Articles Posted in Police

Longwood Police Chief Gets Four Years Federal Time For Accepting Bribes

Former Longwood, Florida police chief, Tom Jackson, will be heading off to do his federal sentence after a jury convicted him of three counts of accepting bribes and one count of conspiracy. According to a report, Jackson took six personal checks from a convicted felon totaling $36,000 during the years 2007 to 2010.  A convicted felon obviously cannot be a sworn police officer and apparently this police chief’s price for trying to accomplish such a feat of making the felon a officer in his department was the $36,000. Also noteworthy here is the fact that the police chief provided a department owned weapon to a convicted felon. Chief Jackson knowingly swore in the convicted felon on July 10,2009 according o the federal indictment.  Possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, commonly referred to as a “PFCF” is a second degree felony under florida law, carrying up to 15 years incarceration with a three year minimum mandatory sentence routinely imposed.  The felon was given business cards, a badge and issued a weapon from the department.  Chief Jackson reportedly made $98,000 per year before one adds in the supplemental income from taking bribes.  It is not known to this reader if Chief Jackson also had an IRS problem for the reporting or non- reporting of the supplemental income from the bribes.  It is also not known if the chief keeps any sort of pension from his non felonious years in charge of the department.

Atlantic Beach Police Chief Sentenced On Drug Charges

In Duval County, Florida, former Atlantic Beach Chief of Police, Michael Classey, can now be referred to by his Florida Department of Corrections number, J54631.  Chief Classey entered guilty pleas to five felonies for possessing illegal steroids and medications and tampering with evidence.  The chief received a five year probationary sentence.  The sentencing judge made sure that the chief forfeited his florida law enforcement certification, would perform 100 hours of community service and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five days per week.  Chief Classey very importantly received a withhold of adjudication.  The withhold means that although he entered pleas to multiple felonies, the court did not convict him of any of the felonies.  Whereas the Longwood chief above will be a lifetime convicted felon going forward after serving prison time, the Atlantic Beach chief was determined to be only a first time offender by the court and a public servant who had demonstrated a stellar 22 year record of decorated service.  The court found that no incarceration was justified and the prosecution also sought no jail or prison time.  The court decided that although this former chief didn’t need to be a convicted felon, he didn’t need to work in law enforcement going forward and needed to be given a chance at treatment.  Remaining on felony probation violation free in Florida is remarkable easy for some folks and just an unattainable hurdle for others.  In Florida, if one violates probation after originally receiving a withhold of adjudication, a hearing is conducted on the violation.  The violator does not get the benefit of a jury trial and whether the person violated or not is simply left up to the judge. The standard of proof required to be shown is that the probationer committed a “willful and substantial” violation of either the general or special conditions of probation.  The risk of violating probation is the previous withhold being converted into an adjudication/conviction and the probationer is also exposed to whatever incarceration was the maximum sentence allowed on each count the probationer entered pleas to.  Additionally, it is rare that a judge sets a bond on a violation of probation warrant or capias.  Locally, in North Florida, these are usually “no bond” warrants, even  for those on misdemeanor probation.  One will sit in jail 15-30 days before getting in front of the judge.  Usually, once one has accrued a substantial criminal record, or if the charge in question is very serious, probation will not be an option the court will consider.  A court is also not allowed to withhold adjudication of guilt on certain crimes or people with certain records.

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Federal Judge Orders Apple to Assist FBI Investigation of San Bernardino Shootings

The FBI successfully sought a court order telling Apple, as a corporation, they must assist the FBI in the investigation of the shootings in which an iPhone was retrieved from one of the deceased shooters.  Apple is, at present, refusing to comply with the order.  This is not a warrant.  This is a court order directing a private corporation that:

“Apple’s reasonable technical assistance shall accomplish the following three important functions: (1) it will bypass or disable the auto-erase function whether or not it has been enabled; (2) it will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT DEVICE and (3) it will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred by Apple hardware.”  The shorthand version of what the government wants here is the ability to bypass or overcome the time out function or destruction of of phone data that occurs when one puts the wrong passcode repeatedly into an iPhone.  Judge Sheri Pym did not provide Apple with some aspirational goal like “try your best” to help out the FBI investigation.  Apple is being ordered what they “shall accomplish”, what they “will bypass or disable”, “what they “will enable” and what they “will ensure.”

 

Judge Gave Apple Time to Respond

Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote a letter labelled as A message to our customers.” He indicated that Apple was not going to instantly comply with the court order.  Apple has retained the services of renowned lawyer Theodore Olson who successfully represented then republican candidate George Bush in the Bush v. Gore case, ultimately winning Bush the presedential election. It is not known at the present time what penalties Apple will face as a corporation or who, if anyone, at Apple would be subject to being jailed for not complying with the order.  One should note that prior to her seat on the Federal Bench, Judge Pym was an assistant U.S. attorney and also a chief of the Riverside branch of the U.S. attorney’s office, Central District of California.  This case was brought in federal court in the Central District of California.  It appears to be a motion filed by her former office asking her bring this order against Apple. Thus far, the federal prosecutors appear to have success in having their motion granted and an order entered by a sitting judge who just happens to be a former federal prosecutor from the same office. Continue reading

“The Result Was The Wrong Person Was Accused of Crimes She Didn’t Commit”

Those are the words and apparent logic of Clay County Sheriff Rick Beesler according to an article in Jacksonville.com.  Ashely Nichole Chiasson was more than wrongfully accused.  The Sheriff, obviously an elected official, chose his words as euphemistically as possible.  His trusted counsel was mentioned in the article as well.  The Sheriff’s apology could not have taken long to put together since he just recently apologized for his department’s wrongful arrest of a young Clay County man.  Both apologies were necessary because his officers have demonstrated that investigations cease, warrants are obtained, arrests are made and poor people like Ms. Chiasson, unable to make a $10,003 bond, travel several states in a “prison van” while chained hand and foot, based solely upon a match of names.   Ms. Chiasson, per jail records, arrived at the Clay County jail shortly after 3 a.m. on January 23, 2014.  She had been arrested in Louisiana, sat in the Parish jail for days until she received “diesel therapy” heading eastbound on the road in what the apparent transport service here, Prisoner Transportation Services, describes on their corporate website as a “mobile jail.”  Now Beesler’s department has another lawsuit to defend or settle, using collected tax dollars, because of the “hey, we got a name match” style of investigation.   What Ms.Chiasson went through, the lawsuit the Clay County now has to defend, the bogus or incompetently completed affidavit for a warrant presented under oath by a sworn detective to a judge, the State Attorney’s office bringing forth two cases in error are all results of Ms. Chiasson being “accused” as the Sheriff says. One result might be an erosion of the public’s trust in his department.  One result might be that potential Clay County jurors are less inclined to believe Sheriff Beesler’s officers as they testify in future trials.  One result is that the true criminal here is possibly still in the community, possibly still committing crimes.

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After calling police to report that her roommates stole a bag of crab legs from her, a Fort Pierce woman threatened police with a packet of chicken. According to a report by the International Business Times, the woman noticed that her food was missing from the freezer and blamed her roommates, who denied responsibility. The woman then called police who, upon responding to the call, determined that no crime had been committed.

sleeping-man-in-the-park-1-891034-m.jpgThe police officer allegedly claims that the woman was intoxicated at the time and became increasingly angry, eventually threatening the officer with a package of chicken for failing to take action against her roommates. The woman was then immediately arrested and charged with disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest. She now remains free after posting $250 bail.

Intoxication and Police Don’t Mix

Police generally do not like dealing with intoxicated people. Whether they are behind the wheel of a car, outside a bar getting into a fight or, in some cases, even in their own home. Police see an intoxicated person as unpredictable and as a potential threat to their safety. Therefore, police sometimes take extra precaution when dealing with an intoxicated citizen.

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The family of a Florida man Marlon Brown has released video of his death, hoping to get criminal charges filed against the DeLand police officer who ran him over. Brown was being chased by police because they allegedly saw that he was not wearing a seatbelt. At a dead-end road, Brown stopped his car and started running. One of the police cars hit and ran him over, its dashcam video recording the entire incident.

A grand jury decided not to indict officer James Harris on a criminal charge of vehicular manslaughter. That’s when the family decided to go public, and release the video. The family stated they knew that the video is hard to watch, but they feel that in order to obtain justice, releasing the video was something that they had to do. imagestbwe.jpg

When charged with a crime, prosecutors often have a choice between seeking an indictment from a grand jury and filing a charging document directly with the court. The prosecutor will either:

– decide that the case should be charged (as a felony or a misdemeanor), and file a complaint with the trial court
– decide that the case should be charged as a felony and bring evidence before citizens serving as grand jurors, who will decide what charges, if any, to file, or
– decide that the matter should not be pursued (charges dismissed or diverted)
– Prosecutors can file charges on all crimes for which the police arrested a suspect, but have the option to also file charges that are more or less severe than the charges leveled by the police.

A charging document is usually called an information, accusation, or complaint, to distinguish it from a grand-jury indictment. To protect the accused’s due-process rights in felony cases, where the accused’s freedom is at stake, there is usually a preliminary hearing, at which time the judge presiding will determine whether there was sufficient probable cause to arrest the accused who is in custody.

The substance of an indictment or other charging instrument usually consists of a short and plain statement of where, when, and how the accused allegedly committed the offense. Each offense usually is set out in a separate count. If a felony is involved, prosecutors sometimes leave it to grand juries to decide whether charges should be filed.

The process of proceeding in the legal system becomes more complex when a grand jury is involved. Grand juries are similar to regular trial juries (called “petit juries”) in that they are made up of randomly selected individuals. The grand jurors listen to evidence and decide whether charges should be brought against the individual accused. Grand Juries present problems for the accused, because jurors are people with opinions, beliefs, and discriminatory practices that may or may not play a factor in whether the accused is charged, and what level of charge is brought.

Grand jury proceedings are secret, many times involving hearing witness testimony that will be used to charge the accused with a crime, without the suspect or the suspect’s lawyer present. To add to the trouble of secrecy, many times, direct action by many Prosecutors in attempting to keep mitigating evidence out of the view of the grand jury causes falsely accused parties to become victims of a State operated legal system.

When a prosecutor brings a case to a grand jury, the prosecutor presents the jurors with a “charging bill” and usually introduces the minimum amount of evidence necessary to secure an indictment. Prosecutors do not like to overwhelmingly meet their burden of proof in the grand jury proceeding, many times because of fear that the indicted suspect and his experienced attorney will later obtain a transcript of the grand jury proceedings, which can and will often be used to blast holes in the prosecution’s case.

An experienced attorney will bring all evidence to light, including deposing state witnesses and examining any and all evidence available. This examination many times reveal major problems in the State’s case that will allow one’s charge to be lessened or dismissed, problems that may be missed if one obtains a shoddy defense.

If one obtains an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, one’s attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress any illegally obtained evidence, argue any potential defenses to one’s charge, and possibly have either one’s charge dismissed, or have one’s punishment considerably lessened, possibly involving only probation or house arrest.

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Norma Currlin, a Sunrise police property and evidence technician, has been accused of stealing hundreds of oxycodone pills and has been linked to the thefts through her DNA. Currlin has been charged with six counts of theft of controlled substances. Currlin has been employed by the Sunrise Police Department for 22 years and served as an evidence technician since July 2006, and had authorization to manage the pill count in the evidence tracking system and was the primary person responsible for the signing out of pills to detectives and for the logbook she created to track the movement of pills. She was a police dispatcher prior to that.

In Florida, it is illegal for one to attempt to or obtain a controlled substance by fraud or some means of fraud. Fraud can be by forgery, alteration, or deceit used to obtain or keep a prescription or of any written order, or by the use of a false name or the giving of a false address, or by the concealment of a material fact. Within the last few years, the frequency of prescription drug abuse has reached an all-time high throughout the U.S., and has abuse has infected the police department employees in charge evidentiary hold of the pills that would be evidence against the accused. ncff.jpg

Pill-mills throughout Florida and the distribution chains they have throughout the state have caught the attention of police and prosecutors in recent years as drug investigators have begun focusing on painkiller drugs that can be equally harmful if abused. As such, evidence lockers are stockpiled with prescription drugs that are easily accessible and disposable, many times without any questions being asked.

Prescription medications contain highly addictive properties and are easily available to most, from juveniles to the elderly, contributing to their common use. While prescription drugs are legal when used as prescribed, by someone who does not have a legitimate prescription, or are obtained by another through misrepresentation or fraud, then they can be classified as illegal controlled substances.

In this case, Currlin was entrusted with signing out pills to detectives for evidentiary purposes and for the logbook she created to track the movement of pills. Unfortunately for Currlin, and many like her, being entrusted to take care of a substance or object that one has a temptation of stealing is unacceptable. However, not every case of embezzlement, or theft or misuse of funds that one has control over, is true. Unfortunately for those who are falsely accused of embezzlement, the penalties can be very severe, costing both reputation and likelihood of being employed elsewhere where money transfer or control is involved, simply for being accused in that capacity.

Facing these charges in a police capacity elevates the case to an entirely new level. An experienced Jacksonville drug crimes attorney can help those facing significant sanctions and prison time.

Many times, the accused is merely trying to make a little extra cash to pay the bills. However, the cost of going away to prison for one’s crime could be more than any bill could ever amount. Sometimes, the offender is in desperate need of being cleaned up. One’s hope for a treatment program is not out of reach. There are options other than a jail cell. An experienced Jacksonville drug crimes attorney can provide those options.

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Former Winchester, Connecticut Finance Director Henry Centrella was arrested by Connecticut state police on an accusation of stealing more than $2 million from taxpayers to fund his gambling and a double life of extravagant spending on a Florida mistress he had promised to marry. According to court affidavits, Centrella had a mistress in Florida he was engaged to in 2009. According to the warrant, she said Centrella was looking into purchasing two homes there around that time. The values of those homes ranged from $700,000 to $1 million. No such homes were ever purchased.

Embezzlement is the act of fraudulently withholding assets for the purpose of conversion (theft) of such assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted, to be held and/or used for other purposes. It is important to make clear that embezzlement is not always a form of theft or an act of stealing, since those definitions specifically deal with taking something that does not belong to the accused. Instead, embezzlement is, more generically, an act of deceitfully secreting assets by one or more persons that have been entrusted with such assets. The person(s) entrusted with such assets may or may not have an ownership stake in such assets. indexgamblingwine.jpg

Embezzlement is a kind of financial fraud. For instance, a lawyer could embezzle funds from clients’ trust accounts, a financial advisor could embezzle funds from investors, or a person simply entrusted with the funds of another could embezzle funds, say from a spouse or parent. Embezzlement may range from the very minor in nature, involving only small amounts, to vast sums and sophisticated schemes.

Many think that embezzling government funds is impossible, but embezzlement and other white collar crimes are becoming more common and extend to both the government and private sectors. Many times, embezzlement is performed in a manner that is premeditated, systematic and/or methodical, with the explicit intent to conceal the activities from other individuals. As a result, the courts are cracking down on those convicted of embezzlement, and the penalties are more severe than ever.

If the embezzler is caught, the penalties can be severe. Embezzlement may be either a misdemeanor or felony, and tired in State or Federal Court depending upon the amount / value involved, special circumstances of the offense, and the type of business entity where the embezzlement occurred. An embezzlement conviction may range from 1 to 20 year in prison, depending on the circumstances of the offense and the evidence against the accused.

Often, successful embezzlement schemes involves the trusted individual embezzling only a small portion or fraction of the total of the funds or resources they receive or control, minimizing risk of detection of the misallocation of the funds or resources. Sometimes successful embezzlements schemes will be repeated and continue for years without detection.

Normally, the reason a person is caught or accused of embezzlement is because either an audit was completed, or a relatively large proportion of the funds were needed and suddenly not available. Many times, the victim or victims of the embezzlement do not realize the funds, savings, assets or other resources, are missing until too late and that they have been duped by the embezzler, who many times escapes with the victim’s livelihood.

If one obtains an experienced Jacksonville theft crimes defense attorney, one will have a strong chance of obtaining a favorable outcome, and will have the best defenses to what one is accused of, helping one get through the legal system, possibly without any conviction whatsoever. One should not risk one’s chances on a judge’s good nature. One should obtain a sure help for the future.

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Male teens at Avon Park Youth Academy, a juvenile detention facility, destroyed eighteen of the 20 buildings on the premises, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage; the teens also sparked two fires during the riot, injuring seven people. Avon Park Youth Academy is a non-secure, 144-bed, moderate-risk program for males in the juvenile justice system between the ages of 16 and 19 years old. Rioters took a guard’s radio and all of the staff golf carts, and set fire to a building containing the teens’ records. A trash bin was also set ablaze. Roughly 150 law enforcement officials, including K-9 units, SWAT team and air support, eventually forced the juveniles to surrender. Facility staff are forbidden from using specialty equipment, including pepper spray, which would have allowed them to deal with the fight before it escalated, authorities said.

Once processed in the juvenile court system there are many different pathways for juveniles. Whereas some juveniles are released directly back into the community to undergo community-based rehabilitative programs, some juveniles appear to the State as posing a greater threat to society and to themselves and thus must endure time in a supervised juvenile detention center. indexapya.jpg

Detention centers in Florida are for youth who are detained under specific circumstances set by Florida statute. There are 21 facilities divided into 3 regions throughout the state of Florida. They hold youth that are awaiting court dates or placement in a residential facility.
Secure detention means that juveniles are held for usually short periods of time in juvenile detention facilities in order to await current trial hearings and further placement decisions. By holding juveniles in secure detention, the State feels an assurance of an appearance in court while also keeping the community safe and risk-free of the juvenile. This type of facility is commonly referred to as “juvenile hall,” which is a holding center for juvenile delinquents. On the other hand, secure confinement implies that the juvenile has been committed by the court into the custody of a secure juvenile correctional facility for the duration of a specific program, which can span from a few months to many years.

Every juvenile detention center is subject to a number of both general and personal problems, whether classified as a non-secure facility, as is Avon Park, or a secure facility such as the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center (JDC). The Duval JDC is a 100 bed, hardware secure facility that serves youth detained by various circuit courts throughout Florida. Youth are detained pending adjudication, disposition or placement in commitment facility.

A typical day in secure detention at the Duval JDC typically involves hygiene, meals, school, structured physical and educational activities, and court appearance as scheduled. The average length of stay in this secure detention is approximately 11 days. Unfortunately not every juvenile escapes this short span of time in detention unharmed. Consider one example of a 16-year-old St. Johns County boy who was sent to the Duval County Detention Center to await trial on violation of probation and possession of drug paraphernalia charges. While detained in the facility, the boy was jumped by two other boys near midnight and was badly beaten, resulting in a broken leg, multiple abrasions on his face and injuries to his eye.

The St. Johns County Judge who sent the boy there hadn’t known of the beating, and was angry when he saw the boy at a scheduled court date. According to the ensuing investigation, there was no report of any action by officers or JDC employees to stop the beating. This beating happened at a secure facility, where constant supervision is required. Contrast this to a non-secure facility: In a non-secure facility, youth are not confined to their rooms during the day. Youth are allowed to move about without handcuffs or shackles for activities, while still accompanied by staff at all times. Teens are taught job skills and receive mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Many times, when a juvenile is facing a charge, it is not just the juvenile but the juvenile’s parents who face the charge with them. If one or a loved one is a juvenile and is facing a criminal charge, one should not take the risk of being sent to any juvenile facility, secure or non-secure. One needs an experienced Jacksonville juvenile criminal defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights and defenses are known and protected.

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that he was ordering prosecutors to stop charging lower-level drug offenders with “draconian minimum mandatory sentences.” This order is the result of the enormous cost of housing small time drug offenders, costing taxpayers an estimated $300 million a year to house people incarcerated for drug offenses. The average cost of incarcerating a drug offender for a mandatory three-year prison sentence in Florida is estimated at $58,400, while the cost of treatment in a work release program is $19,130, according to an analysis by the Florida Office of Program and Policy Analysis and Government Accountability.

Florida’s crime rate is at a 41-year low, despite a prison population that continues to grow with non-violent, first-time offenders, most of who are snared by undercover agents targeting them for trafficking in small quantities of prescription drugs. imagesweedcuffs.jpg

In states all across the nation, marijuana cultivation, distribution, and usage has seen a decrease in state prohibition, and such decrease in arrests has saved thousands of taxpayer dollars in court costs and filing fees for the court system, as well helping end the thousands of cases of accused who were filling the court dockets for a simple misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. Before state decriminalization of marijuana in states like Washington, California, and Colorado, cities with a significant number of cannabis users, like Seattle, would suffer from backlogs of marijuana cases.

Unfortunately, the tough-on-crime policy that prosecutors push causes many to overlook many mitigating factors in the accused’s case. In doing so, weak cases may be pushed as part of the public relations campaign put on for the media to appear tough on crime. Following coverage of raids and arrests, the media is nowhere to be found when defense attorneys are successful in having the charges reduced or dismissed because of a lack of evidence or other weakness in the state’s case.

Many law enforcement agencies are pushed to make these arrests, meaning that the relative amount of the illegal substance is of no consequence to them. For many, this means that having a single joint will end in a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the circumstance, and for some, a prison sentence that makes returning to a normal life free of the justice system a difficult goal to accomplish.

Remember, a police officer is being paid the same amount of overtime for an easy arrest as they are for a difficult arrest. In the mind of a police officer, what is the point in expending time and energy into arresting a violent criminal or group of criminals, when the officer can bully a teenager with a bit of weed in his pocket into an admission and conviction?

Many times, the arrestee is a juvenile who simply gave into peer pressure in their early teens. If and when a juvenile has been arrested, the process of going through the court system can be stopped. If one obtains an experienced attorney, one’s attorney can work with the juvenile, the parents, and the prosecutor to see if staying out of the system, clean of a charge, is possible.

In Florida, some juvenile offenders are able to take advantage of one form of alternative punishment, called Pre-trial Intervention (PTI). Pre-trial intervention is a diversionary program administered by the State of Florida through the Department of Corrections (DOC). Eligible individuals who enter into a PTI agreement will be required to participate in a supervised program similar to probation, except at the end of the intervention term, if all conditions are successfully completed, the charge will be dismissed.

The key to obtaining a favorable outcome when young children and juveniles face criminal charges is thorough investigation of the circumstance of the offense. Through proper investigation, one’s experienced juvenile crimes defense attorney can determine if the prosecution has satisfactory evidence to establish guilt, and if so, will be able to help the juvenile fashion a sentence which satisfies the requirement for punishment, but is beneficial to the juvenile’s rehabilitation.

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Two incidents involving Escambia County deputies are being investigated for what may be possible police misconduct, one involving an unnecessary shooting, and the other involving a warrantless entry into a home that ended in the needless shooting of both of the resident owner’s pet, one which died. The first incident involved County deputies who shot 15 rounds at Roy Howard Middleton, a 60-year-old unarmed Florida man who was looking for his cigarettes in his mother’s car, parked in his own driveway. Two of those bullets hit him, shattering his left leg. Middleton says he was compliant when the cops told him to turn around, and that as he was turning around to face deputies with his hands raised, they opened fire. The two deputies said they were responding to a 911 call about a car thief and that Middleton turned and “lunged” at them with a shiny object in his hand.

According to Florida’s courts, reasonable suspicion is present when a reasonable police officer under similar circumstances would believe criminal activity had just occurred, was occurring at that moment, or was about to occur. In other words, whether that specific officer’s belief was reasonable is reviewed by the courts using an objective standard (what a reasonable officer would have believed under similar circumstances).imagespolicemisconduct.jpg

In this case, the police could have reasonably believed Middleton was a possible suspect in a burglary. However, the police could also reasonably believe that Middleton was trying to get into a car that he had a right to be in. A few simple questions of the man and what his purpose was in accessing the car would have been simple enough. Middleton had his hands up. The gunfire was unnecessary. As Jacksonville criminal attorney blog has stated many times before, there are other alternatives to neutralizing a suspect other than shooting them.

Many times, the true reason that the suspect is suspected in the first place is unfortunately because of racial discrimination, profiling, or other discriminatory practices that would drive a police officer determine in his own mind that the person he is attempting to apprehend is in fact the perpetrator of a crime. In this case, Middleton is black. The two sheriff’s deputies are white. Although there are no specific facts to show that officers acted with racial prejudice, racial prejudice should not be ruled out.

Other times, officers write on their report any factors they think necessary to make the action committed by police justifiable as a result. In this case, the officer’s claim they were justified in shooting at Middleton because they claim he “lunged” at them with a shiny object, and thus their actions are legal under the eyes of the law. However, 15 shots for one man cannot possibly be justified. 15 shots between two officers means that both officers nearly emptied their ammunition clip in their weapon on this man, rather than simply asking him what he was doing. As for the shiny object in his hand, that could have been a house key or car key even. However, the officers never even asked Middleton what was in his hands. Irrational and unjustifiable actions like this by police may result in stroll through the neighborhood to a friend’s house into a night in a jail and an up-hill battle to clear one’s name.

The second incident involved Six Escambia County deputies who climbed through the window of a private residence without a warrant, dragging a sleeping couple out of their bed, shooting at their two dogs, one of which later died. The police were pursuing a suspect in an armed disturbance earlier in the evening on the couple’s street, found an upside-down bucket next to a window of their home, knocked on the door, and when nobody answered, they just entered through the window. Police claim that upon encountering the people in the house, the dogs became aggressive. One dog bit at one of the deputy’s leg, at which point he pushed the dog away; unfortunately, the dog came at him again, and the officer shot the dog in self-defense, at which time the second dog began to run towards him. For his personal safety, he shot the second dog. The couple, who are white, say they were asleep in bed. Then the cops threw them on the ground, handcuffed them and dragged them into the hallway, and then started shooting at the dogs. No arrests were made. That case is also being investigated.

Under the 4th amendment, if the police have exigent circumstances, or circumstances that would show that evidence of criminal activity could be removed or destroyed quickly, or the police are currently in “hot pursuit” of a suspect, the police may conduct a search without a warrant. However, one has a reasonable expectation of privacy from government intrusion in one’s home. This means that police may not enter one’s home without a warrant if they do not have probable cause.

In this case, earlier in the evening, the police were in pursuit of a suspect in an armed disturbance on the couple’s street. However, the trail went cold. Therefore, “hot pursuit” is no longer applicable, and therefore the exception to the warrant requirement does not apply.

Furthermore, probable cause, the now applicable standard, would not be found from an upside-down bucket next to a window of a home. Wind, squirrels, and dead tree branches can knock over a bucket. Furthermore, the police had not investigated the home before, so how can the police positively say that the bucket was not knocked over long before then?

The biggest misconduct violation of all was the police entering into a dwelling with no probable cause or warrantless entry exception. Just because someone does not answer the door, does not mean that a police officer can just enter through the window of the home. The officers probably felt they were in the right because they were looking for an armed suspect. The courts should not allow “hot pursuit”, the only possible justification in this case to suspend the warrant requirement, to be used as a justification for what police misconduct and serious violations of the Constitution. If county sheriff’s offices allow their deputies to participate in this kind of conduct, then every time an armed suspect in any general location is being pursued, whether by hot, warm or cold case pursuit, the police will feel justified under the law in invading one’s privacy, an act that is not justifiable under the U.S. Constitution.

Many times, the officer will claim one is being detained; remember, the detention could very well be illegal. However, resisting arrest can only make the situation worse for one who is already dealing with an officer who is not following the law correctly. One needs an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney who has the knowledge to properly fight the charge and ensure one’s rights are protected.

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