Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Police Domestic Violence in the News (Dec. 2014-June 2015)

Rarely does a week go by without a news story about a police officer arrested for domestic violence. Reports come in with disconcerting frequency from across the U.S., Canada and other countries.

Up to 40 percent of police officers admit to violence in their homes -- far more than in the wider population. But only a tiny fraction of the cases actually ever comes to public attention, and few abusive cops ever face justice. Most who are investigated get off with token punishment and rarely see the inside of a prison.

Here are some of those stories. All accused are considered innocent until proven guilty in court.

For police domestic violence stories since June 2015, see this post.

June 29 --
New York

The New York Police Department went easy on two officers involved in domestic violence who should have been fired, a police oversight panel says.

"Termination is the appropriate penalty" if there is "clear and convincing evidence of prior physical domestic history," the Commission to Combat Police Corruption said after a review of police domestic violence cases in 2013.

The panel's report was quietly released in 2014 but only came to light recently.

June 19 --

Fresno, California

Two women' and their families are suing the Fresno Police Department in California saying police didn't do enough to protect them from domestic violence, ABC30 Action News in Fresno reports.

Fresno police say Cindy Rice Raygoza was killed in 2014 by her ex-boyfriend Michael Reams, while the same year Pamela Motley was left a quadriplegic when her husband shot her before committing suicide, the story.

Pamela Motley called Fresno police at least eight times and didn't get enough police protection, attorney Kevin Little says.

June 17 --
Asbury Park, New Jersey

A New Jersey police Sergeant, Philip Seidle, ran his ex-wife Tamara Seidle off the road, then shot and killed her with his service handgun in front of their seven-year-old daughter and responding police officers, say prosecutors in a New York Daily News report.
New Jersey police Sergeant Philip Seidle.

The couple had just divorced and were fighting over custody of their nine kids. 

In a divorce complaint, Tamara Seidle described a "tortured" 23-year marriage to the Neptune Township police officer. She said he slammed her into walls, threatened to leave her and the kids without any money and, when she was pregnant, kicked her in the stomach and pointed a gun at her head.

On her birthday, he punched her in the eye because she questioned him about the pornography bills he had accumulated on their credit card, Tamara Seidle claimed.

Police knew

She said police knew about the abuse and had intervened at the family's home.

She said she learned a month after finishing treatment for breast cancer that her husband had been having an affair -- the second of their marriage.

Prosecutors are investigating why responding officers didn't fire on Philip Seidle to keep him from allegedly shooting his ex-wife.

June 3--

Johannesburg, South Africa

Police Constable Ronnie Masie stormed a Johannesburg police station and shot and killed his girlfriend Sowela Anna Nkuna, her uncle, a neighbour and a police major who was opening a case of domestic violence against Masie, South Africa's IOL News website reports.
The bloody scene at a Johannesburg
police station where Constable Ronnie
Masie killed his girlfriend and three

Masie was later killed by his colleagues from a tactical response team.

He had remained a cop even after Nkuna filed numerous complaints of domestic abuse, her family members said, noting that police didn't update her on investigations or address her complaints with her.

Police flout Domestic Violence Act

A month before the killing, Masie held his girlfriend hostage at gunpoint, fired several shots into the air and threatened to kill responding officers, according to IOL News.

The officers left, taking Masie's gun, a neighbour said. But Masie was later able to obtain another gun by lying to his police colleagues, IOL News reported.

Several groups later accused the South African Police Service of ignoring domestic violence legislation and not doing enough to protect abused women. 

Only one of 156 police stations was found to be fully compliant with the country's Domestic Violence Act in an audit.

May 21--

Dundee, Michigan

Police Chief Todd Opperman of Dundee, a village of 4,000 in southern Michigan, has been arrested for domestic violence, Detroit's ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV reports.

The incident involved "a smashed car or truck mirror," the report said, quoting an unnamed village manager who said Opperman didn't have a history of "bad behaviour."

During an argument with Opperman, his wife allegedly locked herself in a vehicle in the driveway and Opperman is said to have damaged the vehicle, the Monroe News website said.

May 13 --

Loveland, Colorado

Loveland Police Department officer Robert Croner has been charged with third-degree assault and child abuse resulting in bodily injury, both Class 1 misdemeanours, the Coloradoan news site reports.

In a somewhat unusual move, arrest affidavits detailing the allegations have been sealed.

Croner was placed on paid administrative leave.

A protectio
n order bars him from communicating with the alleged victim or witnesses.

UPDATE (Oct. 23, 2015): The d
omestic violence charges were dropped on August, but Croner was rearrested on investigation of felony tampering with physical evidence and misdemeanour child abuse resulting in injury, ABC-affiliate Denver Channel 7 News reports. Croner hasn't been formally charged in the new case.

May 12 --

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Staff Sergeant Darcy Shukin, a 23-year veteran of the Saskatoon Police Service, has been charged with assault in connection with a domestic incident, Saskatoon's StarPhoenix reports.

Shukin was arrested at a home after "a report of domestic violence," Saskatoon police said in a news release.

May 4 --

New Orleans, Louisiana

Several ex-wives of New Orleans Police Department officers say the justice system favours their spouse during custody disputes and in dealing with complaints, New Orleans' WWL-TV reports in an investigative piece.

Several of the women were themselves charged with crimes based on "flimsy, even non-existent" evidence -- while their complaints against their officer ex-husbands were dismissed, the women told WWL-TV.

April 27 --

Ballina, Australia

A police officer in New South Wales, Australia, has been charged in a domestic incident, The Northern Star newspaper of Lismore reports

The senior constable, who is attached to a specialist command in the state's Northern Region, was charged with two counts of stalking/intimidate with intent to cause fear and resist or hinder police in the execution of their duty.

He is to appear at the local court in Ballina, New South Wales, in June.

April 23 --

Coral Springs, Florida

Coral Springs police officer Stephen Degerdon faces a charge of domestic battery after he allegedly grabbed his wife by the arm and "violently pulled her out of" their car, then drove off with his one-year-old son, Miami's WPLG Local 10 News reports citing authorities.

Degerdon's wife had just filed for divorce, South Florida's Sun-Sentinel newspaper said. The officer also allegedly punched a hole in the kitchen wall and punctured his wife's car tires with a crowbar.

Degerdon was previously convicted in 2011 of two counts of battery after he was accused of choking a suspect in a car burglary.

April 22 --

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore police Lieutenant Brian Rice, who led the initial chase of Freddie Gray, an African American man who died after being arrested and suffering a broken neck, had previously been twice accused of domestic violence, The Guardian reports.

Rice faced actions in civil courts over alleged domestic violence in 2008 and 2013, the newspaper said citing public filings. In both cases, courts denied requests for protective orders. A judge said in one case there was "no statutory basis" for it.

In 2013, Rice was also ordered not to abuse, contact or go to the home or workplace of a second person for a week. A judge also revoked that order saying there was "no statutory basis" for it.

Rice was one of six officers suspended over Gray's death. He died Sunday, a week after his arrest. 

Gray's neck was left "80% severed" with three broken vertebrae and his voice box almost crushed, the newspaper said citing his family's lawyer.

Baltimore has seen several large protests over the death.

Police lieutenant subject of protection order

On April 23, The Guardian carried a second article on Lieutenant Rice, reporting that the officer was previously accused of threatening to kill a man as part of an alleged "pattern of intimidation and violence" that led to a temporary restraining order.

The man applied to a court for an emergency protection order, alleging that Rice had threatened to kill him late one night in an alcohol-fueled confrontation.

The protection order was granted, but then lifted a week later after a judge ruled there was no basis for it in Maryland law to continue.

In a separate filing, Rice had firearms confiscated. He possessed a police-issued Glock handgun, long guns and a cross-bow.

April 21 --
Colorado Springs, Colorado

A decorated Colorado Springs police detective was arrested last week and faces a possible felony charge after a domestic violence complaint was filed against him, The Colorado Springs Gazette reports citing authorities.

Sergeant Bradley Pratt of the Colorado
Springs Police Department.

Sergeant Bradley Pratt, a detective in the violent crimes unit, which investigates homicides and other major crimes, was arrested on suspicion of criminal trespassing.

Pratt allegedly entered his former girlfriend's house without her knowledge after she had told him to never contact her again, according to a protection order request.

"I asked him to leave several times," Sandra Evans said in the request. "He [Pratt] is always armed and I fear for my life."

April 17 --

Auckland, New Zealand

A police constable in Auckland, New Zealand, Lomitusi Lomi, was suspended from duties after being charged with injuring his partner in a domestic violence incident, The New Zealand Herald reports.

The newspaper also reports on two other incidents involving police officers. 

In one, a South Auckland officer was charged last October with five counts of assault against a teenager, including allegations that he "whacked the victim on the back on numerous occasions," beat her with his police-issue belt in the stomach and hit her on the back and legs with a piece of wood.

The officer was put on restricted duties.

Another officer, Hamish McCormack, faces a charge of careless driving after a "fleeing driver incident in which two police cars were damaged."

March 30 --

Gorham, Maine

A town-commissioned report on the police department in Gorham, Maine, found issues related to domestic violence, The Portland Press Herald newspaper reports.

"One external agency... expressed concerns regarding domestic violence issues within the department and the process of investigating these claims," the report by a human-relations firm said.

The report also cited complaints from police members that "internal investigations lack transparency."

Town manager David Cole wouldn't give details on the domestic violence issues, saying "it was a personal matter."

The town council commissioned the report after council members disagreed on whether to conduct an outside search for a new police chief or permanently promote the acting chief.

"Most police department staff interviewed believe the town should look to the outside for their next chief," the report said.

March 25 --

Mobile, Alabama

Officer Gregory Evans of the Mobile Police Department in Alabama turned himself in to the local jail after the District Attorney's Office issued a warrant for third-degree domestic violence, the news website reports.

Evans was booked around 4:35 p.m. on March 25 and released about 15 minutes later, the site says.

March 19 --

Lauderhill, Florida

A Lauderhill, Florida, police sergeant, Michael David Bigwood, was jailed for violating a restraining order by banging on his ex-wife's front door late at night, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

Bigwood's former wife had obtained a restraining order against Bigwood.

A judge at a court hearing said the restraining order was granted because Bigwood was alleged to have pulled a firearm on his ex-wife and threatened to harm her and their children, the article says.

Bigwood also allegedly became violent when intoxicated.

An arrest report said Bigwood was drunk and had called and sent messages to his ex-wife, also a police officer, earlier that night, CBS Miami reports.

March 15 --

Durham, North Carolina

Durham, North Carolina, police Corporal James Cartwright was on paid administrative leave after charges stemming from a domestic violence incident, The Herald-Sun newspaper of Durham reports.

Cartwright is accused of assaulting his wife and interfering with emergency communications.

His wife Amanda Cartwright filed for a domestic violence protective order the day after her husband's arrest, saying he previously hit her in front of their two young sons, the newspaper says.

A judge wrote in the protective order that the case "is part of a pattern of physically violent behavior" and that the officer "is verbally abusive on a regular basis," the article says.

March 14 --

Denver, Colorado

Denver police Detective Daniel Diaz Deleon pleaded guilty in a domestic dispute after firing six gunshots inside his home, ABC's Channel 7 News reports.

Police had responded to Deleon's home around midnight after one of his children called 911 and said her father was attacking her mother, an arrest affidavit said.

A responding officer reported hearing gunshots inside the home, but Deleon told a police dispatcher "the noise was him popping bubble wrap."

Deleon subsequently refused the responding officer's commands to show his hands and walk to the officer, saying instead, "F--- you, come and get me!"

Wife, children hid in bathroom

Officers eventually found Deleon's frightened wife and children hiding in a bathroom, ABC says.

Deleon was sentenced to two years of probation after pleading guilty to reckless endangerment and reckless use of a gun -- both misdemeanours.

Deleon also pleaded guilty to phone harassment and received a deferred judgment for that charge. Other charges such as false imprisonment, child abuse and obstructing a peace officer were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

March 11 --

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A Philadelphia police lieutenant who was fired after an alleged domestic violence incident was found dead in his home this week, reports.

George Holcombe, a 23-year veteran police officer, was arrested last November after allegedly threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend in front of one of their sons and two police officers.

Holcombe was also charged with assaulting one of the responding officers and endangering the welfare of his child.

The incident was captured on a cellphone, and Holcombe was fired, the story says.

February 25 --

Denver, Colorado

Todd Parro, a 33-year veteran Denver city police officer, was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence and charged with misdemeanour third-degree assault, The Denver Post reports.

February 24 --

Lawrence, Kansas

City police in Lawrence, Kansas, arrested officer William Jacob Burke on suspicion of domestic battery, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, kidnapping and criminal threat, The Lawrence Journal-World reports.

December 18, 2014 --

Delaware County, Pennsylvania

Police officer Stephen Rozniakowski of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, resigned from his job, then strapped on a bulletproof vest, kicked down his ex-wife's door, ran up the stairs and started firing when he saw her and her daughter in the hallway, according to authorities quoted by the news site.

Ex-wife Valerie Morrow was killed, while her daughter, 15, was shot and wounded, authorities said.

Morrow had just obtained a protection-from-abuse order.

Rozniakowski has been charged with first-degree murder and related offences.

Previous harassment arrest

Rozniakowski had been arrested in a separate harassment and stalking case involving a woman who claimed he texted and called her -- sometimes more than 100 times in a day, the article says.

Another story says Rozniakowski allegedly contacted the woman "thousands" of times, while the local NBC affiliate reports on its site that the officer was charged with 25 counts of stalking and 50 counts of harassment in that case.

Yet, he remained a cop despite that arrest and despite being previously found guilty of harassment in 2009 and 2010. 

Bryan Hills, the police chief of the Colwyn Borough Police Department, where Rozniakowski was employed, had said the latest harassment case was overblown, reports.

"Looking at the circumstances, a lot of this is b-------," Hills was quoted telling the Delaware County Daily Times last year.

December 17 --

Austin, Texas

City police officer Andrew Pietrowski in Austin, Texas, took early retirement after controversy stemming from his remarks disparaging family violence, Austin's KUT radio station reports.

Pietrowski was commenting to a KUT reporter about NFL running back Ray Rice, who was filmed knocking out his then-fiancé in a hotel elevator, the station said on its website.

"Now, stop and think about this," Pietrowski said in the taped remarks. "I don't care who you are. You think about the women's movement today. [Women say] 'Oh, we want to go [into] combat,' and then, 'We want equal pay, and we want this.'

"You want to go fight in combat and sit in a foxhole? You go right ahead, but a man can't hit you in public here? Bulls--t! You act like a whore, you get treated like one!"

The incident followed the suspension in November of two other Austin cops for making jokes about rape.

"Go ahead and call the cops. They can't un-rape you," one of the officers said.

December 17 --

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland police officer David Anderson was suspended without pay after he was charged with three misdemeanour counts of domestic violence and felony stalking, the news site reports.

Anderson allegedly shoved his live-in girlfriend to the ground during an argument outside their home, according to court records cited by the site. The woman hit her head on the pavement and was knocked unconscious, the site says.

Anderson again allegedly shoved the woman to the ground the next day and in another incident kicked down her bedroom door and pushed her down four steps, again causing a head injury, the story says.

December 15 --

Little Silver, New Jersey

Police officer Joseph Glynn Jr. in Little Silver, New Jersey, was placed on "modified duty" after being charged with simple assault in an alleged domestic violence incident, the news website quoted authorities saying.

December 11 --

Montreal, Canada

A sergeant-detective with the Montreal Police Service faces multiple charges stemming from a domestic dispute as well as for allegedly uttering threats against Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau, CBC reports.

Police said a woman made a complaint against the officer, alleging assault, harassment and death threats, CBC said. He is also accused of uttering threats against two minors and assaulting one of the minors.

The officer also faces two additional charges of uttering threats, one of which involves a threat alleged by the woman to have been made against Moreau.

December 5 --

White Plains, New York

A police officer in White Plains, New York, was suspended after he was accused of beating his live-in girlfriend, also a police officer, in their home, The Journal News of the Lower Hudson Valley reports.

Also read:

Police Domestic Violence in the News (Updated)

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