Nutcase U.S Park Ranger In California Attacked Man Walking Dogs Without Leashes With Taser Weapon

January 31, 2012

CALIFORNIA – A Montara man walking two lapdogs off leash was hit with an electric-shock gun by a National Park Service ranger after allegedly giving a false name and trying to walk away, authorities said Monday.

The park ranger encountered Gary Hesterberg with his two small dogs Sunday afternoon at Rancho Corral de Tierra, which was recently incorporated into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, said Howard Levitt, a spokesman for the park service.

Hesterberg, who said he didn’t have identification with him, allegedly gave the ranger a false name, Levitt said.

The ranger, who wasn’t identified, asked Hesterberg to remain at the scene, Levitt said. He tried several times to leave, and finally the ranger “pursued him a little bit and she did deploy her” electric-shock weapon, Levitt said. “That did stop him.”

San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies and paramedics then arrived and Hesterberg gave his real name, the park spokesman said.

Hesterberg, whose age was not available, was arrested on suspicion of failing to obey a lawful order, having dogs off-leash and knowingly providing false information, Levitt said.

He was then released. He did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Witnesses said the use of a stun gun and the arrest seemed excessive for someone walking two small dogs off leash.

“It was really scary,” said Michelle Babcock, who said she had seen the incident as she and her husband were walking their two border collies. “I just felt so bad for him.”

Babcock said Hesterberg had repeatedly asked the ranger why he was being detained. She didn’t answer him, Babcock said.

“He just tried to walk away. She never gave him a reason,” Babcock said.

The ranger shot Hesterberg in the back with her shock weapon as he walked off, Babcock said.

“We were like in disbelief,” she said. “It didn’t make any sense.”

Rancho Corral de Tierra has long been an off-leash walking spot for local dog owners. In December, the area became part of the national park system, which requires that all dogs be on a leash, Levitt said.

The ranger was trying to educate residents of the rule, Levitt said.

The park service is investigating the incident, he said.

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Gulf Shores Alabama Police Empoyee Barry Martin Arrested After Stealing Guns, Drugs, And Electronics From Evidence Room

January 31, 2012

GULF SHORES, Alabama — A 58-year-old civilian employee of the Gulf Shores Police Department has been arrested for allegedly stealing guns, electronics and prescription drugs from the agency’s evidence room, law enforcement officials said today.

Barry Martin of Gulf Shores remained in the Baldwin County Corrections Center, charged with one count of second-degree theft of property and one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, according to Gulf Shores police Chief Ed Delmore.

Martin has been placed on administrative leave and termination proceedings are in progress, according to Lt. Bill Cowan, Gulf Shores police spokesman.

“We’re not talking about a number of employees,” Delmore said. “This is one employee who did something very egregious. And someone who we were completely surprised by. This is a real kick in the teeth to us. But it should not reflect on the entire agency filled with dedicated professionals.”

Martin has been employed with the Police Department since 1999 as a detention officer and in July 2010 was also made the custodian of the evidence room. In a joint investigation by Gulf Shores police, the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office, Martin was arrested five days after the local police were notified of the potential discrepancies in the evidence room, according to Delmore.

About 100 or fewer cases could be affected by the thefts, and the District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the files and cases to compare items to what was seized, according to District Attorney Hallie Dixon. “We’re starting with the drug cases. There are 11 Gulf Shores drug cases pending and all have been indicted. We have additional cases pending” that have not been indicted.

Maj. Anthony Lowery of the Sheriff’s Office said the case does not involve the drug task force cases since those are handled through the Sheriff’s Office in Robertsdale.

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Crazed Burbank California Police Charge Child With Pointing Toy Gun

January 31, 2012

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA – A 10-year-old boy was arrested Sunday after reportedly pointing a toy gun at a woman who believed it was a real weapon.

The boy knocked on the front door of the woman’s house and allegedly pointed the plastic gun at a 67-year-old woman who answered the door, according to the Burbank Leader. The boy picked the house because the woman’s grandson reportedly beat up his friend at school, Burbank police Lt. John Dilibert told the paper.

The boy yelled “you suck” at the woman while pointing the gun at her, then running away, Dilibert said.

Police determined the gun was a toy after speaking with the child’s mother and searching their home.

The boy was arrested on suspicion of brandishing a weapon, but was released to his parents, Dilibert said.

The toy looks like an Airsoft gun, which come in silver and black, with an orange tip that some children take off or cover with black marker, he said. Dilibert did not see if the orange tip of the toy gun in question was removed or colored over.

“They’re replicas,” Dilibert said. “They look just like the real thing. It shoots soft pellets, like a BB gun.”

The toy was likely booked as evidence, he said. Photos of the toy would not be released.

The boy’s identity was not released because he is a minor. He was issued a citation and will have to appear in court within 30 days.

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East Haven Connecticut Police Chief Leonard Gallo Quits In Disgrace For Handling Of Latino Abuse Allegations That Led To Arrest Of 4 Of His Officers

January 30, 2012

EAST HAVEN, CONNECTICUT – A police chief under fire for his handling of anti-Latino abuse allegations that led to the arrests of four officers last week is retiring from office, the mayor said Monday, describing his departure as a “selfless act” intended to help the town heal.

Leonard Gallo, chief of the East Haven Police Department, has been chastised by federal civil rights investigators for creating a hostile environment for witnesses, and his lawyer has acknowledged that last week’s indictment refers to him as an unnamed co-conspirator.

Gallo, 64, had been suspended as police chief in April 2010 after the FBI launched the criminal investigation, but he was reinstated to the post in November after his friend Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. took office.

“His decision to retire at this time is a selfless act, designed to assist in the healing process,” said Maturo, who described Gallo as a devoted public servant who “performed admirably in both his personal and professional life.”

The four officers, who were arrested Jan. 24 by the FBI, are accused of waging a campaign against Latino residents that included beatings, false arrests and harassment of those who threatened to report misconduct. They face charges including deprivation of rights and obstruction of justice; all of them have pleaded not guilty.

Maturo is also facing heavy criticism for saying last week that he “might have tacos” as a way to do something for the Latino community in the wake of the arrests. He later apologized for the remark.

Frederick Brow, chairman of the town’s police commission, said Monday that the commission is preparing to vote Tuesday night on whether to recommend to the mayor that Gallo be fired. He said he believes Gallo should not be allowed to retire.

“It’s been a general breakdown in control in that department for quite a while and it’s time for Gallo to be terminated,” Brow said.

He estimated that in retirement, Gallo would receive a severance lump sum of $130,000 to $150,000, plus an annual pension of $27,000 to $28,000. Brow said Gallo should not be rewarded for his conduct.

If the commission voted to recommend that Gallo be fired and Maturo agreed to fire him, Gallo would still get the pension but lose the severance pay, Brow said.

The FBI also is targeting additional suspects, and state officials say they are preparing for the possibility of widespread arrests that could cripple the town’s police department.

An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division, which was separate from the criminal probe, noted concerns in a December report that Gallo had helped created a hostile environment for people who cooperated with federal investigators. It said Gallo had warned staff that the Justice Department had agreed to provide him with the names of individuals who cooperated with the investigation, even though that was not the case.

The federal indictment refers to Gallo as co-conspirator 1, accusing him of blocking efforts by the police commission to investigate misconduct. Gallo’s attorney, Jon Einhorn, has denied those allegations.

Einhorn said Gallo is retiring because he does not want to be a distraction for the town, and his departure is not an admission of guilt. He said Gallo is the target of a lawsuit and could face charges in the criminal probe. He said his client will be vindicated and he does not believe criminal charges would be justified.

He said waiting until the end of the week will give the town time to settle on a retirement package for Gallo. Maturo said the retirement takes effect Friday, and a search for a new chief will begin immediately. Until a new chief is selected, Deputy Chief John Mannion will assume the duties.

More than 15,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Maturo to replace Gallo. The petition was started by Reform Immigration for America, the same group that sent hundreds of tacos to Maturo’s office to protest his remark.

State Rep. Andres Ayala Jr., D-Bridgeport, said he and members of the state Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission met with Maturo on Monday morning, but he declined to elaborate. Ayala and commission members are calling for the resignations of Maturo and Gallo.

“I think it’s the mayor’s responsibility that the police department represent everyone in the community,” Ayala said.

Maturo was mayor from 1997 to 2007 and was re-elected in the fall. After taking office in November, he reinstated Gallo, saying at the time that he did not believe the abuse allegations were true. The previous mayor, April Capone Almon, placed Gallo on administrative leave in April 2010.

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Pedophile Santa Maria California Police Officer Shot And Killed While On Duty And By Offiers In His Own Department

January 29, 2012

SANTA MARIA, CALIFORNIA – A police officer under investigation for sexual misconduct with a teenage minor was shot and killed while on duty by fellow officers Saturday as they tried to arrest him on California’s central coast, authorities said.

The officer was manning a DUI checkpoint when the shooting occurred shortly after 1 a.m. He was declared dead after emergency surgery at Marian Medical Center, Santa Maria police Chief Danny Macagni said in a statement.

The officer, a four-year Santa Maria department veteran, had just learned of the internal investigation of an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, and it became necessary to arrest him immediately, Macagni said.

“We had no choice,” Macagni said in video of an afternoon news conference posted by KCOY-TV. He said investigators had evidence “that demanded that we go out and take this officer off the street immediately.”

Supervising officers were sent to make a felony arrest, but he struggled with them when they arrived, first putting up a physical fight, then firing his gun but hitting no one, Macagni said.

“He chose to resist, he drew his weapon, a fight ensued, he fired his weapon,” the chief said.

Several officers came to help the police making the arrest, and one of them shot the suspected officer in the chest once, Macagni said.

Detectives had begun investigating the alleged relationship on Thursday night, and minutes before the shooting had confirmed that an “inappropriate” and “very explicit” relationship had been going on, Macagni said.

He said he could not give details because of the sensitivity of the investigation, but “there was some witness intimidation involved” and the arrest couldn’t wait for a more proper time or place.

“The information that we had in hand demanded that we not let him leave that scene, get in a car, drive somewhere, it would put the public at risk,” Macagni said at the news conference. “We just did not know what was going to happen, we did not expect him to react the way that he did.”

Macagni said police had expressed condolences to the officer’s family.

The officer who fired the fatal shot, an eight-year department veteran, has been placed on administrative leave, and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department was investigating the shooting, Macagni said.

The name of the officer killed has not been released because some family members were still being notified, and the name of the officer who fired the shot was withheld while the incident was under investigation, police said.

Santa Maria is a city of some 100,000 people about 60 miles northwest of Santa Barbara and 160 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

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Fort Lauderdale Police “Peacemaker” Intimidates And Harasses Residents

January 29, 2012

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – Tania Ouaknine is convinced the police are watching her.

She’s not paranoid — it says as much on the red sign painted along the side on the hulking armored truck that’s been parked in front of her eight-room Parisian Motel for several days.

“Warning: You are under video surveillance,” reads the bold message on the side of the truck.

From the front bumper of the menacing vehicle, another sign taunts: “Whatcha gonna do when we come for you?”

The truck is a new weapon for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in the fight against drugs and neighborhood nuisances, and it looks like a Winnebago on steroids. They call it “The Peacemaker,” and it may be a first in South Florida.

Mixing high tech with simplicity, the in-your-face strategy is straightforward: load an out-of-service armored truck with some of the latest surveillance equipment available and decorate it with police emblems. Then, simply leave it parked in front of trouble spots.

“Make no mistakes about it,” said Detective Travis Mandell. “We want people to know that we are watching the bad guys.”

In August, police got the first of their two Peacemakers after paying the Brinks company $10 for a discontinued armored bank truck. They retrofitted the vehicle with cameras that can stream live video back to headquarters. With its cameras hoisted on each bullet-proof window, the truck can gather panoramic footage for up to 700 hours.

Last month the department added a second truck to its arsenal, converting a former SWAT vehicle into the second Peacemaker. Police park the unmanned trucks in front of the homes of suspected drug dealers and at crime-plagued street corners.

On a recent afternoon, a Peacemaker had at least one of its eight cameras trained on Ouaknine’s one-story establishment.

“They say I am running a whorehouse,” said the 60-year-old innkeeper. “I run a motel. The only thing that I don’t have is the five stars.”

Police wouldn’t say why they parked the Peacemaker last week in an abandoned lot directly across Ouaknine’s Parisian Motel in the 500 block of Northwest 23rd Avenue.

Police and city records show Ouaknine and her motel had been the subject of an undercover operation targeting prostitution starting in September. Ouaknine was arrested on Oct. 28 on three counts of renting rooms to prostitutes for $20 an hour. Her case is pending.

The city’s nuisance abatement board sent her a warning letter and summoned her to appear for a hearing in February based on the investigation. It’s the second time since 2008 that the board has targeted the motel, city records show.

She says she’s doing nothing illegal.

“They’ve tried everything to shut me down and have failed,” she said. “Now they bring this truck to intimidate me and my customers.”

Some neighbors surrounding the Parisian Motel say the truck is another form of constant police harassment.

On a recent afternoon, Leo Cooper watched as two undercover street-crime officers jumped out of an unmarked Ford Crown Victoria just yards from the Peacemaker. They began questioning a group of men gathered at the corner. Within minutes, one of the men ran away. A second man was charged with loitering.

“This is what happens here every day. We can’t sit outside without being harassed,” said Cooper, 27. “Now we have that truck. Most of us are not doing anything wrong. We can’t be outside?”

The police department has met the allegations of harassment with skepticism.

“People who are abiding by the law should have no problems with this,” said Mandell. “People may feel that their privacy is being infringed on, but when you think about it, every day you walk down the street you are being watched by 20 to 30 cameras from private businesses and homes.”

The feedback is much different in a neighborhood less than a mile east of the motel, close to where Sistrunk Boulevard is undergoing a major refurbishing project. In December, residents rallied at city meetings to get more police presence after a rash of daytime home burglaries, including one on New Year’s Day, said Anthony Lucicero, a neighborhood leader.

“We had all sorts of people walking up and down this street at all hours,” he said. “Prostitutes, junkies, everyone.”

In early January, police parked the Peacemaker at an empty lot on Northwest Fifth Court between 10th and 11th avenues. Neighbors say it’s already making a difference.

“Before the truck, we were afraid to go to work knowing your house might be robbed in the middle of the afternoon,” said Lucicero’s neighbor, Tangerine Davis. “Now we go to work in peace.”

Their biggest worry now, they say, is what happens when the Peacemaker drives away and the police are no longer watching.

“I wish they had another one out here,” Lucicero said. “I have an empty lot right there they can use.”

A check with the region’s major law enforcement agencies indicate Fort Lauderdale’s Peacemakers may be the first in South Florida, but not the first in the nation. News reports show that agencies in Green Bay, Wis., Lafayette, La. and St. Louis, Mo., have been using them for at least a year.

“We are definitely not doing something like that right now,” said Deputy Eric Davis, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. “I would love to see this for myself. Sounds pretty novel.”

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Secret Service Pisses Away Taxpayer Dollors Investigating Shot-Up Obama T-Shirt Photo

January 28, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – A post on the Facebook page of a veteran Peoria police sergeant depicting the photo of seven Centennial High School students in Peoria, four with guns and one holding up a T-shirt with a bullet-riddled image of President Barack Obama, was brought to the U.S. Secret Service’s attention by a citizen and an “appropriate follow-up” is being conducted, a Washington D.C-based spokesman for the federal agency told The Republic Friday.

“Any time information like this is brought to our attention we have to conduct a follow-up,” Max Milien, spokesman for the Secret Service, said.

Milien described the Facebook post in the category of “unusual direction of interest,” which would merit an agency follow-up, he said.

“We understand an individual’s right to free speech but we also have the right to speak to the individual to determine what their intent is,” Milien added.

Pat Shearer, the 25-year Peoria police sergeant, who remains on active duty, also faces an internal investigation on the matter. An administrative investigation was prompted after they got word the Secret Service was looking into the photograph, Peoria police spokesman Jay Davies said.

“We were made aware of that situation today and we have opened an administrative investigation to determine if there are any policy violations that took place,” Davies said Thursday.

In an e-mailed statement Friday, Peoria spokesman Bo Larsen said that the “city values a high standard of professional conduct and ethical behavior. These are expectations we have of all our employees.”

Danielle Airey, a spokeswoman for the Peoria Unified School District, confirmed Friday that all seven young men in the photo are Centennial High students.

“We’re going to continue to cooperate with the ongoing investigation and gather information so our administration is well versed,” Airey said. “While the incident did not occur on our campus, it is an unfortunate event that happens to involve students and adults. It does not represent what we are as a school or district or community.”

The photo has since been removed from Shearer’s page.

It was posted Jan. 20, before the president’s visit to the Valley on Wednesday.

Both Larsen and Davies declined further comment on the matter pending the investigation.

“Until the investigation is complete and any appeals are exhausted, I cannot discuss the details,” Davies said.

Jon Meck, president of the City of Peoria Police Supervisors Association, said Shearer has been advised by the association’s attorney not to make any public statements and he also declined comment on the matter.

“For his privacy and for the integrity of the investigation by the department I won’t make any statement,” Meck said.

Meck added that Shearer has a great reputation as a police officer.

“The people he supervises respect him, his peers respect him,” Meck said.

The New York Times described the picture as showing seven young men, four posing with weapons and one holding the T-shirt, “with small holes and gashes,” bearing a likeness of the president above the word “Hope.”

The Times reported the image was also posted on the Facebook page of one of the young men in the picture posing with a gun.

According to the Peoria Police Department’s social-media policy, which includes social-networking sites, “employees shall not post, transmit, reproduce and/or disseminate information (text, pictures, video, audio, etc.) to the Internet or any other forum (public or private) that would tend to discredit or reflect unfavorably upon the department or any of the department’s employees.”

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