Archive for August, 2009

Citizens chase, detain suspect until police arrive for arrest

August 26, 2009

Published: Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 5:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 5:02 p.m

From StarNewsOnline

Citizens chased and detained a man until he was arrested Friday after police say he was discovered rummaging through the electrical box at a vacant home recently damaged by fire.

The man was discovered just before 2 p.m. Friday stripping copper wiring from inside the residence at 1842 Carolina Beach Road. The house was unoccupied and undergoing repairs after a recent fire, according to spokeswoman Lucy Crockett of the Wilmington Police Department.

A worker returning to the home to continue repairs discovered the intruder, chased and stopped the man near Greenfield Lake with the help of witnesses. They held the man on the ground until officers arrived, Crockett said.

Alonzo Austin, 51, was charged with felony forced breaking and entering, larceny, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of burglary tools. He is being held at the New Hanover County jail on secured bail of $1,100.

– Chelsea Kellner

New police leader meeting with NC town’s citizens

August 26, 2009

Submitted by WWAY on 4 June 2009 – 12:10pm.

SPRING LAKE, N.C. — A citizens group that formed after a North Carolina town’s police chief resigned and two officers were arrested is meeting with the department’s new leader.

The group Citizens on the Move is holding a town hall meeting Thursday so citizens can talk to interim Chief Gregg Jarvies. Group member Winford Lee told The Fayetteville Observer the mayor and four of the town of Spring Lake’s aldermen also will attend.

Judicial officials in Cumberland County have said they won’t accept felony cases from the local police. The county sheriff has taken over patrols and investigations in the town near
Fayetteville.

Two senior police supervisors face charges ranging from kidnapping to larceny and embezzlement.

Char-Meck Detectives Investigating a Home Invasion-Robbery & Homicide

August 25, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

From crimeincharlotte.com

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is investigating a home invasion/robbery which resulted in a homicide. The victim has been identified as 15-year old, Marcus Antonio Steven Fluker.

At 12:41 p.m., North Tryon Division officers responded to a home invasion robbery where four suspects broke into a home at 7619 Grier Road.

An elderly couple was inside the residence when the suspects broke in, tied up the male victim and then proceeded to ransack the house. At least one of the suspects was armed with a handgun.

After the suspects fled the scene on foot, the male victim freed himself, had his wife call 911 and then went to look for the suspects.

A few minutes later and a short distance away, the male home invasion victim encountered the suspects on Ginger Lane. The victim fired a handgun at one of the suspects, striking Mr. Fluker at least once.

At 12:44 p.m., CMPD telecommunications received a call in reference to the shooting which took place on Ginger Lane. When officers arrived on scene, they located Mr. Fluker lying on the ground suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. The Charlotte Fire Department and Medic arrived on scene, treated Mr. Fluker and transported him to CMC where he was pronounced deceased shortly after arrival.

Officers detained the victim of the home invasion robbery shortly after the shooting and transported him to police headquarters. The individual responsible for the shooting on Ginger Lane is the victim from the home invasion robbery.

Detectives with the Homicide Unit, ADW Unit, Robbery Unit, Gang and Firearm Enforcement Unit and officers with the North Tryon Division conducted a neighborhood canvass. Crime Scene Search was on scene as well collecting physical evidence and photographing the scene.

Homicide Detectives are working closely with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office to determine if any charges will be filed against the victim of the robbery who shot Mr. Fluker.

Three suspects are in custody in connection to the home invasion robbery. Their names and charges are as follows:

** Joseph Graves– Charged with 2nd Degree Burglary, Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon & Conspiracy to Commit Robbery
** Matthew Everett Morgan– Charged with 2nd Degree Burglary, Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon & Conspiracy to Commit Robbery
** Tahjaue Wiley- Charged with 2nd Degree Burglary, Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon & Conspiracy to Commit Robbery.

Dallas Police Media Relations Unit Announces Arrest of Sr. Corporal in April 2009

August 21, 2009
 

Dallas Police Department

Police Media Relations Unit

Phone: 214-671-4065 Fax: 214-670-8154

http://www.dallaspolice.net

April 2, 2009 Dallas Police Senior Corporal Arrested by Desoto Police

Dallas Police Senior Corporal Rex Jones, #7193, was arrested this morning, April 2, 2009, by Desoto Police for injury to a child. Senior Corporal Jones is assigned to the Training Academy and has been an officer on the Dallas Police Department since April, 1995. Senior Corporal Jones has been placed on Administrative Leave pending an investigation by the Internal Affairs Division. Any questions regarding this arrest should be directed to the Desoto Police Department.

Dallas Police Sr. Corporal Arrested After Crash

August 21, 2009

By BILL MILLER of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Wednesday August 19, 2009

David Aguilar

Sr. Corp. David Aguilar, 35, of the Dallas Police Dept.

A Dallas Police Officer was arrested early Wednesday in Plano on suspicion of leaving the scene of a wreck in which a person in another vehicle was hurt, police said.

Senior Corporal David Aguilar, 35, faces charges of driving while intoxicated and failing to stop and render aid according to a Plano police report.

The wreck happened at 12:53 a.m. Wednesday near the intersection of Custer Road and Plano Parkway, the report stated.

The other driver received minor injuries in the wreck, said Lt. Andy Harvey, Dallas police spokesman.

About an hour later, Plano police stopped Aguilar, who was driving a 2008 Toyota Tacoma pickup near the intersection of Parkhaven Drive and Independence Parkway. That location is about five miles northwest of the wreck.

Aguilar is a 12-year DPD veteran who is assigned to the Northeast Patrol Division, Harvey said. He added that Aguilar has been placed on administration leave, pending the outcome of the case.

The officer was still in the Plano jail at 1:30 p.m., but bail had not yet been set, said Heather Bowden, Plano police spokeswoman.

BILL MILLER, 817-390-7684

Dallas police pioneering new photo lineup approach

August 21, 2009

AP

By JEFF CARLTON, Associated Press Writer,  Fri Aug 21, 7:30 am ET

DALLAS – Frustrated with a string of wrongful convictions, the Dallas police department is now the nation’s largest force to use sequential blind photo lineups — a widely praised technique designed to reduce mistakes made by witnesses trying to identify suspects.

Dallas is not the first department to use the pioneering method. But experts hope that by using it in the county that leads the nation in exonerating wrongly convicted inmates, Dallas will inspire other departments to follow suit.

“If Dallas can do it … then others are going to rise to the occasion,” said Iowa State psychology professor Gary Wells, a national expert on police lineups.

The department switched to sequential blind lineups in April. Before that, Dallas police administered most lineups using the traditional six-pack — law-enforcement lingo for mounting six photos onto a folder and showing them to a witness or victim at the same time.

In sequential blind lineups, mug shots are shown one at a time. Detectives displaying the photos also don’t know who the suspect is, which means they can’t purposely or accidentally tip off witnesses.

Showing possible suspects all at once tends to make a witness compare the mug shots to one another, Wells said. But if they are shown sequentially, “witnesses have to dig deeper, compare each person to their memory and make more of an absolute decision.”

“It makes witnesses more conservative, more cautious,” he said.

An analysis of 26 recent studies shows that presenting mug shots sequentially instead of simultaneously produces fewer identifications but more accurate ones, Wells said. Overall, identification rates in sequential lineups are 15 percent lower than simultaneous lineups — but misidentification rates also drop by 39 percent, he said.

Dallas is taking other measures to try to cut back on misidentifications. Police try to record every lineup to make them more credible, and a lineup unit tells witnesses that police will investigate the case regardless of whether an identification is made. That’s designed to reduce pressure on a witness to make an ID for fear the case will stagnate, said Dallas police Lt. David Pughes.

Dallas police also ask witnesses to express how confident they are in their identifications, Pughes said. That’s to avoid what Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck calls a “forced-choice response” when police, intentionally or not, nudge a witness into expressing certainty.

That’s what happened to Thomas McGowan, a wrongly convicted Dallas County man released last year after nearly 23 years in prison for a rape and robbery he did not commit.

Police in the Dallas suburb of Richardson gave the victim, who was held captive by her attacker for several hours, several photos including McGowan’s and the man that DNA eventually proved to be the rapist. She picked out McGowan’s photo, saying she “thought” he was the attacker. Police told her she had to be certain and “couldn’t just think it was him.” It was then she said McGowan was “definitely” the attacker, according to court documents.

McGowan recently met his accuser, who apologized. He said he believes police should use an independent person to administer lineups. The Richardson department now has a written policy that states a preference for but doesn’t require an independent lineup administrator.

“They showed me the picture of the guy, and to me the guy looked nothing like me,” McGowan said. “I’m still trying to figure that one out.”

Nationally, more than 75 percent of DNA exonerees who have been released since 1989 were sent to prison based on witness misidentification, according to The Innocence Project, a New York legal center specializing in overturning wrongful convictions. It’s the most common element in a wrongful conviction, the center said.

Since 2001, 21 people in Dallas County have had convictions overturned after DNA proved their innocence. A majority of them were in the city of Dallas.

In May, Jerry Lee Evans, of Dallas, had his conviction overturned after spending 23 years in prison for aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon. The rape victim wrongly identified him as her attacker.

In another case, Johnnie Earl Lindsey spent more than 25 years in prison for a rape he did not commit. The victim said her attacker didn’t wear a shirt. A year later, the victim picked out Lindsey — one of two shirtless men among the six photos. Lindsey, of Dallas, was released last year after DNA showed he was innocent.

Boston, Minneapolis and Denver use sequential blind lineups or some variation. New Jersey and North Carolina have mandated police do the same. Most police departments, however, continue to use the six-pack or other traditional methods.

“There’s a belief that as long as what you are doing is legal, then you just keep doing it because you believe it is working for you,” Wells said.

In Dallas, police were initially resistant to the new lineups because “they thought we were creating obstacles to getting bad guys off the street,” Assistant Chief Ron Waldrop said.

But after about 1,200 lineups, identification rates have not changed — though it is too early tell if there’s been a decline in mistaken ID rates.

Mom, 80, shoots at deputies as son hides in closet

August 21, 2009

AP

JACKSON, Tenn. – An 80-year-old West Tennessee woman and her son are being held in jail after deputies said she shot at them when they came to arrest the man. Sheriff Melvin Bond said the elderly woman fired several shots at officers Friday night in a standoff that began when deputies tried to capture her 60-year-old son.

The Jackson Sun quoted Bond who said four deputies went to the woman’s mobile home on a tip that her son was there. Bond said officers heard the man talking inside the trailer and — when they knocked on the door — the woman opened it, slammed it shut and fired a shot through it.

The deputies took cover and, during the hour-long standoff, two more shots were fired through the door.

There were no injuries. The man was found hiding in a closet

Milwaukee mayor wounded after being hit with pipe

August 16, 2009

From The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was in the hospital on Sunday after he was attacked by a person using a metal pipe as the mayor and his family left the Wisconsin State Fair.

Barrett was in stable condition Sunday at a local hospital and was alert and talking when he arrived there on Saturday night, the Milwaukee Police Department said in a statement. It did not provide more details, and a spokeswoman for the police department did not have any further information.

Police said Barrett was leaving the state fair on Saturday night when he heard a woman crying out for help in the city of West Allis, about six miles west of Milwaukee.

Police said Barrett began calling 911 when the suspect who was attacking the woman charged at the mayor and began hitting him with a metal pipe. The suspect then fled the scene, authorities said.

The woman was not injured, and police were still searching for the suspect, who has a criminal arrest record, authorities said.

No other details were immediately available Sunday.

Wrongfully convicted San Jose man to receive $1 million settlement from Santa Clara County

August 15, 2009

By Tracey Kaplan

tkaplan@mercurynews.com

Posted: 08/15/2009 06:13:56 AM PDT

Updated: 08/15/2009 06:58:23 AM PDT

Locked up for an armed robbery he didn’t do, East San Jose resident Jeffrey Rodriguez spent five years dodging violent prison inmates and praying to be rescued.

His wish eventually came true — the charges were dismissed and a judge found him factually innocent. But no one in the criminal justice system ever made amends — until this month, when he’ll get the closest thing to an apology: $1 million in taxpayer money from Santa Clara County.

The pending settlement brings the total paid by the county for wrongful convictions by the District Attorney’s Office since 2005 to more than $4.6 million.

The money won’t make up for missing five years of his 11-year-old son’s life, getting beaten up in jail or losing his girlfriend. But after paying attorney fees, Rodriguez hopes to have enough left to buy property in the Central Valley, help out family members who sold a home to pay his legal expenses, and open a barber shop.

“I’m not angry,” Rodriguez said in an interview this week in attorney Jaime Leanos’ office. “I’m not going to waste energy being mad. That would lock up my mind and I want to be free.”

He said he got through the ordeal by speaking to his family on the telephone as often as possible from Corcoran State Prison and practicing his religion.

“I just read the bible and God’s word spoke to me in my heart,” Rodriguez said. “God lets things happen for a reason, I understand that. I just hoped it would end soon, and thank God it did.”

 The District Attorney’s Office referred all questions about the settlement agreement to the County Counsel’s Office, which declined to comment. In settling the case, the county is not admitting any of the allegations, which include negligence, suppression of evidence and witness tampering.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, lays out the history of the case: how the jury in Rodriguez’s first trial voted 11-1 to acquit him of the robbery at a Kragen auto parts loading dock, his subsequent conviction in a second trial and how the appellate court overturned that conviction because of a poor performance by his trial attorney.

It goes on to explain how prosecutors under newly elected District Attorney Dolores Carr decided not to retry Rodriguez a third time because of doubts about the identification of him by victim Carmelo Ramirez. In addition, the only physical evidence in the case — then-crime lab chief Mark Moriyama’s testimony about his analysis of a motor oil stain on Rodriguez’s pants — was contradicted by outside analysts, including the state Department of Justice.

Moriyama is still assigned to the crime lab, but he works with breath-alcohol instruments and does not give expert testimony in court, according to Nick Muyo, a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office.

Muyo said the crime lab also has made changes in the way test results are reported “to avoid the potential of misleading or overstating the test results.” District Attorney Carr assigned her top aide, Chief Assistant District Attorney Marc Buller, to work as the laboratory liaison, and more training is now provided for both prosecutors and defense attorneys “so that they will have a better appreciation for limitations of the labs’ analyses and its reporting language,” Muyo said.

Rodriguez’s case was highlighted in the 2006 Mercury News series “Tainted Trials, Stolen Justice” as an example of how poor lawyering and unreliable eyewitness identification can lead to wrongful convictions.

The federal suit also contains new allegations about how Rodriguez came to be wrongly convicted. The lawsuit alleges that Deputy District Attorney John Luft improperly withheld potentially helpful evidence — namely, that robbery victim Ramirez had been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, which denied Rodriguez’s attorney an opportunity to use the information in an attempt to impeach him as a witness.

Luft did not respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit also alleges Luft coaxed Ramirez during the second trial into falsely testifying that the jacket worn by the robber, as seen on a surveillance video of the loading dock, was the same as a leather jacket confiscated from Rodriguez’s house. Ramirez has signed a statement in which he says he felt pressured to tailor his story to match the police and prosecution’s insistence on what the robber was wearing. Ramirez could not be reached for comment.

In exchange for the settlement, Rodriguez has agreed to forgo legal action against Moriyama, Luft and Ramirez.

Rodriguez is still waiting to hear whether the state Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board will award him the standard $100-a-day payment for those who are wrongfully incarcerated — $138,100 in his case.

Even if he gets the additional funds, he’s not planning to splurge on a celebration.

“I just want to take it slow and soak it in,” he said, “and try to make the wisest, soundest decisions I can.”

Contact Tracey Kaplan at tkaplan@mercurynews.com or 408-278-3482.

Wrongful-conviction settlements

2005: $875,000
to Glenn Nickerson, imprisoned 19 years for a murder he did not commit.

2007: $2.75 million
to Rick Walker, who spent 12 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit.

April 2009: $50,000
to Kenneth Foley, who served 11 years for a robbery he did not commit.

Pending: $1 million
to Jeffrey Rodriguez, who was locked up five years for an armed robbery he did not commit.

Total: $4,675,000

 

ACLU sues over man’s arrest for videotaping police

August 14, 2009

By Jill King Greenwood
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, August 13, 2009

The ACLU of Pennsylvania has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Hill District man who was arrested for recording an incident between his friend and police.

The suit, filed today, stems from an April 29 incident between a friend of Elijah Matheny, 29, and University of Pittsburgh police officers. Matheny and his friend, who isn’t named in the suit, went to Oakalnd to search for furniture and other items discarded by Pitt students leaving for the semester and were picking through a Dumpster outside Bouquet Gardens on Oakland Avenue when the University police approached, according to the suit.

The officers asked Matheny and his female friend for identification. His friend gave police her name but did not have ID and was placed in handcuffs after police could find no record of her in their system, the suit states.

Matheny took out his cell phone and began recording the incident. Police were able to verify his friend’s identity and she was released but Matheny was arrested for violating the state’s Wiretap Act, said Witold Walczak, ACLU-PA legal director and one of the attorneys representing Matheny.

Matheny was also charged with “possession of an instrument of crime” in regards to his cell phone, Walczak said.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office is also named in the lawsuit because Assistant District Attorney Chris Avetta talked to Pitt officers and agreed that Matheny had violated the state statute and authorized the arrest, Walczak said.

In July, a judge dismissed all charges against Matheny.

A message left with University of Pittsburgh police Chief Tim Delaney and with Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. were not immediately returned.

Walczak said the state law is “absolute” in its terms regarding obtaining permission to record people in public but said case law states that public officials — including police officers — are exempt.

“This is a widespread misunderstanding among law enforcement and the staff at the District Attorney’s office,” Walczak said. “If the police are doing something wrong, a citizen has a right to record it. For the same reason the police want cameras on the front of their police cars, citizens should be able to record the behavior and actions of police officers. It’s for everyone’s benefit.”

Walczak said he worries that “dozens of lawsuits” will result in September if police arrest protesters and others recording interactions between them and officers at the Group of 20 summit.

“If there are problems at the G-20 you can bet people will be whipping out their cell phones and recording what is happening,” Walczak said. “The police will have enough going on with people vandalizing and breaking things, and they don’t need to be arresting people who are simply recording them. We need to educate local police before the G-20 or this is going to be a nightmare.”