Posts Tagged ‘denver’

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.

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Cop murder spotlights crisis of killer aliens

February 19, 2009

Posted: September 28, 2006
9:18 pm Eastern

© 2009 WorldNetDaily.com

INVASION USA
No government agency tracks crimes by illegals, not even attacks on police

 


Officer Rodney Johnson

WASHINGTON – Charged with molesting a 12-year-old girl, Juan Leonardo Qunitero had been deported back to Mexico in 1999 as an illegal alien. Nevertheless, last week, he was back in the U.S., living comfortably in a city that prohibited police from asking anyone about their immigration status.

Rodney Johnson was a 12-year veteran on the Houston police force. Married with five children, he was big, kind-hearted and unafraid of working the toughest gang beats or late-night shifts.

On Thursday, Sept. 21, around 5:30 p.m., he pulled over a white Ford pickup driving 50 mph in a 30 mph zone in what should have been a routine traffic stop. The driver, Quintero, had neither a driver’s license nor any other identification so, after a pat down, Johnson handcuffed him and placed him in the back of his patrol car. But Johnson missed the gun in Quintero’s waistband. The prisoner pulled it out and fired four times at Johnson at close range.

When Johnson was laid to rest this week after his execution-style murder he joined a growing list of law enforcers gunned down by foreign criminals. Meanwhile, in Florida, a sheriff’s deputy was killed and another shot in the leg yesterday after they pursued a motorist who ran away from a traffic stop.

Deputy Vernon Matthew “Matt” Williams and his K-9 unit were shot dead, officials said. Deputy Doug Speirs was shot in the leg but was expected to recover. Polk County sheriff’s deputies early today said they shot and killed a suspect, described as a black man with a Jamaican accent with dreadlocks.

Though no government agency in the U.S. – not the FBI nor Immigration and Customs Enforcement – tracks violent crimes by illegal aliens, even murders of police officers, a search by WND of news reports in the last three years shows law enforcement personnel are hardly immune to deadly carnage wrought by untracked, undocumented armed predators inside the country.

Less than a year ago, Nov. 12, 2005, Dallas police officer Brian Jackson met the same fate.

It seems Juan Lizcano, an illegal alien who worked as a gardener, had a few too many drinks that Saturday evening before heading to the home of Marta Cruz, according to a witness who accompanied him.

Again, police responded early Sunday morning to a domestic disturbance call at Cruz’s home and were told that Lizcano had threatened his ex-girlfriend and fired a handgun inside the house. He was gone by the time officers arrived.

About 45 minutes later, officers were notified that Lizcano had returned to the home. Officers pursued him on foot as the suspect jumped over fences and ran through yards.

Officer Jackson died of a wound to his right underarm, near his protective vest, suffered in a gunfight with Lizcano. He and his wife, JoAnn, a respiratory therapist, had been married less than four months.

In Denver, Raul Gomez-Garcia, another illegal alien charged with shooting two police officers at a crowded party where both the gunmen’s wife and 2-year-old daughter were seated, was convicted last week.

Gomez-Garcia, 21, faced trial in Denver District Court for second-degree murder of Denver police officer Donald “Donnie” Young and attempted first-degree murder of Detective Jack Bishop. The two officers were shot in the back May 8, 2005, as they worked security at an invitation-only baptismal party.

The officers had turned Gomez-Garcia away from the party. He returned later, intent on shooting the two officers.

Gomez-Garcia has almost no education, is illiterate and explained to investigators that he had carried a loaded gun since he was 13 years old. He came to the United States when he was 8 and lived in south central Los Angeles.

Perhaps one of the most dramatic stories of a police officer being shot by an illegal alien is the case of shooting Arizona sheriff’s deputy Sean Pearce, an 11-year veteran of the force who served a search warrant Dec. 16, 2004, at a Mesa trailer home.

Hiding behind a Christmas tree inside was Jorge Luis Guerra Vargas, a 22-year-old illegal alien who opened fire on Pearce.

Ironically, at the time of the shooting, Pearce’s father, Russell, an Arizona legislator, was in Washington giving a speech about illegal immigration at the Brookings Institution when he got the message to call home. His wife, he knew, “wouldn’t be calling if it wasn’t important. It had to do with the children.” Pearce excused himself from the podium and found a phone to hear the tragic news.

A WND investigation of local news reports found dozens more cases of police officers slain by illegal aliens. They include:


Deputy Brandon Winfield

 

  • Deputy Brandon “Brandy” Winfield, 29, of the Marion County, Ohio, sheriff’s department, was murdered Oct. 17, 2004. Winfield was on routine patrol when he stopped to assist what he thought was a stranded motorist. Winfield later was found shot in the head in his vehicle, which had hit a guard rail and flipped into a ravine. Both of those charges in the crime were illegal aliens. 
  • Detective Hugo Arango, 24, of the Doroville, Ga., police department, was murdered May 13, 2000. Arango was shot and killed after having been flagged down by a club patron who indicated that some men had been breaking into cars outside of a nightclub. Detective Arango located three suspects and detained them. As he searched for weapons, Bautista Ramirez, an illegal alien from Mexico, shot Arango four times. The first shot took off one of his fingers, the second went through his thigh. As Arango lay on the ground helpless, Ramirez intentionally fired one round through Arango’s badge, and then executed him with a shot to his head that severed his brain stem. 
  • National Park Service ranger Kristopher “Kriss” Eggle, 28, was murdered Aug. 9, 2002. Ranger Eggle was shot and killed in the line of duty at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument while pursuing members of a drug cartel hit squad which fled into the U.S. after committing a string of murders in Mexico.

    Deputy Saul Gallegos

     

  • Deputy Saul Gallegos, 35, of the Chelan County, Wash., sheriff’s department was murdered June 26, 2003. Gallegos was shot and killed after stopping a vehicle in a routine traffic stop. Jose Sanchez-Guillen, 22, who had been deported three times to Mexico, was found guilty of aggravated first-degree murder.

    Deputy Sheriff David March

     

  • Deputy Sheriff David March, 33, of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department, was murdered April 29, 2002. March was on routine patrol when he made a traffic stop. The driver, Armando Garcia, shot March in the chest and the head – execution style. Garcia had been deported three times, had a long history of drug charges, violent crimes and weapons charges. The illegal alien from Mexico was already wanted for two attempted murders. 
  • Officer Tony Zeppetella, 27, of the Oceanside, Calif., police department, was murdered June 13, 2003. Zeppetella stopped Adrien George Camacho for a traffic violation. Camacho pulled out a gun and shot the officer. Camacho then pistol-whipped the injured officer before shooting him again, killing him with the officer’s own gun. Camacho is an illegal alien and gang member from Mexico with a criminal history that includes five previous felony convictions and several deportations. 
  • A Huntsville, Ala., police officer, Daniel Howard Golden, 27, was shot multiple times by Benito Albarran, 31, an illegal immigrant in August 2005.

While no government agencies specifically track crimes by illegal aliens, there have been some efforts to quantify the loss. Last December, Mac Johnson set out to investigate the number of homicides perpetrated by illegal aliens. Since the federal government would not provide any useful information, he contacted all 50 statehouses. Three months later, he had fewer than a dozen responses. Only one state, Vermont, provided any useful information.

He then set out to statistically estimate the number of murders by illegal aliens based on available crime data and conservative estimates of the actually number of illegal aliens in the country – which, of course, nobody really knows.

He found that between 1,806 and 2,510 people in the U.S. are murdered annually by illegal aliens. If he’s right, that would represent between 11 percent and 15 percent of all murders in the U.S.

In one study of a sample 55,000 illegal immigrants serving prison sentences in the U.S., it was discovered that they are responsible for over 400,000 arrests and over 700,000 felony crimes.

According to Heather McDonald of the Manhattan Institute, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens.

Court sides with police officers in search case

January 28, 2009

The Associated Press, Wednesday January 21, 2009

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police officers in Utah who searched a suspect’s home without a warrant cannot be sued for violating his constitutional rights.

In ruling unanimously for five officers attached to the Central Utah Narcotics Task Force, the court also abandoned a rigid, two-step test that it adopted in 2001 to guide judges in assessing alleged violations of constitutional rights.

Trial and appellate judges “should be permitted to exercise their sound discretion” in evaluating such claims, Justice Samuel Alito said in his opinion for the court.

Under the 2001 ruling, courts first had to determine whether an action amounts to a violation of a constitutional right and then decide whether the public official, often a police officer, should be immune from the civil lawsuit.

Officials can’t be held liable in situations where it is not clearly established that their actions violated someone’s constitutional rights.

The case grew out of a search of the home of Afton Callahan of Millard County, Utah, in 2002.

An informant contacted police to tell them he had arranged to purchase drugs from Callahan at Callahan’s trailer home.

Wearing a microphone provided by police, the informant entered the trailer and signaled police that a deal had been made. They entered the trailer without a warrant and arrested Callahan on charges of possession of methamphetamines.

Utah courts ruled that the evidence that was seized from Callahan’s home could not be used against him. Other courts have allowed prosecutions to go forward under similar circumstances.

Callahan later sued the officers for violating his constitutional rights. A federal judge ruled the officers could not be sued because there is disagreement in the courts over whether the search was illegal.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver said the lawsuit could proceed because the officers should have known that people have a right in their home to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The high court said Wednesday that the officers are entitled to immunity from Callahan’s suit.

The case is Pearson v. Callahan, 07-751.