Archive for January, 2010

Pineville Murder Suspect Charged in 9 Robberies

January 28, 2010

 CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two men are charged in connection with nine robberies in the Charlotte area, and one of those suspects is also charged with murder.

Jarred Bolli was killed in a Pineville apartment community on Sunday. Robbery is one of the possible motives, and police say that’s a crime that the suspect, Jamal Pittman, allegedly knows very well.

Pittman and Steven Chambers were arrested by the Violent Criminal Apprehension Team Wednesday night for a string of holdups.

Related:

One of the robbery victims, a clerk at the Gas-N-Go convenience store on Carowinds Boulevard, talked about his ordeal.

“They put a gun to my head and tell me, ‘Where is the money? Let’s go to the register,'” the clerk said. “If not for God I would have been dead. These people would have got me down that day.”

Police say that the string of robberies began Dec. 17 and ended Jan. 20 at Gas-N-Go. A total of nine businesses were hit, including a McDonald’s, two Circle K stores, two Dunkin’ Donuts stores, a Petro Express, a Harris Teeter and a Taco Bell.

York County sheriff’s deputies think the pair might be involved with the robbery of a Wendy’s in Lake Wylie. If proven, that would make a 10th business.

“So, of course, proximity to Charlotte, the area these gentlemen were operating in gives us reasons to look at them,” said Mike Baker with the York County Sherriff’s Department.

Pineville police are looking for Michael Leon King in connection with the murder. Pineville, Charlotte and York County investigators are trying to determine if he and others are involved with the robberies

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Crime blog: Woman gets DUI at Taco Bell, shots fired at dogs

January 27, 2010
The Herald

Here are some of the latest headlines from our Off the Cuff crime blog.

• A 59-year-old man checked into Piedmont Medical Center with a gunshot wound to his leg. He didn’t know who shot him or where, he said.

• Someone was reportedly firing shots from a car at two dogs behind a fence in Rock Hill.

• A 31-year-old woman from Rock Hill was charged with DUI after police found her slumped over the steering wheel in the drive-thru of the Manchester-area Taco Bell.

• A student at Northwestern High School used a stolen credit card to order items online – and had them sent to the school so he wouldn’t get in trouble.

View the blog in its entirety at heraldonline.com/blogs/offthecuff/ or click here.

Officer Suing California Borough Over Demotion

January 26, 2010
By: CHRISTINE HAINES
Herald Standard
January 26, 2010

Former California Borough police chief Rick Encapera is suing the borough for reinstatement to his former rank.

Encapera was demoted to patrolman during council’s reorganization meeting on Jan.4, with no explanation. Council voted 4-3 in favor of the demotion, with council members Sheila Chambers, Shelly Roberts, Donna Bridges and Gerald Gardner voting for the demotion and Jon Bittner, Patsy Alfano and Anthony Mariscotti voting against it.

At that same meeting, by the same 4-3 vote, council voted not to retain solicitor Keith Melenyzer, street commissioner Pat Vitchoff or code enforcement officer Bruce Large. Melenyzer is representing Encapera in the lawsuit. Melenyzer said he does not have a conflict of interest in representing the former police chief.

“There was nothing I had gleaned as solicitor that gives me an advantage,” Melenyzer said. “They never had any advice from me regarding Rick. I had no idea they were going to take the action that they did. Since they never delineated anything that he did wrong, I have no conflict.”

According to the suit, the Pennsylvania Borough Code lists specific reasons allowed for demoting, suspending or removing a police officer or paid firefighter, including physical or mental disabilities affecting the person’s ability to serve, neglect or violation of any official duty or committing a misdemeanor or felony. Other reasons include inefficiency, neglect, intemperance, immorality, disobedience of orders or conduct unbecoming of an officer, intoxication on duty or participating in any political or election campaign other than exercising his right to vote.

“A written statement of any charges made against any person so employed shall be furnished to such person within five days after the same are filed,” the borough code states.

Melenyzer said the borough has not given Encapera any reason for the demotion, even though the law required that action by Jan. 9. Encapera did receive a letter from council dated Jan. 5 informing him that he was not reappointed as chief of police, but no reason was given for the demotion.

The suit is seeking back pay retroactive to Jan. 4, attorney’s fees, costs and expenses.

The current borough solicitor, Ernest DeHaas, Monday stated that he has not yet seen the complaint and will respond appropriately once he has seen it.

Jury sees crime scene photos in deputy’s murder

January 21, 2010

by TONY BURBECK / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Tony: TBurbeck@WCNC.com

 Posted on November 12, 2009 at 5:38 PM

 Updated Thursday, Nov 12 at 5:38 PM

 LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — Jurors got their first look at crime scene pictures Thursday from a Lincoln County sheriff deputy’s murder.

Some of the moments were too much for family members to handle.

Picture after picture displayed the crime scene — a house Lincoln County Deputy Lawana Morton temporarily stayed at with friend Vicki Fox. Those pictures included Morton dead in her bedroom.

“There was an obvious wound underneath her chin,” said Sgt. Erin Long with Lincoln County.

Some family members walked out. Morton’s son, Joel Engle, didn’t.

“It was extremely tough,” he said.

So too, Engle says, was watching suspect Monty Poteat sit in the courtroom.

“It’s extremely difficult, sitting there and seeing him and knowing the possibility that he was the one that did it,” Engle said. “That’s eating at me tremendously.”

Poteat was Fox’s former boyfriend. Investigators say he murdered Morton in 2007 in a fit of rage because Morton supported her friend’s decision to get a protective order against Poteat. At the time of the murder, deputies say Poteat was wanted for violating that order.

Overall, seven witnessed testified for the prosecution, including State Bureau of Investigation agents and fellow deputies.

The defense focus Thursday was on Morton and Fox’s roommate relationship, saying Morton wanted to move out.

“Yeah, she fussed about it some,” said friend Anne Sadler.

The defense says Fox was jealous of Morton’s friendships with other people.

One thing that didn’t come up — DNA, fingerprints or a weapon tying Poteat to the crime. However, the prosecution hasn’t finished its case.

The defense expects to get its turn Monday. Poteat’s attorneys say they’re not sure if Poteat will testify in his own defense.

Deputy Hits Coyote

January 21, 2010

From salisburypost.com

Thursday, January 21, 2010 12:00 AM  

Staff report

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office has bagged its first coyote — with a patrol car.

Deputy Tim Cook hit the coyote on Bringle Ferry Road around 8 p.m. Monday.

Capt. John Sifford said the mishap caused an estimated $800 damage to the patrol car.

Sifford said deputies frequently hit deer, particularly in the eastern area of the county near High Rock Lake.

And Cook, who patrols the eastern area, has previously bagged several deer in road mishaps.

Another deputy was involved in a mishap on Mocksville Avenue early today.

A deputy rear-ended another car when that driver suddenly stopped when someone walked out in front of them.

No one was injured.

911 tapes detail officer’s actions

January 21, 2010

Following a judge’s order, police release recordings related to women’s allegations against Marcus Jackson.

By Ely Portillo and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
elyportillo@charlotteobserver.com; cwootson@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010

  • Jackson

  • Marcus Jackson

  • Jackson

Responding to a judge’s order Wednesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police released 911 tapes and radio chatter about interactions former police officer Marcus Jackson had with several women who have accused him of sexually assaulting them.

The communications document some of Jackson’s activities during traffic stops and calls for help in which people later reported that the officer abused his power and, in some cases, fondled, assaulted or falsely arrested them.

In one recording, Jackson can be heard telling a dispatcher he is transporting someone “right around the corner” to the person’s home. The address he gives is the home of a 17-year-old girl who has accused Jackson of forcing her to perform a sex act in his squad car to avoid a traffic ticket.

In another recording, a man speaking Spanish calls 911 to tell authorities that Jackson is “grabbing” his girlfriend during a traffic stop. A 911 interpreter doesn’t tell the dispatcher about the grabbing complaint and seeks to pinpoint the man’s location. In the background, Jackson can twice be heard telling the man to “hang up the phone.” Then, the phone goes dead.

That recording lends heft to a couple’s allegation that Jackson stopped the woman on Dec. 29 and fondled her, then falsely arrested her boyfriend as he tried to call for help.

The recordings of that incident then go on to capture Jackson instructing dispatchers to disregard the man’s request for help because he was already handling it.

Jackson, 26, was arrested and fired last month after several women accused him of sexually assaulting them. He had patrolled Charlotte’s Eastway Division for six months before the allegations were made. In all, six women have come forward alleging misconduct. A grand jury indicted Jackson in three cases and asked prosecutors to investigate the other women’s claims.

Police released the emergency communications Wednesday night after a judge denied CMPD’s request to keep the public records secret.

Police argued in court last week that the release would damage their investigation and prosecution of Jackson, and hurt his right to a fair trial.

The Observer and other media outlets had requested the recordings, arguing that they are public records under N.C. law and that their release was essential to maintaining public trust in the police.

Mecklenburg Superior Court Judge Richard Boner reviewed the tapes privately.

He ruled Wednesday: “The recordings are public record … and therefore subject to disclosure. … The Court finds that the petitioner (CMPD) has failed to prove … that release of the recordings of the 911 call and police radio transmissions will jeopardize the State’s prosecution of Marcus Jackson or the right of Marcus Jackson to receive a fair trial.”

Charlotte attorney Jon Buchan, representing the media, applauded the ruling.

“The legislature clearly intended that 911 tapes and police radio calls be made public unless disclosure would clearly harm the police department’s ability to investigate the crime or the defendant’s right to a fair trial,” he said.

Police did not comment on the ruling Wednesday, but released about 25 minutes of recordings they identified as the communications related to allegations against Jackson.

In one case, a woman calls 911 screaming during a domestic dispute. Then, the phone disconnects. A dispatcher calls back and decides to send an officer – then dispatches Jackson.

When he arrived, Jackson allegedly fondled the woman, according to a police statement.

In the case of the couple who complained against Jackson, the tapes show the man protesting Jackson’s actions and repeatedly trying to get help.

Through a Spanish interpreter, the dispatcher asks the man “What do you need the police for?”

He says: “What’s happening is a black guy stopped my girlfriend, he wants to search her like this, like, you know grabbing.”

The interpreter doesn’t mention the grabbing to dispatchers and struggles to get the man’s precise location.

In the background, a man police identify as Jackson twice orders the caller: “Hang up the phone.”

The call ends.

Jackson radios dispatchers and explains that he had stopped the woman and that her boyfriend soon arrived in a second car to protest the stop. Jackson then urges dispatchers not to send other officers.

“A Hispanic male got out of the car, yelling and cussing, trying to grab her out, telling her I don’t have no reason to stop her,” Jackson explained. “He was calling 911. I don’t know if it went through with dispatch, whatever, but if a call came in, just dupe it into my call.”

Jackson then arrested the boyfriend, police said. Charges against him were dropped, but he may be deported.

Judge Orders Release of 911 Calls

January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The documents behind the story

Police must release all 911 tapes and police radio communications associated with former Officer Marcus Jackson, a Mecklenburg judge ruled Wednesday.

Jackson, 26, was arrested and fired last month after several women accused him of sexually assaulting them during traffic stops. Police last week moved to block the release of emergency communications associated with his activities.

“The recordings are public record…and therefore subject to disclosure,” Superior Court Judge Richard Boner ruled after reviewing the tapes in private.

Read the judge’s order

S.C. teen is accused of threatening school during online game

January 21, 2010
By Jeffrey Collins
Associated Press
Posted: Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010

LUGOFF, S.C. A 15-year-old S.C. boy was arrested Wednesday after the moderator at an online gaming site called the FBI over threats the teen made to kill everyone in his school, authorities said.

The threat prompted officials to lock down all 20 schools in Kershaw County and send officers to several campuses because investigators weren’t initially sure which school was being threatened, Sheriff’s Capt. David Thomley said.

The 10th-grader was arrested in class at Lugoff-Elgin High School around 10:30 a.m. and admitted making the threats, calling them a joke, according to a police report.

He didn’t have any weapons on him, and a search of his home found no guns or bomb-making equipment. But investigators did find notebooks and computer files with disturbing passages referencing the Columbine and Virginia Tech massacres, Thomley said.

“Dark writings – there are mentions of death and just things that typically a rational-thinking 15-year-old doesn’t write,” Thomley said. “You can tell there is some animosity there, some anger.”

The teen was involved in a role-playing game on an Internet site early Wednesday when he told another player to “have fun watching the news tomorrow” because he was planning to kill everyone at his school, authorities said.

The moderator of the site in England called the FBI, who was able to track the computer to Elgin, about 20 miles northeast of Columbia.

But federal agents couldn’t pinpoint the address, and since the threat didn’t mention a specific school, officials decided to lock down all the schools in Kershaw County as well as a few in nearby Richland County, Thomley said.

By 10 a.m., the FBI figured out the house where the threat was made, and the teen was arrested. But the lockdown continued as investigators made sure the teen was not part of a bigger plot, authorities said.

The teen confessed to making the threat, and he and his mother are cooperating with investigators, Thomley said.

He has been charged with disturbing schools and unlawful use of the telephone – a statue South Carolina has modified to include crimes committed on the Internet. He does not face federal charges and his name was not released due to his age.

The teen, who has Tourette syndrome, remained in custody in a juvenile jail. He hasn’t been in trouble with the law before and didn’t appear to be having trouble in school, Thomley said.

Thomley thanked the moderator for reporting the threats.

“We don’t have any way of knowing where this would have taken us somewhere down the road, if not today, a week or a month later. We just don’t know,” Thomley said. “Had the moderator not taken the initiative to contact the FBI we might be having a press conference a month from now about something much more serious.”

2 officers accused of sexual misconduct leads to questions about CMPD

January 20, 2010

by GLENN COUNTS / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Glenn: GCounts@WCNC.com

 Posted on January 19, 2010 at 7:08 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Controversy involving two Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers has some people wondering if there’s a deeper problem within the department.

Marcus Jackson was fired after being accused of sexually assaulting women during traffic stops. Six women allege that Jackson inappropriately touched them. He was indicted by a grand jury on 11 charges Tuesday.

Hamlett Almendarez is accused of bad judgment by allegedly engaging in a sex act in the bathroom of Fuel Pizza while on duty and in uniform. He resigned from the force. He is not facing charges.

Eastway officers rebuilding trust amid controversy

Police officer accused of public sexual encounter

Sixth woman claims groping by police officer

“You always hear about the one rotten apple, but most of the time it’s usually more systemic,” said Dr. Vivian Lord, head of UNC-Charlotte’s criminal justice department.

The common thread is two young officers who had not been on their own for long. Jackson was on the force for 10 months. Almendarez was with CMPD since 2007.

Lord says the department should look beyond the bad apple syndrome.

“In this particular case these look like fairly young officers. Are there some things they need to consider from selection? Are there some cultural issues going on within the department?” Lord said.

One thing these cases prove is that the public has not been shy in reporting misconduct.

“They have to feel comfortable enough that the department is going to respond to them, otherwise they would not come forward,” Lord said.

PA State Trooper Killed

January 13, 2010

Tpr. Paul G. Richey, 40, a 16-year-veteran of the Pennsylvania State Police, died Jan. 13, as the result of a gunshot wound suffered during an incident in Cranberry Twp., Venango County.

Tpr. Paul G. Richey, 40, a 16-year-veteran of the Pennsylvania State Police, died Jan. 13 as the result of a gunshot wound suffered during an incident in Cranberry Twp., Venango County.

Tpr. Richey was assigned to the Patrol Unit at Troop E, Franklin.

Richey and Tpr. Jason Whitman responded to a call at approximately 11:34 a.m. regarding a domestic incident in the 100 block of Bredinsburg Road, Cranberry Twp., Venango County.

The troopers arrived at the scene at approximately 11:45 a.m.  After getting out of their vehicles, Tpr. Richey was hit with a shot fired from the residence.  Additional troopers responded and Tpr. Richey was removed from the scene.

“Tpr. Richey sacrificed his life rather than swerve from the path of duty,” said State Police Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski.  “We will not forget his service or his sacrifice.

Tpr. Richey, of Franlkin, enlisted in the State Police on May 17, 1993.  He graduated from the State Police Academy in Hershey on Nov. 10, 1993, and was assigned to Troop F, Milton.  He transferred to Troop E, Corry, on Oct. 19, 1996, and to the Franklin station on May 17, 1997.

Among Tpr. Richey’s survivors are his widow, Carrie; a son, Connor, 9; and a daughter, Catherine, 6.

Tpr. Richey is the 93rd member of the department to die in the line of duty since the establishment of the State Police in 1905.  His death came slightly more than seven months after the shooting death of Tpr. Joshua D. Miller of Troop N, Swiftwater, who was killed during the rescue of a kidnapped child on June 7, 2009, in Monroe County.