The Illinois State Police will take over the death investigation of Mark Anthony Barmore, the 23-year-old who was shot and killed by two Rockford police officers Monday.
The state investigation comes at the request of Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato, who announced his intentions to seek an external investigation today during a morning news conference.
“It has become clear that the community and the matter itself is requiring an independent investigation be conducted,” Bruscato said. “I believe in order for this process to be completed and have the community have confidence in the results, this is necessary.
“I am confident the Illinois State Police will take all appropriate and relevant information into account when they conduct their investigation.”
The move marks the first time in at least a decade that state investigators have been asked to intercede in a shooting that involves a Rockford police officer. Barmore was shot after officers Oda Poole and Stanton North chased him into House of Grace Daycare and Preschool, which is housed at Kingdom Authority International Ministries, 518 N. Court St.
Police have said that Barmore went after one of the officers’ weapons, but two day care workers have said that Barmore did not go after the gun and was shot as he emerged from a hiding spot with his hands up.
Since then, there has been public outcry for outside investigators to handle the case, including a downtown march on Friday to the police station and City Hall.
“It’s clear while historically the Rockford Police Department has investigated these matters themselves to conclusion, the time has come to move in a different direction and have a different protocol,” Bruscato said.
Rockford police Chief Chet Epperson did not return several calls today from the Register Star. The chief did not attend Bruscato’s news conference at the Winnebago County Justice Center. Deputy Police Chief Greg Lindmark represented the city.
Bruscato was also joined by Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen; Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers; Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford; State Rep. Chuck Jefferson, D-Rockford; State Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Pecatonica; and Deputy State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite-Ross.
Meyers said the Sheriff’s Department works closely with Rockford police, and he supports going outside the county for help.
Bruscato said he decided late Saturday night to ask for an external investigation into the shooting. He said his announcement had nothing to do with the arrival in Rockford of the Rev. Jesse Jackson other than for purely logistical purposes.
“This is something we’ve been talking about on Friday, and I met with several area leaders on Saturday about going to the state police,” Bruscato said. “I was aware of the schedule of the Rev. Jackson, but the announcement had nothing to do with that, other than to make sure we didn’t schedule ours for the same time he was planning to speak.”
Mayor Larry Morrissey, who did not attend Bruscato’s news conference but met privately with Jackson and other officials Sunday said, all parties involved have the same interests.
“I think we have a lot of shared goals that we have the best investigation possible, the most credible investigation as possible,” Morrissey said.
After the investigation is complete, it will then be handed over to the state’s attorney’s office, which would then decide whether to present it to a grand jury.
“Right now I would be reluctant to say that is exactly what we are going to do because I think it would be inappropriate until the investigation is in front of me to make that decision,” Bruscato said.
Staff writer Matt Williams can be reached at 815-987-1389 or email@example.com. Staff writer Mike Wiser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-987-1410.
(AP) FORT WORTH, Texas — A mentally ill man’s death after he was shocked twice by a police Taser was a homicide, a medical examiner’s office ruled Thursday.
The family of Michael Patrick Jacobs Jr., 24, called for help April 18 saying he was causing problems, and Fort Worth police have said officers used the Taser after he became combative. Jacobs had difficulty breathing after he was handcuffed, and he was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Jacobs was stunned with the Taser twice — the first time for 49 seconds and the second time for 5 seconds, with a 1-second interval between the shocks, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office report issued Thursday.
Neither paramedics at the scene nor emergency room personnel could revive him, according to the report. He was pronounced dead about noon that day — an hour after police used the Taser, the report said.
An autopsy showed no traces of alcohol or drugs, electrolyte imbalances, or signs of heart or lung disease, all of which can be contributing factors in a death.
The report said Jacobs’ primary cause of death was “sudden death during neuromuscular incapacitation due to application of a conducted energy device,” but did not explain why the death was ruled a homicide. Medical examiner’s office officials declined to comment, citing pending grand jury hearings.
Police Chief Jeff Halstead on Thursday said the medical examiner’s report would help his department finish its investigation into Jacobs’ death, but he declined to comment on it, saying he would present it to the district attorney.
In 2001 Fort Worth police began using Tasers, a device that temporarily immobilizes a person with a 50,000-volt shock, over-stimulating the nervous system and causing muscles to lock up. Since then, Fort Worth officers have used them 1,360 times and four people have died. Jacobs’ death is the first of those deaths to be ruled a homicide, he said.
“I want to express our condolences to the family of Michael Jacobs,” Halstead said at a news conference. “Our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”
Jacobs’ family remains upset over losing their son, who had been off his medication for bipolar disorder, said the Rev. Kyev Tatum, a family spokesman. Relatives called the police that day because they wanted him taken to the hospital, but officers “treated him like a common criminal” instead of showing compassion, Tatum said.
“We are relieved that the ME’s findings line up with our facts, but we still believe that Mr. Jacobs did not have to die, and did not have to die the way he did, in front of his parents in his front yard crying out for help,” said Tatum, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Fort Worth chapter.
Tatum has called for a federal investigation after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that police initially turned paramedics away. Officers later called them back but had not started cardiopulmonary resuscitation, said Matt Zavadsky, associate director for ambulance service provider MedStar.
Also, a paramedic reported that a defibrillator used on Jacobs shortly after he was shocked with the Taser apparently did not work, according to documents obtained by the newspaper. Zavadsky said the machine was operational, but Jacobs’ heart had stopped and cell phone and radio transmissions at the scene could have interfered and caused the monitor to give no readings.
(AOL NEWS) As Clifton Williams sat in the courtroom in Joliet, Ill., awaiting his cousin’s sentencing on drug charges, little did he know he would soon be the one in jail.
As Judge Daniel Rozak sentenced Williams’ cousin to two years probation, Williams yawned, an act that earned him six months in jail on contempt charges, the Chicago Tribune reported.
A judge sentenced Clifton Williams to six months in jail on contempt-of-court charges after he yawned during his cousin’s trial. A spokesman for the court said Williams attempted to disrupt the proceedings with his yawn.
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Williams’ father said he was “flabbergasted” by the sentence, the maximum issued for a contempt charge without a jury trial. “It seems to me like a yawn is an involuntary action,” Clifton Williams Sr. told the newspaper.
The court disagreed. While Rozak did not comment on the charges, a state’s attorney’s office spokesman, Chuck Pelkie, said Williams did not let out a “simple” yawn. “It was a loud and boisterous attempt to disrupt the proceedings,” he said.
According to the Tribune, Rozak is particularly fierce on courtroom decorum, issuing contempt-of-court charges at the highest rate of any judge in the county. The broad discretion of judges to control their courts has prompted Rozak to file contempt charges against people for everything from swearing to not silencing their cell phones.
However, some of the people Rozak assigned harsh sentences to were shown leniency if they apologized.
Williams will have to serve as least 21 days, the Tribune reported, and he has been locked up since July 23. In a letter to his family, Williams wrote, “I really can’t believe I’m in jail.”
(Philadelphia Daily News) Philadelphia man who was Tasered during a traffic stop Friday after he and his female companion allegedly assaulted state troopers, died from unknown causes Sunday morning at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.
The circumstances of Hakim Jackson’s death are being investigated by the state police.
The Delaware County Medical Examiner’s Office, which was to conduct an autopsy yesterday, did not answer phone calls or return messages.
Jackson, 31, was the passenger in a car driven by Ashley McDaniel, 21, of Elkton, Md., that was pulled over about 5:20 p.m. on Interstate 95 South, in Tinicum Township, for tinted window and other violations, police said.
When the car was stopped, both occupants appeared nervous and gave false identification, police said.
McDaniel was asked to step out of the car. While Trooper Joseph Yingling was speaking with Jackson through the passenger window, Jackson climbed in the driver’s seat and put the vehicle in gear, court documents said.
In response, Yingling reached through the passenger window and pulled the keys out of the ignition. But while he was doing that, Jackson punched him repeatedly in the head, leading Yingling to Taser him, court documents said.
The second officer on the scene, Trooper Michael McKeon, then tried to remove Jackson through the driver side door of the car, but Jackson, who had just been Tasered, jumped into the back seat, fled out a rear door and ran into the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge, the affidavit said.
During Jackson’s escape, McDaniel allegedly jumped on McKeon’s back and began to assault him.
When back-up officers arrived, three troopers, including McKeon and Yingling, chased Jackson into the Wildlife Refuge and after about a mile, arrested him in a “thick swamp,” police said.
Both troopers were treated at Crozer-Chester – McKeon for heat exhaustion and a cut to his hand, and Yingling for facial wounds and a cut on his hand that required seven stitches.
Jackson also was taken to Crozer-Chester, though the extent of his injuries was unclear, police said.
McDaniel was charged with aggravated assault on police, hindering apprehension, resisting arrest, driving under a suspended license and related offenses. She remains in the Delaware County Prison on $50,000 bail.
Investigations revealed that Jackson had drug distribution warrants out for his arrest from the state parole board, West Chester and Philadelphia, police said.
The deputy, Sean Andrews, accused her of talking on her cell phone. She said she could prove him wrong.
He said she was speeding. She denied it and got out of the van. He told her to get back in. She did, then he ordered her back out.
He yanked her out by the arm, knocked her down with two Taser shots and charged her with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. His rationale on the disorderly conduct charge: She obstructed traffic when she got out of the van. The speeding accusation: going 50 mph in a 45-mph zone.
The scene along Hopkins Road in Salina on the afternoon of Jan. 31 was captured by a camera on the dashboard of Andrews’ patrol car. Harmon, 38, says the video is proof of police brutality.
She plans to sue the sheriff’s office today, claiming Andrews was improperly trained in the use of his Taser. It’s not supposed to be used to take down people who pose no threat, she said.
Andrews, 37, a deputy for four years, was taken off road patrol after the arrest and will remain in a new assignment until an internal affairs investigation is finished, Sheriff Kevin Walsh said. Walsh declined to comment because the case is under litigation. Andrews also would not comment. He makes $49,095 a year.
Harmon was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and going 50 in a 45 mph zone. The district attorney’s office dismissed the charges a month later — after watching the videotape, said her lawyer, Terrance Hoffmann. The prosecutor could not be reached for comment.
Michelle Gabel / The Post-StandardAudra Harmon, a bus driver and mother of three, was Tasered twice by a deputy on a traffic stop in January. The charges were dismissed.
In his report on the arrest, Andrews makes no mention of Harmon threatening him or using foul language. He said she refused his request to get back in her van, then refused to get out when he said she was under arrest, the report said. Harmon refused to comply with his commands to put her hands behind her back to be cuffed, Andrews wrote.
Here’s Harmon’s description of that day:
Harmon, a school bus driver for 11 years, was returning home from shopping and picking up her son Casey, 15, from wrestling practice. He was in the front passenger seat. Harmon’s daughter Brandi, 5, was in the back seat. Harmon was driving on Electronics Parkway in the left lane and had to slow down to get into the right lane behind Andrews’ patrol car so she could turn onto Hopkins.
Andrews made the turn ahead of her, then immediately pulled off to the side of Hopkins Road and let Harmon pass. He quickly turned on his flashing lights and pulled her over.
Andrews told Harmon he’d seen her using her cell phone while she was driving. In the video, he makes a phone gesture with his hand. She told him she’d been driving with her right hand on her cheek, but that she hadn’t talked on the phone for at least two hours. She says she offered to let him look at the phone to see for himself. He declined.
Andrews said he also clocked her going 50 mph in a 45 mph zone. No way, Harmon recalls telling him.
“I want you to show me the tape,” she told him.
“You’ll have to take that up in court,” he responded, according to Harmon. He told her the evidence was in a box in his patrol car, and started walking back toward it. Harmon followed. That’s when he told her to get back in the van.
She says she didn’t refuse the order but told him once more that she wanted to see his proof. Andrews drew the Taser and pointed it at her.
“Mom, get back in the car,” she recalls her son telling her. A witness, Staci Santorelli, was across the road at the Shoot ‘n’ Score soccer center and heard Andrews tell Harmon she was under arrest. Harmon also says she remembers Andrews at some point telling her she was under arrest.
“I just wanted to get back in my car where I was safe and where my kids were,” Harmon says. Andrews told her to get out.
“But you just told me to get in,” she says she told Andrews. She heard her daughter crying, “Mommy! Mommy!”
“I was not getting out of that car,” she says. “I was scared to death.” She gripped the steering wheel with both hands as Andrews grabbed her by the arm and pulled. Harmon stands 5-foot-4. Andrews is 10 inches taller. After some tugging, he got her out.
She and Andrews stood facing each other for a few seconds, talking. He had the Taser pointed at her.
“I kept saying, ‘Don’t do this in front of my kids,'” she says.
Andrews fired the Taser, but it only gave her a small jolt, apparently because it hit her winter clothing. She started to get back in the van. Andrews pulled her back, opening her front to him before he fired again. This time, Harmon dropped to her knees.
The Taser probe, like a little arrow with a fish hook, stuck in Harmon’s upper left chest. The jolt shook her.
Andrews pushed her to the ground face-first and handcuffed her in the eastbound lane of Hopkins Road. The number of witnesses across the street was growing, Harmon says.
“Are you OK? Do you need help?” Santorelli and her father yelled, according to Santorelli’s statement to deputies.
“I’m not OK, and I do need help,” Harmon responded. As Andrews picked her up and escorted her to his car, Harmon pleaded with the witnesses.
“Please come get my kids!” Harmon remembers yelling. The witnesses said they couldn’t do that, but they asked Harmon for her home number so they could call her husband. She gave it to them.
“I wanted these strangers to get my kids, because at that point I thought they’d be safer with strangers,” Harmon says. The kids sat in the car for about 40 minutes until their father arrived and took them home, which was about 500 yards away, she says.
Harmon said she wants to teach police a lesson: It’s OK to admit you’re wrong. She said Andrews manufactured the speeding charge once he realized she didn’t deserve a cell phone ticket. Andrews had not clocked her with a radar gun. Instead, he said in a report, he calculated her speed by following her for “several seconds.”
“I want the public to know these police officers apparently aren’t being trained well enough to know when it is justified to use a Taser,” she said.
(RAW STORY) Police in Picayune, Miss., have turned to a unique method of determining how to arrest individuals on outstanding warrants: They have created a Wheel of Fortune-type spinning wheel, to which they attach the names of persons wanted on arrest warrants.
Whoever the wheel lands on gets arrested, reports the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun-Herald.
According to the paper, the police force made its first “Wheel of Justice” arrest Tuesday, taking into custody Dewayne Allen Bester, Jr., who was wanted for selling crack cocaine near a schoolyard.
From the Sun-Herald:
Officers plan to spin the wheel once per week at different locations in the city. Next week, they may do it at a local radio station, Ervin said. Narcotics officers will determine which drug suspects to put in the running and they likely won’t feature the same eight offenders from week to week. Ervin said Picayune police’s drug arrests aren’t limited to those Tuesdays when they spin the wheel.
The hope is that the “Wheel of Justice” causes citizens to take note of drug activity so they will call in tips to officers.
Though RAW STORY wonders why seeing police officers dispense justice randomly would prompt people to report crimes, we have a more pressing question to ask the police force in Picayune: Why not use the tried, tested and true method employed by police forces everywhere to decide who to arrest —prioritizing?
You know — make a list of all the people wanted in town on outstanding warrants, then decide: Who has the most serious charges against them? Who is the greatest danger to the community? Who has the longest rap sheet?
For the sake of the people of Picayune, Miss., RAW STORY hopes the police’s new random justice does in fact yield results.
In the meantime, we can only hope that the town’s criminals don’t see this as a license to commit crimes with impunity — so long as your number doesn’t come up.
(WAFB) The Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office has released the dash cam video of a deadly traffic stop and in doing so said its deputies followed procedure.
The video shows Deputy Chris Sturdivant as he pulls over 42-year-old Adam Stogner. The tape starts with the deputy asking Stogner for his license. It ends with an officer asking the man if he’s still breathing.
Chief Deputy Jason Ard says when the video starts Adam Stogner did not put his truck in park. They say that backs up the reason he was pulled over. The deputy believed he was impaired. On the tape, there is audio of the deputy asking for Stogner’s license. “What you got in your hand? the deputy then asks. “Give me your hand,” he demands. “I don’t have nothing in my hand,” Stogner responds. “I swear to you.”
The media watched the video with Ard and several other law enforcement agents. “Pay attention to the subject’s right hand,” Ard said. On the dash cam video, the deputy tells Stogner to open his hand. Deputies say they believe Stogner was holding a baggy of narcotics in his right hand. The tape shows Stogner moving something from one hand to the other and placing it in his mouth. “Did you see him put it in his mouth? Ard asks. “Right there and this is where the struggle starts,” he points out. “Spit it out!” the deputy tells Stogner.
All this is happening while the deputy was trying to handcuff the man. The deputy does get one cuff on, but because the two seem to be in a wrestling match, Ard says that loose cuff can be a weapon. At several points, there are images of what looks like the deputy hitting Stogner. The sheriff’s office says another time it looks like Stogner is crawling toward the interstate with the deputy on his back. And again, it appears the deputy hits the man.
“He was appropriate in his actions. He followed departmental protocol in trying to arrest a subject who tried to resist,” Ard said. Only after two more deputies arrive on scene is Stogner completely cuffed. Keep in mind, the baggy is still in his mouth. It’s then that one of the deputies notices Stogner is having trouble breathing and calls for medical help. “Is he breathing?” one of the deputies asked. “I don’t know,” another answered.
Deputies say Stogner later died along Interstate 12. Deputies did start CPR until EMS arrived. Peter John, the family’s lawyer, says only one thing is clear from the tape. He says Adam Stogner never tried to hit the deputy. “Adam got his butt beat, okay, ’cause he’s all bruised up and dead,” John said. “Is that justified by what the officer wanted out of his hand?”
Stogner’s family’s attorney says the family plans to conduct its own autopsy and investigation. Preliminary results from the Livingston Parish coroner show Stogner died from severe coronary artery disease, an enlarged heart, and a fracture of the hyoid bone in his neck. Dr. Ron Coe says the fracture may be due to force being applied to that area. Dr. Coe says Stogner also tested positive for methamphetamine. The coroner also said the death was accidental. Louisiana State Police have been called in to assist the sheriff’s office in investigating this case.
Following the Supreme Court’s recent decision that school officials violated the 4th Amendment when they strip-searched a 13-year-old girl, another similar lawsuit has been filed and the story is equally sickening:
According to the complaint, the incident began when the bus arrived at the school and two employees boarded it in order to resolve a dispute in which the girls were not involved. The employees “smelled what they thought was marijuana,” the complaint states, and five girls seated at the back of the bus, including Gaither and S.C., were detained and searched.
During an interrogation that lasted the entire school day, and after being denied repeated requests to call their parents, the girls were required to “remove their shoes and socks, unbuckle their belts, unbutton their pants, and unzip their pants,” the complaint says. They also had their “waistlines physically touched and searched” by a male employee while their pants were undone, and were made to “lift up their bras while their shirts remained on and jump up and down.”
The searches were all performed behind closed doors and without the presence of police offices or female staff, the suit says. No marijuana was found. [Courthouse News]
The whole thing is so perverse and disturbing, it really ought to be examined in criminal court as well as civil. By the time a group of teenage girls was ordered lift their bras and hop up and down, it wasn’t just a drug search anymore. This was something much sicker than that. But you can thank decades of propaganda-fueled marijuana hysteria for creating the environment in which school officials think they can get away with stuff like this.