Police News On Police In Texas



News On Police Brutality and Police Misconduct in Texas

      Police Brutality and Misconduct Is Not Just a Problem, It’s Illegal! 

    Police News On Police Brutality and Police Misconduct In Texas

 

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  8/19/2005 –  Killeen – Police Officer John E. Taylor was arrested at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Round Rock.   Round Rock police say he stole $686 in merchandise, including expensive flashlights.

 

 Officer Taylor was released after posting a $1,500 bond.  Officer Taylor resigned after being charged with theft. He also worked as a probation officer in Killeen for just over three months.

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  08/18/2005 – A woman, now 20, tries to suppress the memory of the night she was raped by a rogue Houston police officer more than four years ago.

“I know it’s back there,” she said in an interview, “but I don’t deal with it.”

 U.S. District Judge John Rainey recently approved a recommendation to award the young woman $2 million for the suffering that she says she still endures because of the attack by James McMichael.

 But her attorney, Ralphaell Wilkins, says the chances of collecting very much are “slim to none.” The judge dropped the city of Houston from the lawsuit, and McMichael is serving a 50-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child.

 The Houston Police Department has gone to great lengths to keep people such as McMichael out of its ranks, said spokesman Capt. Dwayne Ready. Still, he said, there are times when someone slips past the screening tests, psychological tests and observation by training officers.

 “It’s not a perfect system; it’s a human system,” Ready said. “It’s subject to human failings.”

 HPD received reports of 908 sexual assaults in 2004, said Kelly Young, a spokeswoman for the Houston Area Women’s Center.

 “We know that is a small amount of the actual rapes,” Young said, noting that the center’s rape line received 4,000 calls last year.

The experience is especially traumatic for victims of an authority figure such as a clergyman or police officer, she said.

“When they use that power to violate you, it adds an additional fear level,” Young said.

 In one of the few times she has discussed the attack, the victim of that rape talked with the Chronicle about how the night of July 18, 2001, changed her life. The newspaper agreed not to identify her because of the nature of the crime.

 She was a 16-year-old sophomore at Humble High School, taking honors courses with plans to attend the University of Texas, she said. She was a trainer on the men’s and women’s sports teams, hoping for a career in that field.

 McMichael, then 44, had been suspended for 30 days in 1999 for failing to record a traffic stop and notify a dispatcher that he was transporting a female. Another complaint surfaced in May 2001, when a woman reported he had molested her after stopping her for an alleged traffic violation. 

 Relating that incident in her recommendation that the $2 million award be approved, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson called McMichael’s actions “despicable.”

 “Suffice it to say that the officer allegedly used his authority, threats of arrest and (more subtly) his weapon to effect the sexual assault” Johnson wrote.

 The Police Department’s internal affairs division launched a sting operation, obtaining a “pocket” arrest warrant that could be served on McMichael if the sting succeeded.

The sting was postponed, however, after he called in sick.

 Shortly after midnight on his first day back on patrol, he spotted the student and her boyfriend. The couple had parked on Lee near Bush Intercontinental Airport, watching planes take off and land.

 The woman said McMichael did not identify himself as a police officer, but ordered the boyfriend to turn off the inside light and open a rear door. She said she was frightened and asked her boyfriend to drive away, but McMichael followed without using his emergency lights.

 The couple, who did not have cell phones, drove to a motel and the boyfriend got out to seek help, she said.

“He literally is trying to drag me with him,” said the woman, who was in high heels and a dress that made running difficult. “I said, ‘I’ll be fine.’ “

They didn’t know that the fully lighted motel was closed for renovation. While the boyfriend searched for help, McMichael pulled up and turned on his emergency lights.

 He disabled the boyfriend’s car by pulling the spark plug wires, then drove the woman to an abandoned construction site, she said. He threatened to take her to jail, but offered a deal: “Instead of spending so much time with that boy, how about spending time with me?”

She said she thought he was offering to mentor her, and she consented. As he drove away from the site, she recalled, “I thought I was going home.”

But then she realized McMichael was heading away from her home. She questioned him, but he replied, “Shhhh.”

As they drove into a clearing in the woods, she said, she believed that he meant to kill her.

“I was basically praying,” she recalled. “I was certain this was the end of my life.”

 After raping her, the officer told her not to speak because there might be a listening device in the car. Court records show there was no listening device, but internal affairs investigators had installed a tracking device.

  The woman said she felt “completely disgusted, completely sick.” McMichael took her home, she said, but her parents were out of town.

 She called her boyfriend, who later told police he had phoned his mother after leaving the victim. He said he had not realized the danger and regretted leaving her alone.

 She said he picked her up, but she wouldn’t tell him what had happened. Still, he phoned his aunt, a police officer, and the investigation that led to McMichael’s guilty plea began. 

The woman said she still isn’t able to move on with life. She dropped out of high school, explaining that, “I couldn’t stand to be in a place with that many people.”

 She said she has never spoken with her parents about the rape and no longer goes to church because she feels “dirty.” She has nightmares, she said, and doubts she’ll ever have a physical relationship with a man.

That’s a typical reaction, said Young, of the women’s center.

“One of the hardest things for people to remember is they carry a tremendous amount of shame that is misplaced,” she said.

The damage never fully heals, Young added.

“It takes time to refill your soul with things that are good in the world,” she said.

The woman still hopes to attend college.

 “That would be the greatest thing in the world,” she said. “But right now, I can’t get there.”

  HPD officials said they have no data on how often officers use their authority to commit sex crimes. Michael Quinn, author of Walking with the Devil, a book on police ethics, said such misconduct is relatively rare.

  In the Houston area, former Conroe school district police officer Donald P. Mauro was sentenced to 160 years in prison in June for sexually assaulting four students.

 Last year, Houston police officer Lance W. Elliott resigned after being accused of having sex with a suspected shoplifter. He denied the charge but received a 30-day jail sentence after pleading guilty to tampering with a government record.

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 08/18/2005 – Houston, Texas – Houston police found about 150 pieces of misplaced evidence, including items from three capital murder cases, and it is unclear whether defense attorneys ever knew about it, according to Chief Harold Hurtt.

 One case involves a defendant who has been executed. Other cases involve evidence that ”could not be located due to being misfiled or lost,” Hurtt said during a Tuesday news conference.

He said he did not know if defense attorneys had been made aware of all of the evidence in the three capital cases before trial, but he indicated that he would find out.

 ”This is early on in the process,” Hurtt said. ”And we’re going to do what’s necessary to ensure that we don’t have anybody in jail unfairly, especially people that are facing the death penalty.”

 Police uncovered the evidence while working to computerize materials stored in the police property room.

The discovery follows a series of problems over the last 2 1/2 years at the police departments’ evidence analysis and storage divisions.

 Problems with staffing, supervision and shabby conditions led to the shutdown of the crime lab’s DNA section in 2002. In August, police found evidence from thousands of cases that was lost in its property room and improperly tagged.

 In the latest batch of discovered evidence, police found a cigarette butt that was collected during the investigation of a 1991 robbery-slaying of a Houston bank teller.

Robert Campbell is awaiting execution for the murder of Alexandra Rendon, the teller. Attorney Lonnie Knowles served as one of Campbell’s trial lawyers.

 ”Oh my God, are you serious?” Knowles asked when informed about the evidence found. He said he did not recall ever being aware of the existence of the cigarette butt.

”I can’t tell you 100 percent that it would have made a difference,” Knowles said. ”But from a defense perspective, I would have loved to have known about that.”

Police also discovered evidence from a murder investigation that led to an execution.

 Ponchai Wilkerson was executed on March 14, 2000, for the fatal 1990 shooting of Chung Myong Yi during the robbery of a Houston jewelry store. Wilkerson never denied that he shot Yi, but prosecutors said the robbery was part of a days-long crime spree, which they used during the punishment phase.

The newly discovered evidence is a car seat that may be from one of those crimes.

 ”What really got him the death penalty was the extraneous offenses – not the primary offense,” said Attorney Troy McKinney, who represented Wilkerson.

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08/18/2005 – Galveston – A Galveston police officer admitted that he violated department policy by failing to turn on a camera that would have recorded the scene that led to allegations he and his partner beat and kicked a man who was not resisting arrest.

The alleged beating victim, Patrick James Woods, is on trial on a charge of resisting arrest after patrolmen James Stewart and Mark Davis spotted Woods and two other men standing in a traffic lane of 28th on May 8.

The officers testified Tuesday that they thought Woods and the other men, who ran away, were involved in a drug deal at the time.

Stewart testified that he did not turn on his patrol-car emergency lights, which also activate the car’s video and audio taping system, when he and Davis stopped Woods.

 Stewart said he also could have turned on the system using a switch on a microphone in his shirt pocket, but Woods started a struggle before he could activate the system from outside the patrol car. Stewart said department policy requires activation of the taping system to provide a record of what goes on during traffic stops for use as evidence.

 Woods’ case came to light after Sheridan Lorenz, a Galveston resident and daughter of developer George Mitchell, filed an affidavit in the misdemeanor criminal case saying she saw the two officers beating Woods while he was handcuffed. Lorenz since has said through attorney Anthony Griffin that Woods might not have been handcuffed at the time but that he was not resisting officers who were kicking and beating him. Lorenz watched the action from her car, just a few yards from the struggle.

 Since Lorenz made her allegation, the Galveston Police Department has asked the Texas Attorney General’s Office to rule that records of 54 complaints of police misconduct in the past five years are exempt from release under the Texas Public Information Act. The Houston Chronicle and other news organizations have requested the records.

 In an opening statement to the six-member jury, Griffin said Lorenz and two other witnesses will testify that the officers had Woods down and that he was not resisting arrest when they were beating him.

 Lorenz will testify that she saw officers kick Woods “at least 15 times” as he lay on the street, Griffin told jurors.

 Prosecutor Bryan Keller told jurors that Woods ignored repeated commands by Stewart and Davis to put his hands behind his back and allow himself to be handcuffed.

 Both officers testified that the 130-pound Woods appeared to be on drugs and struggled wildly enough to lift up Davis, who weighs 260 pounds, as Davis placed his full weight on Woods’ prone body.

 Davis testified that he tried to kick Woods in the leg to knock him down after Woods slugged him in the chest. Davis said his kick missed and hit Woods in the groin instead. After the officers wrestled Woods down, Davis said he struck Woods hard two times in the left shoulder blade in an unsuccessful attempt to subdue him.

 Stewart testified that he doused Woods’ face with pepper spray and kneed him hard three times in the right lower abdomen before the officers got Woods handcuffed.

 The two said they used the necessary force they were trained to use in such a situation. Both officers denied kicking Woods repeatedly.

 Police Chief Kenneth Mack has said repeatedly since the incident that Stewart and Davis acted properly. Stewart testified he has not been disciplined so far for violating the camera-activation policy.

 The only videotape of the incident was recorded by the camera of the second patrol that arrived on the scene within about a minute of when Stewart and Davis told dispatchers they were stopping a man. The videotape shows Woods being handcuffed but does not show what went on before.

 Stewart and Davis filed a civil lawsuit against Lorenz last month, maintaining that she defamed them and unjustly accused them of a crime.

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08/16/2005 – Montgomery County, Texas – The Montgomery County District Attorney’s office has dropped all charges against a railroad engineer arrested in June by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office for failing to identify himself.

 But Gregory Stokes, 29, of Conroe, has told The Courier he will pursue a civil suit against the Sheriff’s Office for wrongful arrest.

 Stokes was arrested when the train he was operating for the Timber Rock Railroad out of Silsbee was hit by a car as it sat in a crossing at FM 149 and Shannon Crossing in west Montgomery County June 6. Stokes stopped the train as it was going through the crossing because he had noticed that the gates had not gone down even though the signal lights and bells were operating.

 Two of the train’s conductors got off the train to alert traffic and waved the train through because they saw no one approaching the crossing. After Stokes started the train back up, a silver Chevrolet station wagon driven by Billy Dustin Smith, of Pasadena, drove into the train. Smith, 21, was not injured.

 Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene, and when a deputy asked for Stokes’ driver’s license, he refused, citing federal law that doesn’t require train conductors and engineers to show their driver’s licenses when an accident occurs. The law is in place to keep train employees’ auto insurance rates from going up because their license numbers are on the accident report.

 However, the deputy arrested Stokes for failure to identify himself and interference with public duties, both Class B misdemeanors. Stokes was booked into the Montgomery County Jail and bonded out for $1,500.

The deputy’s report noted that Stokes was “observed by three other law enforcement officers refusing to comply with the request I made for identification and making the task of completing the investigation impossible.”

 But a Department of Public Safety trooper on the scene advised the deputy that, by law, an engineer or conductor is only required by law to present his engineer’s card, DPS Sgt. Jovon Reed told The Courier in June.

 “Per any peace officer’s training, the peace officer should know that is the identification he or she should be requesting,” Jovon said at the time.

 Officials with the District Attorney’s office told Stokes’ attorney they were dropping the charges last week, according to Stokes.

 “They said there was nothing to prosecute,” Stokes said. He also said a District Attorney’s official apologized to his attorney, but, “I have not heard a thing from the Sheriff’s Department.”

 District Attorney Mike McDougal could not comment on the case because he wasn’t familiar with it, he told The Courier Friday.

 Stokes has hired Galveston Attorney Art Saiden to file a suit against the Sheriff’s Department. Saiden was not available for comment, but a spokeswoman with his office said the suit, which will be for wrongful arrest, has not yet been filed.

 Saiden and Stokes also have not yet determined what damages they will be seeking from the Sheriff’s Office, she said.

 Lt. Dan Norris, the public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, said he could not comment on the possible lawsuit.

 “If in fact he is considering a suit against the department, we cannot comment on litigation,” he said.

 Norris could not say whether deputies have or will receive additional training on how to handle similar incidents.

 No disciplinary action has been taken or is planned to be taken against the deputy who arrested Stokes. “The department did review the arrest and procedures,” Norris said.

 Stokes, whose third child was recently born, would like an apology from the Sheriff’s Office and also wants the arrest expunged from his record, but he is glad the charges have been dropped.

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  08/15/2005 – A former McKinney police officer charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child accepted a plea deal with prosecutors and has been placed on probation, according to Collin County court records.

 Officer Michael Patrick Valleau, who is also a U.S. Marine, will serve 10 years probation and pay fines for “inappropriate contact” with a 14-year-old female relative.

 A grand jury originally indicted Valleau on four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The state dismissed the second, third and fourth charges in exchange for the plea bargain.

 Valleau must pay a $3,000 fine, serve 320 hours of community service and maintain a distance of at least 50 yards from the victim. He has waived his right to appeal the case and must register in Collin County as a sex offender.

 The victim, whose name will not be released, accused Valleau of inappropriate contact in April 2004. He retired on April 7, 2004, during the investigation after 12 years with the MPD. He was indicted by a grand jury on Oct. 12 on four first-degree felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, which carries a penalty of up to a life in prison and a fine as high as $10,000, according to the Texas Penal Code.

 Valleau was one of two McKinney police officers who resigned from the department following allegations of sexual misconduct involving children in 2004. Former officer Ian Hasselman was accused of exposing himself to his girlfriend in the presence of her 12-year-old daughter in June 2004.

 In that incident, a woman reported that Hasselman drove his police cruiser onto the lawn of a children’s playground near her apartment in the 700 block of Bumpas Street and began fondling himself within three feet of a woman and her 12-year-old daughter.

 Hasselman later resigned from the McKinney Police Department and was arrested.

  He was originally arraigned on a third-degree felony charge of indecency with a child, but a grand jury lowered his charge to public lewdness, a Class A misdemeanor. Hasselman signed a plea bargain with Collin County prosecutors last May for which he received 18 months probation, six days in jail (to be served on weekends beginning this week) and an $800 fine.

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   08/13/2005 – After the hearing, Pasadena Police Chief Mike Massey suspended the officer, according to Sgt. Mike Baird, a spokesman for Pasadena police.

 He said since officers are part of the civil service, the police chief does not have the authority to terminate an officer. He said an officer is suspended indefinitely without pay and the officer can appeal it to the civil service commission.

 The case which is still awaiting the criminal proceedings, allege Lithicum willfully damaged property at an accident scene on May 29.

 A witness told police Lithicum threw a pair of shoes in the water from the vehicle, according to Baird.

 He was working an accident in which a vehicle overturned in a ditch in the 12600 block of Red Bluff.

 Lithicum allegedly took a radio out of the overturned vehicle and placed it so it would be damaged when the wrecker moved the vehicle.

 He also allegedly had the volunteer fire department use the hydraulic extrication equipment on the vehicle needlessly, Baird said.

 Lithicum was indicted Aug. 5 in the 338 District Court and was released on a $5,000 bond.

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  07/30/2005 – Canon City, Colo. — A Texas law enforcement officer was jailed on $100,000 bond after allegedly trying to solicit sex with a child. 

 Police arrested Officer Larry Dale Floyd, 62, the elected constable in Denton County’s Precinct 2, near a restaurant Thursday.

 Police say officer Floyd had made arrangements via e-mail last month to meet a child, but he had unknowingly contacted an undercover officer.

 Officer Floyd was held at the Fremont County Jail for investigation of charges including criminal solicitation, solicitation of child prostitution and enticement of a child.

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 07/30/2005 – KENNEDALE – A former Kennedale police captain pleaded guilty Wednesday to accepting an honorarium stemming from the disappearance of a firearm from the police property room in March 2002.

 Officer Douglas Peters, 57, was fined $500 and sentenced to six months of deferred adjudication as part of the plea agreement.

 Accepting an honorarium, a Class A misdemeanor, is defined as accepting, agreeing to accept or soliciting something of value in return for a service that only a public servant has access to.

 Officer Peters also voluntarily surrendered his peace officer certification, said Joe Shannon, Tarrant County assistant district attorney.

 In January, officer Peters was indicted on a felony charge that he stole a gun from the property room, which carried a penalty of up to two years in state jail and a maximum $10,000 fine.

 Shannon said prosecutors agreed to probation because Douglas had no prior criminal record.

“We were most interested in him not being engaged in law enforcement,” Shannon said.

 Officer Peters’ attorney, Jerry Loftin of Fort Worth, said the plea bargain means “there is no plea or finding that he did anything wrong with a gun.”

 Loftin said Peters, who worked in private security after he left Kennedale, is now retired and lives in the Beaumont area.

 Officer Peters, a 17-year veteran, resigned in April 2002 after city officials discovered that numerous firearms and more than $17,000 in cash were missing from the property room, where confiscated items and evidence for trial are stored.

 Managing the property room was one of Peters’ duties as captain. Shannon said Peters was seen using a missing Colt .45 as his personal weapon.

 The inquiry into the missing items was part of a broader 2 ½-year investigation that also looked into irregularities in warrant fee collections by the city court.

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  07/29/2005 – A St. Mary’s University police officer was arrested early this morning, accused of firing two shots in a bar because he was upset about someone breaking his car’s windshield.

 Officer John Aponte, 42, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal mischief. He is being held at the Bexar County Jail on bonds totaling $20,000.

 According to a police report, officer Aponte went into the bar on Austin Highway yelling about having the windshield broken. Patrons told police he fired a round into the lower part of the bar.

 When someone went to pick up the phone behind the bar, Aponte reportedly pointed the gun at that person and said, “Get away from that phone,” according to the report.

 Witnesses told police he then put the gun to someone else’s neck and asked them if they thought he was kidding.

Aponte fired one more round into the bar and ran out, according to the report.

 Witnesses said they had seen Aponte at the bar before and knew him to be a police officer at St. Mary’s. A sergeant from the university police department came to the scene and helped police find Aponte.

Police arrested him at his West Side home.

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 07/23/2005 – Texas – Steve Mardis, the former Orange County Sheriff`s Office narcotics lieutenant who was indicted Wednesday, surrendered himself Thursday morning at the Orange County Jail.

He was released after posting a $5,000 bail.

 Several hours later he appeared in the 260th District Court before Buddie J. Hahn and entered a plea of guilty to the charge of Felony Theft.

 He was sentenced to 6 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Institutional Division which was probated for 6 years. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $5,000.

 Mardis was charged with trying to steal a bundle of money from a large cash seizure while the money was being removed from hidden compartments of a vehicle.

 Mardis took a bundle containing $5,000 and stuffed it down his pants. He put the money back prior to an official count being made at the bank.

 His misconduct was detected by Sheriff`s deputies and reported. The investigation was led by the Texas Rangers.

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  07/22/2005 – A Harris County Sheriff’s deputy, no-billed after two shootings last year, has been charged with official oppression, accused of using his position to collect a $400 debt from a motorist during a traffic stop. 

 Deputy William Dale Wilkinson was indicted Monday on the misdemeanor charge in connection with a May 3 stop on U.S. 90 in Crosby, according to court records.

 The 33-year-old Wilkinson was released from custody after posting a $1,000 bond Tuesday, records show. He could not be reached for comment.

 His attorney, Brett Ligon with the Harris County Deputies Organization, said Wilkinson remains employed by the sheriff’s department.

 “He has cooperated in the internal affairs investigation. He has passed two polygraphs in regard to the incident and how it unfolded,” Ligon said.

 A Harris County Sheriff’s Department spokesman did not respond to several calls for comment.

 Wilkinson is accused of threatening to arrest the motorist, Robert Keith LaFrance, on an outstanding theft warrant in connection with a stolen welding machine. According to the indictment, no such warrant existed.

 Wilkinson, the indictment states, told LaFrance he had failed to pay the welding machine’s owner, Jesse Balinski, for the machine. He is accused of offering to collect the $400 for the equipment in lieu of taking the driver to jail.

 LaFrance paid Wilkinson to avoid going to jail, and the deputy delivered the money to Balinski, investigators said. LaFrance later told authorities he had returned the welding machine in 2003.

 Ligon said Wilkinson is related to Balinski and offered to carry the money to him but didn’t use his law enforcement position to intimidate LaFrance.

“The officer is not denying the conduct. He’s denying the (criminal) intent,” Ligon said.

 Randall Kallinen, president of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the charge against Wilkinson was overdue, considering he has two shootings on his record, including one that was fatal.

 Last year, Wilkinson fatally shot Hiji Eugene Harrison, 25, during a May 16 traffic stop in the 7200 block of South Lake Houston Parkway. Sheriff’s detectives said Harrison, of the 5400 block of Rand, seemed “overly nervous.” Wilkinson said he shot Harrison after the man tried to take his gun. Grand jurors declined to indict him.

 Harrison was the second person Wilkinson shot within eight days. On May 8, 2004, he shot Robert Barkley three times after the man allegedly tried to run over him in the parking lot of Deerbrook Mall. A grand jury no-billed Wilkinson.

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  07/19/2005 – Texas – A San Antonio police officer has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman early Saturday on the South Side.

 Police received a call at 5 a.m. from a woman claiming she was sexually assaulted by an on-duty officer, police spokesman Joe Rios said.

“She was walking in an area of town when an officer offered her a ride,” Rios said.

 The woman sat in the front seat of the patrol car and was taken to an undisclosed location where, she alleges, the rape took place, Rios said.

 After the alleged assault, the officer allegedly dropped off the woman at New Laredo Highway and Zarzamora Street.

 The accused officer, who is not being named by police, has been with the Police Department for more than 20 years, Rios said.

 The officer has been put on administrative duty pending a criminal and internal investigation, Rios said. “We are conducting an unbiased investigation on one of our own,” he said.

 This allegation comes after Officer Dean Gutierrez was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a 22-year-old transsexual last month.

 The 16-year veteran has been released from Bexar County Jail after posting a $100,000 bond.

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  07/18/2005 – TEXAS — An ex-policeman who helped in the 1987 well rescue of toddler Jessica McClure must serve 20 years in prison on each of two sexual assault counts. Fifty-three-year-old William Andrew “Andy” Glasscock Junior pleaded guilty yesterday in Odessa.

 Those sentences will be served concurrently. The former Midland policeman was already serving a 15-year federal sentence for sexual exploitation of a child and improper storage of explosives.

 Glasscock was charged with the 2003 rape of a woman at her Odessa home, then fired as an officer. A search turned up Internet child pornography, a video of a girl undressing in his bathroom and 400 pounds of explosives in a closet at his Greenwood home.

 Glasscock, who was a bomb squad officer, was sentenced on the federal charges in September. McClure’s rescue drew worldwide attention.

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  07/15/2005 – Kingston Texas -The former assistant police chief of Kingston was officially accused of embezzlement Thursday. Prosecutors filed the charges against Brian Scott Campbell for two counts of embezzlement and one count of false pawn declaration. He was fired last year, but the OSBI began investigating $1100 in missing drug money in January. They also suspect Campbell stole bond money, too. He’s also accused of leading police on a chase earlier this summer, attempting to run over one police officer.

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  07/15/2005 –  A Texoma family is without their pet labrador retriever. The dog was shot and killed by a law enforcement officer. There’s a chance it was the wrong dog, shot by mistake. But the action taken after the shooting is what’s being called into question by the county.

 Dickson Police Chief William Thomas is the one who pulled the trigger. He claims the shooting was justified, but the dog’s owner says there’s more to the story.

 ”There’s your bad dog. You shot the wrong dog…they shot the wrong dog,” said Ina Smith, owner of the killed yellow lab, Lexus.

 Smith claims Chief Thomas meant to shoot the neighbor’s yellow lab that often runs loose, causing trouble. The police report says a yellow lab chased a kid near the junior high, trying to bite him. Ina smith says her dog was in the yard at that time.

 “This dog is very timid and very sweet and loved to be petted and would have gone to anyone,” Smith said. “I can’t see her viciously attacking anyone.”

 Smith admits her dogs often have free run of the front yard, still she says the officer’s brutality was inappropriate and inhumane.

“She walked over to the dumpster and my dog was lying in the dumpster, dead,” Smith said, describing when her daughter found their pet.

According to Smith’s neighbors, after shooting the dog in the chest, Chief Thomas dragged the dog across Comet Road and threw her body in a nearby dumpster.

 “She deserved better than that. She deserved first not to be shot, second not to be drug across the road and thrown into an empty dumpster. She was a good dog, very good dog,” Smith said.

 Good dog or not, to dispose of an animal’s carcass in a place so close to a school, residence, and fire department is against the law. According to an Oklahoma state statute, violation of this law is considered a misdemeanor.

 The Carter County Sheriff’s Department is investigating this case and plans to take the evidence to the District Attorney on Monday. Chief Thomas could not be reached for comment.

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   07/13/2005 – A reserve deputy constable who was killed last week had his back turned to the sheriff’s deputy who shot him four times during a foot chase through an apartment complex, according to an independent autopsy.

  All of the bullets that struck Nehemiah Pickens, who was working an off-duty security job early July 6 when the deputy mistook him for a suspect, came from behind, pathologist Dr. Paul Radelat reported.

 A witness also has told police that, contrary to deputies’ account of the incident, Pickens was not warned before the deputy opened fire.

Pickens’ family hired Radelat, who has done work for the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office, to perform the independent autopsy. The Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet released its autopsy report, which is expected to be more detailed.

 Pickens, a 33-year-old reserve deputy for county Precinct 6 Constable Victor Treviño, was working at the Dyersdale Village Apartments at 9700 Mesa in northeast Houston when the shooting occurred.

 Investigators have said Deputy Wallace Jones fired 16 shots at Pickens, who was not in uniform when he joined in the pursuit of a suspect who had crashed his car at the complex while fleeing the deputies.

 Pickens was hit once in the back of the head, twice in the back and once in the back of his right thigh, Radelat concluded.

“I didn’t see anything on his front, which must have been away from the shooter,” Radelat said Tuesday. “It would be an abrogation of natural phenomena for (the shots) to have come from anywhere other than the back.”

The shot to the left side of the back of Pickens’ head was fatal and probably the last shot to hit him, sending him to the ground, Radelat reported.

 Sheriff’s officials, who previously had said “most” of the four shots struck Pickens from behind, acknowledged Tuesday that Radelat’s findings were consistent with their understanding of the incident.

Lt. John Martin added that the findings do not necessarily contradict Jones’ statement that Pickens turned toward him with his gun drawn before Jones fired.

“There have been a number of incidents in which the fact that the person was shot in the back did not have any bearing on the justification to use force in the first place,” Martin said.

 Portions of a witness’ statement obtained by the Houston Chronicle, however, conflict with Jones’ account.

 James C. Hubbard told investigators that he watched from the second-floor balcony of his girlfriend’s apartment as sheriff’s deputies drove toward the complex, chasing a suspect in another car. The fleeing 17-year-old driver jumped out of his car and ran, Hubbard and officials said.

The deputies followed, as did Pickens, who was armed and wearing a T-shirt and dark jeans.

The Sheriff’s Department has said that Jones, who has been with the department for more than 15 years, shouted at least twice for Pickens to stop and drop his pistol. It also has said Jones did not fire until after Pickens turned toward him with his gun drawn.

Hubbard, however, told police officers from the Houston Police Department, one of several agencies investigating the shooting, that Pickens was no danger to Jones.

“At no point did I ever see the security officer expose his weapon, or threaten the deputies in any way,” Hubbard said in his statement to HPD.

 “Nor did I ever hear the deputy doing the shooting, or other deputies, say ‘Stop,  police’ or ‘Freeze,’ ” he added. “They just gunned down this police officer.”

 Hubbard also noted that Pickens was wearing a black T-shirt with the word “POLICE” printed across the front.

 An uncle of the reserve deputy, Travis Pickens, said his nephew had several shirts matching that description. He said the family was not sure whether Pickens wore such a shirt on the night he was killed, however.

 The attorney representing Pickens’ family said Tuesday that Hubbard’s statement, coupled with the autopsy report, casts doubt on the Sheriff’s Department account of the shooting.

“The science refutes any statements by the Sheriff’s Department about Pickens’ orientation,” Benjamin Hall said.

 Questions have been raised about whether Pickens, who worked as an unpaid reserve deputy constable, should have been working the security job at the apartments.

 State registration is required for unpaid reserve deputies who work security jobs for pay.

 Pickens was registered with the state as a noncommissioned security officer with Greenspoint Mall, San Jacinto Mall and Harris Protective Services Inc., but Dyersdale was not one of the companies with which he was registered.

 Pickens’ family, which has scheduled his funeral for Friday, asked that people remember he was a trained officer who was assisting other officers.

 “There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Travis Pickens said of his nephew’s death, “but he died doing his job.”

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07/12/2005 – Officer Wayne Rowe was arrested, charged and indicted for sexual assault of a child, but that’s not the charge he plead to. Instead, Rowe plead no contest to injury to a child. The new charge means Rowe does not have to register as a sex offender for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

 Texas Ranger Pete Maskunas said, “The child had endured enough problems and enough mental anguish of having to just go through it the first time, that if they could come to another agreement, they would go ahead and plead it out to prevent her from having to testify.”

 Even though the case against rowe didn’t go to trial, authorities had strong evidence against him, and they were more than ready to prove it in court.

 “This is not a case where Officer Wayne Rowe plead out to something because we did not think we could make the case on him. We could make the case on him, we had the case made. The DNA evidence was strong.”

 Officer Rowe won’t do any hard time, but he didn’t get off easy. A Trinity County judge sentenced officer Rowe to 10 years straight probation.

 Maskunas said, “The 10 years probation that he received is considered a final condition and is a sentence, so that at any time during that 10 years, if he commits another offense or violates his probation, he can be sentenced to 10 years in prison.”

 Under the plea agreement, Rowe surrendered his peace officer’s license, which means he’ll never be a peace officer again in the State of Texas. Rowe also agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and perform 240 hours of community service as part of his sentence.

 Officer Wayne Rowe has been a patrol lieutenant with the Trinity County Texas Sheriff’s Office for less than a year.

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07/09/2005 – TEXAS — A veteran Dallas crime-scene officer was fired for not completing paperwork in hundreds of cases over three years, failing to keep track of crime-scene negatives and not taking pictures at a dozen natural-death calls.

The Dallas Police Department announced Friday that Chief David Kunkle had fired Senior Cpl. Roderick Janich, 47, after an administrative hearing.

 The investigation into Cpl. Janich’s performance while in the Crime Scene Response Unit, where he worked for seven years, began after a supervisor discovered incomplete reports in cases he worked. An internal audit found he didn’t file correct paperwork on 368 occasions, 69 of those after he was specifically ordered to do so.

The audit revealed the corporal could not locate photo negatives for 19 calls and that he didn’t take pictures on 12 dead-person calls.

 “To our knowledge, there have been no cases that have been adversely impacted,” said Lt. Jan Easterling, a police spokeswoman, in a written statement. “However, we have notified the district attorney’s office.”

The department now has a tracking system to better monitor paperwork and evidence processing. An expanded audit of all crime-scene employees uncovered no other irregularities.

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A San Antonio police officer has been arrested on an allegation of aggravated sexual assault.

 The arrest of Dean Gutierrez was announced Tuesday by Police Chief Albert Ortiz at a news conference.

 According to a police affidavit, the officer is accused of forcing a man to engage in sexual acts on June 10. The victim was at a bus stop when the police officer asked him if he had any warrants, according to the affidavit.

 After discovering that the man had a warrant, the officer told him to get in the car or go to jail, the affidavit stated. The officer then took the man to another location and forced him to have sex, according to the affidavit.

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  07/06/2005 – SAN MARCOS — Emergency workers on Tuesday acknowledged that Dave Newman helped a man escape from drowning in the San Marcos River last weekend but said it was his refusal to cooperate afterward that led to an arrest and a night in jail.

 Abed Duamni of Houston got caught in the current while swimming Sunday afternoon and became stuck under a building. Duamni said he found an air pocket and stayed there for about 15 minutes before Newman grabbed his leg and pulled him out.

 Meanwhile, on the surface, emergency officials were trying to figure out how many people were in trouble, and San Marcos Fire Marshal Kenneth Bell said Newman’s refusal to speak immediately with authorities hurt their ability to assess the situation.

 Emergency workers had been called to the scene expecting to find four people in trouble — three struggling in the water and one stuck under Joe’s Crab Shack at Spring Lake Dam. They tried to get everyone out of the water and assess the situation, Bell said. Officials could not send anyone into the water until it was clear. “I’d like to thank Mr. Newman for the part that he did have in the rescue of Mr. Duamni,” said Ralph Meyer, director of the Texas State University-San Marcos Police Department. But “we didn’t know how many more were there or if there was somebody else underneath.”

 Newman would not get out of the water, Bell said, even after Duamni was safe and talking to authorities. Bell said Newman then swam to the other side of the river and was “sitting Indian-style on a concrete wall saying, ‘Why?’ ” when asked to come over.

Newman said he was trying to get out of the river as fast as he could.

 “I was pretty tired when all that was finished, and they wanted me to hop-to,” Newman said. “I came out as soon as was reasonably humanly possible.”

 After Newman crossedthe river, he was arrested on a charge of interfering with public duties and refusing a lawful order, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. As he was arrested, a crowd yelled at police, and two men tried to block the police officers’ path to the car that carried him to jail.

 Meyer said Newman probably would not serve any more jail time relating to incident. And he would not rule out the possibility of the charge being dropped altogether.

“Anything is possible,” Meyer said.

 Police said Newman had heard the order to leave the spillway area and said later, “I saved the guy, and there was no need for me to leave.”

 Newman said he heard the order to get out of the water but initially ignored it because he’d thought he felt Duamni underwater.

 “The one thing I did wrong was not just jump out of the water at the first command,” Newman said. “But I had already touched this fellow under there.”

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06/30/2005 – Brownsville, Texas – A former San Benito policeman convicted of selling drugs he and another officer took from traffic stops is going to prison.

 Twenty-seven-year-old Reymundo Hernandez was sentenced in Brownsville to eight years in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release.

 Hernandez last year pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute 240 pounds of marijuana.

 He was indicted along with then-San Benito police Officer Edgar Heberto Lopez and Abelardo Cerecer Valdez.

 Valdez was sentenced in September to three years in federal prison followed by a three years of supervised release.

Lopez, who was scheduled to be sentenced in March of this year, is a fugitive.

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  06/29/2005 – Weatherford Texas – A former Texas sheriff has pleaded guilty to charges that he pocketed more than $10,000 made in vehicle trades using drug money.

 Former Parker County Sheriff Jay Brown, 65, was sentenced Tuesday on the charge of abuse of official capacity to 12 months probation. He was also fined $1,000, must complete 80 hours of community service and gave up his law-enforcement license. He agreed to pay $10,564 in restitution for the money made off the trades.

 “It’s a sad day when the No. 1 law enforcement officer of the county ends a 20-year career this way,” Assistant District Attorney Robert DuBoise said.

The charges stem from three deals he made purchasing vehicles.

 In one deal, he bought a vehicle for the Sheriff’s Department using $3,800 from money seized during drug investigations. He later traded it for another vehicle valued at $2,600. Brown kept the difference of $1,200.

 In another transaction, Brown bought a Chevrolet Suburban for a relative by trading two personal vehicles. He made $8,864 in the deal. In a deal involving a trailer, Brown made $500.

 “He’s embarrassed,” said Jim Lane, Brown’s attorney. “He wants to apologize to the people of Parker County. He’s been in law enforcement all his life, but he’s man enough to accept responsibility for what he did. … He wants to put it behind him and do what the court requires of him. The people who love him still will, and the people who did not like him as a sheriff will still not like him.”

 >>> Yes indeed very embarrassing.  Embarrassing on the part of the judge that gave such a light sentence to a criminal.  Jay Brown was a police officer that was sworn to uphold the law and had the trust of the public.  Jay Brown should have been locked away with all the other criminals that he locked up for selling drugs! Yet that’s the way the “good ol’ boys” do it in Texas.

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 06/27/2005 –  San Antonio, Texas – A Comal County woman facing felony white-collar crime charges chose last week to remain in the Bexar County Jail on principle, rather than recognize the authority of a state district judge to preside over her case.

 Renee Louise Halay, a 58-year-old homemaker, has resided in jail under bonds totaling $325,000 since her arrest May 19 on charges that she filed a fraudulent lien against County Court-at-Law Judge Oscar Kazen.

 In a hearing Wednesday, 226th District Judge Sid Harle offered to release her on a personal recognizance bond if she would sit for an interview with a representative of the court to see if she qualified.

 “I do not recognize this court. I do not recognize your authority over me,” Halay told the judge from behind the defendant’s table.

 Wearing the blue uniform of a female inmate, the mother of three also told Harle she does not want to be represented by an attorney at law, but instead wants only “the assistance of counsel” as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 “I want someone who is knowledgeable about the law and is not associated with this court. I am not a ward of this court and I will not let you make me a ward of this court,” she told the judge.

 Halay, who lives just outside of Garden Ridge, is facing four felony charges stemming from a $1 million lien she filed against Kazen on April 4. A lien is a claim on another person’s property as security for payment of a debt.

 The charges against her include attempted theft over $200,000; retaliation against a public servant; filing a fraudulent financial statement; and securing execution of a document by deception in excess of $200,000.

If convicted of the last charge — a first-degree felony — Halay faces a sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

 She also faces charges of interfering with the duties of a public servant, criminal trespass and resisting arrest, arising out of a Dec. 9 incident in Kazen’s court where she tried to keep bailiffs from arresting her 20-year-old son on an outstanding charge of driving with a suspended license.

Halay filed an affidavit for the lien with the secretary of state’s office to recover money she says Kazen owes her for injuries and financial losses associated with that December arrest.

 Far from being a perennial troublemaker, Halay said her questioning of authority is rooted in her experiences three years ago when she responded to a challenge from President Bush and became a citizen volunteer with the Garden Ridge Police Department.

 In a jailhouse interview June 8, Halay said she completed the department’s Citizen Police Academy and began going on patrols with police officers at night and on weekends. Instead of becoming an “extra set of eyes” for police, what she saw often amounted to abuse of police powers, Halay said.

 “I discovered my friends in the Police Department had quotas to meet, and they would stop motorists who hadn’t done anything wrong,” she said. “They would say that their light was out over the license plate and they would use the traffic stop as an opportunity to search the car without a warrant.”

 Garden Ridge Mayor Jay Feibelman denied any of his city’s police officers have ticket quotas or would routinely stop motorists without cause. Instead, he said Halay began having problems with local police in April 2003, when her son, a teen-age driver at the time, began getting citations for speeding and numerous other traffic violations, including driving with no proof of insurance.

 The situation came to a head in June 2004, when the son, Jeffrey Beau Halay, was arrested and jailed by a Department of Public Safety trooper on a charge of driving while intoxicated.

 While Halay said she does not condone DWI, she said her son was not drunk when he was arrested and that the trooper used an overly complicated field sobriety test when her son refused to take a Breathalyzer test.

 More important, Halay said, she does not submit to the state’s authority to enforce traffic laws, which she said are an illegal use of the government’s police powers. In her mind and the minds of her supporters, individuals must take responsibility for their own actions. Any disputes that arise should be worked out between individuals through commercial transactions governed by common law. They observe strict interpretations of the U.S. Constitution and the principles of common law from which it is derived.

“I believe that if a woman has a choice to kill a child in her womb, then I should have the right to choose whether or not to use a seatbelt,” Halay said.

 Settling her differences with Kazen is the thrust behind the commercial liens she filed in April against the judge and the eight sheriff’s deputies she accuses of unlawful arrest and brutality on Dec. 9.

But Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed is having none of it.

 Reed’s prosecutors said the lien against Kazen is nothing more than retaliation — a third-degree felony under the state’s Penal Code. And they assert that the documents filed to obtain the lien were fraudulent and filed with the intent to deceive the Texas secretary of state into accepting the lien.

 “You can’t pick and choose which laws you want to obey or don’t obey,” said Gerald Reamey, a professor of criminal law at St. Mary’s University School of Law.

 “Most laws aren’t in the Constitution. We get those laws from our governments — from the federal on down to the state and local governments — which have powers to pass laws governing public health, safety and morals.

 “This includes commercial activities, such as contracting and property rights. Without government, you would not have such a thing as property,” Reamey said, which is why Halay’s use of the Uniform Commercial Code to execute a lien is so ironic.

 The effect of a lien is to cloud the title to any property owned by the targeted official and render that property unsuitable for use as collateral in any other financial instruments, such as a loan. But without the judgment of a court to award damages and a law officer to enforce it, such a lien is worthless.

“To have a lien be effective, you have to invoke the authority of a court. Otherwise, a lien means nothing. It’s just a piece of paper,” Reamey said.

 “If you think you’ve been improperly arrested, you can file a civil lawsuit to recover damages,” he added. “You can’t skip that step and just jump to a lien to do that.”

 March 21, 2005 Clute Texas – A Clute police officer suspected of stealing cocaine from the departments evidence locker was arrested at the station while on duty Friday afternoon, police said.

  Bryan Burkhalter, 39, of West Columbia, was charged with tampering with physical evidence, a third-degree felony, Clute Police Chief Mark Wicker said. He is accused of stealing cocaine.