Saturday, August 28, 2010

Jury finds that senior police officials violated District's whistleblower act

Jury finds that senior police officials violated District's whistleblower act
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the department plans to challenge the verdict.
By Keith L. Alexander
The Washington Post
August 28, 2010

A D.C. Superior Court jury ruled that senior police officials, including Chief Cathy L. Lanier, violated the District's whistleblower act when they suspended a police officer in 2005 after he informed city officials that the department allegedly brokered an illegal deal to provide security for the Gallery Place entertainment area downtown.

The jury ruled Thursday that officer Sean McLaughlin was wrongly suspended after he alerted the mayor's office and the D.C. Council that the department had brokered a deal to make officers available to provide security in the area, after the department had rejected requests by McLaughlin and other officers to supply off-duty security in the same neighborhood.

Citing the District's Whistleblower Protection Act, the jury sided with McLaughlin, saying Lanier wrongly disciplined him. In 2005, the police union and nine officers filed a class-action suit against Lanier and the department, arguing that the officers were wrongfully punished for the disclosure.

Last year, Judge Judith E. Retchin dismissed the claim filed by six of the officers. But the jury found Thursday that the three remaining officers -- McLaughlin, Duane Fowler and Martin Freeman -- had alerted officials of the department's wrongdoing, constituting whistleblowing. In March 2005, Freeman was terminated and McLaughlin and Freeman were suspended...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Report: Wrong man may have been arrested in Buffalo shootings

Report: Wrong man may have been arrested in Buffalo shootings
From Rick Martin, CNN
August 15, 2010

Authorities may have arrested the wrong person in a shooting spree that killed four people in Buffalo, New York, according to a local television station.

Charges against Keith Johnson, 25, could be dropped, the Erie County district attorney told CNN affiliate WGRZ-TV.

The shooting Saturday also injured four others outside the City Grill in downtown Buffalo.

District Attorney Frank Sedita said photographic evidence collected by Buffalo police late Saturday night leads them to believe the wrong person might be in custody, the affiliate said...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Minnesota judge frees man convicted in acceleration crash of Toyota

Minnesota judge frees man convicted in acceleration crash of Toyota
By Jim Kavanagh and Emanuella Grinberg
August 6, 2010

A Minnesota man sent to prison after the deadly sudden-acceleration crash of his Toyota Camry has been freed by a judge, and the local prosecutor says he will not be retried.

Ramsey County, Minnesota, District Court Judge Joanne Smith on Thursday ordered Koua Fong Lee released from prison pending a new trial related to the 2006 crash that killed three people. Ramsey County Prosecutor Susan Gaertner immediately said she would drop the charges...

Outside the courtroom after the ruling, Lee, 32, said he wanted his four children, one of whom was born after he was jailed, to know what "Daddy" means..

Lee had always maintained his innocence, saying the 1996 Camry accelerated uncontrollably before it crashed into two vehicles, killing a man and his 10-year-old son and a 6-year-old girl...

In fact, the family of the victims had long ago become convinced of Lee's innocence and joined the effort to free him. They are suing Toyota...

"This never seemed right. A man with his family in the car -- his pregnant wife -- goes on a suicide mission? Then, the recalls started, and the complaints sounded just like what happened to Mr. Lee," Schafer said in March. "It sounds just like a case of unintended acceleration."

In the end, though, the conviction was vacated not only because of evidence of mechanical failure, but also because Judge Smith determined Lee's original attorney, Tracy Eichhorn-Hicks, had failed to defend him adequately at trial.

Eichhorn-Hicks had stated in court that Lee must have had his foot on the accelerator, even though Lee himself always maintained that he had pumped the brake to no avail...