Englewood Police Department, Colorado
End of Watch: Monday, May 28, 2012 Bio & Incident Details
Tour: 8 years, 6 months
Badge # Not available
Cause: Vehicular assault
Incident Date: 5/28/2012
Weapon: Automobile; Alcohol involved
Police Officer Jeremy Bitner was struck and killed by a drunk driver while making a traffic stop at the intersection of South Broadway Street and East Belleview Avenue at approximately 12:05 am.
During the initial stop he had the driver exit the vehicles. As the two stood in the roadway next to the car a drunk driver sideswiped Officer Bitner’s patrol car and then struck him and the other driver, throwing them both approximately 50 feet. A witness to the collision called 911 and followed the drunk driver as he fled the scene in his vehicle. Officers from the Littleton Police Department arrested him several minutes after the crash due to the witness’ actions.
Officer Bitner and the citizen who were struck were both transported to Swedish Medical Center in critical condition. Officer Bitner succumbed to his injuries approximately 11 hours later.
Officer Bitner was a U.S. Army veteran. He had served with the Englewood Police Department for eight years and had previously served with the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office for six months. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:
Police Chief John Collins
Englewood Police Department
3615 S Elati Street
Englewood, CO 80110
Phone: (303) 761-7410
The indictment, handed up by a special grand jury, is highly unusual. There have been few cases in the United States in which an officer has faced so serious a charge in connection with actions taken on duty.
In addition to the murder charge, the special investigative grand jury indicted the officer on three other counts: malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle resulting in a death and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
The woman was identified as Patricia A. Cook, 54, of Culpeper, and the officer as Daniel Harmon-Wright, 32, of Gainesville.
In an unusual twist, the officer’s mother was indicted Tuesday on three counts of forgery of public documents. Virginia State Police said evidence had come to light concerning efforts by the woman, Bethany P. Sullivan, 56, of Orange, Va., to purge negative information from her son’s personnel file. She had been a Culpeper police employee but left in 2010.
The charges against the officer stem from an encounter between him and Cook on Feb. 9 in Culpeper, a town of a little more than 16,000 about 70 miles southwest of Washington.
A statement issued Tuesday by state police said that during the incident, “the officer became engaged with” the driver of a Jeep Wrangler. “During the encounter,” police said, Cook was shot, and she died at the scene.
In an interview Monday night, Cook’s pastor, the Rev. Randy Orndorff of Culpeper United Methodist Church, said he had talked with family members about what happened and had seen reports in the news media.
For reasons that have not been determined, Orndorff said, Cook was apparently parked in the lot of a Catholic church. That apparently prompted a call about a suspicious vehicle. When she was asked to provide her license and registration, the pastor said, it was reported that Cook rolled up her window and began driving away.
“The story was [the police officer] got his arm caught” in the window “when she rolled it up,” Orndorff said. It has raised the question, he said, as to whether the officer was dragged by the moving vehicle, possibly causing him to believe that his life was in jeopardy.
A story this month in the Culpeper Star-Exponent quoted a lawyer as saying he would defend the officer in “whatever came up.” The newspaper said the lawyer denied in a blog post that the officer claimed to have been dragged. But he was also quoted as calling the matter “pretty much a clear case of self-defense.”
Neither the officer nor Cook’s husband could be reached Tuesday night.
Orndorff said Cook worked with children at his church, and volunteered with cooking and making quilts for the needy.
Calling the matter tragic, Town Manager Kimberly Alexander said the officer had been on paid leave but is now suspended without pay.
Noting that state police had done the investigation, she said town officials “really don’t” know what happened and are waiting to hear the evidence.
Jim Fisher, the Fauquier County commonwealth’s attorney, was special prosecutor in the case. Police quoted him as saying the grand jury heard from more than 45 witnesses and received a good deal of other evidence.
The effort, though, has been beset by glitches, legal questions and concerns that some of the constables submitted questionable documentation of the hours they worked.
Some security industry professionals say the use of constables as beat cops is illegal. Others say the authority’s bidding process was improper. A constable who was central to organizing the effort, but who was fired shortly after it was fully implemented, said last week that his fellow constables may be working in a manner that runs afoul of the rules.
Authority Executive Director A. Fulton Meachem Jr. said the constables project was cost-effective, and that crime in the city’s public housing communities fell last year by 3 percent.
“We felt like it was imperative that we had a very trained workforce out there working for our residents,” he said.
He defended the process by which the authority awarded a $1.23 million-per-year constable management contract to Carnegie-based Victory Security, but skirted questions about the legality of the program. “If the law at this point allows [the constable program], then we should have the opportunity to do it.”
The authority long had its own police, but merged it into the Pittsburgh Police Bureau in 2007 to shave its $4 million-a-year cost. The authority agreed to pay the city $1 million a year for three years to provide enhanced police coverage of its communities, but that arrangement ended in 2010.
The city still polices the communities, but authority residents missed having more direct contact with officers, Mr. Meachem said. Believing that security guards wouldn’t have the necessary training, and police would cost $45 an hour, the authority settled on constables.
Constables are state-certified professionals, some elected and others appointed by district judges, who are trained in legal processes and use of firearms. They are independent contractors who are paid piecemeal for arrests, service of warrants and subpoenas, and other work they do for district judges.
Last year, the authority held a bidding process and hired Castle Shannon-based Specialized Security Response Inc. to provide and manage constables for $1.8 million a year. But there were “scheduling deficiencies,” said Clare Ann Fitzgerald, the authority’s general counsel, so SSR was dismissed.
The authority in February invited companies to submit proposals for “constable services” or “the equivalent in certification or current training.” Some said they were confused by that language, and weren’t sure whether the authority was demanding bona fide constables or would settle for something similar.
The authority picked Victory Security, which offered to provide constables for $30.44 an hour for 3,360 hours a year. The authority would not reveal the price quotes of losing bidders, saying only that it weighed the companies’ experience, capacity, fees, strategy, minority- and women-owned business participation and willingness to hire residents of low-income areas.
Victory Security’s contract is more than $500,000 a year cheaper than SSR’s was. It’s unclear if any other bidder had a lower price.
“You have to look at more than just simply price,” said Mr. Meachem, declining to detail the factors that led to Victory Security’s hire.
“I think [Victory Security's edge] was me and the bid,” said Constable Brian Van Dusen of the Hill District, who served as operations manager for the project until May 1. “Victory Security really had no idea what a constable was, what a constable did, how to find them. … I brought the expertise and the manpower and the ability to operate the contract.”
Mr. Van Dusen said he eventually realized some of the constables working under him were sending in their Daily Activity Reports hours before the ends of their shifts, making it impossible to verify they had worked the entire shift. He showed the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette electronic reports for eight-hour shifts that, according to the electronic file properties, were finalized two to four hours before shift’s end. He said he reported it to Victory Security president Kathleen Bowman. She then “told me they don’t need me anymore.”
Ms. Bowman could not be reached for comment.
On the day he was fired, Mr. Van Dusen texted the authority’s safety director, Joy Pekar-Miller, who oversees the contract. “Recently I have uncovered some very damaging information,” he wrote to her in texts shared with the Post-Gazette. “I discovered over 35-50 instances of individuals lying on the DAR’s & Sign in sheets.” She responded, asking whether that was the reason for his firing, and he suggested that she pull the recent sign-in sheets.
The text thread, said authority Chief Community Affairs Officer Michelle Jackson on Friday, “doesn’t give you any specifics. … It doesn’t give a time frame. And all of our invoices check out.”
The allegation of false reporting, she said, “is very vague. It’s like saying, ‘The constables didn’t show up.’ Where? When?”
Some of the companies that bid on the contract but lost said it was never clear to them whether they had to commit to providing constables, or could line up similarly trained security guards.
Some said they didn’t get due consideration from the authority. “We believe that our firm and management team had the ability to do this scope of work,” said Joseph Diven of St. Moritz Security Services. “But unfortunately we were not brought in for the interview process.”
Some security firms question whether the authority’s use of constables has crossed legal lines.
Mr. Meachem said he’s convinced the process and approach are valid. Constables, he said, are helping keep his tenants safe.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Atlantic City NJ May 30 2012 A Clementon man wanted for abducting his former girlfriend early Saturday morning from outside the casino where she works was arrested Monday in Buena.
Donald M. Nowell, 24, is accused of carjacking and kidnapping the woman from the self-park garage at Harrah’s Resort, Atlantic City police Sgt. Monica McMenamin said. He was arrested by State Police during a motor vehicle stop. The woman — whose name is not being released due to the nature of the charges — is safe and was interviewed by detectives.
Nowell also faces charges related to assaulting a security guard at Harrah’s, McMenamin said. Casino security called in the incident at 12:16 a.m. Saturday.
Nowell was released from East Jersey State Prison in December after serving more than two months on theft, drug and trespassing charges, according to state Department of Corrections records.
New Orleans LA May 30 2012 - The US Coast Guard confirmed the body of a pilot whose helicopter crashed into the Gulf of Mexico has been found.
Officials reported divers from a response vessel found the body inside the cockpit.
The pilot’s identity has not been released.
The chopper went down Monday afternoon about 35 miles off the coast of Grand Isle.
The helicopter, which is owned by PHI Inc., is used to ferry workers to and from oil rigs and platforms.
PHI is based out of Lafayette.
The cause of the crash has not been determined.
BULLHEAD CITY AZ May 30 2012 — A local transient was arrested Sunday afternoon for causing a disturbance in the parking lot of a Laughlin casino after he reportedly exposed himself to hotel guests and employees.
At about 5:50 p.m. Sunday, Bullhead City police responded to a parking lot on the Arizona side of the Colorado River in on Highway 95 in response to a disorderly conduct call. According to BHCPD Cpl. Shawn Brooks, Henry Eugene Drew, 44, a transient who has been staying at local hotels with his family, had been on the beach near the casino’s boat dock when he suddenly became agitated and began yelling at hotel guests. In later interviews with police, Drew’s family members, who had been present during the disturbance, said they did not understand what set him off.
Brooks said hotel security asked Drew to leave the area, which he did; but as he reached Highway 95, he reportedly turned back toward the security officers and pulled down his shorts, revealing his genitalia. He then crossed Highway 95 and began walking southbound, making obscene gestures to passing motorists, Brooks said, in an attempt to goad one into a fight.
When police arrived to intercept Drew, however, he ran back across Highway 95 and down toward the river. Police called boat units into action to search for him, and one eventually located Drew, wading in the Colorado River just across from another casino.
The boating officers pulled Drew from the river, but he continued to be combative, and was pepper sprayed before being brought back to the a fueling dock, where he was shackled and handcuffed before being transferred to dry land.
Brooks said Drew continued to be combative with officers and medics who attempted to treat him for the pepper spray, cursing and yelling and refusing to walk. After refusing medical treatment, Drew was processed at Bullhead police headquarters, then transported and booked into the Mohave County Jail in Kingman on two counts of disorderly conduct and two counts of indecent exposure.
Loretta Murphy sued Chicago, police Officers A. Hladczuk, R. Torres and P. Mack, Marriott Hotel Services, and Michael Mader, a Marriott security guard, in Federal Court.
“On May 28, 2011, Loretta attended her daughter’s wedding,” the complaint states.
“Loretta’s daughter had contracted with Marriott Downtown Hotel for rental of a honeymoon suite and a hospitality suite.
“Loretta’s daughter informed Marriott Downtown Hotel that the wedding guests would be arriving at Marriott Downtown Hotel at or around midnight, following the daughter’s wedding reception.
“Loretta’s daughter also informed Marriott Downtown Hotel that the wedding guests would be bringing alcohol into the hospitality suite and that they would require additional seating in the hospitality suite.”
In response, “staff employed by Marriott Downtown Hotel brought several cases of beer and additional seating to the hospitality suite,” the complaint states.
Murphy says she went to sleep at about 2:30 a.m. in a closed bedroom of the hospitality suite.
“Other invited wedding guests remained in the hospitality suite.
“Loretta was subsequently awoken by one of the wedding guests telling her that security officers were at the door of the hospitality suite.
“Loretta came into the main part of the hospitality suite and observed several security officers employed by Marriott Downtown Hotel,” the complaint states.
“Loretta informed the Marriott Downtown Hotel security officers and the Chicago police officers that it was her daughter’s wedding night and that herself and the other guests in the room were permitted to be in the room.
“One of the wedding guests continued to drink from a champagne bottle while the Chicago police officers and the Marriott Downtown Hotel security officers were in the hospitality suite.
“The Chicago police officers became upset and demanded that the guest put the champagne bottle down.
“Loretta explained to the officers that they were guests in the hospitality suite and that the officers should be respectful of the right to be in the suite.
“The officers became upset with Loretta’s statement of the guests’ rights to be in the suite celebrating Loretta’s daughter’s wedding.
“At that time, the Chicago police officers arrested Loretta, restrained her, and defendant Michael Mader signed a criminal complaint against Loretta on behalf of Marriott Downtown Hotel for disorderly conduct.”
Loretta was taken to the police station and kept handcuffed in a cell for several hours. Criminal charges against her were dropped at the request of the Marriott.
“The arrest of Loretta was unlawful and in violation of the United States Constitution, the laws of the United States and the laws of the State of Illinois,” Murphy says.
She seeks damages for false arrest, excessive force, emotional distress, unreasonable seizure, malicious prosecution, conspiracy, assault, battery, and false imprisonment.
She is represented by Richard Duffin with Duffin & Dore.
Massapequa NY May 30 2012
Two Amityville women assaulted a pair of cops Saturday after one of them was placed under arrest for using children to shoplift, police said.
Clara Young, 23, was spotted by security at a Pathmark in Massapequa filling a shopping cart along with two kids, aged 9 and 10 at about 4:40 p.m.
Young exited the store with the 10-year-old, and got into a car parked outside, while the 9-year-old tried to push the cart out of the store wthout paying, cops said.
All three were stopped by store security, who called police and Young’s friend Shakeeta Legette, 29, the mother of the two boys.
When cops tried to arrest Young, she allegedly began to hit them. Legette then joined in and also assaulted the officers, cops said.
One officer sustained a shoulder injury while the other officer hurt his elbow. They were treated at a local hospital, police said.
Young was charged with petty larceny, assault 2nd and resisting arrest, while Legette was charged with assault 2nd, endangering the welfare of a child and obstruction of governmental administration.
HAYMARKET, Va. May 30 2012 – Prince William County Police arrested a substitute teacher and head baseball coach for indecent liberties after an investigation into an alleged relationship with a student.
Brentsville High School officials recently received information which lead to the police investigation. Police say detectives began investigating the coach on May 25. Twenty-eight-year-old Richard Earl Teller of Haymarket is accused of communicating inappropriate messages with a 17-year-old female student. Police say the communication between Teller and the victim began in February.
Teller was arrested on May 29. He has been charged with taking indecent liberties with a minor by a custodian and the use of a communication system to facilitate certain offenses with a minor. He is being held on a $10,000 secured bond.
Police say that no physical encounter took place between the coach and student.
Dallas TX May 30 2012 Police say a 44-year-old man fell 150 feet to his death as police tried to coax him down from a construction crane after a more than 14-hour standoff.
Police say Lee Dell Thomas Jr. died early Tuesday after slipping from the cab of the crane.
David Woo/The Dallas Morning News/AP PhotoA man sits in a crane 150 feet above the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas, threatening to shoot the Dallas Police officers trying to talk him down, May 28, 2012. France Shooting Suspect Surrounded by Police Watch Video
He scrambled up the crane at the Southern Methodist University campus around midday Monday and endured sweltering temperatures in the 90s all afternoon.
Around 1 a.m. Tuesday, SWAT officers climbed the crane, but Thomas had spread grease near the cab to deter their advances. He slipped from a window, clung on for a while, then fell to his death.
Police say Thomas may have been involved in a robbery Monday in which a vehicle was stolen.
Ottawa Canada May 30 2012 Cops in Gatineau have arrested three men from New York City, suspected of trying to rip off the Casino de Lac Leamy to the tune of $13,000.
It happened around 11 p.m. Saturday, when cops got a call from the casino security staff about a fraud at a gaming table.
Security staffers recognized the trio, believing they were responsible for other frauds that happened between April 17-21.
The three individuals, originally from the Dominican Republic, are known to police for gaming fraud — mostly in the U.S.
Cops are seeking a fourth suspect– a man in his early 30s, also a native of the Dominican Republic, who lives in New York.
The three men — two of them are 25 years old, the other is 23 — could face charges of fraud over $5,000 and attempted fraud.
They are currently in custody and could appear in Gatineau court Tuesday.
The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus of Howell reports (http://bit.ly/KKQPxE ) a hospital in Ann Arbor said Tuesday that 52-year old Susan Hazzard was released. She was hit May 15 outside Hartland High School in Hartland Township, about 40 miles northwest of Detroit. She initially was in critical condition.
Authorities were awaiting the results of a blood test for illegal drugs before determining whether to seek charges against the driver.
The sheriff’s department said a preliminary investigation showed the Brighton teen dropped something on car’s floor and bent down to retrieve it but hit the gas pedal.
LAS VEGAS NV May 30 2012 – Metro Police have arrested a 34-year-old youth soccer coach for sexual assault.
Marvin Geovanny Juarez was arrested Sunday at a southeast valley park where he coached. He is facing four counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of lewdness with a minor under 14, and two counts of unlawful contact with a minor.
According to the arrest report, police say Juarez sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy who was a member of the soccer team he coached. The report says Juarez assaulted the boy on two separate occasions.
Metro Police are holding a news conference at 2 p.m. to discuss the case.
In one case, Leal is accused of misusing a city-issued gas card. That investigation led to his firing last month from the police department.
In the second case, the former officer is accused of making a false claim as part of an enforcement operation funded by a federal grant.
Leal, 32, of Delphi turned himself in to Cass County Jail about 4:45 p.m. Friday after a warrant was issued for his arrest, Sheriff Randy Pryor said.
County Prosecutor Kevin Enyeart said the warrant was issued for two class D felony charges of theft.
“There were two separate issues,” he said.
Leal could not be reached Saturday for comment. He had already bonded out of jail.
The officer was fired from the Logansport Police Department on April 5 for charging “inappropriate expenses to a city account,” Mayor Ted Franklin said at the time. He declined to say what the expenses were or how much money was involved.
Franklin also said the move came after an internal investigation and that a report of that investigation would be filed with the prosecutor’s office shortly after that date.
The mayor did not return a call for comment Saturday.
Enyeart said Saturday that one charge of theft related to Leal’s use of a city gas card to fill up his personal vehicle, which is what the internal investigation focused on.
The matter then was investigated further by the Indiana State Police, which just wrapped up its portion, the prosecutor said.
Enyeart said he filed a second count of theft based on an investigation into a claim Leal filed during an enforcement operation targeting drunk drivers in March.
He said retired Lt. Cathi Collins, LPD Operation Pullover coordinator, investigated that incident.
Reached Saturday, Collins said that officers working such enforcement pushes, which are funded by federal grants, must file paperwork for their time.
Leal reported working two days during Operation Pullover, but when reviewing his paperwork, Collins determined the “documentation that he turned in to me did not appear to be legitimate,” she said.
She said could not elaborate further on the matter.
It’s unclear if an initial hearing date has been set in the case.
Enyeart said the charges are punishable by up to three years in prison.
James “Troy” Durham, now working as custodian at a high school in the county, sued Somerset County Sheriff Robert N. Jones in September 2010. Last week, the jury awarded Durham $412,000 in economic losses and $700,000 in noneconomic damages. He had originally sought $10 million.
“It was a long time coming, but Mr. Durham is very pleased with the outcome,” said his attorney, Howard B. Hoffman. “This goes a good way toward restoring his good name and reputation in Somerset County. ”
The underlying incident occurred on Aug. 21, 2008, when Durham was involved in a high-speed chase with the driver of a motorcycle. Durham was able to stop the motorcycle but the driver struggled with him during the arrest.
In court records, Durham said he had to knee the driver in the ribs repeatedly, spray him with pepper spray and use open-handed strikes in order to handcuff him. He said all of the tactics were within the use of force protocol of the county department. However, Durham did not charge the driver with resisting arrest or assault.
A few days after the arrest, Durham said, a supervisor told him the suspect claimed he had been injured. According to the lawsuit, two higher-ranking officers then questioned Durham about the arrest and why he had not charged the suspect with resisting arrest and assault.
Things came to a head nine days after the arrest, Durham alleged. A detective sergeant told him there was a problem with his initial police report and that he needed to delete three supplemental reports and scrub out mentions of use of force from the original report. He was also told to add charges of assault and resisting arrest.
Durham said when he refused to alter the report, the detective sergeant told him he was suspended and might be facing assault charges himself.
Facing arrest and suspension, Durham changed the report and deleted the supplemental reports.
But, on Sept. 4, 2008, he filed a grievance with the Somerset County Commissioners over what had happened. The commissioners voted to suspend Durham. He alleged that the commissioners told him an investigation would be conducted into the Aug. 21 arrest, and the investigators would include the same higher-ranking officers he had submitted the grievance about.
The investigators found numerous violations, but at an administrative hearing before a trial board, Durham was found guilty only of two: disseminating department material (to the media, among others) and unbecoming conduct.
The trial board recommended a 10-day suspension, but Jones instead fired Durham.
“[Durham] believed there was wrongdoing in the department and he filed a grievance about it,” Hoffman said. “And, he paid for that request in the form of his job. ”
In the original lawsuit, Durham sued Jones in his personal and official capacity and the county was a named defendant. As the case progressed, the county was dropped as a defendant and the complaint was amended to name Jones solely in his personal capacity.
H Scott Curtis, with the Office of the Maryland Attorney General, represented Jones. Curtis said a decision has not been made yet on what step to take next.
“The sheriff is considering his options and has not made up his mind yet whether or not to appeal,” Curtis said.
An appeal on the trial board’s decision is pending before the Maryland Court of Specials Appeals, which heard oral arguments last October.