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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sheriff's deputy killed in crash on I-43 downtown - JSOnline

Sheriff's deputy killed in crash on I-43 downtown Milwaukee - 

Milwaukee County Sheriff's Deputy Sergio Aleman died of injuries he suffered Tuesday in a two-vehicle crash in the southbound lanes of I-43 near Juneau Blvd., authorities said.

Sheriff's Inspector Edward Bailey said Aleman was taken to Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, where he was pronounced dead. The crash resulted in no other serious injuries, said Fran McLaughlin, speaking for the department.

"On behalf of the 1,200 men and women of the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, our thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Sheriff Aleman's family," Bailey said at a news conference.

Aleman was in a sheriff's pickup truck that provides service to disabled motorists, among other things.
The crash occurred at 12:17 p.m. and closed the southbound lanes of I-43 and one northbound lane of the interstate. The closure was expected to continue through rush hour into the evening as the Wisconsin State Patrol investigated the crash.

Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. was attending homeland security training Tuesday in California. He is cutting that trip short and returning to Milwaukee, Bailey said.

Clarke will be speaking with the deputy's wife, and he will hold another news conference at 1 p.m. Wednesday at his office to provide an update on the details of the crash and Aleman's career.

The deputy's death is the first in the line of duty since deputies Ralph Zylka, 48, and Sung Hui Bang, 31, were killed when the Sheriff's Department helicopter crashed Aug. 17, 2000, in a field in Dodge County.

The two were returning from the Wisconsin Dells area, where they had been assisting in the search for a man wanted in the beating death of his girlfriend, a Chicago police officer. That suspect was apprehended in Juneau County after a 17-hour search.

Man gets life in prison for killing ND officer - SFGate

Man gets life in prison for killing ND officer - SFGate

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The man charged with shooting and killing a Bismarck police officer has been sentenced to life in prison.

The Bismarck Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/OzLtav) that Judge David Reich sentenced Steven Bannister to life in prison without the possibility of parole Thursday afternoon for the July 2011 death of Bismarck Police Sgt. Steve Kenner.

Bannister entered an Alford plea last month in the case. An Alford plea means a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence to convict him. The plea is treated as a conviction for sentencing purposes.

Authorities say Bannister shot and killed Kenner when the officer responded to a domestic disturbance call. Kenner was the first Bismarck police officer killed in the line of duty.
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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

Missing FBI agent found dead near his Calif. home - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Missing FBI agent found dead near his Calif. home - 

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) - The body of an FBI agent who vanished more than two months ago has been found near his home in Southern California.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller says two hikers found the body of 35-year-old Steven Ivens on Monday in a wooded area behind a Burbank church. Ivens' gun was found near his body.

The cause and time of death will be determined by the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

Authorities say Ivens was being treated for depression and was said to be distraught at the time of his disappearance.

A massive air and ground search was unsuccessful after Ivens walked away from his home May 10 with his keys and his service weapon. His wife, Thea, later made a public plea for him to return home.

Ivens is survived by his wife and 2-year-old son.

Sheriff: Burglars Stole Bullet Proof Vests, Police Badges | Midlands Crimestoppers | 1-888-CRIME-SC | Anonymous tips earn cash rewards with Crimestoppers.

Sheriff: Burglars Stole Bullet Proof Vests, Police Badges | Midlands Crimestoppers | 1-888-CRIME-SC | Anonymous tips earn cash rewards with Crimestoppers.

 Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Richland County Deputies say a burglary occurred around 3am Friday morning at Palmetto Firearms located on 4601 Broad River Road.

Sheriff Leon Lott says when deputies arrived they found a large hole located in the rear of the business as the point of entry.

According to deputies, three bullet proof vests, three sizing vests, display police badges and a badge wallet case were taken from the business.

Deputies are asking citizens to throughly check any police badges with matching credentials presented by any individual.

Sheriff Lott is also asking for assistance in identifiying the suspects responsible. Persons with any leading information may receive up to $1000.

The community is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

Source: http://www.wltx.com/news/crimestoppers/article/195713/28/Sheriff-Burglars-Stole-Bullet-Proof-Vests-Police-Badges

If you, or someone you know, have any information regarding any crime, you are encouraged to contact Crimestoppers. You could earn a reward up to $1,000.

Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC. Texters can send anonymous tips to CRIMES (274637), and mark the beginning of the message with "TIPSC". Text STOP to 274637 to cancel. Text HELP to 274637 for help. Msg&Data Rates May Apply.

Arkansas man sentenced to death in officer's death - Yahoo! News

Arkansas man sentenced to death in officer's death - Yahoo! News


PARAGOULD, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas man who shot a police officer during a traffic stop last year, then coldly shot him in the face while he was pleading for his life, was sentenced to death on Saturday.

Jerry Lard was convicted Thursday of capital murder, and a Greene County judge agreed with the jury that the 38-year-old should die for killing Trumann police officer Jonathan Schmidt in April 2011.
Lard's attorney, Katherine Streett, said the case will be automatically appealed and that she doesn't comment on ongoing cases.

Prosecutor Scott Ellington, in a statement, said seeking the death sentence always involves a lot of thought and prayer, but that he saw no other option in the case of Lard, who also fired on but missed Schmidt's partner, Sgt. Corey Overstreet, during the confrontation.

"The jury echoed the commitment of the community to protect those who protect us. I am very proud of their courage and fortitude. I know it wasn't an easy decision, but it is one that had to be made," Ellington said.

Lard's attorneys didn't deny that he killed Schmidt, who left behind a wife and children, but they say Lard was mentally ill or deficient and should be spared execution.

Overstreet testified that he showed up as backup last year after Schmidt pulled over a car in which Lard was a passenger.

At one point, Schmidt asked Lard his name and birthday and radioed the information back. Schmidt walked to Lard's side of the car.

"When he opened the door, a hand reached out and started shooting Jonathan," Overstreet said.
Overstreet went to reach for his gun, but he said Lard pointed his weapon at him, so he scrambled between the vehicles. He heard gunshots.

Video taken the night of the shooting from dashboard cameras in the police cars showed Schmidt helping Overstreet back onto his feet after he fell, The Jonesboro Sun reported.

Lard swore and shot at Schmidt, who said, "Please, don't shoot me again."

A medical examiner told the jury Schmidt was shot four times, in the chin, neck, right wrist and chest, though a protective vest blocked that shot.

Lard becomes the 38th death row inmate in Arkansas. The state hasn't been carrying out executions because the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down its lethal injection law earlier this year.
___
Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com

Waxahachie officer killed in accident; DWI suspect in custody | wfaa.com Dallas - Fort Worth

Waxahachie officer killed in accident; DWI suspect in custody | wfaa.com Dallas - Fort Worth

WAXAHACHIE — A Waxahachie police officer was killed in a crash early Saturday morning involving another vehicle driven by a man who was allegedly drunk

Officer Josh Williams was responding to a disturbance at a fast food restaurant in the 600 block of Highway 77 around 1:30 a.m. As he was turning into the parking lot, a Chevrolet Suburban sport utility vehicle traveling northbound struck his patrol car on the passenger's side, police said.

Williams, 44, was rushed to Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie, where he was pronounced dead.
Investigators said the Suburban did not have its lights on. Its driver, identified as 24-year-old Dylyn  Richards, was taken by helicopter to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas for treatment of injuries.

Investigators said Richards is expected to be charged with intoxication manslaughter, a first degree felony in this case because it involves the death of a police officer.

Richards was under police guard at Parkland until he can be released and formally charged.
News 8 has learned that Richards may have been convicted in 2009 for another DWI case.

Waxahachie police Chief Chuck Edge said Officer Williams' death is a tremendous loss for the department.

"He's been with the force for 17 years. Good officer. Very friendly. Very well respected among the officers," Edge said.

Officer Williams is survived by his wife and three children.

Flowers and candles now mark the spot where he died. Dallas police Officer Brandon Stevens felt the need to bring his young daughter to the spot.

"I just want her to know what I do, and to learn respect," he said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating the accident.

The Waxahachie Police Department is small, so many people in this Ellis County community knew Officer Williams.

"Josh really did have a servant's heart," said City Manager Paul Stevens. "The motto 'To protect and serve' — he really lived by that."

His friends say Officer Williams was a practical joker who was always smiling. They are saddened he died like this.

"I think so many people drink and get behind the wheel and don't really think about it," Stevens said. "I think this brings it home for everybody."

Josh Williams is the fourth North Texas public safety official to be involved in a serious motor vehicle accident this month.

A Watauga police officer is recovering in the hospital after he was involved in a crash Thursday night at Old Denton Highway and Main Street in Haltom City.

Early Sunday morning, Everman volunteer firefighter Sergio Rodriguez was struck and killed as he was walking along Highway 287 in Fort Worth.

And off-duty Lancaster police Officer Dustin Dodson was fatally injured one week ago when a suspected drunk driver crashed into his motorcycle on Highway 67 near Venus.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

Friday, July 27, 2012

Indiana cops hunt gunman who shot 2 police officers, killed dog - U.S. News

Indiana cops hunt gunman who shot 2 police officers, killed dog - U.S. News
State and local police backed by SWAT officers and at least one helicopter searched early Friday for a gunman who shot two officers and killed a police dog in the central Indiana town off Pendleton, authorities said.
 
A Madison County police spokesperson told NBC News that the suspect was considered armed and dangerous. Law enforcement officers were "actively working" on the case and local residents had been advised to remain inside, the spokesperson said.

Todd Harmeson, a spokesman for the Madison County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, told NBC station WTHR-Indianapolis that officers were involved in a routine call around 10:30 p.m. Thursday when multiple shots were fired, with at least two people sustaining injuries.

Two officers were taken to area hospitals from the shooting scene. An officer from the Anderson, Ind., Police Department was taken by air ambulance to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis with a gunshot wound to the leg. That officer underwent surgery but was alert and talking, police told WTHR.

An officer from the Pendleton Police Department returned to the scene after being treated for a graze wound to the leg. The Pendleton officer's car was also struck by bullets, WTHR reported.

The police spokesperson told NBC News that a dog working with the officers was shot and killed during the incident.

Pendleton, a town of about 4,000 residents, is situated approximately 30 miles northeast of Indianapolis.


Gunfire from automatic weapon reported

A woman at the scene told WTHR she called 911 after hearing gunfire from an automatic weapon and seeing at least one officer shot in the leg.

Harmeson told WTHR that the suspect, believed to be Jim Kenneth Bailey of New Castle, Ind., remains at-large in the Pendleton area. Authorities believe Bailey is armed with an automatic weapon.

Bailey was described as a white male, standing 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 200 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes and wearing dark shorts and a gray shirt, WTHR reported.

Police set up a perimeter throughout Pendleton as they searched for possible suspects. SWAT officers were called to the scene and a helicopter was being used to assist in the search.

WTHR's Kris Kirschner and NBC News' Daniel Strieff contributed to this report.

Arkansas man convicted in police officer's murder

Arkansas man convicted in police officer's murder


PARAGOULD, Ark. — An Arkansas man was convicted of capital murder Thursday for killing a police officer who begged him not to shoot.

After deliberating for less than an hour, a jury found Jerry Lard, 38, guilty of killing Trumann police officer Jonathan Schmidt during a traffic stop in April 2011.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Lard. The sentencing phase is scheduled to begin Friday morning in Paragould, about 35 miles north of Trumann. The trial was moved at the request of Lard's defense attorneys.

Members of Schmidt's family, including his widow Andrea and his parents, embraced in the courtroom.

Donald Schmidt Sr., the slain officer's father, told reporters afterward he realizes the case is not over and declined to comment on the verdict.

"I don't want to say anything that could hurt the case," he said.

During the sentencing phase, the jury will hear from Officer Schmidt's family about how his death has affected their lives. Jurors also will hear from Lard's family as the defense tries to persuade the panel to spare his life.

Lard's lawyers didn't dispute that he shot Schmidt, but they argued their client suffers from a mental disease or defect.

"This is not a case of whodunit," defense attorney Jacqueline Wright said in opening statements.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, said Lard knew what he was doing when he shot Schmidt.

The jury also found Lard guilty of attempted capital murder for shooting at Schmidt's partner, Sgt. Corey Overstreet.

Overstreet testified that he showed up as backup after Schmidt pulled over a car in which Lard was a passenger.

At one point, Schmidt asked Lard his name and birthday, and radioed the information back. Schmidt walked to Lard's side of the car.

"When he opened the door, a hand reached out and started shooting Jonathan," Overstreet said.
Overstreet went to reach for his gun, but he said Lard pointed his weapon at him, so he scrambled between the vehicles. He heard gunshots.

Video taken the night of the shooting from dashboard cameras in the police cars showed Schmidt helping Overstreet back onto his feet after he fell, The Jonesboro Sun reported.

Lard swore and shot at Schmidt, who said, "Please, don't shoot me again."

A medical examiner told the jury Schmidt was shot four times – once each in the chin, neck, right wrist and chest. A protective vest blocked the chest shot.

Prosecutor Scott Ellington and defense attorney Katherine Streett declined to comment to The Associated Press after the jury reached its verdict because the judge issued a gag order in the case.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Memorial Fund for Deputy Mast Jr's. Widow and New Born Child

Deputy, suspect killed in shootout | WCNC.com Charlotte

Deputy, suspect killed in shootout | WCNC.com Charlotte



by NewsChannel 36 Staff

Posted on July 26, 2012 at 6:59 AM
Updated today at 2:59 PM 
 
BOONE, N.C. -- A deputy was killed during a shootout early Thursday morning in Watauga County. William Mast Jr., 23, was killed while responding to a call on Hardin Road near Highway 421 around 1 a.m.

Another deputy on scene returned fire and killed the suspect who first struck Mast. Jr.  The name of the suspect has not been released.

Both the deputy and the suspect were transported to a local hospital but later died, according Watauga County EMS. Further details were not released.

Officials said Mast Jr.'s wife is due to give birth to the couple's first child any day. "It is a sad day for Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the Watauga County community as Officer Mast was a friend and asset to our force and to his community," said Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fatal sheriff cruiser crash probed - BostonHerald.com

Officer Edward “Teddy” Dillon III
Fatal sheriff cruiser crash probed - BostonHerald.com

A Middlesex Sheriff’s Department correction officer died early this morning when his department-issued cruiser drove off Treble Cove Road in Billerica.

The accident occurred just after 4 a.m. near the Middlesex House of Correction, where authorities said Officer Edward “Teddy” Dillon III, 27, of Lowell worked the midnight to 8 a.m. shift.

“My thoughts and prayers, as well as those of the entire Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, go out to Officer Dillon’s family, friends and colleagues,” Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian said in a statement. “We know the work of correction officers is difficult and dangerous, but that does nothing to ease the pain and shock when we lose one of our own.

“The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office will work to ensure that our officers and the Dillon family have the support they need as we grieve Teddy’s passing.”

The crash, the cause of which state police are still investigating, occurred just after 4 a.m. and apparently only involved Dillon’s vehicle.

Koutoujian’s office said Dillon’s job including conducting routine perimeter checks of the jail properties, including the training academy and a sheriff’s office.

Authorities are investigating whether Dillon was on official business at the time of the accident, sheriff’s department spokesman Kevin Maccioli said.

The Dillon family declined comment. Dillon’s father, Sgt. Edward T. Dillon Jr., is an electrician for the sheriff’s department.

-— laurel.sweet@bostonherald.com

Man Killed in Motorcycle Crash: ISP Looking for Man Who Hit Him - KHQ Right Now - News and Weather for Spokane and North Idaho |

Kurt Henson
Man Killed in Motorcycle Crash: ISP Looking for Man Who Hit Him - KHQ Right Now - News and Weather for Spokane and North Idaho |


CLARK FORK, Idaho - A Spokane police officer is dead this morning after a motorcycle crash on Highway 200 near Clark Fork on Tuesday night.

Idaho State Police say 47-year-old Kurt Henson of Post Falls, Idaho was riding his Harley with 43-year-old Kimberly Lenox just after 10pm Tuesday when Henson hit an abrupt edge in a construction zone. 

Both Lenox and Henson were thrown from the motorcycle. A Dodge pickup traveling behind the pair then hit Henson and the motorcycle and took off. At this hour Lenox is recovering from injuries at the Bonner General Hospital. 

Right now Idaho State Police and Bonner County Sheriff's are looking for whoever was driving that Dodge pickup.

>>>If you have any information on this crash, you're asked to call the Idaho State Police. 

Springs motorcycle officer killed in crash identified | crash, police, bluffs - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO

Matthew Tyner
Springs motorcycle officer killed in crash identified | crash, police, bluffs - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO

THE GAZETTE
Matthew Tyner, a 13 year veteran of the Colorado Springs Police Department, died Tuesday afternoon when his police motorcycle collided with another vehicle.

Tyner was a member of the Specialized Enforcement Motorcycle Unit. He was riding his motorcycle and conducting traffic enforcement when he collided with a vehicle on Austin Bluffs Parkway near Oro Blanco Drive, Police Chief Pete Carey announced.

Tyner was the 13th officer from the Colorado Springs Police Department to die in the line of duty.

The investigation into the crash that caused his death is on-going by the major accident unit, said police spokeswoman Barbara Miller in a news release.

"Today proved to be devastating to the Colorado Springs Police Department," Carey said.

Carey, accompanied by Mayor Steve Bach and Fire Chief Rich Brown, made the brief statement at Memorial Hospital Central, but took no questions.

“Matthew’s outgoing personality and friendship will be sorely missed by all those who knew him and worked with him,” Miller wrote in the news release.

In an statement emailed Tuesday evening, Bach called the loss of a police officer “heartbreaking.”
“An accident that will affect his family and friends for the rest of their lives causes us all to realize how precious life is,” Bach wrote. “This has been a sad and difficult summer for Colorado Springs and, in fact, our whole state — many will join us in mourning the loss of Officer Tyner.”

The crash occurred just after 2:30 p.m. Tyner was taken to Memorial, where several other police motorcycle officers gathered.

Austin Bluffs between Oro Blanco and Old Farm Drive was closed for much of the day while the crash was cleaned up. The road was fully reopened just before 8:30 p.m.

Tyner joined the Colorado Springs Police Department on Jan. 21, 1999, after serving three years with the Kansas City Police Department.

During his career in Colorado Springs, Tyner served as a patrol officer, a neighborhood resource officer and a training academy instructor before joining the police motorcycle unit.

The only other officer to be killed in a motorcycle crash died on Aug. 7, 1975, when his motorcycle went off the west side of Interstate 25 south of Uintah Street.

Denny Ives’ body was discovered several hours after the crash, which happened as he drove to help with the Pageant of the Rockies Parade. The motorcycle crashed into an area that was hidden from view, according to Colorado Springs police.

Later that year, Harry Allen, a traffic investigator, was killed on Dec. 22, 1975, when a vehicle hit him while he investigated a crash at Platte Avenue and Powers Boulevard — marking the only other traffic-related fatality for the department.

As Allen took measurements, a car going south on Powers hit him, carrying him 150 feet on the vehicle’s hood, according to Colorado Springs police. The intersection wasn't lit and Allen's car didn’t have overhead lights, police said.

Officers cited the driver of the vehicle with careless driving, police said, a citation that carried a $25 fine.

The most recent officer to die on duty was Kenneth Jordan, who died Dec. 5, 2006 when Marco Lee shot him after being pulled over for drunken driving in the 4400 block of Fountain Boulevard.
Lee shot Jordan with a handgun and was arrested by two other officers. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Jordan was the second officer to be killed that year.

Jared Jensen, a detective, was fatally shot on Feb. 22, 2006 by Jereme A. Lamberth, a felon wanted on suspicion of attempted murder. Lamberth was sentenced to 96 years in prison for the slaying.
---
Gazette reporter Jakob Rodgers contributed to this report.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Final conviction in Washington trooper killing - CBS News

Trooper Tony Radulescu
Final conviction in Washington trooper killing - CBS News

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — The last of six people charged with helping the man who killed a Washington State Patrol trooper in February has been convicted of making a false statement to police and sentenced to six months in jail.

But a Kitsap County Superior Court jury on Monday acquitted 31-year-old Andrew Bartlett of rendering criminal assistance.

The Kitsap Sun reports all six people charged with helping Joshua Blake were convicted or pleaded guilty to rendering criminal assistance or making a false statement.

Blake killed himself after shooting Trooper Tony Radulescu (rad-ihl-EHS'-kyoo) near Gorst.

Federal officer killed in Modesto shooting - San Jose Mercury News

Federal officer killed in Modesto shooting - San Jose Mercury News

 MODESTO, Calif.—Authorities have identified the victim of a weekend bar shooting in Modesto as a 34-year-old police officer for the Department of Defense. 


Daryl Chargualaf appears to have been inadvertently shot by another federal police officer during a fight in the parking lot of a bar early Sunday morning.
 
Modesto police say Chargualaf, who was off-duty, had apparently gotten into an argument with a group of people inside the bar that escalated into a physical altercation outside.

Chargualaf was fatally struck when another officer opened fire with his handgun. The shooting also left one of the men the two officers had been fighting seriously wounded.

The names of the alleged shooter and wounded man have not been released.

Police tell the Modesto Bee (http://bit.ly/Pdc5fM) the officer who opened fire appears to have acted in self-defense.

Man convicted in NC troopers' deaths dies | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper

Man convicted in NC troopers' deaths dies | CharlotteObserver.com & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper


RALEIGH, N.C. The man who served more than 50 years in prison for killing two North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers has died behind bars at the age of 90.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported (http://bit.ly/LGlgRQ) that Frank Wetzel died Saturday at Central Prison in Raleigh after living his last years with dementia.

Wetzel was convicted of the 1957 murders of Troopers W.L. Reece and James T. Brown. Reece was killed near Ellerbe in Richmond County, and Brown was shot near Sanford in Lee County.

Wetzel maintained his innocence, saying he was the victim of a law enforcement conspiracy. His supporters pointed to records that show Reece was fatally shot at 8 p.m. Between 15 and 20 minutes later, Brown was shot 47 miles away.

"I've offered anyone who can do that a million dollars," said Richard Wetzel, the convict's 57-year-old half-brother. "I don't have a million dollars, but I'm not worried that anybody can do that, not anyone in NASCAR or speed racing."

They also pointed to a former witness in his trial who signed an affidavit saying that police forced him to testify and that Wetzel wasn't the killer.

Prosecutors also had evidence leading to his conviction. Before dying in surgery, Brown described the shooter's black 1957 Oldsmobile, which eventually led police to Wetzel.

A car matching that description was discovered in Tennessee. Inside, the FBI found Wetzel's fingerprints on a North Carolina license plate, a .44-caliber Magnum pistol, several .22-caliber guns and several boxes of ammunition. Wetzel was arrested two weeks later in California.

Wetzel admitted that, at the time of the 1957 crimes, he was driving south in a stolen car after escaping from a prison hospital in New York state.

Wetzel, who grew up in New York, got in trouble as a young boy, stealing from grocery stores and landing in reform school and eventually New York jails. Richard Wetzel was 6 years old when his father took him on a bus from Charlotte to Central Prison in Raleigh and Central Prison to meet Frank Wetzel.

"It was kind of scary going in there with all those doors," Richard Wetzel said Sunday. "They brought him in through the glass, and it wasn't long before I knew I was going to like him."

He said he doesn't intend to let Frank Wetzel's appeal end with his death.

Frank Wetzel married in prison nearly 30 years ago. His wife, Bianca, who lives in Florida, advocated for his release for many years.
Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/07/23/3400345/man-convicted-in-nc-troopers-deaths.html#storylink=cpy

Southern CA officer killed in crash, DUI suspected - AP State Wire News - The Sacramento Bee

Southern CA officer killed in crash, DUI suspected - AP State Wire News - The Sacramento Bee


Authorities say they've arrested a Santa Paula volunteer reserve police officer on suspicion of drunk driving and manslaughter following a car crash that killed a female officer.

The Ventura County-Star ( http://bit.ly/LIKQ8G) reports 44-year-old Christopher Blankenship was released from jail Monday morning on $50,000 bail.

Authorities say Blankenship was driving a Jeep Wrangler on a private road Sunday night when he apparently lost control of the vehicle, causing it to spin and roll over.

Officer Kimberley Hemminger, a five-year veteran of the department, was partially ejected and pinned under the Jeep. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other passengers suffered minor injuries.

None of the four people in the Jeep were wearing seatbelts.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/23/4653451/southern-ca-officer-killed-in.html#storylink=cpy

Deputy Shot by Coworker Gets Bionic Ankle - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A Mid-Michigan deputy who went through 11 reconstructive surgeries and a leg amputation after being shot by a coworker in 1993, got a new bionic prosthetic ankle on Monday in Lansing.

"I was shot in the line of duty by another deputy who had just gotten out of the military. [He] had been over in Desert Storm [and] had gone through some psychological issues while he was there, and those issues he brought back here with him," says Detective Sergeant Mike Coon of the Clare County Sheriff's Office. Coon says his coworker was a part-time worker, and shot him on purpose to get Coon's full time job.

For 10 years after the shooting, Coon suffered – having to take a host of medications to help alleviate the severe pain. He also had 11 surgeries, but decided in 2003 to have his leg amputated. "In order to get rid of the pain, get rid of the meds, I opted to have my leg taken off," says Coon.

At that point, Coon got a prosthetic leg and returned to work. "Since I went back to work, I've been in five foot chases and caught all five people," says Coon. "I had to learn how to run short-gaited gaited, so I could run on my toes."

But that changed on Monday when Coon was fitted for a bionic ankle at Springer Prosthetics and Orthotic Services, Inc. "Now with this iWalk, I can stretch my gait back out again and learn how to run again," says Coon.

According to Springer Prosthetics, the iWalk BiOM is the first bionic leg system that uses technology to imitate the natural action of the foot.

"When you lose your leg, your foot below the knee – you lose your Achilles tendon, your calf muscles," says Jeff Gerber, regional director for iWalk. "The idea is that through robotics, through really smart technology, we can recreate the power of the lost Achilles tendon."

Gerber says the BiOM was developed at MIT by a bilateral, below-the-knee amputee. He says the BiOM has a brushless DC motor, a threaded drive and a carbon fiber spring and multiple sensors that read the loads that the amputee is putting in and then gives the correct power output.

The prosthetic is used in connection with an Android application that tunes the ankle. Once the ankle is tuned according to the patient's weight and other properties, it will adjust automatically as the patient changes terrain, speeds or activities.

The device costs more than $50,000, and is often used by veterans who've lost limbs in the line of duty.

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with WLNS-TV. Reach out to her on Facebook, Twitter or email at emorrow@wlns.com.

Monday, July 23, 2012

NC law officer wounded, suspect dead in shooting - AP State Wire News - The Sacramento Bee

NC law officer wounded, suspect dead in shooting - AP State Wire News - The Sacramento Bee

A North Carolina police officer is recovering after being shot during a domestic violence call in which he killed a suspect.

Dobson Police Officer Brian Thomas was shot in the ankle and thigh after responding to the call early Monday. Thomas was in stable condition at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

A police department spokesman said the suspected shooter was dead at the scene from gunshot wounds after Thomas returned fire. Police say 51-year-old Lonnie Badgett used a handgun and semi-automatic rifle to shoot at Thomas and Surry County Sheriff's Sgt. Wayne Banks. Banks wasn't hurt.

Badgett's wife told police her husband threw a piano bench and struck her with the butt of the rifle during an argument about the care of dogs left in the house while they traveled.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/23/4653115/nc-law-officer-wounded-suspect.html#storylink=cpy

Deputy-killing suspect in newly released videos: I have no respect for cops | FLORIDA TODAY | floridatoday.com

Deputy-killing suspect in newly released videos: I have no respect for cops | FLORIDA TODAY | floridatoday.com



One of two people accused of killing Brevard County Sheriff’s Deputy Barbara Pill made anti-police statements in interviews after the shooting, according to audio and video recordings released Friday.

The State Attorney’s Office released hours of police interrogation recordings with suspects Brandon Bradley, 22, and Andria Kerchner, 20, as part of the court process.

Both are accused of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Pill on March 6. In one video, an investigator asks Bradley if it’s wrong to shoot a police officer.

“It’s wrong,” he said. “But at the same time, when three of my cousins got killed by police, and you walking up unholstering your holster, you feel me, … In my heart I feel like (expletive) but at the same time …” Bradley said that he thought Pill was going to shoot him, though witnesses told police she had her hand on her holster but did not draw her weapon.

 He said police had previously shot his “cousins.” Pill had stopped a sport utility vehicle connected to an earlier robbery at a motel when she was shot by the driver. The car then fled, eventually crashing into a ditch of water. In the interview, Bradley sits in the stark white room wrapped in a sheet and wearing a black T-shirt and red boxer shorts. His clothes got wet when the car crashed, according to police reports.

At times, he appears to be shaking and is inaudible on the recording. The two detectives ask Bradley, who is in handcuffs, to re-enact the shooting and show them where Pill was during the traffic stop. “How many times did you shoot her?” one investigator later asks. “Twice,” Bradley replies. Pill was shot five times, including once in the head, according to autopsy results.

Bradley says that his girlfriend, Kerchner, was not responsible for the shooting. He later asks detectives if Pill survived. “No, she’s not, she passed away,” the agent says. “I’m sorry,” Bradley replies. In separate interviews, Kerchner says someone who was in the backseat of the vehicle was the shooter, but later says it was the driver.

She first denies knowing Bradley but later claims she’s pregnant with his baby and says she would have shot him to stop him from shooting Pill. Kerchner speaks to investigators in a gravelly, emotional voice, breaking down often. No video of her first police interview was released. She says she’s in shock after seeing the deputy being shot in the face.

"My brother is a cop, I don’t want to see cops get killed,” she said. Records indicate her brother is an officer in Pennsylvania. Later, though, she says no one likes police. “I would have the respect for cops if they could, instead of all this (expletives) looking out for your own people.

That lady got shot, the whole place was surrounded. My brother got shot, you know how many cops showed up? Not a lot. I have no respect for cops.” She breaks down as she asks, about Pill, “Does she have kids? Please don’t tell me she had kids.”

The investigators tell her that Pill, 52, was a grandmother. Bradley is being held in the Seminole County jail and Kerchner in the Orange County jail. Their cases are scheduled for docket soundings, which are a sort of status check, on July 25.  

Contact Barchenger at 321-242-3669, sbarchenger@floridatoday.com or follow at Twitter.com/sbarchenger.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

UPDATE: Courtesy Safety Patrol Officer Killed on I-77

UPDATE: Courtesy Safety Patrol Officer Killed on I-77

UPDATED 7/22/12  6:20pm EST
FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va (WSAZ) – A courtesy patrol officer was hit and killed by a car early Sunday morning.

The accident happened at about 2:00 along the West Virginia Turnpike -- I-77 by mile marker 50 near Pax, West Virginia.

The courtesy patrol officer was helping a stranded motorist on the side of the road when he was hit by the other vehicle

The West Virginia State Police said that the driver of the vehicle which struck the patrolman may have fallen asleep at the wheel, according to the preliminary investigation. However, the investigation is ongoing.

The name of the victim has not been released, although state police say it was a man in his older-50’s or early-60’s.


FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A safety patrol officer with the West Virginia Courtesy Patrol is dead after being hit by a passing car while helping a stranded motorist.

It happened about 2 a.m. Sunday near the Pax exit on Interstate 77.

According to Sgt. Michael Baylous with the West Virginia State Police, the victim was helping a stranded motrists when the driver of a passing car fell asleep and struck the officer. Sgt. Baylous says that's the findings of a preliminary investigation.

Troopers are not releasing the victim's name at this time, and continue to investigate the accident.

Police officer killed by suspected drunk driver

Police officer killed by suspected drunk driver

— A police officer returning home after his shift has died after colliding with a suspected drunk driver in Johnson County south of Fort Worth.

KDFW Channel 5 reports (http://bit.ly/Mg1NZN) that Lancaster Police Officer Dustin Dodson died late Saturday at a Fort Worth hospital. The accident happened shortly before 7 a.m. Saturday as 25-year-old Dodson was headed home.

Phyllis McFall with Lancaster Police communications confirmed Dodson's death to The Associated Press Sunday.

Venus Police officer James Robinson told The Associated Press that 22-year-old Ricardo Espinoza of Alvarado was arrested Saturday on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and an accident causing serious injury, which would likely be upgraded following Dodson's death. Robinson says a witness led police to Espinoza. He was being held Sunday pending formal charges.
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Information from: KDFW-TV, http://www.myfoxdfw.com

Lee County Deputy & K9 Injured in Accident - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Lee County Deputy & K9 Injured in Accident - 

 LEE COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - 

Sheriff Jay Jones says one of his deputies was airlifted to Columbus Regional Sunday morning after being involved in a single car accident around 3 a.m. CST.

The sheriff says the deputy was on patrol with his K9 in the car on Hwy 51 south in Opelika when he encountered a deer and ran off the road, hitting a concrete culvert.

The 12 year veteran suffered injuries to his face and is still being treated at the medical center, but is going to okay.

Mike, the Belgian Malinois, was also injured and taken to the small animal clinic at Auburn Univ.'s Vet School. The extent of his injuries is unclear, but he is also expected to make a full recovery.

Deadly officer-involved shooting leads to violent clash between witnesses, Anaheim police - The Washington Post

Deadly officer-involved shooting leads to violent clash between witnesses, Anaheim police - The Washington Post

ANAHEIM, Calif. — A police shooting that left a man dead led to a violent clash as angry witness threw bottles at officers who responded with tear gas and beanbag rounds to suppress the crowd, authorities said.

The man was shot in front of an apartment complex around 4 p.m. following a foot chase, Anaheim Sgt. Bob Dunn said. He died three hours later at a hospital.

As officers were investigating what happened at the scene, Dunn said an angry group of people began yelling and throwing bottles at them. He said that as officers detained several people, the crowd advanced on officers so they fired tear gas and beanbag rounds at them.

Video captured by a KCAL-TV crew showed a chaotic scene in which officers fired beanbag rounds as some people ducked to the ground while others scattered screaming. A man is seen yelling at an officer even as a weapon is pointed at him; two adults huddled to shield a boy and girl. Meanwhile, a police dog ran into several people sitting on the grass, including a woman and child in a stroller, before biting a man in the arm.

Dunn said the dog somehow got out of a patrol car and was “deployed accidentally.”

Dunn said the man shot by police was one of three men who ran away from officers who approached them in an alley. The other two suspects have not been captured.

He would not say why police shot the man, saying that the details are under investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

He said several people were arrested in the melee, but he couldn’t immediately provide a figure.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Officials: Police officer mistakenly kills son at Old Forge hotel - Utica, NY - The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York


Officials: Police officer mistakenly kills son at Old Forge hotel - Utica, NY - The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York


OLD FORGE —

It was early Saturday morning when Old Forge Ambulance paramedic Dan Rivet Jr. received an EMS call he thought he’d never would.

A shooting was reported at his business — Clarks Beach Motel — right in the center of the Old Forge business district.

“I thought, oh boy, what could this be?” he said. “We have very little violence in Old Forge.”

State police would later say that Michael Leach, 59, of Rochester, who is employed as a village police officer in Perry, Wyoming County, thought his son Matthew S. Leach, 37 of Rochester, was an intruder when he shot him at about 12:50 a.m. inside Clarks Beach Motel.

The shooting took place in Room 6, Rivet said, which is located on the waterfront in the business district on Route 28.

The weapon used was the officer’s department-issued .45-caliber Glock handgun, police said.

Michael Leach called 911 following the shooting, stating he believed he shot an intruder, police said. Webb police then responded.

Details about how the shooting unfolded are not yet available, police Capt. Francis Coots of Troop D said.

“That’s still yet to be determined,” he said.

Rivet said when he arrived on the scene the father was “very distraught.”

At first paramedics could not find an entry wound, Rivet said, but later it was located in the right back area.

Oswego resident Robert Hilton said he didn’t hear anything from his Clarks Beach Motel, located toward the back of the property, but upon learning of the news was shocked.

“It’s unexplainable, it’s tragic,” he said. “It sounds surreal to me that something like that could happen in Old Forge.”

Hilton said he comes up with family at least once a year to the area to take long weekends.

“It’s beautiful up here,” he said, adding it’s the first time he’s stayed at the motel.

Michael Leach was taken by ambulance to Faxton St Luke’s Healthcare, St. Luke’s campus, where he remains for a medical issue, police said.

His son was taken to St. Elizabeth Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy is expected to be performed Sunday, Coots said.

Rivet said the father and son were part of a group of police who drive to the area on motorcycles for a long-weekend getaway.

“It was just a group of guys coming to have a good time,” he said. “We never had a problem with them.”
 
The investigation is continuing in conjunction with Acting Herkimer County District Attorney Jeff Carpenter.

Coots said more details involving the investigation may be available Monday.

The village of Perry Police Department consists of five full time officers, nine part-time officers, a civilian secretary and a chief, according to the department’s website.

It is Herkimer County’s first homicide of the year.

When Old Forge Ambulance paramedic Dan Rivet Jr. first arrived at a reported shooting scene at his Old Forge motel, he wasn’t sure the victim had even been shot.

“There was very little blood on the scene,” said Rivet, owner of Clarks Beach Motel.

What Rivet said he found was a distraught man in Room 6, and a victim lying on the floor with a gunshot wound.

Brother killed on duty inspires Jeff Easter’s run for sheriff | Wichita Eagle

Brother killed on duty inspires Jeff Easter’s run for sheriff | Wichita Eagle

For a long time, Jeff Easter intentionally hung a big picture of his brother on his office wall behind him — so he wouldn’t have to see it.

Every time Jeff Easter saw Kevin Easter’s dimpled face in his blue sheriff’s uniform, he re-lived the night 16 years ago that a gang member shot his younger brother, a deputy, in the neck. Kevin Easter died at 24.

Eventually, Jeff Easter’s office got rearranged, and his brother’s picture ended up on the wall right in front of him in his Wichita police captain’s office at the Patrol North station he oversees. Easter decided to leave the picture there. Now, he can’t avoid it.

When Easter gets asked why he is running in the Aug. 7 Republican primary for Sedgwick County sheriff, he goes back to the night he lost his brother. “I realized life is very short … better have goals and a life plan,” he said. “If you don’t, life is going to pass you by.”

So Easter got a degree in organizational management and leadership from Friends University and worked his way to captain. He went from thriving on the excitement of wrestling with criminals — in one struggle, a gang member pointed a semi-automatic handgun at his chest and pulled the trigger, but it failed to fire — to thriving on teaching younger officers. He went on to lead a multi-agency task force that used federal law, known as RICO, to treat a dominant street gang as an organized criminal group. In 2008, the task force decimated the gang with an onslaught of arrests and indictments. When Easter interviewed for the captain’s position that same year, he told Police Chief Norman Williams he wanted to become police chief or sheriff.

The 43-year-old considered running for sheriff in 2008. But he realized that he didn’t yet have 20 years of service and wasn’t fully vested in his retirement benefits, and he had the well-being of his wife and four children to consider. Now, after working 23 years for the Police Department, he’s opposing Sheriff Robert Hinshaw in the primary, with the endorsement of his police chief and other police officials. He also has received backing from the Fraternal Order of Police and Chief Deputy District Attorney Kim Parker.

In his first run for public office, Easter said, he’s “having a hard time with this political thing” because the campaign requires him to talk about himself. Retired police Lt. Ken Landwehr, who led the capture of serial killer Dennis Rader, is a father figure to him. What he admires about Landwehr is his humility. “I’m very team-oriented,” Easter said. “I’m not an ‘I’ person at all.”

Easter is not only speaking out about himself. He’s stepped up criticism of Hinshaw over his handling of an investigation of a sheriff’s jail deputy who recently resigned after being charged with multiple sex crimes against inmates.

District Attorney Nola Foulston recently said that sheriff’s personnel did not speak with her office about the first allegations against the deputy until a month and a day after a date cited by Hinshaw. She said prosecutors should have been notified immediately.

“I question the management of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office” over its handling of the issue, Easter said.

“The DA’s office, what do they have to lose by putting that out? Nothing. What does he (Hinshaw) have to lose or gain? The election.”

The issue should matter to the public because taxpayers could pay for potential litigation over the allegations, he said.

Hinshaw said Easter is being unprofessional because he is commenting on another agency’s investigation without having all the facts.

Easter said his comments are focused on the management of the investigation, not the investigation itself. He said he feels compelled to address it because it reflects on leadership.

“First and foremost,” Easter said, “you have to have a trusting relationship with the district attorney,” who advises investigators on the law and decides whether charges are filed.

“The first phone call you’re making (as sheriff) is to the District Attorney’s Office … that you have a law enforcement officer who’s accused of committing a crime,” Easter said.

The Sheriff’s Office hired David Kendall, the accused deputy, four years ago, when he was 18. Easter said he thought it was a bad idea when the Sheriff’s Office began hiring people as young as 18 to work in the jail. “I do not believe that 18-year-old right out of high school should be … monitoring and working with the jail population,” Easter said. Hinshaw said that the policy of hiring people as young as 18 began under Gary Steed’s administration, that it is a practice used by jails across the United States, and that some 18-year-olds are well qualified.

Long before the jail issue arose, Easter said, he felt the sheriff’s management had become “kind of stagnant, status quo.”

“I have fostered folks to think outside the box,” Easter said, adding that he instituted a practice in which, when a serious crime occurs in the Patrol North quadrant, officers block off the street and go door to door to contact neighbors. “We get them in the middle of the street, and we talk about the issues,” Easter said. It brings neighbors together, builds trust with police and helps solve crimes, he said.

At the jail, which also is the subject of a lawsuit in federal court over alleged abuse of mentally ill inmates, deputies should wear body cameras, which can show whether inmates are making false allegations or deputies are abusing people in their custody, Easter said.

Easter also questions why Hinshaw has yet to begin housing mentally ill inmates in a separate area of the jail. Doing so would require all deputies to be properly trained to deal with that population, Easter said.

Easter described his management approach as “very situational,” adding that his style is “working with the staff and not being dictatorial.”

Landwehr, the former homicide unit supervisor who has become Easter’s campaign treasurer, said Easter impressed him with his knowledge of gang members. “He was very smart, and he knew a lot of the players, and that’s the main thing that you need from street officers” when a gang shooting occurs, Landwehr said.

“When he came upstairs as a sergeant” Landwehr said, “he had a passion” for leading. With the anti-gang task force investigation, Easter impressed law enforcement officials with his ability to work with different agencies — and work around egos, Landwehr said. “He inspires other guys,” he said.
In 2007, Easter was named the Police Department’s Officer of the Year.

Bobby Stout, former executive director of the Wichita Crime Commission, said Easter “is a hard-charger. … You give him something to do, and he won’t quit. He will get it done.”
Easter said he still gets confused with the brother he lost. People sometimes introduce him as Kevin Easter.

“I am honored that people still remember my brother and my brother’s name,” he said. “That’s one of the things that my family always talked about, is they didn’t want him to be forgotten.”

It inspires him to think he could become head of the agency his brother worked for when he died.
The symbol of that inspiration is the picture on the wall in front of him — his brother in the same sheriff’s uniform Easter hopes to wear.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2012/07/21/2415726/brother-killed-on-duty-inspires.html#storylink=cpy

Prosecutors: Cop pleaded 'Please don't shoot me' - Friday, July 20, 2012 | 4:24 a.m. - Las Vegas Sun

Prosecutors: Cop pleaded 'Please don't shoot me' - Friday, July 20, 2012 | 4:24 a.m. - Las Vegas Sun

An Arkansas man charged with capital murder knew what he was doing when he shot a police officer who begged him not to, prosecutors said Friday, countering defense claims that Jerry Lard suffers from mental illness.

No one disputes that Lard, 38, shot Trumann police officer Jonathan Schmidt during a traffic stop in April 2011. But Lard's lawyers argue that he suffers from a mental disease or defect that affects his judgment.

"This is not a case of whodunit," defense attorney Jacqueline Wright said in opening statements in a courtroom in Paragould, about 35 miles north of Trumann. The trial was moved to Greene County from Poinsett County at the defense's request.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Lard, who is charged with capital murder for killing Schmidt and attempted capital murder for shooting at Schmidt's partner, Sgt. Corey Overstreet. He was also charged with possessing methamphetamine.

Overstreet testified in court Friday that he showed up as backup after Schmidt pulled over a car in which Lard was a passenger. At one point, Schmidt asked Lard his name and birthday, and radioed the information back. Schmidt walked to Lard's side of the car.

"When he opened the door, a hand reached out and started shooting Jonathan," Overstreet said Friday.
Overstreet went to reach for his gun, but he said Lard pointed his weapon at him, so he scrambled between the vehicles. He heard gunshots.

Prosecutor Scott Ellington said Schmidt could be heard saying, "Please, don't shoot me," and, "Please, don't shoot me again," in audio recorded that night.

Ellington said Schmidt was shot four times: twice in the face, once in the wrist and once in the chest. Ellington said Schmidt was wearing a bulletproof vest.

"The fourth and final shot was in his face by his nose," Ellington said.

Overstreet then shot Lard as he walked away. Lard fell to the ground and Overstreet said he checked to make sure he couldn't do any more harm. Then, he rushed over to Schmidt, who was breathing heavily. Blood seemed to gush out of the wound by his nose every time his heart beat, he said.
"I said, I got him, bud," Overstreet said in court.

"How did he respond to you?" prosecutor Jimmy Gazaway asked.
"He didn't," Overstreet said.

Lard occasionally looked up toward the front of the courtroom as Overstreet spoke. With his shortly buzzed hair and glasses, Lard looked different than the long-haired man in his mug shot last year.
Jurors will likely hear from mental health experts as the trial, which is expected to last another week, continues.

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Follow Jeannie Nuss at http://twitter.com/jeannienuss

Friday, July 20, 2012

Death warrant signed, then stayed for police officer’s killer | TribLIVE

Death warrant signed, then stayed for police officer’s killer | TribLIVE

Hours after Gov. Tom Corbett signed a new death warrant on Thursday for Michael Travaglia, the “kill for thrill” murderer won yet another temporary stay of the new Sept. 13 execution date. 

Corbett signed the warrant ordering that Travaglia, now 53, be put to death by lethal injection for his conviction of first-degree murder and conspiracy for killing Apollo police Officer Leonard Clifford Miller on Jan. 3, 1980.

Shortly after, Travaglia’s new federal public defenders, Anna Ahronheim and Kirk Henderson, were granted a temporary stay of execution to prepare another federal appeal.

“I just want it to end ... one way or another. It happened more than 32 years ago,” said Vandergrift Mayor Lou Purificato, who was the first police officer to arrive on the scene when Miller was shot.

“Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be jumping for joy if they put another man to death, but I do want to see justice served. The law is the law, and these two (Travaglia and co-defendant John Lesko) certainly deserve it,” Purificato said.

Travaglia of Washington Township and Lesko, 53, formerly of Pittsburgh’s Lincoln Place neighborhood, were convicted of Miller’s slaying in 1981 in Westmoreland County. After a federal appeal, Travaglia was given a new sentencing hearing and was sentenced to death a second time.

Miller, 21, was shot and killed on Jan. 3, 1980, after he pursued Travaglia and Lesko’s car from Apollo across a bridge into Oklahoma Borough.

Miller was the last to die in Lesko and Travaglia’s eight-day killing spree, which started on Dec. 27, 1979, and left four people dead.

Lesko and Travaglia were driving home after they tied up William Nicholls of Mt. Lebanon and threw him in an icy lake in Indiana County. The pair decided to lure Miller away from a convenience store they wanted to rob and raced past the officer several times in Nicholls’ sports car.

In addition to the conviction in Miller and Nicholls’ murders, the pair also were convicted of abducting Peter Levato of Pittsburgh and killing him near Loyalhanna Dam. The two killed Marlene Sue Newcomer of Leisenring, in Fayette County, on New Year’s Eve after she gave them a ride.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court set the stage for Corbett to sign the execution warrant when the nation’s high court refused to hear an appeal of Travaglia’s 2005 death sentence.

Purificato said will never forget discovering Miller, a rookie officer for Apollo, on the ground, dying from two bullet wounds. Two juries found that Travaglia had shot Miller twice at Lesko’s urging.
Purificato also worked with Miller on the Vandergrift force.

“I worked with him Christmas Eve, and (Miller) was just a young kid and really excited about getting hired full-time at Apollo. A few days later, he was gone,” he said.

Previous death warrants for Travaglia were signed by former Govs. Richard Thornburgh in 1985 and Robert P. Casey in 1990.

Corbett signed a death warrant in September for Lesko, who is incarcerated in the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. His death sentence also remains on appeal in federal court.

Travaglia is incarcerated in the State Correctional Institution at Greene County.

“We have capital punishment in Pennsylvania, and this — killing a police officer — is a mitigating factor under the law,” Purificato said. “It’s been time for justice to finally be served.” 

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com