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News in Brief

Arizona: Fired Arizona state trooper Tremaine Jackson, 43, faces allegations of sex-related crimes – a total of 61 charges, cbsnews.com reports. Several women say he assaulted them during traffic stops or while being cited. While officers were investigating a claim against him in 2018, police identified eight other women who said they’d been victimized by Jackson, according to the nypost.com. He faces charges of sexual abuse, sexual extortion, kidnapping, harassment and fraud. “I implore anyone who had contact to Trooper Jackson who may have been affected by him, who may have been victimized either commentary or through physical action by Trooper Jackson to please come forward and let us know about your inappropriate experience,” said Colonel Frank Milstead of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Florida:  The April 2019 Tamarac Deputy of the Month ceremony, held in September 2019, ended in an uproar. Broward County sheriff’s deputy Joshua Gallardo was awarded the citation before the Tamarac City Commission, which featured a BSO deputy discussing Gallardo’s successful apprehension of a murder suspect on a warrant from another county, according to WSVN.com. After handshakes and photo taking, however, Commissioner Mike Gelin took the microphone and called Gallardo a “rogue police officer,” not a hero. “You’re a bad police officer, and you don’t deserve to be here,” he said. According to newsmaven.io, Gelin said the honoree cop had arrested him years earlier “on false charges while he was trying to record an investigation into two men who had been fighting in front of a Salvation Army. Gelin was charged with resisting arrest without violence which is the go-to contempt of cop charge in Florida, especially against citizens who record cops in public. Gelin said the charge was dismissed after prosecutors viewed his [cellphone] video from the incident in 2015.” The Broward County Police Benevolent Association reacted by pulling its endorsement of Gelin.

Florida: Former Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputy Kurt J. Castaldo avoided jail time after pleading guilty to four felony counts of possession of obscene material involving a minor, sun-sentinel.com reports.  “He received a punishment [in August 2019] of three years of probation, with the first year to be spent on house arrest,” the newspaper reports. The arrest report said he had five images of naked boys, ages 6 to 16, uploaded to the social media site Tumblr.com, which reported to the CyberTip line established by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, sun-sentinel.com reports. In addition, “Circuit Judge Joseph Marx withheld adjudication on the charges, meaning that barring any further violations, Castaldo will not have a criminal record. The charges had been punishable by up to 20 years in state prison. As part of his plea deal, Castaldo agreed to give up his law enforcement license and never work again as a cop or security officer. He resigned from the Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 16.”

Indiana: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer Robert Lawson faces several charges — battery, obstruction of justice, perjury, false informing, and official misconduct — after a video captured him striking a 17-year-old student in August 2019, fox59.com reports. Lawson was at Shortridge High School after officers were called to break up a student fight, and Lawson was involved in handcuffing the youth. But investigators said Lawson filed a false report in claiming he acted in self-defense, alleging the student swung at him. The video, it was reported, showed him punching the student with an open hand (not a closed fist as he claimed) and “striking his knee while getting detained,” ballstatedaily.com reports. “A second video showed the juvenile also sustained a knee strike while he was being handcuffed,” fox59.com reports. Department Chief Bryan Roach said in a statement: “After the filing of formal criminal charges by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Officer Robert Lawson has been placed on suspension without pay, with a recommendation of termination to the civilian oversight Merit Board.” The teen’s family, meanwhile, filed suit.

Kansas: U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia, who is based in Kansas City, drew a public reprimand in September 2019 for sexually harassing a female employee, for engaging in a yearslong extramartial affair with a felon even after being told to stop — and for being “habitually late to meetings and court proceedings for years,” according to nypost.com. The sanction came from the Judicial Council for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The actions put the judge in “such a compromised position that he made himself susceptible to extortion,” the court order stated. Murguia “issued a statement … apologizing and saying that he took responsibility for his ‘inappropriate actions.’ But he also said his actions ‘have not and will not interfere with the fair administration of justice.’”

Louisiana: A routine credentials check uncovered a public defender practicing law without a license in Orleans Parish and she was terminated in June 2019. “Ashley Crawford, 31, was charged with public payroll fraud, a false public record, practicing law without a license, and injuring public records,” lawandcrime.com reports. “If convicted, Crawford could face up to five years behind bars on each of the charges for injuring public records and maintaining a false public record. The other felonies—public payroll fraud and practicing law without a license—are each punishable by up to two years.” Crawford had been employed as a staff attorney less than a year and worked more than 100 cases. Her lawyer, Billy Sothern, said Crawford was “trying her best to make this right.” “She immediately offered to accept responsibility for her actions and to make restitution to the Orleans Public Defenders,” Sothern said. “Her only goal in this was to be a public defender. She deeply regrets any harm she caused to the court, the Orleans Public Defenders, its dedicated lawyers and staff, or the clients they represent.”
Missouri: Lying to a judge and a federal grand jury landed St. Louis cop Bailey Colletta in hot water — and she pleaded guilty to doing both while answering questions about the shocking arrest and assault of an undercover colleague at a public protest in 2017, riverfronttimes.com reports. “Colletta admitted that she lied when she claimed to an FBI agent in June 2018 that she didn’t know Detective Luther Hall, the undercover officer, and that she hadn’t come into contact with him on the night of September 17, 2017, when he was arrested as part of a violent kettling of protesters.” Hall alleged “fellow officers beat him ‘like Rodney King’ the night of the kettling, slamming him to the ground and pummeling him with fists, boots and batons in what Hall described as a ‘free-for-all,’” the website’s news blog reports. “The unprovoked beating resulted in a lip injury that required three layers of stitches, multiple herniated discs and a jaw injury that made it difficult for Hall to eat. Hall has been unable to work since the incident.” Four officers, including Colletta, allegedly exchanged text message expression during the event, making fun of the protesters. Hall “did not appear to be committing a crime, there was no probable cause for an arrest, and he did not do anything to justify the use of physical force, Assistant U.S. Attorney Reginald Harris said in court,” according to stltoday.com.

New Mexico: Clovis Police officer Brent Aguilar quit his job of a dozen years amid pending lawsuits in New Mexico District Court alleging excessive force, assault and wrongful arrest. One incident involved Dan Lucero in his Clovis home February 22, 2019. Aguilar is accused of excessive force for allowing a police K-9 to “viciously attack” the unarmed man, according to a lawsuit filed by the man’s aunt, Christine Lucero. According to koat.com, the incident was preceded by a call from Dan Lucero’s mother, who expressed concern about his welfare. Three officers entered the apartment with guns drawn, officer cam video shows. “We aren’t here to hurt you,” an officer is heard saying. “I assure you of that.” Officer Brent Aguilar “allowed the dog to clamp down on Dan’s leg for approximately 30 seconds,” the complaint alleges, causing injury requiring nine days of hospitalization. Use of a police canine for a welfare check was inappropriate, Matthew Coyte, Lucero’s attorney, told abc7amarillo.com.  “Lucero didn’t have any weapons or make any threats to officers during the incident,” koat.com reports.

New York: A New York Police Department officer accused of exposing himself and making sexual advances toward a friend’s 10-year-old daughter was “busted,” according to nydailynews.com. He was initially charged with endangering the welfare of a child following a police internal affairs investigation. The newspaper reports that Shaun Frazier, 39, was babysitting the girl, along with a 5-year-old boy, when he “allegedly licked the child’s underwear and encouraged the child to watch as he pleasured himself,” nydailynews.com reports. The girl attempted to call her mom but the officer took her phone and did not return it until the following day, prosecutors said. The cop has been suspended pending the outcome of his criminal case and protection was assigned to the child, her mom and her brother. He denied the allegations in the courtroom and to a reporter.

New York: A former Mexican prosecutor was sentenced in September 2019 to 20 years’ prison in a U.S. drug-trafficking case.  The 49-year-old used his post of attorney general to help a violent drug cartel from 2013 to 2017, the Justice Department announced. According to NBC New York, “[Edgar] Veytia told the sentencing judge … that he made a mistake by taking bribes in exchange for using wiretaps and other law enforcement tools to protect the drug cartel.” Although he touted himself as a law-and-order candidate, he “pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges he helped the drug organization smuggle cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine into the U.S. in exchange for bribes.”

North Carolina: Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was suspended in September 2019 after his indictment on criminal charges alleging a plot to kill a deputy, who planned to make public a recording of him making “racially offensive” comments, according to courant.com. Wilkins faces two felony counts of obstruction of justice after he allegedly told an unidentified third party in 2014 that he wanted former deputy Joshua Freeman dead, according to the indictment. “Wilkins assured the man that if he followed through on the killing, Wilkins would not reveal anything to authorities about having any prior knowledge of the plot, according to the indictment,” nypost.comreports. Wilkins’ conversation with the man was caught on tape, according to The News & Observer in Raleigh. “The indictment against the sheriff alleges Wilkins encouraged the man to ‘take care of it’ and said, ‘The only way you gonna stop him is kill him.’” WSB-TV 2 reports. Wilkins, the sheriff since 2009, was released on $20,000 bond in September 2019. His attorney Thomas C. Manning said in a statement that Wilkins looks forward to “exoneration and resumption of his duties.”

Oklahoma:  A big knife, leather gloves and zip ties — all were carried by former Pushmataha County Sheriff’s Deputy Cullen Jones in his truck console en route to meet what he thought was a 14-year-old girl he met on social media, thefreethoughtproject.com reports in September 2019. Jones, however, drove about 100 miles but never completed his rendezvous. He was arrested in a child sting operation and the intended meet-up turned out to be an undercover sheriff’s captain. “During the [texting] conversation, it went downhill quick, talking about various sexual acts,” Capt. Adam Flowers, with the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, told Oklahoma’s News 4. “Things that go to 50 Shades of Gray-type, like bondage. You know it, he was wanting to do it.” And the investigation is not over. “I have no reason to believe this wasn’t Jones’s first time, and believe there could quite possibly be real live victims out there,” Canadian County Sheriff Chris West said on Facebook.

Texas: A jury rejected self-defense claims and found former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger guilty of murder on October 1, 2019. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The cop of five years shot twice at unarmed neighbor Botham Jean on September 8, 2018, in his own apartment. The 26-year-old accountant was watching TV and eating ice cream. Guyger had mistakenly entered his home the floor above her own after work, and thought he was a burglar. “When Guyger put the key into the lock that night, she said she noticed the door was ‘cracked open’ and that putting the key into the lock forced the door open to the dark apartment,” abcnews.go.com reports. She heard someone walking, saw a silhouette, and then yelled, “Hey! Hey! Hey!” before firing her service weapon. When asked why she fired, Guyger testified, “I was scared he was gonna kill me.” During the seven-day trial, she admitted during testimony: “I shot an innocent man.” After the guilty verdict was read, chants of “Black Lives Matter!” were heard in court. Guyger is white and the victim black. Following the conviction, prosecutors presented racially offensive text message threads involving Guyger. In a dramatic moment after sentencing, the victim’s brother, Brandt Jean, hugged Guyger and said he forgives her. 

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