Kswatcher's Weblog

July 10, 2017

Police Chief Frank Donchez

Filed under: Uncategorized — kswatcher @ 12:42 am

why would any city want to employ this man in the position of police chief?

Most people think that law enforcement employees are hired to protect the public whose money also pays for their salaries in the form of taxes.  Mr. Francis R. Donchez, Esq. seems to think that his primary and only obligation in law enforcement is to protect law enforcement agencies and their employees against complaints and/or prosecution for illegal and violent behavior directed against the people they are hired and sworn to protect.

When I look at the employment history of Mr. Donchez, I can’t help but ask why the City of Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas would have selected him as their police chief.

Resume of Mr. Francis R. Donchez, ESQ.:


Please take note of the year 1997 for future reference regarding the wrongful death of mr. hirko which cost the taxpayers of Bethlehem, PA about 8 million dollars.

Records claim that Frank Robert Donchez, Jr. also uses the alias name of Frank J. Donchez.

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 7.34.54 PM

Let’s begin in 1997 in the town of Bethlehem, PA and 21-year-old John Hirko, Jr.   By coincidence, the mayor of Bethlehem, PA is also a Mr. Robert Donchez, however, I haven’t been able to establish the familial relationship between him and Francis Robert Donchez.  “Bob” also served on the Mayor’s task force for community policing.  

Mayor Bob Donchez is a member of St. Anne’s Catholic Church where he serves as a lector, usher and is a member of the Church Finance Committee.

Associate Member of Fraternal Order of Police Star Lodge #20

Member – Bethlehem City Council (1996-2014)

President of Bethlehem City Council (2008-2012 (1998-2002)

Member of Public Safety Committee – Chairman (2012-2014) (2002-2008)


Member of Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Community Policing


Member of Mayor’s Task Force on Community Policing (2005)



“If you’ve never heard of John Hirko, Jr., it’s time you did. He was a young man from Bethlehem. He had no criminal record. He was killed by the Bethlehem SWAT team.

According to a running series from Radley Balko at the Huffington Post, this is only one of countless raids-gone-wrong over the past few decades—raids that demonstrate the growing militaristic police force and the dangers we all face when confronted by them.

The SWAT team were tipped off that Hirko might be selling drugs out of the home he shared with his girlfriend. Rather than substantiating this tip, they set up a raid.

The SWAT team threw a flash-bang grenade through the window, just seconds after knocking. Then, they stormed the house. Hirko, thinking he was being robbed, was found holding a gun in his home. The police opened fire. Officer Joseph Riedy shot him 11 times, nine of which were in the back.

A second grenade was thrown near Hirko, triggering a fire that burned the house down and took any chance of saving Hirko with it. His body was burned “beyond recognition.”

Despite the many problems with this raid, including the fact that Hirko’s girlfriend says there was no evidence of drug distribution found, Hirko’s death was ruled a justifiable homicide by the District Attorney. Officer Riedy was later named “Officer of the Year.”

The Bethlehem SWAT team was a rag-tag bunch. They had no written procedures or guidelines and no standards for joining. If you were a cop and you wanted in, you were accepted. They were headed up by Officer Kirby Williams, someone who senior officials in the department had been warned about—“If the wrong guy gets up there, somebody was going to get injured or killed,” warned one officer.

Hirko was that someone.”


In April 1997, a SWAT team in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania raided the home of John Hirko, Jr. after an informant claimed to have purchased drugs from him. Within minutes Hirko was dead, and his body consumed by fire.

The police started the raid by tossing a flash grenade through a window, just a few seconds after knocking. When Hirko emerged from a bedroom with a gun, Officer Joseph Riedy shot Hirko 11 times, nine times in the back. One of the SWAT cops then detonated a second flash grenade near Hirko, sparking a fire that destroyed the house and prevented police or paramedics from giving Hirko any medical attention. The fire burned Hirko’s body beyond recognition.

Hirko had no criminal record, but police claimed to have found evidence of drug distribution in the house after the raid. Hirko’s fiancée said they were only recreational users, and that Hirko believed he was being robbed at the time of the raid. The local district attorney determined Hirko’s death was a justifiable homicide. The following year Officer Riedy, the cop who killed Hirko, was named “Officer of the Year.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 7.37.38 PM

In the lawsuit Hirko’s family filed against the city, expert witnesses for Hirko’s estate testified that the disorienting effects of the grenade and its deployment in such close proximity to the alleged announcement, along with the lack of a clear police insignia on the SWAT team’s black, military-style uniforms would have made it difficult for anyone to determine if they were being apprehended by police or invaded by unlawful intruders. Another witness for Hirko’s family — a police officer from the same department that conducted the raid — testified that five months before the raid, he had warned senior officials in the department not to promote Officer Kirby Williams to head up the SWAT team, cautioning that, ‘’If the wrong guy gets up there, somebody was going to get injured or killed.” Williams was promoted anyway. The SWAT team had no written procedures, and there were no standards or qualifications to join — any officer who volunteered could serve on the team.

The expert witness for the city — a longtime officer with the LAPD SWAT team — testified that SWAT officers should not have insignia on their uniforms to make them easily identifiable as police officers, because doing so “would make them a target.” He also testified that Hirko should not have been confronted outside his home, and that police were correct to storm the house to take Hirko by surprise. In short, he testified that there was nothing problematic about a raid that left a house destroyed, a man shot nine times in the back, and a charred corpse.

The federal jury disagreed, finding in 2004 that the SWAT team had violated Hirko’s civil rights. Soon after the verdict, the city of Bethlehem settled with Hirko’s estate for $8 million, nearly a fourth of the city’s annual budget.


What happened to the Hirko tax in Bethlehem?

Bethlehem officials last month unceremoniously cut the final $876,960 check to pay off a debt rooted in a tragedy.

The city was found liable in 2004 for a botched drug raid in which police fatally shot John Hirko Jr. and, rather than let that same jury decide an award some feared could bankrupt Bethlehem, officials negotiated a settlement that put taxpayers on the hook for $7.39 million.

“It’s a chapter in Bethlehem history that has now closed,” said Mayor Robert Donchez, who was on City Council at the time of the trial. “We are moving forward and hopefully will never see that type of case again.”

But while the last payment perhaps represents a cathartic moment, the practicality of the debt being repaid will change city finances very little, and the 0.5-mill tax levied to pay it off — the so-called Hirko tax — will stay on the books.

Though Bethlehem has deleted the description of the tax as the “Hirko settlement debt” in the budget proposed for next year, that tax money instead will be dedicated to pay off other borrowing.

Hirko deal: $8 million, reforms

So in some ways like the state’s century-old Johnstown Flood levy, the cost of the Hirko tax doesn’t just go away with the debt’s retirement.

Since the city floated a bond to pay for the Hirko settlement, the city has taken on tens of millions of new debt to pay for capital improvements and — in 2011 — another $16 million to erase a deficit. So, as some bonds get paid off — including the Hirko bond — new debt financed by new bonds takes their place.

The goal is to create overall debt bills that don’t fluctuate much year to year.

In place of the Hirko bond next year, more of the previous borrowings will be paid — debt service will creep up $170,000 to $5.6 million in the general fund.

Donchez said the city has nowhere to cut to cover that debt expense.

He said the city is already at 610 employees — the lowest in recent history — and is dealing with rising health and pension costs. The city has posted small surpluses in recent years and Donchez is proposing a property tax increase of 0.49 mills for Northampton County and 0.15 mills for Lehigh County.

Councilman Michael Recchiuti, who questioned the administration on the Hirko tax, said he does not object to the use of the tax money, but thought the change should have been better explained.

“I just wish there was a little more transparency in the budget process here,” Recchiuti said.

The Hirko tax amounts to 0.5 mills for Northampton County sections of the city. That tax, by resolution of council, was dedicated to pay off the Hirko borrowing. The net property tax increase proposed for next year is 0.49 mills, which coupled with the 0.5-mill tax that had been dedicated to the Hirko expenses that no longer exist, means the tax hit is essentially 0.99 mills for Northampton. Lehigh County would face a similar increase.

John Callahan, who negotiated the settlement weeks after being sworn in as mayor in 2004, said he had no preconceived idea about whether the Hirko tax would be eliminated at the conclusion of paying off the debt because it is hard to predict a city’s future needs.

But, he said, recent history now shows that the settlement was in the best interest of the city.

“We were able to put in place a payment system that allowed us to balance budgets, lower the overall debt service and also make critical investments in our future,” Callahan said. ” … Once we were able to put a plan in place, the cloud of uncertainty cleared and, as a consequence, we saw a lot of investment in the city of Bethlehem.”

The settlement stems from a 1997 South Side raid in which police shot to death 21-year-old Hirko, a suspected drug dealer, and accidentally set fire to his home.

A civil rights lawsuit, filed by Hirko’s family, fiancee and landlord, went to trial 11 years ago. Not all the jurors agreed on the verdict, and Callahan decided to accept a verdict that was not unanimous, thinking the city came off well at the trial. But the majority of the jury sided with the plaintiffs.

The city at the time had just $500,000 insurance coverage, and taxpayers had to foot the rest of the bill of the settlement that was then negotiated.

Funding the tax rate had been a tumultuous debate on council. Callahan proposed to start with small Hirko payments and increase them over the years as the city paid off other debt.

But City Council objected, eventually leading council members to override Callahan’s veto so that the debt service payments would be equal.

Since then, City Council passed a law requiring the city to have at least $10 million in insurance coverage. The city currently is insured for $11 million. The police department, per the Hirko settlement, has also been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Officer Riedy taken off SWAT team, and the Bethlehem police union objects, saying that he was wrongly punished for the Hirko Lawsuit verdict.


Joseph Riedy, the Bethlehem police officer who shot John Hirko Jr. to death, has been removed from the squad that raided Hirko’s home because of concerns that Riedy’s participation would make the city vulnerable in future lawsuits.

City and police union officials confirmed Friday that Riedy was taken off the emergency response team after a federal jury found he used excessive force by shooting Hirko at least 10 times. Riedy also was removed as a police force instructor in the use of force and firearms.

The move prompted the police union to file a grievance objecting to the city’s action. The union claims the action violates the union contract, hurts police morale and wrongly punishes Riedy.

“It has devastated the morale of the Police Department,” said lawyer George Kounoupis, representing the union. “It has devastated Officer Riedy.”

But Police Commissioner Francis Donchez Jr. said the action was not meant to punish Riedy. “There’s no better trainer than Joe Riedy,” Donchez said.

Instead, Donchez said he removed Riedy at the direction of city solicitor John Spirk Jr. If the police are sued again for allegedly using excessive force, even the “worst lawyer” would raise questions about why Riedy continued to serve on the emergency response team and as a firearms instructor, Donchez said.

“Any plaintiff’s attorney worth his salt would make an issue of it,” Donchez said. “Why give a future litigator any ammunition you don’t have to give him?”

Mayor John Callahan said that while he has thought about what’s best for Riedy, it’s more important to think about the best interests of the city and the police force. “I can’t necessarily think about one officer,” the mayor said.

The action will not affect Riedy’s full-time status as a patrol sergeant. His role as an instructor and a leader of the emergency response team earned him extra pay.

A federal jury concluded March 4 that Riedy and the city violated the civil rights of Hirko, his fiancee and his landlord during a 1997 drug raid that left Hirko dead from gunshot wounds and his body burned beyond recognition. In addition to shooting Hirko, Riedy accidentally set his rental house on fire with a flash-bang distraction device.

Facing a potential damages verdict, the city agreed two weeks later to pay nearly $8 million to settle the case and agreed to specific police reforms.

The city’s business administrator, Dennis Reichard, is supposed to rule on the union grievance. If he rules against the union, the next step would be for the union to ask for an arbitrator to make a decision that would be binding, Kounoupis said.

As a result, Riedy’s removal has hurt his morale, Kounoupis said in a memo supporting the grievance.

“This grievance is not just about titles or money,” Kounoupis wrote. “It is about pride, dignity and the soul-searching that every one of us does when we wake up each morning and ask ourselves what our life’s career and work has meant.

“You need to know, and you should know,” Kounoupis wrote to city officials, “that you are taking something other than just title and money away if you do this to Sgt. Riedy.”

Riedy was instrumental in forming the SWAT team, according to Kounoupis. Riedy encouraged the police force to create the team and helped organize it.

But the decision goes beyond Riedy’s morale, Kounoupis said. “Any imaginary gain in some future litigation is greatly outweighed by, in essence, telling the police officers that this type of unfair, second-guessing can occur at the end of their career.”

Riedy, 38, who declined to comment for this story, hopes to teach the use of firearms and SWAT techniques after retiring. By removing him from the team, his marketability in that role will be hurt, Kounoupis wrote.

“Briefly stated,” said Kounoupis, “this action has potentially devastating consequences to Sgt. Riedy’s future career prospects and plans.”

In the memo, the union lawyer also argued that a judge presiding in any future excessive force trial would have to prohibit testimony about Riedy’s role in the Hirko raid. The raid happened too long ago to be legally relevant because Riedy has had an unblemished record since then, according to Kounoupis.

In his own letter to the city, union President Steven Marshall noted that Riedy had a patrolman’s rank during the raid — that there were three supervisors present that night.

“The only options open to Officer Riedy that evening were to go home or do his sworn duty to the best of his ability,” Marshall wrote. “He chose to stay and risk his life to perform his duty.”



Plaintiff Christopher Altieri is a resident of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff Pet World, Inc. (“Pet World” and, together with Altieri, “plaintiffs”) is a Pennsylvania corporation, operated by Altieri, with a principal place of business in Hellertown, Pennsylvania.

  1. Altieri’s work as a confidential informant

In the Spring of 1994, while working as a confidential informant for the Bethlehem police, Altieri witnessed police misconduct, including the singling out of black and Hispanic males and the use of excessive force by Bethlehem police officers. Altieri was critical of these practices in conversations with Officer Edward Hughes and other Bethlehem police officers, and subsequently stopped working for the Bethlehem police.

1At all times relevant to this suit, Frank Donchez was a sergeant on the Bethlehem police force; he has since been promoted to lieutenant.

On March 21, 1995, Altieri met with Palenchar, Officer Hughes, Sergeant Donchez, and Agent Terry to discuss work as a confidential informant for the DEA. At that meeting, Agent Terry proposed paying Altieri and Palenchar for their work with money skimmed off the top of any cash seizure. Agent Terry asked Altieri and Palenchar to sign “confidential individual” forms and to have their pictures taken in what Agent Terry described as a preliminary step if they decided to work with the DEA.

At the meeting, Altieri said he was unsure about working as a confidential informant for the DEA, but he signed the cooperating individual form that Agent Terry provided with the explicit understanding that its contents would never be disclosed. The next day, Altieri spoke with Palenchar and an unnamed Bethlehem police officer, and told them that he did not want to participate in the DEA investigation because it involved illegal activities.

  1. Alleged retaliation against plaintiffs

On March 30, 1995, Palenchar met with Agent Terry and Officer Hughes at the Bethlehem police station. At that meeting, the three men expressed their anger with Altieri for his criticism of the Bethlehem police and for refusing to participate in the DEA investigation, and agreed to use their respective positions to harass Altieri.

In August or September, 1995, Palenchar asked Altieri a series of strange questions, such as, “Do you think someone could buy drugs down in Florida?”; “How much could someone make from selling drugs?”; and, “How could someone transport drugs from

Florida to Pennsylvania?” As Palenchar’s questions continued, Altieri began to challenge Palenchar’s motives.

Over the next four months, the Bethlehem police and Agent Terry investigated Altieri. As part of this investigation, Altieri’s mail was monitored, he was followed on his vacation, and people he knew and with whom he did business were subjected to interviews and were told that Altieri was a “drug kingpin.” In addition, Pet World and its customers were placed under police surveillance.

In July, 1997, Altieri complained to the Bureau of Professional Responsibility– which performs oversight of DEA agents–about Agent Terry. In November, 1997, Officer Hughes told Palenchar that he and Agent Terry had been cleared of any wrongdoing, and that Altieri would “get his” for having them investigated.

  1. Altieri’s application to the Pennsylvania State Police

In August, 1994, Altieri took the entrance examination for the Pennsylvania State Police. On June 27, 1996, the state police informed Altieri that he had successfully completed the written examination, oral interview, physical examination, and the strength and agility test as part of his application for employment. All that remained, according to the state police, was for Altieri to complete a background investigation. In August, 1996, Altieri was interviewed by Trooper Egan, along with another state police trooper, Trooper Candidas.

Around the same time as Altieri’s interview with Trooper Egan, Officer Hughes arranged a meeting between Trooper Egan and Corporal Ronald Garza of the state police, Sergeant Donchez of the Bethlehem police, and Palenchar to discuss ways to keep Altieri out of the state police. In that connection, Officer Hughes suggested to Trooper Egan that he contact Agent Terry of the DEA.

On November 2, 1996, Altieri received a letter from the PSP informing him that the Background Investigation Screening Board (“screening board”) had not reached a decision on his application, and that he would have a decision by the date of the screening board’s next meeting. Altieri heard nothing until March 17, 1997, when Trooper Egan asked him to meet to answer some more questions. When Altieri arrived, Trooper Egan, accompanied by Corporal Garza, told Altieri that there were two questions holding up Altieri’s application.

First, Trooper Egan asked Altieri if he was a confidential informant for the DEA. Altieri responded that he went to a meeting and discussed the possibility of working for the DEA, but had declined to do so. Second, Trooper Egan asked whether Altieri knew that he had been the subject of a criminal investigation. Altieri said that he did not, but recalled for Trooper Egan the odd conversation that Altieri had with Palenchar about drug dealing. Altieri also told Trooper Egan and Corporal Garza that he thought the investigations into his activities and background and the accusations made about him were retaliatory for his refusal to get involved with improper activities of the Bethlehem police and DEA.

On May 8, 1997, the PSP Bureau of Personnel informed Altieri that the screening board had disqualified him for appointment to the state police. The decision stated that Altieri was disqualified for lying during the interview process–specifically for stating that he had not signed any paperwork for the DEA. Moreover, the decision noted that Altieri had not volunteered information about his contact with the DEA, offering it only after Trooper Egan confronted him with it. Altieri appealed the hiring decision through the PSP’s internal appeal process.

On June 30, 1997, a hearing was held before a Background Investigation Hearing Board (“hearing board”) on Altieri’s appeal of the screening board’s decision. On April 13, 1998, the state police personnel bureau informed Altieri that the hearing board had upheld the decision of the screening board despite acknowledging that Altieri had never done any work for the DEA, that he had never been paid by the DEA, and that an official DEA document disclosed that he had no official status, implied or otherwise, as an agent or employee of the DEA. Altieri filed an appeal of this decision to the PSP’s Background Investigation Appeal Board (“appeal board”). On May 22, 1998, the state police personnel bureau wrote to Altieri, informing him that the appeal board had upheld the decision of the hearing board.

  1. Plaintiffs’ problems in Hellertown

In late Autumn, 1997, Robert Balum (“Chief Balum”), the Chief of the Hellertown Police Force (“Hellertown police”), and Steve Doncevic (“Officer Doncevic”), a Hellertown Zoning Officer, called a state official to block Altieri’s effort to obtain an unspecified permit for Pet World. Chief Balum and Officer Doncevic told this state official that they had a large file on Altieri, that they did not want him in Hellertown, and that they were going to make things very difficult for Altieri. Earlier, Chief Balum, Officer Doncevic, and James Sigworth, the Hellertown Borough Manager, along with two unknown Hellertown police officers, John Doe and John Doe II (collectively, the “Hellertown defendants”), detained Altieri for over an hour at Pet World, without probable cause or any other legitimate ground. Chief Balum, Borough

Manager Sigworth, and Officer Doncevic also engaged in a series of searches of Altieri and Pet World.




Hirko Case – Settlement

Mr. Donchez, with reference to an article in the Morning Call edition of March 23, 2004, noted it states that Attorney Karoly may pursue civil action in Federal court. In addition, Mr. Donchez related that news was also the story on television Channel 69 this evening. Noting that he received an e-mail of the television news story, Mr. Donchez read the e-mail from WFMZ Channel 69 for the record, as follows: “The attorney in the John Hirko wrongful death trial is now asking the United States Attorney to look into filing criminal charges. John Karoly wants murder and criminal conspiracy charges to be brought against police involved in the shooting death of Hirko back in 1997. Karoly said he wants a more independent entity to look over the handling of the raid on Hirko’s home. Pennsylvania’s Attorney General has already found no criminal wrongdoing by Bethlehem officers.” Mr. Donchez, expressing he believed that City Council was told Sunday night that this settlement was over, said his question is based on the story and the e-mail did the plaintiffs execute a release to the City that there would be no further civil or criminal action to be brought against the City and was that part of a written agreement.

John Spirk, City Solicitor, replied he does not think one can release criminal action. Attorney Spirk continued on to communicate there was a release of all civil action, and the end of all litigation related to this case in terms of lawsuits. Attorney Spirk, in response to Mr. Donchez’s question about whether it was written, advised there was a written agreement between Attorney Ledva who is representing the City and Attorney Karoly and they drafted and executed appropriate releases. Attorney Spirk stated that covers lawsuits and is different from criminal investigations.

Mr. Donchez asked, if Attorney Karoly is going to file, where does that leave the City. Mr. Donchez further queried, if criminal actions were to be taken, who provides the legal aid to the Police Officers. Mr. Donchez remarked he was shocked when he heard this was on the television news at 5:00 PM today. Mr. Donchez inquired how does such a filing affect the City.

Attorney Spirk, explaining that anyone can ask law enforcement to investigate, exemplified that the City asked law enforcement in the northern part of the State to investigate timber theft, and added that the City did not file anything but rather made a request. Attorney Spirk commented that, from what Mr. Donchez read, Attorney Karoly is asking people to investigate a criminal matter which is different from lawsuits, from things that get filed, and from things that get released at the end of litigation.

Mr. Donchez expressed his understanding was that he “thought this was over meaning over, and now I read this that he’s asking the U.S. Attorney to review this, and is that going to end up for more litigation for the City if it were to go that far…[W]ho will provide the legal defense…”.

Attorney Spirk, responding it is up to the U.S. Attorney, recounted that already the State Police have looked at it, and the Attorney General has looked at it. Attorney Spirk communicated he would be very surprised if the U.S. Attorney would look at it more than to determine that the Attorney General and the City have already looked at it. Attorney Spirk restated that is not litigation and is more like asking somebody to investigate. Attorney Spirk continued on to say, under the City’s collective bargaining agreement, the City is obligated to provide counsel when someone is sued for something they did in the line of duty.

Mr. Donchez observed that, under the worst case scenario, if the U.S. Attorney’s office feels this is justified, even though the State’s Attorney General’s office said no after the event, the City will provide legal counsel.

Attorney Spirk replied yes to Mr. Donchez’s observation, and added that under the collective bargaining the City is obligated to provide a defense.

Mr. Donchez asked if there was a written agreement that there would be no more civil action.

Attorney Spirk said that is right. Attorney Spirk continued on to say he thinks, legally, a person cannot be stopped from filing a criminal action as part of a civil case. He said anybody can go complain about a criminal case.

Mr. Donchez asked if Christopher Spadoni, City Council Solicitor, would like to make any additional comments.

Attorney Spadoni stated this is appropriate for the Administration to report to Council as to the status of the matter that was just brought to his attention this evening, and it is something that should be looked into.

Mr. Leeson stated, when he heard the news report today about Mr. Karoly referring this case to the Federal authorities for murder charges, the question that came to his mind is “did you make a request to the plaintiffs in exchange for payment of close to $8 million to not do this.”

Attorney Spirk replied no.

Mr. Leeson asked why not.

Attorney Spirk responded “because within the context of civil litigation we asked for a release of all suits, claims, or anything as a result of this investigation. I don’t know that I can bind the United States Attorney appointed by the President of the United States from investigating criminal wrongdoing. I don’t think there was criminal wrongdoing here. I think the Attorney General was right but I don’t believe it’s within my power as a City official to bind the United States Attorney appointed by the President of the United States.”

Mr. Leeson said his question is “did you not seek to ask the plaintiffs. I’m not asking if you made a request to bind the Attorney General. I’m asking you why didn’t you make this request to the plaintiffs seeing as how we’re spending so much money on this and we wanted to conclude everything.”

Attorney Spirk replied “because I was in the courtroom where we were in civil litigation involving lawsuits for money damages, and within the context of the authority of the court in civil litigation it was my desire to end the civil litigation. I don’t believe I can stop anybody legally from reporting what they think is a crime. Mr. Karoly can’t bring criminal charges. No one on his side of the case can. The only one who can bring criminal charges is the United States Attorney in this case.”

Mr. Leeson said, “in reviewing the stipulation which is the agreement that the parties made, which I’ve had a chance to receive yesterday, and looked at today, it appears that the findings of the jury and the judgment of the jury were not vacated in the context of the settlement, but rather the City allowed a judgment to be entered against all of the defendants, to be entered on the docket of the court. And, I have to tell you I am concerned about this latest development with [Attorney] Karoly’s statement today because the entry of a judgment means there is a binding judicial finding of the jury that has not been vacated, and will be examined by the U. S. Attorney as a binding judicial finding. Did this occur to you before you made this agreement?”

Attorney Spirk commented “as you know, there is a different burden of proof in a civil lawsuit criminal prosecution. This jury found, painful and unfortunate as it was, that the City and a particular [police] officer by a preponderance of the evidence used excessive force. The definition of preponderance of the evidence is that if one were to take the scales of justice and pile up all the evidence favoring the plaintiff’s side, all the evidence favoring the defense side, the scales need tip ever so slightly and once they do the plaintiff wins…The criminal matter, on the other hand, the State must prove someone guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, a tremendously higher burden, as it should be, when the State seeks to take someone’s life or liberty. So, therefore, the jury finding that by a preponderance of the evidence the police used excessive force compared to what would have to be proven to show that the police committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt is a significantly different standard. So, if there were ever to be, despite the rulings of the local [District Attorney], despite the rulings of the Attorney General, that there [were] ever to be criminal charges brought, the finding by this jury would not by any stretch of the imagination result in automatic criminal liability for these officers.”

Mr. Leeson, commenting he does not think it is any secret that he has expressed his dissatisfaction with the outcome, said he needs to reiterate it and express dissatisfaction that this case is not concluded.

Ms. Szabo said she, too, was quite shocked when she read the remarks in the newspaper that the case may be investigated because she left the meeting on Sunday evening with the information that she heard from both the Mayor and Attorney Spirk, and the Judge, that there has been an agreement between all parties that this would be the end of the case. Ms. Szabo continued on to say “well this is not the end of the case…”. Ms. Szabo stressed “what’s being reactivated is exactly what [the City] was charged with at the very beginning, and the remarks, the accusations that there was a conspiracy between the State Police and the State Attorney General to cover up what happened, that’s continuing the case. And, what happened to the agreement between all parties that we’re finished, forever.”

Mrs. Belinski, remarking that Attorney Spirk skirted around Mr. Leeson’s question, said the fact is “wouldn’t you think you would have anticipated, in view of what happened in the Rodney King trial in Los Angeles…that this is exactly what happened there what we are going to now experience with Mr. Karoly, these criminal charges. Wouldn’t you have anticipated that this might have happened and put something in the agreement…to indemnify us against something like this happening before we gave him $8 million…”.

Attorney Spirk responded there are not criminal charges here. Attorney Spirk said Attorney Karoly cannot bring criminal charges here, only the United States Attorney can. Attorney Spirk commented he cannot make anybody do anything to stop Attorney Karoly if he wants to. Attorney Spirk thought after the District Attorney and the Attorney General did not, the chances of the U.S. Attorney somehow saying that the local District Attorney John Morganelli and the Attorney General of Pennsylvania somehow missed it seems very unlikely, but he could not stop the U.S. Attorney if he wanted to do it.

Mrs. Belinski stressed but he could stop Mr. Karoly by including that in the agreement.

Attorney Spirk restated he cannot preclude criminal charges.

Ms. Szabo said “we were told that the case was over, that the whole case is over, and this was all behind us. Well, that certainly sounds like there was an agreement to not continue the case.”

Attorney Spirk commented “there was no agreement not to write a letter. The man has written a letter to the United States Attorney, and the case is over. His ability to write letters isn’t…The litigation after seven long years is over…”.




Quad Cities Police Officer Caught Beating Female Shoplifter In Shocking Leaked Video





The footage – originating from a department store security camera and forwarded to the BGA by a source – shows the much larger officer pummeling the 34-year-old woman in front of her infant daughter. After knocking the woman to the floor, the officer rains numerous blows to her face and head, according to the video, which was authenticated by authorities.

“I was crying and begging him to get off me,” Brandie Redell, the woman who was beaten, says in a recent interview with the BGA. Her right eye was injured in the incident, and she says her vision is still impaired.

The incident occurred Feb. 18, 2013, in an interview room inside the Von Maur department store in Davenport, Iowa, one of five Mississippi River towns along the Illinois-Iowa border that collectively are known as the Quad Cities.

Police were called after Von Maur employees observed Redell attempting to steal $388 worth of women’s clothing, including three tops, one skirt and one dress, according to interviews and public records.

Davenport Police Officer Scott Crow, seen on the video punching Redell, was disciplined for using excessive force, says Police Chief Frank Donchez. He declined to specify the punishment or say if this was Crow’s first offense.

Crow was not criminally charged and remains in his $65,580-a-year job. He did not return phone calls from the BGA.

Redell didn’t appear to physically provoke or attack Crow during the police interview gone awry. The video shows Redell seated in a chair while being questioned by police, apparently crying and talking on a cell phone when Crow moves toward her.

In Crow’s version, he rushed Redell because her “hands were clenched” and she appeared “willing to fight,” according to a copy of the case report obtained by the BGA under Iowa’s open records law.

Crow also states that once on the ground Redell bit his finger and would not let up, the reason he started punching her head, according to the report. (Redell admitted to the BGA that she indeed did bite Crow after he tackled her. But the video also shows Crow striking Redell with both fists, so his finger wasn’t always between clenched teeth.)

Another officer also is seen in the video scuffling with Redell but doesn’t appear to strike her with his fists. That second officer was not disciplined.

In Chicago, allegations of police misconduct have been front and center for at least a decade, mainly the result of revelations that former Area 2 Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his underlings used torture to elicit false confessions.

While those cases continue to garner heavy media attention, many other excessive force complaints are handled quietly and without fanfare. Video of Redell’s beating hasn’t been publicly disclosed until now, so far as the BGA could determine.

Days after the incident Redell filed a complaint with Davenport police, alleging Crow used excessive force. Donchez says the department reviewed the allegation and in a letter, dated April 3, 2013, told Redell her complaint was “sustained.” The department didn’t specify how Crow was disciplined, but the video apparently played a large role in the decision-making.

Scott County, Iowa, prosecutor Michael Walton reviewed a video of the beating but decided not to press charges against Crow, citing a lack of evidence. “I don’t think the video disputes” Crow’s claim that he hit Redell because she bit him, Walton says.

Public safety expert David Bradford disagrees.

“At some point his hand is free [from her mouth] and he continued to pummel her,” says Bradford, executive director of Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, who was shown the video. “He went overboard.”

Redell was charged with two misdemeanors: Assault causing injury to a peace officer and shoplifting. She pled guilty to shoplifting, and the assault charge was dropped, according to interviews and public records.

Screen Shot 2017-07-09 at 7.40.47 PM




Pin a badge on a liar and a thug and what do you get? A liar and a thug with the ability to pummel a woman senseless with impunity. In other words, a Davenport, Iowa, LEO (legally entitled to oppress).

A surveillance video from a Davenport department store has surfaced that shows officers holding down and beating a woman suspected of shoplifting. Brandie Rendell was attacked by the officer while sitting in a chair in a store office. She said the attack came while she spoke on the telephone with her child’s father. When the officer realized who she was speaking to, he said: “Oh, you’re associated with him. This is about to get really ugly really quick.”

Of course, the officer blamed Rendell for the altercation, claiming he pummeled her because she bit his finger. She admits she bit him, but said she did so after the assault began and her screams for help went unanswered.

And as is typical in cases of police brutality, Rendell was charged with assault causing injury to a peace officer and shoplifting.

Though the assault against a peace officer charge was later dropped, it’s always amazing how sensitive so-called “peace officers” can be. Sideways glances often cause the “brave” oppressors all manner of discomfort and injury. In his official report, LEO Scott Crow, who delivered the beating, claimed Rendell had “clenched fists” and appeared “willing to fight.” After she hit the ground, Rendell began biting his finger and “would not let up,” Crow claimed. How he landed blows with both fists while she was biting his finger wasn’t explained.

Iowa Police Chief Frank Donchez, who came to Iowa from Bethlehem, Pa., after that department was hit with a large Federal lawsuit for allegations of excessive force by his police officers, claims Crow was disciplined; but he declined to tell a reporter the nature of the discipline. Crow’s accomplice was not disciplined. Scott County Prosecutor Michael Walton gave State sanction to Crow’s brutality by refusing to prosecute the officer. “I don’t think the video disputes Crow’s claim that he hit Redell because she bit him,” he said.

Of course not. Meanwhile, Crow is back from his “discipline” and free to pummel other helpless women at his pleasure while drawing a $65,000-plus annual salary.

Davenport paying up to $45K to settle case of cop striking woman


Future OP police chief strikes woman in wheelchair with vehicle in Iowa


DAVENPORT, IA (KCTV) -The man who was named Overland Park’s newest police chief was involved in an accident where he hit a woman in a wheelchair Tuesday in Iowa.

Last week the Overland Park Police Department announced that Francis “Frank” Donchez Jr. would become the city’s fifth police chief in their 54-year history.

The Iowa State Patrol is investigating Tuesday’s crash. They say a city vehicle driven by Davenport Police Chief Donchez was driving in downtown when he stopped at an intersection and then turned into it and hit Murvine M. Meyer, who was crossing using a wheelchair and accompanied by a guide dog.

The vehicle knocked over the wheelchair. Meyer, 63, was taken to a hospital, where she was treated for injuries to her forearm and released.

The guide dog wasn’t injured. No citations have been issued, and the state patrol is investigating as part of the Davenport Police Department’s protocol for such incidents.


Davenport Police Chief Frank Donchez is being investigated after authorities say he hit a wheelchair-bound woman with his car while on duty Tuesday.

At 7:29 a.m., Chief Donchez, 54, stopped his squad car at the intersection of West 5th Street and Harrison Street. As he turned south onto Harrison, he hit the manually-powered wheelchair of Murvine M. Meyer, 63, who was crossing Harrison with a guide dog, police said.

Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Jose Varela said the impact knocked over Ms. Meyer’s wheelchair and left her with minor injuries, primarily “scrapes and cuts to her arm from the concrete.” She was treated and released from Genesis East Medical Center; her wheelchair was replaced by Davenport Risk Management.

“She had the replacement chair before she left the emergency room,” Sgt. Varela said.

Police said Ms. Meyer told them she lives in downtown Davenport and was headed to class at a nearby community college.

Sgt. Varela said the accident appeared to have been caused by morning sunlight blocking Chief Donchez’s vision. The squad car — a 2009 Chevrolet Impala — was unscathed, except for a bent license plate, he said.

Traffic citations were not expected to be filed, Sgt. Varela said, though the final decision will be made by the county attorney’s office.



TrackBack URI

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: