On today’s Police Blunders Of The Week, we’ll be introducing you to 87-year-old Lona Varner. Varner was bedridden and on oxygen when her grandson called 911 because she threatened to end her life. When officer Thomas Duran arrived, he responded to her “threats” by using a taser gun to “subdue” her…
5. Thomas Whitley
Thomas Whitley is an ambitious man. Unfortunately, his sort of ambition is the kind that gives cops a bad name — and can even land a man in prison for up to 36 years.
For the past eight months, investigators in Morgan County, Indiana have been looking into several drug cases in which Whitley allegedly lied under oath in order to secure convictions.
In one case, Whitley had swore under oath the had drugs confiscated during a bust field tested to prove they were, in fact, heroin and meth.
But when police tried to confirm those “results,” samples from the confiscated drugs turned out to be fake.
As a result of Whitley’s laws, charges were dropped against all 16 defendants nabbed during the raid.
On Friday, the 37-year-old cop turned himself into police when he became aware that there was a warrant for his arrest.
Whitley has been charged with 12 counts of perjury, official misconduct, and obstruction of justice. Several of the cases he was responsible for investigating now have to be thrown out.
The former officer, who resigned earlier this year, faces up to 36 years in prison.
4. Shane Whitaker
When police officers in Layton, Utah busted eight different johns as part of a prostitution sting operation, they were shocked to find Shane Whitaker among those arrested.
After all, Whitaker had been a police officer with the Farmington Police Department for over 18 years.
On Thursday, an undercover cop posing as a prostitute was working out of a local hotel when Whitaker walked through the door of her room and offered money in exchange for sex.
He was just one of eight people to be arrested that day and one of 61 men who’ve been picked up for solicitation since the sting operations began.
Whitaker was arrested and issued a citation for solicitation, but wasn’t put in jail “for safety reasons.”
Still no word on the status of his employment.
3. John Douglas
On September 16, 2009, a 16-year-old defendant appeared before Family Court Judge Jeremiah Jeremiah in Woonsocket, Rhodes Island.
The judge was alarmed by the fact that the young man before him had such a swollen eye, as well as bruises on his neck, mouth, elbows, knees and back.
When the judge asked the kid what happened, he told him that he’d been beaten by the officer who arrested him.
Judge Jeremiah ordered the Chief of Woonsocket’s police to launch an investigation in the matter. That inquiry eventually turned into a federal case.
An FBI investigation eventually showed that on September 15, 2009, an arrest warrant had been issued for the 16-year-old, who’d recently escaped from a placement program administered by the state’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families.
Officers finally tracked the kid down in a park, where there was a brief chase and struggle before the kid was subdued, and only after at least one officer sustained an injury that required five stitches.
Back at the police station, another officer by the name of John Douglas — who wasn’t present for the arrest — asked the kid if he liked hitting police officers.
That’s when he removed the 16-year-old’s handcuffs and tried to provoke a fight. When the kid didn’t take his shot, Douglas began punching the kid in the face, torso and knees, leaving the teenager with a broken sinus bone as well as a broken bone in his eye socket.
The federal investigation ended when Douglas was finally arrested in December.
Last month, he pled guilty to assault as well as violating the child’s civil rights. Two days later, Douglas also resigned from the department.
His sentencing hearing is set for November. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine.
2. William Jennings and Darren Johnson
Just to refresh your memory: On March 30, police in Martinsville, Indiana were called to Tender Teddies day care center to help tame a tantrum-throwing 10-year-old.
Officers William Jennings and Darren Johnson showed up to find the child kicking and screaming on the front porch.
Apparently, the kid had started to calm down when Jennings, a 36-year veteran of the force, decided to slap him across the face, causing him to freak out, of course.
That’s when Johnson decided to pull out his stun gun and taser the 94-pound child.
The kid suffered no major injuries, save for a small mark where he was tased. Still, Jennings and Johnson’s superior was no pleased by the obvious use of excessive force.
Both officers were placed on administrative duties pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
That investigation finally came to an end this week. While it was decided that Johnson should be suspended from the force for 45 days, Jennings decided to resign from his job just a week before the final hearing in the case.
Apparently, Jennings had conveniently left out the fact that’d he slapped the child in his police report. Meanwhile, Johnson said he didn’t want tase the child, but said he had no choice once Jennings “took the action that he did.”
Both officers were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in the case.
1. Thomas Duran
To Lona Varner, December 22, 2009 seemed like a pretty good day to end one’s life.
After being bed-ridden for years and completely depended on oxygen, the 87-year-old granny finally decided it was her time to check out.
Unfortunately, her grandson wasn’t too pleased to learn that his granny had just swallowed a handful of unidentifiable pills.
That’s when he called 911 and told
them that Varner was in the midst of trying to kill herself.
But when Thomas Duran showed up, Varner had no intention of allowing him to rush her to the hospital.
That’s when the old lady pulled a kitchen knife from under her pillow and threatened to stab anyone who tried to remove her from the house.
We’re assuming that it can’t be that hard to grab a knife from an old lady on her death bed. But for Duran, the effort seemed far too great.
That’s when he decided to use his stun gun on the old lady.
In the end, Varner never died like she wanted. And now, she’s suing Duran as well as the city of El Reno, Oklahoma for the incident. She’s seeking a total of $75,000 in damages.
Read last Thursday’s Top 5 Police Blunders: Amy Shroff Wins $175,000 For Wrongful Arrest.