In a gruesome story out of Atlanta where lax screening procedures and psychopathic personalities intersected, a local police officer was arrested last week on murder charges. Tahreem Zeus Rana is currently being held for the murder of Vernicia Woodard who was shot multiple times and her body then set on fire. Rana was apprehended at the Atlanta airport while in the process of fleeing the country to India via Mexico. According to news reports, Rana had met Woodward online likely for the purpose of having sex with her. Something must have gone badly wrong because he then took the victim to a secluded area, pumped her full of slugs, possibly from his service revolver and then lit her on fire.
According to a story from the website of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution entitled “Atlanta cop linked to homicide waives first court appearance”:
An Atlanta police officer arrested Thursday on charges that he killed a woman a week ago in Hapeville and set her body on fire will remain behind bars after he waived his first court appearance Friday afternoon.
Rana will remain jailed without bond until his preliminary hearing, which is scheduled for Sept. 12 in Fulton Superior Court.
Investigators linked the gruesome homicide to APD Officer Tahreem Zeus Rana through the woman’s phone records, Hapeville Police Chief Richard Glavosek said Thursday.
Glavosek told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Vernicia Woodard’s phone records led to Rana. Detectives then located Woodard’s posting on Backpage.com, a classified and hook-up website, where investigators believe the couple met, Glavosek said.
The fact that it was the 23-year-old Rana shocked officers, not only because he was a lawman but because some officers remember him as a kid growing up in Hapeville, Glavosek said.
“They remember him walking to school with his mother,” the chief said.
Officers arrested Rana around 8:30 a.m. Thursday at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, according to Channel 2 Action News. They say he was headed to Monterrey, Mexico, which may have been a stop on the way to India. Rana was on the no-fly list.
Hapeville police booked Rana into the Fulton County jail Thursday on charges of murder, arson, kidnapping and tampering with evidence in the killing of 26-year-old Woodard. He is accused of shooting her multiple times last Friday.
A city worker found Woodard’s body burning along Elm Street in the south Fulton town. GBI was brought in to assist and investigators believe the body was set on fire to destroy evidence.
The lead Hapeville detective on the case, Stephen Cushing, told Channel 2 Action News that investigating Rana was almost surreal because of the young man’s long ambition to become a cop.
“I’ve been a police officer in the city of Hapeville for 15 years and actually saw this young man grow up and heard him say, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a police officer,” Cushing said.
Additional details are provided in a story on the website of Atlanta TV station WGCL which cites a statement on the sordid affair from Atlanta Police Department officials:
"We are shocked and saddened by these developments. The officer has been relieved from duty, and is in a non-enforcement status. Chief Turner will schedule an emergency hearing immediately today to determine the next course of action. We must allow the justice system to run its course. But these clearly are very disturbing allegations that are not in line with the expectations we have for our officers, and will be immediately dealt with," said APD Public Affairs Director Carlos Campos.
This is yet another warning of the personality types that are drawn to the law-enforcement profession in an ever more aggressive American police state. A guy like Rana could have been weeded out if there were better screening and psychological evaluation procedures utilized that could have spotted the red flags. It it obvious that leadership within the Atlanta Police Department needs to closely review their recruiting and hiring processes and tweak them accordingly.
The majority of police officers are decent people tasked with doing a thankless job and having murderers and thugs in their ranks only creates a negative perception of them as a whole. Good cops should always be on the lookout for the bad apples and aggressively work to police their own ranks. With a lack of accountability that the federal government encourages with their military surplus giveaways it does not bode well for citizens if local law enforcement agencies are riddled with psychopaths.