| NEWS of the Day - September 1, 2012
|on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
From Google News
Feds close criminal investigation on Ariz. sheriff
by BOB CHRISTIE
PHOENIX (AP) — The federal abuse-of-power investigation into America's self-proclaimed toughest sheriff — Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio — has been closed, with prosecutors saying no charges will be filed.
Authorities were investigating Arpaio for his part in failed public corruption cases against officials who were odds with him. The sheriff brought cases against a judge and two county officials in 2009.
Federal authorities also said Friday that they have decided to not prosecute matters tied to alleged misuse of county credit cards by sheriff's officials, alleged misspending of jail-enhancement funds and other matters.
"They did their investigation, they didn't find enough probable cause and they didn't bring an indictment," Arpaio said at a hastily called news conference after returning from the Republican National Convention in Florida. "We don't go around framing anybody. My people are not crooks."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel released a statement saying her office "is closing its investigation into allegations of criminal conduct" by current and former members of the sheriff's and county attorney's offices.
Scheel, who is based in Arizona, said she was acting on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice. In a four-page letter to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery explaining the decision, Scheel wrote that "our limited role is to determine whether criminal charges are supportable. After careful review, we do not believe the allegations presented to us are prosecutable as crimes."
"I've been in law enforcement for 50 years. Nothing surprises me. But I know my people did the right thing," said the 80-year-old Arpaio, who is running for a sixth term as sheriff in Arizona's most populous county. "I'm just happy for my organization, for my deputies. Not for me."
The federal probe focused specifically on the sheriff's anti-public-corruption squad. In a separate probe, the U.S. Justice Department has accused Arpaio's office of a wide range of civil rights violations, and in another case, a federal judge has yet to rule in a civil case brought by a group of Latino plaintiffs that claimed Arpaio and his deputies engaged in racial profiling.
The timing of the federal authorities' announcement — at 5 p.m. on a Friday before a holiday weekend — was questioned by some Arpaio critics.
"It is a miscarriage of justice that the federal government is dropping its case against Sheriff Arpaio and to make such an announcement on the Friday night before the Democratic National Convention can only be politically motivated to shield the administration from criticism," Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said in a statement.
Arpaio and his top ally, former County Attorney Andrew Thomas, were embroiled in a three-year feud with county officials and judges and defended their investigations as necessary to root out corruption.
The officials who were targets of the investigations contend the probes were trumped up as retaliation for political and legal disagreements with the sheriff and prosecutor.
Criminal cases against former Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe and county supervisors Mary Rose Wilcox and Don Stapley were dismissed after a judge ruled that Thomas prosecuted one of the three officials for political gain and had a conflict of interest in pressing the case.
Authorities say the charges against Donahoe were filed in a bid to prevent the judge from holding a hearing regarding Arpaio and Thomas' claim that judges and county officials conspired to hinder a probe into the construction of a court building.
Donahoe had disqualified Thomas from handling the court building investigation and was poised to hold another hearing over a request to appoint special prosecutors to handle the probe. The hearing was called off after the charges were filed against the judge.
The judge also had been critical of the ability of Arpaio's office to bring inmates to court on time for hearings.
Thomas was disbarred in early April by an ethics panel of the Arizona courts that found he brought unsuccessful criminal cases against the judge and two county officials for the purpose of embarrassing them.
In the separate probe, which is still ongoing, the Justice Department says Arpaio's office racially profiles Latinos, retaliates against critics of its immigration patrols and bases its immigration patrols on racially charged citizen complaints that did not allege crimes. The sheriff denies the allegations.
And in the civil case, the Latino plaintiffs aren't seeking monetary damages. Instead, they want a declaration that Arpaio's office uses racial profiling and an order requiring policy changes. If Arpaio loses the case, he won't face jail time or fines.
Alesia Thomas's death during July arrest triggers Los Angeles police excessive-force investigation
This follows another complaint, when 2 LAPD officers were caught on tape slamming a woman to the ground.
by Nancy Dillon
Los Angeles police are embroiled in another excessive force investigation after a mother of two died during a chaotic July arrest in which an officer kicked the woman in the groin while she was handcuffed, officials said.
The news follows a separate incident of alleged police misconduct in which a surveillance camera caught two LAPD officers body-slamming a handcuffed nurse to the ground and then exchanging a fist bump during an arrest last week.
“I take all in-custody death investigations very seriously and directed that the officers involved be removed from field duties until further details are known, including what part intoxicants and physical conditions contributed,” Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement regarding the July death.
“I'm confident we will get to the truth, no matter where that leads us,” he said.
Beck previously said he had “serious concerns” about the body-slamming incident and relieved both officers involved from field duties.
At least five officers are under investigation in the July 22 death of Alesia Thomas, a mother arrested for child endangerment after she abandoned her two children – ages 12 and 3 – at a police station, police said.
Thomas, 35, reportedly surrendered the kids around 2 a.m. because she had a substance abuse problem and felt she could not care for them.
“The officer said, ‘Hey, what are you kids doing here?' They said, ‘Well our mom doesn't want us anymore. She dropped us off at the police station,'” Cmdr. Andrew Smith told KTTV.
Smith said the children complained that they hadn't eaten for a couple days.
Police tracked Thomas down at her residence in south Los Angeles and attempted to arrest her for child endangerment, according to an official LAPD account.
She "began actively resisting arrest," cops said, so an officer performed a leg sweep and took Thomas to the ground to gain control.
Two others handcuffed Thomas behind her back and attempted to lead her to a patrol car while a supervising sergeant observed, police said.
Thomas reportedly continued to struggle with the officers and another unit was requested for assistance.
The officers placed a “hobble restraint device” – an adjustable strap – on her ankles and then placed her in a seated position in the back seat of the car, police said.
According to a police statement, officers noticed Thomas did not appear to be breathing within minutes of her placement in the car and immediately called paramedics.
The official account mentions questionable treatment but does not offer specifics.
According to the Times, a female officer threatened to kick Thomas in the genitals and then followed through on the threat during the struggle to get her in the car.
Once Thomas was in the vehicle, a video camera captured her breathing shallowly and looking distressed, the Times reported.
Thomas died shortly after being transported to a hospital.
A neighbor who witnessed some of the scuffle told The Times he did not see officers use excessive force.
"They were talking to her, asking her to calm down, that everything will be all right," he recalled. They brought Thomas some water to drink,” neighbor Gerald McCrary Sr., 55, said.
He said Thomas broke free from plastic handcuffs at one point and complained that her heart hurt and she couldn't walk.
LAPD brass are conducting two more probes of alleged police brutality – one involving former Fox TV chairman Brian Mulligan,
Mulligan has filed a $50 million claim against the city claiming he was beaten senseless by cops in a case of mistaken identity last May.
“His nose was fractured in 15 separate spots. They did emergency surgery that night because they worried some of those fractures might float into his brain,” Mulligan's lawyer J. Michael Flanagan told the Daily News.
Mulligan claims he was detained by police who mistook him for a burglary suspect and taken to a “flea bag” motel where he was told to wait alone with thousands of dollars in cash that cops found in his car.
Flanagan said the Hollywood honcho worried he was being used as bait and suffered the beating when he tried to flee.
Police tell a different story, saying Mulligan matched the description of a man trying to open car doors in a fast food restaurant parking lot.
A police source said officers took Mulligan to the motel as a courtesy because he said he hadn't slept in days. Cops say Mulligan later assumed a “fighting stance” and charged at an officer during a follow-up call hours later.
A fourth investigation involves a 20-year-old skateboarder who was tackled, punched in the head and cuffed by multiple officers for riding his skateboard in the street and allegedly ignoring officer commands near Venice Beach.
A bystander caught the end of the incident on video.