as I've seen companies go," he says.
Still, insurers tend to understate their own influence, in part because they don't want to be seen as dictating policies to local law enforcement. Joanna Schwartz is a law professor at UCLA who studies how police manage liability, and she agrees with Rappaport that insurers can play the role of an honest broker to force a city to learn from its police department's mistakes.
"They are highly motivated to reform because it affects their bottom line, and they're not constrained by any of the political counterforces that could prevent the city council or mayor from pushing hard on a law enforcement agency to reform," Schwartz says.
These political counter-forces, she believes, which have been at work in some of the nation's biggest cities — such as Chicago — typically don't rely on insurance to pay out legal settlements. In those cities, the payouts have simply been absorbed by the larger budget over the years, and now the police find themselves in the middle of major crises over the use of excessive force.
By Robert Salonga and Tracey Kaplan,
SAN JOSE -- A Santa Clara police sergeant was convicted Monday of misdemeanor indecent exposure by a jury convinced that he masturbated nude in front of a Santana Row sales clerk last year, likely ending a 24-year police career.
Thomas William Leipelt was silent as a court clerk read the jury's verdict and bowed his head as he absorbed the gravity of the conviction. Judge Paul Bernal remanded him to jail. He was then handcuffed in the courtroom and taken into custody by a bailiff.
The victim, identified only as "Danette Doe," testified Leipelt propositioned her while naked and masturbating in the Annieglass boutique's storage room after having sex in the restroom with his girlfriend, who also worked there as a clerk. At the time, Leipelt was having a secret extramarital affair that started about a year earlier.
Deputy district attorney Lindsay Walsh said the verdict was a sound rejection of the Leipelt's starkly contrasting contention that he was simply urinating in restroom when the clerk walked in on him.
"I think justice was served," Walsh said outside the courtroom. "This was very egregious since he was a police officer. It's sad."
Leipelt faces a maximum of 180 days in jail when he is sentenced, currently scheduled for Wednesday. But the more damning consequence is that he must register as a sex offender for life.
Leipelt's attorney, Cameron Bowman, was stoic upon hearing the verdict and voiced his disapproval.
"I'm very disappointed in what happened here today," Bowman said.
The veteran officer, with 24 years' experience -- 14 with the Santa Clara Police Department -- has been on paid administrative leave since his arrest in July, about six weeks after the encounter the evening of May 15, 2015. The department has the final word on his future with the agency, but it is unlikely he could stay on given his imminent sex-offender status.
Lt. Kurt Clarke declined to comment on Leipelt's conviction, citing it as a personnel matter, but said now that the criminal case has concluded, the department will soon "finalize" its administrative review of the sergeant.
The jury of six women and six men deliberated for about two days after a two-day trial that began last week. Both Leipelt and Doe took the stand in a case that, like most, came down primarily to a credibility contest.
Leipelt did not deny the woman's accusation at the time. Instead, he just said he was sorry it happened and departed from Annieglass, which sells jewelry and handmade glass housewares. He testified under repeated questioning by Walsh that he didn't proclaim his innocence because he wanted to be "respectful."
"I used her bathroom and made an uncomfortable situation," Leipelt said.
Doe initially testified that this was the first such incident she had experienced. But Bowman, Leipelt's lawyer, produced evidence that she had filed a restraining order in 2009 against a former tenant who allegedly exposed himself in her Santa Cruz County home.
When questioned about why she didn't divulge the previous incident earlier, Doe said several times, "I'm perimenopausal." She also said it slipped her mind because it was her friends, not her, who were the victims. Bowman seized on that statement and noted that Doe had filed a restraining order after the previous incident, claiming under penalty of perjury that she had been a victim.
Walsh said the scrutiny of the victim was an anticipated defense strategy and credited the jury for seeing through Leipelt's own explanation of events.
"(The victim) was very believable and was consistent the whole time," Walsh said. "His story was completely unreasonable and unbelievable."
Leipelt's case marks the third Santa Clara police officer to be arrested or convicted in the past year. Officer Kiet Nguyen, a 25-year veteran, was given probation after pleading no contest in December to misdemeanor shoplifting and possession of burglary tools after he shoplifted a smartwatch from a West San Jose Target store in May.
And last week, Officer Tyson Green, who has been with SCPD for 14 years, was charged with running a chop shop and possessing stolen car parts.
Contact Robert Salonga at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Tracey Kaplan email@example.com.
By Jason Green, firstname.lastname@example.org
SAN JOSE -- A veteran police officer has been charged with running a chop shop and possessing stolen car parts worth more than $75,000, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
Tyson Green, 41, a Los Gatos resident and 14-year veteran of the Santa Clara Police Department, was arrested Friday.
Green is charged with one count of owning or operating a chop shop and two counts of buying or receiving stolen property in excess of $950, said deputy district attorney Michael Vidmar.
If convicted, Green faces a maximum of five years in prison, according to prosecutors.
"Auto thefts are plaguing our area, directly affecting the owners and indirectly affecting insurance rates for everyone in the state," Vidmar said in a statement. "It is deeply disappointing that a member of law enforcement chose to participate in this crime."
The alleged crime was exposed when a local man tried to buy a Chevrolet Camaro engine from a seller on Craigslist. He suspected the engines were stolen and called police, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said an investigation by the Santa Clara County Regional Auto Theft Task Force revealed Green was using a San Jose garage to store four engines, each worth more than $15,000, as well as a dozen car computers. The parts came from cars that had been stolen over the past two years in the greater Bay Area, according to prosecutors.
The engines were from modern Camaros, including the high-performance ZL1, said Vidmar, adding that the vehicle identification numbers on them had been partially destroyed.
Green is the third Santa Clara cop to find himself in legal trouble in the past year. His arrest comes while a jury is deliberating whether to convict Sgt. Thomas Leipelt of one misdemeanor count of indecent exposure. And Kiet Nguyen, a 25-year veteran, was charged with shoplifting after he allegedly took a smart watch from a Target store in May.
Green was put on paid administrative leave when the police department learned he was under criminal investigation, Santa Clara police Chief Michael Sellers said in a statement.
"I was sad to learn that one of my officers, Tyson Green, a 14-year veteran, was arrested," Sellers said. "This is not a true reflection of the hardworking men and women of this department that serve and protect our community."
Cop is charged with fleeing after he was pulled over in car
By Paul Nelson
An off-duty patrolman is on unpaid leave and facing a misdemeanor charge after allegedly driving away from a traffic stop as another officer approached his vehicle at 1:15 a.m. Friday in the Bellevue neighborhood, according to the department.
Officer Aaron Zampella, a second-generation cop with five years on the job, was pulled over for speeding in a Nissan Maxima near 797 Broadway, police said. The car was spotted a short time later and police pulled him over again, but he was not taken into custody.
Zampella surrendered later Friday to police and was charged with one count of fleeing of a police officer in a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor, and imprudent speed, a traffic violation.
The department said alcohol was not involved and the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an internal probe that could result in additional disciplinary action.
Zampella was released on an appearance ticket and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.
Zampella has over the past few years primarily worked the patrol detail in the Bellevue area where he lives.
Councilman Vince Riggi, who also lives in Bellevue, said he was stunned to learn about Zampellas' run-in with the law.
"He's been the best zone officer Bellevue has ever had and really cares about quality-of-life issues," said Riggi. "He's conscientious, he keeps me abreast of all the activities in the community and takes the job very seriously, and I hope this works out for him so we can get him back out on the street."
In July 2011, when he was 22, Zampella told the Times Union that joining the police force "had been a dream for my entire life and something I've been striving for." Zampella , who is 6 feet 7 inches tall, said he was inspired to follow in the footsteps of his father, Arthur Zampella, who retired in 2009 after more than three decades with the department.
A Virginia State Police trooper has been charged in connection with the shooting death of a pit bull in Manassas Park earlier this month, but the dog's owners still have few answers.
Trooper Christopher Daniel Campbell, 28, of Yost Street was arrested March 18 and charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to an animal and one misdemeanor count of discharging a firearm in a public place, Manassas Park police said in a news release Monday.
He is accused of fatally wounding family pet, Che, who family members said was in their yard at 111 Runyon Court at the time.
Police did not say how Campbell was developed as a suspect in the case. He was apparently off-duty at the time of the incident.
The shooting happened around 9:45 p.m. March 8. Officers were called to investigate gunfire in the area and arrived to find Che suffering a gunshot wound. He was rushed to an emergency vet where he died of his injuries.
Witnesses reported seeing two suspects running from the area. Manassas Park police have not said if they are still looking for a second suspect.
Che would have turned 5 years old next month.
"We have no idea why it happened," said Luci Marisol Flores. "We are still in shock that someone like him who is supposed to protect our community would commit such a cruel crime against a dog."
Police have not released a motive for the crime.
Campbell graduated from the police academy in March 2012 and was assigned to the Fairfax division, said state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.
He has been placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. In addition, state police have launched an internal investigation into the incident, Geller said.
Campbell is scheduled to appear in court May 5.
San Francisco's Office of Citizen Complaints found that the San Francisco cops who arrested public defender Jami Tillotson after she told them to stop photographing her client in a courthouse hallway were in the wrong, and that they engaged in "conduct reflecting discredit on the department."
That said, none of the cops who arrested Tillotson, nor those who "made inappropriate comments to the media following the incident," nor the police chief who "stood by the actions of Sgt. Brian Stansbury and the other officers who arrested Tillotson" will face any consequences for their misdeeds.
Maybe so, but the complaint review board says otherwise. his officers may have had the "reasonable suspicion" to take pictures, but they clearly didn't have the right to continue to do so after being told not to by an officer of the court (the public defender), much less prevent her from doing her job by arresting her.
By Allie Gross
Around 5 PM on an icebox cold Tuesday evening this month, Shagwaina Clark* began hyperventilating in the lobby of the Detroit Police Department (DPD) headquarters.
"Why did ya'll have to drag me into this?" she repeated on a loop, kicking her worn moccasins against the carpeted grey floor.
On February 27, friends say 24-year-old Darnell Kelly—also known as Banga Pepos—was killed in a white sedan parked three houses down from Clark's camera-lined bungalow. Four days later, and just a few hours before her public breakdown in the police station foyer, multiple armed officers arrived to retrieve "any and all computers, hard drives, and any data storage devices used to store video and/or audio data" from her west side home, according to their search warrant.
The invasion of privacy left the 37-year-old reeling.
"He lived his lifestyle, it didn't have nothing to do with us," she croaked between sobs, claiming the last time police used footage from her cameras to investigate a homicide, her car was shot up. "The police aren't here to protect, they're here to fuck up people's lives. You ain't protect me at no time that I called you, but you want me to protect this man's family?"
Around 3 PM—an hour and a half after the warrant was signed—police officers stomped across the threshold of Clark's front door and proceeded to rifle through her two-story house as her teenage daughter, who was home alone, looked on, she says.
Clark was at work during the encounter, but the aftermath was familiar. In July 2013, not long after Detroit's current Police Chief James Craig took the helm, her house was raided by the police narcotics division because they suspected she sold pot. Despite flipping the place upside down, police found only "marijuana tails"—which were not criminal because residents had recently voted in favor of decriminalizing private possession by Detroit adults of less than an ounce. Nobody was arrested, and nobody was charged, but the raid was terrifying, with Clark's wife and eldest daughter handcuffed to the dining room chair, she maintains.
The mother's youngest child cries to this day when she sees the police.
So the raid earlier this month was triggering, to say the least. "If you're coming for a DVR, why you got a gun up in my daughter's face? She is not the criminal. She is an underage minor. She don't know anything about this," Clark said, bunching her fingers into a tight ball.
In a statement, a DPD spokesperson says officers "did not have their weapons out nor did they point them at anyone at anytime." But it's difficult to deny Clark's alienation—her whole body trembles when she recounts recent experiences with local police.
In many ways, Detroit is like much of America in 2016, where entire families, blocks, and communities are traumatized in the name of public safety. But the city's situation is especially glaring given that the police force came under federal supervision in 2003—a decade before the emergence of Black Lives Matter. While Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and the countless other black men and women who have been killed by police in recent years have spurred a national conversation about criminal justice, the reality is that boots-on-the-ground, aggressive policing remains prominent in many cities—even those who see federal oversight come and go.
And even if discussions of police brutality typically revolve around shootings of unarmed individuals, the fact is cops don't have to physically harm or even arrest people to do lasting damage.
"It's a myth that the only group being criminalized are those committing crimes," said Heather Ann Thompson, a University of Michigan historian who writes on the history and present day implications of mass incarceration. "The reality is if you live on a block with criminal activity, then by association you are a suspect."
In November 2013, four months after taking the helm, Detroit Police Chief James Craigintroduced the city to the "New DPD," inviting members of the press to look on as nearly 200 police officers raided the Colony Arms apartment complex on Detroit's east side. Butaccording to the Detroit Metro Times, of the 30 people arrested there, 21 were picked up for traffic warrants—an indicator of poverty more than criminal activity.
Colony Arms was just the beginning. On March 11, uniformed and plain-clothed officers from various units within the department and partnering agencies gathered for "Rush Hour"—a raid on Detroit's east and west side that, according to an official press release, aimed to "purge the community of individuals who have outstanding warrants, participate in the sale of illegal narcotics, and/or possess illegal firearms." By the end of the day, eight search warrants had been executed, 31 arrests made, 496 tickets issued (478 of which were moving violations), and 52 vehicles impounded.
Mixed within these stats was a particularly telling figure: 322 people had been investigated. As Sgt. Michael Woody, the department's communication head, explains in an email, "Essentially, every time there is a 'legal reason' for the contact we generally will investigate the person to determine who we are dealing with."
Experts like Thompson, the University of Michigan professor, see these raids as the perverse manifestation of a national trend.
"The tactic of policing is a tactic unto itself," she told me. "In other words, the goal doesn't even have to be arrest. The goal is show of force. 'We're on your block, we're watching you. We could kick down your door at any minute; we can pull you over at any minute."
James Craig is nothing if not charismatic. Some city residents went so far as to christenhim "Hollywood"—a riff on the fact that the cop spent 28 years working for the Los Angeles Police Department, but also because has a movie star's cool confidence and charm. When I attended a Police Academy program at the station earlier this month, an initiative that allows residents to size up how the DPD is run, the room of about 60 people was buzzing.
When the chief and I sat down in a sparsely decorated conference room at the DPD headquarters to talk about Operation Restore Order, Craig was quick to acknowledge the "oppressive" connotations. But in his eyes, these kinds of zero-tolerance raids are necessary to rebuild trust between Detroiters and the police force.
After years of jokes about slow response times, Craig is trying to show residents that he is present.
"Traffic violations do matter, it's like anything else," he said, before adding, "When you've read the things on zero-tolerance, it doesn't matter to us if you have a felony or a misdemeanor—both with will go to jail, because the message becomes clear: not here, not in this neighborhood. And when you do that, it has a sustaining effect on reducing crime. It's amazing to watch it."
Except that connection is pretty much impossible to make, according to Kevin Wolff, an assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York who studies crime rates across America. "Unless there is a discernible change in the trend, it's really hard to say with any certainty that you've actually changed the trajectory of a city overall or in a certain area," he said, pointing to the oft-cited but arguably dubious connection between New York City's embrace of Broken Windows policing and a massive drop in local crime in the 1990s.
Likewise, Detroit has seen violent crime rates experience a general (if uneven) decline since the early 2000s, well before Craig took the helm. And Wolff believes raid style-policing, which is of a piece with the broken windows approach, has downsides like "alienation, and loss of trust in the police." For these reasons, he said, "most scholars have concluded that the costs may outweigh any benefits."
Jonathan Smith, former chief of the Special Litigation Section at the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division who helped review Ferguson policing and was in charge of monitoring Detroit during its 13-year stint under DOJ oversight, agrees. "This quality of life, low-level offense policing is what drives people nuts, and it really erodes their confidence that the police are there to create public safety, rather than just enforce order on that community," he said. "When something real is going on, they're not going to get cooperation from anybody to solve a crime."
One need look no further than Shagwaina Clark and her distrust for the police to see that.
"It's wrong and I am pissed. I am hurt. To know that if something is to go wrong now, I would never call the police," she said, heading out the door of police headquarters to her black SUV in the parking lot.
Huddled inside are two of her kids, both too shaken up to stay home alone.
"You're tearing my life apart," their mother said. "Who's going to pay for that? Nobody."
Follow Allie Gross on Twitter.
*Last name has been changed.
BY MICHELE NEWELL
Fifteen major drug cases involving a former Reynoldsburg detective accused of trafficking drugs from the police department's evidence room have been dismissed.
The Franklin County Prosecutor's Offices dismissed the cases against Ty Downard weeks after he killed himself in jail.
"We had a feeling this was coming," said Reynoldsburg Police Chief Jim O'Neill.
O' Neill said it wass disappointing to see 15 major drug cases tossed out.
The offenders range from possession of marijuana to heroin trafficking.
All of the cases were tainted, according to Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien.
Downard and a Reynoldsburg lieutenant, who is now on administrative leave, worked all those cases.
"[There were] claims of money being taken from these seizure scenes as well as drugs being taken from the seizure scene," said Franklin County prosecutor Ron O' Brien.
O'Brien says his team spent hours reviewing 100 cases Downard and the lieutenant worked on, 85 of which are already closed.
Police Chief O'Neill says he doesn't want to see the same misconduct happen again.
He says he did an internal review of how his police department handles evidence.
By MATTHEW RENDA
SALINAS, Calif. (CN) - The Salinas Police Department needs a major overhaul in its policies on police shootings, has an ineffective philosophy of community engagement, a lack of transparency and a fundamental failure to respect and understand the Hispanic members of its community, according to a Justice Department report released Tuesday.
"Today's report will not only assist the Salinas Police Department in building trust with community, but serve as a blueprint to police agencies across the country," said Noble Ray, a former police chief and current chief of the Department of Justice COPS Office Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative.
City leaders and officials from the Justice Department held a press conference in downtown Salinas to discuss "The Collaborative Reform Initiative: An Assessment of the Salinas Department," a 192-page report that critically examines the police department and its policies, outlining 61 findings and 110 recommendations to reform the department so it functions with more accountability and more orientation toward community policing.
Ray highlighted four areas for particular concern during a press conference in downtown Salinas on Tuesday: the department's officers were ill-equipped to appropriately deal with individuals suffering from mental health; officers fail to receive adequate training relating to de-escalation techniques; the department's internal investigation mechanisms are insufficient bringing into questions its ability to consistently introduce accountability and the department fails to understand the extent to which the relationship between it and the community is in disrepair.
Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin said he initially sought the creation of the report after he saw a significant erosion of trust between the community and its police department, particularly after four officer shootings in 2014 resulted in the deaths of four individuals, all of whom were Hispanic.
"The shootings were very controversial and resulted in some civil unrest in our city," McMillin said. "It highlighted, as I think we have seen nationally, tensions between law enforcement and the communities we serve."
The police shootings in Salinas occurred toward the end of 2014, during the same period when the nation was riveted by the widespread protests in Ferguson, Missouri after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson.
McMillian responded to the report's findings, many of which were extremely critical of his department, with a mixture of contrition and defiance.
"Some of what is in this report is new," he said. "Some of it we disagree with. But much of it we could have written ourselves. There are no surprises."
McMillan accounted for his department's lack of community-oriented policing by saying his department suffers from a lack of resources. His police officers are too busy reacting to serious crimes to have time to engage community members in way the report recommends.
McMillan also noted that while the report criticized the manner in which the department investigated police shootings, it found the four incidents in question were all legally justified.
"I was pleased to find that in the relatively rare instances when Salinas Police Officers do use force, there is no sign of bias or disparate treatment with how force is used with people of different races," he said. "Race and ethnicity make you no more or less likely to be subject to the use of force."
But McMillan did acknowledge that the report criticized his departments reporting of use-of-force incidents and the report further recommends the creation of an independent agency responsible for investigating such incidents.
The Justice Department also recommends convening a citizen oversight committee to oversee aspects of the police department, particularly as it relates police shootings and in-custody deaths.
Ray said the Justice Department will follow up with the Salinas Police Department to monitor its reform efforts.
"What will happen is that in six months, we will go over those 61 findings and 110 recommendations and get a status report as to how the department has set about accomplishing those findings and recommendations," he said.
In the meantime, McMillan vowed to take steps toward bridging the divide between his department, its officers and Salinas residents.
By Kristine Gill of the Naples Daily News
Deputies say a former Naples Police officer molested a girl between the ages of 12 and 16.
Ricardo Vazquez Jr., 37, of Golden Gate, was arrested by Collier County Sheriff's deputies Saturday on charges of lewd and lascivious molestation.
Vazquez' mug shot was redacted from reports under a Florida statute protecting former law enforcement officers. His street address also was redacted given that his arrest was classified as domestic violence.
Reports show a girl between the ages of 12 and 16 accused Vazquez of inappropriately touching her on multiple occasions over several years.
The girl told a relative who contacted deputies.
Vazquez was a police officer for the city of Naples between November 2005 and December 2010.
He resigned voluntarily, according to the city's human resources department.
Vazquez has worked for Collier County as a utility technician in its wastewater collection department since May 2013.