The city council yesterday finalized a settlement of nearly a half-a-million dollars for NFL player Nate Allen for his wrongful arrest. (While he was detained, and ultimately released without a formal arrest, it was easily a ‘de facto arrest’ due to time and totality of the circumstances.) It was enough to make the news, especially since he is a professional football player. Even though he was released that day, the suit was worth a lot more because of the demonstrable negative effects it had on his NFL contract situation. Worse, the FMPD chief at the time, Doug Baker, was caught lying in the investigation into the cover-up, leading ultimately to his termination. The entire incident was a black eye on the city. To the council’s credit, they recognized the wrongdoing, and have repeatedly apologized. Neither the chief, nor the detective on the case are still with the city. Sawyer Smith handled the case for Allen, and tells me he is as nice a guy you could ever meet.
Sadly, the lessons are still being learned. Just a few months ago I encountered a case where the FMPD utilized the same faulty show-up procedure to identify someone, in spite of the pending lawsuit. The state ended up dropping the case. Meanwhile, the 2-year anniversary of Zombie-con has passed with no arrests, charges, or even named suspects. And just last week, more details have come out about the officers suspended after the Freeh Report. FMPD has a long way to go…
Posted in 4th Amendment - Search & Seizure, Criminal Law, Federal, Florida, Fort Myers / Lee County / Southwest Florida #SWFL, Police
Tagged badcops, civil rights, doug baker, fmpd, fort myers, freeh, nate allen, sawyer smith, zombie
The News-Press published a thorough article detailing the latest corruption concerns at the Fort Myers Police Department. Former FMPD Sergeant Eric Gutridge was fired last week, having been suspended since February. He was fired for lying on official documents and lying under oath during court proceedings. Although lying in court proceedings is perjury, and giving false information in a police report is also a crime, there are no indications that charges are being considered. Gutridge was also accused of planting evidence, but there was not enough evidence to prove that allegation. Gutridge reported, and reiterated, that the 911 caller in a case was unknown, when in fact it was a confidential informant he had worked with before, and approached him for financial compensation for sending the tip.
The city has not released information about other officers that were suspended earlier this year in light of discoveries made by the Freeh group in their review of FMPD. The News-Press and several criminal defendants have been trying to get the City to release additional information regarding police corruption, and the city has spent thousands of dollars on outside attorneys to fight the release of the appendixes of the Freeh Report. The city also appeared in the criminal case to fight the release of the additional pages, and the court has not yet ruled on that. The city may end up being on the hook for a lot more money, as the suspect in the case that led to the Gutridge firing was held incarcerated for about a year and a half before the US attorney’s office dropped the case, and to their credit, reported his misdeeds to city authorities. This comes on the heels of another FMPD officer Detective Donald Weathers, being fired for lying and misusing informants. And there may be residual effects as attorneys review their files and look at other cases in which Weathers and Gutridge may have handled.
FMPD Chief Derrick Diggs
After my last couple posts, I am glad to change it up with some positive news coming from law enforcement. The new Chief of FMPD held a couple of community engagement sessions for the purpose of building a relationship between the department and the community. Chief Derrick Diggs held two sessions today, and is holding another session tomorrow. I think he has his work cut out for him, but every journey begins with the first step. Ironically, the News-Press linked relates stories to this one, so as you read the article, there are linked headlines to stories about harassment, and persistent discrimination at the Department.
Chief Diggs is taking the first positive steps to develop a positive culture at FMPD, which is a building block to connecting with the community and hopefully addressing the violence that has become persistent.
A man drove into a house the other day in Cape Coral– police say he was under the influence of alcohol. Fortunately, nobody was home at the time, as the home sustained $50,000 in damages. The first officer on the scene was none other than interim Cape Coral Police Chief Dave Newlan. You’d think getting the big seat would have him off DUI duty, but when duty called, he responded. Turns out Newlan happened to be at a house nearby, and responded to the scene, detaining Gregory Fischer until other officers arrived. Fischer was charged with a DUI with Damage.
This calls to mind an incident a few months back in Fort Myers, when interim FMPD Chief Dennis Eads also responded to a call. As they say, cops are always on duty!
I’ve seen the shirt that reads “If you see the police WARN A BROTHER” shirt around a few times. It’s a funny play on the similar-sounding Warner Brothers, and the text superimposed on the WB logo. It’s funny, I giggled, check it out in the mug shot.
Well, a guy in Fort Myers apparently takes it more seriously. I’ll call him by his first name, Anthony, since it’s just a misdemeanor. An FMPD officer says he was acting suspicious on the sidewalk, and when he walked over to investigate, he dropped a partially smoked marijuana cigarette.The cop says he saw Anthony try to hand something to a friend, and then hide his arms behind his back, but you gotta think he saw the shirt. You just KNOW he saw the shirt…
Why didn’t anyone Warn a brother?
When people say that people don’t really go to jail for marijuana, they are wrong.
Chief Derrick Diggs
Crimcourts would like to welcome and congratulate Derrick Diggs, who has just been named chief of FMPD. He previously capped his 37 years of law enforcement experience as chief of the Toledo, Ohio police department. The challenges are abundant, as Fort Myers has a major issue with violent crime, and there are issues regarding morale in the department. We hope that Chief Diggs is successful in reducing or eliminating these issues, and helping make Fort Myers a safer place to live.
FMPD, Making Way for Ducklings
My friend, Cameron Siggs, snapped this photo yesterday of an FMPD officer stopping traffic on 41 to allow mama duck and a dozen or so of her ducklings to safely cross the street. Kudos are in order to the patient motorists who waited for the duck family to cross and to do so safely.
from Robert McCloskey’s book
I love it, it’s a scene right of ‘Make Way for Ducklings’, the Caldecott-winning children’s book that recently celebrated its 75th anniversary.
We take for granted all the different things law enforcement are called upon to do. Just yesterday, CCSO escorted an aggregation of manatees, and CCPD recently shared this photo of Officer Keith Edinger helping a trapper remove a nuisance gator. Thank you all for your protection.
Officer K Edinger via CCPD