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“Another Nigger fried. No big deal.”
-- April 16, 2011, Statement by New York City Police Officer Michael Daragjati, boasting of his false arrest of another African-American male.
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Posted: October 17, 2015 - 7:35am ~ Updated: October 19, 2015 - 12:35am PT
(Cpl. Maxine Evans, Cpl. Jason Kenny, Pvt. Eric Vinson, Pvt. Abram Burns, Pvt. Christopher Reed, Pvt. Burt Ambrose, Pvt. Paul Folsome, Pvt. Frederick Burke and Pvt. Andrew Evans-Martinez (pictured above, center))
Chatham County, GA -- A Chatham County Superior Court jury on Friday acquitted two former sheriff’s deputies of involuntary manslaughter in the January in-custody death of Mathew Ajibade — but found each guilty of lesser charges. Ajibade, 21, died late Jan. 1 or early Jan. 2 while strapped in a restraint seat after an altercation with jailers.
What the Chatham County Superior Court jury found in the Ajibade death case:
Jason Kenny, Age 31
• Not guilty: Involuntary manslaughter on or about Jan. 1 while in commission of reckless conduct caused the death of Ajibade without intent to do so by tasing him while he was restrained.
• Not guilty: Aggravated assault upon Ajibade with a Taser, “an object and device when used offensively against a person is likely to result in serious bodily injury by drive stunning him while he was restrained.”
• Guilty: Cruelty to inmate while being a jailer caused intentional inhumanity to Ajibade, an inmate under his care and custody by using excessive force.
• Not guilty: Perjury on or about July 24 while under oath before the Chatham County grand jury knowingly and intentionally made a false material statement that he told deputy Lt. Debra Johnson that he tased Ajibade four times before Nurse Brown checked the restraints on Ajibade.
Kenny was a corporal on duty when Ajibade was placed in a restraint chair after a scuffle with deputies on Jan. 1.
Maxine Evans, Age 56
• Not guilty: Involuntary manslaughter between Jan. 1 and Jan. 2 while in the commission of reckless conduct caused the death of Ajibade without the intent to do so by failing to monitor the inmate while he was in restraints.
• Guilty: Public record fraud on Jan. 2 by falsifying a Corrections Bureau Restraint Chair log by entering checks that did not occur.
• Guilty: Perjury by testifying before the Chatham County grand jury knowingly on June 24 by stating that she entered a check performed by Deputy Eric Vinson at 12:20 a.m. on Jan. 2 into the restraint chair log when it was reported.
• Guilty: Perjury before the Chatham County grand jury while under oath that she entered a check by Deputy Mark Caper at 12:40 a.m. on June 2 as the fourth check on the restraint check log.
• Guilty: Perjury before the grand jury on June 24 by stating under oath she recorded the checks in the restraint chair log as they happened.
Evans was a corporal on duty when Ajibade was placed in a restraint chair after a scuffle with deputies on Jan. 1.
• Not guilty: Public records fraud by falsifying a Corrections Bureau Restraint Chair Log jail for Jan. 2 by signing an official sheriff’s log indicating that checks occurred that did not occur.
• Guilty: Making a false statement by telling a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent that he checked Ajibade while he was in restraints, which checks did not occur.
Gregory Brown was a 45-year-old licensed practical nurse for Corizon Health. He was on duty at the jail the night of Ajibade's (pictured below, center) death.
Defense attorneys contended there was no proven cause or time of death and that the defendants did not cause Ajibade’s death.
The verdicts came after jurors deliberated for more than 11 hours over two days. Jurors had asked Chatham County Superior Court Judge James F. Bass Jr. if they could again view the jail video from 11:45 p.m. on June 1 when Ajibade was put in the restraining chair until 12:10 a.m. on Jan. 2. A check of the inmate was allegedly made at this time. Prosecutors contended Kenny stunned Ajibade, who they claimed was no longer resisting, four times with a Taser and that he died of a combination of events. Bass denied the request.
Bass previously suggested he might consider declaring a mistrial for any counts the jury had not reached verdicts on by 5 p.m. “If it gets close to 5 o’clock and they haven’t reached a verdict, you know what might happen,” Bass told attorneys with jurors in the jury room. “I’ll probably declare a mistrial.” He told lawyers his comments were only speculation, “because I have no idea of what they are hung up on.”
District Attorney Meg Heap said she was disappointed with the verdicts, but “I have to respect the verdicts. That’s why we have a jury. I had two of my most experienced prosecutors in a long hard fight. They fought a hard battle. Primary to their case was their contention that Ajibade was left unattended for an hour and a half while the defendants ignored him, then attempted to cover up their actions. We received the case and after what the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said was a complete investigation presented the case to the grand jury. They decided not to return a felony murder count but did return the involuntary manslaughter.”
In a statement for the Ajibade family after the jury verdicts, Chris Oladapo, Ajibade’s cousin, said, “I am not surprised by the verdict. I knew that ... same system that failed Mathew would not be the system that got him justice. I had already warned my family not to expect anything. We expected nothing, and we got nothing.”
Bass scheduled sentencing for Nov. 6. He set bonds at $5,000 for each. They were taken into custody and will remain in custody until they post bond.
Posted: May 8, 2015 - 4:20pm | Updated: May 12, 2015 - 7:49pm
Chatham County, GA -- Nine deputies (Cpl. Maxine Evans, Cpl. Jason Kenny, Pvt. Eric Vinson, Pvt. Abram Burns, Pvt. Christopher Reed, Pvt. Burt Ambrose, Pvt. Paul Folsome, Pvt. Frederick Burke and Pvt. Andrew Evans-Martinez (pictured above, center)) were fired from the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office on Friday. The terminations came in the course of an investigation into the January death of a Savannah man who was in custody at the jail.
All of the deputies lost their jobs after an internal affairs investigation into the Jan. 1 death of Matthew Ajibade (pictured above, center). Both corporals had been suspended since shortly after the incident. Two of the officers fired Friday were reported to the state Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, and the other seven were terminated for general policy violations surrounding the Jan. 1 incident, according to the county attorney’s office. Three other deputies — Greg Capers, Benjamin Webster and Lt. Debra Johnson — were involved in the incident but left the department earlier, staff said. Capers and Webster were fired for policy violations unrelated to Ajibade’s death. Johnson retired.
Ajibade, 22, died Jan. 1 after being put in a restraining chair in isolation after a scuffle with deputies at the Chatham County jail. Ajibade, an artist and college student who often went by Matt Black, was arrested by Savannah-Chatham police on charges of battery and obstruction shortly after 6 p.m. Jan. 1. Officers found Ajibade and his girlfriend, whose face was bruised and who had a bloody nose, according to a preliminary incident report. Police said he would not release her and became combative when they tried to pull the couple apart. They took Ajibade to the ground and handcuffed him, according to the report. Two sergeants came to the scene at a convenience store in the 1500 block of Abercorn and medics were called, but both the woman and Ajibade — who police say was not injured — refused treatment, according to the report.
Police said Ajibade was the primary aggressor, and he was charged with battery under the Domestic Violence Act and obstruction by resisting arrest. His girlfriend told police Ajibade had been acting strangely all day, but she did not say why she thought she had been attacked. She gave police a plastic prescription bottle, labeled as Divalproex, that contained pills. The drug is typically used to treat certain types of seizures or bipolar disorder.
Police took Ajibade to jail. However, family members and their lawyer say Ajibade’s girlfriend told officers he needed to go to a hospital. Such a request is not mentioned in the preliminary incident report. A spokesman for the sheriff’s office said in January that Ajibade arrived at the jail at 6:40 p.m. Jan. 1. He was placed in an isolation cell after fighting with deputies while being booked. A female sergeant suffered a concussion and a broken nose and two male deputies suffered injuries consistent with a fight, sheriff’s office staff said.
While performing a second welfare check on Ajibade, jail staff found him nonresponsive. Medical staff started CPR and administered defibrillation while preparing to take Ajibade to Memorial University Medical Center, but he was pronounced dead by the county coroner, according to the GBI.
Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap is reviewing files from both the sheriff’s office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. She said Friday she is asking GBI agents for more information and said the case will go to a grand jury. Heap said on Tuesday she and her staff members are examining video, audio interviews and other files. They have also pulled files from the Savannah-Chatham police department, the agency that arrested Ajibade. “I want every piece of information and every witness available,” she said. GBI Special Agent Cathy Sapp, who heads the bureau’s local office, said Friday that Ajibade’s autopsy results are part of the investigative files that can’t currently be disclosed. Heap says it’s unlikely investigative material will be released to the public while her investigation remains open. “I want this case to be tried in a court room, not a court of public opinion,” she said.
Ajibade’s cause of death has not been publicly released. An autopsy was performed at the GBI medical examiner’s office in Decatur soon after his death. In a letter to the sheriff this week, local clergy members say the artist, who suffered from bipolar disorder, was injured, handcuffed to the chair and a Taser was used on him. They say he died unattended. In their letter to St Lawrence on Wednesday, pastors asked the sheriff to release investigative material. Those records, the sheriff maintains, are part of the district attorney’s investigation that could result in prosecution.
On Monday, county attorneys on behalf of St Lawrence and Heap filed an action asking Chatham County Superior Court Chief Judge Michael Karpf to decide which documents in the case are subject to production under Georgia’s open records law. The action is a response to an open records request submitted to the sheriff’s office Jan. 1 by media sources.
Heap says a grand jury will likely hear evidence next month, and she has yet to decide whether she will invoke the grand jury’s civil powers as she did in February in the case of a fatal shooting by a local police officer. If she goes that route, jurors will hear evidence and direct the District Attorney’s office how to proceed. Heap’s other option, she said, is to proceed with a criminal indictment that jurors will consider.
The sheriff’s office released personnel files for all but one fired deputy on Friday afternoon. Department spokeswoman Gena Bilbo said those records as well as termination notices for all the officers would be released Monday.
The sheriff says he has instituted new policies at the jail as the result of internal investigations after Ajibade’s death. They Include new booking procedures that will ensure immediate notification to on-site medical personnel when inmates come in with medication; auditing of Taser policy; a review of the Cell Extraction and Removal Team that will focus on discipline; use of nonlethal force; and a clear, written policy on when Taser weapons may be used.
Among the documents released by the sheriff’s office Friday was a February memo reminding deputies that it’s against policy for Taser stun guns to be used on any detainee in “full restraints,” and that no electrical weapons should be used to “gain control” of anyone in a restraint chair. “Less than lethal force may only be used to gain control over a non-compliant and/or aggressive subject, and is never applied maliciously or as punishment,” the memo reads.
In a prepared statement Friday evening local counsel for the Ajibade family said, “The fact that nine people were fired tells us how terrible this incident was. But the family still has no answers about what happened to Matthew. We again call on the sheriff and DA to be transparent while we seek justice for Matthew.”
Posted: 7:03 PM ET, Thu January 8, 2015 ~ Updated 7:03 PM ET, Thu January 8, 2015
Savannah, Georgia (WCJB) -- Cpl. Jason Kenny and Cpl. Maxine Evans, sheriff's deputies in Georgia, have been placed on leave with pay for "inappropriate actions" in the case of a man who died in the county jail. A Chatham County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said both will remain on administrative leave until the conclusion of an investigation into the death of Matthew Ajibade. Ajibade was a 22-year-old student from Nigeria who died last week in an isolation cell of the Savannah jail, said Gena Bilbo, the sheriff's spokeswoman. Authorities provided no further details into the deputies' conduct. The two deputies couldn't be immediately reached for comment Thursday.
Ajibade, who had bipolar disorder, died in custody after he "became combative during the booking process," the Sheriff's Office alleged. During the alleged jail altercation, three deputies were injured, including a female sergeant who suffered a concussion and broken nose, authorities said. The two deputies now on leave weren't among the three injured, Bilbo said. The sergeant is on medical leave, but the other two injured deputies remain on duty, said Chief Deputy Roy Harris.
His family is demanding to know why Ajibade died. The alleged combativeness doesn't square with family members' description of the 22-year-old, whom they described as a much-loved "geeky kid." The Nigeria native was in Savannah studying computer science. Ajibade's family has hired the attorney who once represented George Zimmerman in the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
The attorney called the disciplinary action against the two deputies "a good small step in holding people responsible for their actions." He added: "We still need questions answered how Matthew's life was taken from him." The body was released to the family Thursday morning, the attorney said. The attorney hopes to see "discourse of all available information as soon as possible," he said. Ajibade was diagnosed with bipolar disorder three years ago and was having a medical emergency at the time of his arrest and confinement, the attorney said.
Savannah police arrested Ajibade on January 1 after receiving a call about a domestic disturbance. When police arrived, they witnessed Ajibade holding a women under a blanket, according to an incident report. Police uncovered the two and noticed that the woman's "face was bruised, and her nose was bleeding," the report says. Officers ordered Ajibade to release the woman, but he did not comply, the report says, adding that when police tried to arrest Ajibade, he proceeded to "resist apprehension in a violent manner." He was accused of domestic violence, battery and obstruction of an officer.
A woman whom he identified as his girlfriend tried to inform police of his mental health issues, the attorney said. "She also gave police a bottle of his medication," he said. The police report notes that officers received a prescription bottle from the alleged victim, but the name of the prescription has been redacted.
Once at the jail, officials say, Ajibade had to be restrained, during which time he injured the three officers. He was then moved to an isolation cell because of his "dangerous behavior," a police news release says. Deputies conducted welfare checks on Ajibade and on their second check, he was found nonresponsive, police say. First aid was administered by the jail's medical unit staff. Despite CPR and attempts to restart his heart with a defibrillator, Ajibade could not be revived, according to the release.
It's unclear how much of the event, if any, was captured on the jail's surveillance system, or whether officers conducted a mental health evaluation before Ajibade's death. County government officials declined media requests for an interview, citing the ongoing investigation. The Sheriff's Office has requested that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation conduct an independent investigation. A GBI spokesperson said an autopsy had been conducted, but that a cause of death was pending toxicology reports. The Chatham County District Attorney's Office said a criminal investigation is ongoing and the office will "handle the matter further, should it become necessary."
Posted: Sept. 10 2015 5:57 PM ET ~ Updated: Sept. 13 2015 5:57 PM PT
The Fairfax County, Va., Sheriff’s Office has finally released video of deputies’ ultimately fatal encounter with Natasha McKenna, who later died after being shocked four times with a Taser, even as she was fully restrained, NBC Washington reports.
In the video, deputies dressed in biohazard suits can be seen attempting to restrain McKenna, who suffered from mental illness, in a chair so that she could be transported to Alexandria, Va. Deputies can be heard telling the woman to “stop resisting” and “hold still.”
Original reports indicated that at first McKenna was cooperative and allowed herself to be handcuffed. However, she soon began to struggle, supposedly deteriorating into a psychotic episode because she thought deputies were hurting her.
“You promised me you wouldn’t kill me. I didn’t do anything,” McKenna said, according to a report by the commonwealth’s attorney.
McKenna, who weighed about 130 pounds, was subject to four 50,000-volt shocks as deputies attempted to restrain her. Throughout this, her hands were cuffed behind her back, her feet shackled and her face covered so that she wouldn’t bite or spit.
After being shocked, McKenna eventually lost consciousness and deputies performed CPR. The 37-year-old mother, however, died five days later.
“It was Ms. McKenna’s severe mental illness, coupled with the tremendous physical exertion she put forth over an extended period of time struggling with deputies, that resulted in a cascade of lethal chemical reactions inside her body,” Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh wrote in his report, ruling the death a tragic accident, according to the news station.
According to NBC Washington, the medical examiner declared that the cause of death was excited delirium, in relation to being physically restrained and the use of the Taser. McKenna’s schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were also listed as contributing causes.
“It’s a horrific tale of suffering,” Morrogh added.
An investigation concluded that deputies did not do anything wrong. However, since the incident, Tasers are no longer used in the jail, and according to the news station, a team from the sheriff’s department has traveled to observe model programs meant to redirect mentally ill inmates from jail and into treatment.
Posted: Jul 21, 2015 7:25 AM PDT ~ Updated: Jul 25, 2015 12:42 AM PDT
Mississippi -- Mississippi authorities are investigating a car crash that killed an outspoken advocate of the Confederate flag. Anthony Hervey, 49 (pictured above, center) the author of "Why I wave the Confederate Flag: Written by a Black Man," died on Sunday while returning home to Oxford, Mississippi. He attended a Confederate flag rally in Alabama, media sources reported. The Mississippi Highway Patrol said the accident was under investigation but gave no further details.
A companion in Hervey's car told Mississippi investigators he swerved on a state highway to avoid another vehicle that had pulled alongside them. The companion, who was not badly injured in the crash, said Hervey yelled something at the people in the other car, which then drove to the passenger side of their vehicle. A Mississippi newspaper said the companion told investigators it appeared they were being chased. The SUV eventually veered off the road and rolled several times, according to the reports. Hervey died of injuries sustained in the wreck.
In South Carolina, racial and cultural tensions have peaked since nine African-Americans were killed in a historic Charleston church by a white gunman who appeared to be heavily influenced by the Confederate flag. The flag has been a flashpoint for racial tensions for decades. Supporters say it is a symbol of Southern heritage, while opponents argue it represents slavery and racism. The South Carolina state legislature subsequently voted to remove the flag from the State House grounds, where it had flown since 1961.
Posted: July 19, 2015 - 4:20pm | Updated: July 19, 2015 - 8:49pm
STONEWALL, Miss. (WCJB) — It's a tiny little memorial in the yard of an aging mobile home in a down-on-its-luck Mississippi mill town. Poster boards with votive candles form hearts, there are silk flowers and red, white and blue balloons. There's a sign demanding "Justice 4 Jonathan."
Artesia Avenue is where Jonathan Sanders (pictured above, center) died after 10 p.m. on July 8, following a physical encounter with a white police officer for the town of Stonewall. What happened that night when Sanders — a 39-year-old black man riding in a two-wheel buggy pulled by a horse — crossed paths with Kevin Herrington — a 25-year-old part-time officer — is intensely disputed.
Lawyers for the Sanders family and witnesses who live in the mobile home say Herrington engaged in an unprovoked attack on Sanders after the two saw each other at a convenience store a mile across town. C.J. Lawrence, the lawyer for three witnesses, said Sanders was doing nothing illegal and didn't resist while Herrington choked him to death.
A lawyer for Herrington, though, said the officer found Sanders with what appeared to be illegal drugs. Sanders and Herrington struggled in the grass and Sanders grabbed Herrington's gun from his holster, only to drop it in the grass, attorney Bill Ready Jr. said.
Trying to sort out the facts are the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. Herrington is on unpaid leave and left town on a family trip, Ready said. Sanders' survivors — including a mother, sister and two children — buried him Saturday.
Authorities are asking for calm while they finish investigating. But there were already two protests last weekend attended by hundreds in this town of 1,100 near the Alabama line.
Another protest is planned Sunday, as attorneys for Sanders' family paint his death as part of a larger nationwide struggle over police brutality against black men, and they see it as part of the unfinished civil rights movement in Stonewall, a town named after Confederate general Stonewall Jackson.
Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the Sanders family lawyer, said authorities told relatives that an autopsy found he died from "manual asphyxiation" — strangulation. He said the manner of death was homicide, not accidental.
A spokesman for MBI said the agency doesn't discuss ongoing investigations.
The autopsy finding doesn't necessarily mean Herrington committed a crime and accounts so far leave unanswered questions: What triggered the encounter? Was Herrington using necessary force, or was Sanders the victim of an overly aggressive officer?
And at a time when police departments are under intense scrutiny for treatment of black suspects, did race play a factor?
Stonewall doesn't have cameras in police cars or on officers, putting the focus on witnesses. Clarke County Sheriff Todd Kemp said one witness is Rachel Williams, a jail guard in neighboring Lauderdale County.
Lawrence, the witnesses' attorney, won't confirm her name, or describe the others, except to say they are related and also distantly related to Sanders by marriage. Lawrence said the witnesses sought lawyers because they fear for their safety. Lawrence is a law partner of Lumumba, the Sanders' family attorney.
Also present at the time of the death were Herrington and his wife, Kasey Herrington, who was riding that night in his police car.
The lawyers for the witnesses relayed their accounts to The Associated Press but said they did not want to talk directly with reporters: The witnesses say Herrington drove up behind Sanders and flashed his blue lights, causing the horse to rear. Sanders fell off the buggy and chased the horse, while Herrington ran up and grabbed Sanders by the strap of a headlamp he was wearing that had fallen around his neck. They say Sanders fell to the ground in a fetal position, trying to relieve pressure on his neck but otherwise not resisting, while Herrington lay atop him and put him in a chokehold.
The attorneys said one witness went outside and pleaded with Herrington to release Sanders. He refused until his wife retrieved his gun. Then Herrington directed his wife to radio for backup. When Herrington finally released Sanders, witnesses say he was unconscious and that blood came out of his mouth.
Ready disputes significant parts of that account. He said a struggle began after Herrington found Sanders with drugs and Sanders tried to run.
"It is my understanding that Mr. Sanders fought back and actually grabbed the officer's gun," Ready said.
He also said that Sanders outweighed Herrington, making it hard for the officer to subdue Sanders. He said Herrington did not intend to harm or kill Sanders.
"This was just an unfortunate result of an encounter between him and Mr. Sanders," Ready said.
State investigators have so far only described what happened as a physical "altercation."
Lawrence said his witnesses deny Herrington found drugs, or that Sanders grabbed the officer's gun. He and Lumumba say Kasey Herrington retrieved the gun from her husband's holster while he restrained Sanders.
Sanders has a history of drug troubles. He was convicted in December 2003 for selling cocaine and went to prison until May 2007. He was arrested again in April for allegedly possessing cocaine. A lawyer who was representing Sanders said authorities were trying to seize his Chevy Tahoe and some cash. Ready noted that if Sanders had drugs, his bond on the earlier charge could have been revoked and he would have had to stay in jail until the charges were resolved.
Herrington has been described as both an excellent police officer and a "Rambo" who held a grudge.
He graduated from a police academy in nearby Meridian in December 2013. Until last week, he was working occasional shifts in Stonewall and two nights a week in neighboring Enterprise. Ready said he also has a full time job as industrial worker, but wouldn't be more specific.
Enterprise Police Chief Joey Moulds said Herrington is a conscientious officer who kept on good terms with people — even after he'd written them citations.
Moulds said there were few complaints about Herrington and said he was very non-confrontational.
"I would have to put him at the top of the list. He's the most humble person I know of, extremely humble, extremely responsible," Moulds said.
But Eddie Crosby, who lives near Enterprise, thinks otherwise. Crosby said Herrington pulled him over multiple times this year to the point where Crosby felt Herrington was harassing him. He wrote a complaint to Moulds and the mayor and complained in a letter published in April by a local newspaper. He didn't include Herrington's name — describing the officer only as a "Rambo" type — but confirms he was referring to Herrington.
Afterward, Crosby said Herrington would flash his police lights at him and recently ticketed him for rolling through a stop sign.
"If he got it in for you he was going to have you," Crosby said. "I could understand the first time but you just don't stop somebody and make up an excuse."
Friends of Sanders describe him as a horse-lover who made a living buying, training and selling the animals. He lived next to his mother on a wooded side-road. Clifton Follins, the neighbor, said Sanders's two children didn't live with him but frequently visited.
"Ever since he's been big enough, he loved those horses," said Follins, 69.
Posted: April 21, 2015 7:38 p.m. ET ~ Updated: April 21, 2015 10:11 p.m. PST
Chicago, Ill. -- In a stunning, abrupt end to the first trial in years of a Chicago police officer for a fatal off-duty shooting, a Cook County judge acquitted the veteran cop Monday on a legal fine point, drawing outrage from the black victim's family and leaders in the African-American community.
Judge Dennis Porter ruled that prosecutors failed to prove that Dante Servin acted recklessly, saying that Illinois courts have consistently held that anytime an individual points a gun at an intended victim and shoots, it is an intentional act, not a reckless one. He all but said prosecutors should have charged Servin with murder, not involuntary manslaughter.
Servin cannot be retried on a murder charge because of double-jeopardy protections, according to his attorney, Darren O'Brien. A chaotic scene erupted in the courtroom after the brother of the victim, Rekia Boyd, reacted to Servin's acquittal by standing and taking a few steps toward Servin, angrily shouting, "This (expletive) killed my sister." Family, supporters and sheriff's deputies quickly pulled Martinez Sutton from the courtoom amid shouts and cries over the ruling.
Later, as Servin walked from the Leighton Criminal Court Building with about a dozen off-duty Chicago cops flanking him, a crowd of about 40 exploded in anger, following him while yelling "(expletive) murderer" and "shame on you." Someone hurled what appeared to be a lunch bag at the officer as he walked toward a parking garage.
"He gets to walk out, he gets to go to his happy life — that's a slap in the face," Sutton, 32, said moments later as tears streamed down his face. "That's just telling me the police can just kill you, go through this little process, take a two- or three-year vacation and then get back on the force like nothing happened."
The trial marked a rare criminal prosecution of a Chicago police officer for a fatal shooting, the first trial in nearly two decades. The race of Boyd and the officer — he is white — never became an issue in the trial itself, but it still hung over the proceedings, coming amid a national outcry in recent months over the deaths of unarmed African-Americans at the hands of white police officers in Ferguson, Mo., New York City, Cleveland and elsewhere.
The head of the Illinois NAACP said Servin's acquittal will only exacerbate the contentious relationship between police and the African-American community.
"This statement — 'I was afraid for my life' — it's got to stop," George Mitchell said of the common justification by police, including Servin, involved in shootings. "It's got to stop now because otherwise what's going to end up happening is that police and the community are going to be at odds completely with each other. And there's no reason for that."
Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez issued a statement defending her decision to charge Servin with involuntary manslaughter, saying she was "extremely disappointed" with the judge's decision.
"The state's attorney's office brought charges in this case in good faith and only after a very careful legal analysis of the evidence as well as the specific circumstances of this crime," she said.
In charging Servin with involuntary manslaughter, prosecutors had alleged he acted recklessly in March 2012 when he fired five shots over his shoulder from inside his car in the direction of four people who had their backs to him in a dark West Side alley.
Servin's attorneys said he was in fear for his life after Antonio Cross, one of the four, pulled an object from his waistband, pointed it at Servin and ran toward his car. But police found only a cellphone.
Boyd, 22, was fatally shot in the back of the head, while other rounds grazed Cross' hand and hit a signpost. Only Cross was charged in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, but the misdemeanor aggravated assault charge was dropped in March 2013 — on the same day the city formally agreed to pay Boyd's estate $4.5 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit.
By November 2013, Alvarez charged Servin with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a weapon and reckless conduct — the first criminal charges against an off-duty Chicago cop since Gregory Becker was charged in the 1995 killing of a homeless man. A jury convicted Becker in 1997 of armed violence, involuntary manslaughter and official misconduct, and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
On Monday, moments before the defense was to put on its evidence on the fourth day of the bench trial, Judge Porter, a veteran of 27 years at the 26th and California courthouse, stunned the packed and tense courtroom by granting a directed verdict, a rarely granted motion.
Reading his seven-page ruling from the bench, the judge said there was no dispute that Servin had intended to kill Cross, but under the involuntary manslaughter law, prosecutors had to prove he acted recklessly in the legal sense of the word.
"It is easy to say, 'Of course the defendant was reckless. He intentionally shot in the direction of a group of people on the sidewalk. That is really dangerous … and in fact Rekia Boyd was killed. Case closed,' " Porter wrote. "It is easy to think that way, but it is wrong."
That's because Illinois law says that intentionally firing a gun at someone on the street "is an act that is so dangerous it is beyond reckless," Porter wrote. "It is intentional and the crime, if any there be, is first-degree murder."
Porter acknowledged that it was "perhaps even unfortunate" that neither side would have "closure" on whether Servin was justified in opening fire that night, but he said he had no choice under the law but to dismiss the charges.
Before he left the courthouse, Servin, 46, spoke to reporters, saying that he has always maintained that Boyd's death was a tragic accident and offered her family "my deepest sympathies."
"I need you to know that my family and I have also suffered greatly during the past three years, and we will continue to suffer," Servin said. "This is something that I will live with for the rest of my life. My job is to save lives and protect people, and from an early age I knew I would be a policeman. And that's why I became a policeman so this is a bigger tragedy."
"Any reasonable person, any police officer especially, would've reacted in the exact same manner that I reacted," he said. "And I'm glad to be alive. I saved my life that night. I'm glad that I'm not a police death statistic. Antonio Cross is a would-be cop killer, and that's all I have to say."
Bruce Mosbacher, a longtime criminal-defense attorney, defended the judge's legal reasoning as sound and faulted prosecutors for charging Servin with involuntary manslaughter, calling that a "curious" move that led to a "very distasteful result." "They didn't charge what they had," said Mosbacher, who contended the office typically brings first-degree murder charges against those who kill by firing into a crowd. "They charged this as a compromise in an effort to help an otherwise good officer ... (and) in an effort to split the baby, they had a very unjust result."
Prosecutors usually charge involuntary manslaughter for accidental deaths such as shooting a family member while cleaning a gun or firing up in the air to celebrate New Year's Eve, he said.
While Servin still technically faces potential disciplinary action by the Independent Police Review Authority, Dean Angelo, president of the union representing Chicago police officers, said the process to return Servin to active duty would immediately begin. He has been on paid desk duty since he was charged.
"It's important that he try to get his life back together," Angelo said. "I don't know why it happened that way ... that the state's attorney's office decided to change Dante from victim to offender. It makes no sense to me."
Posted: Sunday 12 April 2015 15.37 EDT ~ Updated: Friday 17 April 2015 18.22 PST
Video has been released of the moment a reserve police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shot and killed a man by mistake.
The reserve officer, Bob Bates, a 73-year-old insurance executive, told police he had thought he was firing his Taser stun gun at Eric Courtney Harris, 44, a convicted felon who a police report on the incident said was being arrested after having sold a gun to an undercover officer.
The video, which came from a police officer’s body camera, was released by police on Friday. It shows Harris running down a suburban street, away from his pursuers. The officer catches up with him and Harris is brought to the ground. A shot is heard and Harris gasps in pain.
A voice, presumably that of Bates, says: “I shot him. I’m sorry.”
A gun is dropped on the road and then picked up.
Harris cries out, repeatedly, “He shot me!” and says: “Oh my God, I’m losing my breath.”
As officers continue to subdue Harris, one officer is heard to say: “Fuck your breath.”
Medical help was called to the scene, but Harris died in hospital.
Later, Bates told the Tulsa World: “It was me,” and added: “My attorney has advised me not to comment. As much as I would like to, I can’t.”
Harris’s death is one of a number involving black men at the hands of white police officers to have occurred across the US in recent months. Last year, protests broke out after the officers who killed Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Missouri and 43-year-old Eric Garner in New York City were not indicted.
Last week, an officer in North Charleston, South Carolina shot and killed Walter Scott, a 50-year-old man who ran away from a routine traffic stop. The shooting was captured on camera by a bystander with an iPhone.
Scott’s funeral took place on Saturday; the officer, Michael Slager, has been fired from the force and charged with murder. The intensity of the protests over such deaths – which gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and the use of Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe”, as a campaign slogan – has stoked intense national debate about the policing of African American communities and the state of civil rights in the US.
Like the death of Walter Scott, Garner’s death was captured on video by a bystander.
Bates was assigned to the violent crimes task force of the Tulsa County sheriff’s office. Reserve deputies “have [the] full powers and authority” of a deputy while on duty, Major Shannon Clark told the Tulsa World, saying their use in such cases was not unusual.
Oklahoma police have said they do not intend to investigate Harris’s death any further, unless requested to do so by the sheriff’s office.
Posted: APRIL 7, 2015 8:33 PM EST ~ Updated: April 10, 2015 2:13 AM PST
North Charleston, S.C. — Michael T. Slager, 33, was charged with murder on Tuesday after a video surfaced showing him shooting Walter L. Scott, 50, in the back and killing him after a traffic stop on Saturday. Scott was an apparently unarmed black man. Slager is a white police officer in North Charleston, S.C. The officer said he had feared for his life because the man had taken his stun gun in a scuffle. The video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as Scott fled.
The shooting unfolded after Officer Slager stopped Scott driving a Mercedes-Benz with a broken taillight. according to police reports. Mr. Scott ran away, and Officer Slager chased him into a grassy lot that abuts a muffler shop. He fired his Taser, an electronic stun gun, but it did not stop Mr. Scott, according to police reports. Moments after the struggle, Officer Slager reported on his radio: “Shots fired and the subject is down. He took my Taser,” according to police reports.
North Charleston is South Carolina’s third-largest city, with a population of about 100,000. African-Americans make up about 47 percent of residents, and whites account for about 37 percent. The Police Department is about 80 percent white, according to data collected by the Justice Department in 2007, the most recent period available.
The North Charleston mayor announced the state charges at a news conference Tuesday evening. “When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” Mayor Keith Summey said during the news conference. “And if you make a bad decision, don’t care if you’re behind the shield or just a citizen on the street, you have to live by that decision.” The shooting came on the heels of high-profile instances of police officers’ using lethal force in New York, Cleveland, Ferguson, Mo., and other states. The deaths have set off a national debate over whether the police are too quick to use force, particularly in cases involving black men.
But the video, which was taken by a bystander and provided to The New York Times by the Scott family’s lawyer, presents a different account. The video begins in the vacant lot, apparently moments after Officer Slager fired his Taser. Wires, which carry the electrical current from the stun gun, appear to be extending from Mr. Scott’s body as the two men tussle and Mr. Scott turns to run.
Something — it is not clear whether it is the stun gun — is either tossed or knocked to the ground behind the two men, and Officer Slager draws his gun, the video shows. When the officer fires, Mr. Scott appears to be 15 to 20 feet away and fleeing. He falls after the last of eight shots.
The officer then runs back toward where the initial scuffle occurred and picks something up off the ground. Moments later, he drops an object near Mr. Scott’s body, the video shows.
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The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the state’s criminal investigative body, has begun an inquiry into the shooting. The F.B.I. and the Justice Department, which has opened a string of civil rights investigations into police departments under Mr. Holder, is also investigating.
The Supreme Court has held that an officer may use deadly force against a fleeing suspect only when there is probable cause that the suspect “poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”
Officer Slager served in the Coast Guard before joining the force five years ago, his lawyer said. The police chief of North Charleston did not return repeated calls. Because police departments are not required to release data on how often officers use force, it was not immediately clear how often police shootings occurred in North Charleston, a working-class community adjacent to the tourist destination of Charleston.
Mr. Scott had been arrested about 10 times, mostly for failing to pay child support or show up for court hearings, according to The Post and Courier newspaper of Charleston. He was arrested in 1987 on an assault and battery charge and convicted in 1991 of possession of a bludgeon, the newspaper reported. Mr. Scott’s brother, Anthony, said he believed Mr. Scott had fled from the police on Saturday because he owed child support.
“He has four children; he doesn’t have some type of big violent past or arrest record,” said Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Mr. Scott’s family. “He had a job; he was engaged. He had back child support and didn’t want to go to jail for back child support.”
Mr. Stewart said the coroner had told him that Mr. Scott was struck five times — three times in the back, once in the upper buttocks and once in the ear — with at least one bullet entering his heart. It is not clear whether Mr. Scott died immediately. (The coroner’s office declined to make the report available to The Times.)
Police reports say that officers performed CPR and delivered first aid to Mr. Scott. The video shows that for several minutes after the shooting, Mr. Scott remained face down with his hands cuffed behind his back. A second officer arrives, puts on blue medical gloves and attends to Mr. Scott, but is not shown performing CPR. As sirens wail in the background, a third officer later arrives, apparently with a medical kit, but is also not seen performing CPR.
The debate over police use of force has been propelled in part by videos like the one in South Carolina. In January, prosecutors in Albuquerque charged two police officers with murder for shooting a homeless man in a confrontation that was captured by an officer’s body camera. Federal prosecutors are investigating the death of Eric Garner, who died last year in Staten Island after a police officer put him in a chokehold, an episode that a bystander captured on video. A video taken in Cleveland shows the police shooting a 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, who was carrying a fake gun in a park. A White House policing panel recommended that police departments put more video cameras on their officers.
Mr. Scott’s brother said his mother had called him on Saturday, telling him that his brother had been shot by a Taser after a traffic stop. “You may need to go over there and see what’s going on,” he said his mother told him. When he arrived at the scene of the shooting, officers told him that his brother was dead, but he said they had no explanation for why. “This just doesn’t sound right,” he said in an interview. “How do you lose your life at a traffic stop?”
Anthony Scott said he last saw his brother three weeks ago at a family oyster roast. “We hadn’t hung out like that in such a long time,” Mr. Scott said. “He kept on saying over and over again how great it was.”
At the roast, Mr. Scott got to do two of the things he enjoyed most: tell jokes and dance. When one of Mr. Scott’s favorite songs was played, he got excited. “He jumped up and said, ‘That’s my song,’ and he danced like never before,” his brother said.
Published On: Nov. 20, 2014 05:50:26 PM PST ~ Updated On: Nov. 23, 2014 06:34:05 PM PST
Southeast Bullitt County, Kentucky (WCJB) -- A Kentucky law enforcement official is under fire this week after footage of his deeply racist comments was made public on Tuesday. In September, Southeast Bullitt Fire Chief Julius Hatfield was recorded on a Bullitt County Sheriff deputy’s body camera during a response to a traffic accident, when Hatfield allegedly refused to help a black family while referring to them in derogatory, racist terms.
“Well, I’ve got a family of four from Cincinnati, I got to do something with,” the Bullitt County deputy says in the footage, which was obtained by media sources.
“We ain’t taking no n–gers here,” Hatfield responded, laughing.
The footage also reveals the fire chief helping the other man involved in the traffic incident, Loren Dicken, who is white. According to media sources, after Hatfield went out of his way to assist Dicken with a tire issue, the chief also had his firefighters pick the man up from the hospital when he was released.
But Hatfield was reportedly less than helpful for the other driver involved in the accident, Chege Mwangi, who is black. Mwangi told a reporter that Hartfield suggested he, his wife and two children contact Triple A for assistance, before asking for registration and proof of insurance. When the reporter, who is Asian-American, contacted Hartfield to ask about the alleged disparities in his treatment of the two families as well as possible mismanagement of his department, the fire chief offered a startling (also racist) response.
“Do you understand English, darling?” Hatfield said. “Do you understand English?”
Posted: 9:38 PM EDT, Fri. May 16 - Updated: 1:38 PM PDT, Sat. May 17, 2014
Wolfeboro, N.H. -- On March 6, 2014, Jane O’Toole was in a Wolfeboro, N.H., restaurant when she heard a town police commissioner call President Obama “the ‘N’ word.” In an email response to O’Toole’s complaint to town officials, the commissioner, Robert Copeland, admitted to having made the comment, writing, “I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse. For this, I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such,” according to a report from media sources.
Copeland, 82, is one of three elected police commissioners in Wolfeboro, an overwhelmingly white town with 6,300 residents, about 20 of whom are black.
Commission Chairman Joseph Balboni Jr. told the Concord Monitor that O’Toole, whom he referred to as “this woman,” is “blowing it out of proportion,” and that he doesn’t plan to ask Copeland to resign. “He’s (Copeland) worked with a lot of blacks in his life,” Balboni said.
The town manager said he finds the comments “reprehensible” but doesn’t have the power to remove Copeland from office.
Posted: 9:38 PM EDT, Thurs. May 12 - Updated: 2:38 AM PDT, Sat. May 17, 2014
Top Cops! Top News Video!
Posted: 7:36 PM EST, Tue March 5, 2013 - Updated 11:46 PM PST, Tue March 5, 2013
Stockton, CA (WCJB) -- Oberlin College is a small liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, with almost 3,000 students. Oberlin suspended classes Monday after a student reported seeing a person resembling a Ku Klux Klan member near the college's Afrikan Heritage House. The sighting of the person wearing a white hood and robe was reported early Monday morning and follows a string of recent hate incidents on Oberlin's campus that have ignited shock and confusion among the student body. The reported sighting of KKK regalia is the latest in a spate of incidents on Oberlin's campus. An emergency meeting among the college's officials was immediately called after the report.
According to an incident report provided by the Oberlin Police Department, 15 hate-related events have been reported in the last month alone. The other incidents have included several posters containing multiple racial slurs and other derogatory statements targeting various student communities placed around campus. Other reports include various fliers placed around campus containing racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic language and swastika graffiti.
In lieu of classes, college administrators asked students, faculty and staff to "gather for a series of discussions of the challenging issues that have faced our community in recent weeks," a statement on Oberlin's website said. "We hope today will allow the entire community — students, faculty, and staff —to make a strong statement about the values that we cherish here at Oberlin: inclusion, respect for others, and a strong and abiding faith in the worth of every individual," the statement said. The programming included a campuswide teach-in led by Meredith Gadsby, an associate professor and chairwoman of the Africana Studies Department; a collective demonstration of solidarity, including musical performances by campus groups and speeches by campus leaders; and a community convocation entitled "We Stand Together." Gadsby has been teaching at Oberlin since 2000 and was notified of the incident at 3 a.m., just hours after the sighting was reported. "I am worried about the students who have been made to feel incredibly unsafe and still feel targeted," Gadsby told media sources Monday.
"The frequency of these reports is astounding," Gadsby said. "Over the past four weeks, there has been a concentration of bias incidents in such a short period of time. I have no idea why this happened, no idea who the culprits are, no idea where this is coming from. Students are saying this is not what they came to Oberlin to experience." Gadsby still feels that Oberlin can be a model for other campuses that have dealt with hate-related incidents. She hopes students will continue to mobilize and share information with law enforcement. "It's good to be made uncomfortable; it strengthens our resolve," she said. "These incidents don't just happen at small liberal arts colleges. These moments are important for students to engage in the theories that we teach and put them into practice."
Shimon Brand, Hillel director at Oberlin for more than 30 years, noted that these types of incidents were "exceedingly out of the ordinary" but that students have worked together to address the incident. "Instead of students acting as victims, they reacted through understanding and engagement. There's a real sense of sadness and anger, but solidarity that there's work to be done," he said.
"Since the beginning, there's been anger, frustration, sadness and fear, but we've been working toward a concentrated effort toward change," said Eliza Diop, 20, a politics and Africana Studies major who serves on the college student senate and is a resident of the Afrikan Heritage House, which offers programs focused on the African diaspora, according to the college's website. "Racism is still here. It may not be as visible as it was 50 years ago, but it's still visible. We still need to fight it, even in 2013," Diop said. "I want us to remember that hate is unproductive. Love reigns supreme." Chris Landers, 21, an English major and co-editor-in-chief of the college's newspaper said the paper has welcomed letters to the editor and has asked people to contact the staff with any incident reports to encourage dialogue from all groups on campus. "We value every member of Oberlin. We know we're not the perfect place, but we strive to be an inclusive place. We want Oberlin to be a place where every member of every community feels valued and feels that they have a legitimate voice," he said.
These incidents are being investigated by both Oberlin College security and the Oberlin Police Department. Police have not yet been able to substantiate the reports of the alleged KKK regalia sighting. "We're looking into it and we're trying to talk to other students to see if we can verify the incident," said Oberlin Police Sgt. David Jasinski. Jasinski said that two students had been removed. "It's an ongoing investigation. At this time, college security caught a couple of students. Two students have been removed from campus," Jasinski said. Vicki Anderson, special agent for the FBI's Cleveland Division, said, "We have been made aware of the incidents and we have been in contact with the Oberlin Police Department and will continue to assess the situation accordingly." No official charges have been filed. Scott Wargo, director of media relations for the college, said, "No official disciplinary action has been taken."
"The only good nigger is a dead nigger and they should hang you in the town square to prevent any other nigger from coming in the area."
-- July 2011 Statement by Oakland, CA Public Schools Police Chief Pete Sarna to an African-American police officer under his command.
"Operation Random Shooter!"
Posted: Apr 09, 2012 5:31 PM PDT | Updated: Apr 10, 2012 2:05 PM PDT
Tulsa, OK - Police documents filed in court Monday state the two men arrested in Friday's shooting spree have both confessed. An affidavit filed indicates Jake England, 19, confessed to shooting three people. Alvin Watts, 32, confessed to shooting two. The affidavit did not specify which man shot which victim, but police indicate in the document that Watts shot two of the three victims who died. Friday's shooting happened in a small radius in North Tulsa. All of the victims were black. Police have said one of the motives for the shootings may have been England's desire to revenge his father's death. He was shot to death by a black man in the same area of the shootings two years to the day of the crime spree.
Posted: 06:49 PM PDT, Monday, April 9, 2012 | Updated: 12:15 PM PDT, Monday, April 9, 2012
“It just mite be the time to call it quits[.] I hate to say it like that[,] but I’m done if something does happen tonite be ready for another funeral later.”
-- 19-year-old Jake England went on his Facebook page at 10:15 p.m., some 21 hours after his first shooting victim, 49-year-old Dannaer Fields, was shot. She later died at a local hospital.
TULSA, Okla. (WCJB) Hours before a gunman mowed down a black woman and four black men, 19-year-old Jake England went on his Facebook page to unload about the shooting death of his father by “a fucking nigger.” His father, Carl England, 47, became Tulsa’s 11th homicide victim of the year on April 5, 2010, after brawling with a man who was beefing with his daughter’s boyfriend. It was a protracted fight that involved a stick, a baseball bat and a gun. Pernell Jefferson, an ex-con in his 30s, allegedly tried to break into the apartment of England’s daughter. Her boyfriend hit Jefferson with the baseball bat; Jefferson bolted and returned with a handgun. At that point, Carl England whacked him with a stick. As Jefferson stumbled to the ground, he fatally shot England. Cops caught Jefferson at a hospital, where he was seeking treatment. He was eventually convicted of firearms possession.
Jake England and his roommate, 32-year-old Alvin Watts, were charged today with three counts of first-degree murder. Tulsa police arrested them yesterday after tips poured in accusing the pair of carrying out random shootings Friday that killed three and severely wounded two. The attacks terrorized the suspects’ predominantly black neighborhood, where residents were afraid to walk to the store or attend Easter church services. England is white and Native American. Watts is white. The pair appeared via closed-circuit television from jail today. A judge set bond at $9.16 million each and set an April 16 court date.
In macabre postings before and after the shootings, England despaired over the murder of his father two years ago and the January suicide of his fiancée, Sheran Wilde, the mother of his 6-month-old son. She shot herself in front of him. On Friday night, he seemed to be considering a similar fate. “It just mite be the time to call it quits[.] I hate to say it like that[,] but I’m done if something does happen tonite be ready for another funeral later,” he wrote at 10:15 p.m., some 21 hours after the first victim, 49-year-old Dannaer Fields, was shot. She died at a hospital.
On his Facebook page, Watts calls England his “bro.” The postings include rants about a custody dispute with an ex-lover. Court records show Watts was charged with aggravated assault and battery in 2009. The charge was dropped when his accuser failed to testify. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic abuse in 2006.
Posted: 06:10 PM PDT, Sun April 8, 2012 | Updated: 12:15 PM PDT, Sun April 8, 2012
TULSA, Okla. (WCJB) — Two men, 19-year-old Jake England and 32-year-old Alvin Watts were arrested Sunday in a shooting rampage that left three people dead and terrorized Tulsa's black community. Police identified both suspects as white, while all five victims in the rampage early Friday were black. Police Chief Chuck Jordan said the gunmen appeared to have chosen their victims at random. Police identified those killed as Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31. Two men were wounded but were released from the hospital, Jordan said.
In a Thursday update on Facebook that appeared to have been written by 19-year-old Jake England, he angrily blamed his father's death on a black man and used a racial slur. He said Thursday was the second anniversary of his father's death. Local media reported that England's father, Carl, was shot in the chest during a scuffle with a man who had tried to break into his daughter's apartment. England later died. The man charged in the shooting is serving a six-year sentence on a weapons charge, according to Department of Corrections records. Police and the FBI said it is too soon to say whether the attacks in Tulsa's predominantly black north side were racially motivated. The shootings come at a fraught moment for black Americans. In late February, an unarmed black teen, Trayvon Martin, was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., raising questions about racial profiling and touching off protests across the nation.
A family friend, Susan Sevenstar (Pictured left) told media sources that England was "a good kid" and "a good, hard worker," who "was not in his right mind" after losing his father and the January suicide of his fiancee, with whom he'd recently had a baby. "If anybody is trying to say this is a racial situation, they've got things confused," said Sevenstar, who described England as Cherokee Indian. "He didn't care what your color was. It wasn't a racist thing."
While Tulsa police were reluctant to describe the shootings there as racially motivated, City Councilman Jack Henderson was not. "Being an NAACP president for seven years, I think that somebody that committed these crimes were very upset with black people," Henderson said. "That person happened to be a white person, the people they happened to kill and shoot are black people. That fits the bill for me."
Posted: 11:45 AM EDT, Sun April 8, 2012 | Updated: 12:15 PM PDT, Sun April 8, 2012
TULSA, Okla. (WCJB) — Acting on a tip and shadowed by a helicopter, police arrested two men early Sunday in the recent shootings that terrorized Tulsa's black community and left three people dead and two others critically wounded. Police spokesman Jason Willingham said the two men were arrested at a home just north of Tulsa about 2 a.m. Sunday and were expected to be charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill in the spate of shootings early Friday. He said police made the arrests after receiving an anonymous tip.
While police identified the men as white and all the victims are black, authorities have not described the shootings as racially motivated and declined to discuss that issue Sunday. Community leaders, however, expressed concern about the motivation for the shootings on Tulsa's predominantly black north side, as well as the possibility that they would provoke a vigilante response. The Rev. Warren Blakney Sr., president of the Tulsa NAACP, said Sunday that word of the arrests had provided a great sense of relief. "The community once again can go about its business without fear of there being a shooter on the streets on today, on Easter morning," he said.
Police said they linked the shootings because they happened about the same time within a few miles of each other, and all five victims were out walking when they were shot. Four of the victims were found in yards, and one in the street. Police have said they don't believe the victims knew one another. They identified those killed as Dannaer Fields, 49, Bobby Clark, 54, and William Allen, 31. They declined to name the survivors. "There obviously still is a lot of investigation" ahead, Willingham said Sunday. "We don't have a motive at this time. We are still asking questions and hopefully that will become clear in coming days."
Milan Cherry, Fields' niece, said her aunt didn't have a car and she believed she was walking home when she was shot. She described Fields as uplifting and a source of strength for their family in hard times. "When we went through four deaths last year in our family, she still tried to uplift everyone, even though it was her brother and sisters and a nephew who died," Cherry said. She said she didn't have much detail on the arrests but they were "a good thing." "He was just going around, murdering people for no reason," she said, talking about the shooter. "Now we have to bury our aunt because of this fool."
Willingham identified the men in custody as Jacob England, 19 (Pictured far left) and Alvin Watts, 32 (Pictured right) but gave no hometowns for them. He said they were taken early Sunday for questioning at a downtown Tulsa police station, where they would be booked and jailed. More information will be provided at an afternoon news conference, he said. It was not clear early Sunday whether the men had attorneys.
Tulsa police had at least two dozen officers investigating the case, along with the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and other agencies. A special operations team and a fugitive operations group helped make the arrests, Willingham said. He did know whether the men were armed when they were taken into custody. After receiving a tip, police found the men at one spot and then followed them as they walked to another place about a half-mile away, where they were arrested, he said. "We've been on them since early in the evening (of Saturday)," Willingham said. "We had been doing surveillance and using a helicopter." Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Saturday that police would do whatever it took to apprehend suspects in what he called vicious and cowardly attacks.
Posted: 5:45 PM EDT, Sat April 7, 2012 | Updated: 3:15 PM PDT, Sat April 7, 2012
Tulsa, Oklahoma (WCJB) -- The police chief of Tulsa, Oklahoma, offered a stern, succinct message Saturday to the man he believes killed three people and critically wounded two others in a spate of seemingly random shootings: "We're coming for you." Chief Chuck Jordan described the shootings at four separate sites -- all of which occurred early Friday within two to three miles of each other -- as "vicious and cowardly attacks." A survivor described the suspect as a white man, driving an "older" white pickup truck, according to Jordan. But Jordan indicated authorities do not know exactly who the shooter is, noting that this basic description "alone probably accounts for 50,000 people in the city of Tulsa." With the assailant still at large, city leaders stressed that information from the public will be critical to cracking this case. "To know that you can't walk down the street at night in your own neighborhood, that's a terrible thing," said city councilor Jack Henderson, who represents the district where the shootings occurred. "The only way that this person is going to be brought to justice is we need some leads. We need some people to come forward. We need some people to tell us what you know, what it is you heard."
About 30 representatives from four different law enforcement agencies -- the Tulsa police, Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI -- are on the case, as part of a newly formed task force called "Operation Random Shooter." They'll be working around the clock to solicit leads, gather evidence and conduct interviews, according to Jordan. Earlier Saturday, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett told media sources that at least 40 cruisers are patrolling the affected area. He added that officers are spending the weekend "going, literally, door to door, and asking people if they have seen anything (and) what their opinions and observations are."
What authorities do know is the first shooting occurred at 1:03 a.m. Friday, according to Tulsa police Capt. Jonathan Brooks. That victim, 49-year-old Dannaer Fields, died at a hospital. Three minutes later, two people were shot nearby. Both are in critical condition, but are expected to survive. Then, just before 2 a.m., a fourth shooting incident -- like the first, a fatal -- occurred. The third person killed was found around 8 a.m. next to a funeral home in a more commercial district, though Brooks said police believe he was shot much earlier. In addition to Fields, Jordan identified the other two victims as William Allen and Bobby Clark. "It appears all the victims were out walking or in the yard," Brooks said. "This (happened in) a residential neighborhood, predominantly single-family dwellings, except for the last victim." All the victims were black.
The Rev. Warren Blakney, a pastor at a city church and president of the NAACP's Tulsa branch, said the shootings could well prove to be hate crimes given that they happened in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. "For a white male to come that deep into that area and to start indiscriminately shooting, that lends itself for many to believe that it probably was a hate crime," Blakney told media sources. Brooks, the police captain, said one victim said "the suspect just pulled up and asked a question about where to go" -- and didn't use any racial slurs that might indicate his motive. Jordan acknowledged it is a "very logical theory" to assume they were targeted in hate crimes, but said that "we have had no evidence" yet to indicate that. "Right now, I'm more worried about three of my citizens being murdered," the chief said. "And if it takes us in a direction of a hate crime, that's certainly where we'll go and we'll prosecute him for that as well." Tulsa's mayor commended city residents for already having "really come together," intent on helping capture the killer. "It should be concerning to all Tulsans, because we are all in this together," Bartlett said. "Some of our fellow Tulsans have been pretty violently shot, and some of them are not here today to enjoy the weekend with their families."
Posted: April 7, 2012 | 8:18 am PDT - Updated: April 17, 2012 | 12:02 pm PDT
Stockton, CA -- 11 year Stockton police veteran Wesley Grinder and four year veteran Ryan Taiariol stopped Luther Brown Jr., 32, because he was driving a car without a license plate. Brown ran from the officers, and when they caught up with him, a struggle allegedly ensued. Brown was allegedly able to get control of a baton from one of the officers and was attempting to hit the officer. Fearing for his partner's safety, the other officer shot Brown. Stockton police confirmed a man was fatally shot by an officer at 2741 Burlington Place Friday evening. Officer Pete Smith said the officers involved were not injured.
Demonstrators protested the death of Luther Brown Friday afternoon. They were joined by Occupy Oakland and the Oscar Grant Committee Tuesday afternoon. Between 150 and 200 people packed Martin Luther King Park, across the street from Stockton City Hall. Around 50 Stockton Police officers donned riot gear.
Demonstrators say what happened to Brown is similar to what happened to Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teen who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch man. Demonstrators were also protesting the officer-involved death of James Rivera, who was killed in the summer of 2010. Rivera’s family says he was unarmed when he was killed by Stockton Police.
Posted: March 29, 2012 - Updated: April 8, 2012 02:27 PM PDT
“My name is Kenneth Chamberlain. This is my sworn testimony. White Plains police are going to come in here and kill me.”That’s exactly what White Plains Police did. The opening quote, above, was related to us by Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., when he appeared on the “Democracy Now!”
-- Nov. 19, 2011, U.S. Marine veteran Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. as White Plains Police Officer Anthony Carelli prepared to kill him.
White Plains, NY -- In the early hours of Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, U.S. Marine veteran Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. accidentally hit his LifeAid medical-alert pendant, presumably while sleeping. The 68-year-old retired corrections officer had a heart condition, but wasn’t in need of help that dawn. Within two hours, the White Plains, N.Y., police department broke down his apartment door and shot him dead. Chamberlain was African-American. Unbeknownst to the White Plains police who arrived at Ken Sr.’s door that morning, the LifeAid system includes a box in the home that, when activated, transmits audio to the LifeAid company, where it is recorded. As a result there are recordings of the events. These recordings include a racial slur directed at the victim by police, prior to their killing him.
"‘We don’t give a fuck, nigger!’”Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., the surviving son, appeared on television to talk about the police killing of his father. Ken Jr. was holding on to the LifeAid pendant that his father wore around his neck in case of a medical emergency. Ken Jr. and his lawyers heard the recording in a meeting at the office of the Westchester County district attorney, Janet DiFiore. Ken Jr. repeated what he heard his father say on the tape: “He says, ‘I’m a 68-year-old man with a heart condition. Why are you doing this to me?’ ... You also hear him pleading with the officers again, over and over. And at one point, that’s when the expletive is used by one of the police officers.” One of Chamberlain’s attorneys told me about the racial slur. Bartlett is a former Westchester County prosecutor, so he knows the ropes. He was very explicit in recounting what he heard on the recording.
-- Nov. 19, 2011, White Plains Police (moments prior to killing unarmed) U.S. Marine veteran Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. who stated (to police) "‘I’m a sick old man.’"
“Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. (Pictured left) said to the police, ‘I’m a sick old man.’ One of the police officers replied, ‘We don’t give a fuck, nigger!’” The recording also includes a taunt from the police, as related by Bartlett, “Open the door, Kenny, you’re a grown-ass man!” It was when Ken Jr. related how the police mocked his father’s military service that he broke down. “He said, ‘Semper fi.” So they said, “Oh, you’re a Marine. Hoo-rah. Hoo-rah.” And this is somebody that served this country. Why would you even say that to him?” Ken Jr. wept as he held his father’s Marine ring and Veterans Administration card. The LifeAid operator that November morning, hearing the exchange live, called the White Plains police in a desperate attempt to cancel the call for emergency medical aid. Chamberlain’s niece, who lives in the building, ran down, trying to intervene. Chamberlain’s sister was on her cellphone, offering to talk to her brother. The police denied any attempt at help. One was heard on the recording saying, “We don’t need any mediator.”
The heavily armed police used a special device to take Chamberlain’s door completely off the hinges and, as chillingly captured in the Taser-mounted camera, burst into the apartment. Chamberlain’s attorney recounted seeing Chamberlain shirtless in the video, hands at his side, without the knife or hatchet that police claim he wielded, standing in his boxer shorts. “The minute they got into the house, they didn’t even give him one command. They never mentioned, ‘Put your hands up.’ They never told him to lay down on the bed. They never did any of that. The first thing they did, as soon as that door was finally broken off the hinges, you could see the Taser light up, and it was charged, and you could see it going directly toward him.”
The last thing the attorney hears on the Taser tape is “shut it off,” meaning, turn off the video recording, which the police did. Within minutes, they would shoot Chamberlain twice. Four months later, no one has been charged with the killing. Media sources revealed the name of the shooter through reporting in the New York Daily News, as White Plains Officer Anthony Carelli (pictured left). Carelli is to be tried in coming months for alleged police brutality against two brothers, the sons of Jordanian immigrants, who say Carelli beat one of them, Jereis Hatter, while handcuffed, and called him a 'raghead'. On April 11, 2012, a New York grand jury is scheduled to begin hearing evidence in the case of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. He was killed last November. In both cases, an African-American male was gunned down. In both cases, the shooter is known, but neither yet has been arrested.
Posted: March 29, 2012 02:32 PM PDT - Updated: March 29, 2012 02:57 PM PDT
The Waistband Killer!
(Pictured above, center, Kendrec McDade 19, was unarmed when Pasadena, CA police opened fire and killed him.)
Pasadena, CA -- Oscar Carrillo, 26, of Pasadena, Calif., admitted to police he lied about two suspects being armed when he called 911 to report the robbery of his laptop. "Two guys just stole my backpack and put a gun in my face right now," Carrillo told the dispatcher in the 911 recording. Carrillo said he made the allegation to speed up police response. Carillo called the cops last Saturday and told the dispatcher he was following the suspects in his car. When police arrived, both teens took off in different directions. One of the teens, Kendrec McDade ran from officers until an officer used the police cruiser to block McDade's path in an alley and rolled down his window, Lt. Phlunte Riddle said. McDade allegedly made a motion at his waistband and the officer opened fire. A second officer who was chasing McDade on foot also opened fire, Riddle said. McDade, who was less than 10 feet away from the patrol car when the officer opened fire, died of his injuries at Huntington Hospital.
McDade and a 17-year-old suspected accomplice allegedly stole a laptop computer from a car parked next to a taco truck before the Saturday night shooting. The suspected accomplice was later arrested and was charged Tuesday with two felony counts of commercial burglary, one felony count of grand theft property and one misdemeanor count of failing to register as a gang member, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. The Pasadena Police Department originally arrested and booked the teen accomplice on suspicion of murder, under the legal argument that he committed a felony that resulted in McDade's death.
Joe Scherf, head football coach at Azusa High, also told media sources that McDade was "a good kid who was never in trouble." Earl Ofari Hutchinson, of Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said there were "a great number of questions unanswered" in the case. "The bottom line is this young man was not armed when he was shot dead," he told media sources.
The lawyer for slain teenager Kendrec McDade's family on Tuesday described the shooting of the former Azusa High School football standout as a drive-by conducted by a member of the Pasadena Police Department. "When you gun him down from inside your patrol car like he's a dog in the street, the community is outraged," an attorney representing McDade's family told media sources. She said she couldn't rule out racial motivations in the shooting. The attorney said that with much of the attention on Carrillo's arrest, the actions of the officers deserve more scrutiny. "They're held to a higher standard. They are the ones whose fingers are on the trigger," she said. "Those officers are independently in control of people who they shoot." The family's attorney said she is troubled by the Police Department's history of shootings and problems with internal investigations. Both officers said McDade was grabbing at his waistband, which led them to believe he was reaching for a weapon. After more than two days of combing the area where McDade was killed, police have found no gun. The two officers involved in the shooting, whose names have not been released, are on paid administrative leave. The race of the officers was not immediately known.
Posted: January 3rd, 2012 - Updated: March 26, 2012 03:57:39 PM PDT
Racism, Corruption & Police Brutality in the United Kingdom!
((From left to right) Stephen Lawrence and two of his killers, Gary Dobson and David Norris)
United Kingdom -- The failure to properly investigate the death of Stephen Lawrence, a black student who was killed in London in 1993, has left the UK with a police force that has been branded as institutionally racist. The British police failure to investigate the issue led to an inquiry in 1998 which concluded that the investigation into Stephen's death was marked by professional incompetence and institutional racism in the police force. Not much has changed since then within the UK police forces, and it may even be growing worse. Stop and search policies are direct more than ever towards black Britons and less than 10% of the UK police are of ethnic background. Recently researchers have found that black people are 30 times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white citizens.
Stephen Lawrence (Sunrise: September 13, 1974 – Sunset: April 22, 1993) was a Black British teenager from Eltham, south east London, who was murdered in a racist attack while waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April 1993. Witnesses said he was attacked by a gang of white youths chanting racist slogans.
After the initial investigation, five suspects were arrested but not convicted. It was suggested during the course of that investigation that the murder was racially motivated and that Lawrence was killed because he was black, and that the handling of the case by the police and Crown Prosecution Service was affected by issues of race. A public inquiry was held in 1998, headed by Sir William Macpherson, that examined the original Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) investigation and concluded that the force was "institutionally racist". It also recommended that the double jeopardy rule should be abrogated in murder cases to allow a retrial upon new and compelling evidence; this became law in 2005. Evidence before the inquiry stated that if the color of the victim and the attackers was reversed, the police would have acted very differently.
On 18 May 2011, following a cold case review, it was announced that two of the original suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were to stand trial for the murder in the light of "new and substantial evidence" becoming available. At the same time it was disclosed that Dobson's original acquittal had been quashed by the Court of Appeal, allowing a retrial to take place. Such an appeal had only become possible following the 2005 change in the law, although Dobson was not the first person to be retried for murder as a result.
A jury was selected on November 14th 2011, and the trial started on the following day. On January 3rd 2012, Dobson and Norris were found guilty of Lawrence's murder, and were sentenced on January 4th 2012, to detention at Her Majesty's Pleasure, equivalent to a life sentence for an adult, with minimum terms of 15 years 2 months and 14 years 3 months respectively for what the judge described as a "terrible and evil crime". The sentences would have been far longer but the crime had been committed many years previously and before adulthood, requiring sentencing as juveniles according to the law as it stood at the time of the murder.
Special News Story! Trayvon Martin!
Posted: Mon, Apr. 23, 2012 03:00 AM - Updated: April 25, 2012 05:22 PM PDT
Released on Bond!
Sanford, Fla. -- George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager, was released from a Florida jail on a $150,000 bond about midnight Sunday. A spokeswoman for the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, Kim Cannaday, confirmed Zimmerman's release early Monday. Zimmerman, 28, wore a brown jacket and bluejeans and carried a paper bag, media sources reported. He left with a man in a white vehicle. Zimmerman had to post 10 percent, or $15,000, to make bail. Zimmerman's attorney had said in court Friday that Zimmerman would probably continue to live in hiding while awaiting his trial date, as he had done for weeks leading up to his April 11 arrest on second-degree murder charges in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Attorneys for the state had asked the judge to deny bail or set it at $1 million. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester agreed to the lesser amount but set conditions for Zimmerman's freedom, including a curfew and a mandate that he wear an electronic monitoring device. Zimmerman also surrendered his passport.
An initial decision by police and prosecutors in Sanford, Fla., not to arrest Zimmerman after his fatal Feb. 26 encounter with Martin, an African American, set off protests and debate nationwide over perceived racial disparities in the justice system. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is a Latina from Peru. Zimmerman and his family say they have been the subject of violent threats. Zimmerman said the shooting was self-defense. He apologized to Martin's family in court Friday.
Posted: April 21, 2012 - 2312 GMT (0712 HKT) - Updated: April 21, 2012 08:38 PM PDT
"This was the most disingenuous, insulting thing I've ever seen."Sanford, Fla. (WCJB) -- George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, could remain behind bars until the middle of next week due to concerns about collecting enough funds for his $150,000 bond, his lawyer said Saturday. The attorney visited his client, Zimmerman, in the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford, Florida on Saturday, a day after Seminole County Judge Kenneth R. Lester Jr. set the bond. Prosecutors had asked that Zimmerman remain in jail without bond until trial or that it be set at $1 million. With the 10% cash payment customarily made to secure bond, Zimmerman could be freed with $15,000 from his family, attorneys said. Speaking to reporters Saturday outside the jail, the attorney said his client is "focused on getting out" while still aware this is "a long, long process." "This is the first few steps," the lawyer said. "And he's still very worried about the fact that he's facing a life sentence on a 2nd-degree murder charge."
-- Trayvon Martin family attorney responding to George Zimmerman's apology in court Friday to Martin's family for shooting the unarmed, black 17-year-old boy.
Zimmerman apologized in court Friday to Martin's family for shooting the unarmed, black 17-year-old boy in a confrontation that has riveted the nation and sparked intense discussions about race and gun control. "I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son," he said in an unusual appeal directly to Martin's family before he testified in the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford. "I thought he was a little bit younger than I was, and I did not know if he was armed or not." Zimmerman's attorney said after the hearing that his client was responding to an interview in which Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said she wanted to hear from the man who shot her son. "He didn't want to defend himself, he didn't want to discuss the facts of the case. He heard the request of the family, and he wanted to respond to it," the attorney said, adding that an attempt to apologize to the family in private was rebuffed.
Lawyers for Martin's family, however, called the apology a self-serving act by a man facing a life prison sentence if convicted of the second-degree murder charge against him. "This was the most disingenuous, insulting thing I've ever seen," said Martin family attorney. Martin's parents were "completely devastated" over the decision to allow Zimmerman to post bond and eventually go free, said another family attorney, Benjamin Crump.
Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda had argued for a higher bond total, citing Zimmerman's prior run-ins with a police officer and a woman who named him in a domestic violence injunction show that he is violent and a threat to the community. Lester, however, described the incidents as "run of the mill" and "somewhat mild" in approving Zimmerman's request for bond. The judge told Zimmerman's attorney to talk to authorities about his request to allow Zimmerman to leave Florida while awaiting trial. O'Mara said he is concerned about threats to Zimmerman's safety, as well as that of his family. De la Rionda said no decision has been made on whether to allow Zimmerman to leave the state.
Zimmerman's father testified Friday that when he saw his son the day after Martin's shooting, he was wearing a protective cover over his nose, his face was swollen, and he had two vertical gashes on his head. He also reportedly suffered a broken nose. Martin's family and the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the case have rejected that argument, saying they believe Zimmerman disobeyed the instructions of a police dispatcher to stop following Martin, racially profiled him and unjustly killed him.
What is known is that Martin ventured out on February 26 from the home of his father's fiancee in Sanford and went to a nearby convenience store, where he bought a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea. On his way back, he had a confrontation with Zimmerman, who shot him. Zimmerman had called 911 to complain about a suspicious person in the neighborhood, according to authorities. In the call, Zimmerman said he was following Martin after the teen started to run, prompting the dispatcher to tell him, "We don't need you to do that." Zimmerman pursued Martin anyway. After briefly losing track of the teen, Zimmerman told authorities the teen approached him and the two exchanged words. Zimmerman said he reached for his cell phone, then Martin punched him in the nose. Zimmerman said Martin pinned him down and began slamming his head onto the sidewalk, leading to the shooting.
Police have said Zimmerman was not immediately charged because there was no evidence to disprove his account that he had acted in self-defense. A police report indicated he was bleeding from the nose and the back of his head. Zimmerman's attorney said Saturday that he expects the prosecution was holding back some evidence that is key to its case during Friday's court hearing. "I'm sure the state has a lot more information," the lawyer said, describing what was presented Friday as "snippets of the evidence." "I'm just looking forward to getting it."
Posted: 5:37 AM EDT, Fri April 13, 2012 - Updated: April 14, 2012 06:38 PM PDT
Florida (WCJB) -- George Michael Zimmerman, inmate #201200004452 (pictured above, center) is living in a cell with 67 square feet of floor space, is allowed to read the Bible and magazines, but has no access to TV, according to officials at the central Florida jail where he is being held. Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the February 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17, in Sanford, is in protective custody, segregated and protected from the general prison population at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility, according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office. Zimmerman is said to have spent his first night in jail weeping, according to news reports. In between tears, Zimmerman stocked up on some basic supplies. According to jail records, Zimmerman, 28, has purchased $79.84 in items at the facility's commissary, leaving a balance of $41.16. He's allowed to buy items once a week. The neighborhood watch volunteer's shopping list included contact lens solution, Irish Spring soap, playing cards, puzzle books, Jolly Ranchers candy, two oranges and other snacks, the sheriff's office said in a news release Thursday.
The facility assesses a $10 booking fee and a $3 per day subsistence fee. The fee is deducted from the inmate's trust account. Inmates are scheduled for three hours of recreation time per week and are served three meals a day. According to a booking sheet, Zimmerman weighs 185 pounds and is 5 foot 8 inches tall. Tattoos include theatrical masks and a cross on the chest. He is listed as being unemployed. Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, has not formally asked for his client to be released on bond. Zimmerman's formal arraignment is scheduled for May 29, but O'Mara says a long court battle could leave Zimmerman in jail for up to a year.
Posted: Wednesday 11 April 2012 21:28 EDT - Updated: Wednesday 11 April 2012 18:28 PDT
Florida -- A special prosecutor charged neighbourhood watch captain George Zimmerman with second degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin.
Posted: Tuesday 10 April 2012 15:28 EDT - Updated: Tuesday 10 April 2012 13:08 PDT
Sanford, Fla. -- Officials have warned of rising racial tensions in Sanford, Florida, as a special prosecutor prepares to announce her decision over whether to charge neighbourhood watch captain George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin. In a statement, Corey, who was appointed by Scott to take over the case last month, said that her choice not to call a grand jury "should not be considered a factor" in whether Zimmerman will be prosecuted. Early Tuesday, several bullets were fired and at least two struck the windscreen and side mirror of a police car in the Florida town where the unarmed black teenager was shot and killed on February 26. The police cruiser was unoccupied at the time and the damage was minimal but the incident is a further sign of growing acrimony on both sides of the controversy. It came a day after state attorney Angela Corey announced that she would not convene a grand jury to examine the case and Zimmerman, who admitted shooting Martin but who was not arrested because he claimed self-defense, launched his own fund-raising website.
Zimmerman, 28, is still in hiding as he awaits Corey's decision. His new website, which went online Monday night, contains his first public comments since the shooting. "As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life," he wrote. "This website's sole purpose is to ensure my supporters they are receiving my full attention without any intermediaries." The site, which had recorded fewer than 200 views by 2pm Tuesday, contains a link to a Paypal page set up by Zimmerman to raise money "in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment". But a photograph of graffiti sprayed on the wall at an Ohio university, saying "Long Live Zimmerman", was removed from the site this morning. Ohio detectives announced they would investigate the vandalism as a hate crime.
The Sanford police department said it was investigating Tuesday's early hours attack on the marked car, which had been parked as a deterrent at an elementary school close to the Retreat at Twin Lakes, where Martin was shot. A police spokesman said tour buses had been using the school's car park. Several peaceful protests have taken place in Sanford, with civil rights leaders Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and members of Martin's family among those calling for Zimmerman's arrest. But the mood in the town has darkened in recent weeks, with activist group the New Black Panthers offering a $10,000 reward for Zimmerman's capture and right-wing extremists planning demonstrations on his behalf.
"Are we a kindling box? Sure", Sanford mayor Jeff Triplett said in an interview Tuesday morning with media sources. "But we're working down a path, and so far it's been perfectly peaceful." Another anonymous city official earlier revealed to the same source that there were fears of a violent backlash if Corey decided against charging Zimmerman. Her decision is expected any day. The official said that three surrounding counties had activated emergency operations centers to a level usually only seen during hurricanes, while thousands of national guard troops would be available at the discretion of Florida governor Rick Scott.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, denounced the Zimmerman website. "He says that he experienced a life-altering event. Well, Trayvon Martin experienced a life-ending event. And George Zimmerman is trying to have us believe that his life is so terrible now," Crump said on morning news show. He said Martin's parents were not surprised by Corey's decision not to call a grand jury, which means that Zimmerman cannot be charged with first-degree murder, only a lesser charge. "We are hopeful that a decision will be reached very soon to arrest George Zimmerman and give Trayvon Martin's family the simple justice they have been seeking all along," he said. The attorney for Zimmerman, said only that he thought Corey's move was "courageous".
Posted: Tue., Apr. 3, 2012 at 2:56 PM PDT - Updated: Tue., Apr. 3, 2012 at 3:39 PM PDT
Sanford, Fla. -- The story given by George Zimmerman (pictured left) to Sanford, Fla., police was that Trayvon Martin (pictured below, center in 2009) struck him, knocking him to the ground, then slammed his head into the sidewalk repeatedly. Police also say witness accounts back up what Zimmerman told them, which contradict earlier stories of Martin being stalked, then killed by the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer. The details differ profoundly from those put forth by Trayvon's family attorney and place Martin as the aggressor rather than Zimmerman, who has claimed self-defense.
Zimmerman claims he was on his way to the grocery store when he saw Martin walking through the gated community, The Retreat at Twin Lakes. He called police and reported that he saw a suspicious person, a black male, who was acting strangely and thought he might be on drugs. Recordings of the conversation between Zimmerman and the dispatcher verify this, although they had not been initially released. Zimmerman got out of his vehicle to follow Martin on foot, though a dispatcher told him that was not necessary. After that, police say it is unclear what exactly happened, but Zimmerman said he no longer saw Martin and was returning back to the vehicle when the teen approached him and they exchanged words. Martin, he said, then struck him, knocked him down and began banging his head on the ground. Phone records obtained by Martin’s family lawyer Benjamin Crump suggest the teen was on his cell phone with his girlfriend when he told her he was being followed by Zimmerman. He told her he would walk faster, but not run. Then the phone went dead, according to Crump. At some point, Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest at close range.
Zimmerman’s attorney told media sources that Zimmerman had a broken nose and an injury to the back of his head. Witnesses, according to local sources, say they saw Martin on top of Zimmerman, punching him and heard him crying for help. Others, who live near where the shooting took place and placed 911 calls, have said it was Martin who cried for help, and say Zimmerman was straddling him, hands pressed against his back. Police say when they arrived, they found Zimmerman with the injuries. He refused medical treatment, but sought it the next day.
Posted: Tue., Mar. 27 2012 at 3:17 PM - Updated: Sat., Mar. 31 2012 at 12:19 PM PDT
By: (Jewish) Cartoonist Stephanie Eisner A mom is reading her child the endearing book Trayvon Martin and the Case of Yellow Journalism. The book apparently includes this passage, and you can see the odd graphics highlighting choice words: "And then, the Big Bad White man killed the handsome, sweet, innocent colored boy."
Posted: March 28, 2012 09:32 AM PDT - Updated: March 29, 2012 01:49 PM PDT
"We are going to make sure that Trayvon's mother and father and family and of course, all the people interested in this case have their questions answered. So we are committed to giving them those answers. We have to still finish our investigation and then decide in what forum that will occur."
-- ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY
Sanford, Florida -- George Zimmerman claimed he was pummeled and had his nose broken by Trayvon Martin just before he pulled his gun and shot the teenager to death. He told police Trayvon knocked him down, and began bashing his head against the ground, and a witness account seemed to corroborate Zimmerman’s claim. His lawyer said his nose was broken in the scuffle. However, a newly released Sanford Police Department surveillance video shows no apparent signs that he had been in a fight of the kind he described. The video, obtained by media sources, show the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer handcuffed and being led by police into the station for questioning. But he shows no apparent signs of injury — no bruises, cuts or bleeding. Zimmerman’s appearance in the video (Zimmerman’s lawyer noted the video was “very grainy.”) does not seem to indicate that he had been in a recent fight and there are no bandages or gauze on him, which would be customary treatment for broken noses and bruising.
Funeral director Richard Kurtz, who handled Trayvon’s body, told media sources that he saw no signs of a fight when preparing him for burial. “I didn’t see any evidence he had been fighting anybody,” Kurtz said. Prior to the release of the video, Zimmerman had told police he shot the teen in self-defense because he was being attacked. But police arriving at the scene of the shooting found Trayvon laying face-down on the ground. He died of a single gunshot wound to the chest. An initial police report said that he was bleeding from the nose and the back of his head and that he received first aid from the Sanford Fire Department. The police report said that he had been given first aid by the Sanford Fire Department before being brought to the station. He has thus far not been charged in Trayvon’s death. Sanford police declined to arrest Zimmerman.
It has been reported that investigators actually wanted to arrest him and did not believe his story, but they were overruled by the local prosecutor who wanted more evidence in the case. The investigation has since been placed in the hands of Special Prosecutor Angela Corey. Although a grand jury is scheduled to convene on the case on April 10, Corey has said she may want to move forward without it. “I foresee us being able to make a decision, and move on it on our own,” she told sources.
Posted: March 28, 2012 09:32 AM PDT
SANFORD, Fla. (WCJB) - The lead investigator probing the deadly shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin (pictured above, center-left) wanted neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman arrested and charged with manslaughter the night of the shooting, according to media reports. Investigator Chris Serino of the Sanford, Fla. Police Department wanted the 28-year-old Zimmerman behind bars, but the state Attorney's Office said there was not enough evidence to lead to a conviction, according to the same sources. The New York Daily News reported that Serino was uncertain of Zimmerman's account of how the Feb. 26 incident with Martin played out.
Police brought Zimmerman into the station for questioning for a few hours on the night of the shooting, said Zimmerman's attorney, even though he had requested medical attention first. The police report noted Zimmerman was "bleeding from the nose and the back of the head." Media sources reported that the next day, detectives re-enacted the shooting with Zimmerman at the scene. They also discovered Zimmerman had two prior arrests: one for assaulting a cop, the other for domestic abuse. For the next two weeks, lead investigator Serino pursued a manslaughter charge against Zimmerman.
Court documents obtained by media sources show that George Zimmerman, who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, went to court in 2005 and 2006 for accusations of domestic violence, tussling with a police officer and speeding.
The three incidents took place in Orange County, Fla.
•» In 2005, Zimmerman, then 20, was arrested and charged with “resisting officer with violence” and “battery of law enforcement officer,” both which are third-degree felonies. The charge was reduced to “resisting officer without violence” and then waived when he entered an alcohol education program. Contemporaneous accounts indicate he shoved an officer who was questioning a friend for alleged underage drinking at an Orange County bar.
•» In August 2005, Zimmerman’s ex-fiancee, Veronica Zuazo, filed a civil motion for a restraining order alleging domestic violence. Zimmerman counterfiled for a restraining order against Zuazo. The competing claims were resolved with both restraining orders being granted.
•» In December 2006, Zimmerman was charged with speeding. The case was dismissed when the officer failed to show up in court.
On Feb. 26, in Sanford, Fla., Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, who was unarmed. Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer, told police that he shot in self-defense and that Martin attacked him, breaking his nose. Zimmerman's attorney did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the court appearances and his voice mailbox was full. "Had the roles been reversed, would Trayvon have been treated differently because he was black?," a media Correspondent asked lawyer Ben Crump, who represents the teenager's parents "Absolutely," said Crump. "No question to me or anybody else in America. Had Trayvon had been the person who pulled the trigger, he would have been arrested that day, on the spot and would still be sitting in jail." Outraged, Martin’s parents and their supporters have called for Zimmerman’s arrest. The case has drawn national attention and thousands have rallied across the country for Martin’s parents’ cause.
Posted: 03/23/2012 06:21:47 AM PDT - Updated: 03/26/2012 09:15:39 AM PDT
(Pictured above, center: Trayvon Martin, 17, Deceased)
"He was executed for WWB in a GC (walking while black in a gated community.)"United States -- Our ideal is for justice to be colorblind. Our struggle is with the division that results when so many feel it is not. There may be nothing that divides us as quickly and sharply in this country as race, the history of racism and its lingering effects. Fifty-seven years ago, Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi. Till was a 14-year-old killed for reportedly whistling at a white woman. Thirty-seven years later in Los Angeles, thousands rioted after a jury acquitted three white LAPD officers and and one Hispanic one in the beating of Rodney King. There's no shortage of names connected to acts of egregious injustice that seem to cycle through our culture every few years: James Byrd, Susan Smith, and Amadou Diallo. With every new case, calls for self-examination of the state of race relations in the U.S are renewed.
-- REP. HANK JOHNSON (Dem. - GA)
A mere three years ago, an African-American Harvard professor, and a white Cambridge, Mass. cop reminded us all of how the prism of race can create two drastically different views of the same set of circumstances. In that instance, President Obama, a friend of the professor, asserted his views on American race-relations, saying, "The fact that this has become a big issue, I think it is indicative of the fact that race is still a troubling aspect of our society." Florida today has a white governor promising justice. The U.S. Justice Department has an African-American attorney general who will oversee the federal investigation into Martin's killing. While some things have changed in this country, the fact remains that the pain felt by Martin's father, sounds like so many parents who've suffered the same before: "Our son was murdered (because of his black skin color) and we miss him." Martin's death is the latest to create such grand-scale doubt about race and justice in this country -- but why it will almost certainly not be the last, is the question we are still seemingly unable to answer.
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Movie Intermission! Oakland Police
Description: Oakland, CA -- This 1974 KRON-TV program investigates the history of police brutality in Oakland, California, and documents a variety of efforts to reform the department, including the practice of audio recording interactions with the public.