Taser Weapon Misuse By Portland Oregon Police Officers Costs Taxpayers $138,000 To Settle 2 Federal Civil Rights Lawsuits

February 28, 2011

PORTLAND, OREGON – As the Portland Police Bureau grapples with how to update its Taser policy, two federal lawsuits stemming from inappropriate Taser use suggest some city police aren’t familiar with the current restrictions on their use.

The city settled both lawsuits, paying a total of $138,073 to two men who were Tased by police after they had surrendered. In each incident, the men were on their knees with their hands locked behind, or on their heads when they were tased.

One man’s back was to the officer when he was shot with no warning, an arbitrator found based on witness statements, although the officer said she had shot him in the stomach.

Both men were charged with misdemeanors ranging from interfering with police to harassment. Separate juries cleared both of them and some charges were dismissed.

The officers violated bureau policy by using the Taser against people who were “passively resisting,” according to testimony from the criminal trials and civil depositions. But no discipline was issued.

Portland attorney Matthew McHenry represented both men in their lawsuits.

“These cases exemplify why law enforcement needs new and better training on Taser use,” McHenry said. “They both struck me as a case in which the Taser was used against people who were not a threat.”

Portland’s current policy — which allows police to use a Taser when someone physically resists or displays the intent to physically resist – is more permissive than other cities’ and model guidelines. The city auditor’s office has recommended a more restrictive policy.

A federal appeals court ruled in December that police can be held liable for using a stun gun against an unarmed person who poses no immediate threat. Deputy City Attorney Dave Woboril said that Portland’s current guidelines on Taser use are not precise enough and need to be improved to better guide officers.

In late January, the city paid $81,766to settle a federal civil rights suit filed by Hung Minh Tran, a commercial insurance broker, against Officer Jennifer Thompson.

The settlement came after a stinging rebuke from an arbitrator, who found that the officer’s sworn testimony conflicted with that of four witnesses and Tran.

reese.jpgThe OregonianChief Mike Reese
“Officer Thompson denies deploying her Taser against Tran while he was on his knees, facing away from her, but based upon the testimony of several witnesses, I find that she did,” arbitrator Alan Bonebrake wrote, adding she deployed probes into Tran’s back.

“This was unnecessary, unreasonable and an excessive use of force,” he wrote. Tran proved he was deprived of his civil rights from the use of the Taser, assault and Thompson’s negligence, the arbitrator found.

The encounter between Tran and Thompson happened Nov. 24, 2007 when the officer responded to the report of a woman assaulted at the Cheerful Tortoise bar, near Portland State University.

When Thompson arrived, the victim and her boyfriend were outside. As the officer was talking to them, Tran stepped out of the bar. The boyfriend accused some of Tran’s friends of being involved in the assault, and two began arguing.

Thompson ordered Tran back into the bar. Tran admitted that at first he refused in order to defend his friends, who the boyfriend claimed were involved. “He says it wasn’t me. It wasn’t my friends, then goes back in,” Tran’s attorney told jurors.

The officer testified that Tran pushed her and then went inside. She followed to arrest him. Thompson said Tran struggled and knocked her into a stack of chairs.

Tran testified that he didn’t know who was grabbing him from behind, and he struggled to get away. When he realized it was a police officer, he said he complied with Thompson’s requests and she dragged him back outside. He said the officer knocked him into the chairs.

Once outside, the officer’s account drastically differed from Tran and witnesses.

Tran said Thompson was giving him confusing commands, such as go against the wall, back up against the wall, and back away from the wall. He didn’t understand what she wanted so he did what he’s seen on TV: got down on his knees, with his hands locked behind his head, facing away from her, “so I’m not a threat.”

“I did not ever see a Taser. I was not warned about a Taser,” Tran testified. “All I remember is getting Tased in the back, and I didn’t know where that was coming from.”

At the trial, he showed photos of bruises to his back. Police didn’t take photos.

Thompson wrote in her report that once outside with Tran, she pulled her Taser. In her deposition, she said she probably did not warn Tran she was going to fire it, as policy requires. Her report said Tran had his hands up in the air, saying “OK, OK.”

“After the physical contact, twice pushing me, I decided to pull my Taser to get some compliance because he wasn’t complying with me physically. It wasn’t specifically at that second. It was everything to that point.”

Not until her cross-examination did Thompson say anything about drawing her Taser, reholstering it and accidentally firing probes into her holster when she reached to draw it out again. Thompson testified she probably didn’t put the safety on. She testified that Sgt. Cory Roberts told her to leave the accidental discharge out of her report since it wasn’t used against Tran then.

She said she then used the stun gun against Tran’s stomach and handcuffed him.

As a result of their encounter, Thompson never talked to a witness who saw the bar assault she was sent to investigate.

McHenry, who also represented Tran during his criminal trial, argued that Thompson lied on the stand. “She Tased him against her training, and she’s trying to cover for that,” he told a jury, who acquitted his client of disorderly conduct and interfering with an officer.

Woboril said police managers are aware of the settlement.

In her deposition, Thompson said she received a de-briefing from then–Central Precinct Sgt. Kyle Nice. (A police review board this month found he acted inappropriately for drawing his firearm during an off-duty road rage encounter.)

In a confidential memo Nice wrote to then-Precinct Cmdr. Mike Reese, he said the Tran case had caused Thompson anguish, she had reviewed it and would learn from it.

Woboril said he didn’t know if police internal affairs has reviewed the case. If not, the city’s “tort review group will certainly look at that result and see if the bureau needs to open one up.”

Last spring, the city paid out $56,306 to settle a federal suit brought by Christophe Clay, 24, against Officer John Hughes and Michelle Tafoya.

Also on Nov. 24, 2007 coincidentally, Clay had gone to the Game Crazy store in North Portland to buy an XBOX 360 controller. After an argument with a clerk, Clay asked the manager for the business’ corporate number. The business called police.

Officer Michelle Tafoya arrived and saw Clay walk out of the store. She immediately shouted commands and pointed her Taser at him. Officer John Hughes, who responded next, drew his Taser as well. Clay, both said, had his hands on his head.

Hughes testified that he told Clay to go to his knees and turn away from them. Clay got to his knees, kept his hands on his head and turned sideways to the police. “I said they can come and arrest me,” Clay said.

Because Clay would not put his face to the ground or turn fully away from police, Hughes fired his Taser at him twice. Police also threatened to Taser Clay’s friend who was videotaping them. Police said having a suspect lie face to the ground allows for a safer approach for officers.

At Clay’s criminal trial, Hughes acknowledged Clay was passively resisting, not moving toward him, not reaching for anything. When questioned by Clay’s criminal defense attorney Stephanie Engelsman, Hughes admitted he violated bureau policy.

“I don’t think there was any dispute dramatically as to what Clay was doing at the moment he was Tasered,” said deputy city attorney Scott Moede, who represented the officers in the civil suit.

Clay said he sued Tafoya because she started the encounter “yelling at me like a mad person,” without ever trying to talk, and Hughes for shooting him.

“I shouldn’t have to sue to look for justice,” Clay said.

The city settled these cases, and no discipline followed. The plaintiffs’ attorney isn’t surprised.

“That’s why we have to file these cases because that’s the only way there’s any type of satisfaction,” McHenry said.

Appeared Here

Dallas Texas Police Officer Quaitemes Williams Fired After Violently Beating And Pepper Spraying Handcuffed Man

February 27, 2011

DALLAS, TEXAS – Dallas Police Chief David Brown said Wednesday that a police officer accused of using excessive force last month has been fired and faces criminal charges.

Former Officer Quaitemes Williams is accused of kicking and spraying mace on Rodarick Dasean Lyles while he was handcuffed during an arrest on Jan. 27.

“The response can’t be, when the suspect is defenseless and handcuffed, to kick a person in the head or even to mace a person. We have to be more professional and more disciplined than that,” Brown said.

Williams, a three-year veteran of the force who was considered a rookie, also faces criminal charges of official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor.

Dallas Police Chief Describes Excessive-Force Allegation
Dallas Police Chief Describes Excessive-Force Allegation

Dallas Police Chief Describes Excessive-Force Allegation

Rookie Officer Fired in Excessive-Force Investigation
Rookie Officer Fired in Excessive-Force Investigation

Rookie Officer Fired in Excessive-Force Investigation

“With this action today, we stand firm in our belief that the integrity of the DPD stands above the actions of a single officer or group or association,” Brown said. “We also ask the public to view our actions as proof that we can and will police ourselves.”

Lyles was on his cell phone with his girlfriend when police pulled him over, said the woman’s mother, Bobbie Denwitty. She said her daughter heard the incident over the phone.

“She didn’t sleep that night,” she said. “It was awful.”

Lyles’ attorney could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Police chief says incident began with traffic stop

Brown said Williams became angry after he was injured in a scuffle with Lyles, who fell on Williams’ arm during the altercation.

Officer Hiram Soler stopped Lyles because his plates didn’t match his vehicle, police said. Soler learned that Lyles had a suspended license and had an outstanding warrant for driving without a license.

Williams and Officer Edward Cruz-Done arrived as backup. They tried to arrest Lyles, who resisted. In the scuffle, Lyles, described by Brown as a large man, fell on Williams, pinning his arm.

Brown said Williams then hit Lyles with his fist and a flashlight. Cruz-Done felt hitting Lyles with the flashlight was unnecessary and took it from Williams, Brown said.

Soler used a stun gun on Lyles, and the man was handcuffed while he was on the ground, Brown said.

Brown said the officers tried to calm Williams, whom they described as extremely angry and out of control.

Supervisor sees Williams kick, use mace on suspect

Brown said Williams sprayed mace into Lyles’ face and kicked him in the head once when more backup officers arrived, distracting Cruz-Done and Soler.

Officer Rickey Upshaw, a supervisor, saw Williams kick and spray the mace as he pulled up, Brown said. He then had a verbal argument with Williams about his actions, Brown said.

The chief said Upshaw reported the incident to his supervisors, Brown said.

Sources in excessive-force cases usually wish to remain anonymous, but Upshaw, a 23-year veteran of the department, asked that his name be made public.

Brown praised Upshaw for coming forward.

“One of the things that I really want to express about Officer Upshaw’s action is that we should not as a department ostracize him in any way,” Brown said. “We should applaud him coming forward, him intervening. We should applaud Officer Solan, Officer Cruz-Done for pushing Officer Williams away, taking the flashlight away.”

Williams charged with official oppression

Following his termination Wednesday, Williams was arrested and transported to the Dallas County Jail.

Williams was released later Wednesday. If convicted of official oppression, he faces up to a year in jail.

“Official oppression occurs when a public servant acting under the color of his office or employment intentionally subjects another to mistreatment,” Brown said.

Brown said the department had also contacted the civil rights division of the FBI about the case.

Soler received a sustained allegation of entering inaccurate, false or improper information on a police report. Soler, who has been with the Dallas Police Department for almost three years, was disciplined with a 10-day suspension.

Case is latest high-profile dash-cam incident

Dallas police officers have previously come under fire for incidents captured on dashboard cameras.

In September, three Dallas officers were fired for their role in the videotaped beating of motorcyclist after a chase.

Brown changed police policy to pair rookie officers with more experienced officers.

Two years ago, the department made national headlines when an officer detained NFL player Randy Moss in a hospital parking lot while his mother-in-law was dying.

The officer in that case resigned.

Dallas police recently created a special unit to review dash-camera video.

Appeared Here

Crazed Orleans Parish Louisiana Cotina Holmes Arrested And Suspended After Boarding School Bus And Threatening Her Son With Her Gun

February 27, 2011

ORLEANS PARISH, LOUISIANA – An Orleans Parish sheriff’s deputy has been booked with aggravated assault for allegedly boarding a school bus and brandishing a gun at her 16-year-old son.

Police spokeswoman Shereese Harper said the deputy was in uniform when she boarded the bus Thursday morning. When she got off the bus, the driver called police, Harper said Saturday.

Police later arrested 38-year-old Cotina Holmes and booked her with one count of aggravated assault.

Sheriff Marlin Gusman later issued a news release saying she was suspended from duty, pending an internal investigation and the outcome of the court case.

Appeared Here

Escambia County Florida Deputy Sheriff Mildred Blanche Goodwin Arrested And Suspended After Beating Her Son With Department Issued Baton

February 27, 2011

ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA – An Escambia County deputy is charged with cruelty toward a child after allegedly hitting her son with her department-issued expandable baton.

Deputy Mildred Blanche Goodwin, 40, was arrested Thursday. On Friday, she posted a $2,000 bond set by Judge Thomas Dannheisser.

“Our investigation revealed that Goodwin’s chosen discipline method was outside normal standards and met the statutory requirements for child abuse,” Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Chris Welborn said in a news release.

Goodwin was ordered not to have any contact with her son and not to possess a gun. Her son’s identity and age were not released, and it’s not clear who is caring for him.

The Sheriff’s Office placed Goodwin, who has been a deputy since November 2009, on administrative leave. She was relieved of all law enforcement authority, and her department-issued weapon, credentials and other equipment have been taken from her, Welborn said.

Goodwin was arrested after the Sheriff’s Office was called to the 3600 block of Charmeine Drive.

The mother got into a dispute with her son about his going out without her permission, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.

Goodwin is accused of trying to hit her son on the leg with her baton. He blocked the baton and received injuries to his right forearm and wrist.

He refused to be taken to a medical facility, the report said.

Appeared Here

Palm Beach County Florida Accident Investigator Gerlienus Marie Hester Gets Less Than A Slap On The Wrist After Hitting Disabled Woman In A Motorized Scooter

February 27, 2011

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA – A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office civilian accident investigator driving a marked van won’t be disciplined, even though traffic investigators ruled she failed to yield the right of way when she struck a woman on a motorized scooter last summer, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

On July 6, Barbara Guyton, then 68, of West Palm Beach, was crossing Indian Drive at Westgate Avenue when a van driven by Gerlienus Marie Hester, then 44, turned left from Westgate onto Indian and struck Guyton, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.

Palm Beach County traffic investigators determined in August that Hester failed to yield to Guyton, but Hester was not given a ticket.

The review board that investigates crashes involving Sheriff’s Office vehicles ruled on Sept. 23 that any case against Hester was unsubstantiated, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Teri Barbera said.

The Sheriff’s Office internal affairs office said separately that because there was no finding of fault, no internal affairs investigation was begun and nothing will go in Hester’s personnel file.

A family friend said on Tuesday that Guyton is deaf and cannot comment.

Barbera said Stuart attorney Willie Gary’s firm has given the Sheriff’s Office notice that he intends sue on behalf of Guyton.

Senior partner Lorenzo Williams said Guyton suffered injuries to her back, neck, arm and leg.

He said she was hospitalized for about six weeks and is home now but is “still recuperating.”

“There is no question that the driver of the Sheriff’s [Office] vehicle was at fault,” Williams said. “The law enforcement agency should step to the plate and do what is fair and just to this family.”

Appeared Here

Nutcase Villa Rica Georgia Police Officer Shut Down Girl Scout Cookie Sale

February 26, 2011

VILLA RICA, GEORGIA –  A Girl Scout leader says young members of her troop thought they were headed to jail when a Georgia police officer told them to quit selling cookies.

The girls had set up a stand at a strip mall in Villa Rica about 30 miles west of Atlanta on Wednesday when the officer asked them if they had a peddler’s permit. They didn’t.

Troop Leader Kathy Crook told WXIA-TV in Atlanta that she was stunned. She says the scouts were told to pack it up.

And she says the younger members thought they would be taken to jail.

The city’s police chief and mayor spoke with the officer. They say he did nothing wrong and that it was a misunderstanding.

The troop now has a permit to sell. And to smooth things over, the city is offering the scouts a pizza party.

Appeared Here

Drunk “Designated Driver” Hamilton Township New Jersey Deputy Mayor Charles Cain Begged For “Professional Courtesy” To Avoid Arrest

February 26, 2011

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY – On the night he was charged with drunken driving, Hamilton Township Deputy Mayor Charles Cain pleaded for “professional courtesy” from the arresting officer, saying he was the “designated driver,” according to a police report obtained by The Press of Atlantic City through an Open Public Records Act request.

“Come on, you and I both know I’m gonna blow over the limit, how about a little professional courtesy,” Cain reportedly told the arresting officer after being taken to the police station for a breath test and processing. “Come on, it’s not like I was hurting anyone. I was the designated driver. I was just trying to drive them home.”

Cain also said, “I can’t believe you’re going to do this to me. I can’t believe you’re going to hang me out there like this,” according to a report of the motor vehicle stop.

Cain was arrested early Jan. 22 on Clarksville Road, just a few blocks from his Mays Landing house. The arrest came five days after Hamilton Township Committee began the process of laying off 20 percent of the municipal government, including, at the time, 11 police officers.

The Press of Atlantic City also requested a copy of Cain’s arrest video, but Cain’s lawyer, Louis Barbone, has filed a motion in state Superior Court to block the release. A hearing on that matter is scheduled for Friday. Cain said he could not comment on the report when reached by a reporter, but said “we will have our opportunity to put on our defense.”

In the police report, Officer Peter Burns stated that he was monitoring Clarktown Road for drunken drivers because it is “known as an alternative route for motorists attempting to avoid police patrols on Route 559 (Mays Landing-Somers Point Road.)” Burns stated that a vehicle with its high beams on traveled across the middle line and was heading directly at his patrol car. “I began preparing to avoid an impact when the vehicle veered right, back toward its side of the road.”

Burns then clocked the SUV at 40 mph in a 25 mph zone and pulled it over, the report says. When he asked Cain for identification, “the driver opened his wallet and displayed a gold badge along with his driver’s license, stating ‘right here,'” the report stated. Burns “detected a strong odor of alcoholic beverages emanating from his breath as he spoke.” Cain said he had been at Testa’s Good Guys Pub and had consumed three beers. Also in the car were two women, including Cain’s wife.

Burns then began administering a field sobriety test. Burns noted that Cain’s speech was slurred and that he lost his balance several times while failing to follow the specific directions of the test. A supervisor, Sgt. Christopher Gehring, arrived at the scene and backed up Burns’ findings. Gehring asked Cain how many drinks he had consumed, to which Cain stated “three Red Bull and Vodkas because he was tired and needed to stay up. He stated that he was the designated driver,” the report said. “He then made a reference to the chief of police before advising us that he was the deputy mayor.”

Cain was placed under arrest and taken to the police station for a breath test and processing, the report stated.

While there, he was asked to blow two samples for the breath test and, after the first, he refused to blow a second, saying “What, the first one was not high enough so you want to get another one? Well, I’m done.” He then told Burns to “shut up” multiple times and stated, “I’ve been working my ass off to save police jobs in this town and this is how you treat me?”

The first reading registered at twice the legal limit, according to documents in the police report, but because two tests were not completed, it’s not a legal reading.

Back at the car, according to the report, another officer, Michael Tantum, stated that the two women were angry about the arrest. Cain’s wife said the arrest was political and that someone called the police after they had left the bar, the report said. The two women then complained about their high taxes, the report stated.

Cain was charged with driving while intoxicated, refusing to submit to a breath test, reckless driving, careless driving and speeding.

His case was moved to Atlantic City Municipal Court, but it has since been sent back to Hamilton Township and is waiting at Superior Court, according to a Hamilton Township Municipal Court clerk.

Appeared Here

New Jersey TSA Agent Al Raimi Pleads Guilty After Robbing Airline Passengers

February 25, 2011

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – A New Jersey Transportation Security Administration officer on Thursday pleaded guilty to federal charges that he and his supervisor regularly stole from passengers during screenings at Newark Liberty International Airport, according to federal prosecutors.

Officer Al Raimi, 29, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Newark. He admitted that for nearly a year, he stole between $10,000 and $30,000 in cash from travelers as they passed through a security checkpoint at the airport.

Raimi admitted that he would “kick up” some of that money to a supervisor, who in turn allowed him to keep stealing. The supervisor, Michael Arato, pleaded guilty earlier this month to accepting kickbacks and bribes.

The TSA and the Port Authority Police Department of New York and New Jersey opened an investigation after receiving numerous complaints from passengers who claimed valuables were missing from their carry-on luggage after they passed through the airport security screening devices.

The complaining passengers were predominantly non-English-speaking women of Indian descent and nationality who were returning to India after visiting the United States, according to the original complaint. Authorities launched an investigation, including video surveillance of the checkpoint.

Raimi, who was identified in the original complaint as the “co-schemer” with Arato, began cooperating with authorities in September 2010. Raimi told investigators that Arato not only had accepted kickbacks in stolen cash, the supervisor also regularly stole from passengers himself.

Raimi’s plea agreement states that in August 2010, Raimi was secretly recorded stealing about $5,000 from a female traveler’s handbag during a secondary screening of her belongings.

In one audiotaped conversation, Arato was recorded stating that he didn’t feel bad stealing from foreigners because they were “leaving this county with our money,” the original complaint states.

Raimi could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He and Arato are scheduled to be sentenced later this year.

Appeared Here

U.S. Federal Government Spied On New York Times Reporter

February 25, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Federal investigators trying to find out who leaked information about a CIA attempt to disrupt Iran’s
nuclear program obtained a New York Times reporter’s three private
credit reports, examined his personal bank records and obtained
information about his phone calls and travel, according to a new court

The scope and intrusiveness of the government’s efforts to uncover reporter James Risen’s sources surfaced Thursday in the criminal case of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer facing federal criminal charges
for allegedly disclosing classified information. Sterling is accused of
giving Risen details about what Risen describes as the CIA’s plan to
give Iran faulty nuclear blueprints, hoping to temporarily thwart the
regime’s ambitions to build an atomic bomb.

In a motion filed in federal court in Alexandria, Sterling’s defense
lawyers, Ed MacMahon Jr. and Barry Pollack, reveal that the prosecution
has turned over “various telephone records showing calls made by the
author James Risen. It has provided three credit reports—Equifax,
TransUnion and Experian—for Mr. Risen. It has produced Mr. Risen’s
credit card and bank records and certain records of his airline travel.”

The revelation alarmed First Amendment advocates, particularly in light of Justice Department
rules requiring the attorney general to sign off on subpoenas directed
to members of the media and on requests for their phone records. And
Risen told POLITICO that the disclosures, while not shocking, made him
feel “like a target of spying.”

“We’ve argued that I was a victim of harassment by the government. This
seems to bolster that,” Risen said. “Maybe I should ask them what my
credit score is.”

Sterling’s attorneys and a Justice Department spokeswoman declined POLITICO’s request for comment.

The government’s interest in Risen’s sources for his 2006 book, “State of War,” has been known since 2008.
In particular, investigators have zeroed in on a chapter which details
what Risen describes as a botched CIA effort to trip up Iran’s nuclear
program. The scheme involved using a Russian
defector to deliver the faulty blueprints to the Iranians, but the
defector blew the CIA’s plot by alerting the Iranians to the flaws —
negating the value of the program, and perhaps even advancing Iran’s
nuclear ambitions.

Risen was twice subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury to testify
about his sources, but the first grand jury dissolved before a judge
acted on Risen’s motion to quash the subpoena. Last year, U.S. District
Court Judge Leonie Brinkema sided with Risen and quashed the second
subpoena, though details of her reasoning haven’t been made public.

Soon after that decision, Sterling was indicted.

First Amendment advocates said the Justice Department’s use of business
records to find out about Risen’s sources was troubling. Those records,
they argue, could potentially expose a wide array of Risen’s sources and
confidential contacts — information that might fall beyond the initial
investigation that led to Sterling’s indictment.

“To me, in many ways, it’s worse than a direct subpoena,” said Jane
Kirtley, a University of Minnesota law professor and former director of
the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “Third-party subpoenas
are really, really invidious…. Even if it is targeted, even if they’re
trying to just look at the relevant stuff, they’re inevitably going to
get material that exposes other things.”

Kirtley also said journalists often aren’t notified when the government
asks telecom companies, banks or other service providers for their

Asked how journalists could credibly complain about such techniques when
most also refuse more direct demands for information about their
sources, Kirtley said reporters who become the focus of determined
investigators face a “Hobson’s choice.”

the same thing as if the cops go to someone’s office with a search
warrant and say, ‘Give us the information we want and we won’t tear the
place apart,’” she said. “If you say ‘tear the place apart,’ all kinds
of confidential information that you don’t think the police should have
is going to end up in their hands.”

Lawyers tracking the case believed that both former Attorney General
Michael Mukasey, who was part of the Bush administration, and current
Attorney General Eric Holder gave the go-ahead to subpoena Risen. Under
Justice Department rules, the attorney general must approve a subpoena
for a journalist and grant permission to obtain “telephone toll records
of a member of the news media.”

It’s unclear whether the records investigators obtained about Risen’s
phone calls came from his billing records or from records of incoming
calls to Sterling or others. The Justice Department guidelines for
investigations affecting journalists don’t appear to address travel,
bank or credit card records.

Risen said the government never notified him that they were seeking his
phone records. But he said he got an inkling in 2008 that investigators
had collected some information about his calls.

“We heard from several people who had been forced to testify to the
grand jury that prosecutors had shown them phone records between me and
those people—not the content of calls but the records of calls,” he
said. “As a result of what they told us, my lawyers filed a motion with
the court as asking how the Justice Department got these phone records
and whether or not they had gotten my phone records.”

“We wanted the court to help us decide whether they had abided by the
attorney general’s guidelines,” Risen said. “We never got an answer from
the court or the government.”

The new defense filings also offer the first official confirmation that
Risen’s work was the focus of the investigation that led to the charges
against Sterling. In addition to the phone, travel and financial
records, Sterling’s defense said the prosecution handed over a copy of
the cover of Risen’s book along with receipts and shipping records
showing it was sold in Virginia.

While those familiar with the case immediately concluded that Sterling
was a source for Risen, the journalist who got classified information
from Sterling was referred to simply as “Author A” in the indictment,
and was not named. Justice Department policy generally bars naming
unindicted individuals in an indictment.

From 2004 to 2006, the New York Times fought a court battle to keep
federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald from obtaining the telephone
records of Times reporters Judith Miller and Philip Shenon. Fitzgerald
wanted the information to help find out who leaked information that
tipped off Islamic charities about federal raids on their offices.

A district judge ruled in the Times’ favor, but a federal appellate
court overturned that decision. Fitzgerald ultimately obtained the
records when the Supreme Court declined to step in; no one was ever
charged for the leak.

Sterling’s indictment suggests that Risen urged the Times to publish
details about the CIA’s attempt to stop Iran’s nuclear program, but
Times editors declined after senior U.S. government officials warned
that the disclosure could harm national security and endanger the life
of the Russian intermediary. The information later appeared in Risen’s

The new details about the FBI’s investigation of Risen came in a motion
that called on the government to provide more details about what
specific information Sterling allegedly disclosed. Sterling’s lawyers
also filed a series of other motions challenging several counts of the
indictment as duplicative. Some also sought to punish Sterling for acts
he did not commit, such as Risen’s publication of the book, the defense

Appeared Here

Man Gets A Slap On The Wrist After Canadian Judge Shifts Blame To His Rape Victim

February 25, 2011

MANITOBA, CANADA – A Canadian judge whose controversial ruling and remarks in a sexual assault case sparked outrage is being investigated by the Canadian court system, a website statement said Friday.

Last week, Manitoba Justice Robert Dewar sentenced 40-year-old Kenneth Rhodes to a two year conditional sentence to be served at home for raping a 26-year-old woman.

That sentence, along with comments by Dewar which suggested that there was “sex in the air,” have led to several complaints from the victim and the public.

According to court records provided by CNN affiliate the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Rhodes met the victim and her friend at a bar before they drove out of town to a small lake on an isolated road in August 2006. The victim said Rhodes made several passes at her, and later that night, after she was intoxicated, he raped her.

“The victim was so afraid that she fled without pants through the woods,” prosecutor Sheila Seesahai told the court, adding that Rhodes took advantage of the much smaller victim.

Rhodes’ defense had a different story.

“It was a lapse of judgement on his part,” attorney Derek Coggan argued, according to court records.

The judge’s suggestion that the women’s choice of clothes and their behavior may have given the accused the wrong impression led many to believe he placed some of the blame for the attack on the victim.

Protesters upset with the judge’s ruling gathered outside the Law Courts in Winnipeg on Friday and shouted “no means no.”

Concerned about the dangerous precedent the ruling and remarks could set for future sexual assault cases, the protesters called for the judge to apologize to the victim and all Manitobans.

The court issued a statement on behalf of Dewar saying it was “inappropriate to comment further at this time” because the case could still be appealed.

The Canadian Judicial Council on Friday indicated its intent to review complaints against Dewar. A statement on the council’s website said the it “works to foster ongoing public confidence in the judiciary.”

Appeared Here

Jacksonville County Florida Deputy Sheriff Lt. Reginald Lott Arrested, Quits And Keeps Pension, Charged With Theft And Fraud After $50,000 Disappeared From Police Association Fund

February 25, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — A Jacksonville police officer is no longer in jail following his arrest this morning on theft charges.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Lt. Reginald Lott, 44, was released this afternoon around 1 p.m. after being arrested this morning on charges of grand theft and organized fraud.

His next court date is 9 a.m. Thursday.

JSO undersheriff Frank Mackesy says he took more than $50,000 from the Brotherhood of Police Officers while serving as Treasurer. He used it for his personal use.

“He spent the money at a couple of high end retailers, and college tuition for a member of the family,” said Mackesy.

“We won’t have a guy like that working here. We will have men and women of character and will investigate any time we hear of wrongdoing. If it results in one going to jail, and retiring under a cloud of betrayal, so be it,” said Mackesy.

He said it really hurt a group that is admired for helping others while doing charity work. ” It was over half their assets, and will impact their ability to help others because of Mr. Lott.”

Lott retired rather than be fired by the Sheriff. He will still be able to receive his pension. Lott’s salary was approximately $89,000 per year.

Appeared Here

Dallas Texas Police Officer Quaitemes Williams Arrested, Fired, Charged After Beating And Pepper Spraying Handcuffed Man Who Had Suspended License

February 25, 2011

DALLAS, TEXAS – A Dallas police officer accused of kicking a handcuffed suspect in the face and pepper-spraying him was fired and then arrested Wednesday, police officials said.

A second officer was suspended for 10 days.

Video taken by a patrol car dashboard camera showed that officer Quaitemes Williams kicked and sprayed Rodarick Lyles after pulling him over in the 9400 block of Abrams Road on Jan. 27, police said.

Lyles was suspected of driving with a suspended license and had a warrant for driving without a license.

Williams, a Dallas officer for three years, and officer Edward Cruz-Done assisted officer Hiram Soler during the traffic stop, according to a news release.

Lyles fell on top of Williams, but Williams got free. Then the officers placed Lyles in handcuffs. Williams used pepper spray and kicked Lyles in the face although he was no longer resisting, the release said.

After an investigation into use of unnecessary force, Williams was fired for causing inaccurate, false or improper information to be entered on a police report, the news release stated.

Then he was arrested and taken to the Dallas County Jail. He faces a charge of official oppression.

Soler, a Dallas officer for nearly three years, also entered inaccurate, false or improper information on a police report, which resulted in his 10-day suspension, officials said.

Appeared Here

Veteran Newark New Jersey Police Officer Victor Patela Arrested By Feds, Charged In Connection With $1.9 Million Fraud

February 25, 2011

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – FBI agents today arrested a Newark police officer and a former employee of an Elmwood Park bank on charges they plotted to fraudulently secure a $1.9 million commercial real estate loan to buy apartment buildings, authorities said.

Victor Patela, 35, a 13-year veteran of the department, and Jose Dominguez, 44, both of Newark, were charged in a criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. They are scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate judge in Newark this afternoon to be advised of their rights and to have bail set.

As the owner and managing member of JVI Realty LLC, Patela applied for a loan from the Spencer Savings Bank with the assistance of Dominguez, a loan officer, who later recommended the loan for approval, authorities said.

The loan, in the amount of $1,920,000, was intended to cover 80 percent of the $2.4 million purchase price for the apartment buildings in Elizabeth, the complaint said. Patela was required to come up with the remaining $480,000 and to provide evidence of the source of those funds.

To that end, Patela allegedly submitted a bogus sales contract for a Newark property, which he had actually sold more than a year earlier.

Patela’s 2004 mortgage agreement with Spencer Savings barred him from further encumbering the Elizabeth apartments without the bank’s written consent. But JVI Realty subsequently obtained a second mortgage on the property, for $300,000, with both Patela and Dominquez signing the documents as corporate officers of JVI.

Dominquez, who worked at Spencer Savings from January 1988 to January 2007, kept his relationship with JVI and Patela hidden from the bank while serving as the loan officer on those transactions, authorities charged.

JVI ultimately defaulted on the $1.92 million mortgage with Spencer Savings and Patela surrendered the deed to Elizabeth apartments in lieu of foreclosure in 2010. After selling the buildings, the bank’s loss was over $400,000.

In a bankruptcy filing in 2009, Patela stated he took out a second mortgage on the Elizabeth apartments for $300,000 from the seller.

A spokesman for the Newark Police Department said it is fully cooperating with a federal investigation and that as a result of the probe Patela was suspended from duty.

Appeared Here

Commerce Georgia Police Officer Matthew Scott Rogers Arrested, Suspended, And Charged After Running License Plate For Personal Reasons

February 25, 2011

COMMERCE, GEORGIA – A city of Commerce police officer was arrested for allegedly checking a tag number for personal reasons.

Matthew Scott Rogers, 44, faces one felony charge for the crime, which violates state law. He was booked into the Jackson County jail following his arrest Tuesday and was later released on $2,000 bond, according to the GBI.

Commerce Police Chief Jason Gaissert requested the GBI assist with an investigation into the allegation, a GBI spokesman said.

Rogers has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

Appeared Here

Former Laurel Deleware Maryland Police Officer And Registered Sex Offender Kevin Hovatter Arrested, Charged With Rape

February 25, 2011

LAUREL, DELAWARE – February 24, 2011 (WPVI) — Authorities say a former Laurel police officer has been charged with raping a woman several years ago.

Delaware State Police said 32-year-old Kevin Hovatter was arrested following an investigation prompted by an anonymous tip.

Investigators said Hovatter met the victim, now 28, after a domestic incident between her and her boyfriend and touched her inappropriately at the police station.

The victim met with Hovatter over the next two years for fear of being arrested, and Hovatter allegedly committed inappropriate acts with her during those meetings.

Hovatter was indicted Monday on charges of rape and sexual extortion and was being held on $40,000 secured bond.

Hovatter was charged in 2006 with raping a woman after making a traffic stop. He has been a registered sex offender since 2007.

Appeared Here

Shreveport Louisiana Police Officer Pat Hensley Arrested, Suspended, Charged With DWI In Patrol Car

February 25, 2011

SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA – An off-duty Shreveport police officer was arrested today and charged with DWI – apparently while driving his assigned patrol car.

Officer Pat Hensley was arrested at about 2:52 p.m. after officers found him in the 1100-block of Foster Street.

Officers arrived on the scene after a caller notifed the department about a marked police car parked in the middle of the street. The caller reported the driver appeared to be disoriented.

Hensley, who joined the department in July 2006, was arrested and booked into Shreveport City Jail. He is charged with one count of first offense DWI.

Chief Willie Shaw has placed Hensley on paid administrative leave pending an administrative investigation.

Appeared Here

El Paso Texas Police Officer Zake Rivera Arrested, Charged With On Duty Sexual Assault

February 24, 2011

EL PASO, TEXAS — A 29-year-old El Paso police officer has been arrested after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her.

A police department statement says Officer Zake Rivera and another officer responded to a domestic disturbance call on Jan. 23. After separating the two parties involved, Rivera was left alone with the victim, who later reported the alleged assault.

Internal Affairs detectives investigating the case received evidence on Thursday that prompted them to obtain an arrest warrant for Rivera, a 4-year department veteran. He was booked into the El Paso County Jail and released after posting a bond of $25,000.

The statement says the department has begun termination proceedings for Rivera. Jail records show no attorney listed for Rivera.

Appeared Here

Montgomery Alabama Police Officer Phillip T. Moultrie Pleads Guilty After Robbing Motorists

February 24, 2011

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA – A former Montgomery Police Officer pleaded guilty to crimes he committed while behind the steering wheel of his patrol car.

28-year-old Phillip T. Moultrie was arrested back in April for pulling over Hispanic males at traffic stops and robbing them. He was alleged to have committed the crimes at least four time between March 16 and April 28, when he was arrested.

Moultrie pleaded guilty to four counts of theft of property from a person in the first degree. Each count carries a penalty of 2 to 20 years in prison.

The first complaint came on March 16, the last at 4:20am Wednesday. Within hours of the last complaint, Moultrie found himself in handcuffs.

A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Appeared Here

Former Boscawen New Hampshire Police Officer Daniel Ball Arrested, Charged With Beating Man At Merrimack County Jail – Falsely Charged His Victim With Denting Patrol Car With His Head

February 24, 2011

BOSCAWEN, NEW HAMPSHIRE – A former Boscawen police officer is facing accusations of using excessive force against a man already handcuffed and on his way to jail.

The incident was recorded by security cameras at the Merrimack County House of Corrections.

Last July, when Officer Daniel Ball arrested Chris Smith of Boscawen after a domestic incident, cameras at the jail showed Ball putting on a pair of gloves and taking Smith out of the back of his police cruiser.

The video showed what looked like an exchange of words. For a few moments, Ball holds Smith in place, and then in a whirling motion, Ball slams Smith onto the hood of the cruiser and back into the wall.

Smith is now filing a civil lawsuit against Ball, the Boscawen Police Department, the jail and Officer Nick Emery. Smith claims Emery corroborated Ball’s version of what happened.

“Chris Smith was knocked unconscious by this. He had blood on his face. The video reflects that there was a pool of blood that formed underneath his head,” said Rick Lehmann, Smith’s attorney.

Smith was charged with two crimes for what was seen in the video: resisting arrest and criminal mischief for denting the police cruiser with his head.

A jury found him not guilty on the latter charge but convicted him of resisting arrest.

Efforts to reach the Boscawen Police Department, the town of Boscawen and the Merrimack County Jail for comment were unsuccessful.

Appeared Here

$750,000 Lawsuit Charges FBI And Justice Department With Hiding Public Documents After Destruction Of Ferrari F50 – FBI Agent Frederick C Kingston And Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson Crashed During Joyride

February 24, 2011

ROSEMONT, PENNSYLVANIA – The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice have landed themselves in hot water over the destruction of a Ferrari F50. According to The Detroit News, the vehicle was reported stolen from a dealership in Rosemont, Pennsylvania in 2003, and the dealer made and insurance claim for the sum of $750,000 at that time. Michigan-based Motors Insurance Corp. shelled out the cash, and in August 2008, the FBI recovered the vehicle in Kentucky. At that time, the FBI stored the vehicle while waiting to prosecute the thief, at least until someone at the bureau decided to use it for a little local arbor work.

The Ferrari F50 lost control and struck a tree with an FBI special agent behind the wheel in May of 2009, and Motors Insurance Corp. subsequently filed a claim to both the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice for the full $750,000. Both parties rejected the claim under the pretense that the Ferrari was being detained by the FBI at the time of the incident.

The insurance company then set about submitting Freedom of Information Act requests for documents pertaining to the storage, transportation and handling of the Italian exotic, most of which were denied under federal exemptions or outright ignored. The company did manage to get a hold of one email that said that U.S. Assistant Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson rode with Special Agent Frederick C. Kingston on the day of the accident and that the vehicle fishtailed and slid sideways shortly after leaving the FBI storage warehouse.

Motors Insurance Corp. is now suing both the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to release the rest of the documents pertaining to the vehicle.

Appeared Here

Wisconsin Governor Pisses Away Tax Dollars Sending State Troopers After State Senators To Beg Them To Return To Session

February 24, 2011

WISCONSIN – The budget impasse continues in Wisconsin, and the Associated Press reports that “state patrol officers are being dispatched to the homes of multiple Democratic Wisconsin state senators in the hopes that will force them to come back in session.”

But, the wire service adds, while Republican Gov. Scott Walker may hope that sending the troopers out will put some pressure on the Democrats to return to the state capital, “police can’t arrest absent members” of the Senate.

Frank’s been following the news from Wisconsin and other states where intense budget battles are underway over at It’s All Politics.

Update at 8:50 a.m. ET: The Associated Press says that “Democratic Sen. Jon Erpenbach says all 14 [of the missing Democrats] are out of state and won’t be returning Thursday.”

Appeared Here

Out Of Control TSA Agents Search Passengers AFTER Their Train Trip – Harass 9 Year Old Boy

February 24, 2011

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA – After going down in a spiral of paranoid stupidity—called out for saving body scan images, ridiculed for patting down an almost-naked woman or nailed for harrassing a kid at airport security—the TSA has reached a new low. It’s surreal.

Here’s what a traveler recorded on February 13, after his train trip to Savannah:

The only bad thing on our trip was [the] TSA at the Savannah train station. There were about 14 agents pulling people inside the building and coralling everyone in a roped area after you got off the train. This made no sense! Poor family in front of us! 9-year old getting patted down and wanded. They groped our people too and were very unprofessional. I am all about security, but when have you ever been harassed and felt up getting off a plane? Shouldn’t they be doing that getting on? And they wonder why so many people are mad at them.

Indeed, this doesn’t make sense at all. Why search people after the train trip? What’s the logic here? Did the TSA get an alert that dangerous 9-year-old terrorists were coming in a train to Savannah? Perhaps it was TSA Surprise Training Time? Or maybe it was TSA Let’s Piss Off People Day again?

We will never know, but it doesn’t matter at this point. Just, keep up the great work, TSA. You are winning American’s heart one unnecessary pat down at a time!

Appeared Here

Indiana Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox Fired After Comment About Using “Live Ammunition” Against Protesters

February 23, 2011

INDIANA – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has dismissed a deputy, Jeff Cox, for posting inappropriate comments online critical of the labor union protesters in Wisconsin.

Cox sent out a message on his Twitter account saying that police should “use live ammunition” against the protesters.

A staffer for the political news site Mother Jones sent a message back to the person, who was then only known by his online account name. Cox messaged back that the demonstrators were “political enemies” and “thugs.”

“You’re damned right I advocate deadly force,” Cox wrote to the Mother Jones staffer.

Earlier today, the attorney general’s office said it was investigating whether Cox had sent the tweet and said it was a serious matter.

This afternoon, the office issued a statement saying Cox was no longer employed there. The office said it had conducted “a thorough and expeditious review” after it learned of the Mother Jones article.

“Civility and courtesy toward all members of the public are very important to the Indiana Attorney General’s office. We respect individual’s First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility,” the office said in a statement.

Cox told WRTV he realizes the tweet wasn’t a good idea, but he doesn’t think public employees should lose their free speech rights.

Cox is the son of WRTV reporter Norman Cox.

Appeared Here

Texas Bill Calls For Wetbacks To Be Dumped At Offices Of U.S. Senators Or Representatives

February 22, 2011

TEXAS – This should get their attention.

A measure filed by State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) would allow any law enforcement agency that has custody of an illegal immigrant to take the illegal to ‘the office of a U.S. Senator or Representative’ and leave them there.

1200 WOAI news reports the measure also allows county sheriff’s deputies or city police officers to ‘request an agent or employee of the United States Senator or United States Representative to sign a document acknowledging the release or discharge of the illegal immigrant at the senator’s or representative’s office.

The measure covers individuals who are ‘not a citizen or national of the United States’ and who is ‘unlawfully present in the United States.’

Kolkhorst concedes the measure is a ‘cry for help’ to convince federal officials to secure the border, but she says she is serious about getting the measure approved by the Legislature.

The measure doesn’t specify what the Senator or Congressman is supposed to do with the illegal immigrant, but calls on the law enforcement agency to ‘maintain a record of each illegal immigrant released or discharged who is not transferred to the custody of the Untied States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.’

Illegal immigration has emerged as a top priority of the Republican super-majority in the Texas Legislature, and this is just one of several dozen bills introduced in Austin to deny jobs, housing, and government benefits to illegals.

Kolkhorst has already introduced a measure which would deny state benefits to illegal immigrants.

Several thousand people are expected to descend on the state capitol today to denounce the measures, and to call on the federal government, not the states, to handle matters related to immigration.

Appeared Here

Crazed Arvada Colorado Police Arrest And Jail 11 Year Old Disabled Boy For “Inappropriate” Stick Figure Drawings He Was Instructed To Create

February 22, 2011

ARVADA, COLORADO – An 11-year-old Arvada boy was arrested and hauled away in handcuffs for drawing stick figures in school, something his therapist told him to do.

His parents say they understand what he did was inappropriate, but are outraged by the way Arvada Police handled the case. The parents do not want their real names used.

They say “Tim” is being treated for Attention Deficit Disorder and his therapist told him to draw pictures when he got upset, rather than disrupt the class. So that’s what he did.

Download FOX31 Mobile Apps for iPhone, Android & Blackberry

Last October, he drew stick figures of himself with a gun, pointed at four other stick figures with the words “teacher must die.”

He felt calmer and was throwing the picture away when the teacher saw it and sent him to the principal’s office.

The school was aware that the boy was in treatment, determined he was not a threat, notified his parents and sent him back to class. His mother, “Jane” was shocked when Arvada Police showed up at their home later that night.

She says she told her son to cooperate and tell the truth, but was horrified when they told her they were arresting him and then handcuffed him and hauled him away in a patrol car. His mother says she begged police to let her drive her son to the police department and to let her stay with him through the booking process but they refused.

They put him in a cell, took his mug shot and fingerprinted him. He says he thought he was going to jail and would never be able to go home again.

According to the police report, “Tim” explained he made the drawing to release anger and would never hurt teachers or anyone. At first school officials did not want to press charges, but changed their mind when police called them later that night. A juvenile assessment report shows he’s never been in legal trouble before and is at low risk to reoffend.

He’s charged with a third degree misdemeanor, interfering with staff and students at an educational facility. The system says it’s doing what’s in the best interest of the child. But Tim’s therapist says handcuffing an 11-year-old and putting him in a cell over something like this is “quite an overreaction” and does much more harm than good.

Arvada Police say because Monday was a holiday, they are not able to get hold of all the personnel and reports to make a response, but will be able to respond Tuesday. Tim is on probation and if he completes that successfully, the criminal charges will be dropped. But his parents say it has cost them thousands of dollars so far.

And if they had known that their son’s cooperation would be used as evidence against him, they would have hired a lawyer at the beginning and exercised his right to remain silent.

Appeared Here

Third St. Petersburg Florida Police Officer Dies In Just 28 Days

February 22, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – Authorities in St. Petersburg, Florida, shut down roads and some schools Tuesday as investigators searched for the man who shot and killed a police officer late Monday night.

Officer David S. Crawford, 46, is the third St. Petersburg officer killed in shootings in the last 28 days, according to police.

“It hurts. It stings. This killer has taken somebody very precious to us, a member of our family,” Chief Chuck Harmon told reporters.

Crawford, a 25-year police veteran assigned to the patrol division, was summoned along with another officer to the home of a caller who said a man was in his backyard holding a broken brick.

Crawford drove around until he spotted the man, parked his car and approached the suspect, Harmon said.

Moments later, the second officer reported gunfire and told dispatchers that Crawford had been shot. Harmon said Crawford was shot multiple times at close range.

Crawford returned fire, but police have found no evidence suggesting he was able to wound his attacker, according to a statement early Tuesday by St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt.

The statement said that “many police units” were conducting a search of the area and that several streets would remain closed until further notice.

He also said three schools would remain closed Tuesday, with school officials asking students to attend classes in different locations for the day.

“We have a killer on the loose that we’re going to use every resource that we have to try and locate and apprehend,” Harmon said.

Crawford, who is married and has a 24-year-old daughter, according to police, is the sixth law enforcement officer in Florida to die after being shot this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that tracks law enforcement deaths. Three of those deaths have happened in St. Petersburg.

Two St. Petersburg officers died and a U.S. Marshal was wounded January 24 in a gunfight with a suspect who was hiding in an attic.

The officers had gone to a home to inquire about a man who was wanted by police. A relative told them he was upstairs and might be armed. As they approached, police say the man — Hydra Lacy Jr. — fired on the officers, striking one. Another officer died in the ensuing gunfight.

Police eventually used a backhoe to tear a hole in the house. They found Lacy, dead.

The spate of shootings has shaken the city and its police department, Mayor Bill Foster said.

“Well, I’m not going to lie, this city has been through hell,” he said.

Appeared Here

Full Body Scanners At Dallas/Fort Worth Texas International Repeatedly Fail To Detect Handgun

February 21, 2011

DALLAS, TEXAS – An undercover TSA agent was able to get through security at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with a handgun during testing of the enhanced-imaging body scanners, according to a high-ranking, inside source at the Transportation Security Administration.

The source said the undercover agent carried a pistol in her undergarments when she put the body scanners to the test. The officer successfully made it through the airport’s body scanners every time she tried, the source said.

“In this case, where they had a test, and it was just a dismal failure as I’m told,” said Larry Wansley, former head of security at American Airlines. “As I’ve heard (it), you got a problem, especially with a fire arm.”

Wansley said covert testing by the TSA is commonplace — although failing should be rare.

Appeared Here

First Time Offender Mom Sentenced To 10 Years In Oklahoma Prison For $31 In Pot Sales

February 21, 2011

TAFT, OKLAHOMA – Because of $31 in marijuana sales, Patricia Marilyn Spottedcrow is now serving 10 years in prison, has been taken away from her four young children and husband, and has ended her work in nursing homes.

Three days before Christmas, Spottedcrow, 25, entered the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center.

“I’m nervous … because it’s prison … people I don’t know,” she said.

“People said don’t get too comfortable here or you’ll be here longer. Don’t make too many friends. Come and do your time and get out.”

Marijuana transactions

On Dec. 31, 2009, Spottedcrow and her mother, Delita Starr, 50, sold a “dime bag” of marijuana to a police informant at Starr’s home in Kingfisher, court records state.

Starr handled the transaction and asked her 9-year-old grandson — Spottedcrow’s son — for some dollar bills to make change for the $11 sale.

Two weeks later, the same informant returned and bought $20 of marijuana from Spottedcrow.

The two women were arrested for drug distribution and because Spottedcrow’s children were in the home, an additional charge of possession of a dangerous substance in the presence of a minor was added.

“It just seemed like easy money,” said Spottedcrow, who says she is not a drug user but has smoked marijuana. “I thought we could get some extra money. I’ve lost everything because of it.”

The women were each offered plea deals of two years in prison. But because neither had prior convictions and the drug amounts were low, they gambled and entered a guilty plea before a judge with no prior sentencing agreement.

Starr received a 30-year suspended sentence with no incarceration, but five years of drug and alcohol assessments. Spottedcrow was sentenced to 10 years in prison for distribution and two years for possession, to run concurrently. She will be up for parole in 2014.

‘Cried for days’

Starr claims the cases have been “blown out of proportion” by lawmen and criticizes the sentences as stiff. “It shocked me and we cried for days,” she said. In addition, Starr was fined $8,600 and Spottedcrow $2,740.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d be here 10 years,” Spottedcrow said of prison.

“We were under the impression we would get probation. When I left for court, I just knew I was coming back home. It hit me like a ton of bricks. There were no goodbyes, they took me away right then. How do you tell your children you are going to prison? How do you prepare for this?”

Former Kingfisher County Judge Susie Pritchett, who retired in December, said the women were conducting “an extensive operation” and included children in the business.

“It was a way of life for them,” Pritchett said.

“Considering these circumstances, I thought it was lenient. By not putting the grandmother in prison, she is able to help take care of the children.”

A presentencing investigative report prepared by the Department of Corrections rated Spottedcrow’s risk of re-offending as “high” and recommended substance abuse treatment while incarcerated.

“It does not appear the defendant is aware that a problem exists or that she needs to make changes in her current behavior.”

Spottedcrow was unemployed and without a stable residence when arrested, the report states. The family lost their Oklahoma City home for not paying bills.

“When she needed money … this is the avenue she chose rather than finding legitimate employment,” the report states. “The defendant does not appear remorseful … and she makes justifications for her actions.”

‘Kids are involved’

Pritchett said on first drug offenses, sentences are usually suspended and may require treatment or random drug tests.

Only if there are other more serious circumstances is a first-time drug offender sent to prison, she said.

“When kids are involved, it’s different,” Pritchett said.

“This was a drug sale. When I look at someone in front of me, I’m thinking, ‘What is it going to take to rehabilitate this person?’ We look at their attitude and other factors.”

When Spottedcrow was taken to jail after her sentencing, she had marijuana in her jacket. She pleaded guilty to that additional charge Jan. 24 and was sentenced to two years in prison and fined nearly $1,300. That sentence also will run concurrent with her other conviction.

Spottedcrow has four children — ages 9, 4, 3 and 1 — and is determined to keep her 8-year, common-law marriage intact. “It’s been really hard on my husband,” she said. “I know a lot of things can happen, but he’ll always have my back and be there.”

Her son is aware of what has happened, but the girls have been told their mother is away at college.

“I missed my daughter’s fourth birthday, and I’ll miss her fifth one too. My other daughter just started talking, and I’m not there to hear her,” Spottedcrow said.

“My baby woke up … and doesn’t know where her mommy is. This is the hardest thing to do, and know I can’t do anything about it. I just have to focus on myself and take it day-to-day and plan for going home. I will want to see my kids at some point. I’m trying to take this slow. I can’t get depressed about it.”

Oklahoma’s two prisons for women — the maximum-security Mabel Bassett in McLoud and minimum-security Eddie Warrior in Taft — housed 2,622 prisoners last year.

Of those, 48 percent are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses and 22 percent for other nonviolent offenses such as embezzlement and forgery.

Of the 1,393 women received by Oklahoma prisons last year, 78 percent were identified by DOC as minimal public safety threats.

Most nonviolent offenders are housed at Eddie Warrior, an open campus with a walking track and six dormitories.

‘I’m already changed’

Spottedcrow knows she will need to find a new job skill because her work in the health field won’t be there because of her incarceration. She would like to open a boutique.

“Even though this seems like the worst thing … I’ve been blessed along the way,” she said. “It could have been worse. I’m happy my kids are safe and, ultimately, I’m safe. I’m thankful I still have a family.”

In a year, Spottedcrow will have a review and hopes to shorten her time in prison.

“I’m already changed,” she said. “This is a real eye-opener. I’m going to get out of here, be with my kids and live my life.”

Appeared Here

Lawrence Massachusetts Runs Out Of Money To Defend Its Police Department Full Of Bad Cops

February 21, 2011

LAWRENCE, MASSACHUSETTS – Mayor William Lantigua says he will no longer pay legal bills for police officers being sued, including the bills for those officers involved in nine brutality cases pending in U.S. District Court.

The mayor says over the past three years, the city has spent $1.2 million to defend officers in civil cases. Instead, Lantigua says he will hold to the police unions’ contract, which says the city only has to pay the $5,000 retainer for a patrolman and $7,500 for a superior officer. Lantigua says officers have two options when they are being sued — to use one of the three city attorneys or have their unions pay for the defense.

“From Day One, this should never have been allowed. We cannot continue to do business as usual,” Lantigua said.

But Lantigua has hired his own outside counsel to defend the city against a complaint filed by the patrolmen’s union with the state’s Division of Labor Relations. The 10-count complaint alleges Lantigua’s decision to cut the legal payments is

“designed to punish the union and its members for exercising their collective bargaining rights.”

Patrolmen “are currently faced with the prospect of having to finance their own legal defense and personally satisfy any adverse judgments potentially rendered against them,” wrote Mark Esposito, the lawyer representing the patrolmen.

Resolution of the legal payment issue “is particularly time-sensitive, as it is essential that the officers’ rights are made clear so that they may determine how best to proceed regarding the defense of lawsuits pending against them in federal court,” Esposito said.

A “long-standing past practice” and a city ordinance “mandates that employees, including police officers, be indemnified against legal judgments pertaining to the performance of their duties to the maximum extent permitted by law,” he added.

According to Lantigua’s office, the city paid $471,374 to Dwyer and Duddy, the legal firm used by the patrolmen’s union, and $37,318, to McDonald & Associates, which represents the superior officer’s union, in the fiscal year that ended last June. In the previous year, the city paid Dwyer and Duddy $287,649 and McDonald and Associates $38,353.

Lantigua has hired Philip Boyle, an attorney from the private Boston firm Morgan, Brown & Joy, to fight the union’s complaint with the state. Last year, the city paid $53,186 to Morgan, Brown & Joy.

In many of the civil cases, the city, Police Department, police Chief John Romero and individual officers are named. The city recently settled one police brutality case, agreeing to pay $400,000 to the plaintiff, but admitted no wrongdoing.

Six civil trials involving police officers are scheduled to go forward in the next six months, including one brutality case, against officer Ivan Resto, which is supposed to start this week in federal court. These cases have the potential to result in expensive judgements or settlements that could ultimately be paid for by taxpayers.

City Councilor Daniel Rivera, chairman of the budget committee, said he was “inclined to support the administration on this, if it’s going to save the city money.” Rivera also said as the city struggled with budget cuts and layoffs last year, the police unions “made no concessions to help with the larger budgetary issue. And union leadership should know that.”

“There was an outrage over laying off police officers. Meanwhile, we are paying Cadillac prices for attorneys,” Rivera said.

Rivera acknowledged there are staffing issues in the city’s attorney’s office. A paralegal’s position was cut from the office and Richard D’Agostino, a full-time assistant city attorney, is on medical leave.

On Dec. 16, 2010, City Attorney Charles Boddy sent a certified letter to the patrolmen’s union law firm Dwyer and Duddy, stating “effective immediately the city of Lawrence was discontinuing use of the firm in the defense of Lawrence patrolmen against claims brought by third parties arising out of their employment.”

Payments to the firm have “clearly exceeded” contract obligations and “are an unwarranted burden on the municipal budget,” Boddy wrote.

Detective Alan Andrews, patrolmen’s union president, and Lt. Scott McNamara, who leads the superior officer’s union, were unavailable for comment for this story.

Appeared Here

Seattle Washington 911 Operator Denies Help After Calls Reporting Attack On Bus

February 21, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Bus riders called for help as a teenager was being attacked aboard a bus.

But dispatch refused to send a deputy. Investigators claim the callers were unclear.

Trouble broke out as the Route 128 Metro bus headed to Seattle from South 122th Street and Military Road. Four large men surrounded 14-year-old Dafarus Coleman and began commenting on his jacket.

“The suspect asked (the victim), ‘What’s up with your Northface (jacket)’ numerous times,” said the police report. The victim did not respond until the man said, “Give me your jacket,” the report said.

When the teen refused, the man “grabbed his jacket, pushed (the victim) back on to the seat, stole the jacket, and ran off the bus,” according to the report. Three others also ran off the bus.

During the incident, Coleman saw one woman dial her cell phone.

“She was calling. I heard her talking to people,” he said. “She was telling them that a kid’s getting robbed on the bus, and she was crying.”

That caller is Kat Gray. She called 911 to report the incident, but she didn’t get any help. KOMO News obtained recordings of the 911 calls.

911 dispatcher: “911, what are you reporting?

Gray: “I’m reporting a theft and robbery on a bus.”

Appeared Here

Alaska Lawmaker Stands Up To Crazed TSA Agents – Refuses Pat-Down After Full Body Scan Reveals Mastectomy

February 21, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — An Alaskan state lawmaker is returning home by sea after refusing a pat-down search at a Seattle airport, a spokeswoman said..

Rep. Sharon Cissna underwent a body scan as she was preparing to leave Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Sunday and was then required to undergo the pat-down by Transportation Safety Administration officials, said Michelle Scannell, her chief of staff.

Scannell said that TSA called for the pat-down because the scan showed Cissna had had a mastectomy. But it wasn’t immediately clear from statements by the lawmaker’s office and TSA why that would necessitate the further search.

Scannell described the pat-down search as “intrusive,” but did not elaborate on the Anchorage Democrat’s decision.

TSA spokesman Kwika Riley was asked to respond to Cissna’s comments when contacted by The Associated Press. But a general statement issued later did not mention her or her claims, saying the agency is “sensitive to the concerns of passengers who were not satisfied with their screening experience and we invite those individuals to provide feedback to TSA.”

Both full body scanners and pat-down searches have come under increasing criticism as the TSA has stepped up its airport security measures.

Cissna, who had undergone medical treatment in Seattle, is traveling by ferry from Seattle to Juneau, Scannell said.

Appeared Here

Two TSA Agents Busted After Stealing $160,000 In Cash From Travelers Bags At Kennedy Airport

February 16, 2011

NEW YORK – Two TSA agents were busted today at Kennedy Airport for stealing $160,000 in cash from bags, authorities said.

Davon Webb, 30, and Couman Perad, who turned 36 today, were arrested after admitting they had regularly stolen from checked bags, sources said.

In one instance, Perad, who joined the Transportation Security Administration in 2002, and Webb, who has been an agent since 2004, stole $39,000 on Jan. 30 from a bag at Terminal 8, sources said.

The passenger whose money was stolen was on his way to Argentina, sources said.

The $39,000 was later found in their homes after TSA notified Port Authority police, sources said.

Perad and Webb would screen bags looking for loot, then swipe the cash once the luggage was opened in a private screening room, sources said.

The men will be charged with grand larceny, possession of stolen property and official misconduct.

In a statement, TSA said it has “a zero-tolerance policy on theft in the workplace” and called the incidents “a disgrace.”

Also today, the TSA confirmed that a string of security lapses took place at Newark Airport within the past month, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

A knife inside a carry-on made it past a checkpoint and two passengers were allowed to board flights despite issues with their full-body scans, TSA officials told the newspaper.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the two incidents were among a string of five security lapses at Newark within the last 30 days.

Another incident reported by the officials involved a dead dog that was brought to the airport by its owner and loaded onto a Continental Airlines jet without ever being screened.

TSA officials had reportedly ordered that the dog’s carcass be screened, but it never happened.

Newark airport averages about one security breach every couple of months, according to the newspaper.

Appeared Here

Feds Wrongly Shut Down 84,000 Websites, Claiming Child Pornography

February 16, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – The US Government has yet again shuttered several domain names this week. The Department of Justice and Homeland Security’s ICE office proudly announced that they had seized domains related to counterfeit goods and child pornography. What they failed to mention, however, is that one of the targeted domains belongs to a free DNS provider, and that 84,000 websites were wrongfully accused of links to child pornography crimes.

As part of “Operation Save Our Children” ICE’s Cyber Crimes Center has again seized several domain names, but not without making a huge error. Last Friday, thousands of site owners were surprised by a rather worrying banner that was placed on their domain.

“Advertisement, distribution, transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography constitute federal crimes that carry penalties for first time offenders of up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution,” was the worrying message they read on their websites.

As with previous seizures, ICE convinced a District Court judge to sign a seizure warrant, and then contacted the domain registries to point the domains in question to a server that hosts the warning message. However, somewhere in this process a mistake was made and as a result the domain of a large DNS service provider was seized.

The domain in question is mooo.com, which belongs to the DNS provider FreeDNS. It is the most popular shared domain at afraid.org and as a result of the authorities’ actions a massive 84,000 subdomains were wrongfully seized as well. All sites were redirected to the banner below.
This banner was visible on the 84,000 sites

CP banner

The FreeDNS owner was taken by surprise and quickly released the following statement on their website. “Freedns.afraid.org has never allowed this type of abuse of its DNS service. We are working to get the issue sorted as quickly as possible.”

Eventually, on Sunday the domain seizure was reverted and the subdomains slowly started to point to the old sites again instead of the accusatory banner. However, since the DNS entries have to propagate, it took another 3 days before the images disappeared completely.

Most of the subdomains in question are personal sites and sites of small businesses. A search on Bing still shows how innocent sites were claimed to promote child pornography. A rather damaging accusation, which scared and upset many of the site’s owners.

One of the customers quickly went out to assure visitors that his site was not involved in any of the alleged crimes.

“You can rest assured that I have not and would never be found to be trafficking in such distasteful and horrific content. A little sleuthing shows that the whole of the mooo.com TLD is impacted. At first, the legitimacy of the alerts seems to be questionable — after all, what reputable agency would display their warning in a fancily formatted image referenced by the underlying HTML? I wouldn’t expect to see that.”

Even at the time of writing people can still replicate the effect by adding “ mooo.com” to their hosts file as the authorities have not dropped the domain pointer yet. Adding mooo.com will produce a different image than picking a random domain (child porn vs. copyright), which confirms the mistake.

Although it is not clear where this massive error was made, and who’s responsible for it, the Department of Homeland security is conveniently sweeping it under the rug. In a press release that went out a few hours ago the authorities were clearly proud of themselves for taking down 10 domain names.

However, DHS conveniently failed to mention that 84,000 websites were wrongfully taken down in the process, shaming thousands of people in the process.

“Each year, far too many children fall prey to sexual predators and all too often, these heinous acts are recorded in photos and on video and released on the Internet,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano commented.

“DHS is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to shut down websites that promote child pornography to protect these children from further victimization,” she added.

A noble initiative, but one that went wrong, badly. The above failure again shows that the seizure process is a flawed one, as has been shown several times before in earlier copyright infringement sweeps. If the Government would only allow for due process to take place, this and other mistakes wouldn’t have been made.

Appeared Here

Crazed Pennsylvania State Police Officers Charge Man With Shooting Snow Bank With Pellet Gun While His Kids Watched

February 8, 2011

SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA – A Mount Pocono man has been charged with endangering his three children after police say he fired a pellet gun into a snow bank outside a Smithfield Township dentist’s office.

Herbert Edward Keiber, 24, was waiting for his wife to come out of dentist Michael Hunt’s office in Jay Park Plaza, at about 2:08 p.m. Monday when he fired the pellet gun next to his vehicle, according to state police at Swiftwater. His children – a four-year-old boy, 3-year-old girl and 21-month-old girl – were all sitting in the car with the windows open at the time.

Keiber was taken into custody without incident and told police that he was ‘bored’ while waiting for his wife.

He has been charged with reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct. His children were released to their mother’s custody.

Appeared Here

St. Petersburg Flordia Police Administrator And Former Police Chief Goliath Davis Skipped 2 Officer’s Funeral, But Attended Their Killers Funeral

February 8, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA — Goliath Davis was on the RSVP list of VIPs who said they would attend the Jan. 28 funeral of St. Petersburg police Sgt. Thomas J. Baitinger and canine Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz.

His own administrative calendar says that on that day, at 11 a.m., Davis, a top city administrator and former police chief, attended the funeral at First Baptist Church on Gandy Boulevard.

But Tampa shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem on Monday spent much of his morning show on WHPT-FM (the Bone 102.5) lambasting Davis because he did not go to the officers’ funeral — yet he did attend Saturday’s funeral for their killer, Hydra Lacy Jr.

“I have very, very good high-ranking sources in law enforcement who validated that he didn’t attend (the officers’) memorial service,” Clem said. “You are the former police chief. You probably had interaction with the officers who were shot. How can you not go?”

Davis, who was police chief from 1997 to 2001, did not dispute speculation that he did not attend the officers’ funeral.

In a story in the St. Petersburg Times Sunday about Lacy’s funeral, Davis explained he attended Lacy’s funeral to support the Lacy family, which includes Hydra’s brother and boxing standout Jeff Lacy — who himself did not attend.

The story added that Davis “also attended the funeral for the slain officers,” but Davis said he did not tell the reporter that.

“I never told (the reporter) that I attended the funeral,” Davis said Monday. “I said I paid my respects to the officers and their family members.”

But did he attend the officers’ funeral?

“I wasn’t inside the funeral to sit with city staff,” Davis said.

Was he outside, where most of the 10,000 attendees gathered to watch the service on monitors?

“I paid my respects to those officers and their families,” Davis said, who repeated that line when asked again if he attended the funeral. Asked how he paid his respects, Davis said: “It doesn’t matter how. (The families of the slain officers) know how. It’s not something I want to publicize. I don’t have to give an accounting of my grief to anyone.”

When asked why he wouldn’t answer whether he attended the funeral, Davis replied: “I don’t need to answer to Bubba the Love Sponge.”

It is difficult to prove Davis — who makes $152,735 as the city’s senior administrator of community enrichment and another $68,317 a year from his police pension — did not attend.

His immediate boss, City Administrator Tish Elston, didn’t return a phone call and e-mail seeking comment about his possible absence or whether she asked him not to attend.

Mayor Bill Foster didn’t return repeated calls seeking comment.

Many city officials who did attend said they couldn’t place Davis at the officers’ funeral.

Police Chief Chuck Harmon responded to the question through an e-mail from his police spokesman. Harmon confirmed that Davis attended the wake for the officers the evening before the funeral, but that Harmon “did not see him at the funeral, so he does not know if he was there or not.”

Besides Harmon, eight officials who attended the funeral and were in the same VIP section that Davis said he’d be at during the ceremony were asked if Davis attended. None of them — state Rep. Darryl Rouson, assistant Fire Chief Steve Knight, Chief Assistant City Attorney Mark Winn, and St. Petersburg City Council members Leslie Curran, Jeff Danner, Bill Dudley, Wengay Newton and Karl Nurse — could place Davis at the funeral.

“Is it a big deal he’s not there?” Dudley said. “I think so. We had police from all over the country attend. He’s the former police chief, and he’s not there? It’s just curious. And he did attend Lacy’s funeral? Well, then, that’s kind of weird.”

Everyone grieves differently, Curran said, and Davis shouldn’t be faulted if he didn’t attend the funeral, especially if he attended the viewing.

“He went to the (Lacy) funeral to support a friend,” Curran said. “From what I know, he and Jeff Lacy are good friends. This has been such a difficult time. It’s a shame it’s gotten to this point. There’s more to be said for all of this then who went to the funeral and who didn’t, and who went to the Lacy funeral and who didn’t. It’s ridiculous.”

Questions raised Monday by Clem should be dismissed, Rouson said, because, among other reasons, “Bubba the Love Sponge is a bumbling idiot.”

Others said that regardless of his attendance at the Jan. 28 funeral, Davis erred by attending Lacy’s funeral.

“I believe attending the cop killer’s funeral is a slap in the face to the fallen officers and their families,” said St. Petersburg Detective Mark Marland, president of the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association. “I don’t want anyone to think we’re holding the Lacy family responsible. They’re not responsible for the actions of one individual. But the fact of the matter is, it’s the Lacy funeral.”

Marland said the officers he spoke with didn’t see the former chief at the funeral, either.

“Guys are upset about it,” Marland said. “I haven’t heard from anyone (who saw him at the officers’ memorial). I asked around when the Lacy issue came up. But I can’t get anyone to say if they saw him there.”

Davis had a fractious relationship with the unions during his tenure as police chief, and was the subject of several union lawsuits questioning his decisions.

Clem said he didn’t plan to drop the issue.

“I don’t care if (Davis) was a pallbearer at the (officers’) funeral,” Clem said. “When you go to a funeral, you are paying respects to that human being. This (expletive) is the last person you need to pay respects to. You couldn’t be more disrespectful by attending his funeral. I’m going to make it my mission to expose (Davis) as a fraud.”

Appeared Here

Central London Police Officer Jo Northmore, In Charge Of Incoming “Anti-Social” Behaviour Emergency Calls, Arrested For Anti-Social Behaviour

February 6, 2011

LONDON, UK – An internal police investigation has been launched after an anti-social behaviour police inspector in charge of emergency calls for central London has been arrested after she was caught drunk in the street.

Jo Northmore, 38, was spotted turning over a road sign by two police officers as she stumbled home at 2am.

They followed her down the road and when challenged about her behaviour she refused to apologise and became abusive before she was arrested.

The City of London officer, who is in charge of handling all 999 calls about anti-social behaviour, was later given an £80 fixed penalty notice for being drunk and disorderly.

The fine came after a night out in Shoreditch, East London, last Sunday.

According to The Sun newspaper, she was tagged in photographs on Facebook less than 24 hours later at different nightclub.

Scotland Yard said: ‘We can confirm Met officers arrested a 38-year-old woman. She was issued with a fixed penalty notice.’

City of London Police said: ‘A misconduct investigation has begun.’

Appeared Here

Cheshire And Staffordshire UK Police Have 238 Accidents In 18 Months – In Their Own Parking Lots!

February 5, 2011

CHESHIRE AND STAFFORDSHIRE, UK – Accident-prone police drivers have been involved in hundreds of crashes – without even leaving their own car parks.

Figures show officers in Staffordshire and Cheshire reported up to 238 accidents involving vehicles in their police station car parks between April, 2008 and December, 2010.

They reveal Staffordshire Police recorded 147 accidents and Cheshire Police dealt with 91 crashes over the same period.
Demolition derby: Two police forces have revealed figures that show 238 police car crashes happened in the station car park (file pic)

Demolition derby: Two police forces have revealed figures that show 238 police car crashes happened in the station car park (file pic)

The incidents included:

* A police vehicle crashing into a post causing £2,149 damage
* A police vehicle crashing into a wall causing £1,450 damage
* A police vehicle hitting a car park height restriction barrier causing £1,069 damage
* A police vehicle reversing into a car causing £1,192 damage.

The combined estimated damage for the forces is £115,784, though the final figures may be adjusted by insurers.

Staffordshire’s £83,902 estimate included injuries or damage to vehicles or property within the car parks, as well as 32 more accidents which involved slips, trips and falls. Now some officers have been told to improve their driving standards.

The figures obtained by The Sentinel newspaper show police station crashes have fallen from 71 in 2007/08 to 50 in 2009/10.

A report to Staffordshire Police Authority states: ‘Accidents within police stations remain an issue. Police divisions have been charged with monitoring driving standards and have been profiling individual officers to improve standards of behaviour and to ensure that training was put in place.’

Staffordshire Police have lost 65 police officers and 155 police staff in the past year as they battle a £6.7 million cut in their £190 million budget.

A spokesman said: ‘The number of accidents in police station car parks has fallen gradually in the last three years.

‘The force has a fleet of more than 550 vehicles, which covered almost 9.5 million miles last year.’

Cheshire Police are preparing to lose 213 police officers and 446 staff over the next four years as they make £36.5 million cuts.

‘The force’s 638 vehicles covered 12 million miles last year.

A Cheshire Police spokesman said: ‘We have 34 car parks at police stations and sub-stations and they are busy. When vehicles are damaged, repairs are carried out as economically as possible.’

Appeared Here

Video Catches 7 Houston Texas Police Officers Beating 15 Year Kid

February 5, 2011

HOUSTON, TEXAS – Houston’s mayor and police department were on the defensive Friday, two days after graphic video came out showing several officers repeatedly kicking and beating a 15-year-old burglary suspect as he lay on the ground.

An internal police investigation of the incident last March led to the firing of seven police officers, said spokesman John Cannon of the Houston police department.

Two successfully appealed and returned to their jobs, said Houston NAACP President D.Z. Cofield.

Five other officers were disciplined in other ways, Cannon said. A Harris County grand jury indicted four of the officers this summer, based in part of the video.

Harris County District Attorney Patricia Lykos opposed the video becoming public and felt doing so might prejudice potential jurors and force the indicted officers’ trials to be moved out of the county.

Quanell X, a local activist, got hold of the surveillance tape showing the scene outside a storage facility and gave it to the media.

He said he had every right to obtain the footage and make it public.

“I will show my people what they deserve to see, and let the public see what you don’t want them to see,” Quanell X said

Mayor Annise Parker said the police leadership and city acted properly.

“I resent any implication that we were trying to hide the tape,” she said.

After viewing the footage, Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland Jr. fired the seven officers and a grand jury called for misdemeanor charges against four of them in June on misdemeanor charges.

Lykos told reporters Thursday there was not sufficient evidence to pursue more serious charges, such as aggravated assault.

“Without revealing what was presented to the grand jury, in order to have aggravated assault you have to have serious bodily injury or impairment or use of a deadly weapon,” she said. “None of that was apparent in this case.”

The tape, first shown Wednesday on CNN affiliate WTRK, shows the 15-year-old boy — being chased by police and falling to the ground after being upended by a moving police car. He then falls face first and places his hands on the ground.

A disciplinary letter from McClelland, dated June 23 and posted online less than two weeks later by CNN affiliate HTRK, says that the boy had his hands behind his head and neck area, in an obvious position of surrender.

Then, the letter adds and the tape shows, Officer Raad Hassan “then ran toward (the boy) and kicked him a total of 15 times,” then later kicked him more times in the groin area even after he “was handcuffed and no longer a threat.”

Several other officers, repeatedly kicking and punching the 15-year-old, who barely moved the whole time.

Like Parker, the head of Houston’s police union said the incident did not reflect on the make-up or usual activity of officers on the force.

“We have thousands of officers who do a great job every day and they’re not involved in this,” said Mark Clark, the union’s executive director. “It’s serious and it’s a reflection on the department.”

Cofield sharply criticized the police officers’ actions as well as how civic leaders had handled the case afterward during a news conference Thursday. That includes officials’ unwillingness to make the tape public.

“For us, what seems to be a tragedy (is) repeated one more time in Harris County,” he said.

Appeared Here

Crazed Hammonton New Jersey Police Piss Away Tax Dollars Charging 7 Year Old Who Had Nerf Gun

February 3, 2011

HAMMONTON, NEW JERSEY – A 7-year-old child allegedly shot a Nerf-style toy gun in his Hammonton, N.J., school Jan. 18. No one was hurt, but the pint-size softshooter now faces misdemeanor criminal charges.

Hammonton Police began an investigation into the “suspicious activity” at the Hammonton Early Childhood Education Center Jan. 18 after school officials alerted them to the incident.

The “gun” the child brought to school was a $5 toy gun, similar to a Nerf gun, that shoots soft ping pong type balls, according to the school’s superintendent.

Officials also say that there was no evidence of anyone being threatened. The child’s mother told school officials that she didn’t know her son brought the toy to school.


Dr. Dan Blachford, the Hammonton Board of Education superintendent, said the school has a zero tolerance policy.

“We are just very vigilant and we feel that if we draw a very strict line then we have much less worry about someone bringing in something dangerous,” said Blachford.

Deseire Gherard, a parent of one of the students at the school, agrees with the policy.

“I’d rather it be dealt with more severely than not,” said Gherard. “I would rather them go a little bit too far for the safety of all the children then to say ‘okay, it was probably nothing.'”

Police charged the 7-year-old with possessing an imitation firearm in or on an education institution – a misdemeanor and a minor juvenile offense in New Jersey.

School officials described the child as “a nice kid” and “a good student.” Authorities haven’t commented on what specific disciplinary action or punishment the boy faces though it could involve counseling and other resources made available to the family.

Appeared Here

Los Angeles California Police Dismantling Anti-Gang Units In High Crime Neighborhoods

February 2, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – The Los Angeles Police Department has temporarily dismantled anti-gang units in several of its most crime-plagued neighborhoods because officers in those squads refused to comply with a controversial financial disclosure rule that they view as misguided and invasive.

Police officials have sent the defiant officers back to regular patrol duties and expect that it will take several months to rebuild the gang units with others willing to abide by the policy, which requires officers to periodically submit information regarding their assets and debts. Until then, patrol officers have been saddled with trying to keep up with gang-suppression efforts, a move some gang unit supervisors and community advocates fear could lead to an erosion of expertise and hard-fought gains in reducing gang violence and crime.

“There is definitely a concern that we might start to lose some of the ground we’ve gained,” said Sgt. Randy Goens, a veteran gang supervisor in South Los Angeles who reluctantly plans to complete the disclosure form.

Save on daily L.A. Times deals powered by Groupon.

“They have an essential role,” the Rev. Ben “Taco” Owens, a former gang member who is now a prominent gang interventionist, said of the gang officers. “They are familiar with the gangs. They are familiar with the community…. They won’t be around. It’s detrimental.”

The disclosure policy is intended to help identify and deter corruption among the estimated 600 gang and narcotic officers who frequently handle cash, drugs and other contraband. Adopted nearly two years ago, the plan gave officers who were already assigned to the units until the end of March to abide by the new rules or be moved back to regular patrol assignments.

Few narcotics officers objected, but discontent among gang officers has persisted. In recent months, field commanders have grown increasingly worried that the March deadline would not leave them enough time to recruit and train new officers before the onset of summer, when gang crime traditionally spikes. Department officials required officers to declare their intentions in December and gave commanders permission to take action before the end of March.

About three-quarters of the officers agreed to the disclosures, according to LAPD estimates. There were, however, significant holdouts: All but one of the roughly 80 gang officers in the department’s Southeast, 77th, Northeast and Hollenbeck divisions — areas that are home to some of the city’s most violent and active gangs — refused, LAPD officials confirmed. Likewise, all members of the smaller gang teams in Van Nuys and Devonshire said they would not adhere to the policy.

“The bottom line is it isn’t going to be effective and it’s insulting. If we were dirty, we wouldn’t be putting cash into a bank account,” said a veteran gang officer who, like others, asked that his name not be used because of concern that he would be disciplined. “It’s a matter of principle.”

In response, the LAPD captains in charge of those six divisions disbanded the gang units and have begun rebuilding them. Instead of keeping some or all of the veteran gang officers in the units until the end of March to help train new officers, field commanders said they decided it would be better to move them out at once and as early as possible. That decision was made in part to avoid possible tensions between the outgoing and incoming officers.

Other LAPD divisions have lost some portion of their gang officers but managed to keep the units operational.

Police Chief Charlie Beck and other LAPD officials downplayed the possibility that the decision to dismantle the units could lead to a rise in gang activity. With most of the former gang officers now on patrol assignments in the same neighborhoods in which they previously worked, Beck and the others said, there would be sufficient police presence to prevent a crime surge.

“The sky is definitively not falling right now,” said Southeast Division Capt. Phil Tingirides. “This will work temporarily.”

Several senior LAPD officials acknowledged, however, that the decision to disband the gang units inevitably will mean a less intense focus on gang activity and expressed concern that the longer-term risks are significant. With each week that passes, they said, the department will lose ground in the effort to stay on top of the shadowy and always-shifting machinations of the city’s gangs.

“It’s the intelligence gathering, the intimate knowledge of who these gang members are and where they’re located, the upkeep with the informants and the constant stream of information on what the gangs are up to that I’m worried about losing,” said Capt. Dennis Kato, commanding officer of the 77th Area, where more than 15 major gangs are active. “We’re going to be a little slower in catching up to these guys.”

Vic Corella, a recently retired detective who spent years battling gangs in South Los Angeles, noted that although the LAPD keeps tabs on gangs, the gangs are keeping tabs on the LAPD and may exploit the situation.

“They know about deployments,” he said. “They may not be educated. But they are not stupid.”

Corella added that prosecutors often rely on expert testimony of gang officers to win convictions. That testimony, he said, depends largely on whether the officers have up-to-date knowledge on a gang’s activities. A constant presence is required, he said, or “your information gets stale, because the players change so often.”

Like traditional patrol officers, members of the LAPD gang units are required to wear police uniforms and drive the black-and-white LAPD vehicles. Instead of being dispatched on radio calls, however, the gang officers concentrate exclusively on gang crime. They are the only police officers permitted to photograph gang members and access Cal-Gangs, a statewide database that law enforcement agencies use to keep information on gang members.

In recent years the LAPD has had some success pushing down the level of gang-related crimes, and officials say the specialized gang units played a large role in the gains. Gang killings and aggravated assaults by gang members, for example, both fell about 30% between 2007 and last year, according to LAPD statistics.

Appeared Here

Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Officer Sean Oshea Smith Fell Out Of Tree And Died While Hunting

February 2, 2011

WESLEY CHAPEL, FLORIDA – An officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission died Tuesday night when he fell from a tree stand, the FWC said.

Hunters found the body of Sean Oshea Smith, 39, on private property near Quail Hollow Blvd. and Green Willow Run, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s office

“Smith and three other hunters went hunting in the area at about 4 p.m.,” said sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Doll. “When Smith did not return to a designated meeting place by 7 p.m., they went looking for him and found him on the ground.”

The FWC said Smith, a father of two young children, was a resident of Wesley Chapel.

Appeared Here

Dumbass Undercover Florida DEA Agent Lee Paige Sues After Shooting Himself In The Foot During Drug Education Presentation

February 2, 2011

FLORIDA – Undercover DEA agent Lee Paige learned the hard, painful way that whatever happens on video… immediately goes on YouTube. Paige is currently attempting to sue the U.S. government for releasing a video of him shooting himself in the foot with a Glock during a presentation about drug education at a Florida community center in 2004.

In April of 2006, Paige filed a complaint alleging that the video’s release harmed his reputation after it appeared online and was broadcast on several television news shows. According to Paige, the DEA possessed sole footage from the talk and, therefore, someone within the department must have put it online or released it to the media. In fact, his lawyers claimed someone within the DEA “with animosity for Paige” had released the video on purpose and with malicious intent. At the time, lawyers for the government felt Paige did not provide evidence to back up his claims, and the identity of the person responsible for circulating the video remains unknown. A mystery is afoot, one might say.

Earlier this week, Lee was able to successfully get the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to overturn a December ruling terminating his original lawsuit.

Appeared Here

Shopping Center Evacuated And Bomb Squad Called In To Deal With Rotten Chicken And Goat Parts In A Box

February 1, 2011

MIAMI, FLORIDA – The bomb squad isn’t usually called in to defuse stink bombs, but a smelly package at a Southwest Miami-Dade bank needed an expert’s touch.

An entire shopping center was evacuated Tuesday morning after a suspicious package, which turned out to be a box full of chicken and goat parts, was discovered near a Bank of America.

The box wasn’t ticking or anything, but it was swarming with flies, officials said.

The incident happened around 10 a.m. in the area of Quail Roost Drive and SW 127th Avenue, near the Shoppes at Quail Roost shopping center, CBS4 reports.

A bomb-detection robot tried to detonate the potentially explosive device, but nothing happened. Maybe they should have used a bomb-sniffing dog instead.

When bomb squad members got closer to the box, they realized how stinky the situation was.

Officials didn’t say what type of chicken and goat parts were in the box, but the stench was strong enough to clear the parking lot.

Appeared Here

New York City Pissed Away City’s Tax Dollars Investigating Gun Show Sales In Phoenix Arizona

February 1, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – An undercover sting at a Phoenix gun show found dealers sold weapons like the one used in the Tucson shooting rampage to questionable buyers without conducting background checks, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday.

Investigators working for New York City, prompted by the Tucson shooting that killed six people and injured 13, bought 9mm handguns at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix and secretly videotaped the transactions, Bloomberg said.

The mayor showed videotapes to the media of the January 23 sales at a news conference.

“You can still walk into a gun show and buy a 9mm in the same time it would take to buy a hamburger and fries at McDonalds,” Bloomberg said.

Private gun show dealers are exempt from federal law requiring background checks of customers, Bloomberg said.

In one video, an undercover investigator is seen buying a gun in a legal transaction without a background check.

But in the other two videos, the sales were illegal because the investigators told the vendors they probably would be unable to pass a background check. Under federal law, the vendors should have stopped the sales and did not, he said.

Instead, the dealers on the videos replied that background checks would not be necessary to buy the guns.

The Crossroads of the West Gun Show issued a statement calling the mayor’s investigation “entrapment.”

“Mayor Bloomberg and his ‘task force’ have no legal authority in the state of Arizona or in any other place in America except New York City,” the statement said. “These forays into America’s heartland committing blatant acts to entrap otherwise innocent gun owners is an unlawful scheme that is created by Bloomberg’s task force.”

Bloomberg said the findings were particularly disturbing in the wake of the January 8 shooting in Tucson, where U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords was severely injured.

“You would hope with the memory of the Tucson shootings still so painfully fresh, especially in the state of Arizona, people would think twice about selling a firearm to anyone who even hinted at not wanting to conduct a background check,” said Bloomberg, who serves as co-chairman of the national coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Bloomberg said he would like to see a federal requirement for a background check of criminal records, drug use and psychological problems for any purchase of a firearm.

The exemption is based on a theory that gun show dealers are “a few friends selling the occasional gun out of their collection,” the mayor said. However, some gun show dealers sell hundreds of guns, he said.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called the gun-show exemption “a loophole you can drive a truck through.”

Kelly estimated roughly 90 percent of the illegal guns New York police confiscate come from other states, and that many come from gun shows.

The U.S. has some of the most permissive gun laws in the developed world and Arizona has among the most permissive laws of U.S. states.

Appeared Here

California Local Lawmakers Plan To Imprison Dumpster Divers

February 1, 2011

A couple of cities in Orange County want to do-away with dumpster diving. City officials in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa say trash scavengers have become such a problem they’re being forced to take drastic measures.

It used to be that digging through someone’s trash in Newport Beach could get you a ticket, now it’s a crime that could get you arrested.

Cops there say people have been doing more than rooting through coffee grounds for Coke cans, they’re collecting printed information that could be used to steal someone’s identity.

In some cases, scavengers have been caught swiping bikes and other stuff from garages.

Costa Mesa officials say they have a similar problem. They’re looking at distributing new trash cans that could secure all that stuff people don’t want with locking lids.

Appeared Here