Tag Archives: California Highway Patrol

Former CHP Officer Pleads No Contest, Sentenced To Probation For Stealing Explicit Photos

Martinez, CA- Sean Harrington, a former California Highway Patrol officer who admitted to stealing and forwarding explicit photos of female DUI suspects to himself and his colleagues, pleaded no contest on Tuesday in Contra Costa County Superior Court to two felony charges of stealing and copying computer data.

Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Terri Mockler sentenced Harrington to a 6-month suspended prison sentence, three years of probation and ordered him to attend violence prevention classes. Harrington would have faced over three and a half years in jail if convicted of all counts in a trial. According to Harrington’s attorney, Michael Rains, the judge “wanted him to benefit from education that simply putting him in jail or making him wear an electronic bracelet never would have given him.”

Harrington was charged with stealing nude and semi-nude photos of women from their phones on two separate occasions. He resigned from the California Highway Patrol just before the charges were filed last October. One 23-year-old woman, who had been arrested on suspicion of DUI last August, discovered that several explicit photos she’d taken of herself had been forwarded from her phone sometime during booking to a number tracing back to Harrington.

Investigation into the allegations revealed that Harrington had also stolen and forwarded photos earlier in the month from a 19-year-old woman suspected of DUI while she was in the hospital receiving X-rays following a car accident.

“Taken from the phone of my 10-15x while she’s in X-rays. Enjoy buddy!!!” Harrington had sent in a text message, along with the 19-year-old’s photos, to fellow officers Robert Hazelwood and Dion Simmons.

Harrington admitted to investigators in a search warrant affidavit that stealing and forwarding photos from the phones of suspects was a “game” that he had been playing with other officers and that he had done the same thing to other female suspects “a half dozen times in the last several years.” He originally pleaded not guilty to the charges in November.

“You had a person who was in a position of public trust. We as the public gave him a certain amount of power,” Prosecutor Barry Grove said. “He violated that public trust, he abused his power, and now no longer forevermore is allowed to be a police officer. He will be a convicted felon for the rest of his life.”

Grove also said that Harrington, because of his position as an officer, was given a harsher punishment than a defendant not involved in law enforcement would have received.

Attorney Rick Madsen, who represents one of the victims in the case, said that his client is considering filing a lawsuit against Harrington and the CHP. “There’s no sentence that can ultimately undue(sic) the damage done to Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2,” he said. “Both victims will live with the uncertainty of public disclosure and ridicule and embarrassment.”

“I realized the severity of the charges throughout this entire process and from the very beginning I accepted responsibility for my part and my actions,” Harrington said outside of the courthouse. “I fully cooperated with investigators and did everything asked of me to make things right. This has cost me my career in the CHP, a career that I loved and was good at, and a career that made my family and friends proud of me.”

“I apologize to my family, my wife, my friends. I apologize to officers everywhere, especially to the two women involved. I’m trying to put this behind me and move forward from this. I hope now everyone else can too,” Harrington said.

Harrington is due in court in March to show the judge that he attended violence prevention classes.

Agent Provocateur? Masked Cop, Uncovered by Oakland Protesters, Points Gun at Freelance Photographer

On Wednesday, a police brutality protest spontaneously emerged in the Oakland, CA area in response to recent revelations that grand juries failed to indict the officers responsible for the controversial deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The demonstrators met on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley and marched throughout the streets of Oakland. According to KTVU, the group of around 150 to 200 protesters initially disrupted PayPal founder Peter Thiel’s talk at Berkeley before leaving campus and marching downtown. The crowd of demonstrators swelled in number as it moved through the city.

Later on, as the protest thinned down to around 30 to 50 people, protesters noticed two suspicious masked men, who, according to tweets by eyewitnesses, seen below and cited by SFGate, had allegedly been attempting to incite the crowd to commit acts of vandalism and banging on the windows of local businesses. The relative calm of the protests faded, and the demonstrations descended into chaos, as some among the crowd began looting and throwing rocks at shop windows. Angry demonstrators circled around the two masked men, believing them to be agent provocateurs sent by police to incite violence and discredit the protest. What happened next is in dispute and ended in a California Highway Patrol officer pulling out his service weapon on protesters and a photographer covering the protests for the San Francisco Chronicle.

A protester who identified himself as Dylan told KTVU that he grabbed a bandanna off of the officer’s face, exposing him to the crowd, and that the officer responded by assaulting a different African-American protester. Said Dylan, “I’m a white man, and I pulled off [the officer’s] mask, but they punched a black man… He got arrested.” Dylan said that the two masked men never identified themselves as police officers.

Freelance photographer Michael Short, who was covering the event for the San Francisco Chronicle, described what happened next at around 11:30 PM in comments to SFGate, “Just as we turned up 27th Street, the crowd started yelling at these two guys, saying they were undercover cops… Somebody snatched a hat off the shorter guy’s head and he was fumbling around for it. A guy ran up behind him, knocked him down on the ground. That guy jumped, backed up, and chased after him and tackled him and the crowd began surging on them… The other taller guy had a small baton out, but as the crowd started surging on them, he pulled out a gun.”

The officer then pointed his gun, held sideways, directly at Michael Short, who snapped a photo of the tense moment. 

The bandanna-wearing officers were later identified as working for California Highway Patrol. CHP Golden Gate division Chief Avery Browne told KTVU, “[The officer] told me he didn’t know if he was going to make it out alive… They were outnumbered, they were assaulted, and at that point, two officers were not going to be able to arrest 30 or 40 or 50 individuals.” Chief Browne confirmed that his division did send what he referred to as “plainclothes” officers to keep an eye on the protest and that they were wearing bandannas on their faces in order to blend in with others in the crowd, but claimed that they were not there to incite protesters and that he had not heard any reports alleging that the officers were encouraging violence. Said Browne, “We put plain-clothes officers in the crowd to listen and gather information.”

Chief Browne said that he will continue to send plainclothes officers out among protesters, despite the outcome in this incident, and told SFGate, “We know it’s upsetting, we know it’s disturbing, every time a firearm is drawn, whether in a protest situation or in a felonious car stop… But we need to understand that these officers were under attack.” The individual accused of punching the bandanna-wearing officer has been arrested for felony assault on a police officer. 

Chief Browne is not releasing the names of the officers involved and says that they remain on duty. The incident has raised questions about whether or not it is appropriate for on-duty police officers to attend protests wearing masks over their faces, considering the fact that it is typical for protesters to interpret such police tactics as efforts to provoke violence through the use of agent provocateurs. 

As a nationwide debate rages over increasingly-militarized police tactics, Ben Swann just released a new Truth in Media episode on the root of police militarization. Watch it in the embedded player below.


Cop Facing Felony Theft Charges For Stealing Explicit Photos

Dublin, CA- Former California Highway Patrol officer Sean Harrington was charged Friday with two felonies for allegedly forwarding nude photos from phones of at least two female suspects in his custody to himself and sharing them with other CHP officers.

Harrington, a CHP officer stationed in Dublin, resigned last Wednesday before the charges were filed. He faces 3 years and 8 months in prison if convicted.

Harrington was accused by a 23-year-old woman of stealing content from her phone after she discovered that explicit photos had been forwarded from her iPhone during a DUI arrest in late August. It was alleged that Harrington had also searched the phone of a 19-year-old woman in early August while she was being treated for injuries following a DUI arrest and forwarded explicit photos found on the device.

Harrington later admitted to investigators that he had been trading photos of female suspects with other officers “for several years” and said it was “a game”.

Robert Hazelwood and Dion Simmons, two officers who had received the photos from Harrington and engaged in text messages discussing the photos, have not been charged. Contra Costa deputy district attorney Barry Grove said that while the text message conversations between the three officers are “unethical, unappealing, and maybe immoral,” they do not violate the penal code.

Attorney Richard Madsen Jr., an attorney for the two women accusing Harrington, said in regard to not charging Hazelwood and Simmons that “we respectfully disagree with the interpretation of the evidence pertaining to Officers Hazelwood and Simmons. Given that Harrington is charged with the theft of private images, it would seem intellectually inconsistent that the knowing and voluntary receipt of those same images would not also constitute criminal activity.”

Defense attorney Michael Rains offered a statement on behalf of Harrington issuing “his deepest apologies to the women whose cellular telephones were accessed or reviewed” and noting that he is “embarrassed to have tarnished the reputation of the California Highway Patrol and law enforcement generally.”

Another investigation of Harrington is underway following allegations from a third woman who came forward last week and stated that her cell phone “may have been tampered by Harrington” during an arrest.

The charges against Harrington are available to read here.

CHP Officer Accused Of Stealing Explicit Photos Of Arrestees Called Thefts A “Game”

The investigation of a California Highway Patrol officer accused of stealing nude photos from a female DUI suspect’s cell phone has led to the discovery that officers of the CHP’s Dublin station have been allegedly trading stolen photos of female suspects for “several years”.

Last week, it was reported by the Contra Costa Times that CHP officer Sean Harrington was accused by a 23-year-old unidentified female of stealing and forwarding photos from her iPhone in August while she was being booked into jail following a DUI arrest. The woman allegedly discovered that “explicit” photos from her iPhone had been forwarded to a phone number with a 707 area code. The woman then reportedly traced the phone number back to Harrington, her arresting officer.

On October 16th Harrington was served with a search warrant, which uncovered photos, text messages, and instant messages on Harrington’s iPhone and laptop that had been taken from the woman’s phone.

Harrington told investigators that he and other officers have been swapping stolen cell phone photos of arrested females for years and referred to the acts as a “game” among the Dublin officers, according to Inside Bay Area. Harrington allegedly confessed that he has taken photos from females in police custody “a half dozen times in the last several years,” court documents stated.

A search warrant affidavit from a Contra Costa District Attorney inspector revealed text messages between Harrington and two other CHP officers discussing the photos being stolen and shared between them. “Taken from the phone of my 10-15x while she’s in X-rays. Enjoy buddy!!!” Harrington texted to officers Robert Hazelwood and Dion Simmons on August 7th after forwarding photos of a 19-year-old DUI suspect.

On August 29th, Harrington forwarded an explicit photo of another DUI suspect to Hazelwood. “Nudes are always better with the face,” Hazelwood texted to Harrington. “Maybe she knows she has a jacked up horse face?!?!?” replied Harrington.

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow released a statement late Friday responding to the allegations. “The allegations anger and disgust me. 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,” said Farrow. “We have active and open investigations and are cooperating with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office. If the allegations are proven true, we will take appropriate action, up to and including dismissal and criminal prosecution.”

Harrington has since been assigned to other duties. The decision of whether or not to charge Harrington and the other officers is expected to be made this week.

VIDEO: CHP Officer Brutally Assaults Woman on California Freeway

Los Angeles- The violent assault of a woman on a Los Angeles freeway was caught on a cell phone camera Tuesday evening by a passing motorist. The perpetrator of the brutal assault was a California Highway Patrol officer.

The CHP officer is shown on the video throwing a woman to the ground, straddling her and punching her in the face at least 11 times while she lays prostrate.

The CHP says it is investigating the incident. But at a press conference Friday, CHP Assistant Chief Chris O’Quinn attempted to mitigate the situation by explaining that the woman was endangering herself and others by wandering the freeway.

The video “only shows a small part of what transpired,” O’Quinn said, adding “there were events that led up to this.” O’Quinn went on to state, “We are known as an agency that really polices itself.”

The officer seen in the video, who has not been named, is currently on administrative leave while the investigation is concluded.

The man who filmed the violent assault, David Diaz, told CBS 2 that the officers behavior was “excessive and brutal.”

“He just pounded her, if you look at the video, there are 15 hits. To the head, and not just simple jabs. These are blows to the head. Blows. Really serious blows. I find it hard to believe there was no other remedy in this situation,” said Diaz

Local civil rights leaders have expressed their anger and shock at the video.

“Speaking for the women of this community, we are angry, we are upset,” Lita Herron of the Youth Advocacy conference told AP.

The training that officers receive must be seriously questioned if this officer felt that punching a woman in face repeatedly, while straddling her, was the only way to diffuse this situation.

Regardless of any other circumstances surrounding the details of the incident, this is certainly not acceptable behavior on the part of a law enforcement officer.


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