Friday, August 01, 2014

Man Shot, Paralyzed Over 31 Unpaid Parking Tickets

A man was shot Thursday morning in Lehigh County when a Pennsylvania State Constable tried to serve him with a warrant over unpaid parking tickets.

The constable told the district attorney he felt his life was in danger as he tried to serve 38-year-old Kevin McCullers

McCullers, who had 31 outstanding parking tickets, was shot as he tried to back out of his driveway along the 3400 block of Portland Drive in Whitehall Township around 7:30 a.m. Thursday. His girlfriend says McCullers was on his way to Dunkin' Donuts and was surprised by the constable.

"They never knocked on the door. No, nothing. I just heard the gunshots. He pulled the car out of the garage and all I heard were gunshots," said Hafeezah Muhammad, who added that McCullers, who was hit in the back, may not walk again. "For parking tickets? It's insane."

Whitehall Township Mayor Ed Hozza Jr. said McCullers was shot after he allegedly tried to run over the constable.

Muhammad said she recognized the constable, who was accompanied by another man, from his previous attempt to serve the shooting victim with a warrant for unpaid tickets.

District Attorney Jim Martin said the shooting could have been avoided if McCullers had entered into a payment plan, but also raised concerns about the training for elected constables in Pennsylvania.

"Although they receive training, they really operate under no one's direct supervision," Martin said. "And that I wish was something that could be cured."

Original report here




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Thursday, July 31, 2014


Md.: Detective from Eastampton found not guilty in road-rage shooting

Detective Walker

An Eastampton man who is a police officer in Hudson County was acquitted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the shooting of a driver during a case of road rage in Maryland.

Jurors in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court also found Joseph Walker not guilty of all other charges, including second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and firearms offenses.

Walker, 41, a detective with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, was arrested after fatally shooting Joseph Harvey, of Lansdowne, on June 8, 2013, in Annapolis. He would have faced life in prison if convicted of the first-degree murder charge.

Walker declined to comment after the verdict, and no one answered the door at his home Wednesday afternoon.

The Capital Gazette of Annapolis reported that Charles Curlett Jr., one of Walker’s lawyers, said after the verdict, "We are extremely pleased that the jury was able to see this for what it was — a father who was forced to defend his family, including his wife and his children, who were under attack on the side of the road."

"The prosecution’s theory of the case that this was an act of murder, that this was motivated by aggression and anger, is simply wrong," Curlett said.

State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said she was disappointed by the verdict and stood by the allegations. She said Walker had options, such as calling 911 or driving away, instead of fatally shooting Harvey.

"It was a well-fought case, it was an excellent case, but at the end of the day, I am concerned that Mr. Walker, as a law enforcement officer, is a very aggressive person," the Capital Gazette reported Leitess said. "In this case, he had many, many options."

The case drew national attention as well as action by the National Police Defense Foundation, which applauded the verdict and said it would ask the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

The jury deliberated for about six hours over two days in the trial, which began July 22.

According to testimony, Walker was driving his family home from Odenton when his van drifted into Harvey’s lane on Route 175.

Walker testified that Harvey forced his van onto a shoulder, and the two drivers got out of their vehicles, about 50 yards apart. Walker said when Harvey and a passenger in Harvey’s vehicle approached him, he showed his badge and told the men to stop.

Walker said that the men continued walking toward him and that he pulled his gun and warned them to stop, but they did not.

Walker testified that he shot Harvey once, turned to the passenger, who had stopped walking, then turned back to Harvey, who he said continued to move toward him, and shot him two more times.

Harvey died at a hospital.

Walker is an 18-year police veteran and the father of three children, according to neighbors and the National Police Defense Foundation. He was suspended after the incident. It was not immediately clear if he had been reinstated following the verdict.

A spokesman for the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office did not return phone calls requesting comment Wednesday about the verdict and Walker’s employment status.

The Capital Gazette reported that Leitess said the State’s Attorney’s Office is aware of two similar incidents of alleged aggressive behavior by Walker in New Jersey, including an incident in which he got into a confrontation with a neighbor and used his badge and authority to argue and threaten her.

The newspaper reported that Leitess said the other incident involved a man who told her office that Walker approached him and displayed a weapon, threatening and frightening him.

Residents interviewed in Walker’s Eastampton neighborhood said they were happy for him and his family and believed the jury delivered a just verdict.

"I think it never should have gone to trial," resident Ronald Brown said. "I think that thing should never have made it past grand jury."

Other residents described Walker as a nice family man who was helpful to friends and neighbors.

"Joe’s a personal friend of mine, and I’m glad he was found not guilty," said George Dick, adding that he didn’t known what to expect from the jury trial. "I’m just happy for Joe," he said.

Original report here




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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pa. Cops Beat Up 17-Year-Old Girl Caught Out After Curfew

17-year-old girl in Clairton, Pennsylvania says she was brutally beaten by cops after getting caught outside after curfew. Merceedez Wright says she and her friends were walking home from an ice cream parlor just a few minutes after the 10p.m. curfew when they were approached by police.

Wright admits to running away from cops when they exited the car. "I was scared because of how he got out of the car. He didn't just walk out, he jumped out of the car and started chasing me, so my first instinct was to run," she told local news station WTAE.

WTAE describes the attack based on Wright's friends who witnessed it as well as a portion caught on surveillance video:

"(The officer) ran full force at her and she ran from him," said Destiny Hester. "They pounced on her, then started kicking her and pulling her hair."

"I hear her screaming, I run over there and she's on the ground. They're over there beating her up, kicking her, pulling her hair," said witness Bryon Clifford.

Surveillance cameras across the street from the scuffle show Wright and an officer run into view, before the officer grabs her, spins her around, and throws her to the ground.

What happened next is not clear because the officers and Wright are behind a car, but two minutes later police appear to stand the teenager up before a new struggle begins.

The video shows one of her arms had come free, not in handcuffs, and she seems to pull away from the officers before they take her to the ground again.

One minute later, they again try to walk her to their car, but she appears to resist and pull in the opposite direction. One officer then uses a forceful move to push her down. She then is moved out of the view of the surveillance camera.

Wright is now recovering in the hospital with injuries to her trachea, esophagus and neck, plus several cuts and bruises.

Wright admits to resisting the police too, saying she tried to free her arms to protect herself after cops knocked her to the ground.

Original report here




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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

British cop who failed to respond to three urgent call-outs because he was having sex with assault victim is cleared of misconduct

A police officer who admitted having sex on the job has been cleared of misconduct - despite failing to respond to three call-outs.

PC Lee Haworth visited Katrina Ianson-Hughes’s house in Oswaldtwistle for sex while on duty on April 5 last year, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Prosecutors said the pair met during an investigation into an alleged assault on Miss Ianson-Hughes and had exchanged texts ‘of a sexual nature’.

It was said they were exchanged over Haworth’s police-issued personal digital assistant (PDA) device.

The father - who was already in a relationship - first received a ‘grade two’ call during a visit to her home, the court heard.

Prosecutors said the 39-year-old said he would attend an incident in Clayton-le-Moors and told the call handler to mark it on the computer system that he was attending. But he did not leave Miss Ianson-Hughes’s kitchen.

Moments after receiving the call, another officer said they would also go to the incident.

GPS records for Haworth’s police car showed that the car was parked outside her home for about an hour, prosecutors said.

Then there was a call to a ‘grade one’ emergency.

Haworth did not volunteer to help and the call handler had to speak to a sergeant to rearrange patrols because they were ‘struggling for back up’, a judge was told.

Haworth told the court he thought there was no need for him to volunteer.

Finally, prosecutors alleged he did not respond immediately to a call for concern about an elderly man in Accrington.

Haworth told a judge that regardless of the outcome of his four-day trial, his resignation from Lancashire Police was ‘in hand’.

The defendant, described by his colleagues as an ‘exemplary’ officer, had earlier admitted two breaches of the data protection act, for which he received a £700 fine.

His barrister told Liverpool Crown Court: 'He embarrassed the force, he let himself down and he let his partner down.'

But he claimed the rapid response officer was still within the patch, would have been able to respond to any emergencies he was called to and he did not take any other breaks of any sort resulting in spending the same amount of time on visible patrol.

The jury heard evidence from call handlers who said that night was a ‘reasonably quiet’ Friday and that all demands were met by other police officers.

Haworth also told the judge that while he was having sex with Miss Ianson-Hughes he kept his radio on and had been listening to it in case he might be needed.

Nick Clarke, QC, for the defendant, said: 'He was not on visible patrol, it was said, whilst he was at Katrina’s, but he was still there within the patrol area and he would have been able to respond to any emergency that he was in fact called to.

'He was not asked to go. If he had have been, there would have been no problems. She would have understood.

'The reality is he was on duty for that shift. He did not take a meal break or break of any sort. 'The total time he was out on visible patrol was the same as anybody else.'

Haworth had admitted he was ‘in dereliction of his duty’, but denied it crossed the threshold for the jury to find him guilty of misconduct.

Mr Clarke said: 'There is no doubt Lee Haworth admits that he was in dereliction of his duty when he was visiting Katrina Ianson-Hughes whilst he was on duty. 'He behaved that night in a way which was an embarrassment to the police force.'

Before the jury retired to consider its verdict, Mr Clarke reminded the seven men and five women that the case was a criminal trial and not a ‘court of morals’.

Mr Clarke added: 'It is a shameful incident for him, but he is not to be condemned just for that.'

The data protection breaches, include accessing logs for information about a personal matter and sending a copy of a log praising his work to his then partner without blanking out the name and address of a suspect.

Sentencing Haworth, Mr Justice Holroyde told him: 'The punishment you have brought upon yourself is a heavy one.

'It is serious to misuse the police computer and any police officer who does so should expect to be punished for it. 'There is an obvious need for the confidentiality of the personal data. 'There is a clear obligation on any police officer to use the computer system for legitimate reasons.

'The serious aspect of these two offences is that it shows a rather cavalier attitude to that important obligation.'

Haworth, who refused to comment as he left court, was told he must also pay £500 prosecution costs and a £70 victim surcharge.

Mr Clarke told the judge his client had been treated for depression and that after his medication was increased to the maximum level available, matters ‘came to a head’ last week.

He said: 'Financially, he will lose his income. He will have frozen that part pension to which otherwise he would have been entitled. 'In the short term, his life is uncertain.'

Speaking after the hearing, a Lancashire Police spokesman said: 'We acknowledge the guilty pleas which have been entered for the data protection act offences and we thank the jury for giving all of these matters their due consideration.

'A decision will now be made as to whether any further disciplinary proceedings are appropriate given all the circumstances.'

Original report here




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Monday, July 28, 2014


NYPD cop stomps on the head of a restrained man as bystanders scream in horror

A New York City police officer has been assigned to desk duty following an incident of alleged police brutality.

Officer Joel Edouard handed in his gun and badge as part of his modified desk duty assignment, spokesman Sgt. Carlos Nieves told MailOnline.

Officers on modified desk duty are 'assigned to non-enforcement' responsibilities, Nieves said.

A cell phone video shared with local New York media allegedly shows Edouard, 36, violently stomping on the face of Jahmiel Cuffee in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.

WPIX reported that Cuffee was stopped by police officers on Tuesday because he was allegedly carrying marijuana.

Gary Dormer, who filmed the video, told WPIX 'He abruptly stomped on top of the gentleman's head. He lifted his foot with excessive force and came down like he was stepping on an ant or roach or something at the time.'

Nieves told MailOnline that Cuffee has been arrested 'multiple times' for marijuana offenses.

Officers saw Cuffee selling marijuana in January 2008, Nieves said, and discovered he was carrying a gun. Cuffee resisted arrest and fought officers at the time, he said. Cuffee faces charges for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, WABC reported.

Original report here




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Sunday, July 27, 2014


UK: Widow, 73, dies after police dog savages her in her home: Neighbours in shock after door-to-door check ends in horror

An elderly cancer victim has died after a police dog savaged her in her own home. Irene Collins, 73, had answered her door to officers searching the neighbourhood for an escaped suspected drug dealer.

Just as she showed officers into the back garden of her home, the dog pounced, leaving her screaming in terror and covered in blood.

Mrs Collins, who was suffering from lung cancer, was taken to hospital but died over the weekend. Neighbours claimed to have warned officers beforehand that she was in a frail condition.

One said: ‘She wasn’t bitten, she was mauled. A relative told me the dog had punctured and broken her arm, ripped her other arm, and then managed to bite off her calf muscle after it had been restrained.’

Another neighbour said: ‘It was horrible, everyone could hear her screaming right across the street. It was a shock to see her. She had blood across her face, and she was grey with shock.

‘The police dog handler had searched my house earlier and he was in tears. He looked devastated by what happened.’

Cleveland Police said Mrs Collins had suffered ‘bites about her body’. Officers said the dog had been ‘withdrawn from operational policing activities’, but it was not clear whether it had been destroyed.

The tragedy, which happened in Middlesbrough last Wednesday night, was said to have left the whole street in shock.

Mrs Collins, a widow for 30 years, had opened the door to officers chasing a suspected drugs dealer who had fled through gardens after being stopped in a car nearby.

A resident said: ‘The street was full of police. There was a helicopter searching from above and about seven police cars.

‘A car had apparently been stopped and the driver ran off into our estate. The police were knocking on doors and asking to search people’s back gardens and outbuildings. Someone told them Irene was ill but they went to her door anyway.’

Mrs Collins was said to have answered the door at the side of her house and was about to show the officers into her back garden when the dog, described as a cross between a springer spaniel and an alsatian, attacked her. After being treated at the scene she was taken to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, where she died.

Speaking soon after the drama, neighbour Claire Williams said: ‘Irene was lying on the kitchen floor while the police attended to her.

‘She was in ill health already. She barely leaves the house, her breathing is very poor and she’s about six stone.

'I warned the police to be careful and told them she may not make it to the door but they went anyway. It’s horrific what happened to her.’

Mrs Collins’ family issued a brief statement thanking people for their ‘kind messages’.

Jose Pearson, 85, a neighbour for almost 60 years, described Mrs Collins as a lovely woman.

‘All the work she did was for charity,’ she said. ‘For years it was all she did, working in a charity shop.’

The incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Original report here




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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Businessman takes British corporate cops to the cleaners

They probably thought that he was just another crooked wog (He is an Iraqi Jew) -- and they may have been right -- but they couldn't prove it. So to arrest him on mere suspicion was pure arrogance. They went close to being disbanded over it

Vincent Tchenguiz has accepted £3m plus legal costs and a full apology from the Serious Fraud Office to settle a damages claim for wrongful arrest and the collapsed investigation into him relating to the failure of Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

The entrepreneur, who is chairman of Consensus Business Group, filed his civil claim last year, seeking damages of £200m. The claims included trespass, false imprisonment, misfeasance in public office and malicious prosecution.

Mr Tchenquiz said on Friday: "I am happy to accept this settlement from the Serious Fraud Office and bring to a close my disputes with them. Whilst I and my business have suffered serious and significant damage at the hands of the SFO, it has become increasingly apparent that the SFO’s investigation was influenced by certain third parties, acting in their own commercial interests.

"It would not be fair for the SFO or indeed the public purse to bear sole responsibility for the actions of those third parties. Accordingly, I have settled my case against the SFO and intend to focus my attentions on those other parties whom I consider are responsible."

Mr Tchenguiz added: "I recognise the important work which the SFO was created to carry out and the impact that this litigation had on their ability to fulfil their role. However, I hope that the SFO has learned lessons from this sorry episode in its history and the serious and significant errors which led to my investigation and arrest are never repeated.

"I have maintained my innocence since day one and this settlement and the apology that I have received from the SFO is total vindication for me."

The SFO arrested Mr Tchenguiz in March 2011 and searched his home and business. On July 31, 2012, following a judicial review, the High Court quashed the search warrants and was highly critical of the SFO’s conduct to the extent that, in November 2012, the fraud fighting unit was required to pay Mr Tchenguiz and his business entities’ costs for those proceedings.

David Green, the director of the SFO, said: "I am pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter without the need for a costly trial. The SFO deeply regrets the errors for which we were criticised by the High Court in July 2012. On behalf of the SFO I apologise to Mr Tchenguiz for what happened to him. The SFO has changed a great deal since March 2011, and I am determined that the mistakes made over three years ago will not be repeated."

The SFO said in its statement that separate civil damages claims brought by Mr Robert Tchenguiz and his associated interests have not been settled.

The settlement will be subject to final assessment and the payment will be made within 14 days. The SFO has agreed to make an interim payment of £3m towards the legal costs within 21 days.

Original report here




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Friday, July 25, 2014

Detective attacked holidaymaker in a pub and yelled at mother of autistic girl 'f*** your f****** disabled child'

A murder squad detective’s career lies in tatters today after he was convicted of a shocking attack on a holidaymaker in a pub while shirtless and completely 'legless'.

Detective sergeant Paul Whiteley, 51, of West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team, is set to lose his job after saying: 'I'm a copper, I'll do what I like' before drunkenly assaulting another customer at Fylingdales Inn in Whitby, North Yorkshire.

The 51-year-old told the mother of an autistic child to 'f*** your f***ing disabled child' during the outburst which could end his 22-year career.

Witnesses described how Whiteley ripped off his shirt during the argument before shouting: 'Come on outside you bald-head b*****d'.

He was staying at a campsite and had been drinking for seven hours with his girlfriend, Claire Hughes, 43.

Scarborough Magistrates' Court heard electrician Carl Sarsfield, 41, was asked to have a word with the couple when a barmaid spotted them heading for their car, still carrying open bottles of wine.

He said: 'I went out there and asked him politely "You are not drinking and driving are you?"' He claimed Whiteley, who was getting in the passenger side, replied; 'I’m not driving - she is.' The electrician objected, saying: 'She is legless as well.'

Mr Sarsfield said Whiteley and his partner then came back into the pub to wait for a taxi, but things became 'heated'.

Whiteley slapped him in the face, prompting Mr Sarsfield to defend himself, leaving the police officer on his back. He said: 'He was absolutely legless. He could hardly stand up. He was falling all over the place. 'I could have burped on him and he would have fallen over.'

He then ripped his shirt off after the slap and slung it towards the bar before shouting 'Come on then - outside you bald headed b*****d.'

Miss Sarsfield, who was with her autistic daughter at the time, told the court: 'He was shouting "I’m a copper - I will do what I like". He was paralytic. My initial reaction was to get my daughter away from what was going on. I told them to calm down and there was no need to behave in that way.'

The full-time carer said: 'My daughter was hysterical. I saw Carl and the man fighting. The man was very drunk and fell over.'

The court heard police were called and Whiteley told the people in the pub: 'Let them come. I’m a police officer. I will sort it out.'

Miss Crossley said as they waited for police to arrive Whiteley shouted abuse about her daughter.

She added: 'My daughter was absolutely beside herself. It affected her for weeks afterwards.'

Mark Kelly, defending Whiteley, told the court how the conviction 'will be simply catastrophic for him, in terms of his reputation built up over many years, employment and any future prospects.'

Fining Whiteley £1,455 in court costs, Magistrate Delia Liddle said: 'The level of fine is more serious, having being committed on licensed premises and you were in drink.'

The court heard Whiteley was arrested and bundled in a police van after the incident around 9.30pm in May last year.

Martin Hawes, prosecuting, described both attacks as 'unprovoked' and denied Whiteley was acting in self-defence.

Miss Hughes was charged with assaulting Miss Crossley but she was found not guilty.

Whiteley, of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, was found guilty of assault by beating after four hours of deliberations.

He denied the charge throughout and speaking after the case, his barrister confirmed his client intends to appeal.

Whiteley had been suspended for the force for the 14 months that the case has been waiting to come to trial.

Detective Chief Superintendent Clive Wain, of West Yorkshire Police's Professional Standards Department, said: 'We are aware of the decision of the court in relation to this officer. West Yorkshire Police expects the very highest standards of its officers and staff, both on and off duty.

'The officer remains suspended from duty and an internal misconduct investigation will now commence.'

Original report here




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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Border Patrol Agent Draws Gun on Boy Scout—Over a Photograph

A group of Boy Scouts from Central Iowa received a lesson they won't forget in federal manners at a border crossing from Canada into Alaska. According to the scoutmaster, a casual snapshot of a Border Patrol agent got the group of about two dozen scouts and volunteers detained, searched—and one of them ultimately held at gunpoint.

According to Marcus McIntosh of Iowa's KCCI:

Boy Scout Troop 111 Leader Jim Fox spelled out what happened to him and the Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111 as four van-loads of Scouts and adult volunteers tried to drive from Canada into Alaska.

Fox said one of the Scouts took a picture of a border official, which spurred agents to detain everyone in that van and search them and their belongings.

"The agent immediately confiscated his camera, informed him he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and 10 years in prison," Fox said.

Fox said he was told it is a federal offense to take a picture of a federal agent.

Not wanting things to escalate, Fox said he did not complain.

Another of the Scouts was taking luggage from the top of a van to be searched when something startling happened.

"He hears a snap of a holster, turns around, and here’s this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man’s head," Fox explained.

Charles Vonderheid with the Mid-Iowa Council of the Boy Scouts of America is getting a lot of grief for referring to the incident as a "lesson in civics." But he told me that he made the comment after getting blindsided by reporters before learning any details about the encounter. He assured me, though, that he and the Boy Scouts are concerned about scouts' safety and support them. He also said that Troop 111's Jim Fox, who led the group that endured the gauntlet at the border, is "a trusted scoutmaster who cares about his boys."

I've been unable to reach Fox, and I'll update once I hear from him and Customs and Border Protection (see below).

For the record, federal rules specifically permit photographing federal facilities, at least for "news, advertising, or commercial purposes." There don't seem to be any special limits on just-because snapshots.

Except where security regulations, rules, orders, or directives apply or a Federal court order or rule prohibits it, persons entering in or on Federal property may take photographs of—

(a) Space occupied by a tenant agency for non-commercial purposes only with the permission of the occupying agency concerned;

(b) Space occupied by a tenant agency for commercial purposes only with written permission of an authorized official of the occupying agency concerned; and

(c) Building entrances, lobbies, foyers, corridors, or auditoriums for news purposes.

The American Civil Liberties Union offers guidance, too, including the photography of federal agents:

Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.

But, adds the ACLU, "there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply."

Relatively isolated border crossings in Alaska might be the sort of place where you'd run into that pattern.

Update: Customs and Border Protection responds to inquiries with a statement:

CBP takes any allegations of wrongdoing very seriously. CBP’s review of this group’s inspection, including video footage review, indicates that our officer did not un-holster or handle his weapon as stated in the allegation. The review revealed nothing out of the ordinary. We have reached out to the Boy Scout troop for additional information in reference to the allegation. The video footage has been referred to CBP Internal Affairs for further review.

Whatever else this means (and believe as much of it as you like), clearly border officials have no objection to photographing the public.

Original report here




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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'I will knock you clean f***ing out': Policeman suspended after being caught on camera threatening a young woman TWICE as he patrolled a town centre

A police officer has been suspended after being caught on film apparently telling a woman twice: 'I will knock you clean f***ing out'.

The incident - which took place in Trinity Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, just after 2am on Sunday - was caught on camera phone by the boyfriend of 22-year-old Nikki Wright.

It seems to show the officer approach a group of revellers, and shout at her: 'Do that to me again and I will knock you clean f***ing out.'

The 1.07 minute clip then shows the officer apparently threaten her again.

After being challenged by her boyfriend Andrew Smith, 22, who asks him to repeat what he said, the police officer says: 'You heard, I said I will knock her out.'

He then asks a second time: 'You said you’d knock her out?'

He is then heard to say: 'Yeah, yeah. If she tries to throw a punch at me, of course I would.'

Staffordshire Police has confirmed they had suspended the officer from his duties after the video was passed onto them by the couple.

The footage was posted on Facebook and was seen by at least 800 people before being removed.

Miss Wright said 'I was really shocked when I saw the footage. If it had been the other way around and I had said that to him then I think I would have been arrested.

'You can hear in the video how panicked I am and that I’m close to tears. I’m not knocking the police, and the policeman we first spoke to was really nice.

'After this all happened he spoke to us and he was really calm.

'But I don’t know where that one particular guy came from and I don’t know why he threatened me.

'I was trying to help my friend who had collapsed and was shouting for an ambulance when this officer approached me and said what he said.

'I was so shocked. I have never been in trouble with the police before and I'm a law abiding person. How can a police officer be allowed to get away with this?'

The footage has also been passed to Staffordshire Police Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis.

A police spokesman said: 'Our communities expect only the highest standards of conduct from our officers, and while we recognise they can often face challenging situations, it is important that they remain professional throughout.

'A formal complaint has been taken in relation to the incident in Hanley involving one of our officers in the early hours of Sunday.

'We have reviewed the initial information and taken the decision to suspend the police officer concerned while we undertake a thorough and robust investigation into the complaint.

'It would not be appropriate to comment any further until the investigation has been concluded and experienced investigators from our performance assessment unit will be maintaining contact with the member of the public concerned.'

Mr Ellis added: 'I have been briefed on how the force is handling this issue and I am satisfied. 'I have also asked my head of performance to undertake his monitoring role to ensure proper process is followed.'

Staffordshire Police have also voluntarily referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Staffordshire Police Federation and the suspended officer were unavailable for comment.

Original report here




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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Man who spent 26 years in prison for murder he didn't commit finally exonerated after DNA evidence from the 1982 homicide proves he's an innocent man

A Washington D.C. man was officially cleared on Monday of a murder he didn't commit, but that sent him to prison for more than a quarter-century.

Kevin Martin was convicted of the 1982 murder of Ursula Brown based on faulty evidence from an elite unit of FBI forensic investigators who have been responsible for the wrongful convictions of at least five people.

In Martin's case, prosecutors claimed they had found one of his pubic hairs on one of Brown's sneakers, which was enough to get his court-appointed attorney to convince him to accept a plea deal - even though he maintained that he didn't commit the murder.

Martin pleaded guilty under what is called an Alford plea, a rare plea option that allows the accused to not admit guilt, but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to get a conviction.

'I was just getting pressure from all ends,' he said. 'My lawyer kept telling me nobody is believing that you are innocent man. Too much evidence is pointing, saying that you were there.'

Martin spent years trying to convince people that he wasn't guilty, but it wasn't until Bernie Grimm, a lawyer with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, got involved in 2001 and started looking into his case.

'He believed in his lawyer, he believed in the prosecutor and he believed in the judge,' Grimm told 'It was a disaster.'

Following his conviction, the evidence against him that was collected by prosecutors was lost. When it was recovered, the supposed hair that led to Martin's plea was not with the other evidence.

However, other DNA evidence that wasn't revealed when Martin initially was charged with Brown's death was discovered along with the old evidence - and it exonerated Martin.

The DNA evidence belonged to William Davidson, a man who initially pointed the finger at Martin for Brown's murder, and who currently is serving a life sentence.

'This whole system was against me,' said Martin. 'I kept crying out saying I was innocent -- the whole time -- I didn't have anything to do with it. I wasn't there. It was like nobody was hearing me. I feel I was by myself.'

Martin was released from prison and placed on parole in 2009, but he wasn't officially cleared of any involvement in the crime until Monday, after a lengthy battle with the courts.

'I think this demonstrates that it is never too late to do justice,' U.S Attorney Ron Machen said. 'Thirty years ago, Mr. Martin was unfairly branded a rapist and a murderer. He wasn't guilty of those crimes, and today, he was exonerated and it highlights the importance of our hair and fiber review.'

The FBI continues to re-examine cases that relied on hair analysis from the tainted forensic unit that caused Martin to plead guilty to a crime he didn't commit.

'We have had over 30 assistant U.S. Attorneys going back through thousands of cases looking to see if we could have gotten it wrong years ago,' Machen said.

Martin currently lives in San Francisco and is engaged to be married. Now that he's been exonerated, he stands to receive $50,000 for each of the 26 years that he was wrongly imprisoned.

Original report here




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Monday, July 21, 2014

Camera captures man's death during New York arrest

Video appears to show police officer putting his arm around Eric Garner's neck with Garner complaining that he cannot breathe

A man has died during an arrest in New York during which a police officer was captured on an amateur camera appearing to put his arm around his neck.

Eric Garner, 43, died outside a beauty salon in Staten Island, one of New York City's five boroughs. He had a heart attack as he struggled with officers trying to arrest him on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes, police said.

Partial video of the confrontation obtained by the New York Daily News shows an officer placing what appears to be a choke hold on the 6ft 3, 25st man who can be heard complaining that he cannot breathe.

Four police officers help bring the man down and he apparently loses conciousness.

The video shows the officer who apparently choked Mr Garner using his hands to push Mr Garner's face into the sidewalk.

"We have a responsibility to keep every New Yorker safe, and that includes when individuals are in custody of the NYPD," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

Ramsey Orta, 22, shot the video posted by the newspaper. He told The Associated Press on Friday that he was sitting with Mr Garner and discussing weekend plans before the confrontation with police.

Mr Garner had just broken up a fight between two other men when the police approached him, claiming they'd observed him selling loose cigarettes, Orta said.

"Before they even grabbed him, he told them he wasn't feeling good and that's why I pulled the camera out and started recording," said Orta, adding that Mr Garner was asthmatic. "They could've just hopped out on the guys who were fighting, but they didn't bother to ask. They just jumped straight on him."

Mr Garner has been arrested 31 times since 1988 on charges such as drug possession, selling untaxed cigarettes and assault, police said. He was last arrested in May for selling untaxed cigarettes, court records show. Since 2009, he was arrested nine different times for selling such cigarettes, police said.

In the video Mr Garner shouts that he hasn't done anything wrong. "Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I'm tired of it. It stops today," Mr Garner shouts. "I'm minding my business please just leave me alone."

Patrick J. Lynch, president of the powerful Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, cautioned against drawing conclusions before the results of the official probe were released.

"Not wanting to be arrested does not grant an individual the right to resist arrest nor does it free the officers of the obligation to make the arrest," he said

Original report here




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Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Saw a Man Get Arrested For a Sex Crime Because He Made a Scheduling Error

When I agreed to keynote the Reform Sex Offender Laws conference this week in Dallas, Texas, I didn't expect it to hit quite so close to home.

But before I arrived, I got a phone call from a soft-spoken, super-articulate young man, Joshua Gravens, who is a Soros Justice Scholar based in Dallas. His specialty is the injustice of the sex offender registry and the fact that it isn't making kids any safer (see this study and this article). He was also on the public sex offender list until recently and still has restrictions on his movement.* He invited me to come with him to the police department to give notice he had moved. Who could resist?

Josh became a sex offender at age 12. That's when he touched his sister's vagina, twice. His sister told their mom, Josh said it was true (he was too embarrassed at the time to mention that he himself had been raped as a young boy by three local high school kids), and their mom called a counseling service for advice. The counsellor said Josh's mother was required to report his crime to the authorities and the next day, he was arrested.

He spent the next four years in juvenile prison: the Texas Youth Commission, as it is officially called.

The charge was "aggravated sexual assault," because any sex offense against a person under age 14 is automatically "aggravated." He got out at age 16 and was put on the sex offender registry, which, in Dallas, requires him to report in person to the authorities once a year, as well as anytime anything in his life changes.

Today he is 27, married with children, and smiley. We met up, had a jolly breakfast (except for the fact he said he felt too pudgy to start a speaking tour), and then we went off to the registry, because his family had just moved to a new house and he had to let the state know no more than seven days after the move.

Just as the detective in the nondescript office finished typing this information into the system and Josh and I were about to go to lunch, a man with a beard and a badge strode up and said, "Joshua Gravens?"


"You are under arrest for not alerting the authorities to your new address." He whipped out handcuffs. "Put your hands behind your back."

As the man tightened the cuffs, Josh calmly explained he was registering his new address that very minute.

"The law says you you have to register the fact you are going to move seven days before the move, too."

"I think you're mistaken," said Josh, as pleasantly as if discussing the weather.

"I was told to arrest you," was the reply, and that was that. Josh handed me his car keys and followed the man out to his van along with a handcuffed woman who was crying. She was going to jail for having listed her address as a hotel when she actually lives in her car in front of the hotel.

(This statute suggests that the officer was correct: Registrants must report their intention to change addresses seven days before actually moving, according to the statute.)

After trying to reach Josh's contacts, I hurried over to the sex offender conference to ask: What would happen to Josh now?

"I might be mistaken," said Jon Cordeiro, a sex offender registrant and director of a Fort Worth re-entry program for offenders, "but technically he has broken the law and failure to comply with the registry laws is considered a new sexual offense."

A sexual offense?

Yes. Any registering snafu is considered a sex crime, and depending on the judge, it can be punished as harshly as the original offense. In other words: Josh, at 27, will be treated as if he just touched an 8 year old's vagina again.

"Typically, there's a mandatory minimum of two to five years," said Cordeiro.

"In Arkansas, he'd be looking at six," said another attendee.

Now, maybe Josh will get a great lawyer. Maybe he'll get a lenient judge, or compassionate prosecutor. Or maybe he'll spend half the next decade in prison, charged as a sexual predator for showing up 13 days late with his moving plans.

It's time to reform sex offender laws.

*The original version of this story referred to Gravens as a registered sex offender. He was actually removed from the public list in 2012 after his case drew media attention. But he remains on the list kept by police and his movement remains restricted due in part to two previous failures to register which still appear as felonies on his record, both of which he blames on being incorrectly informed about reporting requirements.

Original report here




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Saturday, July 19, 2014

North Carolina man to be freed 19 years after wrongful conviction

A North Carolina man who spent nearly two decades in prison for murder will be released as early as this week as he awaits a new trial.

Darryl Anthony Howard, 52, was awarded a new trial in May after a judge found misconduct during his 1995 conviction. On Tuesday, a state appeals court denied prosecutors' request to keep Howard behind bars until they try him again, paving the way for his release.

Seema Saifee, one of Howard's attorneys, delivered the news to him by phone early Tuesday.

"There was just this moment of pure joy," said Saifee, a staff attorney with the nonprofit Innocence Project, which seeks to overturn wrongful convictions. "He has been waiting for this for so many years. He never gave up," she added.

In overturning Howard's conviction, Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson found that prosecutors withheld evidence and that a police officer misled the jury. Hudson called Howard's prosecution one of the "most horrendous" he's seen in a 34-year career.

The district attorney who initially prosecuted Howard, Michael Nifong, was disbarred in 2007 for his role in prosecuting several members of the Duke University lacrosse team who were falsely accused of rape.

No physical evidence connected Howard to the deaths of Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter Nishonda in a Durham housing complex in 1991.

Shortly after the murders, a tipster implicated two members of a drug-related gang called the New York Boys in the crime. A police record of that account, which included references to the victims' rape that had not been publicized at the time, was never shared with Howard's defense attorneys.

DNA tests at the time showed that semen found in the victims was not Howard's, but Nifong argued in court that the murders were unrelated to a sexual assault.

Recent tests have linked the samples to a convicted felon with a history of assaulting women.

Current prosecutors have indicated they will retry Howard, and asked Friday that he be held in jail rather than released on bail until his new trial. They cited his criminal record before the arrests, which included convictions for armed robbery and breaking and entering.

Saifee said she hopes prosecutors will choose not to seek a new trial, and instead focus on prosecuting the alternate suspects implicated by DNA tests.

Original report here




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