Morgan County Alabama Corrections Officer Joshua Coppinger Arrested And Charged With Sex With An Inmate

June 30, 2011

DECATUR, Alabama — A Morgan County corrections officer has been arrested after authorities believe he engaged in sexual conduct with an inmate, police said.

Joshua Coppinger, 32, was arrested on charges of sexual conduct with a person in custody and booked into the Morgan County Jail, said Sheriff Ana Franklin in a statement Thursday.

Coppinger was fired and arrested after an internal investigation, Franklin said. He has since been released on a $2,500 bond. No additional details about allegations were released.

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Massachusetts Jury Commissioner Decides That Dead Man Doesn’t Have To Serve Jury Duty

June 27, 2011

GEORGETOWN, MASSACHUSETTS – A Massachusetts man facing a criminal complaint for failing to appear for jury duty apparently had a good excuse.

He’s been dead for five years.

State Deputy Jury Commissioner John Cavanaugh said last week that the state will not proceed with serving a criminal complaint against Michael Wylie.

The late Georgetown resident was issued a notice to serve on jury duty five years ago but at the time he was in hospice care and had terminal cancer. He died a few months later but the commission continued to send letters about his failure to report.

Wylie’s family says they tried to tell authorities that he had died but officials say the family never sent a death certificate.

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Bogus Charges Dropped Against Woman Who Dared To Videotape Rochester New York Police From Her Front Yard

June 27, 2011

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK – The case against a Rochester woman arrested while videotaping police has been dismissed.

Early Monday afternoon, demonstrators rallied outside the Hall of Justice in support of Emily Good, the city woman who was arrested while videotaping police officers during a traffic stop on May 12 in front of her 19th Ward home.

Good kept recording police officers while standing in her front yard even though an officer ordered her several times go inside. She was charged with obstructing of governmental administration. Since then, the video from that night has made it onto news shows across the country.

Good’s attorney, Stephanie Stare, had asked for the charges to be dismissed. In court today, the District Attorney’s office says based on a review of the evidence, there was no legal basis to go forward. The charge was withdrawn and the judge dismissed the case.

Several of Good’s supporters who filled the small courtroom quietly cheered as the case was dismissed. They hugged her outside the courtroom and Good said “I think there are weaknesses in the brotherhood of the police, and they are not above the law.”

Good was asked if she would do it over again. “Yes, I would do it again. And I would encourage other people to do the same thing. Carry a camera. Stand your ground. Go to the seen of flashing lights and observe what’s going on. Keep a safe distance.”

News 10 NBC’s Ray Levato asked “Do you think there is racial profiling going on?” Good answered, “Everyday. Everyday. Absolutely.”

KaeLyn Rich, a spokeswoman for the Rochester office of the New York Civil Liberties Union afterwards called city police actions “a disgusting disregard for an individual’s First Amendment rights to videotape in public spaces. I hope we can repair the relationship between the community and the police by holding police accountable, and making sure police officers are getting the training they need to respect people’s constitutional rights.”

Supporter Rev. Willie Harvey of the Peace baptist Church said “the police did the wrong thing.”

City activist Howard Eagle, a spokesman for a Rochester anti-racism movement said “This case really is about racial profiling. That’s the reason why Emily Good grabbed her camera in the first place and began to record the activity of the police. She suspected that a young black man was being racially profiled.”

A joint statement issued by Mayor Tom Richards, City Council President Lovely Warren and Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard says they support the decision of the District Attorney’s Office to dismiss the charges against Good.

The statement says whatever the specific circumstances that led to Good’s arrest, they see no purpose in pursuing the criminal charges.

The statement continues, “We believe that the incident that led to Ms. Good’s arrest and the subsequent ticketing for parking violations of vehicles belonging to members of an organization associated with Ms. Good raise issues with respect to the conduct of Rochester Police Officers that require an internal review. A review into both matters has been initiated.”

“Police officers must be able to cope with a high degree of stress while performing oftentimes dangerous duties, relying on their training and experience to guide their behavior. As routine as a traffic stop may appear, it has proven over time to be a potentially dangerous activity for police. Nonetheless, police must conduct themselves with appropriate respect for the rights of those involved or who are observing their actions.”

“There is a mandated legal process that governs our internal response when police officer behavior is called into question. We must respect this process and that may be frustrating to those who may have already made up their mind about the outcome. We have confidence that the review will be fair and impartial and invite Ms. Good and anyone else with firsthand information to participate. We will withhold our judgment until the review is completed.”

“Whatever the outcome of the internal review, we want to make clear that it is not the policy or practice of the Rochester Police Department to prevent citizens from observing its activities – including photographing or videotaping – as long as it does not interfere with the safe conduct of those activities. It is also not the policy or practice of the Department to selectively enforce laws in response to the activities of a group or individual. This has always been the case and it is being reinforced within the Department, so that it will be abundantly clear to everyone.”

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Nutcase TSA Agents Harass Dying 95 Year Old Woman In Wheelchair For 45 Minutes At Florida Airport – Tell Her To Remove Adult Diaper For Search

June 26, 2011

FLORIDA – A woman has filed a complaint with federal authorities over how her elderly mother was treated at Northwest Florida Regional Airport last weekend.

Jean Weber of Destin filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security after her 95-year-old mother was detained and extensively searched last Saturday while trying to board a plane to fly to Michigan to be with family members during the final stages of her battle with leukemia.

Her mother, who was in a wheelchair, was asked to remove an adult diaper in order to complete a pat-down search.

“It’s something I couldn’t imagine happening on American soil,” Weber said Friday. “Here is my mother, 95 years old, 105 pounds, barely able to stand, and then this.”

Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration in Miami, said she could not comment on specific cases to protect the privacy of those involved.

“The TSA works with passengers to resolve any security alarms in a respectful and sensitive manner,” she said.

Weber’s mother entered the airport’s security checkpoint in a wheelchair because she was not stable enough to walk through, Weber said.

Wheelchairs trigger certain protocols, including pat-downs and possible swabbing for explosives, Koshetz said.

“During any part of the process, if there is an alarm, then we have to resolve that alarm,” she said.

Weber said she did not know whether her mother had triggered an alarm during the 45 minutes they were detained.

She said her mother was first pulled aside into a glass-partitioned area and patted down. Then she was taken to another room to protect her privacy during a more extensive search, Weber said.

Weber said she sat outside the room during the search.

She said security personnel then came out and told her they would need for her mother to remove her Depends diaper because it was soiled and was impeding their search.

Weber wheeled her mother into a bathroom, removed her diaper and returned. Her mother did not have another clean diaper with her, Weber said.

Weber said she wished there were less invasive search methods for an elderly person who is unable to walk through security gates.

“I don’t understand why they have to put them through that kind of procedure,” she said.

Koshetz said the procedures are the same for everyone to ensure national security.

“TSA cannot exempt any group from screening because we know from intelligence that there are terrorists out there that would then exploit that vulnerability,” she said.

Weber filed a complaint through Northwest Florida Regional’s website. She said she received a response from a Homeland Security representative at the airport on Tuesday and spoke to that person on the phone Wednesday.

The representative told her that personnel had followed procedures during the search, Weber said.

“Then I thought, if you’re just following rules and regulations, then the rules and regulations need to be changed,” she said.

Weber said she plans to file additional complaints next week.

“I’m not one to make waves, but dadgummit, this is wrong. People need to know. Next time it could be you.”

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Dumbass Texas Constables Raid Innocent Man’s Home, Let K-9 Chew On His Arm

June 19, 2011

Brandwynne “Brandie” Prespentt finished work at 3 p.m. June 10 and ran some errands. On the other side of town, a dog assigned to a Precinct 4 constable’s deputy was attacking her husband, Travis.

The incident, which led to an arm injury requiring 22 stitches, was the climax of a bizarre sequence of events that began when the couple’s neighbor, Tamara Denise White­side, phoned in a false report accusing Travis Prespentt of pistol-whipping and strangling his wife and dumping her in the back of his car.

Now Whiteside is in jail, Brandie Prespentt is alive and well, and the Prespentts are threatening to sue the constable’s office for what they call an unprovoked attack.

“If my children hadn’t been with my mother-in-law, what would have happened?” Brandie Prespentt asked. “And they never even apologized.”
Panic and confusion

While Travis Prespentt was cleaning his porch he noticed patrol cars downstairs, but he didn’t think they had anything to do with him.

When he went in for a beer, police had knocked down his door and ordered him to put his hands up. Prespentt said he did as they said, but deputies still sicced a dog on him.

As the dog chewed on Prespentt’s arm, he said, the officers demanded to know where “the female” was.

Prespentt, assuming they meant his dog, first tried to tell them that she was in a cage on the porch. Then he realized they were looking for his wife, and shouted that she was at the grocery store.

At one point his sister phoned the apartment. When officers answered, Prespentt’s sister immediately called his wife and told her to call her husband. Again, police answered the phone.
‘I was just freaking out’

After Brandie Prespentt explained who she was, an officer told her about the call they had gotten from her neighbor.

When she asked to talk to her husband, she said he was crying and screaming, “This dog chewed my arm off!”

“The dog threw me on the ground, and I just laid there watching the dog chew my arm,” Travis said. “I was just freaking out.”

Assistant Chief Deputy Mark Herman said deputies had to go to the apartment because of the serious nature of the neighbor’s call.

When the deputies arrived, they identified themselves and warned that they had a dog, Herman said.

“If we hadn’t gone, it would have been negligent,” he said. “These things happen.”

By the time Brandie Prespentt made it home, she said, her husband was covered in blood. He was taken to a hospital, where he received stitches on his arm and treatment for minor scratches.

Travis Prespentt said one of the deputy constables continuously accused him of punching the dog while he was being attacked. He has denied striking the dog, protesting that he is an animal lover.

Whiteside was charged with giving a false report and failure to show identification.

Travis Prespentt has not been able to go to work for the past week, which has hampered his ability to provide for his family and pay their hospital bills, he said.

“They just went on a rumor, and I think that’s uncalled-for,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life.”

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3 Baxter Springs Missouri Firefighters Fired For Looting Businesses Night Of May 22nd Joplin Tornado. Fire Chief Suspended Amid Investigation

June 18, 2011

JOPLIN, MISSOURI – Three firefighters are fired and the Baxter Springs fire chief is placed on administrative leave while an investigation is underway into the looting of Joplin businesses on the night of the May 22nd tornado.

In a statement from Baxter Springs Mayor Jennifer Bingham, she says the city of Baxter Springs upholds a zero-tolerance policy and as a city we will stand united against any such behavior.

It is unclear yet whether three unnamed firefighters were on duty at the time of the looting.

Last Saturday, Fire Chief Les Page was asked to take an administrative leave of absence.

Mayor Bingham says Page was not involved in the wrongdoings of the three firefighters. He has been with the department for nearly 40 years. In his absence Art Mallory has been named acting fire chief.

At this point Joplin authorities have not yet filed charges against the three firefighters.

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TSA Pressed By Lawmakers To Explain Racial Profiling At Newark Airport

June 18, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC — The Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee said they want the head of the Transportation Security Administration to explain how racial profiling became a common practice among TSA screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) are both seeking answers from TSA Administrator John Pistole, after a federal report found several behavior detection officers, or BDOs, had singled out Mexican and Dominican passengers for special scrutiny, bag searches, questioning and document reviews in 2008 and 2009.

“We have been in contact with TSA. We are looking forward to hearing Administrator Pistole’s analysis,” King, who is from Long Island, said in a statement “After that, we will determine our course of action.”

Thompson said the report confirmed his fears the TSA’s Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT program, was vulnerable to manipulation or abuse.

“TSA should halt the SPOT program immediately until safeguards are put into place to address racial and ethnic profiling concerns,” Thompson said in a statement. “I will write TSA and request to see this internal report.”

The Star-Ledger obtained a copy of the January 2010 report and broke the news of its findings on Sunday.

The report, which was ordered by Newark’s former TSA director in the wake of complaints from BDOs, said passengers found to have lapsed visas or expired passports would be referred for additional screening or turned over to immigration officials. It was an easy way, the report said, for the behavior detection unit to boost its referrals and appear productive.

The group of managers and BDOs who engaged in racial profiling were dubbed “the Great Mexican Hunters” by other TSA employees at the airport.

Racial profiling violates official TSA policy and courts have found it unconstitutional in other contexts, including traffic stops on the New Jersey Turnpike, a situation that led to federal monitoring of the State Police until last February.

The TSA acknowledged the report’s findings, but insisted Newark’s BDOs have been retrained and steps taken to prevent the practice from resurfacing.

A behavior detection manager demoted as a result of the report’s findings denied that racial profiling went on at the airport. He said managers cited in the report were the victims of false allegations by disgruntled subordinates, and that he was singled out as a scapegoat.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-12th Dist.), a frequent critic of the TSA’s use of full-body scanners, said he had cautioned Pistole to guard against racial profiling in the past.

“No one should have to fear unlawful detention or inspection based solely on the color of their skin,” Holt said in a statement.

Ed Borocas, legal director of the ACLU of New Jersey, called the revelations in the report “deeply troubling.” William Buckman, a lawyer who helped to overturn scores of drug convictions obtained through racial profiling on the turnpike, said he was not surprised by the report’s findings.

“I’ve heard many anecdotal complaints about that,” Buckman said. Whether used by troopers or airport screeners, Buckman said, “Racial profiling seems to be a fallback position to produce statistics.”

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Duh – Phoenix Arizona SWAT Team Sniper Shot Wrong Woman In Standoff

June 18, 2011

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – A wardrobe switch may have caused a Phoenix S.W.A.T. sniper to shoot the wrong woman.

A Phoenix police spokesman said an armed female suspect barricaded herself and another woman inside an apartment complex near 12th Street and Broadway Road.

Sgt. Trent Crump said police sharpshooters fired when they thought they saw the suspect threatening the other woman.

It turns out, the person they shot was not the suspect.

Police sources have told CBS 5 News that investigators believe the two women switched clothing during the standoff, causing the confusion.

The sources did not know if the clothing swap was done to intentionally deceive police.

Crump said the suspect ultimately exited the apartment and was arrested.

The wounded woman was taken to the hospital and is expected to survive.

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Worthless Corpus Christi Texas Judge Jose Longoria Allows BS Case To Proceed, Woman To Be Convicted In “Pretty Simple, Straightforward Spanking Case”

June 18, 2011

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – A judge in Corpus Christi, Texas had some harsh words for a mother charged with spanking her own child before sentencing her to probation.

“You don’t spank children today,” said Judge Jose Longoria. “In the old days, maybe we got spanked, but there was a different quarrel. You don’t spank children.”

Rosalina Gonzales had pleaded guilty to a felony charge of injury to a child for what prosecutors had described as a “pretty simple, straightforward spanking case.” They noted she didn’t use a belt or leave any bruises, just some red marks.

As part of the plea deal, Gonzales will serve five years probation, during which time she’ll have to take parenting classes, follow CPS guidelines, and make a $50 payment to the Children’s Advocacy Center.

She was arrested back in December after the child’s paternal grandmother noticed red marks on the child’s rear end. The grandmother took the girl, who was two years-old at the time, to the hospital to be checked out.

Gonzales who doesn’t have custody of the child or her other two children, is trying to get them back, but until CPS feels she is ready the kids are living with their paternal grandmother.

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Harris County Texas Deputies Cancel Search For Escapee Who Had Marijuana Because Its Too Hot

June 16, 2011

HOUSTON, TEXAS —The manhunt for a suspect who escaped from custody in northwest Harris County Thursday was called off due to the extreme heat, authorities said.

Harris County deputies arrested the suspect for possession of marijuana around 11:20 a.m. in the 1700 block of FM 1960. They were transporting him to the Cypresswood Substation about an hour later, to question him about a robbery earlier in the week, when he got out of his plastic handcuffs and bolted into the Wimbledon Estates neighborhood.

Officers set up a perimeter around Cypresswood and Stuebner Airline and used K-9 units in an effort to track the suspect, but they were unsuccessful.

The search was called off after the heat began to take its toll on the K-9 units and deputies. One deputy had to be treated for heat exhaustion.

The suspect is said to be around 6 feet, 3 inches tall, with a thin build and hair in tightly curled ponytails. He was wearing a black shirt and black jeans at the time of his escape.

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Franklin County Virginia Deputy Sheriff Jonathan Agee Arrested, Charged With Murder After Following Ex-Wife With Patrol Car, Shooting And Killing Her In A Convenience Store Parking Lot – Also Shot State Trooper

June 13, 2011

ROANOKE, VIRGINIA – A county sheriff’s deputy killed his ex-wife in a convenience store parking lot Monday, then shot a Virginia state trooper before being seriously wounded himself, police said.

Roanoke Police Chief Chris Perkins told reporters Monday that a murder warrant has been received for Jonathan Agee, who is now at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital after suffering multiple gunshot wounds following a shootout with a pair of Virginia state police officers.

The bloodshed began at 11:30 a.m., when Jennifer Agee, 30, pulled into a Sheetz convenience store parking lot in Roanoke, Virginia, Perkins said. Trailing behind her in a marked Franklin County sheriff’s office car was her ex-husband, Jonathan Agee. The 32-year-old sheriff’s deputy from Boones Mill was off-duty at the time.

Perkins said that Agee and his ex-wife both got out of their cars. Jonathan Agee then shot Jennifer Agee, while another person believed to be a child sat in her vehicle, according to the police chief.

Jennifer Agee, who lived in Salem, was then taken to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital where she died, Perkins said.

Almost immediately afterward, police issued an alert asking authorities to look out for Agee’s sheriff’s office vehicle.

Virginia State Police Superintendent Steven Flaherty said that Sgt. Matt Brannock spotted the marked car on Route 460 and followed it. At about 11:48 a.m., the two vehicles stopped at the Ironto exit ramp off I-81 ramp in Montgomery County.

There, Jonathan Agee opened fire and shot Brannock “at least once,” Flaherty said.

Two other state police officers soon arrived at the scene, exchanging fire with Agee. They subdued the suspect after shooting him “several times,” Flaherty said.

Both Brannock, a 35-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran who joined the state police force 13 years ago, and Agee were flown by helicopter to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Police said the suspect’s injuries are considered life-threatening, but those suffered by the state trooper are not.

This incident tied up Memorial Day traffic in parts of western Virginia, after authorities closed several lanes on I-81 northbound to give them more space to conduct their investigation.

Those lanes reopened shortly before 7 p.m., said Virginia State Police spokewoman Corinne Geller. But in the subsequent hours, traffic still moved slowly through Montgomery County due to the earlier back-up and influx of holiday travelers.

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FBI Agents Get Additional Investigative Powers – Individual Agents Can Conduct Witch Hunts Without Official Authorization And Without Records

June 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC –  The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents — allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.

The FBI soon plans to issue a new edition of its manual, called the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, according to an official who has worked on the draft document and several others who have been briefed on its contents. The new rules add to several measures taken over the past decade to give agents more latitude as they search for signs of criminal or terrorist activity.

The FBI recently briefed several privacy advocates about the coming changes. Among them, Michael German, a former FBI agent who is now a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued it was unwise to further ease restrictions on agents’ power to use potentially intrusive techniques, especially if they lacked a firm reason to suspect someone of wrongdoing.

“Claiming additional authorities to investigate people only further raises the potential for abuse,” German said, pointing to complaints about the bureau’s surveillance of domestic political advocacy groups and mosques and to an inspector general’s findings in 2007 that the FBI had improperly used “national security letters” to obtain information like people’s phone bills.

Valerie E. Caproni, the FBI general counsel, said the bureau had fixed the problems with the national security letters and had taken steps to make sure they would not recur. She also said the bureau — which does not need permission to alter its manual so long as the rules fit within broad guidelines issued by the attorney general — had carefully weighed the risks and the benefits of each change.

Some of the most notable changes apply to the lowest category of investigations, called an “assessment.” The category, created in December 2008, allows agents to look into people and organizations “proactively” and without firm evidence for suspecting criminal or terrorist activity.

Under current rules, agents must open such an inquiry before they can search for information about a person in a commercial or law enforcement database. Under the new rules, agents will be allowed to search such databases without making a record about their decision.

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Former San Francisco California Transit Cop Johannes Mehserle To Be Released From Prison After Less Than 1 Year – Murdered Unarmed Man

June 12, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – A former transit police officer convicted last year in the shooting death of an unarmed man on an Oakland, California, train platform will be freed from prison early Monday morning, according to a court order.

Johannes Mehserle was sentenced to two years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter conviction, but California law gives him one day of good conduct credit for each of the 365 days he’s already served behind bars, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry said in an order signed Friday.

Mehserle, a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer when the shooting occurred, said at the trial that he intended to draw and fire his Taser rather than his gun when he fatally wounded 22-year-old Oscar Grant on New Years Day 2009.

Mehserle, who has been behind bars since a Los Angeles jury found him guilty on July 8, 2010, will be free to walk out of prison just after midnight Sunday, Perry said.

Violent protests erupted in Oakland last November when Perry sentenced Mehserle to just two years in prison, which meant he would possibly be released after another seven months.

At least 150 people were arrested during the protests, which Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts described at the time as “tearing up the city.”

Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, had asked the judge to sentence Mehserle to the maximum 14 years in prison. She and four other family members who spoke at the sentencing hearing last year called him “a murderer.”

The jury acquitted him of the more serious charges of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter.

Although his defense attorney argued for probation, Mehserle told Perry before sentencing that he would be willing to go to prison if the sentence made his city and family safer.

“I shot a man,” he said. “I killed a man. It should not have happened.”

A conviction for involuntary manslaughter normally carries a four-year sentence, but the judge had the option of adding an “enhancement” that could have made the sentence 14 years because a firearm was used in commission of a crime.

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Out Of Control New York Police Officers Repeatedly Harassing Boaters On Hudson River

June 11, 2011

POUGHKEEPSIE, NEW YORK – For Bill O’Brien, summer had meant the bliss of the Hudson River ever since he went out fishing for stripers as a boy. But last year, after he was stopped once too often by law enforcement patrol boats with armed officers, he decided he had had it. He sold his 22-foot jet boat, convinced that a once-restful afternoon on the Hudson was just becoming too stressful to enjoy.

“One time I got stopped four times in one day,” Mr. O’Brien, 45, an M.R.I. technologist from Orange County, said. “It feels like every agency and municipality on the Hudson has a boat, and they’re all out there trying to justify themselves by finding someone doing something wrong. It’s just gotten out of control.”

Ten years after the terrorist attacks downriver made security checks commonplace, a tea party of sorts is brewing on the Hudson, as boaters and marine businesses complain bitterly about being stopped too often and questioned too closely by officers wearing flak jackets and holstered pistols — many of them on the lookout for terrorists.

And as boating season begins, that vigilance has become one of those vexing flashpoints, like baggage searches and airport body scans, in the shifting definition of what is normal — post-9/11 overreaction to some, and a response to real risks to others.

A petition drive among boaters has generated hundreds of signatures and scores of angry comments.

Boat clubs are mulling strategies, and the largest boating-industry group along the river, the Hudson Valley Marine Trades Association, recently wrote the Coast Guard commander in New York to protest “an incredible increase of recreational vessel boarding.”

Boaters say the stops have multiplied in large part because they are only minimally coordinated among roughly two dozen agencies that watch the river: federal authorities, state police from New York and New Jersey, county sheriffs’ departments and a host of other organizations, familiar and obscure, including the Border Patrol and the New York Naval Militia.

But Coast Guard and law enforcement officials say much of their watchfulness reflects a bigger concern: In addition to its quiet joys and natural splendor, the Hudson is home to some potentially rich targets for terrorists — including the Indian Point nuclear power plant, West Point and the Tappan Zee Bridge — and could become a pathway for attackers to reach New York City unnoticed.

Those officials say that, yes, boaters on the Hudson and on other waterways are far more likely to be stopped than they were in the past, but that is just one way in which life has changed.

“We get a lot of complaints, but maritime safety and security has taken on a whole new direction since 9/11 — we’re more proactive, we’re more vigilant,” said Lt. James Luciano, who oversees the Westchester County Police Department’s marine unit. “Before 9/11, you could access buildings more easily than you can today. Look at airport security.”

No one compiles figures for all the agencies patrolling the Hudson, so it is unclear how much enforcement has escalated. The Coast Guard says its boardings vary from year to year, and dropped to 300 last year, from 741 the previous year.

But the authorities say increased vigilance is needed, given that antiterrorism experts cite small boats as a particular threat — as evidenced in the deadly 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, that were begun from two inflatable speedboats. About 45,000 boats are registered in counties along the Hudson.

Lex Filipowski, a businessman and motivational speaker, said he had been furious about the situation since he was stopped four times in two days by four agencies.

“If they stopped cars on the roadways the way they stop boats on the river, there would be a revolution” he said.

As he launched his 25-foot-long boat, “Carpe Diem,” at the Pirate Canoe Club here, another boater, Frank Bergman, seemed as concerned with boating politics as with boating.

“We understand they have a job to do to keep the bridges safe and protect Indian Point, but it’s just overkill,” said Mr. Bergman, president of the Hudson River Boat and Yacht Club, which represents 36 boat clubs. “The question in my mind is, is it homeland security or boater safety or just harassment and justifying their jobs?”

Boaters, a sometimes cantankerous and self-regarding lot, have grumbled for years about the stops, which can involve being pulled over for a check of credentials and required safety gear like life vests, or a demand to board the boat for inspection.

The discontent began to escalate when Mr. Filipowski posted an angry statement and petition last June on the Web site of the magazine Boating on the Hudson. More than 250 people signed, many expressing grievances.

“I’m thinking about selling my boat, stopped all the time,” one wrote.

“We are not terrorists and criminals,” wrote another. “We are citizens who own and use boats.”

Marinas and boat sellers, their customers already buffeted by high gasoline prices, also raised alarms. “We are operating in tough economic times and cannot afford to lose customers who are discouraged by law enforcement operations,” Gabe Capobianchi, president of the marine trades association, wrote the Coast Guard last month.

It was not always this way. Before 9/11, some boaters complained of too little law enforcement. “Back then the Hudson felt like the Wild West,” said George Samalot, who has owned a sailboat repair business in West Haverstraw since 1985.

But since 9/11, security and enforcement have been transformed, aided by grants from the Department of Homeland Security that have underwritten more and better boats and manpower. Westchester County did not have a marine unit until 1999; now it has two high-tech surveillance boats that cost $250,000 and $400,000 and can patrol around the clock.

That can be a good thing. When Detectives Kenneth Hasko and C. J. Westbrook cruised from Tarrytown to Cortlandt one recent Friday, their one stop involved rescuing a couple in a new $40,000 boat with a dead battery, stuck on a sunken barge. The officers found the couple’s knowledge of marine safety somewhat lacking.

“You have your flares?” Detective Westbrook asked.

“What’s a flare?” the man replied.

They towed the couple in and made sure they got help. “They could have ended up with a new boat with a hole in the hull,” Detective Westbrook said. “And we’re the bad guys?”

Officials say that while they are sensitive to the complaints, there is no going back to the world before 9/11.

“Job No. 1 is keeping people safe,” said Charles Rowe, a Coast Guard spokesman. “Even the ones who are complaining.”

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Forsyth Georgia Municipal Court DUI Judge And Monroe County Chief Magistrate Jeff Davis Pleads Guilty To DUI For A Slap On The Wrist

June 11, 2011

MACON, GEORGIA — A Forsyth Municipal Court judge who heard DUI cases has pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge.

Judge Jeff Davis, who also is chief magistrate for Monroe County, entered his plea in Bibb County court Friday. He was sentenced to one day in jail, a year of probation, 40 hours of community service and an $800 fine.

Bibb County authorities arrested Davis early Saturday at a safety checkpoint in near the Monroe County line.

The next day, Davis resigned from his job with the Forsyth Municipal Court. He has not stepped down from his Monroe County job.

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Fired Veteran Orange County California Deputy Sheriff Allan Waters Shows Up Drunk For Sentencing On 12 Felonies

June 11, 2011

SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA – Sentencing was postponed Friday for a former Orange County Sheriff’s deputy on a drunk driving charge because he appeared to be drunk in court, officials say.

Allan James Waters, 37, of Laguna Niguel was taken into custody after a court bailiff said Waters’ smelled of alcohol.

Waters sentencing was postponed and his bail increased from $100,000 to $250,000.

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Waters pleaded guilty in April to 12 felonies, including driving under the influence and selling fake cocaine.

More charges could be filed against Waters because of Friday’s incident. An investigation is under way.

In addition to driving under the influence and two counts of selling fake drugs, the former deputy pleaded guilty to nine felonies for lying to eight doctors over a year to get prescription painkillers. Waters also pleaded guilty to a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury during a crash on March 1, 2010.

The 13-year deputy was fired from his job in June.

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Bandera County Texas Sheriff’s Office Issues Domestic Terror Warning Based On Their Imagination

June 11, 2011

BANDERA, TEXAS – The Bandera County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning Thursday to citizens about an anti-government movement known for acts of domestic terrorism.

The law enforcement agency said followers of The Sovereign Citizens Movement have been known to carry out violent acts, including killing law enforcement officers and other public servants.

The sheriff’s office told KSAT-12 News the warning was prompted by the recent shooting death of Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Kenneth Vann.

“We have domestic terrorism right at our doorstep,” said Capt. Charlie Hicks of the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office.

Hicks said while there’s no evidence Vann’s death had any links to the Sovereign Citizens, it’s the same type of crime followers are known for.

For example, in last May, a father and his teenage son opened fire on two police officers with an assault rifle during a routine traffic stop in West Memphis, Ark. News reports said the incident was sparked by the suspects’ refusal to present a valid driver’s license. The officers were killed in the shootout and the father and son died in a second shootout with officers a short time later.

“That’s our main concern. Citizen safety and police officer safety in this area,” Hicks said.

According to Hicks, followers of the anti-government, anarchist movement, share the belief that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution has tricked Americans into becoming citizens of the United States and has offered them privileges, such as driver’s licenses and other government benefits, which act as so-called hidden contracts through which Americans effectively have given up their sovereignty.

Hicks said followers are often very vocal about their beliefs.

“They’ve very serious in their beliefs, and very serious when they do go to violence,” Hicks said. “They’ll kill you in a New York minute.”

Hicks said while a training camp for similar anti-government groups was discovered in Kerr County in the past, there is no evidence any members are currently operating in Bandera County. But Hicks said residents should still be cautious.

“Don’t be getting into heated arguments with these people, because the potential for violence is there,” Hicks said.

The FBI considers the Sovereign Citizens Movement one of the nation’s top domestic terror threats. Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols was a follower.

Hicks said citizens are urged to report any suspicious activity to the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office or your nearest local law enforcement agency.

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TSA Admits “Bad Judgment” After Detroit TSA Agents Harassed Disabled Man With The Mental Capacity Of A 2 Year Old

June 11, 2011

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – A Detroit father said agents with the Transportation Security Administration singled out his special-needs son for a pat-down while the family was headed to Disney World, MyFoxDetroit.com reported, an incident that the TSA admitted was a “case of bad judgment.”

David Mandy said agents at Detroit Metro Airport took his son Drew, 29, and asked him about the padding underneath his pants, which turned out to be adult diapers. Drew, who is severely mentally disabled, had trouble understanding the agents’ orders because his family said he has the mental capacity of a 2-year-old.

When the father tried to intervene and explain Drew’s disability, he said the two agents said, “Please, sir, we know what we’re doing.”

The agents confiscated a six-inch plastic hammer, something Drew had carried with him for 20 years for comfort. Agents called it a security threat, his father said, adding that they tapped the wall with it and said, “See, it’s hard. It could be used as a weapon.”

The family was told they’d have to ship the hammer if they wanted to keep it, David Mandy said.
“I understand they’re trying to keep people safe,” Mandy said told MyFoxDetroit.com. “But come on, does he look like a terrorist?”

In a statement to FoxNews.com, the TSA said it’s reviewing the incident but early findings indicate this was an “isolated case of bad judgment.” The TSA reached out to the Mandy family to apologize and said the man’s toy hammer should have never been confiscated.

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Pelham New Hampshire Police Officer Sgt. Mike Pickles Attacked Unarmed Cow Using Taser Weapon

June 10, 2011

PELHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Pelham police say they were justified in using a Taser several times on a cow, despite a complaint from its owner.

Last Saturday, one of Wendy Bordeleau’s two cows got loose from her 30-acre farm.

About a dozen people were trying to coral 800-pound Houdini across busy Mammoth Road when police showed up with their tasers.

“They said ‘We’re going to tase her, we’re going to taser it,’ and the group was pleading with them. Everyone was kinda yelling, ‘Please don’t taser the cow, it’s only going to make it worse,” she told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

Houdini was zapped at least four times.

“It didn’t really affect the cow all that much. It kind of realized that something had hit it and that it was comparable to a bee sting.”

However, Bordeleau thought police went too far.

Sgt. Mike Pickles told WBZ he made the right decision.

“It blew through a wooden fence right next to me. That was the time a decision was made. I have to do something to try and control this animal,” he said.

“As a matter of public safety, that is a better option than just allowing things to happen and people get hurt.”

The cow made it home safely and, at last check, was eating grass.

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Department Of Justice In “Panic Mode” As Hearing Nears On Failed Anti-Gun Trafficking Program That Flooded Mexico With Assault Rifles

June 10, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Officials at the Department of Justice are in “panic mode,” according to multiple sources, as word spreads that congressional testimony next week will paint a bleak and humiliating picture of Operation Fast and Furious, the botched undercover operation that left a trail of blood from Mexico to Washington, D.C.

The operation was supposed to stem the flow of weapons from the U.S. to Mexico by allowing so-called straw buyers to purchase guns legally in the U.S. and later sell them in Mexico, usually to drug cartels.

Instead, ATF documents show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms knowingly and deliberately flooded Mexico with assault rifles. Their intent was to expose the entire smuggling organization, from top to bottom, but the operation spun out of control and supervisors refused pleas from field agents to stop it.

Only after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died did ATF Agent John Dodson blow the whistle and expose the scandal.

“What people don’t understand is how long we will be dealing with this,” Dodson told Fox News back in March. “Those guns are gone. You can’t just give the order and get them back. There is no telling how many crimes will be committed before we retrieve them.”

But now the casualties are coming in.

Mexican officials estimate 150 of their people have been shot by Fast and Furious guns. Police have recovered roughly 700 guns at crime scenes, 250 in the U.S. and the rest in Mexico, including five AK-47s found at a cartel warehouse in Juarez last month.

A high-powered sniper rifle was used to shoot down a Mexican military helicopter. Two other Romanian-made AK-47s were found in a shoot-out that left 11 dead in the state of Jalisco three weeks ago.

The guns were traced to the Lone Wolf Gun Store in Glendale, Ariz., and were sold only after the store employees were told to do so by the ATF.

It is illegal to buy a gun for anyone but yourself. However, ATF’s own documents show it allowed just 15 men to buy 1,725 guns, and 1,318 of those were after the purchasers officially became targets of investigation.

Arizona gun store owners say they were explicitly told by the ATF to sell the guns, sometimes 20, 30, even up to 40 in a single day to single person.

And those orders, from at least one ATF case agent, are on audio recording.

“We would say, ‘Do you (the ATF) want us to stop selling, is there something we should do here?'” Brad DeSayes, owner of J&G Gun Sales in Prescott, said. “And they would say, ‘No, no, no, keep selling – just tell us after the fact.'”

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, holds a hearing Wednesday into Operation Fast and Furious.

The hearing is billed as “Reckless Decisions, Tragic Outcomes,” and the following are among the details expected in testimony:

– The ATF allowed and encouraged five Arizona gun store owners to sell some 1,800 weapons to buyers known to them as gun smugglers.

– It installed cameras inside the gun stores to record purchases made by those smugglers.

– It hid GPS trackers inside gun stocks and watched the weapons go south on computer screens.

– It obtained surveillance video from parking lots and helicopters showing straw buyers transferring their guns from one car to another.

– It learned guns sold in Phoenix were recovered only when Mexico police requested “trace data,” which is obtained from their serial number.

The first witness in Wednesday’s hearing is Sen. Charles Grassley, who will describe what his investigative team learned from four months of interviews and thousands of documents. He will be followed by three members of Brian Terry’s family, three ATF agents and Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, who only months ago insisted the agency did not let guns go south to Mexico, a claim contradicted by field agents in Group 7, the actual agents who ran the operation in Phoenix.

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Murder Conviction Tossed After King County Washington Prosecutor James Konat’s Racist Comments Attacking Defense Witnesses

June 10, 2011

KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON – The state Supreme Court has thrown out a man’s murder conviction in a 2006 gang-related shooting in Pioneer Square, ruling that the prosecutor who tried the case resorted to “racist arguments” to attack defense witnesses.

The court, in an 8-1 ruling, found that James Konat, a veteran King County deputy prosecutor now trying a high-profile murder case, engaged in “prosecutorial misconduct” in questioning witnesses during the trial of Kevin L. Monday Jr., who was convicted in 2007 of first-degree murder and first-degree assault, and sentenced to 64 years in prison.

During the trial, Konat questioned witnesses, many of them black, about a purported street “code” that he claimed prevented some from talking to the police, according to the Supreme Court’s majority opinion written by Justice Tom Chambers. In questioning some witnesses, Konat made references to the “PO-leese,” the justices found.

During his closing argument to jurors, Konat also said that while witnesses denied the presence of such a code, “the code is black folk don’t testify against black folk. You don’t snitch to the police,” according to the Supreme Court decision.

Monday, 25, is black; Konat is white.

Monday appealed the conviction on a number of grounds, claiming that Konat “made a blatant and inappropriate appeal to racial prejudice and undermined the credibility of African-American witnesses based on their race,” according to the Supreme Court.

The state Court of Appeals agreed that Konat had appealed to racial prejudice during the trial, but upheld Monday’s conviction.

But the Supreme Court, in Thursday’s ruling, cited Konat’s comments as grounds for the conviction to be overturned, saying that they cast doubt on the credibility of the witnesses based on their race. One justice called the deputy prosecutor’s comments “repugnant.”

“Defendants are among the people the prosecutor represents. The prosecutor owes a duty to defendants to see that their rights to a constitutionally fair trial are not violated,” Chambers wrote.

“The State repeatedly invoked an alleged African American, anti-snitch code to discount the credibility of his own witnesses … it is deeply troubling that an experienced prosecutor who, by his own account, had been a prosecutor for 18 years would resort to such tactics,” the ruling said.

The justices contend that the only reason that Konat used the pronunciation “PO-leese” was to “subtly, and likely deliberately, call to the jury’s attention that the witness was African American.”

Justice James M. Johnson, the lone dissenter, said that even if Konat’s comments “arguably tainted the jury’s impressions,” the murder case still was proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Seattle police said that Monday fired at least 10 shots at Francisco Roche Green near the corner of Yesler Way and Occidental Avenue South in the early hours of April 22, 2006. Monday was also accused of firing gunshots at a vehicle and wounding the driver and a passenger. The incident was caught on video by a street musician who was in the area when shots were fired.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said he spoke with Konat after the trial and told him his comments were unacceptable. In response, all deputy prosecutors have been through retraining about potential prosecutorial misconduct, Satterberg said on Thursday.

Konat, 53, could not be reached Thursday to comment.

He is lead prosecutor in the trial of Isaiah Kalebu, who is charged with aggravated murder in the slaying of Teresa Butz and the rape of her partner in their South Park home in July 2009.

A spokesman for Satterberg’s office said Konat was not formally disciplined.

Konat’s words “do not represent the view of this office. It was regrettable,” Satterberg said. He called Konat’s method of explaining the so-called “code” in which witnesses don’t talk to prosecutors or police “inartful and offensive.”

But in response to Monday’s appeal in 2008, the Prosecutor’s Office maintained that Konat hadn’t done anything wrong.

“The prosecutor’s comment in final argument that ‘Black folk don’t testify against black folk’ was nothing more than a summary of evidence in the case, consistent with the realities of the lack of cooperation and hostility by most of the transactional witnesses who testified. This was not prosecutorial misconduct,” according to the filing written by now-retired Senior Deputy Prosecutor Lee Yates.

Satterberg said Monday will be retried, but a different deputy prosecutor will be assigned to the case.

Sarah Dunne, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Western Washington, which filed a brief in support of Monday’s appeal, said Konat’s “behavior undermined the right to a fair trial.”

Defense attorney Nancy Collins, who represented Monday in his appeals, said in an email Thursday that it’s “unfortunate that any prosecutor needed to be reminded of these basic principles in our justice system.”

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Chicago State’s Attorney Lets Bad Cops Slide, Prosecutes Citizens/Victims Who Record Them

June 9, 2011

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – When Chicago police answered a domestic disturbance call at the home of Tiawanda Moore and her boyfriend in July 2010, the officers separated the couple to question them individually. Moore was interviewed privately in her bedroom. According to Moore, the officer who questioned her then came on to her, groped her breast and slipped her his home phone number.

Robert Johnson, Moore’s attorney, says that when Moore and her boyfriend attempted to report the incident to internal affairs officials at the Chicago Police Department, the couple wasn’t greeted warmly. “They discouraged her from filing a report,” Johnson says. “They gave her the runaround, scared her, and tried to intimidate her from reporting this officer — from making sure he couldn’t go on to do this to other women.”

Ten months later, Chicago PD is still investigating the incident. Moore, on the other hand, was arrested the very same afternoon.

Her crime? At some point in her conversations with internal affairs investigators, Moore grew frustrated with their attempts to intimidate her. So she began to surreptitiously record the interactions on her Blackberry. In Illinois, it is illegal to record people without their consent, even (and as it turns out, especially) on-duty police officers.

“This is someone who is already scared from being harassed by an officer in uniform,” said Johnson. “If the police won’t even take her complaint, how else is a victim of police abuse supposed to protect herself?”

Moore’s case has inspired outrage from anti-domestic abuse groups. “We just had two Chicago police officers indicted for sexual assault, there have been several other cases of misconduct against women,” says Melissa Spatz of the Chicago Task Force on Violence Against Girls & Young Women. “And now you have Moore, who was trying to report this guy, and she gets arrested. The message here is that victims of unwanted sexual advances by police officers have no recourse — that the police can act with impunity.”

If the Chicago cops recently indicted for sexual assault are convicted, they’ll face four to 15 years in prison. That’s the same sentence Tiawanda Moore is facing for trying to document her frustrations while reporting her own alleged sexual assault: Recording an on-duty police officer in Illinois is a Class 1 felony, the same class of crimes as rape.

ILLINOIS’ PROBLEM WITH PRIVACY

Last summer the U.S. media took note of several stories about citizens arrested for photographing or recording on-duty police officers. National coverage of these incidents has since died down, but the arrests haven’t stopped.

Some of these arrests have come under decades-old wiretapping laws that never anticipated the use of cellphones equipped with cameras and audio recording applications. Others have come under vaguer catch-all charges like refusing to obey a lawful order, disorderly conduct, or interfering with a police officer. In both cases, the charges rarely stick, and in most cases, it’s the cops themselves who are violating the law.

The media have largely done a poor job reporting on what the law actually is in these states. Technically, so long as a person isn’t physically interfering with an on-duty police officer, it’s legal to record the officer in every state but Massachusetts and Illinois. Arrests still happen in other states, but there’s little legal justification for them, and the charges are usually dropped, or never filed at all.

But Illinois is the one state where the law clearly forbids citizens from recording of on-duty cops. And so it seems likely that if the Supreme Court or a federal appeals court does eventually decide if pointing a camera at a cop is protected by the First Amendment (so far, they haven’t), the case will come from Illinois. (Courts in Massachusetts have generally held that secretly recording police is illegal, but recording them openly isn’t.)

Illinois’ wiretapping law wasn’t always this bad. Originally, the statute included a provision found in most other state wiretapping laws stating that, in order for someone to be prosecuted for recording a conversation, the offended party must have had a reasonable expectation that the conversation was private.

Watch: The Government’s War On Cameras

So far, every court in the country to have considered the issue has found that on-duty cops have no such expectation of privacy. This makes sense. Police not only work for the public, they’re also entrusted with enormous power: They can arrest citizens and detain them or kill them.

In 1986, the Illinois Supreme Court threw out the eavesdropping conviction of a man who had recorded two police officers from the back of a patrol car for just that reason. The court ruled that the officers had no expectation of privacy.

So in 1994 the Illinois state legislature removed the wiretap law’s privacy provision. It was an explicit effort to override the decision eight years earlier. Technically the amended law covers everyone — anyone whose voice is recorded without their permission, for any reason, could file a complaint and ask to press charges — but it’s used almost exclusively to protect police.

So far, HuffPost has yet to find anyone who has actually been convicted under the law. Instead, police arrest and charge someone they catch recording them, but the charges are dropped or reduced to misdemeanors before trial.

In 2004, for example, documentary filmmaker Patrick Johnson was arrested under the law while recording footage for a movie about relations between blacks and police in the Illinois cities of Champaign and Urbana. Johnson fought the charges with help from the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). But after the district attorney who was prosecuting him lost in the next election, the new prosecutor dismissed the charges.

THE STATE v. CITIZENS

An actual conviction under the eavesdropping law would likely bring a constitutional challenge, which could well lead to the law being overturned in court. It could also lead to the U.S. Supreme Court or the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit more broadly affirming a First Amendment right to record police, which of course would have ramifications outside of Illinois.

As long as no one is convicted, the law is unlikely to be challenged. That means police can continue to rely on it to harass and intimidate citizens who try to hold them accountable, or who want an independent record of what they believe to be police harassment.

Moore’s case may prove to be just the opportunity free speech advocates are looking for. But her case was continued again this week, despite the fact that she’s been asking for months to go to trial.

The person pursuing the charges against Moore is Anita Alvarez, the state’s attorney for Cook County, home to Chicago. (Alvarez’s office declined to comment for this report.)

It’s difficult to think of another big city in America where citizens would be more justified in wanting an objective account of an interaction with a police officer. At about the time Moore’s story hit the pages of The New York Times earlier this year, for example, former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for lying under oath about his role in the routine torture of hundreds of suspects in police interrogation rooms for more than a decade. Nearly everyone else involved in the tortures, including the police commanders and prosecutors who helped cover them up, couldn’t be prosecuted due to statutes of limitations.

Over the last few years, surveillance video has also exposed a number of police abuses in Chicago, including one episode in which an off-duty cop savagely beat a female bartender who had refused to continue serving him. He was sentenced to probation.

In 2008, the city made national headlines with another major scandal in which officers in the department’s Special Operations Unit — alleged to be made up of the most elite and trusted cops in Chicago — were convicted of a variety of crimes, including physical abuse and intimidation, home robberies, theft and planning a murder.

In a study published the same year, University of Chicago Law Professor Craig B. Futterman found 10,000 complaints filed against Chicago police officers between 2002 and 2004, more than any city in the country. When adjusted for population, that’s still about 40 percent above the national average. Even more troubling, of those 10,000 complaints, just 19 resulted in any significant disciplinary action. In 85 percent of complaints, the police department cleared the accused officer without even bothering to interview him.

Yet Alvarez feels it necessary to devote time and resources to prosecuting Chicagoans who, given the figures and anecdotes above, feel compelled to hit the record button when confronted by a city cop.

In addition to Moore’s, there are two other cases that may present an opportunity to challenge the Illinois law. One is that of Michael Allison.

This Robinson, Ill., man is facing four counts of violating the eavesdropping law for the recordings he made of police officers and a judge. Allison was suing the city to challenge a local zoning ordinance that prevented him from enjoying his hobby fixing up old cars: The municipal government was seizing his cars from his property and forcing him to pay to have them returned. Allison believed the local police were harassing him in retaliation for his lawsuit, so he began to record his conversations with them.

When Allison was eventually charged with violating the zoning ordinance, he asked for a court reporter to ensure there would be a record of his trial. He was told that misdemeanor charges didn’t entitle him to a court reporter. So Allison told court officials he’d be recording his trial with a digital recorder.

When Allison walked into the courtroom the day of his trial, the judge had him arrested for allegedly violating her right to privacy. Police then confiscated Allison’s digital recorder, where they also found the recordings he’d made of his conversations with cops.

Allison has no prior criminal record. If convicted, he faces up to 75 years in prison.

In a hearing last week, Allison argued that the Illinois eavesdropping case was a violation of the First Amendment. The judge ordered a continuance so that the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan can prepare a response. (Madigan’s office did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.)

The other case to challenge the wiretap law is that of Christopher Drew, an artist who was arrested in December 2009 for selling art without a permit on the streets of Chicago. Drew recorded his arrest, and now faces four to 15 years for documenting the incident.

In a hearing last December, Cook County Assistant State Attorney Jeff Allen invoked homeland security, arguing that Drew’s recording could have picked up police discussing anti-terrorism tactics. Drew’s case was suspended after he was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year.

Both Allison and Drew say they won’t accept the sort of plea bargain Illinois prosecutors have offered in the past. Both say they’re willing to risk prison time to get the law overturned.

THE IMPORTANCE OF TRANSPARENCY

The ACLU of Illinois is also challenging the law. But in January, U.S. District Court Judge Suzanne B. Conlon ruled against the organization. Conlon wrote that the First Amendment does not protect citizens who record the police. The ACLU has appealed and expects to participate in oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit sometime in the fall.

In a report released just this month, the United Nations noted the importance of Internet access and personal technology in facilitating the recent Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East. Technology has given citizens all over the world a remarkable and historic tool to bring transparency to the most brutal and oppressive governments.

But even as Americans have criticized those countries for attempting to prevent protesters from uploading photo, video, blog posts and Twitter accounts of government crackdowns, government officials in the U.S. are still arresting, threatening, intimidating and harassing Americans who attempt to document police abuse in America. (See this example over Memorial Day in Miami.)

No, America isn’t Egypt or Yemen or Iran. But while the scale of the suppression is different, the premise is the same: When a citizen and a police officer have a confrontation, the police officer’s narrative has always given deference by prosecutors, judges and juries — in the same way governments in more oppressive parts of the world have the power to project their own version of events as truth.

Citizens in America and across the globe now have the ability to preserve and present a more objective narrative. This is a positive thing — for democracy, for good government and for a fairer criminal justice system. U.S. courts and legislatures need to make it abundantly, unambiguously clear that not only do citizens have the right to record on-duty police officers, but that cops and prosecutors who violate that right will be held accountable.

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US Senate Targeting Lip-Sync YouTube Videos

June 9, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Record labels are clamoring for a chance to have their artist lip-synch alongside 16-year-old YouTube sensation Keenan Cahill in, of all places, his bedroom.

But could a proposed amendment to the federal copyright infringement law potentially land Cahill, or any person lip-synching copyrighted material in a YouTube video, behind bars?

Senate Bill 978, a bipartisan measure introduced last month by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.), is backed by supporters who say it closes glaring loopholes in current copyright infringement law created by the realities of the digital age.

“As technology rapidly evolves, our laws must be updated to protect creativity and innovation,” said a statement by Cornyn.

But critics say a section of the bill provides for steep penalties — up to five years in prison — for “publicly performing” copyrighted material and embedding the video to sites like YouTube.

“It seems like (the bill) is attacking the core of the Internet itself, which is to promote communication amongst people all over the world,” said Hemanshu “Hemu” Nigam, a former White House counsel for online protection and the founder of the online safety advisory firm SSP Blue.

Cahill’s manager, David Graham, said record labels have contacted the teen in an effort to use the material in his YouTube videos. But what about the average person who lip-synchs and plays a copyrighted song in the background of their YouTube video who doesn’t receive permission from a record label?

Nigam said something as simple as a school recital could expose students and anyone else who participated in the potential copyright violation to prosecution.

“The questions you’re going to have to ask are do you prosecute the school for hosting the event? The parent for videotaping it and posting it on their Facebook? Or the child for actually using the Lady Gaga song and performing it in front of all her loved ones?”

But the bill’s supporters say that’s not going to happen.

The new law will not target “individuals or families streaming movies at home,” said a statement from Klobuchar. She said the bill will instead target “criminals that are intentionally streaming thousands of dollars in stolen digital content and profiting from it.”

Mary LaFrance, a copyright law professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, believes the bill primarily focuses on those who intend to make money from streaming copyrighted material on the Internet. “You have to have the purpose of commercial advantage or financial gain,” she said.

But Nigam thinks lawmakers will face a “nightmare” when it comes to actually executing the new measure.

“Because this is a federal law, what it’s saying is that you can go to federal prison for up to five years,” said Nigam. “That…is a really big deal.”

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TSA Thugs Harassed Special Needs Man At Detroit Airport

June 9, 2011

ROMULUS, MICHIGAN – The Mandy family says they were on their way to the happiest place on earth (Disney), but had to go through hell to get there.

“I realize they’re trying to keep people safe, but come on, does he look like a terrorist?” said Dr. David Mandy.

The family was going through security when two TSA agents singled Drew Mandy out for a special pat down. Drew is severely mentally disabled. He’s 29, but his parents said he has the mental capacity of a two-year-old, which made the experience that followed at metro Detroit’s McNamera Terminal that much harder to deal with.

“You have got to be kidding me. I honestly felt that those two agents did not know what they were doing,” Mandy told us.

Dr. Mandy claimed they asked Drew to place his feet on the yellow shoe line, something he didn’t understand. They proceeded to pat his pants down, questioning the padding which was his adult diapers. When the agents asked Drew to take his hand and rub the front and back of his pants so they could swab it for explosives, his dad stepped in and tried to explain that Drew was mentally challenged.

“They said, ‘Please, sir, we know what we’re doing,'” Mandy said.

The TSA agents saw Drew holding a six-inch plastic hammer.

“My son carries his ball and his hammer for security. He goes everywhere with (them),” said Mandy.

The TSA it seems saw the toy as a weapon.

“He took the hammer and he tapped the wall. ‘See, it’s hard. It could be used as a weapon,'” Mandy explained. “So, Drew’s also holding the ball, and I said, ‘Well, how about the ball?’ He (said), ‘Oh, he can keep that.”

Dr. Mandy was told he would need to have the toy shipped if he wanted to keep it, a process which caused them to almost miss their plane, so he pitched it.

“It just killed me to have to throw it away because he’s been carrying this like for 20 years,” Mandy said.

Disgusted, he wrote TSA a letter. A response wasn’t far behind.

“Very polite. Very apologetic. He was embarrassed. He (said) we have to review how we deal with special needs individuals. Obviously, he (said), we’re doing a terrible job,” Mandy told us. “It made me feel that there is still hope, that there is still justice and that there’s still somebody who listens to people’s problems (in) the federal government.

That’s because federal security told him there are 800 TSA agents at Metro Airport and they are all going to be retrained based on Drew’s case.

We also spoke to a federal security director who said this incident is still under investigation, but as far as they can tell right now, better judgment was needed.

The TSA took away one toy hammer, but they were still able to take another toy hammer on board the airplane. How did that happen?

Drew’s mother, always prepared, had another one in her backpack and that already passed through security with no problem.

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Alabama Now Has Toughest Immigration Law

June 9, 2011

ALABAMA – Republican Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday signed into law a crackdown on illegal immigration in Alabama that both supporters and critics consider the toughest in the nation.

Under the new measure, police must detain someone they suspect of being in the country illegally if the person cannot produce proper documentation when stopped for any reason.

It also will be a crime to knowingly transport or harbor someone who is in the country illegally. The law imposes penalties on businesses that knowingly employ someone without legal resident status. A company’s business license could be suspended or revoked.

The law requires Alabama businesses to use a database called E-Verify to confirm the immigration status of new employees.

“We have a real problem with illegal immigration in this country,” Bentley said after signing the law. “I campaigned for the toughest immigration laws and I’m proud of the Legislature for working tirelessly to create the strongest immigration bill in the country.”

Alabama is the latest state to follow the lead of a controversial measure passed in Arizona last year. The courts blocked implementation of a provision allowing Arizona police to check the immigration status of people there.

But the U.S. Supreme Court recently endorsed a separate Arizona law requiring employers to use E-Verify. The court also ruled that Arizona could suspend or revoke business licenses of those companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Alabama’s law is unique in requiring public schools to determine, by review of birth certificates or sworn affidavits, the legal residency status of students.

“We fear that it will, in effect, ban the student through fear and harassment,” said Shay Farley, legal director of Alabama Appleseed, a nonprofit policy and legal advocacy organization.

Farley said there is also concern about the increased financial burden on schools to collect the information.

“We definitely believe this is the nation’s toughest immigration law,” said Jared Shepherd, a law fellow with the Alabama American Civil Liberties Union.

The Alabama bill passed the state House of Representatives and Senate by large margins before landing on Bentley’s desk. Republicans took over majority control of both chambers of the Alabama legislature last year for the first time in 136 years.

Civil rights and immigrant rights groups mounted a campaign against the measure, urging voters to contact the governor and ask him to veto the bill.

Some pointed to concerns in Georgia, where farmers have complained that tough new curbs on immigration are creating a shortage of seasonal workers before they even go into effect.

But Gene Armstrong, mayor of Allgood, Alabama, a small community where the Hispanic population has grown to almost 50 percent, is not worried.

“We managed in the past without illegal immigrants to pick the tomatoes here, and I haven’t heard anyone say that if we sent them all home nobody would be left to do that work,” Armstrong said.

“When you have 9 percent unemployment, I think that some people who might not have wanted those jobs previously might reconsider.”

Several states have enacted immigration restrictions, even though the issue is supposed to be the responsibility of the federal government.

Immigration rights advocates have sued Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia to block the measures and are vowing to mount a similar legal challenge against Alabama.

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Florida Man Will Serve No Jail Time After Murdering His Father – Used “Red Bull” Defense To Claim Temporary Insanity

June 9, 2011

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA – A man who admits he killed his own father will see no jail time after a judge found him not guilty by reason of insanity.

An expert has said drinking Red Bull was one of the things that led to the crime.

Stephen Coffeen admits he smothered his father Robert with a couch cushion two years ago. He originally claimed was he was defending himself.

His defense Wednesday was temporary insanity.

And Wednesday, Judge Nancy Moate Ley accepted a deal worked out between his lawyers and the State Attorney’s Office. Under the deal, in six months, Stephen Coffeen could go free.

“The defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity due to mental illness,” Judge Ley said, after explaining she had no choice but to send him to a mental hospital instead of putting him on trial.

Instead of going before a jury, Coffeen will be sent to an institution in the Panhandle.

He’ll be evaluated there, and six months from now if he’s found to be mentally healthy, he could be released.

The judge said she had never seen it before.

Four doctors — two hired by prosecutors, two by the defense — all agreed: Stephen Coffeen lost touch with reality and was legally insane when he suffocated his elderly father.

The experts and all of the attorneys involved came to the conclusion that at the time, Coffeen could not tell right from wrong. And under the law, that means he can’t be punished for a crime.

Stephen’s brother Thomas found their father’s body. He says Stephen knew just what he was doing. Thomas pushed for a murder trial.

“This is not justice. Justice has not been done today,” Thomas said, standing outside the Pinellas County Courthouse with a despondent look on his face as his wife sobbed nearby.

The judge said she considered every point he brought up, but after reading the doctors’ private medical reports, she said the insanity case is remarkably clear-cut.

“I have spent many many hours on this case. Reviewing it, thinking about it, considering it, looking at case law. And I have determined that I have no choice, because it is also my duty to follow the law,” Ley said.

Thomas says his brother Stephen was jealous of his success — and that led Stephen to plan the murder of their father, 83-year old Robert Coffeen, in St. Petersburg in 2009.

Thomas says he’s worried if Stephen is released, Stephen will come after him and his family.

Stephen Coffeen will now head to Florida State Hospital, a mental hospital in Chattahoochee, northwest of Tallahassee and near the Georgia state line.

The doctors’ reports in the case are medical records and can only be released with Stephen Coffeen’s consent.

His attorneys say the killing was a momentary snap and that their client is already mentally well, which is a sign they may ask the judge to release him at his next hearing in December.

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Veteran Alaska State Trooper Eric Burroughs Charged With DUI After Drunken Wreck In State Vehicle – Almost 2 MONTHS After Crash

June 8, 2011

ALASKA – An Alaska state trooper has been charged with drunken driving nearly two months after police say he drove a state-owned SUV into two vehicles in Eagle River, court records show.

The veteran trooper investigator, Eric Burroughs, had a blood alcohol level more than five times the legal limit to drive, even hours after the collisions, according to charges filed in court this month.

Burroughs, 44, fled from one of the accidents, leaving his front license plate at the scene, charges say.

Burroughs showed signs of impairment the night of April 8, when Anchorage police found him slumped inside the unmarked, blue Ford Explorer issued to him by troopers.

A trooper for 13 years, Burroughs is now charged with drunken driving and failing to report a collision, both misdemeanors. He has not worked since the incident and remains on paid administrative leave, collecting $3,649.50 in pay every two weeks, troopers said.

Col. Keith Mallard, the head of the troopers, said in May that the agency would conduct an internal investigation into the incident. A trooper spokeswoman declined to say Tuesday whether that investigation is under way.

Police spokeswoman Anita Shell refused to talk in detail about the case. She referred questions to the Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals. Calls to the OSPA’s director went unanswered Tuesday.

According to charges filed in court June 2, the trouble began when Burroughs was driving the Explorer on Driftwood Bay Drive and struck a Chevrolet pickup.

Police spotted tire marks that indicated Burroughs hit the accelerator after colliding with the Chevy, the charges say.

While police found a license plate from the Explorer at the site of the accident, it’s unclear what first led officers to Burroughs’ house two blocks away. The unmarked vehicle was registered under a fake name, a common practice, said Mallard, the trooper commander, in May.

When police found Burroughs just before 7 p.m. outside his home, he was still in the driver’s seat of the Explorer with his chin on his chest, charges say. The SUV had just slammed into Burroughs’ own Toyota 4Runner, according to a police report.

The Explorer’s front license plate was missing, the charges say.

The court papers say Burroughs’ eyes were closed. He only responded to police when they shook him. He was unable to perform field sobriety tests, according to the charging document.

An ambulance drove Burroughs to a hospital. After police received a search warrant for his blood, a technician drew two vials for testing at about 10:50 p.m., the charges say.

A later analysis showed more than 0.40 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, according to the court documents. The legal limit to drive is 0.08.

“By anybody’s standards, that’s a lot of alcohol on board,” said Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew, who spoke briefly about the case Tuesday.

Asked why the charges came eight weeks after police say they first found Burroughs intoxicated inside the trooper vehicle, Mew said the case hinged on lab results.

“The nature of the evidence, plus the follow-up work necessary, plus (a) change of command (at OSPA) I think all added up to making this case take a little bit longer to get through the system,” he said.

Burroughs was on the job the day of the collisions but off duty when the crashes occurred, Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety Robert Gorder said in May.

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$105 Million Franklin County Ohio Courthouse Features Glass Stairs That Allow Those Underneath To Look Up Women’s Dresses

June 8, 2011

FRANKLIN COUNTY, OHIO – The central stairs of the new Franklin County Common Pleas Courthouse seem almost to float up from the ground floor, suspended in a foyer of light and glass.

However, the aesthetic appeal of the stairway has an unfortunate side-effect in a building where judges sentence sex offenders: People can see up a woman’s skirt from the busy walkway under the stairs.

“If you wear dresses, you’re on notice that you might want to take the elevator, as I will be doing,” said Judge Julie M. Lynch, who wears dresses exclusively to work.

Although it’s probably best not to advertise the issue for fear of abuse, people partial to skirts, dresses and kilts have a right to know about the risk, Lynch said.

Openness and light are central design components of the $105 million building, which opened Monday. The seven-story structure is covered with glass.

The long staircase extends from the first floor to the second. A series of thin concrete panels form the steps. The vertical gaps between the steps are covered by glass panels.

The county is aware of the issue and has discussed whether anything needs to be done, said Jim Goodenow, director of public facilities management.

For now, security guards have been told to keep an eye out for people craning their necks. If the design becomes a problem, the county can adjust the glass to make it less transparent, but officials are hoping not to disrupt the artistic integrity of the building.

Stairs using glass have become increasingly popular, partly because of the elaborate glass staircases that are the hallmark of Apple’s flagship stores, said Jim Zorn, vice president of Stutzki Engineering, which has done consulting for Apple.

“What happened was all these very cool, trendy stores like Apple got glass staircases,” Zorn said. “People saw those and went, ‘That’s way cool. I’ve got to have one of those.'”

But there was a learning curve. When glass stairs and walkways first came out, Zorn said, he remembers looking up at an elevated walkway at an airport and wondering how the designers had missed the fact that skirts were going to be a problem.

Most engineers know enough to use some well-placed opaque glass and careful design to avoid the problem, he said.

During the renovation of Ohio State University’s main library, there was talk of a transparent staircase, but ultimately the university decided to go with translucent glass, spokesman Larry Allen said.

The design team had raised concerns about “the modesty issue” as well as the fear some people have of standing on clear glass. Allen said opaque glass still accomplished what they wanted.

Glass stairs create a feeling of light and openness. Some people like the illusion of floating in the air, and others appreciate having something a little different from the same old stairwell.

County officials just hope people are mature and appreciate the courthouse’s new stairs for the right reasons.

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Los Angeles California Police Oversight Board Wants To Ditch City’s Useless Red Light Cameras

June 8, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA — The civilian board that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department has put the brakes on the city’s red-light traffic camera program.

The Police Commission agreed Tuesday to reject a proposal from police officials to award a new contract to the company that has been operating the cameras.

An audit last year questioned the effectiveness of the program, finding that a majority of citations have gone uncollected. Commissioner Alan Skobin says that since the courts don’t pursue drivers who refuse to pay the tickets, the camera program lacks enforcement power.

The board’s decision could shut down the cameras in days unless the City Council decides to strip the commission of its authority on the issue and decide whether to continue the program.

The problems for red light cameras go back to 2009 when CBS2/KCAL9 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein found there is no evidence the cameras reduced accidents, deaths or injuries at the intersections where they were placed and in fact, found those numbers actually increased at some intersections.

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Federal SWAT Team Invades Home And Assaults Man After His Estranged Wife Defaulted On Student Loans

June 8, 2011

STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA – Kenneth Wright does not have a criminal record and he had no reason to believe a S.W.A.T team would be breaking down his door at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

“I look out of my window and I see 15 police officers,” Wright said.

Wright came downstairs in his boxer shorts as a S.W.A.T team barged through his front door. Wright said an officer grabbed him by the neck and led him outside on his front lawn.

“He had his knee on my back and I had no idea why they were there,” Wright said.

According to Wright, officers also woke his three young children ages 3, 7, and 11 and put them in a Stockton police patrol car with him. Officers then searched his house.

As it turned out, the person law enforcement was looking for was not there – Wright’s estranged wife.

“They put me in handcuffs in that hot patrol car for six hours, traumatizing my kids,” Wright said.

Wright said he later went to the mayor and Stockton Police Department, but the City of Stockton had nothing to do with Wright’s search warrant.

The U.S. Department of Education issued the search and called in the S.W.A.T for his wife’s defaulted student loans.

“They busted down my door for this,” Wright said. “It wasn’t even me.”

According to the Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General, the case can’t be discussed publicly until it is closed, but a spokesperson did confirm that the department did issue the search warrant at Wright’s home.

The Office of the Inspector General has a law enforcement branch of federal agents that carry out search warrants and investigations.

Stockton Police Department said it was asked by federal agents to provide one officer and one patrol car just for a police presence when carrying out the search warrant.

Stockton police did not participate in breaking Wright’s door, handcuffing him, or searching his home.

“All I want is an apology for me and my kids and for them to get me a new door,” Wright said.

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US Immigration Officials Put 2000 Elderly Cruise Ship Passengers Through 7 Hours Of Hell In Revenge Move – Coming To US “More Like Arriving At Guantanamo Bay”

June 7, 2011

It was billed as a chance to taste the “glitz and glamour” of Hollywood or enjoy VIP treatment in some of the most exclusive shopping areas in the world.

But when a group of 2,000 elderly British cruise ship passengers docked at Los Angeles for a short stop-off during a five-star cruise around America it was, in the words of one of them, more like arriving at Guantanamo Bay.

During their £10,000, two-and-a-half month “Alaska Adventure” tour from the Arctic to the Caribbean, the passengers on the luxury P&O liner Arcadia had become more than accustomed to passing US immigration with little formality.

By the time they docked at Los Angeles on May 26, for a one-day visit it was their 10th stop on US soil.
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But when a handful of them questioned whether the lengthy security checks at the port were strictly necessary for a group of largely elderly travellers officials were not amused.

Although they had already been given advance clearance for multiple entries to the country during their trip, all 2,000 passengers were made to go through full security checks in a process which took seven hours to complete.

The fingerprints of both hands were taken as well as retina scans and a detailed check of the passport as well as questioning as to their background.

Passengers claim that the extra checks were carried out in “revenge” for what had been a minor spat over allegedly overzealous security.

They complain that they were “herded like animals” and made to stand for hours in temperatures up to 80F with no food or water or access to lavatories.

Some are said to have passed out in the heat while others were left confused and bewildered.

When one lady asked in desperation whether she could use a bathroom, one immigration official is said to have replied: “Do it over the side, we won’t mind.”

To compound the situation, the officials’ computer broke down and further delays resulted.

The immigration delays forced P&O to extend the stay in LA by a day forcing it to cancel a later stop-off at Roatan, Honduras, scheduled for this week.

Setting off from Southampton on April 12, the cruise has taken in stops in Europe, the Caribbean, Central America, crossing the Panama Canal to travel up the west coast of the United States to Alaska.

They were en route back to the canal before stops in Florida and New York when the ship stopped at LA last week and the immigration problems ensued

With a total of 15 stops scheduled at US ports during the 72-night cruise, the passengers had all completed standard US immigration (ESTA) forms designed for multiple-entry trips.

“A couple of passengers got a bit stroppy about having to go through all the rigmarole again and these petulant officials decided to take revenge,” said John Randall, 60, a retired dentist from Wigan, who bought the cruise as a retirement gift to his wife.

“There were about 2,000 people on the quayside with only eight immigration people.

“They were just doing basic checks to begin with but after the argument we had to do full finger prints on left and right hands and all the biometric stuff.

“Then their computer system broke down but no one was bothered about helping us.

“A couple of people struggled to control their bladders and someone said they’d suffered a prolapsed disc.”

He emphasized that he did not blame the liner for difficulties, but in a letter to the captain he vented his feelings about the immigration procedures adding: “We are holiday makers, here to try and enjoy ourselves – we are not potential inmates of Guantalamo Bay, and should not be treated as such.”

A spokeswoman for the company insisted that passengers were kept on the vessel to prevent them queuing for more than about an hour.

She added: “The delay in immigration procedures was largely to blame on issues with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) computer systems, not aided by the verbal approach that a minority of our passengers, clearly frustrated by this delay, took with the local immigration officers.

“The US has a record for the most stringent and thorough security and entry requirements in the world, and they felt the need to enhance their security checks further, which they have the power to do.”

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New London Connecticut Pissed Away $11 Million On Fountain, Shuts It Down After People Pissed In It

June 7, 2011

NEW LONDON, CONNECTICUT – The city turned off the water at the new whale tail fountain over the weekend after someone reportedly defecated in the water.

“People are using the tail as a latrine,” Evelyn Louziotis said. “It’s an $11 million bathroom.”

“It’s sad,” City Councilor Michael Buscetto III said during Monday’s City Council meeting. “It’s two steps forward and three steps backward. There are people in the city who don’t care, and they need to be dealt with.”

Buscetto said since water started flowing in the whale fountain last month, police and fire officials have been called for people urinating, defecating and washing themselves off in the fountain water. He said some people who have cut themselves have also used the fountain to rinse off blood.

“I’m concerned with the sanitary aspect of the water,” Buscetto said, adding that there needs to be more supervision at the Parade. He said city officials know who is abusing the fountain and the Parade area.

“Let’s call them frequent flyers,” he said, referring to a group of people who routinely hang out on the benches on the Parade.

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Groton Connecticut Police Officer Kills Himself In Police Station

June 6, 2011

GROTON, CONNECTICUT – A police officer who was found dead inside the Groton City Police Department Monday morning killed himself, officials said.

The officer, whose name was not released, was found at the department at 295 Meridian St. around 8:30 a.m. by a fellow officer, according to a release from Chief Bruno L. Giulini.

The officer killed himself, said State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance.

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Headed For Connecticut State Prison: Former Bergin Deputy Prison Warden Neal Kearney Pleads Guilty After Sex With Prisoner

June 6, 2011

VERNON, CONNECTICUT – A former deputy prison warden has pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault for having sex with a prisoner.

Neal Kearney, 50, of Bloomfield, pleaded guilty Wednesday, the day jury selection was to begin for his trial in Superior Court in Rockville.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Kearney will serve 30 months in prison and six years of special parole, and will be on the state sex offender registry for 10 years.

Kearney, who also was a cheerleading coach at the University of Connecticut, had turned down a plea offer from prosecutor Elizabeth Leaming in February.

The prisoner involved told state police that he met Kearney in 1996 or 1997, when he was at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield and Kearney was a counselor.

According to the warrant for Kearney’s arrest, the two engaged in sex in Kearney’s office at the Bergin Correctional Institution in Mansfield, where Kearney had been appointed deputy warden. Kearney told the prisoner that he had the man transferred to Bergin, according to the warrant.

The two also had sex when the man was out of prison, at Kearney’s condo and at the Erotic Zone store in Hartford, the warrant says. The two had contact for several years.

The prisoner disclosed the abuse by Kearney to his probation officer, who notified correction authorities and state police.

The prisoner also had proof. He had saved some of Kearny’s semen in a rubber glove that he hid in a mop closet at Bergin. Authorities recovered the glove from the closet, which was a short distance from Kearney’s office.

“I felt like I could not tell him ‘no’ because he had such power over me and he would keep me in prison if I did not do it,” the prisoner told state police.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 13.

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East Haven Connecticut Ditches Its Only Police Dog Amid Budget Cuts

June 6, 2011

EAST HAVEN, CONNECTICUT – The East Haven Police Department is losing its one police dog to budget cuts.

Sgt. John Miller, the police union president, tells the New Haven Register that acting Chief Gaetano Nappi decided to retire the 5-year-old German shepherd named Paro after the town council cut the department’s budget.

Paro has been working with Officer Dave Cari, who was informed by letter Thursday that the K-9 program was being eliminated and that he could choose to have Paro retire as his pet.

Nappi has declined to comment on the decision.

Miller says it would cost about $3,500 a year to keep Paro in service.

Cari has been on disability since Dec. 30, when he broke three ribs, but is preparing to return to active duty.

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Appeals Court Upholds $25,000 Compensation To Elderly Man After Brutal “Attitude Adjustment” Beating By Hornbeck Louisiana Police Officers Kenneth Hatchett, Jr. And Andy Mitchell

June 6, 2011

Police in Louisiana slammed a 67-year-old man into the ground, arresting him over a questionable traffic violation. The state court of appeals ruled May 11 that Calvin D. Miller’s injuries were only worth $25,000 in compensation. Miller had been driving his big rig logging truck home to Florien on US Highway 171 at 5:30pm on July 13, 2007. As he passed through the Village of Hornbeck, Officers Kenneth Hatchett, Jr., and Andy Mitchell, 19, pulled him over because he began speeding up “about 100 feet” before the limit changed from 45 to 55 MPH. Having driven the road for the past forty-seven years, Miller was quite familiar with the speed limit. He insisted he was not speeding.

“I can see right now you’re going to need an attitude adjustment,” Officer Hatchett said to the five foot, six inch tall elderly man.

Miller punched his own fist, then turned his back on the officers and began walking away. They threw him to the ground, deliberately slamming his head into the concrete so he could be handcuffed tightly. After Miller’s wife bailed him out, Miller went to Byrd Regional Hospital where physicians documented the gash on Miller’s forehead, the swelling and bruises and the injury to his wrist and arms. His missed two weeks of work after the incident.

“You don’t turn your back on a cop,” Officer Hatchett explained.

Both officers denied knowing how Miller’s head came into contact with the concrete road shoulder. Eleventh Judicial District Court Judge Stephen Bruce Beasley did not find their testimony credible.

“Officers Hatchett and Mitchell had the considerable advantage of youth, height, weight and weaponry over Miller,” Beasley ruled. “There was no testimony that Miller, at any time during the altercation, brandished or was perceived to possess a weapon. Although Miller was attempting to leave the scene, the stop did not require taking him into custody.”

Beasley found the officers entirely at fault for Miller’s injuries and awarded him $25,000 in damages. The officers appealed the ruling, insisting they had full immunity from prosecution. A three-judge appellate panel rejected the claim and upheld the judgment in full, declining to adjust the damages up or down.

“The totality of the circumstances support the trial court’s finding that the two young armed officers faced little or no risks from Miller for his crime of ‘speeding’ (assuming it to be true) shortly before he actually reached the fifty-five-mile-per-hour sign,” Judge Shannon J. Gremillion wrote for the appeals court. “There is no error in the finding that the force used was excessive and not motivated by officer safety, but to adjust Miller’s attitude.”

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Drunk Houston Texas Police Officer “Under Investigation” After Chasing Teen And Breaking Into Home

June 6, 2011

KINGWOOD, TEXAS – An off-duty Houston police officer is the subject of an internal investigation after a family claims he broke into their home while chasing down a teenager. The family says it happened Friday in a neighborhood in Kingwood.

Witnesses on Quiet Glade Court tell us they watched that barefoot off-duty officer chase the boy down the street. Now the teen’s parents are demanding some answers, and action.

The glass on the front door is broken, and the people living here say you can still see an off-duty officer’s trail of blood around their home.

“He put his face to the window and then he punched a hole in the window so he can see through it and then he just opened the door,” said Matthew Pifer.

Pifer, 16, says it was last Friday when an off-duty Houston police officer who lives nearby chased him and his friend for allegedly no reason.

“He was intoxicated,” said Pifer. “I smelled a ton of alcohol off of him. He was drunk.”

The teen says that officer was barefoot and only wearing a bathing suit as the man barged through and broke his family’s front door. Pifer says the officer assaulted him and threatened his sister until a neighbor stepped in to help.

“He was a bit out of control,” recalled neighbor Beth Redmond. “He just kept saying that he was a police officer and he had the right.”

Redmond says he asked the officer what triggered the chase as she bandaged his bleeding hand.

“He said he smelled cigarette smoke,” she explained.

Pifer claims neither he nor his friends were smoking, just hanging out near a stop sign between his and the accused officer’s home.

“He thought that we were going to, like, vandalism his house, but we weren’t,” Pifer insisted. “We were going to someone else’s house and he thought we were going to his and he started chasing us.”

We’ve chosen not to identify the officer. But a spokesman from the Houston Police Department confirms internal affairs has launched an investigation.

Pifer’s parents say they not only want their door fixed, they say they want to press charges against the accused officer.

So far that accused officer has not returned our calls.

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Crazed Orlando Florida Police Arrest 3 People For Feeding The Homeless

June 5, 2011

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – Members of Orlando Food Not Bombs were arrested Wednesday when police said they violated a city ordinance by feeding the homeless in Lake Eola Park.

Jessica Cross, 24, Benjamin Markeson, 49, and Jonathan “Keith” McHenry, 54, were arrested at 6:10 p.m. on a charge of violating the ordinance restricting group feedings in public parks. McHenry is a co-founder of the international Food Not Bombs movement, which began in the early 1980s.

The group lost a court battle in April, clearing the way for the city to enforce the ordinance. It requires groups to obtain a permit and limits each group to two permits per year for each park within a 2-mile radius of City Hall.

Arrest papers state that Cross, Markeson and McHenry helped feed 40 people Wednesday night. The ordinance applies to feedings of more than 25 people.

“They intentionally violated the statute,” said Lt. Barbara Jones, an Orlando police spokeswoman.

Police waited until everyone was served to make the arrests, said Douglas Coleman, speaking for Orlando Food Not Bombs.

“They basically carted them off to jail for feeding hungry people,” said Coleman, who was not present. “For them to regulate a time and place for free speech and to share food, that is unacceptable.”

Orlando Food Not Bombs has been feeding the homeless breakfast on Mondays for several years and dinner on Wednesdays for five years.

Police had not enforced the ordinance while the court battle continued. The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta ruled that city rules regulating how often large groups of people can be fed in a park do not violate the Constitution.

The penalty for violating Orlando’s ordinance is 60 days in jail, a $500 fine or both.

Arrest documents state that Orlando Food Not Bombs received permits and fed more than 25 homeless people at Lake Eola Park on May 18 and 23. Coleman said the group rejected the permits.

On May 25, Orlando Food Not Bombs illegally fed a large group of homeless people, the police report states. The group on its website called for members to show up that day and defy the city ordinance, according to the report.

Officers said they found a press release on Markeson when they arrested him stating that group members planned to defy the ordinance Wednesday.

Bail was set at $250 for each person arrested. Cross and Markeson were released from jail early

Thursday. McHenry wants to stay in jail and let the legal process take its course, Coleman said.

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Privileged Rich Kid Sentenced To 2 Years House Arrest In 2 Luxury Beachfront Condos By Broward Florida Circuit Judge Barbara McCarth – For 2 Hit And Run Deaths – Parents Paid Off The 2 Widows (And Probably Others)

June 4, 2011

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – A privileged Illinois man who fled after running down two British businessmen in his speeding Porsche avoided prison Friday and will instead serve out a 2-year sentence at a luxury oceanfront condo.

Ryan LeVin, 36, will be on house arrest at one of his parents’ two condos at the Point of Americas on Fort Lauderdale Beach – less than two miles from where he careened into the British visitors as they walked to their hotel two years ago. The house confinement will be followed by 10 years of probation.

LeVin, who hails from a prominent Chicago family, worked out a deal to pay the victims’ families an undisclosed sum.

The widows supported the sentence, and their attorneys collected checks from LeVin immediately after the Friday morning hearing, where he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal accident and two counts of vehicular homicide. LeVin spoke only at the judge’s prodding and offered no apology.

Afterward, his lawyer, David Bogenschutz, requested the return of LeVin’s $120,000 Porsche 911 Turbo that has been impounded since the Feb. 13, 2009 hit-and-run.

Craig Elford, 39, and Kenneth Watkinson, 48, who were in town recruiting employees for their pharmaceutical company, were killed about 2:30 a.m., when LeVin’s Porsche jumped the curb on State Road A1A, and struck the men from behind, just steps from their hotel.

The damaged vehicle was abandoned on an Interstate 595 ramp.

“I think he hardly bought his way out of this,” Bogenschutz said after the court hearing. “We have two victims who have an absolute say in what should happen in their case. All the judge did was follow the law.”

Sentencing guidelines called for 20 to 45 years in prison, and prosecutor Stefanie Newman asked for 10 years.

“He needs to go to prison,” Newman said in court. “He needs to be penalized for his actions.”

In imposing the lighter sentence, Broward Circuit Judge Barbara McCarthy said, “The need for restitution does outweigh the need for prison.”

Both widows wrote letters to the judge, describing the “financial hardship” they’ve suffered since losing their husbands, who were the sole earners of their families. Watkinson left behind a wife, Kirsty, two sons, 5 and 21, and an 18-year-old daughter. Elford and his wife, Claire, had two young daughters.

The widows agreed to LeVin staying out of prison with certain conditions, including immediate payment to settle a civil wrongful death lawsuit they filed against him.

“We have been living in uncertainty and financial need,” Kirsty Watkinson wrote. “We need closure so we can start to move on with our lives.”

Claire Elford said she had “lost all financial protection and security.”

“My girls and I need closure,” she wrote. “We need security both emotionally and financially.”

In pressing for prison, the prosecutor gave the judge four photos of the victims’ mangled bodies. “The court, in making its decision, needs to see how these men were left to die on the side of the road,” Newman said.

“These pictures are horrific,” McCarthy said. “And that is an understatement.”

LeVin initially declined to speak in court. “I would like to hear something from him,” the judge said.

She then instructed LeVin to look at the photos, spit out his chewing gum and make a statement.

Clearly nervous, his face red and glistening with sweat, LeVin said
he was ashamed and tortured, but the words, “I’m sorry,” did not pass
his lips.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about
this,” he said.”I feel complete shame and compassion for the victims…my
heart goes out to them. I would just like to say it’s a nightmare.”

Before Friday, LeVin had denied driving the Porsche that night, pinning the blame on his friend Derek Cook, 39, of Tamarac.
In September, Cook reached a deal to testify against LeVin in return
for reduced charges and no prison time. He is awaiting sentencing.

LeVin
is the son of Arthur and Shirley LeVin, founders of Jewels by Park
Lane, a direct sales juggernaut that relies on at-home parties and does
about $155 million in sales annually, according to industry esti

mates. One of eight children, he grew up in a mansion with its own ballroom in Barrington, Ill., outside Chicago.

At
the time of the hit-and-run, LeVin was on probation in Illinois for a
2006 high-speed chase in Chicago that injured a police officer and two
motorists. He had multiple convictions in Florida, Illinois and Texas
for speeding, disobeying traffic lights, improper lane passing, fleeing
and eluding police officers, and cocaine possession.

Illinois
officials will work with Florida authorities to have LeVin brought back
to his home state, where he faces a parole violation stemming from the
2006 incident, an Illinois corrections spokeswoman said. Illinois will
seek to have LeVin’s parole revoked and have him sent back to prison.

As
part of his sentence, McCarthy restricted LeVin from ever driving again
and ordered him to serve 1,000 hours of community service. LeVin will
not be required to wear an electronic monitoring device while on house
arrest at his parents’ condo.

Reached there Friday by phone, Shirley LeVin declined to comment.

Located on Port Everglades
Inlet, Point of Americas boasts a “spectacular private beach,” three
fitness centers and luxury condos where residents can watch cruise ships
from their terraces.

LeVin will be allowed to exercise and attend
church and must turn in a detailed weekly schedule to be approved by
his probation officer.

Bogenschutz said after Friday’s hearing
that his client has finally learned his lesson and knows he could still
wind up in prison if he violates the terms of his house arrest or
probation.

“I think he’s grown up a lot,” Bogenschutz said. “He
understands now how he has to stay out of trouble. I think this time
around was a real eye opener.”

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California Motorcycle Police Officer Injured After Funeral For Motorcycle Police Officer Killed Taking Part In Funeral For Motorcycle Police Officer

June 4, 2011

CYPRESS, Calif. — A Southern California motorcycle officer has been injured in a traffic accident near a memorial for another motorcycle officer who was killed while accompanying a policeman’s funeral procession.

Orange County fire Capt. Greg McKeown tells The Associated Press that the agency responded to a report of a motorcycle officer injured in an accident with a vehicle Friday evening.

Cypress police Sgt. Ken Ramsey tells the Orange County Register that the Cypress policeman wasn’t directly involved in the funeral for 44-year-old Hawthorne Officer Andrew S. Garton. But he says the injured officer may have been returning from attending Garton’s memorial.

Garton was killed last month in a collision with another motorcycle officer as they escorted the procession for a Manhattan Beach officer who had died of cancer.

(Credit: Above title adapted from fark.com title)

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Vernal Utah Police Charge Man Who Paid $25 Medical Bill With Pennies

June 4, 2011

VERNAL, UTAH – City officials say a Uintah County man was recently cited for paying a medical bill with pennies.

According to a release from Vernal City on Friday, May 27, Vernal resident Jason West entered Basin (medical) Clinic prepared to dispute a bill of $25.00 that he allegedly owed.

After asking if they accepted cash, city officials say West dumped 2500 pennies onto the counter and demanded that they count it. The pennies were strewn about the counter and the floor, and when West was advised that the police would be called, he left.

City officials say West was later contacted by the Vernal Police Department and issued a citation for Disorderly Conduct.

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Child Pornography Remains Legal In Russia – Content Hosted On Servers There Is Available On The Internet

June 4, 2011

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – Keen, bright-eyed and earnest, the little boy answers the Russian investigator’s questions enthusiastically, as if describing a cartoon, not sexual abuse.

“He took off my underwear and photographed me,” says the victim, whom Russian authorities are not allowing to be identified.

The boy goes on to describe sexual abuse at the hands of his own father. Without this testimony, child advocates say, it would be impossible to convict the man, whose trial begins later this year.

In Russia, possessing child pornography is not a crime and laws that govern child exploitation are weak. Government authorities say the majority of sexual crimes against children are never reported or investigated.

Those are among the reasons that even the Russian government admits the country is a world leader in the production of child pornography.

Russian lawmaker Elena Mizulina has been painstakingly shepherding a bill through the country’s parliament that would finally protect children.

“For the first time people will be held criminally responsible for storing child pornography even if they don’t distribute it. To this day, you can’t punish anyone for that” in Russia, Mizulina said. The bill has now passed its second of three readings in Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of the legislature.

The law can’t come soon enough for victims. According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, more than 800 cases of sexual abuse were reported in the first three months of this year, an increase of 13%.

“Analysis of such crimes indicates that sexual assaults against the integrity of minors and their rights and freedoms is mostly stemming from the lack of control by parents, guardians, as well as officials of educational institutions and local government officials,” said Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee.

Yet even with stronger laws, it is the testimony of young children that will ultimately bring punishment to those who prey on children.

Yevgeny Tsymbal, director of a Children’s Psychology Center in Moscow, told CNN that weak laws and lack of evidence usually help the abusers avoid detection and punishment.

“These crimes usually go on for a long time,” he said, adding that because physical signs of abuse are often not apparent, “these crimes are very rarely discovered.”

The Internet is also a haven for child pornographers in Russia. This week, the Kremlin’s child advocate, Pavel Astakhov, spoke in favor of a more stringent policy to force Internet providers to take responsibility for child pornography sites hosted on their servers and social networks.

“A person who wants to find this content on the Internet, this person can do it pretty easily,” said Mark Tverdynin, director of Saferunet.ru, an initiative that is trying to scrub the Russian Internet clean of child pornography. The charity says it shut down as many as 7,000 such sites this past fall and winter.

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Eugene Oregon Police Fell For Fake Anonymous 911 Call, Sent SWAT Team To Innocent Victim’s Home To Find Murder-Suicide Crime Scene

June 3, 2011

EUGENE, OREGON – Eugene police said they had no choice Monday night but to take seriously a 911 caller’s startling claim that he had just shot his father inside a River Road area apartment and was about to kill himself.

“It sounded like a critical call,” police spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin said.

Fourteen police officers arrived at the Riviera Village complex on Corliss Lane in response to the 9:23 p.m. emergency call.

They left the scene after determining that the report suggesting a potential murder-suicide had occurred was bogus, McLaughlin said.

Investigators suspect the 911 caller obtained the name, address and telephone number of a man who lived at the apartment, then used that information to retaliate against the tenant after the pair squabbled while playing an online game on their Xbox video systems, McLaughlin said.

The apartment resident — a 26-year-old man who spoke with The Register-Guard on condition of anonymity — said he was targeted because he refused to give another player content that he had created for a game called FortressCraft.

“He tried to twist my arm over something relatively small in the game,” the Eugene man said.

For the past several years, cybercriminals have settled scores with foes by “swatting” — the name given to a telephone scheme that involves calling 911 to fake an emergency that could draw a police SWAT team response.

Swatters often manipulate computer and phone equipment to make it appear that a fake emergency call is coming from a victim’s home or business. That’s basically what led to Monday night’s police response to Riveria Village, McLaughlin said.

Police consider the 26-year-old apartment tenant a crime victim. But investigators don’t know if they will be able to track down the person who made the 911 call, McLaughlin said.

“We can’t tell where the call originated,” she said.

The victim said he thinks more than one person was involved in the hoax, and has begun his own investigation to identify the people responsible. He said he hopes to share what he learns with police.

He said he’s not sure how his personal information was compromised in the first place — but said the person with whom he had sparred while playing FortressCraft had informed him previously that his name and address could be found online.

“He brought it to my attention, like ‘I have this information on you, and you should protect it,’ ” the victim recalled.

The man said he was pleased with the way police handled the situation on Monday night. He said he and his girlfriend were detained and handcuffed while officers — with guns drawn — searched their residence to make sure that no crime had occurred there.

It may have been a more intense experience, had the victim not found out before police arrived that officers were headed to his home.

The victim said he learned from a friend who phoned him immediately after hearing someone make the 911 call while the friend shared a “vocal chat room” with the culprit.

McLaughlin confirmed that police received a call while officers were en route to Riveria Village asserting that the initial report was a hoax.

The victim said that while he has some computer expertise, Monday was the first time he had ever heard the term “swatter” to describe someone who calls 911 to falsely report an emergency at another person’s home.

“I am really good with computers, but I had no idea this could happen,” he said, adding that since Monday night, his e-mail and online video accounts appear to have been hacked.

“I really messed with the wrong guy,” he said.

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Phoenix Arizona Police Officers Tedesco, Mills and Neidenbach Brutally Beat And Used Taser Weapon Against Paralyzed Polio Victim, Lied In Reports And Accused Him Of Assault And Running Away – Wife And Children Threatened And He Was Denied Medical Attention By Maricopa County Jail

June 3, 2011

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – After Tasering, kicking and hitting a man in the head with flashlights while calling him a “wetback,” Phoenix police officers falsely accused him of assaulting them and running away, but the man can’t fight or run at all because he is paralyzed on one side of his body from childhood polio, he says in a civil rights complaint.

Refugio Rodriquez sued the city, Maricopa County, Maricopa County Correctional Health Services and the three Phoenix police officers he says assaulted him in the parking lot of a church.

Rodriquez, whom the officers accused of aggravated assault against a police officer after they Tasered, kicked and hit beat him with police-issued flashlights, says he could not have assaulted the officers or run because the left side of his body is paralyzed from polio.

Rodriquez the three officers – Tedesco, Mills and Neidenbach – approached him outside of a church on May 27, 2010.

They told him “you better not run you (expletive) wetback” and then slammed him onto the concrete driveway “in a manner which obviously exceeded the minimal amount of force necessary to accomplish a lawful purpose and continued to brutally assault plaintiff Refugio in the driveway,” according to the complaint in Maricopa County Court.

After they needlessly Tasered him, they handcuffed him and continued to kick and hit him in the head “with their police-issued long flashlight,” the complaint states.

The officers stopped beating him after his wife, Josephine, and his two children “screamed at and pled with the defendant officers to stop the beating,” according to the complaint. The officers told the wife and kids to “stay across the street or that they would be ‘in trouble.'”

s., says the officers did not let his family see him after they beat him, “to cover up Refugio’s bruises, scrapes and severe swelling of the head.”

The officers told his wife and children “that there was nothing wrong with Refugio and that he was ‘the same as when he left home awhile ago,'” the complaint states.

But at the Maryvale police station, one of his assailants asked him, “‘What’s the matter, you can’t take an ass-whipping?'” Rodriquez says.

Rodriquez says the officers lied in their police report: that they wrote that he “ran from the officers when they first came into contact … which is totally impossible because plaintiff cannot run due to the paralysis on the whole left side of his body since his birth with polio.”

The officers “lied so they could try to cover up more lies” by claiming he had resisted and fought them, and by charging him with aggravated assault on a police officer, according to the complaint.

Rodriquez says he was taken from the Maryvale police precinct to the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail, where the intake nurse told him “he was going to be transported to the nearest hospital emergency room via an ambulance because of the severity of his injuries.”

But a few minutes later the intake nurse told him that “if she sent him to the hospital emergency, she was told she would lose her job.”

After Rodriquez was released on bail, his wife took him to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where the emergency doctor told him that “he could have died because a blood clot near his brain was beginning to develop,” the complaint states.

Rodriquez and his wife seek punitive damages and medical expenses for assault, battery, negligence, and civil rights violations. The complaint does not list the three officers’ first names, but it does include their badge numbers.

The Rodriquezes are represented by Jimmy Borunda

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Appeal Denied After Michican Prosecutor Karen Bahrman Called Defense Psychiatrist Witness A Whore And Another Witness A Bottom Feeder

June 3, 2011

MUNISING, MICHIGAN – The Michigan Supreme Court has denied Thomas Richardson’s application for appeal in his conviction of pushing his wife off a cliff at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore three years ago.

The Michigan Supreme Court has also scolded an Upper Peninsula prosecutor for inappropriate comments during the 2008 trial of Richardson.

The court says Karen Bahrman did not violate Richardson’s right to a fair trial. But the court knocked the Alger County prosecutor for a variety of remarks.

Bahrman referred to a female psychiatrist as a “whore” and another witness as a “bottom feeder.” In an order released Thursday, the Supreme Court called it “simply unprofessional.” Bahrman says the “whore” comment was about a defense witness who was paid for testimony. She says she has no regrets.

Bahrman was unapologetic in a statement made to TV6 Thursday afternoon.

“I was pleased with the outcome of the case and the Supreme Court’s conclusion that nothing I said or did denied the defendant of a fair trial,” Bahrman said. “Because I expect to have everything I say scrutinized, I was delighted to see that their criticism occupied just a page and a half. To me, this means that they found nothing else to criticize in 6,000 pages of transcripts.”

Richardson was convicted of first degree murder in the death of wife Juanita at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

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Albany New York Police Horse Turned On Two Police Officers

June 3, 2011

ALBANY, NEW YORK – A police horse stepped on and kicked two police officers trying to arrest two disorderly men Thursday on North Pearl Street after one of the men shoved a third officer, police said.

Police said the officers were slightly injured in the 10 p.m. scuffle near Pine Street where Jesse Poleto, 23, and Zachary Poleto, 26, were charged with assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Officers Daniel Seeber, Michael Geraci and Sadaka Kitonyi tried to quell the men, police said, but they refused orders to leave. When Seeber tried to arrest Jesse Poleto, police said, he shoved Seeber. Poleto then pulled the officer to the ground, bruising Seeber’s elbows and hands. Geraci and Kitonyi were trying to arrest Zachary Poleto when he became combative, police said. As officers struggled to handcuff Zachary Poleto, a police horse stepped on Geraci’s knee and kicked Kitonyi in the head.

Jesse Poleto is charged with second-degree assault; Zachary Poleto with third-degree assault.

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Dumb-As-Dirt Round Rock Texas Police Officer Tickets 10 Year Old For Seatbelt Offense That Applies To Those 15 And Older

June 3, 2011

ROUND ROCK, TEXAS — On his way home Tuesday from Jim Plain Elementary School in Leander, fourth-grader Marshall May, sitting in the passenger seat of the family minivan, was ticketed for not wearing his seat belt properly.

Problem is, Texas law says a person must be at least 15 years old to commit such an offense. If a child isn’t properly secured by a seat belt, the adult in the car would be at fault, according to the law. But Marshall’s aunt, Ashley Arredondo, 19, who was driving, didn’t receive a ticket.

“I was really scared, I could tell you that,” Marshall said Thursday. “I didn’t know what to do.

“He made me sign my signature, but I don’t have a signature because I’m 10 years old.”

Instead, Marshall printed his full name.

By Thursday, the story landed on Austin talk radio, and reporters began asking questions.

Interim Leander City Manager Robert Powers said Thursday that Marshall should not have been ticketed.

“I think it was just a mistake,” Powers said. “It wasn’t anything egregious or malicious.”

The Police Department has taken procedural steps with the city’s municipal court that will likely lead to the ticket’s dismissal, Powers said. It will be up to the court to dismiss the ticket.

“I don’t know if they requested it be dismissed or if they asked that it be taken into consideration, but that’s certainly the intent,” Powers said.

Marshall was in the passenger seat when he decided to stick his head out the window for some air, he said. As he stretched, the seat belt slipped up toward his neck and shoulder area, he said.

That’s when the police officer pulled over the minivan driven by Arredondo.

After a brief discussion, the officer ticketed Marshall.

“He said: ‘You were wearing your seat belt incorrectly. Sorry, but click it or ticket,'” Marshall said.

Police said the boy wasn’t properly wearing the belt because it wasn’t covering the top of his chest, said Marshall’s stepmother, Kristy May.

“I thought it was a joke until I saw the actual ticket,” said Marshall’s father, Gabriel May. “I didn’t think there was any gravity to it whatsoever.”

Gabriel May said he’s not sure whether the incident will lead to a court visit, but he said he’d show up if necessary.

“I will, because I’m a law-abiding citizen,” he said. “I think they should drop it.”

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