Tuesday, May 31, 2016

British cops are forced to issue grovelling apology to two innocent 13-year-old girls after they wrongly named them as prime suspects in make-up theft 

Police have been forced to issue a grovelling apology to two innocent 13-year-old girls after wrongly naming them as prime suspects in a £400 make-up theft.

Francesca Galelli and Molly Curtis burst into tears when their faces were plastered across local news websites, as well as social media sites Facebook and Twitter, in connection with the offence.

Officers had released CCTV images of the pair as part of an appeal for information following a £459 theft from Superdrug in Ely, Cambridgeshire, on April 4.

But it turned out neither had anything to do with the theft and both have now received an apology from police, who admitted they had made 'an honest mistake that had deeply unfortunate circumstances'.

Molly and Francesca had been out 'shopping for a few bits' at around 3.15pm at the time of the theft.

Francesca's sister, Claudia, 21, said her younger sibling came home crying after friends at Soham Village College showed her the news stories which appeared online with her picture.

She said: 'I saw the article and I thought "oh that looks like my sister" but I thought she would never do anything like that so I just scrolled past it. But I later got a phone call and learned friends at school had shown her the story.

'It was really horrible for her. She is so young, she is such a good person who never does anything wrong. She is the perfect student, this was really upsetting for her.

'When I spoke to her about it she said, "I don't know what to do". I told her to just tell people the truth - she did not do it.

'The worst thing for her was everybody looking at her at school and making comments but she is a strong person and held her head up high.'

Speaking about the incident, Francesca, who lives in Ely, said: 'I was getting some shopping and then I went round my friend's house.

'I got a message on Instagram from someone asking "is this you?" and then I went on Facebook and it was all over there, too.'

Molly was also left embarrassed by the situation.  She said: 'I was at home and I got a message on social media saying "this looks like you - is it you?"

'I asked them to take it down, because I didn't want a bad reputation for nothing.'

The police alert, released shortly after the thefts, was issued with CCTV images of Francesca and Molly. It read: "Officers have released CCTV images of four women they would like to speak to in connection with the theft of make-up.

'On April 4, £459 worth of make-up was stolen from Superdrug in Market Place, Ely at about 3:15pm.

'It is believed the women entered the store and placed various coloured lipsticks in a bag before making off.

Speaking on behalf of the East Cambridgeshire policing district, Sergeant Phil Priestley said: 'We made an honest mistake that had deeply unfortunate circumstances.

'We always want to be clear and transparent if we get things wrong, and we definitely want to ensure that people know that Francesca and Molly are good people and that this wasn't their fault.'

The error has also led to police revising district CCTV policies to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

By way of an apology the police have invited Francesca and Molly to sit on a new Youth Consultation Panel designed to improve and promote the relationship that exists between local police and young people aged 12 to 16.

The force involved, Cambridgeshire Police, is the same one that announced earlier this month it was to hand out free pants to teenagers in the hope of stopping them from nicking expensive toiletries.

The taxpayer funded initiative is being rolled out in Cambridgeshire after officers linked a spike in the theft of hygiene products to uncleanliness amongst young adults.

Investigating officers claim to have found struggling youngsters regularly trying to steal toiletries and sanitary items and pants after being taunted by their peers for being dirty.

Original report here

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Australia: Off-duty female cop stripped, pepper sprayed, punched, kicked: anti-corruption watchdog

An off-duty female police officer was pepper-sprayed, had her clothes removed, was kicked and punched, and then dumped by Ballarat police in a cell for hours without pants or blanket, Victoria's anti-corruption watchdog has heard.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission has begun examining claims of police brutality in Ballarat police cells at public hearings that continue this week after numerous appeals.

IBAC alleges 157 complaints were made against officers at the Ballarat Police Station between 2010 and 2012, most of which were made against senior officers.

An alleged incident involving the 51-year-old woman was the first of four alleged uses of excessive force by police in the area to be heard by the anti-corruption watchdog in the week-long hearing.

Council Assisting IBAC Jack Rush, QC, told the public hearings on Monday the woman was arrested for being drunk in public when she was allegedly subject to violent and degrading treatment while in custody last year, the Ballarat Courier reported.

He said she was partially stripped in front of male officers, pepper sprayed while her hands were cuffed behind her back, Mr Rush said.  "She was kicked, stomped on and stood upon."

Footage of the incident was shown before the commission, of the woman forced to use a cup to scoop water from the toilet bowl to drink. The video has not yet been made public.

Mr Rush said police involved in the alleged incident would be asked to give their account of the night during this week’s hearing.

Another three alleged incidents of police corruption involving officers at Ballarat would be examined this week.

The commission revealed an alarming statistic of 52 Ballarat officers receiving four or more complaints – compared to the state average of 2.5 complaints per member, the Courtier reported.

This week's hearings will focus on the alleged excessive use of force and Victoria Police's management of the incidents.

Original report here

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Woman convicted of sexual conduct on adopted son to get new trial

Lorinda Swain will get a new trial more than a decade after being convicted of criminal sexual conduct.

The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a new trial and sent the case back to Calhoun County Circuit Court, where 14 years ago Swain was convicted by a jury of four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. She was charged with repeatedly performing oral sex on her young adopted son between 1992 and 1996 in Burlington.

Swain, 55, of rural Marshall was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison. She served seven years before she was released on bond by now-retired Circuit Judge Conrad Sindt, whose two rulings for a new trial for Swain have been overturned by appeals courts.

Swain has maintained her innocence and the boy, Ronald Swain, has recanted his testimony.

Last month, attorneys from the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School argued before the Supreme Court that Swain is entitled to a new trial because prosecutors withheld information about a former boyfriend, Dennis Book. They said a detective interviewed Book, who said he lived with Swain and her two sons during the time allegations of abuse were made and never saw any of it. He was never called to testify at the trial.

Prosecutors have denied Book had a conversation with the detective, but said, if it did happen, it was not newly discovered evidence because the defense at least knew the former boyfriend could have evidence for their case.

Original report here

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

UK: The sister of a man jailed for the infamous murders of Lin and Megan Russell 19 years ago claims new DNA evidence could clear him

Michael Stone was jailed for life in 1998 after being convicted of murdering the mother and daughter in Chillenden, Kent. But his sister, Barbara Stone, says advances in DNA evidence could implicate triple killer Levi Bellfield and clear her brother.

Dr Russell, 45, and her six-year-old daughter Megan were killed in the attack in 1996. Dr Russell's other daughter, Josie, survived terrible head injuries and went on to make a miraculous recovery.

Bellfield has been linked to the murders after he finally admitted to killing 13-year-old Milly Dowler earlier this year. He also murdered 19-year-old Marsha McDonnell, and 22-year-old Amelie Delagrange.

Stone denied being responsible for the appalling crimes but was found guilty and despite being behind bars for the past 19 years, he still protests his innocence.

He was found guilty after drug addict and convicted murderer Damian Daley gave evidence for the prosecution, telling the court how Stone, from Gillingham, Kent, had confessed to him in prison that he had carried out the dreadful attacks.

Another prisoner, Barry Thompson, admitted lying about an alleged confession by Stone a day after he was jailed, but despite the convictions being quashed in 2001, Stone was found guilty again following a retrial on the basis of Daley's evidence.

His sister, of Chatham, Kent, said she rarely sees her brother, now 55, as he is locked up in Frankland Prison in Durham - but still believes he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

She said: 'We are pinning our hopes on advances in DNA technology. I'm not saying Bellfield is the killer, but we need to test his DNA against the that found at the scene.

'Advances in technology could lead to something. There was no DNA evidence at the scene to put my brother there - and even the e-fit issued at the time looks like Bellfield.

'I think the time is right to speculate on this now. A car matching the description of one Bellfield had access to was seen in the area, so I do think the DNA from the crime scene should be tested against him and the thousands of others on the national database. This should be the least that's being done.'

Mrs Stone also spoke about drug addict and life-time criminal Damien Daley who has now been convicted of murdering a man in Folkestone. She said: 'He was and is a heroin addict and now a murderer and has openly admitted he's lied through his life to get by.

'How can his testimony still be relied upon, especially since his murder conviction? We now have access to his prison record at the time of the so-called cell confession.'

Kent Police said it was not looking for anyone else in connection with the case in which Stone was convicted.

A spokesperson said: 'The Metropolitan Police Service is coordinating all activity in regard to Levi Bellfield.

'A Criminal Case Review Commission had access to all forensic evidence, documentation and exhibits from the original investigation, the review by another force, details of two Crown Court trials and appeals to the High Court.

'Furthermore, Michael Stone made an application to apply for a Judicial Review in respect of his conviction in September 2012.

'The Honourable Mr Justice Blake ordered that permission for the application should be refused.'

Original report here

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Friday, May 27, 2016

£400,000 for flying instructor in British Army bullying storm

Prince Harry's flying instructor has won a £400,000 compensation battle after quitting the Army over alleged bullying.  Sergeant Major Michael Booley, 50, who became Harry's close friend, told a military court that top brass broke a string of promises over his career and forced him to resign.

Legal papers leaked to The Mail on Sunday reveal that a brigadier who led an inquiry into the case described Booley's treatment by a senior officer as 'vindictive'.

Documents submitted to an earlier employment tribunal reportedly said that this treatment amounted to 'bullying'.

Sgt Maj Booley left the Army Air Corps in November 2010 after a distinguished career in which he saw frontline action in the Balkans and Iraq.

He was also hand-picked to be Harry's fixed-wing flying instructor at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire, teaching him how to fly in combat zones. They became such close friends that they were photographed riding high-performance motorbikes together.

The court heard, behind closed doors, how the distinguished pilot was promised a £50,000 golden-handcuffs deal which never materialised and that a posting he was promised to RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, was scrapped.

He was sent to Northern Ireland for four years instead after senior officers raised concerns about his flying skills.

Brigadier Matt Lowe, who headed the Service Inquiry, found that Sgt Maj Booley's career manager Major Steve Graham had used the 'weakest of evidence' to block his move to RAF Waddington.

Brig Lowe said: '[Maj Graham] was vindictive, abusing his position of responsibility and the trust placed in him. His conduct wronged the complainant and acted against the interests of the Army. We recommend his chain of command consider Major Graham's position, including whether disciplinary action is warranted.'

Brig Lowe also ordered a formal probe into how Maj Graham was able to obtain personal information about a witness who claimed to have overheard Maj Graham threatening to 'teach that f***** [Booley] a lesson'.

Papers also reveal that Brig Lowe described the Army's initial investigation into the case as 'fundamentally flawed' and suggested disciplinary action against senior investigating officer, Major Pete McCarthy.

Sgt Maj Booley, who previously served as an infantry soldier in the Paras, suffered severe depression following his mistreatment by senior officers and remains unable to work. His tax-free settlement is based on a loss of earning and pension entitlements.

The Ministry of Defence is also expected to pay £100,000 in costs over the six-year legal battle.

An Army spokesman last night said it took service complaints 'extremely seriously' but would not comment on individual cases, nor confirm whether disciplinary charges had been considered against Maj Graham or Maj McCarthy, as suggested by Brig Lowe.

Original report here

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Drug-crazed man struggles with police, dies

Police will always have trouble dealing with violent madmen.  They often have only moments to act

As Chase Sherman was returning home with his parents and fiancée from his brother’s wedding in November, he began to hallucinate. Apparently reacting to synthetic marijuana he took days earlier, he bit his girlfriend and tried to jump out of the back seat of the car as the family drove through Georgia toward Florida.

About an hour outside Atlanta, at mile marker 55 on Interstate85, his fiancée pulled over the car and his mother called the police, hoping they would help calm Sherman, 32. Less than a half-hour later, Sherman, who worked at a family-owned parasailing business on the Gulf Coast, was dead.

He was stunned numerous times with Taser guns carried by two sheriff’s deputies, while handcuffed in the back seat of a rental car.

Like other recent episodes involving the police, this one was captured on video, in this case by body cameras worn by the sheriff’s deputies as they tried to subdue Sherman.

The video, a copy of which was obtained in recent days by The New York Times, is similar to recordings of fatal incidents involving law enforcement officers in Chicago; North Charleston, South Carolina; and Staten Island, New York. Each one depicts in stark terms a response from officers that resulted in a death. In this instance, there are no racial overtones — both Sherman parents and the deputy sheriffs are white.

The footage from Georgia was released Friday by prosecutors in Coweta County in response to requests from the family and the news media. It shows the sheriff’s deputies struggling to subdue Sherman as he tried to get out of the car, stunning him repeatedly with their Taser guns while he was handcuffed, and reacting frantically after realizing he was dead.

Sherman’s death was a homicide due to “an altercation with law enforcement with several trigger pulls of an electronic control device,” according to his death certificate, which said he had been shoved to the floor of the car and that his torso was compressed “by the body weight of another individual.”

“How can they do this when they know someone is having a breakdown?” said L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer for the Sherman family. “Once they started shocking him, how can someone comply when they’re being electrocuted over and over again?”

Sherman’s parents, Kevin and Mary Ann Sherman, said they were not sure what had caused their son’s odd behavior. They said they first became concerned when he began acting erratically while they were in the Dominican Republic for the wedding. Chase told his mother that he had taken synthetic marijuana the day before they traveled there.

“He was scared when we were down there,” Mary Ann Sherman said. “He said he heard different bad things were happening in different countries. He would see a couple of things that weren’t there. He thought people were watching him, and he didn’t want to go anywhere without his mom and dad or brother.”

But his parents said he had seemed fine on the flight back to Atlanta, where they were to change planes and continue their trip home to Destin, Florida. Then, as they waited at the Atlanta airport, Chase Sherman grew agitated. The family decided it would be better to drive the rest of the way, so they rented a car.

Not long into the drive, Sherman began trying to jump out of the car. “I couldn’t keep him in the car — he didn’t know where he was and was disoriented,” Kevin Sherman said. “I couldn’t keep him in the car by myself, so we needed to call for medical assistance.”

A body camera worn by one of the deputies started recording while en route to assist the Shermans. By the time he reached their car, parked on the shoulder of the highway, another deputy was already grappling with Sherman, who was handcuffed, in the car’s back seat. On the video, Sherman seems alternately calm and desperate to get out of the car.

Chase Sherman told his mother he had taken synthetic marijuana the day before.

With Sherman’s mother and fiancée, Patti Galloway, watching from the front of the car, the deputy shot him several times with the Taser, and the second deputy punched him in the head.

The deputies then told the two women to get out of the car, and Mary Ann Sherman pointed her finger at the two deputies, pleading with them not to stun her son.

Sherman was stunned again, and then he appeared to wrestle away control of the Taser despite still being handcuffed.

Moments later, an emergency medical technician had arrived at the scene tried to help subdue Sherman.

“OK. I’m dead, I’m dead,” Sherman said as he was shoved to the floor and wedged between the front and back seats. “I quit, I quit,” he can be heard saying.

The medical technician pushed down on Sherman’s body. “I got all the weight of the world on him now,” he could be heard saying before Sherman was shocked again.

Suddenly realizing that Sherman was not breathing, the deputy sheriffs and the medical technician pulled him out of the car and began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation while his parents and Galloway watched.

“There was no way for him to resist,” the lawyer, Stewart, said. “For four minutes and 10 seconds after he said ‘I quit,’ they still Tased him and kept him on the ground. That’s torture, and they killed him.”

Sherman’s death was initially investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which made the evidence it collected available to the district attorney of Coweta County, Peter J. Skandalakis.

Skandalakis said Friday that his office’s investigation was continuing. “I really haven’t formed a final opinion about it,” he said, adding that his office had planned to release the video before the inquiry’s conclusion because of “public interest in the case.”

Skandalakis said he expected to meet with the Sherman family.

In the meantime, the deputies who responded to the family’s request for help have not been suspended, according to Stewart, and are still working.

Original report here

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

An independent watchdog is to investigate a police force over the collapse of a trial of four men accused of the gang rape of a woman at a leading university

Thady Duff, Leo Mahon and Patrick Foster, all 22, and James Martin, 20, were accused of raping the woman at a summer ball at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

She claimed she had been subjected to violence, including strangulation, on the night of the alleged attack in May 2014 and that some of it had been filmed and posted on Snapchat.

The trial had been due to begin at Gloucester Crown Court in March but, following delays due to the late disclosure of evidence and a review of the case, the prosecution offered no evidence and the four defendants were cleared.

Last week during a hearing on defence costs, Judge Jamie Tabor QC, the Recorder of Gloucester, criticised Detective Constable Ben Lewis, the lead officer.

The judge said Det Con Lewis had got too close to the complainant and did not understand his job properly, which led to 'stark and very serious omissions' by the officer in failing to disclose 'game-changing' evidence.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has decided an independent investigation is 'appropriate'.

'The circumstances of a criminal investigation conducted by Gloucestershire Constabulary, which was unable to proceed to trial due to issues raised during legal proceedings, will be examined by the Independent Police Complaints Commission,' the IPCC said in a statement.

'Issues have been raised concerning the police investigation and the disclosure of evidence in preparation for the trial.

'The matter was referred to the IPCC and we have decided an independent investigation is appropriate.

'The IPCC will carefully examine the actions of the officers involved during both the investigation and the pre-trial process.'

The quartet of students said last month that police treated them as ‘guilty until proven innocent’.

Detectives were accused of ‘cherry-picking’ evidence to support their case, while ‘airbrushing’ out anything that suggested the men were innocent.

The Gloucester Crown Court case against the four students fell apart after it emerged that the alleged victim had given ‘different accounts’ as a witness in another rape case.

Officers are also facing questions over why it took 13 months to charge the men, with lawyers alleging evidence had been ‘withheld’ by officers before the trial.

This included messages taken from the complainant’s phone hinting that she may have consented.

Meanwhile, last month it was revealed that the police officer accused of 'vandalising' the rape case against the four students is still working on serious crimes and had not been disciplined.

Gloucestershire Detective Constable Ben Lewis was accused of having 'broken' the trial process after holding back information that led to the friends being cleared of sex crimes.

But it emerged last month that DC Lewis, who it was claimed had flirted with the alleged victim and even held a formal interview with the girl in her bedroom before claiming the tape recorder had broken down, was still on active duty.

Gloucestershire Police had said last month that it was not going to be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The young men were facing prison sentences of more than ten years if they had been convicted.

The Gloucester Crown Court case against the four students fell apart after it emerged that material was found on the alleged victim’s mobile phone about her sex life, including a ‘three-in-a-bed’ incident involving a soldier at a Wiltshire barracks.

Five months after the Royal Agricultural University's May Ball, where she said she was raped by the four young men, the woman was involved in a sex session with an Army officer which led to the soldier being accused of rape by another woman.

It is understood the alleged victim in the May Ball case had had sex with the soldier after a visit to an Army barracks. He was court martialled but cleared of rape and sexual assault charges after she gave 'different accounts' of the alleged rape.

The officer on the May Ball case was revealed to have kept quiet about the 'different accounts' the woman had provided.

Defence barristers acting for the four men argued the case showed the woman's interest in group sex and demanded to know why neither they, nor the Crown Prosecution Service, had been told about it.

Further analysis of the complainant's phone revealed she had sent text messages on the night of the ball which raised further doubts about her accusations.

Mr Henry had told the court that there had been an ‘absolute failure’ by police officers ‘to take notes except for self-serving acts on occasion’.

He said: ‘There are two notes where sexual behaviour has been mentioned to the officer and these notes have never made their way into the defence material. He has vandalised the trial process. It is broken and cannot be fixed'.

Original report here

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Again:  No Apology from bungling British cops

Bungling armed police raided the home of a woman's house looking for guns - only to find a litter of tiny kittens instead.

Eight officers turned Holly Sanders' home upside down after breaking down her front door with a battering ram. But the officers were left red-faced when they failed to find any weapons and instead discovered just eight new born kittens asleep in her bedroom.

When café worker Holly returned to her flat she was put in an arm-lock by an officer and told they had a warrant to search her home for firearms.

Holly said: 'When the officers realised the most dangerous thing in my flat were the kittens they looked really embarrassed.

'I'm sure they got the wrong address. My cats were really scared and my flat looked like it had been burgled. If I wasn't so angry about what happened I'd probably laugh.'

Armed police in riot vans swooped on Holly's one-bedroom flat in Woodmans Green, Droitwich, Worcester, at 10.15am on April 28.

She explained: 'I was at work and had no idea what was going on until my sister phoned to say one of her friends had walked past the property just as it was being raided.

'I just said "No, it wouldn't be my home." But then another friend contacted me who lives on the green saying the same. 'I had to drop everything - thankfully I have a very understanding boss. 'I just kept thinking that it was not going to be my home until I saw there were eight armed officers.

'I was so concerned for my four-week-old kittens I rushed upstairs to check on them, but one officer grabbed my arm and wouldn't let go.

'He forced it behind my back and threatened to arrest me on the spot but I was so angry and upset. He sat me down and told me they had a warrant to search for firearms.

'Never in my life have I had a firearm. I've never been in trouble with the police. But they didn't give me any explanation why they thought I had one.

'I felt useless while they were going through my personal belongings and when they left it looked like I had been burgled.  'It was an absolute mess. I cried when they left because I was so embarrassed because all my neighbours had seen. 'I don't know anyone who would have firearms, I don't know why they thought I would have them.

'The police clearly got the wrong flat but I haven't received an apology or explanation. The least they can do is put their hands up and say sorry.'

Holly added: 'What was really upsetting was that the kittens have made their home in a drawer in my bedroom. 'The police had clearly opened it and then slammed it shut trapping them inside.  'Luckily they are all okay but it was such an over-the-top reaction.'

West Mercia Police confirmed it raided Holly's flat as part of an 'intelligence-led warrant'.  A force spokeswoman said: 'A warrant was executed at a property on Woodmans Green on Thursday, April 28, 2016.

'Standard procedures were followed and nothing was seized from the address. The occupier was provided with a copy of the warrant.

'No formal complaints have been received and if the occupier does have any concerns, we would encourage her to contact our Professional Standards Department so they can be formally addressed.'

Original report here

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Monday, May 23, 2016

British cops don't like people showing their idleness up

The journalist was making enquiries that they should have been making

Scotland Yard has revoked a harassment notice given to a reporter for quizzing a convicted fraudster – after police used taxpayers’ cash to try to justify the move.

Gareth Davies had been handed a Police Information Notice (PIN) in March 2014 while investigating Neelam Desai’s alleged involvement in a dating website scam.

The Met said his attempts to question Desai, calling at her house once and sending a polite email, ‘went beyond what was reasonable’ and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) upheld the decision.

The chilling ‘prevention of harassment’ notice warned any attempt to talk to, or approach Desai could constitute harassment. This meant Mr Davies risked prosecution by attending Croydon Crown Court to report how she was jailed for 30 months.

MPs accused Scotland Yard of trampling on Press freedom and more than 500 people signed a petition calling for the PIN to be cancelled.

The Croydon Advertiser reporter, backed by publisher Local World, challenged the ruling and a High Court judge granted permission for a judicial review. The Met spent taxpayers’ cash fighting the case but yesterday agreed to back down.

Mr Davies said: ‘As my case has demonstrated, PINs can be used to impede responsible journalism.’

‘I behaved as journalists across the country do on a daily basis but was issued with a warning by the police, which could have appeared on my criminal record, without officers conducting any form of investigation to establish whether the allegations were true.

‘I’m glad that, in agreeing to write to the College of Policing, the Met and the IPCC have acknowledged that the use of PINs in relation to journalists needs to be reviewed. As my case has demonstrated, PINs can be used to impede responsible journalism.’

James Welch, legal director of human rights group Liberty, added: ‘The police seem to hand out harassment notices without adequate investigation or consideration of the validity of complaints. The police should be wary of discouraging good journalistic practice with these chilling warnings.’

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘On May 11 a decision was taken by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to revoke, without admission of liability, the Police Information Notice (PIN), or harassment warning letter, issued on March 31, 2014.

‘The MPS also agreed to write to the College of Policing to inform them of this and request they review the national guidance.’

Original report here

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Death and questions after man is tased by Massachusetts  police

FALL RIVER — In a neighbor’s photograph time-stamped 12:24 p.m. Monday, a handcuffed Scott Macomber, who had just been tased during a struggle with Fall River police officers, is standing upright as he is led to a cruiser.

Less than an hour later, Macomber was pronounced dead.

The Bristol district attorney’s office, which is investigating Macomber’s death, said the 48-year-old “went into medical distress inside the police cruiser.” He was rushed to St. Anne’s Hospital in Fall River, where he died at 1:20 p.m.

Authorities said Macomber was tased when he interfered with the arrest of Lisa McNally, a 37-year-old Dartmouth woman whom relatives identified as his cousin. McNally, who was living in the Fall River residence with Macomber and his girlfriend, was wanted on arrest warrants.

Macomber’s sudden death sent shockwaves through his family, and some relatives questioned the official narrative, saying they believe he was the victim of police brutality.

“We want to get to the bottom of this because this is a wrongful death,” said his brother, Jeff Macomber. “He shouldn’t have died in this incident.”

Jeff Macomber called his brother’s death “senseless,” and wondered if he received proper medical attention in the cruiser.

According to the district attorney’s office, McNally hurried inside Scott Macomber’s home when she saw the police, who followed her. When they tried to arrest her, Macomber “interfered with them,” and a struggle ensued. Police then used a taser to subdue Macomber, authorities said.

“After the tasing, Mr. Macomber was placed under arrest for assault and battery of a police officer, resisting arrest, and interfering with a police officer,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement. “Mr. Macomber was then walked to a police cruiser.”

As police led him in handcuffs, a neighbor, April Alves, snapped a picture. Alves did not know Macomber had been tased, but heard McNally wailing in agony and wanted to document the incident.

Macomber “was fine,” Alves said. “He was just walking back and forth.”

In accordance with department policy on tasing incidents, Fall River police officers called a medical team for Macomber, prosecutors said. He went into “medical distress” before the emergency teams could arrive, prosecutors said.

An autopsy will be conducted Wednesday to determine how Macomber died.

“Massachusetts State Police detectives and prosecutors from this office are currently interviewing witnesses and those involved in the incident,” prosecutors said. “This office will conduct a thorough investigation into all the facts and circumstances of this incident, which will include information from the medical examiner’s autopsy results.”

But Jeff Macomber said relatives who were present during the struggle told him police officers were unduly aggressive — both verbally and physically — when they arrested McNally, which created heightened tensions. Scott Macomber interfered out of necessity after pleading with officers to stop “roughing up” his cousin, his brother said.

“They were beating on [McNally] while they were arresting,” Jeff Macomber said. “They threw her down on the floor, and were stomping on her.”

The district attorney’s office and the Fall River police did not respond to questions about the exact time medical teams were called for Macomber.

A police call log for the home where the incident occurred showed frequent visits since 2013, including reports of suspicious activity and loud disturbances. Alves said she has spoken to other neighbors about strange activity at the house and has found gun casings and syringes on the property.

In Bangor, where Scott Macomber previously lived, he was sentenced in 2012 to three years in prison for aggravated assault and robbery, officials there said. He had several other felony convictions before that prison sentence, prosecutors said.

In 2014, according to figures provided by the Massachusetts State Police, police officers used tasers 1,035 times over 978 incidents. In Fall River, there were 29 tasing incidents in 2014, down from 37 the year before.

Verbal warnings were issued before tasers were deployed in about 84 percent of incidents, the State Police said.

McNally was arraigned Tuesday in New Bedford District Court and was released on personal recognizance. She is due in Fall River District Court Wednesday for a probation warrant related to a past shoplifting offense.

Original report here

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Arrogant and lying bunglers: That is the best summary of many British cops.  And apologies are beyond them

Armed police puncture innocent motorist's four tyres with stinger device then tell him to pay £150 to be towed to the compound

A father-of-one who was driving to collect his daughter had his tyres punctured with a stinger device and ordered out of his van at gunpoint by armed police - only to be told they had got the wrong man.

Nathan Poole, 32, was driving near Ston Easton, in Somerset, at around 4pm last Friday when he was brought to an abrupt halt by armed police who threw a stinger across the road.

After ordering a petrified Mr Poole out his van, bungling police told him it was a case of mistaken identity and drove off in the opposite direction.

Mr Poole then waited 45 minutes for the police recovery truck to take him to a garage for new tyres.

When it finally arrived he was informed the van would be towed to the police compound in Wells and he would have to fork out £150 for a recovery charge and £600 for four new tyres.

Recalling the terrifying ordeal, Mr Poole said: 'I nearly had a heart attack when it first happened. It was scary. 'I was distracted by a man who was hiding behind a tree. He popped his head out which made me take my eyes off the road.

'The next thing I knew was there was a noise under the van and all my tyres had gone. I originally thought I had driven over an animal or something.

'I stopped the van and went to get out. I put one foot on the road and the next thing I knew was that there were two armed police pointing their guns at me. 'They ordered me to get back into the van in a violent and authoritative tone.'

He added: 'I didn't have £150 to give him. I thought it was incredibly unfair.  'They should have sorted it out straight away but I wasn't going to stand and argue with two big police officers with guns. 'Obviously they had a lot on their minds and they were in the middle of an operation but it was quite cheeky really.'

After ordering him out the van, police sheepishly told him they had got the wrong man. They had actually been searching for Nicholas Caple, 29, who is still on the run. He is wanted for burglary, assaulting a police officer and escaping police custody.

As police continued their unsuccessful search for Caple, Mr Poole was left stranded in his Vauxhall Vivaro - still 15 miles away from his two-year-old daughter Callie he was collecting.

Police insisted a police recovery truck would take him to a garage for new tyres and he could claim the money back from the force's legal services team.  But when it turned up he was told he would have to pay a £150 fee to have the van towed to the police compound in Wells.

'I said no way and basically he cancelled the job and left,' said Mr Poole. 'I phoned the company who own the van I was driving, they were amazing and they organised a mobile mechanic to come and fit four new tyres. They covered the cost too for which I am grateful.  'I got home at about 9pm. Luckily my girlfriend picked my daughter up for me.'

Mr Poole, a satellite engineer, who lives in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, with partner Kelly Rimmer, 30, added: 'I'm more light about it now but I didn't find it funny at all at the time.  'It was absolutely terrifying. I lost four hours because I was 80 miles away from home and it completely ruined my day.

'A police officer rang me later in the evening and told me that they were trying to catch a man wanted for robberies of cash machines.  'The officers were also involved in the incident in Bristol city centre at the Marriott Hotel. He told me that the man they were after had got away.'

The embarrassing gaffe was part of the chaotic search operation to try and catch Caple.  A team of 30 officers rushed to the Marriott Hotel in Bristol last Friday and it was sealed off for half an hour before it was clear he had escaped again.  Avon and Somerset Constabulary said the search for Caple is ongoing and appealed for him to hand himself in.

Referring to the hotel operation, Detective Inspector Neil Meade said: 'This was a large scale operation and used a number of resources from across the force including the helicopter.  'This response was entirely appropriate when dealing with one of our most wanted offenders.'  He added: 'I'd like to repeat our appeal to the public to help us catch him.

'Although, we would advise all members of the public not to approach him if seen, we need you to call us straight away if you have any information.  'I would also appeal directly to Caple to hand himself in now.'

Caple is described as white, of slim build, 5ft 8ins tall with blue eyes and blonde hair.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman denied any weapons had been pointed at the driver. He said: 'No firearms were drawn and the man was told to return to his vehicle for his own safety – this was a busy road.

'He was then driven by officers to a recovery centre where his vehicle was taken.

'He was contacted later the same day by an officer to explain why this had happened, but if he is unhappy with this, we would ask that he makes a formal complaint.  'We can then look into the full circumstances.'

Original report here

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Man jailed for assault on South Yorkshire police officer has conviction overturned after pictures emerged showing PC pushing the suspect's head against a car door

A man was wrongly imprisoned for assaulting a police officer and had his conviction overturned after a picture emerged of the policeman pushing the suspect's head against a car door.

Russell Hartley, 45, from Doncaster, was given a 10-week prison sentence for the alleged assault on Robert Heath, a south Yorkshire police officer, and a further two weeks in jail for drink-driving.

But following a two-day hearing at Sheffield Crown Court, a judge quashed the assault conviction.  Judge Peter Kelson QC said he was a 'little surprised' the officer felt he needed to restrain Mr Hartley when he was already in the back of the police car.

PC Heath had claimed he had restrained Mr Hartley when he grabbed his wrist and pulled him in to the vehicle.

To that, the judge said: 'If the police and prosecution are to consider charging assault on a police officer every time a police officer's arm is taken hold of by somebody, this court would be inundated with criminal prosecutions.'

The case is a further blow to the reputation of the police force which was strongly criticised for its conduct at the Hillsborough inquest, which concluded the 96 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed.

The ruling that the supporters were utterly blameless for the disaster came after a 27-year cover-up by the police force which Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham described as being 'rotten to the core'.

Mr Hartley had been arrested in September 2014 outside the Flare Path pub in Dunsville village, in Doncaster on suspicion of drink driving.

PC Heath had claimed he had put him in the back seat of his car to carry out a breathalyser test but he quickly became aggressive and he had to ask for back-up.

He said Mr Hartley then wound down the window, grabbed hold of his wrist and pulled him into the vehicle where he tried to restrain him.

PC Heath said: 'I felt in danger, obviously he is a lot bigger than I am. There was another person there. I was on my own and I didn't know what was going to happen.'

By contrast, Mr Hartley claimed he had been punched repeatedly and urged his friend, Peter Barnes, to record the footage.

He said: 'He opened the door and hit me with a flying headbutt, diving in like he was going to score a goal in football.'

His sunglasses were smashed in the assault, he claimed, which led to him suffering broken teeth.

Doncaster magistrates' court accepted the police account of the incident last August and Mr Hartley was sentenced to ten weeks in prison with a further two weeks for drink-driving.

But pictures taken by Mr Barnes on his mobile phone were produced at the appeal hearing at Sheffield Crown Court.

Judge Kelson said: 'It is not part of our role to pass any judgement about what happened in the vehicle.

'On any analysis of the evidence we are a little surprised that PC Heath felt it necessary to open the car door to embark upon restraining Mr Hartley when he was already in the police car, effectively restrained.'

He said PC Heath had not sustained 'any injuries whatsoever' and the court would be 'inundated with criminal prosecutions' if police charged people with assault every time they grabbed an officer's arm.

The drink-driving conviction was upheld but the prison sentence for that offence was quashed.

The judge said it was for the panel to consider any potential disciplinary matters relating to PC Heath's conduct.  

Speaking after the case, Mr Hartley said the outcome had been 'brilliant'.  He said: 'Justice has been served. The judge was very fair and he listened. A lot of judges don't listen.'

He added that it had been 'terrible' to go to jail for an offence for which he was wrongly convicted.

Mr Hartley said he now intends to pursue a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

He claimed footage of the incident was deleted by police, although Judge Kelson said there was no evidence for that.

Original report here

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

CA: Police investigated over underage sex claims with teenage girl

AN underage sex scandal at a California police department is being investigated after several policemen were accused of having sex with the same teenage girl.

The internal affairs investigation into the Oakland Police Department revolves around Celeste Guap, who allegedly had sex with more than a dozen policemen starting when she was 16, sources told a local California news station.

Guap, who is now thought to be 18 or 19, started divulging details on Facebook suggesting she had sexual encounters with police — calling the relationships “harmless”, but insisted that she did not “snitch” on anyone.

This week, she posted on Facebook: “The only officer I ever messed with underage is sadly gone now, so I don’t know why this is still being brought up.”  That post is a reference to Brendan O’Brien, 30, an Oakland policeman who committed suicide in September last year — around a year after his wife’s death was also ruled a suicide, according to local news outlet KPIX5.

O’Brien had left a note before his death, which kicked off an internal affairs investigation, the station reports.

According to the East Bay Express, O’Brien’s wife Irma Huerta Lopez died in June 2014 and her death was investigated by homiscide detectives.  Lopez’s family believes O’Brien shot her and a coroner’s report seen by the newspaper said her death was “suspicious”.

The investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct was only opened after O’Brien’s death on September 25, 2015, the Express reports.

But sources say sexual misconduct had been ongoing since 2014 and alleged that investigators may have failed to properly look into the allegations.

Another investigation was later ordered by a federal judge, in numerous police officers admitted they had lied during the first one about their relationships with the teenage girl.

One policeman has reportedly now admitted having sex with Guap while knowing she was underage.  The officer, who has not been named, is facing a statutory rape charge in the criminal investigation that is also underway.

The current investigation involves three officers, police spokesman Johnna Watson said.  “We are entrusted by the community to protect it, to serve them and to uphold the law,” she told KPIX. “So we take the allegations very seriously.”

Guap has another connection to the department — her mother works there.

Just a few weeks ago, the teenager posted a picture of an Oakland police car after claiming to have been dropped her off near her home, writing: “Took me back to Richmond in style.”

She also shared a memory from a year ago late last week — a Facebook status in which she — alongside a police emoji — wrote: “Calls me his Mrs Undercover … that’s cuz we always undercover.”

Original report here

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Two British police officers are sacked after lying about how hard they searched for a man seen walking on a dual carriageway who was later run down and killed

The independent panel, headed by Neil Dalton, found the officers' actions in relation to the search for Mr Brooks amounted to misconduct.

And the officers' response to the allegations, which included statements that were determined to be false, amounted to gross misconduct, the panel ruled.

Both officers were dismissed with immediate effect.

Speaking after the hearing, director of support services at Essex and Kent Police Mark Gilmartin said the pair were dismissed because they lied.

He said: 'These officers responded to a call and carried out a search but failed to find a man reported to be walking on one of the main roads.

'The panel heard strong evidence of the officers' previous exemplary records and were left in no doubt that they were highly regarded by their line managers and peers.

'They have been dismissed because they were found to have lied.

'They were shown not to have followed the fundamental values expected of officers to maintain public confidence in policing.

'To maintain the highest standards, the panel believed dismissal without notice was the most appropriate sanction.'

Mr Brooks father Robert, 59, of Harlow, said he wanted the pair to face prosecution.

He said: 'It's not going to bring my son back, so to be honest I couldn't give a monkeys if they got the sack or not.

'It's just a shame that's the worst that could happen to them, I would like to see them both go to prison.

'I don't know if I'm going to seek a prosecution, but I'm going to take legal advice.'

Mr Brooks added: 'As a family it's all come back up again. I knew it was coming months ago but it's a nightmare for me.

'For the two police officers to stand up and physically lie, what does that say about our police force?

'At the end of the day right or wrong if they'd done their job properly or reacted differently my son could still be alive today. But I don't know if that's ever be the case no one will ever know that.

'I can't change what happened and I've got no sympathy for them losing their jobs.'

Mr Brooks also paid tribute to his son, calling him 'a son any parent would be proud of'.

He said: 'My son was a very popular young man. He's a son any parent would be proud of. In 28 years of his life I never heard a bad word said about him from anybody.  'Anyone who knows him or has ever met him would say the same as me. The kid was a one off.'

Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), Commissioner Mary Cunneen, said: 'The death of Kyle Brooks on the A12 in October 2014 was a tragedy and our thoughts remain with his family and friends.

'We conducted a thorough, independent investigation into the handling of three separate emergency calls from members of the public to Essex Police prior to Mr Brooks' death.

'Our investigation found evidence to suggest Pc Joanne Jeggo and Pc John Simpson had lied in written statements they made in relation to why they had not searched a stretch of the A12 that night.

'The cases against these officers have now been found proven at misconduct hearings conducted by Essex Police and both officers have been dismissed from the force.'

It is understood neither officer will face a criminal charge of misconduct in public office but they are considering appealing the panel's decision.

Following the conclusion of the misconduct hearings, the IPCC's final report is now being considered for publication.

Original report here

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