So for May we’ve chosen the case of Deputy James Haworth from the Pasco Police Department in Washington. Haworth is facing felony rape and sexual assault charges involving a teenage family member.
Here is an excerpt from the Tri-City Herald:
Haworth is accused of sexual contact with the teenager several times from 2008 to 2013, including when she was sleeping. Some of the allegations occurred when she was younger than 17, according to court documents…
When she was 17, she drank alcohol with Haworth and became intoxicated, according to court documents. She accused him of taking advantage of her drunken state to perform sexual acts both when she was unconscious and when she was awake.
Haworth’s electronic devices were searched and investigators found several nude photographs of the teen taken when she was about 18, according to court documents.
She said she had taken them to send to a boyfriend but had not sent them to Haworth and did not know Haworth had them. She said she had deleted them.
Haworth said he had not seen the photographs that were found on his iTunes backup account and did not know how they got onto his phone, according to court documents.
Prior to his recent suspension, Officer Haworth was assigned to a task force that investigated sex crimes against children.
So for the month of April we’ve selected the Town of Colorado City and the City of Hildale which are located on the Arizona-Utah border. Last month, U.S. District Judge H. Russell Holland issued an order based on findings made by a jury that the Colorado City Marshals Office “engaged in a long-standing pattern of abuses that included false arrests, unreasonable seizures of property, discriminatory policing on the basis of religion, and violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
According to the Department of Justice, police officials engaged in a decades-long pattern or practice of police misconduct and housing discrimination. Judge Holland concluded that officers turned a blind eye to criminal activity involving FLDS Church leaders or members, including supporting a fugitive and ignoring underage marriages, unauthorized distribution of prescription drugs, and food-stamp fraud.
The findings of this investigation reflect poorly not only on the towns, but also state attorneys general’s office, which should have take action much sooner so that federal intervention would not have been necessary.
For the worst of March, we look to the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department scandal that has finally come to a close. Now-former Sheriff Lee Baca was found guilty of obstruction of justice for trying to hide various civil rights violations that were happening at the jail and within his department. Ten other officers, including Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, were convicted and sentenced to prison terms for beatings of inmates, general jail conditions, and hiding information from the federal government.
Before this scandal came to light several years ago, other LASD deputies were tried and convicted for sexually abusing inmates and other civil rights violations.
While some officers we cover are certainly bad apples, some departments create and maintain cultures of impunity for abusive officers. This allows misbehavior to become commonplace and even an integral part of how a department manages itself. This is a sad chapter in LASD’s history and hopefully the department can move on and regain the trust of the community it serves.
So for February, we’ve selected Pima County, Arizona for the conduct of (the now former) Sheriff Christopher Radtke and the very peculiar leniency shown to him by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Federal prosecutors charged Radtke with several felonies for money laundering and theft. According to the newspaper accounts, Radtke admitted that for years he made it appear as if his office was donating seized cash and assets from criminal suspects to a sheriff’s auxiliary fund when that wasn’t the case at all.
Ordinary citizens go to prison for embezzlement, but not Radtke. No prison time and a very generous pension.
Here’s an excerpt from one report:
The plea bargain dismisses all felonies, with Radtke admitting to three misdemeanor theft counts. He agreed to not seek employment as a law-enforcement officer or with Pima County government. In return, prosecutors will request one year of probation without incarceration and will not prosecute Radtke for other offenses.
The deal allows Radtke to receive an $82,800 annual pension from the state Public Safety Personnel Retirement System and a one-time $505,000 payment from the system’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan, according to the retirement system’s records. Within six years, Radtke will receive more than $1 million in state retirement benefits.
Had Radtke been convicted of any of the felony charges against him, he would have been required by law to forfeit his state pension because the crime was committed in the course of his role as a public official for a government employer.
The plea was accepted by Magistrate Judge Eric Markovich. Sentencing is scheduled for April 7 in U.S. District Court in Tucson.
For December we’ve selected two former police officers from East Point, Georgia, who were found guilty of criminal charges last month in relation to the killing of Gregory Towns.
Here’s the background: Two police officers, Marcus Eberhart and Howard Weems, were responding to a domestic disturbance call. When they arrived on the scene, Gregory Towns tried to flee on foot. The police caught him and placed him in handcuffs. When the officers ordered Towns to stand up and walk to the police car, he said he was exhausted and too tired to walk. Frustrated, the police responded by tasing Towns so that he would comply with their commands. Towns was tased several times and he died.
At their criminal trial, the officers told the jury, via their legal counsel, that Towns died from an illness unrelated to the tasing, but if they did not believe that, the jury should understand that the tasing was the only way to get Towns to the police car.