Between February 2012 and February 2013, Larry Dean Brunson, Mable Sutton and Debra Nesbit allegedly allowed people to pay them a fee to dump trash onto their properties in Frayser. Now Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton have filed nuisance petitions against the three property owners.
The petitions came after a year-long investigation by the Memphis Police Department and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation into illegal dumping sites. The illegal dumps were identified at 3449 Dillard, 3498 Dillard, and 3286 Arwine, properties belonging to Brunson, Sutton, and Nesbit. Oneal Payne and Warren Payne of Payne Enterprises, a local construction company, were reported to have been caught dumping illegally on the properties.
This morning, Shelby County Environmental Court judge Larry Potter issued injunctions against the property owners. "No trespassing" signs have been placed on the properties by the Memphis Police Department. Brunson, Sutton, and Nesbit are ordered to appear in court on Monday, May 20th.
According to figures from the Shelby County Public Works Division, the average cost to clean up illegal dumpsites and landfills in Shelby County is around $162 per hour. Since January 2012, Public Works has cleaned up 562 dumpsites at a total cost of $92,278.05. To date 2013, work crews have cleared one 193 dumpsites.
Memphis Police officer Alex Beard has been terminated from the department following an administrative hearing yesterday concerning a fatal crash in which Beard's police cruiser collided with another vehicle on Crump last August.
On August 26th, 23-year-old Beard was traveling in non-emergency mode eastbound on Crump. A 1996 Mercury Mystique was traveling down Crump in the opposite direction. When the driver of the Mystique was making a turn to go south on Walnut Road, Beard's car collided with it. The Mystique then struck a pole on the south side of Crump.
The driver of that vehicle was transported to the Regional Medical Center in critical condition, but he was later released. His passengers, 54-year-old Delores Epps and 13-year-old Mackala Epps, died at the scene.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigated the crash and sent their findings to the District Attorney's Office. The administrative hearing was conducted yesterday, and Beard was charged with failure to comply with department regulations relating to response to call, personal conduct, and damage to motor vehicle. He was terminated. Beard had been employed by the MPD since October 2010.
Memphis Police officers Ned Aufdenkamp and Matthew Dyess have been approved to return to duty in a non-enforcement capacity after the Attorney General's office determined that no criminal charges will be filed against them for their role in the shooting death of a man who had been sleeping in his car at an apartment complex. The Memphis Police Department is working on its administrative investigation.
Aufdenkamp and Dyess responded to a loud music complaint at the apartment complex near Knight Arnold on the night of January 17th. When they were unable to locate the source of the music, the officers began patrolling the parking lot. They found 24-year-old Steven Askew asleep in his Crown Victoria, and the officers observed a gun inside the car.
The officers knocked on the windows, and when Askew noticed their presence, he allegedly picked up his gun and pointed it at the officers. Both officers then shot Askew with their duty weapons. A witness caught part of the incident on video, and some believe the officers fired additional shots into the car after Askew was already deceased. But MPD director Toney Armstrong said, based on his observations of the video, that no extra gunshots were fired.
Both officers were relieved of duty without pay following the incident, but they are now being allowed to return to work.
Aufdenkamp is currently assigned to the Mt. Moriah Station and has been employed by the MPD since July of 2007. Dyess is also assigned to the Mt. Moriah Station and has been employed by the MPD since June of 2010.
One of the Memphis Police Department officers involved in the shooting death of 24-year-old Steven Askew has a less-than-stellar personnel file.
According to his personnel file, Officer Ned Aufdenkamp was already on the Memphis Police Department's radar for past performance problems and was submitted for the department's Early Intervention Program in 2012.
On Thursday, January 17th, Officer Aufdenkamp and Officer Matt Dyess responded to a loud music complaint on Tyrol Court in the Aspenwood Apartments. Although they did not hear any loud music, they did notice a man, Steven Askew, asleep in a Crown Victoria. When they approached, the two noticed a handgun in Askew's car. Aufdenkamp and Dyess then knocked on the windows and issued verbal commands to Askew, who, according to the officers, armed himself with his gun and pointed it at them. The two officers fired their weapons and Askew was killed. Officers Aufdenkamp and Dyess have both been relieved of duty with pay while the matter is investigated.
Among other things, Aufdenkamp's file reveals four workstation complaints against him and seven reports filed by Aufdenkamp of citizens resisting arrest — including five within a three month period and some that involved the use of chemical spray and physical force.
"The supervisors were bothered by the frequency and proximity of the resisting arrests, the use of chemical spray, and the resulting injuries to either Aufdenkamp or the suspect," the report reads. "Several complainants explained, in their own words, that they felt Aufdenkamp would intentionally ratchet up the level of pressure on the scene when it wasn't necessary."
On January 5th, 2012, Aufdenkamp was involved in a verbal altercation with a fellow officer on a traffic stop. According to the report, "the original conversation was with another officer, but Aufdenkamp interjected himself into the altercation and other officers had to stop between them to prevent it from escalating."
Later that month, the Internal Affairs Bureau received a complaint that Officer Aufdenkamp was "rude and disrespectful" during a traffic stop and had "approached with his gun out."
Aufdenkamp was then referred to the Early Intervention Program and placed on desk duty. In March of 2012, Aufdenkamp was ordered to attend Anger Management.
There are numerous other instances in which Aufdenkamp apparently did not follow protocol, failing to report when he bottomed out and disabled his patrol car in May of 2011, and leaving roll call to engage in what became a unreported domestic disturbance in September of that same year. In April of 2011, MPD received a complaint that Aufdenkamp stopped a violator and supposedly roughed him up, searched him for no reason, broke his rear windshield with a flashlight, and got on his loud speaker and said, "Speed up or I'm going to take your black-ass to jail."
"The supervisors would like Officer Aufdenkamp to learn to use his verbal skills more effectively," the report summary reads. "As a result of the Department Investigation, Aufdenkamp was temporarily assigned to the Precinct front desk because if he continues to generate complaints, he could be placed in an official non-enforcement status for up to six months, according to the rules of the Early Intervention Program."
On Thursday, January 17th, two Memphis Police officers responded to a loud music complaint on Tyrol Court in the Aspenwood Apartments. They didn't hear any loud music, but as they checked out the area, the officers noticed a man asleep in a Crown Victoria.
According to officers Ned Aufdenkamp and Matthew Dyess, they approached the vehicle to check on the man's welfare when they noticed a handgun inside the car. The officers say they knocked on the windows and gave "verbal commands" to the man. The officers said the man awoke and armed himself with the gun, pointing it at them.
Both officers fired their weapons and the man was killed. He was later identified as 24-year-old Steven Askew, and his parents have said that he was waiting in his car for his girlfriend, who lives at the apartment complex, to get off work.
A witness at the scene filmed a few moments after the shooting, and some who have viewed the video have said it appears that officers fired additional shots after Askew was killed. Memphis Police director Toney Armstrong held a press conference this afternoon and said that, after watching the video, he believes the officers did not fire the additional shots.
"I did not determine extra shots occurring," Armstrong said. "There is a loud noise [in the video], but it doesn't sound like gunfire."
Armstong said he came to that conclusion based on his experience using firearms in the commission of his job.
Armstrong would not say how many shots the officers fired because the investigation remains open. Officers Aufdenkamp and Dyess, both of Mt. Moriah Station, have been relieved of duty with pay while the matter is investigated. The MPD is asking for anyone with information that might aid in the investigation to contact the homicide bureau at 636-3300.
On Wednesday, January 2nd, Memphis Police officers found an unidentified body in the trunk of an abandoned 2011 Mazda Millennium that was parked on Goodhaven Drive near the airport area.
That victim, considered the first homicide of the year, has been identified as 22-year-old Brian Henderson. According to police reports, Henderson suffered from an apparent gunshot wound. He was deceased when officers discovered his body.
Although the victim counts as the first murder of the year for statistical purposes, investigators believe Henderson was killed on December 30th in the area of Airways and Shelby Drive. A person of interest is in custody, but no charges have been filed yet.
The Memphis Police Department announced today that officer Adrian Brown was charged with a DUI, DUI refusal, and driving on the wrong side of the road while off-duty in Madison, Mississippi on Thursday, September 27th.
The 46-year-old officer, who has been employed with the MPD since 1998, was stopped by a Mississippi Highway Patrol officer when Brown was seen driving northbound in the southbound lane of I-55 near mile marker 122 around 11 p.m that night. Brown refused a DUI test.
Brown has been relieved of duty, with pay, pending the outcome of an investigation. He is currently assigned to
A guitar worth more than $5,000 belonging to a member of George Clinton's P-Funk All Stars was recovered, and an arrest warrant has been issued for Memphis man Neika Lightfoot in connection with the theft.
The guitar went missing while the All Stars were performing last August at Shelby Farms. Someone posing as a security guard entered the band's tour bus and stole the guitar. It was recently recovered in Atlanta, where it had been sold to a Guitar Center store. The guitar was located there thanks to a Google search by a friend of the victim.
Authorities have determined Lightfoot, 35, was connected to the theft. The Shelby County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help in locating Lightfoot. The guitar has been returned to its owner, Shaunna Hall.
(Note: Hall is also a founding member of '90s alt-rocker band 4 Non Blondes).
A female bank robbery suspect has been on the loose for nearly three weeks, and the Memphis Police are turning to the public for help.
An African American female with straight, short hair, bangs, and eyeglasses robbed the Regions Bank at 4134 Elvis Presley on Thursday, May 24th at 4:25 p.m. But her method of robbing the bank wasn't the traditional stick-up. Rather than brandish a weapon and demand cash, the suspect received a cash advance using a stolen credit card.
This incident was captured on video surveillance, and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone who has seen this woman should contact the Memphis Police Department.
At 2 p.m. today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is expected to announce that 35-year-old Adam Mayes, wanted on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Hardeman County woman Jo Ann Bain and her 14-year-old daughter Adrian, has been added to their list of top ten "most wanted" fugitives.
The bodies of the two women were discovered last week buried in Mayes' mother's backyard in Guntown, Mississippi. Jo Ann Bain and her three daughters were reported missing on April 27th, and her two youngest daughters have not been located.
Mayes was a friend of Bain's husband, and he'd spent the night at their house on April 26th to help the family pack for a planned move to Arizona. Mayes' wife and mother were arrested yesterday in connection with the murders. His wife, Teresa, has been charged with two counts of first degree murder and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. His mother, Mary, has been charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping.
The FBI and the U.S. Marshal's Service are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Mayes and to the missing girls. Mayes is a white man with blue eyes and brown hair that has recently been cropped short. He's 6-foot-3 and weighs 175 pounds.
Last summer, CrimeStoppers was given $10,000 by a group of anonymous donors to be used specifically as a reward for tips on local dogfighting rings. No conviction is required for a tipster to get the reward. Only an arrest or issuance of an arrest warrant is required.
But despite the lack of a need for conviction, no tips have yet come in that have resulted in an arrest. Since then, another $2,000 has been added to the coffer. CrimeStoppers director Buddy Chapman is afraid people may have forgotten the money is available, and he's now trying to spread the word once again.
"The whole problem is that we've had dogfighting taking place in the shadows. It's not something the community has seen as important," Chapman said. "But I don't want Memphis to be known as a place where dogfighting is tolerated."
Chapman said it's possible that recent attention to the violent blood sport may have pushed some dogfighting activity into the rural Tennessee and Arkansas counties surrounding Memphis, but he believes local dogfighting will pick back up again in the summer.
"It tends to be seasonal," Chapman said, while explaining that most dogfighting pits are located outdoors.
Many dogfighters have also taken their operation on wheels with trunking (fighting dogs in the closed trunk of a car) or fighting dogs in vans as they're driven along the interstate.
Anyone with tips on local dogfighting operations is encouraged to call 528-CASH. If the tip results in an arrest or arrest warrant, the tipster may receive $1,000. All calls to CrimeStoppers are anonymous.
Demetria Hogan, the Memphis Animal Services control officer who was arrested last year after a pit bull dog went missing from her care, has been indicted on four counts of official misconduct, one count of forgery, one count of theft of property, and one count of animal cruelty.
Hogan picked up two pit bulls in Cordova that had escaped from their backyard on June 24th. She wrote in her log that she picked up both dogs and checked them into the shelter's holding area. But only one dog actually made it back to the animal shelter. Video surveillance showed that Hogan never checked the dogs into the holding area. One dog, Jersey, was handled by another employee. A police investigation revealed that Hogan stole the older pit bull, Kapone.
After a massive media campaign boasting an $8,000 reward for Kapone's return, the dog was finally discovered living in a home in Senatobia, Mississippi. The details as to how Kapone got there are not clear.
Hogan's cruelty charge stems from a separate incident, when a stray she picked up on July 12th died from the heat while in her care.
The charges for official misconduct, forgery, and theft of property are Class E felonies. If convicted, Hogan will face a sentence of one to six years. The cruelty to animals charge is a Class A misdemeanor and carries a sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days.
On Wednesday afternoon around 2:30 p.m., Shelby County sheriff's deputies responded to a fight call near Shelby Drive and Hacks Cross involving about 20 to 30 teenagers.
Witnesses told police shots had been fired by an unknown male who fled in a vehicle, and 19-year-old Valencia Parker was transported to the Regional Medical Center of Memphis in stable condition after she was punctured with an object on her upper right arm. The Shelby County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) has determined Parker's wound was not related to the gunshot.
The SCSO investigation into the fight revealed that a group of girls from Whitehaven High School had traveled to the neighborhood near Southwind High School in search of a female student who had posted comments they didn't like on Facebook. When they were unable to find that girl, the group started a fight with two other girls walking along Ridge Walk Lane.
The crowd eventually escalated to include between 20 and 30 juveniles, both male and female, and multiple fights broke out. Seven people were arrested and detained, and two females, ages 15 and 16, were charged with disorderly conduct.
Three Memphis Animal Services employees were arrested Thursday morning on six counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Frank Lightfoot Jr. and Billy D. Stewart are each charged with four counts of aggravated animal cruelty, and Archie Elliott III is charged with two counts of aggravated animal cruelty. These felony charges carry sentences of one to six years.
At a press conference this morning, authorities were vague on the details of what happened to the animals, but prosecutor Paul Hagerman with the Shelby County District Attorney's Office confirmed that the abuses occurred right before the animals were scheduled to be euthanized. Six animals were victimized, but Hagerman would not reveal whether they were dogs, cats, or a combination of both.
"These acts are not up to interpretation as to whether or not they constitute animal cruelty," said Mayor A C Wharton at this morning's press conference. "It's easy enough for a second grader to know someone needs to get in trouble for what they did."
The abuses were witnessed by an undercover Memphis Police officer, who has been employed by Memphis Animal Services since November 2011.
"This is an extraordinary step to have to use undercover officers," Wharton said. "Puppies, kittens, and dogs can't call their lawyer. They can't file a report about what's happening to them. We can only find out by using undercover officers."
Wharton's request to send an undercover officer to investigate the shelter stemmed from concerns about dog fighting, animal cruelty, and missing and unaccounted for animals. However, Wharton said the aggravated animal cruelty charges filed against the three employees were not related to dog fighting.
Wharton said that nearly one-third of Memphis Animal Services employees have been dismissed over the past two years as a result on wrongdoing.
"Some have said, 'Why don't you just fire everybody?'" Wharton said. "I refuse to do that. There are some great shelter employees."
Shelter employees are currently undergoing re-training at the request of interim shelter director James Rogers.
Alvin Upchurch, 17, has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in the January 13th shooting death of 17-year-old Terrence Wilkins.
Wilkins was shot around 9 p.m. near the corner of Linden and Bellevue after leaving a basketball game at Central High School. He was transported to the Regional Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead. Police say the shooting stemmed from an altercation over a hat. During the argument, an acquaintance of Wilkins pulled out a handgun and began firing. Wilkins was struck.