Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Miami-Dade Police Officer Emil Van Lugo Caught Stealing Gas for Wife’s BMW

Miami, Florida

Veteran Miami-Dade police officer Emil Van Lugo looks pretty good on camera, using a county pump to fill up his police cruiser and then his personal gas can. However, the bad news for him is that the video was being recorded by undercover detectives and it’s the personal gas can that caused a stink.

What caused an even bigger stink is where the gas can was headed. You guessed it, to the officer’s home and into the tank of his wife’s BMW.

According to authorities, Lugo did this from January through March of this year.

An investigation was launched by Miami-Dade police and the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office after computer records tracing the amount of fuel consumed appeared to exceed the miles driven by his police-issued vehicle.

"It is a shame that a veteran police officer would go out of his way to steal from Miami-Dade County just to save a few dollars on gasoline," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said. "A police officer, who would sell his good name and his integrity just to put gas into his wife's car, tarnishes the reputation of every good officer on the force. I applaud the actions of the Miami-Dade Police Department to investigate and correct this theft problem."

"Integrity is the foundation of the Miami-Dade Police Department, and it is imperative that we maintain the community’s trust," Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson said. "Anytime one of our officers tarnishes the badge, we will hold them accountable to the law, in order to not jeopardize that trust."

Lugo is being held in jail in lieu of a $10,000 bond.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Six Baltimore Police Officers Face Charges in the Death of Freddie Gray

Baltimore, Maryland

If you have been following the situation in Baltimore, after a young black man suffered a critical neck injury in the back of a police van, the moment everyone has been waiting for has arrived.

The city’s chief prosecutor has charged one police officer with murder and five others with lesser crimes in the death of Freddie Gray. This case, along with others from around the country, has fueled new anger over police conduct in black communities.

Many were caught by surprise, when Marilyn Mosby announced the swift decision. Mosby has only been in the prosecutor’s seat since January. Baltimore has experienced its worst civil unrest in decades since the death of Freddie Gray.

Mosby’s decision to charge the officers came just hours after the Maryland state medical examiner had ruled the death a homicide, and a day after police handed her office the findings of its internal review of Gray's April 12 arrest.

Caesar R. Goodson Jr., a black officer who drove the police van, received the most severe charge -- second-degree murder, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

All six officers - three black and three white, five men and one woman - posted bond after their arrest Friday and were released from custody. Their union rose to their defense.

Mosby, a 35-year-old African American, whose family includes generations of law enforcement officers, rejected the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police Union's call for a special prosecutor.

Rioters burned buildings and looted stores in Baltimore on Monday night after Gray's funeral, and protests spread to other major cities in a reprise of demonstrations set off by police killings last year of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, New York and elsewhere.

Gray, 25, sustained his fatal injury while riding in a police van, the prosecutor said, citing the autopsy report. Gray succumbed to his spinal injuries in a hospital on April 19.

Officers cuffed Gray's hands behind his back and shackled his legs but did not secure him with a seat belt while the van was moving, a violation of police department policy, Mosby said. Then, with "depraved indifference," officers ignored Gray's repeated pleas for medical attention, she said.

"To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for 'no justice, no peace.' Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man," Mosby said at a news conference that quickly changed the tone in the city.

The attorney for Gray's family, William H. “Billy” Murphy, said the family was shocked. However, he said "it was a good shock that justice had been approached in this forthright and courageous manner by this prosecutor."

Apart from the one murder charge, the officers faced charges ranging from manslaughter to assault and misconduct in office, which carry potential prison terms of between three and 10 years.

Goodson also faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter, as do three others: Sgt. Alicia D. White, Officer William G. Porter and Lt. Brian Rice. All six, including Officer Edward M. Nero and Officer Garrett E. Miller, face lesser charges.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Is California Cop Aaron Stringer a Necrophiliac?

Senior Police Officer Aaron Stringer

Bakersfield, California

The Bakersfield Police Department issued a statement on Monday, indicating that senor officer Aaron Stringer has been placed on paid administrative leave. Of course, the statement was vague in terms of the details, but we now know the rather sickening details.

Stringer, according to the statement, “manipulated,” or improperly touched the body of Ramiro Villegas inside a hospital room last November, one day after he had been shot by police.

The Bakersfield Californian newspaper reported on Friday that he pretended to tickle Villegas' feet and tried to pry-open his mouth.

The newspaper, citing reports it obtained from the department, said he told another officer at the hospital that he "loves playing with dead bodies," before laughing.

The Californian said Stringer was not permitted by the county coroner's office to touch the body. It quoted the department's reports as saying he declined to comment on the allegations and had hired an attorney.

According to police, officers shot Villegas dead the night of Nov. 13, following a brief high-speed pursuit, when he got out of his car and "aggressively" approached officers before he "reached towards his front waistband."

No weapon was found at the scene.

In February, the Kern County District Attorney's Office declined to bring criminal charges in the case, the statement said.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Former West Columbia Police Chief and Accused Child Molester Michael Palmer Found Dead Days Before Trial

Michael Palmer Booking Photo
West Columbia, Texas

We have a follow-up on a story from 2013, involving former West Columbia Police Chief Michael Palmer. Back then, he was accused of tampering with evidence, possession of a controlled substance, stealing drugs during drug investigations, as well as taking medications from dead hospice patients.

He disappeared and then reappeared about a month later. Once back, he was facing new charges, after investigators discovered evidence that he had bound, gagged and sexually assaulted an underage boy, repeatedly, beginning in 1998. Investigators even found bondage gear in Palmer’s office at the police Department.

Palmer was scheduled to go on trial for aggravated sex assault of a child on Monday, but was found dead in his backyard last Thursday.

Palmer’s cause of death, according to West Columbia police, has not been released.

In addition to the aggravated sexual assault of a child charge, Palmer also faced eight counts of tampering with evidence.

Palmer lost his job in February 2013 before the child sex charges were filed when fellow officers complained he was stealing pain killers taken as evidence in police investigations.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Update: Veteran Houston Police Officer Noe Juarez Indicted on Federal Charges of Cocaine Distribution

Houston Police Officer Noe Juarez

Houston, Texas

Yesterday, we announced that veteran HPD officer Noe Juarez was arrested after arriving to work. While we knew that a federal warrant was involved, few details were released.

Today, Juarez was indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine hydrochloride, in addition to conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.

A Mexican citizen named Sergio Grimaldo, 32, was also charged.

The Houston Police Department has relieved the 46-year-old Juarez, without pay, pending the outcome of the federal investigation.

If convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, each defendant faces a sentence of 10 years to life imprisonment, followed by a minimum of five years of supervised release and a $10,000 fine.

If convicted of conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, Juarez faces a maximum of 20 years imprisonment, followed by a maximum of three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

Juarez became an officer with HPD in 1995, and for most of his career served as a patrolman with the Central Patrol Division. In March, he transferred to he department's motorcycle detail.

Texas Deputy Caught on Video Punching Pregnant Woman

Greenville, Texas (Hunt County)

Another video has surfaced, showing a law enforcement officer using excessive force. This time around, it’s in Texas.

Deanna Robinson, 38, of Quinlan, said she was assaulted by a deputy with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Department. The attack occurred on March 4, while she was nine-months pregnant.

The cop beating followed Child Protective Services showing up to take Robinson’s 18-month-old child into state custody, according to NBC DFW. Robinson's 9-year-old son allegedly told school officials he was scared to go home because his mom and dad were fighting. Four children were removed from the home after an interview with the children's father, according to the station. They are in temporary CPS custody.

"I stepped in front of my son and put my hands up and began screaming, 'No, you're not touching my kid,'" Robinson said at a news conference at her attorney’s office in Greenville. "I was handcuffed almost immediately and shoved into a corner by two giant men. I wouldn't have had an opportunity to assault anyone. There's nothing to warrant what they did to me."

The incident went viral after a video of the alleged assault was posted on social media.

The video, which is graphic and contains explicit language, appears to show an officer struggling with Robinson before punching her. The video cuts off after one punch. However, Robinson says that she was punched several more times — all while handcuffed.

Deputies and CPS showed up after Robinson's 9-year-old son told school officials he was scared to go home because his mom and dad were fighting, CBS DFW reports.

In a statement posted to the department's Facebook page, Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said his office is investigating Robinson's allegations.

"I have become aware of an internet allegation accusing one of my deputies of improper actions," the statement said. "I have initiated an administrative investigation to determine if any policy violations occurred. Public confidence and trust in the Sheriff's Office is a high priority for me and we take all allegations of misconduct seriously."

The name of the deputy in question has not been released.

Robinson was charged with interfering and assault on an officer. Her healthy child was born days after the alleged assault.

"There's no reason in my mind that an officer should pull his hand up above his body and hit a pregnant woman multiple times," Carol Gustin, one of Robinson's attorneys, told WFAA. "Law officers are there to protect and serve. Where was the protection for her and this baby?"

South Carolina Cop Michael Slager Charged With Murder for Shooting Unarmed Man in the Back

Michael Slager Booking Photo
Charleston, South Carolina

A police officer in South Carolina has been officially charged with murder, now that a video has surfaced showing him shooting an unarmed man who was running away.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced Tuesday that Michael Slager, an officer with the North Charleston Police Department, was arrested and charged with murder. Slager, if found guilty, could face up to life in prison or death.

The shooting took place Saturday morning after a traffic stop, SLED said. Video obtained by The New York Times shows what happened.

The victim was a black man, identified as 50-year-old Walter Scott. In the video, the victim breaks away from the white officer. Something falls, and the officer fires eight shots at the man as he runs away. Scott, who appears to be unarmed, drops to the ground.

"I can tell you that as the result of that video and the bad decision made by our officer, he will be charged with murder," North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told reporters Tuesday. "When you're wrong, you're wrong. And if you make a bad decision -- don't care if you're behind the shield or just a citizen on the street -- you have to live by that decision."

Scott was remembered by his brother as loving, kind and outgoing, somebody who "knew everybody." He spent two years in the Coast Guard, and had four children.

"All we wanted was the truth," said Anthony Scott. "I don't think that all police officers are bad cops, but there are some bad ones out there, and I don't want to see anyone get shot down the way that my brother got shot down."

Slager’s attorney, David Aylor, initially said that his client followed the appropriate policies and procedures. Aylor later told CNN that he no longer represents the officer, and it was unclear whether Slager had obtained new representation.

Police reports show that Slager said he used his Taser. The officer later said: "Shots fired and the subject is down."

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said on Twitter that he had watched the video and that "the senseless shooting and taking of #WalterScott's life was absolutely unnecessary and avoidable."

The Justice Department released a statement Tuesday saying it would "take appropriate action in light of the evidence and developments in the state case."

"The South Carolina Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an investigation concurrent with the S.C. Law Enforcement Division and are providing aid as necessary to the state investigation. The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the South Carolina U.S. Attorney's Office will work with the FBI in the investigation," it read.

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