Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sloppy Canadian police work leads to wrongful conviction -- ruins man's life

Gerald Barton is happy to have the court cases all behind him. "I feel good," he told the Courier by phone from Alberta this week. "It’s all behind me and I don’t have to think about any of this stuff no more. I’m one happy guy."

Barton, originally of Jordantown, was wrongfully convicted of statutory rape in 1970, when he was 19, and carried the label of sex offender until a paternity test in 2011 proved he wasn’t involved.

Barton was in civil court in Halifax last week seeking compensation from the RCMP and the provincial government. "They didn’t take the time, they didn’t investigate anything," Barton said of the investigating officers involved in 1970.

Court records show Barton served a few hours in jail and was sentenced to one year of probation for having sex with a female between the ages of 14 and 16.

The girl in the case had become pregnant and had accused Barton of violently raping her.

A statement supposedly from Barton and typed by then RCMP officer Earl Hamilton was entered into evidence in court last week, in which Barton admits to consensual sex with the girl.

Barton denies he made the statement. "They never talked to me, I never met the man," he said about Hamilton. "They just talked to the [girl’s family]. The Mounties did what they did, they wrote it, and they made me guilty."

Retired judge and then crown prosecutor Charles Haliburton however testified last week that Barton pled guilty. Haliburton found a note in some of his files concerning the preliminary hearing that indicates there was a guilty plea, but he testified there are no other documents about the trial.

Haliburton told the court that many Digby court files were lost about 15 years ago when files were moved to Halifax.

Barton, who now lives in Alberta, says the stigma of the conviction forced him to leave Digby.

"There was no work and I couldn’t get anything," he said. "Too many people pointing at me and pointing at the boy saying he was my child. No one would hire me. So I went and looked for a better life for me."

He said the stigma also kept him from applying for jobs that might require background checks.

"I couldn’t look for a job where they might look and if I had a job and they checked, all of a sudden I didn’t have a job no more," he said. "When people tell you you have too much experience for this job, what does that tell you?"

RCMP Corporal Brent Kelly reopened the case in 2008 based on a statement from one of the victim’s brothers. The victim herself admitted in 2008 that she had lied about Barton’s involvement.

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal cleared Barton in 2011 after a DNA test proved that the victim’s brother was in fact the father of the child.

"It was a great relief, cause I knew I never did anything," said Barton.

He’s thankful for Kelly’s work to clear him. "That’s a real honorable man to do all that," he said. "He took the time. The other officers didn’t take the time. They were just worried about closing the case."

Barton says he doesn’t hold anything against Digby. "Tell Digby I’m not mad at them," he said. "I love Digby. It was just the people that we’re around me back me then."

Since the conviction was overturned, Barton has been trying to get compensation.

Barton’s lawyer Dale Dunlop told a press conference in March that the civil case should never have gone to court considering the promises made by the Nova Scotia government after the Marshall inquiry.

Donald Marshall Jr. spent 11 years in jail for a murder he didn’t commit.

The 1989 inquiry into the Nova Scotia justice system recommended independent judicial inquiries should consider compensation in cases of wrongful conviction.

"The province responded to the damning conclusions of the Marshall inquiry by making a promise to all Nova Scotians, and the black and aboriginal communities, in particular, that it would adopt the recommendations as suggested," Dunlop told the press conference.

Dunlop told the court in closing arguments that $250,000 for the stigma and lost income is appropriate while a federal lawyer suggested $25,000 to $50,000 would be more appropriate.

The court is waiting for final written submissions due April 25 before considering a decision.

Original report here




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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Disgraced ex-cop defends his record in DA’s investigation

Disgraced former NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella insisted Wednesday he "did absolutely nothing wrong" in his homicide investigations — even as the Brooklyn DA revealed new information that could scuttle two more murder convictions of suspects he busted.

"I’ve been accused of crushing people’s testicles, beating people up, fabricating confessions and a multitude of other things," Scarcella, 62, told The Post Wednesday outside his Staten Island home.

"I would never let anything happen like that. You would have to be an animal and a devil to put a man away unjustifiably."

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson is reviewing 50 of Scarcella’s murder investigations from the 1980s and 1990s — since David Ranta was freed in March 2013 after wrongfully spending 23 years in prison, due to a coached witness, for the slaying of a rabbi.

The latest botched case involves two stepbrothers convicted of a 1985 homicide largely because of a drug- addled hooker "witness" that Scarcella had used to bolster several of his cases.

The DA’s Conviction Review Unit sent a letter to Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic that expressed doubt over the convictions.

The letter reveals that prosecutors were reluctant to make an arrest in the case without eyewitnesses — and that’s when Scarcella turned to Teresa Gomez, who has testified in five of his trials.

"Teresa Gomez told Detective Scarcella that she witnessed the shooting of Ronnie Durant and positively identified the defendants," the letter reads.

Gomez testified against stepbrothers Alvena Jennette and Darryl Austin, who were convicted in 1988 and sentenced to 18 years to life, the letter states.

Jennette stayed in prison until his 2007 release. Austin died behind bars.

The letter lists notes from another detective that could have proved the stepbrothers’ innocence and that may not have been turned over to their defense team.

The notes include witnesses that named another man as the killer.

Scarcella insists he is not to blame for any false convictions.

"How can an individual frame a man and send the wrong man to jail for X amount of years? I’ve said this a year ago and I’ll say it again now, you’d have to be a devil to do that," he said.

A crowd of more than 50 people protested at City Hall Wednesday urging DA Thompson to hurry his investigation into the tainted cases.

Original report here




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Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Shorter prison sentences for US drug offenders recommended

Up to 70 percent of all federal drug offenses could carry shorter prison sentences if the recommendation passed on Thursday by an agency that advises U.S. federal judges on sentencing is not opposed by Congress.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission's recommendation reflects a policy supported by the Obama administration to bring punishments for low-level drug offenders in line with the severity of their crime. Some Republicans in Congress say more lenient sentences would reverse the drop in crime the United States has seen over recent decades.

The commission unanimously recommended reducing the sentence dictated by the quantity of the drug by two levels, or an average of 11 months. For example, someone caught with 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of heroin would serve 51 to 63 months rather than 63 to 78 months.

Unless Congress votes to stop the amendment, it will go into effect on November 1. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he opposes lowering sentences.

The amendment would not reduce penalties for drug traffickers with the greatest drug quantities, and sentencing guidelines already take into account whether the drug offense was combined with violence or possession of a firearm.

"Quantity, while still an important proxy for seriousness, no longer needs to be quite as central to the calculation," said Sentencing Commission Chair Judge Patti Saris.

Attorney General Eric Holder recommended that the commission lower sentences for drug offenders as it falls in line with his philosophy of reducing spending on prisons and sentencing drug offenders more justly in accordance with their crime, two goals he has launched a review of the criminal justice system to address.

The Department of Justice estimates that the amendment would reduce the federal prison population by roughly 6,550 inmates over five years. In 2010, nearly half of 216,000 total federal inmates were serving time for drug-related crimes.

Testifying before the Sentencing Commission in January, Holder urged the group of seven to lower sentences based on drug quantities, telling them it would help "rein in federal prison spending while focusing limited resources on the most serious threats to public safety."

In drafting the amendment, the commission looked at the effects of a 2007 law lowering penalties for crack cocaine offenders. Their data showed that those offenders who served shorter time after the law passed were no more likely to return to federal prison than those who served longer sentences.

But critics say that reducing sentences would weaken the leverage of prosecutors.

Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association and former drug czar under President George W. Bush, said district attorneys will be weakened by lower sentencing at the federal level because they often use the threat of tough federal punishment as a tool to convince drug offenders who have witnessed larger crimes to cooperate.

"They can use the leverage of the threat of harsher punishment in order to solve murder cases and prosecute drug kingpins," Burns said.

Original report here




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Monday, April 14, 2014


Surprise, surprise

One thing that the FBI does really well is exonerate itself. As I wrote earlier, the bureau’s agents have shot 151 people over the course of the last two decades, killing more than half of them, yet in its own internal reviews, the FBI has exonerated those agents all 151 times — a perfect record of blamelessness that even some of the country’s most gun-happy police departments (even in Albuquerque, NM) can’t claim.

Now another internal review, not by the FBI but by the Office of Intelligence Committee, an obscure unit which supposedly internally "oversees" the work of 17 intelligence agencies including the FBI, has smiled on the FBI’s seemingly lackadaisical investigation of Boston Marathon bomber suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, saying that its Boston office agents did an okay job in checking him out after Russian intelligence warned the US back in 2011 that he had linked up with Islamic militants while on a visit to his family in Dagestan.

The New York Times, in a report on the inspector’s findings, quotes an unidentified "senior American official" as saying that the OIC investigation "found that the Russians did not provide all the information that they had on him back then, and that based on everything that was available at the time, the FBI did all that it could."

What that "everything" included was interviewing the elder Tsarnaev brother (now dead, killed in a hail of police bullets during a night-time chase following the Boston bombing last April), as well as his parents and friends at school. After that brief flurry of interviews, the bureau allegedly lost interest in Tsarnaev, concluding that he was more of a threat to Russia than to the US—an interesting turn of phrase that should suggest something else might have been afoot.

And indeed, there is something missing from that report that is troubling: namely news that the FBI also reportedly sought to enlist Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an informant during its 2011-12 investigation of his activities. If attorneys for Tamerlan’s younger brother Dzhokhar are correct, the FBI, after contacting and questioning the older brother, then at least attempted to pressure him to work for them by spying on the local Chechen community in Boston. It stands to reason they may have also been interested in having him work for the US against Russia, given the US’s long record of support for rebels in former Soviet republics like Chechnya and Dagestan who have been seeking to break away from Russia. Tsarnaev would have been vulnerable to such pressure, as he had been attempting to gain US citizenship, and because had certain assets that the FBI (and the CIA) wanted: knowledge of people in Dagestan and also fluency in Chechen and Russian (a Tsarnaev uncle was already reportedly working for the CIA, even for a time living in the home of, and married to the daughter of a ranking CIA official).

The FBI has denied that it ever signed up Tsarnaev, but that kind of denial has to be taken with not a grain but a whole shaker of salt. The whole Boston bombing story is full of bizarre aspects, such as the complete lack of similarity between the exploded backpack as displayed publicly by the FBI and the two backpacks that videos and stills show the Tsarnaev brothers to be carrying at the finish line of the race, and also the haste with with law enforcement sought to kill the seriously injured Dzhokhar when he was trapped and surrounded by heavily armed and armored police in a trailered fiberglass pleasure boat in Watertown, Mass. (A hail of over 100 bullets were fired at him through the boat’s hull, though he by that time posed no risk to the police, and had no chance of escaping.)

The OIC report claims that the FBI might have investigated Tamerlan Tsarnaev more thoroughly had Russian intelligence only given them more information, such as word that they had tapped calls between Tamerlan and his mother in which the two allegedly discussed jihadism. Supposedly that "crucial" information was only provided to the bureau by Russia after the Marathon bombing.

But really, are we supposed to believe, in this Patriot Act-era America, and at a time when we’ve learned that the National Security Agency has for years been collecting all phone calls made in the country and has the ability to recover any of them, including not just the meta-data but the actual conversations, that the FBI needed the Russians to tell them they had monitored an international call by Tsarnaev? And are we supposed to actually believe that the FBI needed harder evidence about Tsarnaev’s possible link to terrorism in order to monitor him? This is the same FBI, remember, that has been caught putting GPS trackers on the vehicles of peace activists in California, sending informants to monitor environmental protest organizations and animal rights groups, declaring Occupy groups to be "terrorists," and setting up vulnerable low-wattage losers to plot bogus terror attacks that the bureau can then step in and "prevent."

All of this should make us particularly curious about the FBI’s offing of Tamerlan Tsarnaev friend Ibragim Todashev (a "justified" killing according the the bureau’s internal investigation, as always), after an apparently brutal four-and-a-half-hour grilling in his Orlando apartment last May 22. That shooting, as I reported earlier, happened after one of the two FBI agents on the case had physically removed from the area a potential witness to the killing, Khusen Taramov, riding with him in his car to ensure that he was miles from the scene just half an hour before the deadly shooting was done.

The unarmed Todashev was shot three times in the upper middle of his back, once in the chest, two times in the front of his upper left arm and then once in the top of his head in what bears all the markings of an execution or rub-out His body also exhibited a major bruise on the left side of the head that included a contusion on the cheek at the outside of the left eye socket, which a coroner said was the result of a heavy blow of some kind.

With the younger Tsarnaev facing a capital murder and terrorism trial, why would the FBI have slain the person who best knew the older brother just before the bombing took place, unless it was to silence him? And what would they have been trying to silence him about? Could it have been knowledge that Tamerlan was working for the FBI at the time of the bombing?

One thing is for sure. We cannot rely on the FBI or the Justice Department or some intelligence agency "inspector general" to give us the truth about that or about the killing of Todashev.

Original report here




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Sunday, April 13, 2014

'A policeman can shoot a blind man in the back and get away with it?'

Fury of Taser attack victim as blundering officer who mistook his white stick for a samurai sword is let off with an order to APOLOGISE

A police officer who shot a blind man with a Taser when he mistook his white stick for a samurai sword will keep his job - and has only been asked to apologise to the man.

Colin Farmer, 64, was hit with the stun gun in Chorley, Lancashire, by PC Stuart Wright in 2012 as he walked to his local pub.

Mr Farmer, who thought he was suffering a stroke, was then handcuffed by the police constable - who was responding to reports of a man in the town centre with a sword.

Mr Farmer was not released until the arrival of another officer whom PC Wright told: 'I think I’ve got the wrong person.'

Lancashire Constabulary held a two-day disciplinary hearing following a recommendation from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) the officer had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

The meeting concluded PC Wright was not guilty of 'gross incompetence' - but should be issued with a performance improvement notice and that he be told to apologise personally to Mr Farmer.

Mr Farmer condemned the decision today. He said: 'This officer broke a rule, he should never have shot a blind man in the back from 6ft away. There was no urgency for him to pull the trigger -I could very easily have been dead.'

'The odds have not been in my favour. Since it happened I have been diagnosed with traumatic stress disorder because if what has been going on.

'Before it happened I had only been out of hospital five months after having a brain haemorrhage and stroke, my brain hadn't even had chance to recover and then this. Let's just say I'm happy that at least he won't be getting a promotion.

'He can live with his conscience, but I did nothing wrong, I'm the innocent victim. If he can shoot a blind man and get away with it what signal is that giving out to people.

'It wasn't a mistake, he pulled that trigger on purpose, he could have waited. I have lost faith in the police, I have had no justice. If it can get to this then god help anybody.

'These trigger happy police officers are killing people, if I had a pacemaker I would be dead by now. I don't want an apology because it's an insult to me. It seems like he has treated like a naughty schoolboy when I believe it was total negligence on his part.'

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was launched after the incident in October 2012.

It discovered the man was walking away from PC Wright at the time and posed no threat.

A report from the police watchdog found PC Wright failed to take reasonable steps to ascertain if Mr Farmer was carrying a sword before he discharged the Taser.

He had used a level of force that was 'unnecessary and disproportionate to the circumstances' and caused further distress to Mr Farmer by detaining him in handcuffs despite it being 'obvious' he had the wrong man, it added.

PC Wright also ignored instructions and radio transmissions about how to deal with the incident, and failed to comply with local and national guidelines on the use of Taser.

IPCC Commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said: 'Mr Farmer was subjected to what must have been a terrifying ordeal.

'Our view was that Pc Wright could and should have listened to instructions from his force controller and taken greater steps to ascertain whether Mr Farmer was the sword-carrying man that had been reported by members of the public and when he realised his mistake should have acted quicker to put things right.

'There is public concern about use of force, and, particularly, Taser. Incidents such as this do little to ease that concern.

'I hope that the personal apology to Mr Farmer allows the officer to reassure him that he will learn lessons from these events and that the improvement plan for the officer and measures taken by the force to improve its training and communications prevent further incidents such as this.'

In a statement, Lancashire Constabulary said: 'The officer was dealt with under Stage 3 of the Police (Performance) Regulations 2008 for Gross Incompetence by a panel made up of Assistant Chief Constable Tim Jacques, Chief Supt Richard Goodenough-Bayly and Mr Ashley Judd, the Constabulary’s Head of Human Resources.

'The panel found that the officer failed to perform his duties to a satisfactory standard on October 12, 2012, though his actions did not amount to gross incompetence.

'The officer will be issued with a Written Improvement Notice and be required to demonstrate specific performance improvements over a set timescale.

Additionally, the officer has expressed considerable regret over this incident and arrangements will be made for him to offer a personal apology to Mr Farmer.'

Mr Jacques added: 'First and foremost I would like to sincerely apologise to Mr Farmer on behalf of the Constabulary for what happened that evening and the resulting distress and anxiety he undoubtedly suffered.

'The officer made a dreadful mistake when he discharged his Taser, but was acting on a reasonable and honestly held belief that his actions were necessary to protect the public.

The officer did not perform his duties to a satisfactory standard but we did not feel that this amounted to gross incompetence.

'In addition to the findings relating to the individual officer this investigation has raised a number of issues for the constabulary to consider including the training given to officers carrying Taser."

Last year, Mr Farmer's lawyers said they had lodged a civil claim at the High Court for damages on grounds of assault and battery, false imprisonment and suffering inhumane and degrading treatment.

Last August the Crown Prosection Service said it would not take any criminal action against the officer as there was insufficent evidence to prove he had not been mistaken.

Original report here




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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pattern of Abuse

A youth under the care of the Department of Children and Families has been transferred to an adult prison with no criminal charge pending

OK, so, N.B.: this Connecticut youth is a 16 year old trans woman and, if confined to an adult prison, is at even higher than normal risk for suffering all kinds of extreme violence while imprisoned.

She is in any case being locked up in an adult prison without any formal charges ever having been filed against her. She is being sent to prison with no charges and no due process because DCF has a statute allowing it to put children in its "care" in prison on their own authority, without any charges at all, for the sake of "treatment" (!). This is considered an appropriate authorized measure.

They are asserting this power here because, although they are not filing any charges and have no intention of subjecting any of this to ordinary due process, they allege that this allegedly fought a guard. She allegedly fought a guard because two of the domming guards ganged up and grabbed her and tried to "bear hug" immobilize her to keep her from walking away to somewhere she wanted to go.

The guard wanted to stop her from walking freely away because she is an inmate confined in a DCF juvie-prison "locked-treatment" "training school," which she is forcibly forbidden to leave.

She is an inmate of a DCF juvie-prison "locked treatment" "training school" because DCF has asserted custody over her, or, as the youth’s "defenders" put it, thinking they are helping, "DCF is this youth’s parent" (the Corps is mother, the Corps is father), and as such, they claim, they are "obligated" (!) to lock her up in the name of "programming and treatment."

DCF took custody, locked her up and started forcing this "treatment" on her without her permission and against her will, because they were going to save her from being "a victim of serious, longstanding abuse."

So, you know, good job on that so far, y’all, I’ll bet prison will really help.

In case you were wondering this story is like everything I hate about the liberal state, rolled into one dystopian package and labeled helpfully FOR HER OWN GOOD.

Original report here




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Friday, April 11, 2014


UK man wins 16-yr legal battle over laptop

IT started with an unwanted laptop, and it ended in Britain's Supreme Court.

A Scottish man on Wednesday won a 16-year court battle sparked by a wrangle over a loan he'd taken out to buy a computer.

Oil worker Richard Durkin bought a laptop from a store in the Scottish city of Aberdeen in 1998, using a credit agreement with lender HFC Bank for about STG1,500.

He returned the computer the next day because it lacked an internal modem, and tried to cancel the credit deal.

The bank said he couldn't, and after he refused to pay, declared he had defaulted.

Durkin said the bad credit rating meant he was unable to buy a house.

He took legal action, and in 2008 - a decade after the purchase - a court awarded him more than STG100,000 pounds.

That decision was overturned by appeals judges, and case eventually wound its way to the Supreme Court.

The saga ended on Wednesday when five Supreme Court justices ruled that Durkin had "validly rescinded the credit agreement" and awarded him STG8,000 ($A14,500)in damages, a fraction of his initial award.

Durkin said he had mixed feelings about the judgment.

"I'm glad that I've helped the greater good with a consumer victory," he said.

But, he added, the long legal campaign meant "I've got myself into a lot of debt, basically." Durkin estimated he'd spent STG250,000 ($A453,300) on the case.

Original report here




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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Innocent black man  freed after 25 years in jail

A New York man convicted of murder despite being at Walt Disney World in Florida at the time of the crime has walked free after serving 25 years in jail.

Jonathan Fleming, 51, had lost several appeals against his conviction for the 1989 murder of Darryl "Black" Rush but was finally freed as part of a wider review of unsafe prosecutions. A hotel receipt proved he was 1700 km away in Florida five hours before the killing, and police there had sent a letter confirming that hotel staff remembered him paying.

But prosecutors said the evidence - including a video showing that Mr Fleming was in Orlando with his mother on the day of the murder - was not conclusive, claiming he could have flown from Florida in time to commit the crime. They argued that the shooting, which took place in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, was motivated by a dispute over money.

A key witness to the crime, who placed Mr Fleming at the scene, recanted their testimony soon after his 1990 conviction, but he was not freed for more than two more decades.

Moments after his case was dismissed, Mr Fleming said: "I feel wonderful. I've always had faith. I knew that this day would come."

His mother Patricia, 72, who always maintained his innocence, shouted: "After 25 years come hug your mother." The two then embraced.

During the review of the case, lawyers discovered that prosecutors had failed to provide the defence with a hotel receipt and police letter, in apparent contravention of rules governing disclosure. Brooklyn's district attorney Kenneth Thompson said he had dropped the case because of "key alibi facts that place Fleming in Florida at the time of the murder".

The conviction came under the controversial watch of former district attorney Charles Hynes, who allegedly oversaw a number of questionable convictions.

Asked what he planned to do next, Mr Fleming said: "I'm going to go eat dinner with my mother and my family, and I'm going to live the rest of my life."

His alibi was simple: He was in Orlando at the time of the shooting, on a family trip to Walt Disney World.

During the trial, a woman who said she was an eyewitness, Jacqueline Belardo, identified Mr Fleming as the killer. Though she recanted what she said before sentencing, saying she had identified Mr Fleming in exchange for a dismissal of grand larceny charges against her, the prosecution contended that Ms Belardo was lying, according to the document.

In June 2013, the Conviction Integrity Unit began examining Mr Fleming's conviction after investigators and lawyers for Mr Fleming brought it the new witness statements. In November, the Unit turned over to the defence police logs that it had come across during its look at the case. The logs showed that Ms Belardo, the purported eyewitness, had been brought in after being found in a stolen van and charged with grand larceny. After several hours of questioning, she pointed to Mr Fleming as the killer, according to the defence document.

A little over an hour later, her charges were voided and she was released. Ms Belardo still stands by her recantation, according to the document.

The Conviction Integrity Unit also turned over the phone receipt. At 9.27pm on August 14, 1989, Mr Fleming had paid a phone bill at the Orlando Quality Inn, making it unlikely he could have made it back to Brooklyn in time for the 2.15am shooting on August 15. But the receipt was not a part of trial evidence. One of Mr Fleming's lawyers Tayol Koss said at Tuesday's hearing that Mr Fleming had asked about the receipt at the time of the trial and that a detective at the trial was questioned about the receipt and said he did not recall recovering it. Investigators found the receipt in the case file last year.

Other new evidence was a report from the Orlando Police Department, which had looked into Mr Fleming's alibi at the New York Police Department's request. The Orlando police interviewed Quality Inn staff members who remembered Mr Fleming. At the trial, the only witnesses to vouch for Fleming's presence in Orlando were family members.

It was the new documentary evidence that was most compelling in this case, said assistant district attorney, Mark Hale, specifically the receipt and the Orlando Police Department's letter. "We, in looking at the evidence, do not believe we have the present ability to retry the defendant. Nor will the office be able to retry him in the future," Hale said.

As part of their investigation, the defence and prosecutors then reinterviewed witnesses to the murder, and their accounts pointed to a different suspect.

"They're bringing my baby home," said Mr Fleming's mother. . An innocent man "did all this time", she said. "It was hard on him and it was hard on me."

Original report here




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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Cop Charged in Death of 95-Year-Old Nursing Home Resident

Death warrants only a minor charge?

The events leading up to John Wrana's death read more like the treatment for a zany cop comedy than the makings of a real life tragedy. Cook County, Illinois, police were called to Wrana's nursing home last year when the 95-year-old World War II veteran resisted being taken to the hospital. When then cops arrived, Wrana was brandishing his cane and a shoehorn as weapons.

That's when things turned surreal and tragic. Wrana picked up a kitchen knife, which officers ordered him to put down. Any reasonable person would know better than to use much physical force on an extremely elderly man defending himself with a shoehorn and a kitchen knife. But Officer Craig Taylor—who later said he thought the shoehorn was a machete—responded by shocking Wrana with a stun gun and pelting him with five rounds of bean bags fired from a shotgun.

Taylor's totally unreasonable and inappropriate use of force caused Wrana internal bleeding, from which he later died.

Prosecutors said Taylor fired the beanbag rounds from somewhere between six and eight feet away, when the proper distance is 15 feet away at minimum. He also refused to allow nursing home staff to help, according to Wrana's family's attorney.

"Given the other viable options to resolve the matter and the number of shots fired at this senior citizen at close range in rapid succession, we believe this officer’s conduct to be reckless," Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez said in a statement.

Taylor was charged this morning with one count of reckless conduct, a Class 4 felony which would yield a maximum of three years in prison.

Original report here




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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Hispanic Sheriff's deputy convicted of rape sentenced to 9 years in prison

She was driven to a dark road in the desert in the back of patrol car. The sheriff's deputy parked in a secluded spot in Palmdale and told her to walk to the front of the car.

It was there, the woman said Friday in court, that the L.A. County deputy raped her and changed her life forever.

"You essentially murdered a part of me and I'll never be able to get it back," the victim tearfully said as she stared at her attacker, Jose Rigoberto Sanchez. "A police officer is supposed to serve and protect. I had nowhere to run because the one who I should have been able to run to for help was the one harming me."

Following the woman's statement, Sanchez, who pleaded no contest to one count of rape while under the color of authority and one count of soliciting a bribe, was sentenced to nine years in state prison. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Terry A. Bork also ordered Sanchez to register with the state as a sex offender.

The woman said she believed Sanchez, 29, deserved "far more" time behind bars. The Times generally does not name victims of sexual assaults.

According to a probation report released Friday, Sanchez spotted the then-24-year-old woman at a gas station in Palmdale on Sept. 22, 2010. He ran her license plate and discovered she had an outstanding arrest warrant, the report states.

Sanchez followed her car for a while and then pulled her over. She acknowledged to Sanchez that she had been drinking, according to the document, which was based on police reports and interviews.

After conducting a Breathalyzer test, Sanchez said she was over the legal limit, the report states. He told her she was "hot" and asked what she would do to avoid arrest before telling her to lock her car with her cell phone and purse inside the vehicle. He then placed her in the back of his patrol car without handcuffing her, the report says.

Sanchez drove the woman out to the desert, raped her against the hood of the patrol car, then drove her back to her car, the probation report says. He followed her home and asked for her phone number to "mess around" again, the report states. Out of fear, the woman told authorities she gave him her number.

Prosecutors say that two nights later Sanchez, a seven-year veteran of the sheriff's department, pulled over a 36-year-old woman for investigation of driving under the influence and solicited a bribe in the form of sexual activity. With the help of a friend the woman refused, the report states.

On Friday, Sanchez, who was shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, was stoic. He mostly looked down at the defense table as his first victim berated him.

"I know that at some point you will get out of your prison, but me? I am stuck in mine for the rest of my life," she said, adding that she had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the assault.

She said she lived in fear during the three years the crime was under investigation and he was not in custody.

The woman filed a civil lawsuit against Sanchez, the county and the Sheriff's Department in November 2011. The case is pending.

Original report here




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Monday, April 07, 2014

'He was abused by a police officer': One woman's 25-year battle to bring her son's attacker to justice

As a teenager in the 1980s, Maureen Jenkins’s son Russel was sexually abused by a police officer. The officer’s colleagues refused to arrest him, despite complaints from other children.

Here, Maureen talks for the first time about her family’s 25-year battle to bring her son’s abuser to justice

At the age of 46, Maureen Jenkins, an ordinary wife and mother from Devon, decided to leave her unhappy marriage and sail 3,000 miles across the Atlantic single-handed, defying the disbelief of alarmed friends and relatives – she was only a novice sailor. Mo Jenkins subsequently wrote a book about her epic voyage in the 1990s and is now a popular inspirational speaker. But she has never been able to reveal the real reason behind her drive, until now.

The sad secret that Mo had kept private for so many years was that her son Russel Dawson had been sexually abused as a young teenager. As if that weren’t painful enough, the man who abused him was a serving police officer, a man admired and respected in her home town of Barnstaple. His colleagues refused to arrest him, and made her beloved son feel so worthless that he suffered a total breakdown in his late teens.

Last November, more than a quarter of a century later, former policeman Danny Bryant, 65, was finally jailed. He admitted sexually abusing Mo’s son and four other children, and was jailed for six and a half years.

It was only as a result of repeated efforts by Russel that police reopened investigations into Bryant and traced his other victims. After the trial, Russel, now 45, bravely waived his anonymity in order to campaign for an inquiry into why it took police so long to arrest their former colleague. It was at this point that I met Russel – and in the course of our interview he told me I should meet his mum: ‘I couldn’t have put Bryant behind bars without her; she healed us both. She’s such a strong, independent woman.’ Then, to my astonishment, he casually added that she was a trans-Atlantic solo sailor.

I visited Mo, now 68, on the cosy yacht where she lives with her second husband, Paul Fay, on the east coast of England. Tiny at just 5ft 1in, warm and motherly as she rustles up home-made soup, she has an endearing humility about her achievements. She laughs off the hardships of her voyage. ‘It liberated me. Sailing across an ocean was easy compared to my life before.’

So many people helped her achieve her dream, she says, including Paul, who built her boat. During the two years it took him to do this, he secretly fell for Mo – and she for him – and shortly before she sailed for America they each confessed their love. They married in 2001.

Mo was just 20 and pregnant with Colin, the eldest of her two sons, when she married her first husband, and she knew almost immediately that it was a mistake. But she loved motherhood and ‘knuckled under’ for the children’s sake, determined to be a good, dutiful wife. She and her husband built a successful vehicle-hire company and, from the outside, her life looked good. But, although she hid it, she was deeply unhappy.

Sitting next to the boat’s wood-burning stove, she recounts the painful events that she omitted from her book. She is close to both her sons, but they are ‘chalk and cheese’. Colin, who became a scientist, was confident, cheerful and an academic high-flyer from an early age. Russel, 18 months younger, was sensitive, artistic and did well at school until his early teens, when he began to struggle with schoolwork and relationships. She now knows why. From the age of 13, for nearly two years, Russel was abused by Bryant, who ran a surf life-saving club for local youngsters.

Mo encouraged both her sons to be active. Colin joined the air cadets and Russel at first loved Bryant’s club: ‘Surf life-saving seemed a great sport, useful and exciting, and Russel and the other boys and parents all really looked up to Danny Bryant.’ The policeman was charismatic, fun, a great teacher and, as team captain, Bryant led the boys in competitions around the country. But, unbeknownst to Mo, on these trips away, Bryant began secretly abusing Russel.

Like numerous child-abuse victims, Russel didn’t tell anyone: he felt silenced by bewilderment, shame and horror. This was the early 1980s, when no one talked about abuse or realised that it was widespread. Also, everyone Russel knew admired the policeman, who was soon after awarded a British Empire Medal for his youth work. Russel said, ‘I didn’t feel anyone would believe me.’

Like many victims, Russel tried mentally to blank out what was happening. He became reluctant to attend the club, but Mo encouraged him to continue going, ‘because,’ she says, ‘he’d loved it at first. But that’s when the abuse took place. Now I feel so guilty that I put him in the path of danger. What you want most for your children is to protect them – and I failed him. I never thought my son was in danger – he was with a policeman! And Danny Bryant was married, a father. I used to worry about my boy getting cold, and the sea’s dangers. But I couldn’t conceive of him being abused.’

Finally Russel cracked and quit the club. He became a dreamer and started doing badly at school. Mo worried about him but he wasn’t obviously depressed or using drugs: ‘just under-achieving, like a lot of youngsters’.

Then in 1988, when he was 19, Russel finally told his mother about the abuse. ‘He was so brave. He had heard about another boy who had been abused by Bryant so he felt that now he would be believed. He said he wanted to report it to the police to protect other children. I was devastated for him, but so proud of his courage.’

But at the police station, one officer said he was a friend of Bryant’s and no one would take a statement. When Mo protested, the police reaction was disturbing. ‘One officer said, "I can see where he gets his looks from – he’s beautiful." Russel is lovely looking, but [their attitude] was as if he had brought the abuse upon himself. The police had no idea how horrendous it had been for him. Then we had a letter saying there wasn’t enough evidence. They washed their hands of it.’

Outraged, Mo initiated a private prosecution. Within days, an officer visited their home, uninvited. ‘He said they would investigate Russel in depth and rip him apart in court and any dirt they found would be printed in the newspapers. Russel was too intimidated to continue.’

The family believe that police eventually realised that at least three children were abused by Bryant. ‘Russel felt the police protected Bryant because he was a serving police officer,’ says Mo, ‘and it made him feel so small and worthless. My good, gentle, kind son only notified police to stop this happening to another child. When no good resulted, he started taking drugs to escape the painful flashbacks and had a total breakdown.’

One day he rang Mo from a music festival in great distress, crying and saying, ‘Mum, I don’t know who I am’. She raced to take him to hospital. ‘He was banging on doors, begging for a doctor to help him. People say I’m brave for sailing oceans,’ she says, ‘but nothing compares to that time. Not feeling believed was a big injury for him. Mums are supposed to make things better, so it is terrible to watch your beautiful son torn apart and feeling powerless.’

Russel subsequently spent several months in a mental hospital while Mo battled with psychiatrists to get the right treatment for him. ‘At one point they told me he’d be in an institution for life.’ But gradually he stabilised and was able to come off the drugs and come home.

Then in 1993, the local paper reported that Bryant had been suspended after yet another child abuse allegation. Mo rang the police three times. ‘I said we’d help however we could. But no one would even talk to me.’ Soon after, mysteriously, the child’s family dropped the complaint, and Bryant took early retirement, aged 44, on medical grounds. He eventually set up a life-saving training company.

The police inaction reignited Mo’s anger and pain. ‘But I realised that if you let the hardships in life destroy you, there is no point living. That’s when sailing saved me, because at sea you have to focus completely. Russel often sailed with me and it helped him hugely too.’

In 2011, Russel contacted police one more time about Danny Bryant. Yet again the police told Russel there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. Then, in 2012, his stepfather Paul heard a local senior police officer on the radio assuring people that the police now took abuse allegations more seriously so he contacted the police once more, and the family engaged a solicitor. Paul – a former firefighter and trade union activist – also sent a list of questions, information and complaints to the police. In early 2013, a new police investigation finally began: Bryant was charged with offences against five children, dating back as far as the 1960s, and admitted his guilt.

Devon and Cornwall police say the first complaints about Bryant were ‘robustly investigated’ and his eventual prosecution resulted from different information. However, they are now investigating their conduct in the earlier inquiries, supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, but the family want an independent inquiry. Mo says, ‘Why wasn’t there enough evidence in 1988, 1993 or 2011, but suddenly enough in 2013? The police do a very hard job but one bad apple like Bryant taints everyone.’

The judge read out Russel’s victim impact statement at the trial. ‘It was awful to hear how hard it was for him to spend a quarter of a century not being believed,’ says Mo. ‘Russel will never get back the years he lost. But I am so proud of him, how brave and good he is [he is now working and happily married]. The strength of the human spirit is amazing, what you can endure and still carry on. I never doubted that one day we would have justice if we just kept at it.’

But Mo has shown equal courage – both in supporting Russel and in her lonely battle with the sea. I understand now why Russel said of her, ‘She’s not just my mum, she’s my heroine.’

Original report here




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Sunday, April 06, 2014


Scottish cop facing jail for throwing glass at a wedding guest splitting his eyeball in two leaving him blind in one eye

A police officer split a man's eyeball in two leaving him blind in one eye after hurling a glass in his face when a brawl broke out a wedding.

Constable Christopher Kelly, 28, smashed a tumbler into Michael Ijomanta's face causing two shards of glass to become lodged in his eye, and cuts all over his face.

The PC, who is based in south Glasgow, admitted attacking Mr Ijomanta when a fight broke out at the Crutherland House Hotel in East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

Kelly, of Cambuslang, was one of 80 evening guests asked to the reception but ended the night on the other side of the cell door after detectives arrested him when called to reports of a disturbance.

On Friday, Kelly appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court where he was smuggled into the court through a back door, before pleading guilty.

Mr Ijomanta, 34, who travelled from Northamptonshire for his cousin's wedding, was left blind in one eye and disfigured as a result of the horrific injury.

Prosecutor Natalie Henderson told the court Mr Ijomanta had been on the dance floor when an argument broke out shortly after midnight. She said: 'The argument became more heated and a scuffle broke out. 'The complainer made his way to the circle as he was concerned for the safety of his mother and family.

'There was a lot of pushing and shoving and the accused felt himself being pushed. 'The accused had a glass tumbler in his hand and as a result he turned and threw the tumbler in the direction he thought he had been pushed from.

'The glass went directly into the face of the complainer who was standing three feet away. 'The glass shattered on impact and the complainer fell to the ground screaming and holding his face.'

Paramedics were called and Mr Ijomanta was taken to Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride. There, doctors discovered two pieces of glass stuck in his eye, and treated cuts to his forehead, cheek and nose.

Ms Henderson added: 'His eye had two pieces of glass in it and the eyeball was almost split in two. 'A surgeon who has been working for 16 years described the injuries as one of the worst he had ever seen.

'The accused was later interviewed and then charged where he made no comment.' PC Kelly, based in Glasgow's south side, was held in custody overnight by detectives.

The court heard he had been allowed to work despite the charges he faced.

Sheriff Shiona Waldron deferred sentence until next month and called for the probation service to compile reports.

She warned Kelly, who has served as an officer for nearly four years, he faces jail but granted him bail. She added: 'You should be in no doubt what the likely outcome of this will be.'

Mr Ijomanta declined to comment outside court.

Original report here




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Saturday, April 05, 2014

Australia: CCTV catches cops out

Video at link

THIS is the video ex-football star Campbell Brown says shows he copped a "coathanger" from Gold Coast police.

Brown says the CCTV footage proves officers were out of bounds when they arrested him at a Broadbeach nightclub earlier this year.

Police last week dropped charges of obstructing police and attempting to force his way back into East nightclub during a night of celebrations after his horse Sweet Idea won the Magic Millions Trophy race in January.

Police initially claimed the former Gold Coast Suns player had shoulder-charged them.

But Brown has accused police of fabricating charges against him. "Police basically made up a story,’’ he told News Corp Australia last week.

"We caught them out by getting the CCTV footage of what actually happened. To be brutally honest, that was an absolute disgrace. They (police) had to throw out the case in embarrassment.’’

A police statement of facts, obtained by The Courier-Mail, alleges Brown was refused entry to East, where he had been drinking with friends, but was argumentative and refused to leave.

But his lawyer, Chris Nyst, said the CCTV footage showed "quite clearly that the incident did not occur in the way asserted by police".

Mr Nyst said the footage showed Brown apparently waiting peacefully outside the nightclub while a friend went inside to retrieve the ex-footballer’s credit card.

It then shows Brown later being led down an alleyway by police, thrown to the ground and handcuffed after his friend becomes agitated.

"Once I had the opportunity to review the footage, it was immediately apparent to me it did not support the police version of events,’’ Mr Nyst said.

"I brought that footage to the attention of the chief prosecutor, whereupon he promptly — and in my view very sensibly — agreed to discontinue the prosecution.’’

Mr Nyst said police claims they withdrew the charges because of a lack of clarity in the footage "are simply not correct".

"This case is a good example of why people should not prejudge such matters,’’ he said. "Brown copped a lot of sledging from people who knew nothing about the charges. We have a presumption of innocence, and this is a timely reminder of what good sense that makes.’’

Brown was sacked by the Suns after breaking teammate Steven May’s jaw on a pre-season trip to the US last November.

Original report here


Note: A coathanger is a dangerous high tackle in Australian rules football, Rugby League, and Rugby Union. It occurs when a running player is stopped by an arm to the chest or neck and usually gets knocked backward onto their back. ...



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Friday, April 04, 2014

Albuquerque pushes back against its rogue police

Hundreds of protesters blocked traffic, trying to get on freeways and shouting out anti-police slogans. They trapped police in a vehicle and tried to break the windows. Gas canisters were thrown outside police headquarters and Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies charged at demonstrators to disperse the crowd.

That was the scene in Albuquerque described late Sunday night by news reports. It was unfortunate but characteristic of riots.

What wasn’t so typical was the work of "hacktivists" who reportedly sparked the protests, participating on the other side of the mayhem and teargas.

Protesters are angry over the police’s involvement in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal, since 2010. They marched the 2 miles from downtown Albuquerque to the University of New Mexico, holding signs protesting the recent shootings, particularly the killing of a homeless man in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on the east side of Albuquerque. Helmet-camera footage of the incident was posted on YouTube earlier this week and went viral, igniting national and international outrage.

In response, a video, identified with the logo of the computer "hacktivist" group Anonymous, popped up on YouTube threatening to launch a cyberattack on the city’s websites. It also urged residents to "occupy" police headquarters.

Albuquerque Police Department deactivated its Facebook and Twitter accounts — to which the Twitter page of Anonymous Operations, claiming to represent the group, tweeted:

A "distributed denial of service" attack would not affect the city’s Facebook or Twitter accounts. It involves thousands of simultaneous attempts to access a single website, which overloads the server and shuts it down. It’s a technique often used on the Internet to target the systems of corporations.

Albuquerque police said their website was breached early Sunday afternoon and police spokesman Simon Drobik confirmed it was due to a cyberattack. The website was visible again late Sunday afternoon, according to news reports.

The FBI opened an investigation into the fatal shooting of James M. Boyd, the homeless man likely suffering from mental illness, after a standoff on March 16 in Albuquerque.

Then last week, police fatally shot a man outside a public housing complex reportedly after he first fired at officers. The family of the man said he was not armed.

The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating the department for more than a year, looking into complaints of civil rights violations and allegations of excessive use of force.

The 2012 announcement stated in part:

"Through the investigation the department will seek to determine whether APD engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force in violation of the constitution and federal law. The investigation will include a comprehensive review of the police department’s policies, training and systems of accountability. The investigation will also examine the police department’s engagement with the community and external oversight of officer-involved shootings and other force incidents."

Department officials met with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and the police chief, Ray Schultz, who promised full cooperation with the investigation, the statement said.

Original report here




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