Kissimmee Florida Police Officer Eric Longsworth Arrested, Suspended, And Charged With Kidnapping, False Imprisonment, And Battery After Domestic Violence Incident Involving His Girlfriend

July 4, 2012

KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA – A Kissimmee police officer is on unpaid leave following his arrest on domestic-violence charges, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

Officer Eric Longsworth was arrested June 14 on charges of kidnapping-false imprisonment and battery, documents show.

Longsworth, 24, is on unpaid leave, said Stacie Miller, a spokeswoman for the Police Department. Kissimmee officers arrested him, she said.

The department will conduct an internal investigation after the criminal case if closed, Miller said. Details of the criminal case, said to involve Longsworth’s girlfriend and the 6-foot-1-inch, 220-pound officer, could not be obtained on the July 4 holiday.

Longsworth, a 2006 graduate of Osceola’s Gateway High School, was sworn in as a new officer in April 2011.

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Fired Hopewell Virginia Police Officer Bobby CoPenny Jr. Arrested After Standoff, Charged With Abducting 18 Year Old Girl

June 17, 2012

DINWIDDIE, VIRGINIA – A former Hopewell police officer was arrested after barricading himself in a home, ensuing a police standoff that lasted more than an hour Wednesday afternoon.

Bobby CoPenny Jr. was taken into police custody Wednesday after police said he barricade himself inside a home in the 5000 block of Moody Dr. around 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Police said special agents with the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Richmond Field Office, were attempting to serve an indictment on CoPenny Jr. when the incident occurred.

While police attempted to serve the warrant, CoPenny Jr. barricaded himself inside the home and refused to come out, according to police.

The standoff lasted approximately 90 minutes before police said CoPenny Jr. surrendered peacefully.

The indictment came after the City of Hopewell Police Department requested the Virginia State Police investigate an abduction allegation involving CoPenny Jr. The abduction occurred January 13, 2012 in the 1500 block of Piper Square Dr. and involved an 18-year-old female, according to police.

“The Hopewell Police Department immediately responded and conducted a preliminary administrative investigation when informed of this allegation on January 17, 2012 involving CoPenny,” said Chief John Keohane, City of Hopewell Police. “This is a very serious crime and will not be tolerated in our department as such actions degrade the public’s trust of its officers who are sworn to serve and protect.”

CoPenny, Jr. was terminated from his position as an officer with the Hopewell Police Department following a June 12 grand jury indictment on one felony count of abduction with the intent to defile.

Following the Wednesday standoff, CoPenny Jr. was taken to the Dinwiddie County Jail for further processing and is being held without bond pending a June 27 arraignment in the City of Hopewell Circuit Court.

There were no injuries during the incident Wednesday, and Virginia State Police continue to investigate the situation.

CoPenny had been employed with the City of Hopewell Police Department as a uniformed officer since 2003. He was suspended without pay on January 26, 2012 and terminated from employment on February 3, 2012 based upon several department policy violations regarding this incident.

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New York City Police Officer Michael Pena Found Guilty On Sex Charges After Raping Schoolteacher At Gunpoint – Will Spend At Least 75 Years To Life In Prison – More Charges Pending

June 7, 2012

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – A former police officer who grabbed a schoolteacher off the street and sexually attacked her was sentenced Monday to at least three quarters of a century in prison after being convicted of high-level sex charges, though a jury couldn’t decide whether he was guilty of rape.

After staying silent during his trial, Michael Pena apologized to the victim and said he deserved to be punished, though his lawyer later said Pena was shocked at getting the maximum: 75 years to life.

“If I could go back in time, to the day of this incident, and somehow grab myself by the shoulder … I have no explanation for what happened that day,” Pena said softly, his remarks punctuated by long silences. “I will just have that guilt for the rest of my life.”

“My life has been shattered – my sense of security, my sense of safety, any and all independence,” she said, with a supporter by her side, holding her arm. She wept after she finished speaking.

A three-year officer who was engaged to be married, Pena was wrapping up an alcohol-soaked night of trying to pick up women when he accosted the teacher on an Upper Manhattan street early one morning last August, according to trial evidence.

She testified that Pena forced her into an apartment building courtyard and raped her at gunpoint, threatening to shoot her in the face with his police service weapon.

Pena’s lawyer, Ephraim Savitt, said the officer attacked the woman but never had intercourse with her, a requirement for a rape conviction. The defense said the woman was so terrified that she was mistaken about the extent of what had happened.

A resident of the building heard the attack and called police, who learned Pena was an officer only as they arrested him. One officer said he threw Pena’s badge to the ground in disgust.

Pena “showed by his deplorable conduct that he is not one of New York’s finest,” Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Richard Carruthers said at the sentencing. “Michael Pena is, instead, a sexual predator.”

Pena told authorities he was drunk and didn’t remember what had happened. No tests were done, so his blood-alcohol level was never established. But the judge took aim at Pena’s claim, noting that surveillance video captured Pena steadily trailing the woman, and that Pena tried to mislead witnesses and the responding officers about what was happening.

“The evidence proved conclusively that Michael Pena acted purposefully and intentionally throughout this dreadful incident,” Carruthers said.

Jurors convicted Pena in March of some of the top charges in the case, including predatory sexual assault, an offense that involves wielding a weapon during certain sex crimes. It carried the potential for life in prison.

But jurors deadlocked on rape charges. Pena is due back in court May 23 for prosecutors to say whether they plan to retry him on those charges.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. called Pena’s 75-year-to-life term “an appropriate sentence that takes the viciousness of the defendant’s crime into account.” Vance’s office had no immediate comment Monday on its plans regarding the remaining rape charges.

Meanwhile, Savitt said he was exploring a potential appeal for Pena.

Pena was fired from the police force after his arrest.

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Man Exonerated Of Bogus Rape Charge After 5 Years In Prison – Victim Lied About Kidnapping, Rape, Received $1.5 Million In Civil Suit, And Probably Won’t be Prosecuted For Lying

May 24, 2012

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA — A former high school football star whose dreams of a pro career were shattered by a rape conviction burst into tears Thursday as a judge threw out the charge that sent him to prison for more than five years.

Brian Banks, now 26, pleaded no contest 10 years ago on the advice of his lawyer after a childhood friend falsely accused him of attacking her on their high school campus.

In a strange turn of events, the woman, Wanetta Gibson, friended him on Facebook when he got out of prison.

During an initial meeting with him, she said she had lied; there had been no kidnap and no rape and she offered to help him clear his record, court records state.

But she refused to repeat the story to prosecutors because she feared she would have to return a $1.5 million payment from a civil suit brought by her mother against Long Beach schools.

During a second meeting that was secretly videotaped, she told Banks, “`I will go through with helping you, but it’s like at the same time all that money they gave us, I mean gave me, I don’t want to have to pay it back,'” according to Freddie Parish, a defense investigator who was at the meeting.

It was uncertain whether Gibson will have to return the money and unlikely she would be prosecuted for making the false accusation so long ago, when she was 15.

Gibson did not attend the hearing and she could not be reached for comment. Prosecutors and defense attorneys said they were unable to find her recently.

Banks, once a star middle linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, had attracted the interest of such college football powerhouses as the University of Southern California, Ohio State University and the University of Michigan, according to the website Rivals.com, which tracks the recruiting of high school football and basketball players.

Banks said he had verbally agreed to attend USC on a scholarship when he was arrested.

He still hopes to play professional football and has been working out regularly. His attorney Justin Brooks appealed to NFL teams to give him a chance.

“He has the speed and the strength. He certainly has the heart,” Brooks said. “I hope he gets the attention of people in the sports world.”

Gil Brandt, an NFL draft consultant, said Banks would be eligible to sign with any team that might show interest. However, his years away from the game will be hard to overcome.

“History tells us guys who come back after one or two years away when they go into the service find it awfully hard,” Brandt said. “And this has been much longer a time.”

Brandt compared the challenge to someone who has been out of high school for years trying to get an A in their first class in college.

Banks said outside court that he had lost all hope of proving his innocence until Gibson contacted him.

“It’s been a struggle. But I’m unbroken and I’m still here today,” the tall, muscular Banks said, tears flowing down his face.

He recalled being shocked and speechless on the day Gibson reached out to him after he had been released from prison, having served five years and two months.

“I thought maybe it wasn’t real,” he said. “How could she be contacting me?”

He said he knew that if he became angry when he met with her it wouldn’t help, so he struggled to keep calm.

“I stopped what I was doing and got down on my knees and prayed to God to help me play my cards right,” he said.

In court, Deputy District Attorney Brentford Ferreira told Superior Court Judge Mark C. Kim that prosecutors agreed the case should be thrown out. Kim dismissed it immediately.

Banks had tried to win release while he was in prison, but Brooks, a law professor and head of the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law in San Diego, said he could not have been exonerated without the woman coming forward and recanting her story.

Brooks said it was the first case he had ever taken in which the defendant had already served his time and had been free for a number of years.

Banks remained on probation, however, and was still wearing his electronic monitoring bracelet at the hearing. His lawyer said the first thing the two planned to do was report to probation officials and have it removed.

“The charges are dismissed now,” Brooks said. “It’s as if it didn’t happen. … It was the shortest, greatest proceeding I’ve ever been part of.”

Banks had been arrested after Gibson said he met her in a school hallway and urged her to come into an elevator with him. The two had been friends since middle school and were in the habit of making out in a school stairwell, according to court papers.

There were contradictions in Gibson’s story, as she told some people the rape happened in the elevator and others that it happened in the stairwell.

A kidnapping enhancement was added to the case because of the allegation Banks had taken her to the stairwell. That enhancement also was thrown out Thursday.

Outside court, Banks donned a sweat shirt that read “Innocent,” as several friends and family members wept. His parents were jubilant, and Banks thanked them for standing by him.

“I know the trauma, the stress that I’ve been through, but I can’t imagine what it’s like to have your child torn from you,” he said. “I don’t know what I would have done without my parents.”

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San Fernando Mexico Police Officer Joel Resendiz-Moreno Arrested For Role In Kidnapping And Murder Of 145 Bus Passengers

April 22, 2011

SAN FERNANDO, MEXICO – A San Fernando police officer found himself on the other side of the law.

Mexican authorities have arrested officer Joel Resendiz-Moreno for allegedly participating in the kidnapping and murder of 145 bus passengers.

Mexico’s Attorney General Office (PGR) announced the arrest on Thursday evening.

Details have not been released about Resendiz-Moreno’s exact role in the case but PGR officials are expecting to take his statement and possibly file formal charges.

PGR officials are asking anyone who may have been a victim of Resendez-Moreno to come forward.

A total of 68 people have been arrested for the San Fernando massacres but the PGR reports only 55 have been arraigned or formally charged at this time.

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Veteran Durham North Carolina Police Officer Arrested, Suspended, Charged With On-Duty Kidnapping And Sexual Assault

April 9, 2011

DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA – A Durham police officer was arrested Friday afternoon on kidnapping and sexual assault charges. The alleged incident occurred on April 3 while the officer was on duty.

Sgt. Lester Rhodes is charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree sexual offense and has been transported to the Durham County Magistrate’s Office for processing.

“This is an ongoing investigation and we are not releasing further details at this time to avoid compromising the investigation,” Police Chief Jose L. Lopez Sr. said in a prepared statement.

Police began investigating after receiving a complaint.

“We’ll see how the investigation shakes out,” said City Manager Tom Bonfield.

Bonfield said the allegations taint a police department that has many dedicated and hard-working officers and employees.

“When a situation like like this happens, unfortunately it becomes a negative spillover on everybody,” he said.

Rhodes, 42, joined the Durham force in February 1996 and is currently assigned to the Patrol Bureau. He has been placed on administrative leave with pay.

He is the third Durham officer charged with breaking the law in recent months. In early December, Officer Kevin A. Stewart was charged with driving while impaired while he was on duty. Stewart was fired shortly thereafter. A few days later, Officer L.A. Harvey was charged with running a red light after he collided with another vehicle while answering a call.

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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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