Saturday, August 27, 2016

LPD Officers Apologize to Vanderplaats for Behavior As Part of Legal Settlement

Tim VanderPlaats
It's finally over for Tim VanderPlaats.  The legal battle that began over four years ago against the Lafayette Police Department and individual police officers came to an end this month after an out-of-court settlement was reached. 

VanderPlaats was beaten unconscious near his home shortly after he was verbally harassed and threatened by drunken LPD police officers at a local restaurant.  None of the officers were charged with the crimes they committed, and they all kept their jobs as police officers.  This was unacceptable to the victim, so he pursued the matter in court.

An appeals court judge eventually relieved the City of Lafayette from the case, but allowed it to proceed against individual officers.  Charlie Williams, Jr. had admitted that he left graphic and threatening voice messages. 

VanderPlaats contended that the officer suspected of beating him was, in fact, on duty at the time the crime occurred; however, unless one of the officers breaks the "code of silence," there is not enough evidence to prove it.

Ironically, VanderPlaats received the one thing he wanted from the beginning, which was an apology from the officers and their city bosses.  In exchange for closing the matter, VanderPlaats recently accepted letters of apology from the City of Lafayette, Charlie Williams, Jr., and Michael Barthelemy.

"They said they were sorry for all the unlawful calls, terrible voicemails and being drunk and stupid," stated Tim VanderPlaats.  "They said they would take it all back if they could."

VanderPlaats was also reimbursed by the City of Lafayette for the enormous legal fees he incurred in the matter.   "It was never about the money," said VanderPlaats.  "It was always about the injustice of it all."

VanderPlaats is relieved it is over, and that although it was horrible what they did, he says apologies were helpful as he seeks to find closure for the horrific nightmare that he and his family suffered.

The letters have not yet been released to the public; however, VanderPlaats says that the sincerest apology came from Charlie Williams, Jr.  "He seemed to be genuinely sorry," commented VanderPlaats.

VanderPlaats' supporters are also happy that it's over for Tim.

"He took on the establishment for the good of the community," commented one Lafayette resident who asked to remain unnamed.  "If an average citizen would have committed these crimes, he would have a criminal record now, and he certainly wouldn't be put in charge of upholding the laws they broke."

Tim is moving on with his life, and he doesn't have time to hold any grudges.  He is now happily married and the couple have a beautiful baby girl to focus on.

It's too bad it took city officials over four years to do the right thing.  Properly handled, this matter could have been settled years ago.  Victims should not be forced to seek justice in civil court.  The individual officers were finally set free to make proper amends, so now their lives can move in a more positive direction as well. 

Let the healing begin.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Prosecutor Harrington Ignores Crimes Committed by Lafayette Police Officers as Statute of Limitations Draws Near

Why is Harrington refusing to charge cops who made death threats?
It seems like no one in city or county government wants to take responsibility for the crimes committed against Tim VanderPlaats, the Lafayette citizen who was beaten up after LPD cops threatened to kill him, cut him up into little pieces, and throw him into the fireplace.

The city claims the officers acted outside their official duties, so they continue to carry a badge because there has been no prosecution to date. 

Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington had earlier appointed a special prosecutor from Howard County to look into the matter; however, since the wayward cops had not yet admitted to the criminal acts at that time, no charges were filed due to lack of evidence.

According to inside sources, attorneys for VanderPlaats recently approached Indiana State Police officials about bringing charges against the officers since admissions have since been made.

Officials have reportedly stated that Harrington has no plans to bring charges and that he is the only one who can proceed with a criminal case.   They also reportedly stated that Harrington can ask the special prosecutor to take a look at the additional evidence that police officers admitted to making the death threats.

Time is running out for charges to be filed since the statute of limitations will expire in about four months.

"This is just our system protecting their own," stated the insider.  "[Harrington] is not doing his job.  He's a prideful cop protector."

So what does a citizen do when the local justice system is blind, biased, and corrupt?

With two sets of standards in this community, are those without badges and power really safe?  It certainly doesn't feel like it. 

What is different about the young man who was sent to prison for making death threats against elected officials compared to the graphic death threats made against a private citizen?

Citizens may want to ask Pat Harrington that question.  He can be reached at 423-9305.

In the meantime, it's time for citizens to start looking for a new prosecutor in time for the next election.  We must not forget this dereliction of duty and make it a political rallying cry at the next election.  Our safety may depend upon it!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Did Tippecanoe County Prosecutors File New Charges in Retaliation for Blog Exposure in Cop Brutality Case?

Gardner fights back
Erin Gardner says she will be filing a complaint with the Indiana Disciplinary Commission against Tippecanoe County prosecutors after making a shocking discovery that their alleged motivation for prosecuting her (again) is because they didn't like their exposure for malicious prosecution by the Lafayette Citizen Journal!

Yes, you read that right.  Her court-appointed special conflict attorney reportedly told a credible defense witness that prosecutors are going after her again because of the published stories about her case on this blog.

The court-appointed special conflict attorney also reportedly told the witness that prosecutors "complain about the Lafayette Citizen Journal stories all the time."

Erin has finally had enough, and she plans to do something about it.  She is currently seeking private counsel and plans to file a complaint with the Indiana Disciplinary Commission against local prosecutors who made prejudicial statements against her to court-appointed defense counsel.

First, a little background:

A record number of readers followed this blog during its reporting on the persecution of Erin Gardner, the young woman who had several bogus charges leveled against her after being roughed up by Lafayette Police Officer Jeff Webb.   The story was so bizarre that it was highlighted on Charlie White's Indiana Talk Radio program a few times.  After months of legal hassles, Erin finally prevailed.

Deputy Prosecutor Jackie Starbuck
Gardner refused to negotiate her civil rights away, and in doing so, she exposed a system of corruption and injustice in Tippecanoe County that citizens rarely see.  Each time Erin refused a plea bargain in the case, additional bogus charges were added by Deputy Prosecutor Jackie Starbuck as an obvious means to intimidate the defendant.  Starbuck was later removed from the case after details of her actions became public via the LCJ.

At one point, Starbuck unsuccessfully tried to convince former Judge Les Meade to move the case to drug court, even though Erin tested negative for every drug test that was forced upon her.

"They were desperate to find something to justify their actions," said Gardner.  "I believe they are worried about a civil lawsuit."

Gardner Attacked in Domestic Dispute; Charged With Crime A Month Later After Refusing Plea Bargain Deal in Police Brutality Case

In the midst of all her legal hassles during that time, Erin was involved in a minor domestic incident after she attempted to pick her son up from the child's father and was refused.  Erin said that her son's paternal grandmother became verbally abusive and was swearing in front of her son, so at this point Erin attempted to leave and told her son she would contact him later as she did not wish to escalate the situation.  Erin contends that the grandmother attacked her in front of her son as she was trying to exit the door.    

Bruising Gardner allegedly sustained in domestic attack
"I am a peaceful person, and I do not want my son exposed to violence," said Erin.  "I did my best to avoid any type of confrontation and acted in self-defense."  Erin said that the grandmother pulled her hair, held her down, and began repeatedly punching her to the point that she could not escape.

"I was screaming for Tony to get his mom off of me," Erin said.  "Afterwards, I called the police and Child Protection Services."

Both parties reportedly phoned the Lafayette Police Department even though Erin doubted she would receive fair treatment because of her previous claims of police brutality.  Her suspicions became a reality when she discovered that a police report was created based solely on allegations from her perpetrators, while ignoring her claims.

"I find it interesting that the statements from mother and son were verbatim in the police report,"  said Gardner.  "It looked like a cut and paste job, and it's not in any kind of language they would use."

"The claims against me are absolutely false, and I doubt charges would have been filed had I not exercised my rights in the other case," said Gardner.  "I'm looking forward to proving my innocence to a jury of my peers."

Prosecutors filed battery charges against Erin a month after the incident occurred and quickly used them against her as a bargaining chip in the earlier case.  Erin was offered a plea bargain deal for the first case, wherein the battery charges would be dropped if she would agree to a diversion in the seat belt case.  Erin stood firm and said her civil rights were not for sale.  

"To put a child through another ordeal in retaliation against his mother is unconscionable," said Gardner.  "It was bad enough he had to be present when his grandmother attacked his mother, but now he is affected by a corrupt legal system attacking her."

Attorneys have confirmed that these types of domestic hearsay cases rarely get filed, and pointed to the likelihood that it was filed as a means to intimidate Erin into submission to a desperate plea bargain offer.

It seems that local prosecutors didn't like the fact that they were left with egg on their faces after the judge scolded them for wasting court time for a trivial misdemeanor case where the defendant's rights were clearly violated.

Rather than dismiss the baseless charges against Erin, prosecutors are once again wasting valuable resources and court time by continuing to prosecute her for a case that rests largely on the word of a mother-son team with questionable credibility.

In contrast, Erin's evidence, which includes a photograph of the bruises she sustained at the hands of her alleged attacker and the recorded testimony of her son, appears to indicate that she was a victim, not a perpetrator.

Prosecutors recently moved forward with witness depositions.  Erin said she was barred from being present during her accuser's testimony even though she had requested to be included in the proceedings to ensure that appropriate follow-up questions were asked by her court-appointed public defender.  

Gardner also contends that her attorney, who was appointed by the court as "special conflict counsel" promised things would change; however, she believes they have only gotten worse.

"Not only was I barred from being present for my accuser's deposition, my attorney asked one of my witnesses to speak with the prosecutor weeks before a deposition."

"Why would I do that?" asked the witness.  "That wouldn't be in Erin's best interest."

Other attorneys agree that it would be uncommon for a defense witness to be questioned without counsel prior to a deposition.

"Erin just wants to be small again," commented the witness.  "She doesn't like the limelight, and she just wants to live a normal life again."

Gardner has since moved out of the community to avoid further harassment.

After speaking with Erin's court-appointed attorney, the defense witness expressed serious concerns to the LCJ about alleged prosecutorial misconduct that Erin would like to have investigated by the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.

"When I asked Erin's attorney why they were going after Erin based on flimsy, hearsay evidence, he told me that they're taking this to trial because of the blog [LCJ] she's involved with," commented the witness.

"He told me [the proseuctors] talk about the blog all the time, and it's why they are going after her."

LCJ Responds to Baseless Allegations

The buck stops with Harrington
Erin Gardner is not a member of the LCJ writing team.  LCJ members first became aware of Erin after she brought her story to us via our Facebook page.  After reviewing the evidence, we believe that Erin was being treated unfairly by public employees who took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution.

We are greatly concerned that they continue to violate the constitutional rights of an American citizen.  Every citizen has a right to petition their government for a redress of grievances without fear of retaliation, a right to free speech (including via the Internet), a right to a jury trial without coercion, as well as a fundamental right to due process without being forced to submit to unconstitutional drug testing prior to a conviction.

The buck stops at the desk of Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington, and we call on him to investigate these serious allegations.  The way this case has been handled is beyond shameful!  We realize that some prosecutors are accustomed to intimidating citizens into relinquishing their right to a jury trial via the corrupt plea bargain system; however, it is a sacred, fundamental right that should not be toyed or tampered with.  When citizens elect to exercise that right, they should not be punished for it.

For a prosecutor to offer the LCJ  as a reason for going after Erin Gardner,  it is deserving of a trip in front of the Disciplinary Commission.  We encourage Ms. Gardner to follow through with a complaint.  And of course, we will keep the public updated, because "sunlight is the best disinfectant."

This could happen to any one of us, and it is likely happening to others who do not have a voice or a forum.  This is the type of story that the LCJ was created for.  People like Erin Gardner deserve to at least have a voice while they are being legally raped by a corrupt judicial system.  We will continue to follow the persecution of Erin Gardner and put the abusers of the constitution on our public Wall of Shame.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

VanderPlaats' Attorney Accuses LPD Cops of "Drunken Thuggery;" Shocking New Details Emerge In Response

It's really hard to imagine why these same cops, who seem to routinely commit crimes without consequence, are still patrolling the streets. You will read many shocking details involving cops who admit to some of what they have been accused of doing. The admitted abuse of power cannot be tolerated by Lafayette citizens. These cops should be receiving pink slips! Rather than summarize this document, it is imperative that citizens read every word of it. Stay safe. The "thugs" sometimes wear badges and carry guns. Are any of us really safe?

Click on to enlarge and then share with your Facebook friends:


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gardner Prevails As Prosecutor Moves to Dismiss Charges: Actions of LPD Officer Called Into Question; How Much Did the State Spend To Persecute an Innocent Victim?

Gardner Exonerated!
Good things come to those who wait. After two years and over a dozen trips to the Courthouse, Erin Gardner was exonerated when Tippecanoe County prosecutors dropped all charges against her this week.

It came as no surprise to Gardner, who finally got her day in court last week after her newly-appointed special attorney filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence at her repeated request.

Gardner had been offered several plea deals over the past several months, including one stating that all charges would be dropped in exchange for a simple diversion plea. Gardner said her civil rights were not for sale and continued to press for a jury trial in spite of multiple attempts by prosecutors to add additional charges each time she turned down the offers. 

Gardner also knew there were plenty of prior upper court rulings to support her case.  She had been trying for two years to convince her court-appointed attorneys to file a Motion to Suppress without success.

"They're so programmed to work out plea bargain deals when they should be focused on getting justice for their clients," said Gardner.  "We need to trust the jury system and stop compromising our rights away."

"The higher courts have already ruled on these issues, so why would I plead my rights away when the law is in my favor?" asked Gardner. 

At the hearing, Officer Webb testified on behalf of the state and offered such weak testimony that the judge reportedly appeared to be skeptical of the state’s claims as well as the officer’s lack of judgment.

Judge Persin reportedly questioned the rationale of prosecutors in bringing a minor infraction case to the point of a jury trial. The newly-elected judge also reportedly commented that Gardner was not required to provide identification as a passenger, nor did she do anything wrong by turning away from the officer during the incident after Webb testified that they were motives for her arrest. 

The judge also didn't appear to buy into the rationale that Gardner "might have not been wearing her seatbelt" as a probable cause action.  There was absolutely no proof offered that Gardner was not wearing her seatbelt when officers spotted the vehicle from a distance that she was riding in at around 2 a.m when it was dark.  The judge reportedly questioned the rationale of prosecutors presenting a case based upon the "possibility" she may not have been wearing a seatbelt.

Gardner claims that she is religious about wearing a seatbelt and that she believes Webb came up with the bogus charge after he realized he had violated her civil rights. 

[Watch the dashcam video of Webb violently yanking the 100 pound woman from the backseat of the car while another officer gawks at her as she is being searched in her private area.]


After it became clear that the judge wasn’t buying into the bogus charges, Gardner said Webb suddenly became evasive upon follow-up questioning.

“He suddenly couldn’t remember anything,” said Gardner. “But I will never forget the way he violated my rights and the way he yanked me from the backseat of the car with such force that it caused injury.”

Gardner also recalled the humiliating scene in the emergency room and later learning that Webb had made untrue and slanderous allegations about drug use to hospital staff.  

"I am standing up because I don't want anyone else to go through what I went through," said Gardner.  "It has caused great physical and emotional harm."

“It was obvious that this case was not about justice at all in their minds,” continued Gardner. “It was an example of malicious prosecution simply because I exercised my rights and I wouldn’t cooperate with their corrupt plea bargain system."

Gardner said she would like to research how much the malicious prosecution cost taxpayers. She estimates the cost to be in the thousands of dollars since prosecutors conducted several depositions at taxpayer expense, not to mention the multiple court hearings.  Gardner said she wouldn't be surprised to learn that the cost to taxpayers to be in excess of $30,000 for the infraction case.

“They not only abused their power, they also wasted court time and taxpayer money,” said Gardner. “The public should know how their tax dollars have been misused by public officials on power trips.”

Gardner believes that Prosecutor Pat Harrington should answer for the malicious prosecution from his deputy prosecutors.

"The buck stops at his desk," commented Gardner.  

Gardner said she felt hopeful after Judge Les Meade was voted out of office.  Meade had made several derogatory remarks to Gardner in past hearings, so she did not feel she would get a fair trial under his jurisdiction.

"Judge Persin treated me with respect and he was professional," said Gardner.  "I feel hopeful that justice will be dispensed in his courtroom, and I'm thankful that he put an end to this nightmare."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

LPD Seeks Immunity for Violating Civil Rights as Shocking New Details Emerge

Andrew Phillips
The City of Lafayette, LPD, and Officer Jefffrey Webb have asked to be dismissed from a Civil Rights lawsuit filed last year by Andrew Phillips, son of former Tippecanoe County Clerk Linda Phillips, claiming they are entitled to qualified immunity.

Shocking details
have emerged via attachments to the city's motion, including Phillips' initial statement documenting his version of events as well as accompanying police reports filed by Webb and Officer Ron Dombkowski.

Phillips claims his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by Officer Webb after a neighbor made a complaint that a marijuana odor was allegedly emanating from his home on South 29th Street in Lafayette.

If the conduct of Officers Webb and Dombkowski was anywhere near what Phillips alleges, it should concern every citizen in this community.  Based on past history, it is more than likely that every word of Phillips' statement is accurate.  The undisputed fact that officers prevented Phillips from recording the exchange he had with officers speaks volumes.  Why hide their behavior?

At a time when LPD is forced to produce a public relations video because of a growing number of civil rights complaints, these revelations serve to add to the discredit of the scandal-laden agency, which is unfortunate since there are many fine officers on the force who are affected by the misdeeds of fellow officers.  The police chief is an honorable man, but until these repeat violators at the LPD are removed, Chief Flannely will want to keep a bottle of Excedrin in his top drawer.

Perhaps the money would be better spent on educating rogue LPD officers on Constitutional Law.  After reading the details of this case it is painfully obvious that they lack a basic understanding of the Indiana and U.S. Constitutions.  Or, maybe it's that they just don't care, because their egos are bigger than our freedoms.  Maybe it's because they don't like being told no when a citizen decides to invoke a 1st, 4th, or 5th Amendment right.

It seems that too often in America invoking one's God-given rights is seen as being "evasive" or "uncooperative."  Ask any criminal lawyer.  He or she would tell you that it is not wise to give statements to police officers without having a lawyer present, even if you are not guilty.  Many innocent people have gone to jail for giving up the right to remain silent.

Mr. Phillips made a mistake by stepping outside his castle.  For someone who seems to know and understand his rights, his error in "cooperating" when he was under no obligation to do so placed him in an unfortunate situation where he became vulnerable to bully cops who were most unprofessional in their conduct.

At the very least the officers should be reprimanded for violating the Constitution, bullying a citizen with unprofessional remarks, and for swearing in anger.

Many citizens are concerned that the same names continue to surface whenever complaints of abuse and unprofessional police conduct arise.  And while there are those who believe police officers should be given a free pass for their errors and misdeeds, there are many others who believe this type of dangerous thinking should be challenged every time it rears its ugly head.

The end result never justifies the means, especially if constitutional rights are shattered in the process.  Law abiding citizens want criminals prosecuted, but they also want the Constitution protected, revered,and followed.  Our founders shed blood for the Bill of Rights.  They knew how important they were if we are to maintain a free society.  Freedoms should not be taken lightly, and violating freedoms should not be shrugged off in an effort to get a perceived "bad guy."


Mayor Roswarski
It was quite shocking to learn that one of the officers allegedly began swearing about Mayor Tony Roswarski after Phillips' father asked if the treatment of his son was in retaliation for his son running against their boss in a prior mayoral election.

"Roswarski, I hate that fucking Roswarski!" stated one officer, according to Phillips. "That fucking Roswarski didn't give me the raise I wanted.  In fact, I wish he (pointing at Andrew) had beaten that son-of-a-bitch Roswarski, because if he had won I would have probably gotten the fucking raise."

Well, sir, let me be the first to say that you don't deserve a raise.  You deserve to have your mouth washed out with soap before you are fired!

Van Phillips, father of Andrew, asked a very good question after witnessing this tirade.

"On Wednesday a week or so from now I'm signed up to start taking the Lafayette Civilian Police Academy," stated Van Phillips.  "Is this an example of the type of behavior I'm going to watch when I do the ride-a-longs?"

No, Van, this is the type of behavior the LPD does their best to sweep under the rug.  Fortunately, more people like Andrew Phillips, Erin Gardner, and Mark Bowers are willing to shed light on a growing problem.

Sunlight truly is the best disinfectant.

Andrew Phillips' Statement:

Click on to enlarge.  (Warning: You may want to sit down while reading.)

LPD Police Reports  from Jeffery Webb & Ron Dombkowski

Click on to enlarge.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Public Access Counselor takes West Lafayette School Corp. to the woodshed

Hat tip to the Indiana Law Blog for reporting on this issue of the West Lafayette School Corporation's denial of public records. 

The letter was written in response to a complaint made by Zachary Baiel of West Lafayette and copied to school attorney, Robert Reiling.

Here are a few quotes from the letter as noted at The Indiana Law Blog:

At the outset, I encourage the WLSC to take note of the General Assembly's words in Ind. Code § 5-14-3-1: "The public policy of the APRA states that "(p)roviding persons with information is an essential function of a representative government and an integral part ofthe routine duties of public officials and employees, whose duty it is to provide the information."

I emphasize this language as the WLSC appears to lament the responsibility of being a steward of such information. As representative civil servants, public employees have the affirmative duty to respond to public records requests regardless of the volume of inquiries they receive. It should be integrated in their duties. This is not to say they need to neglect other responsibilities in the regular discharge of their business, however, it should be part of their routine duties.

The West Lafayette School Corporation is a public agency for the purposes of the APRA. See Ind. Code § 5-14-3-2(n)(I). Accordingly, any person has the right to inspect and copy WLSC's public records during regular business hours unless the records are protected from disclosure as confidential or otherwise exempt under the APRA. See Ind. Code § 5-14- 3-3(a).

By itself, a recording of an open meeting should not be subject to redactions. When a properly noticed meeting attended by the public is conducted, anyone has the opportunity to observe and record. See generally, Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5 et. al.

Therefore, if confidential subject matter is discussed, it has already been disclosed and loses its confidential or discretionary status.  That being said, a governing body does not have to record its meetings. Only minutes and/or memoranda are required to be kept. However, if a governing body does record a meeting, the recording becomes public record subject to inspection and copying.

WLSC has not identified why or how their recording technology is so limited that it cannot reasonably isolate the meeting in question and duplicate it. I am familiar with recording technology used by public agencies statewide and have not encountered a system which incurs $75-$100 to generate a copy.  For example, Indiana courts often use a proprietary system to record proceedings.

While the file format of the recording is unique to the judiciary, the courts can isolate the proceeding easily by use of time code and convert the file to a universally recognized file format with very little cost. I have difficulty accepting the WLSC's system is so advanced it could not undertake a similar measure cost-effectively.  By the tone of WLSC's response and the amount charged, one can reasonably infer the fee set to copy a recording of an open board meeting was meant to frustrate access based upon your history as a repeat requester.

The contents of the recording of the open meeting should be provided to you without redactions. Costs should be reexamined and limited to isolating the entirety ofthe open meeting and, if a duplicate is requested, the physical medium upon which it is copied.