Police in a few departments around the U.S. are testing a hand-held laser device, which boosters can immediately identify illegal drugs and could revolutionize how narcotics cases are investigated and prosecuted.
Proponents hope the device, called TruNarc, will help officers quickly discern illicit substances at a time when police are seeing a surge in new, harder-to-identify designer drugs such as the psychoactive powders known as “bath salts.”
Paul Keenan, chief of police in Quincy, Mass., said his detectives have been using it for months, alongside traditional drug-testing kits.
“It’s cop-proof. It’s rugged, dependable and easy to use,” said Keenan. He compared the potential impact of the device to breath analyzers used on suspected drunken drivers, which allow street cops to produce data routinely accepted in court.
When local police arrived in riot gear to evict the Vuon clan, family members were ready with homemade land mines and improvised shotguns. In a guerrilla-style ambush reminiscent of a Vietnam War battle, they wounded six officers.
But instead of drawing public condemnation, last month’s rare violence by fish farmers trying to hold onto leased land in the northern port city of Hai Phong has made a national hero of family ringleader Doan Van Vuon and ripped open a debate about heavy-handed seizures by local governments.
Though Vuon and three of his kin remain under arrest for their role in the attack, retired military generals and a former president have weighed in on his behalf.
The case has attracted so much attention that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung ordered an investigation, ruling Friday that the eviction was illegal and those who ordered it should be punished. He also encouraged local authorities to renew the family’s land lease.
In August 2010, while searching for an officer’s stolen handgun, Harrisburg police seized tens of thousands of dollars in cash from Antoine Black’s home on Logan Street.
Black is claiming in a federal lawsuit that the cops should have left that money alone, especially since they didn’t find the missing gun in his house or charge him with a crime.
The Patriot-News Antoine Black contends that nearly $43,000 was seized and that he received only $28,980 back.
He is arguing that the seizure of the cash, which authorities unsuccessfully sought to forfeit by attempting to link it to drug dealing, violated his constitutional rights.
The 42-year-old Black also claims authorities didn’t return all the money they took after an arbitration board appointed by Dauphin County Court rebuffed the forfeiture request in March. He contends that nearly $43,000 was seized and that he received only $28,980 back.
City spokesman Robert Philbin declined to discuss Black’s U.S. Middle District Court case.
District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr., whose office lost the forfeiture action against Black’s money, insisted that officers had solid legal grounds to confiscate the cash.
Evidence of drug activity found in the home justified the seizure, even though criminal charges weren’t filed against Black after the August 2010 search, Marsico said.
County court records show that at the time of the search, Black was facing an unrelated drug possession charge filed by city police in connection with a June 2010 traffic stop.
Manchester, NH police Det. Murphy smashes a West High School student’s face into a table. Another student gets it on video as school administrators tell him it’s “illegal” to film and he’s not allowed to record the event, then they try to force him to erase it. The student deleted a couple of pictures to throw them off, but saved the video. Now it’s on YouTube.
Two Prince George’s County police officers were indicted Tuesday on felony assault charges in the March 3, 2010, beating of an unarmed University of Maryland student — an apparently unprovoked attack that was caught on video and made national news.Reginald Baker and James J. Harrison have been charged with first-degree assault in the beating of John J. McKenna, 22, who was among the students celebrating in the streets of College Park after the U-Md. men’s basketball team defeated Duke.
The videoshows officers pushing McKenna into a concrete wall and striking him with a metal baton. He suffered a concussion and needed staples to close a wound in his head, his attorneys have said.“The safety of our community depends so much on the solid, quality work of members of the Prince George’s County Police Department,” State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks said. “When there is evidence of potential wrongdoing by a police officer, it would never be appropriate for me to look the other way.” Read More Here
As stock and bond markets across the world tumbled on fears about Italy and Spain, it emerged that police acting on orders from prosecutors had raided the Milan offices of rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s as part of continuing investigations into their role in the recent financial turmoil.
Italian shares plunged on Thursday, with some leading firms losing more than 10% of their value. But the closing level of the benchmark FTSE MIB index was not released for reasons that remained unclear more than an hour after the close.
Among the factors behind the share fall was a widening of the risk premium on Italian state debt. The extra return demanded by investors for holding benchmark 10-year Italian bonds rather than the German equivalents touched 3.7 percentage points.
Carlo Maria Capistro – chief prosecutor of Trani, a small Adriatic port – told Reuters that his office was checking to see whether the rating agencies “respect regulations as they carry out their work”. The raids took place on Wednesday as Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, addressed parliament on the mounting crisis.
He and other leading Italian politicians often cite speculation as a cause of market storms that involve a run on the country’s shares or bonds. And the media habitually depicts sell-offs as attacks on Italy.
Sheppard told Osterreicher and the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper that he has ordered an investigation, which normally is police talk for sweeping it under the carpet until the media attention dies down.
KINGWOOD, TX (KTRK) – An off-duty Houston police officer is the subject of an internal investigation after a family claims he broke into their home while chasing down a teenager. The family says it happened Friday in a neighborhood in Kingwood.
Witnesses on Quiet Glade Court tell us they watched that barefoot off-duty officer chase the boy down the street. Now the teen’s parents are demanding some answers, and action.
The glass on the front door is broken, and the people living here say you can still see an off-duty officer’s trail of blood around their home.
“He put his face to the window and then he punched a hole in the window so he can see through it and then he just opened the door,” said Matthew Pifer.
Pifer, 16, says it was last Friday when an off-duty Houston police officer who lives nearby chased him and his friend for allegedly no reason.
“He was intoxicated,” said Pifer. “I smelled a ton of alcohol off of him. He was drunk.”
The teen says that officer was barefoot and only wearing a bathing suit as the man barged through and broke his family’s front door. Pifer says the officer assaulted him and threatened his sister until a neighbor stepped in to help.
“He was a bit out of control,” recalled neighbor Beth Redmond. “He just kept saying that he was a police officer and he had the right.”
Redmond says he asked the officer what triggered the chase as she bandaged his bleeding hand.
An Effingham County, Georgia police officer is facing scrutiny from a local news station after dash cam video was released of the officer violently sucker punching an individual who was being cooperative by the police’s own account. The station interviews Greg Connor, a 40-year police veteran, who commented the video shows “a clear indication of excessive force,” he says, “I would put it up there … as one of the most gross demonstrations of excessive force.”
WSAV details how the police failed to file a “use of force report,” which is “required by the police department.”
The police did their own “investigation” into themselves and cleared themselves of any wrongdoing. They said, in so many words, if they didn’t sucker punch the cooperative individual, “it could have resulted in a more severe outcome.”
Instead of holding their own officers accountable, they falsely charged the victim with two counts of obstruction of justice, charges which they were later forced to drop.
SEATTLE – Police officer Shandy Cobane, who was videotaped last year stomping on a suspect and threatening to beat the “Mexican piss” out of him, will get to keep his job, Seattle Police Chief John Diaz said Thursday.
Cobane’s punishment for the widely publicized incident will be a 30-day suspension without pay, Diaz said at an afternoon news conference.
Diaz said the 30-day suspension was the maximum punishment possible short of terminating Cobane’s employment.
“If there was a higher maximum (short of termination), I would’ve given that,” Diaz said. “He (Cobane) made a huge mistake.”
In addition, Cobane will be required to undergo additional training, he will be reassigned to patrol duties as a patrol officer and will be required to work with Latino community groups.
The chief also said that use of racial slurs “will not be tolerated and is unacceptable at all levels” of the Seattle Police Department.
“The line’s been drawn here,” Diaz said. “I thought I made it clear. Now it is very clear. There will be a presumption of termination in the future for anybody using racial or ethnic slurs.”
The stomping incident was videotaped in April 2010 near Westlake Avenue North. The video shows Cobane stomping on the arm of a robbery suspect. Another officer, Mary Woollum, is seen stomping the man once.
Cobane also can be heard on the videotape telling the suspect he’d “beat the (expletive) Mexican piss” out of him.
That man, Martin Monetti, Jr., was later released by police. He was never charged, and has since filed a tort claim against the city for $750,000 in damages.
Monetti’s attorney said he was “disappointed” by Diaz’s decision not to fire Cobane.
“Because it was pretty obvious that he engaged in misconduct,” said attorney Lorena Gonzalez. “He used racial slurs, and he used excessive force on a person who wasn’t doing anything, just lying on the ground. And he got away with it.”
Diaz said at Thursday’s news conference that Cobane would not be able to appeal the punishment, and will be required to sign a “last-chance agreement,” in which he acknowledges he will be fired if there are any more incidents of misconduct on his record.
Cobane said Thursday he is “grateful for a second chance.”
Cobane, who has been with the department since October 1993, made a tearful apology the day after the video was first broadcast on local news the night of May 6, 2010.
And on Thursday, he reiterated that apology.
“I want to start by saying I meant everything I said when I issued my public apology last year,” he said.
Diaz said he realizes it took a long time to make a decision on Cobane’s punishment.
“The reason this took so long is that I struggled with this very issue,” he said. “To hear this from one of our own officers was something I had to get past, to an extent.”
Diaz also thanked Mayor Mike McGinn for letting him determine Cobane’s punishment.
“I appreciate the fact he (the mayor) left it up to me to make the final decision,” Diaz said.
The chief said that Cobane would be doing community service work with the Latino population of Seattle.
“He has expressed a willingness to start his work right away,” Diaz said.
City Attorney Pete Holmes earlier decided not to file criminal charges against Cobane. Sources familiar with the case say Cobane’s force against the man was considered justified in the context of interrogating a potential robbery suspect whose hands were free.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said last year that state hate-crime charges did not apply against Cobane. He and Woollum were placed on administrative reassignment May 7.