November 25, 2020

Man

The Los Angeles Police Commission ruled Tuesday that an LAPD sergeant acted within department policy when he fatally shot a 31-year-old man who was holding a bicycle part that resembled a handgun in Culver City in January.

The unanimous decision, justifying the sergeant’s actions and clearing him of any punishment, came after family members of Victor Valencia told the commission during a virtual Zoom meeting that Valencia suffered from mental illness, was of little threat and deserved better.

“There’s other ways to go about things,” said Sara Cervantes, Valencia’s cousin. “What gave the reason for this officer to shoot down my cousin like he was nothing?”

Cervantes and another family member said that officers should be better trained to understand people with mental illness and see them as people deserving of compassion.

Commission President Eileen Decker told the family that the commission would hear all the evidence in the case and “adjudicate the case fairly and objectively in accordance with the law.”

The commission then went into closed session, where it agreed with recommendations from LAPD Chief Michel Moore and a separate panel that reviews police shootings that Sgt. Colin Langsdale, who shot Valencia, should receive a tactical debriefing but was otherwise in line with department policy and therefore justified in his actions.

Valencia’s killing has been protested by activists in the city who said Valencia did not have a gun and should not have been shot.

The commission’s ruling comes amid a broader discussion in L.A. about the role police should play in cases involving people suffering from mental illness, with activists and police agreeing that alternative mental health providers would be better equipped to respond to certain calls for help.

However, it’s likely the call that brought Langsdale to the Culver City street where Valencia was would elicit a police response regardless, given its nature.

According to a report Moore provided to the commission Tuesday, Langsdale responded to the area of South Sepulveda and South Venice boulevards about 12:45 p.m. Saturday after police received reports of a man with a gun — with one caller saying he was “waving it around.”

Langsdale did not have his body camera activated when he first arrived at the scene, according to police. Once he activated it, it captured Valencia already on the ground and Langsdale standing behind the open door of his police car, gun drawn.

Langsdale said he believed Valencia had a gun. Other witnesses at the scene said they also believed he had a gun. Surveillance footage from a local gas station released by police showed Valencia holding up the bicycle part and appearing agitated.

Cervantes, Valencia’s cousin, said she suffers from depression, and that L.A. needs more services and programs for people suffering from mental illness, and LAPD officers need far better training on how to interact with people in the throes of a mental health crisis.

“They need to know how to deal with people with our state of minds,” she said. “It’s not our fault that

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MERIDEN — A man with an extensive criminal history was on parole when he was taken into custody on weapon and motor vehicle charges during a traffic stop last week, according to police.

It was just before 5 p.m. on Nov. 18 when an officer patrolling a high-crime area saw what he believed to be a drug sale between a pedestrian and the driver of a vehicle, police said.

The officer followed the driver and saw a motor vehicle violation, police said. The officer stopped the driver as he pulled into a business parking lot.

The driver, identified by police as Teharmon Techer, was acting nervous and “appeared to be concealing something” during the traffic stop, police said.

The officer learned Techer, a felon, had an extensive criminal history, including narcotics, firearms and robbery arrests, police said.

As the officer searched the vehicle, he found a gun with a red laser attached to the barrel hidden under the driver’s seat, police said. Techer was also in possession of nearly $4,000 cash, police said.

Techer, who is on parole, was taken into custody.

Court records show he was charged with illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, criminal possession of a firearm and carrying a pistol without a permit. For the alleged motor vehicle violations, he was also charged with failure to display lights and illegal operation of a motor vehicle under suspension.

Police said he was held on a $75,000 bond, but court records show that was reduced to a promise to appear and he was released from custody.

He is next expected in court on Jan. 6, 2021, to enter a plea for the charges.

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PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio

Drug abuse, Snow Road: On Nov. 6, police observed a weaving 2008 Kia Sedona on Snow Road.

It turned out the Cleveland driver was swerving while drinking from an open container of alcohol.

During a search of the Kia, police not only found felony drugs, but it turned out the Sedona was reported stolen.

The driver was arrested for receiving stolen property. He was also cited for drug abuse and open container.

Stolen vehicle, Stumph Road: On Nov. 4, a Stumph Road resident called police after making a startling discovery — her 2014 Hyundai Elantra was missing.

An arriving officer talked to the resident, who had no idea who stole her Elantra. Police are investigating.

Theft by deception, N. Church Drive: On Nov. 6, a N. Church Drive resident called police after discovering he had been scammed out of $1,000 through a Facebook fraud. Police are investigating.

Assault, Oakwood Road: On Nov. 6, police were dispatched to an Oakwood Road residence regarding a man and woman loudly arguing outside.

An arriving officer located the couple. After investigating the incident, a Brunswick woman was arrested for assaulting a police officer.

Fleeing, W. 130th Street: On Nov. 7, police observed a Chevy driving recklessly on W. 130th Street.

When the officer attempted to pull over the vehicle, the driver sped away. The pursuit was terminated in Cleveland. Police are investigating.

Disturbing the peace, W. 130th Street: On Nov. 7, police were dispatched to a W. 130th Street parking lot regarding two men who were fighting.

An arriving officer located the aggressor, a Brook Park man who was arrested for disturbing the peace.

Suspicious vehicle, Pearl Road: On Nov. 8, police observed a 2020 Mazda CX-5 driving suspiciously on Pearl Road.

When the officer attempted to pull over the Mazda, the driver took off leading police in a pursuit, which was terminated for safety reasons. Police are investigating.

Warrant, N. Church Drive: On Nov. 8, a N. Church Drive resident called police about a man acting suspicious in the area.

An arriving officer located the Cleveland man, who was trespassing. Police later learned he had a warrant.

The man was arrested and held for transport. Also, the suspect had marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was cited for drug abuse, possession of drug paraphernalia and trespassing.

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A Papillion man will be sentenced in January after a jury found him guilty of two counts of motor vehicle homicide and misdemeanor reckless driving in the deaths of two Millard youths.

The Sarpy County District Court jury on Friday found 39-year-old Jesse O. Knight guilty of causing the deaths of 10-year-old Stephen Young and his sister, Abby Young, 16. He also was found guilty of misdemeanor reckless driving and pleaded guilty to operating a commercial vehicle without a commercial driving license. 



Jesse O. Knight

Jesse O. Knight




The crash occurred shortly after 9:45 a.m. Aug. 8, 2019, on eastbound Nebraska Highway 370 near 192nd Street. Kristy Young and her four children were in a 2016 Toyota minivan that was stopped at a red light when it was hit from behind by a dump truck driven by Knight.

Stephen Young, who was about to enter the fifth grade at Millard’s Reagan Elementary School, was pronounced dead at the scene. Abby Young, who would have been a junior at Millard West High School, died at a hospital. 

Kristy Young and her sons Levi, 14, and Hunter, 12, were taken in critical condition to Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy. Other people in vehicles that became entangled in the crash also were injured and taken to the hospital.

[email protected], 402-444-1272

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A 29-year-old man with no address drove a stolen van on Monday from Warren County, N.J., into Northampton County, Pa., on Interstate 78 West before ramming a police vehicle with two New Jersey Stare troopers inside, court papers say.

Brandon Marsalis Wesley, behind the wheel of a 2017 GMC Savana with Garden State registration, crossed into Pennsylvania about 2:45 p.m. while being pursued by New Jersey troopers, Pennsylvania State Police said court papers say.

Near the Route 33 interchange in Lower Saucon Township a “pursuit intervention technique” by a Pennsylvania State Police vehicle spun the van, stopping it facing the right side of the highway, police said. A New Jersey State Police vehicle with two troopers inside pulled forward to within 10 feet of the van, police said. The van sped forward, slammed into the driver’s side front quarter panel of the SUV, breaking the police vehicle’s front axle and pushing the vehicle sideways into a guide rail, where it stopped, police said.

Arrest Nov. 23, 2020, on Interstate 78

A man driving a stolen van was spun to a stop Nov. 23, 2020, on Interstate 78 West in Lower Saucon Township but the driver then accelerated into the driver’s side of an occupied New Jersey State Police vehicle, pushing it into a guide rail, court papers say.Tim Wynkoop | lehighvalleylive.com contributor

When Wesley took his foot off the gas, he was arrested, police said.

The highway was briefly closed westbound. All lanes were reopened by 4:50 p.m.

Wesley was arraigned Monday night before District Judge Nicholas Englesson on charges of aggravated assault on a police officer, simple assault and harassment, court papers say. Wesley was housed in Northampton County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Van stopped on Interstate 78 West

A van was stopped by Pennsylvania State Police the afternoon of Nov. 23, 2020, on Interstate 78 West just past the Route 33 entrance. Driver Brandon Marsalis Wesley, 29, was arrested after he rammed a New Jersey State Police vehicle at that location, authorities say.Tim Wynkoop | lehighvalleylive.com contributor

Wesley’s preliminary hearing on the Pennsylvania charges is tentatively scheduled 9 a.m. Dec. 2 in District Judge Alan Roger Mege’s court in the township.

It is not clear what charges Wesley may face in New Jersey.

Court papers do not list an attorney for Wesley.

Tony Rhodin can be reached at [email protected].

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A 29-year-old man with no address drove a stolen van on Monday from Warren County into Northampton County on Interstate 78 West before ramming a police vehicle with two New Jersey Stare troopers inside, court papers say.

Brandon Marsalis Wesley, behind the wheel of a 2017 GMC Savana with Garden State registration, crossed into Pennsylvania about 2:45 p.m. being pursued by New Jersey troopers, Pennsylvania State Police said court papers say.

Near the Route 33 interchange in Lower Saucon Township a “pursuit intervention technique” by a Pennsylvania State Police vehicle spun the van, stopping it facing the right side of the highway, police said. A New Jersey State Police vehicle with two troopers inside pulled forward to within 10 feet of the van, police said. The van sped forward, slammed into the driver’s side front quarter panel of the SUV, breaking the police vehicle’s front axle and pushing the vehicle sideways into a guide rail, where it stopped, police said.

Arrest Nov. 23, 2020, on Interstate 78

A man driving a stolen van was spun to a stop Nov. 23, 2020, on Interstate 78 West in Lower Saucon Township but the driver then accelerated into the driver’s side of an occupied New Jersey State Police vehicle, pushing it into a guide rail, court papers say.Tim Wynkoop | lehighvalleylive.com contributor

When Wesley took his foot off the gas, he was arrested, police said.

The highway was briefly closed westbound and then its limited opening led to a traffic backup. All lanes were reopened by 4:50 p.m. and within several minutes the traffic backup was resolved.

Wesley was arraigned Monday night before District Judge Nicholas Englesson on charges of aggravated assault on a police officer, simple assault and harassment, court papers say. Wesley was housed in Northampton County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Van stopped on Interstate 78 West

A van was stopped by Pennsylvania State Police the afternoon of Nov. 23, 2020, on Interstate 78 West just past the Route 33 entrance. Driver Brandon Marsalis Wesley, 29, was arrested after he rammed a New Jersey State Police vehicle at that location, authorities say.Tim Wynkoop | lehighvalleylive.com contributor

Wesley’s preliminary hearing on the Pennsylvania charges is tentatively scheduled 9 a.m. Dec. 2 in District Judge Alan Roger Mege’s court in the township.

It is not clear what charges Wesley may face in New Jersey.

Court papers do not list an attorney for Wesley.

Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting lehighvalleylive.com with a subscription.

Tony Rhodin can be reached at [email protected].

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By COLLEEN SLEVIN, Associated Press

DENVER (AP) — A man was arrested on suspicion of reckless endangerment and arson after firing a flare gun into his car, which contained items soaked with gasoline outside a Denver police station, authorities said Monday.

Nothing ignited but police were investigating whether Derick Smialek, 37, intended to trigger an explosion on Sunday, department spokesperson Christine Downs said.

It was not known if Smialek has as a lawyer representing him yet. He was scheduled to appear in court Monday but officials said during the virtual hearing that his appearance would be delayed because he was in surgery.

Sheriff’s department spokesperson Daria Serna said he was at Denver Health Medical Center but could not provide more information about why. The hospital did not respond to requests for comment about his condition.

Police said Smialek was not injured during his arrest.

According to a probable cause statement explaining why Smialek was arrested, police said surveillance cameras showed him at first pacing around his car parked outside the station before firing the flare gun. He also went into the station near downtown and made comments to officers, according to the document, but his statements were redacted.

Police said Smialek has several previous felony convictions which bar him from having weapons that can fire explosive cartridges, including a flair gun, so he was also being held on suspicion of being a previous offender in possession of a weapon.

According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, Smialik has been arrested and served time for crimes including third-degree assault, drug possession and motor vehicle theft.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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DENVER (AP) — A man was arrested on suspicion of reckless endangerment and arson after firing a flare gun into his car, which contained items soaked with gasoline outside a Denver police station, authorities said Monday.

Nothing ignited but police were investigating whether Derick Smialek, 37, intended to trigger an explosion on Sunday, department spokesperson Christine Downs said.

It was not known if Smialek has as a lawyer representing him yet. He was scheduled to appear in court Monday but officials said during the virtual hearing that his appearance would be delayed because he was in surgery.


Sheriff’s department spokesperson Daria Serna said he was at Denver Health Medical Center but could not provide more information about why. The hospital did not respond to requests for comment about his condition.

Police said Smialek was not injured during his arrest.

According to a probable cause statement explaining why Smialek was arrested, police said surveillance cameras showed him at first pacing around his car parked outside the station before firing the flare gun. He also went into the station near downtown and made comments to officers, according to the document, but his statements were redacted.

Police said Smialek has several previous felony convictions which bar him from having weapons that can fire explosive cartridges, including a flair gun, so he was also being held on suspicion of being a previous offender in possession of a weapon.

According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, Smialik has been arrested and served time for crimes including third-degree assault, drug possession and motor vehicle theft.

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DENVER — A man was arrested on suspicion of reckless endangerment and arson after firing a flare gun into his car, which contained items soaked with gasoline outside a Denver police station, authorities said Monday.

Nothing ignited but police were investigating whether Derick Smialek, 37, intended to trigger an explosion on Sunday, department spokesperson Christine Downs said.

It was not known if Smialek has as a lawyer representing him yet. He was scheduled to appear in court Monday but officials said during the virtual hearing that his appearance would be delayed because he was in surgery.

Sheriff’s department spokesperson Daria Serna said he was at Denver Health Medical Center but could not provide more information about why. The hospital did not respond to requests for comment about his condition.

Police said Smialek was not injured during his arrest.

According to a probable cause statement explaining why Smialek was arrested, police said surveillance cameras showed him at first pacing around his car parked outside the station before firing the flare gun. He also went into the station near downtown and made comments to officers, according to the document, but his statements were redacted.

Police said Smialek has several previous felony convictions which bar him from having weapons that can fire explosive cartridges, including a flair gun, so he was also being held on suspicion of being a previous offender in possession of a weapon.

According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, Smialik has been arrested and served time for crimes including third-degree assault, drug possession and motor vehicle theft.

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Police found over $1,000 in stolen goods, including 108 rolls of toilet paper, in an Oregon man’s car, Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office said. He was arrested

Police found over $1,000 in stolen goods, including 108 rolls of toilet paper, in an Oregon man’s car, Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office said. He was arrested

Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office

Calling it the “Great Toilet Paper Caper of 2020,” the Walla Walla Sheriff’s Office in Washington said deputies made the agency’s biggest bust of the precious commodity during the pandemic.

A neighbor called 911 and interrupted a burglary at a residence, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. The neighbor provided a description of the suspect’s vehicle but “poor cell coverage and an aggressively driving thief” prevented police from catching the suspect, they said.

Hours later, deputies said they found the accused thief in his “disabled vehicle.” They discovered toilet paper in his car matching the packaging found earlier in the house, according to the news release.

Police said they arrested the suspect, whose name hasn’t been revealed but was described as an Oregon man.

After serving a search warrant, police found more than $1,000 in stolen goods that were recovered from his car, in addition to 108 rolls of toilet paper, they said.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, experts say there are shortages due stockpiling of some products including toilet paper, paper towels and disinfectant wipes, McClatchy News reported.

“(Shoppers) say that they won’t get caught without what they need again,” Chris Mentzer, the director of operations for Rastelli Market Fresh in New Jersey, told Today. “To compound the shortages, the customers that weren’t buying before are now buying extra, so the shortages are starting to impact stock levels.”

Grocery chain Kroger, with stores in 35 states, has “proactively and temporarily set purchase limits to two per customer” for toilet paper, McClatchy News reported.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

Summer Lin is a McClatchy Real-Time News Reporter. She graduated from Columbia University School of Journalism and was previously a News and Politics Writer for Bustle News.

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