Tag Archives: lawsuit

$3.5 Million Settlement for Handcuffed Woman That Fell Out of Moving Police Car to Escape Sex Assault by LAPD Cops

California taxpayers will be forced to pay a woman that was seriously injured after falling out of an LAPD squad car in 2013 $3.5 million. (Video embedded below.) Kim Nguyen, who was being arrested on charges of being drunk in public, was handcuffed at the time she fell out of the car. She also was not seat-belted in and the door which she fell out of was not locked properly.

More importantly, she maintains that the reason she fell out of the car was that she was attempting to get away from one of the two Los Angeles Police Department officers that was in the back seat with her and had been trying to sexually assault her. The fact that she CCTV video from a nearby business shows that her skirt was raised above her waist at the time she was ejected from the vehicle, as well as the fact that the two officers who arrested her chose not two arrest two male companions that were also drunk at the time bolsters her version of events.

Via MyNewsLA.com:

Officers David Shin and Jin Oh arrested Nguyen for public intoxication after they saw her run across the street about 3 a.m. on March 17, 2013. At the time, Nguyen was a graduate student in her last semester at Loyola Marymount University’s MBA program.

Nguyen was handcuffed and put in the back seat of a squad car off Sixth Street between Oxford and Serrano avenues, according to her court papers, which state that she “was not seatbelted into the car and the manual door lock was not engaged.”

The officers chose not to arrest a male companion who also was drunk, according to Nguyen’s lawyers, who also alleged that one of the officers got into the back seat with their client and inappropriately touched her.

Nguyen huddled against one of the patrol car doors to protect herself and minutes later fell out of the vehicle as it was being driven east on Olympic Boulevard at about 30 mph, according to her lawyers’ court papers, which say she fell face-first onto the pavement, causing injuries to her brain, face, head and teeth.

A building security camera captured the aftermath after Nguyen was ejected, according to her attorneys’ court papers, which say that one of the officers was “nonchalantly standing over plaintiff who lies bloodied, with her face swollen, in the middle of the street.”

Nguyen was hospitalized for 17 days and underwent “extensive and painful surgeries,” her court papers state.

This also does not represent the only recent allegations of rape against officers from the LAPD.

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Philadelphia Taxpayers Forced to Pay $4.4 Million to Innocent Delivery Man Undercover Cops Ambushed

Last week, the Philadelphia Police Department agreed to the largest settlement in the history of the city to pay off an innocent man that two undercover cops shot at fourteen times. In April of 2014, Philippe Holland was delivering food when Officers Mitchell Farrell and Kevin Hanvey ran at him without ever identifying themselves as police officers.

Holland, having no reason to know they were cops and seeing that one of them was holding a gun, believed he was being robbed and tried to escape in his car. In spite of it specifically being against policy to do so, Farrell and Hanvey used the excuse that they “feared for their lives” from the car being used as a weapon to open fire on Holland. As a result, Holland, who was twenty years old at the time, now suffers from a permanent seizure disorder and still has bullet fragments lodged in his brain.

In spite of witness statements that contradict the two officers’ story, the district attorney (not at all surprisingly) declined to press any charges against them. Instead, they’ve been given a paid vacation for the past two years, while the slap on the wrist they will eventually receive from the department remains “pending.”

Via Philly.com:

It is the largest settlement in a police shooting case in the city’s history, according to Philadelphia Law Department records.

Then-Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said shortly after the shooting that Officers Mitchell Farrell and Kevin Hanvey had fired at the wrong man.

On Friday, the mayor’s office called the shooting “an unfortunate, regrettable series of events.”

“We will strive to ensure that tragedies such as this do not happen again in our city,” City Solicitor Sozi Pedro Tulante said in the statement.

Philippe Holland was delivering a cheeseburger to a house on the 5100 block of Willows Avenue in West Philadelphia on April 22, 2014, as police responded to reports of gunshots nearby.

In a deposition, he said he saw Farrell and Hanvey approaching him and thought he was about to get robbed. He slipped into his car through the passenger door, he said – and that’s when one officer shined a light into the car and Holland saw a gun in the other’s hand.

He told police that Farrell and Hanvey never identified themselves as police officers. He said that he panicked and tried to pull out of his parking spot – and that the two men opened fire on him, hitting him in the head and body.

At the time, it was against police regulations for officers to fire at a moving vehicle unless someone inside the car was threatening them or someone else with some form of deadly force other than the vehicle itself.

Hanvey and Farrell told investigators they approached Holland because they saw him walking past a Chinese restaurant on 51st Street and asked a witness on the street where the gunshots she’d heard had come from. They said the woman had pointed toward Holland and said the shots came from where he was walking.

But the woman later told police investigators she had only pointed toward the Chinese restaurant, and didn’t mention a man at all.

Hanvey and Farrell insisted that they told Holland they were police and that he drove his car toward them, making them fear for their lives.

Holland, a student at Delaware County Community College, was left with a permanent seizure disorder and has bullet fragments in his brain, according to his attorney, Tom Kline, who announced the settlement Friday.

The District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges in the case. According to police documents Kline provided to the Inquirer and the Daily News, the department’s Use of Force Review Board concluded that Farrell and Hanvey had violated department policy, though the board did not specify a punishment for that violation.

A police spokesman said that the two have been on administrative duty since the shooting, and that “discipline is still pending.”

The department could not say whether the officers will return to the street.

At least the taxpayers of Philadelphia get to pay for this “unfortunate, regrettable series of events,” while the two officers actually responsible for it have had plenty of time to sit home getting paid to think about what they did. That certainly should ensure that “tragedies such as this do not happen again” in their city.

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Update: Federal Lawsuit Filed Against NYPD for Unnecessary Shooting of Brooklyn Dog “Macho”

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Matt Albert, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

The post consists of a press release discussing a federal lawsuit that Mather Albert, the lawyer for Brooklyn resident Raven Garcia whose dog, “Macho,” was shot by the NYPD last year, has filed against the department. After officers let Macho out of Garcia’s house and without him posing any legitimate threat, Officer Abiola Errico shot him. That shooting was captured on video (included above) and shows that not only was Macho not a threat, but that the Errico endangered other people who were standing or walking in the area at the time.

The lawsuit also states that Garcia was subsequently held within a police car while NYPD officers illegally searched her residence. Garcia maintains in the lawsuit that this ransacking of her apartment was really an effort find something in order to justify the shooting of her dog. However, nothing illegal was found in her apartment.

A previous post on this incident by Ademo was published here at the CopBlock Network last year, shortly after it happened.

Date of Incident: February 5, 2015
Officer Involved: Officer Abiola Errico
Department Involved: NYPD; 83rd Precinct
Department Address: 480 Knickerbocker Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Department Phone No.: (718) 574-1605
Community Affairs No.: (718) 574-1697
Twitter Account: @NYPD83Pct
Facebook Page: 83rd Precint NYPD

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, December 21, 2016
CONTACT:  Matt Albert, The Law Offices of Matthew Albert Esq.
                        (716) 445-4119 | [email protected]

FACEBOOK PAGE:  Justice-4-Macho

Federal Claim Served Upon The NYPD For Shooting German Shepherd “Macho” in 2015

BUFFALO, NY – A Brooklyn dog owner has filed a Federal lawsuit relating back to an incident occurring on February 5, 2015 when her then 8 year-old German Shepherd, aka Macho, was shot by New York Police Department Officer Abiola Errico. Police were responding to a call on Bushwick Avenue about an allegedly unpaid taxi fare when they went to the home of resident Raven Garcia. The complaint, as supported by affidavits sworn to by neighbors who witnessed the incident, alleges that the police let the animal out as they entered Garcia’s apartment, and then Abiola shot the canine as he was calmly walking down the street.

The Officers refused to render aid to the injured animal, prompting a bystander and witness to call for help themselves. Garcia’s attorney, Buffalo based animal and civil rights attorney Matthew Albert, alleges that Garcia was then arrested and her home swarmed and searched by officers, in an effort to find drugs and somehow justify the shooting of Macho.

No contraband was found in Garcia’s home, and the criminal charges have since been dismissed against Garcia, paving the way for this Federal lawsuit to be commenced.

Aside from the lawsuit related to the shooting of Garcia’s companion animal, who has since recovered, Garcia also alleges that the NYPD continued to mistreat her by taking her into custody, dehydrating her, ridiculing her, and handcuffing her to a bench for a long period of time in frigid conditions while she only wore shorts and a tank top.

“This is a perfect example of the type of incident that has eroded the public’s faith in law enforcement,” said Albert. “The most benign of phone calls resulted in a dog being shot, and an entire platoon trying to cover up the brutal crime of a fellow Officer and then torturing an New York University graduate student and artist. The NYPD, and too many law enforcement officials in general, have a unique ability to escalate events so that everything ends in bloodshed. It’s disgraceful.”

– Matt Albert

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Fresno CA Taxpayers Forced to Pay $2.2 Million Settlement to Family of Man Executed by Police

The family of a man who was shot as he climbed a fence then executed by a Fresno police officer  has received a settlement of $2.2 million. In June of 2012, Jaime Reyes Jr. was shot by Officer Juan Avila while attempting to escape arrest by climbing over a fence near a school. After falling from that fence, Reyes was then shot in the back an additional three times by Avila as he lay wounded and defenseless on the ground.

The fact that the fence Reyes was climbing was at an elementary school and that police later found a gun in his pocket were used as justifications for the murder. However, information released as a result of the law suit indicated that the gun was not only unloaded, but also was inside a plastic bag. Therefore, in spite of police claims that Reyes represented an “imminent threat,” there’s no way he threatened them with it or even could have done so at the time he was shot. One of the officers at the scene also stated in a deposition that there was a pause between the time Avila shot Reyes the first time and the subsequent three shots.

Supposedly, along with the settlement that taxpayers will be forced to finance, the Fresno Police Department will be explaining to the cops working there what the word imminent actually means and making other “minor changes” within their use of force policies. That includes teaching cops to assess whether someone needs to be shot in the back while they are already lying on the ground unable to move.

In addition, homicide detectives and Internal Affairs officers will be strongly encouraged not to ignore witnesses who provide information that doesn’t fit the predetermined narrative. For instance, in this case a woman who witnessed Officer Avila murder Reyes stated that she “saw an execution,” but officers with internal affairs were reported (by me) to have responded by putting their fingers in their ears and yelling, “I can’t hear you” until she gave up and left the area.

Via the Fresno Bee:

With the settlement comes major changes for the Fresno Police Department, said Oakland attorneys Michael Haddad and Julia Sherwin, who represented the parents of Jaime Reyes Jr., 28, who was shot while climbing a fence at Aynesworth Elementary School in southeast Fresno in the afternoon of June 6, 2012.

Haddad said Tuesday that if the lawsuit had gone to trial, the evidence would have shown that Officer Juan Avila shot Reyes near the top of the fence. Once Reyes toppled to the ground, Avila shot him three more times in the back as he lay wounded, face down on the ground, Haddad said…

Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer acknowledged that the city has agreed to review policies and recommend any appropriate minor changes. The city, Dyer said, “has always felt that this tragic shooting was legally justified and settlement should not be viewed as an indication that this view has changed.”

According to Dyer, Reyes was a gang member under the influence of methamphetamine who fled from officers while carrying a stolen handgun into a schoolyard occupied by children. “However, circumstances unrelated to the actual incident have dictated that it would be economically sound for the city to settle this matter before incurring the costs of trial,” he said.

Documents provided by the Fresno Police Department say the fatal shooting of Reyes was justified. Avila no longer works as a Fresno police officer.

Haddad disagreed with Dyer’s assessment of facts. He said Reyes never pointed a gun at the officers nor threatened them. After he was fatally shot, officers found a gun in Reyes’ shorts pocket, but the firearm was unloaded and wrapped in a plastic bag.

City officials agreed to the settlement on Nov. 18 in U.S. District Court in Fresno. As part of the settlement, Haddad said the Fresno Police Department has agreed to change its use-of-force policy. Before, officers could shoot a suspect if he posed an imminent threat. “Fresno police have a unique interpretation of what ‘imminent threat’ means,” Haddad said. To police, it means a pending threat or a threat in the near future, Haddad said.

The settlement mandates that Fresno police are only allowed to shoot a suspect if the suspect poses an “immediate threat,” or a threat at this very moment, Haddad said.

Sergeants and patrol officers also will be trained to “assess every shot,” Haddad said. This way, an officer doesn’t fire extra bullets when the situation doesn’t warrant it, Haddad said, noting that Reyes was incapacitated with the first shot, therefore he didn’t need to be shot three more times in the back.

In addition, the settlement requires additional training for homicide detectives and the police Internal Affairs officers. The training will require them to consider statements by witnesses that contradict statements by officers at the scene. In the Reyes shooting, a female witness said she “saw an execution,” Haddad said. But homicide detectives and Internal Affairs officers disregarded her statement, Haddad said.

“We’re hopeful that these policy changes could prevent some future shootings by police,” he said.

Minor policy changes that reiterate what cops and the cops that “investigate” them should already be doing is likely to do that.

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Paradise California Cop Sentenced to Just 180 Days for Murdering Driver Will Only Serve Half That

A California cop who has already gotten a huge Policeman’s Discount by only being charged with manslaughter for what was clearly a murder (see the dash camera video embedded below) will be released after serving just half of the already ridiculous 180 day sentence he received. That means that Paradise Police Officer Patrick Feaster will serve just 90 days once “good behavior” is factored into his case.

Via KRCRtv.com, the local ABC affiliate:

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea confirmed Monday that Feaster is entitled to earn “half-time” credit, meaning Feaster could be released from custody after serving 90 days of his 180-day jail term.

Should the former officer break jail rules or incur some sort of discipline, some of that time could be taken away as part of a disciplinary process, Honea said.

“We’re going to do everything in accordance with the law,” the sheriff said.

Feaster was sentenced Friday in Butte County Superior Court in Oroville to 180 days in jail and three years of probation following his felony conviction of involuntary manslaughter in October.

A jury found Feaster guilty of involuntary manslaughter stemming from the shooting of 26-year-old Andrew Thomas in the early morning hours of Nov. 26, 2015, in Paradise. Feaster shot Thomas in the neck as approached an overturned vehicle that Thomas had been trying to climb out of.

As has been written about several times here on the CopBlock Network by Ademo, in November Feaster was caught on video shooting a DUI suspect in the neck after he was involved in a rollover accident. Initially, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced that he would not be filing any charges against Feaster, based on the obviously false claim that it was an accidental discharge. However, Officer Feaster was eventually fired and then charged with involuntary manslaughter once the man he shot, Andrew Thomas, died.

Prior to the trial, it was also revealed that Feaster had failed to even tell the other officers on the scene that he shot Thomas. Audio that was released after the original video includes them telling Thomas he hadn’t been shot, then asking him if he had been shot at the bar he was spotted leaving prior to the accident after he told them that it was Feaster who had shot him. At least eleven minutes passed before Officer Feaster finally decided to tell the other cops that he had shot Thomas (see the video with audio added embedded below).

Meanwhile, once the DA finally and reluctantly charged Feaster with manslaughter, the favorable treatment continued without interruption. Feaster was released on his own recognizance without any bail requirement. That continued even after he and his brother were arrested on a drunk and disorderly charge while he was awaiting trial and still on bail.

During the trial in which Feaster was only facing a maximum sentence of five years anyway, most of the focus was on how much the man who had cold-bloodedly committed murder had suffered as a result. During the sentencing trial after his conviction, the defense attorneys and Feaster’s family spoke about how his life had been ruined and he had lost his career as a police officer. They maintained that that was punishment enough, in spite of the fact that Officer Feaster had literally taken someone’s life and the only “justification” offered for that action was “the way Thomas tried to get out of the car” somehow being a threat to him, even though it clearly wasn’t based on the video.

Of course, it shouldn’t be shocking that a district attorney who had to be forced kicking and screaming to file any charges (and filed the least serious ones they could get away with) had no problem helping the Good Cops at the Paradise Police Department protect one of their Few Bad Apples.

Video of Shooting:

Full Video with Body Camera Audio Added:

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“Beatrice 6,” Seek to Garnish Wages, Seize Property of Officers Involved in False Murder Convictions

In November, one of six people falsely imprisoned for murder filed motions to have the wages garnished and liens placed on the property of the deputies involved in the investigation. James Dean, along with five others dubbed the “Beatrice 6” had spent as long as 20 years in prison when they were convicted of the rape and murder of Lincoln resident Helen Wilson. After DNA testing revealed that someone else had committed the crime they were released and subsequently were awarded a total judgement of $28.1 million in a federal lawsuit.

James Dean, one of the six people wrongfully convicted in the 1985 rape and murder of 68-year old Helen Wilson in her downtown Beatrice apartment, last week asked the court to garnish wages of former Deputy Burdette Searcey and Reserve Deputy Wayne Price.

Dean also asked the U.S. Marshal’s Service to seize property belonging to Searcey, who launched the 1989 cold-case investigation into Wilson’s death, and Price, a psychologist who treated some of the six and also acted as one of their jailers.

deputy-searcy-beatrice-6The amount of the award was partly based on the “reckless nature” of the investigation, as well as the amount of time the six had spent in prison. In addition to ruling against Gage County, the jurors found Deputy Burt Searcey and reserve deputy Dr. Wayne Price personally responsible for the manufacturing of evidence used to convict them. Deputy Searcy led the investigation, which started out as an unsolved cold case.  Dr. Price, a psychologist, had acted as a mental health counselor for several of the falsely convicted prior to acting as an adviser to the Gage County Sheriff’s Office and sitting in on interrogations. That dual role was ruled to be a conflict of interest that should have prompted him to recuse himself from any involvement in the case.

That ruling of personal responsibility by the two officers means, unlike in most lawsuits involving police officers, that they are required to pay from their own personal finances their portion of the judgement. Officials from Gage County have appealed the ruling, stating that they do not have the resources to pay such a high amount. They previously had attempted to secure a loan from the state government, which was denied by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson. Raising property taxes and declaring bankruptcy are other options the county has looked into in order to pay the judgement, which is triple the county’s yearly budget.

dr-wayne-price-beatrice-6Although the size of the judgement makes it unlikely that they will ever collect it in full, Dean’s move to file for wage garnishment and liens against Searcy and Price’s personal property, effectively means any income or property they have now or gain through future earnings beyond basic living requirements would be seized. In effect, they would both be impoverished for the rest of their life unless they somehow came up with the money to pay off their portion of the balance of the judgement.

Pending a ruling by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on the appeal by Gage County, U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf issued a stay on the garnishments for 90 days. In the meantime, Judge Kopf required that Deputy Searcy and Dr. Price not make any sort of financial transactions during that 90 day period. He also rejected a request from the county to issue a stay on their portion of the ruling.

The federal judge did order Searcey and Price to abide by affidavits they submitted to the court indicating they would not “sell, assign, transfer, convey, mortgage, or otherwise dispose of or encumber any interest in real or personal property” without the court’s permission.

In a motion filed with the court earlier this week, Jennifer Tomka, one of the team of private-practice attorneys representing Gage County, asked that a stay on the execution of judgment against Searcey, Price and the county be considered by the court.

 Tomka said the federal court could issue stays that protect the status quo for the county while the appeal is under consideration by the appeals court.

Kopf rejected those requests by the county.

Although he said it was unrelated to the ruling, Deputy Searcey retired from the sheriff’s office in November. Dr. Price is still a part of the department, although his current role was described as “limited” by Sheriff Millard “Gus” Gustafson.

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Chicago to Pay $2 Million to Police Whistle-Blowers After “Few Bad Apples” Destroyed Their Careers

On Monday, Chicago’s City Council Finance Committee approved a settlement of $2 million to two police officers that were the targets of extensive and widespread retaliation after they exposed corruption within the police department. Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria had gone to the FBI back in 2007 after they were told by superiors to ignore illegal activity by Ronald Watts, a sergeant with the Chicago Police Department.

After Watts was convicted of extorting drug dealers and sentenced to prison, Spalding and Echeverria became targeted for retaliation throughout the department. This included threats of physical violence against them, ostracization, and overt attempts to ruin their careers. According to their accounts of the retaliation they experienced, it’s almost as if the “Few Bad Apples” were the ones running the entire police department and somehow outnumbered all of the “Good Cops” we hear so much about.

Via the Chicago Sun-Times:

Spalding and Echeverria allege they were retaliated against for helping to expose police corruption nearly a decade ago.

The partners had alleged their superiors told them in 2007 to ignore evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Sgt. Ronald Watts. Instead, on personal time, they said they reported it to the FBI.

What the officers thought would end with a simple meeting eventually turned into “Operation Brass Tax.” And while they tried to limit their involvement in the investigation to personal time, it became so time-consuming that the officers were forced to tell CPD’s internal affairs. As a result, they were formally detailed to the FBI.

Spalding and Echeverria spent two years working exclusively on the Watts investigation. Watts was sentenced in October 2013 to 22 months in prison for shaking down drug dealers.

But lawyers for the two officers say Internal Affairs Chief Juan Rivera blew their cover. Spalding and Echeverria were branded “rat motherf——” and told their bosses didn’t want them in their units. They were allegedly told their careers were over, given undesirable assignments and shifts and told fellow officers wouldn’t back them up. Their actions allegedly made the brass so angry that Spalding was warned to “wear her vest” so she wouldn’t be shot in the parking lot for crossing the thin blue line.

“One of the defendants … charged with some of the retaliatory conduct resigned in December of 2015 before the Police Department initiated disciplinary proceedings against him for his role in the re-investigation of the David Koschman case,” (First Deputy Corporation Counsel Jenny) Notz told aldermen Monday.

“Also in 2015, a key CPD witness who would have rebutted some of the plaintiffs’ most serious allegations of retaliation relating to their experiences in the Narcotic Unit was indicted on felony perjury charges relating to testimony that he gave in another case. … The police superintendent recommended [in March] that this officer be terminated.”

Notz added, “The plaintiffs would certainly, if this case went to trial, use these recent developments to attack the credibility of two of the defense’s key witnesses at trial, making this case difficult to win.”

The settlement was reached one day before Mayor Rahm Emanuel would have been forced to testify at their civil trial. This has spurred speculation that the settlement was really intended to keep Emanuel from having to testify about a code of silence within the CPD, that he has already publicly acknowledged.

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Opposing Candidate’s Lawsuit: Pinellas County Sheriff Robert Gualtieri Hiding Incriminating Public Records

The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by James McLynas, a candidate for sheriff in Pinellas County, Florida. In the post, which was shared via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page, McLynas discusses a lawsuit he has filed which accuses current Sheriff Robert Gualtieri, whom he is running against in the upcoming election, of hiding incriminating information contained within public records in violation of the Florida Open Records Laws.

The post was originally published at James McLynas’ personal campaign website under the title, “Pinellas County Sheriff Robert Gualtieri Sued for Hiding Incriminating Records From Opposing Candidate.

10-20-2016 – Pinellas County Florida:

On October 20, 2016, Pinellas County Sheriff Candidate James McLynas filed a lawsuit against current Sheriff Robert Gualtieri and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) for intentionally refusing to provide public records to McLynas in violation of Florida Open Records Laws and the Florida Constitution.

The suit enumerates several allegations and was filed by prominent attorney Jerry Theophilopoulo (also known as Jerry “T”). Those factual allegations include:

  • That the PCSO and Sheriff Gualtieri targeted McLynas for retribution after McLynas filed multiple legitimate complaints against PCSO deputies.
  • That Sheriff Gualtieri and the PCSO also had McLynas falsely arrested on multiple bogus charges to silence McLynas shortly after McLynas threatened to run for Sheriff in 2013 to expose Gualtieri’s corruption.
  • That in order to hide the specific records that evidenced Gualtieri’s personal involvement in the false arrest of McLynas, Sheriff Gualtieri and the PCSO implemented new and unique public records policies ONLY for McLynas to prevent him from obtaining those records he requested that incriminate Gualtieri.
  • That the PCSO literally posted a “WANTED” type poster with McLynas’ confidential driver’s license records (a crime) barring McLynas (and only McLynas) from being able to access the PCSO record’s department in clear violation of Florida Statute Title X, Chapter 119 and the Florida Constitution.
  • That PCSO and their lawyers lied to McLynas in writing that “no records existed” when McLynas asked for specific records regarding PCSO’s illegal Stingray cellphone surveillance used on McLynas, when the records did in fact exist and were created by PCSO during the illegal Stingray surveillance.
  • That Sheriff Gualtieri and the PCSO would try and charge McLynas a “transparency tax” by lumping multiple separate records requests together and then intentionally overcharging McLynas sometimes thousands of dollars and not allowing McLynas to see ANY of the records he individually requested unless he paid for ALL of them.
  • That PCSO also made up huge bills for fees for multiple records requests without providing McLynas with the “one free hour” of records processing time per request that everyone else is provided.
  • That under the direction of Gualtieri, many of McLynas’ records requests were literally ignored and not properly responded to as is required under Title X, Chapter 119 records laws. These records have still not been provided sometimes years later.

The suit also alleges that Gualtieri and the PCSO refused to provide these records to prevent McLynas from using the damaging documents in the upcoming Sheriff’s election where McLynas and Gaultieri are the only two candidates.

Included with the lawsuit are over 50 pages of exhibits and documents proving the allegations, including numerous emails from the Sheriff’s department literally saying and doing the things they are accused of right in the emails and exhibits.

Under Title X, Chapter 119, Sheriff Gualtieri can also be charged with criminal penalties, suspended and removed or impeached if it is determined that he knowingly violated these laws while withholding the public records from Candidate McLynas. There is also a $500 per occurrence fine, which would add up to well over $100,000 in this case.

However, there are larger issues here that should concern ALL citizens of Pinellas County and even the State of Florida:

  • Did a Sheriff retaliate against an innocent man as retaliation for reporting deputy misconduct?
  • Did Sheriff Gualtieri then have McLynas falsely arrested after McLynas pushed back threatening to run for Sheriff to expose Gualtieri?
  • Is this an example of an incumbent Sheriff having his opposing candidate falsely arrested to destroy the political opposition?

It seems pretty clear that Sheriff Gualtieri went through some extraordinary lengths to prevent McLynas from seeing these records that McLynas says will prove Gualtieri’s personal involvement in the vendetta and political sabotage of McLynas.

Why would Sheriff Gualtieri take such a personal interest in a mere records request, or enact so many new policies directed specifically at McLynas if the records showed nothing at all? The answer to that is; he wouldn’t have. Gualtieri would not have tried so hard to conceal those records and violate Florida law to hide them if they were harmless. Those records still have not been produced by Gualtieri.

Even if only half of what McLynas and his lawyer have alleged in the lawsuit is true, Gualtieri does not need to remain Sheriff of Pinellas County and instead should be sitting in the same jail cell he tried to put McLynas in for running against him.

COPY OF LAWSUIT: https://www.scribd.com/document/328327343/Pinellas-County-Sheriff-Robert-Gualtieri-Sued-for-Hiding-Incriminating-Records-From-Opposing-Candidate

COPY OF EXHIBITS A-L: https://www.scribd.com/document/328333331/Pcso-Exhibits-a-l

COPY OF EXHIBITS M-W: https://www.scribd.com/document/328333484/Pcso-Exhibits-M-W

– James McLynas

 

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Family Whose Dog Was Murdered by Hartford Police Awarded $202,000; Liens Placed on Cops’ Houses

Last week, a federal jury ruled in favor of a father and daughter whose dog was shot by Hartford police during an illegal search of their property and awarded them $202,000. That award included $32,000 in punitive damages, which the two officers involved are personally responsible for splitting. As a result of that, the judge in the case placed liens on both officers’ houses to ensure they pay.

In addition, the lawyer for the dog’s owners, Glen and “K” Harris, stated that he intends to pursue as much as $640,000 in additional legal fees against the city. The case dragged on for ten years after the incident in which Sgt. Johnmichael O’Hare and Sgt. Anthony Pia shot the St. Bernard belonging to the Harris family while in the process of conducting a search in an attempt to find guns a gang affiliated informant had claimed were in their yard. No guns were found and they had not gotten a warrant for the search.

Via the Hartford Courant:

The case provided a stark look back at a time when the city was threatened with being overwhelmed by a spike in violence caused by warring drug gangs on the north side. The police department had created a new unit to defuse the problem, and officers were under pressure to find and seize illegal caches of weapons.

On Dec. 20, 2006, the gun crackdown ended up at Harris’ home at 297 Enfield St. That morning, O’Hare had been involved in a high-speed pursuit of a suspected stolen car that culminated in a frantic foot chase, over fences and across backyards, in pursuit of the driver.

O’Hare caught the driver, but not before being injured in the chase. He was ordered by a supervisor to report to a hospital for treatment. En route to the hospital, (defense lawyer Thomas) Gerarde said O’Hare and Pia were diverted to Harris’ home.

Another officer had just arrested a gang member who was found to possess dozens of bags of heroin. The gang member wanted to make a deal. If the police helped him get a break with the prosecutors, he would direct them to two guns that he said were hidden in an abandoned car in Harris’ fenced-in property.

Gerarde said O’Hare and Pia raced to 297 Enfield. They walked inside the fence, found no abandoned car and prepared to leave. He said they did not know that, on the other side of the house, Harris’ daughter, identified in court as K, had just returned home from school and had let one of her two St. Bernards out the back door.

K testified that the dog, named Seven and her favorite, suddenly looked up and tore away toward the front of the house.

At the front of the house, Gerarde said, O’Hare and Pia spotted a big dog charging and broke into a “full sprint” to get away. He said O’Hare heard the dog growling and snapping at his heels and turned to command it to stop. When the dog didn’t, Gerarde said, O’Hare shot twice.

K, in the meantime, said she was running toward the front yard on the other side of the house when she heard the two shots. When she got there, she testified that she saw the dog lying on its side and and yelled, “No. Don’t shoot.”

She said O’Hare shot the dog a third time, in the head, then turned to her and said, “I’m sorry, Miss, your dog is not going to make it.”

In the original 2008 trial, a jury ruled against the Harris’ after the judge ruled that no warrant was necessary. However, they appealed the case and won with the verdict being thrown out and a new trial ordered. The jury ruled in their favor this time in large part because the search was considered illegal absent a warrant.

Lawyers for the City of Hartford had stated in court that they will not be paying the remainder of the judgement because the city isn’t required to indemnify police officers implicated in illegal searches. It’s not clear if that means the city will try to force the officers to pay the entire amount and/or any future judgements. Some legal experts have stated that this was simply a bluff by the city in hopes of reducing any damages awarded after it became obvious they would lose.

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Family of Abel Correa Files Federal Lawsuit Against Las Vegas Police Over 2015 Fatal Shooting

One year ago, in August of 2015, two officers from the LVMPD shot Abel Correa, who was hiding in a closet inside his mother’s house after a neighbor had called police to report that he had been damaging property outside the home. Correa was suffering from mental illness, along with other medical issues, and according to the family Officer Glenn Taylor and Officer Eli Prunchak were aware of that from having interacted with him in the past.

In a body cam video (included in this post) released later, those two officers can be seen opening the door to the small coat closet Correa was hiding in and then shooting him five times. Although he was not armed with any sort of actual weapon, they claimed that he had “lunged at them with a sharp object.”That “sharp object” was subsequently identified as a screwdriver that they say he was holding along with a wrench.

Although the placement of the LVMPD’s body cams (conveniently) allows the hands of the officer wearing it to obscure much of the view of the people they shoot, what can be seen on the video doesn’t quite match up with that story. Also, since wearing a body cam is voluntary for Las Vegas police, only one of the cops was recording video that day.

As stated, Correa’s own hands are not visible in the video. So, it’s not clear what, if anything, he is holding. However, it is quite clear that he is not in any way lunging forward or extending his hands. In fact, he’s both moving slowly and standing straight up at the time he is shot. Regardless of what might have been in his hands when they opened the door, he is not the one acting aggressively at the point when he is shot.

The mother and three brothers of Correa have now filed a $13.2 million federal lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department claiming that Officers Taylor and Prunchak used excessive force and were not properly trained to de-escalate the situation when dealing with mentally ill people, as well as violations of Abel Correa’s civil rights.

Via the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Police arrived at Correa’s mother’s home in the 6900 block of Berkshire Place, near the intersection of Rainbow Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue, between 6 and 10 a.m. that morning after a neighbor reported the man was breaking a window to enter the house.

Officers Glenn Taylor and Eli Prunchak arrived about two hours after the neighbor’s call, searched the home and found Correa, a methamphetamine addict with a documented history of mental illness, in a small closet by the front door. The officers shot Correa five times after they said they opened the closet door and Correa lunged at them with a screwdriver and wrench in his hands.

 Officers believed Correa was holding a knife and was going to stab them because he was in an attack pose, they said at a fact-finding review, which was held in June after the district attorney’s office preliminarily deemed the police shooting justified.

Metro acknowledged days after the shooting that Correa “was in dire need of mental health services.” At the fact-finding review, Correa’s family argued that Taylor knew about the man’s mental illness and didn’t know how to de-escalate the situation.

In a civil complaint filed Thursday, Correa’s mother and three brothers claimed the officers were not trained properly and used excessive deadly force.

Maria, Ricardo, Gilberto and Moises Correa accused the police department and Sheriff Joe Lombardo of violating Abel Correa’s civil rights through policies, procedures and training.

The lawsuit claims Lombardo had “knowledge that Defendants Taylor and Prunchak lacked sufficient knowledge and training in the Departments of Use of Force Policy” and “should have known officers were not aware of the policy regarding passive resistance.”

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According to the lawsuit, Taylor and Prunchak knew Abel Correa suffered from mental health issues, knew he had been placed on mental health hold and knew he had never used violence toward anyone, including police.

“Abel Correa posed no threat of harm to the defendant officers and/or to anyone else at the scene of the shooting, as Abel was hiding in a closet with the door closed and no means of escape,” the lawsuit reads.

One of the officers told Correa to raise his arms and, when he complied, they discharged their weapons at least five times, killing him, the complaint reads.

The lawsuit claims Lombardo, the police department, Prunchak and Taylor are responsible for Correa’s survival action — the injuries and pain Correa suffered immediately before his death, wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

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