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News in Brief

Alabama: According to The New York Times, the most notable sack and fumble of the Jefferson County high school football game on September 14, 2023, came after the game ended and the police were in the process of clearing the stadium. In the tradition of historically Black colleges, both bands continued to play a “fifth quarter” performance, and fans lingered to listen to the music. The officers, wanting to clear the stadium more quickly, commanded the bands to stop playing. The Jackson-Olin High School band stopped. Johnny Mims, the band director for Minor High School, did not silence his band. After Mims ignored the police order, the Birmingham Police Department decided to place Mims in custody. This rash decision led to an altercation, which in turn, resulted in the band leader being subdued with a Taser and taken to the hospital. Once he was discharged, he was booked in the Birmingham City Jail on charges of disorderly conduct, harassment and resisting arrest and was released on bond. The BPD said its internal affairs unit was investigating the use of force by the officers.

Colorado: According to KUSA, on September 13, 2023, Denver Police Department Technician Gabriel Jordan was cited for indecent exposure-masturbation in an incident which occurred while he was on duty the day before. According to a probable cause statement, a woman said that Jordan made her feel odd because he would not stop staring at her as she worked. Using her phone camera, she watched him moving back and forth against a pillar with a “bulge” in his pants. Jordan was subsequently placed on paid administrative leave. Once the criminal case has been resolved, the Denver Police say they will conduct an internal investigation. This was not the first time Jordan has made the news. On January 26, 2015, Jordan shot and killed 17-year-old Jessica Hernandez. After responding to a suspicious car report, Jordan ran the plates, and the car came up stolen. The officers tried to remove Hernandez from the car, but instead she drove at Jordan, who then shot and killed her. Denver wound up paying Hernandez’ family $1 million.

Connecticut: The Hartford Courant reported a few days after a September 7, 2023, hearing that Superior Court Judge Rupal Shah threw out a lawsuit in which the Connecticut State Police Union was trying to block the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection from releasing the names of troopers who were being investigated for falsifying traffic stop tickets. The judge ruled that the case falls under the purview of the state’s Freedom of Information Commission, the agency that rules whether government records are public information. Judge Shah’s decision means that the names of 130 state troopers must be released. The ruling is the latest news in a ticketing scandal that has prompted a legislative hearing, a DOJ investigation and close attention from the public. The scandal began with an audit by the Racial Profiling Prohibition Project which revealed a “high likelihood” that state troopers and constables had eroded the accuracy of Connecticut’s racial profiling database by submitting inaccurate traffic stop information.

Florida: WEAR in Pensacola reported that at approximately 2:45 a.m. on September 7, 2023, Alabama deputy Kenneth Booth Jr., 28, shot his dispatcher girlfriend, Alexis White, 23, multiple times and then killed himself. The two were on vacation in Orange Beach at the time of the murder-suicide. The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office, where both Booth and White worked, said that an “apparent argument seemingly escalated to a point” where Booth “drew a weapon and killed the victim.” They also expressed their devastation over the loss. “We are all in shock and saddened to our very core.” White had worked at the CCSO since she was 16 years old. Booth had been a K9 handler.

Georgia: On September 11, 2023, according to WRDW in Augusta, security footage of a parking lot shows a patrol car hitting a parked car, putting on its lights, and then speeding away. Officer Anderson Deliford of the Wadley Police Department is now on administrative leave after being charged with a hit-and-run in Augusta. Deliford has had a checkered work history in law enforcement. In January 2012, he voluntarily resigned from the Georgia State Prison. In October 2016, he was fired as a Liberty County jailer. While working for the Walthourville Police Department, he was promoted to lieutenant, but a year later was demoted and eventually fired in September 2021. In June of 2023, he voluntarily resigned as a Reidsville officer after issues of misconduct including invalid traffic stops, chasing a car without activating his lights, writing the wrong charge on citations, and ignoring calls he was dispatched to. Deliford had only been on the job for two weeks when the hit-and-run occurred.

Georgia: The Augusta Press reportedon September 15, 2023, that a veteran law enforcement agent with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot. Brian Manecke’s last known location was in a rural area in north Lincoln County. The GBI says he had been under investigation by the RCSO Internal Affairs Division when he died on a road in Lincolnton. The IAD had been investigating complaints filed by other law enforcement employees in the area alleging that Manecke, 46, had posted images of their children on pedophilia websites. The parents complained to the sheriff’s office a few weeks before Manecke’s death. When they felt that not enough was being done, they complained once more and then spoke to Austin Rhodes with local radio station WGAC. Rhodes then broadcasted details about Manecke’s behavior on his afternoon show for two days in a row. Rhodes said, “I was told that after testifying in a court case on September 10, he never went home, and in fact was missing all day today.”

Illinois: On September 2, 2023, according to Block Club Chicago, a few officers entered a South Loop coffee shop and asked to use the bathroom. The barista informed them that the restrooms were for paying customer only. Dan Weiss, the owner of Dollop Coffee, supported the worker’s actions: “I cannot fault my employee for enforcing a rule that I put in place.” The lack of bathroom access bothered the officers, who then devised a scheme to intimidate the Dollop staff. The officers went back twice that day with homeless people and intimidated the staff, according to Weiss. In a statement, Weiss explained the bathroom policy saying that Dollop’s restrooms present a daily struggle for staffers who must “routinely clean up feces, needles and drug paraphernalia.” The coffee shop clash occurred as part of a larger conversation about the lack of public restroom facilities in the city as more businesses lock bathrooms to dissuade drug use and other activity. The police department said it had started an internal investigation of the incident.

Maryland: What price would you put on your reputation? Apparently, suspended Middle River police officer Steven Angelini, 43, did not value his more than a hundred bucks and an eight-ball of cocaine. According to the Baltimore Banner, on September 11, 2023, Angelini pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone and cocaine and possession of a firearm. On January 6, 2022, Angelini admitted to offering to sell 90 oxycodone pills to the president of the Infamous Ryders Motorcycle Club in exchange for a hundred dollars and one-eighth of an ounce of cocaine. In addition, Angelini threw in confidential information from the Baltimore Police Department regarding a copy of the video of the killing of a drug dealer who worked for the Infamous Ryders Motorcycle Club. Turns out that the flash drive Angelini provided which was supposed to have that confidential video was actually empty. Angelini then texted the president of the motorcycle club and told him that he would go to the business himself that provided the security footage. On April 8, 2022, Angelini offered the president of the motor club a “privately made firearm without a serial number” for $300 and an eight-ball of cocaine. Sentencing is set for February 2024.

Michigan: Gibraltar is cold in February. That’s why law enforcement thought it odd when Flat Rock sergeant Brian Tetreau, the department’s K-9 officer who was off-duty at the time, stepped out of his car at a crime scene wearing Crocs and it was in the 20s. WXYZ Detroit reported that Tetreau “vomited twice before stumbling after another officer.” One police investigator would assert that Tetreau “had the odor of intoxicants” on his breath” and “appeared … intoxicated.” When Tetreau found a crawl space under a home he released his dog and shouted, “Anyone inside of this building, you’re gonna get bit!” He then whipped out his firearm but struggled to get it back in the holster. Despite the numerous crimes committed, including driving drunk, using a K-9 drunk, and using a firearm drunk, Tetreau would only receive a seven-day suspension.

Mississippi: According to WREG, on September 14, 2023, a federal court jury in Oxford ruled that Southaven officers Zachary Durden and Samuel Maze did not violate the civil rights of Ismael Lopez after Durden showed up at the wrong address intending to serve a warrant, and then shot and killed him. When Lopez, 41 at the time, opened the door on that fateful night in 2017, his dog ran out. Officer Durden lost control of himself and shot the dog and then fired multiple shots into Lopez. The city of Southaven had tried to make the argument that Lopez did not have any civil rights because he was an illegal immigrant and was facing deportation orders. In 2020, a judge rejected such an argument, ruling that constitutional rights apply to “all persons.” The 2023 verdict came after a four-day trial in a lawsuit by Claudia Linares, the widow of Lopez, who had been seeking $20 million in compensation. Murray Wells, attorney for Linares, summarized the ruling saying, “the jurors did not believe that use of force used by Officers Durden and Maze was excessive in light of all the facts that they considered.”

New Mexico: KRQE reported on September 22, 2023, that federal prosecutors arrested a former Doña Ana County sheriff’s deputy. Michael Andrew Martinez, 33, responded to a car crash call on April 30, 2023, and detained the driver under suspicion of DWI. Martinez reportedly took her to get a medical check and eventually booked her at the county detention center. As those events happened, Martinez was caught on the patrol vehicle’s camera groping the handcuffed victim in the back seat. Martinez had turned off his body cam during the assault but remembered the dashboard cam would have been recording. While off duty at his home after the incident, he attempted to destroy the camera in the vehicle and then reported the patrol car had been vandalized. The FBI said its investigation found no evidence of forced entry into the car and the DVR’s memory contained footage of Martinez sexually assaulting the victim. The Doña Ana Sheriff’s Office fired Martinez on August 31, 2023. He had previously worked with the State Police and for Hatch County. Prosecutors say there could be more victims and are asking the public to call the FBI or submit a tip online.

New Mexico: In 2021, a four-year-old found his father’s gun in the family’s Rio Rancho home and then tragically shot and killed his two-year-old brother. According to KRQE, the father, Santa Fe Police Officer Jonathan Harmon, explained to police that he stores his personal gun on “the very highest top shelf in the kitchen.” While looking for chewing gum the four-year-old dragged a chair to the counter, climbed up and retrieved the weapon. On September 1, 2023, the Office of the Attorney General of New Mexico released a statement that Harmon would not be prosecuted for the crime because “prosecution would be unable to meet the required burden of proof for a criminal case – the highest burden in our legal system – of beyond a reasonable doubt.” In the statement the Deputy Attorney General also wrote that tragic death of Harmon’s son prompted the passage of the Benny Hargrove Gun Safety Act. The legislation, signed into law on July 1, 2023, “created the crime of negligently making a firearm accessible to a minor … and the minor causes injury to another person.”

Ohio: On September 11, 2023, former East Cleveland police officer, Alfonzo Cole, 35, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, WKYC reported. His fellow officer, Willie Sims, 32, will be sentenced at a later date. The two officers concocted a criminal scheme that netted more than $14,000, as well as guns and drugs, from six unknowing victims during traffic stops or searches of vehicles between July 2020 and July 2021. The last victim, 21, was on his way to pay for a funeral when he was pulled over by the two crooked cops. They stole $4,000 from his car during the stop and the young man reported the event to authorities. The next day Cole and Sims were arrested. Cole received a 30-month sentence after a plea agreement in which he also pled guilty to two unrelated weapons charges.

Oregon: According to the Salem Reporter, Raymond K. Rau, 56, a former Nyssa police chief, was charged on August 30, 2023, with two counts of first-degree official misconduct, one count of second-degree theft and one count of third-degree theft, after he took controlled substances and cash from the Tillamook evidence locker on two occasions between October 2021 and April 2023. Rau has been on leave from the Tillamook job since May. As of early October 2023, Rau had not yet been booked on the charges or arraigned.The Oregon State Police began an investigation in May of this year after an audit found evidence had been tampered or removed in more than 80 cases dating back to 2005. Most of the evidence tampering has occurred since 2021. Rau took the Tillamook chief of police job in July 2021.

Pennsylvania: In December 2019, motorist Davaughn Tate-Johnson filed a claim alleging that officer Joshua Allison had punched him in the face during a traffic stop. According to the Erie Times News, the city wound up paying Tate-Johnson $50,000. Another lawsuit, which is pending but filed in June 2020, alleges that Allison, along with another half dozen officers, beat Erie resident Anthony Dubrowski during an arrest. In yet another case, the city paid $35,000 to Erie resident Raimond Hansbrew who was slammed to the pavement by Allison during a domestic disturbance call. The suit was settled in January 2022 with the city claiming Allison did nothing wrong. Allison is a decorated police officer having received commendations for his actions during a 2017 incident in which he and other officers shot a man after the suspect fired shots at them. Regarding the matter, officials said that just because an officer is sued repeatedly, it does not necessarily mean he is a problem. Allison is a 40-year-old former Edinboro University of Pennsylvania police officer who previously worked in law enforcement for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission before joining the Erie Bureau of Police in 2015.

Pennsylvania: KYW-TV was in court on September 18, 2023, as ex-cop Patrick Heron hung his head in shame. The assistant district attorney had shown the court irrefutable video evidence of 30 sexual assaults over 13 months which Heron recorded in the backseat of his Philadelphia police vehicle. According to the prosecutors, there are 48 victims, but only four of them have been identified. Between 2005 and 2022 Heron targeted vulnerable women and children in Kensington, a neighborhood in the Lower Northeast area of Philadelphia. According to the Inquirer, Heron retired in 2019 but was arrested last year on charges of indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, stalking and witness intimidation. Heron would coerce his victims, including some of his daughter’s friends, into sending him intimate photographs. He is being held in the Delaware County Prison without bail. Heron’s next court appearance was scheduled for October 2023.

Pennsylvania: Timothy Heefner, 64, a Pennsylvanian State Constable, is looking at 700 charges of human trafficking. According to WHTM, the arrest comes after a two-year investigation by the Chambersburg Police and Franklin County District Attorney’s Office. The investigation found more than 50 women who Heefner is accused of soliciting for sexual acts in exchange for money or drugs. Heefner was also accused of paying these women to recruit others and of providing transportation and money so that they could purchase drugs for sex. A Franklin County Investigative Ground Jury found that the constable “believed he was permitted to commit these crimes and that he could get away with it all because his victims were broken, sick, addicted and in the shadows…Heefner believed no one would care and no one would believe these young women, and he was wrong.” Police had originally received a report from Franklin County Children and Youth Services in July 2021 that alleged Heefner sexually assaulted underage girls. Heefner’s bail is set at $1.25 million as he awaits trial in the Franklin County Jail.

Texas: According to The Dallas Morning News (TDMN), Sergeant Jonathan Macheca and Captain James Preston of the Southlake police force were killing time at the police training center by drawing Nazi symbols, including a swastika and lightning bolts, on the whiteboard and then snapping photographs of them. Logan was so thrilled with the images that he sent them to other officers. By accident, he sent the pictures to a member of the public. According to documents, the sketches also included the phrase “SSRO”, a combination of SS, the name used for Hitler’s paramilitary force, and SRO, a school resource officer. Logan was captain of the school resource division, and Macheca was part of the training unit, the TDMN reported. The incident occurred in June 2023, and by July 28 Southlake Chief of Police James Brandon announced the two officers had been terminated in the weeks prior. A glowing review of Macheca’s police accomplishments before the incident still appears in an article on MySouthLakeNews.com.

Texas: A Coffee City council meeting opted to fire Police Chief Johnjay Portillo instead of accepting his termination on September 11, 2023, KLTV reported. In addition, the city council voted to deactivate the entire police department. Until further arrangements, the Henderson County Sheriff’s office will be manning the phones for Coffee City, a small town of about 250 residents three hours north of Houston. KHOU reported that Portillo quadrupled the size of the department’s force. The news outlet also reported the 50 officers employed in the sleepy town earned the city more than $1 million in traffic fines in 2022 with over 5,100 citations. Under Portillo’s command Coffee City had five times the number of cops cities of similar size would employ, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement records obtained by KHOU. Portillo hired cops that had been suspended, demoted, terminated, or even dishonorably discharged from their previous law enforcement gigs. Many of these warrant officers did not even work in Coffee City because Portillo allowed them to work remotely from Houston. Portillo even neglected to mention an active DWI charge out of Florida on his work history while applying for the Coffee City police chief position.

Washington: On January 23, 2023, Seattle Police Officer Kevin Dave was flying at 74 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone and struck and killed 23-year-old exchange student Jaahnavi Kandula, throwing her more than 100 feet. The next day, bodycam footage showed a Seattle police officer laughing and joking about the tragedy, according to KIRO-TV. Shortly after the officer hears that that the pedestrian is dead, Seattle Police Officers’ Guild Vice President Daniel Auderer laughs and says, “it’s a regular person … just write a check – $11,000, she was 26 anyway, she had limited value.” Office of Police Accountability (OPA) Director Gino Betts Jr. confirmed the watchdog agency’s investigation has begun and that it was initiated after Seattle Police Department attorney Rebecca Boatright emailed the OPA on August 2, 2023. Kandula was about to graduate in December 2023 with a master’s degree in information systems. Her goal was to support her mother in India.  

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