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News in Brief

Alabama: An Alabama state trooper arrested on April 27, 2021 for sexually abusing a child had been fired from the FBI for sexual misconduct before he was ever hired in Alabama, fooling the state Law Enforcment Agency (ALEA) with a letter of recommendation that was apparently forged. According to a report by the Associated Press, Christopher Bauer, 41, resigned his trooper job after his arrest by Montgomery Police for raping an 11-year-old girl. But before he was hired, he had been booted from the FBI’s New Orleans office after a co-worker accused him of raping her at knifepoint. She had also obtained a restraining order against Bauer which was public record at the time he was hired in Alabama. Retired police consultant and former Deputy Los Angeles Police Chief Lou Reiter said ALEA investigators “obviously didn’t do any kind of due diligence with their background check.”

Alabama: Despite the backing of his police department in Huntsville, Alabama—as well as $125,000 in public money for his defense, courtesy of the city council—Officer William “Ben” Darby, 28, was convicted of murder by a jury on May 7, 2021, in the shooting death of a suicidal man whom other officers were trying to reason with. According to a report by the Washington Post, the April 2018 incident began with 49-year-old Jeffrey Parker’s call to 911 threatening to shoot himself. Officers Genisha Pegues and Justin Beckles responded and were attempting to reason with Parker, who was holding a gun to his own head when Darby arrived and—11 seconds later—shot him dead. A police investigation cleared Darby of wrongdoing. But Madison County District Attorney Robert L. Broussard took the case to a grand jury, which indicted the officer on the murder charge for which he was convicted. He remains free on a $100,000 bond pending his appeal of the verdict.

Brazil: Twenty-five people died when police raided a Rio de Janeiro slum on May 6, 2021, according to a report by CNN. One of the dead was a police officer, the rest alleged drug traffickers whom police said they were trying to prevent from forcing minors to join their gangs. The raid in the Jacarezinho favela brought the condemnation of human rights groups. But police claimed they had properly given advance notice to prosecutors in the Public Ministry—a claim the ministry denied. Some 200 police officers were involved in the action, which resulted in six arrests, as well as the confiscation of 20 guns and an “abundant amount of drugs.” In 2020, police killed 1,239 people in the state of Rio de Janeiro, which has a population of 17 million, a rate of almost 7.3 per 100,000—over 24 times the U.S. rate of 0.3 per 100,000 that year.

California: On May 5, 2021, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Officer James Diamond, 52, was arrested in Long Beach and charged with two counts each of possession and distribution of child pornography. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Police received an October 2020 tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which identifed an online image showing child sexual abuse. Long Beach detectives then traced the image to Diamond. LAPD suspended the 25-year veteran and launched its own investigation. Diamond’s bail was set at $100,000 for the four felony charges he faces.

Colorado: A lawsuit filed April 14, 2021, alleges police in Loveland, Colorado, used excessive force to arrest an elderly woman suffering dementia, after she walked out of a Walmart in June 2020 with $14 worth of merchandise she forgot to pay for. According to a report by the New York Times, officers Austin Hopp and Daria Jallal have resigned from the city police force, along with Community Service officer Tyler Blackett, leaving the city to defend their roles in the arrest of Karen Garner, 73. The five-foot-tall woman, who weighs just 80 pounds, was left with injuries including a broken arm and a dislocated shoulder after the incident. Walmart employees had already stopped her and recovered their merchandise before police stopped her on a roadside. The supervisor of the three who resigned, Master Sgt. Philip Metzler, is on administrative leave and was also named in the lawsuit. The state’s recently-elected 8th Judicial District Attorney, Gordon P. MacLaughlin, said Garner’s complaint had been dismissed by his predecessor, Cliff Riedel. MacLaughlin has requested a criminal investigation from the U.S. Attorney and the FBI.

Florida: A Fort Lauderdale Police Department (FLPD) officer was arrested March 25, 2021, after he was nabbed in a sting operation sexting with an undercover officer he believed was an underage girl. According to a report by the local Sun-Sentinel, 29-year-old James Walsh had worked for FLPD for five years. He is also employed as a security officer at both a Catholic elementary school and a Catholic high school where he coaches wrestling. Broward County Sheriff’s deputies working with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICACTF) arrested Walsh at work two days after he allegedly engaged in a sexual conversation online with an undercover ICACTF agent in Minnesota, whom he believed to be a juvenile girl, sending along photos of his genitalia and his face. The latter was used to identify him at FLPD.

Florida: A Miami-Dade County Police detective attending a function in suburban Palm Beach Gradens for the regional police union—of which he was also an official—was arrested on April 30, 2021, and charged with two counts of sexual battery. According to a report by local TV station WTVJ, Lt. John Jenkins is a 25-year veteran who also served as executive vice-president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association, which sponsored the event on April 25, 2021, during which the alleged indicent occured. He has since resigned that position and has also been suspended without pay from his police job. His bond was set at $10,000, and he was forbidden to have any contact with the victim.

Florida: An officer hired by the St. Petersburg Police Department in August 2020 didn’t make it through his probationary period before he got involved in a case of identity theft and lost his job in April 2021. According to a report by the Tampa Bay Times, investigators think 25-year-old Jonathan Cain went online to hack into a Texas woman’s Walmart account, which he then used make several hundred dollars worth of purchases in February 2021. The woman was alerted and reported the transactions as fraudulent, closing her account before they could go through. Cain turned himself in to his former employer and was freed on a $5,000 bond.

Georgia: The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission filed a complaint in May 2021 against a county judge who assaulted a handcuffed defendant outside his courtroom. According to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, chief magistrate Cary B. Hays III shoved the unidentified defendant after a contentious hearing in December 2020 at the Crawford County Courthouse in Knoxville, Georgia. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is also looking into the matter. No injuries were reported in the incident, which was triggered when Hays set a bond amount the defendant disliked, and he repeatedly cursed the judge. Hays defended his actions, saying he’d “just heard enough of it.”

Maryland: On March 1, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Jonathan F. Lenzner, unsealed an indictment against Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officer Donald Hildebrandt, charging the 51-year-old with possession and production of child pornography. According to a report by the Baltimore Sun, Hildebrandt is a member of BPD’s Special Weapons and Tactical (SWAT) team. He was suspended without pay and taken into custody. In October 2020, a minor child reported discovering Hildebrandt in a room with a minor female with his erect penis exposed. That girl then told interviewers at the Harford County Child Advocacy Center that Hildebrandt had exposed himself to her and demanded she engage in sex acts with him. A warrant was obtained to search his nearby home, where investigators found video and photo evidence of child sexual abuse. A seized tablet had recently undergone a factory reset, adding an obstruction of justice charge to the indictment. If convicted, Hildebrandt faces up to 60 years in federal prison.

Maryland: Retired Maryland Chief Medical Examiner Dr. David Fowler—the expert witness who testified at Derek Chauvin’s April 2021 that the former Minneapolis police officer did not murder George Floyd—will have all of his autopsies of in-custody deaths reviewed. According to a report by Forensic magazine, the decision was announced by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) just 24 hours after they received a letter from former D.C. Chief Medical Examiner Roger Mitchell saying that Fowler’s conclusion in Floyd’s death “raises significant concerns for his previous practice and management.” The letter was also signed by 431 other doctors from around the country. Fowler’s ruling that the 2018 death of Anton Black—while pinned to the ground by Greensboro police—was not a homicide led the teenager’s family to sue the state. Fowler’s earlier ruling that the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in a Baltimore Police van was a homicide led to charges against six officers. All were acquitted or had their charges dropped.

Missouri: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) Officer Brian Lovelace, 31, fatally shot himself on May 1, 2021, according to reports by the local Post-Dispatch. The apparent suicide occured just days after Lovelace was charged with assaulting a fellow SLMPD officer four times in July and August 2020. He and the unnamed officer were involved in a relationship but also on-duty when he allegedly twice punched her in the chest and on two other occasions put his hand around her neck in an “aggressive manner.” At the time of his death, he was free on a personal recognizance bond and ordered to stay away from the victim.

New Jersey: A police officer suing the city of Trenton, New Jersey, for discrimination and retaliation was herself named in an April 2021 lawsuit filed by a woman who claims she was beaten during the course of her son’s arrest. According to a report by NJ.com, Gloria Noemi Ramirez Caal alleges in her suit that Officer Tara Dzurkoc—who was at the time working on a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force—assaulted her when she tried to make a cellphone recording of her son’s January 2020 arrest at the family’s home, leaving her with head, neck, back and leg injuries. After she was beaten, Caal was also charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest, among other crimes. All charges were eventually dismissed. Dzurkoc, a Trenton Police officer since 2003, filed at least seven use-of-force reports in the five-year period from 2012 through 2016, a media investigation found. In her own suit against the department, Dzurkoc claims she was removed from the Marshal’s task force after an on-duty crash in a police cruiser and after trying to get personal protective equipment during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Jersey: An administrative hearing on April 23, 2021, ended with a recommendation that the city of Vineland, New Jersey, should demote Police Chief Rudolph Beu. According to a report by the New York Post, the city had wanted him suspended 180 days without pay for a series of charges, the most salicious being that the 60-year-old chief offered to promote Officer Ronald DeMarchi in exchange for having sex with the officer’s wife or their underage daughter. Beu was also accused of nepotism becaude he held a job position vacant for several months until it could be filled by his daughter, Kimberly Beu, and he refused to recuse himself from a disciplinary hearing for officer Joshua Sheppard, who is his son-in-law. He then refused to act on some 19 Internal Affairs (IA) requests over an eight-month period, filing suit in March 2020 to accuse the city of defamation and conspiracy to get rid of him. He had been suspended with his annual pay—$154,734—since February 2021.

Oregon: The former Democratic Speaker of the Oregon House, Dave Hunt, was arrested at a Portland Ramada Inn on April 28, 2021, and charged with “commercial sexual solicitation” of a prostitute—a crime he voted to put on the books during his tenure at the State House from 2003 to 2013. According to a report by the Portland Tribune, the 53-year-old Hunt, who currently serves on the board of Clackamas Community College in Oregon City, denied the charges. As noted in a separate report by Reason, some media outlets—including the New York Post—incorrectly said Hunt was nabbed in a “sex trafficking sting.” It was, in fact, a typical prostitution sting.

Pennsylvania: The District Attorney of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, resigned on May 7, 2021, after pleading guilty to charges he pressured clients in his private practice for sex. According to a report by the ABA Journal, 44-year-old Chad Salsman was accused of victimizing five female clients, forcing some to have sex on his desk while his office staff was instructed to run a noise machine or play music. He took over the District Attorney’s office in January 2020, just over a year before the charges to which he later admitted guilt—though at the time he called them “vicious lies”—were brought against him in February 2021 by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D). Salsman will also forfeit his law license. His sentencing is scheduled for July 2021.

Virginia: Despite a new state law that prohibits cops from stopping drivers for dark taillights, Virginia State Police (VSP) Trooper Robert C. Hindenlang did exactly that when he pulled over Juanisha C. Brooks in the suburbs of Washington, DC, on March 6, 2021. According to a report by the Washington Post, Hindenlang refused to tell Brooks why he stopped her, demanding she get out of her car. Brooks, who is Black, refused, telling the cop, who is white, that she was afraid. He dragged her from the car and, when she refused a field sobriety test, arrested her for DUI. At the Fairfax County jail, however, two tests revealed her blood alcohol level was 0.0. So Hindenlang changed the charges against her to resisting arrest, eluding police and reckless driving, as well as failure to have her lights on. County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano dismissed all the charges and asked VSP to investigate Hindenlang, a 24-year veteran. Because her car had been towed with both her phone and purse inside, it took Brooks—an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Defense Department with a top-secret security clearance—ten hours to travel by public transport and taxi and $240 in fees to secure release of her car and get home.

Washington: A former police detective in Bremerton, Washington, avoided jail time when he was sentenced on May 6, 2021, for stealing cash from a home he was searching for drugs in 2019. According to a report by the Kitsap Sun, Jeffrey Lane Inklebarger must instead complete a three-month inpatient treatment for a prescription pill addiction that prompted him to snatch the cash, followed by two years of supervised release. He was a 16-year veteran before he was fired in 2020, after running away from an interview during which police showed him footage from the homeowner’s surveillance camera that captured him taking the cash. A review of police department records also found he had forged the names of other officers on receipts for as much as $1,400 in confiscated cash. After he was fired, but before his trial, he took a job at a Safeway grocery store from which he stole $400 in merchandise. Though the sum stolen from the home he was searching was sufficient for a misdemeanor charge, prosecutors insisted that the 52-year-old plead guilty to a felony because of the pattern of his misbehavior. Deputy Prosecutor Tim Lewis also insisted that Inklebarger received no consideration not also extended to other first-time offenders who plead guilty to nonviolent crimes. 

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