Deputies Testify Against Former Colleagues in Jail Abuse Trial

Originally published on June 21, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Two former Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies testified against their fellow deputies this week after brutally assaulting an inmate’s brother and covering up their excessive use of force. The victim and his girlfriend also testified in court presenting evidence that the deputies had lied about removing one of his handcuffs before beating the victim unconscious in a break room at Men’s Central Jail (MCJ) in Downtown Los Angeles. According to the deputies’ testimonies, their sergeant ordered them to lie and concoct a false narrative accusing the victim of resisting arrest.

On February 26, 2011, Gabriel Carrillo attempted to visit his brother, who was an inmate at MCJ, when deputies discovered that Carrillo’s then-girlfriend, Griselda Torres, had brought a cellphone into the facility. When questioned by deputies, Torres admitted that both she and Carrillo had their cellphones on them. After confirming that he did have a phone, Carrillo asked Deputy Pantamitr Zunggeemoge, “What are you going to do, arrest me?”

According to Zunggeemoge’s testimony, the deputy cuffed Carrillo’s hands behind his back and escorted him to a nearby break room, while Deputy Sussie Ayala placed Torres in handcuffs and followed them. Zunggeemoge slammed Carrillo into a refrigerator before patting him down and lifting his cuffed arms in order to inflict more pain. As Carrillo continued to mouth off to the deputies, Ayala called for backup on her radio.

When deputies Fernando Luviano, Noel Womack, and Sgt. Eric Gonzalez arrived, Zunggeemoge left the room to run Carrillo’s name through a criminal database. Zunggeemoge returned to find Luviano roughing up Carrillo. Instead of de-escalating the violence, Zunggeemoge rushed into the room and helped Luviano smash Carrillo’s face against the ground.

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Officer Not Charged for Gunning Down Unarmed 17-Year-Old

Originally published on June 18, 2015, at NationofChange.org

An Eaton County prosecutor decided on Tuesday not to issue criminal charges against an officer who shot and killed an unarmed high school student during a traffic stop. While attempting to notify a sergeant that his high beams were possibly on, 17-year-old Deven Guilford was detained, pulled out of his vehicle, and shot with a Taser before losing his life in a violent struggle. Both Guilford’s cellphone and the sergeant’s body camera recorded the incident as events rapidly spiraled out of control.

After dropping his brother off at a church in Grand Ledge, Michigan, Deven Guilford noticed an approaching police vehicle that appeared to be driving with its high beams on by mistake at 8:25 p.m. on February 28. In an attempt to notify the driver of the police SUV, Guilford flashed his high beams twice at Eaton County Sgt. Jonathan Frost. Although two other drivers had flashed their high beams at Sgt. Frost earlier that night to warn him of his new vehicle’s extremely bright headlights, Sgt. Frost decided to pull over Guilford.

According to the video recorded from Sgt. Frost’s body cam, he exited his patrol car and announced, “Stopping this car for flashing me with their brights. I did not have my brights on.”

As Frost approached Guilford’s vehicle, he requested the teenager’s driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance while informing Guilford that he had been pulled over for flashing his high beams. Although it is illegal to flash your high beams at an oncoming vehicle, Guilford explained that he believed Frost had been driving with his high beams on and possibly endangering lives. Instead of initially admitting two other drivers had also warned Frost about his bright headlights earlier that night, Frost repeatedly ordered Guilford to hand over his identification.

Instead of producing his documents, Guilford asked to see Frost’s identification and badge number. When Frost refused to show Guilford his badge number, the teen pulled out his cellphone and began recording the incident as Frost called for backup. Guilford held up his phone and told Frost, “I am video and audio recording for my safety and your safety.”

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White House Fence Jumper Sentenced to Prison for Armed Intrusion

Originally published on June 18, 2015, at NationofChange.org

The Army veteran who scaled the White House fence last year and entered the East Room armed with a serrated knife was sentenced on Tuesday to 17 months in prison. Although Omar Gonzalez did not cause any physical damage, the Iraq war veteran did expose major flaws and incompetency within U.S. Secret Service. Amid a string of scandals and misconduct, the Secret Service has replaced a Director and six Assistant Directors in multiple attempts to improve failing leadership and tighten security.

At 7:19 p.m. on September 19, 2014, Secret Service agents noticed Omar Gonzalez climbing over the White House fence and landing on the North Lawn. As officers with the U.S. Secret Service’s Uniformed Division ran towards Gonzalez and ordered him to stop, Gonzalez rushed past them ignoring their commands. Although an attack dog was present, the handler chose not to release the canine fearing the dog might attack the other officers instead.

After racing across the lawn, Gonzalez burst through the front entrance of the White House where a uniformed officer failed to lock the door in time. The security alarm near the entrance had been disabled due to the fact that the White House staff had found it annoying. After knocking down the guard posted at the front door, Gonzalez ran across the hall and entered the East Room.

An off-duty Secret Service agent coincidentally leaving for the night tackled Gonzalez and detained him. While searching Gonzalez, officers found a three-and-a-half inch serrated folding knife in his front pants pocket. After searching his nearby vehicle, officers discovered hundreds of rounds of ammunition, hatchets, and a machete in his Ford Bronco.

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Three Deputies Convicted of Covering Up Brutality Inflicted by Sheriff’s Son

Originally published on June 13, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Three sheriff’s deputies were convicted this week of obstructing justice by covering up an incident in which a fellow officer repeatedly beat a restrained suspect in the eye with a metal flashlight. Due to the fact that the officer is also the son of a local sheriff, the deputies filed false police reports to conceal his actions and were caught lying to FBI agents. Although three deputies have been convicted of participating in the cover-up, the same federal jury in Georgia acquitted the sheriff’s son of excessive force.

On the evening of September 15, 2012, Aaron Parrish was visiting the annual motorcycle rally at the Bainbridge BikeFest with his family when his stepfather got into a minor altercation with local police. As Parrish approached the deputies, he was grabbed from behind and thrown to the ground. Deputies placed Parrish in a chokehold as Grady County Deputy Wiley Griffin, IV—who is the son of Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, III—struck Parrish in the face multiple times with a metal flashlight.

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Undercover NY Cop Found Guilty of Assault in Motorist’s Beating

Wojciech Braszczok (C) enters Manhattan Supreme Court in New York November 20, 2013. Braszczok, an undercover New York police detective, was arraigned on gang assault charges for his part in an attack on an SUV driver that was captured on video and went viral on YouTube. The pack of riders is accused of chasing a Range Rover driven by 33-year-old Alexian Lien on September 29 on Manhattan's Henry Hudson Parkway. The bikers smashed the vehicle's windows, hauled Lien out and beat him, police said. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)

Originally published on June 11, 2015, at NationofChange.org

An undercover New York detective and a biker were convicted of second-degree assault, coercion, and riot on Tuesday in connection to the ruthless beating of a motorist caught on video. Although NYPD Det. Wojciech Braszczok and Robert Sims can be seen in the video smashing the SUV’s windows and attempting to pull the victim’s wife from the vehicle, the judge acquitted them of the more serious charges of gang assault and first-degree assault. Det. Braszczok acknowledged that he lied about his presence at the attack and did not call 911 after the beating.

According to footage taken from a biker’s helmet cam on September 29, 2013, a large gang of bikers drove recklessly through the streets of Lower Manhattan running red lights, driving on sidewalks, and slapping pedestrians. The NYPD reportedly received 200 complaints of bikers driving recklessly through Manhattan before they got on the Henry Hudson Parkway. According to his testimony, a motorist named Alexian Lien witnessed several motorcycles run a red light and almost hit a woman carrying a baby.

Driving an SUV with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, Lien attempted to call 911 when several bikers including Edwin Mieses pulled up alongside their vehicle screaming profanities, making a slit-throat gesture, and shattering his driver’s side mirror. As the bikers surrounded their vehicle, Lien’s wife, Rosalyn Ng, threw a plum and a half-empty bottle of water at them. Another biker named Christopher Cruz cut off their Range Rover and slowed down so fast that his motorcycle’s rear tire tapped Lien’s front bumper.

Lien stopped his SUV and immediately found himself surrounded by over a hundred enraged bikers. As they continued hitting his vehicle and slashing his tires, some of the bikers dismounted their motorcycles and approached Lien’s SUV while making threatening gestures. In fear for his family’s life, Lien hit the accelerator and ran over Mieses in order to escape. Mieses, who had been driving on a revoked license, suffered a fractured spine and punctured lung.

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Ex-Cop Indicted on Murder Charge for Gunning Down Unarmed Man

In this undated photo provided by the North Charleston Police Department shows City Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager. Slager has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a black motorist after a traffic stop. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey told a news conference that city Slager was arrested and charged Tuesday, April 7, 2015, after law enforcement officials saw a video of the shooting following a Saturday traffic stop. (AP Photo/North Charleston Police Department)

Originally published on June 9, 2015, at NationofChange.org

A South Carolina grand jury indicted a former North Charleston police officer on Monday for the murder of an unarmed man caught on video. Although the officer claims that he feared for his life after the suspect took his Taser, footage from a bystander’s cellphone revealed discrepancies in the officer’s account and a possible attempt to cover up the murder. The National Bar Association has called for the immediate termination and indictment of another officer involved in covering up the shooting.

At 9:33 a.m. on April 4, North Charleston Patrolman Michael Slager noticed 50-year-old Walter “Lamar” Scott driving with a broken brake light. According to his dash cam footage, Slager pulled Scott over and requested his driver’s license. As Slager returned to his patrol car to run a check on Scott’s license, Scott waited a few moments before suddenly exiting his vehicle and fleeing on foot.

Slager chased after him and reportedly fired his Taser at Scott in an attempt to subdue him. According to a statement released by North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor, Scott managed to take Slager’s Taser from his hands and attempted to use the weapon against the officer. Slager claimed that he felt threatened, pulled out his Glock, and fired several rounds at Scott. But video of the shooting appears to contradict the officer’s account.

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Student’s Death in Custody Ruled a Homicide After Nine Deputies Fired

Originally published on June 6, 2015, at NationofChange.org

The death of a 21-year-old computer science student in police custody has been ruled a homicide from blunt force trauma and has resulted in the termination of nine deputies who strapped him to a restraining chair on New Year’s Day and allegedly beat him to death. Although the county attorney’s office initially claimed that the deputies were fired last month for general policy violations, the coroner confirmed on Thursday that the deputies lost their jobs on the same day that he signed the student’s death certificate. The student’s family only became aware of the death certificate’s existence after a photograph of the document was leaked on social media.

Responding to a domestic disturbance at 6:15 p.m. on January 1, Savannah-Chatham police confronted a Savannah Technical College student named Matthew Ajibade and his girlfriend. According to the police report, Ajibade refused several commands to release his girlfriend and began resisting arrest. Officers slammed Ajibade to the ground before handcuffing him.

Ajibade was charged with battery against his girlfriend and resisting arrest. As officers subdued Ajibade, his girlfriend asked them to take Ajibade to the hospital and gave them his Divalproex medication, which treats the manic phase of bipolar disorder and seizures. Ajibade had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder three years earlier.

Instead of taking Ajibade to the hospital, officers transported him to the Chatham County jail at 6:40 p.m. While being booked, Ajibade allegedly became combative with deputies and attacked them. According to the sheriff’s office, a female sergeant suffered a broken nose and a concussion while two male deputies suffered injuries consistent with a fight.

Deputies placed Ajibade in an isolation cell and strapped him to a restraining chair. They reportedly shot Ajibade with a Taser and repeatedly struck him in the head and upper body as he remained strapped to the chair. While performing a welfare check on him the next morning, deputies found Ajibade unresponsive. Medical staff administered CPR and attempted to restart his heart with a defibrillator. A coroner pronounced him dead at 8:45 a.m.

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TSA Director Demoted After Massive Security Failures

In this photo taken Tuesday, March 24, 2015, TSA agents work at a security check-point at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Originally published on June 4, 2015, at NationofChange.org

The acting head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was removed from his position on Monday after undercover Homeland Security agents successfully smuggled dozens of fake explosives and banned weapons through airport security checkpoints. With a failure rate of 96%, Acting Administrator Melvin Carraway has been reassigned to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters while his acting deputy director has been assigned take over his responsibilities. After spending $540 million for equipment and $11 million for training over the last six years, the TSA has failed to make any improvements since 2009.

Posing as passengers, DHS Red Teams regularly conduct internal investigations by attempting to smuggle fake weapons and explosives through TSA security checkpoints in order to test the limits and weaknesses of both their personnel and equipment. According to a recent Homeland Security Inspector General’s report, TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests conducted by undercover Red Teams. During one of these tests, an undercover DHS agent with a fake bomb taped to his back set off a magnetometer, but TSA screeners failed to detect the mock explosive device while patting him down.

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Deputies Plead Guilty to Covering Up Assault Against Inmate’s Brother

In this photo taken Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, carrying his belongings and blanket Derek Martinez, 37, waits to enter a his assigned cell block after his arrival at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy Calif. Martinez, a second strike offender from Shasta County, has been serving a life term with the possibility of parole for first degree murder since 2007. California counties are thwarting the state's efforts to comply with a federal court order to reduce it's inmate population by sending state prisons far more convicts than anticipated including a record number of second-strikers. The state is trying to comply with a landmark restructuring of its criminal justice system through a nearly 3-year-old law pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown that keeps lower-level felons in county jails while reserving scarce state prison cells for serious, violent and sexual offenders.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Originally published on June 2, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Two Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies have agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges regarding a brutal assault against an inmate’s brother visiting the Men’s Central Jail (MCJ). After the first deputy pled guilty earlier this year, a second deputy agreed to plead guilty last week to lying to FBI agents during an interview concerning the use force employed against a handcuffed visitor who was not resisting. Both deputies have also agreed to testify against their former colleagues if the prosecution calls on them at trial.

On February 26, 2011, Gabriel Carrillo attempted to visit his brother in MCJ when deputies discovered that Carrillo’s girlfriend, Griselda Torres, had brought a cellphone into the facility. When questioned by deputies, Torres admitted that both she and Carrillo had their cellphones with them. After confirming that he did have a phone, Carrillo asked Deputy Pantamitr Zunggeemoge, “What are you going to do, arrest me?”

According to the initial report, Carrillo was placed in handcuffs and escorted to a nearby break room. After deputies removed the handcuff from Carrillo’s right wrist to fingerprint him, he attacked the deputies and attempted to escape. The deputies claimed that Carrillo was intentionally spitting blood at them as they shot him in the face with pepper spray. They admitted to punching Carrillo several times to subdue him before placing Carrillo in restraints again.

But according to the recent plea agreements, Carrillo did not assault the deputies and was unable to resist arrest because his hands were cuffed while they were beating and pepper-spraying him on the floor. Carrillo filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and the district attorney later dropped the charges against him. The county paid Carrillo $1.2 million to settle the civil suit.

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Former House Speaker Charged with Concealing Blackmail Payments

Originally published on May 30, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was indicted on Thursday for lying to the FBI and attempting to conceal approximately $1.7 million in blackmail payments. After bank employees questioned Hastert about his large cash withdrawals, he began structuring his withdrawals in increments of less than $10,000 to evade filing required federal bank reports. Concerned about Hastert’s excessive cash withdrawals, the FBI and IRS discovered that the former House Speaker was being blackmailed to cover up past misconduct.

First elected to Congress in 1987, Hastert went on to replace Newt Gingrich as House Speaker in 1999. After the Democrats took control of the House in 2006, Hastert resigned his seat the following year. He later joined the law firm Dickstein Shapiro LLP as a lobbyist and has recently resigned from the firm.

According to the indictment, Hastert agreed to provide someone referred to as “Individual A” $3.5 million in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A. From 2010 to 2014, Hastert withdrew a total of roughly $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts and provided the money to Individual A. But in April 2012, bank representatives began questioning Hastert regarding his routine $50,000 cash withdrawals.

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