Category Archives: Trial Videos
On September 9, 2016, the United States Department of Justice announced that Reynoldsburg Police Officer Shane M. Mauger, 42, of Columbus, Ohio, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 33 months in prison for using his position as a police officer to deprive people of their civil rights by falsifying search warrant affidavits and unlawfully seizing money and property during drug trafficking investigations.
An undercover officer, Tye Downard, was implicated in the case but committed suicide after he was arrested. A third officer connected to the case was suspended earlier this year.
Mauger agreed to plead guilty to one count of federal program theft, and conspiracy to deprive persons of their civil rights. Each count carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. In addition to the 33 month prison sentence, Federal Judge Marbley also ordered Mauger to remain under court supervision for 2 years after he completes his prison sentence, and perform 4 hours of community service per week while under court supervision. Read the rest of this entry
This case, although several years old, captured my attention because of the perpetrator’s employment with the Department of Defense. That is an agency unsuccessfully used by some known harassers to give false reports against activists, bloggers and others.
Here is the story …
Lori Stewart of Urbana, Illinois opened a blog titled “This Just In.” She shared gentle stories about gardening, her military family, and vacation photos. In 2006, Lori founded the non-profit organization Toys for Troops. It was soon afterwards when someone using the handle “JoeBob” began sending her vulgar comments.
Lori’s son was in the military, so JoeBob referred to Lori’s son as an “inbred half-retarded son” and said he hoped he took a bayonet in the gut. JoeBob also sent comments that were anti-Semitic and homophobic. Read the rest of this entry
In my research for the series Defining Black Lives Matter, I found some articles about Blue Lives Matter. I was going to include the following in a part of the series, but decided that this needs its own post. It is about Georgia Sheriff Deputy Kyle Dinkheller. First, please watch the video. When I first watched it, I fell to my knees sobbing. It’s one of those painful things that we need to watch to see what humans do to other humans, and should remind us of the precious gift of life.
Andrew Brannan was convicted of the 1998 murder of Laurens County, Georgia sheriff deputy Kyle Dinkheller. Deputy Dinkheller was 22-years old when he was murdered. Dinkheller pulled Brannan over for driving 98 mph. Brannan used a M-1 carbine rifle. At the time, Brannan was 49 years old when he deliberately shot Officer Dinkheller 9 times, the last shot being in the eye.
Brannan was found the next day. He had been wounded in the stomach. He was taken alive.
Officer Dinkheller left behind an expectant wife and 22-month-old daughter when he died on January 12, 1998. Deputy Dinkheller’s son was born in September 1998. Read the rest of this entry
On Dec. 28, 2014, Baltimore police officer Wesley Cagle and three other officers responded to a commercial burglary. Authorities say 47-year-old Michael Johansen ran from the building and officers ordered him to show his hands.
Officers said that Michael reached down as if going for a gun, and two officers shot him. Prosecutors say that Cagle then approached Michael who was lying on the floor and shot him once in the groin.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby brought charges against Cagle. Michael Johansen survived and testified against Cagle at trial.
“In a rare conviction in a use-of-force case against a police officer, jurors found Wesley Cagle, 46, guilty of first-degree assault and a handgun charge. Prosecutors said Cagle shot Michael Johansen in the groin as he lay in the doorway of an East Baltimore corner store after two other officers had shot the man.”
The jury’s foreman was interviewed and said that the video where Michael had his hands up saying he was unarmed, helped the jury reach its verdict of guilty.
“There was no need for him to take that final shot,” said jury foreman Jerome Harper.
Michael testified that he was a heroin addict who was looking for money on the night he was shot. Read the rest of this entry
It began on April 22, 2015 in a Walmart parking lot in Portsmouth, Virginia. Police received a call of a shoplifter. Portsmouth police officer Stephen Rankin came to the scene and saw 18-year old William Chapman walking in the parking lot. William was wearing a backpack. Rankin stopped Chapman on suspicion of shoplifting. William denied that he shoplifted anything.
The situation ended with Rankin shooting William twice, once in the chest, and once in the face. The coroner found that William was handcuffed when he was shot. No stolen property was found on William. An autopsy report found that the shots were not fired at close range, which contradicted Rankin’s story that William was close to him, failed to comply with his demands, and lunged at him. A video of Rankin’s taser was examined.
An investigation was held that was completed on August 21, 2015. A grand jury indicted Rankin. He was charged with first-degree murder and using a firearm to commit a felony. Read the rest of this entry
Let’s see if we can figure this out, and why it takes digging into several media sources to get all of the details. Seriously, my research about this case took me back to July 2014, and online news sources St. Louis Today, Fox news, and the Washington Times.
On July 22, 2014, St. Louis, MO police detective Thomas A. Carroll assaulted handcuffed suspect, Michael Waller. He didn’t report it to superiors and assisted in filing charges against Waller.
After 25 years on the job, Carroll was suspended without pay in late July 2014 amid ongoing criminal and internal investigations that is said to have involved the FBI. Subsequently, Carroll retired. Internal affairs charged Carroll with failure to follow an order.
Michael Waller was charged on July 23, 2014 with receiving stolen property and fraudulent use of a credit card, along with an escape charge relative to resisting arrest. He was allegedly in possession of a stolen credit card that belonged to Carroll’s daughter. His booking photo shows that he had a black-eye.
Two St. Louis prosecutors, Bliss Worrell and Katherine Dierdorf, were forced to leave their jobs because of their knowledge of events, and the circumstances related to charging Waller. There was investigation that Carroll was giving prosecutors unauthorized ride-alongs that included allowing them to use his taser on suspects. The same day that Worrell and Dierdorf left their jobs, the charges against Waller were dismissed. Read the rest of this entry
Thursday night, Jack Jacquez Sr. said he was burning all of the documents he amassed in a case concerning the murder of his son. He said he was doing it to get the stress from the court proceedings off his chest.
In October 2014, his son, 27-year-old Jack Jacquez, was killed in his mom’s kitchen by Rocky Ford, Colorado police officer James Ashby. Ashby claimed that he thought Jack was a burglar. However, Jack’s mom, Viola, told The Denver Post that Ashby opened fire on her son inches from her face.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation reviewed the shooting and decided that Ashby lied about circumstances that led up to and followed the shooting, finding that many of his statements contradicted physical evidence and witness accounts. Ashby was arrested a month after he killed Jack. Ashby was charged with second-degree murder. He was also fired from his job. Read the rest of this entry
The Baltimore Sun reports that Officer Ceasar Goodson Jr., who faced the most serious charges of any of the six officers indicted in the death of Freddie Gray, has been acquitted of all charges.
Officer Caesar Goodson, Jr., 46, had faced the most serious charges of any of the six officers indicted in Gray’s arrest and death last April, including second-degree depraved heart murder. Goodson was also acquitted of three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
Freddie Gray was 25 years old when he suffered a fatal spinal injury while in the back of the police van driven by Goodson.
Goodson opted for a bench trial before Circuit Judge Barry Williams. Judge Williams said the timeline of Gray’s injuries remains unclear, and the state “failed to meet its burden” to present enough evidence to back its assertions. “As the trier of fact, the court can’t simply let things speak for themselves,” stated Judge Williams. Read the rest of this entry
When I heard that Trayvon Martin was killed, and that his killer was claiming Florida’s stand your ground defense, that law peeked my interest. I had not heard of stand your ground and wanted to know of other cases in Florida where the defendant claimed that defense.
Among the cases I found was that of Trevor Dooley. On January 23, 2013, I wrote an article on the significance of the Dooley decision. It is a Florida case where the defendant claimed self-defense.
I expected that Dooley would prevail on his claim of stand your ground because of testimony that Dooley retreated when David James came up behind him, knocking him to the ground. Dooley shot and killed David James.
At trial, prosecutors argued that Dooley could not claim that he stood his ground because he broke the law by showing his gun to the victim, thereby committing the crime of unlawful exhibition of a weapon.
In November 2012, Dooley was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 8 years in prison. He remained free on bond until his first appeal was denied and on November 2014, Dooley began serving his prison time.
After the verdict in Dooley’s case, and when I wrote the first article about the case, it was my position that the jury applied the facts to Florida law from the beginning, finding that if not but for the fact that Trevor Dooley left his garage with a loaded gun and approached David James for mouthing off at him, the two would not have come into physical contact. If Dooley was truly the initial aggressor, then the jury should find the same in George Zimmerman’s case.
In George Zimmerman’s case however, Judge Debra Nelson omitted the part of initial aggressor from the jury’s instructions because the defense asked her to.
Tampa Bay Times reports that now, Trevor Dooley gets a new trial because the 2nd District Court of Appeal found that the wording in the jury instructions on the justifiable use of deadly force was “erroneous.”
The 2nd District Court of Appeal also found that the state was wrong — that “stand your ground” doesn’t depend on whether or not a person is “engaged in unlawful activity.”
Dooley, who is now 73-years old, is being returned to Hillsborough County and his lawyer said he will be eligible to be freed on bond pending the new trial.
This is Dooley’s second appeal. On his first appeal in 2014, the court said that the attorney handling that appeal should have raised the error in the jury instructions about self-defense. The jury’s instructions included; Read the rest of this entry
Trial starts on Thursday of this week for the Baltimore police officer who was driving the van transporting Freddie Gray. This is the trial I was waiting for. Officer Caesar Goodson faces the most serious charges of the 6 Baltimore officers who were charged in Freddie’s death. He is also the only officer out of the 6 who did not give a statement to investigators.
Freddie was placed in the back of the van last April. By the time the van arrived at a police station less than hour later, Freddie’s spine was nearly severed, and he died several days later.
Goodson is charged with; Read the rest of this entry
Robert Bates, 74 years old, was a Tulsa, Oklahoma reserve deputy when he was part of a sting operation. Bates fatally shot unarmed Eric Harris, and said that he mistook his gun for his taser. Eric was restrained when Bates shot him.
A jury has found Bates guilty of second-degree manslaughter. The jury recommended the maximum sentence of 4 years in prison. Bates wife has stated that because of his age and health, her husband is likely to die in prison.
(Editorial opinion: The same conditions applied to Bates when he went on the sting operation with a loaded gun. Bates could not distinguish where he carried his gun from where he carried his taser, nor that it was unnecessary to employ a taser upon a physically restrained suspect. He should not have been working in that capacity.)
After sentencing, Bates was escorted to the jail, and is expected to be transferred to a state prison next week.
The shooting was captured on video and lead to investigations about pay to play, questions about training standards for volunteer deputies, and favoritism. A review found an internal memo questioning Bates’ qualifications as a volunteer deputy and showed that Bates, a close friend of the sheriff’s, had donated thousands of dollars in cash, vehicles and equipment to the sheriff’s office.
A grand jury also investigated and indicted the longtime sheriff, Stanley Glanz, in September 2015, accusing him of failing to release a 2009 memo. He resigned on Nov. 1 2015.
Considering the discoveries and reforms, Eric Harris’ death was not in vain.
From 2011 to 2013, 45-year old Robert Vaughan robbed 8 drug dealers of cocaine, marijuana and contraband cigarettes. He earned a profit of $300,000. Vaughan conducted the robberies in Chicago, Cicero, Plainfield, Lyons, Melrose Park, and Forest Park, Illinois. Maybe this would not be news if not but for the fact that Vaughan was a police officer with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department when he committed the robberies along with two other law enforcement officers. Vaughan admitted to the crime in a plea agreement. On April 13, 2016, Vaughan was sentenced to 7 and a half years in federal prison.
In his argument for sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani wrote;
“This is the type of crime one would expect to only see on a television show. The crimes were brazen, arrogant and detrimental to the citizens of this district. While the victims of the offense in this case garner no sympathy – they are drug dealers and contraband traffickers – it cannot excuse the outrageous conduct by Vaughan, who committed robberies using his badge and gun.”
Trial started this week for Robert Bates, the ex-volunteer reserve sheriff deputy for the Tulsa County, Oklahoma’s Sheriff’s office.
On April 2, 2015, an undercover deputy was conducting a sting operation to catch 44-year old Eric Harris illegally selling a gun. Bates, who is 73-years old, volunteered to help out. Eric ran, and upon apprehension and taken to the ground, Bates pulled his gun and shot Eric in the back.
Bates’ defense is that he thought he was taking out and discharging his taser and not his .357. Bates is charged with 2nd degree manslaughter. If convicted, he faces up to 4 years in prison.
The killing of Eric Harris resulted in activists organizing. The actions of We The People resulted in a grand jury investigation into the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office. The grand jury indicted Sheriff Glanz on 2 misdemeanor charges, including one for denying lawful requests of internal investigations into his office’s Reserve Deputy program. After almost 30 years as Sheriff, Stanley Glanz resigned.
Peter Liang is the former New York rookie cop who killed Akai Gurley in a stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. Akai was unarmed. He was doing no wrong; committing no crime.
On February 11, 2016, a jury returned a guilty verdict, convicting Liang of manslaughter. He faced a sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison.
At his sentencing hearing, Liang apologized to Akai’s girlfriend who is the mother of Akai’s daughter, saying, “I’m not a man of many words. The shot was an accident.”
Today, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun sentenced Liang to five years probation and 800 hours of community service for the death of 28-year-old dad Akai Gurley — after reducing the charge against the cop. Read the rest of this entry
Maybe he should have been sold into slavery to another country so he can see how it feels to be powerless.
Mark Ciavarella leaves the federal courthouse in Scranton, Pa., in February.
Pa. Judge Sentenced To 28 Years In Massive Juvenile Justice Bribery Scandal
A Pennsylvania judge was sentenced to 28 years in prison in connection to a bribery scandal that roiled the state’s juvenile justice system. Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was convicted of taking $1 million in bribes from developers of juvenile detention centers.
The judge then presided over cases that would send juveniles to those same centers. The case came to be known as “kids-for-cash.”
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Mindyme62 posted about in open discussion in December 2014 about a stand your ground case. That’s more than a year ago, so I wanted to follow-up. In November 2015, we got a verdict, for the second time.
In 2010, Raul Rodriguez went to his neighbor’s house, taking his video recorder, cellphone, and gun with him. The neighbor was having a birthday party. Rodriguez thought that the music was too loud. Kelly Danaher, then 36-years old and a teacher, Kelly’s dad and other men argued with Rodriguez over the volume of the music. Rodriguez was filming when he said “I am in fear for my life” and shot, fatally wounding Kelly.
In 2012, Raul Rodriguez, 49, of Harris County, Texas, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Rodriguez appealed and Houston’s First Court of Appeals said the jury’s instructions on the law on self-defense was so confusing that Rodriguez did not get a fair trial.
In 2015, Rodriguez went back to trial. On November 20, 2015, jurors deliberated about 3 hours before siding with prosecutors that Rodriguez provoked the situation.
“This case is about provocation, pure and simple. The law doesn’t allow you to create a situation and then claim self-defense.” Prosecutor Kelli Johnson stated in closing arguments.
Three students were charged in a high-profile 2013 hate crime case at San Jose State University. They were also charged with battery for putting a bike lock around the neck Donald Williams Jr. a Black freshman. All three were found guilty of misdemeanor battery. They can serve up to six months in jail. One has escaped conviction on the hate crime charge, and the jury hung on deciding the fate of the two others. A fourth student has been charged as a juvenile in the case. There is no available information on that case.
The defendants are Colin Warren of Woodacre (20) , Logan Beaschler of Bakersfield (20), and Joseph “Brett” Bomgardner, of Clovis (21). The charges came due to varying degrees of subjecting Donald Williams Jr., who was 17, to repeated bullying that prosecutors say rose to the level of a hate crime during the fall of 2013.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office says it will consider asking for a retrial on the hate crime charges. Read the rest of this entry
New York police officer Peter Liang, who shot and killed an unarmed man in a New York housing project stairwell in 2014, has been found guilty of manslaughter and official misconduct. Liang was charged with 5 counts in the death of 28-year old Akai.
Liang was charged with manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment, criminally negligent homicide and official misconduct.
The jury consisted of 7 men and 5 women. During trial, Liang testified in his own defense. He testified that his gun went off by accident after he entered the pitch-black stairwell and heard a “quick sound” coming from his left side that startled him and caused him to “tense up” and fire his weapon.
A major contention happened at trial when prosecutors presented that Liang did not administer first aid to Akai. Prosecutors called on a number of instructors from the Police Academy to testify about the training recruits receive. While they described to jurors what each officer is taught, Liang and his partner, Landau, testified that they received minimal CPR training and were therefore unable to render aid.
Liang’s sentencing is set for April 14. The manslaughter conviction carries up to 15 years in prison. For those not completely informed about the case, we reported on it earlier. You can also put “Peter Liang” in the search box found on the right-side border.
I’m a bit late with this story. I was not going to blog about it, but last night a dear friend told me that I had to. He said that I needed to express my opinion about how cities are placed in conditions of oppression, and the subject police officer in this case is a perfect example.
William Melendez was a police officer for the City of Detroit from 1993 to 2009. He received more civilian complaints than any other officer in the department. He was nicknamed “Robocop” like the movie character, purportedly because of his merciless violence against criminals. Melendez was accused of planting evidence, wrongfully killing civilians, falsifying police reports, and conducting illegal arrests.
Melendez has been a named defendant in at least 12 federal lawsuits. Some suits were settled out of court. Others were dismissed. Three years into the Detroit police force, Melendez and his partner fatally shot Lou Adkins. Witnesses testified that Adkins was shot 11 times while on the ground. The case settled for $1.05 million.
Melendez was also indicted by a federal grand jury for civil rights violations. Among other things, Melendez was accused of stealing guns, money, and drugs from suspects, and planting weapons. During his trial, many of the government’s witnesses had criminal records. The jury did not believe their testimony and Melendez was acquitted. Read the rest of this entry