News in Brief
California: A district attorney investigation is looking at why police in San Bernardino fatally shot Richard Sanchez, a resident who obeyed police orders during an encounter with law enforcement: He dropped his gun and put his hands up, washingtonpost.com reports October 26, 2019, one year after the incident. Sanchez was fired upon as he exited the house of a relative. The 27-year-old man had been drunk when a relative called 911 to report Sanchez was speaking irrationally. “Three seconds and two commands later, the officer opened fire. Body-camera footage … captures the five shots that killed Sanchez and a woman’s screams as he fell onto the lawn,” the news site report. The officer, who was not named, is no longer on the police force.
California: There is renewed scrutiny on the Banditos gang, which has police officers who are part of a deputy clique, vox.com reports, “who allegedly engage in violent and potentially criminal behavior while protecting their members and clashing with other law enforcement officers.” A 63-page lawsuit filed against Los Angeles County by eight L.A. county deputies in October 2019 alleges that deputy members of the Banditos routinely harass them, latimes.com reports. “In one September 2018 incident, two deputies were knocked unconscious at a department party, the lawsuit says. A few months later, it alleges, the Banditos secretly removed ammunition from another deputy’s shotgun.” Members wear tattoos of a skeleton with a sombrero, bandoleer and pistol.
Colorado: Police office Troy Morgan’s recent dismissal from the Springfield Police Department is part of a snowball of turmoil in the department. Although Morgan was let go in September 2019, months earlier, in March 2018, the town terminated then-police Chief Dennis Bradburn after allegations of misconduct against another officer ended in a settlement of $50,000, The Colorado Sun reports. Morgan, meanwhile, was fired after six months in Springfield. He “was hired at the department despite being terminated from his previous law enforcement job for a host of alleged transgressions,” the Sun reports. “The Colorado Sun confirmed Morgan’s termination through an open records request.”
Florida: Orlando school resource officer Dennis Turner was fired after he arrested two 6-year-olds for minor infractions at a charter school. One pupil threw a tantrum, usatoday.com reports. Another kicked a school employee after her wrists were grabbed in an attempt to calm her. The child’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, attributed the girl’s behavior to a sleep disorder, speaking to WKMG-TV. The boy was released back to the school, while the girl was handcuffed and moved to juvenile detention on a battery charge. State Attorney Aramis Ayala, however, said her office would not prosecute the kids. “I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline,” Ayala said. In fact, “department policy requires officers to obtain approval from a watch commander before arresting minors younger than 12, Chief Orlando Rolon said in a statement,” usatoday.com reports. The policy, however, was not heeded. Christian Minor, Florida Juvenile Justice Association director, noted: “The long overarching implications of placing a child in handcuffs in front of their peers can have devastating effects on a child’s development. This is a very sad situation that could have been dealt with differently.”
Florida: West Palm Beach Police Officer Travis Limauro—who has faced several misconduct accusations—must complete pretrial intervention requirements to avoid a criminal conviction following a May 2019 hit-and-run collision, pbpost.com reports in October 2019. The requirements include a letter of apology, 20 hours’ community service and a defensive driving class. The officer headed east through a busy intersection where he had the red light and where another driver, Susan Garone-Noble, had the green light. Garone-Noble was not injured but was shocked when Limauro drove off, she told the newspaper, and “thought he should be punished a little bit harder.” In a 2018 incident, the officer is “accused of winking and blowing kisses at one cadet and sending inappropriate texts to another,” pbpost.com reports. “In one of the texts, he promised the 19-year-old cadet that she would never make it through the police academy if she stayed with her boyfriend.” His bosses suspended him 40 hours, plus required he complete more training. Before that, he was reprimanded and counseled for being in a reported bar fight, plus took a de-escalation class, pbpost.com reports. Also in 2018, he was accused of raping a woman, but the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said there was insufficient evidence to file criminal charges, pbpost.com reports.
Florida: A Doral lawman is under investigation for a forceful arrest at a traffic stop. As reported in the Miami Herald, Doral office Travis Cooper drew his gun on Craig Nembhard and slammed him onto the pavement in a verbal dispute. Officers were ticketing motorists for illegal turns into a gas station. Nembhard’s attorney, David Kubiliun, said his client was given a traffic citation but what followed was excessive force. “Thank God for the body cameras. He wasn’t even going one mile per hour when the officer pulled his gun out,” Kubiliun said. In fact, the “video was damning enough that state prosecutors decided not to move forward with charges against the motorist. ….” In the footage, “an officer is heard saying ‘someone’s about to get stomped on.’” When Nembhard objected to leaving his car, the officer reportedly yanked him from the vehicle and threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. Then Nembhard was handcuffed. Because of his broken leg, Nembhard cannot work, said the attorney. “He’s walking with a walker. This was a traffic stop, a simple traffic stop.”
Florida: Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Jerald Samuel Alderman, who got drunk and allegedly threatened three car occupants with a gun, faces three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, plus a charge of using a firearm while intoxicated, pbpost.com reports. In addition, he cannot “buy nor own guns for the next year” under a risk-protection order. The road patrol deputy was arrested in October 2019 and placed on paid administrative leave. In a viral Facebook video, the news site reports, “Alderman is seen showing a badge and pulling out a gun as he tells the three people inside, ‘If I see you downtown again tonight, guess what’s gonna happen?’ When the driver asked what would happen, Alderman yells at them and bangs a gun on the car three times. The people in the car told West Palm Beach police they were riding around downtown near the nightclubs ... listening to music. They pulled into a parking lot ... and the man approached their car and showed them a star-shaped badge.” The car occupants thought it was a joke because the officer was intoxicated. “I’ve never seen a police officer so drunk,” one passenger told pbpost.com. The office screamed at the occupants about their car hitting his, said his loaded Glock had one in the chamber, and he threatened to kill them, the driver told police. The occupants told police they feared for their lives.
Georgia: A jury convicted Robert “Chip” Olsen, a former DeKalb County police officer, of aggravated assault in October 2019 after he gunned down an unarmed, naked man, abcnews.go.com. “Superior Court Judge LaTisha Dear Jackson set bond for Olsen at $80,000, ordered him to wear an ankle monitor and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in effect until his sentencing Nov. 1,” abcnews.go.com reports. He was then sentenced to 12 years in prison. In March 2015, Olsen killed 26-year-old Anthony Hill outside of his Atlanta area apartment building. The veteran, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, was reportedly acting erratically. According to abcnews.go.com, “Olsen was convicted of two counts of violating his oath of office and one count of making a false statement. The assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years; each of the other three counts carries a sentence of up to five years.”
Illinois: Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is being investigated after being found slumped over the wheel near his home, which police discovered responding to a 911 call in October 2019, chicagotribune.com reports. Police said he did not seem impaired so he was permitted to drive home, though he got off without a sobriety test. And while Johnson called for a bureau of internal affairs probe, the issue will formally go to the city inspector general since the Chicago Police Department runs under a federal consent decree requiring reforms aimed at accountability, police supervision and transparency. That office will determine whether Johnson violated any laws or police department policy.
New York: A Bronx jury in October 2019 awarded heroin addict Raoul Lopez $11 million after finding him “more credible” than the cops in a 2006 car-dragging case that left him partially paralyzed, nypost.com reports. Lopez, now 40, was stopped by Sgt. Phillipe Blanchard and his partner Zinos Konstantinides after he reportedly ran a stop sign. Then he was ordered at gunpoint to hand over a bag of drugs. The bag dropped and, when Lopez fumbled for it, a bullet from Blanchard’s gun struck him. The officer, on the other hand, said he was leaning inside the vehicle to grab the ignition keys when Lopez drove off, so “he had no choice but to open fire,” nydailynews.com reports. Lopez’s lawyer Brett Klein said his client was unarmed and “needlessly” shot. “He was at first a quadriplegic, and through hard work he has made great progress. But the loss of the function of his right arm and other permanent effects of this shooting will be with him for the rest of his life. We are grateful that a Bronx jury has held the City accountable for this wrongful shooting.”
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Police Inspector Carl Holmes mentored female police academy officers and then sexually assaulted three of them, abcnews.go.com reports of the charges against the top cop in October 2019. According to washingtonpost.com, a grand jury determined that Holmes, 54, “came on to them, and against their will and without their consent kissed them, fondled their breasts, and digitally penetrated their vaginas.” After they complained, they reportedly faced retaliation. Holmes has surrendered to police. “Holmes has at least twice before been accused of sexual assault by female officers,” abcnews.go.com reports. “Besides the woman involved in the 2017 settlement, another female officer has said publicly that Holmes sexually assaulted her in 2008. He has previously denied those allegations.”
Texas: San Antonio officials offered a $205,000 settlement in October 2019 to a woman who endured a “grossly invasive” search by cops, nytimes.com reports. Natalie Simms, now 40, says her constitutional rights were violated during a vaginal cavity search along a street in 2016. At the time, she was sitting on a curb and speaking on her phone, awaiting her boyfriend. Her vehicle was parked across the street. Then the cops showed up. Believing she might have illegal drugs, they asked to search her car. After she agreed, they asked a woman officer to also search her without a warrant. Even though she didn’t have any contraband, they said she couldn’t leave until she was fully searched by detective Mara Wilson, according to court records filed last year in the Western District of Texas. The officer insisted she pull down her shorts and ordered her to “spread” her legs. “Do you have anything down here before I reach down here?” Wilson asked. Much to woman’s horror, Wilson removed her tampon. “Why would you do that,” she asked the officer. No drugs were found. The New York Times notes that “[in]n Texas, it is illegal to strip-search a person or their property without their consent or a warrant, and searches of body cavities must be conducted out of public view.”
Tennessee: Memphis cop Ralph Confer was arrested after he allegedly assaulted a medical technician over a hot dog at a medical center employee cookout, according to an affidavit report, says commercialappeal.com. The woman was buzzed into a police holding area to pick up a wheelchair for a patient. She saw a barbecue taking place and asked for a hot dog. After Confer told her no, she returned later on and another employee told her to help herself. That’s when Confer slapped the bun off the woman’s hand. “Confer asked the woman to leave out of the back door but she said that she couldn’t,” commercialappeal.com reports. “The woman said Confer picked her up by her arms causing her to hit her head against cabinets in the break room. She was then thrown to the ground and the officer placed his knee on her back and handcuffed her, according to the affidavit. She was placed in a female holding cell. The woman was never advised by Confer that she was under arrest and did not explain any charges to her, according to the affidavit.” She sustained injuries to the top of her head, bruises to biceps and shin, and soreness to hip and lower back, according to an affidavit.
Tennessee: Desmond Logan, who preyed on women with a history of arrests while employed as a Chattanooga Police Department (“CPD”) officer, reached a plea agreement over sexual attacks, Fox 17 Nashville reports. Logan, 33, who was arrested in September 2019, pleaded guilty in Federal Court to raping three women and holding a fourth against her will with a Taser. In June 2018, he handcuffed and arrested a woman, then raped her in an empty parking lot rather than transport her to jail. In January 2016, he terrified a woman while on security detail at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga when he got into her “passenger seat and asked her to drive him to his own car. Logan admitted to intentionally directing the woman to an empty and isolated parking lot,” fox17.com reports. He put a stun gun to her leg, preventing her from leaving the vehicle. In July 2015, Logan arrested a woman at night; he drove her in his squad car to a secluded spot where he had forced her to perform oral sex. In addition, a lawsuit by one of the women claims two officers helped to suppress accusations against Logan. Sentencing is set for February 10, 2020, when he’ll face a maximum of 20 years in prison, newschannel9.com reports.
Utah: State Rep. Marsha Judkins, R-Provo, is working on a prosecution transparency bill that would mandate “data about how arrest, charging, sentencing and parole decisions may be influencing racial disparities,” heraldextra.com reports. The Utah Sentencing Commission revealed that 43.2 percent of people who received new prison sentences in 2017 were racial or ethnic minorities, even though U.S. Census for 2017 shows that minorities composed just 20.7 percent of the state’s population. The bill calls for “data points” to be compiled by county prosecutors, and it’s projected that a full-time staff position could help individual counties with that. “Maybe everything is fine” with prosecutorial decision-making, “but we don’t know what we don’t know,” said Kim Cordova, director of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. The state has seen the fastest rise in prison population after Idaho. “The average daily prison population stood at 6,787 in September, up 169 from the same month in 2018,” heraldextra.com reports.
Texas: Fort Worth Police have egg on their faces over the death of Atatiana Jefferson, an innocent woman who was fatally shot by an officer who responded to a neighbor concerned about Jefferson’s front door being ajar October 12, 2019, wyomingpublicmedia.org reports. The shooter, Aaron Dean, resigned as a cop and faces a murder charge. “Jefferson, a 28-year-old black woman, was at her home playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when police officers responded to an ‘open structure call’ made by a neighbor ... who noticed a front door open … which he said was an unusual sight.” However, “[b]ody camera footage released by the police shows Dean, a white man, outside the home, looking into Jefferson’s bedroom window with a flash light and shouting, ‘Put your hands up! Show me your hands!’ before firing a single bullet that killed Jefferson.” An apology to the woman’s family followed. “This incident has eroded the trust that we have built with our community and we must now work even harder to ensure that trust is restored,” said interim police chief Ed Kraus. There’s “absolutely no excuse” for the incident and Dean will be held accountable, he added. He asked the “community to not allow the incident to reflect poorly on the entire police department.”
Utah: Fired detective Jeff Payne, who describes himself as a “fall guy” for the city of Salt Lake and the police department, is fighting back with a lawsuit filed against the parties in October 2019, KSL.com reports. He claims his termination in October 2017 was wrongful because he was just heeding his commanding officer’s orders and department policy. The incident traces to July 26, 2017. That’s when “he was sent to the University of Utah Hospital to collect blood from a man who was injured in a crash that left another man dead. When the charge nurse, [Alex] Wubbels, refused to tell Payne where the unconscious patient was or let him draw blood — citing policy agreed upon by the police department and hospital that required he have a warrant or meet certain criteria — Payne arrested Wubbels for interfering with an investigation. Body camera footage showing the detective dragging the screaming nurse out of the emergency room and handcuffing her against a wall spread quickly online, drawing widespread public criticism.” The former cop, who says the video is misleading and that the city slandered and defamed him, is seeking more than $300,000 in damages.
As a digital subscriber to Criminal Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login