Self-Confessed Illegal Immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas Arrested, Minnesota And Feds Let Him Go – Wetback Was Driving On Washington License That Had Been Canceled Due To Fraud

October 7, 2012

MINNESOTA – Jose Antonio Vargas, the writer and activist who went public last year with his status as an undocumented immigrant, was arrested for a driving infraction in Minnesota on Friday, but federal immigration authorities did not detain him or take any other action, officials said Saturday.

Vargas, a former Washington Post reporter who revealed his status in The New York Times Magazine and touched off a debate in the journalistic community, was initially pulled over by a state trooper for driving while wearing head phones, Eric Roeske, public information officer for the Minnesota state patrol, told POLITICO.

“He did produce a Washington driver’s license” after being pulled over, Roeske said. “When the trooper ran the license, it showed the status [of the license] was canceled. It also indicated there may have been fraudulent activity associated with the license. That’s why [it might have been] canceled. That triggered the trooper to look into that further and contact ICE (U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement).”
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Duluth Minnesota Police Officer Richard Jouppi Faces Two Tiny Misdemeanors After Attacking And Brutally Beating Man In Wheelchair – Bogus Charges Against His Victim Dropped

October 5, 2012

DULUTH, MINNESOTA – A Duluth, Minnesota, police officer will face criminal charges for, as a video shows, beating up a man in a detox facility last month, the city’s police department said Thursday.

Shawn Reed, the independent counsel looking into the case, decided Thursday to press charges against Officer Richard Jouppi, according to a news release from Duluth police.

Jouppi will face counts of fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors.

The officer’s attorney, Frederic Bruno, defended his clients’ actions as “100%” justified.

According to a police report written by Jouppi, officers responded on September 21 to transport a man — later identified as Anthony Jackson — who witnesses described as being “extremely intoxicated (and) in two fights tonight.” Duluth police spokesman Jim Hansen said last Friday that officers had gone to a halfway house because Jackson had violated its no-drinking policy.

Jackson was brought to the Duluth Detoxification Center “without incident,” though once there the police report indicates he exchanged “unpleasant remarks” with a female staff member.

Security camera footage, later released to media, shows Jackson in a room sitting in a wheelchair trying to take off his coat. He stands up, trying to remove his jacket, when the police officer — Jouppi, who had been standing by the door — arrives and pins Jackson’s arm behind his head, pushing him back.

The video shows Jackson pawing once at the police officer’s face, as his other arm is pinned back. Jouppi responds with five punches to Jackson’s head, then grabs him by the neck and pulls him off his wheelchair and onto the floor.

“I controlled his right arm at the elbow in order to prevent Jackson from falling through with his threat to strike (a) staff member,” Jouppi wrote in the police report.

“I sought to take Jackson into custody and delivered two strikes to Jackson’s face, as it was the only target presented to me at the time and in order to keep him from delivering more strikes I flipped the wheelchair … which brought Jackson’s back down to the ground.”

Jackson was booked on charged of felony assault and later released, Hansen said. But those charges have since been dropped, according to Ernie Swartout, records manager for the Duluth police department — a move that Jouppi’s lawyer said was “expected” and “is pandering to the public.”

Division Deputy Chief Mike Tusken told reporters last Friday that police had since visited Jackson “to reassure (him) that we are taking this seriously and just give him an update that we’re doing an investigation on the matter.”

The police official also confirmed that Jouppi has been accused in other incidents.

“It is not the first time there have been complaints on the officer,” Tusken said.

Jouppi’s attorney described the charges facing his client, even though misdemeanors, as “disturbing” and unwarranted.

“It is a black-and-white case,” Bruno said, adding there is no chance his client will settle.

The attorney asserts that Jackson “clearly stands up in the video and strikes the police officer.”

“You strike a cop, and you are in no man’s land,” Bruno said.

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Caledonia Minnesota Police Officer Chad Heuser Suspended After Drag Racing In Patrol Car While On Duty

September 14, 2012

CALEDONIA, MINNESOTA – A Caledonia Police officer is serving a suspension.

The Caledonia interim City clerk says Officer Chad Heuser is serving a 28-day suspension without pay for drag racing in a squad car at the Houston County Airport on company time.

The Clerk says the incident happened in July.

On August 13th, the Caledonia City Council approved a suspension for a violation of department rules.

Heuser joined the Caledonia Police Department in 2005. He’s served as a full-time police officer in Caledonia since 2008.

WXOW spoke with Houston County Sheriff Doug Ely about the incident.

He tells WXOW that his department has an ongoing internal investigation in connection with the case. He says because the investigation is ongoing, he cannot provide further information at this time.

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Second St. Paul Minnesota Police Officer Suspended After Videotaped Beating Of Man Who Was Lying On The Ground

September 1, 2012

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA – A second St. Paul, Minnesota, police officer was on leave Friday in the wake of an arrest video that showed an officer kicking a suspect who was lying on the ground.

The officer who kicked the suspect, identified by police as Jesse Zilge, had been put on leave earlier in the week.

The name of the second officer was not released; police did not specify what role he played in the incident.

An investigation continued into the Tuesday arrest of Eric Hightower, who police had been seeking for suspicion of making terroristic threats.

The president of the St. Paul Police Federation, the union that represents Zilge, urged people not to rush to judgment.

“Once this process is complete, we believe the facts will show that a good cop was in a dangerous situation with a known dangerous individual,” Dave Titus said in a statement. “The video footage captured by an onlooker does not provide complete context of the incident and by no means demonstrates how the officer perceived the threat at hand.”

Hightower is already on the ground when the video made by a bystander begins. He can be heard shouting, “What are you arresting me for?”

In an apparent response to something Zilge said, Hightower then asked, “Assault on who? Can you tell me what’s going on?”

A male voice on the video can be heard saying Hightower had been shot with pepper spray. Several other voices heckle the officer.

At one point, Hightower begins to cough and the officer kicks him in the chest once.

Zilge then handcuffs Hightower and, with the assistance of another officer, slams the suspect against the hood of a waiting police car.

The video, posted on YouTube, is shot from across the street of where the arrest took place was. It is grainy and can be difficult at times to hear what the officer and suspect are saying.

At one point, the officer tells onlookers to calm down.

“He beat up a woman last night,” Zilge said. Hightower responded: “You lying, man! I ain’t even been around here.”

The video caught the attention of St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith, who “found that the video images raised questions about use of force and immediately ordered a thorough internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding all aspects of the arrest, from start to finish,” according to police.

The two officers are on leave pending the outcome of that investigation.

It was not immediately clear whether Zilge had retained an attorney. A listed number for the officer was not in working order.

For his part, Hightower is accused of threatening his ex-girlfriend on about August 24-28. Bail was set at $35,000 and, according to CNN affiliate KARE, Hightower bonded out of jail on Thursday. Specifically, he was charged with stalking, making terroristic threats and criminal damage of property.

According to the complaint against him, which cites comments from his ex-girlfriend, Hightower strangled and threatened to kill her.

KARE spoke to some of Hightower’s family members, who gathered outside a courthouse where Hightower made his first appearance Friday.

“Regardless of what he was getting charged with, I don’t think the actions were taken appropriately for somebody who’s not resisting,” Hightower’s cousin, Antoine Hightower, told the affiliate.

A call seeking comment from Hightower’s attorney was not immediately returned Friday.

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Video Catches St. Paul Minnesota Police Officer Jesse Zilge’s Violent Attack On Choking Man

August 30, 2012

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA – Police in Minnesota are investigating a case of police brutality after an officer in St. Paul was filmed kicking a man in the face during an arrest.

The video, shot Tuesday and posted to YouTube on Wednesday, shows officer Jesse Zilge arresting Eric Hightower, 30, for allegedly threatening to kill a woman he knew, St. Paul police said.

Hightower is lying on the ground and shouting at Zilge that he didn’t do anything and doesn’t know why he’s being arrested, the video shows.

Hightower starts coughing – bystanders say officer had pepper-spayed him – and Zilge kicks him in the face or the chest before cuffing him.

Zilge and another officer then pull the burly suspect to his feet and slam him on the hood of their cruiser before searching him and placing him in the back seat.

The video shows Eric Hightower, 30, yelling at the police officer and asking why he is being arrested. Bystanders claim that the officer sprayed Hightower in the face with Mace.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman called for an investigation into the incident, saying the video “raises serious questions about the conduct of the officer.”

“I have high expectations for the department and its employees. We will fully investigate and take appropriate action,” the mayor said in a statement.

St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith ordered an investigation Wednesday, local station KARE reported.

Lord Stitts, a friend of Hightower’s and the man who shot the video, said the two were walking together Tuesday evening when the cops drove up, hopped out and maced his pal.

“You see he’s clearly choking on the mace, not resisting arrest or anything – kicked him in the face for no reason,” Sitts told KARE while watching the video. “Nobody can understand why he would do that.”

Zilge has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation

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Minneapolis Minnesota Police Officer Sgt. David Richard Clifford Charged After Brutally Beating Bar Patron For Talking On Cell Phone – Victim Required Surgery Twice For Brain Bleeds

July 21, 2012

ANOKA, MINNESOTA – A Minneapolis police sergeant accused of punching a man at a bar while off-duty is now facing a more serious charge.

The Anoka County Attorney’s Office charged 47-year-old David Richard Clifford Tuesday with first degree assault for his role in an incident at Tanner’s Station in Andover on June 16.

Authorities say Clifford punched Brian Vander Lee on the patio at Tanner’s Station after Vander Lee was using offensive language while talking on his cell phone.

Clifford was originally charged with third degree assault, but that was upgraded to the more serious first degree assault charge due to the severity of the injuries suffered by Vander Lee.

Since the incident in mid-June, Vander Lee “has undergone two separate surgeries on his head to address bleeding on his brain,” chief deputy County Attorney David Cossi said in a statement.

Clifford’s next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.

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State Of Minnesota Prisoner, Housed In A Private Prison, Died After Nurse Overruled Doctor’s Orders That He Be Transported To Hospital – Denied Emergency Medical Care

June 25, 2012

RUSH CITY, MINNESOTA – An inmate with a history of seizures was denied emergency care by a prison nurse who overrode a doctor’s orders for an ambulance, and within an hour the man suffered irreversible brain damage that led to his death, according to documents obtained by the Star Tribune.

Although prisoner Xavius Scullark-Johnson had suffered multiple seizures over a period of hours, a nurse at the state prison in Rush City cited “protocols” in turning away an ambulance team sent to take him to a nearby hospital, crew reports show.

Johnson’s 2010 death is expected to produce a federal lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC), with a filing likely early this week.

The agency said Friday that it would not allow Dr. David Paulson, its medical director, to be interviewed about the death, “due to potential litigation.” Officials said the department has investigated Johnson’s death, but would not provide details or describe the protocols cited by the nurse.

Yet events in the hours before Johnson was found “pulseless” in his cell raise questions about denial of care because of the rationed-care philosophy of the for-profit contractor Minnesota has hired to care for the state’s 9,400 prisoners. Corizon Inc., formerly known as Correctional Medical Services, has had a contract with the state since 1998, worth $28 million this year.

One of the contract’s major cost-saving provisions says that Corizon is not required to provide overnight medical staff in the state’s prisons, except Oak Park Heights and Faribault, where medically complicated, elderly and terminally ill prisoners are held.

No doctors, who are all Corizon employees, work in the state’s prisons after 4 p.m. or on weekends. Corrections nurses, who are state employees, work seven days a week, but their last shifts end at 10:30 p.m. The last time the Rush City prison had 24-hour medical coverage was in 2002.

Additionally, services such as ambulance runs are strictly monitored by Corizon and the department in an effort to cut costs, according to department medical staff. An average ambulance run costs about $3,000 plus mileage, the department says.

Corizon declined to comment for this story, or to allow a reporter to interview the Corizon physician who was on call the night of the incident.

‘Something is not right’

Johnson’s last hours are a series of scenes that show prison medical staff acting with indifference as well as compassion, corrections officers caught in the middle as communications break down, and guards left to evaluate a prisoner spiraling downward, according to DOC documents and ambulance reports.

The incident started on the evening of June 28, just as the health services unit was closing for the night.

Johnson, 27, a St. Paul native who suffered from schizophrenia and a seizure disorder, was found soaked in urine on the floor of his cell. He was coiled in a fetal position and in an altered state of consciousness that suggested he had suffered a seizure, according to notes taken by nurse Linda L. Andrews, who was on duty at that hour. He was somewhat combative when a nurse tried to take his vitals and wipe him with a cool washcloth, but his breathing was normal.

Andrews wrote that she covered the prisoner, then issued orders to a lieutenant to let Johnson sleep and to check on him during rounds. Andrews did not contact the system’s on-call doctor, according to her last chart, written at 10:55 p.m.

About four hours later, Dr. Sharyn Barney, a longtime employee of Corizon, picked up her telephone at home. A corrections officer told her that Johnson had had a seizure the previous evening that was evaluated by the health staff, but that now his cellmate was having “trouble waking” him, according to the doctor’s notes.

Barney, who works primarily out of the prison in Moose Lake, told the officer that Johnson was probably “exceptionally sleepy from the seizure the previous evening.”

She advised officers to monitor him carefully and alert the medical staff when they arrived for the morning shift.

Under the department’s contract with Corizon, there is just one on-call doctor to serve the entire prison system across Minnesota, and who is then left to assess a prisoner’s case without the benefit of a written file because health service units are shut down overnight.

Prison medical staff interviewed in recent weeks say the practice often leaves the doctor “flying blind” and leaves prison officers with no on-site medical staff to evaluate a patient’s distress.

An hour or two later, the officer called Barney back. “He was uncomfortable and felt something just was not right and we agreed to call for an ambulance,” the doctor wrote. It was a 911 call.

‘Pulseless’

A two-person ambulance team arrived at the Rush City prison at 5:39 a.m. While they evaluated Johnson, noting he was “slow to respond,” nurse Denise L. Garin arrived. She did not want Johnson transported, the ambulance crew wrote.

“They say the patient has had three seizures through the night,” a crew member wrote in her June 29, 2010, report. “They believe that he has a seizure [history] but do not know because health services is closed at night. They did not want patient transported.

“They have protocols to deal with the patient,” her notes continue, “and say this is because patient has recently gotten his Dilantin cut in half.”

Dilantin is a drug used to control seizures. An autopsy later showed that Johnson’s Dilantin was “below therapeutic level,” but there is no mention in Garin’s charting why she refused to let the ambulance crew take him to the hospital to have his Dilantin level checked immediately.

Garin’s own report makes no mention of protocols or drug dosages.

In fact, Garin wrote that Johnson was “alert, his vital signs were stable and he responded appropriately” — the opposite of what the crew observed.

Garin did not apprise the on-call doctor about her decision to cancel the ambulance order, according to her entries in Johnson’s medical file. Garin, who continues to work at the prison, could not be reached for comment.

The ambulance crew packed up and left. It was 6:07 a.m.

About 35 minutes later, an emergency alarm called staff to Johnson’s cell. Garin wrote that she found Johnson face-down in his bunk. She turned his head and noted a heartbeat. She asked an officer to stay with Johnson while she tried to reach a doctor. While waiting, she was called back to the cell. She pressed Johnson’s neck to find the cartoid artery and found that he was “pulseless.”

About 20 minutes later, a new ambulance crew arrived while prison staff administered chest compressions on Johnson. He could not be revived.

Johnson was transported to the Fairview Lakes Regional Hospital in Wyoming, Minn., and then later to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. He was pronounced dead at 7:37 a.m. on June 30. “Scans had shown herniated brain stem. Administration notified,” a nurse’s last entry stated.

At the time, Johnson was expected to be released from prison in less than three months.

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