Another One with the “Keys to the Candy Store” – Tustin Cheerleading booster club member suspected of inappropriate contact with underage girl

A 50-year-old member of the Tustin High School Cheer Booster Club was arrested Wednesday for allegedly engaging in inappropriate conversations with a female juvenile, authorities said.
Patrick Thomas, 50 of Tustin, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of engaging in inappropriate conversations with a female juvenile, authorities said. Thomas is a member of the Tustin Hgih School Cheer Booster Club. (Courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department)
Mike Patrick Thomas, 50 of Tustin, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of engaging in inappropriate conversations with a female juvenile, authorities said. Thomas is a member of the Tustin Hgih School Cheer Booster Club. (Courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

The suspect, Mike Patrick Thomas of Tustin, is suspected to have made inappropriate contact with an underage girl, including text messages and conversations, an Orange County Sheriff’s Department release said.

During its investigation, the Sheriff’s Department discovered Thomas had been accused of similar activity a few years ago, the release said. No arrest was made in that prior incident.

The department’s investigation is ongoing.

Given his connection to the cheerleading booster club, investigators believe there may be more victims and are seeking additional information. Anyone with information on possible victims can call investigators at 714-647-7064.

https://www.ocregister.com/2018/04/12/tustin-cheerleading-booster-club-member-suspected-of-inappropriate-contact-with-underage-girl/

Homeless across country fall victim to synthetic marijuana ” Pot Zombies”

St. Louis, Missouri –

The nation’s homeless are proving to be especially susceptible to a new, dirt-cheap version of synthetic marijuana, which leaves users glassy-eyed, aimless, sprawled on streets and sidewalks oblivious to their surroundings or wandering into traffic.

Nearly 300 homeless people became ill last month in St. Louis due to the man-made hallucinogen that experts believe is far more dangerous and unpredictable than the real thing. Other outbreaks have occurred in New York City, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.

“It was common for us to see reactions where they were violent, incoherent, sometimes catatonic on the ground,” Austin police Lt. Kurt Thomas said.

The homeless are easy targets in a confined area, experts say. The drug is cheap – as little as $1 or $2 for a joint – more difficult to detect in drug tests and is a fast escape from a harsh reality.

Things got so bad in St. Louis last month that the region’s largest provider of homeless services urged people to stop giving the homeless handouts, because they were worried the money would be used to buy the drug.

The Rev. Larry Rice saw the odd behaviors from several homeless people in the streets outside his New Life Evangelistic Center shelter in downtown St. Louis.

“They told me, ‘You get so low, you get such a sense of hopelessness. Somebody wants to sell this for a dollar and you take it,'” Rice said. “People are desperate out there.”

Synthetic marijuana has been around since the late 2000s, packaged under names like K2, Darkness and Mr. Happy. The Drug Enforcement Administration says it is usually a mixture of herbs and spices sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana. It is typically manufactured in China and sold in places like head shops, but it’s also on the street and over the internet.

State legislatures have outlawed it based on its chemical makeup, but the makers tweak the formula enough that it escapes the provisions of the law. So far in St. Louis, only one charge has been filed – a homeless man accused of selling to others on the street.

“You factor in some of the despair or difficult circumstances that these folks are going through, and they often fall prey to the suppliers offering an outlet to deal with their unfortunate situation,” Thomas said.

The medical dangers are real with synthetic marijuana, which can be up to 100 times more potent than real marijuana, said Dr. Anthony Scalzo, director of toxicology for the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Users often experience rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, anxiety and hallucinations, he said.

Research published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that 20 deaths from August 2011 through April 2015 were blamed on synthetic marijuana, though that doesn’t account for overdose deaths of undetermined or multiple causes. Scalzo said those who survive can suffer permanent kidney failure and brain damage.

“We have no idea how the body is going to react to the next wave of chemicals,” Scalzo said. “It’s like Russian roulette. You just don’t know what you’re getting.”

During one outbreak in Brooklyn in July, 130 people were hospitalized. Witnesses said many of users were shaking or leaning aimlessly against trees and fire hydrants.

In emergency room interviews, users said they would prefer to smoke real marijuana but took the synthetic drug to avoid detection in urine tests typically mandated for probation and parole issues and other reasons, according to Michelle Nolan of the New York City Health Department.

“For individuals still using a psychoactive substance, this afforded them, criminally speaking, fewer risks,” Nolan said.

The Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles saw the scourge over a few days in August, when 36 people were treated for overdoses. Some had seizures, others staggered through traffic or collapsed on curbs.

Around 150 homeless people have overdosed on synthetic marijuana since August in Austin, and one death was blamed on the drug, Thomas said. Police and homeless advocates in Austin are warning those on the street to avoid the temptation to use, but know it’s an uphill battle.

“Being realistic, we’re always going to have a group of folks who are willing to engage in self-destructive behavior,” Thomas said.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_SYNTHETIC_MARIJUANA_HOMELESS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2016-12-17-10-30-58

Tustin officer gave man less than a second to raise his hands before fatally shooting him, court says in ruling – Officer Osvaldo Villarreal couldn’t reasonably have feared for his safety when he shot 31-year-old Benny Herrera

Tustin, California

Tustin officer gave man less than a second to raise his hands before fatally shooting him, court says in ruling

A Southern California police officer gave a man less than a second to raise his hands before opening fire and killing him, a federal appeals court noted Friday in rejecting the officer’s request to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit against him.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Tustin Police Officer Osvaldo Villarreal couldn’t reasonably have feared for his safety when he shot 31-year-old Benny Herrera after responding to a domestic dispute call in December 2011.

That determination ran counter to the Orange County district attorney’s office, which said in 2013 that the shooting was reasonable and justified because Villarreal fired after Herrera ignored orders to show his hands.

A video captured by a police dashboard camera shows otherwise, according to the 9th Circuit judges who cited the footage.

“Less than a second elapsed between Villarreal commanding Herrera to take his hand from his pocket and Villarreal shooting him,” the court wrote. “Just as Herrera’s hand came out of his pocket, Villarreal fired two shots in rapid succession … The command and the shots were almost simultaneous.”

The video has not been made public and is under a court seal.

The seven-page review of the case by Orange County prosecutors does not mention the existence of a video and appears to rely heavily on Villarreal’s own statements.

Sonia Balleste, the senior deputy district attorney who wrote the review, said Friday that she didn’t immediately recall the case or why the review didn’t mention the video but that she was sure she “looked at all the evidence that was available.”

“As a general practice it wasn’t my custom and habit to write down everything I looked at,” she said, adding that her office has since changed how such reviews are written to include more information.

Attorneys for Herrera’s parents and four children, all under 7 years old, filed a civil lawsuit against Villarreal and Tustin in 2012. Friday’s ruling allows that lawsuit to move forward to trial and upholds a lower court’s order declining to toss it out.

Tustin City Atty. David Kendig, speaking on behalf of Villarreal and the city, noted that the 9th Circuit was looking at the case in the light most favorable to Herrera’s family.

He said the city provided the district attorney’s office with video of the shooting but didn’t know why it didn’t make it into their review of the case.

Dale Galipo, who represents Herrera’s family, criticized the district attorney’s review as a “farce.”

“Are they not getting all the information from the agency? Did they not get the video, or are they just ignoring facts that support that the shooting was excessive?” Galipo said. “The whole process is flawed. It really is a joke.”

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-tustin-shooting-20160917-snap-story.html