Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bank robbery suspect arrested after standoff

A man was arrested Tuesday afternoon after a brief standoff in connection with a bank robbery on South Washington Street earlier in the day, Amarillo police said.

Police received information about the suspect after releasing his photos to the media that led to the issuing of a warrant charging the suspect with robbery, authorities said.

The name of the suspect wasn’t immediately released by police.

Shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday, APD’s SWAT team found the suspect in room 29 at Sleepin’ Inn motel, 810 W. Amarillo Blvd., police said.

The man agreed to come out of the room after police said they twice contacted the suspect via the room’s telephone, but they saw flames through the room’s window before he came out.

Police said the suspect finally emerged from the room with a leather belt wrapped tightly around his neck after officers shot chemical irritants into the room.

Police ended up using a Taser to take the suspect into custody after he would not comply with their instructions, police said.

The man, who was not armed, was taken to a local hospital, police said.

Officers used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire in the motel room, and fire damage was limited to the top of the air conditioning unit inside the room, police said.

Authorities said they found money at the scene believed to have been taken during the robbery.

About 9:10 a.m., a white man described as in his 40s, 5-foot-9 with facial hair and glasses walked into the Bank of America lobby at 3601 S. Washington St., Cpl. Jerry Neufeld said. The man handed a teller a note demanding money, and the teller handed the man cash, Neufeld said. The man kept one hand in his pocket during the robbery, Neufeld said.

The man left the bank and headed north on foot before turning to head east along the Interstate 27 frontage road, Neufeld said. The man was last seen wearing a blue Dallas Cowboys toboggan, a tan or gray jacket and tan pants, Neufeld said. He may have been wearing a red striped shirt under his jacket, Neufeld said.

Russell Anglin can be reached at Ricky Treon can be reached at

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sussex Police to increase Taser-trained officers

Specially trained non-firearms police officers in Sussex will be able to use Taser stun guns, the force has said.

From next Monday, 160 extra officers will be armed with the weapons. At present, only firearms officers are authorised to use them.

It will mean about 8% of officers will be trained in their use, compared to the national average of about 11.5%.

The force said they would be called to "violent or threatening situations" instead of armed response units.

Ch Supt Paul Morrison said experience had shown the presence of the 55,000-volt devices acted as a deterrent "to the escalation of violence".
'No rise in violence'

"Nearly 70% of incidents where there is a possibility of using Taser end without it being discharged," he said.

"Studies have also showed that the presence of Taser reduces the levels of force required by officers in violent situations avoiding, for example, the use of a baton or captor.

"In a significant number of cases simply the drawing and aiming of Taser is enough incentive for the person posing the threat to comply with officers."

He explained there would be no change in "day-to-day policing", but in the event of a violent situation officers would be able to request Taser support by colleagues locally, rather than from firearms officers based at central locations.

"Authority to use Taser will still have to be granted by senior officers, as has always been the case, and it is not the first option," Ch Supt Morrison continued.

"Their roll-out is not indicative of a rise in the threat of violence in Sussex."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Inmate dies after Taser hit in Benton County

A Spokane man imprisoned for killing three family members in a car crash near Post Falls seven years ago died Tuesday night after being shocked with a Taser at the Benton County Jail.

Authorities said Kevin T. Culp, 29, had an unknown medical problem on Dec. 17 and was placed in an isolation cell so jail nurses could watch him.

He later became combative and struggled with officers, including biting them. He was shocked with a Taser, which appeared to have little effect, according to reports.

Jailers then placed him in a restraint chair.

About 15 minutes later, staff discovered he was unresponsive and called for emergency medical help. He died eight days later – Christmas Day – at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

Culp was in the Benton County Jail as a contract inmate for the state Department of Corrections, where he was on a courtesy hold for Idaho, according to The Tri-City Herald.

Culp had a medical condition that made him prone to seizures, according to earlier Spokesman-Review reports. He was imprisoned for two felonies. Culp was first convicted on one count of vehicular manslaughter in the July 2005 crash near Post Falls that killed three people, including Spokane Valley resident Henrietta Lewis, 40; Lewis’ sister, Tonia Lewis, 30, of Pendleton, Ore.; and Tonia’s 9-month-old son Ebin Lewis. Three others were injured.

An investigation determined that Culp suffered a seizure while driving and caused the head-on collision with the minivan driven by Henrietta Lewis. Culp told Idaho State Police after the accident that he didn’t have enough money to buy drugs to prevent his seizures, according to newspaper reports.

Culp also was convicted in the 2004 accidental shooting death of a friend, 19-year-old Cedric Sykes.
Culp had a loaded gun that was used as a prop in a photo shoot. Culp did not know the gun was loaded and shot Sykes in the neck.

The Tri-City Special Investigative Unit will conduct an independent investigation of Culp’s death. The Benton County Sheriff’s office will also do an internal review. An autopsy is scheduled this week.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Did police fire Tasers 17 times before this man died?

Police in pursuit of a Brazilian student fired their Tasers up to 17 times in about as many minutes. An inquest beginning at Glebe Coroner's Court tomorrow will hear that the student, Roberto Laudisio Curti, was also handcuffed and struck with a can of capsicum spray before his death after claims he had robbed a Sydney convenience store.

The hearing before the State Coroner, Mary Jerram, is expected to focus on the ''use of force'' by police involved in events leading up to the death of Mr Laudisio Curti in the early hours of Sunday, March 18, this year.

It will also explore claims that the 21-year-old, who was studying English and living with his sister in Sydney, had been taking illicit drugs such as LSD and drinking alcohol in the hours leading to his death on a Pitt Street pavement.

The Sun-Herald has been told that while police Tasers were fired more than a dozen times that morning, the number that actually hit Mr Laudisio Curti was fewer. And the first hit appeared to have little effect - prompting further pursuit and use of police-issue equipment.

Mr Laudisio Curti allegedly ran from officers when they tried to arrest him, after a call to police claiming he had robbed a convenience store on King Street about 5.30am.

CCTV footage from a shop on Pitt Street a short time later shows Mr Laudisio Curti being chased by six officers, one of whom is firing a Taser in the direction of his back.

It is unclear whether the probes from that Taser struck him at all.

Some of the Taser use was in the form of ''drive stuns'', where the weapon is held against a person's body and activated. The projectiles are not fired. It is referred to as a ''pain compliance'' technique.

All police-issue Tasers in NSW are fitted with a video camera, and footage from those cameras is expected to form part of the brief of evidence tendered to the inquest.

The courtroom has been modified to create extra seating to accommodate a large number of legal representatives, media and Mr Laudisio Curti's close-knit family.

Friends have previously told The Sydney Morning Herald he had been in Australia for a few months before his death, studying English and spending time with his older sister Ana Luisa Laudisio de Lucca, who lives here with her husband, Michael.

Both are expected to attend the two-week hearing. His other sister, Maria Fernanda Laudisio de Lucca, and his uncle and guardian Joao Eduardo Laudisio, are also understood to have travelled from Sao Paulo for the inquest. There has been a high level of interest from local and South American media.

Peter Hamill, SC, is counsel for the Laudisio family, Bruce Hodgkinson, SC, for the NSW Police Force and an addition three counsel plus solicitors for 13 officers deemed to have sufficient interest in the case.
Taser International will also be legally represented.

Footage published by the SBS network earlier this year shows Mr Laudisio Curti apparently behaving erratically in the store in the lead up to the police pursuit.

Among the witnesses to be called by counsel assisting the inquest, Jeremy Gormly, SC, will be Professor Geoffrey Alpert from the University of Southern Carolina, who has done extensive research into the use of Tasers and capsicum spray ''to control suspects''.

In one university study he completed, published in the American Journal Public Health in 2010, Alpert expressed concern about the ''excessive use'' of Tasers and the ''potential for abuse''.

''We found evidence of 'lazy cop syndrome','' he said. ''Some police officers are over-reliant on [Tasers].''
Alpert said the study gave ''valuable understanding of injuries that result from other less lethal devices, such as pepper spray and batons, as well as firearms.''

Mr Laudisio Curti's friends in Sydney, many of whom changed their Facebook profile pictures after his death - to a photo of him with words in Portuguese meaning ''mourning the loss of justice'' - will be keeping a close eye on the inquest.

Vanessa Bestetti, a fellow Brazilian living in Bronte, said she thought about her best friend every day in the six months since his death.

''Not a day goes by that I don't talk to you and hope that you are well on the other side, watching us from above and protecting us,'' she said in a tribute to him.

''Thank you for teaching me the value of friendship, for taking care of me like a brother … For teaching me how fragile life is and that there is no time to lose; [for] being part of the best year of my life and being the brother I never had. Love you so much, bro.''

The Brazilian consul, Andre Costa, said he would go to the inquest as ''an observer only''. After Mr Laudisio Curti's death, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry had pressured the consulate to get answers and ''obtain the necessary clarifications from the Australian authorities''.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Weird News: Billboard with dummy on noose shocks Vegas drivers

Even by Las Vegas standards, it was a shocking billboard: A mannequin dangling on a hangman's noose below a black sign with the ominous words "Dying for Work."

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jeremie Elliott says the 911 calls started coming in as the sun came up early Wednesday, with drivers worried the stiff, black-suited dummy swaying at the end of a rope along Interstate 15 near Bonanza Road was a real person.

"It's a publicity stunt, obviously done in bad taste," said Elliott, adding that officials were focused on getting it down quickly to avoid distracting drivers during the morning commute.

The graphic display along the interstate was one of at least two unauthorized signs spotted Wednesday morning in the Las Vegas area. Another found on Highland Avenue and Desert Inn Road was white with black lettering that read, "Hope You're Happy Wall St.," and a similar mannequin hanging off the edge.
A woman who answered the phone at Lamar Advertising Co., which owns one of the billboards, labeled the act vandalism and said the display was being removed. She did not provide her name.

Clear Channel Outdoor, which owns another sign that was affected, said they pulled the display immediately and plan to work with law enforcement to punish whoever is responsible.

"We condemn the destructive behavior against one of our billboards because it is illegal and punishes our advertisers," Clear Channel Outdoor spokesman Jim Cullinan said in a statement. "This is not an innocent protest, but it is illegal and dangerous behavior that Clear Channel Outdoor and the industry will not accept."
Although the billboard alarmed drivers, it's unclear whether regulations in the area ban roadside signs with graphic depictions of suicide. A spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation said there didn't appear to be state regulations on the matter, and a spokeswoman for Clark County was also not aware of rules against the subject matter.

While nobody has publicly claimed responsibility for the signs, the Occupy Las Vegas group, which is affiliated with the larger Occupy Wall Street movement, posted photos of the displays on its website. Its caption says the Nevada governor's budget has slashed social programs and aid to suicidal adults.
Sebring Frehner, an Occupy supporter who posted the photos, told The Associated Press he didn't know who put the hangmen up, but applauded the message behind it.

"People saying it's in bad taste are living sheltered lives and don't pay attention to what affects the working class," he said.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Appleton takes up concealed carry ban

As Gov. Scott Walker weighs whether to allow concealed weapons in the state Capitol — an idea backed by Republican lawmakers — the Appleton Common Council is poised to ban the practice in municipal buildings.

The council will vote Wednesday on an ordinance that would restrict residents from carrying concealed weapons such as pistols, billy clubs and Tasers in buildings that are owned, occupied or controlled by the city.

Law enforcement officers would be exempt from Appleton's ban, and state law already prohibits concealed weapons in police stations, prisons, county courthouses and municipal courtrooms when court is in session.

If approved, the proposed ordinance would take effect Nov. 1, the first day Wisconsin residents can apply for a license to carry concealed weapons in public.

The council unanimously endorsed a draft of the ordinance earlier this month.

Elected officials across the Fox Cities — including boards in the Town of Buchanan and in the villages of Combined Locks, Kimberly and Little Chute — are racing to put bans in place before Nov. 1.

"We're offering it up to the village boards — is this something you would like to restrict?" said Capt. Mark Recker of the Fox Valley Metro Police Department, which wrote the ordinance being considered by the boards of the three villages served by the police department. "They create the law, so they can tweak it in any way they want."

In accordance with state law, neither Appleton's rule nor the ordinances under consideration in the Heart of the Valley would restrict residents from having concealed weapons in municipal parks or on public transportation.

The ordinances do require municipal staff to place signs near all building entrances alerting visitors to the weapons ban.

Nathan Oberg, 32, of Hortonville, who operates Fox Valley Firearms in Appleton and plans to offer a training course on the concealed carry law once it takes effect, questioned the value of the ordinances and related signage.

"I don't think signs are going to deter crime," Oberg said. "I think a sign is going to prevent law-abiding people who don't want to get in trouble to leave their guns in the car. Things will be fine until someone who has dropped off the deep end wants to cause problems."

Oberg compared it to a drunken-driving offense.

"Drinking and driving is illegal, but people do it all the time with no regard for anyone else's safety," he said. "A gun is a tool no different than a car. People are going to abuse it and hurt people."