Saturday, January 28, 2006

Officer Dies After Collapsing During Pursuit

A 31-year-old cop who always wanted to be a police officer collapsed and died Friday night after grappling with a robbery suspect on the Upper East Side, police said.

Kevin Lee, a 10-year NYPD veteran from the Bronx, was pronounced dead at 7:35 p.m. at Lenox Hill Hospital, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who rushed to the hospital Friday night to meet with the officer's wife, parents and sister. It was not immediately clear what caused the officer to collapse.

"We just don't know whether it was an aneurysm or his heart or what it was," said Bloomberg, who added Lee was a tall, strapping guy who looked to be in great shape.

"All his life he wanted to be a police officer," Bloomberg said, adding that Lee took courses in high school to become a police officer and also attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Lee and two other cops were chasing three men who had just ripped off a laptop computer from Snappy, a Lexington Avenue shop at 86th Street that sells goods on eBay at about 6 p.m. Three officers started chasing the suspects and one of the officers went back to the store and was told by one of the clerks that a laptop was missing. Lee, already in pursuit of the suspects, grabbed one of them, according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and then Lee collapsed.

Later on, police captured two of the suspects and charged them with grand larceny and resisting arrest. The charges could be upgraded, they said Friday night. "The charges depend on the result of the autopsy and the nature of the struggle," Kelly said.

Lee, who grew up on Staten Island, had been assigned to a borough-wide larceny team for two years. Prior to the chase, he and three other officers had been in that area, at Lexington Avenue and 86th Street, to watch for suspicious behavior.

"The incident underscores the tension and high pressure that officers on patrol face every minute. At any moment, danger can strike," Kelly said.

Bloomberg described Lee as "an outstanding officer" and "devoted to duty" who made more than 200 arrests. In addition to his wife, Lee has a 6-year-old son.

At a news conference Friday night, Bloomberg said, "They all said that this was a person who wanted to be a police officer, and he was so proud to be one of New York Finest. He relished the job every day.

"It's another one of those tragedies that no one can ever explain."

Earlier this month, a Brooklyn cop, Officer Francis Hennessy, 35, of the 70th Precinct, died of an aneurysm responding to a call of a man with a gun.

Officer Sues HPD Over 'Gag Order' On Chase Rule

A Houston police officer who was disciplined for criticizing the department's chase policy filed a lawsuit Friday, contending his free speech and civil rights are being violated.

After the Jan. 19 chase, which ended in a head-on collision, officer Thomas Nixon complained publicly that the Houston Police Department policy wasn't strict enough to allow officers to stop suspects before injuries to other motorists. There were two women — one suffered minor injuries — and an infant in the other vehicle.

In the federal lawsuit, Nixon, who has been assigned to desk duty, is seeking an immediate return to his duties as a patrol officer, said his attorney Chad Hoffman. Nixon, a patrol officer for 10 years, claims his right to free speech has been violated by "a gag order" by Police Chief Harold Hurtt, Hoffman said.

The lawsuit also asks U.S. District Judge David Hittner to issue a temporary restraining order to force the HPD to allow Nixon to exercise his constitutional right to free speech.

After criticizing the HPD chase policy, "Officer Nixon was hauled into the chief's office and told not to talk anymore," Hoffman said.

The next day, Nixon received a memo from an assistant chief of internal affairs, ordering him not to comment about pending investigations.

On Friday, Lt. Robert Manzo, an HPD spokesman, said no one in the department had seen a copy of the lawsuit.

Manzo said Hurtt issued an April 5 memorandum to all HPD officers that states officers "must refrain from criticizing the department" in a manner that "undermines the effectiveness of the department, interferes with discipline or recklessly disregards the truth."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Police Officer Investigates Own Robbery

A Swedish police officer robbed a bank - then returned a short while later to lead the hunt for the culprit.

The 36-year-old admitted to a charge of robbery and acquiring a car by making threats during a closed court hearing.

According to Swedish radio, he led a police investigation into the robbery that led to a raid on a flat and the arrest and remand of two people.

Colleagues became suspicious after he bought a new car using banknotes from the robbery, the court said.

At a court hearing in the town of Bollnas, he admitted robbing a branch of the Nordea Bank in the nearby coastal town of Soderhamn, 240km (150 miles) north of Stockholm.

He used threats to seize a car after the robbery on 17 December, the court was told.

'Deeply regretful'

Swedish radio Ekot said he is also accused of gross dereliction of duty for then leading the police investigation into the robbery.

This led to a raid on a flat in Soderhamn and the arrest of two people on suspicion of carrying out the crime.

His defence solicitor, KG Myhrberg was quoted by Ekot as saying his client was "deeply regretful" and did not know why he carried out the robbery.

"He is disconsolate about what he did, both in relation to his family and to others who are affected by the robbery," he said. "He cannot give any reasonable explanation for it."

The amount of money stolen has not made public, but is said to be sizeable, Reuters news agency reported.

Suspicion was raised after he bought a car for 219,000 Swedish crowns ($31,400) in mid-January.

NYPD Shootout With Uzi-toting Criminal

(Farragut, Brooklyn -WABC, January 21, 2006) -- Police in Brooklyn were involved in an early morning shootout with a man carrying an Uzi. But it's not the first time this suspect has been in the crosshairs of the NYPD.

One thing is clear about the suspect in this case: he doesn't like getting kicked out of clubs and restaurants. He was kicked out of local restaurant last June for smoking and the owner says the man nearly killed him. The this morning he was turned away from a club right up the street and that posed problems too: a shootout with police that left the gunman in critical condition.

It was just after 4:30 Saturday morning authorities say, that a 25-year-old man, Damien Henry, began firing at police on Utica Avenue.

The alleged weapon was a 9 mm Uzi. Al Zirino, who owns the bakery and ice cream shop up the block says he saw the whole thing on his surveillance video, which is now in the hands of police.

Al Zirino, Store Owner: "You could see it on the cameras and it went for about 30 seconds. There was a lot of rounds on the floor."

Police Tell us Damien Henry had tried to enter an after-hours club, showing a bouncer the Uzi. That's when someone at the club called police.

Meanwhile, the woman behind the door, who says she's the gunman's mother, had little to say about her son's criminal past. Henry is out on bail for another shooting in June at a restaurant nearby, where the owner tells us Henry nearly killed him.

Police tell us the gun in that case was the same gun used by Allen Cameron in the November shooting that killed Brooklyn police officer Dillon Stewart.

Al Zirino: "When the system lets these guys hit the street, it makes it bad for everybody."

We can also tell you people in this neighborhood considered Damien Henry to be close friends of Allen Cameron, who is accused of killing that police officer.

Henry was accused of shooting another police officer bad in 2002 but was acquitted in that case. Today the police commissioner is saying this man should have never been out on the street.

(Copyright 2006 WABC-TV)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Minneapolis Police Officer Returning Medal

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minneapolis police officer said Thursday that he would return a medal for bravery he received for a 1990 incident in which he shot and killed a teenager.

Sgt. Dan May cited the outburst of criticism that followed the awarding of the Medal of Valor last week by a committee of fellow officers and civilian police department employees. The criticism ``has adversely affected me and my family and has been a distraction to the police department. I hope that my decision to return the medal can put this matter to rest so that I, and everyone involved, can move forward,'' May said in a letter to Police Chief Bill McManus.

May has always maintained that he shot 17-year-old Tycel Nelson in self defense in a case that had racial overtones. Nelson was black and May is white. In his letter, May said several investigations had cleared him of wrongdoing in the shooting. ``I have tried to move past this, but the refusal of some people to accept the facts and findings of the case is frustrating,'' he said.

Though he was returning the medal, May said ``it means a lot to have received validation'' from his colleagues.

McManus, who had said he was caught off guard when he learned that the medal was being awarded, apologized Thursday in a meeting with Nelson's mother, Earline Skinner, and other family members. Skinner said that May's return of the medal ``makes me feel a whole lot better.''

``God works for all of us,'' she said. ``Maybe now all of the truth will come out.''

The shooting occurred after May arrived at the scene of a gang shooting and chased a man he believed was armed. After momentarily losing sight of the suspect, May said, he saw the man raise a gun at him. The officer said he fired after the man ignored an order to drop the weapon.

Nelson's family said the young man did nothing wrong. The family's attorneys contested the officer's account, pointing out that Nelson had been shot in the back and that the gun found at the scene bore no fingerprints traceable to him.

A grand jury declined to indict May, but the city paid Nelson's family $250,000 to settle a lawsuit.

Injured Police officer Run Over By Pickup Truck

PORTLAND, Maine --A Waldoboro police officer faces months of recovery from lower body injuries after two bank robbery suspects rammed their stolen pickup truck into his police cruiser on Route 32 in Jefferson and pushed it on top of him.

Officer Jeff Fuller said his assailants tried to kill him and might have succeeded if another injured officer hadn't fired a single shot at the pickup before it sped away.The suspects, Michael Kelley, 30, and Stephen Otis, 25, both of Westbrook, were being held at the Lincoln County Jail in Wiscasset following their appearances Thursday in Lincoln County Superior Court.

Kelley was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail and Otis on $20,000 cash bail on charges of bank robbery and aggravated attempted murder.From his bed at Maine Medical Center, Fuller described the incident that began Tuesday morning when a man armed with what turned out to be a pellet gun held up the Gardiner Savings Institution in Newcastle, left with cash stuffed into a backpack and took off with an accomplice in a heavy-duty pickup with dual rear wheels.

Fuller and Detective Sgt. Ken Hatch of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office were in pursuit of the truck when it suddenly stopped in the middle of Route 32 and the two officers stopped their cruisers behind it.

"When we got out, they put the truck in reverse and pretty much ran over us," said Fuller, 35. Keith Taylor, who watch the drama unfold from his home, said the pickup reversed at top speed, with tires spinning and smoking, and rammed Fuller's cruiser so hard that both vehicles lifted 4 to 5 feet off the ground.

Fuller was behind his car when the truck pushed it into him. "I went down. I never got a chance to get up," he said.The pickup pushed his cruiser's rear and front wheels over his lower body, Fuller said. He was trying to get his head out of the way of the truck, which was still backing up, when Hatch drew his guna and fired at the pickup."I was just wondering when it was going to end," Fuller said.

Police chased the truck back to Newcastle, where it hit spike mats and rolled over an embankment. Police arrested Kelley and Otis after a chase into woods. Otis said Kelley robbed the bank and both men told police that Kelley was behind the wheel of the pickup, according to an affidavit. Fuller suffered a broken left leg and broken pelvis and his right leg was dislocated from his hip. He said it could have ended worse and he hopes to return to work on the police force.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Woman Jailed For False Accusations Against Police Officer

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine --A 29-year-old woman who accused a police officer of sexual assault is behind bars after being charged with making up the story.

Shannon Wehkoja, whom police described as a transient from Massachusetts, was arrested Friday and charged with perjury, false swearing, filing a false report, violating a condition of release and possession of drugs.

Police Chief Edward Googins said Wehkoja accused Officer Ed Knutson of sexually touching her while taking her to jail after arresting her on a drunken-driving charge on Jan. 1.

But a video from Knutson's cruiser documented the trip and showed that Wehkoja made up the story, Googins said.

"The concern that the department had was, these charges could have been career-ending for the officer and they were totally false and fabricated," he said.

S.F. Police Officer Dragged By A Suspect's Car

A San Francisco police officer was recovering Sunday after he was dragged by a suspect's car following a double-shooting in the city that led to a high-speed chase, authorities said.

Craig Leong, a five-year veteran of the department, underwent surgery on Saturday for major leg injuries, police said.

Alfonso Sandoval, 23, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer and felony hit-and-run, among other charges.

The incident occurred after officers responded to a double-shooting in the city's Mission District Saturday afternoon. Two 17-year-old boys suffered non life threatening gunshot wounds, police said.

Officers who responded pursued a fleeing vehicle that soon crashed into a parked car. Leong approached but the driver sped off, dragging the officer who was clinging to the car, police Sgt. Neville Gittens said.

Leong eventually let go, and the suspect was arrested a short time later after he crashed again.

Sandoval had not yet been charged in the double-shooting, Gittens said.

The conditions of the shooting victims were not immediately available Sunday.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Cincinnati Police Officer Hurt In A Shootout

A Cincinnati police officer was wounded early today in a shootout in Bond Hill.

Officer Kristina Holtmann was taken to University Hospital after a man in a car officers pulled over in the 1100 block of California Avenue opened fire on her and Officer Lauren Smith about 1:45 a.m., police said.

Both officers fired at least four shots in return, with one of the bullets hitting the man, police said. It was not known which officer fired the shot that hit the man, police said.

Holtmann was treated in the emergency room at University Hospital for a wound to her cheek that was not considered life-threatening, police said. The bullet caused a 2½-inch gash from the center of her right cheek to the base of her right eye, said Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher.

Either that bullet or a second shot left a bullet hole in the brim of her cap, he said. "She's got a number of stitches in her face," Streicher said.

"An ophthalmologist is going to see her later today, and they're also going to do some more X-rays to make sure that she doesn't have any other type of internal damage in her face."

Holtmann and Smith were on routine patrol when they stopped the car and ran the license plate number. Information returned to them said the owner was wanted on an outstanding warrant, police said.

As the officers were placing the driver of the car under arrest, a passenger, later identified as Dante Person, 18, jumped out and fired at the officers, with one of the bullets hitting Holtmann in the cheek near her temple, police said. Both officers returned fire, with one bullet hitting Person in the upper right thigh, police said.

Person fled into a nearby house at 4913 Corinth St., police said. About an hour later, a police SWAT team secured the house and a canine unit was sent into the basement, where Person was found trying to bandage his wound with clothing that he had been wearing, police said. Person surrendered without incident, police said.

A .45-caliber automatic handgun, believed used by Person, was found in the rear of the house, police said.

Person was treated at the scene by a Cincinnati Fire Department Rescue Unit and also was taken to University Hospital, where he was undergoing surgery under police guard. Doctors said Person suffered a shattered femur in his right thigh and an artery had been severed in the leg, Streicher said.

Information about his condition was unavailable.

Smith suffered some psychological trauma from the incident and was sedated and treated by doctors at University Hospital, Streicher said. She later was released.

Holtmann has been a police officer since July 1999, Smith since May 2001, police said.

Injured Police Officer Heroic

A NORTHERN Territory (Australia) police officer seriously injured when she went to help victims of a fatal bus crash in Egypt was heroic, NT Police Commissioner Paul White said today. Senior Constable Carmen Butcher, 29, received a dislocated hip and fractured pelvis when a roof collapsed as she helped a seriously injured passenger.

Two other NT police, Superintendents Jeanette Kerr and Helen Braam, escaped injury when they went to the aid of crash victims.

All three women were in a second coach travelling behind the one that overturned near Cairo.

"It would seem that Jeanette was lucky enough to just get out of the way when the roof of the bus collapsed, but Carmen wasn't so lucky," Commissioner White told ABC Radio.

"It would certainly seem that her efforts, and in fact the efforts of all the territory police, were pretty heroic after you can imagine the shock of this."

Sen Con Butcher was expected to be operated on shortly, and could be back in Australia within a week, he said.

"Both Helen and Jeanette have ... taken the decision not to continue with their holiday ... and are standing by to assist Carmen and in fact other Australians injured in this terrible tragedy."

NT Chief Minister Clare Martin wished Sen Con Butcher a "speedy recovery", and offered her condolences to the families of those killed in the crash.

"There is something about being on a holiday ... of a lifetime and then an awful tragedy like this happening," she told ABC Radio.

"Certainly, I think all Territorians feel for those Victorian police officers and the others who have died in this crash."

Friday, January 06, 2006

Shaquille O'Neal To Tour Phoenix Jail Facility

PHOENIX -- Shaquille O'Neal's interest in law enforcement will get him a visit of a Phoenix jail facility.

Maricopa (Ariz.) County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says the Miami Heat star will tour the county's Tent City Jail Thursday evening.

Arpaio says Miami Beach Police Chief Don DeLucca will accompany O'Neal, who is a reserve Miami Beach police officer.

Arpaio says he'll discuss with his guests the pros and cons of a canvas incarceration compound. He also plans to swear in Shaq as a special deputy at the conclusion of the tour.

O'Neal and the Heat play the Phoenix Suns on Friday night in Phoenix.

Uninvolved Driver Hurt in Police Car Chase

A police pursuit late Thursday included a crash that left an Indianapolis police officer and an uninvolved driver injured. Two suspects who had fled the stolen car involved in the chase escaped and were being sought in a house-to-house search.

The injuries to Indianapolis Police Department K-9 Officer Andrew Branham and a woman driving the Dodge Neon he collided with about 9:10 p.m. at 38th Street and Washington Boulevard were not believed to be life-threatening. They were taken to Methodist Hospital.
Branham's police dog was not injured.

IPD Sgt. Bill Owensby said the chase began shortly before 9 p.m. when an officer was using an onboard computer to check license plates near 32nd and Illinois streets. The plates on a silver Porsche came back as stolen, and the officer tried to stop the car. However, the sports car sped off and the pursuit began, circling streets in the neighborhood before heading north on Washington, Owensby said.

The Porsche already had made it through the intersection of 38th and Washington when Branham and the eastbound Neon collided. Two men believed to have been in the Porsche abandoned it near 52nd Street and Washington in an upscale section of the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood. Police were going house to house there late Thursday, searching for the suspects.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 86 people -- including suspects and law enforcement officers -- died as a result of police pursuits in Indiana from 1993 through 2003. Twenty-five people were bystanders not involved in the chase. Nationally, more than 3,800 people were killed during the same period. Roughly a third were not part of the pursuit.

An analysis by The Indianapolis Star of 947 police pursuits in Indiana from 2003 and 2004 showed that IPD, the Marion County Sheriff's Department and the Indiana State Police are given wide discretion in pursuing suspects. Motorists were chased at speeds of 100 mph on city streets and more than 170 mph on an interstate highway.

Local police view chases as an important crime-fighting tool.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Queens Woman Run Over A Police Officer

NEW YORK (AP),U.S -- A Queens woman already accused of endangering her infant daughter has been arraigned on charges that she ran over a police officer who was arresting another motorist at a checkpoint for drunken drivers on New Year's Day.

Denise Messner, 28, was drunk when she struck police Officer John Walsh, his vehicle and the other motorist's car at about 1:30 a.m. on the Grand Central Parkway near the entrance to the Long Island Expressway, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Walsh, who had been arresting the other motorist for drunken driving when he was hit, suffered cuts, bruises, a head injury and a leg injury requiring surgery, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a news release.

A criminal complaint alleges that Messner smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot, watery eyes and slurred her speech. Her driver's license apparently was suspended, prosecutors said.

Messner was charged with second-degree assault, reckless driving, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and other offenses. She was arraigned on Monday night before Judge Joseph Zayas, who set bail at $250,000.

A telephone message left for Messner's lawyer was not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

Messner already faced charges including child endangerment and resisting arrest after she swung her 1-month-old daughter around in an infant carrier on Dec. 9 while screaming that she didn't want the baby, a criminal complaint said. That case is pending.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Texas Officers Charged With Beating Handcuffed Suspect

AUSTIN -- Three police officers accused of punching a handcuffed suspect and shocking him with their Tasers were indicted Friday on misdemeanor official oppression charges.

If convicted, Christopher Gray, William Heilman and Joel Follmer face up to a year in jail and could be fined up to $4,000.

Heilman, a four-year veteran with the Austin Police Department, resigned earlier this year. Gray, a six-year veteran, and Follmer, a rookie, are on restricted duty.

New York City - Safest Big City In America


New York City Once Again Safest Out of 25 Largest Cities in the Country;
FBI Statistics Show 3.4% Drop in Overall Crime Citywide for the First Six Months of 2005;
Violent Crime Offenses Decline by Nearly Six Times the National Average

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today announced that New York City continues to reduce overall crime to levels not seen in decades and remains the safest big city in America according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report for the first six months of 2005. According to the report, the City experienced a 3.4% drop in overall crime compared to 2004 figures. In the violent crime category, New York City experienced a 2.8% decrease, a drop of nearly six times the national decline of 0.5%. The City's the reduction in property crime by 3.6% also outpaced the national rate of 2.8%.

"Once again, New York City has the distinction of being America's safest big city. We've not only maintained that position, but improved upon it, making America's safest big city even safer," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Today's report by the FBI shows that we are decreasing crime in nearly every category across New York City and most importantly, our decrease in violent crime outpaces the nation by nearly six times. I want to thank the brave men and women of the NYPD for this remarkable achievement."

"This latest report reflects the focused crime fighting of the men and women of the Police Department, often at great risk and sacrifice," said Police Commissioner Kelly.

The crime categories with the largest reductions citywide include homicide, down 14.4%; motor vehicle theft is down 13.2%; rape is down 12.7% and burglary is down 11.2%. Aggravated assault and larceny also experienced a decrease while robbery experienced a slight increase of 1.7%.

Out of the nation's 10 and 25 largest cities, New York City ranked the safest with the lowest overall crime rate. Among cities with 100,000 residents or more, New York City ranked 211th out of 227 cities, between Alexandria, Virginia and Edison Township, New Jersey.