Sunday, April 26, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Sunday, March 1, 2009
BEATING CAUGHT ON POLICE VIDEO
The case goes beyond police misconduct, County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a prepared statement.
"It's about criminal misconduct. And that's why he needs to be prosecuted," he said.
The video of the Nov. 29 incident was disclosed Friday, one day after Deputy Paul Schene, 31, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault in King County District Court.
Schene, an eight-year veteran, works out of Precinct 4, which covers SeaTac, Burien and high crime areas in White Center and Skyway.
He is the third sheriff's deputy since 2006 to face charges on allegations of excessive force. All three are from the Burien precinct.
A detective assigned to the girl's case discovered the video Dec. 1 and immediately forwarded it to supervisors.
The Seattle P-I requested a copy of the holding cell video and all reports from the incident under the state's open records law. A judge on Thursday denied a request from Schene's attorney to bar the video from public disclosure.
"We take this very seriously and we're very concerned about this," sheriff's Sgt. Jim Laing said Friday. An internal investigation would begin after the criminal case is finished.
The girl was arrested after she was caught in her parents' car, which had been reported stolen from her parents' Tukwila home. Deputy Travis Brunner spotted the car driving without headlights about 3:45 a.m. on 32nd Avenue South in SeaTac and pulled it over.
She and another 15-yearold girl were arrested and taken to SeaTac City Hall to be fingerprinted before being transported to the youth detention center.
The P-I is not naming the girl because she is a minor.
The deputies apparently didn't know until later that the girl, who was in the passenger seat, was related to the car's owner.
"We had argued strenuously that the videotape released to the media this morning not be released because it does not tell the whole story of the incident," attorney Anne Bremner said in a statement.
"As we argued to the judge, it will inflame public opinion and will severely impact the deputy's right to a fair trial."
The video shows Schene and Brunner as they escorted the girl into the holding cell. Schene had asked her to remove her basketball shoes, and, as she slipped out of her left shoe, she appeared to kick it at Schene.
Schene then lunged through the door and kicked her, striking either her stomach or upper thigh area, court documents say. He pushed her against a corner wall before flinging her to the floor by her hair. He then squatted down on her and made "two overhead strikes," although it's unclear where the blows landed.
The detective who reviewed the video said it appeared Schene and Brunner had the girl under control when Schene struck her. Schene, who is 6 feet 2 and weighs 195 pounds, did not explain his action to investigators, court documents say.
He and the girl exchanged words. Brunner said she was "real lippy" after being informed she was under arrest and called them "fat pigs."
The Sheriff's Office policy manual says deputies should use physical or deadly force only when "necessary to effect an arrest, to defend themselves or others from violence, or to otherwise accomplish police duties according to law."
Schene could face up to a year in jail if convicted. He has been on administrative leave since early December.
The girl said that she couldn't breathe after the incident, prompting the deputies to call paramedics.
Paramedics decided that she didn't require hospitalization. Felony charges require proof of serious injury.
"If the matter were to go to trial, he could face additional charges," said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff in the Prosecutor's Office.
In his own report from the incident, Schene wrote that the shoe hit him in the right shin, "causing injury and pain." He wrote that he "placed" her into handcuffs and that she needed medical attention for a "panic attack."
He said a "blood filled pocket" formed on his shin, requiring treatment at Auburn General Hospital, according to his report. The video, however, appears to show his shin strike a metal toilet as he pushes the girl against the wall.
The girl told investigators that she didn't intend for the shoe to hit him, court documents say.
Schene had previously been in the news in 2006 after he fatally shot Pedro Jo, a mentally ill man, during a struggle after a traffic stop on Interstate 5. It was the second officer-involved shooting of his career.
An inquest jury ruled the shooting was justified. Jo viciously attacked Schene, trying to strangle him with his own radio cord.
Jo then ran back to his car and disobeyed Schene's orders to stop. Schene said he saw Jo reach for something in the seat, so Schene fired 11 times after Jo ran back to his car.
Shortly after the shooting while on administrative leave, Schene was stopped for driving under the influence.
He had been drinking and taking prescription medication, according to court records. He received a deferred sentence and was placed on probation, records show.
Schene works in an urban precinct with higher rates of violent crime and gang activity than other precincts. Officers assigned there more often report having to use physical force in arrest situations, Laing said.
Schene is the second officer from the precinct in three months to face charges. In addition, a third deputy, Brian Bonnar, was acquitted in January of civil rights violations during a trial in U.S. District Court. Bonnar, who patrolled in the precinct, was accused by other deputies of using excessive force on a woman who'd been restrained after a high-speed pursuit.
Legal costs for Bonnar's private attorneys, David Allen and Todd Maybrown, as well as lawyer costs for other deputies involved, cost the county's insurer $315,000, according to records the P-I obtained.
In December, Deputy Don Griffee was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching a handcuffed male suspect. The state Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the case.
P-I reporter Scott Gutierrez can be reached at 206-903-5396 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Sentencing was swift by Judge J. Michael Hunter in the Murder trial of Joseph Eli (Smiley) Bearden, 23. He imposed the maximum sentences allowable under the law as punishment for his involvement in the brutal slaying of a Florida gay man, Ryan Skipper, who at the time of his death was 25.
At 3:30 PM,unmoved by the pleas of Bearden's mother, Pastor, and the defendant himself, Judge Hunter sentenced Bearden to LIFE in a Florida State Prison for 2nd deg Murder, 5 yrs for Theft of a Motor Vehicle, 15 yrs for Accessory After the Fact / Robbery, 5 yrs for Tampering with Evidence, and 15 yrs for Dealing in Stolen Property. All sentences are to be served concurrently.
In handing down his sentence, Judge Hunter stated to Bearden that he believed that this was a crime motivated by robbery and hate, due to Skippers homosexuality, and that Bearden had much more involvement in the crime than he admitted to.
Joseph Bearden, the first of two men accused in the hate crime murder of Ryan Keith Skipper, has been found guilty on all counts. A jury found Bearden guilty of second-degree murder, theft of a motor vehicle, accessory after the fact to robbery with a weapon, tampering with evidence, and dealing in stolen property.
In March 2007, Skipper's body was found by the side of a rural road in central Florida with more than 20 stab wounds. His car and laptop had been stolen. The car was abandoned and recovered by authorites, who reported that the assailants had attempted to set it on fire but did not succeed. They had also cut out a seat belt because it was so bloody they couldn't clean it.
Bearden, 21, and William David Brown Jr., 20, were later arrested and indicted for the killing. A witness brought in by authorities at the time told police that Brown had killed Skipper because he was gay.
Brown is to be tried at a later date on charges of first-degree murder and robbery.
This verdict makes no logical LEGAL sense. By failing to convict on the underlying Robbery charge, the predicate for FELONY MURDER, how this jury can vote to convict for 2nd deg Murder is beyond reason. Further, due to the underlying charge of Robbery being a predicate for a charge of FELONY MURDER, there needn't have been any lessers uncluded in the Murder indictment. By convicting on Theft of a Motor Vehicle, there should have been a NOT GUILTY verdict on the 1st DEG or FELONY MURDER charge. There should have been no option for lesser included offenses on the top charge. Hopefully the Appeals Court will reverse the 2nd Deg Murder charge and direct the court to re-try this case on that basis, and other appealable issues.
The jury felt sympathy for the Defendant and spared his life, when they should have applied the law to the evidence. This is an illogical and erroneous decision on their part.