Monday, April 28, 2008
BATON ROUGE, LA. The Baton Rouge police chief has fired an officer accused of forcing a handcuffed man to the floor, kicking him hard enough to burst an internal organ, then using pepper spray on him.
Nathan Davis was fired Friday, after an internal investigation found that he used excessive force against Brian Townsend, 29, who has filed a lawsuit claiming that one of the officer’s kicks ruptured his bladder.
Told that Davis had been fired, Townsend said, “No way! No way! I can’t even describe how I feel right now!”
Chief Jeff LeDuff made Davis’ dismissal effective immediately, and the police department will forward the case to the FBI for review, police spokesman Sgt. Don Kelly said Friday.
“I have never been more proud of a police chief and officers in internal affairs in my lifetime,” Townsend’s lawyer, Aidan Reynolds, said Friday.
Townsend said four operations have left him with a 10-inch scar from his navel to his groin.
Police were sent to Townsend’s house about 3 a.m. March 4, during a going-away party he was giving for a friend.
“Apparently someone decided there were too many cars in front of his house. Then he got handcuffed, pepper sprayed and brutalized for hours,” Reynolds said.
Davis and Officer Nicholas Batiste were “very aggressive and confrontational” when they arrived, according to the suit, which names Davis and East Baton Rouge city-parish government as defendants. The suit, filed in March, says Townsend was calm and curteous but Davis tackled him to the ground.
After handcuffing Townsend, the lawsuit says, Davis kneed him in the back so forcefully that he defecated. It says Davis used pepper spray on Townsend when he asked why he was being arrested, and again at the Highland Road substation, where he was made to lie on the floor and ridiculed by other police officers, the lawsuit says.
It says Townsend’s pleas for medical help were ignored for 30 minutes.
“My client cares more about this officer being not allowed to brutalize other human beings more than this lawsuit,” Reynolds said. “He’s been terrified that this cop’s still running around on the street with a badge and a gun.”
Davis, 29, had spent four years with the Police Department as a member of the uniformed patrol division, Kelly said. He declined to elaborate on the investigation further, saying it was a personnel issue.
Townsend, a manager at Chili’s, spent 108 days on medical leave due to his injuries. His first day back at work was Friday.
“For both of these huge events to happen in the same day just kind of seems like karma,” Townsend said.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Three more Chicago police officers were charged Monday with corruption, only three months after four rogue officers faced charges of using their badges to break into homes and rob them.
Thirty-eight-year-old Frank Villareal and 32-year-old Margaret Hopkins are charged with home invasion and official misconduct. Forty-year-old James McGovern is charged only with official misconduct. The officers turned themselves Monday as part of an ongoing corruption investigation.
"Abusive Chicago police officers have been allowed to perpetuate abuse in Chicago with virtual absolute impunity," said Craig Futterman, a law professor at the University of Chicago.
Futterman has researched citizen complaints against Chicago police. A percentage cause big problems and there's no system in place to track them.
"Just 5 percent is responsible for the overwhelming majority of the abuse complaints. Two-hundred sixty-two officers have 11 or more complaints," Futterman said.
Officers Jerome Finnigan, 43, Keith Herrera, 28, Thomas Sherry, 32, and Carl Suchocki, 32, were arrested in September.
Bond was set in September in the millions for all four.
Prosecutors say the officers abused their authority to terrorize and steal from people. They say the men allegedly forced their way into homes of drug dealers and ordinary citizens. The officers allegedly took everything from drugs to guns and in come cases thousands of dollars in cash.
Prosecutors said there were numerous cases where the officers never showed up in court to testify, which allowed alleged drug dealers to go free.
Futterman says there were plenty of red flags about their behavior long before their arrests.
"Even with these special operations group guys, they have 50 or more complaints. They were never disciplined, identified, or flagged in any way," Futterman said.
In a statement, Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline said Monday's arrests "further illustrate the department's ongoing commitment to root out bad cops who violate the public's trust and the professional integrity of the Chicago Police Department. Since 2003, the department has remained committed and continues to be vigilant in identifying patterns of misconduct."
Pressure on the department to deal with corruption allegations has intensified. Cline pointedly said no one is above the law, and misconduct on any level will not be tolerated.
But Futterman insists even the worst cops know there's little oversight.
"Officers with 11 or more complaints know with 99 percent certainty nothing will happen to them due to citizen abuse complaints," Futterman said.
Cline has implicitly admitted oversight has been lax in the past but says new systems are being tested to identify troubling patterns of conduct.
About 20 San Francisco police officers will be suspended because of their alleged involvement in what the mayor and police chief describe as videos that mock minorities and treat women as sex objects, the officials said Wednesday night.
"This is a dark day -- an extremely dark day -- in the history of the San Francisco Police Department for me as a chief to have to stand here and share with you such egregious, shameful and despicable acts by members of the San Francisco Police Department,'' Chief Heather Fong said at a City Hall press conference.
An officer at the department's Bayview Station, who is among those ordered suspended, produced the videos over the past two years using other officers and acquaintances and intended them as morale boosters, he and his attorney said Wednesday night. The officer denied he had done anything wrong, and his attorney said the suspensions were a politically motivated attack on free speech.
Many of those ordered suspended are connected to Bayview Station, including its former captain, Rick Bruce, who went on leave three months ago for unrelated reasons. He appears in one of the videos, which was shot while he was still on duty.
The five videos shown at Wednesday's press conference with Fong and Mayor Gavin Newsom depict officers, some in uniform, responding to a variety of mock calls. One video shows a homeless black woman railing against white people after apparently being hit by a patrol car, followed by an officer grumbling about having to deal with her. "They get us involved with their business,'' the officer said.
Another video depicts an officer ogling a woman he has stopped for a traffic violation. One shows two officers attempting tai chi to vaguely Asian music. The two later go into a massage parlor and radio dispatchers try unsuccessfully to reach them -- the suggestion being the two are having sex with masseuses.
One video, with the theme to the old TV show "Charlie's Angels" as the soundtrack, shows various officers saying, "Oh, captain," and flicking their tongues suggestively. The captain involved, Bruce, flicks his tongue in apparent response -- although the officer who produced the videos said Bruce had not known what the shot was to be used for.
One of those depicted in that sequence is the same homeless woman who was earlier shown yelling about white people. Another is a police officer dressed as a transgender person.
In another video, a female officer is shown putting on lipstick in the middle of a mock drug raid.
Newsom called the videos the tipping point that will lead to changing the culture of the Police Department.
"Enough is enough,'' said Newsom, who promised dramatic changes, including the creation of a panel to review the entire department's operations.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Commander Louie Tovar is with the Phoenix Police. He was with Family Investigations Bureau (FIB) but was recently demoted to work Transit. This is our befuddled "going nowhere-starting nowhere" Lightrail project in Phoenix. This seems fitting and appropo for Louie.
While with FIB, Louie Tovar never bothered to learn how to use the new phone system the
Phoenix Police Department installed in 2007. This ineptitude lead him to forget, to hang up the phone. He had my voicemail on speaker phone while he spoke to his staff about me. The other voices in the recording are Sandra Renteiria and Brandon Huntley - both of the Phoenix Police Department. All Recording came from my cell phone and are accompanied by a notarized document for authenticity.
This recording is Louie telling his staff to keep me from going to his boss, Chief Jack Harris, of the Phoenix Police. He states how he needs to get me "off his ass" and how "what a problem" I have become and not to "do it now." You see, I pointed out a major mistake to Louie and his staff, and he didn't like that. Brandon Huntely screamed at me telling me, "to get over it and let this go." Cops are arrogant and one can't point out to them their flaws and mistakes.
Here's the transcript:
"So you have to be wary of the fact there...he'll ask the same questions of Chief Harris and will turn around and say, Why can't we make him a Subject? It's about getting this guy off our ass...Right? That's the problem, That's the problem. I'm not saying do it now...."
So what exactly do you think Louie and his staff were not going to do now?
"I'm not saying do it now???!!???
Wrongfully arrest me? Shoot me and plant a gun in my hand? Harrass me? Bug my phone? What was the "it" Louie Tovar?
To make matters worse, here is yet another recording of Louie Tovar, calling me a Dickweed for questioning him and his authority.
If you don't believe there is corruption in the Phoenix Police Department, just listen how behind closed doors Louie Tovar and his staff, refer to dealing with us as "a fucking game". I am so glad and feel so comforted that Commander Louie Tovar of the Phoenix Police Department thinks that his job is "a game" and everytime someone in the community calls and questions him, we automatically become "dickweeds." I would like to read about this in the Police Code of Conduct.
Here's the transcript:
"It's a game. It's the fucking nature of the game with these dickweeds...ya know?" You can clearly here Sandra Renteiria affirmation of "Yeah" agreeing with him.
A complaint against Louie Tovar and FIB was filed with the Phoenix Police Professional Standards Bureau (FIB - their Internal Affairs) in August of 2007, mentioning these recordings and threatening comments made by Louie Tovar. Two months later we received a letter back stating that a "thorough investigation was conducted" and they found nothing wrong, or any wrong doing by Louie or his staff.
We are unaware how they can conduct an investigation without ever reaching out to us, requesting these recordings or ever interviewing us. Frankly, we don't think any investigation was done because subsequent requests for transcripts, notes, recordings or any documentation related to this investigation have gone unanswered by chief Jack Harris, Professional Standards Bureau, mayor Phil Gordon or the City Manager's office. One would think there would be some evidence of this "thorough investigation"...No?
If they ever provide it, we will post it here too. We heard that documentation is being forwarded to us on this supposed investigation and we are cautiously optimistic. We still don't comprehend how an investigation is conducted by the police, by only speaking with the police, when the complaint is against the police.
None of us can figure out where these cops get the authority and right to speak to, and order citizens in this way. It can only come from poor leadership and lack of good management. The arrogance is so real and so mind blowing, we just can't make this stuff up!!!
Authorities are disciplining a Trenton police detective who waited more than two years to tell the family of a missing woman that she was dead.
Detective Edgar Rios is charged with 28 departmental violations and has been removed from the homicide unit.
The city's Officer of the Year for 2007 has said he waited to disclose Amber Ramsey's death because he wanted to make sure forensic evidence checked out. But Police Director Joseph Santiago says there's no evidence that was the case.
Rios' administrative charges include failure to follow leads and failure to document his work. Two of his supervisors, including his brother, have also been transferred.
Ramsey was reported missing in February 2006 and her body was found, along with a coat that contained ID, seven months later.
Her parents were not notified until last month. She apparently died of a drug overdose.
It's noon on a Thursday and former San Francisco Police Chief Earl Sanders, accompanied by his wife, Espanola, is holding court at the Washington Square Bar & Grill in North Beach, reminiscing about his nearly 40 years as a cop.
The more than a dozen people seated at his large table are there at the invitation of longtime Sanders pal and attorney Phil Ryan. There are other lawyers, a reporter, a cop, and a lobbyist. Sanders doesn't know some of them, but that's OK — this isn't a social gathering. Rather, at $50 a head, including lunch, it's an attempt by the former chief at generating some positive buzz about a book he has written and is promoting with near evangelical zeal.
The Zebra Murders, co-written with TV and film scriptwriter Bennett Cohen, purports to set the record straight about the investigation into a series of racially motivated serial killings in 1973 and 1974 that are among the most horrific — and least talked about — crimes in San Francisco history. But even his friends acknowledge that the book is also an attempt by the city's first and only African-American police chief to set his own record straight.
Until now, at least, what most people associate with Earl Sanders' brief and generally un-noteworthy 14-month tenure as the city's top cop is the Fajitagate scandal. He and most of his command staff were indicted for — and later absolved of — covering up a police probe of a 2002 street brawl, allegedly over a bag of fajitas, involving three young off-duty cops. Obstruction of justice charges were later dropped and Sanders obtained a rare factual finding of innocence from a Superior Court judge. Fajitagate wasn't his only problem at the time. The year after the scandal broke, a U.S. District Court judge released two African-Americans that Sanders and an old partner in homicide allegedly framed for murder. By the time he retired in September 2003, after six months of medical leave, his reputation was in tatters. He'd been trashed in the local press. Detractors openly mocked the leave as a sympathy ploy despite his having suffered a minor stroke. Even his one-time patron, and the man who appointed him, former Mayor Willie Brown, asked him to quit.
Fleeing the limelight, the 69-year-old Sanders retreated to the Sacramento suburb of Folsom, where he has long maintained a home (and, ironically, home to the state prison where some of the former homicide detective's criminal "clients" wound up behind bars). He went there to lick his wounds, care for his health, and, so it seemed, to settle into a life of obscurity.
Now, he's back.
He's going full-tilt as a new author, whether at intimate affairs such as the one in North Beach, or at book signings, readings, or doing remote interviews with radio stations across the country, often accompanied by co-author Cohen. It seems that a three-decades-old tale of racially inspired terrorism has struck a resonant chord in places far from San Francisco in the years since Sept. 11, 2001. "Earl is really in his element and enjoying himself, and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving person," says Ryan, who was Sanders' lawyer during the Fajitagate mess.
But in the four months since The Zebra Murders hit store shelves, the book has done more than merely rekindle interest in a bloody and racially ugly epoch. It has also dredged up old dissensions within San Francisco law enforcement circles, and a few former cops have even stalked Sanders at book signings in the Bay Area. Critics accuse Sanders of recasting himself, both as a star sleuth in the Zebra investigation, and as a civil rights hero in a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by a group of black cops in the 1970s. "I read it and didn't think much of it," retired cop Dennis Bianchi says of the book. "To me, it isn't so much about the [Zebra] killings as it is about promoting Earl Sanders."
The book is sold locally at Barnes and Nobles in Daly City.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Indicted by a grand jury and warned by the district attorney that "no one in San Francisco is above the law," six of the city's top police commanders have stepped aside, leaving the department in shambles.
Police Chief Earl Sanders was preparing to take a medical leave, and appointed an acting assistant chief Monday.
The moves were the latest development in a police corruption scandal that erupted last week with the indictments of Sanders and the six other commanders for allegedly obstructing justice by hindering a police investigation into an off-duty brawl involving three officers — including a troubled rookie whose father is Sanders' top aide.
The officers, who allegedly demanded two men hand over a doggie bag of steak fajitas Nov. 20, have been accused of felony assault and battery and were suspended without pay, a police spokesman said.
A contentious Police Commission meeting illustrated how the scandal had rocked the city — both on and off the force. Rank-and-file officers lined up to praise their accused leaders, while some citizens pleaded for reforms for what they perceive as a pattern of police corruption.
"This is a cautionary tale for police departments all over the country," said Jimani Jakada of the group Bay Area Police Watch, who criticized the police for closing ranks around the indicted chief. "They're saying they're blue, I'm blue, I'll stand with you."
Officers representing various segments of the force — black, Hispanic, Asian, and gay and lesbian officers — urged the commission to keep the command staff intact.
"This department is up and running and we'll continue to serve the people," said Chris Cunnie, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association. "We stand by these people."
Mayor Willie Brown, who has steadfastly supported Sanders and the police investigation into the off-duty fight and the alleged cover-up, pulled back from the controversy and did not offer public comment.
But the mayor's rival, District Attorney Terence Hallinan, said he was stunned by the latest turn.
"I understand the public feelings of shock, outrage, anger and apprehension," Hallinan said.
After the Police Commission meeting, its president Connie Perry announced Sanders had accepted the offers of the six commanders to "step aside and go on leave." Then commissioners adjourned, saying they needed to gather more information about the indictments.
It wasn't clear when Sanders might relinquish control of the department. Assistant Chief Alex Fagan and Deputy Chief David Robinson were also among those stepping down.
Heather Fong, one of the few untainted police managers, was elevated to be acting assistant chief, effectively running the department.
The turmoil began with a sidewalk confrontation between Fagan's son, Alex Fagan Jr., a 23-year-old rookie, and two other officers who had been drinking at a police banquet to celebrate the mayor's promotion of the elder Fagan to the department's No. 2 spot.
At closing time, Fagan Jr. and officer Matthew Tonsing allegedly accosted Adam Snyder, 22, who tends bar nearby, and his friend, Jade Santoro, 25, as officer David Lee, the designated driver, pulled up in his pickup truck.
Snyder, who said he had no idea the men punching them were police, called 911 on his cell phone.
Police arrived and took the officers away before Snyder and Santoro could identify them. Fagan Jr., Tonsing and Lee also were allegedly allowed to change their clothes and drink lots of water before they were tested for alcohol, more than four hours later.
It turned out Fagan Jr. had at least 16 violent encounters with suspects in a 13-month period, sending six of them to the hospital, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
But other higher-ups apparently took little action other than to counsel him about his conduct and order anger management training — a course he never took.
The officers involved, still in the San Francisco area including Daily City and Pacifica.
Judge Throws Out Hamburg Medical Marijuana Case; Mendocino County Sheriffs Department “ommited truth”
And this is what we get out of the people who are supposed to protect us?
From the Press Democrat:
Former county prosecutor Keith Faulder, Hamburg’s attorney, accused sheriff’s deputies in court Thursday of deceiving a local judge who was convinced to sign a warrant to search her home on property owned by her parents, former Rep. Dan Hamburg, D-Ukiah, and his wife, Carrie.
Faulder said authorities had “wildly inflated” the amount of processed marijuana found
UKIAH — Prosecution of community activist Laura Hamburg on felony marijuana charges is in doubt following a Mendocino County judge’s decision to quash a search warrant in the high-profile case.
The ruling means evidence seized during a raid on her home can’t be used against her, and it raises the possibility that the pending criminal case could be dropped. That prospect Thursday buoyed Hamburg’s family and friends, as well as supporters of county medical marijuana policies.
Hamburg said after her court victory that widespread publicity surrounding her case has unfairly branded her as a criminal.
“People think I’m some kind of big-time grower, but I’m not. It was just a family operation,” said Hamburg after Thursday’s hearing.
Former county prosecutor Keith Faulder, Hamburg’s attorney, accused sheriff’s deputies in court Thursday of deceiving a local judge who was convinced to sign a warrant to search her home on property owned by her parents, former Rep. Dan Hamburg, D-Ukiah, and his wife, Carrie.
Faulder said they failed to disclose in their sworn statement that Laura Hamburg had provided them with valid county-issued medical marijuana documentation showing that two other individuals — her sister Elizabeth Hamburg and neighbor Jean North — were also involved in the pot-growing operation.
Judge James Luther, a retired Superior Court judge presiding over Thursday’s hearing, agreed.
Luther ruled that the documentation was crucial because the number of pot plants growing at Hamburg’s home appeared to be within county guidelines if three people were in fact involved.
“Based on the evidence presented today, I don’t believe the search warrant would have been issued,” said Luther.
Deputy District Attorney Scott McMenomey said Thursday he was unsure whether he will try to prosecute Hamburg, given the diminished evidence.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens,” said McMenomey. Luther ordered another hearing to be held March 13.
At the time of the raid in October, sheriff investigators said at least 50 mature pot plants, about 50 pounds of processed marijuana, and $10,000 in cash were found on the Hamburg property. Faulder said authorities had “wildly inflated” the amount of processed marijuana found, a volume which could have been worth $150,000 or more in the underground pot market.
Hamburg’s pot-growing case has been high-profile from the beginning, when top sheriff’s department brass, 11 drug agents and at least two deputy district attorneys went to the family compound last fall after being alerted that marijuana was being cultivated.
Deputies were seeking to serve a warrant on Hamburg’s brother, Matt, for violating a civil restraining order when they noticed the growing pot.
“I initially welcomed the first two officers onto the property because I knew we were in conformance with county law,” said Hamburg.
But Hamburg said she became increasingly “fearful” as the number of law enforcement officers swelled.
“I’m not some criminal,” she said.
Other towns in Mendocino County include: Willits, CA , Laytonville, CA , and Ukiah, CA .
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Peyton Strickland, 18, was killed Friday at a house he shared with three roommates, New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey said.
"If this boy would've come to the door, opened the door, we probably wouldn't be talking," the sheriff said Sunday.
Strickland was unarmed when he was shot through the door by sheriff's Cpl. Christopher M. Long.
Causey said Monday he couldn't yet discuss the circumstances of the shooting, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported on its Web site.
"I am anxious to tell what happened," Causey said after he was sworn in for a new term as sheriff. "In a few days, we'll be able to. For now, it just wouldn't be right."
Asked if the deputies felt their lives were threatened, Causey said, "Anytime you have a high-risk entry like this, you feel that your life is at risk." He declined to say what made the arrest high risk.
Arrest warrants alleged that Strickland, a student at Cape Fear Community College, and a University of North Carolina at Wilmington student stole two PlayStation units from another UNC Wilmington student that day.
The sheriff said Strickland was shot by members of a a special police unit who went to help university officers serve warrants.
Strickland's dog, a German shepherd, also was shot to death.
The State Bureau of Investigation is examining the case and three deputies on the team were placed on paid leave, Causey said.
Cpl. Christopher Long
In March 2008, New Hanover County, N.C., agreed to pay $4.25 million to the parents of college student Peyton Stickland, who was killed when deputy Christopher Long, claims to have mistook the sound of a SWAT battering ram for a gunshot and fired through the door as Strickland came to answer it.
Sammy Galvan, 22, was shot eight times before he had a chance to comply with the officers' commands, posing no threat as he leaped out of bed and grabbed a knife to protect himself from intruders. The Galvan family's attorney is seeking $3 million for Galvan's parents and points out that Galvan's wounds show that he could not have been taking aim.
Twelve jurors will decide after they hear from all involved when the wrongful death case comes to trial today in U.S. District Court in Fresno. An attorney representing the Galvans said a trial is the only way to get justice for a young man who died at police hands but committed no crime.
"These cases are hard," said Oakland-based attorney Walter Riley, who declined to discuss the case in detail. "But they have to be tried sometimes."
Senior Deputy City Attorney James Wilson, who represents the officers, could not be reached for comment.
The Stanislaus County district attorney's office is reviewing cases involving former Turlock police officer Jorge Cruz, who is charged with three felony sex crimes against a 17-year-old Pitman High School student and one misdemeanor count of inappropriately touching a 16-year-old Turlock girl.
Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley said her office will review Cruz's work on a "case-by-case basis," and if Cruz is active in any pending cases as a witness or investigator, defense attorneys will be made aware of his situation.
It's the second time in recent months that the arrest of a Stanislaus County law enforcement officer has forced prosecutors and attorneys to re-examine cases involving those officers. Their involvement can give defense attorneys a chance to challenge a verdict.
Michael Galvan, a former sheriff's deputy who had been accused of rape and stealing public money, pleaded no contest to two lesser charges in Stanislaus County Superior Court on Thursday as part of a plea deal that will result in a 16-month prison sentence.
The sentencing of Jose Ulisses Duran, who was found guilty of killing 11-year-old Doris Castro, his girlfriend's little sister, was held up for months because Galvan acted as a translator in the case. It was determined that Galvan didn't have a significant role in the investigation.
"There have been a few cases in which a deputy is charged, and we have to look at each case or notify defense and let them make a motion," Shipley said. "It depends on the case. Was he the first arresting officer? Was he the second officer on the scene?"
Shipley didn't know how many cases involved Cruz.
Any case he participated in as an officer is subject to question, especially cases in which he was the lead investigator or sole provider of crucial evidence, said Stanislaus County Public Defender Tim Bazar.
Cruz, who had been with the Turlock Police Department three years but no longer works there, met the 17-year-old through the Explorer program, which encourages teens interested in law enforcement to work with local police.
Cruz also is charged with dissuading a witness from testifying on the day police announced his arrest.
Would a jury think twice?
"I would guess a jury would have a lot of problems with someone sworn to uphold the law engaged in sexual impropriety with an underage member of the community," Bazar said. "It would give a lot of pause. It affects creditability very sharply."
Cases such as home invasions and violent crimes are less likely to be affected, he said, because several officers often arrive at those scenes and a number of people are involved in collecting evidence such as witness or victim statements.
DUI cases, on the other hand, are different, Bazar said. With DUIs, a single officer is usually the sole investigator, witnessing the car swerving, conducting the field sobriety test, running the Breathalyzer at the jail.
"You can expect that to be dismissed by prosecution," Bazar said.
Maybe not, said Martha Carlton-Magaña, who spent 30 years in the public defender's office and now has a private practice in Modesto. The original rape charge against Cruz was dropped. Unlawful sexual intercourse, sodomy of a person under 18 and oral copulation were added. Many potential jurors wouldn't have a problem with a consensual relationship with a 17-year-old, Carlton-Magaña said, and that's what the charges suggest.
Cruz is scheduled to appear in Stanislaus County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. April 2.
The district attorney's office took over the investigation of Cruz from Turlock Police as soon as allegations were made. Police Chief Gary Hampton said his department will assign a full-time investigator to review Cruz's previous cases if needed.
The department has reviewed all of Cruz's hiring paperwork, an elaborate series of background checks and interviews, and there were no red flags, Hampton said.
But for more than a year, residents of Turlock's west side have questioned Cruz's integrity and lodged formal complaints against him at the Police Department.
Suave Barnel said she has complained about harassment by Cruz several times. Her 16-year-old son, Luis Peralta, along with Moses Rodriguez Jr., 25, were killed in October 2006 on Kerley Lane in south Turlock.
Peralta and Rodriguez arrived at a party at 986 Kerley Lane as a group of young men and teen- agers in the street started smashing cars and causing trouble, Barnel said.
Shots came from the back yard of the home. Peralta and Rodriguez died from gunshot wounds to the head.
At the time, 986 Kerley Lane was rented by relatives of Cruz.
After the shooting, Barnel and her family were stopped several times by Cruz, as were relatives of Rodriguez, Barnel said.
Barnel said she thinks Cruz was fearful of retaliation against him and his family. He wanted information: "Who was after him? Who put a price on his head? Who in his family were they looking for?" Barnel said. "He pulled us over constantly and he never gave us a ticket."
Hampton acknowledged Barnel's complaints and said he wrote her personal letters discussing the case. Barnel said she's never seen a letter from the department.
Other officers in trouble
Cruz and Galvan are the most recent example of officers finding themselves in handcuffs. Others include:
A Stanislaus County sheriff's jailer was arrested on the job in January on suspicion of continuous sexual abuse of a child, a felony that carries a possible sentence of six, 12 or 16 years in prison. Deputy Alfred Lowell Husky pleaded not guilty in March and is free on bail.
A former Ripon police officer was sentenced to three years of probation and 30 days in jail for lewd acts and misdemeanor attempted sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old girl. Daniel Icedo pleaded guilty to the charges in August.
"Police officers never think they'll be caught. They enter into these shady crimes and can do shady things because they think they'll never be caught," said William Bourns, associate professor of criminal justice at California State University, Stanislaus. "They ride the edge."
Bourns said ethics are pounded into recruits and criminal justice majors -- he teaches "Police Ethics and Liability" at the university -- but students tend to sleep through it. There's a sense in most people that they know right from wrong, so they tune out, Bourns said. Problems are compounded when individuals who haven't paid attention start to think, "I am the law," he said.
"Officers engaged in these shady behaviors, they start to think, 'It's OK, I'm a police officer,' " he said. "It's a slippery slope and they usually slide until they get caught."