Washington DC Police, SWAT Teams, And Bomb Squad Rampage Destroys Iraq Veteran’s Home – Illegally Searched Locked Home, Seized Property Without A Warrant, And Arrested Man Without Cause

June 5, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – While Army Sgt. Matthew Corrigan was sound asleep inside his Northwest D.C. home, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was preparing to launch a full-scale invasion of his home. SWAT and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams spent four hours readying the assault on the English basement apartment in the middle of the snowstorm of the century.

The police arrested the veteran of the Iraq war and searched his house without a warrant, not to protect the public from a terrorist or stop a crime in progress, but to rouse a sleeping man the police thought might have an unregistered gun in his home.

It all started a few hours earlier on Feb. 2, 2010, when Sgt. Corrigan called the National Veterans Crisis Hotline for advice on sleeping because of nightmares from his year training Iraqi soldiers to look for IEDs in Fallujah. Without his permission, the operator, Beth, called 911 and reported Sgt. Corrigan “has a gun and wants to kill himself.”

According to a transcript of the 911 recording, Beth told the cops that, “The gun’s actually on his lap.” The drill sergeant told me he said nothing of the kind, and his two pistols and rifle were hidden under clothes and in closets, to avoid theft.

So around midnight, the police arrived at the row house at 2408 N. Capitol Street. Over the next two hours, several emergency response team units were called to the scene, calling in many cops from home.

Police memos from that night describe the situation as involving a man who is, “threatening to shoot himself,” but “doesn’t want to hurt anybody.”

None of the cops’ documents indicate a threat that warranted a “barricade” and the closure of several streets to create “an outer perimeter that prohibited both traffic and pedestrian access.” With dozens of cops on the scene, they created a “staging area” two blocks away.

Around 1 a.m., the police knocked on the door of Tammie Sommons, the upstairs neighbor in the row house. Ms. Sommons had lived there since 2008 with her three roommates and, in that time, had become a close friend of Sgt. Corrigan. She had a key to his apartment and often walked his dog Matrix.

“I opened the door to this scene with three cops with guns pointed at Matt’s door,” she recalled in an interview this week. “One officer told me that Matt called a suicide hotline and was about to kill himself. I said that was impossible, he wasn’t that kind of guy. I told the police I see him every day and would know if he was suicidal.”

Over the next hour, Ms. Sommons repeatedly told the police she was sure that Sgt. Corrigan was merely sleeping. She knew he took prescription sleeping pills because of repeated nightmares from his year in Iraq. The cops wouldn’t listen to her.

“I said to the police, ‘You guys are making a big mistake. He’s not what you think,’” recalled Ms. Sommons. She offered to go downstairs and clear up the situation, but the police would not let her.

The officers asked her whether Sgt. Corrigan owned any guns. “I said, of course he has guns, he’s in the military,” she replied. Ms. Sommons had never seen the sergeant’s guns, but she is from a military family, in which gun ownership was the norm. She was truthful with the police because she was not aware the District requires registration of every gun.

This month, the U.S. House passed a nonbinding amendment, sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey, that said active military living in or stationed in D.C. should not be bound by the stringent firearm laws. Were such a law in place two years ago, Sgt. Corrigan would not have been targeted by the police.

MPD told Ms. Sommons that someone had reported that there was the smell of gas coming from Sgt. Corrigan’s apartment. “I told them that there was no gas in his apartment — it was all electric,” she recalled. “I said if they smelled something, it’s just my roommate who was cooking chicken parmesan.”

Still, the police refused to accept the simpler explanation. “The cops said we needed to leave our house because Matt was going to shoot through the ceiling,” Ms. Sommons said. “They painted this picture like Rambo was downstairs and ready to blow up the place.”

At 3 a.m., the police called in an EOD unit — the bomb squad. They brought in negotiators. They had the gas company turn off the gas line to the house. A few minutes before 4 a.m., they started calling Sgt. Corrigan’s cell phone, but they got no answer because he turned it off before going to bed. They woke him up by calling his name on a bullhorn. He then turned on the phone and was told to surrender outside.

Arrested Without Cause

When the police wouldn’t accept Sgt. Corrigan’s word that he was fine, he was forced to leave his home and surrender. When he stepped outside, he faced assault teams with rifles pointed at his chest. He immediately dropped to his knees, with his hands over his head.

Officers in full protective gear zip-tied Sgt. Corrigan’s hands behind his back and pulled him up from his knees, forcing him into a large tactical command center called the “BEAR” which was parked at the staging area.

Although police did not read Sgt. Corrigan his Miranda rights, they questioned him inside the tactical truck. They asked the Iraq veteran basic questions about his life from various angles to get him to admit to owning guns. He remained silent about his two handguns and one rifle, which he had not registered after moving into the city.

Suddenly a police commander jumped in the truck and demanded to know where Sgt. Corrigan put his house key. He refused.

“I’m not giving you the key. I’m not giving consent to enter my house,” Sgt. Corrigan recalled saying in an interview with me last week at D.C. Superior Court after the city dropped all 10 charges against him.

“Then the cop said to me, ‘I don’t have time to play this constitutional bullshit with you. We’re going to break your door in, and you’re going to have to pay for a new door.’”

“‘Looks like I’m buying a new door,’” Sgt. Corrigan responded. “He was riffed”

Realizing quickly that his house would get raided without his permission, he asked for one thing from the police. “I said, ‘Please don’t hurt my dog. He’s friendly. He’s a good dog. Please don’t hurt him.’ They said they wouldn’t.”

The police then took Sgt. Corrigan to the VA hospital, still with his hands restrained. He didn’t want to be put in the hospital against his will, so he was okay with being left there temporarily. He signed himself in for help.

“After having all those guns at me, I was broken,” he said, pointing again at his chest, where he’d seen the rifle red laser dots. “I hadn’t slept in days, I just wanted to sleep.”

The reservist spent three nights in the hospital. When he got out, the police were waiting to arrest him for the unregistered guns found when they raided his home, without a warrant.

Search, Seizure, but no Warrant

Since Since Sgt. Corrigan refused to permit a search of his house, the police had to break down his door. The cops, however, didn’t bother to wait for a search warrant before doing so. “They were all keyed up because they had been there and ready to go all night,” surmised Sgt. Corrgian’s attorney Richard Gardiner.

The first to enter the apartment with the supposedly dangerous apartment was the Emergency Response Team, which secured the dog Matrix and gave him over to animal control, according to police reports. Only then did the EOD personnel enter to search using portable x-ray equipment.

During the “explosive threat clearing efforts,” police reported finding the sergeant’s “hazardous materials,” which included two pistols and a rifle, binoculars and ammunition. The report also details how it took the combined efforts of the police, EOD and the D.C. Fire Department to seize the “military ammunition can that contained numerous fireworks type devices.” These were fireworks left over from the Fourth of July.

Also taken into evidence was what the police described as a “military smoke grenade” and “military whistler device.” This smoke-screen canister and trip wire were put in Sgt. Corrigan’s rucksack in 1996 by his squad leader and had long been forgotten over the years. EOD took custody of the smoke grenade and whistle. The rest of the the materials were handed over to the crime scene search department at 7:30 a.m.

RAID

Police Lt. R.T. Glover was pleased with the seven hour operation that resulted in finding three unregistered guns in D.C. In his report to Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, he concluded that, “as a result of this barricade incident, there are no recommendations for improvement with respect to overall tactical operations.”

Police Destruction

The dry after-action notes from the police following the operation give no clue to the property damage done to Sgt. Corrigan’s home. They tore apart the 900 square foot place.

Instead of unzipping luggage, the police used knives to cut through and destroy the bags. They dumped over the bookshelves, emptied closets, threw the clothes on the floor.

In the process, they knocked over the feeding mechanism for the tropical fish in the sergeant’s six-foot long aquarium. When he was finally released from jail two weeks later, all of his expensive pet fish were dead in the tank.

The guns were seized, along with the locked cases, leaving only broken latches behind. The ammunition, hidden under a sleeping bag in the utility closet, was taken. They broke Sgt. Corrigan’s eyeglasses and left them on the floor. The police turned on the electric stove and never turned it off and left without securing the broken door.

When Ms. Sommons came back to her home the next day, she looked into Sgt. Corrigan’s apartment. “I was really upset because it was ransacked. It made me lose respect for the police officers involved,” she said, the stepdaughter of a correctional officer.

“Here was Matt, who spent a year fighting for our country in Iraq — where these police would never set foot in — and they treat him like trash off the street.”

In February, Sgt. Corrigan filed a civil suit against the District asking for a minimum of $500,000 in damages for violating his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. His attorney, Mr. Gardiner, intends to add some of the individual officers to the suit when they are identified in discovery.

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Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Cases Involving Attacks By Police Using Taser Weapons – Pregnant Woman Who Wouldn’t Sign Ticket Assaulted

May 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The US Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to take up the appeal of a pregnant woman who was shocked three times with a police Taser after she refused to sign a traffic ticket for driving 32 miles per hour in a 20 m.p.h. school zone.

The woman, Malaika Brooks, was seven months pregnant and was driving her 11-year-old son to school in Seattle at the time of the speeding violation.

At issue in the case was whether police acted reasonably in deploying the Taser after Ms. Brooks refused to sign the speeding ticket and then refused to voluntarily exit her car to allow officers to place her under arrest.

The justices were being asked to examine under what circumstances police use of a Taser device crosses the line from acceptable law enforcement tactic to excessive force.

The high court also declined to hear a second police Taser case involving a woman in Maui, Hawaii, Jayzel Mattos, who was intentionally shocked with a Taser as police attempted to arrest her husband, Troy, following a domestic abuse allegation.

Both Brooks and Ms. Mattos filed suit against the police, alleging they violated their Fourth Amendment right to be free from the use of excessive force. Lawyers for the police officers argued that the officers were protected from such lawsuits by qualified immunity.

In both cases, federal judges ruled that the police officers were not entitled to qualified immunity, and that the cases should proceed to a trial.

The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, ruling that even though the actions by police amounted to the excessive use of force, the law was not established clearly enough at the time of both incidents to give police fair warning that their actions were unreasonable and unconstitutional.

“We conclude that Brooks and the Mattoses have alleged constitutional violations, but that not every reasonable officer at the time of the respective incidents would have known – beyond debate – that such conduct violates the Fourth Amendment,” the Ninth Circuit said.

The high court decision not to take up the two cases allows the Ninth Circuit decision to stand.

The Taser incident with Brooks took place in November 2004. The 33-year-old expectant mother was pulled over by a police officer and issued a ticket for driving too fast in a school zone.

Under Seattle law, traffic violators are required to sign their tickets upon receipt. Failure to sign the ticket is itself a violation of the law.

After stopping at the side of the road, Brooks told her son to walk the rest of the way to school. She then told the officer that she did not believe she was speeding in the school zone and that she felt signing the ticket was an admission of guilt. She told the officer she wished to contest the charge.

Another officer and a police sergeant soon arrived on the scene. The officers insisted that unless Brooks signed the ticket she would be arrested and taken to jail. As further incentive an officer produced a Taser.

Brooks told the officer she did not know what a Taser was. She added: “I have to go to the bathroom, I am pregnant, I’m less than 60 days from having my baby.”

The officers attempted to physically remove Brooks from the car, but she held tightly to the steering wheel. One of the officers then used the Taser to deliver an electric shock to Brooks, first to her thigh, then her arm, and finally to her neck. The three shocks took place within 42 seconds.

She was then pulled from the car to the ground, handcuffed, and taken to jail.

A jury later convicted her of refusing to sign a traffic citation. No verdict was reached on a resisting arrest charge.

Brooks gave birth to a healthy baby girl in January 2005. Brooks has permanent burn scars at the Taser contact points, according to briefs filed in the case.

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Veteran Birmingham Alabama Police Officer Curtis Thornton Arrested And Charged With Arson Amid Investigation Into Series Of Fires That Have Burned 23 Homes In The Area

May 26, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – A Birmingham police officer with almost three years on the force has been arrested after a series of arsons in abandoned houses in the city and a suburb this month.

Fourteen houses were set ablaze in western Birmingham, and nine in the northern suburb of Warrior.

The Birmingham Police Department and the Alabama State Fire Marshal Office said at a news conference on Friday that Curtis Thornton, a patrolman in the city’s western precinct, had been charged with two counts of arson, one count of attempted arson and one count of felony criminal mischief related to the suburban fires.

Officer Thornton has not yet been charged in any of the Birmingham fires, but police officials here said they expected charges to be filed.

“Although no charges have been filed as of this date, obviously we have now the focus of the investigation,” Chief A. C. Roper Jr. said. “We were appalled at the direction the case has taken, but our goal is to bring that person to justice, regardless of who he is or where he might work.”

Besides the state arson investigation, the Birmingham police are conducting an internal inquiry, Chief Roper said.

Officer Thornton, 27, joined the department in August 2009. During the recent arsons, Mr. Thornton was working the morning shift, which begins at 11 p.m. and ends at 7 a.m., in the western precinct. The Birmingham police would not say whether Mr. Thornton had been on duty during any of the fires.

All of the houses burned in the Ensley neighborhood had been abandoned. Ensley was once a bustling neighborhood of steel mill employees and their families, but mill closings have left the neighborhood blighted with abandoned homes, many on the city’s demolition list, waiting to be torn down.

That process can take years, frustrating nearby residents and providing havens for crime. The city estimates that there are 1,800 houses in need of demolition. The Birmingham City Council has already approved more than 700 demolitions, but recovery from tornadoes last spring and a strained city budget have prevented the city from acting.

The house fires began in the early morning hours last Saturday. Over four days, 14 burned, some of them simultaneously. The only injuries reported were minor ones to firefighters. Meanwhile, state fire marshals investigated another string of nine arsons in Warrior. When that investigation led to a Birmingham police officer, investigators decided the two sets of fires might be connected. Officials here would not release more details, saying that the investigation was continuing.

On Tuesday, Mayor William A. Bell of Birmingham is expected to ask the City Council for an emergency $1.5 million appropriation to demolish the burned homes and move forward with others.

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Funeral Home Finds Bullet Hole Near Heart In Body Of Man That Detroit Michigan Police And EMS Workers Claimed Died Of Naturnal Causes

May 25, 2012

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – Detroit police and EMS workers said Leslie Brooks died of natural causes during the weekend. But when his body arrived at a funeral home, the mortician saw it differently.

As she prepared to embalm the 59-year-old Brooks on Saturday morning, mortician Gail Washington peered at a small burned area on his skin, right above his heart. Her assistants had pointed it out, and Washington now agreed: This was no natural death.

Brooks had a small-caliber gunshot wound in his chest. And now Detroit police are scrambling to figure out what happened.

That may be tough, since their initial determination ruined a possible crime scene in the east-side basement where Brooks was found. Police technicians did not scour the room or take photos until later. There was no immediate preservation of possible clues. Visitors tracked in and out. His family took Brooks’ cell phone. And, unless this was a suicide, a killer had precious hours to elude capture.

Even the clothes Brooks wore had been stripped off and discarded, as is customary when a funeral home picks up a body. The clothing was retrieved, but also is now most likely tainted as evidence.

“I am pissed off,” Shakira Bonds, 20, one of Brooks’ daughters, told the Free Press on Tuesday. “I don’t know who to go to.”

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Eren Stephens said Tuesday the case will be investigated by internal affairs, and Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. would not yet comment. Detroit Fire Department officials, who oversee EMS workers, did not respond to requests for their version of events. Al Samuels, the chief investigator for the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office, said his office followed proper procedure.

Based on information gathered from the police, the family, witnesses, the mortician and the morgue, here’s what happened:

Brooks was found dead about 12:17 a.m. Saturday in a basement room that he rented from friends in the 18700 block of Dean near 7 Mile and Ryan.

A friend, Alberta Rice, 64, said in an interview Tuesday that she did not see Brooks all day Friday, and when his cell phone rang in the basement, Rice sent her boyfriend down to check on him. The boyfriend found Brooks facedown on a rolled-up carpet, his arms stretched out in front, “like he laid down there and went to sleep.” Yet Brooks was stiff and obviously dead when the boyfriend shook him.

Someone in the house called police and Yvonne Arrington, Brooks’ sister. Arrington told the Free Press she arrived at the home to find EMS workers already gone after declaring Brooks dead of natural causes. Two uniformed police officers arrived. Homicide was contacted and so was the Medical Examiner’s Office. Arrington said she asked one of the cops, “How do you know he died of natural causes? He said, ‘We don’t see … trauma.’ “

Arrington wondered, because her brother had confided in her recently that he owed two men money. He was scared, she said, but she thought he might just be paranoid.

She didn’t mention the threats to police that night because officers told her EMS believed he died naturally, Arrington said. In a way, she was relieved he didn’t die violently, she said.

“I said, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ … He just died of cardiac arrest,” she said.

Police that night put Arrington in touch with the medical examiner’s office, where an investigator told her to call a funeral home, that there was no need for an autopsy based on the opinion of officials at the scene.

She still wondered if she shouldn’t push for the more thorough examination.

“I said, ‘That’s like me talking on the phone to you and you diagnosing me with cancer,’ ” she recalled telling the morgue investigator.

But she called the Cole funeral home, which sent a crew. Arrington went home.

At mid-morning, Washington prepared to embalm Brooks’ body at the Cole funeral home on Schaefer at Puritan and made her discovery. She retrieved Brooks’ clothes, saw holes and a small amount of blood and examined the wound.

“They probably missed it,” she said, because “he had a black T-shirt on with a black shirt on top.” She said the gun most likely was small caliber, leaving a smaller hole than the larger-caliber weapons common today, and most of the bleeding must have been internal.

She has seen such mistakes before. A mortician for 38 years, Washington said this is the fourth time she has discovered a fatal bullet wound on someone initially ruled a natural death.

Samuels, the morgue investigator, said his office checked with Brooks’ doctor the night he was found dead and learned he had a history of cancer, high blood pressure and heart trouble. The decision not to autopsy Brooks was based on that opinion and the natural death ruling by EMS workers, Samuels said.

Rice told the newspaper she never heard a gunshot from her basement. She and Arrington both said they saw no gun at all that night.

Only a dead man with a mystery.

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Veteran Tucson Arizona Police Officer Lynsey Coutts Was Only Three Time Over State Alcohol Limit While Speeding To Work – Already On Radar For Alcohol Use, Department Intends To Give Her The Boot

May 23, 2012

TUCSON, ARIZONA – A four-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department was arrested this morning after a DUI test revealed she was driving to work with a BAC of 0.235, nearly three times the legal limit.

Coutts was scheduled to begin work at 9 a.m. this morning, but called a supervisor at about 9:20 a.m., saying she was driving fast on Interstate 10 and was in fear of colliding with other vehicles on the roadway, the release states. The supervisor convinced Coutts to exit the freeway and pull over. She did, and police personal responded to the Avra Valley I-10 exit.

According to the TPD release, Department of Public Safety officers also responded and conducted a DUI investigation. Tucson Police officers conducted a Preliminary Breath Test that revealed Coutts had a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.235, nearly three times the legal limit.

DPS personnel placed her under arrest for various charges associated with Driving Under the Influence, the release states.

Since March 2012, Officer Lynsey Coutts has been subject to a Conditions of Continued Employment contract to address concerns about her use of alcohol, according to a news release from the Tucson Police Department.

Because she violated a condition of her March 2012 employment contract, Coutts was served with a Notice of Intent to Terminate this afternoon, the release states. The Civil Service Hearing relating to her termination is scheduled for May 29, 2012.

“The Tucson Police Department treats all allegations of criminal acts or misconduct by employees as serious, especially criminal acts or misconduct occurring while employees are on-duty,” the TPD release states. “Ms. Coutts’ actions are not representative of the nearly 1400 men and women of the Tucson Police Department who serve their community with integrity and put their lives on the line each day.”

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Hit And Run: Chicago Illinois Police Van Ran Down Pedestrians And Drove Away – Caught On Video

May 21, 2012

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – At approximately 10:40 p.m. on Saturday, May 19th, 2012 a Chicago Police van drove into a crowd of demonstrators who were attempting to cross westbound over the Jackson Street bridge at the Chicago River.

Chicago Police van number 6751, accelerated as it passed through the crowd, striking several people and seriously injuring one victim who was later transported to the emergency room. The extent of the victim’s injuries are not known.

The driver of the van made no attempt to ascertain the condition of any of the people that were struck. Witnesses watched as the van passed through the phalanx of police surrounding the scene and drove away from the area. Had there been a civilian driving, they would certainly have been charged with a hit-and-run on a pedestrian in the roadway and taken into custody once they had been apprehended.

No order to disperse had been given to the crowd. The van was running it’s siren, however police vans in close proximity to the rear of the crowd had been running their sirens all day, so it was not immediately noticed that the van was intending to pass through the crowd. The occupants of the van made no attempt to use the public address loudspeakers to warn those in their path.

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Anonymous Targets Chicago Illinois Police Department And Its Websites – Takes Out cityofchicago.org

May 20, 2012

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS — Authorities are investigating whether the City Of Chicago’s website is under a cyber attack, CBS 2 has learned.

The main portal to cityofchicago.org was not accessible for part of Sunday morning, but appeared to be functioning again by about 12:40 p.m.

“We are aware of the potential issue of the City of Chicago website and are working with the appropriate federal authorities to address the situation,” Office Of Emergency Management and Communications spokesman Pete Scales said earlier Sunday.

A posting on the website cyberwarnews.info, explains the hacking group called Anonymous started an “an operation toward the Chicago police department and its websites.”

The Chicago Police Department website, cityofchicago.org/police, was also down temporarily, but was also functioning again Sunday afternoon.

“We are actively engaged in actions against the Chicago Police Deptartment [sic], and encourage anyone to take up the cause,” the group said. “We are in your harbor Chicago, and you will not forget us.”

The group explains the attack is in response to the NATO Summit being held in Chicago. The summit officially opens this afternoon and runs through Monday.

Thousands of protesters have been filling the streets of Chicago all week to protest NATO’s mission. The biggest rally yet is planned for Sunday afternoon from Grant Park to near McCormick Place, where leaders are gathered for the summit.

Hackers may also be attacking other NATO-related websites, but details were not available, sources to CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

On Twitter, allies of the Occupy protest movement applauded the development:

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New South Wales Australia Police Force Caught Pirating Software – Handing It Out “Like Confetti” To Other Law Enforcement Agencies And Employees

April 26, 2012

NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA – UK software company Micro Focus is suing New South Wales (NSW) Police Force for unauthorised use of its ViewNow product, which ABC program 7:30 reports is used to access a critical database that contains information on most of the Australian state’s citizens.

Micro Focus’ Australasian Managing Director Bruce Craig told the program that the force does have licence for 6,500 users of the software, but has been “handing out our software like confetti” to other law enforcement agencies and internal users.

The unauthorised use of the application apparently came to light when the NSW Ombudsman told Micro Focus it would soon be using ViewNow. But Micro Focus knew the Ombudsman did not have a licence. Further investigations revealed that other law enforcement agencies were using the application. NSW Police, meanwhile, cannot say how many of its 20,000 staff are using the software, but Micro Focus feels it is more than 6,500

NSW’s Police Integrity Commission, Department of Corrective Services Ombudsman’s Office all settled with Micro Focus, but the Police Force has not offered the company any information about how many of its workers use the software. Nor has it reached an agreement or admitted fault.

Craig says that means Micro Focus will pursue the claim in the courts, as he feels that the Police Force is not particularly interested in investigating itself

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Simi Valley California Passes Law That Allows Its Police Officers First Viewing Of All Pornographic Videos Produced In The City To Check Condom Compliance

April 25, 2012

SIMI VALLEY, CALIFORNIA - The city of Simi Valley has passed a new law that is aimed at keeping adult film productions from entering the municipality.

The city council passed the law at a meeting Monday night.

Beginning in May, all film productions must use condoms at all times. Under the new law, producers have to submit unedited copies of their adult films to the Simi Valley Police Department for review.

The law does have an exemption when filming for “personal use.”

The new ordinance stems from a similar measure passed by the City of Los Angeles in January.

Many adult films are made in Chatsworth, near LA County’s border with Simi Valley. The council feared those productions would simply move a few miles west, into Simi Valley.

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Sanford Florida Police Department Closes Amid Protest On Their Doorstop

April 9, 2012

SANFORD, FLORIDA – A group of students protesting the Trayvon Martin shooting on Monday blocked the entrance to the Sanford Police Department by kneeling in front of the doors, forcing the department to close.

No arrests have been made in the protest, which comes a day after the students, who call themselves the Dream Defenders, completed a 40-mile, three-day march from Daytona Beach to Sanford, where Martin, 17, was shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in late February.

City officials and members of the U.S. Department of Justice were observing the demonstration, which consisted of a handful of students — some wearing hoodies — blocking the entrance, with dozens of others standing nearby.

“The city of Sanford hopes the actions of the students will be as peaceful and orderly as the previous rallies and marches have been,” said city manager Norton Bonaparte, Jr. “We want to be accommodating to all our visitors proving they act in a manner that is respectful to the people of the city.”

Special prosecutor Angela Corey, who announced earlier Monday that she will not bring the case before a grand jury, spoke to the students via a conference call. Corey asked the students for patience and ensured that she is conducting a fair investigation.

Sanford officials said the closing of the police department will have a minimal effect on police and fire responses to emergency calls. Citizens who need to do routine police business can go to Sanford City Hall to see a representative at the city clerk’s office, officials said.

The Dream Defenders said they are composed of a diverse array of young leaders from across the country with one common goal — to work in solidarity to incite generational change and make global impact.

On Sunday night, the nearly 50 students made a call for non-violent civil disobedience while speaking at the Allen Chapel AME Church in Sanford.

The students demanded Zimmerman’s arrest, an overhaul of the justice system and the ouster of elected officials.

“Do you know who (your elected officials) are?” asked Dream Defender and Florida A&M student, Ciara Taylor. “I bet you do now. I bet you didn’t know they would stand by idly while George Zimmerman has been on the loose for 40 days.”

Martin’s mom, Sybrina Fulton, spoke to the students via cellphone.

“This is not only about Trayvon, this is about your future as well, and we just want to say thank you. We really appreciate you,” said Fulton.

The Dream Defenders took Fulton’s gratitude to heart as they passionately demanded a revolution.

“If Dr. (Martin Luther) King were alive today, he would know that his dream has not come true,” said Stetson University student Jelissa Conway. “Because if it had, we would not have to be here and Trayvon Martin would still be alive.”

Sanford police said Zimmerman, 28, shot and killed Martin, who was wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of Skittles, an iced tea and his cellphone, during a confrontation. Zimmerman said he shot the teen in self-defense after Martin punched him and slammed his head against the sidewalk.

Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged, prompting numerous marches and rallies across the country. Florida’s “stand your ground law,” which allows someone to meet “force with force,” has also come under fire.

Zimmerman is currently in hiding, according to his attorneys.

It remains unclear when Corey will announce her decision on whether charges will be filed in the case.

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Four New Orleans Louisiana Police Officers Receive 38 To 65 Years In Federal Prison For Danziger Bridge Murders And Shootings Of Unarmed Residents And Following Cover Up Efforts

April 4, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – Four former New Orleans policemen convicted of shootings in 2005 that killed two unarmed people and wounded four others following Hurricane Katrina were given sentences on Wednesday ranging from 38 to 65 years in prison.

A fifth former police officer who did not participate in the shootings but engineered a four-year cover-up of the crimes was sentenced the six years.

The sentencing of the five men in federal court completed one of the last cases of police misconduct in New Orleans more than six years after the devastating hurricane flooded the city and triggered a chaotic aftermath.

Last August, a jury found former policemen Kenneth Bowen, Robert Faulcon, Robert Gisevius and Anthony Villavaso guilty on multiple charges including federal civil rights violations stemming from the September 4, 2005, incident.

Bowen and Gisevius were sentenced to 40 years each and Villavaso to 38 years by U.S. District Court Judge Kurt Englehardt. Faulcon was sentenced to 65 years.

A fifth officer, homicide detective Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, was convicted of covering up the crimes through a series of false reports and lies that continued for more than four years.

Another police detective charged with participating in the cover-up is slated for trial in May.

The five who were sentenced on Wednesday were among a dozen officers who responded to a radio call that police were taking fire near the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans just days after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the city.

The officers packed into a rental truck and sped to the site. Witnesses testified that when the officers arrived, they jumped out of the truck and repeatedly fired assault rifles, shotguns and handguns at civilians walking on the bridge.

“The officers who shot innocent people on the bridge and then went to great lengths to cover up their own crimes have finally been held accountable for their actions,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez said in a statement. “As a result of today’s sentencing, the city of New Orleans can take another step forward.”

James Bresette, 17, and Ronald Madison, 40, were killed in the incident.

In reports filed by the officers or on their behalf, they claimed they shot only after being threatened or fired on and that they had seen weapons in the victims’ hands.

Kaufman was later convicted of planting a handgun at the scene.

During the six-week-long trial in 2011, lead prosecutor Barbara “Bobbi” Bernstein presented testimony from dozens of witnesses, including eastern New Orleans resident Susan Bartholomew, who lost her arm from a shotgun blast in the incident.

Witnesses included five police officers who earlier pleaded guilty to roles in the shootings or cover-up. Four of the officers testified for the prosecution, and all five began serving sentences that range from three to eight years.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI took up the case in 2009 after a previous case brought by the New Orleans district attorney was thrown out because of a prosecutor’s misconduct.

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Nutcase Hermosa Beach California Police Officer Anthony Parente Intentionally Rear Ended Car With His Motorcycle – Motorist Faced Bogus Charges Based On The Cops Lies – Cop Has Record Of Causing Accidents And Claiming Injuries – Black Box On Motorcycle “Mysteriously Disappeared” – Video Proved Cop Was Lying

March 23, 2012

HERMOSA BEACH, CALIFORNIA – After 18 months of intense investigation, that was the prosecution’s position when it finally came time to put up or shut up in its controversial assault-on-a-cop case filed against South Bay motorist Brian Hitchcock.

Hitchcock had always insisted he was being unfairly blamed for a traffic accident after a Hermosa Beach motorcycle cop rear-ended him in Redondo Beach, flew off his bike and landed headfirst in the backseat of Hitchcock’s convertible — a bizarre mishap that produced a globally viral photo showing the cop’s booted feet sticking up.

But after the Redondo Beach city attorney suddenly dropped charges of assault and reckless driving without any explanation or apology, Hitchcock viewed his ordeal in a more sinister light.

“This was no accident,” he told L.A. Weekly. “This was an ambush by a cop operating under the color of authority.”

Moments before jury selection was to begin in January, Redondo Beach City Prosecutor Brenda Coe dismissed three misdemeanor charges against Hitchcock. Yet the case had turned his life upside-down. Facing up to two years in jail, he was eager for his day in court.

His lawyer, Thomas Beck, said he was ready to prove that Hermosa Beach Police Officer Anthony Parente was lying about the collision and had a record of causing accidents and claiming injuries in which he not only filed for workman’s compensation and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money but also targeted the victim’s insurance company.

“This was part of a pattern on Officer Parente’s part to scam people for money,” Beck said. “He’s made a career out of it. This guy ought to be prosecuted for filing a false police report and workman’s comp fraud.”

Beck said the 44-year-old Parente had taken medical leave and filed for workman’s comp six times — three times during his four years with the Inglewood School Police Department and three with the Hermosa Beach PD, where he was hired July 1, 2005.

Parente did not respond to a half-dozen messages from the Weekly seeking comment. Coe was not available for comment because she quit soon after she dropped the charges against Hitchcock.

Hermosa Beach interim Police Chief Steve Johnson declined to comment on Parente, who is on disability leave and collecting workman’s comp — 20 months after he suffered so-called soft-tissue injuries.

While the law enforcement agencies that once pursued Hitchcock have gone silent, Beck gladly laid out his version of a prosecution-turned-persecution against the 60-year-old, churchgoing Mormon, who works as a technical writer at Skechers in Manhattan Beach.

Beck said Hitchcock soon will file a lawsuit against Parente and the Hermosa Beach Police Department.

The case became notorious because of a WTF picture of Parente’s legs sticking out of Hitchcock’s backseat on June 8, 2010. Seconds before that, Hitchcock had pulled up next to Parente’s motorcycle at a red light at the intersection of Artesia Boulevard and Ford Avenue in Redondo Beach.

Parente later claimed that when the light turned green, Hitchcock started speeding in the parking lane and then abruptly pulled over, cutting the officer off. Parente turned on his siren, he said, to cite Hitchcock for a traffic violation.

However, there were problems with Parente’s version. By his own written admission, he turned on his siren when he was only two to three feet behind Hitchcock — far closer than law enforcement training guidelines. The noise startled Hitchcock so badly that he hit the brakes — exactly the danger training warns of. The next thing he knew, a cop was upside down in his car.

Parente put out an “officer down” call, and the baffled Hitchcock was swarmed by officers from Hermosa, Redondo and Manhattan Beach. He was interviewed several times at the scene and his car was impounded.

Hitchcock maintained that he was never in the parking lane, had accelerated normally and didn’t cut Parente off. As reported in the Weekly in February 2011 (“Officer Down,”), three eyewitnesses supported Hitchcock’s account and L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley refused to bring charges.

But Redondo Beach detectives continued their investigation. “They were carrying water for the Hermosa PD,” Beck alleged. “These little suburban PD’s stick together when a cop does something wrong.”

Six months after the collision, Coe filed three misdemeanor charges against Hitchcock. Then, during the discovery process, Hitchcock’s attorney learned that Redondo detectives had a surveillance video of the collision. The detectives claimed the video was too grainy to reveal anything. But Beck took it to a video specialist, who slowed it down. Beck said the tape clearly showed Hitchcock was telling the truth.

Then the dogged Beck learned that Parente’s motorcycle had a “black box,” which records traffic data such as speed — yet Hermosa police reported to the court that it had mysteriously disappeared.

Beck also interviewed three eyewitnesses who were prepared to testify that Hitchcock was telling the truth.

Beck’s star witness, however, was to be another motorist, Peter Brown, who had a similar experience with Parente. Brown, a field engineer for General Electric, told the Weekly that in April 2008 he was stopped at a red light in Redondo Beach when Parente rear-ended him with a police car.

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Billions Of Our Tax Dollars Spent Arming Local Cops For War – Only Obvious Targets Are Us…

December 21, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Nestled amid plains so flat the locals joke you can watch your dog run away for miles, Fargo treasures its placid lifestyle, seldom pierced by the mayhem and violence common in other urban communities. North Dakota’s largest city has averaged fewer than two homicides a year since 2005, and there’s not been a single international terrorism prosecution in the last decade.

But that hasn’t stopped authorities in Fargo and its surrounding county from going on an $8 million buying spree to arm police officers with the sort of gear once reserved only for soldiers fighting foreign wars.

Every city squad car is equipped today with a military-style assault rifle, and officers can don Kevlar helmets able to withstand incoming fire from battlefield-grade ammunition. And for that epic confrontation—if it ever occurs—officers can now summon a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. For now, though, the menacing truck is used mostly for training and appearances at the annual city picnic, where it’s been parked near the children’s bounce house.

“Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here,” says Carol Archbold, a Fargo resident and criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University. “There’s no terrorism here.”

Like Fargo, thousands of other local police departments nationwide have been amassing stockpiles of military-style equipment in the name of homeland security, aided by more than $34 billion in federal grants since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a Daily Beast investigation conducted by the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

The buying spree has transformed local police departments into small, army-like forces, and put intimidating equipment into the hands of civilian officers. And that is raising questions about whether the strategy has gone too far, creating a culture and capability that jeopardizes public safety and civil rights while creating an expensive false sense of security.

“The argument for up-armoring is always based on the least likely of terrorist scenarios,” says Mark Randol, a former terrorism expert at the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress. “Anyone can get a gun and shoot up stuff. No amount of SWAT equipment can stop that.”

Local police bristle at the suggestion that they’ve become “militarized,” arguing the upgrade in firepower and other equipment is necessary to combat criminals with more lethal capabilities. They point to the 1997 Los Angeles-area bank robbers who pinned police for hours with assault weapons, the gun-wielding student who perpetrated the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and the terrorists who waged a bloody rampage in Mumbai, India, that left 164 people dead and 300 wounded in 2008.

The new weaponry and battle gear, they insist, helps save lives in the face of such threats. “I don’t see us as militarizing police; I see us as keeping abreast with society,” former Los Angeles Police chief William Bratton says. “And we are a gun-crazy society.”

“I don’t see us as militarizing police; I see us as keeping abreast with society.”

Adds Fargo Police Lt. Ross Renner, who commands the regional SWAT team: “It’s foolish to not be cognizant of the threats out there, whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, or Fargo. Our residents have the right to be protected. We don’t have everyday threats here when it comes to terrorism, but we are asked to be prepared.”

The skepticism about the Homeland spending spree is less severe for Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York, which are presumed to be likelier targets. But questions persist about whether money was handed out elsewhere with any regard for risk assessment or need. And the gap in accounting for the decade-long spending spree is undeniable. The U.S. Homeland Security Department says it doesn’t closely track what’s been bought with its tax dollars or how the equipment is used. State and local governments don’t maintain uniform records either.

To assess the changes in law enforcement for The Daily Beast, the Center for Investigative Reporting conducted interviews and reviewed grant spending records obtained through open records requests in 41 states. The probe found stockpiles of weaponry and military-style protective equipment worthy of a defense contractor’s sales catalog.

In Montgomery County, Texas, the sheriff’s department owns a $300,000 pilotless surveillance drone, like those used to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists in the remote tribal regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Augusta, Maine, with fewer than 20,000 people and where an officer hasn’t died from gunfire in the line of duty in more than 125 years, police bought eight $1,500 tactical vests. Police in Des Moines, Iowa, bought two $180,000 bomb-disarming robots, while an Arizona sheriff is now the proud owner of a surplus Army tank.

The flood of money opened to local police after 9/11, but slowed slightly in recent years. Still, the Department of Homeland Security awarded more than $2 billion in grants to local police in 2011, and President Obama’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contributed an additional half-billion dollars.

Law enforcement officials say the armored vehicles, assault weapons, and combat uniforms used by their officers provide a public safety benefit beyond their advertised capabilities, creating a sort of “shock and awe” experience they hope will encourage suspects to surrender more quickly.

“The only time I hear the complaint of ‘God, you guys look scary’ is if the incident turns out to be nothing,” says West Hartford, Conn., Police Lt. Jeremy Clark, who organizes an annual SWAT competition.

A grainy YouTube video from one of Clark’s recent competitions shows just how far the police transformation has come, displaying officers in battle fatigues, helmets, and multi-pocketed vests storming a hostile scene. One with a pistol strapped to his hip swings a battering ram into a door. A colleague lobs a flash-bang grenade into a field. Another officer, holding a pistol and wearing a rifle strapped to his back, peeks cautiously inside a bus.

The images unfold to the pulsing, ominous soundtrack of a popular videogame, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Though resembling soldiers in a far-flung war zone, the stars of this video are Massachusetts State Police troopers.

The number of SWAT teams participating in Clark’s event doubled to 40 between 2004 and 2009 as Homeland’s police funding swelled. The competition provides real-life scenarios for training, and Clark believes it is essential, because he fears many SWAT teams are falling below the 16 hours of minimum monthly training recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association.

“Luck is not for cops. Luck is for drunks and fools,” Clark said, explaining his devotion to training.

One beneficiary of Homeland’s largesse are military contractors, who have found a new market for their wares and sponsor training events like the one Clark oversees in Connecticut or a similar Urban Shield event held in California.

Special ops supplier Blackhawk Industries, founded by a former Navy SEAL, was among several Urban Shield sponsors this year. Other sponsors for such training peddle wares like ThunderSledge breaching tools for smashing open locked or chained doors, Lenco Armored Vehicles bulletproof box trucks, and KDH Defense Systems’s body armor.

“As criminal organizations are increasingly armed with military-style weapons, law enforcement operations require the same level of field-tested and combat-proven protection used by soldiers and Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other high-risk locations,” boasts an Oshkosh Corp. brochure at a recent police seminar, where the company pitched its “tactical protector vehicle.”

The trend shows no sign of abating. The homeland security market for state and local agencies is projected to reach $19.2 billion by 2014, up from an estimated $15.8 billion in fiscal 2009, according to the Homeland Security Research Corp.

The rise of equipment purchases has paralleled an apparent increase in local SWAT teams, but reliable numbers are hard to come by. The National Tactical Officers Association, which provides training and develops SWAT standards, says it currently has about 1,650 team memberships, up from 1,026 in 2000.

Many of America’s newly armed officers are ex-military veterans from the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Charles Ramsey, who was police chief in Washington, D.C., on 9/11, upgraded the weaponry when he moved to Philadelphia in 2008. Today, some 1,500 Philly beat cops are trained to use AR-15 assault rifles.

“We have a lot of people here, like most departments, who are ex-military,” Ramsey says. “Some people are very much into guns and so forth. So it wasn’t hard to find volunteers.”

Some real-life episodes, however, are sparking a debate about whether all that gear also creates a more militarized mind-set for local police that exceeds their mission or risks public safety.

In one case, dozens of officers in combat-style gear raided a youth rave in Utah as a police helicopter buzzed overhead. An online video shows the battle-ready team wearing masks and brandishing rifles as they holler for the music to be shut off and pin partygoers to the ground.

And Arizona tactical officers this year sprayed the home of ex-Marine Jose Guerena with gunfire as he stood in a hallway with a rifle that he did not fire. He was hit 22 times and died. Police had targeted the man’s older brother in a narcotics-trafficking probe, but nothing illegal was found in the younger Guerena’s home, and no related arrests had been made months after the raid.

In Maryland, officials finally began collecting data on tactical raids after police in 2008 burst into the home of a local mayor and killed his two dogs in a case in which the mayor’s home was used as a dropoff for drug deal. The mayor’s family had nothing to do with criminal activity.

Such episodes and the sheer magnitude of the expenditures over the last decade raise legitimate questions about whether taxpayers have gotten their money’s worth and whether police might have assumed more might and capability than is necessary for civilian forces.

“With local law enforcement, their mission is to solve crimes after they’ve happened, and to ensure that people’s constitutional rights are protected in the process,” says Jesselyn McCurdy, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The military obviously has a mission where they are fighting an enemy. When you use military tactics in the context of law enforcement, the missions don’t match, and that’s when you see trouble with the overmilitarization of police.”

The upgrading of local police nonetheless continues. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio now claims to operate his own air armada of private pilots—dubbed Operation Desert Sky—to monitor illegal border crossings, and he recently added a full-size surplus Army tank. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly boasted this fall he had a secret capability to shoot down an airliner if one threatened the city again. And the city of Ogden, Utah, is launching a 54-foot, remote-controlled “crime-fighting blimp” with a powerful surveillance camera.

Back in Fargo, nearby corn and soybean farmer Tim Kozojed supports the local police but questions whether the Homeland grants have been spent wisely. ”I’m very reluctant to get anxious about a terrorist attack in North Dakota,” Kozojed, 31, said. “Why would they bother?”

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Anonymous Posts Thousands Of Police Officers Personal Information On Web After Occupy Movement Camp Evictions

December 20, 2011

US – Computer hackers are avenging the Occupy movement by exposing the personal information of police officers who evicted protesters and threatening family-values advocates who led a boycott of an American Muslim television show.

In three Internet postings last week, hackers from the loose online coalition called Anonymous published the email and physical addresses, phone numbers and, in some cases, salary details of thousands of law enforcement officers all over the country.

The hackers said they were retaliating for police violence during evictions of Occupy protest camps in cities around the country, but law enforcement advocates slammed the disclosures as dangerous.

“I hope the individuals behind these cyberattacks understand the consequences of what they are doing,” said John Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “There are very dangerous criminals out there who might seek retribution” against any of these police officers.

Another hacker calling himself ihazcAnNONz struck the website of the Florida Family Association. The group opposes gay marriage and has promoted a successful but highly controversial boycott of advertisers on the reality TV show “All-American Muslim.”
Occupy D.C. protesters stand off with police as they block 14th and K streets NW in Washington on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/The Washington Times)Occupy D.C. protesters stand off with police as they block 14th and K streets NW in Washington on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/The Washington Times)

The group says the show is “propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Shariah law.”

Supporters of the show say it depicts ordinary Muslim-American families living their normal lives, and they accuse its critics bigotry.

The hacker, ihazcAnNONz, warned the Florida family group, “Your hatred, bigotry and fear mongering towards Gays, Lesbians and most recently Muslim Americans has not gone unnoticed!”

In an Internet posting, he told the family association he was reading its email, and he provided email addresses and partial credit-card information of two dozen or so of the group’s supporters. He referred to the Occupy Wall Street movement’s slogan about the “1 percent” and the “99 percent.”

“I am going to assume most of the people who receive your newsletter, email you and make donations are potentially part of the 99 percent … who have been mislead by all of your [expletive] and god talk,” he wrote, adding that he therefore would not post confidential information on them.

The family association did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Last week, a hacker calling himself Exphin1ty posted the email and physical addresses, phone numbers and encrypted passwords of more than 2,400 police officers and corporate security executives.

“We have seen our fellow brothers and sisters being teargassed for exercising their fundamental liberal rights,” he wrote.

He urged fellow hackers with access to greater computing power to crack the encryption on passwords and see if the victims had used the same password for any other accounts.

Websites that require users to register typically store data such as names, email addresses and passwords on their servers.

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On Duty Los Angeles California Police Officers Appeared In Pornographic Film – Used Patrol Car – Not Disciplined By City…

April 29, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – City officials failed to discipline two traffic officers who appeared in a pornographic film while on the job, NBC4 LA has found.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has opened an investigation into the behavior of two uniformed, on-duty officers who appear in the sexually explicit movie. The investigation was prompted by the NBC4 LA expose, which will air in full Friday at 11 p.m.

“It’s absolutely disgusting,” said Amir Sedadi, general manager of LADOT, after viewing a copy of the movie shown to him by NBC4 LA. “Immediately, we will conduct a full investigation. This is not acceptable to me.”

The video, which is available on a popular adult subscription website, tracks the interactions of a porn actress as she approaches men in a range of work environments.

Various men in the film appear to grope her and perform a range of sex acts with her. In one scene, the actress jumps into the arms of an LA traffic officer, who spanks her and then fondles her bare breasts.

A second traffic officer takes a few spankings from the woman, then allows her to get into his official city car, where she performs lewd acts on herself.

A full report with video will air on NBC4 LA at 11 p.m.

In an interview, Jimmy Price, the city’s parking enforcement chief, acknowledged that his employee’s behavior rose to the level of misconduct.

“In my mind, and legally, yes that’s misconduct,” Price said.

Price knew of his employees’ behavior more than two months ago, according to an internal memo obtained by NBC4 LA.

In the February 21 memo, addressed to his superiors and his employees, Price wrote about a “recent incident” involving “an inappropriate website” where a city uniform and car appeared.

Price said “city and department policy prohibit this kind of misconduct, on and off the job,” and “failure to meet the standards of conduct will result in “disciplinary action, up to and including discharge.”

Price did not discipline the officers.

When asked why, Price said he had only seen some still photos of the officers from the video, and “we were not able to positively identify the individuals as employees.”

LADOT parking enforcement employees who originally gave NBC4 LA a copy of the movie say Price has seen it and knows the identities of the officers.

One of the officers who had a prominent role in the video declined to comment. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, when asked about his participation. The veteran officer jumped into his city car, and sped off.

Sedadi called the officers’ behavior “is not tolerable.”

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New York City Pissed Away City’s Tax Dollars Investigating Gun Show Sales In Phoenix Arizona

February 1, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – An undercover sting at a Phoenix gun show found dealers sold weapons like the one used in the Tucson shooting rampage to questionable buyers without conducting background checks, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday.

Investigators working for New York City, prompted by the Tucson shooting that killed six people and injured 13, bought 9mm handguns at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show in Phoenix and secretly videotaped the transactions, Bloomberg said.

The mayor showed videotapes to the media of the January 23 sales at a news conference.

“You can still walk into a gun show and buy a 9mm in the same time it would take to buy a hamburger and fries at McDonalds,” Bloomberg said.

Private gun show dealers are exempt from federal law requiring background checks of customers, Bloomberg said.

In one video, an undercover investigator is seen buying a gun in a legal transaction without a background check.

But in the other two videos, the sales were illegal because the investigators told the vendors they probably would be unable to pass a background check. Under federal law, the vendors should have stopped the sales and did not, he said.

Instead, the dealers on the videos replied that background checks would not be necessary to buy the guns.

The Crossroads of the West Gun Show issued a statement calling the mayor’s investigation “entrapment.”

“Mayor Bloomberg and his ‘task force’ have no legal authority in the state of Arizona or in any other place in America except New York City,” the statement said. “These forays into America’s heartland committing blatant acts to entrap otherwise innocent gun owners is an unlawful scheme that is created by Bloomberg’s task force.”

Bloomberg said the findings were particularly disturbing in the wake of the January 8 shooting in Tucson, where U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords was severely injured.

“You would hope with the memory of the Tucson shootings still so painfully fresh, especially in the state of Arizona, people would think twice about selling a firearm to anyone who even hinted at not wanting to conduct a background check,” said Bloomberg, who serves as co-chairman of the national coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Bloomberg said he would like to see a federal requirement for a background check of criminal records, drug use and psychological problems for any purchase of a firearm.

The exemption is based on a theory that gun show dealers are “a few friends selling the occasional gun out of their collection,” the mayor said. However, some gun show dealers sell hundreds of guns, he said.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called the gun-show exemption “a loophole you can drive a truck through.”

Kelly estimated roughly 90 percent of the illegal guns New York police confiscate come from other states, and that many come from gun shows.

The U.S. has some of the most permissive gun laws in the developed world and Arizona has among the most permissive laws of U.S. states.

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DEA And Rockland County New York Deputies Raid Wrong Address – Home Of Innocent Family Cooking Dinner, Wouldn’t Let Woman Turn Off Stove, Fire Starts, And Three People Were Stuck Upstairs – Threatened To Shoot Family Dogs – Pointed Guns At Man’s Daughter

January 15, 2011

ROCKLAND COUNTY, NEW YORK – A case of mistaken identity put a Spring Valley family in jeopardy.

Deputies surrounded a house on Nereis Drive on reports that an armed gunman, suspected of robbing a medical marijuana delivery provider, was inside. Turned out it was just a family cooking dinner.

Christine Houston told 10News…deputies ordered everyone out of the house and ignored her plea to go back in and turn off the stove. Moments later a fire broke out, trapping three people upstairs, including a seven year old girl. Deputies grabbed a sledge hammer and a skateboard and broke off the metal bars on the windows, then broke the windows to get inside. All eleven people escaped relatively unharmed. one person suffered a minor case of smoke inhalation.

That can’t be said for the kitchen which is a charred mess. A Sheriff’s spokeswoman is denying reports that the department has offered to pay for the damages.

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Phoenix Arizona Police Chief Phil Gordon’s House Burglarized – While He Was Inside

October 11, 2010

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon’s house was burglarized Saturday morning after a thief entered through the backdoor.

The mayor was home alone and is unharmed, he said.

But Gordon said he is missing his personal home computer, and there is about $1,000 worth of damage to his central Phoenix house.

Gordon said he noticed everything was fine on Friday night before he went to bed around 10 p.m. The mayor, who is generally an early riser, woke up a little before 4 a.m. the next day. While he was making coffee, he said, he noticed a draft in the house coming from the laundry room but didn’t think anything of it, and went to watch television.

It wasn’t until about 6:30 a.m., he said, that he noticed anything was wrong. Gordon stepped out to the backyard and saw the backdoor had been damaged, with wood chips on the floor and the plaster wall of his home broken.

His computer was gone, but his wallet and checkbook that were in the same room weren’t taken, he said.

Gordon said he immediately called his security detail, which told him to leave the house and call 911.

Phoenix police officers came to the scene to collect evidence and dust for fingerprints, but Gordon said no one has been caught yet.

“One crime is too many,” Gordon said, but “Phoenix is still a very safe city.”

Last month, the Phoenix Police Department released statistics showing that the number of reported crimes in the city reached 20-year lows in some categories.

The mayor has a team of four detectives and a sergeant overseeing his day-to-day personal security but he isn’t monitored 24-hours a day, seven-days a week. City officials will likely meet Monday to discuss the incident and whether any changes to the mayor’s security detail are necessary, said David Leibowitz, a spokesman for the mayor.

Gordon said some called Saturday suggesting he increase his security detail, but the mayor said that is a judgment call he’ll leave for the police department and other city officials to decide.

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Philadelphia Police Officers Arrested In Drug Sting Weren’t Intended Targets, They Were Hoping To Catch Other Bad Cops

October 9, 2010

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – Investigators who set up a sting operation Monday had hoped to snare two corrupt Philadelphia police officers suspected of robbing drug dealers – just not the two who fell into the trap.

The 25th District officers arrested Monday, Sean Alivera and his partner, Christopher Luciano, were not the initial targets of the investigation and were not previously suspected of wrongdoing, sources familiar with the case said.

A confidential informant had identified two other officers as associates of a local drug dealer and had helped set up a sting to catch them robbing a courier of cash and marijuana. The courier was actually an undercover officer.

Investigators said they were shocked when Alivera and Luciano arrived to carry out the scheme instead. Authorities now believe the two targeted officers sent Alivera and Luciano in their places, according to one source close to the investigation.

These disclosures raise the possibility that as many as four 25th District officers have been robbing couriers, stealing cash and giving the drugs to another dealer to sell, sources said.

“I don’t know how deep this runs,” Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said in an interview Thursday. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

He stressed that the case – barely two weeks old – remained in its “infancy.” But he also said investigators had no evidence to arrest any other officers from the 25th District, including the two thought to be the targets of the sting.

“We might have been wrong about the people we were looking at initially,” he cautioned.

Once the sting netted Alivera and Luciano, Ramsey said, investigators had to spring the trap. They could not allow those officers to remain on the street, even if arresting them meant warning other corrupt officers.

“We’re talking about law-enforcement officers. We’re talking about people who are making arrests every day,” Ramsey said. “If you’re ripping off drug dealers, you could end up in a shoot-out. You could end up in anything.”

Ramsey expressed his indignation at the corruption and pledged, “If there’s anybody else, we’ll continue to work it. . . . We’ll get them.”

He also repeated what he said Tuesday when the arrests of Luciano and Alivera were disclosed: “It could get worse before it gets better.”

The case began about two weeks ago, Ramsey said, with a tip from a confidential informant to investigators from the state Bureau of Narcotics Investigations.

The informant said he knew a drug dealer who was bragging about having “boys in blue that could assist him,” Ramsey said.

The informant had seen two men who claimed to be officers in the drug dealer’s company, but he never saw them in uniform or in a police vehicle. Therefore, sources said, the informant couldn’t confirm they were officers.

Investigators then showed the informant mugshots of 25th District officers, and he picked out one. It was that unnamed officer and his partner who were expected to arrive at the sting, sources said.

Authorities had an idea how the drug rip-offs occurred, and Monday’s sting operation closely followed the pattern they suspected.

Generally, the dealer working with the officers would arrange a drug purchase somewhere in the 25th District, which includes sections of North Philadelphia and Kensington. When the seller arrived, the officers would stop him and take him away from the scene long enough for someone to steal the drugs from his car.

That’s what happened Monday, authorities said, when the undercover officer arrived with $3,000 in cash and 20 pounds of marijuana in his trunk. Surveillance cameras captured the action.

After stopping the undercover officer and putting him in their car, Alivera and Luciano used some pretext to drive him away. During that time, someone believed to be an associate of the drug dealer came and took the marijuana. That person escaped with the drugs, and police were still seeking him on Thursday.

After about 15 minutes, Alivera and Luciano returned with the undercover officer still in custody. One of the officers drove him back to the district in the police cruiser. The other officer got into the undercover operative’s car and also returned to the district. The $3,000 was found in the two officers’ possession, authorities said.

District Attorney Seth Williams, following the sting operation on an open phone line, then made the call:

“That’s enough. Arrest them.”

The drug dealer suspected of working with the officers has been identified and also is the subject of the ongoing investigation, sources said.

The arrests of Alivera, 31, and Luciano, 23, came about three months after federal authorities charged three other officers with helping a drug dealer steal heroin.

One of the officers in the federal case, Robert Snyder, also worked in the 25th District. Ramsey said no connection had been established among Snyder, Alivera, and Luciano.

Ramsey said that he could not take any action against the officers who were the initial targets of Monday’s sting, and that he had not even learned their names.

“If they turn out to be innocent, I don’t want to be associating their names” with corruption, he said.

He also said he hoped the actions of a few officers would not taint the whole department or even the 25th District, which patrols one of the city’s toughest areas.

“I’m not going to sit here and deny the fact that we have a problem. . . . You can’t hide your warts,” Ramsey said. “I do know this: The vast majority of the men and women on this department do this job the way they’re supposed to.”

Alivera and Luciano are being held on $1 million bail each, according to court records.

On the night of their arrests, sources said, Alivera appeared despondent and ashamed, but investigators were irked by his younger partner’s seemingly nonchalant attitude.

Before he went to sleep in lock-up that night, sources said, Luciano took off his police uniform shirt, rolled it up, and used it as a pillow.

Appeared Here


29 Mexican Police Officers Detained Due To Ties To Drug Traffickers

June 1, 2009

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO — Soldiers and federal agents detained 29 police officers in northern Mexico on Monday for alleged ties to drug traffickers.

It was Mexico’s latest sweep to root out corruption among police and government officials, which has been a major impediment to President Felipe Calderon’s battle against drug cartels. Last week, federal officials arrested 10 mayors and 20 other officials in the western state of Michoacan on suspicion of protecting the La Familia cartel.

Soldiers and state and federal agents detained the 29 officers at police headquarters in the cities of Monterrey, San Nicolas de los Garza, Apodaca and the state public security offices, said Nuevo Leon state district attorney Luis Carlos Trevino.

The officers were detained after soldiers found evidence linking them to drug dealers who were arrested last month, the state government said in a statement. It did not give details on the evidence.

“We are working on cleaning up forces and this is one step of many that have to be taken to achieve that,” Trevino said.

Trevino said none of the 29 had been charged.

Outside of the state police headquarters, about 60 people who said they were relatives of the detained officers protested against military intrusion in police activities.

Calderon has sent more than 40,000 soldiers to battle drug trafficking across the country and acknowledged that corruption is pervasive among Mexican police at all levels.

Local law enforcement officials have followed the president’s lead and are increasingly relying on military officers to run their police departments.

On Monday, retired Gen. Javier Aguayo took over as police chief for the northern city of Chihuahua, where drug-fueled violence has claimed hundreds of lives.

In the nearby city of Ciudad Juarez, gunmen opened fire in the lobby of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, killing five people Sunday, said Regional Deputy Attorney General Alejandro Pariente. Witnesses told police many of the 50 rehab patients climbed a fence to flee the attack.

Pariente says police are investigating whether Sunday’s attack was related to threats that administrators had received demanding they shut down the clinic.

It was the second shooting attack in six months at a rehab clinic in Ciudad Juarez, a city across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The city had seen a decline in drug violence since more than 5,000 extra troops were sent in to bolster security in February.

The killings capped a bloody weekend that left more than 30 people dead. Among the victims were a lawyer, a university professor and a female police officer who was shot to death after leaving work.

Also Sunday, gunmen killed four men sitting in a car in the border city of Tijuana, across from San Diego, California.

On Saturday, two gunmen died in a clash with soldiers in Michaocan. The gunmen opened fire on soldiers who were on patrol in the village of Moreno de Valencia, the Defense Department said in a statement. It said soldiers found a Kalashnikov rifle, a shotgun, a handgun and a grenade inside the gunmen’s sport utility vehicle.

More than 10,750 people have been killed in drug violence since Calderon launched a national crackdown on organized crime in December 2006.

Appeared Here


New York City Police Metermaid Ends Up Under A Wheel While Writing Parking Ticket

May 24, 2009

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – A man was so desperate to avoid a parking ticket that he ran over an NYPD traffic cop before she could write it, breaking her legs and causing a head injury.

The incident happened Friday afternoon on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. Cops tracked down the suspect, 26-year-old Anthony Grullon, and arrested him Saturday afternoon.

The 26-year-old agent was about to write a ticket for a double-parked car when Grullon allegedly ran to the vehicle, got in and tried to drive away, police said.

As he made his escape, the car knocked the agent to the ground and then drove over her, crushing her legs.

The traffic agent is in guarded condition at St. Barnabas Hospital, police said.

Surveillance video captures the man believed to be Grullon wearing a red shirt and dark pants running across the street to his 2002 black Ford Taurus. The Bronx man has been charged with felony assault and leaving the scene of an accident.

Appeared Here


New York City Police Metermaid Ends Up Under A Wheel While Writing Parking Ticket

May 24, 2009

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – A man was so desperate to avoid a parking ticket that he ran over an NYPD traffic cop before she could write it, breaking her legs and causing a head injury.

The incident happened Friday afternoon on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. Cops tracked down the suspect, 26-year-old Anthony Grullon, and arrested him Saturday afternoon.

The 26-year-old agent was about to write a ticket for a double-parked car when Grullon allegedly ran to the vehicle, got in and tried to drive away, police said.

As he made his escape, the car knocked the agent to the ground and then drove over her, crushing her legs.

The traffic agent is in guarded condition at St. Barnabas Hospital, police said.

Surveillance video captures the man believed to be Grullon wearing a red shirt and dark pants running across the street to his 2002 black Ford Taurus. The Bronx man has been charged with felony assault and leaving the scene of an accident.

Appeared Here


TV Video Catches Douchebag El Monte California Police Officer Kicking Surrendering Man In The Head, Another Beating Him With A Flashlight, And Officers Giving Each Other High-Fives

May 18, 2009

EL MONTE, CALIFORNIA – The kick to the head delivered by an El Monte police officer to a car-chase suspect lying on the ground at the end of a televised high-speed pursuit was a legally justified “distraction blow,” an attorney for the police union said today.

Dieter Dammeier, attorney for the El Monte Police Officers Assn, said the officer acted within his training and department policy when he delivered the kick.

“Unfortunately these things never look good on video. Sometimes officers have to use force when dealing with bad guys,” said Dammeier. “The officer initially came upon the suspect alone. The suspect hadn’t been searched and was a parolee and a gang member. The individual officer saw some movement. He feared the parolee might have a weapon or be about to get up. So the officer did what is known as a distraction blow. It wasn’t designed to hurt the man, just distract him.”

El Monte officers, he said “are trained to deliver a distraction blow to stop a [suspect] doing what they planning on doing.”

The decision by the officer to kick the head of a suspect who was surrendering has been criticized by use-of-force experts. Samuel Walker, a criminology professor at the University of Nebraska, called the kick to the head “unprovoked and unnecessary . . . It’s one of the worst incidents of this kind that I’ve seen.” The incident began Wednesday afternoon when gang officers recognized a man they believed was a gang member driving a Toyota. They were trying to determine if the car was stolen when the driver committed an unspecified traffic violation.

Richard Rodriguez sped off, blowing through stop signs and running red lights at speeds reaching 80 mph, even attempting to elude authorities by driving on the opposite side of the road and on a sidewalk full of pedestrians, said department spokesman Ken Alva.

Video shows Rodriguez being kicked in the face after he had put his hands up and fell to the ground with his arms above his head. Two officers are seen in news footage giving each other high-fives. Alva said investigators are also examining the actions of a second officer, who used a plastic flashlight to subdue Rodriguez.

Appeared Here


TV Video Catches Douchebag El Monte California Police Officer Kicking Surrendering Man In The Head, Another Beating Him With A Flashlight, And Officers Giving Each Other High-Fives

May 18, 2009

EL MONTE, CALIFORNIA – The kick to the head delivered by an El Monte police officer to a car-chase suspect lying on the ground at the end of a televised high-speed pursuit was a legally justified “distraction blow,” an attorney for the police union said today.

Dieter Dammeier, attorney for the El Monte Police Officers Assn, said the officer acted within his training and department policy when he delivered the kick.

“Unfortunately these things never look good on video. Sometimes officers have to use force when dealing with bad guys,” said Dammeier. “The officer initially came upon the suspect alone. The suspect hadn’t been searched and was a parolee and a gang member. The individual officer saw some movement. He feared the parolee might have a weapon or be about to get up. So the officer did what is known as a distraction blow. It wasn’t designed to hurt the man, just distract him.”

El Monte officers, he said “are trained to deliver a distraction blow to stop a [suspect] doing what they planning on doing.”

The decision by the officer to kick the head of a suspect who was surrendering has been criticized by use-of-force experts. Samuel Walker, a criminology professor at the University of Nebraska, called the kick to the head “unprovoked and unnecessary . . . It’s one of the worst incidents of this kind that I’ve seen.” The incident began Wednesday afternoon when gang officers recognized a man they believed was a gang member driving a Toyota. They were trying to determine if the car was stolen when the driver committed an unspecified traffic violation.

Richard Rodriguez sped off, blowing through stop signs and running red lights at speeds reaching 80 mph, even attempting to elude authorities by driving on the opposite side of the road and on a sidewalk full of pedestrians, said department spokesman Ken Alva.

Video shows Rodriguez being kicked in the face after he had put his hands up and fell to the ground with his arms above his head. Two officers are seen in news footage giving each other high-fives. Alva said investigators are also examining the actions of a second officer, who used a plastic flashlight to subdue Rodriguez.

Appeared Here


Man Threatened By Loomis & Fargo Rent-A-Cops, Arrested By Seattle Washington Police On Bogus Charges After Taking Photograph

May 12, 2009

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Despite the fact that this photo was snapped in broad daylight in a busy Seattle REI store, Shane Becker was threatened by fake cops and arrested by real ones.

One of the Loomis & Fargo guards servicing the public ATM threatened to tackle Becker if he tried to leave the store—apparently snapping a photo of the inside of one of these machines constitutes a security threat (although detailed images and data can be found easily online). In fact, one of the arresting officers even pulled the 9/11 card:

Officer Debra Pelich (#5976)
Remember 9/11? I saw pictures of those buildings. One time when I was in Florida I was wandering around taking pictures. A security team came up and told me it was a high security restricted area. I wasn’t supposed to be taking pictures there. I explained that I didn’t know that, was a police officer, showed them my ID and complied with them. We cleared it up and I left.

Me (totally baffled)

Since you managed to pull the 9/11 card somehow, does that mean that everyone that took a picture of those buildings-

After spending around 30 minutes handcuffed in a cell and being unsuccessfully grilled about why he snapped the photo, Becker signed a REI trespassing form that instructed him not to come back to the store for a year. In the end, the authorities never asked to see the photo, much less for Becker to delete it from his iPhone. Naturally, this raises questions about the real motivation behind the incident. Was it just a power trip? Either way, with camera phones being so common these days, incidents of harassment like this one are bound to escalate.

Appeared Here


Crooked Tenaha Texas Police Department Returns Money And Jewelry They Stole From Motorist

May 7, 2009

TENAHA, TEXAS – Authorities who seized $8,500 and assorted jewelry from a Tennessee man after a traffic stop in east Texas have agreed to return the property after his case drew attention from CNN.

Roderick Daniels said police in Tenaha, Texas, took the money in October 2007 after they stopped him for doing 37 mph in a 35-mph zone. He said police threatened him with money-laundering charges and promised not to prosecute if he signed over the cash, which Daniels said was to buy a new car.

Daniels and other motorists who have been stopped by Tenaha police are part of a lawsuit seeking to end what plaintiff’s lawyer David Guillory calls a systematic fleecing of drivers passing through the town of about 1,000. On Friday, after Shelby County District Attorney Lynda Russell refused repeated requests to discuss cases like Daniels’ with CNN, her office filed papers dropping its claim on his property.

“I just feel blessed,” Daniels said. “I am happy everything is going good right now. … I just want to celebrate.”

Texas law allows police to confiscate drug money and other personal property they think is used in the commission of a crime. If no charges are filed or the person is acquitted, the property has to be returned.

Russell issued a statement through her attorneys denying impropriety, and George Bowers, Tenaha’s longtime mayor, says his police follow the law. But Guillory, who brought the lawsuit challenging the seizures, called cases like Daniels’ “a shakedown” and “a piracy operation.”

Guillory said authorities in Tenaha, about 180 miles east of Dallas, seized $3 million from 2006 to 2008. In about 150 cases, virtually all involving African-American or Latino motorists, the seizures were improper, he said.
Don’t Miss

* Texas police shake down drivers, lawsuit claims
* “AC360°” blog

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All defendants in the lawsuit deny wrongdoing. In a written statement, Russell’s attorneys said the prosecutor “has used and continues to use prosecutorial discretion … and is in compliance with Texas law, the Texas constitution and the United States Constitution.”

But the attention paid to Tenaha has led to an effort by Texas lawmakers to tighten the state’s forfeiture laws.

Appeared Here


Crooked Tenaha Texas Police Department Returns Money And Jewelry They Stole From Motorist

May 7, 2009

TENAHA, TEXAS – Authorities who seized $8,500 and assorted jewelry from a Tennessee man after a traffic stop in east Texas have agreed to return the property after his case drew attention from CNN.

Roderick Daniels said police in Tenaha, Texas, took the money in October 2007 after they stopped him for doing 37 mph in a 35-mph zone. He said police threatened him with money-laundering charges and promised not to prosecute if he signed over the cash, which Daniels said was to buy a new car.

Daniels and other motorists who have been stopped by Tenaha police are part of a lawsuit seeking to end what plaintiff’s lawyer David Guillory calls a systematic fleecing of drivers passing through the town of about 1,000. On Friday, after Shelby County District Attorney Lynda Russell refused repeated requests to discuss cases like Daniels’ with CNN, her office filed papers dropping its claim on his property.

“I just feel blessed,” Daniels said. “I am happy everything is going good right now. … I just want to celebrate.”

Texas law allows police to confiscate drug money and other personal property they think is used in the commission of a crime. If no charges are filed or the person is acquitted, the property has to be returned.

Russell issued a statement through her attorneys denying impropriety, and George Bowers, Tenaha’s longtime mayor, says his police follow the law. But Guillory, who brought the lawsuit challenging the seizures, called cases like Daniels’ “a shakedown” and “a piracy operation.”

Guillory said authorities in Tenaha, about 180 miles east of Dallas, seized $3 million from 2006 to 2008. In about 150 cases, virtually all involving African-American or Latino motorists, the seizures were improper, he said.
Don’t Miss

* Texas police shake down drivers, lawsuit claims
* “AC360°” blog

advertisement

All defendants in the lawsuit deny wrongdoing. In a written statement, Russell’s attorneys said the prosecutor “has used and continues to use prosecutorial discretion … and is in compliance with Texas law, the Texas constitution and the United States Constitution.”

But the attention paid to Tenaha has led to an effort by Texas lawmakers to tighten the state’s forfeiture laws.

Appeared Here


Highway Robbery: Tenaha Texas Police Officers Rob Motorists

May 6, 2009

TENAHA, TEXAS - Roderick Daniels was traveling through East Texas in October 2007 when, he says, he was the victim of a highway robbery.
Police in the small East Texas town of Tenaha are accused of unjustly taking valuables from motorists.

The Tennessee man says he was ordered to pull his car over and surrender his jewelry and $8,500 in cash that he had with him to buy a new car.

But Daniels couldn’t go to the police to report the incident.

The men who stopped him were the police.

Daniels was stopped on U.S. Highway 59 outside Tenaha, near the Louisiana state line. Police said he was driving 37 mph in a 35 mph zone. They hauled him off to jail and threatened him with money-laundering charges — but offered to release him if he signed papers forfeiting his property.

“I actually thought this was a joke,” Daniels told CNN.

But he signed.

“To be honest, I was five, six hundred miles from home,” he said. “I was petrified.” Video Watch CNN’s Gary Tuchman try to question officials »

Now Daniels and other motorists who have been stopped by Tenaha police are part of a lawsuit seeking to end what plaintiff’s lawyer David Guillory calls a systematic fleecing of drivers passing through the town of about 1,000.

Highway Robbery?

Out of the blue, drivers are pulled over. Their valuables taken … hundreds of thousands of dollars worth. And you won’t believe who’s behind it all. “Highway Robbery,” an AC360 investigation, tonight at 10 ET.
see full schedule »

“I believe it is a shakedown. I believe it’s a piracy operation,” Guillory said.

George Bowers, Tenaha’s longtime mayor, says his police follow the law. And through her lawyers, Shelby County District Attorney Lynda Russell denied any impropriety.

Texas law allows police to confiscate drug money and other personal property they believe are used in the commission of a crime. If no charges are filed or the person is acquitted, the property has to be returned. But Guillory’s lawsuit states that Tenaha and surrounding Shelby County don’t bother to return much of what they confiscate.

Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson said they agreed to forfeit their property after Russell threatened to have their children taken away.

Like Daniels, the couple says they were carrying a large amount of cash — about $6,000 — to buy a car. When they were stopped in Tenaha in 2007, Boatright said, Russell came to the Tenaha police station to berate her and threaten to separate the family.

“I said, ‘If it’s the money you want, you can take it, if that’s what it takes to keep my children with me and not separate them from us. Take the money,’ ” she said.
Don’t Miss

* “AC360°” blog

The document Henderson signed, which bears Russell’s signature, states that in exchange for forfeiting the cash, “no criminal charges shall be filed … and our children shall not be turned over” to the state’s child protective services agency.

Maryland resident Amanee Busbee said she also was threatened with losing custody of her child after being stopped in Tenaha with her fiancé and his business partner. They were headed to Houston with $50,000 to complete the purchase of a restaurant, she said.

“The police officer would say things to me like, ‘Your son is going to child protective services because you are not saying what we need to hear,’ ” Busbee said.

Guillory, who practices in nearby Nacogdoches, Texas, estimates authorities in Tenaha seized $3 million between 2006 and 2008, and in about 150 cases — virtually all of which involved African-American or Latino motorists — the seizures were improper.

“They are disproportionately going after racial minorities,” he said. “My take on the matter is that the police in Tenaha, Texas, were picking on and preying on people that were least likely to fight back.”

Daniels told CNN that one of the officers who stopped him tried on some of his jewelry in front of him.

“They asked me, ‘What you are doing with this ring on?’ I said I had bought that ring. I paid good money for that ring,” Daniels said. “He took the ring off my finger and put it on his finger and told me how did it look. He put on my jewelry.”

Texas law states that the proceeds of any seizures can be used only for “official purposes” of district attorney offices and “for law-enforcement purposes” by police departments. According to public records obtained by CNN using open-records laws, an account funded by property forfeitures in Russell’s office included $524 for a popcorn machine, $195 for candy for a poultry festival, and $400 for catering.

In addition, Russell donated money to the local chamber of commerce and a youth baseball league. A local Baptist church received two checks totaling $6,000.

And one check for $10,000 went to Barry Washington, a Tenaha police officer whose name has come up in several complaints by stopped motorists. The money was paid for “investigative costs,” the records state.

Washington would not comment for this report but has denied all allegations in his answer to Guillory’s lawsuit.

“This is under litigation. This is a lawsuit,” he told CNN.

Russell refused requests for interviews at her office and at a fundraiser for a volunteer fire department in a nearby town, where she also sang. But in a written statement, her lawyers said she “has denied and continues to deny all substantive allegations set forth.”

Russell “has used and continues to use prosecutorial discretion … and is in compliance with Texas law, the Texas constitution, and the United States Constitution,” the statement said.

Bowers, who has been Tenaha’s mayor for 54 years, is also named in the lawsuit. But he said his employees “will follow the law.”

“We try to hire the very best, best-trained, and we keep them up to date on the training,” he said.

The attention paid to Tenaha has led to an effort by Texas lawmakers to tighten the state’s forfeiture laws. A bill sponsored by state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, would bar authorities from using the kind of waivers Daniels, Henderson and Busbee were told to sign.

“To have law enforcement and the district attorney essentially be crooks, in my judgment, should infuriate and does infuriate everyone,” Whitmire said. His bill has passed the Senate, where he is the longest-serving member, and is currently before the House of Representatives.
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Busbee, Boatright and Henderson were able to reclaim their property after hiring lawyers. But Daniels is still out his $8,500.

“To this day, I don’t understand why they took my belongings off me,” he said.

Appeared Here


Highway Robbery: Tenaha Texas Police Officers Rob Motorists

May 5, 2009

TENAHA, TEXAS - Roderick Daniels was traveling through East Texas in October 2007 when, he says, he was the victim of a highway robbery.
Police in the small East Texas town of Tenaha are accused of unjustly taking valuables from motorists.

The Tennessee man says he was ordered to pull his car over and surrender his jewelry and $8,500 in cash that he had with him to buy a new car.

But Daniels couldn’t go to the police to report the incident.

The men who stopped him were the police.

Daniels was stopped on U.S. Highway 59 outside Tenaha, near the Louisiana state line. Police said he was driving 37 mph in a 35 mph zone. They hauled him off to jail and threatened him with money-laundering charges — but offered to release him if he signed papers forfeiting his property.

“I actually thought this was a joke,” Daniels told CNN.

But he signed.

“To be honest, I was five, six hundred miles from home,” he said. “I was petrified.” Video Watch CNN’s Gary Tuchman try to question officials »

Now Daniels and other motorists who have been stopped by Tenaha police are part of a lawsuit seeking to end what plaintiff’s lawyer David Guillory calls a systematic fleecing of drivers passing through the town of about 1,000.

Highway Robbery?

Out of the blue, drivers are pulled over. Their valuables taken … hundreds of thousands of dollars worth. And you won’t believe who’s behind it all. “Highway Robbery,” an AC360 investigation, tonight at 10 ET.
see full schedule »

“I believe it is a shakedown. I believe it’s a piracy operation,” Guillory said.

George Bowers, Tenaha’s longtime mayor, says his police follow the law. And through her lawyers, Shelby County District Attorney Lynda Russell denied any impropriety.

Texas law allows police to confiscate drug money and other personal property they believe are used in the commission of a crime. If no charges are filed or the person is acquitted, the property has to be returned. But Guillory’s lawsuit states that Tenaha and surrounding Shelby County don’t bother to return much of what they confiscate.

Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson said they agreed to forfeit their property after Russell threatened to have their children taken away.

Like Daniels, the couple says they were carrying a large amount of cash — about $6,000 — to buy a car. When they were stopped in Tenaha in 2007, Boatright said, Russell came to the Tenaha police station to berate her and threaten to separate the family.

“I said, ‘If it’s the money you want, you can take it, if that’s what it takes to keep my children with me and not separate them from us. Take the money,’ ” she said.
Don’t Miss

* “AC360°” blog

The document Henderson signed, which bears Russell’s signature, states that in exchange for forfeiting the cash, “no criminal charges shall be filed … and our children shall not be turned over” to the state’s child protective services agency.

Maryland resident Amanee Busbee said she also was threatened with losing custody of her child after being stopped in Tenaha with her fiancé and his business partner. They were headed to Houston with $50,000 to complete the purchase of a restaurant, she said.

“The police officer would say things to me like, ‘Your son is going to child protective services because you are not saying what we need to hear,’ ” Busbee said.

Guillory, who practices in nearby Nacogdoches, Texas, estimates authorities in Tenaha seized $3 million between 2006 and 2008, and in about 150 cases — virtually all of which involved African-American or Latino motorists — the seizures were improper.

“They are disproportionately going after racial minorities,” he said. “My take on the matter is that the police in Tenaha, Texas, were picking on and preying on people that were least likely to fight back.”

Daniels told CNN that one of the officers who stopped him tried on some of his jewelry in front of him.

“They asked me, ‘What you are doing with this ring on?’ I said I had bought that ring. I paid good money for that ring,” Daniels said. “He took the ring off my finger and put it on his finger and told me how did it look. He put on my jewelry.”

Texas law states that the proceeds of any seizures can be used only for “official purposes” of district attorney offices and “for law-enforcement purposes” by police departments. According to public records obtained by CNN using open-records laws, an account funded by property forfeitures in Russell’s office included $524 for a popcorn machine, $195 for candy for a poultry festival, and $400 for catering.

In addition, Russell donated money to the local chamber of commerce and a youth baseball league. A local Baptist church received two checks totaling $6,000.

And one check for $10,000 went to Barry Washington, a Tenaha police officer whose name has come up in several complaints by stopped motorists. The money was paid for “investigative costs,” the records state.

Washington would not comment for this report but has denied all allegations in his answer to Guillory’s lawsuit.

“This is under litigation. This is a lawsuit,” he told CNN.

Russell refused requests for interviews at her office and at a fundraiser for a volunteer fire department in a nearby town, where she also sang. But in a written statement, her lawyers said she “has denied and continues to deny all substantive allegations set forth.”

Russell “has used and continues to use prosecutorial discretion … and is in compliance with Texas law, the Texas constitution, and the United States Constitution,” the statement said.

Bowers, who has been Tenaha’s mayor for 54 years, is also named in the lawsuit. But he said his employees “will follow the law.”

“We try to hire the very best, best-trained, and we keep them up to date on the training,” he said.

The attention paid to Tenaha has led to an effort by Texas lawmakers to tighten the state’s forfeiture laws. A bill sponsored by state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, would bar authorities from using the kind of waivers Daniels, Henderson and Busbee were told to sign.

“To have law enforcement and the district attorney essentially be crooks, in my judgment, should infuriate and does infuriate everyone,” Whitmire said. His bill has passed the Senate, where he is the longest-serving member, and is currently before the House of Representatives.
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Busbee, Boatright and Henderson were able to reclaim their property after hiring lawyers. But Daniels is still out his $8,500.

“To this day, I don’t understand why they took my belongings off me,” he said.

Appeared Here


Los Angeles County California Sheriff’s Department Cracks Down After Alcohol Related Employee Arrests Double In One Year

April 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – In what officials describe as an increasingly intractable problem, the number of alcohol-related arrests of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employees doubled from 2007 to 2008, according to an annual department review released Wednesday.

The number of deputies and other employees arrested in connection with public drunkenness, bar fights and alcohol-related domestic violence shot up from 33 in 2007 to 70 last year, according to the county’s Office of Independent Review.

Meanwhile, the number of employees arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence increased from 29 to 36 in that time.

“The uptick in alcohol-related arrests certainly is a concern of ours and the department,” OIR Chief Attorney Michael Gennaco said.

“Obviously, police officers are entrusted to enforce the law and when they are off-duty and breaking the law — that certainly presents a disconnect.”

In one incident, officials said, a drunk off-duty sheriff’s deputy accidentally shot his cousin in the abdomen. An internal affairs investigation is pending.

In another instance, a deputy who had been drinking at a bar offered to walk the bar hostess to her car, said he wanted to “molest her,” showed her his gun and kissed her. The deputy was suspended without pay for 15 days.

Gennaco said the Sheriff’s Department has made strides in addressing the issue, increasing disciplinary sanctions for employees arrested for alcohol-related
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offenses.

Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said the agency is about to implement a policy banning off-duty deputies from carrying their guns when drinking.

“If you’ve got your gun, don’t drink,” Whitmore said. “It’s simple.

“Alcohol and guns don’t mix. That will be the policy of the Sheriff’s Department. It will be one of the first such policies in the nation.”

Also, Undersheriff Larry Waldie issues a weekly bulletin detailing employees arrested for alcohol-related offenses.

“It’s sent to all employees so they can see we are tracking this and holding people accountable,” Whitmore said.

Looking at issues beyond alcohol use, Gennaco also raised concerns about the use of Tasers following incidents in which a suspect died and another was paralyzed. In the case of the suspect who died, an investigation found the sergeant activated his Taser at least 10 times within a 61-second period during the altercation.

As a result, the department has modified its Taser policy to state that the use of the Taser is to be stopped once the suspect no longer poses a threat.

Gennaco also raised concerns that allowing inmates to have unlimited jail accounts potentially allows those accounts to used for money laundering. The accounts are used by inmates to purchase snacks, stamps and other items from the jail store.

“There were inmates who had thousands of dollars on their books,” Gennaco said. “Inmates have the ability to authorize outside people to put money on their books and they can take that and send it in other directions. In addition, inmates with lots of money on the books could be the shot-callers in the jails because everybody knows they have money on the books.”

In response, the department limited inmate accounts to $900.

Appeared Here


53 Drug Convictions Based On Bogus Information And Resulting Warrants And Arrests By Philadelpia Pennsylvania Police Officer Jeffrey Cujdik And His Informant Challenged

April 14, 2009

PHILADELPIA, PENNSYLVANIA – The drug convictions of 26 more people – three-quarters of whom are behind bars, serving prison terms – were challenged yesterday by Philadelphia’s public defender on the grounds that all were tainted by false information from veteran narcotics officer Jeffrey Cujdik and his paid confidential informant.

Together with 24 petitions filed on April 3 and three on Wednesday, yesterday’s filings bring to 53 the number of people whose convictions could be dismissed.

The new Common Pleas Court filings, like the earlier petitions, are based on allegations by Cujdik’s former paid informant, Ventura “Benny” Martinez. Martinez, in a Feb. 9 interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, said he and Cujdik often falsified information to persuade judges to sign search and arrest warrants for drug suspects.

Had information about the alleged conduct by Cujdik and Martinez been known, Assistant Public Defender Bradley S. Bridge argued in court papers, the defendants would have been acquitted or would have decided not to plead guilty.

Bridge said the fact that all the petitions resulted from Martinez’s allegations that he and Cujdik lied “raises important questions about the entire process of utilizing confidential informants, and demonstrates yet again the critical role the courts have in acting as a check on such abuses.”

Arguing for new trials, Bridge said “the untenable alternative is that an innocent man would continue to be in state prison and on state parole for several more years.”

The District Attorney’s Office has in two filings argued that it is premature to take any action involving the convictions of those arrested through the work of Cujdik and Martinez.

Nothing should be done, the prosecutor has argued, until the results of investigations by the city and FBI are known.

Cujdik, 34, a 12-year veteran, has surrendered his service weapon and since late January has been assigned to desk duty. He is the only member of the Narcotics Field Unit police officials have reassigned.

Cujdik has not commented publicly on the allegations made by Martinez – with whom he worked building drug cases for almost eight years – but he has been backed by Philadelphia’s Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police. Cujdik’s attorney, George Bochetto, has called Martinez a career criminal and a liar who incriminated Cujdik out of anger.

Of the 26 cases filed yesterday, most involved arrests occurring between 2003 and 2005. Two-thirds of the defendants were men and almost 70 percent were Latino. Most had prior encounters with the justice system. The arrests were in Kensington and North Philadelphia.

For some, such as Tammy Michenselder, 31, who was arrested Aug. 17, 2005, the arrest and conviction was her first and only. Michenselder pleaded guilty in January 2006 to conspiracy and possession with intent to deliver, and was sentenced to six months’ house arrest and two years’ probation.

Others, such as Wilfredo Baez, 46, arrested Nov. 4, 2005, and charged with drug and gun crimes, had longer records that resulted in longer prison terms. Baez pleaded guilty and was sentenced in August to 31/2 to 10 years in prison. He is serving that sentence at the state prison at Laurel Highlands in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Now those 26 convictions are in play, and common to all is the defender’s contention that none of the defendants should have been arrested because Cujdik’s search warrants were bogus.

Bridge filed his first 24 petitions on April 3 under Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act, a secondary appeal law that allows a judge to reopen a criminal case based on evidence discovered after conviction that could call a guilty verdict or plea into question.

Bridge said that yesterday’s filings are likely the last based on Martinez’s allegations in the Feb. 9 article. Bridge said state law requires that petitions based on after-discovered evidence be filed within 60 days of the date the information becomes known to the defense attorney.

None of the petitions is likely to result in immediate legal action. The District Attorney’s Office must formally respond to each. Then the court must decide how to handle the 26 cases: assign one judge to hear all, or send them back to the original sentencing judges.

Cujdik’s hugely productive relationship with Martinez, 47, came undone in October when Martinez’s identity was disclosed in court by the lawyer and investigator for a defendant whose criminal case the informant helped Cujdik develop.

Martinez was also photographed leaving a Kensington rowhouse owned by Cujdik and leased to a woman who was the informant’s girlfriend and mother of two of his children.

Martinez said he went to the newspaper after his requests for protection and relocation were rebuffed by authorities.

Appeared Here


Chicago Illinois Police Detective Joseph Frugoli Released On Bail After Killing 2 People In Drunken Crash

April 13, 2009

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Chicago Detective Joseph Frugoli is out on $500,000 bail after prosecutors said he had a blood-alcohol content three times the legal limit during the crash.

A raucous confrontation broke out Sunday outside Cook County Criminal Court after a Chicago police detective charged with causing a deadly auto crash while driving drunk was ordered released on $500,000 bail.

The fight highlighted the outrage underlying the case.

As they streamed out of the noontime hearing, many of the 75 friends and relatives of the two young victims were shouting and crying, angered that Joseph Frugoli, an 18-year veteran of the Chicago force, could be set free while the case makes its way through court.

When more than a dozen courthouse police chased down one especially loud and angry man outside, threw him to the ground and hauled him into the courthouse, the crowd got angrier. People yelled “pigs,” “cowards” and other hostile words about Frugoli, specifically, and the police in general.

“If I hit your kids, it would be a different story! ” one man shouted as Cook County sheriff’s officers created a human barrier on the front steps of the courthouse.

“Only $500,000—that’s what two lives are worth?!” yelled another member of the crowd, referring to Andrew Cazares, 23, and Fausto Manzera, 21, the two men killed Friday in the fiery crash.

“Put that guy in jail, that’s where he belongs!” a young woman yelled.

The non-violent standoff came after the prosecutor and defense attorney laid out new claims about the crash and Frugoli—some of them conflicting.

Frugoli, a burly man who appeared in court in jeans and a long-sleeve polo shirt, has been charged with two counts each of reckless homicide and aggravated DUI, plus one count of leaving the scene of a fatal crash. Authorities said his blood-alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit. He was released from custody Sunday after posting $50,000, 10 percent of the bail, said Steve Patterson, a sheriff’s spokesman.

Police said the crash occurred around 3:30 a.m. Friday in Chicago on the southbound Dan Ryan Expressway north of 18th Street, after Cazares pulled his 1995 red Dodge Intrepid over to wait for help, possibly with a flat tire.

John Dillon, an assistant state’s attorney who sought an “extremely high bond,” said that Frugoli’s blood-alcohol level was 0.277 when his 2008 Lexus SUV crashed into the Dodge, and that he was driving 60 to 65 m.p.h., which was above the speed limit.

According to witnesses, Dillon said, the impact propelled the Dodge forward as if it “had been shot from a cannon” and caused it to explode like “a bomb went off.”

When officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation arrived, Frugoli tried to flee on foot until he was stopped by an official from the department, Dillon said.

Frugoli’s defense attorney, Gregg Smith, said the Dodge was stopped in the right-hand lane with its lights off, not pulled off to the shoulder, as the prosecution said. Smith said there was no proof that Frugoli was speeding and that he was not trying to flee when he started to walk away from the scene.

“My client was disoriented,” said Smith, who sought a $200,000 bail, which he said was “reasonable.”

Frugoli, he insisted, “wasn’t trying to evade arrest.”

Smith portrayed Frugoli as a committed police officer born and raised in Chicago whose strong family ties prevented him from being a flight risk.

Frugoli’s ex-wife and 16-year-old daughter live in the city, Smith said.

Frugoli lives in a three-flat with his brother and his brother’s three children. His father, who died in 2007, and his mother, who recently died, used to live in the three-flat as well.

He said Frugoli’s father served in the Chicago Police Department, and that Frugoli has received honor and distinction for his service on the force.

Dillon pointed out that Frugoli, who has been relieved of his police powers, had a history of driving dangerously, pointing to a 2005 crash and a 1990 speeding ticket.

Last week, a Cook County judge ordered Frugoli to pay more than $7,000 in damages in a civil case involving the 2005 crash, in which Frugoli struck a 61-year-old man’s vehicle from behind on the Dan Ryan, pushing it into a median wall. Frugoli, who denied consuming alcohol before that crash, was cited with failure to reduce speed, but the ticket was dropped.

In 1990, Frugoli was cited with driving 80 m.p.h. in a 50-m.p.h. zone and with disregarding a stop sign in 2008, but those tickets also were thrown out, court documents show.

Smith said Frugoli did not have a criminal history and that receiving traffic tickets was not unusual. “We’ve all had traffic incidents,” Smith said.

But many of the friends and relatives of Cazares and Manzera, already devastated by the loss of their loved ones, saw the $500,000 bail as a sign that Frugoli was receiving special treatment because he is a police officer.

“We’re upset by the decision,” said Mike Angelo, a friend of the victims.

Ed Page, a friend of Cazares, offered his blunt assessment of Frugoli: “He’s a murderer.”

Appeared Here


London UK Police Officer Comes Forward After Attacking Innocent Pedestrian Who Latter Died

April 8, 2009

LONDON, UK – The police officer thought to be shown in video footage of a G20 protest in London pushing a man who later died has come forward.

An independent criminal probe has begun into the death of Ian Tomlinson, 47, who had a heart attack minutes later.

Additional video footage from 1 April shown on Channel 4 News appears to show an officer striking him with a baton.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is trying to identify officers who were at the scene.

The IPCC has ordered a second post-mortem examination as part of its investigation.

Mr Tomlinson’s stepson Paul King said the footage has “deeply touched” the family and said “we cannot lay our father to rest” until the relatives get justice.

The IPCC began its investigation before footage surfaced of Mr Tomlinson being shoved.

The IPCC said it would examine the footage from 1 April and discuss it with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Following Mr Tomlinson’s death the IPCC had initially said it would oversee an investigation into the incident to be carried out by the City of London police.

Deborah Glass, of the IPCC, explained the decision to take over the investigation: “People are rightly concerned about this tragic death and this footage is clearly disturbing.

“In light of new information which we became aware of yesterday (Tuesday) evening, we have now taken the decision to independently investigate.

“People have been calling for a criminal investigation. I want to stress that, from the outset of all our investigations, we consider whether criminal offences have been committed.

“This is a criminal investigation and we will, of course, be discussing it with the Crown Prosecution Service.

“At the moment the investigation is focused on identifying the officers in the footage. Several have already come forward and all efforts are being made to trace those who haven’t.”

Heavy landing

Ms Glass appealed for more people to submit any other video footage of the incident.

The video, shot at 1929 BST at the Royal Exchange Passage on 1 April, initially shows Mr Tomlinson, who was going home from work and not protesting, walking away from a group of police officers.

Deborah Glass, IPCC: ‘We continue to appeal for more information’

The footage, recorded by a New York fund manager, shows Mr Tomlinson receiving a two-handed push from an officer, landing heavily before remonstrating with the police.

Minutes later, Mr Tomlinson collapsed and died of a heart attack, after walking to nearby Cornhill where he received first aid from police.

Earlier the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said the images raised “obvious concerns” and pledged full support from the Met.

The Guardian newspaper obtained the video and has handed it to the IPCC.

Opposition MPs have called for a criminal investigation into the death.

The police have well-established powers to use reasonable force if they think there is a threat either to themselves or the public, but these are enhanced during a protest or riot.

* The key concept is that of “reasonable force” – i.e. force that is in proportion to the threat faced either by the public, the police or property
* Thus “reasonable force” may literally range from putting a hand on someone’s elbow, to shooting them dead
* The legislation governing police powers during demonstrations (mostly the Public Order Act 1986) must also be seen in context of human rights’ legislation
* Under European human rights’ laws the police are required to actively protect the public’s right to peaceful protest
* Policing during a protest, therefore, is a negotiation between the rights of police to use reasonable force to protect the public, and their responsibility to allow peaceful protest to take place

Appeared Here


Man Beaten By London UK Police Died Of "Natural Causes"

April 6, 2009

LONDON, UK - A British man who died last week amid protests of the Group of 20 economic summit in London was hit by police with a baton, witnesses say.

An official examination found that Ian Tomlinson, 47, who was not taking part in the protests, died of natural causes Wednesday after suddenly collapsing while demonstrators crowded near the Bank of England in the City of London financial district. But witnesses claim Tomlinson struck his head after being pushed from behind and was struck by a police baton, The Times of London reported Monday.

The newspaper said investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission were set to look out media photographs of Tomlinson’s death and would issue a call for any more images that may exist.

“I saw a riot police officer rushing towards him from behind and grabbing hold of him from behind and charging with him,” photographer Anna Branthwaite told The Times. “He (the officer) grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and used his own body to propel him forward.”

Another unnamed witness told the newspaper that Tomlinson was pushed from behind and fell forward on his head.

Appeared Here


Man Beaten By London UK Police Died Of "Natural Causes"

April 6, 2009

LONDON, UK - A British man who died last week amid protests of the Group of 20 economic summit in London was hit by police with a baton, witnesses say.

An official examination found that Ian Tomlinson, 47, who was not taking part in the protests, died of natural causes Wednesday after suddenly collapsing while demonstrators crowded near the Bank of England in the City of London financial district. But witnesses claim Tomlinson struck his head after being pushed from behind and was struck by a police baton, The Times of London reported Monday.

The newspaper said investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission were set to look out media photographs of Tomlinson’s death and would issue a call for any more images that may exist.

“I saw a riot police officer rushing towards him from behind and grabbing hold of him from behind and charging with him,” photographer Anna Branthwaite told The Times. “He (the officer) grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and used his own body to propel him forward.”

Another unnamed witness told the newspaper that Tomlinson was pushed from behind and fell forward on his head.

Appeared Here


Crazed Detroit Michigan Police Steal Residents And Vistors Pillows

April 5, 2009

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - Police in Detroit have ruffled some feathers after they cracked down on an organized pillow fight at a downtown park.

The Detroit News reports that police at Campus Martius Park prevented the feathery fight Saturday by disarming pillow-toting participants. The bout was part of a worldwide event organized on social networking Web sites.

Michael Davis of Hamtramck says police confiscated the 32-year-old man’s pillows but returned their cases. He says he was told that he needed a permit.

Scott Harris of Ferndale told the News that it’s “not illegal to own a pillow.”

Detroit police spokesman James Tate says cleanup was the issue.

Appeared Here


Crazed Detroit Michigan Police Steal Residents And Vistors Pillows

April 5, 2009

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - Police in Detroit have ruffled some feathers after they cracked down on an organized pillow fight at a downtown park.

The Detroit News reports that police at Campus Martius Park prevented the feathery fight Saturday by disarming pillow-toting participants. The bout was part of a worldwide event organized on social networking Web sites.

Michael Davis of Hamtramck says police confiscated the 32-year-old man’s pillows but returned their cases. He says he was told that he needed a permit.

Scott Harris of Ferndale told the News that it’s “not illegal to own a pillow.”

Detroit police spokesman James Tate says cleanup was the issue.

Appeared Here


Crazed Phoenix Arizona Police Officer Harasses Photographer, Cite Bogus Homeland Security Statute That Victim Was Directed To Look Up Online – Same Building Photos Available On Google Street View

April 5, 2009

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – When they’re not raiding the homes of bloggers who are critical of them, Phoenix police are harassing photographers, telling them that it is illegal to take pictures of federal buildings, public transportation, stadiums, street lights and banks.

William J. Nash-McAdam told the Downtown Phoenix Journal that he and a friend were detained by a Phoenix cop last weekend who took their identifications and informed them that they had violated some Homeland Security statute.

When they asked him to cite the specific statute, the cop told them to “Google it,” according to the article.

Somebody should tell that cop that anybody can go on Google Street View and find a three-dimensional view of almost any building in Phoenix, including the cherished Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse, which I found in a matter of seconds and uploaded to this post (click to enlarge and analyze the building for terrorist purposes).

And speaking of Google Street View, check out how residents in England surrounded one of its car with cameras on the roof, forbidding it from entering their village.

In the Phoenix incident, the article states that other photographers have been harassed in the city’s downtown.

Nash-McAdam spoke to two other people with cameras in the Copper Square area. According to him, one photographer stated that he had been confronted by police about taking a photograph of Civic Square with the Bank of America building in the background, and the other stated that he was confronted by officers for taking photos of Chase Field.

The article also mentions the story behind my comrade in arms in New York, War on Photography.

Jim Poulos, a train affecionado, has been told by officers in New York City that he was not allowed to take photographs in the Subway, when photography is explicitly permitted by an affirmative statute. Poulos has been collecting stories of photographers who have been wrongfully harassed by police at the War on Photography website.

The Phoenix cop eventually let them go with a “warning”.

While Nash-McAdam doesn’t think that this incident will keep him from visiting Downtown Phoenix in the future, he says that it has cemented his view that Phoenix is a “police state to me when held in comparison to my hometown of Orange County and the numerous other cities I’ve traveled to.”

Ya think?

Appeared Here


Crazed Phoenix Arizona Police Officer Harasses Photographer, Cite Bogus Homeland Security Statute That Victim Was Directed To Look Up Online – Same Building Photos Available On Google Street View

April 4, 2009

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – When they’re not raiding the homes of bloggers who are critical of them, Phoenix police are harassing photographers, telling them that it is illegal to take pictures of federal buildings, public transportation, stadiums, street lights and banks.

William J. Nash-McAdam told the Downtown Phoenix Journal that he and a friend were detained by a Phoenix cop last weekend who took their identifications and informed them that they had violated some Homeland Security statute.

When they asked him to cite the specific statute, the cop told them to “Google it,” according to the article.

Somebody should tell that cop that anybody can go on Google Street View and find a three-dimensional view of almost any building in Phoenix, including the cherished Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse, which I found in a matter of seconds and uploaded to this post (click to enlarge and analyze the building for terrorist purposes).

And speaking of Google Street View, check out how residents in England surrounded one of its car with cameras on the roof, forbidding it from entering their village.

In the Phoenix incident, the article states that other photographers have been harassed in the city’s downtown.

Nash-McAdam spoke to two other people with cameras in the Copper Square area. According to him, one photographer stated that he had been confronted by police about taking a photograph of Civic Square with the Bank of America building in the background, and the other stated that he was confronted by officers for taking photos of Chase Field.

The article also mentions the story behind my comrade in arms in New York, War on Photography.

Jim Poulos, a train affecionado, has been told by officers in New York City that he was not allowed to take photographs in the Subway, when photography is explicitly permitted by an affirmative statute. Poulos has been collecting stories of photographers who have been wrongfully harassed by police at the War on Photography website.

The Phoenix cop eventually let them go with a “warning”.

While Nash-McAdam doesn’t think that this incident will keep him from visiting Downtown Phoenix in the future, he says that it has cemented his view that Phoenix is a “police state to me when held in comparison to my hometown of Orange County and the numerous other cities I’ve traveled to.”

Ya think?

Appeared Here


Crazed Iowa DOT Officer Harasses And Searches Law-Abiding Elderly Couple In Motorhome Without Cause

April 1, 2009

IOWA – Carl and Jane Schneider of Fort Madison insist they were treated like criminals by an Iowa Department of Transportation officer during a traffic stop, although nothing improper was found.

The couple were minutes from home Friday night after a 3,600-mile trip in their motor home when a DOT trucking enforcement officer pulled up behind them.

They said the DOT officer interrogated them. Then he ordered them to stand in front of their recreational vehicle’s headlights while he checked inside, searching for marijuana or wads of cash. The officer never asked for their driver’s licenses or proof of registration, they said.
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“It was so strange. I literally felt afraid for my life,” Jane Schneider, 59, said Monday. “I felt I could have bodily harm. … He was very menacing and threatening to us.”

Dena Gray-Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Iowa DOT, said in a statement Monday that “the Iowa DOT’s Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement takes complaints such as these seriously. That office is in the process of reviewing the matter and will proceed accordingly from the information obtained. The department does not believe it would be appropriate to comment further until that has been done.”

The DOT has a team of officers who enforce compliance statewide with commercial trucking laws.

The Schneiders posted a description of their experience Sunday night on an Internet blog – iowa defense.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/2894 – where it has been generating comments.

Carl Schneider, 66, a well-known Fort Madison resident who formerly operated the Blue Grass Dairy, said Monday that he and his wife remained puzzled. Both said they have had trouble sleeping since the traffic stop.

One of their complaints is that the officer who stopped them repeatedly demonstrated a lack of knowledge about firearms laws, even though they were legally transporting a .40-caliber handgun with a concealed-weapon permit from the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.

Carl Schneider said he was particularly upset that the officer implied he could simply call the sheriff and have the permit revoked, “which is absolutely not the case.”

At one point during the traffic stop, the DOT officer was joined by a second, unidentified officer who was more professional, the couple added.

The traffic stop happened about 8 p.m. Friday on U.S. Highway 61 in Lee County. The Schneiders said they were returning from a two-week vacation to Texas and New Mexico.

The Schneiders said the officer at first asked questions about the unusual shape of their trailer, which was designed to transport a gyrocopter. A gyrocopter looks like a small helicopter, but the rotors self-propel because of the way the air flows through.

One officer also suggested he thought they were carnival workers, they said.

The Schneiders said what was particularly unusual was that the officer who stopped them never asked the couple for their driver’s licenses, vehicle registration or proof of insurance, which are routinely requested.

Carl Schneider said the first officer found nothing improper inside the motor home.

But Schneider said the officer then berated him, saying the handgun wasn’t where Schneider had said he thought it would be. He said the officer was also upset that Schneider had not immediately informed him about the weapon when the traffic stop began.

“My wife was afraid that if I continued to disagree with this officer, the situation would again turn ugly, so she interrupted and we made our goodbyes and headed our way,” Carl Schneider said.

But the officers didn’t leave, he added, until the first officer “had made us feel as if he was somehow doing me a favor by letting us go.”

Appeared Here


Iowa State Police Throw Out Hundreds Of Taxpayers From Public Tax Hearing

April 1, 2009

IOWA  More than 500 people who are upset with a plan to change Iowa’s tax laws were cleared from a hearing tonight at the Iowa House after they interrupted multiple times.

House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, cleared the crowd at about 8:30 p.m. The decision brought about loud protests as the crowd was escorted from the chambers by Iowa State Patrol officers.

“This is the most atrocious thing I’ve seen in the history of the 15 years I’ve been a lobbyist. Pat Murphy has acted like a jack-booted Nazi,” said Ed Failor Jr., president of Iowans for Tax Relief, a conservative taxpayers’ rights group from Muscatine with 50,000 members..

Failor Jr. was escorted from the House chambers after Murphy overheard him speak with the media.

House rules say that no protesting or advocating can be done in the House.

Murphy said he should have ordered the chambers cleared much sooner than he did, since several of the speakers were booed.

“The idea behind the public hearing is to give people public input and allow people the ability to speak for and against the bill. This is not an athletic event,” Murphy said.

After the majority of the public was removed, the scheduled speakers were allowed to continue. The hearing is scheduled to last until about 9:45 p.m.

The proposal, House File 807 and Senate Study Bill 1317, would end a practice known as federal deductibility. That means Iowans could no longer subtract what they pay in federal income taxes from their income when figuring their state taxes.

Ending federal deductibility without changing anything else would mean Iowans would pay an estimated $595 million more in taxes. However, Democrats have proposed a plan that would instead lower the state income tax rates and increase certain tax credits to offset the increase.

Democrats have maintained that two-thirds of Iowans would either see a tax savings or no change at all in their taxes due to the proposal.

Specific numbers show that 49 percent of Iowans who file taxes would get a break in the current tax year, while about 18 percent would see no change.

The remainder – 450,292 people – would see a tax increase, according to the Iowa department of Revenue and Finance.

Appeared Here


Boston Massachusetts Police Trigger Bomb Scare Over Mannequin On Kenmore Square

April 1, 2009

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – The mannequin was found locked to the front door of the Bank of America at at 540 Commonwealth Ave. in Boston.

Kenmore Square is back open to traffic on Tuesday after a mannequin found locked to the front door of a Bank of America sparked a bomb scare.

The incident happened at 540 Commonwealth Ave. Crews were not sure if the mannequin was a bomb, or just a type of protest, so bomb squad members, along with a bomb-diffusing robot, suited up to investigate.

According to reports from the scene, officials did an x-ray on the mannequin, and determined it was not an explosive.

No injuries were reported, and customers were let back into the bank after a brief investigation.

Appeared Here


Crazed Iowa DOT Officer Harasses And Searches Law-Abiding Elderly Couple In Motorhome Without Cause

April 1, 2009

IOWA – Carl and Jane Schneider of Fort Madison insist they were treated like criminals by an Iowa Department of Transportation officer during a traffic stop, although nothing improper was found.

The couple were minutes from home Friday night after a 3,600-mile trip in their motor home when a DOT trucking enforcement officer pulled up behind them.

They said the DOT officer interrogated them. Then he ordered them to stand in front of their recreational vehicle’s headlights while he checked inside, searching for marijuana or wads of cash. The officer never asked for their driver’s licenses or proof of registration, they said.
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“It was so strange. I literally felt afraid for my life,” Jane Schneider, 59, said Monday. “I felt I could have bodily harm. … He was very menacing and threatening to us.”

Dena Gray-Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Iowa DOT, said in a statement Monday that “the Iowa DOT’s Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement takes complaints such as these seriously. That office is in the process of reviewing the matter and will proceed accordingly from the information obtained. The department does not believe it would be appropriate to comment further until that has been done.”

The DOT has a team of officers who enforce compliance statewide with commercial trucking laws.

The Schneiders posted a description of their experience Sunday night on an Internet blog – iowa defense.wordpress.com/2009/03/29/2894 – where it has been generating comments.

Carl Schneider, 66, a well-known Fort Madison resident who formerly operated the Blue Grass Dairy, said Monday that he and his wife remained puzzled. Both said they have had trouble sleeping since the traffic stop.

One of their complaints is that the officer who stopped them repeatedly demonstrated a lack of knowledge about firearms laws, even though they were legally transporting a .40-caliber handgun with a concealed-weapon permit from the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.

Carl Schneider said he was particularly upset that the officer implied he could simply call the sheriff and have the permit revoked, “which is absolutely not the case.”

At one point during the traffic stop, the DOT officer was joined by a second, unidentified officer who was more professional, the couple added.

The traffic stop happened about 8 p.m. Friday on U.S. Highway 61 in Lee County. The Schneiders said they were returning from a two-week vacation to Texas and New Mexico.

The Schneiders said the officer at first asked questions about the unusual shape of their trailer, which was designed to transport a gyrocopter. A gyrocopter looks like a small helicopter, but the rotors self-propel because of the way the air flows through.

One officer also suggested he thought they were carnival workers, they said.

The Schneiders said what was particularly unusual was that the officer who stopped them never asked the couple for their driver’s licenses, vehicle registration or proof of insurance, which are routinely requested.

Carl Schneider said the first officer found nothing improper inside the motor home.

But Schneider said the officer then berated him, saying the handgun wasn’t where Schneider had said he thought it would be. He said the officer was also upset that Schneider had not immediately informed him about the weapon when the traffic stop began.

“My wife was afraid that if I continued to disagree with this officer, the situation would again turn ugly, so she interrupted and we made our goodbyes and headed our way,” Carl Schneider said.

But the officers didn’t leave, he added, until the first officer “had made us feel as if he was somehow doing me a favor by letting us go.”

Appeared Here


Iowa State Police Throw Out Hundreds Of Taxpayers From Public Tax Hearing

April 1, 2009

IOWA  More than 500 people who are upset with a plan to change Iowa’s tax laws were cleared from a hearing tonight at the Iowa House after they interrupted multiple times.

House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, cleared the crowd at about 8:30 p.m. The decision brought about loud protests as the crowd was escorted from the chambers by Iowa State Patrol officers.

“This is the most atrocious thing I’ve seen in the history of the 15 years I’ve been a lobbyist. Pat Murphy has acted like a jack-booted Nazi,” said Ed Failor Jr., president of Iowans for Tax Relief, a conservative taxpayers’ rights group from Muscatine with 50,000 members..

Failor Jr. was escorted from the House chambers after Murphy overheard him speak with the media.

House rules say that no protesting or advocating can be done in the House.

Murphy said he should have ordered the chambers cleared much sooner than he did, since several of the speakers were booed.

“The idea behind the public hearing is to give people public input and allow people the ability to speak for and against the bill. This is not an athletic event,” Murphy said.

After the majority of the public was removed, the scheduled speakers were allowed to continue. The hearing is scheduled to last until about 9:45 p.m.

The proposal, House File 807 and Senate Study Bill 1317, would end a practice known as federal deductibility. That means Iowans could no longer subtract what they pay in federal income taxes from their income when figuring their state taxes.

Ending federal deductibility without changing anything else would mean Iowans would pay an estimated $595 million more in taxes. However, Democrats have proposed a plan that would instead lower the state income tax rates and increase certain tax credits to offset the increase.

Democrats have maintained that two-thirds of Iowans would either see a tax savings or no change at all in their taxes due to the proposal.

Specific numbers show that 49 percent of Iowans who file taxes would get a break in the current tax year, while about 18 percent would see no change.

The remainder – 450,292 people – would see a tax increase, according to the Iowa department of Revenue and Finance.

Appeared Here


Boston Massachusetts Police Trigger Bomb Scare Over Mannequin On Kenmore Square

March 31, 2009

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – The mannequin was found locked to the front door of the Bank of America at at 540 Commonwealth Ave. in Boston.

Kenmore Square is back open to traffic on Tuesday after a mannequin found locked to the front door of a Bank of America sparked a bomb scare.

The incident happened at 540 Commonwealth Ave. Crews were not sure if the mannequin was a bomb, or just a type of protest, so bomb squad members, along with a bomb-diffusing robot, suited up to investigate.

According to reports from the scene, officials did an x-ray on the mannequin, and determined it was not an explosive.

No injuries were reported, and customers were let back into the bank after a brief investigation.

Appeared Here


33 Year Veteran Montgomery County Maryland Police Officer Fernando Martinez Arrested, Suspended, Charged After Drunken Wreck In His Patrol Car

March 29, 2009

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND – A Montgomery County police officer was arrested for drunk driving in a marked police car Friday night.

Police say Corporal Fernando Martinez crashed his police cruiser into a concrete barrier northbound on Route 270 just south of the Montrose Road exit in Rockville.

The accident happened just after 11p.m.

The police cruiser had minor damage to the front and driver’s side.

When police arrived they smelled alcohol on the officer’s breath and arrested him for drunk driving after he failed a sobriety test.

Martinez who is assigned to the Wheaton district did not suffer any injuries in the accident. He is a 33-year veteran of the Montgomery County police department and his arresting powers have been suspended.

Montgomery County police say the accident is still under investigation.

Appeared Here


33 Year Veteran Montgomery County Maryland Police Officer Fernando Martinez Arrested, Suspended, Charged After Drunken Wreck In His Patrol Car

March 29, 2009

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND – A Montgomery County police officer was arrested for drunk driving in a marked police car Friday night.

Police say Corporal Fernando Martinez crashed his police cruiser into a concrete barrier northbound on Route 270 just south of the Montrose Road exit in Rockville.

The accident happened just after 11p.m.

The police cruiser had minor damage to the front and driver’s side.

When police arrived they smelled alcohol on the officer’s breath and arrested him for drunk driving after he failed a sobriety test.

Martinez who is assigned to the Wheaton district did not suffer any injuries in the accident. He is a 33-year veteran of the Montgomery County police department and his arresting powers have been suspended.

Montgomery County police say the accident is still under investigation.

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Egg Harbor Township New Jersey Police Officer Richard Cavanaugh Pleads Guilty After On-Duty In-Uniform Sex With A Whore

March 28, 2009

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY - An Egg Harbor Township police officer has admitted having sex with a prostitute in a motel room while on duty and in uniform.

Patrolman Richard Cavanaugh pleaded guilty Friday to official misconduct and resigned from the force.

Cavanaugh admitted driving to a motel just outside Atlantic City in December 2007 in his marked patrol car. He said he had a prostitute perform a sex act on him.

Prosecutors will recommend probation when he is sentenced in May.

Cavanaugh must forfeit the pension he accrued in his 23-year career. He’s also barred from ever holding public employment in New Jersey.

Appeared Here


Egg Harbor Township New Jersey Police Officer Richard Cavanaugh Pleads Guilty After On-Duty In-Uniform Sex With A Whore

March 27, 2009

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, NEW JERSEY - An Egg Harbor Township police officer has admitted having sex with a prostitute in a motel room while on duty and in uniform.

Patrolman Richard Cavanaugh pleaded guilty Friday to official misconduct and resigned from the force.

Cavanaugh admitted driving to a motel just outside Atlantic City in December 2007 in his marked patrol car. He said he had a prostitute perform a sex act on him.

Prosecutors will recommend probation when he is sentenced in May.

Cavanaugh must forfeit the pension he accrued in his 23-year career. He’s also barred from ever holding public employment in New Jersey.

Appeared Here


Dumbass Indiana State Police Trooper Chris Pestow’s Facebook Page Included Cruiser Crash Photos, Photo Of Indianapolis Police Officer Andrew Deddish Holding A Gun To His Head, Wanting To Kill The Homeless, Etc.

March 27, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – An Indiana State Trooper is under investigation for what some call compromising photos and statements he posted on the Internet.

Police say what 13 Investigates found on Trooper Chris Pestow’s personal Facebook page is embarrassing and might even be against the law. Some of the entries showed Pestow with a .357 Magnum pointed at his head, drinking what he described as lots of beer with his buddies and lewd horseplay.

Over the past several months, Pestow has used his Facebook page to brag of heavy drinking. He also posted pictures of a crash involving his ISP cruiser.

“Oops! Where did my front end go?” he wrote when he posted the picture. Later, while discussing the accident with his friends on Facebook, Pestow added, “kiss my butt, Not my fault.:)”

And he isn’t shy about sharing his views of police work, referring to himself as not a state trooper, but as a “garbage man.” His Facebook page said, “I pick up trash for a living.”

Pestow also weighed in on the issue of people who resist arrest and threaten police officers. Referring to an incident in California in which Fresno Police officers punched a homeless man during his arrest, Pestow wrote: “Let someone, homeless or not, try and stab me with a pen, knife, spoon, etc, not only will he fail, he’ll probably end up shot. These people should have died when they were young anyway, i’m just doing them a favor.” [sic]

Eyewitness News interviewed Pestow in December 2008 while he was responding to traffic accidents on an icy stretch of I-465. He wasn’t happy about the icy conditions, and we know that because after the interview, at 5:42 a.m., his Facebook page has this entry: “Chris Pestow is very mad @ whoever is responsible for this awful weather.”

Now, the Indiana State Police may be very mad at him.

“There has been an internal investigation started,” said ISP Major Carlos Pettiford, adding that investigators are trying to determine if the photos and information posted on Pestow’s Facebook page violate department rules.

Pettiford says the state’s biggest concern is that Trooper Pestow may have been Facebook-ing while you were paying for it.

ISP records show Pestow was on duty during the early morning hours of February 11. That day at 2 a.m., an entry on his Facebook page reads “Chris Pestow is NOT working in the rain.”

On February 19, while state records indicate Pestow was working his overnight shift, the Trooper’s Facebook site shows this entry at 3:22 a.m.: “It’s cold AND snowing?!?! I can’t possibly work in these conditions.”

And on November 28 at 1:20 a.m., ISP says Pestow was supposed to be on duty at the same time he apparently wrote, “Chris Pestow is keeping the mean streets of Fishers safe and free of trash.”

A friend quickly responded to that post.

“Hmmmm. how are u keeping the streets safe … if u r on facebook? :),” the friend wrote.

ISP is wondering the same thing.

“That’s a clear violation. We know that right off the bat,” said Major Pettiford. “When they’re working, that’s exactly what they’re supposed to be doing is working, not playing or writing on the internet unless it’s for department business.”

Pestow isn’t the only one who is now facing possible punishment.

The man holding the gun to his head in one of the photos is also a police officer. Andrew Deddish works for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and officials there are not happy with the picture.

“We’re trained [that] we don’t point firearms at anything we don’t plan to shoot,” said IMPD Sgt. Paul Thompson.

Thompson said Deddish is now facing an internal investigation, because pointing a gun at someone is against state law and because he says a police officer should know better.

“It’s embarrassing. We’re always under public scrutiny. We hold a position that’s a trust to the public. You’re expected to act accordingly,” Thompson said.

So what were the officers thinking by posing for the picture and later posting it on the internet?
“They weren’t thinking,” said Thompson. “It was an error in judgment … so now there has to be accountability and that’s what we’re going to do.”

13 Investigates tried to reach Chris Pestow through his family and friends, but the state Trooper has not responded to WTHR’s request for an interview.

Pettiford said ISP contacted Pestow Monday – the same day WTHR contacted ISP to ask about the photos and information posted on the Facebook page — to inform the state officer he was the focus of an internal investigation. Pestow did remove his Facebook page from the Internet that same afternoon, but not before 13 Investigates, State Police and IMPD had a very good look at it.

ISP is currently in the process of drafting a Standard Operating Procedure for all department staff regarding posting information on personal web pages such as Facebook.

“These are new times,” Pettiford said. “We didn’t have Facebook when I got into law enforcement, but nowadays it’s out there so we’re putting together a policy.”

Officials told Eyewitness News both Pestow and Deddish will remain on paid duty while their departments conduct the internal investigations, which will probably take several weeks.

Police say this situation should provide a powerful reminder to all of us: don’t post anything on the Internet that you would not want to see on the news.

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