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News in Brief

California: Reported by KHSL in Chico/Redding, Nicholas Lee Rush, 49, a Chico Police Officer, has been charged with providing marijuana to an underage family member, 17, and also encouraging the teen to share the stash with his girlfriend. In 2022, an investigation into whether Rush was growing pot in his backyard began. He faces up to five years in state prison on felony charges of furnishing marijuana and a misdemeanor for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Rush is not currently an active officer with the Chico Police Department. Rush was expected in court for arraignment on August 3, 2023.

Colorado: KDVR reported that on May 18, 2023, Samuel Rose, 18, pled guilty to possession of a handgun by a juvenile and two counts of attempted first-degree murder, second-degree assault, and aggravated juvenile offender, and was sentenced to five years in state custody. His father is Denver Police Department Detective Asher Rose. Samuel was able to obtain the firearm because of his father’s failure to properly store it. An internal affairs investigation concluded on July 12, 2023, that Asher Rose will not face charges, although he clearly violated police department policies. When asked how Samuel was able to access his gun safe, Rose said, “I believe he searched the room when he was home alone. There were times in the past when he would steal money and credit cards for his drug habit.” On May 13, 2022, Samuel took his father’s gun and fired into a teen’s house and just two days later fired into Jessica Edgar’s Littleton townhome. Jessica Edgar told KDVR that the bullet soared through her son’s room, almost hit him in the head and then pierced several walls. Snapchat conversations and surveillance video led investigating detectives to the then-17-year-old whom they arrested at traffic stop. They also found two guns in the car with the teen.

Georgia: Appen Media reported on July 11, 2023, that in a July 6 hearing, ex-police officer Austin Handle won an unemployment appeal for more than $10,000. Handle had been fired from the Dunwoody Police Department in April 2020 for “police violation, due to dishonesty”, during an investigation into determining whether he used his patrol lights and sirens to speed through the streets. Dunwoody is a northern Atlanta suburb known for restaurants, coffee shops and parks. According to Handle, he was fired in retaliation for revealing the sexual misconduct and assault occurring with senior officers within his department. A report created because of Handle’s accusations led to the resignation of former lieutenant Fidel Espinoza who left his position before the probe ended in July 2020. Handle is the vice chair of the Lamplighter Project, a national organization that encourages law enforcement officers to speak out against police corruption or injustice.

Kentucky: Former Louisville Metro Police officer Bryan Wilson engaged in a sextortion scheme in which he cyberstalked 25 victims in a perverse attempt to get them to send him nude photos and videos of themselves. He did this by snatching compromising photos from their social media pages. The lawsuit states that Wilson hacked into the victims’ account by posing as a Snapchat Support Team employee. Once Wilson was able to persuade the young woman to text him her password, he would extract private videos from her account. Then the woman would receive a message from Wilson that “it would go away if she would show him her boobs.” The Louisville Metro Police Department’s sex crimes unit did not respond to any of the young woman’s more than ten calls. The messages got more deranged at that point. Wilson threatened to send these intimate images to her friends, family members, principal, school board, and even the school district’s superintendent. According to WDRB, Wilson had used his LMPD access to a data combing software that identified computer applications that belonged to women, and he then hacked their applications, stealing intimate images. Wilson was also one of two officers who threw slushies at individuals while filming it on their phones. Eventually, Wilson pled guilty to the slushy and the sextortion cases, resulting in 30 months in federal prison. Wilson, as well as his former supervisors, are now the focus of a civil lawsuit.

Maryland: The Baltimore Sun reported that on June 23, 2023, the Hartford County Sheriff’s Office arrested Baltimore County police officer Mitchell Tuveson, 29, and his wife, with felony child abuse because of injuries their infant son suffered. According to court documents, the couple first took their son to the hospital in April. In May, another hospital visit revealed their son had suffered a brain hemorrhage. The Hartford County State Attorney’s Office believe the child was shaken. Court documents show that Tuveson has been released on home detention. According to the Baltimore County police, Tuveson has been suspended without pay and court records indicate a most recent salary of $75,000.

Maryland: Maryland State Police computer crimes investigators charged Jared Michael Lemon, 42, of Owings, Maryland, with the possession of child pornography, according to The Bay Net. During the investigation, it was revealed that Lemon is employed as an officer with the U.S. Capitol Police Department. On July 10, 2023, Maryland State Police arrested Lemon just before 5 a.m. and transported him to the Calvert County Detention Center where he is being held without bond. The investigation started in December 2022 when the Maryland State Police Prince Frederick Barrack started a probe into the possession of child pornography. A cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children revealed that an online user, who turned out to be Lemon, was uploading suspected child pornography. A search of Lemon’s residence in December 2022 revealed evidence that Lemon had child pornography in his possession.

Massachusetts: According to WBTS, on June 30, 2023, officer Michael Morin, 38, was arrested by his own department for having an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old. Morin was also charged with possession of child sex images which were photographs that the young woman had sent him. Court documents show the alleged offense occurred on April 9. Despite his arrest, Morin has not yet been fired from his job. The department said that his employment status will be assessed once an investigation is complete. Morin has been on paid administrative leave since May 29.

Michigan: Matthew J. Rodriguez, 48, a former Warren Police Officer, has been charged with deprivation of rights under the color of law, according to the United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan. On June 13, 2023, Rodriguez was working at the Warren Police Department as a jail officer. A carjacking suspect was brought into the department, and Rodriguez started to process the slight 19-year-old man. Surveillance video then shows Rodriguez striking the victim so hard that he falls backwards. Rodriguez, who is tall and solid, throws the victim against the wall, then to the floor. The beating continued with Rodriguez punching the victim in the head several times and then slamming the victim’s head into the ground. The teenager, identified as Jaquwan Smith by the Detroit Free Press, was dragged by his hair and thrown into a cell by Rodriguez. The defendant now faces up to ten years in prison on civil rights charges. County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido initially charged Rodriguez with misdemeanor charges of assault and battery and willful neglect of duty. As of July 10, 2023, Lucido planned to drop the Macomb County charges to allow the federal felony charges against Rodriguez to proceed.

Minnesota: Former Cloquet Police Officer Laci Marie Silgjord, 35, went above and beyond for a vulnerable woman in her community. The two met when Silgjord performed a welfare check on the 78-year-old woman in May 2020. Silgjord would regularly check up on her new “friend.” Four months after they met, Silgjord showed up at the elder woman’s bank and assumed the role of the woman’s fiduciary thus gaining access to the victim’s bank accounts. In late October 2020 the victim died, and Silgjord tried to inherit the victim’s entire estate. The two problems with such a harebrained scheme were that Silgjord did not have a written estate plan from the victim and the deceased woman had surviving family members who alerted authorities quickly. Silgjord’s relationship with the Cloquet police department ended in June 2022. WDIO, an ABC affiliate, reported that on July 21, 2023, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced charges against Silgjord. The case was investigated and prosecuted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Missouri: According to the Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice, Rogeric Hankins, 37, a former private prisoner transport officer, was sentenced to nine years in federal prison by the Western District of Missouri on July 11, 2023. Hankins violated a female pretrial detainee’s civil rights by sexually assaulting her in a public restroom. As an employee of Inmate Services Corporation, Hankins’ duty was to pick up individuals who had been arrested on out-of-state warrants and take them to the state that had issued the warrant. On March 31, 2020, Hankins picked up a female pretrial detainee from a jail in Olympia, Washington. On April 3, before arriving at their destination of St. Paul, Minnesota, Hankins stopped at a rest stop and took the victim with him to use the bathroom. Once inside the bathroom, Hankins tried to remove the female’s shirt. After forcing the victim to perform carnal activities on him, he then bent her over the toilet and raped her.

Nevada: Caleb Rogers, 35, a Las Vegas police officer, was convicted on July 14, 2023, on every count of stealing close to $165,000 during three casino heists, as reported by the Associated Press. During one of those robberies, Rogers was armed with a department-issued loaded weapon. Because he displayed the weapon during the heist in February 2022, Rogers faces life in prison. Rogers has been on unpaid leave without police powers since his arrest. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said that his future with the department “will be determined at the conclusion” of an investigation. During the trial, Rogers was portrayed as a gambling addict, desperate to pay off massive debt. As a police officer, Rogers possessed a special set of skills and knowledge about robberies that he used to his advantage.

New York: News 12 The Bronx reported on July 14, 2023, that Middletown Police Officer Fred Slanovic pled guilty to a drunken assault on a 14-year-old boy. A few months earlier, on May 6, Slanovic had been drinking off duty when he attended a communion party at a local restaurant. According to officials, Slanovic approached the child and told him that he “put his father in jail” and that he would be next, despite having no basis with which to make the threat. Then, Slanovic slapped the boy and pushed his face into a brick wall. “My understanding is it was not a pretty scene,” said Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano. The teen suffered minor injuries according to prosecutors. Slanovic was suspended without pay and will have to participate in one year of alcohol abuse treatment while refraining from alcohol consumption. Plus, an order of protection was issued for the child. One could only wonder what the teen’s punishment would have been had he been the one to slap the police officer.

South Carolina: South Carolina’s Pill Take Back program provides locations where citizens can safely dispose of expired or unused medications, thereby reducing risks of accidental exposure or abuse. According to WHNS, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said that Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Captain Charles Jeffrey Underwood, 48, was charged after he was caught stealing the drugs collected during a Pill Take Back program in Walhalla. The medication that is collected in this program is stored in a secure location within the sheriff’s office apart from other evidence. Within four hours of Underwood’s termination, he was arrested and booked at the Oconee County Detention Center. Underwood has been charged with misconduct in office and petit larceny. The stolen pills were worth less than $2,000.

Texas: On July 12, 2023, Rigoberto Barrientos, 46, filed a lawsuit against the Zapata County Sheriff’s Office after he had his left leg amputated as a result of a violent arrest. According to the Laredo Morning Times, on April 26, 2022, officers were dispatched to the home of Barrientos’ girlfriend because of a possible domestic disturbance. Barrientos’ lawsuit claims that four deputies ripped his leg almost completely off his body during an unprovoked arrest without probable cause. The lawsuit gives gruesome details from the officer’s body camera footage that describe the “crunch and crack of bone and popping of burst tendon, muscle, ligament, and skin when the four large, heavily muscled deputies combined their strength and body weight to split Mr. Barrientos’ leg in half as they propelled his head and upper torso with deadly force toward the concrete slab below.” His attorney Kevin Green said that they have no plans to release the footage because they would prefer that Zapata County elected officials take that step. Barrientos is suing the Zapata County Sheriff’s Office for nearly $500,000 in damages.

Texas: On July 24, 2023, Marcus James Alexander, 37, a Bexar County Sheriff’s Office deputy, turned himself in on a warrant for a second-degree felony, indecency with a child-contact. According to KSAT, investigators spoke with someone that told them that Alexander had fondled a juvenile, taken inappropriate photographs and stored them on his telephone. Officials said that this took place in June. An arrest warrant affidavit revealed that Alexander was “sweating profusely” and almost fainted twice when confronted. After investigators spoke with Alexander, a warrant was filed for his arrest. Alexander was then given a proposed termination, pending the conclusion of the investigation.

Virginia: According to the Miami Herald, on July 12, 2023, Michael Anderson, 52, a Bureau of Prisons lieutenant, pled guilty to violating a prisoner’s civil rights by showing deliberate indifference to his serious medical afflictions resulting in his death. The 47-year-old prisoner at Federal Correctional Institution at Petersburg in Virginia identified as W.W. “was not doing well and was not himself,” said a concerned cellmate, according to court documents. Anderson then visited the man’s cell and said that he would get W.W. the medical help he needed. Although Anderson knew the severity of W.W.’s condition, he never alerted a member of the medical staff. A day later, Anderson was told by another officer that W.W. had fallen again. Still, Anderson failed to order treatment for W.W. On January 10, 2021, W.W. lay on the floor for two hours before he died. Two other staff at FCI Petersburg were previously charged in the Eastern District of Virginia of neglecting W.W.’s medical needs.

Washington: In January of 2021, Seattle police officers were on their way to arrest a group of protestors who were writing graffiti on the precinct’s exterior wall when one of officer’s body cam began filming the inside of the precinct. The video was then obtained as part of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Seattle’s graffiti laws. As the officer was leaving, his body camera swept across the room in the SPD’s East Precinct. The images unintentionally caught on that video were shocking. The large “Trump 2020” flag was the first jaw-dropper, because it could be a violation of state law and department policy — officers are not supposed to favor any one political party while on duty. But then, even more disturbing, the video scrolls past a small, fake tombstone. On the tombstone is a clenched black fist and the name Darius Butts, his age, and the date he was killed by officers. On April 20, 2017, Butts was involved in a shooting with police officers after robbing a convenience store. Three officers were injured, but Butts was killed. Devastated, his mother Ann Butts said, “I didn’t think SPD could take more from me. I was wrong.”

Washington, D.C.: According to the United States Attorney’s Office, on July 11, 2023, a jury found Charles Johnson II, 29, a former officer of the Metropolitan Police Department, guilty of all charges for repeated acts of sexual abuse of a child. Johnson was found guilty of sexually abusing a child who was nine then ten years old between November 2019 and September 2021. Johnson lived in the same home as the child and repeatedly forced her to perform sexual acts on him while performing sexual acts on the girl, the daughter of his girlfriend. Johnson’s attorney argued that the charges were a retaliation maneuver after Johnson broke up with the girl’s mother and moved out to pursue a relationship with another woman. Johnson is facing life imprisonment without the opportunity of release.  Johnson’s father and brother are also D.C. police officers according to the Washington Post.  

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