Friday, November 30, 2012

Pinal County Lt. leaves nasty message on talk show host's phone

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. -- An early morning radio talk show has sparked questions about the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and the possibility that it's abusing its power.

The questions came after a PCSO Lieutenant called conservative talk show host Barry Young’s personal cell phone and left a nasty voicemail.

Part of the voicemail said, “Hey man I know you gotta’ spin your (explicative) to make it sound cool. Take care."

The cursing caller telephoned Young after hearing the host rant about PCSO on Friday.
Young accused the Sheriff’s Office on-air of denying him an interview with supervisor Jennifer Foster.

Foster took the now famous photo in New York of a cop giving a pair of boots to a homeless man.
Listeners wanted to know how the Lieutenant got access to Young's personal cell phone number.
“But if this guy really went into a data base to get Barry's phone number that's serious,” said show producer Andrew Babinski.

Babinski said Young and Sheriff Paul Babeu's professional relationship changed following the sheriff’s shirtless photo scandal.

“Ever since then we like to have fun,” Babinski said while talking about the sheriff on their show.
Even though Foster's done several interviews across the country, including one with 3TV, Babinski suspects Young's show was blacklisted because of on-air Babeu banter.

Tim Gaffney with PCSO said that's just not true.

“There's no tension there at all,” said Gaffney.

So how did the Lieutenant get Young's personal cell phone number?

Callers questioned if the lawman abused his power and got it through a county data base.

“Mr. Young has given me his cell phone number in the past. I gave out that number. And that’s the number that he called. That’s how he got it. There is no data base that has Mr. Young's cell phone number,” said Gaffney.

The PCSO spokesperson also said he has spoken to KFYI executives.

Gaffney said both offices agree this has been one big misunderstanding that stemmed from a lack of communication.

We reached out to KFYI to confirm this and were told the station has no comment.

Former Phoenix police officer arrested in road rage incident

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A retired Phoenix police officer has been arrested, accused of pointing a gun at another motorist in an apparent road rage incident.

The motorist was driving with his wife and two children just after 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday. As he was headed north on Cotton Lane, he tried to pass a dump truck and two other vehicles ahead of him.

The retired officer, 54-year-old Frank Marin, was driving his pickup truck just ahead of him. He also tried to pass the dump truck, but he apparently did not see the motorist’s car.

The motorist told police he honked his horn and braked to avoid hitting the pickup, and both vehicles ended up stopped at the intersection.

According to the police report, when the motorist looked over at the pickup, Marin was pointing a Glock 27 handgun at him.

Police say the motorist rolled down his window and yelled, "Go ahead, shoot me!" Marin then reportedly lowered his gun, put his truck in reverse, but then collided with another car.

When officers arrived, Marin at first denied that he had a gun. But he couldn't explain how the victim knew he had a gun and what it looked like, according to court documents. Upon further questioning, Marin admitted having a weapon in his vehicle.

An officer searched the car and reportedly found the gun under the seat. It had a fully loaded magazine inserted and a round in the chamber.

According to the police report, Marin told an officer he had thought that the other driver was going to be aggressive toward him. At that time, Marin was taken into custody. He faces charges of endangerment, misconduct involving a weapon and threats and intimidation.

Marin has since been released on bond. He’s due back in court on Tuesday.

Marin is a retired is a retired Phoenix police officer and is currently a reserve police officer.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Scottsdale’s legal fees grow in 2 police shootings

Scottsdale has agreed to spend more money to defend against lawsuits brought by the families of two men shot by police in separate incidents in 2012 and 2008, bringing the total authorized to date to nearly $1.6 million.

This month, the City Council approved paying up to $75,000 in legal fees for an appeal in the 2008 case of David Hulstedt, 35, who became a paraplegic after two Scottsdale sergeants shot him in the back as he was walking toward his house carrying his 2-year-old daughter, according to court records.

The council also approved spending up to $350,000 in the Feb. 14, 2012, fatal shooting of John Loxas Jr., 50, who was holding his 7-month-old grandson when he was shot and killed by Officer James Peters.

The city has authorized more than $1 million total in legal fees for the Hulstedt case and up to $515,000 in the Loxas case, according to  Mike Phillips,  a Scottsdale spokesman.

Loxas was the seventh Scottsdale resident Peters had shot in the line of duty since 2002. Six of the suspects died. Peters was granted a disability retirement this year.

The families of Loxas and Hulstedt filed lawsuits seeking damages against Scottsdale officials. Loxas’ family seeks $7.5 million from Peters, the city, Police Chief Alan Rodbell and Detective Brian McWilliams, according to documents prepared for the City Council.

Hulstedt’s family seeks $40 million from the city and 19 police officers and former employees, the documents said.

Both shootings were deemed justified by the Police Department’s Deadly Force Review Board, according to records, as were Peters’ prior shootings while on duty.

A federal judge disagreed with the review board in Hulstedt’s case, finding that “reasonable” officers would not have fired at Hulstedt, who had psychological issues, was unarmed, made no sudden movements and held his daughter.

The judge further said the baby could have been hurt. In fact, the baby did fall 6 feet to the ground and suffered a minor facial injury, according to the ruling. The judge also noted that police did not warn Hulstedt before they fired.

After three of four police-fired bullets struck Hulstedt, police handcuffed and dragged him facedown 400 feet to paramedics, the judge found.

Hulstedt was suffering from anxiety and paranoia when he called Scottsdale police the day he was shot and demanded that U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano come to his house, according to the ruling.

Police ascertained he was having psychological difficulties, but they were concerned about the safety of Hulstedt’s daughter because Hulstedt threatened to “pile-drive” her, according to court documents.
The judge ruled that the officers are not immune from damages stemming from the suit.

“Considering ‘the totality of the facts and circumstances’ in the particular case, no reasonable officer could have believed that shooting David without warning, while he calmly walked back towards his house with (his daughter) over his head, was a proper means of protecting (her) safety,” the judge said in his ruling.

“Neither Sgt. Richard Slavin nor Sgt. James Dorer warned (Hulstedt) that they would shoot him if he did not comply with their commands, and both of them shot him in the back as he was walking away from them and towards the house.”

The council Nov. 13 approved up to $75,000 with the law firm of Osborn Maledon to appeal the judge’s findings to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The partners of the firm, which has experience with appellate litigation in excessive-force cases, will make $370 an hour, according to City Council documents.

It is unclear how much money the city has spent on prior legal action in either the Hulstedt case or Loxas case or in other lawsuits against retired Officer Peters.

The council approved up to $250,000 in attorney’s fees and up to $100,000 in other litigation fees to the law firm of Struck, Wieneke & Love of Chandler to represent Peters in the Loxas shooting. Lead attorney Kathe Wieneke will make $195 an hour, according to City Council documents. Separate counsel was retained for the city and other defendants.

Loxas’ neighbors had called police to his house Feb. 14, 2012, after he waved a gun at them, according to police reports. He was walking back to his house holding his grandson when he was shot, according to court documents.

The lawsuit filed on his family’s behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union claims that Scottsdale police failed to adequately investigate Peters’ prior shootings and that he should not have been armed and on the force the day Loxas was killed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Another police creeper: Drunk Pinal deputy gets arrested after punching man who defended his female friend from drunk cop's unwanted advances

Mueller is on the left, standing next to Pinal County Sheriff Babeu

A Pinal County sheriff’s deputy tapped to be a fill-in department spokesman is fighting a disorderly-conduct charge after an off-duty incident outside a Tempe bar where, police say, he punched another patron.
Richard “Hank” Mueller, 30, was put on paid administrative leave Oct. 22 pending an internal investigation and is expected to remain on leave through at least Dec. 14. He is scheduled for a Nov. 28 hearing on the misdemeanor charge in Tempe Municipal Court.
According to Tempe police records released this week, surveillance video captured Mueller and another man in a heated exchange that resulted in Mueller punching the man in the face about 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 12. The victim told police he was intervening for a female friend who was getting unwanted attention from Mueller at the Firehouse, a bar and grill at University Drive and Mill Avenue.
Police said there was “no clear assault” because Mueller may have been defending himself. According to the report, video showed Mueller holding the man at arm’s length before the punch. The man — who told police he slapped Mueller’s hand away because he didn’t like to be touched — was not charged in the incident.
The Firehouse manager told police that Mueller had been causing problems throughout the night by taunting and threatening the bar security guards. One female employee complained that Mueller was “creeping her out,” according to the police report.
Firehouse employees called 911 after one confrontation, but police were not dispatched because Mueller appeared to have left. They called police a second time after the fight in the alley.
In their reports, officers described Mueller as being intoxicated and irrational. None of them identified Mueller as a Pinal County sheriff’s deputy or a law-enforcement officer.
Mueller was cited and released after promising to appear in court. It was not clear whether Mueller drove away, but the report indicated he was advised to get a ride home.
Mueller declined to comment when reached by phone Friday.
He was one of several Pinal sheriff’s employees who appeared in a commercial supporting Sheriff Paul Babeu’s candidacy for U.S. House, a race Babeu left in May to run for re-election.
Mueller was hired as a deputy in January 2009, the month Babeu first took office. Before joining the Sheriff’s Office, Mueller had been a detention officer with the Chandler Police Department — Babeu’s former employer, from which he drew several members of his command staff — and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
Mueller graduated at the top of his class from the police academy. A review of his personnel file and disciplinary records revealed multiple blemishes. In one performance review, Mueller’s supervisor said the deputy “didn’t always (use) good tact, good judgment and common sense to resolve conflict (and) at times it may escalate out of control. Mueller still needs to work on this as he generates quite a few complaints when it comes to dealing with calls for service.”
His judgment was also questioned in an incident that began as a traffic stop and escalated to the forced entry and warrantless search of an apartment. In the incident, Mueller and at least one other officer held the occupants at gunpoint.
Mueller said he had kicked in the door because he and another officer thought they smelled marijuana. Mueller told internal-affairs detectives that he believed the driver who ran from him fled into the apartment but later admitted he wasn’t sure.
His patrol commander recommended Mueller serve an 80-hour suspension without pay.
“This shows a clear lack of understanding (of) PCSO policy, constitutional rights and established case law on Deputy Mueller’s part,” the supervisor wrote. “He became over zealous and lost his ability to make sound judgment. This lack of judgment placed the citizens of Pinal County, the other deputies and officer working with him in harm’s way, while placing the Sheriff’s Office in a position of great risk and liability.”
Chief Deputy Steve Henry, however, ordered Mueller to take 20 hours of unpaid leave and required him to take a class on search and seizure. He cited Mueller’s inexperience and praised him for his “honesty and virtue” in reporting the incident to his supervisor.
“It is evident there would have never been an investigation without this virtuous act,” Henry wrote.

Phoenix police name new liaisons to the city's LGBT community, and anti-anarchist/protest unit

The replacements for disgraced Red Squad officer Chris Wilson has been announced. The chairman of the LGBT advisory board, who works with the police in mediating community rage, said very plainly what the reform institutions purpose is: “When we recognize a problem, we address it professionally and not by burning down half of the city because you have one officer who decided to be stupid.” 

As if the problem with the police is the one bad apple hired. The attitude of the police and those who justify their existence is extreme paranoia, even when hyperbolic. When was the last time anything was burned down because of the police in this city? How silly that this non-example is trotted out to justify the police presence in a community that routinely is subjected to homophobia/transphobia from police and has every reason to oppose police.

An older photo of the Phoenix PD's Red Squad, photo from prison abolitionist

  Top Row
Lt. Bryan Coley, Det. Rick Tamburo, Det. Dottie Conroy, Det. Al Ramirez, Det. Rick Flum, Det. Tony Davis

Bottom Row
Det. Jeff Wood, Sgt. Mark Schweikert, Det. Jerry Oliver, Det. Chris Wilson, Det. Chris Abril

 From the AZ Repulsive:

Two detectives recently took on roles as the Phoenix Police Department’s liaisons to the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia’s announcement in October came three months after the arrest of the previous liaison, Detective Christopher J. Wilson, on suspicion of sexual misconduct with two teenage boys.

Wilson, who handed in his badge immediately after his August arrest, met one of the boys through his duties with the LGBT community, according to court documents. Wilson sits in jail and faces an initial pretrial conference Nov.27.

Last week, the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, which oversees peace-officer training, conduct and certification, accepted Wilson’s voluntary relinquishment of his state certification without discussion.

On Oct.31, Garcia introduced Detectives Julie Smith and Dottie Conroy at department headquarters to representatives from various community groups, including the Phoenix Police LGBT Citizen Advisory Board.

Conroy, a 17-year veteran, said that as an openly gay woman, it’s an opportunity “to deal with the community that I love.”

Smith, who is heterosexual, said since joining the department nine years ago, she had always wanted to work with the various communities in Phoenix. The Phoenix native said she looks forward to her new assignment because “it is so diverse and so wonderful.”

In 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey estimated 6.4percent of Phoenix’s population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. That’s about 63,222 people.

Garcia, who became chief in May, will assign two detectives to each of the department’s eight community advisory boards for minority groups, which include Muslims, Sikhs, Hispanics and African-Americans.

The move will enable the department to do more outreach, said Gerald Richard, assistant to the police chief.

Richard said community advisory boards foster dialog and build relationships between the department and minority groups to handle issues before they erupt into turmoil.

Don Hamill, a community activist who has served as a board member of Phoenix Pride, told Garcia officers still need more education.

“There is a problem in your force, and it affects everybody in this room,” Hamill said.

Hamill said he recently overheard uniformed officers use the words, “‘the gays,’ because they’ve been told not to use the ‘F’ word.”

“It’s wrong,” Hamill said. “I was shocked to hear it. I pay their salary (and) pension.”

He told the chief that there should be zero tolerance for inappropriate language, and officers should use no other adjective than citizen in talking about groups of people.

“I agree with you 100 percent,” Garcia said. “We are not at Shangri-La yet.”

Patrick Kelley, who co-chairs the LGBT Citizen Advisory Board, also commended the selection of Conroy and Smith.

Kelley said advisory groups help bring understanding between the community and police. He said about a year ago, a Phoenix police officer stopped a man dressed in drag going to a fundraising event and asked, “Why are you dressed like a freak?”

Kelley said the issue was brought up at an advisory-board meeting.

He said officers at the precinct where the incident took place received cultural-sensitivity training.

“When we recognize a problem, we address it professionally and not by burning down half of the city because you have one officer who decided to be stupid.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One Glendale caught busted for drinking, how many others get a pass from fellow officers?

An off-duty Glendale police lieutenant was cited on suspicion of DUI early Friday morning in Phoenix, according to Phoenix police.

Lt. Rachael Bousman, 39, of the Glendale Police Department was cited and released by Phoenix police at 1:15 a.m., according to a press release from the Phoenix Police Department.

Phoenix police responded to a call about an impaired driver near Seventh Avenue and Bethany Home Road. A witness reported a car was stuck on a parking block, according to Phoenix police.

Bousman had blood drawn to determine her blood alcohol content, a standard procedure, according to police. That level was not immediately available.

Sgt. Brent Coombs, a spokesman for the Glendale Police Department, said that he is unable to speak about the case until the investigation and any possible appeal have been exhausted.

"All we can say ... right now, is to confirm that it did occur. It is DUI-related, and that an internal investigation is underway," Coombs said.

Bousman is a 14-year veteran of the Glendale Police Department.

She has been placed on administrative leave with pay.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Burglary suspect shot by deputy in Tempe dies

 A Tempe cop yelling at bystanders to leave

A Maricopa County sheriff's deputy shot and killed a burglary suspect Thursday along the canal that separates Tempe from Guadalupe.

The Sheriff's Office was assisting Tempe police, who were looking for suspects in a burglary in a nearby neighborhood earlier in the morning.

The man who was shot was identified late Thursday afternoon as Joel Smith, 19. Smith was pronounced dead after he was taken to Maricopa Medical Center for treatment.

Deputy Jeff Sprong, a Sheriff's Office spokesman, said Smith was armed with a knife.

Two women who live nearby in Guadalupe said they heard shots and ran outside to see what was happening. They said Smith appeared unarmed as he walked toward the deputy.

"You could tell he had nothing in his hands," said Sandra Reyes, who was worried that her great-grandchildren would be hit by the gunfire. "It looked like he was trying to surrender."

Sabrina Garcia told a similar version, saying, "He wasn't trying to attack the cops."

But Sprong said the women were mistaken and that the shooting was also witnessed by several Tempe police officers.

"The incident as explained to you by neighbors did not happen," Sprong wrote in an e-mail.

"He did threaten our deputy. Our deputy did shoot that individual," Sprong said. "This deputy obviously felt his life was in danger."

Sprong did not release the deputy's name but described the deputy as a "seasoned veteran," adding, "this isn't something he wanted to do."

The burglary occurred about 9 a.m., less than a mile from the shooting scene, along the South Branch Highline Canal, west of Hardy Drive and Guadalupe Road.

Monday, August 20, 2012

No felony charges for officer in DPS dog's death

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Arizona Department of Public Safety officer who left his K-9 partner in a hot squad car will not face felony charges in connection with the dog's death.

Officer Korey Lankow was placed on administrative leave after leaving Jeg, a drug-sniffing dog, in his squad car outside DPS headquarters in Tucson for more than an hour on July 11. The high that day was about 98 degrees, which means the temperature inside the car was probably in the 120-degree range.

Jeg suffered severe heat-related injuries and had to be euthanized.

Based on the criminal investigation conducted by the Tucson Police Department, the Pima County Attorney's Officer opted not to pursue felony charges against Lankow.

While he won't face felony charges in Jeg's death, The Tucson City Attorney's Office could still file misdemeanor charges.

Lankow, who has been with DPS since October 2005, and Jeg had been partners for almost three years. The 7-year-old Belgian Malinois had worked with another handler before being paired with Lankow.

According to investigators, Jeg was left behind when Lankow was sent on an emergency call while moving from one squad car to another. Lankow was en route to a crash scene when he realized Jeg was not with him.

He turned around to go back to his partner, but it turned out to be too late.

In addition to the TPD investigation, DPS has launched its own internal investigation to determine if Lankow followed proper procedure.

Jeg is the second Arizona law-enforcement dog to die after being left in a hot car.

Chandler police Sgt. Tom Lovejoy was charged with animal abuse after leaving his K-9 partner, Bandit, in a patrol car in August 2007. Bandit was left in the car, which was parked outside of Lovejoy's home, for 12 hours. He died from excessive heat.

Less than three weeks after Jeg's death, two K-9s in Bexar County, Texas died after being left in a deputy's hot patrol car overnight.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Phoenix Red Squad officer arrested for sex misconduct with teens

An officer assigned to the Phoenix PD's community relations division (aka The Red Squad) known for their political harassment of anarchist, anti-authoritarian, anti-cop, and Occupy Phoenix groups has been busted for sexual misconduct.  While the media makes a fuss over the charges that ended his career, his violent and abusive actions towards the valley's political rabble rousers remain unquestioned, as many more officers will fill the void left by Chris Wilson's abrupt retirement and arrest to continue the city's work of managing and attacking the space of social movements.  The above video shows officer Wilson in action, tackling a single protester who was giving senator John McCain a hard time a few years back.

A Phoenix police officer was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of sexual misconduct with two teenage boys, authorities announced Wednesday.

Officer Christopher J. Wilson, 43, was accused of 10 counts of sexual assault with a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old, said Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia said at a press conference.

The 14-year-old informed his parents about the incidents. The parents called police Tuesday afternoon and detectives immediately sought more information, Garcia said.

The investigation began Tuesday afternoon and concluded at 8:15 p.m. with the 13-year veteran's arrest. He immediately resigned to escape termination, Garcia said.

Wilson admitted his involvement and charges imply that the actions were consensual, though law enforcement does not support the illegal engagements Wilson participated in, Garcia said.

"I'm extremely disturbed and disgusted by this conduct," Garcia said.

The sexual encounters occurred at several private locations, including Wilson's home, Garcia said.
Detectives found that Wilson had met the boys through community engagements that were undefined, Garcia said.

Garcia said he wants the community to know this is a transparent investigation.

Officials encourage anyone with additional information on this event or if there are other victims, to contact police, Garcia said.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hundreds of Arizona cops retire under scrutiny

Hundreds of officers across the Valley have handed in their badge - rather than face discipline.

CBS 5 Investigates found that in many cases, they took a full pension and benefits with them - seemingly retiring their troubles away.

"I served 23 years with absolutely no discipline," said former Phoenix Police Officer Philip Shores.

Shores is correct. Even though an internal audit found he mishandled nearly 80 percent of his child sex crime cases, he was never disciplined. Instead, he retired with a full pension.

"I've had no contact with the police department since I retired," Shores told CBS 5 News during an interview last week.

Shores is not alone.

"It's absolutely frustrating," said Chief Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia.

He spoke candidly about the issue.

"We're in an atmosphere where we have to show transparency to our community and show accountability to our community," Garcia said.

The controversial practice of retiring to escape punishment extends across the state.

Take Goodyear Police Chief Mark Brown and commander Ralph McLaughlin - both were accused of covering up a hit-and-run that killed 18-year-old Jered Pendleton from Avondale. Both retired.

Lt. Col. Jack Hegerty with Arizona's Department of Public Safety accepted Arizona Diamondback tickets from an agency DPS regulates. Rather than face two days suspension for the conflict of interest violation, he retired.

This summer, Phoenix police Sgt. Arnold David got caught on surveillance allegedly pocketing several thousand dollars during a robbery call. He too, retired.

"I think the guy ought to go to prison," said Bill Louis, former Phoenix police assistant chief and IA investigator.

Louis spent years investigating officers that were accused of violating policies and even breaking the law.

These cases are not always a cut and dry situation.

State law requires that Arizona POST, which certifies police officers, be notified when an officer quits. And that officer can't get a another law enforcement job in-state - until the investigation is over. [Click here to read the Arizona POST report on all misconduct and criminal cases they've handled] 

Criminal cases have more clear-cut rules.

"We have pursued charges against an officer even after they quit," Louis said. "We've had goodness - we've had officers for bank robbery, for theft, for drugs, for stealing property - and they quit. And we still went after them criminally."

In the last decade, more than 1,700 police officers were investigated on criminal charges of: assault, drug use, sexual misconduct and the list goes on and on. Of those 1,700 officers, 617 lost their certification and will never be able to work as cops again in this state.

Even Chief Daniel Garcia said those criminal prosecutions are not good enough.

"We want to be able to hold our officers accountable from an administrative standpoint and criminal," Garcia said.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cold Case Posse violated MCSO Code of Conduct

Cold Case Posse lead investigator Mike Zullo admits he received checks totaling roughly $1,400 for the sale of the e-book version of his investigation into President Barack Obama's birth certificate. But a review of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office official Code of Conduct shows it is an abuse of power for employees or volunteers to use their official position for personal or financial gain.

CBS 5 Investigates obtained a copy of the Code of Conduct after receiving an anonymous tip that Zullo may have violated MCSO policy in selling his book.

MCSO spokeswoman Lisa Allen responded to a request for comment with the following statement:
"As Mr. Zullo publicly stated before you and other reporters, he has received approximately $1,400 in royalties. He kept none of that money as a personal financial gain, choosing instead to donate all of it."

CBS 5 Investigates reached out to other Valley law enforcement agencies, including Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler and the Department of Public Safety. All reported that it would be against department policy for an employee or volunteer to sell police information.

"If employees are allowed to just generate their own interest, write their own books, sell their own products, it just destroys the public trust," said William de la Torre, a retired Phoenix police sergeant with 24 years on the force.

Active and retired police officers have written books about cases, but those cases are generally closed or cold, unlike the sheriff's investigation into the president's birth certificate, which the sheriff said is ongoing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sheriff Arpaio offering $5K reward for damaged campaign signs

I think more than a few grifters ears poked up when they heard this news, a $700 fine for destroying the signs, but $5000 for reporting it to Sheriff Joe. That's $4300 profit if one doesn't mind some possible jail time or probation.

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is opening up his wallet to anyone who can help him find the people responsible for ruining his campaign signs.

Sheriff Arpaio has announced that he’s offering a $5,000 reward for anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and conviction for damaging his signs.

“My signs are being destroyed by these criminals causing us to lose a lot of hard earned money. Damaging political signs is a crime and I want these perpetrators prosecuted,” said Arpaio.

Chad Willems, who is managing Arpaio’s reelection campaign, said signs have been stolen, cut up, painted over with profanities, and burned beyond recognition. More than 200 signs have already been replaced at a cost of approximately $3,500.

“The campaign office gets calls every day reporting the damage done to the Sheriff’s signs throughout the county,” Willems stated.

Anyone with any information is being asked to first call local law enforcement and then the Arpaio campaign headquarters at 602-235-9320.

Defacing a political sign is a class two misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to four months in jail, a $700 fine, and two years probation.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Police Shootings Echo Nationwide: Aurora Gets the Attention, But Guns Are Going Off Everywhere

Welcome to the abattoir -- a nation where a man can walk into a store and buy an assault rifle, a shotgun, a couple of Glocks; where in the comfort of his darkened living room, windows blocked from the sunlight, he can rig a series of bombs unperturbed and buy thousands of rounds of ammo on the Internet; where a movie theater can turn into a killing floor at the midnight hour.

We know about all of this. We know because the weekend of July 20th became all-Aurora-all-the-time, a round-the-clock engorgement of TV news reports, replete with massacre theme music, an endless loop of victims, their loved ones, eyewitness accounts, cell-phone video, police briefings, informal memorials, and “healing,” all washed down with a presidential visit and hour upon hour of anchor and “expert” speculation. We know this because within a few days a Google search for “Aurora movie shootings” produced over 200 million hits referencing the massacre that left 70-plus casualties, including 12 fatalities.

We know a lot less about Anaheim and the killing of Manuel Angel Diaz, shot in the back and in the head by that city’s police just a few short hours after the awful Aurora murders.

But to the people living near La Palma Avenue and North Anna Drive, the shooting of Manuel Diaz was all too familiar: it was the sixth, seventh, or eighth police shooting in Anaheim, California, since the beginning of 2012. (No one seems quite sure of the exact count, though the Orange County District Attorney’s office claims six shootings, five fatalities.)

Diaz, 25, and as far as police are concerned, a “documented gang member,” was unarmed. He was apparently running when he was shot in the back and left to lie on the ground bleeding to death as police moved witnesses away from the scene. “He’s alive, man, call a cop!” a man shouted at the police. “Why would you guys shoot him in the head?” a woman demanded.

“Get back,” officers repeatedly said, pushing mothers and youngsters away from the scene, which they surrounded with yellow crime-scene tape.

Neighborhood residents gathered on lawns along the street, upset at what had happened near their homes, upset at what has been occurring repeatedly in Anaheim.  Then, police, seeking to disperse the crowd, began firing what appeared to be rubber bullets and bean bag rounds directly at those women and children, among others. Screaming chaos ensued. A police dog was unleashed and lunged for a toddler in a stroller. A mother and father, seeking to protect their child, were themselves attacked by the dog.

We know this because a local CBS affiliate, KCAL, broadcast footage of the attack. We know it because cell phone video, which police at the scene sought to buy, according to KCAL, showed it in all its stark and sudden brutality. We know it also because neighbors immediately began to organize. On Sunday they demonstrated at police headquarters, demanding answers. “No justice, no peace,” they chanted.

Who Is Being Killed and in What Numbers?

This is daily life in less suburban, less white America. On Sunday, when the first of growing daily protests took place, Anaheim police shot and killed another man running away, Joel Mathew Acevedo, 21. Acevedo was armed and opened fired, police maintained -- yet another suspected gang member.

It is not hyperbole to say this is virtually a daily routine in America. It’s considered so humdrum, so much background noise, that it is rarely reported beyond local newscasts and metro briefs. In the days bracketing the Aurora massacre, San Francisco police shot and killed mentally ill Pralith Pralourng; Tampa police shot and killed Javon Neal, 16; an off-duty cop shot Pierre Davis, 20, of Chicago; Miami-Dade police shot and killed an unidentified “stalking suspect”; an off-duty FBI agent shot an unnamed man in Queens; Kansas City police shot and killed 58-year-old Danny L. Walsh; Lynn police and a Massachusetts state trooper shot and killed Brandon Payne, 23, a father of three; Henderson police shot and killed Andy Puente Soto, 42, out in the desert wastes near Las Vegas.
These are some of the anonymous dead.  Their names are occasionally afloat on seas of Internet data or in local news reports. Many are young, even very young; many are people of color; many are wanted by the police for one thing or another; some are crazy; some are armed; some, like Manuel Diaz, are not.

In the end, though, we know remarkably little about these victims of police action. The FBI, which annually tracks every two-bit break-in, car theft, and felony, keeps no comprehensive records of incidents involving police use of deadly force, nor are there comprehensive national records that track what police officers do with their guns. Because of that we have no sense of whether such killings are waxing or waning, whether different cities present different threats, whether increased use of private security guards poses a greater or lesser danger to the public, whether neighborhood watch groups are a blessing or a bane to their neighborhoods. The Trayvon Martins of the world, who could perhaps speak to that last point, are mute.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report does include a more limited category of “Justifiable Homicide by Weapon, Law Enforcement,” defined as “the killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.” That figure has hovered around 400 annually for the last several years. (In 2010, it was 387, down from 414 in 2009; in 2006, it was 386.)

Would Manuel Diaz fall into that category? Was he a felon? Can running fit the bill for “justifiable homicide”? The FBI does list all police officers killed while on duty, whether they are gunned down deliberately by violent suspects or hit accidentally by a car.  (In 2010, the FBI reported, 56 officers died “feloniously,” while 72 were killed “accidentally.”) But the Manuel Diazes of America are not included in the FBI data sets.

Ramarley Graham, 18, followed and shot by New York City police last February, is of little interest to FBI statisticians. But the Graham killing, which has resulted in manslaughter charges against a member of the NYPD, stirred numerous protests in that city. Luther Brown Jr., killed by Stockton, California, police in April, and James Rivera, killed by Stockton police two years ago, stirred community protest as well. Would their names make the FBI list of “justifiable homicide”? Who makes that judgment and on what basis?

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics has been compiling data on deaths of suspects following arrests, but the information covers just 40 states and only includes arrest fatalities. From January 2003 through December 2009, bureau statistics show 4,813 deaths occurred during “an arrest or restraint process.” Of those, 61% (2,931) were classified as homicides by law enforcement personnel, 11% (541) as suicides, 11% (525) as due to intoxication, 6% (272) as accidental injuries, and 5% (244) were attributed to natural causes. About 42% of the dead were white, 32% were black, and 20% were Hispanic.

Total gun deaths nationwide in 2010? 11,493, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Who Is At Risk?

The lack of authoritative and comprehensive national data on police shootings and the reluctance of local law enforcement departments to release information on the use of deadly force has sent researchers onto the Internet searching for stories and anecdotal evidence. Newspapers looking into the issue must painstakingly gather information and documents from multiple agencies and courts to determine who is being killed and why. One major recent independent effort by the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2011 -- undertaken in the wake of community protests over two police shootings in 2010 -- confirmed anecdotal evidence drawn from virtually all major metropolitan areas. If you are a young man, a person of color, and live in a poor urban area, you are far more likely to become a victim of police gunfire than if you are none of those things.

The newspaper, which analyzed court cases, police data, and other documents, determined that there had been 378 victims of police gunfire in the Las Vegas area since January 1990; 142 of the shootings were fatal.  And deaths from police gunfire, the paper found, had risen from two in 1990 to 31 in 2010.

Over the entire period of the study, the paper found that “blacks, less than 10 percent of Clark County's population, account for about 30 percent of Las Vegas police shooting subjects. Moreover, 18 percent of blacks shot at by police were unarmed.”

A joint study carried out by the Chicago Reporter and the online news site Colorlines in 2007 determined that “about 9,500 people nationally were killed by police during the years 1980 to 2005 -- an average of nearly one fatal shooting per day.” African-Americans “were overrepresented among police shooting victims in every city” investigated (the nation’s 10 largest).

African-Americans would not be surprised by this finding; nor would it come as a surprise to Hispanics to learn that they are increasingly at risk of police gunfire. Bureau of Justice statistics show that 949 Hispanics suffered arrest-related deaths from 2003 to 2009 (out of the total of 4,813 such deaths noted above). The numbers have bounced around over the years, but are trending up from 109 in 2003 to 130 in 2009.

Certainly, the Latino community of Anaheim is familiar with this territory. Orange County and Anaheim authorities have promised investigations of the two recent police shootings. The FBI is reviewing the shootings and the U.S. Attorney’s office has agreed to conduct an investigation at the request of Anaheim’s civilian authorities. Those authorities -- the mayor and five-member city council -- are all Anglo, while Hispanics constitute about 52% of that city's 336,000 residents. There is no civilian complaint review board in place to conduct any probe of police actions, no independent group gathering information over time. The family of Manuel Diaz has filed a federal civil rights suit in the case and called for community calm as protestors become increasingly restive.

“There is a racial and economic component to this shooting,” said Dana Douglas, a Diaz family attorney. “Police don’t roust white kids in affluent neighborhoods who are just having a conversation. And those kids have no reason to fear police. But young men with brown skin in poor neighborhoods do. They are targeted by police.”

Post-9/11 Money Is No Help

The last decade, of course, has seen an enormous flow of federal counterterrorism money to local police and law enforcement agencies. Since 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security has allocated $30 to $40 billion to local police for all manner of training programs and equipment upgrades. Other federal funding has also been freely dispensed.

Yet for all the beefing up of post-9/11 visual surveillance, communications, and Internet-monitoring capabilities, for all the easing of laws governing searches and wiretaps, law enforcement authorities failed to pick up on the multiple weapons purchases, the massive Internet ammo buys, and the numerous package deliveries to the dark apartment in the building on Paris Street where preparations for the Aurora massacre took place for months.

Orange County, where Manuel Diaz lived, now has a fleet of seven armored vehicles. SWAT officers turn out in 30 to 40 pounds of gear, including ballistic helmets, safety goggles, radio headsets with microphones, bulletproof vests, flash bangs, smoke canisters, and loads of ammunition. The Anaheim police and other area departments are networked by countywide Wi-Fi. They run their own intelligence collection and dissemination center. They are linked to surveillance helicopters. 

The feds have also anted up for extensive police training for Anaheim officers. In fact, Anaheim and Orange County have received about $100 million from the federal government since 2002 to bring operations up to twenty-first century speed in the age of terror. Yet for all that money, training, and equipment, police still managed to shoot and kill a running unarmed man in the back, just as NYPD officers shot unarmed Liberian-born Amadou Diallo after chasing him up his Bronx apartment building steps in February of 1999.

Diallo was infamously shot 41 times after pulling his wallet from his pocket, apparently to show identification. Police thought it was a gun. The shooting precipitated national protests and acquittals in a subsequent trial of the police officers involved. The year Diallo was killed was also the year of the Columbine massacre, 20 miles from Aurora. It seems like only last week.

Since that time the nation as a whole has become poorer and less white, while police departments everywhere are building up their capabilities and firepower with 9/11-related funding. Gun ownership of almost any sort has been cemented into our American world as a constitutional right and a partial ban on purchases of assault weapons lapsed in 2004, thanks to congressional inaction. This combination of trends should make everyone uneasy.

Stephan Salisbury is cultural writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and a TomDispatch regular.  His most recent book is Mohamed’s Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland.  To listen to Timothy MacBain's latest Tomcast audio interview in which Salisbury discusses the lack of good numbers on police shootings and why they are so poorly covered, click here or download it to your iPod here.

[Note: Bureau of Justice Statistics data on the demographics of arrest-related deaths can be found by clicking here.]

Family of man who was killed by Chandler cops during arrest speaks out

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- The family of the man who died while being arrested by Chandler Police has spoken out.

Ralph Gamboa’s sister, Lisa Gambo, told 3TV that her brother was healthy and not using drugs during Friday’s confrontation. She also said the police have provided little answers to the family.

“I don’t think they did the right thing holding him down and doing what they did to him. He fought I understand that. They should have did something else,” said Lisa Gamboa.

Chandler Police attempted to arrest Ralph Gamboa on Friday for a felony warrant. Officers and Gamboa eventually got into a physical confrontation, which included the use of a Taser.

Gamboa became unresponsive during the altercation and was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Gamboa’s family has alleged that the police used excessive force.

“We did not use excessive force at all. In fact, this textbook per our policy,” said Chandler Police detective Seth Tyler.

All of the officers who were a part of the physical confrontation were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Did Tempe cop Aaaron Smith steal from you?

If you were pulled over by a Tempe cop you might recognize this cop's mug shot, officer Aaron Smith resigned today after being caught in a sting after police property went missing. He also took cash off an undercover detective who set him up.

From the AZ Repulsive:
A Tempe police officer has resigned after more than seven years with the department after admitting to having stolen police property and cash, according to the Tempe Police Department.

Former patrol officer Aaron Smith was taken into custody Saturday morning near Dobson Road and Southern Avenue after a month-long internal investigation, according to Tempe Police spokesman Lt. Mike Horn. He faces charges of theft, burglary and tampering with physical evidence, Horn said.

Police supervisors had begun receiving reports of missing items -- including two police bicycles, an equipment case, and money -- in early July. On July 20, about $750 reportedly disappeared from a petty-cash lock box. Smith had access to the areas where the property disappeared, and his swing-shift hours matched up with when the items went missing, Horn said.

On July 26, an undercover detective gave a purse with $142 in it to Smith, describing it as "found property." By the end of the workweek, Smith still hadn't impounded or processed the money, Horn said. Tempe detectives found the stolen bikes and purse when they served search warrants at Smith's home, vehicles and work locker Saturday.

Following the arrest, Smith admitted to stealing the property and the roughly $1,000 in cash, saying he was under extreme financial hardship, according to Horn.

He had reportedly given the bicycles to his children as gifts. Police believe Smith acted alone.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sheriff Joe Arpaio's campaign signs burned and knocked down across Phoenix

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's re-election campaign is feeling the heat, literally.
Someone torched one of his campaign signs.

“Sadly our political opponents out there that don't agree with Sheriff Joe's policies are resorting to vandalism,” said Arpaio’s campaign manager, Chad Willems.

Across the Valley 3TV found signs knocked over and ripped out of the ground.

This week Willem’s got a surprise visit from Tempe police officers.

“They brought six signs that a gentleman found behind his house that were just dumped there,” said Willems.

Someone also got creative with another sign and spray painted blue profanity all over it

“What we do know is it's not our supporters. So we don't know who is exactly out there doing it, but it's not our people,” said Willems.

Stacy Pearson is the spokesperson for Paul Penzone’s campaign.

Penzone is one of Arpaio’s political opponents.

Pearson said their camp is not behind the vandalism.

“Penzone's campaign has 400 volunteers committed to restoring integrity to the office. Destroying signs isn't a part of the game plan, we strongly discourage it,” said Pearson.

According to Pearson, Penzone's signs are disappearing too.

However, Pearson isn't surprised Arpaio's signs are being vandalized.

“I think when it comes to Arpaio it's a symptom of people being very frustrated with his administration,” said Pearson.

Willems said Arpaio’s signs aren't cheap, with each one costing $17.00.

According to Phoenix police, defacing a political sign falls under a class 3 misdemeanor and someone can be charged with a felony depending on the circumstances and the amount of the damage.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cruelty on the border: A hidden camera shows Border Patrol agents destroying water jugs left for migrants, and the abuse just gets worse

A hidden camera set up by the group No More Deaths shows Border Patrol agents destroying water left in the desert for migrants to drink. The video will be broadcast tonight on the PBS show "Need to Know." 
The bodies have been turning up for years, thousands of them, scattered across the borderlands in the American Southwest. Ever-stricter border enforcement has encouraged migrants to avoid cities like San Diego and El Paso and take their chances at remote desert crossings instead. As they trek across the vast, unfamiliar and scorching terrain, many get disoriented and run out of water, with devastating consequences. So far this year, 94 bodies have been recovered in Arizona alone.

Since 2004, a faith-based coalition called No More Deaths has been leaving gallon jugs of water near common migration routes in a desperate bid to save lives. But in May of this year, just as temperatures in the harsh Sonoran Desert climbed above 100 degrees, the group’s volunteers began to notice that their water bottles were being slashed, destroyed or emptied. With violence from ranchers and vigilantes a constant threat, No More Deaths installed hidden cameras. They were surprised at what they found: Border Patrol agents were purposely, even gleefully, destroying the life-saving jugs of water.

Visible on the tape, which will be broadcast for the first time tonight on the PBS show “Need to Know,” are three Border Patrol agents, two men and a woman, walking along a migrant trail and approaching half a dozen one-gallon jugs of water. The female agent stops in front of the containers and begins to kick them, with force, down a ravine. The bottles crash against rocks, bursting open. She’s smiling. One of the agents watching her smiles as well, seeming to take real pleasure in the spectacle. He says something under his breath, and the word “tonk” is clearly audible. “Tonk,” it turns out, is a bit of derogatory slang used by some Border Patrol agents to refer to undocumented immigrants. One agent told me it’s derived from the sound a flashlight makes when you hit someone over the head — tonk. After destroying the entire water supply, the three agents continue along the path.

(In response to specific questions about these events, Border Patrol officials replied only with a general statement emphasizing that misconduct would not be tolerated and that agents were trained to treat migrants with dignity and respect.)

The event was not an anomaly. A volunteer with No More Deaths had complained several months earlier to Lisa Reed, community liaison for the Tucson Sector Border Patrol, that water was being destroyed by agents. Reed responded then with an email saying, “I am preparing a memo from the Chief to all the agents directing them to leave water alone.” The agents on the tape apparently either never got the memo — or simply ignored it.

This attitude extends into the Border Patrol’s holding facilities.

I met Demetrio, a migrant in his early 20s from Veracruz, Mexico, after he was apprehended by the Border Patrol. At the time of his capture, he’d been lost in the Arizona desert without food or water for three days. When he arrived at the Border Patrol custody facility outside Tucson, he told agents he felt sick and was running a fever. “I asked to see a doctor … and they said no,” Demetrio said. “One of them said, ‘Put him in there and let him die.’” They shoved him into an overcrowded cell. He was vomiting blood and felt so faint he could barely stand. Yet, according to Demetrio, he was not given any food or water for at least six to seven hours.

Border Patrol protocol requires agents to provide detainees with food, drinking water and emergency medical services, to hold them under humane conditions, and to refrain from making degrading remarks, but this is rarely honored in practice, say human rights advocates. Over the past 15 years, reports documenting human rights abuses at the hands of Border Patrol agents have been published by Amnesty International, the ACLU, No More Deaths, even the United Nations. Contrary to their own protocols, Border Patrol agents have been accused of systematically denying food and water to migrants in custody, forcing them into overcrowded cells, stealing their money, confiscating medications, and denying them medical treatment. Migrants have described agents hurling verbal abuse, racial slurs and curses, and inflicting sexual assault, physical violence, even death. At least 14 migrants and border residents have died at the hands of Border Patrol agents over the past two years. These practices appear to be systemic, amounting to what No More Deaths calls “a culture of cruelty.”

The Department of Homeland Security claims that only three complaints were lodged against Border Patrol detention conditions for the entirety of 2010 (the most current data), a year when agents apprehended more than 463,000 individuals. Only 10 complaints were filed for “abuse of authority” that year and 13 for “discrimination.” A request to see a log of those complaints, as well as a record of any disciplinary actions taken by the Border Patrol, was denied; a Freedom of Information Act request filed last month has yet to elicit a response.

So I took a trip to Nogales, Mexico, to visit the Kino Border Initiative, a faith-based migrant-care facility. Sean Carroll, a Jesuit priest, heads the organization and oversees a shelter, a medical clinic and a soup kitchen that feeds up to 100 people each day. “Abuses are happening,” Carroll says. “It’s not every agent. But institutionally, there are problems. Migrants are being abused verbally, physically, sexually. And it violates their human dignity.”

In Nogales, we polled a group of about 75 migrants, almost all recent deportees, who had gathered for the 9 a.m. meal. I asked whether any of them had been denied food or water or had been forced into overcrowded cells. Were they physically or verbally abused? Had any of them been denied medical care? In each case, more than 50 people raised their hands. In a single morning, in one town along the border, there seemed to be more instances of abuse than in an entire year of complaints compiled by Homeland Security.

Doctors of the World and the International Red Cross each maintain facilities at strategic locations along the Mexican side of the border to provide medical assistance to deportees. Both organizations confirm that migrants are routinely denied medical attention while in the custody of the Border Patrol. They say migrants also have their prescription medication confiscated without any medical evaluation.

According to Norma Quijada Ibarra, a registered nurse with the Kino Border Initiative, “Every day we have someone that has been abused by the Border Patrol. I just saw a patient with a fracture detained for a few days. They didn’t give him any food, or medicine for the pain.”
In two days in Nogales, I heard firsthand accounts of young women being slapped on the rear as they were being searched. Other women said they were kicked and called whores or told they smelled worse than dogs. I listened to accounts of men being crammed into cells so overcrowded no one could sit or lie down. The only way to fit in the cell was to stand, shoulder to shoulder — for three days straight.

If the migrants complained of overcrowding, several of the men told me, the Border Patrol would add more people to the cell. If a migrant complained the cell was too cold, agents would crank up the AC; if detainees complained it was too hot, agents would turn up the heat. I heard numerous accounts of migrants having their personal belongings confiscated and never returned. Migrants told of being deported to Mexico without their cellphones or backpacks — without even their belts and shoelaces. I spoke to three men who told me they each had over $100 in cash and Mexican identification documents among their confiscated personal belongings. Their ID cards were destroyed and their money was never returned. When the men asked for their money back, the agents said, “It’s ours now.” All of these accounts, if true, would constitute serious violations of Border Patrol protocol and of international human rights standards.

Demetrio recounted one devastating incident he witnessed while he was in custody, the details of which were corroborated by another detainee. He saw a young migrant pulled from the cell where they were being held for failing to understand an order shouted at him in English. He was then forced to kneel on bottle caps with his arms extended. “They forced him to stay like that for more than three hours,” Demetrio said. If he lowered his arms from fatigue, agents shouted at him and prodded him to keep them up. Both witnesses say that agents covered surveillance cameras with cracker boxes during the incident — and uncovered them again once they returned the young man to his cell.

One former Border Patrol agent, Ephraim Cruz, also witnessed forms of abuse that he saw as tantamount to torture. Cruz describes agents, at the direction of their commanding officers, forcing detainees to remain in half-squat or “stress positions” until they could no longer stand. He says agents were trying to teach the migrants, “I’m the authority. Get in line. When I say move, you move.”

In his nine years working the border near Tucson, Ariz., and earning the rank of senior agent, Cruz says he frequently saw agents physically abusing detainees and denying food and water to those who were in obvious need. He also saw “individuals being crammed into cells twice beyond the posted capacity. Standing room only. I mean, you couldn’t even lie down on the floor.” This was done, he says, even when empty cells were available nearby. In 2003, he began warning his supervisors of this pattern of abuse. When his spoken complaints didn’t elicit a response, he began to write letters. “I started at the unit level,” Cruz says. “I went to the sector chief, office of inspector general — via phone calls and faxes of those memorandums. Went on to the commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection, who’s over the U.S. Border Patrol Agency. And then felt the need to move on to Congress.” Cruz left the force in 2007 without ever hearing a response.

We contacted Richard A. Barlow, sector chief for the Tucson Border Patrol, for a response to allegations of agent misconduct. He declined to be interviewed, instead issuing this response: “Border Patrol agents are required to treat all those they encounter with respect and dignity. This requirement is consistently addressed in training and consistently reinforced throughout an agent’s career. On a daily basis, agents make every effort to ensure that people in our custody are given food, water, and medical attention as needed. Mistreatment or agent misconduct will not be tolerated in any way. Any agent within our ranks who does not adhere to the highest standards of conduct will be identified and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.”

Customs and Border Patrol in Washington responded in even more general terms: “CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission,” an agency spokesperson said by email. “We do not tolerate abuse within our ranks, and … we are fully committed to protecting the health, safety and human rights of all individuals with whom we interact.”

The right policies are evidently in place — if they were only enforced. We traveled to a rural mountain village high in the Sierra Madre in Sonora, Mexico, to track down one of the rare deportees who tried to file a formal complaint against the Border Patrol, which she did under the name Jane Doe. Doe, 27, was caught by the Border Patrol in 2009 when she was on a passenger bus that was stopped at a checkpoint near Las Cruces, N.M. Doe could produce only false residency documents and was escorted off the bus to a holding cell. That’s where Doe says she was sexually assaulted.
As Doe recalls, she was in the cell by herself when a Border Patrol agent entered and said he would have to search her. “This is when he put his hands under my blouse,” she says, her voice trembling.

As she describes it, the agent grabbed her from behind, pushed her up against a wall, and aggressively groped her chest. “He had me — my back was facing him, and he…”  She begins to weep. “So he was hugging me, and he had his hands under my blouse.” As he grabbed her violently from head to toe, he whispered words in English she couldn’t understand except one word, “Baby,” which he said over and over. She thought she was about to get raped. Photos taken shortly after the attack show long, deep scratches and red abrasions across her chest.

After the incident, Doe was deported to Juarez. But the sexual assault haunted her. She fell into a deep depression and sought counseling. Her therapist urged her to file a complaint against the agent, to help her recovery, and she eventually returned to a Border Patrol facility in El Paso, Texas, to look at a photo lineup and file the necessary paperwork. According to Tania Chozet, her ACLU attorney at the time, Doe was taken into a private room by two female Border Patrol agents wearing reflective sunglasses who harshly interrogated about the reason for her visit. They asked her the same questions again and again, warned her not to lie, patted her down, and searched her clothing and shoes. “When Ms. Doe finally emerged,” Chozet says, “tears were streaming down her face.”

By then, Jane Doe was too upset to proceed. She briefly looked at the photo lineup but couldn’t even focus on the faces. She failed to recognize her assailant and decided not to proceed with charges. “I can’t think of any other reason why they would have been so menacing, if they weren’t trying to intimidate her,” Chozet says. “My guess is that they were hoping that she would feel threatened enough to drop her complaint.”

Edward Rheinheimer is an Arizona Republican, an elected attorney in one of the most conservative counties in the United States. When, in 2007, he asked the federal government for help prosecuting an agent for killing a migrant, he learned just how difficult it can be to achieve accountability when it comes to Border Patrol abuse. Rheinheimer strongly suspected that the agent in question was lying to investigators, as his testimony openly contradicted the forensic evidence. “I called the U.S. attorney in Tucson and asked for assistance in helping us prosecute the case,” says Rheinheimer.

The U.S. attorney got back to him about a week later, Rheinheimer recalls: “These were his exact words: ‘Are you out of your mind?’” Months earlier, the Department of Justice had successfully prosecuted two Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, for shooting a marijuana smuggler in the back. But the political backlash was significant, souring relations between the Department of Justice and the Border Patrol. “At no time did anyone from the U.S. attorney’s office ever indicate to me that the reason they didn’t get involved was because they didn’t think this was an appropriate prosecution,” Rheinheimer says. DOJ, he was told, simply could not afford to prosecute another Border Patrol killing.

But the DOJ did order a U.S. attorney to prosecute another Border Patrol agent in 2005 — Ephraim Cruz.

“I found myself on the receiving end of felony charges being brought against me,” says Cruz, the Border Patrol whistle-blower, “accused of smuggling an illegal into the country.”

Just months after he filed the complaints regarding detainee abuse by fellow agents, Cruz gave the girlfriend of a fellow agent a ride across the border. “I was driving my vehicle. I had another agent in the car with me,” he recalls. “We saw her, we recognized her, offered her a ride. Came through the port of entry. Legally inspected, legally admitted.” When it was later discovered that the woman was an undocumented immigrant, Cruz was suspended without pay and prosecuted. He was ultimately exonerated, and during the course of his trial agents testified under oath that he had been targeted for retribution.

Cruz went two years without pay. He was labeled a traitor, asked repeatedly, “What side are you on?” and told he would never get his job back. He finally resigned in 2007, never having been questioned by Border Patrol authorities about the abuses he reported.

Just last week, news broke that a federal grand jury had been convened in the case of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, who was killed by Border Patrol agents in 2010. The agents involved in that killing, too, enjoyed impunity until surreptitious video of the event was broadcast on PBS’s “Need to Know” in April, showing that Hernandez had been beaten and shot with a stun gun while handcuffed and prone on the ground. The Border Patrol is the largest police force in the United States. But it lacks oversight, transparency and accountability.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Testimony of fear, anger at racial-profiling trial

Two citizens who believe Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies pulled them over because they are Hispanic gave the most emotional testimony so far in the 2-day-old trial involving allegations that Sheriff Joe Arpaio's agency engages in racial profiling.

Daniel Magos, 67, and Velia Meraz were stopped more than 18 months apart by sheriff's deputies, and neither have been pulled over since then. But both believe they remain targets of the Sheriff's Office because of their race

Attorneys for the Sheriff's Office have asked the same question of all the alleged profiling victims as they end their testimony: Have sheriff's deputies pulled you over since the traffic stop that led to the profiling allegation? The answer is universally "no," but Meraz, who was a passenger in an SUV that was pulled over in March 2008, said her fear remains.

blog Dana: 2008 video contradicts Arpaio testimony

"Sheriff Joe Arpaio keeps saying it on national TV that he's going to continue what he's doing and that means these sweeps, these stops," Meraz told the court. "I believe it could happen again."
The case alleges that the Sheriff's immigration-enforcement priorities have resulted in discrimination against Latinos residents. Over the past six years, Arpaio has made immigration enforcement his trademark, but those efforts have been also met by accusations -- by citizens, activists and the U.S. Justice Department -- that his agency has engaged in racial profiling and discrimination.

Deputy Michael Kikes, the sheriff's deputy who pulled over the SUV Meraz was riding in with her brother, Manuel Nieto, took the witness stand earlier Wednesday. Attorneys for the plaintiffs pointed out contradictions between deposition testimony that Kikes gave earlier and his statements in court on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow picked up on several of those apparent contradictions, questioning Kikes about his involvement with the Sheriff's saturation patrols and the instructions he might have been given before the operations began.

Kikes initially told the court that he recalled an instruction sheet for the March 2008 operation in the north Valley that included a specific warning against racial profiling.

"In bold letters, I remember," said Kikes, who was serving as a motorcycle officer during the operation.

Snow later had Kikes look at the instruction sheet, on which the deputy could find no such admonition. Kikes also claimed he was in a briefing before the operation began, but his name was not reflected on an attendance sheet that other deputies signed.

The contradictions in Kikes' testimony became more significant as Meraz and Nieto gave accounts of their stop and detention. Their recollections directly conflicted with Kikes' statements. Kikes claimed he never used force with Nieto after stopping the siblings' SUV at the request of another deputy. Kikes also said he never drew his weapon during the stop, but Meraz and Nieto testified that some deputies had their guns drawn.

Nieto and Meraz were stopped after they encountered a sheriff's deputy who had two men detained at a gas station in the north Valley during one of Arpaio's saturation patrols. The siblings claim they were about to enter the gas station when a sheriff's deputy ordered them to leave and threatened them with arrest for disorderly conduct. On their way out of the gas station, Meraz admitted to telling the detained men not to sign anything they did not understand.

Nieto admitted he initially refused to pull over when Kikes pulled behind his SUV, but said he was afraid of the sheriff's deputy and was on the phone with 911 operators expressing his concerns.
Nieto and Meraz were eventually released without receiving a citation.

Tim Casey, an attorney for the Sheriff's Office, asked Nieto if he had ever been pulled over again by Arpaio's deputies after that March 2008 stop.

"I have not," Nieto said. "But I do have fear."

Similar testimony emerged from a maintenance worker who was pulled over in south Phoenix in December 2009. He had been stopped because his work trailer obscured the license plate, according to the deputy who stopped Magos and his wife in a Ford pickup loaded up with landscaping equipment.

Magos, who has been a U.S. citizen for more than 45 years, was not cited for any violations. He believes the sheriff's deputy pulled his truck over for an entirely different reason.

"It made me feel angry ... worthless ... defenseless," Magos said, holding back tears on the witness stand as he described the stop. "After (the deputy's) apology (for the stop) he told me that stop had nothing to do with racial profiling. I told him that was exactly what it was."

Magos said he tried to report the incident to the Sheriff's Office, but never received a return call after family members left several messages. He said the complaint he filed with the American Civil Liberties Union was the first time anyone responded to his concerns. Magos said he has since spoken with investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice, which earlier this year filed a separate civil-rights lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office.

With no jury in the case, Snow will decide whether the Sheriff's Office participated in widespread discrimination against Latino residents, as the plaintiffs claim.

The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages. Instead, the plaintiffs want the kind of injunctive relief that the Sheriff's Office has resisted in the past -- a declaration that spells out what deputies may or may not do when stopping potential suspects, and a court-appointed monitor to make sure the agency lives by those rules.

The trial is scheduled to end on Aug. 2.

Bumbling Sheriff's Office volunteers mistake children's toy for bomb.

Suspicious device was a toy  
Suspicious device was a toy
FOUNTAIN HILLS, AZ (CBS5) - A suspicious device found late Wednesday afternoon at Sheriff Joe Arpaio's posse office in Fountain Hills turned out to be a toy, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said.

MCSO initially said the object looked like a possible explosive device made of nails and batteries.

A children's playhouse is located next door and investigators determined it was a toy made by some of the kids, sheriff's deputies said.

The investigation at 16833 Saguaro Blvd. prompted the closure of the nearby intersection.

Some Phoenix police officers upset with new chief's decision about uniforms


PHOENIX -- Change is coming to the Phoenix Police Department, and some officers aren’t embracing it.

The change has to do with one of their uniforms.

The new Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia is axing the polo shirts and cargo pants.
Starting this fall the utilitarian uniform is no longer allowed on the job.

“Emotions ran the gamut, from anger to disappointment to people saying why is this being done,” said Ken Crane, V.P. of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association or PLEA.

Crane disagrees with the chief's decision.

The top brass wants to cut down on officer impersonation.

Something the chief said has been a problem in the past.

“We kind of see that as frankly a bit as a straw-man argument. All of officers took a little offense to that,” said Crane.

Crane said all of the uniforms can be impersonated, even the traditional uniform preferred by the chief.

The chief wouldn't go on camera with 3TV, but a department spokesman did.

Sergeant Trent Crump said the department made it too easy for people to impersonate the uniform with the black cargo pants and black t-shirt.

Crump said the traditional uniform unites the department and the polyester blend look is easier for community members to identify.

“As you know Arizona is known for its hot summers and when you're out there pounding a beat for 10 hours in 110-115 heat, personal comfort becomes a big deal,” argued Crane.

Crump said Phoenix police officers have worn the traditional uniform for decades and most of the officers at the South precinct chose to wear the uniform daily.

“I can't say that's an argument that's going to change his (the chief’s) decision on this,” said Crump.
The utilitarian uniform has been around for 15 years.

Crane said the cargo pants and the polo top offer comfort on the job.

“We have guys that part of their job is to chase bad guys down alleys, jump fences, sometimes get in fights with suspects, that's probably a better uniform to do that in,” said Crane.

According to Crump, uniformity is meant to boost morale.

“They're saying the morale is already been kind of low and this puts it even lower,” argued Crane.

The new uniform policy goes into affect beginning this October.

Union leaders hope the chief will change his decision and sit down with them to discuss different options.

Peoria officer suspended for using slur disciplined 10 years ago

The Peoria police officer who was suspended for two weeks without pay for using a racial slur, had not been seriously disciplined during the past seven years, city records show.

But Sgt. Patrick Kief was disciplined twice a decade ago for verbal abuse.

Kief began his two-week suspension on July 7 after an internal investigation concluded he used a "racially derogatory term" to describe his frustration over the shoddy construction of a podium. The term is considered to be offensive to African-Americans.

Kief, who has been a police officer for 19 years, told a supervisor that he did not mean to harm anyone and had used the racial term growing up, according to the personnel files released Monday.
Kief was demoted from sergeant to officer. He had been promoted to sergeant in 2008.

Peoria City Manager Carl Swenson said in a statement that Kief's actions will not be tolerated.

Police Chief Roy Minter said Kief's conduct was against city policy, which states; "All employees shall conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner and exhibit only that conduct which would exemplify the Peoria Police Department to both the community and other law enforcement organizations."

In 2002, Kief was suspended for a combined 10 hours for two separate incidents of verbal abuse. Once incident was acting out against fellow employee and the other was disrespecting individuals involved in a sexual assault case, the records show. He was reprimanded in 2001 for running over a stop sign.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Peoria police officer suspended, demoted after using racial slur

A Peoria police officer was suspended and demoted on Monday after using a racial slur during a shift briefing in April, officials from the Peoria Police Department said.

A supervisor reported that Sgt. Patrick Kief used a "derogatory racial term" to describe his frustration with a podium he was using during the meeting, Chief Roy Minter said in a statement. Kief had been assigned as a patrol sergeant and remained on restricted duty during the investigation, Minter said.

Minter said the investigation resulted in an 80-hour unpaid suspension and a demotion from sergeant to officer for Kief. Peoria City Manager Carl Swenson agreed with Minter's handling of the situation and condemned Kief's actions.

"The statement of Officer Patrick Kief was reprehensible and is something that will not be tolerated from any one of our city employees," Swenson said.

Minter said he disciplined Kief is in accordance with the department's Code of Conduct which states, "All employees shall conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner and exhibit only that conduct which would exemplify the Peoria Police Department to both the community and other law enforcement organizations."