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Las Vegas SWAT Team Commander Under Investigation For Financial Exploitation of Elderly Couple

Lt Tom Melton LVMPD SWAT Commander Elderly Exploitation

Last week, it was announced that Lieutenant Tom Melton had been placed on administrative leave (AKA paid vacation) as the result of a criminal investigation. Melton is the commander of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department‘s SWAT team. He’s also been one of the public faces of the LVMPD, oftentimes being interviewed by local media and frequently providing briefings at crime scenes.

Initially, Metro declined to give any details about what the nature of that investigation was. However, soon after his suspension was announced a search of public records indicated that he has ties to a woman already facing over 200 charges of defrauding elderly people placed under her care. Lt. Melton had been appointed as legal guardian and trustee for Jerome and Beverly Flaherty, an elderly couple, who have since died. April Parks, the woman previously charged, was awarded co-guardianship of the Flahertys with Melton.

In March, Parks was indicted on charges including perjury, racketeering, filing false records, theft and exploitation, as part of a for-profit professional guardianship service. Parks has been characterized as the “ringleader of a small group” that included her husband; Gary Neal Taylor, an attorney named Noel Palmer Simpson, and her office manager; Mark Simmons. All four have been accused of taking advantage of the guardianship system to exploit and defraud the people placed under their supervision.

After confirmation was received that Lt. Melton was in fact the focus of an investigation into exploitation of an elderly couple, his attorney denied that he was involved in the fraud. Instead, he maintains that he had only hired Parks to care for the couple, whom he describes as friends of Melton. No other details relating to the nature of the investigation into Lt. Melton’s involvement have been released by the LVMPD.

Of course, it very well could be that he had no involvement in the fraud Parks and her partners are accused of. However, the timing of the suspension could potentially indicate otherwise. The fact that the other people involved were indicted in March and Melton didn’t come under investigation until the end of July would seem to imply that there’s more to it. It’s also a bit contradictory that none of the family members of the hundreds of other victims Parks exploited appear to be under investigation.

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After Officer Mohammed Noor Shot Justine Damond Minneapolis Police Got A Search Warrant For Her House

Justine Damond Officer Mohamed Noor Minneapolis Police

For some inexplicable reason Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor “feared for his life” when him and his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity were approached by an unarmed 40 year old woman wearing pajamas. The Minneapolis Police Department’s equally ridiculous response to Noor shooting Justine Damond, whose “crime” was calling the police to report a potential sexual assault, was to go out and get a search warrant for Damond’s house.

According to a description of the search warrant posted at KSTP.com, the intent seems to have been to find evidence of drug usage or some sort of written statements by Damond:

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators were granted permission to search Justine Damond’s home hours after she was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer, according to court records.

A criminal law expert can’t understand why.

“I don’t understand why they’re looking for bodily fluids inside her home,” said Joseph Daly, an emeritus professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, referring to one of two recently-released search warrant applications.

“Whose bodily fluids are they looking for? Is she a suspect? I don’t understand why they’re looking for controlled substances inside her home. I don’t understand why they’re looking for writings inside her home. The warrant does not explain that to me.”

“When I read that search warrant, I really cannot find probable cause to search her home,” he continued.

According to court documents, investigators applied for the warrant on the following grounds:

  • The property or things above-described was used as a means of committing a crime
  • The possession of the property or things above-described constitutes a crime.
  • The property or things above-described is in the possession of a person with intent to use such property as a means of committing a crime, or the property or things so intended to be used are in the possession of another to whom they have been delivered for the purpose of concealing them or preventing their being discovered.
  • The property or things above-described constitutes evidence which tends to show a crime has been committed, or tends to show that a particular person has committed a crime.

Asked if that means the BCA considers Damond to be a suspect, spokesperson Jill Oliveira replied via email:

“No, an individual involved in the incident.”

Daly, who said he has served as a visiting professor at the University of Queensland in Damond’s native Australia, believes concerned members of the public in both countries will be outraged by the BCA’s request to search the home.

Instead of investigating Noor’s deadly actions, the first reaction to a completely unjustifiable murder by a police officer against an innocent woman was to go and file for a search warrant for her house. The focus of that search on the victim rather than the shooter, along with the statements about Damond being “panicked” during her 911 calls, Noor being startled by a loud noise, and the references to ambushes of police officers tells you what their true intent was in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

They were hoping to find something to smear her name with and make it appear that she was acting irrationally or in some way that could somehow be construed as threatening. Just for good measure, they’ve also made sure to say that a cell phone was found near her body, so they can claim he thought she was holding a gun. As is common practice for police departments when one of their own kills an innocent person, they were already setting up a scenario where Damond had caused her own death.

Meanwhile, Noor reportedly feels that his Brothas in Blue have “thrown him under the bus.” According to an anonymous friend, “His colleagues are accusing him of not showing proper police conduct on Saturday night.” To be fair, cops will normally support one of their own, regardless of how heinous and obvious their crime might be. However, it’s a bit hard to argue with anyone that says that shooting an innocent, unarmed woman is proper conduct.

In another development last week, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau has been forced to resign by Mayor Betsy Hodges. It’s been a bad couple weeks in the arena of public opinion for Chief Harteau. In rapid succession, she has had another murderous cop get off after shooting Philando Castile and video surface an officer executing a family’s pet dogs.

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Minneapolis Police Who Murdered Australian Woman After 911 Call Hadn’t Turned Their Body Cameras On

Minneapolis Police Shooting Australian Justine Damond Nevada Cop Block

Just before midnight on Saturday night (7/15/17), police in Minneapolis responding to a 911 call shot the woman who had made that call. Justine Damond, an Australian who was living with her fiance and his son, had called to report that she heard what sounded like someone being assaulted near her home.  Justine, who was due to be married to Don Damond next month, died as a result of the shooting.

Neither officer that responded to her call has been publicly identified yet. Currently, both of them have been placed on paid vacation while their coworkers “investigate” what happened. As of yet, no official explanation has been given for why one of the police officers decided he needed to shoot Damond.

According to a statement to the media, the officers had not turned their body cameras on and their dash cam “did not capture the incident.” No explanation for why those cameras were not turned on was provided either, although Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has stated she intends to find that out.

Via the Guardian:

Her stepson, Zac Damond, said she had called police after hearing a noise near her house.

“Two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call of a possible assault just north of the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue S just before 11.30pm Saturday,” the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement, according to the Star Tribune. “At one point, an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman.

“The BCA’s investigation is in its early stages. More information will be available once initial interviews with incident participants and any witnesses are complete … The officers’ body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident. Investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists.”

The two officers involved are on paid administrative leave.

Her stepson said Damond, 40-year-old Sydneysider, was “passionate” and his “best friend”.

“Basically my mum was shot for reasons I don’t know,” he said in a video posted on Facebook on Monday morning. (Video embedded below – editor)

“I just know she heard a sound in the alley so then she called the police and the cops showed up and she was a very passionate woman, she probably thought something bad was happening and then next thing I know they take my best friend’s life.”

Details are still lacking at the moment and this story will be updated as those details emerge. However, what this story obviously illustrates is two things that I point out often here at Nevada Cop Block. First, the police cannot be trusted not to murder someone when they show up. They won’t do it every time, but you just never know when they might. So you should avoid calling 911 unless absolutely necessary (and you should do everything you possibly can to minimize or even eliminate that as a necessity) and unless you are comfortable with the possibility that the person you called them could end up dead. In fact, you might even be the one that gets killed.

Secondly, the police cannot be trusted to film themselves, whether that be via body cameras or dash cams. People still need to film the cops any time they interact with them for whatever reason. Otherwise, there’s a decent chance that they will “forget” to term them on or that they will “malfunction.” Even when that fails, the police still have control over whether that video will be released (and plenty of excuses not to).

It shouldn’t be up to the cop who is about to murder someone to turn the camera on that would document that. It also shouldn’t be up to police departments, who have a history of covering up for cops that kill, to release them to the public when they actually exist.

**Update** Justine Damond, who was dressed in pajamas at the time, was shot by Officer Mohamed Noor. Damond was reportedly talking to Noor’s (still unnamed) partner on the driver’s side of the patrol car when Noor fired across his partner and through the window from the passenger seat.

Statement By Step Son Zac Damond

Minneapolis Rally/Protest on Sunday

Bullshit Written by Officer Noor’s Lawyer

“A Wonderful Sign of Building Trust”

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Nevada Cop Block Founder Kelly Patterson Assaulted; Illegally Arrested by LVMPD for Filming

lvmpd-illegal-arrest-assault-nevada-cop-block

Note: The Following post was written by and was originally published at CopBlock.org under the title “Nevada CopBlock Founder Arrested While Filming Las Vegas Metro Police.” It’s being reposted here for obvious reasons.

Kelly Patterson, founder of Nevada CopBlock and editor of this website, was spending his weekend doing what he usually does – filming the police on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas. That’s when Patterson witnessed Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD) officers about to affect an arrest on a woman and pulled out his camera (see video embedded below).

As you can see in the video, it appears that Patterson is a safe distance away from the arrest/officers, but for whatever reason a lagging LVMPD officer comes over to him demanding he leave. Patterson asks questions to the unknown and aggressive LVMPD officer about how his actions are criminal, but to no avail. Abruptly during the exchange, he’s arrested on bogus charges of obstructing a police officer and obstructing a vehicle in the roadway (after the officers arresting him threw him into the road).

While that seems ridiculous in itself, the comments made by retired Las Vegas police Lt. Randy Sutton are also pretty absurd. According to 13 Action News:

Sutton said, “Cop Block, the group that Patterson is part of, is notorious for antagonizing cops.”

“There was apparently some interaction before what we saw in this video because there was a reference made to it when the officer initially confronted the guy who had the camera,” Sutton said.

While Sutton said this, and the news aired it (with nicely edited footage, see below), you can see from the footage above that Patterson and the LVMPD officer had no interaction until the officer demanded Patterson leave the area – which is a violation of his right to record (especially since there was no danger or interference going on). CopBlock being “notorious for antagonizing cops” is also completely irrelevant. Police have to arrest people based on their actions, not the reputation of a group they are affiliated with. (An affiliation that the cop who started this incident and then assaulted and illegally arrested Patterson likely wasn’t even aware of.)

Thankfully, Sutton didn’t go full COPSUCKER and recovered by saying, “The reality is police cannot stop someone from videotaping an action and in doing that is not in keeping up with the policies of the police department.”

The question now is the same as it’s always been after such wrongful arrests, will the officer learn and be held accountable for his actions? Of course, cops are investigating cops on this matter. So, a fair review will be produced in a timely manner I’m sure.

Click Banner to Learn More About Filming the Police

Click Banner to Learn More About Filming the Police

Meanwhile, Patterson spent 24 hours in the local jail, faces two charges and possible injury from the interaction. Thankfully, Stephen P. Stubbs, a local Las Vegas Attorney, has decided to represent Patterson in his legal matters with the city.

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Update: Shooting Nevada Inmates With Birdshot Banned by New NDOC Director (For Now)

As I’ve reported here on CopBlock.org in several posts over the past year, the use of shotguns loaded with birdshot has come under scrutiny recently in Nevada prisons after a high-profile case in which an inmate was killed after a fight with another inmate. The family of that inmate, as well the family of the other inmate, who was also shot but survived, and others have made claims that the fight was instigated by guards intentionally in order to allow for the shooting.

Although the Nevada Department of Corrections continues to deny that, they have filed manslaughter charges against one of the guards involved. In addition, the former director of the NV Department of Corrections, Greg Cox, was forced to resign by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.

In April, James Dzurenda was appointed to take over as the director of the NDOC. Prior to this, he worked in the corrections department in New York and was the DOC commissioner in Connecticut. During that time, he drafted the use-of-force policy for New York State.

In a recent interview with a local NPR affiliate in Nevada, Dzurenda has indicated that one of his first moves as the state DOC director will be to suspend the use of shotguns loaded with birdshot within Nevada Prisons. Previously, the NDOC had indicated that they would not accept the recommendations of experts who had stated shotguns should not be used by prison guards included in a report prompted by the most recent shooting and other similar incidents. However, although he states that he thinks that he feels it’s unnecessary, he seems reluctant to actually stop their use permanently, instead specifying that it is a temporary ban.

The interview also touches on Nevada’s “unique” prison culture and use of guns within those prisons. Dzurenda also indicates that he wants to focus more on rehabilitation and “reintegration” of prisoners being released back into society. plus, he wants more money (surprise!) and he thinks you can help him get it.

Via KNPR.org in Las Vegas:

Throughout history, however, Nevada has developed a unique prison culture. Huffington Post recently published an in-depth story about the use of guns inside Nevada’s prisons following the High Desert State Prison incident, and the sub-headline says it all: “Guards inside prisons shouldn’t have guns. That’s pretty much an accepted fact. Except in Nevada – and the results are mayhem and death.”

When interviewing writer Dana Liebelson, she told KNPR that Nevada’s use of guns inside its prisons “is highly unusual.” Skolnik said he agreed with her – to an extent.

“When I left, Nevada had the lowest rate of correction officer to inmates in the United States,” Skolnik said. “I don’t anticipate it’s gotten any better. If anything, it’s probably gotten worse.”

Is Dzurenda possibly wondering what he’s gotten himself into? Maybe. But he’s not shying away from tough questions about the state of the Nevada’s prisons. In fact, Dzurenda’s interview with KNPR was a first – former director Cox and interim director McDaniel never responded to multiple requests for interviews for the past few years.

One of his first orders of business, he said, is stopping the use of birdshot (the pellet-style ammunition that killed Carlos Perez in 2014) at least temporarily.

“To me, I don’t think it’s necessary,” Dzurenda said. “I’m not saying it’s going to be eliminated, but I’m going to temporarily take it offline because I think there are better things out in the world today we can use to control inmate populations.”

These things include non-lethal rounds of ammunition such as bean bags, rubber or plastic.

Dzurenda is more concerned, however, with programming inside correctional facilities – and considers an inmate’s first day at prison what should be the first day of reintegration efforts.

“If you take a snapshot today, and you don’t arrest anyone ever again, there’s 13,500 inmates in the system right now and 88 percent of those have less than 20-year sentences,” Dzurenda explained. “That means 12,000 of those offenders are released into our community pretty soon – that’s if you arrest no one.

“No matter how we feel about an offender, they are going back into the community. If we don’t funnel resources to do better for them, we’re just going to re-victimize our communities.”

As Skolnik noted, however, getting the money and resources together to have proper programming for inmates is no walk in the park. So how could Dzurenda do what his predecessors could not?

Constituents. Dzurenda may not be a political candidate – but getting the constituents to care about the people being put back into their communities might be able to get the ears of their represented politicians.

You can listen to the entire interview here on KNPR’s site.

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