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News in Brief

Alabama: On August 4, 2022, the Vincent City Council voted to fully dissolve the city’s police force after racist text messages by a top officer were discovered, CNN reported. The city is home to about 2,000 residents and until the vote by the council, had just three police officers. But when racist texts about slavery allegedly sent by Assistant Police Chief John L. Gross were revealed on social media, members of the public were incensed. During a council meeting on August 2, 2022, residents called for Gross to be fired. Two days later, the council suspended both Gross and Police Chief James Srygley without pay. The remaining police officer in the department resigned when the council moved to fully disband it. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office agreed to step into the void left by the Vincent PD, providing emergency law enforcement services to the city.

California: A former Sheriff’s deputy in Los Angeles County was fired and charged with 33 counts of sexual impropriety with minors. CBS reported that the deputy, Sean Essex, was charged on August 9, 2022, with a count of possessing child porn, two counts of sex acts with a child under 14, twelve acts of lewd acts on a child under 14, and eighteen counts of oral sex with a child. No less than 32 of those counts could land Essex up to a life sentence if convicted. He had previously been fired after investigations into his conduct were launched in 2018. But he was reinstated after the Civil Service Commission reversed the firing. He was fired again as a result of the new charges.

Florida: On June 3, 2022, a former police officer in Fernandina Beach was fired after being arrested for alleged sexual battery. The Florida Times-Union reported that the officer, John Lee Finley Jr., 33, was given counts of both sexual battery and drug possession as the result of an alleged incident in May 2022, during which a victim claims she was drugged with a “date rape” intoxicant. Finley had been working with the Baker County Sheriff’s Office since March 20, 2022. The firing and arrest came as the result of an investigation launched on May 30 into the allegations of assault, which the alleged victim claims took place at Finley’s home on a first date between the two. She claims that he made her a drink, and after having some of it, she became tired and felt “paralyzed.” She claims that Finley proceeded to touch her despite her attempts to leave, pulling down her pants and putting her in a bed. She managed to escape when he fell asleep and says that she tested positive for amphetamines soon afterward.

Georgia: WSB-TV in Atlanta reported that no less than six West Point police officers were placed on administrative leave after a racist video went viral. In the video, caught in August 2022 by a resident’s security camera, an officer is seen asking the homeowner about her son. In the footage the officer can be heard referring to her son using the n-word before throwing her camera off the porch into the nearby bushes. In response to the incident, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations opened an investigation and officers Dylan Harmon, Elizabeth Wegienka, William Osteen, Zachary Heyboer, and Donald Bramblett were placed on administrative leave. The identity of the sixth officer (and which one used the racist language) is unclear.

Hawaii: On June 2, 2022, a former Honolulu police officer was arrested in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on suspicious child-sex crimes. The DOJ reported that Mason Jordan, 31, was indicted on May 26, 2022, by a grand jury on counts including cyberstalking, child sex trafficking, coercion and enticement of a minor for prostitution, and sexual exploitation of a child. The indictment accuses Jordan of photographing and videotaping a child in sexually explicit ways in 2016 and 2017 while he was employed by the Honolulu PD. He was also accused of impersonating that same child and using online forums to recruit other local children for prostitution, allegedly meeting with those children in-person in 2020 for prostitution. On top of that, he was accused of extorting a woman he met while on duty, using underage photos of her. He faces potential sentences between five and 30 years on the various counts.

Idaho: The Idaho Statesman reported that an indictment filed on August 9, 2022, doubled the charges for a former police officer in Caldwell. The officer, Joey Hoadley, was federally charged earlier in the year and was accused of witness and evidence tampering in August. The initial charges had sprung up as the result of an investigation into multiple officers. But the new charges were tied to Hoadley’s more recent actions. The indictment alleges that in late June 2021 Hoadley harassed a potential witness against him in an effort to keep them from talking with law enforcement officials. It also alleges that nearly a year later in mid-April 2022, Hoadley physically changed and attempted to destroy potential evidence, with the express purpose of harming the case against him. The original case against Hoadley regarded an alleged physical assault during an arrest. The new Chief of Police in Caldwell, Rex Ingram, said that he was not certain if the two new charges would be the last for Hoadley.

Indiana: In the late summer of 2022, two Brookville police officers were suspended after an investigation, The Washington Post reported. The two officers had been involved in the arrest of a candidate for town council. The candidate, Trevin Thalheimer, was arrested by officers on allegations of drug possession and rape, but during the trial it came out that Chief Terry Mitchum and officer Ryan Geiser had allegedly sought to arrest him because they thought he was anti-police. The revelation came as another officer described how Mitchum and Geiser had been talking about the arrestee. As a result, the prosecution dropped the charges on July 19, and the two officers were ordered to avoid town property and other officers in the nine-person department. Thalheimer bowed out of the race after the arrest.

Kentucky: USA Today reported an August 12, 2022, announcement that former Louisville police officer, Kelly Goodlett, would plead guilty to falsifying an affidavit used to justify searching the home of Breonna Taylor. Goodlett agreed to admit that she had conspired in violation of Taylor’s rights when she falsified the document. The affidavit falsely claimed that there was verified evidence that Taylor had been receiving packages for her convicted ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, a drug dealer. In the subsequent raid on March 13, 2020, Taylor’s boyfriend shot at police, thinking someone was breaking into their residence. Another officer proceeded to blindly fire into the apartment, killing Taylor and endangering others. Goodlett, who is accused of a sustained, coordinated conspiracy to falsify the affidavit and then cover it up, will face civil rights charges for her actions.

Louisiana: Insider reported that a New Orleans police officer was suspended after an audio recording surfaced exposing them for allegedly ignoring an active rape down the street. The incident took place on July 26, 2022. According to claims from a bystander who says that she saw a man raping an unconscious woman on a street corner, she approached an officer in a department car and asked him to help. He allegedly ignored her while the rapist escaped. In the audio the witness can be heard on the phone with a 911 dispatcher talking about the officer sitting in his vehicle while the crime took place nearby; he was reported to have been off duty. A local official indignantly responded, saying that ignoring such a situation is not in line with the character of most law enforcement. The officer’s suspension was made indefinite, and their pay was terminated. The officer was not identified.

Maryland: On August 9, 2022, a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal was brought before a U.S. magistrate judge in Greenbelt, accused of scamming people out of money through seduction. The man is Isidore Iwuagwu, 35, and he is alleged to have engaged in online romance schemes to lure in victims and get money from them. Iwuagwu, who was also a contractor with the DOJ, was allegedly part of a group of scammers who would initiate online relationships with victims, many of them seniors, and eventually ask for large amounts of money, posing as people going through difficult times or in need of funding for imports. Some even posed as U.S. servicemembers, victims claimed. More than 20 victims were identified, and of those affiliated with Iwuagwu, an alleged sum of $1.9 million was reported.

Mississippi: A DEA agent in Jackson returned to work in the spring of 2022, a year after murdering his neighbor and admitting to it on April 27, 2021. Agent Harold Duane Poole, 48, a supervisor in the local office of the DEA, never tried to hide the fact that he shot Chase Brewer, then 47, eight times with a semi-automatic high-powered rifle, the Associated Press reported. He stood next to the body and waited for police to show up. He’d called them to report Brewer for trespassing and threatening to kill him with a rock. The two were neighbors and had once been so friendly that Poole invited Brewer over to his home for cookouts. But Brewer had been going through a mental decline for years, starting with a stroke in 2019. He heard voices and used drugs, and trespassed on Poole’s property multiple times, including during an incident in which he tried to break into Poole’s house. But the local police were still skeptical of Poole’s claim of self-defense. Brewer was barely over the property line, and Poole had mentioned in his call to police that Brewer was leaving already. They couldn’t even find the allegedly life-threatening rock. They charged Poole, despite intense pressure from the DEA to leave the case alone. Local officers claimed DEA officers prevented them from interviewing Poole for two days, and they even received calls from DEA headquarters in Virginia. All this meant that Poole, who had admitted to killing his neighbor, never went to jail, and resumed working at the Jackson office again last spring.

North Dakota: On August 1, 2022, five police officers in Fargo and an ND State Trooper were placed on leave in response to the killing of Andrew Martinez, 35. KVRR in Fargo reported that Martinez’s killing, which happened in Mapleton, was the third death in one month associated with police shootings. The incident ran through the middle of the day when police entered into a standoff with Martinez, who was having a mental health crisis. He told officers he would exit the building he was in with his weapon; officers told him not to. When he came out with a rifle the officers began shooting. State Rep. Ed Gruchalla (D-NPL) from Fargo, provided a reaction to the killing: He blamed population growth, specifically the influx of new arrivals, and the poor reaction choices made by rookie police officers. Despite this statement, one of the officers involved was an 18-year veteran of law enforcement.

Texas: On August 11, 2022, a former reserve peace officer in San Jacinto County was sentenced to ten years in prison for sexually assaulting two women on fake “ghost hunting” excursions. Click 2 Houston reported that prosecutors claim that there are more women who have been victimized by David Lynn Turner. Turner was found to have lured women online, claiming that he wanted them to join him on trips to communicate with the dead and visit a haunted house in Shepherd. There he would make them feel afraid for their lives. After being arrested on May 4, 2021, charged, and released on bond, he proceeded to harass more women online. One woman claimed that Turner sent her “disturbing” sexual messages, including unsolicited lewd images. His bond was revoked, and other victims reached a plea agreement so that they wouldn’t have to testify. His victims are reported to range across southern Texas. During the trial one victim told her story of being victimized by Turner, who turned his back on her while she cried on the witness stand. 

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