Archive for August, 2012

Feds End Probe of ‘America’s Toughest Sheriff’ Joe Arpaio; No Charges

August 31, 2012
By NBC News Staff and Wire Services, August 31, 2012

The federal government has closed a criminal probe into Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio, who styles himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” and no charges will be filed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said on Friday.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio is shown attending Republican National Convention on Wednesday in Tampa, Fla.

The Maricopa County sheriff and his deputies have been under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department since 2008.

 Last December, the department said he and his office violated U.S. civil rights laws by engaging in racial profiling of Latinos and making unlawful arrests in their bid to crack down on illegal immigrants.

Arpaio denied any wrong doing, and said he would cooperate with investigators.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel, acting on behalf of the United States due to the recusal of U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo, commended the joint investigative efforts of the prosecutors and the FBI special agents who conducted the investigation.

Scheel said her office advised Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery of the decision.

Arpaio, first voted into office in 1992, has been elected five times and is seeking a sixth term.

In July, Arpaio said that volunteer investigators working for him concluded that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate is not legitimate.

“At the very least,” he said at a news conference, “I can tell you this, based on all of the evidence presented and investigated, I cannot in good faith report to you that these documents are authentic.”

Also in July, Arpaio denied in testimony in a class-action lawsuit that his deputies targeted people because of the color of their skin.

He was testifying whether police can target illegal immigrants without racially profiling Hispanic citizens and legal residents.

“I am against anyone racial profiling … today as in my 50 years in law enforcement,” Arpaio, a veteran lawman who recently turned 80, told the court during cross-examination.

Arpaio is also known for outfitting county jail inmates in pink underwear, claiming the pink shorts are less likely to be smuggled out of jail and sold on the black  market, and for housing inmates in a Tent City jail in Phoenix, even when Sonoran Desert summer temperatures soar to 115 degrees.

NBC’s Jim Gold and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Iowa Police Dog Dies After Being Left in Des Moines Patrol Car

August 31, 2012
From www.usnews.nbcnews.com By Vignesh Ramachandran, Auguat 31, 2012

Officials in Iowa are investigating the cause of death of a police dog that was left in a patrol car on a hot Wednesday afternoon.

The Labrador retriever, named Harley, was a 7-year veteran of the Des Moines Police Department, NBC station WHO reported.

Officials were unsure whether the car’s air conditioning was on, if any windows were rolled down or how long the yellow lab was in the car, The Des Moines Register reported.

The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon, according to CBS station KCCI. Des Moines’ recorded high temperature Wednesday was 95 degrees, according to The Weather Channel.

Police say Harley was paired with Officer Brian Mathis on the department’s vice and narcotics unit.

“What we know is that when he came back to the car, his partner of seven  years had died,” Des Moines Police Sgt. Chris Scott told the Register.

Officials said Mathis had no history of handling the dog poorly, according to the Register, and Des Moines police have eight other K-9s.

“[Harley’s] investigations have  taken a lot of drugs off the streets,” Scott told CBS station KCCI. “Harley was not a stranger to anybody down here. We lost a fellow  officer who just happened to be a dog.”

Scott said officials were determining whether criminal charges would be filed, WHO reported.

“There is nobody that could be more upset and traumatized by this than Officer Mathis,” Scott told WHO.

The Police Department’s public information office did not immediately respond to a voice mail Friday afternoon.

The Courts Will Soon Decide If Police Can Sample Your DNA Without A Warrant

August 31, 2012

From businessinsider.com by Michael Kelley, August 27, 2012

U.S. courts will soon decide whether Americans can have the expectation of privacy over their DNA,  reports Kate Moser at the Recorder.

Michael Risher of the ACLU of Northern California is challenging a  California law that requires all felony arrestees to give a DNA sample.

He argues that Americans “don’t want the government to have all  that information about us.” The government doesn’t have the right to demand our  genetic material – including the wealth of personal information it holds – even  if it promises to use it only for law enforcement, Risher claims.

Hanni Fakhoury, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who  filed a friend of the court brief in the case, says he’s concerned about “some  of the problems of large-scale data gathering not based on any individualized  suspicion that someone is engaged in criminal activities.”

That concern is already playing out in terms of the other ways the  government collects  data on innocent Americans without a warrant.

But there is no indication how mandatory DNA collection will play out as  technology brings unprecedented challenges to interpreting the Fourth  Amendment’s right against unreasonable searches.

As Moser puts  it in the Recorder:

In the age of smartphones, GPS and  the prospect of ever cheaper ways to sequence an entire human genome, it’s no  small task to interpret the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable  searches and seizures.

On one hand, as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts points out, collecting DNA from individuals arrested for violent felonies “provides  a valuable tool for investigating unsolved crimes and thereby helping to remove  violent offenders from the general population.”

On the other hand, as First District Court of Appeal panel Justice  J. Anthony Kline stated when rejecting the notion that DNA collection is like  fingerprinting, “there is no doubt that an extraordinary amount of private  personal information can be extracted from the DNA samples and specimens seized  by the police without a warrant, collected and indefinitely retained by the  DOJ.”

Last month Roberts said that the nation’s highest court would  likely hear Maryland v. King, which would establish the controlling law  in the land on DNA collection.

Risher said it’s unknown how it will play out because DNA is  “one of those issues where judges vote in surprising ways” as they  value both “importance of robust prosecutorial and police powers” and  privacy protections of Americans.

 

Man Steals LAPD Cruiser, Crashes Into Starbucks, Loses His Legs

August 31, 2012

From www.usnews.nbcnews.com, August 31, 2012

A man who stole a police car in South Los Angeles and crashed it into a Starbucks coffee shop Friday has lost his legs, according to local media reports.

The 25-year-old suspect, who was the only person injured in the crash, was hospitalized in critical condition, according to NBCLosAngeles.com. He also lost both of his legs in the accident, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The crash occurred at about 4 a.m. near 1298 South La Brea Ave., police said. Aerial video provided by NBCLosAngeles.com showed vehicle wreckage and damage to the front of the Starbucks. A light pole and another vehicle also were wrecked, the Times reported.

“That was the most damage I’ve ever seen to a black-and-white police car in 24 years,” Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Smith told NBCLosAngeles.com. “That was an unbelievable scene of carnage. The engine was out, the transmission was in the road, and the hood was down street. The car was a complete and total wreck.”

Officials shut down La Brea Avenue near San Vicente Boulevard during the investigation.

The car was stolen as two officers were conducting an investigation at Adams Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, NBCLosAngeles.com reported. The officers left the keys in the police vehicle, according to police.

The suspect, who might have grand-theft auto charges, drove away at “high speed” in the cruiser, heading north on La Brea Avenue. Officers did not pursue him, police told NBCLosAngeles.com.

“We’re unsure why he took the car,” Smith told NBCLosAngeles.com. “Whether it was a joy ride or what. Apparently he saw the police car there, the keys were in it, and he made a bad choice.”

“Many officers leave their keys in the car so they can jump back in and get out of a situation quickly,” Smith told NBCLosAngeles.com.

NBC News’ Sevil Omer contributed to this report.

Appeal Again Denied for Man who Killed 2 CMPD Officers

August 31, 2012

From www.wcnc.com, August 30, 2012

Appeal again denied for man who killed 2 CMPD officers              Demeatrius Montgomery

The man who killed two Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers had his appeal denied in court again Thursday.

The state Supreme Court denied Demeatrius Montgomery’s appeal.

He’s serving life in prison for killing officers Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark at an east Charlotte apartment complex back in 2007.

Montgomery was arrested hours after their murders. Last year, a jury of 12 men and woman found him guilty of murder after weeks of testimony.

The death penalty was taken off the table in the case because one of the investigators burned his notes from the scene. He was later fired from the force.

Armed Customer Shoots Dollar Store Robber, Killing Him

August 30, 2012
By NBC News Staff, August 28, 2012

A Jacksonville, Fla., dollar store customer shot and killed a robber Monday night, ActionNewsJax.com reported.

According to the report, the customer — a 57-year-old grandfather — and two store employees were inside the Dollar General store Monday around 9 p.m. when two armed men entered the store with the intention to rob it.

“One of them had the clerk and one of them was at the front cash register,” Lt. Rob Schoonover of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office told Jacksonville.com.

The customer, who has a concealed weapon permit, shot and killed one of the intruders, FirstCoastNews.com reported.

“There was a citizen who had a concealed firearms permit that was inside  the  store as a customer,” Lt. Schoonover told WOKV.com. “He fired at the  suspect, striking  him and killing him.”

The man was found dead when police arrived at the scene. No charges are pending against the shooter, WOKV.com said.

“He’s always been a marksman,” the man’s wife told Jacksonville.com. “He shoots in competitions, but this is the first time he’s ever killed anyone and I don’t know how he’ll handle that.”

The second suspect fled the scene in a small SUV, FirstCoastNews.com reported. Police say the man is about 6 feet tall man and was wearing khaki pants, a blue bandana and black gloves, ActionNewsJax.com reported.

Man Accused of Threatening Judge in Song Lands 18 Months in Prison

August 30, 2012

By Melissa Knowles, Trending Now, August 29, 2012

It’s not shocking anymore to hear horror stories about people getting into trouble online using social media. A Tennessee man might have made one of the worst Internet gaffes we’ve seen in a long time, when he uploaded a video to YouTube of a song that prosecutors say threatened a judge.

In 2010, Franklin Delano Jeffries Jr., a 38-year-old Army veteran, uploaded “Daughter’s Love,” a song he’d written about loving his daughter and about his frustration over the custody battle with his daughter’s mother. In the song, Jeffries claims that the mother of his daughter is abusive toward her. The song, which runs nearly 6 minutes, sounds more like repeated threats against Knox County Chancellor Mike Moyers, the judge overseeing the custody battle, than a plea for help. Here’s an excerpt:

“I don’t care if I go to jail for 2,000 years, because this is my daughter we’re talking about. I’m not kidding at all. I’m making this video public. … Cause if I have to kill a judge or a lawyer or a woman, I don’t care. I’m getting tired of the abuse and the parent alienation. … Take my child, and I’ll take your life.”

After he finishes singing, Jeffries goes on a rant about equal visitation rights for parents. He says, “You don’t deserve to be a judge, and you don’t deserve to live … in my book. And you’re going to get some crazy guy like me after your ass.”

When prosecutors were made aware of the video, Jeffries was quickly charged and convicted of the federal crime of communicating threats and was sentenced to 18 months in jail. Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati upheld the conviction. Mike Harrell, a lawyer for Jeffries, says he believes his client was just venting his frustration, albeit with misguided humor, and he will fight the conviction.

The appeals court disagrees, saying the statute covered any threat whether it was made in person or through technology — new or old.

LAPD Commander Removed in Probe of Rough Arrest

August 30, 2012

From The Associated Press, August 30, 2012

A Los Angeles Police Department commanding officer has been removed amid an internal investigation into a videotaped beating in which officers tackled a handcuffed registered nurse to the ground, police Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday.

Beck said previously that he had “serious concerns” about the use of force against Michelle Jordan, 34, who was arrested in the Tujunga area on Aug. 21 after being stopped for talking on a cellphone while driving, police said.

Jordan got out of the car and cursed the two officers who stopped her, witnesses and Jordan’s husband told KNBC-TV.

Fast-food restaurant surveillance video obtained by the TV station (bit.ly/NVptHP ) showed officers taking her to the ground. After she is handcuffed and walked to a police car, the 5-foot-4 woman is tackled a second time by an officer who lands on top of her.

“She made some unwise moves,” her attorney, Sy Nazif, told the station. “But certainly nothing that warranted a physical assault from the LAPD.”

Photos show scrapes on Jordan’s face, shoulders and chest.

The officers involved in the incident have been removed from patrol duty until an LAPD investigation is complete. One is a 22-year veteran and the other is a probationary officer with 10 months on the force.

Beck said at a news conference Wednesday that Capt. Joseph Hitner of the department’s Foothill Division was “severely deficient in his response,” Beck said.

“Proper steps were not taken, including appropriate notifications and the removal of the involved officers from the field,” Beck said. “Because of these issues, I have removed him from his command and initiated downgrade procedures. Every Los Angeles police officer, regardless of rank, will be held accountable for their actions.”

Family, Friends of Chester, SC Man Accused of Killing Rapist: ‘Only Thing He is Guilty of is Loving His Family’

August 29, 2012

By Andrew Dys — Rock Hill Herald Columnist, August 28, 2012

CHESTER, SC —  Antwan White, accused of killing the alleged rapist of a family member, had Tuesday what will surely be the first of many court appearances on a murder charge that involves shotgun blasts to the chest and face.

Prosecutor Chris Taylor alleged White blew the head off of Michael Jermaine Terry, who allegedly had sexually assaulted a 16-year-old female relative of both men within an hour before the July 29 killing.

A judge gave White, 21 – who never had so much as a jaywalking ticket before this, who held a job and was raising a 2-year-old daughter – a $40,000 bond.

The description of the killing – the awful death that Taylor called “retaliation” for the rape that people in court and out said was just as awful – caused an elderly woman in the courtroom to openly gasp.

Dozens of family, friends, a lawyer and more were there to say what a good and decent young man White is. White, his lawyer and family say he did not commit the crime.

However, Taylor said a witness told police that the witness and White went out after the alleged rape without the witness knowing White’s intentions. That was when White, Taylor said, saw Terry walking in the road and shot him twice.

White, armed with a shotgun, Taylor said, “went in pursuit of Mr. Terry.”

White’s family and friends said Terry, with a criminal record that dates back his entire adult life, had what happened to him coming to him – no matter who did it.

“The only thing Antwan is guilty of is loving his family,” said Tiffaney Craine, a cousin, after court. “It may seem he has a motive … but I refuse to believe he is guilty.”

As to the rape allegations against Terry, whom Craine said she knows as well, she said, “It doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Laural Coleman said she spoke to White, her nephew, on the phone before court Tuesday morning.

“He just wants to go back to taking care of his family and his job,” Coleman said. “He’s a humble, nice young man.”

The rape of a family member – at this point still alleged as the investigation is not over – was a heinous crime that is “worse than murder,” said Sherry Fowler, a family friend whose daughter went to Lewisville High School with White.

Many supporters of White remain upset that he was even arrested in the first place for a crime against a man they believe had it coming.

“Whoever killed him was doing us a favor,” said Fowler.

Still, Terry never had a chance to go to court or talk to police or defend himself after he was accused of rape.

Tanya Crockett – Antwan White’s cousin and the mother of Terry’s son – said in court when looking at White: “He is presumed innocent.”

White gets court hearings where all are concerned about his rights and fairness. But Terry, Crockett said, had no day in court.

Legal experts have made it clear that criminal law does not allow taking the law into your own hands. Murder carries 30 years minimum, up to life in prison, if convicted.

Even if the victim, in the eyes of so many, may have had it coming to him.

Terry’s mother, Betty Mumford, said after court simply, “I want justice.”

The legal system will now figure out what is justice for Antwan White. It is up to police and prosecutors to prove White is guilty – if he is.

White is under no obligation to prove anything.

White’s lawyer, Arthur Gaston, has practiced in criminal court for decades. He has a huge following of family members and friends who believe in him and his innocence.

Aside from Terry’s mother, his son and his son’s mother, nobody appeared on his behalf in court Tuesday.

But prosecutor Taylor was also there to speak for the victim.

Taylor is the assistant solicitor, handling the bulk of the felony criminal cases in Chester County. If Michael Terry had been charged with rape after a police investigation, it would have been Taylor who would have prosecuted Terry.

But Michael Terry never went into any courtroom in handcuffs, surrounded by lawyers and supporters, as Antwan White did Tuesday, to face Taylor on the other side.

Terry was not backed by “presumed innocent” phrases that are in every law book in the history of America.

No, Terry was shot twice with a shotgun and died with gaping holes in his body under a summer moon before any cops and Taylor had a chance to do the job of convicting rapists that we pay them to do.

Woman Arrested For Tossing Drug-Filled Footballs Into Ohio Prison

August 28, 2012

From www.the postgame.com, August 27, 2012 by Robbie Levin

One Ohio woman was recently caught tossing up a loaded Hail Mary.

Janine A. Fulton was arrested and charged with illegal conveyance of drugs for allegedly throwing two Wilson footballs filled with pills, marijuana, cigarettes, cell phones and cell phone chargers over the fence and into the Richland Correctional Institution.

“I was surprised at the amount of contraband and drugs that can be put in a football,” said METRICH Commander Lt. Ken Coontz.

While Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. Mike Kemmer said this was the first time he had seen a football tossed into the prison, it’s not uncommon for objects to be thrown over the fence due to the large perimeter. Kemmer told the Bucyrus Telegraph Forum that authorities recover an estimated 90 percent of contraband before it gets into the correctional facility.

Fulton has a history with contraband in prisons. According to Coontz, Fulton used to work as a corrections officer but was fired for finding a prisoner with contraband and letting him keep it.

Coontz said two inmates may also face charges.