Sunday, September 30, 2012

TX: Houston cop murders man in wheelchair

He couldn't outrun a wheelchair??

A Houston police officer shot and killed a one-armed, one-legged man in a wheelchair Saturday inside a group home after police say the double amputee threatened the officer and aggressively waved a metal object that turned out to be a pen.

Police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said the man cornered the officer in his wheelchair and was making threats while trying to stab the officer with the pen. At the time, the officer did not know what the metal object was that the man was waving, Silva said.

She said the man came "within inches to a foot" of the officer and did not follow instructions to calm down and remain still.

"Fearing for his partner's safety and his own safety, he discharged his weapon," Silva told The Associated Press.

Police did not immediately release the name of the man who was killed. They had been called to the home after a caretaker there called and reported that the man in wheelchair was causing a disturbance.

The owner of the group home, John Garcia, told the Houston Chronicle that the man had a history of mental illness and had been living at the house about 18 months. Garcia said the man had told him that he lost a leg above the knee and all of 1 arm when he was hit by a train.

"He sometimes would go off a bit, but you just ignore it," Garcia told the newspaper.

Silva identified the officer as Matthew Jacob Marin, a 5-year veteran of the department. He was immediately placed on 3-day administrative leave, which is standard in all shootings involving officers.

Houston police records indicate that Marin also fatally shot a suspect in 2009. Investigators at the time said Marin came upon a man stabbing his neighbor to death at an apartment complex and opened fired when the suspect refused to drop the knife.

On Saturday, Marin and his partner arrived at the group home around 2:30 a.m. Silva said there were several people at the house at the time. The caretaker who called police waited on the porch while the officers went inside, she said.

"It was close quarters in the area of the house," Silva said. "The officer was forced into an area where he had no way to get out."

Original report here

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Zealand "justice" takes a big hit

An "orchestrated litany" of ignoring the law this time

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has apologised to internet tycoon Kim Dotcom over an "unacceptable" bungle by government spies leading up to the arrest of the Megaupload boss.

Mr Key also ordered agents from the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to review their cases over the past three years to check whether there were other instances of communications being intercepted unlawfully.

The apology came as a report into the illegal monitoring of Dotcom blamed the agents for not being aware of New Zealand immigration laws and relying on erroneous information from the police.

"I'm pretty appalled by what I've seen. The organisation should be able to get this right," Mr Key told reporters. "Of course I apologise to Mr Dotcom. I apologise to New Zealand."

The GCSB, which is forbidden from spying on New Zealanders or permanent residents, had been asked by the police last year to monitor Dotcom who is wanted in the United States on internet piracy charges.

When they questioned the police if they could legally monitor Dotcom, the report said they were assured they could even though the German national held a New Zealand residence visa at the time.

"If things had been done properly it would have been quite clear (Dotcom) was protected," Mr Key said. "It is quite a basic error. They have failed at the lowest hurdle. It's quite frankly not good enough."

Key had ordered the report into the spying debacle after it was learned the DCSB had unlawfully intercepted communications for a month in the lead up to Dotcom's arrest in January.

"It is the GCSB's responsibility to act within the law, and it is hugely disappointing that in this case its actions fell outside the law," Mr Key said. "I am personally very disappointed that the agency failed to fully understand the workings of its own legislation."

Mr Key said he had sought an assurance that there were no other cases of communications being intercepted unlawfully and "the GCSB will be reviewing past cases back to 2009".

Original report here

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Friday, September 28, 2012

'Unfortunate' DNA error put brother as incest suspect

A forensics blunder allegedly pointing to the wrong suspect in the case of an intellectually impaired teen who fell pregnant was "pretty unfortunate", a court has heard. The Crown alleges subsequent testing strongly identified the girl's father, not her brother, as the likely parent of her unborn child.

But the father's lawyers have flagged an intention to try and get key DNA evidence thrown out, arguing it was based on an assumption. The 50-year-old man is on trial in the ACT Supreme Court accused of committing incest on his then 15-year-old daughter.

Her pregnancy came to light in 2010 when the girl's mother became concerned something was wrong. The case was reported to police and the pregnancy was later terminated.

Her father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was later charged with incest.

But he has pleaded not guilty, and is on trial in a case hinging on DNA evidence.

Melbourne-based forensic scientist Nicholas Vandenberg conducted tests at the request of the Australian Federal Police.

He concluded it was 45 million times more likely the accused fathered the unborn child than another, unrelated male picked at random from the Australian Caucasian population.

Mr Vandenberg yesterday said the relative chance of the accused fathering the child, as opposed to another random man, was 99.999998 per cent.

But barrister Shane Gill flagged an intention to ask for Mr Vandenberg's evidence to be excluded on the grounds it was based on assumptions and its prejudicial nature outweighed its evidentiary value.

Mr Vandenberg also said his analysis ruled out the girl's older brother, who also had an intellectual impairment. But the court heard a preliminary report suggested the brother was in fact the father of his sister's unborn child.

Forensics expert Joannah Lee was called in to review the initial report and concluded, based on the DNA profiles, the brother could be ruled out but not the father.

Under cross-examination from Mr Gill, she said it was unclear what went wrong. "Do you agree that it's pretty sloppy practice, a result that names [the brother] as the father," Mr Gill asked. "It was pretty unfortunate, yes," she replied.

Ms Lee said in her 14 years in DNA analysis she had never seen a similar mistake. She said one possible explanation was "contextual bias", and early on investigators considered it "extremely unlikely" the accused had fathered a child with his daughter.

Original report here

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Homicide ruling in police custody case riles community

The death of a young black habitual criminal will not be mourned by many but the manner of his death seems to reveal a disturbing disregard for their duties by the police

After learning a 22-year-old man's death in police custody had been revised to homicide, a group of leaders met Sunday night to brainstorm ways to mount a community response.

The Journal Sentinel reported Sunday that the Milwaukee County medical examiner's office has revised its ruling on the death of Derek Williams, who died in Milwaukee police custody in July 2011, from natural to homicide, according to the district attorney's office. The decision came after the Journal Sentinel alerted an assistant medical examiner to newly released records.

If Williams had gotten immediate medical attention, he would not have died in the backseat of a squad car while Milwaukee police officers ignored his pleas for help, James Hall, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said Sunday.

Hall and about a dozen other civil rights and community leaders gathered Sunday at All Peoples Lutheran Church on N. 2nd St. to discuss the death.

"Our city needs healing," said the Rev. Steve Jerbi, pastor of All Peoples.

The group urged everyone in the community to watch the video from the squad car camera showing officers disregarding Williams for more than 7 minutes as he writhes around gasping for air.

In making his initial determination of natural death more than a year ago, Assistant Medical Examiner Christopher Poulos did not review all of the police reports or a squad video recently obtained by the newspaper.

The video shows a handcuffed Williams, his eyes rolled back, gasping for breath and begging for help in the back seat of a Milwaukee police car as officers ignore his pleas. The police reports include key details about Williams' arrest that the medical examiner didn't know.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett plans to review the video Monday, said Pat Curley, Barrett's chief of staff.

"If there is new evidence coming to light and new evidence to be considered, the mayor wants to see that happen," Curley said.

As a result of the new ruling, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has reopened the investigation into whether criminal charges are warranted against any of the officers involved. In an earlier interview with the Journal Sentinel, Chisholm emphasized that the revised finding does not mean a crime was committed.

Attorney Jonathan Safran, who represents Williams' long-term girlfriend and their three young children, said Chisholm's office should not be the one to investigate this case.

Chisholm, the Police Department and the Fire and Police Commission previously had cleared the officers of wrongdoing, largely based on the medical examiner's earlier ruling of natural death.

Safran is calling on the U.S. attorney's office to take the case.

He said he receives calls daily from people who claim they have been victims of excessive force by the police department and the issue doesn't get appropriately addressed.

Williams' case is among the worst he's had, Safran said.

"The video is one of the most troubling things I have ever seen," he said. "It's simply unconscionable to watch what happens in the back of that squad car."

James Santelle, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, did not returncalls Sunday seeking comment.

In a statement, Milwaukee police Chief Edward Flynn said he did not expect any officers to be criminally charged as a result of the new ruling.

Williams, who had gotten out of jail after being arrested on municipal warrants for loitering, vandalism and assault, fled from police after attempting to rob a couple near the intersection of N. Holton and E. Center streets, according to the reports.

His death shows that change is needed in Milwaukee, said Keith Bailey of Milwaukee Matters, a local advocacy group.

Citizens need to let elected officials know: "We can't take this anymore," Bailey said. "We will not allow another person to perish the way that Derek Williams Jr. perished in the back of a police cruiser."

Original report here

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Corrupt New Zealand justice again

See the Bain case and the Saxmere scandal for background on vicious NZ justice

The Megaupload file-sharing piracy case may be in jeopardy as the New Zealand prime minister ordered an inquiry into the illegal bugging of Kim Dotcom before his arrest in January.

PM John Key said he had asked the inspector general of the intelligence services to investigate “unlawful interception of communications of certain individuals” by the Government Communications Security Bureau.

“The Crown has filed a memorandum in the High Court in the Megaupload case advising the court and affected parties that the GCSB had acted unlawfully while assisting the police to locate certain individuals subject to arrest warrants issued in the case,” Key said.

The illegal interceptions related to ‘Mr Dotcom’ and some of his colleagues who were facing extradition to the US to face charges of internet piracy and breaking copyright laws, Dotcom’s lawyer, told the FT.

The GCSB can only intercept communications of foreign organisations or people, not New Zealand citizens or permanent residents. Although 38-year old Dotcom is a German national he is also a New Zealand resident.

The US Department of Justice has accused Dotcom and his associates of making more than $175 million in illegal profits from a worldwide internet piracy enterprise that has cost copyright owners more than $500 million. Dotcom denies the charges and maintains Megaupload was nothing more than an online storage site.

The case has been dogged by controversy. The judge who was due to hear the case stepped down after he was recorded at a conference referring to the US as the “enemy” during a discussion about New Zealand’s copyright laws.

Dotcom was quick to tweet: “I’m now a real life James Bond villain in a real life political copyright thriller scripted by Hollywood & the White House.’

Original report here

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

8 years as a "suspect" ruins man's life

He should not have been named unless there was enough evidence to bring him to court

SINCE he was named as a prime suspect in the murder of Corinna Marr, former Messenger photographer Derick Sands' life has "disappeared". That is what Mr Sands has told the Supreme Court in a defamation hearing.

Police named Mr Sands as a suspect in the murder in May 2004, seven years after Ms Marr was killed on Friday, July 4, 1997.

Mr Sands took the stand yesterday in the defamation case he brought against the State of South Australia.

"I've lost nearly every one of my friends from that period," Mr Sands said. "With relatives, I find it a bit difficult - I'm a little bit embarrassed by what's gone on."

Mr Sands lost his job in 2004 after he was named as a suspect, and is now unemployed.

Yesterday, he told the court he had attempted to set up a private photography business, which failed after police seized computers and back-up copies of his photos.

"When there is publication in the newspaper regarding the murder and myself I tend to lose clients very quickly," Mr Sands told the court yesterday.

"My life has just disappeared and all of this is just taking too long. It's not been a terribly good number of years at all."

He told the court the current trial had also had an impact on his relationship with the mother of his child.

The case, before Justice Trish Kelly, is continuing.

Original report here

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Black British cop steals from the dead

A police officer cousin of England footballer Darren Bent stole £250 from a flat where a man had died.

PC Richard Bent, 28, told a colleague: 'No disrespect, but he's dead', after swiping the bank notes from the central London home he was guarding.

Detectives investigating the sudden death of Rustam Cihhudy, asked Bent to collect medical notes from the Westminster flat, and the policeman took his chance to pocket the money.

Bent, whose mother is the aunt of England and Aston Villa striker Darren, and who admits the theft, was based at Belgravia Police Station at the time of the theft on July 13 this year.

His colleagues set a trap for Bent as he returned to the station to book in the medical notes.

Bent was handed a lost bag by an undercover officer posing as a member of the public containing £93, which the PC promptly pocketed.

‘He is a serving police officer and the two thefts were committed while on duty’, prosecutor Emma Scheer told Westminster Magistrates Court today.

‘This is abuse of trust in relation to the fact he is a police officer, which is quite significant.’

Bent was arrested outside Bank tube station in central London, after skipping out of his shift early on July 13 to cash in his stolen money.

Ms Sheer said: ‘The £250 stolen was in old money and needed to be exchanged for new money.'

‘The first charge is a theft from a deceased person, Mr Cihhudy, while on duty providing cordon services.

‘PC Bent was positioned on the cordon guarding the property and obtained the keys to the property.

‘He took the medical notes that he was requested to do.’

Mr Cihhudy’s death was initially treated as suspicious after he collapsed unexpectedly at a flat in Page Street, Westminster, but was later adjudged not to be a police matter.

Bent, wearing a shirt and tie covered with a black jumper, initially gave no indication of a plea and asked for the case to be transferred to the crown court.

But district judge Nicholas Evans insisted the case could be dealt with at the magistrates’ court.

He admitted two counts of theft - in respect of the £250 and £93 amounts - but denies swiping a bank statement, three cheque books, and a passport from Mr Cihhudy.

Bent, from Wandsworth, southwest London, was suspended from the Met Police when the accusations came to light.

Judge Evans ordered him to return for sentence on September 26 and released him on unconditional bail.

Original report here

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Adoption halted as court told baby milk led to 'innocent' couple being accuse of abuse

More official ignorance  very nearly leads to a huge injustice

Vitamin supplements in baby milk may have led an innocent couple being condemned for battering their newborn son, a top family judge has heard

The boy, who cannot be named, was taken away from his parents and was poised to be adopted after multiple broken bones were put down to child abuse.

But Lord Justice McFarlane halted the process yesterday after hearing how an extraordinary combination of medical events could have led to a case of congenital rickets being overlooked.

The parents, who have fought a three-year custody battle, have been given a final chance to get their son back.

It came after lawyers had what they described as a "light bulb moment" and understood the full significance of the child's medical records.

Michael Shrimpton, for the family, who are from the north of England, told the Court of Appeal in London that there is evidence that the boy was born with a Vitamin D deficiency, inherited from his mother, leading to "soft bones" and rickets.

It suggests that the broken bones could have occurred during his difficult forceps birth, or even in the womb.

Blood tests to check for signs of vitamin deficiency, when the boy was four weeks old were normal.

But the court heard hat it is possible that it was "masked" by the formula milk given to him by his mother – which contained Vitamin D supplements.

He added that there was "striking" evidence of severe abnormalities in the functioning of the baby boy's liver, an organ instrumental in processing Vitamin D.

The judge temporarily halted the adoption process and ordered urgent medical reports.

Having a child taken away is an “exceptionally awful” ordeal, he remarked, adding that it was essential to examine whether the Vitamin D deficiency explanation for the boy's injuries was "more than an intellectual possibility".

He also noted that there was no evidence of emotional difficulties, domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, or any signs of dysfunction within the family, to indicate a risk of child abuse.

Mr Shrimpton said that one of the country's top endocrinologists, Professor Stephen Nussey, who has carried out pioneering work on the causes and effects of Vitamin D deficiency, will be instructed to carry out that task if he is available at short notice.

Observing that medical knowledge on the causes of infant injuries is in a state of constant movement, the barrister added: "This is an important case. It is starting to take on the appearance of a leading test case".

After hearing expert evidence in June last year, a judge at Sheffield High Court ruled that one or other of the parents must have been responsible for the baby's injuries. The same judge refused to change her mind earlier this year and freed the boy for adoption.

However, Lord Justice McFarlane observed: "Medical knowledge of how some children may have bones that are more susceptible to injury than normal children has moved on".

Emphasising the extreme urgency of the case in light of plans for the boy's imminent adoption, the judge gave the parents 28 days to obtain a report from Professor Nussey, or another expert, in support of their case.

The local authority involved in the case had informed the Appeal Court that suitable adoptive parents have already been found for the boy but no further steps in the process would be taken prior to the court ruling on the case.

The case will return to the Appeal Court once the expert medical report has been obtained.

Original report here

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sometimes when you pay peanuts you get monkeys

I hope Wal Mart has fired the two monkeys below by now. How come even their manager was a drooling idiot? A cop eventually had to make him replace the money he had torn up. No sign of repentance at all

Two Walmart employees are in hot water after they allegedly destroyed two $100 bills when a customer tried to pay with them.

According to Court House News, Julia Garcia is suing Walmart Stores after the "humiliating ordeal" she endured at the hands of two employees who accused her of using counterfeit currency at a San Antonio, Texas, location.

Garcia says she was Christmas shopping with her children at a [Walmart] in San Antonio in December 2010 and entered a checkout lane around 2 a.m. Garcia says she paid for her $150 purchase with a $100 bill, a $50 bill and change.

"The cashier inspected the $100 bill, turned to another cashier and had a brief discussion, and returned to her register telling the plaintiff her money was 'fake,'" the complaint states. "The cashier proceeded to rip the $100 bill in half without performing any counterfeit detection tests. The metallic strip in the $100 bill was clearly visible."

Garcia claims that a manager named Russell was then called over. Russell allegedly told her that the money was counterfeit and that she would have to wait for the police.

According to the complaint, Garcia then pulled out another $100 bill that she had in her possession. She alleges that Russell took the second bill from her and ripped it in half as well, saying that it, too, was counterfeit.

Garcia claims that Walmart made her wait at the front of the store, "in plain sight of all passing customers," until police arrived. She said she was publicly humiliated by the store's employees who told other shoppers that she had been trying to use fake currency.

Finally, two police officers arrived at the store. Upon checking the torn notes, they determined that both were legal tender.

Garcia is reportedly seeking "punitive damages for false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress."

After a user on the social news site Reddit posted Garcia's story online, readers responded with anger -- and plenty of bewilderment.

"For the record, there was zero reason for them to tear up the bill, even if it was counterfeit. There is no policy in place telling anyone to do this with counterfeit bills, and in fact, because the bills have to be turned over to investigators, the tearing up of the bill would count as destroying evidence. Just wanted to point that out. If the employees actually did what the report says they did, then they were idiots on top of being asshats," said user "this_isnt_happening."

Original report here

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crooked British fraud investigators

Property entrepreneur Robert Tchenguiz has been released from bail, leading to a growing belief that the Serious Fraud Office is preparing to drop its long-running investigation of his business activities.

The Sunday Telegraph understands the Mayfair-based businessman has been told by the City of London Police and the SFO he is no longer subject to the bail imposed following his arrest in March 2011.

The decision will increase speculation that the SFO will shortly drop its investigation into his business dealings with the failed Icelandic bank, Kaupthing.

Mr Tchenguiz and his former colleague Aaron Brown remain two of the last three individuals still formally under investigation from the eight originally questioned following raids by the SFO and City of London Police last year. Mr Brown has also had his bail lifted. Another of Robert Tchenguiz’s lieutenants, Tim Smalley, was told he was no longer under investigation last month.

The decision to release Mr Tchenguiz from bail comes three months after the SFO faced embarrassment after it was obliged to drop its investigation into his brother Vincent and six weeks since the High Court delivered a damning judicial review into the work of the SFO.

Lord Justice Thomas, sitting with Justice Silber, ruled that the search warrants had been obtained by the SFO on the back of evidence that was “unfair and inaccurate”.

The judges said the SFO misrepresented evidence to the criminal court judge who had originally granted the search warrants.

It is understood the SFO was asked to offer a formal apology about mistakes made in the investigation to the judge who granted the original search warrants.

Since the case against him collapsed. Vincent Tchenguiz has threatened to launch a £100m legal action against the SFO for damages that flowed from his public arrest. A letter before action was sent to the SFO before the agency admitted to the full range of mistakes it had made in the investigation.

It is understood Vincent Tchenguiz could pursue a much higher damages claims against the SFO and, potentially, other parties now the mistakes have been revealed.

Although the SFO investigation was started under the leadership of the previous SFO director, Richard Alderman, it has continued in a reduced form under David Green, the current chief.

Following the High Court verdict in the judicial review, brought by Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz, the SFO put out a statement saying it would continue the investigation into the reduced number of individuals with “renewed vigour and focus”.

An SFO spokesman confirmed that bail conditions against Robert Tchenguiz had been dropped but stressed the investigation continued. “The SFO can confirm that it has notified Mr Robert Tchenguiz that his bail has been cancelled,” the spokesman said. “We can also confirm that two other suspects have similarly been notified about bail cancellation.

“We stated in July following the judicial review ruling that we were continuing with the investigation and this remains the situation. The decision to release suspects from bail is not the same as changing their status.”

Original report here

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Texas Mom sues police over arrest

Says she was wrongly accused of child endangerment

A stay-at-home mom from La Porte has filed a lawsuit against the city's police department, an unknown officer and one of her neighbors.

Tammy Cooper said she was wrongly accused of endangering her children and was even forced to spend the night in jail, all because she let her kids play outside.

She said her children, ages 9 and 6, were riding their motorized scooters in the cul-de-sac where they live while she watched from a lawn chair in her front yard just a few feet away.

"I was out there the entire time," Cooper said. "I never left that lawn chair the entire time."

Cooper said a little while later, a La Porte police car pulled up in front of her home.

"I went out there to see what he was here for and he said, 'Ma'am, we're here for you.' I said, 'Oh really? Why?' He proceeded to tell me he had received a call from one of my neighbors that my kids were riding their scooters unsupervised.

Cooper said she was handcuffed, put in the back of a police car and forced to spend the night in jail. "Orange jumpsuit, in a cell, slammed the door, for 18 hours," Cooper said.

The charges against her were eventually dropped but she still describes the ordeal as humiliating and said her children were even questioned by police and terrified.

"My daughter had him (the police officer) around the leg saying, "Please, please don't take my mom to jail. Please, she didn't do anything wrong,'" said Cooper.

The La Porte Police department issued a statement saying;

"...we are confident in the known actions of the responding officers. In addition, officers did contact the Harris County District Attorney's Office while on the scene that evening, upon which their Office accepted charges of Abandoning a Child on Ms. Cooper."

Cooper said the ordeal has been stressful, time consuming and costly. She said her family has already shelled out $7,000 in legal fees.

"I hope that what I went through doesn't go unpunished - that there are consequences for a bad decision," Cooper said.

Original report here

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thug British cop fired but still not guilty of manslaughter

Despite video showing a man dying shortly after being hit by the cop

PC Simon Harwood, the police officer cleared of killing newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson during the G20 riots, has been sacked after being found guilty of gross misconduct by a disciplinary panel.
Ian Tomlinson was no threat, G20 officer admits

The 45-year-old had admitted striking Mr Tomlinson with his baton and pushing him to the ground during the riots near the Royal Exchange Buildings in the City of London on April 1 2009.

But he denied that his actions contributed to Mr Tomlinson's death and was cleared of manslaughter at a criminal trial in July.

Today a police panel found that he had breached professional standards through discreditable conduct and use of force, constituting gross misconduct.

He will now be sacked from the force and has accepted he will never be employed as a police officer again.

But Mr Tomlinson's family stormed out of the hearing dismissing it as a "whitewash" after the panel said it did not need to consider whether PC Tomlinson's actions had contributed to the newspaper vendor's death.

Patrick Gibbs QC, representing PC Harwood told the hearing that it was unnecessary to put the allegations again as they had been dealt with at the trial.

He said it was an attempt to "manufacture a show trial" by rehearing the evidence already considered.

But speaking outside of the hearing, Mr Tomlinson's step-son Paul King said: "I think it's pointless, it hasn't proved anything to us. We still haven't got any answer from this. After three-and-a-half years, I think its diabolical. It's like we're back at day one. We will carry on, it isn't going to be the last of it."

He said there was "no justice" in the fact that Harwood now faces the sack.

The family are planning to take civil action over Mr Tomlinson's death.

The hearing heard how PC Harwood has twice offered to resign following the incident, the first time after Mr Tomlinson's inquest and the second time after he was cleared of manslaughter at the criminal trial. Both times his offers had been refused.

PC Harwood struck Mr Tomlinson as the newspaper vendor was making his way home from work.

The father of nine, who was an alcoholic and had slept rough for a number of years, managed to walk 75 yards before he collapsed and later died from internal bleeding.

Harwood, from Carshalton in Surrey, has already been acquitted of Mr Tomlinson's manslaughter, although an inquest found the father-of-nine was unlawfully killed.

Addressing the disciplinary panel, Patrick Gibbs QC, for Harwood said: "Pc Harwood does indeed accept that the discredit which his actions, and the way in which they have been reported, has brought upon the Metropolitan Police Service amounts to gross misconduct. He has twice offered his resignation to the Commissioner."

He said that, with the benefit of hindsight, Harwood would have used "no force at all" if he had known about the state of Mr Tomlinson's health.

Mr Gibbs said: "If he had known then what he now knows about the circumstances, everybody's movements and Mr Tomlinson's health, he would have used no force, let alone the force that he did use."

Harwood has a controversial police disciplinary record, but this was not considered as part of the hearing because the accusations are more than two years old.

A number of allegations were made against Harwood over a 12-year period and he was allowed to retire from the Met on medical grounds in 2001 despite unresolved disciplinary proceedings.

He was accused of unlawful arrest, abuse of authority and discreditable conduct over an incident when he allegedly shouted at another driver and knocked him over his car door, before announcing that he was a police officer and arresting the motorist on a common assault charge.

But the proceedings were discontinued when he retired.

Later, Harwood rejoined the force as a civilian worker before becoming a police officer for Surrey.

He was then allowed to rejoin the Met in 2004 as part of its territorial support group (TSG), specialising in public order.

After he was acquitted of manslaughter, police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission said his case raised "grave concerns" about Met vetting procedures.

The force admitted that proper checks had not been made, but said processes had since changed.

Original report here

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Woman who spent TWELVE YEARS in prison set to be freed... after victim finally admits it never happened

A woman who has spent twelve years behind bars for sexually assaulting her two nieces in 1994 may be set free after one of the girls is now claiming it never happened.

Elizabeth Ramirez was sentenced to 37-and-a-half years prison and her three friends were given 15 years after the two children, then aged 7 and 9, told police the women forced them into a debauched, orgy-like nightmare.

But one of the girls, now 25, has recanted the serious claims that put her aunt and friends Kristie Mayhugh, Anna Vasquez and Cassandra Rivera behind bars so many years ago, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

'I want my aunt and her friends out of prison,' the younger niece, who wanted only to be known as Stephanie, said. 'Whatever it takes to get them out I'm going to do. I can't live my life knowing that four women are sleeping in a cage because of me.'

Ramirez and Rivera were just 20 when they were arrested and friends Vasquez and Mayhugh were 19 and 22 respectively.

None of the women had ever been in trouble with the law and the women have always vehemently denied the claims.

Ramirez was labeled the ringleader by her nieces and was handed a prison term more than double that of her friends.

She therefore has the most to gain from an exoneration in that it would free her from a sentence that doesn't end until 2034, when she would be 60 years old.

Rivera, 37, has never has held her one-year-old granddaughter, the Express-News reported while Mayhugh and Vasquez have missed the funerals of loved ones. Ramirez, 38, who was pregnant at the time she was accused, hasn't seen or spoken to her son since going to prison when he was two.

'I never want to be bitter and angry,' Ramirez said in a prison interview. 'Regardless, God always says you gotta love and you've got to forgive.'

The women didn't believe Stephanie recanted the accusations until their attorney showed them a typed summary of his meetings with the young woman. 'At first I was like, "Are you serious?"' Ramirez said. 'I didn't think they had anything on paper.'

But Stephanie's change of heart may not ultimately lead to the legal exoneration of the women and they face a long court battle to clear their names. However, the friends are quietly confident justice will be done.

'I know the charges against us are not taken lightly. But can they please keep looking into this?' said Vasquez, tears welling in her eyes. 'Maybe it's been put into [Stephanie's] heart to finally tell the truth. I thank God that she's come forward. They painted us as monsters.'

Stephanie had told police that her aunt and her friends had violently turned on her when she and her sister were visiting Ramirez's one-bedroom apartment in the summer of 1994. But she now says that never happened.

According to the Express-News, the nieces described to police and later to jurors how the women called them into the apartment, where they were getting drunk and smoking pot, two of them lounging around topless, and held them by their wrists and ankles, repeatedly violated them, threatened to kill them and their families, then let them take a shower and go about their day.

But Stephanie now says the visit was uneventful, even 'boring.'

First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg told the news website that it's too early for him to take a position on the case. But he said their ears were open. 'We are more than willing to listen to anything they have to say,' Mr Herberg said. 'It's paramount that justice is done, whatever that is.'

Stephanie revealed that her recantation has ruined her relationship with her sister, who hasn't been named. She added that she hasn't spoken to her aunt since she was imprisoned.

'Does she know I'm trying to help?' Stephanie asked a reporter. 'I can't take back what I did, but if I could talk to all of them in one room I would just say I'm sorry. I'm sorry for ruining them.'

Original report here

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rape accused: 'My life is in ruins'

Rape accused should have an expectation of privacy. Rape victims usually do. But, in many jurisdictions, there is no such protection for the accused -- and police publicity means that alleged rapists are convicted in the court of public opinion even while innocent

Police should work as hard to neutralize misleading publicity as they do to trace real perpetrators

A MAN wrongfully accused by police of a string of terrifying sex attacks in western Sydney says the ordeal has destroyed his life and left him suicidal.

Joey de Mesa, now 27, became known as the "buck-tooth rapist" after police charged him with the attacks on six teenage girls between April and June 2008.

When the DNA evidence cleared him, Mr de Mesa thought the nightmare bungle was behind him. But four years on, he has turned to The Sunday Telegraph in sheer desperation, saying he cannot escape the slurs and lies about his character.

"It's so difficult for me to get a full-time job. I've tried but every time I get a job, I lose it," said fed-up Mr de Mesa, adding that he has also lost count of the number of job knockbacks.

Mr de Mesa fears employers have Googled his name and found out about his past and then let him go "without good reason".

"Who knows if they do background checks. A lot of people just question me and they start talking," Mr de Mesa said. "They approach me and say, 'I know you from somewhere, I've seen your face.' A lot of people do mention it.

"I love work. I've applied for work like wardsman in a hospital, for example." He has held four warehouse jobs in western Sydney in the past four years, the most recent being as a labourer at a stationery company where he lasted just two weeks. "I was told there wasn't enough work."

His long-time partner Marcianne Mendiola, 23, said he was being discriminated against because it wasn't his performance that was lacking. "He's always in and out of jobs," Ms Mendiola said.

Mr de Mesa says his life was torn apart when one of the victims incorrectly identified him after seeing him on a train and CCTV footage of him was released through the media.

He spent 48 hours in a cell before DNA evidence cleared him and he was released.

The real culprit, father-of-three Arvin Longabella, then 23, was arrested two weeks later and sentenced to 17 years behind bars for 15 offences against seven victims.

At the time of his arrest, Mr de Mesa was working at a fruit market in Edgecliff, but his employer let him go.

"Sometimes I think the easiest thing to do is to kill myself," he said. "I've avoided everyone. I have no more friends. My old friends would mention it to me. They would say (you're): 'the buck-tooth rapist'."

His mother suffered a stroke after being interrogated by police in her house following his arrest, he said. "My mum was sitting for 18 hours, just stiff like a log."

Mr de Mesa knows he's made mistakes - at the time of his arrest he was on bail for kicking a man during a late-night fight on June 29, for which he recently finished serving a two-year good behaviour bond.

But he wants a clean slate and says the first step is to expunge the sex attacks arrest from his criminal record.

A police spokeswoman said police "spoke with the man and his family immediately after his release and issued a personal apology" - which Mr de Mesa denied ever happened - "and consulted with them (Mr de Mesa and his family) in relation to a subsequent media release, which announced that all charges were being withdrawn."

Original report here

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Texas Police Officer Arrests 77-Year Old Grandmother After Robotic Failure to Listen to Her

And his bosses back him up, surprise, surprise!

Police dashboard camera and a second camera attached to a Keene County, Texas, police officer captured this dramatic video of a 77 year-old grandmother talking back to the officer, who had just pulled her over for speeding.

According to a local Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC affiliate, the woman, Lynn Bedford, was travelling 66 mph in 50 mph zone, when officer Sgt. Gene Gehab pulled her over on Aug. 19.

As the officer walked up to the vehicle, the woman announced she was speeding because she had a bladder infection and had to use the bathroom.

Neither the police officer nor the woman appear to listen to the other person and the confrontation quickly escalates with the officer demanding Bedford's license and the woman telling Gehab he would have to wait a minute.

Police in Keene County don't wait for grandmothers to finish talking.

After asking Bedford for her license numerous times, and both people talking over each other, Gehab's long arm of the law opened up Bedford's door and dragged the woman out of the vehicle and pulled her onto the ground.

Bedford was charged with failure to show her license and released later that day.

The police issued a statement supporting Gehab.

"This incident has been reviewed thoroughly by the Keene Police Department and the City of Keene Administration," Alberti said in a written statement. "All parties have concluded that Sgt. Geheb did not violate any state laws or department policies, and in fact was following department policy in regards to violators not providing identification."

Apparently, exercising judgement doesn't enter into the discussion with the Keene Police Department. It seems pretty obvious that if Gehab had not been so combative from the get-go, he could have calmed the lady, followed her to the nearest bathroom and then ticketed her. That would have taken less time than hauling her in, and booking her.

Original report here (Video at link)

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Friday, September 14, 2012

It takes a lot for a British cop to be pulled into line

A stalker was able to scour police databases for information about his 41-year-old victim while he volunteered as a special constable.

David Hoar, also 41, of Stoke Newington, north-east London, loitered near her house and workplace and said he was her partner, the woman said.

The Tower Hamlets officer also looked up the mother-of-two's contact details and turned up at events she was attending, she claimed.

Hoar pleaded guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court in July to using police databases to unlawfully search for her, but is yet to be sentenced. In one day alone he made 27 enquiries and accessed her records 51 times in total between May and August 2010, the court heard.

The woman said Hoar first appeared on her doorstep, claiming he knew her at primary school, but she had no recollection of him back then.

She claimed the Metropolitan Police 'ignored' her complaints about Hoar and he used a police badge to get into events she was attending.

The woman, who said she even moved house in a desperate bid to escape him, added: ‘Hoar just walked into my life and ruined it.

‘He’d hang around outside my house and job and told people we were together - even though I’ve been with my partner for years. ‘I moved, changed jobs and stopped going out with my friends. I’m on antidepressants, I’m not sleeping and I’m suffering from anxiety.’

She claimed to have often called police about him, but believed he accessed those complaints to find out her contact details.

Hoar pleaded guilty to a Computer Misuse Act offence and his sentencing last month was postponed for a mental health assessment to take place. A spokesman for Snaresbrook Crown Court told MailOnline that Hoar is due to be sentenced on September 26.

The specific charge he pleaded guilty to was 'causing computer to perform function with intent to secure unauthorised access'.

The victim said she had expected to be called as a witness in a trial, but only found out he had been at court after reading a story about the case in a local newspaper.

She added: ‘I asked for help but was ignored. He asked for help and he’s being assessed at a hospital.’

A Hackney police spokesman said: ‘After establishing whom the suspect was, Hoar was issued with a harassment warning on September 10, 2010, by an officer at Hackney.

‘The Directorate of Professional Standards - the Met’s internal complaints and anti-corruption department - and Hoar’s supervisor at Tower Hamlets were informed of the outcome.’

Hoar left his job as a special constable in October 2010.

Original report here

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Huge coverup of fatal British police bungling

British Prime Minister David Cameron has apologised to the families of the 96 victims of the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster for the "double injustice" they suffered.

Following the release of thousands of documents, he told parliament on Wednesday the Liverpool supporters had suffered not only from official failings that led to the deaths, but also from police attempts to blame the victims.

"On behalf of the government - and indeed our country - I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long," a sombre Cameron said in a statement to lawmakers.

He was speaking after the Hillsborough Independent Panel, a seven-member body led by the Bishop of Liverpool, published a report into Britain's worst sporting disaster following a review of previously unseen files.

"With the weight of the new evidence in this report, it is right for me today as prime minister to make a proper apology to the families of the 96 for all they have suffered over the past 23 years," Cameron said.

"Indeed, the new evidence that we are presented with today makes clear that these families have suffered a double injustice. "The injustice of the appalling events - the failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth. "And the injustice of the denigration of the deceased -- that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths."

The panel found that police "significantly amended" 164 statements, including the removal of 116 negative comments about the leadership of the police, to push the blame for the tragedy onto the fans, Cameron said.

The tragedy was caused by massive overcrowding in the Leppings Lane End of Sheffield's Hillsborough stadium at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

To ease overcrowding outside the Leppings Lane End, police opened an exit gate, allowing supporters to flood into the central pens. Fenced in, fans were crushed to death.

The city of Liverpool will hold a two-minute silence from 3:06pm (1406 GMT) - the time the match was called off - as a mark of respect to the victims, ahead of a a candle-lit vigil.

Liverpool's current captain Steven Gerrard has condemned the authorities for covering up the truth about the Hillsborough stadium disaster for 23 years. "For 23 years they have fought for truth and justice on behalf of the victims and survivors of this terrible tragedy and all Liverpool supporters," Gerrard said.

"Victims and survivors suffered not just on April 15, 1989 in Sheffield, but for over two decades afterwards with the shameful slandering of their actions by people who abused their position and power."

Gerrard's 10-year-old cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley was the youngest fatality at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest, with most victims crushed and suffocated in a standing-room-only section at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium.

A government-appointed panel that reviewed the papers found that injured fans were denied medical treatment that could have saved their lives. Panel member Dr Bill Kirkup said 41 fans had the "potential to survive".

"Speaking as someone whose family directly suffered, I know the pain and hurt will remain," Gerrard said.

The editor of Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid The Sun at the time of the Hillsborough stadium disaster has apologised for a running a story 23 years ago that blamed fans for the tragedy.

Kelvin MacKenzie said he had been "totally misled" into running a front-page story with the headline "The Truth", together with false claims that supporters picked the pockets of victims and urinated on police.

"Today I offer my profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline," he said in a statement issued hours after an independent panel published a report revealing a huge police cover-up of the tragedy.

"It has taken more than two decades, 400,000 documents and a two-year inquiry to discover to my horror that it would have been far more accurate had I written the headline The Lies rather than The Truth. "I published in good faith and I am sorry that it was so wrong."

Original report here

More details here. Some cops may now be prosecuted.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Australia: Trigger-happy NSW cops again -- covered up, of course

No charges against shooter depite Coroner's recommendation

Jeremy Holcombe cannot sleep. He cannot work, he cannot relax and he is obsessed with bad news. He was hospitalised with panic attacks on the third anniversary of his son Elijah's death in June this year.

The physical manifestation of his grief continues, unabated.

Then came the letter from prosecutors late last month, indicating they would not be pursing the police officer who shot the mentally ill Elijah Holcombe for murder or manslaughter, despite a coroner's view that such charges could be proffered.

For Mr Holcombe, this was just another heart-wrenching chapter in the tragic saga - as another is only just beginning. Mr Holcombe and his late wife's estate have launched civil action against the State of NSW, claiming the Holcombes have suffered greatly from the "unlawful" and "negligent" conduct of Senior Constable Andrew Rich and his employer, the NSW Police Force.

In particular, they claim he did not heed warnings about Elijah's mental illness and was not justified in shooting the man who health workers simply wanted to be returned to hospital for treatment.

Documents filed with the NSW District Court outline the repeated alerts issued over the police system warning officers searching for the 24-year-old that he "suffers from mental health issues and is extremely frightened of police - use caution when dealing with - concerns he will run".

Just hours earlier, Elijah had presented at Armidale police station to return his father's car, which he had used to flee his parents' home in Narrabri, and requested hospital treatment. He was taken to Armidale Hospital where nurses expressed concerns for his mental state, but as a voluntary patient he could leave whenever he pleased. He did - but worried health workers asked police to help find him and bring him back, so alerts were issued asking patrol officers to keep an eye out.

About 4pm that day he was spotted, and an officer began a pursuit, chasing Elijah through a mall, a cafe and then into a laneway. Senior Constable Rich called out to Elijah: "Stop or I will shoot."

Armed with a bread knife grabbed in the cafe, but still at least eight metres from the officer, Elijah turned to face Senior Constable Rich and was fatally shot with a single bullet.

"Elijah died because of the unlawful and negligent conduct of [the officer]," the Holcombes argue in their negligence suit. "There is no reasonable possibility that [the officer's] response was a reasonable response to the circumstances as he perceived them … [He] was not acting in self-defence … at the time of the shooting, [the officer] knew or ought to have known that Elijah had not committed or was not committing an offence which warranted the use of lethal force."

Police said they could not comment on the case because it is before court.

Jeremy Holcombe told The Sun-Herald he wished no ill on anyone involved in Elijah's death but hoped at least a civil court could adjudicate on what occurred.

His solicitor, David Sweeney, added: "People often get relief when there's recognition of their injustices."

The State Coroner, Mary Jerram, shut down the inquest into Elijah's death in October 2010, referring the case to the DPP for consideration of charges. The case will now return to her at a date in the future, while the civil case returns to court later this month.

The Holcombes' criminal solicitor, Philip Stewart, told the The Sun-Herald he had urged the coroner to resume the inquest, taking evidence from the remaining listed witnesses.

"One would hope that the police have the fortitude to allow themselves to be questioned," he said.

Original report here

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Naked gal gets deal on a suit: 15G for Times Sq. bust

Zoe West, busted for stripping down during a body-painting exhibition in Times Square last year has won a settlement in her false-arrest lawsuit.

A nude model busted for dropping her drawers during a body-painting exhibition in Times Square has scored a $15,000 payout from red-faced city officials.

Zoe West, 22, plans to settle her false-arrest lawsuit today after getting a signed offer last week, says her lawyer, Ron Kuby.

The civil-rights lawyer said cops never should have arrested West because “public nudity is legal in New York City as long as it’s done for purposes of a performance, exhibition or show.”

“Given the police idiocy, one wonders where the boobs really are,” he said.

“In order to determine that she was fully nude, you had to get much closer to her than most people get on a first date,” he noted.

West was arrested following an Aug. 30, 2011, “full-body” painting exhibition at the Crossroads of World.

After having nearly every inch of her 5-foot-2 frame covered in color, West doffed her G-string for the final strokes. But just as artist Andy Golub was finishing, cops arrived and a “visibly unnerved” Sgt. Anthony Fusaro told West he had to “bring her in,” her Manhattan federal court suit says.

She was hauled off to a police van wearing nothing but a pair of metal handcuffs.

At the Midtown South precinct house, several cops “gawked at her” for 15 minutes before she was allowed to dress and was patted down by a female cop, the suit says.

She was released without charges two hours later.

West said she had no regrets, because the cops “weren’t abusive or anything like that” and the exposure has “put me on the map in a positive way.”

“I went out on a limb to do something that I thought was a good project, and it was pretty successful and pretty exciting,” she said.

Since then, she has landed a role in an “interactive” murder-mystery play in upstate Woodstock along with other modeling projects — although “nothing quite as ostentatious” as the Times Square gig. She’s now preparing to move to Manhattan from upstate Kingston.

West said she didn’t have any plans for the settlement money but would likely “put it away” for the future.

Golub, who has made a career out of painting bodies and objects including cars, food trucks and handbags, called West’s settlement a “fair” deal.

“I definitely felt bad that she was arrested, and I feel it’s good that she stood up for her rights,” he said.

The city Law Department declined to comment.

Original report here

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Australia: Top NSW cop wrote dishonest report to protect colleagues

Even though the victim was shot in the back by a panicky dickess Tracy, the cops still tried to lie their way out of it

ONE of the state's top homicide investigators engaged in "whitewashing" and "fabrication" in preparing a report into the police shooting of the mentally ill Sydney man Adam Salter, the Police Integrity Commission has heard.

And when Detective Inspector Russell Oxford was later informed by the NSW Crown Solicitor's Office that he would come under scrutiny over the report and should get a lawyer, he allegedly accused the office of having "an agenda" against NSW Police.

The revelations emerged during the sixth day of the commission's public hearings into the 2009 death of Mr Salter and the police's subsequent investigation.

In his final report, Inspector Oxford cleared all officers involved in the shooting of wrongdoing, finding they acted reasonably and appropriately given that Mr Salter was threatening one of them with a knife.

But late last year the NSW Deputy Coroner found that the 36-year-old was shot in the back while he was harming himself with a knife following a failed police operation.

The coroner described aspects of Inspector Oxford's investigation as "a disgrace" and found that he misrepresented the truth.

Inspector Oxford's final report into the shooting was based, in part, on the claim that the evidence of the four officers who witnessed the shooting was consistent with that of the three ambulance officers who were also there - that is, that Mr Salter grappled with a young officer in the moments before he was shot.

But during the course of the inquiry, the ambulance officers have given evidence that Mr Salter was some distance from the police officer and posed a threat only to himself.

Yesterday, Geoffrey Watson, SC, the counsel assisting the inquiry, accused Inspector Oxford of deliberately omitting the contradictory evidence in order to "whitewash" the incident.

"[By this point in the report] you're now just engaging in deliberate fabrication - that is just manifestly false, isn't it?" Mr Watson said. "You were not offering a genuine report at all, you were simply offering a whitewash."

Inspector Oxford denied this, arguing there were "a number of consistencies" between the versions of events given by the police and the ambulance officers.

Mr Watson also put it to Inspector Oxford that, upon receiving a letter from the Crown Solicitor's Office advising him to seek independent legal representation before last year's inquest into the shooting, he rang the office and berated one of its staff.

Inspector Oxford allegedly told the staff member: "I welcome the chance to give evidence … I have a lot to say about the Crown Solicitor's Office and their broader agenda."

He also allegedly said: "We have had nothing but criticisms from your office."

But Inspector Oxford denied he had tried to intimidate the staff member or her office. He said he had simply been venting frustration about not being given enough notice that he was going to come under criticism at the coronial inquiry.

Inspector Oxford was also questioned about why he did not obtain forensic evidence of the trajectory of the fatal bullet.

He replied: "I was satisfied with the examinations our people did at the crime scene … there was no doubt that the shooting was in close proximity to Adam Salter."

Original report here

(Via Australian police news)

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Sunday, September 09, 2012

No fingerprints and an invented confession -- now no DNA match either

These a**holes are letting the real murderer go free

In the many years that I’ve written about the case of Carlton Gary, an American Death Row prisoner, I’ve grown used to the fact that the prosecutors who seek to have him executed will go to extraordinary lengths to make sure this happens.

But the latest twist in this labyrinthine legal saga has left me reeling: they argue that even DNA tests that completely undermine his conviction can safely be disregarded.

According to a prosecution legal document filed last week with the judge handling Gary’s last chance to appeal, it simply doesn’t matter that these tests exclude him as the killer. They are nothing but a vexatious attempt to ‘delay his punishment’, which should now swiftly proceed.

Gary, 61, who happens to be black, was sentenced to death back in 1986 as the ‘Stocking Strangler’, who over an eight-month period between 1977 and 1978 raped eight elderly white women in the Deep South city of Columbus, Georgia, murdering seven of them.

Most of the victims were prominent citizens, and all but one lived alone in Wynnton, a wealthy all-white neighbourhood. Long before the strangler’s reign of terror came to an end, the area was crawling with patrols, not only by police but off-duty soldiers from a nearby base, vigilante groups and the Ku Klux Klan.

The Stocking Strangler seemed able to strike with impunity, and in a city with a long, violent history of racial oppression and lynching, the belief that he was African-American – founded on the local coroner’s claim that pubic hair left at one of the crime scenes had ‘negroid characteristics’ – had an electrifying effect.

As an investigative journalist, I became involved in 1997, when Wendy Murphy, a Norfolk dental hygienist who had befriended Gary, wrote to me, outlining some of his conviction’s apparent flaws. I soon established she was right, and after visiting Gary myself more than a dozen times, I not only embarked on a book about the case, I also became his lawyers’ official investigator.

Long before the new DNA tests there were already good reasons to question Gary’s guilt. For example, he was interviewed by detectives about the murders in 1979, and gave them a set of fingerprints. Years later, the police claimed Gary’s prints were lifted from four of the crime scenes, but then they could find no match.

I unearthed a cast of the killer’s teeth, made from a wound on one of the victims and deliberately concealed from his trial: one of the world’s leading forensic odontologists said it excluded Gary. His semen, it transpired from lab notes which had also been hidden, was of a completely different biochemical type to the killer’s.

As for his supposed ‘confession’, it was unsigned, composed from the pooled recollections of the three detectives who had interrogated him two months earlier, without taking a single note or using a tape recorder.

The footprints of the killer, left when he entered one of the victim’s homes, and also hidden from the trial, were five shoe sizes smaller than Gary’s size 14 feet.

Since 1992, when DNA testing first became available and began to lead to Death Row inmates being exonerated – there have been close to 200 US cases to date – Gary’s lawyers had been trying unsuccessfully to obtain bodily fluid samples taken from the crime scenes and victims, but were told they had been destroyed. According to one prosecution lawyer’s sworn testimony, they were considered a ‘bio-hazard’.

Three years ago, it turned out the samples had not been destroyed, but had been kept by the Columbus police. Unfortunately, having lost every appeal including a petition to the US Supreme Court, Gary was about to be executed.

For weeks, his lawyers vainly tried to get a stay while the samples were tested. Finally, on December 16, 2009, after I filed a ‘friend of the court’ brief enclosing copies of my book as exhibits, the Georgia state supreme court halted the execution three hours before Gary was due to die.

When the news came through, he told me later, he had said goodbye to his wife and daughter, and was being ‘prepped for execution’: stripped naked and given a body cavity search. ‘I guess the idea was to strap me to that gurney feeling degraded and humiliated.’

Even after the stay was granted, Columbus’s chief prosecutor, District Attorney Julia Slater, fought a long legal battle to try to prevent the DNA tests from being done. Now, however, the results are in.

They show that semen on the nightdress of the strangler’s first victim, Gertrude Miller, the only woman who survived his attacks, cannot have come from Gary, although she identified him in court.

This was the trial’s most dramatic and racially charged moment: a white woman pointing out her supposed attacker in the dock, the prosecution claiming his face was ‘burned into her memory’.

Years later, her original police statement emerged, in which she said it had been so dark she could not say whether the man who raped her was white or black. The US appeal courts paid it no attention.

Body fluid found in murder victim Martha Thurmond was ‘absolutely’ not from Gary. In one of the other cases, there was not enough material for a genetic profile and in a fourth, that of Jean Dimenstein, there was a possible – though not conclusive – match with Gary.

However, the police and prosecution have always argued that all the attacks were perpetrated by one man acting alone, and Gary was not even charged with killing Ms Dimenstein.

At this late stage, Gary’s only legal recourse is a motion for a new trial in Columbus. But according to Ms Slater’s brief filed last week, this must never happen, and his sentence must not be commuted to life.

In her view, the inconvenient fact that his DNA doesn’t match that recovered from the Miller and Thurmond crimes means nothing – not even that he didn’t attack them. After all, she states, ‘ejaculation is not an essential element of rape’, implying that these elderly women must have had consensual sex with someone else before Gary turned up.

All the other items in the defence motion, including the bite cast and the footprint, have already been rejected by other courts, she adds, so are ‘procedurally barred’. But the possible match in the Dimenstein case is, she argues, conclusive. Gary might not have been convicted of killing her, but since all the stranglings were committed by the same man, if he raped her, he must have raped and killed all the victims.

Ms Slater faces re-election on November 6. The main plank of her opponent, her assistant, Mark Post, is the remarkable claim that she has been ‘too soft’ in death penalty cases, especially Carlton Gary’s.

Frank Jordan, the judge who will rule on the new trial motion, is also an elected official, well aware that most of those associated with Gary’s conviction have become powerful.

Meanwhile, Gary’s lawyer, Jack Martin, points out: ‘Ms Slater says that just because it wasn’t Carlton’s semen, it doesn’t mean anything. But it does mean something. It means it came from someone else – someone who’s still out there.’

In the next few weeks, Gary will learn whether Jordan has the courage to keep that in mind.

Original report here

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Saturday, September 08, 2012

British cop 'had sex with former escort girl on the bonnet of his police car in full uniform'

A disgraced policeman had sex with a former escort girl on the bonnet of his squad car while in full uniform and then looked up her details on a police computer, a court heard.

Pc Kyle Webber resigned from Central Scotland Police in May following allegations that he had sex with Sarah Mitchell, 23, described at the time as a former escort girl.

Alloa Sheriff Court heard how Webber, an officer with Central Scotland Police for seven years, faced claims of having sex her on the bonnet of his squad car in uniform at Alloa Police Station in 2011.

The 30-year-old then looked up Miss Mitchell on the Central Scotland Police Crimefile database as he 'thought he had a responsibility to her' following their sex sessions.

Ann McNeil, prosecuting, said that Webber’s use of the computer had come to light when officers were investigating him over the sex allegations.

The deputy fiscal said: 'The accused was a serving police officer and the subject of an internal investigation with regards to another matter.

'The information I have is the allegation was that the accused had engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a female member of the public while on duty. 'That matter was being investigated. As part of that investigation the police examined an internal computer system. The system had a secure entry system on it.

'On November 10, 2011, police examined the searches conducted, to see if the accused had been looking at records held there. 'They found that on June 6, 2011, he had accessed Crimefile with a search that was related to a female who had previously been in custody. 'It was the same female (as the one in the inappropriate sexual conduct allegations).

'She had been either in custody or in an interview, and it was that particular file that had been looked at.

'The accused had not any legitimate police purpose for accessing the file, and this amounted to the breach.'

Webber, of Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, pleaded guilty to knowingly or recklessly accessing the Central Scotland Police Crimefile database, while he was an officer at the force, to check up on Miss Mitchell, without the consent of his data controller - a breach of the Data Protection Act.

The offence was committed on June 6, 2011 at Alloa Police Office.

Defence agent Nicholas Scullion said that Webber had been 'through personal tragedy' following the accusations.

He said that Webber had looked Miss Mitchell up on the police data base as he was 'concerned' about her. He said he hadn’t heard anything from her, and he thought she was 'vulnerable'.

Mr Scullion said: 'He had thought he had a responsibility to her. He accessed the file as he wanted to see if there was any news as to her whereabouts. 'He tendered his resignation as a consequence of this. He now finds himself unemployed. 'He fully accepts his culpability and responsibilities as a police officer. He has suffered very heavily as a consequence from this.'

Fining Webber £500, Sheriff David Mackie said that he was only concerned with the 'the offence under the Data Protection Act.'

He added: 'I have been informed by the Crown that you have resigned from the police force.'

He told Webber he would restrict the fine to £500 'having regards to your limited means'.

Webber, who also sent nude pictures to Miss Mitchell from the house he shared with his girlfriend at the time, tried to avoid photographers as he left the court, exiting via a back door.

A former pupil of top Scottish independent school Dollar Academy, Webber is currently unemployed but advertising on the internet to use his police skills for 'commercial' purposes. He is now living with his parents in up-market Bridge of Allan.

Original report here

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Friday, September 07, 2012

Two British goons facing prosecution after man, 52, dies as they restrain him at his apartment

Two police officers are to be prosecuted after a 52-year-old man died in his flat while under their custody. The Kent police officers are due to appear in court after an investigation into their actions was carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

PC Maurice Leigh and PC Neil Bowdery were present when Colin Holt, 52, died in his flat from positional asphyxia in Goudhurst Road in Gillingham, Kent on 30 August 2010.

That day, Mr Holt, who had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, was reported missing by staff at Medway Maritime Hospital. He was found at home by the officers at 1.30pm.

At the time, the IPCC said it appeared Mr Holt became “unwell” while officers were attempting to restrain him.

An ambulance was called but the man was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.

A post mortem found that the cause of death was positional asphyxia.

IPCC investigators carried out house to house enquiries in the local area, examined officers’ accounts, checked police logs and examined CCTV.

An IPCC Family Liaison Manager kept Mr Holt’s family up to date with progress of the investigation.

Now, two years later, IPCC Commissioner Mike Franklin said: 'We welcome the decision by the CPS following its review of the evidence to authorise charges against PC Maurice Leigh and PC Neil Bowdery for misconduct in public office.

'That decision follows an independent investigation by the IPCC into the actions of Kent Police officers who were at Colin Holt’s flat when he died.

'Investigators will continue to work with the CPS to assist in the preparation for those criminal proceedings.'

Rene Barclay, principal crown advocate with the Special Crime team at the CPS, added: 'It is alleged that on 30 August 2010, whilst acting as a police officer, namely as a police constable, PC Leigh and PC Bowdery misconducted themselves in that, without lawful justification or excuse, they wilfully neglected to take reasonable and proper care of Colin Holt, a person in police detention.

'On the evidence I have reviewed, I am satisfied that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that the public interest requires a prosecution. 'PC Leigh and PC Bowdery will now be summonsed on a criminal offence and have the right to a fair trial.'

Both officers will appear at Medway Magistrates’ Court on 8 October.

Original report here

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Australia: Dodgy Qld. cop caught out pocketing the loot in drug raid

DRUG criminals have enlisted the state's corruption watchdog to unmask a police officer they claim stole cash during a raid.

The Courier-Mail understands CCTV footage used by the alleged criminals shows the officer pocketing wads of $50 notes during a raid on their premises.

The revelation comes as incoming police commissioner Ian Stewart, whose appointment was announced yesterday, promised to get tough on rogue cops. He could walk into the job facing a fresh scandal more at home in the pre-Fitzgerald era.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission was contacted by a lawyer acting for the accused drug traffickers, who alleged they had footage of the police raid from a surveillance system hidden inside the alleged drug house.

The Courier-Mail understands footage obtained by the CMC allegedly shows the Brisbane-based detective putting wads of folded $50 notes in his pocket after executing a search warrant in raids in the state's southeast.

The highly regarded drug squad officer is allegedly captured on video stealing about $1500 in cash from the accused drug syndicate.

It is alleged the detective can then be seen in the footage calling another colleague into the room before they formally count out the remaining money as proceeds of crime.

The veteran of numerous top-level police operations is on leave from the Queensland Police Service. He is yet to be formally interviewed or charged.

As soon as the CMC was notified of the hidden video surveillance footage showing the alleged police corruption, it ordered covert surveillance on the officer including phone taps.

The secret CMC probe has spent several weeks investigating if the alleged corrupt behaviour was widespread or systemic.

Once senior police became aware of the officer's alleged action and the reported existence of the video footage, captured on one of two surveillance systems hidden in the raided building, they also reported the matter to the CMC. It is understood the officer found one of the systems but not the other before he allegedly pocketed the cash.

The CMC has executed search warrants on the detective's home and his police office in the Brisbane drug squad headquarters.

High-ranking police officers, aware of the CMC investigation, yesterday told The Courier-Mail the officer accused of stealing the drug money had a reputation as a "good operator" and "top-class policeman".

They said they were "shocked" and "deeply surprised" by the allegation of a "rogue" in the ranks. But they dismissed the possibility of any systemic problems within the drug squad.

Lawyers working on the case say there is "no more invasive act" than a police officer "kicking a door in, with a search warrant, and then stealing from the criminals". "You can't be a cop and be a crook at the same time," they said.

The Queensland Police Union is aware of the CMC investigation and is known to be supporting the officer and his family.

If found guilty, the officer faces a possible jail term of up to two years.

In a statement, the QPS said the "Ethical Standards Command is investigating an allegation of improper conduct involving property.

"The investigation will be overviewed by the CMC. "As it is an ongoing investigation, no further information can be provided at this time."

Original report here

(Via Australian police news)

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

British cop ‘shot suspect six times in less than a second’

Azelle Rodney (above) was clearly a crook but police are not executioners

A police officer fired eight shots at a suspect less than a second after pulling up beside him in a car, an inquiry was told today.

Azelle Rodney was hit six times and killed “instantly” when Met officers carried out a “hard stop” on the VW Golf he was travelling in with two other men in Edgware.

Police believed they were on their way to commit an armed robbery linked to drugs.

There have been several investigations into the incident on April 30, 2005, and the family of Mr Rodney, 24, have repeatedly called for justice.

At the start of a 10-week inquiry, Ashley Underwood QC said that the officer who fired, known only as E7, was in the front passenger seat of an unmarked police car that stopped level with the driver’s side rear window of the Golf.

He said: “Within less than a second of the car containing the officer coming to a halt, he opened fire with a carbine. He fired eight shots rapidly. Of these, six shots hit Mr Rodney. He was killed more or less instantly.”

The hearing was played a video recording of the incident made by another officer, named as E12. It showed the moments leading up to Mr Rodney’s death, including a convoy of unmarked police cars driving through residential streets.

As the Golf was brought to a halt, shots could be heard but the shooting could not be seen. Just before the shots were fired, an officer is heard saying: “We’re looking to do it at the roundabout if he stops.”

Another voice says: “We’re going in.” After the shots are heard, an officer appears to say: “Sweet as, sweet as.” An inquiry is being held instead of an inquest because sensitive evidence would have had to be kept from a coroner. It is the first time that such an inquiry has been held over a police shooting.

Mr Rodney’s family, including his mother Susan Alexander, family left the High Court courtroom as distressing photographs were shown of the car after the shooting. The hearing is taking place at the Principal Registry of the Family Division.

Mr Underwood said that three guns were found in the Golf and that a ballistics expert at the scene found that a Colt 45 on the rear seat was not loaded and was incapable of firing.

A second gun, a Baikal pistol, was wrapped in a scarf inside a rucksack in the rear footwell. It was fitted with a magazine containing four live rounds. It was not cocked, and its safety catch was on. The other gun, which looked like a car key fob, was wrapped in a glove in the same rucksack. It was loaded with two rounds. It was cocked and the safety catch was off. There was also a pair of handcuffs in the boot.

The other two occupants of the car, Wesley Lovell and Frank Graham, were arrested and pleaded guilty to possessing the guns and ammunition.

Original report here

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