Category Archives: Cape Coral / Southwest Florida

Chokehold Death Case Report Leaves out the Chokehold

NYPD and a couple of officers are taking a lot of heat over a video in which an unarmed man is choked to death by officers. The police report written directly after the death of Eric Garner makes no mention that a chokehold was used, perhaps because their use had been banned by the department decades ago. It’s poor policework that leaves significant details out of reports, and it’s all too common. Police reports are frequently persuasion pieces, written to justify an arrest or other action, instead of simply informative recitations.

This struck a chord with me, as I just noted the fact that in the recent Cape Coral situation in which the defendants family has alleged excessive force; officers neglected to mention they had broken the suspects leg. Travis Robey’s father alleges that not only was the leg broken, but that he was beaten after being subdued, and that officers then made him walk on the broken leg. Officers summarized, simply, that he was checked at the hospital and medically cleared before being taken to jail. Written that way, without knowing the details, it sounds like they may just have had him checked for alcohol poisoning before they put him in a cell. Yada yada yada the medical treatment he receive due to the force employed by officers. Before the validity of the force can be analyzed, the true extent of the force must be disclosed.

Cape Coral Police Face Excessive Force Allegations, Again

Travis Robey Mug Shot

Travis Robey Mug Shot

According to CCPD reports, 20-year-old Travis Robey was intoxicated and sitting in a parking lot when he was approached by officers. He got combative, struck officers, and tried to run away, and during his detention, got roughed up a bit and tased. His behavior sounds pretty outrageous, especially if you consider that at only 20, he wasn’t allowed to be drinking in the first place. Officers say they found marijuana in the vehicle as well.

Now, after some national press and a YouTube video, allegations have come out that officers continued to use force against Robey after her was subdued. Witnesses who happened to be in the area used their phone to record footage, which is not easy to see, due to darkness, that they say was the officers using excessive force, and then threatening the innocent bystanders themselves. Robey’s father says that officers broke Robey’s leg, then made him walk on it and laughed at his injuries. Troubling allegations, to be sure.

The biggest surprise for me was discovering that Georgeann Lytle is still a Cape Police Officer. She was involved in this incident, and has had previous professional complaints, at least one involving excessive force, and another regarding a false detention that led to her demotion. Here’s the irony, even if she was acting properly, her personnel record makes it that mush more likely that Cape Coral will be interested in settling for a monetary settlement. That’s more taxpayer money likely to be spent because the department let a known trouble cop stay on the force.

Robey could be facing more than ten years in prison, for two felonies and a couple more misdemeanors. He is innocent until proven guilty… as are the cops.

Kemar Johnston’s Request for New Trial Denied

Kemar Johnston on NBS-2.com

Kemar Johnston, convicted of a couple counts of first degree murder in the Cash Feenz murders several years ago in Cape Coral, had filed a motion for ineffective assistance of counsel. The primary error alleged in the motion was that his attorney prevented him from having a fair trial by admitting to marijuana use. Johnston was facing the death penalty for these crimes, and his attorneys managed to avoid a death sentence. He will appeal the denial of his post-conviction motion.

http://www.nbc-2.com/story/25583316/convicted-lee-co-killer-wants-new-trial#.U4lHn_ldXqQ

News-press Headline: “Wrath of Khan”

I missed this in the paper last month: Tariq Khan was arrested for multiple charges, including aggravated assault and assault on a law enforcement officer. He was angry, and his wrath was apparent. News-press.com covered the story with this headline: “Wrath of Khan? Cape man accused of assault on neighbor, officers”. Well played, News-Press!

Khhaaaaaann! Tariq Khan Mug Shot

Khhaaaaaann!
Tariq Khan Mug Shot

Judging by the booking photo, Cape Officers didn’t take to kindly to his waving a gun around when they arrived. He was charged with resisting an officer. By the looks of it, he may have been resisting the ground with his face when they took him in to custody (and then to the hospital). That said, if he pointed a gun at officers, they would have been justified in shooting him at that time. Ultimately, he put the gun down, and placed his hands on top of his head to surrender. According to the officer, he moved his hands from his head, at which point the officer threw him to the ground. The SAO declined to file on the resisting charge.

Original article: http://www.news-press.com/story/news/crime/2014/04/10/cape-coral-man-arrested-assaulting-officers/7553387/

Dane Eagle’s Arrest Video was Released

Dane Eagle's Arrest

Dane Eagle’s Arrest

I missed these reports when they came out last week, but a couple of news outlets have obtained the arrest video from Dane Eagle’s recent charge; Tallahassee.com has put the whole video online. Neither of them show much, as Eagle refused to participate in field sobriety exercises. The driving pattern is pretty bad, nearly striking the curb several times, and absolutely blowing a red light. Of course, Eagle could have been distracted, possible by the tasty Taco Bell *Gordita he had just purchased [*I don't know what, if anything, he really got at Taco Bell.]

You can’t see Eagle while the cop is talking to him. He actually denies drinking twice, and blames the odor of alcohol on people that had been in his car. The cop does stand him in front of the camera to go through his pockets, and he does not noticeably sway or stagger. There’s nothing on camera after the stop to support impairment, though he doesn’t sound great. It is a typical double refusal case, which is difficult for prosecutors to prove, as the evidence is fairly limited.

I did not know that legislators got special plates for their cars. The officer notes it right at the beginning of his stop. These prestige plates ensure that any legislator who is stopped has made the officer aware of his political position. Must be nice, but it clearly didn’t have any impact on this officer.

full video here: http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20140502/NEWS01/140502006/Video-released-Rep-Dane-Eagle-s-DUI-arrest

NBC-2 has a ‘highlights’ video: http://www.nbc-2.com/story/25417103/cape-state-rep-dane-eagles-arrest-caught-on-dashcam

Hooker Arrested at WalMart

  • It’s not what you think
  • She got TRIPPED up on the way out
  • She’s not a hooker, I’m just making bad jokes based on names
Brianna Hooker Mug Shot

Brianna Hooker Mug Shot

Brianna Hooker, of Cape Coral, tried walking out of WalMart in North Fort Myers with two 40-inch Vizio TVs. She was confronted by Jessica Tripp, a community service aide with LCSO. She then kicked Ms. Tripp several times. Tripp threatened to spray her with pepper spray, and she stopped resisting and was arrested. She was already wanted on a warrant for missing a court date earlier in the week (for driving on a suspended license).

Hooker has been charged with Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, in addition to grand theft, and resisting a merchant/officer. The Batt LEO charge is interesting, because I suspect a CSA [Community Service Aide] is not a sworn ‘law enforcement officer’. I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve protection, but I have a concern that the statute does not apply to her for purposes of enhancing the battery to a felony. I’d like to hear input, if someone has specific details on that issue. Ironically, she would have that protection if she was an explorer.

via news press: http://www.news-press.com/story/news/crime/2014/05/02/cape-coral-woman-accused-of-tv-theft-at-walmart/8611427/

It’s a Bad Week for Local Law Enforcement

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s news of longtime SAO employee Warren Hamilton being arrested for 20 counts of possession of child pornography, a Cape Coral police officer has been arrested for sexual activity with a minor 16 or 17 years old. Officer Casey Ortiz, who got in trouble a few years ago in the raise for educational credits he never completed scandal (there were several Cape officers involved in that scandal a few years ago), allegedly had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-0ld.

First: I used to work at the SAO, and knew Mr. Hamilton, and am shocked, as are other employees I’ve talked to. Obviously nobody there had any idea. The State has already announced that they will ask the governor to appoint a prosecutor from another circuit to handle the prosecution. The SAO has already moved to terminate his eomployment. This should not affect any prosecutions handled by the office.

Secondly: the correct charge is Unlawful Sexual Activity with  Minor, a second degree felony and one that could subject the accused to sex-offender sanctions… and up to 15 years in prison. I don’t know why LCSO has the charge listed as a sexual assault, it’s a different section of the statutes.

Both individuals are innocent until proven guilty.

What’s the Difference Between the Arrests of Dane Eagle and Trey Radel

  • State Rep. Dane Eagle was arrested for DUI last week in Tallahassee
  • Frmr Congressman Trey Radel was arrested for purchasing cocaine last year in Washington, D.C.
  • Radel resigned his position in Congress and spent time in rehab
Dane Eagle Mugshot

Dane Eagle Mugshot

Another arrest of a local politician brings criminal matters to the coffee shops around Southwest Florida. People I talk to generally agree that Trey Radel’s resignation from Congress was the right thing to do, but there doesn’t seem to be the level of anger regarding Dane Eagle’s DUI arrest. Though it doesn’t help that Eagle was recently quoted as saying that elected officials need to be held “to a higher standard”.

Legally, the offenses are not greatly different in terms of severity. Both charges are classified as misdemeanors, which are generally considered minor type offenses. Neither of them have been charged with felonies, as was former Lee County commissioner Tammy Hall. Neither offense would affect their civil rights, and neither has mandatory incarceration, though it could be a possibility, as they are criminal offenses. In fact, both charges carry a maximum 180 days in jail as a potential penalty in their respective jurisdictions. They are technically equivalent offenses. However, the nature of the offenses give people different reactions.

Many people feel more strongly about the cocaine charge, because the stigma of hard drugs, and the potential professional implications on a user, especially if abuse becomes a problem. That said, alcohol abuse can become a problem. There was information that Radel’s use had been ongoing, but at this time there is no evidence that the allegations against Eagle, which are still just allegations, are anything more than a one-time incident. In Florida, Radel’s charge would have been taken much more seriously. Any controlled substance possession is a felony, with exception of a small amount of marijuana. Purchase is actually an enhanced charge, and as a second degree felony, could be subject to 15 years in prison. Washington, D.C. does not consider a personal amount to be so serious.

Ironically, Eagle’s DUI in Florida could be considered more serious, as there are more mandatory minimum obligations for DUI offenses, including higher fines, community service, driver’s license suspensions, and classes that have to be taken if he is convicted. Radel will avoid even receiving a conviction if he completes his probation: that’s not available if Eagle ends up pleading or being found guilty of DUI. Also, many people consider DUI more serious because it puts other people at risk. He could have killed someone if he was driving under the influence, while personal use drug possession does not have the disregard for others associated with DUI.

Possible Eagle Photo on Instagram

Possible Eagle Photo on Instagram

Also worth noting is the way each conducted himself when detained by cops. Radle was completely cooperative and apologetic, immediately taking responsibility for his actions. Eagle denied having anything to drink, despite the officers description of an odor of alcohol, stumbling, and a bad driving pattern. Also, a picture has surfaced on social media that appears to be Eagle drinking from an oversized beer stein, and shark-tank.com estimates was posted Sunday evening before the arrest. That would not prove he was impaired, which he is still entitled to have heard in court before judgment is passed. Frankly, any misdemeanor charge is unlikely to reflect such a serious offense as to end someone’s career: their ability to do their job should be decided on actual merit.

More reading, with details on arrest: http://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/dane-eagle-arrested-charged-with-dui/

Dane Eagle Arrested, Charged with DUI

  • State Rep Dane Eagle (Cape Coral), arrested for DUI
  • Prosecutors will make a filing decision in the next few weeks
  • Eagle refused Field Sobriety Exercises and a Breath Test
Dane Eagle Mugshot

Dane Eagle Mugshot

Dane Eagle was pulled over at 1:50 a.m. Monday morning by officers in Tallahassee, where he is currently representing Cape Coral for the ongoing legislative session. He was pulled over after coming out of a Taco Bell. No word on whether the officer was deliberately targeting Taco Bell… Eagle has been charged with DUI: driving under the influence to the extent that his normal faculties are impaired. He is innocent until proven guilty, and has released a statement to the News-Press claiming that there is not a “clear and accurate picture” of events.

The Huffington Post points out that Eagle recently statedWe need to be as elected officials held to a higher standard” relating to his sponsoring of a bill to require legislators to submit to drug testing. The arresting officer indicates that Eagle refused to take a breath test, in addition to refusing to submit to field sobriety exercises when he was pulled over. Eagle claimed to have nothing to drink, but the officer alleges he detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage when Eagle spoke to him, and that he did not detect the odor in Eagle’s vehicle after he got out. That’s what looks worst for Eagle: if he was telling the truth and had not had anything to drink, why didn’t he take the breath test? An officer could be mistaken about an odor of alcohol, but blowing .000 would prove whether he’d had anything to drink.

The officer further alleges that Eagle nearly struck the curb a couple of times before he pulled him over, and that Eagle was speeding. He finally pulled Eagle over after he allegedly ran a red light, without braking. The officer said Eagle was swaying, and stumbled into the door of his vehicle when he tried to walk.

While he has not been convicted yet, the state can make a consciousness of guilt argument. When Eagle was asked to take the breath test, he was informed of the consequences: a one-year driver’s license suspension. So, the prosecutor can argue that even though Eagle knew they were going to take his driver’s license, he still refused the breath test. That’s not the behavior of someone who had nothing at all to drink.

Eagle has defenses to work with, so a conviction is not a foregone conclusion. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to point out how difficult the case is to prove. Since Eagle didn’t do any exercises, the State is short on proof that his normal faculties are impaired. Since he is facing criminal charges, Eagle cannot really respond in full to the allegations, but he will likely dispute some of the details of the officer’s statement. The officer apparently recorded the incident, so the case will really depend on how bad Eagle looks on the video.

The case is a long way from a possible trial, the prosecutor will have some time to make a filing decision, then it’s usually a couple of months before a case resolves. The case may still be pending when Eagle’s primary come around for his seat: he faces a Republican challenger Jim Roach. Eagle’s father is currently in Federal prison for fraud charges related to land deals in Lee County. We have covered Greg Eagle’s case extensively on this blog.

Taco Bell continues to be ground zero for DUI busts:

DUI Checkpoint at Taco Bell?

DUI Checkpoint at Taco Bell?

Full article, statment, and report on News-Press: http://www.news-press.com/story/news/politics/2014/04/22/rep-dane-eagle-of-cape-coral-charged-with-dui/7999339/

 

Karey Woolsey Seeking Commutation of Sentence

  • Woolsey was given 13 years in Federal Prison for Marijuana Trafficking and some related charges
  • There is a change.org petition encouraging his sentence be commuted by the Obama administration

We covered the case of Karey Lee Woolsey when he released an album while serving prison time for marijuana charges, and related witness tampering and money laundering charges. He took a plea and was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison, as opposed to risking even more time if he lost at trial. Woolsey is now hoping that changing attitudes regarding marijuana might convince the current presidential administration that such a lengthy sentence isn’t warranted for marijuana related charges.His mother is running a signature petition on change.org. At this time, Federal law still prohibits any possession of marijuana, so it’s not a case of a change in the laws under which he was sentenced. Still, the president has the power to commute a sentence, and AG Eric Holder has been making moves to reduce sentences for non-violent drug offenders.

Also, it appears Woolsey is releasing a new single for free next week, links for that and the petition are in the News Press story: http://www.news-press.com/story/news/local/cape-coral/2014/04/17/musician-wants-sentence-tune-crime/7804625/