Lakeland PD Part IV: And the Hits Keep Coming (UPDATED)

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The Lakeland, Florida Police Department has had a rough time recently, with an officer humiliating a young woman on the side of the road and another officer being stopped from testifying by the judge to obtain legal counsel on possible perjury (here); an officer beating another driver in road rage, a traffic ticket controversy, and eleven lawsuits against the department in the last few years (here); and a sex scandal that involves a dozen officers (here).

And the hits keep coming in…

Two sergeants fired, one resigned in questions about the sex scandal and testifying truthfully.

A lieutenant resigned in lieu of termination in the sex scandal.  This lieutenant had been the subject of multiple Internal Affairs investigations (1,800 pages), had been recommended for before, yet was still a lieutenant.  Another officer who had sex with the civilian employee in a closet also resigned.  Captain John Thomason retired rather than face an investigation into the matter.  A total of nine officers are no longer with the department due to the scandals.

Now, the State’s Attorney is considering tossing up to 40 DUI cases due to “integrity” issues within the Lakeland Police Department.  This involves Officer Eads, who was covered in a earlier post, Sergeant Ray Lloyd, and three other officers.  It seems that the State’s Attorney feels that Lloyd was less than truthful in an investigation into Lakeland IAD Lieutenant Hans Lehman.

Chief Womack has full faith that the Internal Affairs process is working – until it came to light that Lt. Lehman tipped off an officer facing an IA investigation.  The officer tipped off?  Sgt. Lloyd.  Now an Assistant Chief will oversee Internal Affairs.  But the process is working…

Is that why the Mayor is setting up a blue ribbon panel to assess the police department?

Is that why the state legislators want the Polk County Sheriff to come in and fix the department?

And the department is facing re-accreditation by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc.  But not to worry, according to Lt. Lehman, the assessors “understand that we’ve worked hard the last two and a half, three years to get back to where we were…”  Uh, is that the same Lehman that allegedly tipped off Lloyd?

I’ve got a better solution.  Close down the department and bring in the Sheriff’s Office to handle law enforcement.  Take time to find a new chief and hire a completely new staff.  The culture cannot be changed when it is that prevalent throughout the department and into the command staff level.

UPDATE:

The two co-chairs of the advisory committee set up by the mayor have resigned, prior to the committee’s first meeting.  One of the two indicated that she was concerned about the communications and accountability breakdowns created by the organizational culture.  She also indicated that she was troubled by the fact that there had been no commitment to hold these meetings publicly.

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Putnam County, FL Sheriff’s Office Needs to HonorYourOath

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Or at least learn the laws that you are enforcing.

Jeff Gray, more popular as HonorYourOath on YouTube and PINAC, was fishing in Putnam County, Florida.  While fishing, he was openly carrying a pistol in a shoulder holster.  First, Florida law states that the prohibition on open carry of firearms do not apply to “A person engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting or going to or returning from a fishing, camping, or lawful hunting expedition”.  Fla. Stat. Ann. § 790.25(3)(h) (West); Levin v. State, 449 So. 2d 288 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1983) (no reasonable grounds for stop when subject was carrying fishing pole towards a public body of water).

Of course the Putnam County Sheriff’s deputy (Griffin) did not see it that way, immediately stopping Gray to determine if he were a “felon.”  Guys, this has been covered over and over again.  See generally United States v. Black, 707 F.3d 531 (4th Cir. 2013) (being a felon in possession of a firearm is not the default status); United States v. King, 990 F.2d 1552 (10th Cir. 1993) (where state law allows the carry of firearms, that alone does not create reasonable suspicion); United States v. Uribes, 224 F.3d 213 (3d Cir. 2000) (that a subject may possess a firearm, where legal, does not justify detention).

Here, both factors were in play.  Gray was clearly within the law allowing the possession of a firearm while fishing, and Griffin had no reasonable suspicion that Gray was a felon.

Second, Griffin stating he was arresting Gray for violation of the Florida wiretapping statute, even though Griffin was a public officer in public view, with no reasonable expectation of privacy.  Gray has a First Amendment right to film a police officer in public.  Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2000);  Abella v. Simon, 13-10255, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 13638, 2013 WL 3368872 (11th Cir. July 5, 2013).

Obviously Griffin needs more training, as it violated Gray’s Fourth Amendment rights to be handcuffed and held for 45 minutes while the deputy figured all of this out.

Sheriff Jeff Hardy should hear about this (jhardy@putnamsheriff.org) as he has signed a pledge to support Second Amendment rights.  Of course, he may have other things on his mind, like deputies pulling guns while drinking at a bar or having sex in the bar’s restroom.

 

Testify Truthfully, Get Fired: The Ben Kruidbos Story

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Angela Corey

Angela Corey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Well, Florida’s State Attorney for the 4th Judicial District has just shown where she falls on the idea of seeking justice instead of winning at all costs, and it is not on the side of justice.

 

Her office just fired Ben Kruidbos, their IT director, for testifying in the George Zimmerman case.  It seems that a check of Trayvon Martin’s cell phone had potentially exculpatory evidence that is required to be turned over to defense counsel.  “[T]he suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.”  Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 1196-97, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215 (1963); see also Johnson v. State, 921 So. 2d 490, 507 (Fla. 2005).

 

Well, it seems that Angela Corey‘s office did not turn over all of this potentially exculpatory evidence to Zimmerman’s attorneys.  A hearing was held on the matter, seeking sanctions against the prosecution for the Brady violation.  Had Kruidbos not come forward, no one would have known that the prosecutor had withheld potentially exculpatory from the defense.  The video is below.

 

 

The idea of prosecutorial misconduct in this case is not limited to the defense attorneys and conservatives, but includes noted academics and liberals, among others.

 

  • Jonathan Turley, “Corey’s decision to terminate the man who disclosed the withholding of evidence before a ruling on the alleged violences is highly questionable and speaks more to the anger of being called to account for sitting on such evidence.”
  • Alan Dershowitz, “That a prosecutor would hide behind the claim that she did not have an obligation to tell the whole truth until after the judge ruled on probable cause displays a kind of gamesmanship in which prosecutors should not engage.”  Note that Corey was enraged by Dershowitz’s criticism and called the Harvard Law School, threatening to sue Harvard and have Dershowitz disbarred.
  • Ken White (Popehat), “[Corey’s] letter betrays anger management issues, entitlement problems, a weak grasp of pertinent First Amendment law governing statements of opinion, and a rather frightening attitude from a government official with such power.”
  • Sandy D’Alemberte, “I cannot imagine a worse choice for a prosecutor to serve in the Sanford case.  There is nothing in Angela Corey’s background that suits her for this task, and she cannot command the respect of people who care about justice.”

 

 

Lakeland PD Part III – But Wait, There’s More!

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This one involves sexual misconduct allegations involving up to ten officers, including non-consensual sex at the police department.  And if you remember Captain John Thomason, who was concerned that the bra-search scandal would over-shadow the “good” things the department was doing?  Well, the good things apparently include him forwarding a photo of his ***** to a female.  I won’t get into the allegation about the sex outside of the church where a slain Lakeland officer was being laid to rest.

I especially like two parts.  One by the State Attorney, at about 1:20, where he compares the Lakeland PD to an under-performing school.  The second is a statement by Chief Womack, at about 1:55, where she says that the Lakeland PD has a culture of professionalism.  No, I’m serious, she really said that.  I need to find out what she has been drinking.

 

Lakeland PD, Part Two

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Last month, an off-duty Lakeland police officer, Jerry Monroe, was cut-off and flipped off while driving.  So, like any normal citizen, he goes on his way, mad.  Oh wait.  There’s film?  OK, so he didn’t go on his way, he followed the driver and beat him until he was sent to the hospital.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Officer later arrested Monroe and he was fired by Lakeland.

In March, the department had to change almost 200 traffic citations into warnings because it wasn’t clear that the road was closed.  If you look at the video, it is apparent how confusing it is, and a supervisor should have picked up on this and stopped it.

Lawsuits:

Florence, today and at time of alleged beating.

Florence, today and at time of alleged beating.

  • Florence v. City of Lakeland, pending, plaintiff alleges that officers beat him in the face with a metal object and notes that all charges against Florence were dropped by the State’s Attorney.
  • Youssef v. City of Lakeland, pending, plaintiff was being handcuffed when officer negligently released K9, which bit her.  All charges were dropped against Youssef as she was not doing anything illegal at the time of contact.
  • Fountain v. City of Lakeland, No. 8:11–CV–52–T–17TBM, 2011 WL 3703454 (M.D. Fla. 2011) (officers’ who repeatedly tasered subject denied qualified immunity, city denied immunity).
  • Wynn v. City of Lakeland, 727 F. Supp. 2d 1309 (M.D. Fla. 2010) (officer who struck subject in face with flashlight, breaking three bones, denied qualified immunity).
  • Diaz v. City of Lakeland, No. 8:08-cv-1203-T-33TBM, 2010 WL 148728 (M.D. Fla. 2010) (pro se plaintiff’s allegations of excessive force dismissed for failure to state a claim).
  • Jackson v. City of Lakeland, No. 2005 CA 3847, 2009 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 411284 (Fla. Cir. Ct., Jury Verdict) (jury awarded $550,000 to plaintiff who was shot by officer over a traffic violation).
  • Carson v. City of Lakeland, No. 8:08–cv–2461–T–24 TGW, 2009 WL 88487 (M.D. Fla. 2009) (officer’s who kicked in door without a warrant & released a K9 which bit the subject were denied a motion to dismiss).
  • Freeman v. Mack, No. 8:08–cv–1612–T–23EAJ, 2008 WL 4790532 (M.D. Fla. 2008) (officer who released K9 on subject granted motion to dismiss, remanded to state court for action on state claims).
  • Cornett v. City of Lakeland, No. 8:06-cv-02386-T-17TBM, 2008 WL 2740328 (M.D. Fla. 2008) (officer who released K9 on surrendering subject granted qualified immunity).
  • Holm v. City of Lakeland, as next friend of Gadd, who was killed when a car being chased by police struck his vehicle.
  • Johnson v. Young, No. 8:06-CV-244-26TGW, 2006 WL 680655 (M.D. Fla. 2006) (officer accused of illegal search and false arrest granted qualified immunity, remanded to state court for action on state claims).

 

 

The Lakeland Shake and Possible Officer Perjury

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The Lakeland Police Department is seeing controversy after controversy.

An officer (Dustin Fetz) has a female lift up her shirt and shake out her bra looking for drugs (twice), and then searched her car after she clearly refused consent.  You make also notice that the only audio you hear is from the car radio, not what he is saying to her.  All of this in public view on the side of the road.

The news coverage calls the search uncalled for and illegal.  The State’s Attorney, Gary Hill, has called it “just wrong.”  The prosecutor said that the officer had no right to search the girl, her boyfriend, or the car and has sent a letter to the city demanding an investigation.  Hill said that based on statements, it appears that the police department has used this practice for some period of time.

According to a news report here another officer’s arrest report said the same thing for a second female, and the officer (Nick Edds) testified that he routinely had other officers sign blank, notarized DWI forms which he would fill out later.  He also testified that he would sometimes change reports after they had been notarized.  Judge J. Kevin Abdoney sent him from the courtroom and admonished the prosecutor, saying:

One thing is clear in this case, is that either this is an inexperienced officer that made some stupid mistakes, and he’s gonna be drug through the mud and his career potentially seriously impacted.  Or you have got a professional liar that the state is putting their stamp of approval on.

The next day, Edds suddenly remembered that he didn’t change any reports.  Abdoney stopped the questioning and asked Edds if he wanted an attorney.  Practically the only time judges do that is if they are considering referring the witness to the State’s Attorney for perjury charges.  Especially since the prosecutor was telling the judge that she thought that the officer should be advised of his rights, as in Miranda rights.

Captain John Thomason, when contacted by the station, seemed more concerned that these incidents would over-shadow the “good” that was being done by the department.  Really?  You have officers violating citizens’ rights, engaged in questionable behavior, possibly including perjury, and you’re worried it will over-shadow the “good”?

But wait, there’s more!

(To be continued)

 

Scattershooting

Comments Off on Scattershooting

A long time ago in Dallas, there was a sports reporter named Blackie Sherrod, who wrote a weekly Sunday column called “Scattershooting.”  In it he would cover a series of news items that interested him, typically short, brief comments.

The Albuquerque Police finally fired Officer Conner Rice.  From KRQE.  Rice repeatedly tased a subject who was not resisting over a year ago.  His criminal trial for the abuse is pending.

 

In Florida, the trooper who recently lost a high profile DUI, as reported by Steveo on PINAC, has been sued for False Arrest after he arrested a man who blew a 0.000 (twice) and whose urine test showed no drugs.  Trooper Melvin Arthur, although not trained on the Horizontal Gaze nystagmus test, administered the test (improperly) as part of his evaluation of both driver’s intoxication.  The complaint is here.  The video of the other stop is here.

 

According to PoliceOne, three former Knoxville Police officers have pled guilty to misdemeanor assault and felony oppression in order to avoid federal charges from the beating of a handcuffed prisoner.  Three other officers were suspended for between 12 and 18 days, and the supervisors received reprimands.

 

 

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