After six months of silence in Park Police killing, Bijan Ghaisar’s family protests at Justice Department


Negeen Ghaisar, left, the sister of Bijan Ghaisar, and her husband Kouros Emami lead a group of friends and family around the Justice Department to demand answers in Bijan Ghaisar’s shooting death by U.S. Park Police officers. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

Six months after Bijan Ghaisar was fatally shot by two U.S. Park Police officers on a Northern Virginia side street, hundreds of family members, friends and supporters marched around the Justice Department building Saturday chanting, “We want names — we want justice — we are Bijan.”

Other than the video of the incident recorded by Fairfax County police, virtually no information has been released about the shooting, including the names of the officers or the reasons they fired nine times into Ghaisar’s Jeep Grand Cherokee as he sat behind the wheel, apparently unarmed. Both the FBI, who is investigating the case, and the Justice Department said Saturday they had no comment on the case.


Bijan Ghaisar, far right, with his family: mother Kelly, sister Negeen and father James. (Ghaisar family)

“Where the hell are all the good cops?” asked Negeen Ghaisar, the victim’s sister, to an often tearful audience. The lengthy silence in the case has horrified her family. “My grandfather is a retired police colonel and police chief. He said the good cops outweigh the bad cops. Where the hell are you?”

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has been pressing the Park Police and the FBI for answers for months, with little success. “It’s beyond my imagination why it has taken so very, very long. … Little by little, the FBI is sacrificing its credibility. I have one request. Please Director [Christopher] Wray, finish the investigation and release the report.”

State Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) and Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) also lent their voices to the demand for answers, as did speakers from Amnesty International, Mothers Against Police Brutality, the Iranian-American Community Center and the Avalan Institute.

Ghaisar, a 25-year-old accountant from McLean, Va., was shot on Nov. 17 by two U.S. Park Police officers as he sat behind the wheel of his Jeep in the Fort Hunt area of Fairfax County, Va. His family said he was unarmed and shot four times in the head. The Park Police and the FBI, which took over the investigation of the case, have declined to discuss the case since the incident occurred. The Park Police have refused to identify the officers involved, which most police agencies do shortly after a shooting. The officers remain on administrative leave with pay, Sgt. James Dingeldein, a Park Police spokesman, has said.

Ghaisar had been involved in a minor fender bender after he stopped in a southbound lane of the George Washington Memorial Parkway just north of Alexandria, Va. A Park Police report states Ghaisar drove away from that incident without speaking to the driver who had hit him, and a Park Police cruiser with two officers inside spotted the Jeep minutes later on the parkway south of Alexandria and tried to pull him over.

A Fairfax County police officer joined the pursuit and turned on his in-car video camera. The footage from that camera, released by Fairfax police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. in January, shows Ghaisar stopped in the right lane of the parkway, then drove off as the Park Police officers approached him with guns drawn. Several minutes later, after driving at a reported 58 mph, Ghaisar pulled onto an exit off the parkway and stopped again. Again the officers ran to his Jeep with guns drawn, and again Ghaisar drove off.

Video captures chase and fatal shooting by U.S. Park Police of Virginia man

Fairfax County Police released video on Jan. 24 of U.S. Park Police chasing Bijan Ghaisar’s vehicle on Nov. 17 and firing shots. Ghaisar, 25, later died.

At the intersection of Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue, Ghaisar stopped a third time. The officers again hurried to the Jeep with pistols drawn. Ghaisar’s Jeep appears to start rolling around the Park Police car blocking his way, with the officers to the side. The video shows the officers firing nine times into the Jeep.

Ghaisar lived for 10 days after the shooting, and was pronounced dead on Nov. 27. Though there is a full, clear video of the incident and a Fairfax County police officer as a witness to the entire episode, the Justice Department has given no indication of when a decision might be made on whether the Park Police officers will be charged with a crime.

Kadia Koroma, an FBI spokeswoman, said the investigation was ongoing and she had no information to release Saturday. Devin O’Malley, a Justice Department spokesman, said the department “does not acknowledge or otherwise comment on investigations.”

Last month, Beyer asked FBI Director Wray to meet with him to discuss the case. Wray declined. Federal prosecutors have also intervened with Arlington County, which received the initial 911 calls on the traffic accident, to prevent them from releasing the tapes of those calls, which might indicate why Park Police pursued Ghaisar so intensely.

“Knowing my son,” said his mother, Kelly Ghaisar, “he would never run from the police. But he would run to save his life. What was Bijan’s crime for deserving a death sentence? I’ll tell you. He insulted an officer’s ego.” She and Beyer both noted that the officers appeared to violate Park Police policy on both pursuing Ghaisar and using force against him.


Kelly Ghaisar, mother of Bijan Ghaisar, addresses friends and family gathered in front of the Justice Department to demand answers in her son’s death in November after being shot by U.S. Park Police officers. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

“Those officers killed my son and are getting paid,” Kelly Ghaisar said, “sitting at home with full protection, while we watched our son with bullets in his head. We have no rights. If you think you have rights, you don’t.”

“Today marks 184 days,” said family friend Shirin Golesorkhi Kavyani, “since Bijan, a bright, positive, passionate soul who believed in honesty and peace, was shot by the U.S. Park Police. 184 days of grieving. 184 days is too long for Bijan’s family with no answers.”

The Park Police do not have either body-worn cameras or in-car cameras. Last week, the Ghaisar family sent a letter to Park Police Chief Robert MacLean imploring him to move forward on cameras. “What is required for you to take this seriously?” the letter by James, Kelly and Negeen Ghaisar asked. “Another unnecessary and devastating killing by one of your officers?… It is far past time for you to take action to ensure that all of your officers have body cameras.”

Tom Jackman, May 19, 2018, Washington Post, “After six months of silence in Park Police killing, Bijan Ghaisar’s family protests at Justice Department”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2018/05/19/after-six-months-of-silence-in-park-police-killing-bijan-ghaisars-family-protests-at-justice-department/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1d1f273c886b

Advertisements

A Teen Sexting Case Revealed How Judges Let Police Invade Children’s Privacy

By Jay Schweikert, NBC News on December 17, 2017

Whether the police have the right to force your teenage son to masturbate in front of them in order to incriminate himself is a legal question few parents would think they’d have to consider.

And yet Trey Sims’ legal guardians had to do exactly that. In an effort to prosecute the 17-year-old for sexting his 15-year-old girlfriend, Manassas police detective David Abbott obtained a search warrant authorizing him to take “photographs of [Sims’] genitals,” including “a photograph of the suspect’s erect penis.” According to court documents, in the process of executing the search warrant, Abbott took the teenager to a juvenile detention center, took him to a locker room and, with two uniformed, armed officers looking on, ordered Sims to pull down his pants.

After taking pictures with his cell phone of the teenager’s genitals, Abbot then ordered the minor to masturbate so that he could take a picture of his erection. Sims tried but failed to comply with the officer’s orders; Abbott later threatened Sims’ lawyer that, if police couldn’t get a picture of the teenager’s erection by forcing the kid to masturbate, he would obtain a photo of the teenager’s engorged genitals by subjecting him to “an erection-producing injection” at a hospital.

The facts of this case are outrageous, but sadly, they’re not the product of any single bad actor or law. On the contrary, they reflect a criminal justice system that’s structurally broken at almost every level. And the only reason that police never obtained the pictures they demanded under court order from Sims was that there was a massive public outcry after news reports emerged about the case in 2014, and the police let the search warrant expire. (Sims, however, continued to face felony charges for sexting his girlfriend, eventually living under probation for a year before the courts dismissed those charges.)

It wasn’t until this month — more than three years after Sims was taken to that locker room — that a federal appeals court issued a decision in his favor: By a divided 2-1 vote, the court held that a reasonable police officer should have known it was unlawful to order a teenage boy to masturbate in front of him and other officers.

Notably, though, that meant that one judge felt that police should, indeed, have the right to do force children to masturbate in front of them in order to incriminate themselves.

First and foremost, the fact that Sims’ initial conduct was criminalized at all speaks to the staggering breadth of substantive overcriminalization. The activity for which Sims was charged was a consensual, mutual exchange of nude pictures and videos between two teenagers in a lawful relationship (in Virginia, it’s legal for a 17-year-old and 15-year-old to have sex).

Sexting between teenagers is commonplace, and often an innocuous part of flirtation and sexual expression in the digital age. If the taking of or delivery of pictures were non-consensual, or if one party was of the age of majority, that would be a legal issue to address; for parents, such behavior might well be concerning, if not deserving of some proportionate punishment. But to brand Sims a child pornographer under Virginia law is to say that a teenager’s consensual, (mostly) non-harmful conduct merits one of our society’s most severe punishments and social stigmas.

The criminal law is a blunt instrument and incarceration is an extreme remedy; both are poorly equipped to address nuanced social problems and should be a last resort for the most dangerous antisocial behavior. Instead, they’ve become the reflexive default for any behavior that certain segments of society find problematic.

And the legislative predilection for criminalization is compounded by the judiciary’s failure to insist that the government offer any justification for putting someone behind bars. In the vast majority of cases, the state doesn’t have to show that criminalization serves any legitimate interest, and the defendant is not even permitted to introduce evidence to the contrary.

Further, the obscene invasion of Sims’ privacy shows just how permissive courts are in letting cops search you almost anywhere, in any manner, and for any reason. Even when police have unlawful motives for stopping you — like racial discrimination — a detention is still legally permissible so long as there’s probable cause for something, including minor traffic violations. Alerts from drug-sniffing dogs (i.e.,“probable cause creating” dogs) are nearly always enough for a search, even if such alerts are barely more reliable than a coin flip.

And before admitting you to jail, state officials may conduct an invasive strip search, no matter what you were arrested for (even traffic offenses), and regardless of whether there’s any reason to suspect you have contraband.

So it’s outrageous but ultimately unsurprising that the judicial system’s cavalier disregard for personal privacy, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, has led us to the point that a judge can authorize and police will execute a “search” that effectively amounts to the sexual assault of a teenager. Whatever the supposed harm of Sims’ underlying behavior, there is no doubt that a police officer forcing a teenager to masturbate in front of armed adults under threat of a frightening medical procedure is vastly worse than a teenager consensually sexting his girlfriend.

And the difficulty that Sims has faced in vindicating his constitutional rights shows how police operate with almost no accountability for their actions. Following his ordeal, Sims filed a civil rights lawsuit against Abbott, arguing that his “search” violated his right of privacy under the Fourth Amendment. Incredibly, the district court dismissed Sims’ complaint, finding that the detective was entitled to “qualified immunity” for his actions. In other words, even assuming that ordering a teenager to masturbate in front of the police was unlawful, the law was not “clearly established” enough for Abbott to know for sure that it was unlawful.

In qualified immunity doctrine, “clearly established law” usually requires not just a clear legal rule, but a prior case with functionally similar facts. The perverse result of this standard is that police will get immunity in the most egregious cases, precisely for the reason that the most extreme kind of misconduct is less likely to have occurred in the past.

The Fourth Circuit did reverse this dismissal and permit Sims’ case to proceed, but even that was a close call. The panel decision was 2-1; the argument made in the dissent, had it been accepted by one other judge, would have granted Abbott total immunity, going so far as to say that Abbott’s actions were lawful.

Sims’ case shows that we have a system in which the legislative branch is permitted to criminalize whatever it wants, with effectively no judicial oversight; police investigations are invasive, unchecked, and can cause far greater harm than the underlying criminal act; and it is nearly impossible to hold police liable for unlawful misconduct. Until we address those systemic problems, we should expect more tragic cases like this one.

Jay Schweikert, NBC News on December 17, 2017, “A Teen Sexting Case Revealed How Judges Let Police Invade Children’s Privacy”, https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/teen-sexting-case-revealed-how-judges-let-police-invade-childrens-privacy

Gates County Deputy arrested

Agents with the State Bureau of Investigation arrested a Gates County sheriff’s deputy on Friday, May 26, on sexual assault charges of a prisoner in his custody, and his case went before a Grand Jury in Hertford County today (Tuesday).

Deputy Patrick Batts, age 27 and a six-month employee of the Gates County Sheriff’s Office, is charged with sexual contact by a custodian, obstruction of justice and first degree sexual offense.

According to a press release sent Tuesday by the SBI, Batts was transporting a female prisoner from Gates County to the Hertford County Jail late Wednesday evening, May 24. In the early morning hours of Thursday, May 25, he reported that the prisoner had escaped.

Surveillance video shows that the deputy let the prisoner get out of the car and leave.

Agents arrested Batts that night for actions that allegedly occurred while en route to the jail in Winton.

Batts

Battts was held at that time under a $150,000 secured bond

Upon a follow-up inquiry by this newspaper, it was learned that the prisoner was located after being freely released by Batts.

According to SBI spokesperson Patty McQuillan, the woman is no longer in custody. McQuillan added that the woman was facing non-violent offense charges in both Gates and Hertford counties.

As far as the timing of all events – beginning with Batts departing Gates County with the prisoner, to his arrival at the Hertford County Jail, to the time that the surveillance video showed the female prisoner exiting the car, to the time that the deputy reported her escape – McQuillan said that remains under investigation.

 

http://www.roanoke-chowannewsherald.com/2017/05/30/gates-county-deputy-arrested/?platform=hootsuite

Former Windsor PD officer found guilty

By Staff Reports

Published 7:51 pm Monday, May 22, 2017

By Staff Reports Email the author Published 7:51 pm Monday, May 22, 2017

GREENVILLE – A jury in the Eastern District of North Carolina found a former North Carolina police officer guilty of drug, firearm and bribery charges stemming from his participation in trafficking narcotics and narcotics proceeds for a large-scale drug trafficking organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney John Stuart Bruce of the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement.

Antonio Tillmon, 33, a former police officer with the Windsor Police Department, was found guilty of multiple counts of conspiring to distribute controlled substances, attempting to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiring to use and carry firearms in relation to drug trafficking offenses, using and carrying firearms in relation to drug trafficking offenses and federal programs bribery.

Senior U.S. District Judge Malcom J. Howard of the Eastern District of North Carolina scheduled sentencing for Aug. 8.

The charges stemmed from a large scale undercover investigation – dubbed Operation Rockfish – into allegations of systemic law enforcement corruption in Northampton County. The evidence at trial established that Tillmon accepted $6,500 from undercover FBI agents posing as drug traffickers in return for transporting a total of 30 kilograms of heroin from North Carolina to Maryland over three separate occasions between August 2014 and April 2015. On each occasion, Tillmon carried his law enforcement badge and a firearm to secure the illicit narcotics. Tillmon was prepared to use his badge and fake documentation to evade drug interdiction in the event the transport vehicle was stopped. The evidence also showed that Tillmon agreed to participate in a fourth drug transport, to which he brought five firearms, including an assault rifle accompanied by three magazines of ammunition.

Fourteen other defendants, 13 of whom were law enforcement or correctional officers, were charged in the drug trafficking and firearm conspiracies – the law enforcement and correctional officers were also charged with federal programs bribery. Those defendants all pleaded guilty to various offenses and are scheduled to be sentenced later this year. Tillmon is the only charged defendant who proceeded to trial.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Lauren Bell and Molly Gaston of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Toby Lathan of the Eastern District of North Carolina. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Charlotte Division, Raleigh Resident Agency.

GREENVILLE – A jury in the Eastern District of North Carolina found a former North Carolina police officer guilty of drug, firearm and bribery charges stemming from his participation in trafficking narcotics and narcotics proceeds for a large-scale drug trafficking organization. Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney John Stuart Bruce of the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. Antonio Tillmon, 33, a former police officer with the Windsor Police Department, was found guilty of multiple counts of conspiring to distribute controlled substances, attempting to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiring to use and carry firearms in relation to drug trafficking offenses, using and carrying firearms in relation to drug trafficking offenses and federal programs bribery. Senior U.S. District Judge Malcom J. Howard of the Eastern District of North Carolina scheduled sentencing for Aug. 8. The charges stemmed from a large scale undercover investigation – dubbed Operation Rockfish – into allegations of systemic law enforcement corruption in Northampton County. The evidence at trial established that Tillmon accepted $6,500 from undercover FBI agents posing as drug traffickers in return for transporting a total of 30 kilograms of heroin from North Carolina to Maryland over three separate occasions between August 2014 and April 2015. On each occasion, Tillmon carried his law enforcement badge and a firearm to secure the illicit narcotics. Tillmon was prepared to use his badge and fake documentation to evade drug interdiction in the event the transport vehicle was stopped. The evidence also showed that Tillmon agreed to participate in a fourth drug transport, to which he brought five firearms, including an assault rifle accompanied by three magazines of ammunition. Fourteen other defendants, 13 of whom were law enforcement or correctional officers, were charged in the drug trafficking and firearm conspiracies – the law enforcement and correctional officers were also charged with federal programs bribery. Those defendants all pleaded guilty to various offenses and are scheduled to be sentenced later this year. Tillmon is the only charged defendant who proceeded to trial. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Lauren Bell and Molly Gaston of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Toby Lathan of the Eastern District of North Carolina. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Charlotte Division, Raleigh Resident Agency.

http://www.roanoke-chowannewsherald.com/2017/05/22/former-windsor-pd-officer-found-guilty/?platform=hootsuite

Dinwiddie deputy charged with sexually abusing 13-year-old girl in 2015

Apr 19, 2017, Mark Bowes

A Dinwiddie County sheriff’s deputy was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in 2015.

A Dinwiddie Circuit Court grand jury handed up indictments Tuesday charging Hector David Jimenez, 45, with aggravated sexual battery and taking indecent liberties with a minor, both felonies, between June 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2015, according to copies of the indictments.

https://localtvwtvr.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/h_jimenez.jpg?quality=85&strip=all&w=770&strip=all

The charges allege that Jimenez, of the 4200 block of Tower Court in Dinwiddie, sexually abused a girl by force or intimidation and propositioned her to perform a sex act. Authorities said he is acquainted with the victim.

Jimenez, who had been employed as a Dinwiddie deputy for about one year, was arrested about 11 a.m. Wednesday after being fired from the department, said Dinwiddie Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill.

Dinwiddie Maj. William Knott confirmed Jimenez’s termination, adding that the former deputy had been employed with the department just over a year. The offenses for which Jimenez is charged occurred before he was hired in Dinwiddie.

Jimenez was a law enforcement officer in another locality at the time of the offense, but it couldn’t immediately be determined where. He was previously employed as a deputy in Richmond and Petersburg, Baskervill said.

Baskervill said the victim was 13 at the time of the offense.

The prosecutor added that Jimenez represented himself as a law enforcement officer to the victim, and his position of authority is an element of “intimidation” that establishes the offense of sexual battery.

“Everyone is equal under the law,” Baskervill said in a statement. “The very concept of the rule of law means that the law applies to everyone, including law enforcers, lawmakers, everyone. Seeking justice, including by respecting the rule of law, is the highest priority and obligation of every prosecutor.”

“In learning of these indictments, I hope citizens will see these principles in action,” Baskervill added. “I hope news of these indictments will affirm that citizens can and should trust and have confidence in the systems they rely upon for protection, public safety and justice. Unfortunately, as here, we cannot always prevent tragedy and wrongdoing. But we can, and we do, and we will, work and fight for what is right and for justice to prevail.”

Jimenez is being held in the Meherrin River Regional Jail pending a hearing in Dinwiddie Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

http://www.richmond.com/news/local/crime/dinwiddie-deputy-charged-with-sexually-abusing–year-old-girl/article_bf7ba171-930b-5303-b6e7-330214cec27a.html?platform=hootsuite

Charles County Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

Charles County Sheriff’s Deputy Alexander C. Sullivan, age 37, of King George, Virginia, has been charged federally with possession of child pornography.

https://i1.wp.com/www.wusa9.com/img/resize/content.wusa9.com/photo/2016/11/22/Alexander%20Sullivan-2_1479848291201_7099646_ver1.0.jpg

The federal criminal complaint was filed on November 21, 2016 and Sullivan was arrested that evening. Sullivan is expected to have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt at 3:00 p.m. today, before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Connelly.

The criminal complaint was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Charles County Sheriff Troy Berry.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received four tips from a company that provides cloud security concerning suspected child pornography being uploaded to a specific telephone number in October and November 2016. An officer from the Charles County Sheriff’s Department conducted a search on the telephone number and determined that it belonged to Alexander Sullivan of Indian Head, Maryland. The officer recognized Sullivan’s name and telephone number as belonging to a fellow officer. Sullivan had resided in Indian Head prior to recently relocating to Virginia.

A state search warrant for Sullivan and his telephone was executed in Charles County on November 17, 2016. A preview of the materials on the phone allegedly revealed more than 200 images and five videos containing child pornography. The forensic investigation is ongoing.

If convicted, Sullivan faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for possession of child pornography.

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc and click on the “resources” tab on the left of the page.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI Baltimore, and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph R. Baldwin and Kristi N. O’Malley, who are prosecuting the federal case.

http://smnewsnet.com/archives/411958/charles-county-sheriffs-deputy-arrested-for-possession-of-child-pornography/?platform=hootsuite

Commonwealth Attorney: Disabled man’s death ruled an accident

FALLS CHURCH, VA. (WUSA9) – The death of a 45-year-old group home patient, who died during a struggle with a police officer after he wandered off from a group home outing, has been ruled an accident, the Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrogh said Thursday.

Fairfax Police had ruled the death accidental in August.

PREVIOUSInvestigation continues into disabled man’s death

In April, police said Paul Gianelos wandered away from his group during a visit to Round Tree Park in Falls Church. When the group leader realized Gianelos wandered away, they called 911.

According to police, two officers spotted Gianelos, but when they tried to get Gianelos in their vehicle, there was a struggle. He later died at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

The 45-year-old’s family says Gianelos was profoundly autistic and did not speak.

Friday, an autopsy report stated that his manner of death was an accident.

 

http://www.wusa9.com/news/local/falls-church/disabled-mans-death-ruled-an-accident/288396647?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:%20Trending%20Content&utm_content=57a5c33104d30166f0290658&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter

Norfolk police officer shot man with his hands up after he pleaded “please don’t shoot,” lawsuit says


  • Sep 2, 2016

Marius Mitchell's exit wound clearly visible

NORFOLK

A Norfolk man claims a police officer shot him three years ago while his hands were up and he was pleading for his life.

“Please don’t shoot,” Marius Mitchell said during an altercation with the Norfolk officer, according to a federal lawsuit that seeks $10 million in damages, plus interest and attorney fees.

Attorneys for Mitchell and Officer Neal Robertson, who retired in December, declined to comment on the suit. In court documents, however, a defense attorney denied many of the allegations, including that Mitchell was shot with his hands up.

A jury acquitted Mitchell last year on all charges connected to the incident. Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Greg Underwood cleared Robertson of any wrongdoing as well, finding the officer’s use of force was appropriate and justified under the circumstances.

The confrontation occurred about 11:20 a.m. Jan. 29, 2013, outside the 7-Eleven at 8312 Hampton Blvd.

A police spokesman told The Pilot in 2013 that an officer – Robertson – approached the vehicle after watching it “driving up and down various streets” in a neighborhood. He added that the officer later saw the same vehicle in an adjacent neighborhood doing the same thing and started following the car until it went into the convenience store parking lot.

According to a letter from Underwood to Norfolk police Chief Michael Goldsmith, Robertson turned on his police car’s lights and siren as it entered the lot.

Mitchell was the backseat passenger in the vehicle. The lawsuit said he got out of the vehicle and walked toward the store with the intention of buying a drink or snack.

Before he could open the store’s door, however, Robertson, in uniform, stopped Mitchell.

The suit said Robertson pointed a handgun at Mitchell and yelled at him to “get the (expletive) back in the vehicle.”

Mitchell responded by running away. The lawsuit said he ran “because he feared Robertson would shoot him,” but prosecutors said at Mitchell’s trial that he told police he ran because he was afraid there was a warrant out for his arrest for unpaid child support.

Robertson, a Marine who served in the Middle East and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD, chased Mitchell for about 30 yards. The lawsuit said the two eventually fell, but Mitchell got back up and ran back to the parking lot, where he got into an idling dark green Chevy Malibu that turned out to be Robertson’s unmarked police car.

The vehicle’s lights were still flashing, Underwood’s letter said.

What happens next is in dispute. Special prosecutor Will Jamerson said at trial that Mitchell put the car in gear and tried to drive away, dragging Robertson in the process.

The lawsuit, however, says Robertson opened fire “without legal justification.”

The lawsuit said Mitchell was unarmed and not “a threat to the safety of himself or others.” It added that “Mitchell did not use the vehicle as a weapon and did not try to strike or otherwise injure Robertson.”

The lawsuit claimed Mitchell put up his hands after the first shot was fired and repeatedly said, “Please don’t shoot.”

The claim is largely supported by a woman who testified at Mitchell’s trial. Latequa Gray said she saw Mitchell raise his hands after the second shot and say, “Please don’t shoot me again.” She said Robertson fired three more times, although forensic evidence indicated he fired only three times total.

Other witnesses testified they saw Mitchell jump into the car and drag the officer as he took off. One said the car did not stop until the officer fired.

Following the shooting, Mitchell was charged with malicious wounding of a police officer, eluding police and grand larceny. His first jury trial ended in a mistrial. The second ended in an acquittal.

Jamerson said at trial that Robertson, who was with Norfolk police for six years, would have to retire as a result of injuries he suffered during the incident.

http://pilotonline.com/news/local/crime/norfolk-police-officer-shot-man-with-his-hands-up-after/article_89bc5bbe-1fa6-5040-b225-38e7cf418086.html?platform=hootsuite

Former Town of Bedford police officer to serve 5 years in prison on child pornography charge

http://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Former-Town-of-Bedford-police-officer-to-serve-5-years-in-prison-on-child-pornography-charge-391029801.html?platform=hootsuite

By Tim Saunders/Web Staff |

BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) A former lieutenant with the Town of Bedford Police Department was found guilty Tuesday of distribution of child pornography.

As part of a plea agreement, Brian McAlexander pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography and was sentenced to serve five years in prison. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped five other charges against McAlexander.

McAlexander’s crimes were discovered as part of an undercover investigation, according to a statement put out Tuesday by the Virginia Attorney General’s office. An officer discovered McAlexander was making copies of child pornography available to other people on the Internet.

Officers with the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force got a warrant and searched McAlexander’s home. They found six images and videos of child pornography on McAlexander’s computer, according to the Attorney General’s news release. Children depicted in the images McAlexander possessed were said to be “prepubescent.

McAlexander resigned from the Bedford Police Department when the investigation got underway last year. Bedford Police Chief Todd Foreman said his department has cooperated fully with the investigation and McAlexander’s prosecution.

“We need to make sure that everybody understands that we hold people accountable for their actions while they are working and while they are off duty,” Foreman told WDBJ7, following Tuesday’s court hearing.

Since McAlexander was a longtime member of law enforcement and his work could be viewed as closely associated with the Commonwealth Attorney’s office in Bedford, his case was prosecuted by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office.

McAlexander will have to pay $200 in restitution. He has to report to prison on Sept. 8 at 2 p.m.

McAlexander was arrested in February. He resigned from the Bedford Police Department in April 2015.

If the case had gone to trial and McAlexander was convicted by a jury, he faced a maximum sentence of 105 years in prison.

 

http://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Former-Town-of-Bedford-police-officer-to-serve-5-years-in-prison-on-child-pornography-charge-391029801.html?platform=hootsuite

White police officer who shot unarmed black man to death found guilty of manslaughter in Virginia

http://www.trbimg.com/img-57a3b344/turbine/la-1470346090-snap-photo/1050/1050x591

Associated Press

A jury convicted a white former police officer of voluntary manslaughter on Thursday in the shooting death of an unarmed black man who had been accused of shoplifting.

Stephen Rankin, who was fired from the Portsmouth police force after being indicted, now faces one to 10 years in prison. The sentencing phase of his trial began immediately.

Rankin, 36, shot William Chapman in the face and chest outside a Wal-Mart store last year after a security guard accused the 18-year-old of shoplifting. There was no video recording of the shooting, and testimony conflicted on the details.

Prosecutors said Chapman had his hands up and the officer could have used nonlethal force. But the defense said Rankin had to shoot after trying to stun the young man because Chapman became enraged and knocked the officer’s stun gun to the ground.

Rankin had already killed another unarmed suspect, four years earlier, and many in Portsmouth, a mostly black city of 100,000, saw his trial as a chance for accountability amid police shootings around the country.

But Rankin’s lawyers said his case had nothing to do with other instances of deadly force being used against black men.

“I think this is a terrible tragedy. I wish it had never happened. I wish none of it had ever occurred,” Rankin testified after being found guilty.

“I can’t begin to fathom how much pain that family is going through. I wish I could have done more to keep him alive,” he added.

Chapman’s cousin, Earl Lewis, also took the stand, to discuss the impact of his death, speaking through tears about how the family struggled to find money to bury him.

The jurors — eight black and four white — deliberated for nearly two days before reaching a verdict. They did not convict Rankin on the first-degree murder charge prosecutors sought.

Criminal charges against officers are rare in police-involved shootings, and convictions are even more uncommon.

Experts say on-duty officers kill about 1,000 suspects a year in the United States, but only 74 have been charged since 2005. A third of these were convicted, a third were not and the other cases are pending.

Persuading jurors to convict officers is always difficult because people tend to give police the benefit of the doubt, said Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. “Juries are very reluctant to convict an officer because they all recognize that policing is difficult and violent.”

Some witnesses backed Rankin’s recollection. Paul Akey, a construction worker who was nearby, said Chapman “went after the officer with throwing fists, and it looked like he knocked a Taser out of the officer’s hands.”

Rankin testified that he calmly approached Chapman to discuss the shoplifting accusation and was preparing to handcuff him when the teen refused to comply with his orders and a struggle ensued. He said he used his stun gun on him, but Chapman knocked it away. Both men then faced each other from a short distance.

That’s when he drew his pistol, Rankin said, and repeatedly commanded Chapman to “get on the ground.” Instead, he said Chapman screamed “shoot me” several times before charging at him from about six feet away. He said experienced “tunnel vision” at that point, and fearing for his life, fired twice to stop him.

“I had no reason to think he was going to stop attacking me,” said Rankin. “I was scared.”

But Gregory Provo, the Wal-Mart security guard who reported the shoplifting allegation, testified that Chapman never charged at the officer. He said Chapman raised both hands, boxing-style, and said “Are you going to f—ing shoot me?” before Rankin fired from about five yards away.

Prosecutor Stephanie Morales told the jury that Rankin “brought a gun into what is at worst a fist fight.”

But defense attorney James Broccoletti said shooting was his only choice after “everything he tried to do didn’t work.”

Prosecutors failed to persuade the judge to allow Rankin’s ex-wife to testify that he had fantasized about shooting people on the job. In his first on-duty killing, he was cleared of wrongdoing after firing 11 times at a white burglary suspect. He said that man charged at him while reaching into his waistband with his hands.

The judge also refused to allow testimony about Chapman’s criminal record.

 

http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-white-officer-manslaughter-20160804-snap-story.html?platform=hootsuite