Another day… another criminal reaps his own downfall. Last month in Florida, Matthew Riggins was killed fleeing from cops investigating a burglary in Brevard County. His body was found floating in the Barefoot Bay Lake approximately 10 days later. An 11-foot alligator was found near his body… it was euthanized, and examination of its stomach revealed that it had caused Mr. Riggins’ demise.
Riggins’ Missing Poster
It goes without saying that crime doesn’t pay. Riggins and an accomplice were spotted trying to break into a house (he also contacted his girlfriend before and during his attempted burglary and escape). Many times, the flight from the crime exacerbates the problem, often worse than the crime itself. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote an article titled: “Don’t Jump in the River When the Cops are Looking for You.” While that guy had to be rescued by law enforcement, it certainly can get a lot worse, as Mr. Riggins found out the hard way.
The inherently dangerous nature of criminal activity and flight from law enforcement raises the likelihood of harm occurring during the crime. See, for instance, the clowns in Garcia v. State, two of which killed themselves in the course of a robbery. The stakes are higher in Florida, not only due to the canals and other waterways that are so prevalent, but also for the nasty critters that hang out there. This is the second criminal to be killed by an alligator that we are aware of, and a third survived an attack just a couple years ago. In fact, there have been only 3 deaths caused by alligators in Florida since the start of 2007… and 2 of them were wanted men fleeing the scene of the crime. Don’t break the law, and don’t jump in alligator infested waters to try to get away!
Posted in Alligators, Criminal Law, Florida, Uncategorized
Tagged alligator, brevard, burglary, felony murder, fleeing, garcia, matthew riggins, palm bay
Konstantinos Georgiou Mug Shot
Once again, the cover-up/aftermath was worse than the crime. Konstantinos Georgiou fled from the scene of a crash. He tried to commandeer a couple of people’s vehicles, before jumping off the bridge and into the Caloosahatchee River to evade officers. The marine units finally caught up to him, clinging to the bridge supports, and had to take him to the hospital.
The sad irony here is that the crash itself was not a crime, leaving the scene of the crash is only a misdemeanor… but trying to break into other peoples’ cars is a serious felony. Reports indicate he actually fought with the occupants of at least one vehicle, which makes the offense a Burglary with Battery, a Punishable by Life Felony (or PBL). His escape attempt is likely to land him in prison for many years; while the initial offense was relatively minor. He was lucky that officers located him and saved him from the river, it could have ended a lot worse after jumping off the bridge!
UPDATE: It’s extra dangerous to jump in the water in Florida, he wouldn’t have been the first to get caught by an alligator: https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/man-flees-cops-is-caught-by-alligator/
UPDATE 2: The News-Press spoke to a witness who indicates that the suspect did run down to where the bridge gets closer to the water before he jumped in. (Also, photos added)
Caloosahatchee Bridge, from the Fort Myers River District, looking North
Robert Phillips Mug Shot
Robert Phillips was booked in on an array of 13 different charges a couple days ago in Palm Beach County. He’s no stranger to the law, having been arrested several times before. He’s also no stranger to a life of crime, as he actually listed “drug dealer” as his occupation on his arrest report. No surprise, as deputies indicate they saw him perform a hand-to-hand transaction. He then fled at a high rate of speed, ran into a Michael’s craft store, dropped a loaded handgun, and was apprehended with the help of a police dog when he ran out the back door! Deputies found 22 grams of heroin on him, and several more grams of cocaine in his vehicle.
Robert Phillips Prison Photo
He’s in deep trouble, not just because he has so many charges. If he is convicted of trafficking as charged: that is possessing more than 14 grams of heroin, he is facing a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years, and up to 30 on that charge alone. Looks like he is going to be forced into a career change. He’s been to prison before on drug and weapons offenses. Some people just aren’t cut out for a life of crime.
via Palm Beach Post
Posted in Criminal Law, Drugs, Florida
Tagged cocaine, dog, drug dealer, drugs, fleeing, heroin, mug shot, trafficking, west palm beach
- Man in stolen Honda took off.
- Officers were able to catch up to him after he crashed into an Alligator
Calvin Rodriguez Mug Shot
Calvin Rodriguez, of St. Lucie County, was allegedly driving a stolen Honda Civic when he was spotted by officers. he fled when they pursued him, and he was able to escape, albeit temporarily. Officers located the car after it hit an Alligator, then crashed into the median, and were able to trace Rodriguez to the car. He is presumably facing multiple felonies for grand theft auto, high speed fleeing, etc.
Folks from outside of the state must hear these stories and think we are just filthy with Alligators. You watch Gator Boys, and it seems like there are crocodilians everywhere. I’d like to say they are not that common, but tell that to the car thief that got eaten when trying to flee a couple years ago… Gators, better than car alarms for 25 years.
Bryan Zuniga mug
Bryan Zuniga ran from the cops. He turned up later at the hospital, with multiple puncture wounds, and explained that he’d been bitten by a gator. Kids… it’s a bad idea to run from the cops. It’s an even worse idea to do so in Florida where the wildlife comes equipped with big teeth!
Zuniga got lucky, in spite of the nasty injuries you can see in his picture. Another man in Miami-Dade county was killed by a gator when he fled cops.
The punch, in Freeze Frame
22-year old Mateo Falconi gave it up. After leading police on an extremely high-speed chase for six miles, Falconi came to a dead-end and decided to surrender, as evidenced by the fact that he stopped, got off his bike, and raised his hands. At that point, Deputy Robert Lewis jumped out of his patrol car, gun drawn, ran up to Falconi, and took him down with a vicious punch with his closed right fist. Lewis jumped on Falconi and roughed him up pretty good while trying to subdue him. Deputy Lewis says Falconi refused to give up his hands, although Falconi jumped on him, and he and another deputy punched him repeatedly before tasering him into submission. At no point does Falconi threaten or otherwise offer to do violence. Watch the story, and the full video on NBC-2.com.
Now, Falconi obviously is in a lot of trouble for high-speed fleeing, which he probably did because he was carrying a big bag of weed in his backpack. He earned himself a couple of felony charges for those offenses. However, the behavior of the cop certainly bears the hallmarks of excessiveness. Nobody is going to begrudge law enforcement officers the right to use force to defend themselves, but I have doubts over the propriety of force when a suspect offers himself in non-violent surrender. This is bad policy for law enforcement, as it discourages suspects from peacefully surrendering. If you’re going to give up and put your hands up, but still get beat… why would anyone put their hands up? What else could Falconi have done to give himself up?
NBC-2 got their hands on the police report, which is worth a read. It’s a textbook example of how a cop changes a story to justify what he did. First, he makes reference to Falconi possibly fleeing on foot. That’s misleading because Falconi immediately turned to face the officer and raised his arms. He could not have done that any better, because if he had stayed on the bike, there was the risk that he would have restarted it. The officer claims he then instructed Falconi to get on the ground. The video shows that he first tells Falconi to put his hands up. Falconi can’t win! He did exactly what the cop told him to do. The video shows that Lewis actually did tell him to get on the ground, but never gave him a chance to do it. Lewis claims to have struck Falconi in the chest, pushing him to the ground, but it sure looks like he straight cracks Falconi in the jaw. It is clear on the video that Falconi had completely given himself up, both before being taken down, then again on the ground when Lewis had the gun to his head. The cops created the situation where Falconi didn’t cooperate, or was unable to cooperate, by their actions after he surrender. This is a textbook example of what not to do… just terrible, terrible police work.
Falconi is suing the Collier County Sheriff’s Department for excessive force. He is still facing the possiblity of many years in prison for high-speed fleeing, and felony possession of marijuana. He may not end up being the only person in this incident facing charges.
Posted in Civil, Criminal Law, Florida, Naples / Collier / Southwest Florida, Police, Uncategorized
Tagged badcops, collier, excessive force, fleeing, marijuana, naples, police, resisting