Dumbass Hover Alabama Area Police Officer Left Gun In Bar Bathroom, Man Killed Himself With It Hours Latter

October 14, 2012

HOOVER, ALABAMA – It is a sad, sordid, suburban tale of a gun.

A police officer’s gun. A gun that ended up in the wrong hands. And, because of a series of bad decisions, a gun that ended a man’s life.

And it all happened in the span of several hours.

Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector gave this account of what happened on Oct. 1: A police officer from a suburban city stopped in a Hoover bar and, well, heard the call of nature. He stepped into a stall, did his business and left – leaving his weapon behind.

By the time he realized what he had left behind, the Glock was gone.

And the second part of the story began.

Police say Steven Michael Bradford, 25, of Bessemer, found the gun in the On Tap bathroom. He took it and left with his friends to drink more at Fuego Cantina on Southside. He told his friend, Matthew Lee Dodd, 26, also of Bessemer, about his find.

Dodd offered to buy the $600-plus gun for $225, and Bradford sold it on the spot. Dodd and another friend, age 24, left a short time later, and stopped at the Chevron station on University Boulevard for snacks.

The gun was tucked between the two front seats. Dodd went inside to get snacks. The friend stayed behind in the car. As Dodd walked toward the convenience store, he heard a popping sound. He went back to the car, and found his friend dead in the car with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

The officer, whose agency Hoover police declined to identify out of professional courtesy, found out what happened the following morning, before he had even reported the gun missing. Another police officer called to tell him about the shooting in Birmingham the previous night. “Somewhere along the line, he put two and two together, and realized it may have been his gun,” Rector said.

The officer filed a report with Hoover police. He also notified his own chief of the missing weapon.

The death investigation was left up to Birmingham police, because it happened in that jurisdiction. Birmingham homicide Sgt. Scott Thurmond said today they are waiting for the final report from the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office, but have investigated the death as a suicide. “We know he pulled the trigger, and that no criminal act took place,” in the shooting, Thurmond said.

Thurmond added that the gun did not belong to a Birmingham officer.

Though Hoover had no role in the death investigation, Rector said Hoover police officials thought it important someone be held accountable for the chain of events that ended with a man dead.

“We took it very seriously,” Rector said. He said he didn’t know whether the officer would face any disciplinary action, because that would be left up to the chief of that agency.

Hoover launched their own investigation and today arrested both Bradford and Dodd.

Bradford is charged with second-degree theft of lost property. Dodd is charged with receiving stolen property. Both were being held in the Hoover City Jail this afternoon, awaiting transfer to the Jefferson County Jail. Their bond is set at $10,000.

“We’ve got confessions from both of them,” Rector said. “They were upset that what happened happened. But the fact is one took something that didn’t belong to him, and the other bought something that he knew was stolen. Tragically, the third one winds up dead.”

Rector said this was one of the most bizarre cases he’s worked.

“No one ever wants to misplace a gun, especially if you’re a police officer,” he said. “You’ve lost something that has the potential for someone to take a life with it.”

“I am sure this guy feels terrible,” Rector continued. “He’s probably embarrassed that he lost his gun, and unfortunately something tragic happened within hours of him doing so.”

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Shooting And Killing Naked Unarmed Student By University Of South Alabama Police Officer Was Unjustified

October 11, 2012

ALABAMA – The shooting of an unarmed and naked Alabama university student killed in a late-night confrontation with a campus police officer appears to be unjustified, the lawyer for the young man’s family said Thursday.

Part of the brief incident Saturday night that led to the death of 18-year-old Gilbert Thomas Collar of Wetumpka, Alabama, was captured on a surveillance camera outside the University of South Alabama police station.

The video has not yet been viewed by reporters or the public, but the Collar family’s attorney, Jere Beasley, said, “There is nothing on the surveillance tape that justifies the use of deadly force.”

Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said Tuesday that Collar, naked, sweating profusely and acting erratically, showed up at the police station and began banging on the door and window.

An officer came out, his handgun drawn, and started issuing orders to Collar while retreating backward across the back patio of the building, according to Cochran.

After retreating for more than 100 feet, according to Cochran, the officer fired when Collar drew within five feet of him. Collar, struck once in the chest, collapsed and died at the scene. The incident unfolded over no more than 20 or 30 seconds, Beasley said.

While Cochran said the police investigation into the shooting continues, Beasley said he questioned why the officer did not wait until backup arrived to engage Collar, who had no history of violence or drug use. He also questioned why the officer did not use either pepper spray or a baton in an effort to subdue Collar.

The officer had access to both pepper spray and a baton, Beasley said, but he noted that campus police are apparently not certified to use stun guns.

“Had either a stun gun, baton or pepper spray been used in this case, we wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

Both Beasley and sheriff’s investigators believe someone gave a substance to Collar that led to his erratic behavior. At Tuesday’s news conference, Cochran said witnesses told police someone had given Collar LSD sometime during the night.

Beasley said it would be irresponsible to say Collar was on drugs until toxicology results are completed, which could take several weeks. He also said he doubted witness statements to police that Collar attacked occupants of two cars before reaching the police station.

Cochran said Tuesday that a witness interviewed by police took a picture of Collar against the side of one car.

“One victim had advised that he had grabbed her arm and was trying to bite her on the arm and making weird noises and statements towards this victim,” he said.

Beasley said state Rep. Barry Mask, R-Wetumpka, will ask Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange to launch a review of training and equipment standards for university police departments statewide.

Mask did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The death has, of course, been hard on Collar’s family, Beasley said. But he added they have forgiven the officer who fired the fatal shot, and are praying for him.

The family will wait for the results of investigations before deciding whether to file a lawsuit against the school, Beasley said.

“The goal of the parents is to make sure that this does not happen again to any other student under like or similar circumstances,” he said.

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University Of South Alabama Police Officer Shot And Killed Naked Unarmed 18 Year Old Freshman On Mobile Alabama Campus

October 7, 2012

MOBILE, ALABAMA – Authorities are investigating why a University of South Alabama officer fatally shot an 18-year-old freshman who they say was naked and acting erratically outside the campus police station early Saturday.

With few details of the shooting, the student’s mother and one of his friends said they could not understand how a six-year varsity wrestler and good-natured teenager could have died under such strange and sad circumstances.

According to a statement from the school, the campus police officer heard a loud banging noise on a window at the station at 1:23 a.m. CT (2:23 a.m. ET) Saturday. When he left the station to investigate, the school said, “he was confronted by a muscular, nude man who was acting erratically.”

The man, later identified as Gilbert Thomas Collar, of Wetumpka, Alabama, repeatedly rushed and verbally challenged the officer in a fighting stance, the school said.

The officer, whose name hasn’t been released, drew his weapon and ordered Collar to stop, the school said. The officer retreated several times to try to calm the situation.

“When the individual continued to rush toward the officer in a threatening manner and ignored the officer’s repeated commands to stop, the officer fired one shot with his police sidearm, which struck the chest of the assailant,” the school statement said. “The individual fell to the ground, but he got up once more and continued to challenge the officer further before collapsing and expiring.”

Collar’s mother, Bonnie, said the two people who called her with the news of her son — someone from the school and another involved in the investigation — did not mention that her son was trying to attack anyone when he was shot.

“He was wearing no clothes and he was obviously not in his right mind,” she told CNN. “No one said that he had attacked anybody, and obviously he was not armed. He was completely naked.”

Bonnie Collar said she did not know why her son was acting that way when he was killed. She said he weighed 135 pounds and was 5-foot-7 with a wrestler’s build.

“The first thing on my mind is, freshman kids do stupid things, and campus police should be equipped to handle activity like that without having to use lethal force,” she said.

Campus police immediately contacted the district attorney’s office to request an external investigation, and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department will assist, the school said.

The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of internal and external investigations, according to the school, which enrolls about 15,000 students.

Investigators are looking at security camera tape of the shooting, Collar’s mother said. CNN’s calls about the tape were referred to school spokesman Keith Ayers, who did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Earlier Saturday, Ayers called it a “campus tragedy” for the university family but offered no other details, citing the active investigation.

One of Collar’s oldest friends was Chris Estes, 18. He said the boys became friends at age 5 and grew up playing baseball together. Along with their friend Jared, they became three best friends with the slogan “JGC for life,” Estes told CNN by e-mail.

“Gil was a very ‘chill’ guy, mellow and easy going,” Estes wrote. “That’s why I don’t understand the story that he attacked the cop. He got along with anybody at school no matter who you were. He could always have a conversation with anyone. As many times as I’ve hung out with Gil, I’ve never seen aggression in him, especially not towards a cop.”

As the boys grew up in Wetumpka, Estes said, Collar stopped playing baseball to focus more on his dominant sport, wrestling. Collar’s mother said he was a two-time state qualifier in wrestling, and Estes said he could have wrestled at the collegiate level if he chose.

“Gil loved to hang out with friends, he loved having a good time and made the best out of every situation, always keeping his head up,” said Estes, who stayed behind to attend nearby Auburn University at Montgomery.

Estes said it’s unfortunate he didn’t go off to college with his friend. “If I did, I think the whole situation would have been avoided,” he said.

Collar’s mother said their hometown of nearly 8,000 people is in disbelief about the shooting. On Twitter, some used the hashtag #WetuFam (Wetumpka Family) on Saturday in remembering Collar.

“Our entire community is in shock because this is so different than his demeanor and his personality that we’ve seen for the 18 years that he’s been on this earth,” she said.

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5 Years Of Litigation Over Jefferson County Alabama’s Occupational Tax Brought Government To Its Financial Knees, Threw 100’s Of Families In Turmoil, Cost Taxpayers Many Millions, Made Millions For Law Firms, And Saved Workers About $4 A Week

October 1, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA — Five-plus years of litigation over Jefferson County’s occupational tax has brought government to its financial knees, thrown hundreds of families in turmoil, made millions for a few law firms and saved workers about four dollars a week, a Birmingham News analysis showed.

The lawsuit Edwards v. Jefferson County, filed in May 2007, killed the original tax. The December 2009 suit, Weissman v. Jefferson County, delivered the fatal blow to a replacement tax passed four months earlier.

For workers with jobs in Jefferson County, the litigation rid them of a widely unpopular tax on their wages, and even earned them a modest refund.

But it also opened a Pandora’s Box, pushing Jefferson County back to the horse-and-wagon days when doing government business took all day.

The occupational tax generated roughly $1 billion for county spending during its 23 years in existence, an analysis of county and court records shows.

The tax provided $69 million in the 2008 budget year, some 40 percent of the county funds that were not already earmarked for a specific purpose.

But commissioners have not seen a full year’s worth of revenue from the occupational tax since 2009 and not even a nickel from it since November 2010, the News analysis showed. In addition, the county has had to refund several months’ worth of the tax revenue.

Through the budget that takes effect on Monday, commissioners have cut General Fund spending in half during the tax litigation.

Nearly 900 county employees have lost their jobs since May 2007, county records show. More than 2,000 county workers and their families suffered months of reduced wages in 2009 and 2011 that cost them millions of dollars.

County services have been drastically reduced. Hours-long waits for car tags and vehicle registration are the new normal.

“At this point there are no winners, not even those benefiting from the reduction of their taxes,” said Chriss Doss, a county commissioner from 1975 until 1987. “Jefferson County has a lot of potential. But it is hamstrung by the situation that now exists.”

Detractors long have called the tax an unfair burden on workers. Many among the 42 percent of workers who commute from outside Jefferson County have called it taxation without representation.

Tax opponents say the revenue loss has forced county officials to address the runaway spending that the tax enabled for prior commissioners.

State Rep. Arthur Payne, R-Trussville, points to the $360,000 discretionary fund each commissioner controlled in the late 1990s and early 2000s, at a time when the county commission was asking legislators to double the occupational tax rate.

“The legislature never wanted the tax enacted in the first place,” said Payne, an opponent of the tax throughout his 34-year legislative career. “I’m glad the tax is gone. We don’t need it back. I think the county will be better off without it.”
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Diminishing returns
The county occupational tax generated nearly $253 million between when the Edwards suit was filed on May 11, 2007, and when collections ended for good on March 16, 2011, as a result of the Weissman case, the News analysis showed.

But Jefferson County only was able to keep 78 percent of the tax revenue, some $196 million.

Workers got 16 percent of that money back in court-ordered refunds, some $40 million after deducting lawyer fees and other expenses.

Combined, the lawyers who filed the suits received about 6 percent of the tax revenue from that period.

The Edwards suit lawyers — Jim McFerrin, Sam Hill and Allen Dodd — split some $9.5 million. Clay Lowe Jr., Wilson Green and Donald Jones Jr. divided $6.4 million in the Weissman suit.

The judge in the Weissman case also set aside $525,000 in tax money to cover the refund administrator’s fee and costs.

Taxpayers also paid the county’s $3 million legal bill from the suits, the News analysis showed.

The law firm Haskell Slaughter received $1.8 million between 2007 and late 2010 in the Edwards suit.

The firm that took over, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, was paid $705,000 for its work on the Edwards suit, bringing the county’s total legal bill to $2.5 million in that suit.

The county has paid Bradley Arant another $450,000 in the Weissman case, records show. The firm has received nearly $1.2 million total in the two suits.

The judge in the Edwards suit also ordered the county to pay the estimated $1.1 million cost of providing refunds in that case, another taxpayer expense.
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Worker benefits
Taxpayers’ lawyers in both cases have said throughout the litigation that their clients are winners, too, and not just because they will receive partial refunds from taxes they paid during the county’s unsuccessful appeals.

“Basically we’re saving taxpayers approximately $70 million per year in occupational taxes they no longer pay,” said McFerrin, one of the lawyers in Edwards case.

Broken down individually, each worker’s financial windfall is modest, the News analysis showed.

The net refund for a person making an average salary in Jefferson County, roughly $46,000, was less than $115.

That taxpayer also would save nearly $210 per year — $8,400 at that wage over a 40-year career — now that the .45 percent tax on pay no longer is in effect.

But the cumulative effect of the tax savings from more than 300,000 affected workers will make a difference in the communities where they live, McFerrin said.

“When you throw $70 million into the economy it has a multiplier effect,” he said. “That is money going into the local economy that would not otherwise if the tax was still in effect.”
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Warring leaders
Jefferson County’s occupational tax lived and died amid a conflict between the county commission and legislative delegation.

In 1987, commissioners asked the delegation for an occupational tax. The delegation, which controls the revenue sources the commission may tap, balked at the request, Payne said.

When the county responded by discovering and dusting off a 1967 law that would allow the commissioners to impose the tax anyway, the battle was on.

The delegation rewrote the tax law in mid-1999 in a bill that also would distribute a substantial portion of the proceeds to programs the legislators had selected across the county. The county refused to collect the tax, then beat back the rewrite law in court.

Payne and other delegation members then figured that, if they repealed the 1967 law, the county would have to go along with a second tax rewrite planned for the 2000 Regular Session.

“It was never really our intention to do away with the tax,” Payne said. “We passed the repeal bill because the county kept fighting us and we were trying to get them to pay attention.”

By 2002, judges had thrown out the repeal law and both tax rewrites, leaving the original version intact. The occupational tax seemed to have become one of life’s certainties.

Then in 2005, the Alabama Supreme Court in an unrelated case issued a ruling that threatened to breathe new life into the 1999 occupational tax repeal bill.

Commissioners vainly asked for a legislative fix. But none would come until 2009, after a virtual shutdown of county government due to the loss of the original occupational tax.

Since the 2009 replacement tax was struck down, the delegation has been unable to agree on any new revenue source. Legislators also have demanded deep county spending cuts.

Commissioners say the reductions they have made have left Jefferson County unable to meet the demands of the state’s largest county and job center. Budgets for the sheriff’s department and roads department rank last among the seven largest counties in Alabama, said David Carrington, the commission president.

Jefferson County has few revenue choices beyond an occupational tax, he said.

Most Alabama counties rely on a one-cent sales tax for money, but two-thirds of Jefferson County’s sales tax is earmarked for health care and the civic center, he said.

“In retrospect, the legislative debate on the county’s revenues, earmarks and expenditures should have happened years ago before the occupational tax was passed,” Carrington said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t.”

Without new revenue, the county’s ability to provide even basic services, much less attract new businesses, will continue to deteriorate, said Doss, the commissioner from the pre-occupational tax era.

“At this point, there is no major effort to move in a positive direction,” he said. “The longer we wait, the longer it will take to fix.”

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Crazed Semmes Alabama Public Works Supervisor Mark Raiford Faces 20 Years In Prison – Arrested After Shooting At Car With 5 Teens Inside And Holding Them At Gunpoint

September 25, 2012

SEMMES, ALABAMA – A Semmes public works supervisor was arrested by the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office on Monday after deputies say he shot at a car with five teenagers in it.

Mark Raiford, 39, was booked early this morning and charged with discharging a gun into an occupied vehicle. The charge is a felony.

“This could have been a situation with a horrible ending,” Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said.

None of the teens were injured in the shooting.

Lori Myles, public information officer for the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department, said Raiford shot at the vehicle after he caught the teens toilet papering his house. They rang the doorbell on his home on Sky Vista Drive West before fleeing the scene, according to Cochran.

“It just points to how dangerous this is – some things that kids do,” Cochran said. “It’s a dangerous situation to involve yourself in, but at the same time, shooting into an occupied vehicle when they were clearly fleeing from your residence – and all they were doing was rolling your yard – is an overreaction to tremendous levels.”

According to Cochran, Raiford emptied a .380 pistol shooting toward the car, striking the vehicle’s bumper and tire. Five shell casings were recovered from the scene, none of which indicated he was shooting head-on, according to deputies.

Raiford called the sheriff’s office before catching up with the teens at a nearby service station. Armed with a Glock pistol, Raiford held them hostage at gunpoint until deputies arrived.

Cochran said Raiford only held them “for a few moments.”

No more charges are expected for Raiford, although he has the option of pressing charges against the teens for criminal littering, a “minor” misdemeanor, Cochran said.

Deputies said the teens knew a teen living in Raiford’s home through school, although they declined to give details on how they knew each other.

Booking records show Raiford was released around 6 a.m. today. He has a court date scheduled on Oct. 10.

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

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Hundreds Of Alabama Jobs Down The Drain As US Goverment Gives Military Uniform Contract To Federal Prison Industries – “Cheap” Prisoner Labor, But Finsihed Uniforms Cost More Than From Private Industry

September 17, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Two southeast companies that make U.S. military uniforms are shedding hundreds of jobs, as the government looks to federal inmates for the fatigues.

American Power Source makes military clothing in Fayette, Ala., but its government contract expires in October. Federal Prison Industries – which also operates under the name UNICOR will snag the work, and leave the task to inmates. FPI has the first right of refusal for U.S. Government contracts, under a 1930 federal law.

American Apparel, the Selma, Ala., based military clothing manufacturer closed one of its plants and continues to downsize others due to the loss of some of its contracts to FPI. According retired Air Force colonel and spokesman Kurt Wilson, the company laid off 255 employees and cut the hours of 190 employees this year alone. So private workers end up losing their jobs to prisoners.

“The way the law is – Federal Prison Industries gets first dibs and contracts up to a certain percentage before they have to compete against us,” Wilson, the executive vice president of business development and government affairs, said. “The army combat uniform, for instance, is an item that they take off the top. As a result American tax payers pay more for it – but the bottom line is each soldier is paying more for their uniform.”

American Apparel charges $29.44 per uniform, but the FPI uniform costs $34.18 – a 15 percent difference.

FPI has been around since the 1930s. It provides training, education and employment for inmates in federal custody. With more than 13,000 inmates, FPI operates in about 80 factories across the United States. The company is not allowed to sell its goods to the private sector — and the law requires federal agencies to buy its products, even if they are not the cheapest.

“It has been going on for some time,” Wilson said. “Unfortunately what comes to bear now is, as demand for uniforms begins to decrease, budgets decrease and the problem gets bigger for us. Therefore we have to lay people off.”

FPI officials were unavailable for an interview, but the company does offer a number of statistics which dispute the criticism.

“It is important to note that FPI produces only 7 percent of the textile garments purchased by DLA. The other 93 percent are produced by other entities,” Julie Rozier, an FPI spokeswoman said in a statement to Fox News.

“FPI’s percentage has remained fairly consistent over the past decade, with slight declines. FPI is a program that directly protects society by reducing crime and preparing inmates for successful release back into society to become law-abiding citizens; FPI does not receive a congressional appropriation for its operations,” the statement said.

Inmates working for UNICOR or FPI are 24 percent less likely to reoffend and 14 percent more likely to be employed long-term upon release, according to the government company’s website. More than 40 percent of Unicor’s supplies were purchased from small businesses in 2011.

The battle between the two has caught the attention of lawmakers in Washington.

Representative Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., is sponsoring a bill which would reign in the ability to take work from private companies.

“We all have seen those terrible statistics, forty-plus months of 8.1 percent unemployment. We know the actions the government has taken it doesn’t look like this is going to get better any time soon,” Huizenga said. “Here we are having a prison population coming in and taking jobs away from the private sector – why in the world we think this is OK. I can guarantee you if this were a Chinese product with Chinese prisoners making that – we would be outraged.”

Huizenga went on to say the outrage amongst his constituents is palpable.

“It’s just this outside entity called UNICOR or Federal Prison Industries coming in and saying sorry – that work is now ours. We are going to having prisoners doing this,” he said. “Of course they are outraged, of course they are frustrated. They are angry, they’re hurt frankly that their own federal government would come in and do this to them at a time when their watching their friends and neighbors struggle with $4 gasoline and they’re trying to keep their mortgage in check.”

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Montgomery Alabama Police Officer Milton Strother Arrested, Quits, Charged With Theft

September 14, 2012

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA – The Montgomery Police Department confirms that it has arrested one of its own officers in connection with the theft of funds confiscated in a narcotics arrest.

Police Chief Kevin J. Murphy immediately initiated termination proceedings against the officer, who has resigned.

MPD charged Milton Strother, 25, with one count of second-degree theft, a Class C felony.

Following his arrest late Tuesday, Strother was transported to the Montgomery County Detention Facility, where he was being held under a $2,500 bond.

Montgomery Police initiated the investigation after determining that cash seized in a narcotics case last year had not been returned as ordered by a judge hearing the case.

In the course of the investigation, MPD says it developed information that led to Strother’s arrest. Strother was hired in 2007.

Because the investigation is continuing, no additional information is available for public release.

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