Police chief accused of beating man for stealing his gun belt, ammo and handcuffs

Posted at 9:11 PM, Jun 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-19 21:58:21-04

Days after police information placed the top uniformed cop in Suffolk County at the home of a suspect accused of stealing from him, new details are surfacing that indicate that Police Chief James Burke physically attacked the suspect as well.

The accusations are unproven.  However, if they are true, they would elevate an already noteworthy violation of police department policy into something much more serious.

The story revolves around the arrest of Christopher Loeb, 26, around 12:30 A.M. on December 14th of last year.  Loeb was arrested in his home in Smithtown on grand larceny, possession of stolen goods and other charges after more than a dozen cars had been broken into.  One of those cars was a police department-issued SUV which belonged to Chief Burke.  From that vehicle, somebody stole the chief’s gun belt, ammunition, handcuffs and other, unnamed items that were in a duffel bag that had been in the SUV.

Police reports indicate that on the night of Loeb’s arrest, Chief Burke went into the young man’s home and confronted him, which is a serious violation of police policy.  In addition to that, according to the suspect and his family, the chief roughed him up.

“I’m telling you what I didn’t see, but what I was told,” Christopher Loeb’s mother, Jane, told PIX11 News, regarding information her son told her about the night of his arrest.

“My son cannot talk [publicly],” said Jane Loeb, “but he did confide in his mother.”  Her son also told her that on the night of his arrest, he was taken, in handcuffs, from their home to the nearest police precinct, and beaten further by Chief Burke.

For his part, the chief, who is documented carrying out conduct in conflict with the police protocols he himself had set, has said nothing publicly about the Loeb case.  Instead, his department said in a statement that “it would be inappropriate for Chief Burke to comment on this case.  Chief Burke, along with numerous other victims of Christopher Loeb, are not only victims but potential witnesses in this case.”

The chief is a potential witness because his duffel bag was stolen.  That fact is clear.  What is not clear is what items were in that duffel bag, other than his police gear, and what became of them.

When asked by PIX11 News if she thought more developments were forthcoming that might answer the lingering questions, the suspect’s mother answered, “I wouldn’t be surprised if people come forward.  My son can’t.”

Wally Zeins, a retired NYPD detective supervisor and PIX11 News commentator, is familiar with the Loeb case.  “There’s a lot more to the picture that comes with this investigation” Zeins said.

He pointed out that PIX11 News has this week received additional background information from people familiar with this case.  It’s a noteworthy situation for a variety of reasons, including the noticeably high bond set for the car break-in suspect — $500,000 — and for the fact that a special prosecutor has been assigned to the case.

“It’s like a snowball effect.  It keeps getting bigger and bigger,” said Zeins about new information that keeps surfacing regarding Chief Burke’s actions in this case.

“Best bet, [in] my own opinion, is get the FBI and let them do a due diligence investigation into this particular incident.”

So far, neither Loeb nor his family has filed a complaint against Chief Burke or the Suffolk County Police Department in the wake of the Smithtown man’s arrest. He is scheduled to make his next court appearance July 9th.