Veteran Santa Fe New Mexico Police Officer Jon Lopez Arrested, Supended, And Charged After Beating His Wife – Just Days After Department Initiated “Zero Tolerance” Policy Targeting Criminal Cops

June 25, 2012

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO – A Santa Fe police officer has been placed on administrative leave after he was arrested Sunday evening on charges of battery on a household member and interfering with communications.

Jon Lopez, 30, who lives in Santa Fe, made arrangements with Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputies to meet at the Santa Fe police headquarters at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday where he was arrested and later booked into jail.

The arrest comes just two days after the initiation of a “zero tolerance” policy at the Santa Fe Police Department that recommends termination on any first offense related to conviction for such a crime. The policy was enacted after members of the Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families and Solace Crisis Treatment Center contacted the police chief asking for clear accountability in the police department with regard to cases involving domestic violence, sexual offenses and other specified types of misconduct.

Deputies responded to a domestic dispute call at about 6:12 p.m. Sunday in which Lopez’s wife reported that a verbal altercation had turned physical. Sheriff Robert Garcia said deputies saw that “she had marks on her arms consistent with bruising and a scratch.”

Garcia said Lopez took his wife’s cell phone before leaving the house. Lopez, according to a news release by Santa Fe police, had been an officer for three years and was assigned to the patrol division.

Lopez eventually called his house off Muscat Drive near N.M. 14 while deputies were interviewing his wife. Lopez agreed to meet with the deputies to meet at Santa Fe police headquarters. Garcia said Lopez was off duty during the incident.

Police Chief Ray Rael was notified of the arrest late Sunday night and said he did not have all of the details of the arrest Monday morning.

Rael said in an interview last week that the new policy should bolster the public’s trust in his department because prior to the zero tolerance policy, “punishment varied from written reprimands to suspensions.”

Rael said there will be two aspects to investigations into Lopez’s alleged actions — a criminal investigation and an internal department investigation.

“We will initiate out internal affairs investigation immediately and if the evidence shows that there is probable cause that he did commit this crime, the appropriate action will be taken,” Rael said.

He said the internal investigation will not rely on the criminal investigation and that action within the department can be taken before the criminal case is heard.

According to the Santa Fe County jail website, Lopez was booked at about 9:06 p.m. and was being held without bond.

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Hingham Massachusetts Police Officer Justin Burns Arrested, Suspended, And Charged After Attacking His Girlfriend

June 3, 2012

HINGHAM, MASSACHUSETTS – A Hingham Police officer was arrested on Monday afternoon for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend.

Hingham patrolman Justin Burns, age 30 of Hull, has been put on paid leave by the Hingham Police Department after he was arrested on four counts of domestic assault and battery.

While arguing with his girlfriend at their Hull home, Burns allegedly poured beer on her, kicked her with his barefoot in the shin, spit in her face and later pushed her to the ground, according to the police report.

The Hingham officer’s girlfriend admitted to throwing his items around their home and to hitting him in the arm during the argument.

After leaving their home, she reported the incident to a Hull Police officer who she flagged down while in her vehicle on Nantasket Avenue.

While reporting the incident to police, Burns had called the Hull Police Department and reported that his girlfriend was drunk and out of control and throwing things, the report stated.

Police later arrived on scene to Burns’s Avalon Drive home and arrested him. They contacted the Hingham Police Department who took custody of Burns’s two firearms and ammunition that were locked in a case in the closet.

Burns told police that his girlfriend trashed the house, but the argument never got physical.

Hingham Town Administrator Ted Alexiades said Officer Burns was placed on paid administrative leave indefinitely and said the town is conducting an internal investigation while awaiting the outcome of the charges.

“We’re asking everyone to have patience with the process and not to jump to conclusions,” Alexiades said.

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Concern About Domestic Drones, Besides Privacy, Includes That They Will Be Armed For Use Against US Citizens

May 23, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – With the use of domestic drones increasing, concern has not just come up over privacy issues, but also over the potential use of lethal force by the unmanned aircraft.

Drones have been used overseas to target and kill high-level terror leaders and are also being used along the U.S.-Mexico border in the battle against illegal immigration. But now, these drones are starting to be used domestically at an increasing rate.

The Federal Aviation Administration has allowed several police departments to use drones across the U.S. They are controlled from a remote location and use infrared sensors and high-resolution cameras.

Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Texas told The Daily that his department is considering using rubber bullets and tear gas on its drone.

“Those are things that law enforcement utilizes day in and day out and in certain situations it might be advantageous to have this type of system on the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle),” McDaniel told The Daily.

The use of potential force from drones has raised the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It’s simply not appropriate to use any of force, lethal or non-lethal, on a drone,” Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the ACLU, told CBSDC.

Crump feels one of the biggest problems with the use of drones is the remote location where they are operated from.

“When the officer is on the scene, they have full access to info about what has transpired there,” Crump explained to CBSDC. “An officer at a remote location far away does not have the same level of access.”

The ACLU is also worried about potential drones malfunctioning and falling from the sky, adding that they are keeping a close eye on the use of these unmanned aircraft by police departments.

“We don’t need a situation where Americans feel there is in an invisible eye in the sky,” Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at ACLU, told CBSDC.

Joshua Foust, fellow at the American Security Project, feels domestic drones should not be armed.

“I think from a legal perspective, there is nothing problematic about floating a drone over a city,” Foust told CBSDC. “In terms of getting armed drones, I would be very nervous about that happening right now.”

McDaniel says that his community should not be worried about the department using a drone.

“We’ve never gone into surveillance for sake of surveillance unless there is criminal activity afoot,” McDaniel told The Daily. “Just to see what you’re doing in your backyard pool — we don’t care.”

But the concern for the ACLU is just too great that an American’s constitutional rights will be trampled with the use of drones.

“The prospect of people out in public being Tased or targeted by force by flying drones where no officers is physically present on the scene,” Crump says, “raises the prospect of unconstitutional force being used on individuals.”

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Federal Goverment Hiding Data On Domestic Use Of Drone Aircraft

January 12, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The domestic use of stealth drones to survey America from the skies is no joke. The Department of Homeland Security has acknowledged that the US government has used the planes on the home front for years, but why and how is largely unknown.

An advocacy group aims to change that.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit based out of San Francisco, California, filed a Freedom of Information Act request back in April to learn more about domestic drone use in America. Eight months later, the Department of Transportation (and its subdivision that deals directly with domestic drones, the Federal Aviation Administration), has failed to follow through. On Tuesday this week, the EFF responded by formally filing a suit against the DoT, “Demanding data on certifications and authorizations the agency has issued for the operation of unmanned aircraft, also known as drones.”

Aside from what is leaked out of the Pentagon to the media, much isn’t clear about drone use except for a seemingly endless series of misadventures that have plagued the Department of Defense in recent months. As the US military continues drone operations overseas, the craft fleets have been linked to the firing of missiles, the monitoring of both insurgents and civilians and escalating tensions between the US and Iran. In terms of military use, drone operations have yielded widespread opposition from the likes of constitutional rights advocates, presidential candidate Ron Paul and the American Civil Liberties Union. Regardless, the government is only adding an arsenal of more and more craft to its fleet every month, adding international bases and investing billions in new unmanned planes.

American drone missions overseas are being launched for obvious reasons, despite how the government describes it. Domestic use, however, is largely kept in the shadows and is rarely discussed. San Francisco’s EFF says that at least 285 missions have occurred in America, but they want to know more about them. The US government, however, is being far from accommodation in regards to their request.

With the filing of the suit on Tuesday, the EFF hopes that they will be able to finally let the public understand why spy planes are being flown through American skies without the people of the country given any reason or warning as to why.

“There is currently no information available to the public on which specific public and civil entities have applied for, been granted or been denied certificates or authorizations to fly unmanned aircraft in the United States,” the EFF’s complaint says. In April they filed their FOIA request for information, and with no response nearly a year later, they have determined that by September of 2011, almost 300 missions by 85 separate users were certified by the FAA in all. The FAA, a component of the DOT, approves all domestic drone missions. A recent report revealed that the they are currently in the works to approve non-federal use of the spy craft planes in the US, drafting a legislation that will umbrella any local law enforcement unit to deploy drones as they would a street cruiser or bike cop.

“This is a tool that many law enforcement agencies never imagined they could have,” Steven Gitlin of AeroVironment Inc. told the Los Angeles Times in November. His company is already in the works to supply law enforcement agencies with 18,000 of small drone crafts once the FAA grants them clearance.

In the meantime, however, the federal government continues to operate these missions without explaining why. Such a shadowy-nature has only increased paranoia for Americans skeptic of the Big Brother branding near synonymous with the Obama administration, and an ongoing assault on the civil liberties of citizens is driving those previously unaware of drones to disavow the use.

“The use of drones in American airspace could dramatically increase the physical tracking of citizens – tracking that can reveal deeply personal details about our private lives,” EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch says in a statement. “Drones give the government and other unmanned aircraft operators a powerful new surveillance tool to gather extensive and intrusive data on Americans’ movements and activities,” she adds, noting that the usage rises “significant privacy concerns.”

“We’re asking the DOT to follow the law and respond to our FOIA request so we can learn more about who is flying the drones and why,” Lynch pleads in explaining the suit.

While America waits for the truth, they are left with only one option: to prefer for the worst and cover their tracks.

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Elkins West Virginia Police Officer Willard Lewis Arrested, Suspended, Charged With Kidnapping And Assaulting His Wife

April 6, 2011

ELKINS, WEST VIRGINIA — An officer with the Elkins Police Department was arrested Thursday.

Willard Lewis, 29, of Beverly, was charged with kidnapping, domestic battery and domestic assault, according to his criminal complaint.

A call from the Lewis home was made to the Randolph County 911 Center. When the call was hung up, state police were sent to the home.

When troopers arrived, they found the front door open and no one home. They also found damage to the bedroom door, the complaint said.

Neighbors told the troopers that Lewis and his wife had left. State police began searching for the couple and found Mrs. Lewis at her grandmother’s home.

She told troopers that Lewis was belittling her and calling her names. When she went to the bedroom to get away from him, he kicked the door, she said. She then went to the bathroom to get away from him. When he threatened to kick that door down, she came out. He then grabbed her face and pushed her against the wall, elbowing her in the eye, court paperwork detailed.

She told Lewis that she wanted to leave, but he told her she “wasn’t leaving,” the complaint said. He then told her that she should go for a ride with him before the police arrived, the complaint went on to say.

Troopers noted a bruise under the victim’s right eye.

Lewis was taken to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail, where he remains, with bail set at $20,000.

Lewis was immediately suspended from the Elkins Police Department, according to Chief H.R. White.

Administrative action against Lewis will depend on the outcome of Lewis’ legal proceedings and the Elkins Police Department’s own investigation, White said.

“Anytime this department responds to a call of this reported nature, we take the complaint very seriously and handle the incident with the tenacity it deserves, as domestic calls are potentially some of the most dangerous calls an officer will encounter in his or her career,” White said in a prepared statement.

White did not offer further comment.

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Kingsport Tennessee Police Officer David Johnson Arrested, Suspended, Charged After Breaking Into Ex-Girlfriend’s Home, Pissing On Her Bed, And Assaulting Her And Her New Boyfriend

April 6, 2011

KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE – An off-duty Kingsport police officer has been arrested after allegedly entering his ex-girlfriend’s home, urinating on her bed, then assaulting her and her new boyfriend when they arrived at the residence.

According to an affidavit filed in Washington County court, he repeatedly refused to leave, finally complying when the male victim retrieved a firearm from his truck.

David Johnson, a KPD patrolman and K-9 handler, has been charged with domestic assault, criminal trespassing and vandalism of more than $500. The Johnson City Press reports he turned himself into Washington County authorities late Monday, while Kingsport spokesman Tim Whaley says Johnson has been suspended with pay pending an internal investigation.

Court records state the incident occurred Sunday at 58 Stonebriar Court in Washington County, Tenn. The victim, Johnson’s ex-girlfriend, told police that she and her new boyfriend arrived home to find Johnson sitting in her kitchen.

Johnson had reportedly been at the residence for some time, as several empty bottles of alcohol were in the trash can. He allegedly refused to leave, prompting the other man to ask him to step outside, “hoping to get Mr. Johnson to leave while speaking with him alone.” When that didn’t work the two alleged victims decided to leave the residence and call police, but Johnson reportedly followed them as they walked outside.

When the victim’s current boyfriend again asked Johnson to leave, Johnson reportedly, “swung at him, striking a glancing blow to the top of his head.”

When the ex-girlfriend then told Johnson to stop, according to the affidavit, Johnson, “pushed her in the throat, causing her to stumble backwards.” A Washington County officer that responded to the scene reports observing a red mark on the woman’s neck.

The affidavit states the male victim, knowing Johnson is a police officer and may be armed, retrieved a firearm from his truck. He reportedly, “told Mr. Johnson he would defend himself and to leave,” with Johnson then complying. After Johnson left the woman reportedly found he had urinated in her bed and in a pair of boots.

On Monday afternoon the Times-News contacted city officials to inquire on Johnson’s status with the police department. A press release was issued Tuesday morning, stating Johnson is suspended, “pending the outcome of an internal investigation and/or court action.” No further details were provided.

The press release also contained a prepared statement from Police Chief Gale Osborne, saying his department has, “zero tolerance for actions that violate the law, City policies or conduct unbecoming of an officer.”

“The citizens of Kingsport have graciously provided the manpower, training and technology to get this job done,” reads Osborne’s quotes. “And, the men and women of the Kingsport Police Department prove themselves admirably, upholding the public trust day after day after day in often difficult and dangerous situations.”

Johnson is the fourth Kingsport officer to face disciplinary action in the past three weeks. Last Monday the city of Kingsport issued a press release announcing an internal investigation into confiscated beer had prompted the resignation of Sgt. Gary Keene.

In memos dated March 22 Police Chief Gale Osborne also recommended the employment of Cpl. Tim Horne and Officer Gerald Ray be terminated.

According to personnel records the incident occurred Feb. 5 at Kings View Apartments. Ray allegedly confiscated four cases of beer from minors, then delivered it to Sgt. Keene for his personal use.

A police report on the incident, reviewed and approved by Horne, claimed the four cases of Natural Light had been destroyed. City records claim Horne knew Ray had delivered the beer to Keene.

Horne and Ray are currently appealing Osborne’s recommendation of termination.

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San Diego California Police Officer Roel Vincente Tungcab Arrested, Suspended, Charged With Attacking His Wife

March 30, 2011

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – A San Diego police officer who was arrested last week on suspicion of domestic battery has been placed on paid administrative duty while the case is investigated, police said Tuesday.

Roel Vincente Tungcab, 39, was taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies Thursday night following a dispute at his home on California Street in Imperial Beach, said sheriff’s Lt. Scott Ybarrondo.

Tungcab called authorities about 5:45 p.m. Thursday and told dispatchers that he had pushed his wife, and that she fell and sustained an unknown injury, Ybarrondo said. He told dispatchers that he was an off-duty San Diego police officer, Ybarrondo said.

Deputies from the Imperial Beach station responded to the home and arrested Tungcab on suspicion of domestic battery. His wife was taken to a hospital. Tungcab was booked into the central jail and later posted bail, Ybarrondo said.

The case has been submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for review.

Tungcab is the second San Diego police officer to be arrested this month. On March 11, traffic officer Anthony Arevalos was taken into custody on suspicion of sexual battery, false imprisonment and assault under the color of authority.

Arevalos pleaded not guilty last week to 10 felony counts and is on unpaid suspension while an investigation continues.

A San Diego vice detective, Art Perea, 42, resigned from the department March 4 after being placed on unpaid leave after a college student said he raped her at an El Cajon home. Perea has not been charged, and El Cajon police said the incident continues to be investigated.

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