Archive for December, 2008

PostHeaderIcon 2008: A Photo Review

I’d like to take this time to thank to all the police and forensics experts who make this site possible. Without their time, effort, and dedication there would be no Graveyard Shift, and the world would be a very scary place to live. You guys are the best.

arrest-and-patrol-car.jpg

* More tomorrow. For now…

“Happy New Year, everyone. Please don’t drink and drive!”

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Don’t forget To enter the new 200 word contest. The winner will receive a three DVD set of the entire first series of Crime 360! Details here.

(DVDs courtesy of A&E Television)

PostHeaderIcon Evidence Collection and Preservation

Paper evidence bags are best used for containing “wet” evidence, such as bed linens, pillows, rugs, and other items saturated with body fluids. Plastic bags act as mini incubators which allows bacteria to grow, and the presence of bacteria can alter or destroy DNA.

Large bags, such as the ones pictured above are perfect for bulky items.

Evidence bags are available in assorted sizes. They’re also available with pre-printed evidence labels for documenting the type of evidence inside, name of suspect and victim, date and time confiscated, confiscating officer, and chain of custody.

Plastic bags are ideal for preserving narcotics evidence, currency, jewelry, and other hard evidence. Many plastic evidence bags come with self-adhesive strips that are impossible to open without destroying the seal.

Plastic bags are also utilized in police booking areas, jails, and prisons to contain inmate personal property.

Manilla evidence envelopes are available with or without viewing windows.

Tyvek envelopes are water and tear resistant.

Check bags are sized perfectly to accept bank checks.

Ballistics bags are used for shell casings, bullets, and other ballistics evidence. The white strip is used for labeling.

Weapons boxes are used to preserve knives and guns.

Lined metal cans are used for collecting arson scene evidence.

Syringe tubes.

Adjustable evidence tubes expand to fit desired size.

* Thanks to Evident Crime Scene Products.

Evidence drying cabinets/lockers

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Don’t forget To enter the new 200 word contest. The winner will receive a DVD of the entire first series of Crime 360! Details here.

(DVDs courtesy of A&E Television)


PostHeaderIcon Weekend Road Trip: Christmas Day at Plum Island

Plum Island, Ma. is an hour’s drive north of Boston and it’s one of our favorite places to kayak. As you can see from the photos, both the Merrimac and Parker River were covered with ice.

Merrimac River

Frozen Merrimac River

Geese sitting on the icy Merrimac

Boardwalk to the Atlantic Ocean

Bird watchers at the beach

Dunes at Plum Island

Salt marshes along the Parker River. We kayaked this just a few months ago.

Frozen salt marshes

Light house at Plum Island.

PostHeaderIcon Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

Deputy Jeremy Keith Carter, 22

Evangeline Louisiana Parrish Sheriffs Department

On December 19, 2008, Deputy Carter collapsed and died during a foot pursuit of a fleeing suspect. He is survived by his one-year-old daughter.

Deputy William Chadwell. 70

Pickaway County Ohio Sheriffs Office

Deputy Chadwell was attempting to clear a tree from the roadway on December 24, 2008,  when the tree was struck by a car forcing it into the deputy. Deputy Chadwell was transported to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

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Thanks to ODMP

PostHeaderIcon Cops, Crooks, and Eggnog

Happy Holidays to all of you from The Graveyard Shift! See you again on December 26, 2008.

Please take a moment to remember the police officers who are working tonight and tomorrow to keep us safe and sound so that we may enjoy our holidays. They don’t have that option. Instead, they’ll be braving danger, the elements, and lack of rest while their families are home alone. The officers assigned to work during the holidays are not able to tuck in their little ones, or to see the excitement in their kid’s eyes when they’re trying so hard to sleep so Santa can arrive.

Officers drag in on Christmas morning, sleepy and exhausted from dealing with the worst of the worst all night long, but they stay awake savoring what little time they have with their family. Then it’s off to bed on Christmas Day, attempting to rest and regenerate their tired bodies for another long winter’s night. Suddenly, squeals and laughter combined with bells and whistles erupt outside the bedroom door as little Sammy and Sally begin to play with their brand new toys. The scents of hot turkey and dressing creep beneath the door. The voices of family and friends reach tired ears. Finally, the fatigued officer joins the excitement. After all, he can sleep tomorrow. Christmas only comes once each year.

Be careful out there, guys. Your families want you home. Wear your vests, stay safe, and shoot low, they might be riding Shetland ponies.

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Don’t forget To enter the new 200 word contest. The winner will receive a DVD of the entire first series of Crime 360! Details here.

(DVDs courtesy of A&E Television)

PostHeaderIcon Tasers: Are They Killers?

Tasers were designed for use as an alternative to deadly force, and as a means of self-defense for officers. The use of these “non-lethal” weapons has been the focus of many investigations and news stories.

Can these brightly colored weapons cause death when used properly? Or, are officers using them when they shouldn’t. Is it possible that some officers are improperly trained to use Tasers?

Cops are trained repetitively so they’ll react instinctively in the field. The old saying is, “Cops will revert to their training when faced with life-threatening situations.” I agree. I’ve been there and it works, and that’s a good thing. But…

These officers are having a grand old time shooting their buddy during training exercises, but Is it really funny to shoot someone with a Taser? Does that humor transfer to the field, too? Does the “fun” aspect make some officers too quick on the draw? Hey, I’m just asking.

Here are a few news reports from the past two months alone. You be the judge.

The Associated Press – San Jose to pay $70K in Taser death settlement
12/17/2008 – SAN JOSE, Calif.-The city of San Jose will pay $70,000 to the family of a man who died after police used a Taser stun gun on him.

– SAN JOSE, Calif.-The city of San Jose will pay $70,000 to the family of a man who died after police used a Taser stun gun on him.

Officers said 38-year-old Jose Rios defied repeated attempts to subdue him when they responded to a domestic dispute in November 2005, prompting them to strike him with batons and shock him with Tasers.

Rios’ family claimed officers continued stunning him even after he was subdued. He later was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The coroner found that Rios died of a heart attack from a combination of the violent struggle, cocaine and the Taser.

San Jose officials agreed Tuesday to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Rios’ wife and son, the city’s first settlement over a death linked to Tasers. The weapons have come under increasing scrutiny for causing unintended deaths by law enforcement.

The Associated Press – Canada cops won’t face charges in Taser death case
12/12/2008 – Vancouver, British Columbia-Four federal police officers will not face charges for using a Taser gun on an agitated Polish traveler in a confrontation that ended with the man dying at a Canadian airport, prosecutors said Friday.

- Vancouver, British Columbia-Four federal police officers will not face charges for using a Taser gun on an agitated Polish traveler in a confrontation that ended with the man dying at a Canadian airport, prosecutors said Friday.

Prosecutor Stan Lowe said Robert Dziekanski was jolted five times by the Taser, but they said the cause of death was determined to be “sudden death following restraint” not directly caused by the stun gun.

Police said they used the Taser after Dziekanski began acting erratically at Vancouver’s airport in October 2007. Dziekanski, who spoke only Polish, apparently had become upset after waiting 10 hours at the airport for his mother, who was supposed to pick him up.

The man was hit three times with the Taser while standing and twice while he lay on the ground, still struggling with officers. He died on the floor a short while later.

A video shot by a bystander of Dziekanski dying was released several weeks later and was widely seen around the world on the Internet and TV, prompting public scrutiny of the weapon.

Twenty people in Canada have died after being shot with a stun gun, which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have used more than 4,000 times since 2001. Canadian police forces consider stun guns a safer alternative to regular firearms.

The autopsy of Dziekanski found no drugs or alcohol in his system but showed signs of chronic alcoholism. Prosecutors said he may have been in the grips of alcohol withdrawal, dehydrated and hysterical. A pathologist speculated those factors caused delirium that may have contributed to his heart stopping, along with being hit by the Taser and being restrained.

The Associated Press – Man dies after police shoot him with Taser
12/21/2008 – SANTA ROSA (AP) – A man died Saturday after sheriff’s deputies shot him three times with a Taser stun gun, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said.

- SANTA ROSA (AP) – A man died Saturday after sheriff’s deputies shot him three times with a Taser stun gun, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said.

The department responded to a 911 call on Saturday from a woman who said she and her husband were being assaulted by their son.

“During the call, Mrs. Vaughn became increasingly frantic as she reported that Nathan was ‘destroying the house’ and ‘hitting his dad,’ ” the department said in a press release.

When deputies arrived, they were confronted by a combative, 39-year-old Nathan Vaughn. A deputy fired a Taser gun once at Vaughn, who they say continued to resist. The sheriff’s department says the deputy fired the stun gun twice more at Vaughn.

Authorities say after Vaughn was subdued, he showed signs of medical distress after being put in handcuffs. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Authorities say that Vaughn had a long criminal history, and that he had served time in state prison previously for burglary.

Also, Vaughn had been cited and released on Friday after he called 911 repeatedly, telling deputies he would continue making the calls unless they arrested him.

The incident will be investigated by the Petaluma Police Department and members of the Sonoma County district attorney’s office.


The Associated Press – Vegas police officers sue makers of Taser weapons
11/23/2008 – LAS VEGAS-Two Las Vegas police officers who were seriously hurt after being shocked by Taser weapons in 2003 have sued its makers, saying the company failed to properly warn the department about the potential for injury.

- LAS VEGAS-Two Las Vegas police officers who were seriously hurt after being shocked by Taser weapons in 2003 have sued its makers, saying the company failed to properly warn the department about the potential for injury.

About a dozen officers around the country have made similar claims in suing Taser International Inc., questioning the company’s safety claims.

A third Las Vegas officer sued Taser but settled last year. Terms were not disclosed.

The Las Vegas police department has stopped a practice of shocking officers during training. During training, officers had been told that they couldn’t truly understand the weapon until they had been shocked by it.

“I have to tell you that I have a different understanding of that weapon than folks that have never been Tased,” said police detective Marcus Martin, the department’s lead Taser instructor. “But as training went on what started occurring is we started having officers getting hurt. So it was a policy decision that was made at the higher levels of the agency as to should we allow folks to be Tased and get hurt. It’s a cost-benefit analysis.”

According to court filings, the officers suing believe that Taser International understated to police the risks of being shocked.

Taser warns that its device can cause burns that can become infected. It also says people who are shocked by the weapons can suffer bone fractures, dislocations, ruptures and hernias. The company suggests that officers shocked during training lie face-down on the floor to minimize threats of falling and of being shocked in the eyes. Taser says the injury risk is comparable to athletic injuries.

In a suit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Nevada, lawyers for officer Lisa Peterson said she suffered “life-changing injuries to her neck, jaw, shoulder and back” when she was shocked with a Taser during mandatory training.

Las Vegas police officers fired Tasers 432 times in the field in 2007.

The Associated Press – NC undercover officers use Taser on pallbearer
11/19/2008 – WILMINGTON, N.C.-Five sheriff’s deputies will be disciplined after they used a Taser while serving an arrest warrant on a man at his father’s funeral, a North Carolina sheriff said Wednesday.

- WILMINGTON, N.C.-Five sheriff’s deputies will be disciplined after they used a Taser while serving an arrest warrant on a man at his father’s funeral, a North Carolina sheriff said Wednesday.

Gladwyn Taft Russ III was serving as a pallbearer at the Saturday service and was loading his father’s casket into a hearse when the undercover deputies approached him.

Relatives said two deputies dressed in coats and ties grabbed Russ and kneed him in his back before using a Taser on him. One deputy’s gun fell out of its holster.

“Everybody was so scared. We thought it was a drug deal gone bad,” said Ronnie Simmons, another pallbearer and Russ’ brother-in-law. “We almost dropped the casket.”

New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey told The Star-News of Wilmington that five of the officers involved would be disciplined, although he wouldn’t say what punishment they would face.

“I apologize to anyone that was there,” Causey said. “Family, friends, relatives. … That was a bad decision.”

Russ, 42, had failed to surrender after being charged with threatening his ex-wife, who lives in another state. After his father died on Nov. 11, Russ agreed to surrender to authorities after the funeral.

When deputies approached Russ, he “went wild” and spat on the officers, Chief Deputy Ed McMahon said.

Russ was charged with assault on a government official, resisting an officer, disorderly conduct and felony malicious conduct by a prisoner. A call to Russ’s home went unanswered Wednesday night and it was not yet known if he had retained an attorney.


The Associated Press – Man dies from Taser after traffic stop
11/03/2008 – MEXIA, Texas-A man died early Monday after being stunned with a Taser gun following a scuffle with police who had pulled his car over, authorities said.

- MEXIA, Texas-A man died early Monday after being stunned with a Taser gun following a scuffle with police who had pulled his car over, authorities said.

Mexia police officers had received several calls about a suspicious man near a business and pulled over Adren Maurice Turner, 44, of Teague just after 4 a.m., authorities said.

As officers tried to take Turner into custody, a scuffle broke out and an officer used his Taser, Waco television station KXXV reported Monday.

Authorities said emergency personnel arrived but did not say exactly what had happened or why Turner needed to be transported to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Authorities ordered an autopsy to be performed on his body.

Mexia Police Chief Richard Hawthorne said none of the three officers involved were injured, but he declined further comment. He referred questions to the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, one of the agencies investigating.

The officers will remain on active duty, according to the sheriff’s office.

Mexia police had received two calls earlier that evening about Turner, who was driving a different vehicle, and he showed no signs of resistance when an officer previously stopped him, the sheriff’s office said.

The Limestone County District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Rangers in Waco also are investigating.

Mexia is a 6,900-resident town about 40 miles east of Waco.

The Associated Press – San Jose man dies after police use Taser on him
12/19/2008 – SAN JOSE, Calif.-Police are investigating the death of a San Jose man who passed away after authorities used a Taser to try to control him.

- SAN JOSE, Calif.-Police are investigating the death of a San Jose man who passed away after authorities used a Taser to try to control him.

Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies say they responded to a report of a disturbance from the Valley Medical Center campus in San Jose Thursday. When they arrived, authorities say they struggled with 26-year-old Edwin Rodriguez before Gary Berg, an officer with the Campbell Police Department, used a Taser on him.

Authorities say Rodriguez was then taken into custody and found to be unresponsive. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, and he was later pronounced dead.

Berg has been placed on paid administrative leave, which authorities say is standard in such cases.

* Note – The family of the deceased man stated he was ill, not violent. They also stated that Rodriguez was handcuffed and restrained by several officers when Officer Berg used the Taser on him.

The Associated Press – OC sheriff’s deputy charged with illegal Taser use
10/10/2008 – SANTA ANA, Calif.-An Orange County sheriff’s deputy has pleaded not guilty to illegally using a Taser on a handcuffed suspect in the back of a patrol car.

- SANTA ANA, Calif.-An Orange County sheriff’s deputy has pleaded not guilty to illegally using a Taser on a handcuffed suspect in the back of a patrol car.

Prosecutors say Christopher Hibbs of Corona is charged with felony assault or battery by a public officer and assault with a Taser.

Prosecutors allege Hibbs used the Taser on Ignacio Gomez Lares on Sept. 13, 2007, when the man didn’t give Hibbs his full name.

Hibbs’ defense attorney, Robert Gazley, says his client was within the law when he used the Taser. Hibbs, who is on unpaid leave, faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

Sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino says the charges mark the first time a deputy has been accused of illegal use of a Taser since the department started using them about four years ago.


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Don’t forget To enter the new 200 word contest. The winner will receive a DVD of the entire first series of Crime 360! Details on yesterday’s post.

(DVDs courtesy of A&E Television)

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