Monday, December 30, 2013

Law Enforcement Fatalities Dip to Lowest Level in Six Decades

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- 33 officers killed in firearms-related incidents is fewest since 1887
Law enforcement officer fatalities dropped for the second year in a row to the lowest level in six decades and the number of officers killed in firearms-related incidents this year was the fewest since the 1800s, according to preliminary data compiled and released today in an annual research bulletin published by the
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).
According to the report, 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide in 2013. This was the fewest number of fatalities for the law enforcement profession since 1959 when 110 officers died. This year's total was eight percent fewer than 2012 when 121 officers made the ultimate sacrifice.
The number one cause of officer fatalities in 2013 was traffic-related incidents, which claimed 46 lives. Thirty-three officers were killed in firearms-related incidents this past year, which was a 33 percent drop from 2012 and is the lowest number since 1887 when 27 officers were shot to death. Thirty-two officers died due to other causes in 2013, including 14 who suffered heart attacks while performing their duties.
Just two years ago, officer fatalities spiked to 169, which led to a number of new initiatives aimed at promoting law enforcement safety. Among them were: an increasing number of agencies requiring officers to wear bullet-resistant vests; the formation of the National Officer Safety and Wellness Group by the U.S. Department of Justice; and the VALOR program launched by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to provide training to help prevent violence against officers and to help officers survive violent encounters when they do occur. Since 2011, all categories of officer fatalities have dropped by 34 percent and firearms-related deaths have declined by 54 percent.
The statistics released by the NLEOMF are based on preliminary data compiled and do not represent a final or complete list of individual officers who will be added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2014.
For a complete copy of the preliminary report on 2013 law enforcement fatalities, go .
Key Data as of December 29, 2013:
-- Traffic-related incidents declined 4 percent in 2013 (46) compared to 2012 (48). Of these 46 officers, 31 were killed in auto crashes, 11 were struck outside their vehicle, and four were killed in motorcycle crashes.
-- Firearms-related fatalities declined by 33 percent in 2013 (33) compared to 2012 (49). Of the 33 officers, seven officers were shot and killed in ambush attacks, six officers were shot and killed while responding to a disturbance call, five officers were killed while conducting an investigative activity, three officers were killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call, three officers were feloniously killed during a traffic stop, three officers were shot and killed while responding to a robbery in progress and three officers were killed while attempting to arrest a suspect. Two officers were inadvertently shot and killed and one officer was killed during a burglary in progress.
-- Of the 32 officers who died due to other causes, 18 were caused by job-related illnesses; six officers fell to their death or died as a result of an injury sustained in a fall, two officers drowned while attempting to assist victims during a flash flood, two officers were stabbed to death, one officer was killed in a helicopter crash, one officer was killed in a boat related accident, one officer was killed by an explosive device and an officer was electrocuted.
-- During the past year, more officers were killed in Texas (13) than any other state; followed by California (10); Mississippi and New York (7); and Arkansas (6).
-- Nine officers killed in 2013 served with federal law enforcement agencies. Nine of the officers who died during the past year served with correctional agencies. Four of the 111 fatalities were female. On average, the officers who died in 2013 were 42 years old and had served for 13 years.
Supporting Quote:
"The only good news is zero deaths, but this very significant drop in law enforcement fatalities the past two years is extremely encouraging," declared NLEOMF Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd. "Our organization, in partnership with others, is working hard to create a new culture of safety in law enforcement that no longer accepts deaths and injuries as an unavoidable part of the job. This year's officer fatality report is strong evidence that this intensified effort to promote law enforcement safety is making a difference."
About the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a private non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers and to promoting officer safety. The Memorial Fund maintains the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC, which contains the names of 19,981 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. The Memorial Fund is now working to create the National Law Enforcement Museum, which will tell the story of law enforcement in America through high-tech, interactive exhibitions, historical artifacts and extensive educational programming. For more information, .
CONTACT: Steve Groeninger(202)
SOURCE National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
Copyright (C) 2013 PR Newswire. All rights reserved 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

AZ: Valley law enforcement groups tout Blue Alert system

Valley law enforcement groups tout Blue Alert system

PHOENIX - You've heard of an Amber Alert, the call that goes out when a child is missing. Law enforcement groups in Arizona are touting a similar system for officers called a Blue Alert. 

"John was a sergeant with the Arizona Department of Public Safety.  He was killed August 31st, 1990," his wife, Jan Blaser-Upchurch said.

Sgt. Blaser was killed by a drunk driver while on duty.

"The loss was tremendous. John and I had just celebrated our third wedding anniversary. He was 36 years old," Jan said.

His name joins dozens of others at the Arizona Peace Officers Memorial. His death inspired Jan to help others. She joined C.O.P.S., or Concerns of Police Survivors.

The group is teaming up with the Arizona Highway Patrol Association to bring Blue Alerts to our state.

"The information can get out there much quicker," Jan said.

It's a system designed to let people know right away if an officer has been hurt or killed and police are still searching for the suspect, kind of like how an Amber Alert lets us know right away about a missing child.
"As many of us know, communication is very different from agency to agency," Jan said.

The Blue Alert would erase the problems of communication barriers between departments, making it easier to catch the bad guys. It's already being used in 18 states.

"California is one, Utah and Colorado, some of our states right around us," Jan said.
She hopes this year our state lawmakers will give Blue Alert the green light.

Story by Elizabeth Erwin of KPHO-TV, ABC15

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Deputy says goodbye to half-century of law enforcement

Deputy Norman Monroe
Norman Monroe said thanks but no thanks when the Lincoln Police Department called him in the late 1950s and offered a job.
He doesn’t remember why he declined. The farm boy from Farragut, Iowa, had worked a few odd jobs — including a short stint as a prison guard — since moving to Lincoln after four years in the Navy, and when the police department called he was unemployed and had a baby to feed.
He does remember picking the phone up a little later, calling the department back and asking whether he could change his mind.
Last week, Monroe, 79, retired from a career in law enforcement that spanned more than half of a century. This time, he retired from the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.
One of his first assignments with the police department was to guard 2843 S. 24th St. — the home of C. Lauer Ward and his wife, Clara — after Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate killed the couple, their maid Lillian Fencl and the family dog.
“They (law enforcement) were looking for ‘em. I was guarding the house because they thought they might come back,” Monroe said. “That house looked like somebody had butchered in it.”
He almost quit that day, but stayed on because he needed the job.
Starkweather killed 11 people during a two-month killing spree in Nebraska and Wyoming with the help of Fugate, his 14-year-old girlfriend. He died in the electric chair at the Nebraska State Penitentiary on June 25, 1959. Fugate was released after 17 years in prison.
Monroe said he later got to know Starkweather’s mother, Helen. She was a nice person, he said, and worked as a waitress at a café on 12th Street, where Monroe usually stopped on his break.
Back in the 1950s, he said, new officers got most of their training on the job.
“When I first went out on the street with the police department, I didn’t have the foggiest idea what I was supposed to do.”
He spotted Officer Pete Peterson the next street over and asked for help. Peterson, who would later go on to become Lincoln’s first black City Council member and director of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, explained what was expected of him, taught him to be a beat cop.
A couple of years later, Lancaster County Sheriff Merle Karnopp had an opening. Monroe applied and got the job.
The county job was a much better fit for Monroe. He grew up on a farm and liked the quiet, stoic rural lifestyle.
Monroe worked his way up to sergeant and headed the sheriff’s civil division for 17 years in the 1960s and '70s. His coworkers became his family. They supported each other off duty in the same way they did on duty. It seemed about everyone in the office had gone through a divorce and been remarried.
Monroe was working in the civil division when he started seeing Cynthia, his current wife. She worked in the state Capitol recording livestock brands, and he walked by her desk every day.
Cynthia spent weeks breaking through the sober, quiet persona he presented to the world, she said. It took her almost a month to get a “hello” out of him.
A couple of years later, he asked her out for coffee. She said yes, “but that’s all you’re getting,” she recalls with a laugh.
They got serious and Cynthia told Monroe she already had a diamond from her last marriage. She didn’t need another. What she needed was a toaster.
So when Monroe popped the question at the East Hills Country Club in front of their friends from the sheriff’s office, he gave her a ring with a little toaster on it instead of a diamond.
“Boy did I get jawed for that,” he said, remembering the hard time his staff gave him after the dinner.
They married in 1978. As the wife of a deputy, Cynthia went through her own trials, the toughest in March 1987.
Monroe was bow hunting with a friend when she got a call: A deputy had been shot and killed. No other information was being released.
Cynthia paced the floors for hours not knowing whether her husband was dead. He still grimaces when remembering the emotional hurricane he returned home to that day.
They found out later that Deputy Craig Dodge was killed responding to a domestic abuse situation in Hickman. Authorities believe Dodge heard the cries of Terry Reynolds’ wife and went into the apartment without waiting for backup.
“Any one of us (deputies) probably would have done the same thing,” Monroe said.
Reynolds was later sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder.
After the shooting, Monroe said, some of the younger wives pushed to be allowed to ride along with their husbands as they patrolled the county. It didn’t happen.
He retired for the first time in 1996. But when city and county officials opened up the Hall of Justice in 1999, he signed up as a security guard. He enjoyed the work, liked the people, and the extra cash came in handy after the dot-com bubble burst and wiped out his savings.
He saw people try to bring all sorts of banned things into the courthouse — marijuana pipes, knives, a cane with a sword hidden inside and a pet guinea pig.
In February, Monroe said he planned to work “until I get too old for the job.”
With his wife's encouragement, he finally decided it was time. He served under seven sheriffs, including John Packett, who was sworn in on Feb. 1, 1994, and resigned the next day.
Looking back, Monroe says he's glad he decided to pick the phone up 55 years ago and ask whether he could still have the job.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

TSA identifies officer killed at Los Angeles airport as Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39

Gerardo I. Hernandez
A man carrying a note that said he wanted to "kill TSA" pulled a semi-automatic rifle from a bag and shot his way past a security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, killing one Transportation Security Administration officer and wounding two others, authorities said.

The gunman was wounded in a shootout with airport police and taken into custody, authorities said. His condition was not disclosed.

The attack at the nation's third-busiest airport sent terrified travelers running for cover and disrupted more than 700 flights across the U.S., many of which were held on the ground at LAX or not allowed to take off for Los Angeles from other airports.

The TSA late Friday identified the slain officer as Gerardo I. Hernandez, 39. He is the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty in the 12-year history of the agency, which was founded in the aftermath of 9/11.

The FBI and Los Angeles Airport Police identified the gunman as Paul Ciancia, 23, of Pennsville, N.J. He had apparently been living in Los Angeles.

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly, said Ciancia was wearing fatigues and carrying a bag containing a one-page handwritten note that said he wanted to kill TSA employees and "pigs."

Paul Ciancia
The official said the rant refers to how Ciancia believed his constitutional rights were being violated by TSA searches and that he's a "pissed-off patriot" upset at former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The note and the gunman's rifle each had an orange TSA inspection sticker on it.

Ciancia had at least five full 30-round magazines on him, said the official, who was briefed at LAX on the investigation.

The official said Ciancia was shot in the mouth and leg by two airport police officers.

Another official briefed on the incident at LAX who could not speak publicly said the gunman had been shot four times but was "stable" when he was transported to the hospital.

Early Friday afternoon, Ciancia's father in New Jersey had called authorities for help in finding his son after the young man sent one of his siblings a text message about committing suicide, Pennsville Police Chief Allen Cummings said.

The chief said he called Los Angeles police, which sent a patrol car to Ciancia's apartment. There, two roommates said that they had seen him Thursday and that he was fine, according to Cummings.

Cummings said that the Ciancias - owners of an auto body shop - are a "good family" and that his department had had no dealings with the son.

The attack began around 9:20 a.m. when the gunman pulled an assault-style rifle from a bag and began firing inside Terminal 3, Airport Police Chief Patrick Gannon said. The terminal serves such airlines as Virgin America, AirTran, Spirit Airlines, Horizon Air and JetBlue.

The gunman then went to the security screening area, where he fired more shots and went into the secure area of the terminal, Gannon said. Officers exchanged fire with him and seized him, Gannon said.

As gunfire rang out, panicked travelers dropped to the ground. Those who had made it past security ran out of the terminal and onto the tarmac or took cover inside restaurants and lounges.

"We just hit the deck. Everybody in the line hit the floor and shots just continued," said Xavier Savant, who was waiting in the security line where the shooting took place. He described it as a "Bam! Bam! Bam!" burst of gunfire.

Savant said people bolted through the metal detectors and ran into the terminal.

"My whole thing was to get away from him," said Savant, an advertising creative director who was heading to New York with his family for a weekend trip.

Just a few weeks ago, airport police and the Los Angeles Police Department had jointly trained for a similar shooting scenario, according to Gannon, who said officers told him the drill was critical in preparing them for the real thing.

While Terminal 3 remained closed, much of the rest of the airport continued operating, though with some disruptions. Some LAX-bound flights that were already in the air were diverted to other airports.

The ripple effect across the country delayed 76,000 travelers, LAX officials said. Hundreds of stranded passengers streamed into nearby hotels, rolling bags behind them down roads absent of car traffic.

The officer who was killed was one of the behavioral detection officers that are stationed throughout the airport, looking for suspicious behavior, said J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Initially, Cox said at least three other TSA officers were wounded. Later in the day, the TSA said two other officers were wounded. Their conditions were not disclosed.

The Los Angeles Fire Department revised its total number of victims taken to hospitals from six to five, saying one had been double counted. Those numbers included Hernandez, Ciancia and one person who broke an ankle.

Ben Rosen was sitting at a Starbucks in the terminal eating oatmeal when he heard gunfire erupt and saw people running in all directions or crouching. He grabbed his phone and tried to lie as flat on the ground as he could.

Police showed up with guns drawn, shouting, "This is not a drill! Hands up!"

People put their hands up and then were led out of the terminal to the adjacent international terminal, Rosen said.

As they were led out they saw broken glass from a window that looked as if it had been shot out. Rosen left his bag behind.

It was not the first shooting at LAX. On July 4, 2002, a limousine driver opened fire at the airport's El Al ticket counter, killing an airline employee and a person who was dropping off a friend at the terminal. Police killed the man.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pontiac officer, 29, dies in accident that also claims K-9 partner

PONTIAC - A Pontiac police officer and his K-9 partner died late Wednesday when their patrol car was hit by another vehicle on Interstate 55 just north of Illinois 23 in Livingston County.
Police Chief Jim Woolford identified the officer as Casey Kohlmeier, 29, and his dog, Draco. The driver of the other vehicle, who was not identified, was hospitalized but police did not release his condition during a press conference shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday.
“It’s a sad day here,” Mayor Bob Russell told The Pantagraph. “I’ve been on the phone all morning. It’s just devastating. But it was an accident and he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau also offered condolences on behalf of his department.
Police said Kohlmeier was assigned to the Livingston County proactive unit and was in his marked vehicle in a median turnaround when his car was struck shortly after 9:30 p.m. by a northbound vehicle.
Police would not provide additional details, but did confirm the second vehicle was not a semi truck trailer.
Kohlmeier, a U.S. Air Force veteran, joined the department in January 2007. He is survived by his parents, family members, loved ones and countless friends, the chief said.
The accident remains under investigation by Illinois State Police.
This story will be updated.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Knoxville police officer killed in Sevier motorcycle wreck

Officer David Russel Munson
SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville police officer was killed during his off-duty hours Monday in a motorcycle wreck in Sevier County.
Officer David Russel Munson, 27, of Dandridge, died at the scene of the wreck around 6:45 p.m. at the intersection of Douglas Dam Road and Haggard Road.
According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol accident report, Munson was driving his 2011 Yamaha motorcycle eastbound on State Highway 338/Douglas Dam Road when he lost control of the motorcycle, ran off the left side of the road and struck a guardrail.
No other vehicles were involved in the wreck.
Troopers say Munson was wearing a helmet.
Officer Munson graduated from the Academy in December 2011. He was a patrol officer assigned to the East District.
According to the Knoxville Police Department he leaves behind a wife. 
Officer Munson will receive a full honor service, but funeral arrangements are incomplete.

GA: Fallen APD Officer honored

Corp. Terry Lewis Fleming
Albany Police and first responders paused at 3:47 Monday afternoon for a moment of silence to honor Corporal Terry Lewis Fleming who was killed in the line of duty two years ago.
A wreath was also placed in the lobby of the Albany Police Law Enforcement Center to honor the 36-year-old officer who was killed in a crash during a chase.
Her cruiser collided with another A-P-D officer's car and burst into flames as numerous units pursued two armed robbery suspects.
Thousands of people lined her funeral route to pay tribute to her,  and today officers honored her at the moment of her crash.
Albany Police Media Manager Phyllis Banks said "So that everyone can stop for that moment and have a moment of silence to reflect on her life and what she meant to the Albany Police Department."
The two armed robbery suspects, 24-year-olds Kentrell Butler and Wesley Wilkerson, remain in the Dougherty County jail awaiting trial on murder charges.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rough week for NMSP as two officers shot

ESPAÑOLA, N.M. - For the second time this week a New Mexico State Police officer has been shot in the line of duty.
In both cases, the suspects are dead and the officers are expected to recover. State Police Chief Pete Kassetas told KRQE News 13 that it has been a difficult week for the department.
“This has been a very trying and taxing week for not only State Police but the whole DPS community," Kassetas said.  "It affects everybody,
“Two in a week’s span.  It's impacting."
The first shooting happened Monday morning on U.S. Highway 285 south of Roswell where a State Police traffic stop led to car chase that ended in a gunfight.
The suspect in that shooting, a recently released bank robber, was killed. State Police Sgt. Lawrence Murray, a 21-year-veteran was shot in the leg. He's since been treated and released.
“He's got some recovery to do,” said Chief Kassetas.
Roswell police officer directing traffic after the shootout suffered critical injuries when a commercial truck plowed into stopped traffic and shove a car into the officer.  A woman from Lake Arthur stopped in traffic died in the crash.
The second shooting happened Thursday night in northern New Mexico.  State Police say one of their officers working with the Investigations Bureau was shot as a team was looking for a man at the Los Lomas Apartments off North Riverside Drive in Española.
The man they were looking for, Rogelio Cisneros-Chavez, 22, was accused of stealing thousands from his family and also had a misdemeanor warrant for failing to appearing in court on a charge of criminal damage to property. State Police got a tip Cisneros was hiding out in the apartment at the complex.
“(State Police officers) announced and made entry and subsequently engaged in a gun battle with the suspect,” said Kassetas.
State Police said officers were allowed into the apartment by a woman who lives there. Witnesses described hearing multiple gunshots.
“First shot you hear, after that is like seven other gunshots ,” said Andrew Martinez, who lives directly below the apartment where the gunfire happened.
State Police says it’s still investigating who shot first. The suspect was killed.
A nine-year veteran State Police officer was shot in the stomach, according to Kassetas. That officer had emergency surgery for the gunshot would Thursday night and is expected to recover. The officer’s name has yet to be released.
“I met with him, and he acknowledged me and knew who was I was, and that's a great sign,” the chief said.
While danger is a part of the job, Kassetas acknowledged it’s still a tough situation to deal with.
“But we work through it, we push on 'cause that's what we do,” Kassetas said.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Police officer's widow sues driver who killed him in drug-influenced car crash

MORRISTOWN — The widow of Mount Arlington Police Officer Joseph Wargo is suing the driver who killed him in a drug-influenced car crash on Route 80 in Roxbury.

Amy Wargo’s suit, filed in Superior Court in Morristown, names as defendants the driver, Michael Cassella of Howell, and his grandparents, Joseph and Dolores Rizzo of Howell, who allegedly let him drive the car that crashed into the police cruiser in October 2011.

(Picture Above) Amy Wargo reads a victim impact statement to the court at Michael Cassella's sentencing in Morristown on March 1. Wargo is suing Cassella for causing the wrongful death of her husband, Mount Arlington Police Officer Joseph Wargo. At right is Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Julie Serfess.

Cassella, 30, pleaded guilty in January to aggravated manslaughter. A recovering heroin addict, Cassella admitted that at the time of the crash, he was under the influence of heroin, Xanax, morphine and methadone, which he was using under prescription. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Wargo, from the Stewartsville section of Greenwich Township in Warren County, charged in her suit that Cassella caused her husband’s “wrongful death” by driving in a “careless and negligent manner” when he was under the influence of drugs.

The suit also accuses Joseph and Dolores Rizzo of causing the “wrongful death” by “entrusting” their vehicle to Cassella when they either “knew he was under the influence” of drugs or “was going to use said motor vehicle to obtain” drugs, which would make him “incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle.”

Reached by phone, Joseph Rizzo declined to comment on the suit.

Michael Cassella’s defense attorney, Donald Lomurro, said the civil lawsuit will be handled by the family’s insurer, Allstate. He declined further comment.

At Allstate, spokesman Danny Jovic confirmed there is an "open claim" filed against the Rizzos in the incident.

"Our goal is to always settle all claims promptly and fairly," said Jovic, who had no further comment.

Police said Cassella was driving more than 90 mph on Route 80 west when he lost control of the Mitsubishi Lancer, crossed the median and slammed into Wargo’s Ford Crown Victoria, which suffered extensive front-end damage and was pushed into the woods.

Acting Police Chief Nicholas Colabufo

Acting Police Chief Nick Colabufo suffered a fatal heart attack while responding to a disturbance call at the Hawthorne Sports Complex in Cicero, Illinois, at approximately 10:00 pm.

He suddenly collapsed while dealing with the disturbance and passed away a short time later.

Acting Chief Colabufo had served as a part-time officer with the Hawthorne Park District Police Department for several years. He also served with the Cook County Sheriff's Office for 30 years and held the rank of Assistant Chief at the time of his passing. He is survived by his wife and one daughter.

Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:

Hawthorne Park District Police Department
5202 W 29th Place
Cicero, IL 60804

Phone: (708) 863-6511

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

UPDATE: Veteran officer killed during pursuit

Officer Keith Crenshaw
EUPORA, Miss. (WTVA) -- A Eupora police officer was killed after laying down a spike strip to stop a car being pursued by law enforcement officers.

Eupora's mayor identifies the officer as Keith Crenshaw, 52, of Eupora.

A Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesperson says the accidents happened around 10 a.m. on Highway 82.

Authorities say the trooper was following a vehicle that matched the description of a car reported as possibly being involved in a robbery in Grenada.

The spokesperson says the trooper did not attempt to pull the vehicle over, but was following it waiting for assistance.

When other law enforcement officers attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver attempted to get away.

Officials say Crenshaw put down a spike strip on the highway and was hit by the car when the driver attempted to avoid the strip.

The vehicle hit a metal utility pole a short distance away, killing one of the passengers in the car.

The driver was airlifted to a Jackson hospital and a second passenger in the car is being treated at a Eupora hospital.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Death row inmate loses appeal of conviction, sentence in Ohio police officer's killing

Officer Bryan Hurst
CINCINNATI — A death row inmate who killed a Columbus police officer during a bank robbery in 2005 has lost an appeal of his conviction and death sentence.

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Tuesday turned down 24 different claims from 38-year-old Daryl Lawrence.

Daryl Lawrence

In a 75-page ruling, the judges disagreed with all of Lawrence's arguments, finding that he received a fair trial.

Lawrence was convicted of eight charges from four Ohio bank robberies, including murder.

Prosecutors say Lawrence shot 33-year-old Officer Bryan Hurst above his bulletproof vest at a bank. Hurst was working off duty as a bank guard to earn extra money to support his wife and baby daughter.

Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy killed in car crash while on way to work » The Commercial Appeal

Deputy Torrance Suggs
A Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy was killed early Tuesday morning in a car accident, officials said.
Torrance Suggs, 39, was killed in a one-car accident a little after midnight while on his way to work, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chip Washington said. The accident happened on Highway 385 near Macon Road.
Officials believe Suggs lost control of his vehicle in a dark area on the two-lane road where new highway construction was underway. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Suggs had been with the Sheriff’s Office since 2007.

Monday, October 21, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court to consider case of Hernando deputy's killer | Tampa Bay Times

Deputy Lonnie Coburn
One of Hernando County's most infamous killers will get his day in front of the highest court in the land.
The Supreme Court said Monday it will take up the case of Freddie Lee Hall, who was convicted in the 1978 murders of a pregnant Sumter County woman and Hernando County Sheriff's Deputy Lonnie Coburn.
The outcome could answer a question left unresolved by the court's 6-3 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, the 2002 case that spares the mentally disabled from the death penalty. The ruling essentially left it to states to decide whether an inmate is mentally disabled.
Hall, 68, has argued for years that his mental capacity should prevent him from being executed for the murder of 21-year-old Karol Hurst. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the death sentence in 2012, a decision Hall is now appealing.
Florida law prohibits anyone with an IQ of 70 or higher from being classified as mentally disabled, regardless of other evidence to the contrary. Hall's scores on three IQ tests ranged from 71 to 80.
In a brief filed in June, Hall's attorney argued that Florida cannot create "a bright line cutoff for determining mental retardation, where no instrument exists that can measure IQ with that level of precision."
"While this court granted the states leeway in crafting appropriate methods to enforce the constitutional restriction against execution of the mentally retarded, it did not grant the authority for a state to create out of thin air a definition of mental retardation which undoubtedly will fail to identify mentally retarded capital defendants,'' said the brief by Eric Pinkard.
The state attorney general's office argues that the U.S. Supreme Court should not take up the case. In part, the attorney general's office says evidence during a 2009 hearing indicated Hall had an IQ higher than 70.
"Not only did the Florida Supreme Court hold that Hall has not produced an IQ score falling in the range of mental retardation, the true facts are that Hall has scored as high as 80 on intelligence testing, and such a score is well outside any possible diagnosis of mental retardation," Senior Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Nunnelley wrote in a July brief. "(The U.S. Supreme Court) has long recognized that its jurisdiction does not lie to review decisions from state courts that rest on adequate and independent state law grounds, which this most certainly is."
Florida is one of nine death penalty states with a strict IQ limit, said Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente. Pariente voted with the majority to uphold Hall's sentence, but noted there is no national consensus on how to determine mental disability.
Hall and another man, Mack Ruffin, forced Hurst to drive from a Pantry Pride parking lot in Sumter County to a wooded area, where she was sexually assaulted and shot to death. She was seven months pregnant.
Hall and Ruffin then took Hurst's car and drove to Hernando County, where Coburn approached the two men in the parking lot of a Ridge Manor convenience store. One of them — it remains uncertain which one — grabbed Coburn's revolver and shot and killed him. Hall and Ruffin were given life sentences for Coburn's death.
Hall has been in prison more than 35 years, almost all of it under a death sentence for Hurst's death. Ruffin was originally sentenced to death, too, but that ruling was later overturned and changed to life in prison.
In 1989, the Florida Supreme Court threw out Hall's original death penalty and ordered a new sentencing hearing, ruling that the jury should have heard more evidence about his childhood before sentencing him to death.
A judge resentenced Hall to death, but declared he was mentally disabled. That took place before the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said executing a mentally disabled inmate violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, and before Florida passed a law setting the IQ limit. When Hall later filed another appeal, the same judge ruled he was not mentally disabled because his scores on IQ tests topped 70.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bardstown run/walk honors fallen officer - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – It's been nearly 5 months since Bardstown Police officer Jason Ellis was shot and killed on the way home from work, and still no arrests in this case.

The Bardstown community isn't giving up hope.

On Saturday, a race that was near and dear to Officer Ellis went on in his honor.

Before the sun even came up, hundreds of people hit the pavement in Bardstown.

"It's good to show a lot of energy and positivity for this cause," says participant Laura Gabbert.

"We love this family and we'll support them as long as they need us," says participant Jackie Dale.

In 2011, Officer Ellis and his wife Amy organized a 5K Walk/Run to support Down Syndrome Research.

One of the couple's two sons has Down Syndrome.

"The event was actually started by Jason and his wife Amy. The last two years it's been run under the title The Harvest Run. This year, Jason and Amy had the idea and passion to bring it to Bardstown and make it a bigger event," says Josh Thomas, a friend of the Ellis family.

This year, the event took on even more significance after Officer Ellis was shot and killed in late May.

A jersey was also given to Amy Ellis that had the fallen officer's last name on the back, as well as his officer number.

It's signed by his fellow Bardstown officers, dispatchers, and those with the Nelson County Sheriff's Office.

It's one of many ways this community continues to support Officer Ellis and his family.

"The support not just from this community, but from the region has been pretty amazing. There's no question that Officer's Ellis' death touched this city in a huge way, and I don't expect them to forget anytime soon," says Eric Johnson.

Friends of the Ellis family say they hope to make this an annual event to raise money for these two important causes and to honor the fallen officer.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Boston officers honored in New York City for heroism during marathon bombings

Two of Boston's finest were honored in New York Thursday night for their heroic actions in the search for the Boston bombing suspects.

MIT Officers Sean Collier & Ric Donohue
MIT Police Officer Sean Collier was posthumously awarded the Sergeants Benevolent Association's heroism award.
Officer Collier was shot and killed in his squad car after the marathon bombings during the search for the Tsarnaev brothers.

Also honored was Transit Officer Richard Donohue.

He's still recovering from wounds he suffered during a shootout with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Retired Jersey City hero police officer Marcelo Ona dies at 34

Officer Marcelo A. Ona
A highly decorated Jersey City police officer whose heroism made The Jersey Journal's front page in 2002 has died. Marcelo A. Ona was 34.

“Every single person in the store ran except for the cop -- he stood there and did his job," Sal Perez, owner of Nu Flavor Barber Shop on West Side Avenue, said at the time of the March 2002 incident in which two armed, masked robbers stormed his shop.

"Those men were vicious, and they had no problem shooting at people,” Perez told The Jersey Journal. “Marcelo stuck his neck out, put his life on the line for us and without him, someone definitely would have gotten killed." 

Ona wounded both would-be robbers in an exchange of gunfire after the pair held a gun to the head of one of the employees at the barber shop.

For his bravery, Ona, who was off-duty at the time, received the Police Department’s Combat Cross, Medal of Honor, Lt. Stanley Przygoski Memorial Award for Bravery and the Excellent Police Service Award. 

Ona entered the police academy at the age of 19, but an illness forced him to retire in 2007, said his sister, Melissa Ona.

“He really loved Jersey City and in his heart, he always wanted to help people, to be that person to help and make sure everything is going to be OK,” Ona said. “He really was just an amazing person. He was very brave, very strong, very smart. He had all the qualities we strive to achieve.”

A lifelong Jersey City resident, Marcelo Ona graduated from Our Lady of Czestochowa Grammar School in Jersey City and Marist High School in Bayonne. After retiring, Marcelo Ona obtained a degree in psychology from New Jersey City University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude, his sister said.

Ona’s family thanked the nurses at the Jersey City Medical Center for doing all they could for Marcelo Ona.

“Marcelo was a person you were just automatically drawn to -- he was like a magnet,” said Melissa Ona. “He loved his family so much and in his last few weeks on earth, we were there.”
Ona was buried yesterday at Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City.

Man who killed deputy loses Supreme Court appeal

Capt. Chad Reed
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Supreme Court is rejecting the appeal of a man who killed a Dixie County deputy in a shootout after murdering his sister and another woman.
John Kalisz was appealing the death sentences he received for the murder of his sister,Kathryn Donovan, and her office manager,Deborah Tillotson. The Supreme Court rejected the 59-year-old man's appeal Thursday.
Kalisz killed the women and wounded two others in January 2010. He later killed Dixie County sheriff's Capt. Chad Reed during the shootout. He was sentenced to life after pleading guilty to Reed's death.
John Kalisa, shown here during his sentencing, telling Holly Reed, he was sorry for killing her husband, Capt. Chad Reed 

NYPD Officer Joseph Capo killed in Southern crash

An off-duty NYPD officer from West Islip -- on his way home from work early Thursday -- was fatally injured when his car struck another vehicle and then overturned several times on the Southern State Parkway in South Farmingdale, State Police said.
Joseph Capo, 27, was pronounced dead at Nassau University Medical Center after the crash at 12:56 a.m. on the eastbound parkway, east of Exit 31, said State Police spokesman Frank Bandiero.
Capo lost control of his 2004 Volkswagen "for unknown reasons" and it hit a 2001 Cadillac before flipping several times, Bandiero said.
The driver of the Cadillac, Laurine Noble, 54, of Deer Park, had minor injuries, he said.
Bandiero said Capo was returning home from his shift at the Ninth Precinct in the East Village in Manhattan. He did not have any other details.
Capo joined the department in July 2011, according to an NYPD spokesman.
State Police closed the eastbound parkway for more than six hours to investigate the crash. The parkway reopened at 7:27 a.m., according to the state Department of Transportation website,
Bandiero said the crash remains under investigation.
Anyone who might have witnessed the accident is asked to call State Police at 631-756-3300.
With Anthony M. DeStefano