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News in Brief

Alabama: Two former officers with the Southside Police Department were arrested in early December 2017 on several sex crime charges. Jonathan Perry Works, 41, and Brian Edward Walker, 44, were both booked into the Etowah County Jail. Both former cops have been charged with various sex crimes involving a member of the opposite sex who was incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated. The pair were initially placed on leave with pay but subsequently resigned.

Arizona: If anyone finds a black 9mm Glock 19 handgun bearing serial number YHC 944, kindly contact the Prescott Valley Police Department; they’re desperate for its immediate return. It belongs to Chief Bryan Jarrell. He left it in a restroom stall inside a public library on November 9, 2017 but somehow didn’t notice it missing until four days later. On December 13, town manager Larry Tarkowski suspended Jarrell for two days without pay, ordered him to complete a firearm safety course, and required him to pay the cost of replacing the lost handgun.

California: Keith Foster, former deputy chief of the Fresno Police Department, clearly took the old saying “if you can’t beat them, join them” literally. On November 13, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Ishii sentenced Foster to 48 months in prison after a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to distribute heroin and marijuana. The 30-year veteran cop personally conducted about 600 undercover drug operations as a narcotics officers and supervised another 400 operations. But he admitted on the witness stand that was neither undercover nor “deep undercover” when caught on FBI wiretaps discussing drug transactions and operations with several co-conspirators who accepted plea deals for their involvement in the drug distribution conspiracy. In addition to these drug convictions, Judge Ishii accused Foster of committing perjury on the witness stand, obstructing justice, and violating his position of trust. Ishii sentenced Foster to only 48 months, despite the prosecution’s request for a 78-month sentence. Oddly, Judge Ishii opined that there’s a perception among the general public that “people with money or in high positions get a break” and then promptly reinforced that perception, giving the high-ranking police official a break by sentencing him to this relatively lenient prison term.

District of Columbia: Even family members aren’t exempt from taking a beating from police for failure to comply. Washington D.C. Police Lieutenant David Hutchinson, 55, was arrested on October 30, 2017 for beating his 12-year-old son. Thankfully, a neighbor called the D.C. Child and Family Services hotline to report hearing a “child screaming, banging and a belt.” Hutchinson clearly went full cop mode on his own young son. The tipster reported a child repeating, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” and “I will listen” while the adult male warned, “You’re gonna listen to me.” When fellow officers arrived, the boy had several injuries to his face, including a swollen left eye, cuts under his right eye, and red linear markings on his face. When asked what happened, the victim initially claimed that the family dog jumped on him. He later heartbreakingly pleaded, “I’m trying not to lose my dad.” In familiar blame-the-victim fashion, Hutchinson told investigators that his son had “a bad day.” Of course he did; the person who is supposed to protect him had just pummeled him.

Florida: Looks as though desperate residents aren’t the only ones who go looting in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jason Cooke was caught on home surveillance video rummaging through the home of an 85-year-old man who was hospitalized following a power outage caused by Hurricane Irma. Police were called to conduct a welfare check on the elderly man. Officers found him on the bedroom floor after hitting his head. He was taken to the hospital and died later that day. Afterwards, Cooke used a garage door entry code he heard over his police radio to break into the dead man’s home, where he helped himself to prescription drugs, cash, and jewelry. Cooke initially denied stealing anything but changed his tune when confronted with video evidence of him looting the residence. Although the victim’s family reported the incident on September 20, 2017, Cooke wasn’t arrested until five weeks later so that he could complete a 30-day drug rehabilitation program. He was charged with burglary and grand theft with a firearm. Cooke posted bond and resigned from the sheriff’s office. A statement from the victim’s family read in part: “It is our hope that the justice system treats this cop like any other criminal out there and that he doesn’t receive further preferential treatment because he is a police officer.”  

Illinois: St. Clair County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Sneed, 45, was charged on August 31, 2017 for sexually assaulting a woman twice in her own home. According to court documents, he initially conducted a traffic stop for vehicle registration violations. He subsequently followed the 49-year-old victim to her residence after telling her that she needed to present the vehicle’s title to him. On the pretext of needing to use the bathroom, Sneed entered the victim’s home. That’s when he initiated the sexual assault by intimating that unless she complied she would go to jail. Approximately six months later, Sneed appeared at the victim’s door in uniform, telling her “you know what time it is.” He sexually assaulted her once again. Afterwards, she told investigators that she made certain that physical evidence of Sneed’s sexual assault remained on her, and she immediately went to the hospital to be examined.   

Indiana: It was just a mistake. That’s the story Clarksville police officer Joe Hoskins, 36, is sticking with after he got caught transferring $5,800 from a bank account for the youth football league for which he served as treasurer into his personal account. Actually, if Hoskins is to be believed, there were a total of eight so-called mistakes from June 2016 to February 2017. Clark County prosecutor Jeremy Mull, however, didn’t believe Hoskins’ explanation, so he charged him with eight counts of theft and had him arrested. In addition, Hoskins was placed on unpaid suspension from the police department. He reportedly returned the missing money after being confronted by the league president, but as Mull pointed out, “Paying back money after you’re caught stealing it is no defense.” Hoskins’ next court date is in November 2017.   

Maryland: In late November 2017, former Baltimore Police Office Wayne Jenkins, 37, was indicted on federal charges. He is accused of planting heroin in a motorist’s vehicle during a 2010 arrest. On April 28, 2010, Umar Burley led police on a high speed chase, which ended when he slammed into another vehicle at an intersection. According to the indictment, Jenkins planted drugs in Burley’s vehicle after the crash and filed a false report. Burley and his passenger were eventually convicted on drug charges and sentenced to 10 years and 46 months, respectively. Following Jenkins’ indictment, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a petition requesting the federal drug charges against Burley and his passenger be vacated “because they are innocent.”

Michigan: We can only hope that officers with the Grand Rapids Police Department receive the vision testing and treatment many so urgently need. Several of them managed to mistake an 11-year-old African-American girl for a wanted 41-year-old white woman named Carrie Manning. On December 6, 2017, the terrified little girl was confronted at gunpoint by a group of GRPD officers searching the neighborhood for Manning. Somehow believing that the girl might be the 41-year-old white woman being sought, officers handcuffed her and put her in the back of a police cruiser as she is heard on body cam screaming wildly. To his credit, Chief David Rahinsky said at a news conference that the video of her screams made him “physically nauseous” and acknowledged that the episode was “a discredit to the way the community is served.” The officers who participated in the incident are under internal investigation. A spokesperson for the department stated that “All other investigations are on hold until it is concluded.” The victim said, “I’m just wondering why they did that to me.” We all are.  

New Jersey: Keith German, a former 16-year member of the Asbury Park Police Department, was convicted of helping gang members under investigation. According to prosecutors, he provided tips to gang members about police investigations in exchange for help stalking a woman who spurned his advances. On December 19, 2017, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison without parole. 

New York: Sgt. Timothy Nolan, a high-ranking officer at the Brooklyn Courthouse, was indicted on August 21, 2017 for forcing a 26-year-old woman to perform a sex act on him in the building’s stairwell. While waiting to bail her boyfriend out, Nolan approached her, saying “I got you” and “I will take care of you.” Once in the stairwell, he exposed himself and instructed her to “get it wet,” according to the woman. She told a local reporter, “I’m grateful for the district attorney for taking this seriously and charging him for what he did to me. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I hope because of this indictment that they’ll know officers cannot get away with this.” In what may very well turn out to be a terrifying reversal of fortune for a former cop accustomed to demanding sex acts in stairwells, he faces up to one year in Riker’s Island if convicted.

Pennsylvania: Sean Cornick, the former top vice cop with the Harrisburg Police, reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors in September 2017. He had been charged with stealing more than $22,000 from police evidence lockers. The FBI caught him on surveillance video stealing cash in October 2016. According to the terms of the deal, he will plead guilty to two federal charges. He faces up to 11 years in prison and $350,000 in fines. The deal has to be approved by U.S. Middle District Judge John E. Jones, III, before it’s final. Cornick was a 19-year veteran of the department.

Tennessee: On September 24, 2017, a Green County sheriff’s lieutenant tased an 81-year-old woman advancing towards him while holding a rake in a “threatening manner.” Sheriff Pat Hankins publicly announced his full support for the intrepid lieutenant, noting that he had a mere 14 seconds to decide what course of action to take as the octogenarian ambled towards him from approximately 50 feet away. According to the sheriff, the only options available to the lieutenant were use lethal force or risk his own life. If those are, indeed, the only two options in the police playbook under those circumstances, it helps explain the number of police-involved shootings across the country. Nevertheless, based on the known facts of this case, it’s not entirely clear what the risk to the lieutenant’s own life was. But lest we condemn too quickly, it appears the lieutenant has taken Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ famous line that “[d]etached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife” to its logical yet absurd conclusion. 

Nebraska: Former Lincoln Police Officer Gregory Cody was arrested in late October 2017 for first-degree sexual assault of an incompetent person. The 27-year veteran of the police department is accused of physically and sexually abusing a woman in her 30s for more than a year, involving about 65 incidents of sexual encounters that she characterizes as “forced.” She told investigators that her ordeal began in July 2016 after Cody released her from custody instead of taking her into emergency protective custody. He reportedly said that she would “owe him.” Court records reveal that she told at least two Lincoln police officers that she was being stalked and abused by another officer, but neither took any action. Cody resigned from the department. The Nebraska State Patrol is conducting the ongoing criminal investigation of Cody.

Texas: Robert Meager was videotaped by a subordinate masturbating in his office earlier this year. Granted, that isn’t exactly breaking news these days. But it turns out Meager is the chief of the Gregory Police Department. With video evidence of the deed, he can’t deny it, but his defense, if you can call it that, is right out of the standard playbook whenever cops get caught behaving badly on video. He insists that the video doesn’t capture the full episode, and that there’s more to the story. After hearing his account of what the video failed to capture, it might have been better for him to have stayed mum, and let the video do all the talking. Meager claims that it wasn’t just a solo performance; rather, the subordinate who surreptitiously recorded the video had performed fellatio on him moments earlier. Neither scenario casts the chief in that great a light. He either unilaterally whipped it out in front of a subordinate in the workplace, or he allowed a subordinate to perform a sex act on him, the police chief, in the police station. He’s going with the latter story. As of late September 2017, a full-scale investigation is reportedly underway.

 

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