California Highway Patrol Officer Says Stealing Nude Photos From Female Arrestees is a Game For Cops

MARTINEZ — The California Highway Patrol officer accused of stealing nude photos from a DUI suspect’s phone told investigators that he and his fellow officers have been trading such images for years, in a practice that stretches from its Los Angeles office to his own Dublin station, according to court documents obtained by this newspaper Friday.

CHP Officer Sean Harrington, 35, of Martinez, also confessed to stealing explicit photos from the cellphone of a second Contra Costa County DUI suspect in August and forwarding those images to at least two CHP colleagues. The five-year CHP veteran called it a “game” among officers, according to an Oct. 14 search warrant affidavit.

Harrington told investigators he had done the same thing to female arrestees a “half dozen times in the last several years,” according to the court records, which included leering text messages between Harrington and his Dublin CHP colleague, Officer Robert Hazelwood.

Contra Costa County prosecutors are investigating and say the conduct of the officers — none of whom has been charged so far — could compromise any criminal cases in which they are witnesses. CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a statement that his agency too has “active and open investigations” and cited a similar case several years ago in Los Angeles involving a pair of officers.

“The allegations anger and disgust me,” Farrow said. “We expect the highest levels of integrity and moral strength from everyone in the California Highway Patrol, and there is no place in our organization for such behavior.”

Rick Madsen, the Danville attorney for the 23-year-old San Ramon woman who was the first to report Harrington, said the implications of the case are “far-reaching and very damaging.”

“The callousness and depravity with which these officers communicated about my client is dehumanizing, horribly offensive and degrading to all women,” he said. “It’s going to lead to another level of mistrust and skepticism to the motive of law enforcement in general.”

The San Ramon woman’s DUI case has already been dismissed because of the investigation into Harrington’s conduct, and the CHP confirmed that one of its officers, a 5-year veteran, has been placed on “administrative duties” and is not on patrol, although they did not mention Harrington by name. Deputy district attorney Barry Grove said he expects a decision about charges against officers in the CHP probe to be made next week.

In the search warrant affidavit, senior Contra Costa district attorney inspector Darryl Holcombe wrote that he found probable cause to show both CHP officers Harrington and Hazelwood and others engaged in a “scheme to unlawfully access the cell phone of female arrestees by intentionally gaining access to their cell phone and without their knowledge, stealing and retaining nude or partially clothed photographs of them.” That behavior constitutes felony computer theft, the affidavit said.

The investigation began with a single incident: Harrington’s conduct during the Aug. 29 arrest of the San Ramon woman. The woman discovered that photos had been stolen from her phone five days after her release, when she noticed on her iPad that the photos had been sent to an unknown number. A record of the messages had been deleted from her iPhone, but the phone had been synced to the iPad.

Continue reading: http://www.mercurynews.com/2014/10/24/warrant-chp-officer-says-stealing-nude-photos-from-female-arrestees-game-for-cops/

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5463 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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