Thursday, October 14, 2004

Officer Antonio Barber - Flint PD



Former Flint Police Officer Antonio Barber commits sucide:

Standoff ends, former police officer found dead
Police say investigation is ongoing
Friday, July 25, 2008 12:18 PM
ABC12 News

MUNDY TOWNSHIP (WJRT) -- (07/25/08)--What started as a normal day for dozens of residents at Maple Park Terrace apartments ended with a forced lockdown as police tried to negotiate with a possible barricaded gunman.

The situation started around 3 Thursday afternoon at the Maple Park Terrace apartment complex in Genesee County, just off of West Maple Avenue in Mundy Township.

Four buildings within the complex were evacuated.

It came to an end after 11 last night, when officers found the man inside dead.

Terry Barber has identified the man as his son, former Flint Police Officer Antonio Barber, 39.

"They did let me go over there and try to talk him out, but I felt it was too late then. He wouldn't, he wouldn't pick up the phone, but I did talk to him earlier, and he did call me several times on my cell phone, but I didn't have my phone. The officer had my phone," Barber said.

"The team went inside, checked, and found the suspect deceased. There were no shots fired by any of the officers on the scene," said Mundy Township Police Chief James Petres.

Police say the situation began as a domestic disturbance, and Barber was apparently holding his girlfriend and her two sons hostage inside the apartment.

At some point in the afternoon, the hostages were let go, unharmed.

Barber's father says his son loved being a police officer. He was let go from the department after being accused of stealing a video game during a drug raid.

The criminal charges were dropped, but Barber never rejoined the police department.

Barber's father says he blames Flint Mayor Don Williamson for his son's death, adding the mayor wouldn't let him back on the force.

The mayor says that's a lie. He says Barber was offered the same deal as was offered to others to come back to work, but he instead chose arbitration and lost.

He calls Barber's death a tragedy.

Police union asks judge to open probe records
Flint Journal
July 13, 2006:

FLINT, Michigan - The Flint Police Officers Association is asking a Genesee County Circuit Court judge to order the release of an internal investigation into allegations that police supervisors allowed officers to take home DVDs, CDs and VHS tapes seized in drug raids.

The union claims the city violated the state Freedom of Information Act request when it refused to give it a copy of the investigation report.

Union president Keith Speer believes the city is sitting on the report because it may contain findings that current and former supervisors were involved in the mishandling of evidence.

Former officer Antonio Barber was charged with theft and fired but, so far, no other officers have lost their jobs.

If Barber gets his job back, the union said it will drop the lawsuit."I'm not interested in digging up old skeletons," said Speer.

So far, the city has balked at turning over the report or putting Barber back on the force.

The city fired Barber last year for taking a "Madden 2005" video game that had been seized in a drug raid.

Felony charges against Barber were dropped in May after Genesee County Prosecutor David S. Leyton said undercover Flint cops routinely borrowed video games and movies seized from suspected drug houses.

Leyton said it would have been unfair to single out Barber for the practice.

Acting Flint police Chief Gary Hagler has said he put an end to the practice when he found out about it.

Shortly after Barber's case was dismissed in May, the Flint Police Officers Association filed a FOIA for the report.The city refused, citing a provision in the law that exempts ongoing investigations.

The union contends the end of Barber's criminal case should have brought the matter to a close and filed its lawsuit late last month.

The union wants Genesee County Circuit Judge Judith A. Fullerton to order the city to release the report and pay damages.

City Attorney Trachelle Young referred questions on the lawsuit to assistant attorney Lorne Carignan, who could not be reached for comment.

Speer said the union wants to make sure Barber was not treated differently than other officers who were under investigation.

"If they only (fired) Antonio, why was he singled out?" said Speer.

The union is taking Barber's firing to arbitration, and Speer said the internal investigation could help him get his job back.

The city is expected to file a response to the lawsuit this month.Journal staff writer Robert Snell contributed to this report.

Ex-cop won't be charged with larceny
Flint Journal
May 18, 2006

Undercover Flint police officers routinely would take video games and movies seized from suspected drug houses, and a former cop charged with larceny shouldn't be singled out for the practice, said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton.
Leyton dismissed charges against Antonio P. Barber after determining the officer was "borrowing" a video game, not stealing it.

Now cleared of felony charges, Barber believes he should be returned to the force, his attorney says."My belief is he expects to be put back on duty," said attorney Dennis R. Lazar.

Lazar said Barber deserves back pay for the 19 months following his wrongful firing.

Leyton said he dismissed the charges against Barber, 37, of Flint, after reviewing internal affairs documents from the Flint Police Department.

"We discovered that a number of Flint police officers had borrowed DVDs (taken during raids on suspected drug houses and other places) for personal use," Leyton said.

"It would be a miscarriage of justice for Antonio Barber to be singled out for prosecution."Leyton said after reviewing the case, he discovered it was an accepted practice for undercover cops to keep video games, movies on VHS tapes or DVDs "for personal use.""I believe that's improper," he said - but not criminal.

"I've been assured by (acting) Flint Police Chief Gary Hagler that this practice has stopped."

Hagler said he became aware that some seized videos were used by police, but he established a new policy prohibiting the personal use of any seized items.

Barber was charged with two counts of larceny from a building, 4-year felonies.

During an earlier hearing, police witnesses said Barber admitted taking a "Madden 2005" game disc after an October 2004 raid at a Damon Street drug house.

Leyton said charges were brought against Barber by former Prosecutor Arthur A. Busch, but as it went through the legal system, "I began asking questions."

Barber, a seven-year veteran at the time he was fired, is working through the Flint Police Officers Association to get his job back.

Hagler said no decision has been made yet regarding Barber's job status.Barber has been working at a Dort Highway restaurant and attending Mott Community College since his firing, Lazar said.

Charges latest blow to cops' image
From Flint Journal
Oct. 4, 2005:

FLINT, Michigan - Two Flint police officers accused of stealing money and drugs are the latest but not the first to tarnish the department's reputation.

In recent years, Flint officers have been accused of soliciting sex on the job, stealing a video game and beating a handcuffed man. They represent a small but all-too-visible part of the police force.

Flint Journal extras
Policing the police Recent incidents involving Flint police officers:

• LAWRENCE E. THOMAS: Put on 2 years' probation in December after pleading no contest to charges he packaged marijuana at his home and sold $100 worth to an informant. Also acquitted of assaulting a boy who threw a snowball at his car while off-duty, but the city paid $30,000 to the family of two boys involved in the incident.

• JEFF HAZZARD: Resigned earlier this year. The city paid $175,000 in settlements related to an incident in which men accused Hazzard and other officers of brutalizing suspects.

• TONY M. JONES: Sentenced to federal prison last year after pleading guilty to gambling conspiracy in a case that included allegations he used his job to protect illegal card and dice games. He was fired by the department.

• ANTONIO BARBER: An undercover narcotics officer, he was fired last year for allegedly stealing a Madden 2005 video game during a raid on a house.

• SCOTT BAKER: In August, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge for allegedly propositioning two women for sex while on duty in November 2003. If he stays out of trouble, the case will be dismissed in February, leaving his criminal record clean. As part of the deal, he resigned and will not seek reinstatement.

• JOHN M. SMITH: Pleaded guilty in September 2003 to disorderly behavior and assault and battery for striking his girlfriend and another woman with a wooden table leg during an argument. He was fired.

• OFFICERS CHRIS MARK AND RODNEY COOPER: Fired for allegedly violating department rules. But both were returned to the force through arbitration.

"I know the police department is a damn mess," Council President Johnnie Coleman said.

Fired by the department Monday were Officers Joseph T. Lechota, 29, of Flushing and Patrick M. Majestic, 36, of Swartz Creek. The two are accused of drug delivery, evidence tampering and misconduct in office and face pretrial hearings on the criminal charges this week in Flint District Court.

The pair are the latest in a series of Flint officers to resign or be fired for alleged misconduct over the past several years, although at least two of the fired officers regained their jobs through arbitration.

Some say police officers deal every day with the underbelly of society - and temptation.

"Police officers are virtually always bombarded throughout their career with big ethical issues," said Bruce Benson, a former deputy chief in Flint who now is a criminal justice associate professor at Michigan State University.

Still, Benson said his own research in Flint proves most officers have the best intentions. "The people in those jobs are there because they want to make a difference," he said.

Officers - current and former - bristle at the implication that the problems are anything but isolated incidents.

"It's tragic because I know these guys (in Flint). They are good officers, doing good work," said Brian Morley, an officer in Flint for four years and now a criminal defense attorney. "It's unfair. It's tough on the rest of them."

So, what makes a cop go bad?"I don't know. I wish I did," Benson said.

Every case is different, but a report to Congress in 1998 said profit, power and a sense of vigilante justice come into play in drug-related police corruption. Age and level of education also can be factors, it said.

Coleman said the recent arrests show how the department lacks leadership. He said he doesn't think Deputy Chief Gary Hagler is a bad leader, but said he lacks the organizational skills needed and hasn't been able to earn the respect of the entire department.

Hagler could not be reached for comment.

But Hagler released a statement saying Majestic is married to his niece.

"I want the public to know that I immediately removed myself from the internally initiated investigation," Hagler said in the release. "The federal authorities were immediately asked to participate in this investigation."

Coleman also said that while it shouldn't be an excuse for the officers' alleged crimes, the department is hurt by offering low wages and no raises in the past seven years. He said the city should give officers a raise before the issue goes into binding arbitration."

I hope the city doesn't win," he said. "I hope the city has to pay the officers."

Cop fired for allegedly stealing game during raid
Flint Journal
Oct. 14, 2004:

FLINT, Michigan - The temptation of the popular "Madden 2005" video game has cost an undercover narcotics officer his job.

A Flint police officer was fired Wednesday and now faces criminal charges after he allegedly stole the game during a drug raid last week.

But a union leader said the officer, Antonio Barber, denies he stole the game."

Officer Barber vehemently denies this, " said Keith Speer, president of the Flint Police Officers Association. "He believes he may have been set up."

Speer, however, said he expects to see more complaints or allegations of misconduct against other special operations officers in the future. But the problems start at the top, Speer said, and he's concerned that individual officers might be singled out unfairly. "I've got officers coming out of the woodwork who worked down in special operations and say, 'Let me tell you a story about this and that.' If we're going to clean house, let's clean the whole house."

Barber was fired Wednesday, the same day he was arraigned on larceny charges in Flint District Court.

Flint Police Chief Gary Hagler said the seven-year officer allegedly took the game during an Oct. 5 raid on a home on Damon Street.

"His activity was apparent to sergeants on scene," Hagler said.

The city's internal affairs and detective bureau were immediately called in, and the officer was booked on theft charges that night, Hagler said.

Barber had not been back to duty since the investigation began, Hagler said.

Speer said the union has shown good faith by dropping grievances over several discharges that were justifiable. The union went to arbitration five times this summer and won all of them, he said.

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