News in Brief
California: The city of Citrus Heights, California, must pay a $1.2 million settlement in a case of police torture that evolved from a mental health episode in June 2017, blackmainstreet.net reports. That’s when police pinned Stockton resident James Bradford Nelson III, a young shirtless man who was handcuffed, to pavement so hot that it melted his skin. They held his face down outside a KFC for about “five minutes as he screamed and flailed in pain.” After the cops “saw the burns, they poured water on him and called an ambulance.” Nelson had second- and third-degree burns that left thick scars on his chest, face and buttocks, plus he suffered kidney failure, shock and permanent disfigurement. “The asphalt was estimated to be 170 degrees that day,” blackmainstreet.com reports. “Human skin is instantly destroyed at 162 degrees.” The then-27-year-old man, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was accused of taking a KFC restaurant employee’s wallet, but the charges were dropped. He was also accused of “being under the influence of a controlled substance and resisting a police officer,” sacbee.com reports. According to blackmainstreet.com, “The Sacramento Bee obtained the settlement through a California Public Records Act request to the city clerk.”
Florida: Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Harry Reid was fired in November 2019 for excessive use of force on a Westridge Middle School student while responding to a report of students fighting and jumping on cars at an apartment parking lot, orlandosentinel.com reports. When deputies arrived, three students were restraining a girl who was yelling at someone. A deputy wearing a body cam tried to calm her before Reid walked up. Video posted on Facebook shows Reid grabbing the student by the hair, pulling her head backward as she screams and “throwing her around like a rag doll,” thefreethoughtproject.com reports. “He is also seen whipping out his baton and threatening the bystanders who were all pleading with him to stop abusing the small girl and let go of her hair.” He reportedly yelled at the crowd that they were “stupid little children.” Sheriff John Mina said the behavior won’t be tolerated. “I am extremely upset, disappointed and outraged by the conduct of our deputy sheriff,” he said. Findings of an internal investigation will be given to the State Attorney’s Office. The child was detained and later released to a parent. There was no arrest.
Florida: Two Riviera Beach police officers, Marc Joseph and Verley Moyton, have been kicked off the force after authorities said they had inappropriate relationships with teens they met on the job, pbpost.com reports. Joseph reportedly met a 17-year-old girl at her home after responding to a domestic dispute. He next returned to her home to ask for her phone number and then the two had “numerous sexual encounters,” plus exchanged nearly 900 text messages, pbpost.com reports. Eventually the girl and her grandmother reported the inappropriate relationship to police. In November 2019, he was in court, charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor. Moyton, a school resource officer since 2011, admitted to violating department policy by having a sexual encounter with an 18-year-old he met through the Police Explorer Program. He will not be charged.
Illinois: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave Chicago’s top cop, Police Commissioner Eddie Johnson, the boot in December 2019, just weeks before his retirement. She said he lied to her several times, demonstrated “ethical lapses and flawed decision-making,” and gave a false narrative about an October 2019 incident. Johnson was accused of misleading the mayor and the public after the incident in which he allegedly fell asleep at the wheel of his still-running car alongside the road. Johnson blamed a failure to take blood-pressure meds. However, “[s]ources told the Chicago Tribune that the city inspector general’s office, which has been investigating the October incident, obtained video footage showing Johnson drinking for a few hours on the evening of Oct. 16 with a woman who was not his wife at the Ceres Cafe, a popular restaurant and bar at the Chicago Board of Trade building,” the Tribune reports. “The old Chicago way must give way to the new reality,” the mayor told the Tribune. “Ethical leadership, integrity, accountability, legitimacy and yes, honesty must be the hallmarks of city government.”
Indiana: An off-duty cop who reportedly harassed Nordstrom Rack customers in Indianapolis whom he called “suspicious” has been fired, reason.com reports, after one of the shoppers who said they did nothing wrong posted the officer’s behavior to YouTube. The officer reportedly eyed the shoppers in the store and then followed them to a parking lot where he stared at their license plate. When ordered by Lawrence Township Constable Daryl Jones to hand over their driver licenses, he gave the reason as “Because I told you to” and threatened to call for backup and take them to jail. Jones was fired within two hours of his boss watching the video, reason.com reports.
Louisiana: Did Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies check the mailbox number on the warrant when they raided a house on November 4, 2019, in response to a report of potential criminal activity in the area? The owner thinks not. Laura Lavergne’s home was raided by cops carrying a warrant with a house number different than hers. About 10 feet from the front door, a deputy shot and killed the family dog, Loki, a 5-year-old boxer, newsmaven.io reports. Lavergne was devastated. She posted online: “Yesterday, I had to tell my autistic son that he no longer has his best friend. The loss to our entire family is so devastating, so unbelievable, we are all in shock. I can’t stop crying and shaking. Loki was not just a dog. He was not property. He was our family.” Instead of admitting their mistake, one officer “told me it was our fault for not having our house clearly marked, even though I have two mailboxes with our address at my driveway entrance. I also have a sign right next to my driveway that informs anyone on my property that my dog is contained by an invisible fence,” she wrote. Botched law enforcement raids were also reported in Chicago, Houston and elsewhere.
New York: A former Rikers Island corrections guard escaped jail time after punching out a teenager’s teeth at the facility, gothamist.com reports. “Sandy Arkhurst pleaded guilty to felony assault for using a baton to beat Rodolfo Rodriguez in a Rikers shower in 2016. Arkurst also admitted to filing false reports in an attempt to cover-up the attack. He faced a maximum potential sentence of seven years in prison,” the news site reports. The victim, now 21, said he lost teeth, sustained nerve damage in his mouth and has a scar by one of his eyes because of the assault. Arkhurst was a member of the Probe Team, an elite group of Rikers’ guards that some prisoners have nicknamed “beat-up squads.” Rivera pleaded guilty to official misconduct and quit in July 2018. “I’m not aware of any other Rikers guard who has been sued for causing as many serious injuries as Arkhurst,” Rob Rickner, a civil rights attorney, told gothamist.com. “Besides being criminally prosecuted and sued in civil court, Arkhurst is a named defendant in a federal class-action lawsuit the city settled by agreeing to reforms.”
North Dakota: Matthew Anderson was sworn in as Rolla police chief in April and fired by city leaders in July during an eight-minute emergency hearing, according to grandforksherald.com. Anderson was under investigation by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI, facing “a wide range of accusations from law enforcement colleagues and investigators. Among them are that he falsified a search warrant, used a stun gun on a pregnant woman and ordered forced catheterizations of people in police custody without proper justification.” The lawman allegedly totaled two cruisers in crashes and never reported them. He also may have violated legal procedures while doing police work and was under an FBI probe for possible civil rights violations, the newspaper reports. In August 2019, he was stripped of his law enforcement license.
Oklahoma: The word “PIG” on a cop’s Starbucks coffee order stirred heated debate. A barista at the Glenpool Starbucks working Thanksgiving Day 2019 gave a town of Kiefer police officer five coffees with the word PIG printed on the cup labels, nypost.com reported after the holiday. However, KTUL.com later reported a now-questioned claim that the whole thing was a prank — “The prank being that the officer and a fellow female officer jokingly asked the employee to put the word on the cup.” While many social media users took exception to the insult, a manager who said she had nothing to do with it was let go. On Twitter, one user called “o’mara,” who claimed she was the chief’s daughter, tweeted: “this is my father and i’d like to say that he is absolutely a pig and i’d like to thank the brave men and women from starbucks for their service.” Starbucks called the incident “a violation of company policy” and apologized to the officer. However, the woman who was let go said she did not write the insult and tried to make peace with the officer. “He laughed it off, said it was cool,” Lola Price said. “I handed him his blueberry muffin and I went back off the floor to continue doing my shift manager duties.”
Pennsylvania: Mark Icker, who sexually assaulted two women he pulled over when he was an Ashley Borough police officer in December 2018, got a plea deal in November 2019. He gave two guilty pleas in federal court in a deal cutting a “maximum sentence from 20 to 12 years in federal prison,” pahomepage.com reports. U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania David J. Freed said that Icker become a predator: “When a line is crossed, and a protector becomes a predator, we must act – swiftly and with certainty. While I am extremely proud of the cooperative efforts of law enforcement in this case, especially my colleagues and partners in the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, we are only able to pursue this prosecution because of the bravery of the victims,” Freed said.” In a case where one of us in law enforcement did something so very wrong, the innocent victims stood up for what is right. We are proud to seek justice on their behalf.” In one instance, Icker allegedly demanded oral sex in exchange for not charging a female driver with DUI. Another women was pulled over for driving without a registration, and Icker insisted he smelled marijuana. “The victim said that Icker tried to add her on Snapchat days later,” reports lawandcrime.com. “Both women said that Icker asked, ‘How can you help me, help you?’ before the sexual assaults. They also accused him of recording the crimes with a body cam he purchased so he could ‘repeatedly watch those forced sexual encounters.’”
Texas: Former Houston Police Department narcotics officers Gerald Goines and Steven Bryant and 911 caller Patricia Ann Garcia were indicted in November 2019 on federal charges for their roles in a deadly no-knock drug raid that left two people dead and five officers injured. The narcotics raid, which was reported earlier in CLN, was “based on lies from start to finish,” reason.com reports. Undercover officers, armed with a state search warrant, killed disabled Navy veteran Dennis Tuttle and his wife Rhogena Nicholas and their family dog. Garcia, a neighbor to the homeowners, is charged with “convey[ing] false information by making several fake 911 calls,” which is punishable by up to five years in prison, reason.com quotes the indictment. She claimed the homeowners were drug dealers and addicts. Goines, who is now retired, claimed to have a confidential informant who told him he had purchased heroin from the house in question, but the indictment says that informant did not exist. He allegedly “lied about the victims’ drug activity, threat level and other factors” used to obtain the warrant, washingtonpost.com reports. In August 2019, he was charged with first-degree murder. Bryant, meanwhile, helped to back up Goines’ story by falsifying records and faces a state charge of tampering with a government record, reason.com reports. No heroin was found, only a small amount of cocaine and marijuana.
Wyoming: Dozens of marchers chanting “Justice for Andy” united to protest the fatal shooting by police of Northern Arapaho man Anderson “Andy” Antelope. He was killed during the altercation in late September 2019 because the state’s social service safety net failed him, billingsgazette.com reports. Anderson “Andy” Antelope, it turns out, had been in and out of hospitals for addiction issues when police fatally shot him at a Rivertown Walmart. “We have a problem in Wyoming, and I think that the system really failed us in this instance, and it doesn’t matter that he was a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe,” Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, was quoted as saying at a state Joint Committee on Tribal Relations Committee meeting. “Our system in Wyoming for handling those addiction recovery issues and preventing recidivism and helping get the counseling and getting some stable legs under them before they’re back in the community is problematic in our system, and we somehow have got to get that fixed.” After Antelope received a necessary psychological evaluation to be admitted a state hospital, there were no beds in Evanston or at any other public or private facility.
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