One of them was Jim Donahue, who was investigated after speaking out about PBSO’s budget.
PBSO records show that in 2010, the department opened an investigation into Donahue, a week after he went before county commissioners with complaints about the department’s budget. He filed to run for office, but never appeared on the ballot. He was charged with four felonies stemming from discrepancies on his 2008 application to work at PBSO. Prosecutors dropped the charges.
Lewis was cleared by the ethics commission. The ethics commission also found no probable cause that Bradshaw “disclosed inside information for his personal benefit or for the benefit of another.”
The commission also found no probable cause that Bradshaw’s number two, Chief Deputy Michael Gauger, “misused his position to direct an investigation of a candidate or expected candidate for Sheriff and to recommend the filing of criminal charges against him.”
The board, which rules on ethics issues involving politicians and state employees, also found no probable cause that Gauger investigated others in Palm Beach County.
Bradshaw told The Palm Beach Post in early February that the ethics commission had already found no probable cause against him.
“I was told through my lawyers no probable cause,” Bradshaw said. He described the investigation of Donahue as legitimate.
“He wrote a 50 page letter about how corrupt we were,” Bradshaw said. “The more we looked at it the more we saw he had put inaccurate information.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
“I’m from the north,” Marsha Martino told about 60 people gathered Tuesday for a panel discussion on the mental health epidemic in Palm Beach County. “I have never lived in a place so devoid of services.”
She spoke to a Leadership Palm Beach County class of about 60 at The Palm Beach Post on a panel with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mike Gauger, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Joseph Marx and Peter Davey, a young man who has battled mental illness.
The system here makes it hard on the mentally ill, Martino said.
Released from treatment, a mentally ill person likely must wait six weeks for treatment. For some, the act of remembering an appointment six weeks away is an “insurmountable barrier,” she said.
In Maine, she said, a patient would be seen by a team of mental health professionals the next day.
Marx, who presides at first-appearance court, said he sees tragedy daily. When mentally ill individuals are arrested, they lose their job, which means they can’t pay for housing, which means they lose their daily shower and shave, which means they lose the chance to get a job, Marx said.
“They have nowhere to sleep. They’re sleeping in your neighborhood,” he said.
One repeat offender, arrested for having an open container, begged the judge to send him back to jail. “I’ve hit bottom,” the man told Marx.
The judge sought a bed for the man. Nobody had one. Finally, he found a place willing to provide a bed for free. He released the man, ordering him to appear in court two months later.
He did, the judge said. And he was good.
“Judge, you saved my life,” the man told Marx.
Without prompting, the man came back again 30 days later to show the judge he was still clean, still working.
“Nine out of 10 do not come back,” Marx said. “But isn’t it worth the effort?”
But such efforts don’t soothe the populace, Marx said. He hears: “Judge aren’t you getting soft on crime?”
“No,” he says. “I’m getting smart on crime.”
Parental denial is one of the biggest problems, Gauger said. He pointed to the Sandy Hook killer, Adam Lanza, to illustrate.
“Many families are absolutely in denial when it comes to substance abuse or mental health issues,” the No. 2 official to Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said. “That’s what Adam Lanza did. He locked himself in the room and to entertain him, his mother took shooting and to buy weapons.”
Lanza killed 20 children and six adults before killing himself in December 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn.
Awareness is key, the panelists agreed. As is ending the stigma.
Paraphrasing the words of Mother Teresa, panelist Davey said, even when they act badly “love them anyways.”
A former Riviera Beach police commander and radio host is announcing today that he’s joining the race to become sheriff.
Rick Sessa said he’s filing paperwork on Monday, but said he’s announcing the news on his radio show “The Beat: Real Cop Talk” on 900 AM at 4 p.m. today.
“I feel an obligation to run. I can’t sit back and let this sheriff go unopposed for another four years,” Sessa said. “I grew up here, I policed here, and we need to do something.”
For years, Sessa has been critical of Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who is seeking his fourth term. He’s been outspoken about the number of shootings by sheriff’s deputies and blames the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for ending a previous incarnation of his radio program by pressuring the show’s sponsors. His show resumed last year after nearly two years off the air.
If elected, “We’re going to reopen some of these shooting cases, and if we find misconduct or coverup or malicious attempts at prosecution, people will be held accountable,” Sessa said.
Sessa, who was with Riviera Beach police from 1986 to 2006, will join retired Riviera Beach police Maj. Alex Freeman and Samuel L. Thompson in challenging Bradshaw.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is investigating how the home addresses of thousands of officers, prosecutors, judges and others were released online over the weekend.
The addresses are redacted from the county Property Appraiser’s website at the request of police and prosecutors, but friends of a former sheriff’s deputy with a grudge against the agency obtained the information and posted it online.
It includes nearly 3,600 names and addresses of local and federal judges and prosecutors, FBI agents and officers from many local police departments. It also lists addresses of facilities that house victims of domestic violence.
The Palm Beach Post is not naming the site or linking to it because of the sensitive nature of the records.
How the information ended up online is a mystery. Pat Poston, the property appraiser’s director of exemption services, which handles requests by police to redact their home addresses, said county information technology specialists said no one had hacked the property appraiser’s database.
“We’ve been contacted by the sheriff’s office,” Poston said. “They are beginning an investigation.”
A spokeswoman from PBSO hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
The site that posted the information is linked to former deputy Mark Dougan, a longtime thorn in the side of Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and his second-in-command, Chief Deputy Michael Gauger, who has filed a civil suit against Dougan.
Dougan denied responsibility for the release. He said friends in Russia were responsible, but said he knew “a long time ago” that the hackers had the information.
Dougan said the release was retribution against the sheriff’s office, which he claimed had hacked into his personal Facebook and email accounts without a warrant.
“It sucks, but if the government doesn’t want their privacy breached, then they can’t go around breaching the privacy of citizens without a warrant,” he said. “Yes, 4,000 people were not involved in hacking my stuff, but those 4,000 people didn’t do anything to stop it.”
Although state law allows many types of public employees to request their home addresses be redacted from property appraiser websites, many don’t. Those who were not redacted are not exposed on the new posting. The 3,600 all had taken advantage of the state law to keep people from knowing where they live.
The Seth Adams family lawsuit against the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office will be allowed to go to trial, a federal judge ruled today.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley denied Sgt. Michael Custer’s motion to toss the suit, but threw out some of the family’s more minor claims.
Overall, the decision was a victory for Adams’ family, who filed the suit after Adams, 24, was shot and killed by an undercover deputy in 2012. Adams was unarmed and on his own property, a nursery in Loxahatchee Groves.
Custer claimed that Adams fought him and grabbed him around the neck, prompting the deputy to shoot and kill Adams.
The incident is one of the most controversial shootings in the department’s history.
Introducing State Attorney Dave Aronberg, speaker asks crowd to videotape Aronberg’s speech. Also requests they be respectable. And judge whether he does what he says when he runs next year. “We need to hold him accountable.”
Speaker: “The world is watching Palm Beach County.”
“What we do, echoes in forever.”
Song breaks out. A team of four drummers start to play. Think synchronized drum circle. Corey Jones was a drummer.
Those on Periscope can watch State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s speech from the Rally for Accountability outside his office on Lulu Ramadan’s Periscope account.
State Attorney Dave Aronberg will speak at today’s rally, organizer Rae Whitley says.
This will be the first time State Attorney Dave Aronberg will speak publicly about #CoreyJones shooting.
Update from Lulu Ramadan:
Retired Judge Edward Rogers to State Attorney Dave Aronberg: “We don’t trust you Mr.Aronberg.”
State Attorney Dave Aronberg near speakers at the Rally for Transparency for Corey Jones. Aronberg issued press release, below…
Matt Benzion, Boynton Beach attorney, speaks at #CoreyJones rally about holding officers accountable. “These were not dangerous people.”
From Palm Beach Post reporter Lulu Ramadan live on the scene at @luluramadan.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, spokesman Mike Edmondson and all of Aronberg’s chief assistants just came outside.
About 250 people are at the rally.
Press release issued:
State Attorney Dave Aronberg emails out a press release on the Corey Jones case as the rally is proceeding. Here it is in its entirety:
Update from State Attorney Aronberg on Investigation into the Death of Corey Jones
The tragic death of Corey Jones is currently being investigated by three independent agencies: The State Attorney’s Office, the Palm Beach County’s Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The State Attorney’s Office has been in continued communication and cooperation with the other investigating agencies, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Approximately an hour after the shooting, the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department requested independent investigations and by design, this process intentionally removes the Palm Beach Gardens PD from receiving updates and information on the investigations.
Investigations such as these are confidential and it is vitally important to obtain all of the evidence during this initial phase. These investigations can take months, depending on where the evidence leads.
Our office is committed to transparency and we have shared important information about this investigation with the family of Corey Jones and their attorneys. We would like to provide the community with as much information as possible, but prosecutors are forbidden by state and national ethics rules to speak freely about ongoing investigations, such as this one. We are only allowed to provide some basic uncontroverted facts, or else it may jeopardize the investigation and any potential future prosecution.
We take this investigation very seriously and as such, we cannot afford to rush, cut corners or appear to be partial. Our responsibility is to seek justice, our loyalty is to the community, and our commitment is to the truth.
Here are some of the facts that we are ethically allowed to release:
Officer Raja was on duty in an unmarked van.
Officer Raja was not in uniform.
Six shots were fired from the officer’s gun and 6 casings were recovered.
Corey Jones was shot three times.
Corey Jones’s firearm (.380 caliber) was found on scene. It was not fired.
We have spoken to Corey Jones’s family about these facts and have had ongoing discussions with community leaders to assure them of the independence, fairness and thoroughness of our investigation.
END PRESS RELEASE
UPDATE from rally:
Rally talk: So far, @aronberg, Palm Beach Gardens, @PBCountySheriff have all been citing “ongoing investigation.” But they can release a lot more. The big push is for records related to shooting. Speaker is reciting FL public records law.
Raul Alvarez, whose son, Aldo, was shot by a PBSO deputy in 2013. “I had to be here,” he said. From PB Post reporter Lawrence Mower’s Twitter feed.
Speaker Rae Whitley: “A broken down car is not punishable by death.”
Reporter Daphne Duret posts at her Twitter feed that noted local defense attorney Richard Lubin is representing Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja, who shot Jones on Oct. 18.
UPDATE: 12:44 p.m.
Rallygoers start with a prayer. Correction: Numbers are topping 100. Group holds hands and invokes Jesus.
Channel 5 reporting that State Attorney Dave Aronberg will adress the crowd.
Downtown West Palm Beach streets have been closed off to accommodate the Rally for Transparency, called to put continued pressure on law enforcement officials to release information about what happened the night Corey Jones was shot and killed by a police officer in Palm Beach Gardens.
The rally is outside the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office. The streets that are closed are portions of North Dixie Highway and Third Street.
Palm Beach Post reporter Lulu Ramadan is tweeting live from the rally at @luluramadan.
Corey Jones was on the phone with AT&T’s roadside assistance — and possibly recorded — when a Palm Beach Gardens officer confronted him on an Interstate 95 off-ramp last week, triggering the events that led to his death.
A copy of Jones’ phone records obtained by The Palm Beach Post show that at 3:10 a.m., Jones called #HELP, the phone company’s recorded line to request assistance.
Since AT&T alerts callers that the line might be recorded, it could have captured audio of the moments before, during and after his death, making it a critical piece of evidence in a shooting in which no video recordings apparently exist.
It’s unclear, however, whether the line was recorded, or whether investigators have obtained any recordings. Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office spokesman Mike Edmondson on Monday declined to comment on whether the prosecutors’ office had obtained the phone records. Jones’ phone was, however, recovered at the scene and had not been returned to family members as of Monday.
An AT&T official said late Monday she could not comment.
Clarence Ellington, Jones’ best friend, said Jones’ family has seen the records and were meeting late Monday with the family’s legal team.
“The consensus is the same, and that’s that we’re angry,” Ellington said.
Jones used a cellphone belonging to his employer, the Delray Beach Housing Authority. Call logs for the government agency were provided to The Post under the state’s open records law.
The call to roadside assistance was one of many Jones made early that morning, after the drummer’s sport utility vehicle broke down while driving back from a gig in Jupiter.
The first indication of car trouble came at 1:35 a.m., when he called band mate Mathew Huntsberger for help.
Nine minutes later, he called *FHP, the Florida Highway Patrol’s main line. The records indicate that the call lasted four minutes, but an FHP spokesman wasn’t able to obtain the content of the call late Monday.
Starting at 2:09 a.m., Jones called the AT&T #HELP four times, spending about 36 minutes trying to get help.
Those calls were probably fruitless, however, since he called #HELP again, at 2:45 a.m., a call that the log says lasted 32 minutes, even though he dialed three other numbers after that call began.
The final call went to the help line at 3:10 a.m. and records show it wouldn’t have ended until 4:03 a.m., long after the 3:15 a.m. shooting.
It was the last call Jones would make.
Four agencies, including the FBI, are investigating what happened next.
Jones, a Delray Beach housing inspector with no history of violence, was sitting in his car on the off-ramp at PGA Boulevard when Raja pulled up and parked perpendicular to him, blocking multiple lanes of traffic.
Raja, who was on a burglary surveillance detail, had stopped for an abandoned vehicle, Palm Beach Gardens police said. He wasn’t in uniform and didn’t have his badge when he stepped out of an unmarked white Ford van, according to Jones’ family lawyers, who were briefed by State Attorney Dave Aronberg.
Police said Raja spotted Jones’ gun and fired, killing him. Lawyers said Raja fired six times, including while Jones was running away. Jones’ body was found 80 to 100 feet away from his vehicle.
His gun, which he had bought legally and for which he had a concealed carry permit, was found an unspecified distance between his body and his vehicle.
The incident has captured national attention, the latest example of a young black man killed by police under questionable circumstances. Experts and the public have questioned Raja’s decision to confront Jones, who might not have known Raja was an officer.
The phone records provide some insight — and confusion — into Jones’ final hours.
He left his Jupiter gig and had just gotten on the highway when at 1:21 a.m. he called Manoucheka Sinmelus. She told The Post that Jones was on his way to pick her up from her home in Delray Beach. He didn’t mention car trouble. The call lasted about seven minutes. She has not spoken to authorities because they haven’t contacted her, she said.
The phone records have some discrepancies that aren’t easily explained, however.
Two phone calls seem to overlap with other calls. At 2:29 a.m., the logs show he spent 16 minutes with #HELP, but he called another phone number just eight minutes later.
Then, at 2:45 a.m., the logs show he spent 32 minutes on the line with #HELP, yet he called his brother just seven minutes later.
Edward J. Imwinkelried, an expert in scientific evidence and law professor at The University of California-Davis, said investigators should focus on the overlapping calls.
“If I was the investigator on the case, I would want to see how that is possible,” Imwinkelried said.
The most plausible explanation would be that Jones made the other calls while he was on hold with roadside assistance, Imwinkelried said. The first thing investigators would need to do, he said, is speak with everyone on Jones’ call log, including his brother, and obtain their phone records as well.
Then, he said, investigators would need to go to AT&T and have them explain the call log, and ask them if any recording of Jones’ calls exist.
For three days last week, sensitive emails into local and federal criminal investigations were posted on the City of West Palm Beach’s website, exposing the targets of drug stings, the identities of detectives’ confidential informants and undercover officers.
The emails were taken down Friday, but they’ve left police scrambling to repair the damage.
On Monday, Mayor Jeri Muoio released a vague statement implying that her spokesman, Elliot Cohen, released the emails before they had a chance to be redacted. He wasn’t responsible for redacting them, she said.
“Elliott simply passes on the documents he receives from the departments,” she wrote in an email. “In this case, it appears the departments did not have the opportunity to review the information before it was released, as a result it is essential that we review our process to see if any changes need to be made.
The records, which were posted on a link from the city’s home page, included explosive details that seldom see the light of day.
Hernandez shot the friend, Alexander Bradley to shut him up about the double murder, Massachusetts prosecutors alleged when they charged Hernandez with witness tampering in May. Hernandez is set to stand trial in December in the July 2012 killings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston’s South End.
Just after dawn on Feb. 13, 2013, Bradley was driven to an industrial park outside Riviera Beach, shot once in the head and left to die.
A man, who had just arrived at work, heard a gunshot and spotted an SUV driving away. Minutes later, he found Bradley curled up in a fetal position and telling him to call 911.
Bradley, who lost his eye as a result of the shooting, never cooperated with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies, so no criminal case was opened.
Bradley did, however, file a federal civil suit against Hernandez in West Palm Beach. Bradley’s lawyers filed a motion in that case Monday, saying they were giving documents about an “Agreement for Immunity” in the double murder case over to Hernandez’s Florida attorneys.
Massachusetts prosecutors have not said for certain that Bradley will testify against Hernandez in the double murder trial. Four months after Bradley was shot near Riviera Beach, Hernandez shot and killed Odin Lloyd in a secluded industrial park near Hernandez’s home in Bristol County, Massachusetts. Hernandez was convicted of Lloyd’s killing in April and has received a life sentence.
Russell Brinson, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy accused last year of roughing up a man who had called police for help, was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case.
In May 2014, Augusto Garcia had called police to report two suspicious people milling around his car. Brinson responded and, believing Garcia was a suspect, grabbed his arm, twisted it behind his back and took him to the ground, records show. He put a knee in Garcia’s back while handcuffing the man.
Brinson said Garcia refused to obey commands to take his hands out of his pockets. Garcia said he never had a chance to explain before Brinson swept his legs out from under him. He had to be hospitalized for back pain.
The deputy, who had 18 uses of force, including a shooting, in one 20-month span, was cleared in December.