By Danielle O. Baza
As you read this article, there are literally hundreds of cases involving questionable actions by police officers, their chiefs and their police departments in almost all 50 states. Criminal cases, violation-of-civil-rights cases, cases involving the failure to intervene, cases involving use of excessive force, and even false imprisonment have literally filled court dockets and have become daily news reported by countless news organizations. Will similar cases on Guam eventually be heard by a federal judge and federal jury? Federal law allows that police officers may be held liable in their personal and official capacity so such cases could have very serious consequences.
Kandit has uncovered a sufficient amount of credible evidence justifying that such cases ultimately be brought before our federal judicial system. This evidence includes video recordings, voice recordings, various legal documents filed in the District Court and our own interviews of victims and witnesses. Accountability for these violations must be achieved in order to gain the public trust in the Guam Police Department and our local judicial system.
A civil rights lawsuit against a chief of police and officers is not new to Guam. As a result of an incident that occurred on October 4, 2009, prominent Guam businessman James Adkins filed a federal civil rights complaint against then-Chief of Police Paul Suba and two GPD officers. Adkins's lawsuit was initiated after police arrested him for taking pictures of an accident with his cell phone. Adkins was ordered by the officers to give them his cell phone. Adkins refused and police took his cell phone, handcuffed him, booked him, finger printed him and confined him in jail for about four hours.
The case was initially filed in Guam’s District Court but made itself up for hearing before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court of appeals found in favor of Adkins and concluded in part that “The Officers did not have a valid reason to stop Adkins, to detain him, to order him to turn over his cell phone, to order him out of his car to arrest him.”
Adkins's attorney argued that both the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment of the U.S Constitution was violated. After the appeals court held in favor of Adkins, Adkin’s attorney issued a release where Adkins was quoted in part by saying “We have a right not to be stopped or have our property seized without probable cause as required by the Fourth Amendment.”
So let us now look at what the fourth amendment says. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads as follows:
“The Right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be seized, and the place to be seized, and the persons or things to be seized.”
When you think of what the Fourth Amendment states, think also about what the video shows of police destroying the home supposedly searched at 163A Estralita St. in Tamuning. That was not a search as required under the Fourth Amendment, that was the total disregard of the sanctity of a couple’s home. Complete destruction of televisions, furniture, pouring poison on food, holding up panties and bras while laughing, hitting things with blunt objects and much more as the video will show. And for those officers who just stood outside and did nothing, they too are culpable for failure to intervene. And where was the Police Chief from that time all the way to the very moment you are reading this article? He also failed to intervene.
Then there was the public revelation of deputy marshals at the Superior Court who appear to have manipulated warrants. Then-Chief Justice Katherine Maraman, and now current-Chief Justice Philip Carbullido should have either terminated those involved, or called for an independent investigation surrounding the manipulation of warrants. But it appears since nothing has been made public by either of the two Justices, that both are complacent to or complicit with the acquiescence of the local judiciary to the whims of political and police corruption. Hopefully, their silence instead means there is an active investigation. We can only hope.
And as for Vicky Manglona Teregeyo, what disgraced Mayor Jesse Blas and former deputy marshal Joey Terlaje allegedly did to her was severely abusive and not only an abuse of power but false imprisonment as well. As Kandit previously reported, Ms. Teregeyo went to the office of then-Police Chief Joseph I. Cruz in 2018 to file a criminal complaint, #2018-2283. Ms. Teregeyo told the police she was abducted, beaten and for three days locked in a room in a house. That criminal complaint was filed in 2018. It is now 2021, yet nothing has been done to hold Blas and Terlaje accountable to date.
There appears to be a pattern of protecting Blas and Terlaje and merely treating Ms. Teregeyo as if she was not a human being. Senator Jose “Pedo” Terlaje, father of Joey Terlaje even went as far as chastising Ms. Teregeyo during an oversight hearing. She wasn't even there to defend herself. At the time of this oversight hearing, while considering the subsequent release by Kandit of the tape recording of the telephone conversation between Blas and Teregeyo, it seems that Senator Pedo Terlaje knew or should have known what his son and Jesse Blas did to Ms. Teregeyo.
Senators, police officers and even chief justices have a very high set of standards applicable to them. They all make decisions that have a direct impact on the public’s trust over the making of laws, the enforcing of laws and the judicial process of interpreting laws. Collectively and individually they all have a responsibility to not erode the public’s trust in our law enforcement system.
There is no doubt based on pleadings on file at the District Court which Kandit maintains copies in safe places, that the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office has and continues to investigate police corruption and corruption within local law enforcement. It is only a matter of time before the federal law enforcement and federal judicial system holds multiple persons accountable.
In the mean time, as an act of good faith and an act that may mitigate federal consequences including civil rights actions, Senator Jose “Pedo” Terlaje must resign. And his colleagues in the Legislature can no longer stand quietly by, otherwise they, too, are complicit. In addition, Police Chief Stephen Ignacio should also resign. His inactions related to the cases described above as well as an ongoing U.S. Secret Service investigation into police corruption, is more than enough reason for the governor to request his resignation. Justice eventually prevails.