Videos of police treatment of University of Florida student Andrew Meyer after he questioned Senator John Kerry at a campus forum ignited international outrage at the open display of the type of democracy that the US is exporting at the point of a gun. The University of Florida police responded immediately, requesting an "independent" review by the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement (FDLE) . It came as no surprise that FDLE supported the police mauling. But the executive summary of the report does offer a rare glimpse at a police investigation of police - normally "internal affairs" (tain't nobody's business but our own). This is what a police state looks like.
The University of Florida police responded immediately, requesting an "independent" review by the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement (FDLE) . It came as no surprise that FDLE supported the police mauling. But the executive summary of the report does offer a rare glimpse at a police investigation of police - normally "internal affairs" (tain't nobody's business but our own). This is what a police state looks like.
Seeing through the police snow job
Although it is a myth that so-called Eskimos have an excessive number of words for snow, it is no myth that the modern bureaucratic police state we live in has a profusion of different agencies empowered to relieve you of the burden of life and liberty. Police agencies benefit from the resulting confusion in public perception, when the call for "independent inquiry" goes out. We must ask, "Who is FDLE, and are they independent?". The FDLE website tells us:
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement provides investigative, forensic, and protective services to local, state, and federal agencies...FDLE conducts independent investigations and coordinates multi-jurisdictional and special criminal investigations with local, state, and federal authorities...
So it's the state version of the FBI (the California equivalent is the California Bureau of Investigation: CBI). Florida's G-men are tasked with another duty:
FDLE also investigates fraud and abuse in Florida's public assistance programs. Primarily, these investigations are in the cash assistance, food stamp, Medicaid, school readiness and subsidized child day care programs. Investigations are conducted on program recipients...
So in Florida, when the inept brutality of local police is revealed to the world, they call on the state's food stamp police for "independent" investigation to clear them.
Flushing out the facts
The report summary (http://www.president.ufl.edu/incident/FDLE-Executive-Summary.pdf) tells us that the FDLE mission was to review: "The University of Florida Police Officer's establishment of a criminal violation which would constitute a physical arrest." In other words, did the police establish "probable cause" before arresting Andrew Meyer for violating the Florida statute that declares:
it is unlawful for any person to knowingly disrupt or interfere with the lawful administration or functions of any educational institution...To conspire to riot or to engage in any...disruption or disturbance which interferes with...activity on school board property.
The summary also reported that FDLE was also tasked to review the use of force by University police in making the arrest. The summary provides the relevant law:
A law enforcement officer, or any person whom the officer has summoned or directed to assist him or her, is not justified in the use of force if the arrest is unlawful and known by him or her to be unlawful.
FDLE had a tough job: the world watched the many videos and saw that the event was not disrupted by Meyer. When a speaker at a forum is trying to address a questioner and the questioner's mike is shut off, it might be argued that the forum organizers disrupted the event. When the police stop the discussion to drag the questioner away, one wonders why the police were not arrested for disruption. But the video clearly shows that Meyer's questioning did not disrupt: Kerry asked (sheepishly) to be allowed to answer Meyer's question. We witnessed that Kerry even continues (bizarrely) with a response to the question while six police sat on Meyer and Tasered him. So the facts showed that the arrest was unlawful, and thus the use of force to knowingly make an unlawful arrest was also unlawful. FDLE was forced to free the world from these disturbing facts, bringing the situation under control with police state propaganda.
Q. Did University Police act lawfully? A. Stop asking questions, or you'll get Tased!
(Note: the report summary sloppily blacks out Meyer's name - as shown in the sample above - so it is quoted here as [Meyer])
FDLE dived right in with a passion: not investigating the arrest, nor the use of force, but building the criminal case against Andrew Meyer. The "investigative narrative" begins:
During the course of FDLE's investigation, Agents learned that approximately one week prior to this incident [Meyer] had made comments and acted out in a public place on campus. This incident...was documented as investigators believed it potentially provides the State Attorney a background or reference into [Meyer's] mind-set or his pre-disposition [sic] to act out in a specific manner at the John Kerry Speech.
Then we see a standard police tactic: spin lawful actions into criminal behavior . The report summary repeatedly uses the terms" interruption" and "disruption" as if they are the same thing. The law forbids "disruption": causing a disturbance or problem. The law does not forbid "interruption" : breaking a speaker's flow. An interruption is not a disruption when the speaker yields, as Kerry did. Yet, in a section titled "[Meyer's] initial interruption", we read: "[Meyer] disrupts Senator Kerry who is speaking with another audience member", even though a few sentences later the summary implicitly acknowledges that the interruption did not rise to a disturbance: "Senator Kerry jokingly replies...Senator Kerry tells [Meyer] to wait and the police officers let [Meyer] wait at the microphone". Nonetheless, the following section is titled "[Meyer's] second time at the microphone and second disruption" - even though the section never states what the disruption was, and the body of the section never uses either the term "disruption" or "interruption"!
In the effort to refute our lying eyes, the report summary unwittingly confirms what the videos only implied. Although on the videos it appears that police did not speak with Meyer before laying hands on him, it seemed possible that their words were not picked up. But the report summary makes it clear that the world witnessed what Taser opponents have long observed: that Tasers are used not as an alternative to guns, but as an alternative to speaking:
Officer Wise and Mallo stated they were told by one of the Accent Staff Members [forum organizers] that it was time for [Meyer] to leave. Officer Wise and Officer Mallo then walked up to escort [Meyer] out of the auditorium.
The summary tries to cover the lack of words spoken by police with an excess of words about what they claimed was their mindset and intent:
Officer interviews detail their mindset when making contact with [Meyer]... Officer Wise stated it was his intent to merely escort [Meyer] from the auditorium at that time...
We learn that before Meyer began questioning Kerry,
Officer Mallo spoke to [Meyer] and requested to meet with [Meyer] outside after the forum. Officer Mallo stated her intention was to issue [Meyer] a Judicial Affairs form and explain to [Meyer] the UF Code of Conduct.
Note the word "requested". Police only "request" for consent - i.e., when you are legally free to say no, as in a request for a consensual search. Otherwise they "command". So, again, the report summary unwittingly reveals the absurdity of police claims: Meyer is charged with felony resisting arrest for simply declining a prior police request to meet outside (which they failed to repeat before grabbing him) - even though police admit there was no intent to arrest him.
Perhaps the summary's biggest challenge to our senses was the conclusion that the Taser deployment was used as a last resort, following a prolonged struggle with Meyer. The use of force investigation completely omitted any mention of the earlier Taser deployment, shown in the videos (and above photo) no more than 15 seconds after the mike was shut off (85 seconds before the first "Don'tTase Me Bro"), and described in the police report of Pablo DeJesus Jr (http://michellemalkin.com/2007/09/19/document-drop-the-andrew-meyer-taser-stunt-police-report):
I drew out my department issued X-26 taser to respond to Meyer's active physical resistance and/or to possibly gain compliance from Meyer. I gave Meyer verbal commands to "put your hands behind your back," but he continued his active physical resistance. I was promptly non-verbally directed, by shaking his head no, to re-holster the X-26 by Sergeant King #32 [aka "Bro"].
Alma Mater or Alma Incarcerus?
The US prison population is now at 2.2 million, by far the highest in the world. But the US prison system is not only growing in number, but is rapidly extending its turf. Traditionally, communities of African, Hispanic, and Native Americans have been maximum security units where police freely killed, tortured, and kidnapped without penalty. Then the bogus wars on drugs and gangs became the pretext for removing what little protections were left in those communities. To ensure that community imprisonment was not just de facto, but de jure, DNA profiling has expanded along familial lines. Along came the phony war on terror, used to extend the prison to a wider group, with mass detentions and loss of fundamental rights like habeas corpus. Now college students are seeing their campuses become the next frontier in the Great US Prison Empire.
Anyone who still thinks we are we merely "heading towards a police state" better wake up: the train pulled into that station years ago. Keep sleeping and you may miss the last chance to avoid the next stop.
A Duxbury cop will be arraigned today on charges of domestic violence against his girlfriend, a Milton police officer, after he allegedly took her weapon and held it to her head last month, officials said.
Sean T. Moran, 30, is also accused of beating his girlfriend after a party on Friday night at the Common Market Quincy, said Quincy Police Chief Robert Crowley.
“At some point there was a verbal argument,” Crowley said, citing police reports that allege “the suspect banged the victim’s head against a chain link fence.”
After arriving home, the woman fled with her dog to her mother’s home in Milton. Police say she told them that on Oct. 18, Moran stripped her of her service weapon, held it to her head, and threatened to kill himself if she told anyone. Duxbury officials, who could not be reached, removed Moran’s service weapon from his locker, Crowley said. Moran is charged with malicious damage to property, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and domestic assault and battery.
Trotwood, FBI probe use of stun gun on pregnant woman
By James Cummings
Thursday, November 29, 2007
TROTWOOD — Trotwood police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are reviewing the use of a stun gun on a woman who attempted to turn over her 1-year-old son to police on Nov. 18.
It was discovered after the woman was subdued and taken to the Montgomery County jail that she was seven months pregnant, according to Mike Etter, Trotwood director of public safety.
Etter said the officer involved in the incident is still on the job while reviews are underway to determine if excessive force was used. But Etter said while the use of the stun gun is being analyzed, he said the officer had no choice but to attempt to stop the woman when she attempted to leave with the child when the officer asked her questions.
"If he hadn't detained her and something had happened to that child, every child advocate in the world would have been on our case, and rightly so," Etter said.
Etter said the incident began at 11:41 a.m. on Nov. 18 when a 33-year-old Dayton woman entered the lobby of the Trotwood police department and picked up a phone there to tell officers that she wanted to turn her 1-year-old son to police.
Etter said "Safe Haven" laws allow mothers to give newborn babies within days of birth to authorities with no questions asked, but the law doesn't cover toddlers.
A patrol officer was dispatched to the lobby and attempted to get information from the woman about herself and about the child, but she refused to answer questions, Etter said. She would not give her name, the child's name or the father's name, and she would not answer questions about the child's medical history.
"All she would say was that she was tired of playing games with the father," Etter said.
After talking with the officer for a short time, the woman attempted to leave with the child. At that time the officer grabbed her sleeve to keep her from leaving, and told her he was placing her under arrest for child endangering, Etter said.
The woman resisted and continuing trying to leave the police offices. The officer was able to pull the child away from the woman and attempted to force her to the ground.
A second officer arrived in the police department lobby, and the first officer passed the child to the second officer and forced the woman to the floor on her stomach, Etter said.
The officer struggling with the woman got one of her hands into a handcuff, but she refused to allow him to cuff the other hand. That's when the officer applied a stun gun to the woman's neck to get her to comply with his orders, Etter said.
Trotwood police charged the woman, Valreca Redden, with child endangering and resisting arrest and transported her to the Montgomery County Jail. Officials at the jail realized the woman was pregnant and took her to a hospital.
The woman never said she was pregnant while in the Trotwood police station. He said she was wearing a heavy coat that hid her stomach, and the child was sitting on her lap for most of the time she was talking to the officer, Etter said.
The charges against the woman were later changed to obstruction of justice and resisting arrest, and she was released from custody, Etter said. He said the child was released to the custody of his biological father.
Etter said he heard about the incident several days after it happened. A major in the police department was assigned to conduct an internal investigation
Etter said he contacted the FBI this week after hearing from a civil rights organization representative who said the organization planned to ask for a federal investigation.
"We've been cooperating fully with the FBI," Etter said. "And we're reviewing our policies on the use of (stun guns)."
A veteran Massachusetts state trooper last night pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he sold cocaine out of his Saugus home, an allegation the State Police commander called "disheartening."
Trooper John T. Foley wore a long-sleeve gray T-shirt, black sweat pants, flip-flops - and handcuffs - when he made his initial appearance in US District Court about 6:40.
Foley, 62, was indicted on a single count of distributing cocaine on Oct. 11, but Assistant US Attorney George Vien indicated in court that more charges could be coming. He also said prosecutors want to seize Foley's Highland Street residence.
Foley is assigned to the Revere barracks and has been on the job since October 1971, according to a joint statement released by State Police and federal officials.
State Police Superintendent Colonel Mark F. Delaney, said in the statement, that he was dismayed by the arrest of Foley, who was taken into custody by State Police and federal law enforcement at 3:30 p.m. when he reported to work at the barracks in Revere.
"It is always disheartening when a law enforcement officer betrays his solemn oath of office by committing a criminal act," he said. "Not only has he dishonored himself, but he has wantonly betrayed troopers who risk their lives every day, enforcing the very laws he so willfully violated."
No details of Foley's alleged drug dealing were released in court last night, but sources familiar with the investigation said the single count is based on the alleged sale of 3 grams of cocaine.
The arrest grew out of a joint investigation by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI, officials said.
US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan said in a statement that Foley's alleged actions "are an affront to every decent, honest member of the Massachusetts State Police, who serve the public's interest and do their jobs with dedication and integrity . . . All of us in law enforcement are committed to investigating and expending the resources necessary to prosecuting corruption wherever we find it."
June W. Stansbury, special agent in charge of the New England Drug Enforcement Administration office, said in the release that the police officers who commit crimes undermine public confidence in every member of law enforcement.
"We will always investigate with fervor a sworn officer who has compromised honor by trafficking in drugs," she said.
Foley earned $102,531 in 2005, according to state payroll data collected by the Globe, but last night he told US District Court Magistrate Judge Robert Collings that he could not afford to hire a lawyer.
John Salsberg, a veteran Boston criminal defense attorney, was appointed to represent him. The attorney declined comment afterward.
During the brief court appearance, Foley was polite and generally calm. His voice seemed to quaver when the judge inquired about how much equity his family has in his Highland Street home.
"My wife, she pays all of that," Foley said.
Reached last night at her Saugus home, Patricia Foley declined comment.
Foley was originally a member of the Metropolitan Police Department, but joined the State Police when the two agencies merged in the 1990s.
If convicted of the single charge he now faces, Foley could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and fined $1 million.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino says the Boston police lieutenant who is serving 18 months court-ordered probation for punching his girlfriend off a Baltimore barstool is a “coward.”
“(Police Commissioner Edward) Davis has assured the mayor that he will do everything in his power to hold this coward accountable for his actions,” said Menino’s spokeswoman, Dot Joyce. “Domestic violence is a huge problem in our society. No one should be able to get away with raising a hand to anyone, especially a defenseless woman.”
Lt. David Murphy was suspended for 30 days on Dec. 19 but will only serve five of those days under an agreement worked out with the department. He is expected to return to work this week. He has been on paid leave since his April arrest in Baltimore for second-degree assault. A Maryland judge found him guilty and issued a probation before judgment order against Murphy.
“Murphy will have a criminal record but not a criminal conviction at the end of his probation term,” said Margaret T. Burns, director of communications with the Baltimore city state’s attorney’s office.
“The guilty finding will not stand after his successful completion of the probation.”
Davis said the department could fire Murphy without a conviction, but city lawyers told him they would undoubtedly lose the case at a civil service appeal and would be forced to write a check for missed pay, including details.
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark State police are investigating the arrest of a weekly newspaper journalist by a state trooper at the scene of a house fire in Maumelle, an agency spokesman said this week.On the night of Dec. 10, Bill Lawson parked his car, grabbed his camera and headed for the scene where firefighters were battling a chimney fire. He was stopped by Trooper Thomas Weindruch and arrested, according to Stephens Media, owner of the Maumelle Monitor."He kept me there handcuffed for probably 30 minutes with my back to the fire," Lawson said. "That was the worst part — I couldn't even see what was going on."The suburban-Little Rock newspaper published Lawson's first-person account of the incident Dec. 11."Having lived 59 years, battled cancer, worn the country's uniform for 26 years and proudly worked as a journalist — a profession I always admired — I thought I'd seen it all," Lawson wrote. "That is until Monday night, when I was arrested and charged with a criminal offense just for trying to do my job and take photos of a residential fire in Maumelle."Weindruch issued Lawson, 59, a citation ordering him to appear in Sherwood District Court on Feb. 26 on the charge of obstructing governmental operations. A conviction on the misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $100.Bill Sadler, spokesman for the state police, said agency officials were gathering information about what occurred."We're trying to collect the facts of what occurred out there, and review what occurred, and see if there was any policy violation, and that's really all I can tell you right now," Sadler said on Dec. 11.He said state police strive to be open and to work with the news media."But until we talk with the trooper and hear his side of the story, and review the recordings that are available (from equipment mounted in Weindruch's patrol car), I don't want to say anything," Sadler added.He said the agency would respond "once the department is sure that it has all the facts."
CHICAGO - The admitted leader of a band of Chicago police officers who ripped off drug dealers and funneled narcotics onto the city’s streets was sentenced today to 25 years in federal prison.
"You and your merry band essentially raped and plundered entire neighborhoods," U.S. District Judge Ronald told the former police officer, Broderick Jones, in imposing the sentence.
Jones, 36, pleaded guilty to getting information from gang members about where drugs were stashed and leading fellow officers in staging mock raids during which they confiscated the narcotics.
Instead of arresting the dealers and turning in the drugs, Jones and his fellow officers turned the narcotics over to other dealers.
After his grandmother and 16-year-old daughter took the witness stand and testified that he had always been a good family man, Jones addressed Guzman and pleaded for a lenient sentence.
"Have mercy on me," said Jones, who has been behind bars for three years. "I pray every night that God will take greed out of my heart."
Guzman said he took into consideration that Jones had a good record as a Navy aircraft mechanic in the Persian Gulf War, working on F-14 Tomcats aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal.
But the judge said Jones had taken an oath to uphold the law and had to be punished severely for his "depraved violation of this oath."
Associated Press - January 4, 2008 2:24 PM ET
CHICAGO (AP) - A rogue officer who turned government witness and helped federal prosecutors dismantle a drug ring within Chicago's police department has been sentenced to nine years and six months in prison.
The sentence U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman imposed on 37-year-old Corey Flagg today was stiff but represented a sizable break in exchange for his cooperation.
The sentences Guzman handed out yesterday to three other former officers snared in the investigation ranged from 19 to 40 years.
A joint FBI and Chicago police investigation of the ring led to charges against five former officers and five alleged drug dealers two years ago.
The officers were accused of staging mock raids during which they confiscated narcotics from dealers, but instead of turning in the drugs they gave them to other dealers.
By Maria Cramer, Globe Staff
A sweeping, 14-month investigation into evidence tampering at the Boston Police Department central drug depository has revealed that someone either improperly removed or tampered with drugs confiscated in nearly 1,000 cases, Commissioner Edward F. Davis said today. The drugs taken included cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and OxyContin, said Davis, who said that most likely the culprit was an officer because only police are allowed into the depository.
The FBI, prosecutors from Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley's office, and Boston police have launched a criminal investigation to determine who stole the drugs. And the revelation that at least one officer may have stolen drugs has sparked Davis to launch audits of all department units. "We're really going to shake the place out and make sure that every department is up to national standards," Davis said.
The 12 officers who worked at the depository were removed last October, after police launched the investigation.
The audit examined 110,000 pieces of drug evidence from more than 74,000 cases between 1990 and 2006. Police officials had planned to audit only a small portion of the evidence in storage, but conducted a more thorough examination after they learned that someone had tampered with drugs after the audit was announced. "It's an unprecedented step to do a complete inventory of drug evidence," Davis said. "I don't know anybody else in the Commonwealth who has done that."
Judge gives break to rogue cop who turned federal witness
The officers were accused of staging mock raids during which they confiscated narcotics from dealers.
Garland Jean-Batiste was charged with resisting arrest by Officer Jason Herpin early Thursday morning.
"I complied and I tried to identify myself," he said Friday during a news conference in the office of his attorney, Derriel McCorvey. "My head was slammed into the pavement. Three officers pinned me down. ... My left arm was trapped under my back. One officer told me to stop resisting. I wasn't resisting. I couldn't move my hand."
He said he received injuries to his neck, head, face and back and received treatment at UMC before being booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center at 2 a.m. Thursday.
The initial report filed by Herpin states that officers witnessed the suspect, Jean-Batiste, running through the parking lot.
"After several commands to stop running and get on the ground, the suspect refused and was placed onto the ground by officers," the report stated. "Suspect then refused to place his hands behind his back. After a brief struggle on the ground, officers were able to gain control of the suspect and place him under arrest."
Lafayette police spokesman Cpl. Paul Mouton confirmed that a complaint was filed against the Police Department, but the department would not release further information about the filed complaint or the incident.
"What arrest was he resisting?" McCorvey said. "How can a person be charged and beat up for resisting arrest at his own business?"
It's possible, according to J.N. Prather, assistant district attorney.
"The law reads that you can be charged with resisting an officer for the intentional interference with or obstruction of a lawful arrest or the lawful detention," Prather said. "Lawful detention is the key word."
The charge is a misdemeanor and carry a $500 fine and no more than six months of jail time. Whether or not the district attorney's office prosecutes on the sole charge of resisting arrest is discretionary, depending upon sufficient evidence to support the charge, said Prather, commenting in general terms about the charge of resisting arrest.
McCorvey said he and his client are investigating the possibility of filing a lawsuit, but will wait to see how the department's investigation into their complaint pans out.
The two called the press conference to air Jean-Batiste's reaction to the incident following a local media report that contained what McCorvey called "misinformation."
"We're trying to address the damage done to my client's reputation," McCorvey said.
Jean-Batiste, a running back for LSU from 1983-86 and the New Orleans Saints in 1987, now owns his own a Cajun and Creole sausage business - Jean-Batiste Foods. He said until last year he had been a special agent with the FBI working in the Lafayette office. His prior experience included nearly four years for the state police and a year for the St. Martin Parish Sheriff's Office.
"The last three years I was in the FBI, I investigated civil rights violations by police officers and now I've become a victim," Jean-Batiste said.
McCorvey said in his investigation of the incident, he was able to find a witness who stated that officers were told by a woman on the scene that she broke a window in the complex and there was no burglary.
"This is a decorated law-enforcement guy," McCorvey said. "This is not a run-of- the-mill hoodlum or a knucklehead."
Jan. 12, 2008, 12:08AM Black leaders urge Rosenthal to step down Ministers who once prayed with the DA now say he misled them
By LESLIE CASIMIR Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
A growing chorus of black leaders on Friday called for besieged Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal to step down immediately in response to court documents that reveal he used government computers to send and receive racist and sexually explicit e-mails.
The 730 e-mails released Tuesday also show Rosenthal strategized with political consultants and colleagues about his re-election campaign on his county e-mail account, prompting the Texas Attorney General's Office to launch an investigation this week.
As state officials determine whether Rosenthal violated state campaign laws, a coalition of black ministers and other community leaders on Friday called for him to step down immediately, charging the top prosecutor misled them. At least one called for a federal probe of the entire district attorney's office.
They pointed to a racially charged photograph found in Rosenthal's e-mails depicting a black man sprawled out on a sidewalk next to large slices of watermelon, a cup of soda and a chicken bucket. The title of the e-mail: Fatal Overdose. It's unclear how the image arrived in Rosenthal's file.
"We prayed with him; we have been working with him — I feel jilted," said Robert Jefferson, pastor of Cullen Missionary Baptist Church, who is a member of the Houston Ministers Against Crime. "He was smiling with us in one place and stabbing us in our backs in another."
The e-mail says Clinton played the saxophone, smoked marijuana and receives a check from the government each month.
Houston City Councilwoman Jolanda "Jo" Jones, a criminal defense lawyer, said the e-mails confirmed what she and others have suspected about the DA's office for years.
"It's systemic, the racism there," Jones said.
She said Rosenthal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent if he violated laws by using county computers to organize a re-election campaign.
Ministers held a news conference Friday at the New Guide Missionary Baptist Church on Dennis Street and questioned whether Rosenthal's e-mails speak to a larger problem in the prosecutor's office.
"It disturbed me so much, I didn't know what to do," Jefferson said.
"How deep does this racism go? How many black kids have been locked up while they laugh at us?"
The Rev. William A. Lawson, pastor emeritus of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, agreed.
"The overpopulation of our jails and prisons is in some cases due to the way there were prosecuted," Lawson said. "And he has a negative attitude toward minorities, which makes it easier to prosecute blacks and Latinos."
Lawson said Rosenthal "needs to step down" and added that he wasn't surprised.
"I've dealt with Chuck Rosenthal, and I know him to be a hard-shelled kind of person. It seems that behind that hard shell is a fairly dirty mind," Lawson said.
"This is a position of trust, and people have to believe in the person who is the DA in this county," said James Douglas, legal counsel for the NAACP Houston chapter.
"His own party has said he doesn't have the integrity to serve in that office, and our position is if he's not trustworthy to be re-elected this year, why does he have the integrity to stay in office now?"
Community activist Quanell X announced plans for a rally outside the county courthouse on Thursday and called for a special federal prosecutor to investigate the district attorney. He contends Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is a Republican, cannot objectively investigate Rosenthal.
"We're calling for an FBI probe into the entire district attorney's office," Quanell X said. "We want to make sure no politics is played in this — we don't want to see the Republican Party or the Democratic Party investigating this case."
The scandal swirling around Rosenthal did not shock many area black residents, said Robert Muhammad, minister and southwest regional representative of the Nation of Islam.
He said he has complained about Rosenthal being a racist for years and cites the case of Josiah Sutton, the first man exonerated in the HPD crime-lab scandal.
Despite being pardoned in 2003, Rosenthal refused to write a letter to the state saying Sutton was innocent, a formality required so Sutton could receive reparations for being wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.
"This is a man who dragged his feet when it was proven that Josiah Sutton was innocent," Muhammad said.
"People lost their freedom because of this man; people lost their reputation because of this man."
When asked Friday about the calls from the black community for his resignation, Rosenthal replied: "Good — thank you. Have a good day," and hung up the phone.
The disgraced Boston police officer accused of using his BPD-issued weapon to hold up a Roslindale gas station was drunk, off his medication and troubled by his cancer-stricken father on the day of the brazen daytime heist, his attorney said today.
Michael T. Jones, 44, a 20-year BPD veteran, looked forlorn this morning as he was arraigned on armed robbery charges while handcuffed to a Faulkner Hospital bed and wearing a blue hospital gown. Jones stands accused of knocking off the Best of Boston gas station at gunpoint Friday afternoon and then fleeing with $125 in stolen cash after threatening store employees.
Jones’ attorney, Ken Anderson, said Jones had recently moved in with his parents and was caring for his father, who has leukemia. Jones, who calledout sick Jan. 2 and has not been on duty since, also was not takingprescribed medication, Anderson said.
“There are certainly issues about diminished capacity, alcohol intoxication,” said Jones’ attorney Ken Anderson, who entered a not guilty plea on Jones’ behalf. “What happened that day was certainly an aberration.”
Police Commissioner Ed Davis has called Jones’ alleged crimes “reprehensible” and placed the veteran officer on administrative leave after his arrest.
Jones, who was assigned to the E-18 Hyde Park district station, was arrested Friday about 30 minutes after the robbery. Police were aided by witnesses who noted the suspect’s description and wrote down the license plate on the getaway car.
Police found Jones near his parents’ house driving a gray Nissan Maxima and wearing clothes that fit the description of the robber. His service weapon was still holstered to his left side and he had $125 cash, said Assistant District Attorney Gretchen Lundgren.
Lundgren said Jones entered the mom-and-pop station at about 3:50 p.m. wearing a hat, khaki pants and sunglasses. He pointed his gun at 24-year-old clerk, George Makoul, and ordered him to open the register drawer, Lundgren said. As Jones fled the store he allegedly demanded money from a man outside and shoved his firearm into the man’s side, she said.
Jones was taken to the hospital sometime this weekend for treatment of chest pains, according to court personnel. He was ordered held on $50,000 cash bail and ordered to stay away from the Best of Boston gas station, surrender any guns or ammunition and remain drug and alcohol free.
Waukesha - A jail guard was charged with felony misconduct in office Tuesday after she was caught in a web of relationships with federal inmates, some of whom were indicted in a sweeping crackdown by state, local and federal authorities on gangs and illegal drug trade in metro Milwaukee.
Former Waukesha County Corrections Officer Nanette Vorath, 37, of Milwaukee also is accused of having a sexual relationship with one inmate, providing a prescription painkiller to another and smuggling documents to another. A conviction would result in up to 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Vorath is scheduled to be in Waukesha County Circuit Court on Feb. 6.
Vorath was under investigation from October 2006 to April 2007, during which time agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation listened to and recorded 78 phone conversations she had with federal inmates.
Most of the calls were with Craig Nalls, who was a federal inmate in the Waukesha County Jail in 2006 until he was transferred to a federal penitentiary in West Virginia.
The complaint says Nalls and Vorath had sexual contact while he was at the jail and she later sent money to him in West Virginia under the name Nanette Nalls, the complaint says. Vorath is accused of bringing Tylenol 3 from home to federal inmate Courtney Turner, and warning federal inmate Michael Chachere of whom he shouldn't talk to in the jail, the complaint says.
An agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation alerted Sheriff's Capt. Karen Ruff in March 2007 of the relationship between the guard and the former inmate. Ruff began a criminal and internal investigation. Ruff also listened to the 78 conversations between Vorath and the inmates.
In addition to the criminal violation, Vorath was accused of violating several department policies, Ruff said. Vorath, who had been a corrections officer since April 1996, resigned June 21, Ruff said.
The recorded conversations revealed an intimate relationship between Vorath and Nalls in which they would discuss federal inmates that were housed in the Waukesha jail, the complaint says.
Nalls was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison in August 2006 on a weapons charge after he was arrested in September 2005 for firing a handgun at two men with whom he had a dispute.
A convicted felon, Nalls was not supposed to possess weapons. Nalls had prior convictions for robbery, endangering safety and burglary.
According to the complaint, authorities began investigating Vorath after federal inmate Julius Arberry told the FBI that Vorath had been providing special favors to another federal inmate, Johnny Murphy, including providing discovery materials related to Murphy's court case. Under jail rules, Murphy was not entitled to have that material.
FBI agent Matt Yaeger also was concerned that word was leaking out about inmates who had spoken with federal authorities as part of a conspiracy investigation. Yaeger began checking Vorath's phone records because of that, the complaint says, and that led to the connection with Nalls.
The criminal complaint filed against Vorath did not explain how Nalls was linked to the other federal inmates.
And it does not state what the conspiracy investigation involved.
However, federal court records show that Arberry and Murphy were among 17 people affiliated with a gang who were indicted in October 2006 on conspiracy and drug charges. The members of the gang, known as the First and Keefe Vice Lords, were accused by authorities of distributing cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana on Milwaukee's north side for about 15 years.
Ten of them had been arrested on Oct. 31, 2006, in raids involving 200 law enforcement officers from the FBI, Milwaukee Police Department, state Department of Justice and other agencies. It was the culmination of a two-year investigation.
Several of the other federal inmates named in the complaint were among 21 arrested in 2005 on federal conspiracy and drug charges in an inquiry that targeted the 2-6 Vice Lords gang in Milwaukee.
January 17, 2008 at 9:32AM AKST
Daniel Lum, owner of Northernmost Tours and a resident of Barrow, has filed a civil lawsuit against the North Slope Borough and several police officers claiming harassment and threats.
The lawsuit comes weeks after an Anchorage-based law firm investigated borough police on a separate case in Barrow.
A report on that investigation has not yet been released, leaving a situation ripe for residents interested in planting tales and allegations against the department.
But what to some may appear to be a sense of distrust among the community, to others is nothing more than a reaction to stronger police presence and stricter enforcement.
"We have had a couple of different reviews of our department that were gladly welcomed by us and we will open the door to anyone," borough Police Chief Don Grimes said.
"The police department has been more fully staffed than it has ever been in the past," Grimes said.
"We have more officers in the streets and that allows for more investigation. People that don't want to obey the law are having a more difficult time with that," he said.
The 16-page complaint filed by Lum and his lawyers, Robert M. Libbey and Jason Skala, details in length Lum's allegations of a Goliath-like police making threats to his life and refusing to arrest a local drug dealer, who allegedly stalked young Native children and attempted to kidnap them.
Lum also accused the police of entering his home without a warrant and spraying Mace around the room he was in with his wife and their youngest child.
According to the complaint, on Aug. 31, 2007, Lum was approached by a child who claimed to have escaped an attempted kidnapping by Scott Coles, a 44-year-old resident of Barrow.
The complaint lists Officers Gwen Grimes, Jose Gutierrez and Benjamin Hunsaker as defendants and claims the three were behind threats made to Lum and his family.
The complaint says the trio entered his home, attacking him and his family and threatening him "to back off" from pursuing the incidents involving Coles.
Lum also accused Grimes of shooting her service pistol towards him on one occasion as he was deflating his tires to allow for safe travel on a beach trail in preparation to escape from her "for fear of bodily injury," according to the complaint.
Mentioning other incidents where residents reported complaints against Coles, who denied the kidnapping claims, Lum alleged unnecessary physical force and causing him humiliation in front of his family.
Advised to put his complaint into writing by the borough, Lum decided not to, for fear of what the police might do to him, said Libbey, Lum's attorney.
"The retaliatory conduct of the North Slope Borough and of its officers, as alleged above, was designed and intended to harass and intimidate plaintiffs Daniel and Polly Lum and other Inupiat persons and families living in Barrow," the complaint said.
"(The retaliatory conduct) was intended to obstruct the complaints and charges by Inupiat residents of predatory stalking and assault attempts by a white resident," it said.
In early November, Lum told The Sounder that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be coming to Barrow to investigate the incident.
David Harding, the borough's spokesperson, confirmed that the FBI had deputized a state trooper to investigate in Barrow, but no reports have been released following the November visit. The FBI said it could not confirm or deny such a visit taking place.
When North Slope Borough Mayor Edward Itta was elected, a new phrase, "healthy communities," became a common term in day-to-day discourse across the borough.
One of the aspects of healthy communities is a crime-free community, according to Grimes.
The police and the borough have been encouraging local residents to participate in community-oriented policing, which was implemented fully in Barrow and the surrounding villages.
The initiative is finally beginning to show results, and according to Grimes, there has been a 200 percent increase in the amount of tip information coming in to the police regarding drug and alcohol sale and importation.
A relatively new addition to the police, in the form of a four-legged, energetic chocolate Lab named Hershey, has been instrumental in sniffing out drugs flown into the communities or sent by mail.
"There has been a lot more aggressive stance on fighting crime and illegal activity and a lot more desire to be open and communicative with more of our citizens," Grimes said.
"We treat everybody equally, and there are no sacred cows in the North Slope Borough. Everybody needs to be accountable," he said.
"The majority of the citizens appreciate the efforts the police department is making. But there is a smaller group of individuals that don't get away with things as easily as they used to," he said.
Grimes could not comment directly on the complaint because it is still under review. He concluded that this is an adjustment period for the community to have a police force that has the time to investigate.
"We are a lot more proactive than we have been in the past. Our job is to bring the trust back to the community and for them to have a lot of faith.
"It would be nice to hear from the silent majority that does support us," he said.
A recent court case demonstrates, once again, the dangers of assembling massive police databases and trusting that law enforcement officers with access are paragons of virtue.
In this case, the unvirtuous Fed is named Rafael Pacheco, an agent with the U.S. Customs Service in Florida. And the database in question is the Treasury Enforcement Communications System, or TECS, which contains more than a billion records used by Customs and other federal police.
Pacheco was, to put it bluntly, a corrupt cop. He sold access to TECS for money.
He got caught when a Mexican man named Fidencio Estrada was nabbed by state police in a traffic stop near Houston. Estrada had Pacheco's business card with him, and the state trooper asked him about it. After receiving a suspicious answer, the trooper phoned Pacheco, who called back and said that Estrada was a "huge" confidential informant and demanded that the trooper "let him go now."
You can imagine what the truth was. The U.S. Customs Service, which was subsequently renamed Immigration and Customs Enforcement, would later say that Estrada was never a confidential informant. Instead, Estrada and his family had sent about $18,000 in Western Union money transfers to the Customs agent, who deposited the cash in his personal bank account and used it to pay off a vehicle loan with the Florida Customs Federal Credit Union. Estrada is, according to ICE, a drug trafficker.
In return, in February 2000, Pacheco accessed TECS to check for records on Estrada. He searched for Estrada under two aliases and looked up records for those aliases in the NCIC database, which lists outstanding warrants against a person. He also helped Estrada's family members in Mexico obtain visas.
TECS, by the way, is described in a Justice Department report as including a watch list mechanism and, more generally, is: "Designed to identify individuals, businesses, and vehicles suspected of or involved in violation of federal law. TECS is also a communications system permitting message transmittal between law enforcement offices and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The database provides access to the FBI's NCIC and the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. The TECS database serves as the principal information system supporting border management and the law enforcement mission of the DHS's U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other federal law enforcement agencies."
So what eventually happened? Thanks to the happenstance of the traffic stop, the access-for-cash scheme unraveled, and Pacheco was convicted of receiving a bribe, hindering law enforcement, money laundering, obstruction of justice, and unlawfully accessing restricted federal computer databases. He was sentenced to 87 months in prison (and a separate 60-month sentence to be served at the same time).
As for Estrada, a U.S. permanent resident, he was found guilty by a jury of conspiring to bribe a public official, conspiring to launder money, 5 counts of bribery, and 10 counts of money laundering. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison, followed by 36 months supervised release.
He appealed, claiming that there was insufficient evidence, that the convictions were based on inadmissable hearsay, and other technical grounds. But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his convictions last Monday.
Associated Press - January 18, 2008 6:44 PM ET
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Cedar Rapids police officer has admitted having sex with a woman after he pulled her over in a traffic stop in 2004.
Kevin Sims pleaded guilty today to depriving a person of their constitutional rights while acting under color of state law.
According to the U.S. attorney's office, he faces up to one year in prison and is permanently banned from law enforcement in the United States.
Sims admitted pulling the woman's car over in spring 2004 and failing to arrest the woman after she told him she had a suspended driver's license. Instead, Sims ordered her to drive to a nearby park where they had sex.
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