News in Brief
Alabama: Court documents revealed the week of Oct. 3, 2022, show that a former Brookside police chief, Mike Jones, was indicted by a grand jury for speeding and impersonating an officer. AL.com reported that Jones had resigned from his post as the town’s Chief of Police on Jan. 25, 2022, after it was reported that Jones had doubled the size of the police department just before the revenue from traffic stops skyrocketed, with arrests rising 1,109% between 2018 and 2020. A commissioned report also found racial disparities in the arrests and verbal warnings. Jones was allegedly stopped by a sheriff’s deputy in April 2022, accused of driving 20 miles over the speed limit. According to the deputy, Jones flashed his badge from his time as police chief, prompting the deputy to let him go with a verbal warning. He then turned himself in after an arrest warrant was issued in May. If convicted of the charges, Jones could face up to ten years in prison. [See: CLN, Sep. 2022, p.46.]
Florida: WJAX in Jacksonville reported on Oct. 4, 2022, that a former officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was arrested and charged with domestic battery and obstruction of justice. The former officer was Deke Allen Brucker, who reportedly worked for the department in 2016. A female associate of two years accused him of beating her and strangling her with his hands after she declined his sexual advances. She also alleged that he stopped her from calling 911. He was arrested in St. John’s County.
Florida: On Oct. 5, 2022, a former police officer in Hialeah Gardens was arrested, accused of, among other crimes, pawning service weapons at a local store. The Miami Herald reported that the former officer was Leonardo Carbo, 30, and that he allegedly made four trips to the pawnshop before being caught by law enforcement. According to investigators, Carbo, a member of the department since June 27, 2022, began his pit stops at the pawnshop on Aug. 18, and would go on to pawn his handgun, two Glocks, and an AR-15. It was his theft from a fellow officer and subsequent fifth visit that tipped off the authorities. In mid-Sep. 2022, Carbo’s then-partner asked him to retrieve a credit card he’d left at a restaurant. Carbo then allegedly kept the card while his partner was out of town and used it to buy one of the pawned guns back and purchase another. The partner allegedly reported the fraud and had a picture from Carbo that confirmed his possession of the credit card. The following investigation reportedly unraveled the conspiracy: Carbo was fired as a result.
Illinois: A former police officer in Waukegan turned himself in on Sep. 21, 2022, after being indicted by a grand jury for use of excessive force, murder, and involuntary manslaughter. CBS News reported that Dante Salinas was accused of killing Marcellis Stinnette and severely injuring Tafara Williams when he allegedly opened fire on them during a traffic stop following a vehicle chase. The incident occurred on Oct. 20, 2020, after Stinnette and Williams allegedly drove away from an attempted arrest at a prior traffic stop. Salinas, who hadn’t turned on his body camera until after the shooting, was fired from the Waukegan PD three days later. Williams was charged with aggravated fleeing. Salinas was also charged with use of excessive force in connection with the arrest of Angel Salgado in Aug. 2019. Salgado accused Salinas of beating him and breaking his eye socket during an arrest at a family baptism.
Illinois: On Sep. 30, 2022, a former Charleston police officer pleaded guilty to a count of official misconduct so that charges of sexual abuse could be dismissed. The Journal Gazette & Times-Courier reported that the former officer, David Iwaniw, was arrested in 2013 on suspicion of sexual assault and child-pornography. He was accused of bringing a 17-year-old girl to his residence where he raped her while filming the assault. Allegedly he told her that he’d “hunt her down” if she told anyone about the attack. But in 2014, Iwaniw was reported missing. He lived in Mexico for a time until he was arrested in Jan. 2022. The former officer also pleaded guilty to bail bond violation during the 2014 court evasion. In return for Iwaniw accepting the new misconduct charge, the judge agreed to drop the sexual misconduct charges. The charge carries with it a potential for two to five years of prison or probation.
Indiana: A deputy town marshal in Brookston resigned on Oct. 11, 2022, after police charged him with driving with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. WLFI in Lafayette reported that Tyyon Neal stepped down after allegedly being pulled over for drifting into oncoming traffic. The incident reportedly took place on Oct. 9, 2022. Reports indicate he refused to comply with a field sobriety test, but later testing allegedly found his blood alcohol level to be .220.
Kentucky: WDRB in Louisville reported that a Louisville police officer was arrested on suspicion of distributing revenge porn. The officer, Harry Seeders, 32, was arrested on Oct. 10, 2022, accused of sending explicit content to 19 people without the consent of the woman in the photo. Seeders allegedly shared the image of the woman’s exposed chest in a group text that included people she knew. He was already on administrative leave from the LMPD after allegedly shooting and killing a man on Nov. 22, 2020. Kentucky State Police investigators later claimed that his actions in that case were justified. He also faces pending charges for a May 2021 incident in which he allegedly hit and choked a romantic partner.
Louisiana: WBRZ and WAFB in Baton Rouge reported that a veteran Louisiana State Trooper was arrested in Rapid City, South Dakota on suspicion of paying a hotel employee for sex on Sep. 20, 2022. The man was Kirk Thibodeaux, 44, and he was allegedly on a trip for a work-related conference. At the time of the arrest, Pennington County law enforcement alleged that the officer had committed the crime at around 3:00 a.m. Thibodeaux, with the State Police since 2002, was then placed on leave by the agency. The subsequent investigation by Pennington County law enforcement allegedly determined that Thibodeaux did pay the woman to have sex. She allegedly thought that at first she was just to keep him company, and initially declined to engage in sex “because she was married and not a sex worker.” But she allegedly later agreed. Police claimed that her first declination should have been enough to stop Thibodeaux. He was charged with a hiring for sexual activity misdemeanor.
Maryland: An officer with the Anne Arundel County Police was charged with a DUI after a crash on Oct. 7, 2022, the Capital Gazette reported. The officer, identified as PFC K. Froh, allegedly smashed into a tree in a parking lot in Glen Burnie at around 2:30 a.m. on the day in question. She was reportedly not on-duty at the time and was found in the driver’s seat. She received an administrative suspension while the Office of Professional Standards conducted its investigation, though she was set to continue to receive pay. Froh was charged with a number of traffic violations on top of the DUI.
Massachusetts: A former member of the Massachusetts State Police pleaded guilty on Oct. 6, 2022, to fraudulently submitting overtime records. The Office of the Mass. Att. Gen. reported that the former officer, David Keefe, 57, admitted to submitting more than 200 hours of false overtime in 2015 and 2016. At the time of the fraud Keefe was in charge of traffic and criminal enforcement along the Massachusetts Turnpike. The overtime was supposed to be clocked in for special enforcement under a public safety program intended to deter excessive speeding and dangerous driving on the Turnpike. But during those periods Keefe either worked none of the overtime or left early. The total overtime pay that he received for that period exceeded $117,000, with at least $22,000 being the result of false claims. Soon after the plea, Keefe was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, a $20,000 fine, and two years of probation. Two other State Police officers also pleaded guilty to the same crime.
Nebraska: A police officer in Lincoln was removed from duty on Sep. 13, 2022, after the department became aware of protection orders being levied against him. KLKN in Lincoln reported that the officer, Wayne “Jarvis” Wallage, had a harassment order and two domestic abuse orders raised against him. As a result of the order, Wallage, an officer of just seven months at the time, was banned from possessing a gun, cutting off his ability to fully carry out his duties as a member of law enforcement. Multiple investigations were opened into Wallage’s conduct, both within the department and outside of it. KLKN was able to confirm that the department had not fired him, but could not confirm whether he would continue to be paid.
Nevada: KVVU in Henderson reported that a police officer in Las Vegas was charged with lewdness after allegedly masturbating during a massage. The officer, Richard Landahl, was accused of committing the act on the morning of Sep. 20, 2022. The alleged victim was a chiropractic massage therapist who claimed that Landahl had requested her specifically. The victim alleged that Landahl was face-down during the massage when she noticed what he was doing; she then excused herself to report the incident to a doctor on staff. Landahl, with the LVMPD for five years, allegedly claimed to have fallen asleep during the massage, and when confronted, reportedly told the doctor that he felt concerned about them reporting the incident to the department. He was subsequently placed on suspension with pay.
New Jersey: On Oct. 5, 2022, a police officer in Newark was convicted on all counts of murdering his wife in 2019. CBS News reported that the officer, John Formisano, 52, was found guilty of killing Christie Formisano, 37, when he opened fire on her and her then-boyfriend, Timothy Simonson. It was found that on the night of the incident Formisano entered the house which he and his estranged wife had once shared, suspected she was with another man, and “blacked out.” He shot at them, following as they fled to surrounding houses; he killed his wife outside a neighbor’s residence. Their young children had been in the home as well. The Newark PD announced that it would initiate his termination after more than three years of unpaid suspension.
Pennsylvania: WCAU in Philadelphia reported that a retired police officer was charged with sexually exploiting young girls and tampering with witnesses. It was announced on Sep. 30, 2022, that the former PPD officer, Patrick Heron, 52, was charged with more than 24 counts of forgery, harassment, unlawful contact with a child, indecent assault of a child, and other related crimes. Those victims and witnesses allegedly included both children and adults. Heron was accused of contacting underaged girls online, then allegedly threatening them into sending him “intimate photographs” and grooming them for face-to-face meetings. All the accusations against the former officer are dated after his 2019 retirement from the department. Heron was arrested on Sep. 28, 2022, and placed on a bail of $2 million. At the time of the arrest the District Att. Off. encouraged the reporting media to circulate Heron’s photo so that any victims yet to come forward might do so.
Tennessee: On Oct. 1, 2022, a former Tennessee Highway Patrol officer convicted of assault vanished; he was last seen in Columbia. WKRN in Nashville reported that the officer, Harvey Briggs, 54, was reported missing only a day after he was sentenced for an assault conviction related to an on-duty incident. Briggs, a member of the agency for 22 years, had been spotted on Aug. 10, 2020, tearing the mask off a protester during a “peaceful demonstration” at the Tennessee State Capitol. He then threw the mask, making contact with the protester’s face. Some of Briggs’ family members claimed to police that the former officer had made “concerning statements” before disappearing. Law enforcement have asked the public to assist them with the search. Briggs, an inch shy of six-feet-tall and nearly 200 pounds, has blue eyes and gray hair. The car he was reportedly last seen in was found on Oct. 4, 2022, at the boardwalk on Okaloosa Island in Florida. The Sheriff’s Office there put out an alert as well.
Texas: On the night of Oct. 11, 2022, a former San Antonio police officer was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. The former officer, James Brennand, allegedly shot Erik Cantu, 17, while the teen sat in his car in a McDonald’s parking lot. Brennand was fired from the department soon after on Oct. 2, 2022. On the night of the incident, the then-officer was wearing a body camera. That footage reportedly showed Brennand wrenching open the car door while Cantu, confused, and with food in his hands, attempted to drive away as the officer opened fire. There was also a young woman, 17, in the car, who was not struck by the bullets. But given that there were two people in the vehicle that Brennand shot at, he faces two charges of aggravated assault. Cantu was also initially charged for attempting to evade detention, but those charges were later dropped. If convicted, Brennand could face a fine of $10,000 and up to 20 years in prison. As of an Oct. 16, 2022, report from KENS in San Antonio, Cantu, severely wounded in his stomach, lungs, arms, liver, and diaphragm, was still fighting for his life.
Texas: On Oct. 6, 2022, the Oak Ridge Police Chief was fired after being arrested on suspicion of soliciting minors for sex. Fox News reported that former Chief Thomas Peoples, 55, was accused of attempting to pay an underaged youth for sex. A minor allegedly reported an incident involving Peoples to law enforcement, after which the man was taken into custody in Arlington. He was then reportedly set free on a bond totaling $25,000.
West Virginia: On Aug. 31, 2022, a Marmet PD officer was sentenced for the rape of a minor. The News and Observer reported that the officer, Christopher Osborne, 26, was given 14 years in prison after being found guilty of assaulting a 16-year-old girl in a fire station bunk room in Jan. 2021. Osborne, who also worked as a firefighter in two departments, was found to have convinced a junior firefighter, 17, to bring the minor to the fire station in Danville, where he raped her. Ignoring her repeated statements that she didn’t want to have sex, he choked her and threw her cellphone across the room. He was also accused of influencing the junior firefighter through social media to “target” the 16-year-old. The incident was allegedly not the first act of brutality Osborne had committed; he was accused of setting fire to the camp of a homeless woman in 2019, while working as a law enforcement officer. Osborne was also sentenced to five years of supervised release and required to register as a sex offender. [See: CLN, April 2021, p.50.]
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