More Police Brutality

January 22, 2011

The continuing cases of brutality by officers of the CNMI Department of Public Safety and CNMI Department of Corrections suggest there is an ongoing pattern of outrageous civil rights violations that remain unchecked by both the local and federal law enforcement agencies. (Read this previous post for a list of rogue officers who have committed crimes.)

Department of Corrections Officer Jesse Reyes Babauta is being sued by Quirino G. Adlaon who was allegedly arrested for driving under the influence.  He was pulled over in January 2009 by police officer Maanao and another unknown police officer.

According to the complaint, Adlaon was taken into custody for DUI and reckless driving. He was handcuffed and taken to the DPS. He took and passed a breathalyzer test three times, and a field sobriety test twice. Still he was taken to the Department of Corrections and put into a cell. He asked why he was being held if he passed all the tests and was informed that he was being held for DUI and reckless driving. He was never charged with those offenses.

While in custody in the cell, Adlaon was assaulted by DOC officer Jesse R. Babauta after he questioned why Babauta had not given him water.  Babauta allegedly hit him in the mouth so hard that his teeth were dislodged and later needed treatment.  Adlaon bled profusely in the cell for an hour and he yelled for help. No one at DOC responded.

As if that was not enough, Adlaon was again the victim of false arrest on November 1, 2009. He was arrested by DPS officer Roque Camacho who went to his residence where he was sitting outside with friends.  The officer charged him with speeding and disturbing the peace.

During the arrest another police car arrived with Officer Cepeda and an unknown female officer. The three officers handcuffed and placed the plaintiff in their patrol car and drove him to the Department of Corrections.  There he was put in a small padded room, handcuffed and restrained with a ball and chain where he stood for over two hours. (Seriously, a ball and chain?)

During that time his hands and wrists were injured by the handcuffs. He was then transferred to a cell where he spent the evening until his release the next day at 3:30pm. Again he was never charged with any violation of the law. He was falsely arrested and imprisoned.

The complaint identifies the following defendants: Former DOC Commissioner Dolores San Nicolas, former DOC Commissioner Gregory F. Castro, DPS Commissioner Santiago Tudela, DPS Officer Jesse R. Babauta, DOC Officer Patrick Maanao, DPS Officer Jesse Cepeda, DPS Officer Roque Camacho, the CNMI Government, CNMI DPS, CNMI DOC and DOES 1-10. 

The lawsuit lists 2 causes of action for the deprivation of due process for unlawful arrests and imprisonments, 2 causes of action for 2 incidents of assault and battery resulting in serious injury, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

It appears that both DOC and DPS covered up the two incidents of false arrest and imprisonment and also failed to carry out a proper investigations. The complaint states that a police officer took a statement of the maltreatment when Adlaon was leaving the facility in January 2009. In fact, police officers took him to the CHC Dental Clinic where the broken tooth had to be extracted. On January 23, 2009 the Plaintiff was taken to DOC to sign a statement about the events. He was re-interviewed two days later by two officers and made yet another statement. He was never contacted again about the incident. Babauta was not arrested for the assault and battery.

Jesse R. Babauta was charged previously with assault 
In June 2007, Saipan Corrections Officer Jesse R. Babauta was arrested for assault with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, and disturbing the peace. He pointed a gun at a taxi driver at his residence. The arresting officer reported that in April 2007, Babauta's girlfriend filed a previous complaint that stated that Babuata pointed a gun at her.

In August 2007 Babuata was promoted!

In March 2008 jurors found Babauta not guilty of assault and battery, although he was convicted of disturbing the peace.

Did he learn his lesson? No. In January 2009 he assaulted and severely injured a prisoner, Mr. Adlaon.

Was he arrested or dismissed from his job? No, but he continued his violent ways.  In October 2009, Saipan Corrections Officer Jesse R. Babauta was arrested for two counts of assault and battery, one count of assault, one count of interfering with a domestic violence report, and one count of criminal coercion. The Saipan Tribune reported:
Assistant Attorney General George Hasselback stated in the complaint that on Aug. 1, 2009, Babauta slapped the victim in the presence of a child and threatened to kill her.

Hasselback said the defendant told the victim he would kill her by locking her in a closet and depriving her of food and water until she dies.

Babauta allegedly told the victim he would use his position as a Corrections officer to get her arrested if she called the police.

The prosecutor said the defendant also punched the victim in the head and pushed her to the ground, causing her to scrape her knees and legs.
This dangerous man is not only a criminal, but he appears to be a thuggish bully. His case dismissed because the "victim could not be located."  I find it unbelievable that no relative knew where the victim, his former girlfriend was.  Was a missing persons report filed?  Was a real effort made to locate her?

The CNMI Government and Department of Corrections deserves to be sued for allowing a violent criminal to be employed as an officer.  What kind of crazy and dangerous employment policies allow this?

Read the complaint:

This is not the first case of abuse by DPS and DOC officers, as this previous post details.

On October 18, 2010 a Chinese worker, Jin Dong Wang was severely beaten in what appeared to be a case of mistaken identity during a police raid. No arrest has been made.

DPS Commissioner Tudela claimed in November 2010 that former police officer Jesse Dubrall was involved. After the assault Dubrall resigned on October 22, 2010 and on October 25, 2010 he was working at the Office of the Public Auditor.

Tudela said that case was forwarded to the FBI.  Why has there been no arrest in this case? If a civilian had assaulted the Chinese worker, you can bet that he/she would be sitting in a jail cell by now.

It's time for some serious revamping and investigations of personnel within these departments. Offending officers need to be arrested and serve time. A badge does not give them the authority to break the law. Officers should be upholding the law, not breaking it.

The DOC is under a consent decree because of previous civil rights and facility conditions violations pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (‘CRIPA”).  Although there may have been improvements, there certainly have been persistent and ongoing problems in the DOC and Juvenile Detention Center will abusive officer assaulting or sexually assaulting detainees.

Where is the federal oversight? Doesn't the federal government have a duty to have some oversight in these ongoing abuses? Aren't there policies that a criminal cannot be employed by the government?

If the CNMI government won't take the proper steps to ensure the protection of civil rights of detainees and citizens, then the federal law enforcement agencies must. These are not isolated incidents. The recent case of detention officer Tyrone Fitial who was charged with sexually assaulting three minor girls at the Juvenile Detention Center demonstrates the severity of the problem, and the urgent need for immediate action.

There is a real question as to whether or not these so called public servants are capable of maintaining law and order.  Were they properly screened before they were hired? Were they properly trained? Were they strictly evaluated and monitored?  Were those accused of violations investigated, retrained or dismissed?  It's doubtful.  Too many of the officers charged with the responsibility of protecting the public, have broken the law themselves, often in crimes that are violent in nature.


Anonymous said...

Your dreaming if you think the feds will do anything about the corruption in law enforcement. If they were going to clamp down it would have happened a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

By my reckoning, the feds have brought a significant number of cases against corrupt law enforcement officers, including Charley Patris, Delbert Sablan, Pete Reyes, chris Guerrero, gilbert Macaranas, Florencio Richards, and Tyron Fitial, to name but a few.

Anonymous said...

Excellent work! Now they can arrest the cop who beat the Chinese worker and make some recommendations to prevent more instances. Maybe they should revisit the consent decree to add some requirements for screening and dismissal of criminal law enforcement officials.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Eric John Tudela Mafnas (19 yrs., 7 mos. federal imprisonment), evidence-locker drug-dealing partner of Charley K. Patris (who tried to sabotage the murder case against his Tanapag friend Francisco Aguon Pua by destroying physical evidence and falsely summarizing witness statements).

DPS is a hornet's nest of corruption and frivolous lawsuits brought by officers. It is almost impossible to know who to trust there. People have to tell what they know to the FBI if we want to clean things up.

Wendy said...

I did not mean to imply that I think that the FBI and/or USDOJ are not doing their job. They are doing a great job, especially considering that there is so much corruption in the CNMI. I agree that the USDOJ should amend the consent decree (if that can even be done) to have some kind of stricter hiring practices and background checks. It seems that the cases of police and DOC brutality and assaults just don't end.

People who want to report criminal activity within law enforcement agencies (or anywhere else) can contact US officials.

Contact information for the FBI:
FBI Saipan Resident Agency
MHII Building #202
Marina Heights Business Park
Saipan, MP 96950
(670) 322-6934

CNMI U.S. Department of Justice, Saipan Office:
Phone: (670) 236-2980
Fax: (670) 236-2985

Anonymous said...

It would be good if there was an e-mail address available.