NYPD Shooting of Unarmed Brooklyn Man Ruled Homicide

November 25th, 2014

The death of an unarmed Brooklyn father who was shot by a rookie NYPD police officer in an apartment stairwell has been ruled a homicide.

Akai Gurley, 28, and his girlfriend walked into a darkened stairwell of the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York around 11:15pm on Thursday November 20. Their movement startled Officer Peter Liang, who was patrolling the housing stairwells with his partner.

According to an internal report obtained by the New York Post: “almost instantly, Officer Liang discharged his service weapon one time directly outward.”

Liang fired a single shot from the landing above the couple, which struck Gurley in the chest. Gurley’s girlfriend, Melissa Butler, tried to administer first aid, according to authorities.

The report also states that after firing his weapon, Liang told his partner: “I think I’m going to get fired.”

Gurley later died at Brookdale hospital in eastern Brooklyn.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Gurley’s death to be a homicide on Sunday.

“His death resulted in whole from actions of another person, not from natural causes like disease,” the medical examiner’s office said in a statement.

The lethal shot was “an accidental discharge,” according to police officials. After the shooting, Liang radioed to his supervisors to alert them to the shooting.

The medical examiner’s decision came soon after Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson stated he would be launching a full investigation of Gurley’s death.

The ruling also came a day before a highly charged decision from a St. Louis Grand Jury to not indict a Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Liang, 27, is still on modified duty. NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is also investigating the incident.

Neither the union nor the NYPD has released an official statement on the medical examiner’s ruling.

Copyright © 2014 Total Criminal Defense, LLC. All rights reserved.

NYC Subway Murder Suspect Arrested and Charged

November 19th, 2014

New York police have arrested a man in the fatal pushing of a subway rider in the Bronx late Tuesday after he was identified by a previous victim.

Kevin Darden, 34, was charged with murder in the death of Wai Kuen Kwok, 61. Darden allegedly shoved Kwok into the path of an oncoming train Sunday according to police. He is believed to appear in surveillance video leaving the scene.

The incident sparked a three-day manhunt. Another victim, also Asian, came to police and identified Darden as the person who shoved him in on the West Fourth Street subway platform on November 6.

“You shouldn’t walk in front of me,” Darden cautioned the man, according to authorities, before pushing him to the ground. “I’m warning you.”

Investigators believed Darden was the same man casually leaving the 167th Street station just minutes after Kwok was killed around 8:45am. Kwok had been standing on the platform with his wife.

There were no witnesses to the attack, but other subway riders told police they saw the same man in the video leave the station. He boarded a bus two minutes after the attack.

On November 9, Darden was arrested for pick-pocketing a tourist in Times Square, according to police. At his arraignment, his bail was set at $1,000.

However, the complaining witness left the country before a court hearing five days later and could not be reached. Darden was then released without bail.

Before pushing Kwok, Darden allegedly robbed two men at the 167th Street subway station, roughly thirty minutes before the fatal incident.

Darden has a substantial criminal record, as reported by the New York Post. He spent four years in a New York state prison for a 1999 robbery and in 2011 was charged with arson in Texas for attempting to burn down his brother’s home. He was not prosecuted.

Joyce Jones, Darden’s mother, says her son is mentally ill. “I’m glad they got him off the streets and I’m glad he’s not dead. I feel so, so sorry for those people and what happened. I know that won’t bring him back, but I am so, so sorry.”

Copyright © 2014 Total Criminal Defense, LLC. All rights reserved.

Andy Dick Arrested on Suspicion of Grand Theft

November 10th, 2014

Comedian Andy Dick was arrested Friday for grand theft after he allegedly stole a necklace.

The actor, 48, was riding his bike in Hollywood last week; he rode up to a man on the street and asked to see the chain around his neck. The victim recognized Dick and willingly handed him the jewelry. Dick supposedly rode off with the necklace, valued at $1,000.

According to police records, Dick was arrested at 11:10pm in a heavily-trafficked area of Hollywood. He was apprehended on suspicion of felony grand theft and released at 5:20am Saturday after posting $25,000 bond.

If convicted on felony charges, Dick faces a maximum punishment of three years in California prison. However, if charged as a misdemeanor, he faces up to one year.

The former “News Radio” star has had a long battle with substance abuse. It was unclear if Dick was under the influence at the time of his arrest. He has made headlines for several previous arrests for disturbing behavior.

In 2011, Dick was arrested for misdemeanor disorderly conduct involving drugs and alcohol at a Marie Callender’s restaurant in Temecula, California. In 2010, he was arrested for sexual abuse after supposedly fondling a West Virginia bar’s bouncer.

In 2008, Dick was arrested at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant on counts of sexual battery and drug possession when he allegedly groped and exposed a 17-year-old girl. Upon police search, Dick was found in possession of cannabis and Xanax (for which he did not have a prescription).

Dick began his career in 1992 as a cast member of “The Ben Stiller Show.” He has appeared on several television shows and has numerous small roles in films over the past decades. He is an alumnus of Chicago’s famed Second City Theatre.

Dick is due to appear in court on December 4.

Copyright © 2014 Total Criminal Defense, LLC. All rights reserved.

Arrest in Fatal Halloween Hit-And-Run of Three Teens

November 4th, 2014

Santa Ana Police have arrested a 31-year-old man in connection with a fatal hit-and run that killed three teenage girls who were trick or treating near Los Angeles on Halloween.

Jaquinn Bell was arrested Sunday at an Orange County motel on suspicions of felony hit-and-run causing death; he is being held on $500,000 bail. Formal charges are expected to come this week.

According to Santa Ana police, Bell drove a black Honda SUV through a marked crosswalk that was near an elementary school. He allegedly never hit the brakes after he struck the trick-or-treaters Friday around 6:45pm.

The girls, all 13, were identified as twin sisters Lexi and Lexandra Perez and friend Andrea Gonzalez. Two of the girls died at the scene, and the other died as paramedics attempted to transport her to a nearby hospital.

Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas said Bell was driving with his two teenage children in the vehicle at the time of the accident. After Bell struck the girls, he drove off and abandoned the Honda in a nearby parking lot.

In 2009, Bell was put on probation after pleading guilty to domestic violence charges. Court records show he has violated his probation seven times. Due to his infractions, Bell spent several short periods in jail and was ordered to complete substance abuse and child endangerment treatment programs.

According to the Orange County Register, on August 4, Bell plead guilty to charges hit-and-run with property damage, driving under the influence and two counts of child endangerment—as he had his children in the car on this occasion, as well.

The Register also reported the Honda SUV Bell drove on Halloween was not registered to him.
Family, friends and members of the community held a vigil Sunday night at the crosswalk where the accident occurred.

Andrea’s brother, Josafat Gonzalez, 21, was pleased by the arrest, but admitted it did little to assuage his grief.

“It won’t bring my sister back,” he told the LA Times.

Copyright © 2014 Total Criminal Defense, LLC. All rights reserved.

Long Island Beheading Not Halloween Prank

October 29th, 2014

A woman in her 60s was found beheaded on a Long Island street just before a man stepped in front of a commuter rail track in Long Island, New York, according to local police.

Nassau County Police believe the apparent murder-suicide victims may have been mother and son. The incident occurred in Farmingdale, New York, where authorities believe both male and female victims were residents.

The woman’s body was found Tuesday night, half dressed, on one side of the street and her head was on the other side, according to witness Jack Imperial.

“The body’s feet were at the curb, the shoulders were at the middle of the street. The head was across the street,” said Imperial. “I’ve seen some gruesome stuff in my years of living … but nothing like this. I didn’t expect to see something like this, especially not out here.”

According to the New York Post, witnesses said they saw the man drag the woman’s body out of a building and onto the street. He kicked her head approximately 20 feet before heading to a close by railroad track and jumping in front of an eastbound Long Island Railroad train roughly 25 minutes later.

“There was blood all over the floor,” resident Nick Gordon told the Post. “You can see smears going down the stairs … as if somebody were pulling a body.”

Other witnesses told the Post that they had originally thought the scene was a Halloween prank; after they attempted to lift the body they realized the gruesome scene was real.

Passengers on the LIRR was moved to another train and taken to a nearby station, where they caught shuttled buses to their final destinations.

The Ronkonkoma Branch of the LIRR was suspended in both directions as of 11pm Tuesday night but service resumed for Wednesday’s morning commute .

Copyright © 2014 Total Criminal Defense, LLC. All rights reserved.

Gary Serial Killer Arrested, Suspected in More Deaths

October 23rd, 2014

Convicted sex offender Darren Vann, who was arrested and charged Saturday for the murder of an Indiana woman, was charged on Wednesday for the murder of another woman, according to prosecutors.

Wednesday’s charges concern the death of Anith Jones, 35, whose body was found in Gary, Indiana. Vann was charged with the death of Afrikka Hardy, 19, on Saturday: her body was found in nearby Hammond.

According to court documents, both women had been working as prostitutes. The cause of death for both was strangulation.

Vann, 43, told police he had consensual sex with Jones before strangling her and disposing her body in an abandoned house. Her body was covered with tires and teddy bears, according to court documents.

Hardy’s body was found by an associate in a Hammond motel. According to the Washington Post, a woman, identified as a “facilitator,” called Hardy several times after her “appointment” with Vann ran long. The woman drove to the motel with a male friend and found Hardy’s body in the bath tub.

The facilitator gave police Vann’s phone number and he was soon found and arrested in Gary.

Investigators said Vann was cooperative during his arrest and soon told authorities where they could find six other bodies in abandoned Gary homes.

Jones was the first body found after Vann’s confession. On Sunday, five other bodies were found throughout Gary—including two more in the home where Jones was found. The causes of death were not detailed for the other victims.

The other known victims have been identified as Teairra Batey, 26; Christine Williams, 36; and three unidentified African American females.

“It is possible that the investigation will lead to more victims,” Police Chief Doughty said. He believes that Vann’s alleged crimes could go back upwards of 20 years.

Vann appeared in Lake County Superior Court on Wednesday, where he refused to speak to a judge. His arraignment was cancelled and he is currently held in contempt of court.

His hearing is postponed until next week.

Lake County investigators asked that anyone with information about the victims call 219-755-3267.

Copyright © 2014 Total Criminal Defense, LLC. All rights reserved.

Joe and Teresa Giudice Sentenced

October 3rd, 2014

Reality stars Joe and Teresa Giudice, of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” fame, were sentenced to prison terms on Thursday in Newark on conspiracy and bankruptcy fraud charges.

Federal Judge Esther Salas gave Teresa a 15-month sentence; her husband Joe was given a 41-month sentence. The sentences will be staggered so the couple can care for their four young daughters, who range from ages 5 to 13.

“For a moment I thought about probation … but I think a period of confinement is absolutely necessary in this case,” Judge Salas said to Ms. Giudice. “I don’t honestly believe that you understand or respect the law. I need to send a message. In the eyes of the law, it doesn’t matter who you are. There are consequences to pay.”

The couple was charged in a 39-count indictment in July of 2013. Among the charges included were making false statements on loan applications, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and bankruptcy fraud. At the time, the couple pled not guilty to all charges.

In March, the Giudices recanted their original petition and pled guilty to hiding assets from bankruptcy creditors and to submitting false loan applications in an attempt to collect roughly $5 million in construction and mortgage loans.

Mr. Giudice also pled guilty to failing to pay taxes totaling greater than $200,000.

Before her sentencing, Ms. Giudice offered a tearful apology. “I fully take responsibility for my actions,” she said. “I need to learn to take responsibility for myself.”

Mr. Giudice also apologized during a statement before his sentencing. “I stand here humiliated,” he said. “I disgraced many people, including my wife and my four daughters. I take full responsibility for my actions. I promise to be a better person.”

After completing his sentence, Mr. Giudice faces deportation as he is not an American citizen. He came to the United States from Italy as an infant and learned of his legal status as an adult.

The couple will pay $414,000 in restitution.

Copyright © 2014 Total Criminal Defense, LLC. All rights reserved.

Shia LaBeouf Pleads Guilty to Disorderly Conduct Charge

September 12th, 2014

Actor Shia LaBeouf pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges this Wednesday, in regards to a scene at a Broadway show this past summer.

LaBeouf, 28, was arrested for criminal trespassing and two counts of disorderly conduct after allegedly disrupting a performance of “Cabaret” at Studio 54. LaBeouf’s plea came from a deal that dropped the initial trespassing and harassment charges.

The sentence requires LaBeouf to continue with treatment for alcoholism for another three months. If he completes the treatment and does not get arrested in the next six months, the disorderly conduct charge will be expunged from his record.

LaBeouf attended the “Cabaret” performance featuring Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams on June 24. He refused to leave the venue when asked, after smoking cigarettes indoors and yelling at the actors.
When finally escorted out by security, LaBeouf shouted: “Do you know who I am?” and spat at an officer’s feet, according to court documents.

As reported by CBS New York, one witness thought LeBeouf’s behavior was so outlandish that he might be working on a role. As quoted, Tina Marie Miller said: “If we didn’t know who he was, we’d assume he was a bum, literally, from how he looked and how he was acting.”

The “Transformers” actor has had a string of legal issues in past years.

In 2008, LaBeouf was arrested in Los Angeles for drunken driving after he crashed his truck, resulting in injuries to his knee and hand; due to lack of evidence, the charge was dropped.

In 2007, he was arrested in Chicago for misdemeanor criminal trespassing after refusing to leave a Walgreen when asked by a security guard. The charges were also ultimately dropped.

In 2005, LaBeouf was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon after threatening a neighbor in Los Angeles.

LaBeouf is due in court on November 12 and is required to bring a letter from his treatment facility confirming completion of his treatment.

Copyright © 2014 Total Criminal Defense, LLC. All rights reserved.

Justin Bieber Arrested for Assault, Dangerous Driving

September 2nd, 2014

Justin Bieber is facing more legal trouble: the singer, 20, was arrested on assault and dangerous driving charges following a collision involving paparazzi in southern Ontario on Friday, August 29.

An ATV and minivan collided outside Stratford, Ont., which led to a physical altercation between the two drivers. According to Rolling Stone, it is not stated if Bieber was driving either vehicle, but he was spotted behind the wheel of an ATV earlier in the week.

“Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez’s peaceful retreat in Stratford this weekend was unfortunately disrupted by the unwelcome presence of the paparazzi,” Brian Greenspan, Bieber’s Toronto-based lawyer, said Tuesday September 2nd.

Constable Kees Wijnands stated there were no injuries stemming from the crash, but did not say if there were any injuries as a result of the altercation.

In Hollywood a few days before the skirmish, Bieber’s car was struck from behind by an automobile driven by a paparazzi photographer. Bieber tweeted: “There should be laws against what I just experienced. We should have learned from the death of Princess Diana…”

In August, Bieber plead guilty to charges of careless driving and resisting arrest after his January arrest for driving under the influence in Miami Beach.

Bieber has an upcoming court date on September 8th for a separate assault charge. Toronto police arrested Bieber and five others for an alleged assault of a limousine driver December 30th, 2013. He is not slated to attend this hearing, according to the Huffington Post.

Additionally, Bieber is on probation in Los Angeles for vandalism after he egged a neighbor’s home last January; the singer plead no contest to the charges and paid more than $80,000 in damages, among other conditions.

Bieber was released from custody on the condition he appears in court on September 29th.

Copyright © 2014 Total Criminal Defense, LLC. All rights reserved.

Jackie Chan’s Son Arrested for Drug Possession

August 19th, 2014

Actor Jackie Chan’s son has been arrested in Beijing on drug possession charges.

Jaycee Chan, also a well-known actor, was arrested Thursday with Taiwan actor Ko Chen-tung and a third man during a drug bust in the Dongcheng district, considered the city’s cultural and commercial center.

Police found over 100 grams of marijuana in Chan’s apartment; upon arrest, both men tested positive for the drug. According to China Daily, a state-run publication, Chan, 32, is also accused with “hostling others to take drugs.”

The younger Chan’s recent arrest puts his father in a disconcerting position: Jackie Chan is a noted anti-drug spokesperson in China. In 2009, the Communist Party appointed Jackie Chan a “Narcotics Control Ambassador” for the Chinese police, according to the Telegraph.

On Tuesday August 19th, CCTV aired footage of and Jaycee Chan and Mr. Ko’s interrogation during a morning news section. The recording also showed Mr. Ko tearing up as he stated an apology to family and friends for his drug use, according to the Wall Street Journal. The footage was aired as an exceptional anti-drug campaign advertisement.

“I very much regret about what happened. I’m very sorry to those who support me, like me or even know me personally,” Mr. Ko said, as reported by CNN. “I just want to tell them I’m really sorry. I’ve set the worst example, which had the most terrible influence. And this is a huge mistake.”

Chan and Ko’s arrests are the latest in a string of a serious narcotics shutdown. According to Time, State media report 7,800 drug suspects have been arrested since January, which is a 71.9% increase as compared to 2013.

Other targeted celebrities include actor Zhang Mo, novelist Chen Wanning, and singer Li Daimo, who was sentenced to 9 months in jail earlier this year.

Earlier in August, dozens of entertainment management agencies signed an agreement with Beijing authorities outlawing drug use from the industry and vowing to hold those who break the contract accountable.

At this time, there are yet to be formal charges brought against Chan and Ko.

Copyright © 2014 Total Criminal Defense, LLC. All rights reserved.

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