By Ron Lee
Josephine County, OR – For the many citizens who have called and written to the US~Observer over the years citing Josephine County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Burke’s alleged heavy-handed and, at times, abusive tactics, you will be glad to know that on August 28, 2007 Burke was fired for unreasonable use of force. Furthermore, on June 27, 2008, Burke’s certifications to act as a police officer were summarily revoked. He will no longer be able to wear a badge – anywhere. However, according to an employee of Josephine County, who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity, this is where the good news ends.
“This was such a flagrant violation of the Code of Ethics … that Gilbertson wanted to see Mike [Burke] prosecuted,” the JoCo employee stated,“but Campbell refused to prosecute.”
Interestingly, DA Campbell would rather hopelessly pursue convictions of innocent individuals (whose evidence of their innocence has been submitted to him, e.g. the Stan Strange – Not Guilty! – “Biker” case), than to go after a dirty deputy whose crime demands justice.
Remember, according to the JoCo employee’s claim, he refused the Sheriff’s request to prosecute. According to one Josephine County citizen, who was pleased to find out that Sheriff Gilbertson wanted to do what was right and not just protect his own, like previous administrations, “that begs the question – just who does Campbell work for, anyway?”
And, according to the facts of the case, it could have been a slam-dunk for Campbell, not to mention a PR boost in a time when he is seeking funding for his department from the taxpayers.
As for Sheriff Gil Gilbertson, he had no comment on the Burke topic.
Just the Facts
The Burke Incident
On May 12, 2007, Josephine County Sheriff’s Deputy Shaw initiated a stop of a reckless driver, but the driver continued on trying to ellude and subsequently crashed in a ditch. The driver exited the vehicle and ran into the woods leaving two passengers in the car.
Enter Deputy Burke
When Burke arrived, it has been reported that on his own volition, he pursued the driver into the trees without informing the other officers of his intent. After approximately 20 minutes, and without finding the suspect, Burke returned to find the two passengers, who had been completely cooperative with other deputies and not suspected of committing any crimes, sitting on the ground.
According to records of the incident, one of the passengers was 20-year-old Sebastian Glenn who, along with the other passenger, was told he was not under arrest and would soon be let go, but that all changed when Burke came back empty-handed.
Burke boisterously approached reportedly saying, “So these f***ing lying pieces of sh*t say they don’t know [the driver’s name] huh?”
Burke then told Glenn to get up. Before he could stand on his own, Burke grabbed Glenn by one of his arms and wrenched it behind his back and jerked him to his feet. At this time deputy Burke placed Glenn under arrest and cuffed him after tossing him up against the trunk of a car. All the while, Burke reportedly kept asking Glenn who the driver of the car was – even threatening to break Glenns fingers, and at one point threatening to pull out his gun and use it if Glenn didn’t tell him – and since Glenn either didn’t know or wasn’t telling, Burke tossed him into the back of his patrol car.
Deputy Burke even went so far as to tell the other deputies that he, “loved being an a**hole to these kids.”
Finally Burke, and the deputy who was riding with him, got in their car, but not before Burke disabled the car’s interior video system.
While driving, Glenn started to get aggitated by Burkes comments. Comments which, for all intents and purposes, were designed to evoke a response – things like, “piss ant” and “nasty mother f***er.”Finally, Glenn bit back and reportedly called Burke a few choice names.
Burke slammed on the brakes, got out of the car, opened the back door and pulled Glenn’s shirt over his head while brutally pushing Glenn’s head down between his knees, injuring his ear. After the assault, Burke got back in the car and started driving again, but when Glenn’s shirt came off from over his head, he stopped once more. Again, he brutalized Glenn. This time Burke grabbed him by his head, shoving it down towards his knees, and started bouncing up and down on top of him, much more violently than the previous assault.
When Deputy Burke was finished throwing his violent tantrum, he got back in the car and drove to the Town & Country Market where he released Glenn, saying that the ride had been a, “courtesy transport.”
Reportedly, Burke even commented to the other deputy, who was riding with him, that he had gone too far. Perhaps this is what kept Deputy Burke from ever reporting his use of force.
Subsequently, Glenn filed a complaint. It was reviewed and investigated, and Burke was found to have used excessive force and was terminated.
According to sources, Burke’s brutality cost the taxpayers $10,000.00 which was paid to Glenn, who now lives out of state.
So, just what does this DA need in order to prosecute? A call placed to Campbell’s office asking that question was not returned. But, Edward Snook, editor-in-chief of the US~Observer, stated, “If Campbell needs any help from any of our investigators to make this prosecution happen, by God, he’ll have them. I won’t even charge him.”
One final note: In 2003 Deputy Burke received a DUII Enforcement Officers of-the-year Award. Interestingly enough, the Deputy District Attorney who nominated Burke stated at the time that Burke is “extremely diligent, who writes excellent and thorough reports, which makes prosecution much easier.” One could speculate that the Deputy DA who nominated him was none other than Stephen Campbell – as he was only a Deputy DA during the nominating year – but there is no evidence of this connection, at this time. But, you can bet the US~Obserever will keep digging.
Editor’s Note: It seems the District Attorney can’t discern between guilt and innocence and the US~Observer strongly urges all citizens of this great county to boycott any attempted taxation for his misrepresentation.