Hook brings home bacon (16 awards)

Some of the stories that touched the hearts and minds of Charlottesville last year, including the Hook's expose on a police department collision that provoked community outrage helped this paper earn six First Place awards last night from the Virginia Press Association.

The awards, presented at a banquet in the Hotel Roanoke, also included ten second and third place awards for the Hook, 16 awards in all–- plus mention as the finalist in the Association's top prize, the Award for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service, an honor the Hook shared last year with the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It was Courteney Stuart's stories on Charlottesville and Albemarle police departments' treatment of Gerry Mitchell, the wheelchair-bound pedestrian plowed into in a crosswalk and then issued a ticket while recovering from his injuries in a local hospital, that took first place in government/public safety reporting. Stuart also took first for her two-part feature series looking back 25 years after the murders of Katie Worsky and other girls and women of Central Virginia. Stuart also shared in the "in-depth" first prize the Association awarded for the Hook's stirring report on another 1982 horror: the fatal roll-over of a U-Haul truck filled with 64 college students. Monthly essayist Janis Jaquith took top honors for her stories which included a chilling tale of her toddler's near drowning. Dave McNair's mix of story and video on red-light cameras took first place in the multimedia feature category. And Lisa Provence and Adam Sorensen penned the best headlines. (Photo shows Stuart, Provence, Jaquith, and "wandering eye" Spencer.)

Other publications from the greater Charlottesville area earning awards last night include the Orange County Review, the Central Virginian of Louisa, the Cavalier Daily, and the Daily Progress.

Here's the full Hook list:

Writing Awards

Janis Jaquith 1st editorials

Dave McNair 1st multimedia feature

Hawes Spencer, Courteney Stuart, & Lucie Stone 1st in-depth/investigative

Courteney Stuart 1st feature series

Courteney Stuart 1st government/public safety

Lisa Provence and Adam Sorensen 1st headlines

Lindsay Barnes 2nd sports portfolio

Tom Daly and Lindsay Barnes 3rd multimedia news

Lisa Provence 3rd general news

Courteney Stuart 3rd feature portfolio


Photography/Layout Awards

Tom Daly 2nd general news photo

Jen Fariello 2nd photo essay

Allison Sommers 2nd front cover excellence

Allison Sommers 3rd informational graphics

Allison Sommers, Clay Caricofe, Jonathan Boarini 2nd special sections/special editions

Allison Sommers, Clay Caricofe, Jonathan Boarini 2nd entertainment pages


If a police officer discharges a firearm and shoots himself in the leg, it's an accident? Maybe you better read....

Ã?â??§ 18.2-56.1. Reckless handling of firearms; reckless handling while hunting.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to handle recklessly any firearm so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person. Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

If a civilian were to do the same thing Wallace did there would have been 8 county police cars there, 2 rescue squads and 3 investigators. And most likely the end result would have been a criminal charge of reckless endangerment. The person would also receive a permanent ban from the rifle and pistol range property as well.

Another fine example of cops above the law.

name Number Three, like this case?

March 17, 2008

HOUSTON, TEXAS ¢Ã¢â??¬” A Harris County Sheriff's deputy killed in a traffic crash while on duty was legally intoxicated.

The Harris County Sheriff's office held a press conference this afternoon confirming that Deputy Craig Miller's blood alcohol content was .27. That's more than three times the legal limit.

Eyewitness News has also learned that the 20-year veteran deputy, who worked in a special investigative unit for the sheriff's office was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

It was February 21. Officials say Miller, who had already worked that day, was at his home in Katy when he got the call to relieve another deputy on a surveillance assignment.

Now, three weeks later, we find out the deputy was drunk and driving. Officials say he did not indicate to his supervisor he was intoxicated before he left home, on-duty.

¢Ã¢â??¬Ã?â??We depend on our deputies, in final analysis, to use their judgment of when they can't report to work,¢Ã¢â??¬ said Chief Danny Billingsley with the Harris County Sheriff's office. ¢Ã¢â??¬Ã?â??There's no way I can implement a policy to cover every situation. There's obviously a policy in place that you don't report to work intoxicated.¢Ã¢â??¬

Chief Billingsley also revealed that there were no skid marks, which means Deputy Miller did not react. When asked whether a person who was not drunk could have avoided this accident, Billingsley replied that there's just no way to know right now.

Chief Billingsley also told Eyewitness News that the medical examiner's report indicated that Deputy Miller was a heavy drinker.

Congrats guys, well deserved!

Thanks for explaining you were being sarcastic. I figured you were being somewhat serious about Wallace shooting himself in the leg in some type of ploy to gain notiriety. Because, like I said, it wasn't that long ago when the Albemarle County deputy sheriff supposedly shot himself while seeking notiriety as well.

And how does mentioning Wallace shooting himself in the leg tarnish his image? Does mentioning cop Pam Greenwood ran over and killed a civilian on Rio Road tarnish her image? What if I mention cop Greg Davis running over a wheelchair bound pedestrian, does this tarnish his image? I've always felt you tarnish a person's character and reputation when you falsely accuse them of doing something they in fact did not do.

Now as far as the pain factor you mention, you know what really hurts? Getting shot 41 times in New York because you don't speak english and you hold your wallet/id up in the air for the cops to see. I bet that hurts like hell for the few seconds before the man died (Amadou Diallo). And more recently, the Sean Bell murder by cop. Killed by cops who never announced who they were according to testimony by a high ranking police official who was present. I bet that hurt like hell too.

If her writing was based on truth the award was justified, however . . .

The "Steve" you are talking was a sworn deputy sheriff in Greene
County, Virginia at the time of his false arrests. He was identified as a sworn deputy sheriff by Sheriff Morris hours before the warrants were even obtained by the arresting rookie. There was no acquittal. The false arrest charges never went to trial. And as you may or may not know, a successful lawsuit was filed against the arresting rookie and his supervisor. The supervisor was later fired.

Anybody in America can own badges, whether they are a civilian or a police officer. The "Steve" you speak of collects badges. He had a few recent additions to his collection in his car that he had recently received at his post office box. It had been a long cold winter and "Steve" simply had not cleaned his car out and taken them into his home to put in his collection.

Since you know so much, I guess you forgot to mention the arresting rookie charged "Steve" for having Greene County issued "burglary" tools (slim jms) in his car as well? Perfectly legal because he was a sworn deputy sheriff. And the rookie also measured a department issued shotgun wrong and charged him with a felony over that too. If the rookie didn't know how to properly measure a shotgun he shouldn't be exploring placing charges against an innocent person. (The above mentioned rookie had several other lawsuits pending at the same time too. And the supervisor already had IA investigations going on against him.)

You didn't see the various media outlets publish any of this after the cops ended up with egg on face, did you? But I suspect you know many more truths than what I have simply said above.

If you have any other questions, fire away. If I don't know the answer, I will find it in short order.

Armchair, thanks for your typical canned response.

I also have a typical canned response. Namely, seek out and destroy crooked lying corrupt cops if possible. More people need to develop a little backbone like Courteney Stuart has.

OhhSaneOne, you didn't look around before stepping on Courteney Stuart's toes.

Is your version of the truth kinda like when cops nationwide receive awards for enhanced DUI arrest and conviction rates, and they themselves are then arrested for DUI. And these arrests often take place while they are driving city and county issued cars. And in many cases after their being involved in a crash in which innocent civilians are maimed or killed none the less.

Sick/Steve-- the article in today's DP wasn't about the officer's police career, it was about his stint in Iraq. The fact that he's also a police officer was completely secondary to the story. There wasn't any reason to mention his accident. There's no conspiracy there, just an article about a soldier.

I will say that, based on my dealings with him over the years, in my opinion he's a very good and dedicated officer. Couldn't be nicer and more responsive. Courteney Stuart is a very talented journalist who certainly deserves every single one of those awards for her investigative journalism.

In a sane and rational world, these two realities can exist side by side. They are not mutually exclusive.

It all makes sense now as to why you hate cops. You're a ex-cop who feels he was improperly fired. It's a shame deputies work at the whim of the sheriff and can be fired without cause but why take you frustrations out on cops that had nothing to do with it. You have some real anger issues you need to get worked out.

Courteney Stuart, first place in government/public safety reporting, eh? Excellent work!

All the other media outlets want to do is print the sugar and spice. Like the local newspaper and their "cop in Iraq" story today. They never mention this is the same cop who is a local police department firearms instructor and shot himself in the leg at the Rivanna Rifle and Pistol Range one day. I wouldn't want him standing behind me with a loaded weapon, in the USA or Iraq.

Nor would I want you SOTLR, responsible for my safety since you would most likely be asleep. I know my duties are nowhere near as important as a judges. But accidents happen, as do lapses in judgements. I am tired of reading your blogs and the 5 other screen names you have here, trying to incite people to be anti cop. You fell asleep on duty, and got fired for it. Get over it and move on. Maybe you had a family emergency that required you to be up all night which caused you to fall asleep on duty and anger a judge. Whatever the reason you had other options than to come to work in such a fatigued state. Maybe you were thought you could handle a night with a few hours sleep. Get Over It.

By the way, these $4 million dollar lawsuits are tentatively set to be heard in mid April in the Charlottesville Circuit Court with a jury. Courteney Stuart will be sent a personal invitation to attend, that I promise you. She's the only one with nerve enough to print anything negative about the police, even though the public has the right to know.

There is a slight possibility it might have to be continued though. Both the plaintiff and defense attorneys have realized there's no way to finish this case in the 2 days originally set aside for it. It will probably take a week to finish it.

GOI, you really should come and watch the trial. You will be able to see police officers calling each other liars. At the conclusion of the trial, and while the jury is out deliberating, I want you to tell me which 50% of the police officers are telling the truth and which 50% are lying. It will be more fun than "The PRICE Is Right!"

Steve, you are not a police officer, sheriff's deputy or any other type of law enforcement officer, thank goodness. Can you please explain why you had those badges on you when you were arrested for impersonating a police officer? Yes you were acquitted but why did you have the badges?

This is truly an impressive array of awards. Keep up the good work.

5 other screen names I have here? What are the other four please? I would like to see what I am getting credit for saying.

In the incident you speak of, no judge was not angered. He took a short recess to call his wife. While making this call he asked the baliff if he was feeling OK, because it appeared as if the baliff had dozed off. The key word is "appeared". A fellow deputy took this private conversation between the baliff and the judge back to the sheriff..... who was looking for a reason to fire the deputy in the first place. Get your facts straight before publishing them please.

Maybe the deputy was just plain worn out and frustrated by all the favoritism and nepotism going on in the sheriff's office and had simply lost interest in the job? Ya know, a sheriff hiring his own son and promoting his own son above others who had been there for decades. The same son who now finds himself in the middle of a $4 million lawsuit for alleged wrongdoings and conspiracies. A lawsuit where the taxpayers will eventually end up paying any awards against this son/deputy. The same sheriff's son/deputy who now has an Alexandria police officer calling him much less than truthful in the pending lawsuit (statement of fact in recent depositions). This same Alexandria police officer also calling a Charlottesville police officer much less than truthful as well. This officer will be added back into the lawsuits (again) very shortly now that depositions have proven quite fruitful.

The cop being added back into the $4 million dollar lawsuits soon is also the same cop who off-duty led his own department on a high speed pursuit and wrecked his personal car. He endangered the lives of everybody on the public roadways.

Are you sure you really want to debate the antics of local police officers with me? We've now discussed a cop who supposedly fell asleep, a cop who shot himself in the leg, a cop who off-duty led his own department on a high speed pursuit through the streets of charlottesville (and is still employed, now in a supervisory type position), and 2 two cops who are now accused of wrongdoings and conspiracies in $4 million dollar lawsuits. I have at least 35 more people would probably enjoy reading about. :)

Yeah, I'm sure you're right, it wasn't an accident. He did it because he thought it would feel really awesome, and he also hoped it would get him a load of attention.

Look, I doubt that most folks that accidentally shoot themselves with a gun are charged or arrested. I'd imagine that the pain of shooting oneself is considered punishment enough. For instance, how many people do this every year in the US while cleaning a firearm? How many of those people are charged?

A normal reaction to what happened to this police officer would be "Dang, that sucks for him." So, why all the nastiness?

And what does this old news have to do with the Hook recently winning journalism awards?

ps - believe it or not, I sure was glad to see the outcome of Albemarle police officer Jeff Turner's case today. He should be able to return to full duty now. Strange how spouses use the system to do their fighting for them in the heat of the moment, isn't it? (And the majority of the magistrates rubber stamp anything brought before them.)

Regarding my comment above:

"Yeah, I'm sure you're right, it wasn't an accident. He did it because he thought it would feel really awesome, and he also hoped it would get him a load of attention."

Needless to say, I was being sarcastic. Of course he didn't do it for the attention, or because it felt good. Sheesh.

Kudos to Courteney for her great reporting. No one disputes that. But I still want to know why you felt it necessary to piggyback onto the Hook's award by tarnishing a good officer's reputation... bringing up a story that most certainly WAS covered pretty widely in the media when it originally happened.

What does this old news have to do with the Hook recently winning journalism awards? Ahh, perhaps because The Hook is one of a very few media outlets that will ever tackle any issue that reflects negatively on local law enforcement. And this probably accounts somewhat for Courteney Stuart winning an award for investigative journalism with her report on Jerry Mitchell getting run over by a police car. Duh.

And didn't Courteney also do the story about the police Jeep almost running over two pedestrians downtown as well, and aftermath of the officer arresting the two pedestrians for yelling at him after having almost been run over and maimed for life by this police Jeep? You didn't see that story in the Daily Progress, on Channel 29, or on the 16/19 channels, did you?

And you could be right about seeking a load of attention. Isn't that what the Albemarle deputy sheriff (Stephen Shiflett) did when it was alleged he shot himself? And the then Sheriff Robb jumped on that bandwagon calling it a hate crime because a black man had supposedly shot Shiflett?

Any other questions?