Latest News

Calif. officer, good Samaritans rescue man who jumped from overpass

PoliceOne - Tue, 01/16/2018 - 09:04
Author: Duane Wolfe

By Benny Evangelista San Francisco Chronicle

SAN FRANCISCO — A California Highway Patrol officer, with the help of several Good Samaritan motorists, helped rescue a man who had jumped off an overpass on Highway 101 in San Francisco, in a dramatic Sunday afternoon incident that also prompted a CHP helicopter to land on the freeway.

The CHP received a report about 4:50 p.m. of a man running in the southbound lanes of Highway 101 just north of Cesar Chavez Street, said Vu Williams, a public information officer for the CHP’s Golden Gate division.

Williams, who was on patrol, said he arrived at the scene about 4:58 p.m. and saw the man had jumped over the center divider and was by that time running in the northbound lanes. Officers stopped traffic on the freeway to chase the man.

“When he saw us coming, he ran to the east side of the freeway and jumped over the rail,” Williams said.

The man was hanging onto the guardrail, dangling about 30 feet from the ground below. “I grabbed his wrist,” Williams said. “He was yelling and rambling pretty incoherently.”

Three or four drivers who were caught in the backup then ran over to the guardrail to help Williams hang onto the man.

The CHP helicopter had been flying over the scene tracking the man. “When they saw us hanging on to him, they landed and helped take the party into custody,” Williams said.

It was not clear why the man, whom Williams described as in his late 20s or early 30s, was running on the freeway. But he was not hit by any car and was not injured, Williams said.

Police took the man to nearby Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where he was held for a mental health evaluation.

©2018 the San Francisco Chronicle


Categories: Latest News

Deputy's death underscores danger cops face when confronting mental illness

PoliceOne - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 04:00

By Noelle Phillips The Denver Post

DENVER — In the hours before a fatal encounter with a man in the throes of a mental crisis, Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish listened calmly as the man’s illogical ramblings fluctuated among screams, whispers and giggles.

The man bragged about his wealth, law degree and military service. He spoke about a quarrel with his lover and about robots and lasers. Parrish and his fellow deputies, having defused the situation, left without making an arrest or putting him on a mental health hold.

Two hours later, the man’s agitation had escalated. The morning would end with Parrish and the man dead. Four more officers and two civilians would be wounded by gunfire.

When deputies arrived at 5:17 a.m. on Dec. 31, Matthew Riehl was making loud noises and met Parrish and Deputy Taylor Davis on the landing outside his apartment. He refused to allow deputies inside or to come outside to talk to them.

“Go away. Goodnight. Go away!” Riehl yelled amid his rants from behind a door he slammed shut. “Happy New Year!”

“Boy, he’s manic,” Parrish told Davis as he determined they needed to take Riehl into custody on a mental health hold.

Last week, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock released several hours of raw body-camera footage recorded as his deputies responded to calls at Riehl’s apartment at 3 a.m. and 5:17 a.m.

The footage provides a firsthand view of how a deputy tried to handle an increasingly combative, unpredictable and argumentative person whose mind was not functioning properly. Law enforcement officers often must make quick, high-pressure assessments on how much of a public-safety threat the person poses and whether to back away or take them into custody. These encounters happen hundreds of times a year, sometimes with wildly different outcomes.

Spurlock said he released the footage, in part, because there is a national crisis when it comes to mental health care, and law enforcement officers must deal with people in mental crises themselves because there aren’t enough treatment centers or other avenues for getting them help.

“Law enforcement is doing its very best to try to deal with them during this ad hoc, emergency situation,” Spurlock said in an interview last week. “We’re doing whatever we can and that’s exactly what Deputy Parrish was trying to do. Calm him down and keep him as calm as we possibly could and get him to where we could get him to a hospital or some treatment facility.”

The video footage, which often is graphic, shows how deputies interacted with Riehl and his roommate, how they approached Riehl inside his apartment, the moment he opened fire and then how deputies fled from rounds fired through a bedroom door. When deputies realized Parrish had fallen after being struck, they made multiple attempts to rescue him, but Riehl was heavily armed and had a tactical advantage from his second-story bedroom.

Spurlock also said he wanted the public to see the “enormous firepower we were against” and the “number of times officers put their lives on the line to get Zack Parrish.”

Policing experts have warned for years that the United States’ unwillingness to fund mental health care services is taking a toll on law enforcement, said Louis Dekmar, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and chief at the LaGrange Police Department in Georgia.

“The public policy has been, frankly, to ignore it,” Dekmar said. “As a result, the police are left to deal with it when individuals are in crisis.”

His organization conducted an analysis of 700 police shootings and found 36 percent were “suicide by cop.” Dekmar also referenced a 2015 Washington Post report on fatal police shootings that found a quarter of the 462 people killed during the first six months of that year were mentally ill.

“What is frustrating is before that fatal encounter officers have interacted with these individuals two, three, five times and sometimes have even taken them to a hospital for treatment,” Dekmar said. “It’s a significant officer-safety issue. It’s a community-safety issue. And it’s a safety issue for the people who are suffering.”

Indeed, Douglas County sheriff’s deputies had made repeated trips to visit Riehl during the weeks before the shooting. Those visits included the office’s community response team, which has mental health professionals working hand-in-hand with deputies. The sheriff’s office said the Riehl family had declined services.

The team has made more than 500 calls. None had resulted in gunfire until New Year’s Eve, Spurlock said.

“Unfortunately, in this case it went violent,” Spurlock said. “And then we switched gears. Once he went violent on us, it was too late to go back and try to help him. “

The first call

Riehl called 911 at 3 a.m. on Dec. 31 to report a domestic assault.

As Parrish quietly talked to the roommate inside, another deputy questioned Riehl — who was becoming increasingly louder — outside. Parrish asked the roommate why Riehl would be so upset.

It’s the first indication that Parrish had detected a mental health issue.

“Is he on anything?” Parrish asked. “Does he have any mental disabilities?”

The roommate answered that he wasn’t aware of anything. Just as Parrish was about to wrap up the call, Riehl, who was outside with another deputy, began shouting, “Assault! Assault! Assault! Rape! Rape!”

That deputy had his hand pressing on Riehl’s chest.

Parrish asked the roommate a second time if he knew whether Parrish had a mental illness diagnosis.

“It sounds like he might have some mental issues,” Parrish said. “A mental diagnosis. I don’t know if you can encourage him to have that checked out. But obviously not tonight.”

Throughout the encounter, Parrish asked multiple questions. He asked Riehl about his sexual relationship with his roommate, his employment, his education, his money situation. He listened as Riehl talked about the conflict with his roommate, people smoking marijuana outside and how he hit his roommate in the chest with a laser.

“The reason we ask these hard questions that are tough to answer is we want to make sure you’re OK,” Parrish said.

Parrish was using his training to figure out just where Riehl was mentally.

While policing and mental health experts said they did not want to comment specifically about the Douglas County case, multiple people interviewed said officers responding to mental health calls listen to a person’s words, observe their mannerisms and quickly try to assess the situation.

“All of our training is basically decisionmaking,” said Sgt. John Wilton, who coordinates crisis intervention training at the Aurora Police Department. “What’s the safest outcome for the greatest number of people on this call?”

After the first call, Parrish and his colleagues determined no crime had been committed and Riehl’s behavior did not meet the requirements under Colorado state law to take him into custody for mental health treatment.

The second call

By the time Parrish, Davis and the other deputies returned to Riehl’s apartment at 5:17 a.m., it was clear his agitation had escalated.

Unpredictability is a hallmark of extreme mental illness, experts said.

Capt. Chris Juul, a district executive officer at the Aurora Police Department and former academy instructor, said people with mental instability have highs and lows. Drug use and alcohol also can change the dynamics.

“The way I dealt with him last time may not work next time,” Juul said.

Parrish and his colleagues had seen enough that night to determine that Riehl needed medical treatment.

“He’s having a manic episode,” Parrish said before telling two other deputies that they needed to “take him.”

While Parrish determined Riehl was having a manic episode, mental health professionals said it would be impossible to offer a diagnosis based on a video. Riehl’s family previously had told law enforcement in Wyoming that he suffered from bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A person experiencing a manic episode can be irritable or agitated for several days. Their behavior is hyper and excitable. They have feelings of grandiosity and no need for sleep, said Debra Boeldt, a psychologist at the University of Colorado Anschutz’s National Mental Health Innovation Center.

“Their mind is just going all over the place and being easily distracted,” she said.

To diagnose a person with bipolar disorder, though, a psychologist would interview him during a period of stability, Boeldt said. She would want to know how long the episode lasted, the person’s medical history and the harm their behavior had caused them and their family and friends.

But police officers answering 911 calls in the middle of the night don’t have that amount of time to make an assessment.

“Those are enormous challenges for law enforcement,” Boeldt said. “Every time they walk into these scenarios, they don’t know what they’re going to be encountering.”

It is unclear whether Parrish was aware of Riehl’s recent history with Douglas County law enforcement. Information about Riehl had been shared during regular briefings, and Parrish would have had access to that information, Spurlock said. But the sheriff was uncertain about what Parrish knew.

Parrish and his fellow deputies were concerned about guns. Riehl made at least one reference to having them, and, on the second call, deputies positioned themselves outside the apartment to prepare for the possibility. They wore ballistic vests, and Davis carried a shield.

But they would not have known just how much firepower Riehl had. He had 11 functional guns in the apartment and used four — an M16, an M4, a shotgun and a Glock pistol — during the shootout, Spurlock said.

That’s the risk law enforcement officers take every day, multiple experts said.

“There’s so many variables in each one of these calls,” said Dekmar of the chief’s association. Those variables include the risk to the person who is sick, the officers involved and the general public, Wilton said.

Officers must consider potential scenarios where a person could harm himself and others. In Riehl’s case, would he have decided to take his guns to his lover’s workplace and start shooting because he was the focus of Riehl’s anger? Or would he have gone to sleep?

Before deputies tried to take Riehl into custody, they spent several minutes discussing a plan. Four deputies and a sergeant went inside. They used a key to enter but had to kick and push through a barricade of junk piled in the apartment.

Within less than a minute, Riehl blasted shots through his bedroom door. Parrish, Davis, Doyle and Deputy Jeff Pelle were shot. Riehl later would be killed by a SWAT unit sent to rescue Parrish.

The case will be investigated and studied by multiple agencies. But at the end of the day, Spurlock said he can’t guarantee his deputies won’t face a similar situation again, especially if mental illness continues to be ignored.

“They did every thing they were supposed to do,” Spurlock said. “They followed all of the common procedures to deal with a mental health patient and then it went violent.”


Categories: Latest News

Tenn. sheriff's office wants ALICE training for schools

PoliceOne - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 04:00

By Heather Mullinix Crossville Chronicle, Tenn.

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. — In the spring of 1999, two high school students armed themselves with guns and explosives and stormed into their suburban Colorado high school and killed 13 people during a siege viewers around the country watched unfold on the news.

The Columbine High School shooting was the deadliest school shooting on record and the fifth-deadliest mass shooting in the United States since World War II.

Over the next several years, more locations would be added to that notorious list. Virginia Tech University. Sandy Hook Elementary. Chattanooga, TN. Charleston, SC. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs, TX.

“One thing I would never have thought I would have to deal with when I was running for sheriff was how to deal with active shooters,” Cumberland County Sheriff Casey Cox told the Cumberland County Board of Education during its work session Saturday. “Today, we’re looking at churches and we’re looking at schools. Most of the people who commit these acts, they’re just evil people.”

Members of the sheriff’s department presented an abridged version of the ALICE civilian response to active shooter training the department has been offering across the county.

Captain Jerry Jackson said, “Every time we do this program, people ask if this is being taught in our schools.”

The typical school response to an active shooter situation is to lockdown the school, locking doors and hiding in classrooms and waiting for help to arrive. But that’s not always the best way, deputies said.

“It’s freeing up the thinking,” Jackson said. “If the threat’s outside, lockdown the school. If the threat is inside, get out of the school.”

Investigator Bo Kollros said the “passive” response of a lockdown was being replaced by a “proactive” response taught in the ALICE training.

The average active shooting incident lasts about 12 minutes and the average law enforcement response time is five to six minutes from when they are notified.

The time between the start of the incident and law enforcement arrival is “your time,” Kollros told those present.

“What you do in that time can be the difference between someone living and dying and whether you live or die.”

ALICE training is meant to help civilians think about the different responses they can use in an active shooter situation. The acronym stands for:

Alert — let people know what is going on; don’t use code words, but be clear about the danger.

Lockdown — Lock and barricade the door, close the blinds, and silence cell phones. Spread out inside the room and don’t leave yourself trapped. Remain calm and control breathing to help prevent giving away your location and to be prepared to act should the shooter enter the room.

Inform — Contact 911 as soon as safely possible and give as much accurate information as possible.

Counter — Look for items that could be used as weapons if the shooter enters the room, such as chairs or fire extinguishers, that can be used to interrupt the skills necessary to shoot accurately. Shouting, throwing objects, and moving can distract an untrained shooter. Fight dirty, he said, because you’re fighting for your life.

Evacuate — If a safe route is available to exit the building, use it. Leave personal property behind and don’t run in large groups or stay together. When you reach safety, notify law enforcement or authorities where you are and what is happening.

“Which tactic you use will depend on the situation,” Kollros said.

Kollros played a recording of the librarian at Columbine High School calling 911 during the shooting. Shots could be heard outside. She had students inside the library with her and she can be heard telling them to stay down.

“The teachers did everything they were trained to do. The dispatcher did what she was trained to do,” Kollros said.

But an image of the floor plan showed an exit that could have been used before the two shooters entered the library.

“Every student in that library could have gotten out, could have survived, but they were going with lockdown,” he said. “Lockdown by itself is not a bad thing, but it can’t be the only thing.”

All Cumberland County school principals have attended a brief session on the ALICE training, but it has not been fully implemented in trainings and drills for all school faculty, staff and students.

“We’re hoping we can get this taught in the schools instead of the hunker-down method,” Cox told the board.

As it was a work session, the board could not take action on the request.

©2018 the Crossville Chronicle (Crossville, Tenn.)


Categories: Latest News

Police: Man fatally shoots mother in head over broken video game headset

PoliceOne - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 04:00

By Deke Farrow The Modesto Bee

CERES, Calif. — A 28-year-old Ceres man is being held without bail after police said he fatally shot his mother in the head, blaming her for breaking his video-game headset during an argument.

About 9:48 Thursday night, Ceres police received a report of a woman shot inside the home in the 1300 block of River Valley Circle. They found the 68-year-old victim suffering a gunshot wound to the head. She was taken to an area hospital for treatment but later succumbed to her injuries.

Investigators determined Matthew Nicholson had been in his bedroom playing video games when he got upset and started yelling. When his mother went to check on him, he began to argue with her and ended up breaking the headset to his video game, police said.

Nicholson then blamed her for the broken headset and threatened to kill the victim and Nicholson’s father.

He retrieved a handgun from the home and fired two rounds into an inside wall and then shot his mother in the head.

Matthew Nicholson's father wrestled the gun away from his son, who then fled the scene in a vehicle and went to a relative's home in Riverbank. Officers found the vehicle there, conducted a high-risk traffic stop and took Nicholson into custody.

Police confirmed Friday afternoon that the victim, Matthew Nicholson's mother, was Lydia Susanne Nicholson, 68, and that his father is Loren Nicholson, 81.

Friday afternoon at the home, a woman who identified herself at Matthew Nicholson's sister politely declined comment.

©2018 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.)


Categories: Latest News

Police: Car goes airborne, crashes into 2nd floor of building

PoliceOne - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 04:00

By Marilyn Kalfus The Orange County Register

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A speeding car struck a median and flew into the second floor of a building early Sunday morning, Jan. 14, remaining lodged into a dental office, authorities said.

The white Nissan Altima was traveling at a high rate of speed northbound on French Street when the accident occurred in the 300 block of E. 17th Street, Santa Ana Police said in a news release.

OCFA in Santa Ana with a vehicle that crashed into the second floor of a small Office building. The vehicle hit the center divider and went airborne and landed into the building. One person self extricated, the other person is still trapped in the vehicle. USAR from OCFA On scene pic.twitter.com/Lm5b4oyCIm

— OCFA PIO (@OCFA_PIO) January 14, 2018

The driver hit a raised center median on 17th Street, launching the car into the air. The vehicle struck the 2nd floor of the building and was lodged there, sticking out of the structure as police arrived at around 5:30 a.m.

The car’s occupants, who police said had minor injuries, were extricated from the vehicle by responders from the Orange County Fire Department. A small fire was quickly extinguished, according to OCFA.

“The driver, who admitted to using narcotics, will be admitted to a local hospital for observation,” the news release said.

Officers will submit a DUI/Narcotics case to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, police said.

OCFA on scene in SANTA ANA of a vehicle into a building. One person still trapped inside the vehicle. pic.twitter.com/sWmtovu0Kd

— OCFA PIO (@OCFA_PIO) January 14, 2018

Public Works was summoned to examine the integrity of the structure and Los Angeles County Fire Department arrived with a large wrecker truck to remove the car from the building.

At least one surveillance video from a nearby motel circulated on social media Sunday night showing the crash. It showed a speeding vehicle go airborne towards the building, but because of the angle does not show the impact. It does show the resulting debris cloud and that the car narrowly missed colliding with another car and a bus.

Santa Ana Police Sgt. Roland Andrade said investigators will review any videos of the event and asked anyone with such video to contact the department at 714-245-8201.

©2018 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)


Categories: Latest News

2 officers awarded for saving boy allegedly shot by father

PoliceOne - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 04:00

Daily Commercial, Leesburg, Fla.

LEESBURG, Fla. — Two Leesburg police officers were honored Thursday for saving a 4-year-old boy who was allegedly shot by his father in November.

Sgt. Travis Whitley and Senior Officer Brandon Brinkman were presented with "Life Saving" medals for their efforts during the incident. "Chief Rob Hicks recognized both men for their life saving service, and the department is equally proud to have them both in service to the citizens of Leesburg!" according to a press release from the department.

The officers responded to a shots-fired call at 12:39 a.m. Nov. 28 in the Stock subdivision of Leesburg. When they got to 1305 Berwick Drive, they saw a red Chevy Avalanche parked at the residence. A woman was standing beside the vehicle on the passenger side. Herbert James, 24, was sitting in the car on the passenger side.

The couple said they had not heard any gunshots.

Police left, but then got another call about a man running through a yard on Lancaster Avenue, which backs up to the Berwick address. When police returned to Berwick, they found James sitting on the front step.

James denied knowing anything about a man running through his yard. It was then that one of the officers noticed two bullet holes in the Avalanche windshield on the passenger side. James said he didn't own the vehicle and didn't know how it ended up in his driveway or how the vehicle had been struck with bullets.

"The defendant then became hostile and stated he wanted us to leave his property because we didn't need to be there," the arrest affidavit stated.

James went inside his house and officers began doing an inventory of the vehicle. He then came back outside, started yelling profanities, said the residence was his property, that his son was inside sleeping, that he owned a firearm and that he was not a felon, all "while attempting to taunt the officers..."

The officers told him to go back inside or he would be arrested.

He "continued yelling, 'I'm scared of y'all,' and 'Y'all shoot black people.'"

James retreated back inside the home and about 10 seconds later officers heard a gunshot. They kicked in the door and found James walking out of a darkened hallway with a gun in his hand. Police shined a light on him and ordered him to drop the weapon.

A woman in the home was carrying the child and telling officers that he wasn't breathing. "Take him, he's been shot," she said.

The boy had been shot in his upper torso. Whitley, who is a certified EMT and Leesburg Police SWAT medic, began treating the child's wound. He then took the child outside, where he got into another officer's patrol vehicle and met the ambulance.

The child was initially taken to Leesburg Regional Medical Center, then airlifted to Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando.

James was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

The woman told police that James was moving the gun from an unsecured place on a closet shelf while police were outside. The weapon discharged and a bullet went through the closet wall, into the adjoining bedroom, where the child was struck while sleeping on an air mattress.

On Thursday, police said the child is recovering, "largely due to (the officers') swift and efficient treatment during this critical incident."

©2018 Daily Commercial, Leesburg, Fla.


Categories: Latest News

Retired NC trooper battling Parkinson's completes cross-country walk

PoliceOne - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 11:33

By Eric Wildstein Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.

GASTONIA, N.C. — A retired North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper living with Parkinson’s disease has completed his cross-country walk to raise awareness for the condition.

Highway Patrol and Gaston County Police cruisers escorted Tommy Dellinger and his crowd of supporters for the final four miles of his journey, walking from Food Lion to the Gaston County Police station on West Franklin Boulevard on Saturday. When he crossed the finish line at the police station around 1 p.m., it was the emotional conclusion to his more than 2,300-mile trek, which began in California in early September. There to greet him were family, friends and colleagues who inspired him along the way.

“Thank you for every one of you for coming and for supporting me along the way,” said a tearful Dellinger, moments after arriving at the police station, and wearing a Tennessee Volunteers cap, his favorite team. “I love all of you and I couldn’t have done it without you.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.11'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Welcome Home Tommy!

Posted by Tommy's Trek for Parkinson's Research on Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dellinger joined the N.C. Highway Patrol in 1997, after previously serving as a U.S. Army soldier and Lincolnton Police officer. He spent 17 years as a trooper in Gaston County.

But in 2008, at the age of 39, menial tasks grew tougher and tougher. He was soon diagnosed with Parkinson’s, an incurable disease which disrupts how the brain control’s a person’s motor system. His condition forced him to retire at 45, relegating him to a life stuck inside his Gastonia home where he grew bored and depressed.

His condition took a turn for the better last February, when he underwent a surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation in an attempt to relieve the Parkinson’s symptoms. The procedure was successful and helped to replicate the benefits of medication without the debilitating side effects.

Inspired by hearing the story of another person who walked across the country to raise awareness for a cause, Dellinger decided to do the same. Though many in his family were apprehensive about the idea, including his wife of almost 10 years, Shelly Dellinger, Tommy went to work planning his routes on a map. He also trained for weeks walking around his neighborhood with a 30-pound bag to simulate conditions on the actual trek.

In early September, he took off from Rancho Cucamonga, California, unsure, yet excited about where the road would take him. His goal was to raise as much money as possible for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Though he doesn’t have a final tally, Dellinger says his effort raised more than $10,000 for the foundation.

“I could have it a lot worse and that’s why I wanted to do this to inspire people that are a little bit discouraged because they have Parkinson’s and show them ‘Hey, you can do things, you just have to put your mind to it,’” he said.

He documented the entire journey on his Facebook page.

He encountered obstacles the very first day. While asking if he could spend the night resting at a California fire station, crews there only gave him a bottle of water and directions to a nearby homeless shelter, Dellinger said.

It wouldn’t be the only challenge he faced. Blistering heat, unforgiving terrain and issues with a backpack and push cart he wheeled along hampered his progress, and even forced him to take an Uber through some parts of California and the Arizona desert. A bout with bronchitis didn’t help matters either.

“There were a lot of days and nights that I just about kicked that cart to the curb and just got on an airplane and flew home,” he said.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.11'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Welcome Home Tommy!

Posted by Tommy's Trek for Parkinson's Research on Saturday, January 13, 2018

But weathering the storms also came with moments of pride. An Arizona state trooper pulled to the side of the road to meet Dellinger after hearing his story on the radio and offered a beverage to drink. When heavy wind gusts made camping outdoors in a Texas town an impossibility, local emergency workers welcomed him into the EMS headquarters to spend the night. Others also opened their homes and hearts to give him a rest along the way.

He was joined for his walk at certain points by family members, including his 26-year-old son and brother. His brother, Michael Dellinger, a Gaston County Police officer, walked with Tommy from Scottsdale, Arizona, to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Though the two only live about 20 miles apart, it’s the most time they’ve spent together in years due to the demands of work, family and limitations from Parkinson’s.

“That time we got to spend together was just like I got my brother back for those three weeks,” an emotional Michael Dellinger said. “We still pick at each other, we still argue just like we did when we were young. But it was wonderful.”

But Tommy had to make most of the journey on his own. Despite having to spend Thanksgiving at an Arkansas Cracker Barrel, he was able to video chat with family via smartphone, something he’d do nearly every night, oftentimes while trying to keep warm in a tent somewhere in the woods in mid-America.

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Here are a few pics from Bat Cave, Lake Lure, and the road to Rutherfordton.

Posted by Tommy's Trek for Parkinson's Research on Monday, January 8, 2018

“It was very, very, difficult. But I just tried to stay positive and cheer him on,” Shelly Dellinger said. “He would FaceTime and that’s how we would talk every night. He would talk to our granddaughter and it kept him sane, it kept me sane.”

He broke accomplishments into small victories, such as when he’d reach a new time zone or new state. He got his second wind when he hit “SEC territory,” motivating him all the way through to Gastonia, where a raucous crowd of dozens met him at Food Lion for the final leg.

Now the self-described “Country boy from Crouse” is home. He’s proud of his accomplishment, a feeling which he likened to “winning the Daytona 500 or National Championship.” After watching a video a friend produced recounting his cross-country trek, he let everyone who supported him know their contribution.

“I appreciate anyone that’s had anything to do with this hike and getting me back home. I’m glad to be here,” Dellinger said. “If I hike anymore from now on it’s going to be for leisure only.”

©2018 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.


Categories: Latest News

Police pursue Greyhound bus after passenger reports threats

PoliceOne - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 11:21

Associated Press

WADSWORTH, Ill. — Reports of a man armed with a gun and threatening to kill fellow passengers on a Greyhound bus led to a police chase of the vehicle that started in Wisconsin and ended in northern Illinois.

None of the 40 people aboard the bus bound for Chicago from Milwaukee on Friday night was injured and the suspect was taken into custody after authorities, using spike strips to flatten the tires of the bus, forced the vehicle to stop on Interstate 94 near the Illinois community of Wadsworth. Authorities said they began chasing the bus after getting a call from someone who was on board.

Racine County (Wis.) Sheriff Christopher Schmaling identified the suspect at a Saturday afternoon news conference. Schmaling said Margarito Vargas-Rosas, 33, of Chicago was charged with making terroristic threats and disorderly conduct. Vargas-Rosas is being held at the Lake County (Ill.) jail.

BREAKING: view of the Greyhound bus involved in a pursuit. Dozens of officers out here on I94 near Rosecrans. Traffic stopped in both directions @WISN12News @shooter412 pic.twitter.com/G87zvU0eW1

— Ben Hutchison (@WISNBennyHutch) January 13, 2018

The suspect also made threats of violence against the arresting officers as well as the investigators at the police station, Schmaling said.

One passenger, Patrick Dodd, told the Chicago Tribune that the incident began when the man who said he had a gun started to threaten passengers riding in the back of the bus. Dodd said the man pulled something out of his pants that Dodd believed may have been a weapon.

The sheriff stated Saturday that no gun was found on the suspect, but police plan to search the bus for a weapon.

Dodd and other passengers were left shaken by the ordeal and wondering why it took so long for the bus driver to stop after police began their chase. He said passengers in the back of him were yelling at the driver to pull over.

"He didn't stop after the first spike strip," Dodd said.

Terrance Williams of New Jersey was in the middle of the bus and initially thought police were escorting the bus, not realizing what was happening in the back. But he too was confused about why it took so long for the driver to stop.

"The law is you see emergency lights you pull over," Williams said. "(The police) were in front of us, they were in back of us."

Sheriff Schmaling said the bus driver told authorities that he didn't stop the bus because he thought the squad cars were following another vehicle.


Categories: Latest News

Records: FBI knew Las Vegas gunman had big gun stashes

PoliceOne - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 10:13

By Ken Ritter Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — FBI agents knew the gunman behind the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history left behind big caches of guns, ammunition and explosives when they sought warrants to search his properties and online accounts, according to court documents released Friday.

However, new questions were raised after a U.S. judge in Nevada unsealed the documents revealing some of what federal agents had learned about shooter Stephen Paddock in the week after the Las Vegas attack.

The 315 pages of FBI affidavits provide just a glimpse of what investigators found during initial searches of Paddock's car and home after police found him dead late Oct. 1 in a hotel room at the Mandalay Bay resort. Girlfriend Marilou Danley's casino player rewards card was with him, although she was in the Philippines at the time.

The documents made public did not answer the key question: What motivated Paddock, a 64-year-old high-stakes gambler, to unleash gunfire from his room on the 32nd floor of the resort into an outdoor concert below. Paddock killed 58 people and injured hundreds more before killing himself.

Prosecutors didn't oppose the request for the records by media organizations, including The Associated Press. The affidavits were filed to get search warrants.

The records also did not say whether Danley knew in advance about Paddock's plans and why Paddock apparently emailed himself about buying and selling weapons and accessories.

Danley told investigators they would probably find her fingerprints on bullets because she sometimes helped Paddock load ammunition magazines.

An FBI agent told a judge in an Oct. 3 document that Danley wasn't arrested when she returned to the U.S.; she had provided a DNA sample to authorities, and she was cooperating with investigators.

Police and the FBI have described Danley as a person of interest in the case. FBI spokeswoman Sandra Breault in Las Vegas said late Friday she could not comment about Danley or the investigation

Las Vegas police Officer Aden OcampoGomez and Breault said Friday that they had no update about Paddock's motive. Both called it an ongoing investigation.

Another document said Paddock apparently sent messages between separate email accounts with similar names referring to buying and selling assault-style rifles and so-called "bump stock" devices to make the guns more rapid-fire.

The records provided don't provide inventories of what was obtained from searches. Attorney Maggie McLetchie, representing AP and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, said she is still seeking those documents.

Investigators have said Paddock meticulously planned his attack and intentionally concealed his actions. He modified assault-style rifles to shoot rapidly, set up cameras to watch for police outside his hotel room and wounded a security guard in the hotel hallway.

Police and the FBI have said they found no evidence that Paddock had help carrying out the attack.

Paddock's three-bedroom house in a retirement community in Mesquite was searched twice — first by police and FBI agents in the hours immediately after Paddock was identified as the shooter.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo later said that Oct. 2 search found 19 guns and several pounds of potentially explosive materials. A court document said more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition also was found.

The FBI returned to the house a week later for what officials at the time called "redocumenting and rechecking." Their warrant gave agents authority to search for "trace evidence" including blood and hair fibers.

Officers initially searched the hotel suite where Paddock opened fire and his vehicle after it was found parked in the casino parking structure. Lombardo said several pounds of ammonium nitrate, a material used to make explosives, was found in the car.

A document released Friday said more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and 100 pounds (45.4 kilograms) of explosive material was found in the vehicle.

Other searches were conducted at a house the gunman owned in Reno, where agents found a red SUV and a neighbor reported that Paddock kept a safe the size of a refrigerator in the garage. Agents said their initial search found "a large quantity of ammunition and multiple firearms" on the property.

FBI agents returned to that house on Oct. 10 after local police determined someone had broken in days earlier.

U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey allowed the government to keep one affidavit sealed pending a hearing before a Nevada state court judge on Tuesday about whether Las Vegas police search warrant documents should also be made public.


Categories: Latest News

Agency recommends firing of 2 Chicago cops in fatal 2016 OIS

PoliceOne - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 10:00

By Jeremy Gorner and Jason Meisner Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Two Chicago police officers should be fired for shooting at a moving vehicle without justification during a chase that ended with the killing of an unarmed black teen in 2016, disciplinary officials ruled in a report obtained Friday by the Chicago Tribune.

Officers Michael Coughlin Jr. and Jose Torres endangered the public and the lives of their fellow officers when they shot at 18-year-old Paul O’Neal as he tried to flee police in a stolen Jaguar convertible on a residential street in the South Shore neighborhood, according to the report by the now-defunct Independent Police Review Authority.

The same report concluded that a third officer, Jose Diaz, who ultimately shot and killed O’Neal during an ensuing foot chase, was justified because he reasonably believed in the chaos that O’Neal had a gun and had already fired shots at the police. In fact, the only shots fired came from fellow officers.

It was recommended, however, that Diaz be suspended for six months for kicking O’Neal and yelling “Bitch ass mother------, f------ shoot at us!” while the teen lay mortally wounded in a backyard.

That same profanity-laced statement, which was captured on a police body camera, convinced investigators that Diaz “genuinely believed” at the time that O’Neal had fired at him, according to the report, obtained by the Tribune through an open records request.

A fourth officer, Mohammad Baker, was also recommended for a weeklong suspension for failing to activate his body camera.

None of the four officers could be reached for comment Friday.

The 62-page report was completed last September, shortly before IPRA was replaced by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

In November, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson concurred with the recommendation that Coughlin and Torres be fired, according to Frank Giancamilli, a spokesman for the Police Department. The Chicago Police Board will ultimately decide their fate, but as of Friday, no disciplinary charges had been lodged, according to Max Caproni, the board’s executive director.

Giancamilli had no information on what Johnson recommended for Diaz.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by O’Neal’s mother against the officers and the city is pending in U.S. District Court.

Reached by phone on Friday, attorney Michael Oppenheimer, who represents O’Neal’s family, praised the decision to push for the firings of Coughlin and Torres, calling the officers’ behavior “ridiculous at best and criminal at worst.”

“For them to open fire in the reckless manner of which they did put not only themselves in danger, fellow police officers, the people on the street,” said Oppenheimer, who had previously asked for a special prosecutor to be appointed to look into criminal charges against the officers involved.

He also said IPRA was far too lenient on Diaz.

The release of IPRA’s findings comes just three weeks after police oversight officials recommended that another officer be fired as a result of a different fatal police shooting in December 2015.

In that case, COPA concluded that Officer Robert Rialmo unjustifiably shot a baseball bat-wielding teen and an innocent bystander while responding to a domestic disturbance.

O’Neal was fatally shot about 7:30 p.m. on July 28, 2016, after officers tried to stop him on the South Side as he drove a Jaguar convertible that had been reported stolen in southwest suburban Bolingbrook.

After O’Neal struck two Chicago police vehicles with the Jaguar, Coughlin fired nine rounds at the car as it moved away from him and toward the direction of Torres, according to the report and body cam footage of the incident that was later made public by IPRA. After the Jaguar passed him, Torres also fired one shot as the car sped down the block and crashed head-on with a squad car being driven by Diaz.

O’Neal then bailed out of the Jaguar and fled on foot as Diaz chased him through the backyards of several homes in the 7300 block of South Merrill Avenue, firing a total of five times, according to the report. Diaz appeared to take the final shot while aiming his pistol over a backyard fence that O’Neal had scaled, the report said. O’Neal was struck once in the middle of his back and collapsed near a back porch.

As three officers stood over O’Neal lying face down on the ground, Diaz was captured on a body cam video kicking him, according to the report. Asked in an interview why he did so, Diaz answered, “Anger, rage, frustration,” the report said.

Police body cameras also captured Diaz telling officers he thought O’Neal had fired shots at him.

“Dude, I heard shots. I don’t f------ know, man,” he said in footage from one officer’s camera. “When he came out the (inaudible), I shot at him.”

Standing with a sergeant in the backyard, Diaz seemed to grow distraught at the fact that no weapon was recovered from O’Neal.

“Man, this is so f----- up, man. I don’t want nothing to happen to that f------ guy, dude,” Diaz said to the sergeant, according to the video released by IPRA. “The way s---’s going man, I’m gonna be f------ crucified, bro.”

In its report, IPRA said Diaz violated department policy by kicking O’Neal, yelling profanities and failing to activate his body camera before the chase. In exonerating Diaz for the shooting itself, however, IPRA said it was reasonable to think Diaz was in fear of his life when he opened fire.

“Officer Diaz faced an extremely tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving situation,” the report stated. “Officer Diaz perceived that the shots were fired from the Jaguar or at least from (the) direction of the Jaguar.”

In recommending that Coughlin and Torres be fired, IPRA said in its report that both officers risked the lives of their fellow officers as well as any innocent bystanders who happened to be on the street when they opened fire on the stolen Jaguar. Their explanations to interviewers that they were trying to stop the vehicle didn’t hold up, according to the report.

“A reasonable officer would know that even if the driver is struck, the vehicle is likely to crash in uncontrolled fashion, again putting bystanders and other motorists at great risk,” the report said.

The report also blasted Coughlin for comments he made after the shooting — also captured on a body camera — complaining that he would have to go on mandatory desk duty while the incident was under investigation.

“F--- man, I’m going to be on the desk for 30 g------ days now. F------ desk duty for 30 days now,” Coughlin said. “Motherf-----. I shot. He almost hit him.”

Coughlin acknowledged in an interview with IPRA that he’d made the statement out of “frustration,” a justification that was “not adequate,” according to the report.

“Officer Coughlin’s statement was completely inappropriate and brought discredit to CPD,” the report concluded. “The statement demonstrates a lack of professionalism and a lack of empathy and respect for (O’Neal), who Officer Coughlin knew had just been shot.”

O’Neal’s killing came at a time when Mayor Rahm Emanuel was trying to restore public trust in the Police Department amid a U.S. Department of Justice probe of policing practices — an investigation that stemmed from the court-ordered release in 2015 of police dashboard camera video showing the fatal shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald.

The McDonald scandal also led to widespread criticism of the city’s policy to withhold videos and other evidence involving police-involved shootings from the public. The city changed its policy in the spring of 2016, shortly before the O’Neal shooting.

After the incident, Johnson broke with longstanding practice and almost immediately revoked the police powers of the three officers who fired shots, saying it appeared from the videos they had violated departmental policy. A week later, IPRA released the body camera and dash cam videos of the incident to the public.

©2018 the Chicago Tribune


Categories: Latest News

Man fatally shot after attacking off-duty Ohio officer

PoliceOne - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 09:49

By Adam Ferrise Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland

CLEVELAND — An off-duty police officer shot and killed a man late Saturday at the Corner Alley bowling alley in Cleveland's University Circle neighborhood, according to Commander James McPike, who oversees the department homicide unit.

The shooting happened about 11 p.m. Saturday at the bowling alley on Euclid Avenue and Ford Drive, according to three police sources.

A fight broke outside inside the bar and the off-duty police officer, who was working part-time security at the business, escorted several men outside after they were kicked out, according to police.

One of the men, a 21-year-old, came back to the bowling alley attacked the officer several feet from the front door, police said.

Police said the officer fired shots at the man. A witness said he heard two gunshots. The man was taken to the nearby University Hospitals, where he died, according to police.

The officer also suffered injuries and was taken to a hospital for treatment, Cleveland police spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia said. No one else was injured.

Cleveland, University Circle and Case Western police officers surrounded the area following the shooting.

Crime scene investigators marked evidence, including at least one bullet casing and a pool of blood, just steps outside the front door of the popular nightspot.

A video taken by a witness and reviewed by cleveland.com showed what appears to be an officer, surrounded by several bar employees, trying to give emergency medical treatment to the man.

Officers and detectives are inside the bowling alley interviewing witnesses. Several other witnesses were ordered to remain at the scene until they could be interviewed.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams showed up to the scene, and left after refusing to answer questions from a reporter.

©2018 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland


Categories: Latest News

Suspect in shooting of Tenn. cop arrested after house fire

PoliceOne - Sun, 01/14/2018 - 09:33

By Travis Dorman, Matt Lakin and Andrew Capps Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — The man accused of shooting Knoxville Police Department Officer Jay Williams was arrested early Saturday morning in Blount County after starting a fire inside the abandoned house where he was hiding with a female acquaintance, authorities said.

Ronnie Lucas Wilson, 31, of Knoxville, was arrested at the house, near 5500 Calderwood Highway in south Blount County, after he jumped through a window while running from the fire, according to police.

With Wilson was Kristin Denise King, 31, who authorities say was with Wilson during the traffic stop in which he shot Williams. King is being detained as part of the investigation but currently faces no charges.

During a news conference on Saturday following Wilson’s arrest, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch explained the timeline of the search for Wilson and expressed relief that he was finally in custody.

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JANUARY 13, 2018 RONNIE LUCAS WILSON IN CUSTODY IN BLOUNT COUNTY MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE - Blount County Sheriff James...

Posted by Blount County Sheriff's Office on Saturday, January 13, 2018

“It’s a great weight off of all of us,” Rausch said. “Our concern was that he was going to hurt someone else, and fortunately that didn’t happen.”

Officers with the U.S. Marshals Service received a tip shortly after midnight Saturday that Wilson and King were hiding in an abandoned home on Calderwood Highway in south Blount County near the Little Tennessee River, according to Rausch. Authorities began a door-by-door search for the pair in the area.

Shortly after 3 a.m., officers found Wilson and King at the abandoned house. In a matter of minutes, King ran from the house while a fire, started by Wilson, grew out of control, Rausch said.

Wilson escaped the house by jumping through a window, sustaining non-life-threatening injuries, Rausch said. He was being treated for those injuries, as well as for lung damage caused by smoke, at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Wilson, whose history of violence includes a 2016 shooting and car chase in Claiborne County in which he tossed a gun from his car window, is a member of the white supremacist group known as the Aryan Nations, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction.

He was arrested in Claiborne County in October 2016 following the chase and agreed to a plea deal in February with a 10-year sentence.

After serving less than five months of his sentence, Wilson was released on probation. A warrant was issued for Wilson in September for violation of probation after he failed a drug test and did not report to his probation officer.

When Officer Williams tried to conduct a traffic stop on Wilson on Washington Pike near Interstate 640 at about 8:30 Thursday night, Wilson fired a gun twice toward Williams before losing control of his car and driving into a ditch, Rausch said.

As Williams got out of his cruiser, Wilson fired at least five more shots, one of which struck Williams in the shoulder, Rausch said. Williams was taken to UT Medical Center and has since been released.

"On behalf of the men and women of the @FBIKnoxville, we wish @Knoxville_PD Officer Williams a continued speedy recovery. When something like this happens to one of us, it affects all of us, no matter the name on the badge." - Special Agent in charge Renae McDermott

— FBI Knoxville (@FBIKnoxville) January 13, 2018

Wilson’s car was found in northeast Knox County on Saturday morning. Agencies including the Blount County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation were involved in the manhunt.

Rausch said that Williams was in good spirits and was grateful for the effort that went into finding Wilson.

“As soon as I got the word that Mr. Wilson was in custody, I sent that information to Officer Williams,” Rausch said. “He was glad that no one else had been hurt, and he wanted to share, again, his thanks to the community and to the law enforcement community for their great work to find Mr. Wilson.”

Wilson has been charged with attempted first-degree murder of a police officer and is being held on a $750,000 bond. Rausch explained that, as the investigation continues, Wilson is likely to face additional charges.

©2018 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)


Categories: Latest News

Calif. 'swatting' suspect charged with manslaughter in Kan.

PoliceOne - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 04:00

By James Queally and Richard Winton Los Angeles Times

WICHITA, Kan. — The Los Angeles man at the center of what is believed to be the first fatal “swatting” incident in the U.S. has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a hoax phone call that led to a deadly shooting in Kansas, records show.

Tyler Rai Barriss, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and interference with law enforcement, according to court records made public Friday. Barriss has also been accused of making a false alarm, a felony.

Authorities allege that a dispute over an online video game led Barriss to call a Wichita, Kan., police dispatcher and falsely claim that he had shot his father and was holding two other people hostage inside a Wichita home on Dec. 28.

But Barriss was in Los Angeles, not Kansas, and there was no hostage situation. When Wichita police responded, a man, later identified as Andy Finch, 28, emerged from the front door and was fatally shot by an officer.

Police have said they believed Finch was armed when he moved his hands toward his waistband and then motioned toward officers. The shooting occurred at the home of Finch’s mother, according to an attorney representing his relatives.

Barriss made his first appearance in a Wichita courtroom Friday afternoon and a preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 25, according to Sedgwick County Dist. Atty. Marc Bennett. He is being held in lieu of $500,000, and is represented by a public defender.

In Kansas, a defendant can be charged with murder when prosecutors believe that a death has been caused due to the commission of certain felonies. But causing a false alarm is not among the “inherently dangerous felonies” listed under the state’s felony-murder statute, so prosecutors sought the manslaughter charge instead, Bennett said during a phone interview.

Law enforcement sources told The Times last week that the dispute that led to the hoax call stemmed from an argument over an online matchup in “Call of Duty: World War II,” a recently released first-person shooting game.

Neither Barriss nor Finch was involved in the disputed game, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

The sources said investigators believe that someone involved in the dispute asked Barriss to make the call.

Bennett said that others have been identified as “potential suspects” in the case, but prosecutors are still deciding if they should face criminal charges.

“As you might imagine anytime computers and gaming machines are involved, there’s a fair bit of forensic analysis involved,” he said.

Bennett could not immediately say why Finch’s address became the target of the hoax call.

If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Barriss could face up to 11 years and three months in prison, depending on his criminal history, Bennett said.

Prosecutors are also reviewing a Wichita police officer’s decision to shoot Finch, Bennett said. The officer, identified only as a seven-year veteran of the Wichita Police Department, was placed on leave after the shooting, authorities have said.

Barriss had a reputation for helping people gain revenge against online enemies and gaming opponents through swatting — placing a hoax phone call about a dangerous situation in order to trigger a massive police response at an address to frighten its occupants.

He pleaded no contest to charges of making false bomb threats in the Los Angeles area in recent years, sparking evacuations at a Glendale television station and two schools, records show.

Glendale police believe he was involved in at least two dozen other swatting and hoax calls around Southern California. The Los Angeles Police Department was investigating Barriss on allegations that he made similar calls in late 2017, and had planned a meeting with federal prosecutors before arresting the 25-year-old in connection with the Kansas incident.

Barriss has also been linked to swatting incidents in Illinois and New Hampshire, according to court records.

This week, Canadian police issued an arrest warrant for Barriss, accusing him of placing an eerily similar call just six days before the Kansas shooting. Barriss was allegedly targeting the home of a young woman he met online, authorities in Calgary said.

The Calgary Police Service allege that Barriss called 911 at about 7:40 p.m. on Dec. 22 and told an operator he killed his father and was holding his mother and younger brother hostage in the 2300 block of 17b Street S.W.

Calgary tactical officers descended on the neighborhood, evacuating the surrounding area before a woman at the home also called police to warn them she believed she was the target of a fake call. The woman exited the house and officers confirmed that the initial report of a shooting and hostage scenario was false.

Barriss was arrested by the LAPD this month and agreed to waive extradition and be taken to Kansas to face charges.

©2018 the Los Angeles Times


Categories: Latest News

Judge: Atlanta warrantless search policy unconstitutional

PoliceOne - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 04:00

By Kate Brumback Associated Press

ATLANTA — The city of Atlanta had a policy of conducting unlawful, warrantless searches of commercial properties, a federal judge ruled this week in a case brought after officers searched a motorcycle club's meeting space.

U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell issued the ruling Tuesday in a civil rights lawsuit filed by Devon Brown after city officers entered and searched a space Brown had rented in a commercial building to use as a private clubhouse for his motorcycle club.

Pannell said the city violated Brown's Fourth Amendment right of protection against unreasonable search and seizure and that the amount of damages owed to Brown will be determined by a jury at trial.

The lawsuit names the city, six police officers, a buildings department inspector and two senior investigators with the city solicitor's office.

The city is reviewing the court's order and considering the appropriate course of action, spokeswoman Jenna Garland said in an email Friday.

Pannell wrote in his order that Brown can seek punitive damages, finding that "there is sufficient evidence in the record for a reasonable jury to conclude that Individual Defendants' actions exhibited callous or reckless indifference to Brown's federal rights."

Brown, a veteran Fulton County sheriff's deputy, and other members of the Dirty South Slab Riders motorcycle club were celebrating a bachelor party on Feb. 8, 2014, in the space Brown had rented, the lawsuit says. There were signs outside that said "No Trespassing" and "Private Club," and the windows were blacked out so people outside couldn't see inside.

There was no food or alcohol for sale, but members had brought their own food and drinks to share.

Police and compliance officers had search and arrest warrants to go into a business where officers said they had witnessed misconduct, including alcohol sales to minors, Pannell's order says. But that business was closed, so they didn't do that inspection.

A police sergeant recalled hearing about other businesses in the area that were operating outside legal business hours and doing other illegal things and decided to "attack" some of those areas, the judge wrote.

Despite the signs outside the motorcycle club location, the officers believed it was a commercial property open for business and entered the unlocked door without knocking after noting cars in the parking lot and hearing loud music, the judge wrote.

They didn't have a search warrant and began a compliance check based on their observations, the order says.

They asked Brown, who had identified himself as the club's president, for business and alcohol licenses, and after he said he didn't have either and didn't think he needed them, the officers arrested him.

A municipal court judge found him guilty of violations of the city code: failure to obtain a business license and failure to comply with liquor licensing provisions. A Fulton County Superior Court judge overturned that ruling on appeal, finding that the club was not a business or bottle house.

In his order, Pannell cited deposition testimony from Sgt. Bryant Burns, one of the officers named in the lawsuit, and another police detective who wasn't involved in the search saying it was common practice to enter an establishment without a warrant to perform compliance checks.

"We often find that a lot, more often than not, we'll sometimes devote our time to just checking business licenses," Burns testified. "So there may be a building that has multiple suites in it, so we'll go from suite to suite, checking on that business license."

Pannell found that "Burns' testimony tends to show that the city had a policy or custom of conducting unlawful, warrantless searches of commercial properties."


Categories: Latest News

Fla. House passes bill aimed at 'sanctuary cities'

PoliceOne - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 04:00

By Gary Fineout Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After a rancorous debate that included sharp criticism of President Donald Trump's comments about certain countries, the Florida House on Friday passed a contentious bill designed to crack down on cities and counties that don't comply with federal immigration authorities.

This is the third year in a row that the Republican-controlled House has passed a bill aimed at so-called sanctuary cities. The measure has yet to move in the Florida Senate, but the GOP head of that chamber suggested it may be considered.

The House vote was 71-35 and split along party lines with Republicans such as House Speaker Richard Corcoran saying it was needed to go after "rogue" elected officials who decide to ignore federal immigration laws. Democrats contended the measure would result in racial profiling and they seized on Trump's comments to assert that the debate about immigration was charged with racial overtones.

During a private meeting, Trump used vulgar language about why the U.S. should be accepting more immigrants from Haiti and African nations than from countries like Norway.

"His words reflect an attitude toward countries with black and brown people that is simply racist," said Rep. Sean Shaw, a Democrat from Tampa.

While Rep. Joe Gruters defended the president and said that "President Trump loves all people," other Republicans said they didn't agree with his comments.

"I do not share those sentiments. I do not support them, they are out of bounds," said Rep. Byron Donalds, a Republican from Naples. "This bill is about following federal immigration law, not the whims of a president."

The measure (HB 9) would strictly ban "sanctuary city" policies and penalize local officials for upholding them. A handful of Florida counties have been criticized for being non-cooperative with federal immigration authorities.

The legislation also requires local police to check on someone's legal status within 48 hours if they do not have proof of citizenship.

Democrats asserted that GOP leaders were pushing the bill to aid Corcoran's expected campaign for governor. But Rep. Larry Metz, the central Florida Republican and sponsor of the bill, said he filed the bill in response to a 2015 incident in San Francisco in which a woman was fatally shot by a Mexican immigrant. The suspect had been released earlier that year by the San Francisco Sheriff's Department, despite a request by federal immigration authorities to detain him. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted of murder, but is awaiting trial on federal gun charges.

"Federal immigration law should be enforced and we should be a partner in that enforcement effort," Metz said.

It's still not clear if the Florida Senate will go along with the legislation. Senate President Joe Negron said that the bill may get a hearing, but Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson said it wasn't something "that's been put on my radar screen yet."


Categories: Latest News

NYC to review police response at immigration protest

PoliceOne - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 04:00

By Jillian Jorgensen New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Mayor de Blasio said the city will investigate the NYPD's handling of a protest against the deportation of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir after officers' clashes with demonstrators, including two City Council members who were arrested.

"We are definitely going to investigate what happened with our police officers because I am concerned to know exactly what happened, why it happened and if anything happened that was not appropriate in the handling of the protesters, that needs to be acted on," de Blasio said on his weekly appearance on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show.

But de Blasio blamed federal officials for ratcheting up the tensions Thursday, insisting the "original sin" came when ICE detained Ragbir during a routine check-in with the intention to deport him.

"What happened yesterday was troubling on a number of levels starting with the activities of the federal agents who, I think in a very provocative way, took someone who was a leading advocate, highly respected individual and in manner I think that might have been meant to be provocative, acted to suddenly deport him," de Blasio said. "That was done by federal authorities, that was not done by New York City officials or New York City police officers in any way shape or form. I think that started a chain of events into place."

The demonstration Thursday quickly descended into chaos as Ragbir was transported in an ambulance, which authorities say was headed to a hospital but which protesters sought to block as they believed it was going to another ICE facility.

Among those arrested were Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was seen being bent over the hood of a car and grimacing in pain as he was handcuffed in video shot by Buzzfeed, and whose suit jacket was torn in the encounter; and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, whose account tweeted a photograph of an officer in front of him with both arms around Ydanis' neck, while the councilman's hands were pulled behind him by another officer.

De Blasio, who has been arrested in decidedly calmer, more choreographed situations at past protests, said he believed the council members were engaging in "a conscious act of civil disobedience," but that it had not gone the way civil disobedience usually had in his experience.

"I've been involved in plenty of civil disobedience in my day and typically that is pre-negotiated with the police and everyone understands," he said.

He said he believed the sudden nature of Ragbir's detention was part of the problem.

"I think people understandably reacted with real passion to what they thought was an unjust situation and I think did spontaneous civil disobedience," de Blasio said. "And I think that added to the confusion. But from everything I understand it was a purposeful act of civil disobedience."

Ragbir is executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City. He was granted permanent residency in 1994, but it was revoked after he was convicted of wire fraud in 2000. He served a 30-month prison term but later asked the court to revise the original judgment, citing faulty jury instructions and poor legal representation.

In a statement late Thursday, an ICE spokeswoman said Ragbir had "exhausted" his petitions and appeals and would be deported.

©2018 New York Daily News


Categories: Latest News

Officials: Big tech improvements to 911 could increase swatting calls

PoliceOne - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 04:00

By PoliceOne Staff

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — An upcoming technological improvement could mean an increase in “swatting” 911 calls, according to officials.

NPR reported that a new system in the works, Next Generation 911, gives callers the ability to send information to emergency centers with the same ease as if they were posting to social media.

"It gives us the ability to access 911 using the same voice, video, text and data applications that we're all used to using on smartphones today," National Emergency Number Association member Trey Forgerty said.

However, police said the internet-based technology could make it easier for swatting calls (false reporting to elicit a response) to occur.

"You could conceivably have a video that is fabricated and is sent into a 911 dispatch center that appears to be one thing, when in fact it is something quite different," Police Executive Research Forum head Chuck Wexler said.

Fairfax County, Va. Police Chief Edwin Roessler said the department is working hard to avoid falling victim to the prank calls and is concerned that the new system will make it more difficult.

"Unfortunately, there's evil people out there that continue to do this and the more we embrace that technology, the more risk we have," he said.

Police said dispatchers must become trained on how to quickly analyze a photo, video or text, and Fogerty said designers are working on a way to flag suspicious videos and other content, as well as an alternative caller ID.

"That would make it much more difficult for callers to fake or spoof a call from a local jurisdiction or from a phone number that looks like it's from that jurisdiction," Fogerty said.


Categories: Latest News

Man cited after using 'Chucky' Doll for carpool lane

PoliceOne - Sat, 01/13/2018 - 04:00

By Jenna Lyons San Francisco Chronicle

CONCORD, Calif. — A couple of villains tried to beat traffic Thursday afternoon, but only one of them was cited for bad behavior.

In one for the books, a man got a ticket Thursday evening for driving in the carpool lane of Highway 4 in Concord with a Chucky Doll. The demon doll, popularized in the Child’s Play horror film series, was buckled into the front passenger seat of his blue sedan.

A California Highway Patrol officer cited him about 4 p.m. at the Solano Way on-ramp, where metering lights were on and traffic had backed up 25 to 30 cars, said Officer Brandon Correia, a CHP spokesman. He said he always asks officers to send over funny photos but had never seen anything quite like this.

“Nobody has a Chucky doll, period. Let alone has a Chucky doll in their car,” Correia said.

We know JON GRUDEN is back, and we love it too, but this will definitely not work as your carpool passenger! But hilarious! A for effort,... and here’s your carpool ticket. pic.twitter.com/qDBY0rlze7

— CHP - Contra Costa (@320PIO) January 12, 2018

The driver’s name was not released.

Motorists need at least two passengers to drive in the carpool lane, the fastest, far-left lane on the freeway. Tickets for violations can be as high as $500, Correia said.

Correia tweeted out a photo of the doll on the CHP Contra Costa Twitter account with the caption: “We know JON GRUDEN is back, and we love it too, but this will definitely not work as your carpool passenger! But hilarious! A for effort,... and here’s your carpool ticket.”

Gruden, the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders, has often been compared to Chucky throughout his NFL coaching career due to his fiery scowl.

©2018 the San Francisco Chronicle


Categories: Latest News

Report: Police handled Sandy Hook shooting effectively but improvements recommended

PoliceOne - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 15:21

By Dave Collins Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — After the 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, police officials not involved in the investigation and "dignitaries" were allowed into the building and potentially contaminated the crime scene by stepping on bullet casings and glass shards that had yet to be processed as evidence, according to a report state police released Friday on their response to the mass shooting.

The long-awaited report concludes state police handled the response effectively, but it recommends improvements to protecting crime scene integrity, dealing with victims' families and other issues. A 2013 report on the response by Newtown police said that department responded rapidly and followed policy.

Gunman Adam Lanza killed his mother at their Newtown home before shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, and killing 20 first-graders, six educators and himself. Investigators never found a clear motive but said Lanza suffered mental health problems and was obsessed with mass shootings.

"The unprecedented nature of this incident posed numerous challenges," the state police report says. "The unique dynamics of this tragedy tasked the agency's resources and tested the capacity and capabilities of individuals and units alike. ... Had it not been for the heroic actions of the teachers, school staff and the response force, the number of victims could have been higher."

One recommendation is to limit crime scene access to authorized personnel. The report says "uninvolved" state police command staff, members of outside agencies and "dignitaries" were allowed into the school in the hours and days after the shooting, potentially contaminating the crime scene and "unnecessarily exposing personnel to the disturbing scene."

"Relevant evidence was stepped on, including bullet casings and glass shards, which had yet to be processed and properly documented," the report says.

The report also recommends training and developing a checklist for notifying families of the deaths of their loved ones. In Newtown, troopers notified the families of the victims "professionally and with compassion," but some mistakes were made, the report says. In one case, a trooper did not know the correct relationship between a victim and the family member he was notifying, it says.

Establishment of a statewide family liaison program also is recommended. After the school shooting, family liaison officers were assigned to each victim's family and were critically important to coordinating resources to the families, the report says.

Michele Gay, whose daughter, Josephine, was one of the 20 children killed, said she hopes state police learn from both what they did well and what they were not prepared to handle in the aftermath of the tragedy.

She said her family and others appreciated being assigned a trooper to act as a liaison who kept them informed and relayed their needs to authorities. But, she said, it was clear there were no protocols or procedures in place for handling this type of situation.

"We were very fortunate that they were such principled, trustworthy and loyal individuals that we were working with at the state police," she said. "But I feel a lot of them look back and wish they didn't have to be making it up as they were going along, that they had more mental health support in terms of how to communicate with families and deal with land mines that they might encounter."

Gay said it was "heartbreaking" to hear about problems with the crime scene access, including the bullet casings being stepped on.

"Those things have to be part of planning ahead of time, so it's not even a question or decision to make in the middle of chaos," she said.

The report urges state police officials to consider mandatory counseling for major crime detectives and other personnel who regularly deal with traumatic situations.

A state police spokeswoman said many of the recommendations already have been implemented or are being implemented.

The report does not specifically address why it took five years to complete. It recommends that future reports be completed by an outside entity and released in phases to ensure a "rapid dissemination of lessons learned in tactics and response," while leaving longer-term procedural issues for future updates.

The report also recommends that "appropriate agency resources and support are allocated to the completion of a thorough and timely" report.

"Some personnel indicated they were aware of the (report) process but felt reluctant to contribute," it notes.

Other post-tragedy reports, including those written after mass shootings at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub, the Washington Navy Yard and a building in San Bernardino, California, were finished about a year after the killings.

Sandy Hook After-Action Report by Ed Praetorian on Scribd


Categories: Latest News

Video vindicates officer after social media post accuses him of assaulting panhandler

PoliceOne - Fri, 01/12/2018 - 14:22

By PoliceOne Staff

TAYLOR, Mich. — Video footage cleared an officer of any wrongdoing after a Facebook post accused the LEO of assaulting a panhandler.

The News Herald reports that the officer’s supervisors reviewed dash cam footage of his encounter with the panhandler and found that he did nothing wrong. On Jan. 10, a Facebook post accused the unidentified officer of assaulting a man panhandling near a highway.

The post alleged that the officer took the man’s coffee cup and threw it into the roadway before shoving the man against a vehicle and removing his coat in the cold weather. The post, which has now been deleted, included a photograph of the officer talking to the man.

But dash cam video shows the entire exchange between the officer and the panhandler. The officer was questioning the man and later found out that he had an outstanding warrant from another state.

The video shows the officer telling the man put his hands on the hood of his patrol car so his hands would be in clear view. The footage proved that the officer followed department protocol and never touched the man or his possessions.

“We take complaints seriously and complete detailed investigations about them, as we did in this incident,” Police Chief John Blair said. “Upon speaking with our officer and reviewing his in-car camera, we find these allegations to be completely false and unfounded. The video clearly shows the entire encounter and at no time does the officer take a coffee from the individual, throw him against our police car, dump out his backpack, rip off his coat, or dump his belongs on the ground.”

The post was removed several hours after it was posted.

Mayor Rick Sollars urged residents to not rush to judgement on unverified claims posted on social media. He said that trust needs to run in both directions from police and the community.


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