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Update: Las Vegas School Cop Who Assaulted, Pulled Gun on Teen Victim During DUI Reinstated With Back Pay

Las Vegas School Police DUI Assault Gun Russo

Las Vegas school cop who caused an accident while drunk then pulled gun & assaulted victims has been reinstated because he was off duty at the time.

In October of 2015, I posted about Sgt. Anthony Russo of the Clark County School District Police Department. Russo was arrested after he got drunk, ran a red light, hit another car, assaulted the teenage driver of the car he had just crashed into at 60 mph, and then pulled a gun on witnesses who tried to intervene to stop his attack on a completely innocent person who was already “incapacitated” from being hit by some drunk maniac’s car.

At the time the Las Vegas Review Journal described the incident this way:

Troopers said Russo was at fault in the crash that escalated into fight where the off-duty school police sergeant drew his gun. He faces charges that include driving under the influence, failure to obey a traffic signal, possession of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, drawing a deadly weapon in a threatening manner and two counts of battery, NHP said.

Witnesses said Russo ran a red light at the off-ramp while going about 60 mph before hitting the car, according to arrest records obtained by the Review-Journal. Bystanders went to check on the Hyundai’s passengers, and Russo, wearing “dress clothes,” punched the car’s passenger in the face three times.

When bystanders pulled Russo away from the passenger, he punched one of them in the face and lifted up his shirt, where his firearm was holstered. He pulled out his gun, and a female bystander stood between Russo and others at the scene, according to the arrest record.

That’s when Russo went back to his car.

The arrest record said he failed to take a field sobriety test. He was taken to University Medical Center — as were three other people involved in the crash. Troopers got a warrant to draw four vials of blood from Russo, the arrest record said. He was then booked into the Clark County Detention Center.

That’s obviously some outrageous shit for anyone, let alone a guy who is carrying a gun around a school and in fact already had a prior history of shooting children. There’s no way they could have just swept this under the rug. He had to have been in for some serious punishment after this. Amirite?

Rest assured officers, that’s not the case when you have one of those Magic Uniforms that renders you impervious to any sort of meaningful consequences for your actions, no matter how violent or outrageous they might be. Especially when you’re talking about a department that ruled officers covering up for cops that held an underage drinking party which led to one of the juvenile attendees killing a woman in a drunk driving accident was “within the scope of their duties.”

Not only were the laundry list of charges Sgt. Russo was originally facing reduced to two misdemeanors that resulted in just a fine and a temporary suspension of his license, but his firing has now been reversed. Apparently, according to an arbitrator, repeatedly punching a teenager and pulling a gun (while drunk) and threatening to shoot innocent people trying to stop him from committing assault on that innocent teenager doesn’t represent “a damaging impact to the workplace” or an indication of malice.  That workplace, of course is a building full of teenagers that he carries a gun around in. I can’t see any way his drunken rampage against an “innocent, incapacitated teenager” would be an indicator of some sort of potential workplace threat.

And he’s getting back pay for the two years he sat home. No word yet on whether he also will be getting reinstated as the head of the CCSD police union.

Local News Coverage

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No Honor Among Road Pirates: Ohio Deputy Joseph P. Caito III Latest to Admit Stealing From Police Union

On Thursday, a Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy pled guilty to stealing almost $100,000 from the police union he once served as treasurer for. Not surprisingly, Deputy Joseph P. Caito III has a long history of financial issues and at least one questionable lawsuit based on those issues. In addition to the money Caito admitted to stealing, at least another $20,000 is also unaccounted for.

Via the Dayton Daily News:

Caito, who pleaded guilty by bill of information for the fourth-degree felony, was ordered to pay restitution of $92,148.21 to the lodge, had his K-9 reassigned within the sheriff’s office and must permanently surrender his Ohio peace officer certification.

The plea agreement had no stipulated sentence. Caito could receive probation up to five years, local jail time of up to 180 days or a prison term of between six and 18 months, plus a possible fine of up to $5,000.

Neither assistant prosecutor Ward Barrentine nor defense attorney Frank Malocu commented after the hearing.

During the hearing, Barrentine said Caito’s thefts from the union lodge came between Sept. 10, 2014, and Aug. 26, 2016, when officials found “discrepancies in the books” at the lodge.

Caito had been placed on paid administrative leave pending a criminal and internal investigation. Caito resigned Dec. 12, according to Sheriff Phil Plummer.

Plummer said in September that Caito admitted to lodge membership he stole $26,000 and “is in the process of admitting his fault” for alleged actions over the past two years.

Caito started working for the sheriff’s office in 2006. Plummer said the FOP is actually missing $110,500. Plummer said an internal investigation won’t begin until after the criminal case is finished.

A personnel letter dated Sept. 9 stated that Caito “may have violated Sheriff’s Office Professional Rules of Conduct.” Caito earned a gross pay of $86,518 in 2015, according to the Dayton Daily News I-Team Payroll Project.

In October 2006, shortly after joining the sheriff’s office, Caito sued Fifth Third Bank in U.S. District Court, complaining the Cincinnati-based bank was “reporting erroneous information” about his finances to credit bureaus. The bank denied the accusations. The case, during which Caito represented himself, was referred to a magistrate and dismissed with prejudice.

In December 2011, Caito and his wife filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, during which Caito surrendered to creditors an inoperable 1967 Pontiac Firebird and a 2010 Dodge Charger SXT. U.S. Bankruptcy Court records show the couple emerged from Chapter 7 in April 2013.

Deputy Caito is the third cop that’s been featured on the CopBlock Network for stealing police union funds within the recent past. Of course, stealing union dues was an old standby of the Sicilian mafia, so it probably shouldn’t be surprising that the Thin Blue Mob has taken a cue from that.

BTW: “Caito could receive probation up to five years, local jail time of up to 180 days or a prison term of between six and 18 months…” Wanna bet on which one of those options he gets?

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Son of NYPD Police Union Head Pat Lynch Stripped of Gun and Badge After Off-Duty Firearm Incident

NYPD Officer Kevin Lynch, the son of Pat Lynch, the biggest Hero in New York and also the president of the New York Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, has been placed on “modified duty” after he and a rookie officer were involved in an incident with a firearm and subsequently failed to report it.

The younger Lynch was with Officer Robert Smilove in a car belonging to Smilove’s mother near her house in Queens when the incident happened. Smilove reportedly had just bought a new .38 caliber revolver and was in a hurry to show it off to his work buddy. While doing so, he managed to accidentally fire off a round.

Obviously, these Heroes, especially the one with the golden pedigree, did the proper thing and waited for police to arrive so they could explain the situation and, if necessary, accept their slap on the wrist, right? Actually, not so much. Instead, Lynch the Younger and Officer Smilove jumped out and ran away into the night. In the process, they abandoned the car belonging to Smilove’s mother, which had a fresh bullet hole in the windshield.

nypd-union-president-pat-lynchNot surprisingly, the NYPD was able to figure out who might be involved (without even calling in Columbo) by simply running the plates on the car. After walking a block or so, they found Smilove at his mother’s house where he also lives. (Apparently, these rookies aren’t quite on the gravy-train yet, salary-wise.)

Once the great getaway was over and Smilove was cornered in his mommy’s house, he apparently confessed and provided the gun, which had four live rounds and the one expended casing still inside the chambers. According to the New York Daily News, “It’s not clear how police learned Lynch was present.” I’m guessing someone crossed the Thin Blue Line, but that’s purely speculation on my part at this point.

The NY Daily News story also states that Officer Smilove hadn’t reported to the NYPD that he had bought the gun, which apparently is a requirement. Smilove has been suspended as a result of all this. There’s also a rumor started by me that his mother has put him on restriction and taken his cell phone away. He has only been on the force since January of this year and is still on probation with the department. According to a “high-level source” he isn’t expected to be celebrating his anniversary, although no official punishment has been meted out yet. It’ll probably be several months before he gets hired by another department once his termination becomes official.

As for Little Lynch, he’s still on the force and is not expected to be fired as a result (surprise). However, until they come up with a way to make it sound like the slap on the wrist he will receive was a legitimate punishment, he has been reassigned to the proverbial desk duty.

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Update: St. Paul Officer Who Broke Ribs of Innocent Man During K-9 Attack On Video Fired

Earlier this week, reported on the story of Frank Baker, an innocent man who was simply walking home when he was attacked by officers from the St. Paul Police Department in June. One of those officers, K-9 handler, Brian Ficcadenti, allowed his dog to bite Baker for over a full minute. Another officer, Brett Palkowitsch, then kicked him three times in the ribs, breaking several of them and causing him to suffer a collapsed lung. As a result of his injuries, Baker was confined to the hospital for two weeks during his recovery and now has permanent scars and injuries, as a result.

Via Asa’s original post:

According to reports, 52-year-old Frank Baker was mauled by the police dog for more than a minute and was kicked three times by one officer. He suffered severe bites to his leg, multiple broken ribs and collapsed lungs.

Officers had responded to calls about a fight on June 24 and were told that one of the individuals involved had a gun. As Baker matched the description of the suspect, the cops told him to put his hands up after he was spotted in the area.

Police said Baker raised one hand in the air before one of the officers repeated the command and the K-9 was released to apprehend him. Baker then fell to the ground when the dog initiated contact with him.

Officers reportedly told Baker to keep his hands visible but when he was slow to respond, one of the cops began kicking him in the ribs. Baker is heard screaming in pain on video recorded from the scene before being handcuffed.

Of course, it was later determined that Frank Baker had not been involved in the fight or any other illegal activity and was completely unarmed. The assault upon Baker was captured on a dash camera in one of the police cars (see below) and later released to the public.

Initially, the K-9 officer who allowed his dog to maul Baker was suspended for (just) 30 days as “punishment” for his actions. Now, it has also been announced (via a Facebook post) that Officer Palkowitsch has been fired from the St. Paul Police Department.

Via WDAZ.com:

In a Facebook message Friday morning, Police Chief Todd Axtell said he is “disappointed and upset” by what the video shows. The incident happened a day after he took office.

“When I became chief, I promised to do everything possible to ensure that the people we serve have faith in their police department,” Axtell said in his statement. “I want you all to know that the video does not reflect the way we strive to do our jobs — day in, day out. This is not the Saint Paul way.”

During the news conference, Axtell said releasing the video was “the right thing to do.”

“After this incident, I met with the man injured in the video while he was still in the hospital,” Axtell said. “At that time, I assured and promised him a full review was being conducted. I met with him again today in my office and offered my deepest apologies on behalf of the police department.”

Axtell said the K-9 officer, identified as Brian Ficcadenti, was suspended for 30 days even though a civilian review commission recommended 10 days. His suspension went into effect Thursday, Nov. 3.

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Minnesota Deputy Caught on Video Beating K-9 Partner in Drunken Tirade Keeps Job (Update)

Last year, CopBlock Network contributor Asa J blogged about Deputy Brett Berry of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Berry had visited the Black Bear Casino in Carlton, MN, while attending training during K-9 trials in June (2015). Berry was thrown out of the casino for being drunk and making unwanted advances, as well as repeatedly making obscene gestures to the staff there. Shortly after he was observed by casino security on surveillance video (embedded below) abusing his K-9 partner.

Via Asa’s Original post:

The surveillance footage shows an obviously upset Berry pick the animal up by its collar, throw it on the ground, and repeatedly punch it in the face.

The docile canine can been seen trotting beside its handler, waging its tail, as it endures abuse that would make any pet owner cringe.

After the attack escalates, the dog is able to escape, and runs back to the casino. The footage shows Berry run after the animal before striking it multiple times outside a vestibule, police say.

After the security guards reported his assault upon the dog to the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Berry was sent home from the K-9 trials, placed on administrative leave (also known as paid vacation), and charged with animal cruelty. He was subsequently sentenced to (just) a year of probation. In April, he was fired by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.

However, on October 31 an arbitrator ruled that Berry should be reinstated, because this is the only time he has been caught on camera savagely beating a dog and he said he feels really bad about it. Of course, someone who has a documented history of resorting to violence when angry doesn’t pose a threat to the public while working as a cop. Instead, he will be on double secret probation and will not be allowed to work with K-9’s anymore.

Via the Twin Cities Pioneer Press:

In a decision filed Monday, state arbitrator Gil Vernon wrote that the sheriff’s office did not sufficiently consider mitigating factors when it moved to fire Berry, and those factors show Berry is at a low risk of future misconduct. He noted that Berry had been forthright about his behavior that night and he sought alcohol abuse treatment afterward.

“The record shows he has nearly 20 years of incident-free service with good evaluations,” Vernon wrote. “He spontaneously, contritely, sincerely and without equivocation accepted his responsibility. Next he without prompting moved immediately to address his underlying personal issues.”

Vernon noted that the canine Boone suffered no physical injuries, and several of Berry’s supervisors said they expected no problems if he returned to service.

Vernon ordered that Berry be reinstated to active duty immediately but with the restriction that he cannot work with canines. He also ruled that the county does not have to repay Berry the back wages he lost since his termination in April.

“The permanency of his reinstatement is dependent on the successful completion of the terms of his misdemeanor probation,” Vernon wrote. “Based on (Berry’s) record and reaction to this incident, the Arbitrator is convinced that it was an aberration and that he deserves another (but last) chance to resume his career.”

In addition, Sean Gormley, the head of Law Enforcement Labor Services of Minnesota, Deputy Berry’s local police union, stated, “Officer Berry has the support of his fellow officers, and we believe he can still be an asset to his department and to the people of Ramsey County,” because it’s almost impossible to do something (outside of exposing corruption within the department) that would eliminate that support.

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