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News in Brief

Arkansas: On November 15, 2023, Hot Spring County Sheriff Derek Scott Finkbeiner, 46, was indicted on obstruction of justice and concealing a crime. About two weeks before that, Finkbeiner was arrested by the FBI, according to an affidavit obtained by USA TODAY. The affidavit details that between April and May, a confidential informant was used by a local narcotics enforcement unit to prove that Finkbeiner used meth and that he also tried to pay the informant to engage in sexual acts as well as mislead investigators. A May 21 event recorded by FBI surveillance showed Finkbeiner arriving at the informant’s home in his police vehicle, smoking meth and offering the informant $60 for oral sex. When Finkbeiner discovered that he was busted, he tried to convince the FBI that the dealer was a confidential informant of the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s office. Finkbeiner has been stripped of law enforcement duties, and his only authority now is to do payroll. In an earlier court filing, prosecutors revealed that Finkbeiner said he would fire or lay off witnesses who worked for the sheriff’s department, suggested that two elected constables investigate the case for him, and claimed he would release a Hot Spring County jail inmate if the inmate gave him information about his own case. Finkbeiner is free on a $5,000 bond and is expected back in court on January 22, 2024, for a jury trial.

Colorado: On the night of January 4, 2020, Harris Elias was pulled over by Loveland policeman William Gates on a pretextual traffic stop. Reason reported that Gates pulled him over for failure to signal a lane change, a fact which Elias disputed in the 2022 lawsuit he filed saying that “Gates does so because this is one of the most difficult allegations to disprove, given that Loveland PD does not employ dash cams…” After Elias refused to answer any questions, Gates called more officers to take Elias to the station and arrest him. Gates accused Elias of driving drunk, but a breathalyzer test revealed he was sober, with a 0.000 percent blood alcohol content level. Undeterred, Gates insisted that Elias was intoxicated, so he demanded that he take a blood test. At that time, according to the lawsuit, Elias requested a lawyer, but “Gates told him no, that he needed to agree to comply with a blood test now or he was going to mark him as a refusal and his driver’s license would be revoked.” When the results came in three months later, they also showed that Elias had no alcohol in his system. Because Elias is a Federal Aviation Administration licensed pilot, the false DUI arrest affects his career. The lawsuit spelled out how the wrongful arrest forced Elias into a complex process to properly report and explain the incident and that he would have to do so for the rest of his career. The city of Loveland settled the suit for $400,000. In the year before Elias’ arrest, Gates had made at least four other false DUI arrests.

Florida: On December 9, 2023, according to WOFL in Orlando, David Griffin, 48, was arrested by Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies and charged with five counts of retail petit theft. Griffin was a policeman with Haines City at the time of the arrest but resigned shortly afterwards. A press release details Griffin’s desperate and dimwitted theft scheme. While making a purchase at a self-service register at Walmart, Griffin snuck some items into shopping bags that he didn’t pay for. An employee spotted him and alerted Griffin that he had not scanned some items. The employee then walked away, but Griffin and his accomplice continued placing unscanned items into shopping bags. Walmart security stopped the two as they were leaving. According to the sheriff’s office, $207.72 worth of merchandise had been scanned and paid for, but $343.22 of merchandise was not. Walmart then checked the history of Griffin’s debit card usage and viewed security footage of each of those purchases. Turns out Griffin had committed four similar thefts in October and November.

Illinois: On May 18, 2023, JaQuwaun Williams, 15, was entering his school when an older man attacked him. Video of the incident has no audio, but one can clearly see Craig Lancaster, 54, shoving Williams near his neck and causing the boy to stumble back. A near-by teacher stepped in and directed Williams to stand by a wall, which he did without protest. That same teacher then sent an email to the principal saying that her friend Craig shoved the boy because he disobeyed her. She also told the principal that her friend worked for a computer company. The teacher has now been accused of giving false information—the aggressor’s name is Craig Lancaster, he is a policeman, and the two have been dating for twenty years. An investigation regarding the incident has been going on for at least seven months pursuant to a federal civil rights lawsuit being brought by the family of Williams. Lancaster is no stranger to such investigations having faced 30 allegations of misconduct during the past two decades.

Indiana: As reported by WDRB in Louis­ville, the Indiana State Police is investigating whether former sheriff Jamey Noel used Fire Department money to purchase his new airplane. A recently released search warrant shows a 1958 single-engine Cessna 172 sitting inside a hangar. Noel purchased the plane for $25,000 last year with cash that came from the bank account of Utica Township Volunteer Firefighters Association. Noel is also being accused of misusing $16,000 for the plane’s maintenance. Noel is facing 15 felony charges: one count of corrupt business influence, one count of obstruction of justice, five counts of theft, four counts of ghost employment and four counts of official misconduct. The ghost employment counts are related to Noel assigning four Clark County Jail employees to work on his rental property, private business and residence while on the county payroll. In addition, investigators think Noel sold county equipment, like air compressors, at auctions. Noel is also accused of hiring his buddies for contracts that were vague regarding the exact services provided. Noel was expected back in court in January 2024.

Massachusetts: An authority figure storms into a middle school classroom in search of a book. The children and the teacher watch the man in horror. Alas, he does not find it, and leaves empty handed. Is this scene from some dystopian science fiction movie, or maybe in communist China or Russia? No. According to The Berkshire Eagle, this happened on December 8, 2023, in Great Barrington’s W.E.B. Du Bois Regional Middle School. The plain-clothed policeman was responding to an anonymous complaint that the book “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, the number one most frequently banned book in 2022, according to American Library Association Data, was somewhere in that classroom. Free speech advocates, such as ACLU, cannot recall police ever going into a school to search for a book. According to the department’s policy, after the complaint had been lodged, police notified the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office. The police also notified school and district administrators that they would be coming to the classroom. Finally, the school principal escorted the police into the classroom.

Missouri: Mount Vernon police officer Allen Campbell, 35, has recently moved to his new home in the Lawrence County Jail. KYTV in Springfield reported that he is charged with first-degree rape or attempted rape, second-degree kidnapping, second-degree harassment, and second-degree stalking. According to investigators, on November 18, 2023, a woman went to his house and found Campbell drunk and irate. He said he was leaving, but the woman managed to calm him down so he would remain at home and not drive drunk. During that incident the woman said Campbell tried to rape her. She kept saying “no”. She finally managed to get free and run to her car. The woman has reported to the police that Campbell will not leave her alone. On one occasion, he accosted her in a gas station. His pervasive stalking and attempted sexual assault have caused the woman to suffer mental health issues. Campbell was still on the county payroll as of mid-December 2023.

Missouri: Imagine that you were a cop, and you saw an SUV plow right into a bar in the early hours of morning. Now, compare that scenario with the same story, except the SUV is a police vehicle and the driver is a cop. According to River Front Times, this was exactly what happened on December 18, 2023, when St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officers drove a squad SUV into a popular LGBTQ bar. Lieutenant Colonel Renee Kriesmann did not even bother giving the policeman a toxicology test, because there was no “reasonable suspicion” of drugs or alcohol. But the story gets even stranger. Turns out one officer got out of his vehicle and began fighting with the owners of the bar that he had just crashed into. Eventually, the policeman arrested one of the owners after cuffing them both and demanding IDs. Attorney Javad Khazaeli, who represents the married gay couple, owners of Bar:PM, claims video evidence will refute the police’s account of the incident and prove the arrest was unfounded. Khazaeli told the Riverfront Times: “They lost control of the vehicle. And immediately the video shows the police officers being aggressive with everybody in the area to cover up what they did.”

Mississippi: As reported by CBS, on December 15, 2023, a grand jury found Indianola Police Sergeant Greg Capers did not engage in criminal conduct by shooting Aderrien Murry in the chest on May 20. The details are chilling. Murry was an unarmed 11-year-old boy inside the home where Capers was responding to a domestic dispute. Aderrien’s mother, Nakala, had asked him to call the police around 4 a.m., when the father of one of her other children showed up. When the police arrived, Nakala told them that the man had left, and that her three children were in the house. Regardless, Capers shouted into the home, commanding anyone inside to come out with their hands up. At that moment, Aderrien Murry walked into the living room. Although he was just a child, and he had nothing in his hands, Capers shot him square in the chest. After the grand jury’s decision, the Attorney General’s Office said that no further criminal action at the state level would occur against Capers. However, the Murry family has filed a $5-million federal lawsuit against Indianola, the police chief and Capers. According to the lawsuit, Indianola failed to properly train Capers and he used excessive force.

Ohio: Andrew Mitchell, 59, a former vice detective with the Columbus Division of Police, has a history of terrorizing prostitutes. Reason reported that in 2017, Mitchell told one that he was a cop and, according to a press release, handcuffed “the victim to the doorknob of his vehicle. He drove the victim to a nearby parking lot with multiple dumpsters and forcible [sic] held and detained the victim against her will before dropping her off at her boyfriend’s residence.” In 2018, Mitchell shot and killed Donna Castleberry, 23. Just like his other victims, Castleberry was a sex worker. He picked her up in an unmarked car and drove her to a location. He parked the car so that her door was against a brick wall. According to Mitchell’s testimony, he told her that he was a cop and that this was a sting. She slashed his hand with a knife, so he fired six rounds at her in self-defense. In April of 2023, a jury returned a not-guilty verdict in the state’s case. In 2019, Mitchell was indicted on federal charges, accused of forcing victims to engage in sex acts to gain their freedom. At first, Mitchell pleaded not guilty. But after several continuances and before the trial was slated to start in January 2024, Mitchell changed his plea from not guilty on all counts to guilty on three of the eight federal counts on December 7, 2023.

Oregon: According to KPTV in Portland, David Richard Mills, 36, a deputy with Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office, was placed on administrative leave on September 1, 2023, after a complaint was made alleging that Mills had shared inappropriate photos and videos of his genitals on “large digital platforms headquartered outside of Oregon.” Court documents accuse Mills in January 2022 of masturbating into someone else’s water bottle with the intention that person would consume his semen. Mills was so fond of this prank that he posted the episode online. In April 2023, he posted a picture of himself in uniform with his penis exposed. In May 2023, he posted a video of himself masturbating in a patrol car. Lastly, in August 2023, he allegedly placed his exposed penis on a counter in the sheriff’s office. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Benton County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the case. Update to this story: On December 14, 2023, Mills was arraigned on 12 criminal counts in Yamhill County Circuit Court including public indecency, first-degree official misconduct and abuse of venerated objects.

Pennsylvania: WTFX in Philadelphia reported that on December 15, 2023, Tyler Humphreys, 21, a new school resource officer with the Sharon Hill Police Department, was arrested and charged with rape of a child, statutory sexual assault and other related offenses for crimes that occurred between 2014 and 2022. Accordingly, when Humphreys was 12, he forced a 9-year-old boy to perform sex acts on him. These sexual attacks occurred for four years. The investigation then unraveled a second victim—a girl, 15—who said Humphreys, who was older than 18 at the time, supplied her with alcohol, and then raped her while she was unconscious. Yet another victim, 19, told officials that she woke up in pain to find Humphreys lying next to her only wearing his underwear. Humphreys has been released after posting $275,000 bail.

Tennessee: According to Chattanoogan.com, on November 29, 2023, the Chattanooga Police were called to an unconscious person inside a residence. Once they arrived, they found Kara Akins, 48, dead. Investigators then secured arrest warrants for Lawrence Goodine, 43, a former Chattanooga policeman, for first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence. WRCB in Chattanooga reported that Goodine told investigators that he and the victim went to dinner together the night she was killed. Afterwards, he went to a gas station to buy a pack of smokes. But, according to Goodine, when he returned to the car she was gone. He drove around and eventually found her. Goodine told authorities that at that time, she was acting “as if she’d taken some kind of narcotic.” As a result, Goodine took her back home and she fell asleep on her couch. When Goodine woke up early in the morning, he found the victim unconscious. He called the police and told them that he thought she had overdosed. The medical examiner report however, detailed that there were no narcotics in the victim’s system. In addition, the report determined the victim was strangled. Video evidence shows Goodine pushing the victim, who can be heard screaming “stop” and the name Lawrence. Goodine was fired from the Chattanooga Police Department in 2007 for improper procedure and untruthfulness. He had taken money from suspected drug dealers during traffic stops.

Utah: In the last two years, 49 women have gone to the Provo police to report sexual abuse by one Doctor Broadbent. However, all the women had difficulties making reports about him and even accessing their records because their native language is Spanish. Some of the Mexican women were told by Provo authorities that they did not think they were serious. On March 20, 2023, 20 Mexican immigrants filed a civil lawsuit against two of the hospitals that employed Broadbent. ProPublica and the Salt Lake Tribune interviewed 14 of these women. They said that between March 2022 and April 2023, each of them tried to file a report with the Provo police department, claiming that Broadbent had inappropriately touched their vagina, breasts and rectums during exams with no warning or explanation. Also, the touching often caused physical pain and made them feel violated. The interviews conducted by the two news organizations revealed that most of the women experienced delays, language barriers and painful interviews when dealing with the police. Five of the 14 even said that the police turned them away at least once. Footage from the Provo police station shows some of the interviews with these women taking place on a bench in a hallway, instead of in a private interview room. Kevin Fernandez was the first Provo detective to work on the case. During the first six months of the investigation, Fernandez handled 30 Broadbent reports. One of the victims recalled how difficult it was to explain to Fernandez how Broadbent had touched her vagina. Maybe that was why Fernandez concluded that Broadbent did not do anything wrong. “He didn’t see it as a crime. He said the doctor was doing his job.”  

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