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City fires Brooklyn teacher for bringing male student to her home and motel even after she was cleared of criminal charges
A Brooklyn teacher who brought a male student to her home and then to a motel and gave him $500 cash and a cellphone was fired by the city even though she was acquitted of criminal charges.

Lawyers for Claudia Tillery argued that the Department of Education hearing that resulted in her dismissal was tainted because the hearing officer allowed a prosecutor to testify about evidence that was used in the criminal case against Tillery, a former teacher at the Stephen Decatur School in Bedford Stuyvesant.

She was arrested in 2011, but acquitted in 2015.

In a decision posted Tuesday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Alice Schlesinger ruled that other evidence used at the Department of Education’s disciplinary hearing — notably Tillery’s own admissions — were sufficient for the hearing officer to have recommended dismissal.

“(Tillery’s) conduct here was egregious. That being so, the penalty of termination does not shock my conscience or sense of fairness. (Her) admissions independent of controversial evidence support termination as they confirmed a long history of furtive conduct unbecoming of an educator of children," the judge wrote.

Schlesinger said she also would not overturn the firing after the hearing officer's determined that the student's testimony at the hearing was more credible than Tillery's.
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Jul-28-2016 87 0
A Brooklyn teacher who brought a male student to her home and then to a motel and gave him $500 cash and a cellphone was fired by the city even though she was acquitted of criminal charges.

Lawyers for Claudia Tillery argued that the Department of Education hearing that resulted in her dismissal was tainted because the hearing officer allowed a prosecutor to testify about evidence that was used in the criminal case against Tillery, a former teacher at the Stephen Decatur School in Bedford Stuyvesant.

She was arrested in 2011, but acquitted in 2015.

In a decision posted Tuesday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Alice Schlesinger ruled that other evidence used at the Department of Education’s disciplinary hearing — notably Tillery’s own admissions — were sufficient for the hearing officer to have recommended dismissal.

“(Tillery’s) conduct here was egregious. That being so, the penalty of termination does not shock my conscience or sense of fairness. (Her) admissions independent of controversial evidence support termination as they confirmed a long history of furtive conduct unbecoming of an educator of children," the judge wrote.

Schlesinger said she also would not overturn the firing after the hearing officer's determined that the student's testimony at the hearing was more credible than Tillery's.

www.ktla.com Jul-28-2016 65 0
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby is going from prosecutor to civil defendant in connection with the case of the death of Freddie Gray.

On Wednesday, Mosby announced that charges against three officers still facing trial were being dropped. Mosby gave only a statement, but had to leave without taking questions because five of the officers in the case have filed lawsuits against her.

Officers Garrett Miller, Edward Nero and William Porter as well as Sgt. Alicia White and Lt. Brian Rice are suing Mosby and Maj. Samuel Cogen of the Baltimore Sheriff’s Office. Cogen was the law enforcement officer who filed charging documents against the officers.

The lawsuits allege false arrest, false imprisonment, defamation or false light, and other assertions. They were filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland in 2015 in late April and early May around the time the officers were arrested.

Gray died in a hospital on April 19, 2015, a week after police stopped him on a Baltimore street. After his arrest, officers placed Gray in the back of a police van, which made several stops.

When the van arrived at the police station, Gray was unresponsive. His neck was broken and compressed, prosecutors said in court, comparing the spinal injury to those suffered after a dive into a shallow pool.

Rice and Nero had already been acquitted in separate bench trials. So had Officer Caesar Goodson, who apparently has not filed suit. Porter was the first to be tried but his case ended with the jury unable to reach a unanimous decision.

Mosby’s office dropped the charges against Miller, Porter and White on Wednesday.

An attorney for two of the officers said Wednesday that there were ulterior motives in charging the officers.

“Marilyn Mosby’s comments in her press conference today confirm that the charges brought against my clients, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer William Porter, as well as the other four officers, were politically motivated and not supported by evidence to establish probable cause,” Michael E. Glass said.

He said his client suffered “extensive pain and suffering.” Porter and White had been suspended without pay until Wednesday. They are now on desk duty after more than a year on leave.

Rice, the highest-ranking officer charged in the case, paints himself as minimally involved, according to court documents.

He was the first to make eye contact with Gray, the lawsuit concedes, but he was not involved in the arrest. When a crowd gathered around the police wagon where officers were attempting to place an “uncooperative” Gray, Rice “directed other officers to move the wagon approximately one block south in order to complete paperwork and otherwise effectuate Mr. Gray’s arrest.”

Gray “continued to yell and scream” and slam himself against the side of the van, causing the vehicle to shake, so officers removed Gray from the wagon and placed him in flex cuffs and leg shackles, according to the lawsuit. He was placed back in the van, where he again “began to bang the inside of the wagon.”

That marked the end of Rice’s interaction with Gray, the lawsuit says.

“At no point during his interactions with Mr. Gray did Plaintiff Rice see any officers use excessive force, strike or tase Mr. Gray,” the lawsuit states.

Rice accuses Mosby of realizing the case would draw widespread media attention and speaking “in a divisive and inciting manner” while making false statements about him. Mosby’s remarks, Rice alleges, broke the state’s code of professional conduct, which forbids lawyers from making “an extrajudicial statement” they know will prejudice a court proceeding.

One of the false statements Mosby made, according to Rice’s case, was saying the knife Gray was arrested with was legal under Maryland law. Rice contests in his lawsuit that it was spring-assisted and therefore illegal, and says Mosby knew that.

Mosby told Cogen to file the erroneous charges against Rice, the lawsuit states.

The lieutenant “lost his freedom and dignity and suffered physical and psychological harm from being arrested and detained without cause,” the suit says.

The litigants are asking for $75,000 per allegation, plus legal costs.

CNN left messages Wednesday with Cogen and his attorney.

CNN legal analyst Paul Callan said it is very difficult to sue prosecutors, who have what is called absolute immunity. Mosby’s attorneys will argue she was acting within the scope of her job and is protected by such immunity.

In most cases against prosecutors, the defense files a motion to dismiss and the judges agree, Callan said.

“Even lawyers are sometimes shocked at how difficult it is to hold prosecutors responsible for patently improper actions,” he said about prior cases.

But in some cases, the plaintiffs will argue that the prosecutor stepped out of his or her role and acted as law enforcement, who have qualified immunity.

Callan said he thinks the plaintiffs will argue that Mosby, an elected official, did become an investigator because of her belief that police were not properly pursuing the case and her desire to appease her political constituency.


REBEKAH ALLEN Jul-26-2016 616 0
Attorney and former Louisiana lawmaker Rick Gallot was chosen Tuesday as the newest president of Grambling State University, a mere 26 days after the former president resigned.

The quick turn around was met with mixed reviews by a crowded room of Grambling State alumni, some who traveled from out of state and as far as Chicago to attend the University of Louisiana System Board meeting, where the decision was made.

While a few alumni said they were supportive of efforts by the board to quickly fill the leadership position, many others were frustrated that the board would seemingly put so little time and energy into selecting the president for Louisiana's second largest public historically black university, particularly because the university has had a revolving door of presidents in the past two decades.

Tyrone Davis, the 1975 Grambling State class president, told the board of supervisors that they bore responsibility for the instability at the university for failing to select a leader who can endure. He called it "unacceptable" that the board would rush the selection of a new president and abandon regular protocols that typically call for a national search.

"There's not another university in the country where you can show me an example of where this has happened," he said. "This board should take 75 percent credit for the failures of this university."

Just recently, the UL System Board filled the position of Peter Fos, former president of the University of New Orleans. Fos announced his plans for retirement at the end of last August, and officially retired in January. His successor, John Nicklow was selected in late March.

Former president Willie Larkins stepped down June 30 after a scheduled job performance review with the Board of Supervisors. He spent less than one year at the helm of the school.

Interim UL System President Dan Reneau said there have been 10 Grambling presidents in the past 25 years -- which includes some interim presidents. He acknowledged the tunover has caused instability at the university, which is located outside of Ruston.

Reneau suggested that the reason for the quick turn around in selecting a new president was because of an urgency to provide leadership for the university which has suffered from loss of dollars and dwindling enrollment. He said the last national search we conducted a year ago, and the board opted to use findings from the previous search, while opening up the position to new candidates in the last month.

"Grambling is in serious trouble," Reneau said. "It's had leadership problems, there have been 10 presidents in 25 years. That's not stability... To me, a long drawn out process of a national search firm over the past years has not worked."

Gallot did not apply a year ago and was not vetted by the search firm. But the other finalist considered on Tuesday, Gilbert Rochon, a former president of Tuskegee University, was a finalist last year.

Gallot is an alum of Grambling. His current law practice is located in Ruston and he told the board he has many ties to the school and the community. His law practice is located in Ruston.

Gallot served 12 years in the Louisiana state house of Representatives and four years as a state senator.

He touted his political connections and relationships, and his ability to navigate the politics of higher education funding and policy as one of his strengths.

Ricky O'Donnell Jul-26-2016 113 0
Former Southern Miss forward Jonathan Mills was the victim of senseless gun violence in his hometown of Chicago on Monday afternoon. The 26-year-old was killed in the North Lawndale neighborhood where he was raised and rose to prominence on the basketball court, according to police.

Mills played two seasons for Southern Miss from 2011-2013. Despite being listed at only 6'5, Mills was one of the most ferocious rebounders in Conference-USA. The Golden Eagles reached the NCAA Tournament under coach Larry Eustachy in his first season. As a senior, Mills averaged 9.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for the Golden Eagles.

Mills was a high school standout at North Lawndale, where he helped lead his team to a state championship in 2008 and a Chicago Public League championship in 2009. He was also a staple on the Chicago Pro-Am scene in recent years.

The Southern Miss and Chicago basketball communities mourned the loss of Mills as news of his death spread on Monday:

Jessica Schladebeck Jul-24-2016 219 0
A Georgia news anchor died the day before her 25th birthday after she fell off the top of a North Carolina waterfall Thursday.

Taylor Terrell, who grew up in Atlanta and served as a news anchor for 41NBC News in Macon, was visiting Rainbow Falls, a 150-foot waterfall, with a friend to celebrate her Friday birthday when she slipped and was swept over the falls, according to the Macon Telegraph.

“It’s a real dangerous spot,” Transylvania County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Eddie Gunter told the news outlet. “We usually have about two to three waterfall deaths up there every year ... that is the seventh (waterfall-related death) we’ve had in our county this year.”

An investigation will be helmed by the U.S. Forest Services, forest public affairs officer Cathy Dowd told the Telegraph.

Terrell “was wading in the river near the top of the falls (when) she lost her footing and fell in the water where the current swept her up and over the falls,” Dowd said. “Her body was recovered at the base of the falls.”

Jul-21-2016 150 0
A black therapist who was trying to calm an autistic patient in the middle of the street says he was shot by police even though he had his hands in the air and repeatedly told them that no one was armed.

The moments before the shooting were recorded on cellphone video and show Charles Kinsey lying on the ground with his arms raised, talking to his patient and police throughout the standoff with officers, who appeared to have them surrounded.

"As long as I've got my hands up, they're not going to shoot me. This is what I'm thinking. They're not going to shoot me," he told WSVN-TV from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg. "Wow, was I wrong."

The shooting comes amid weeks of violence involving police. Five officers were killed in Dallas two weeks ago and three law enforcement officers were gunned down Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Before those shootings, a black man, Alton Sterling, 37, was fatally shot during a scuffle with two white officers at a convenience store. In Minnesota, 32-year-old Philando Castile, who was also black, was shot to death during a traffic stop. Cellphone videos captured Sterling's killing and aftermath of Castile's shooting, prompting nationwide protests over the treatment of blacks by police.

At a news conference Thursday, North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene said the investigation had been turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the office of the state's attorney. He called it a "very sensitive matter" and promised a transparent and thorough investigation, but he refused to identify the officer or answer reporters' questions.

"I realize there are many questions about what happened on Monday night. You have questions, the community has questions, we as a city, we as a member of this police department and I also have questions," he said. "I assure you we will get all the answers."

The chief said officers responded following reports of a man with a gun threatening to kill himself, and the officers arrived "with that threat in mind" — but no gun was recovered from the scene.

Kinsey, 47, said he was trying to coax his 27-year-old patient back to a facility from which he had wandered. Police ordered Kinsey and the patient, who was sitting in the street playing with a toy truck, to lie on the ground.

"Lay down on your stomach," Kinsey says to his patient in the video, which was shot from a distance and provided to the Miami Herald (http://hrld.us/2ahReMa) on Wednesday. "Shut up!" responds the patient, who is sitting cross-legged in the road, playing with his toy.

"He has a toy truck in his hand! A toy truck!" Kinsey says to officers who have their guns drawn. Kinsey said he was more worried about his patient than himself.

An officer then fired three times, striking Kinsey in the leg, assistant police chief Neal Cuevas told the newspaper. The video posted on websites does not include the moment of the shooting.

"I'm telling them again, 'Sir, there is no need for firearms. I'm unarmed, he's an autistic guy. He got a toy truck in his hand," Kinsey said.

"When he shot me, it was so surprising ... It was like a mosquito bite, and when it hit me, I'm like, I still got my hands in the air, and I said, 'No, I just got shot,'" Kinsey said.

After the shooting, Kinsey said he asked an officer why he was shot and he said "'I don't know.'"

The officer has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard.

Kinsey's attorney, Hilton Napoleon, provided the cellphone video to the Herald.

Tobias Salinger Jul-21-2016 128 0
Austin, Tex., police officers face an investigation after disturbing videos showed a violent arrest and comments afterward by one officer saying blacks have “violent tendencies.”

A dashcam video published Thursday by the Austin American-Statesman showed Officer Bryan Richter, who is white, slamming Breaion King, who is black, to the ground twice during the June 2015 speeding stop. Separate footage that also surfaced Thursday revealed the conversation about race between King and another white officer, Patrick Spradlin.

"Why are so many people afraid of black people?" Spradlin asked King.

“That’s what I want to figure out because I’m not a bad black person,” she replied.

“I can give you a really good idea why it might be that way: violent tendencies," Spradlin said.

Prosecutors cleared King, a 26-year-old elementary teacher, of a resisting arrest charge after viewing the video of the June 15, 2015 arrest. The 112-pound woman told the local newspaper she has hired lawyers as she considers a suit against the department.

“I’ve become fearful to live my life,” King said. “I would rather stay home. I’ve become afraid of the people who are supposed to protect me and take care of me.”

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo announced Thursday that he has removed both Richter and Spradlin from the streets as the department conducts an internal review. The probe will include both a criminal investigation and an administrative review into how Richter's supervisors arrived at the decision to give him the lowest level of discipline: counseling and training.

The chief said he didn't know of Spradlin's comments, which he called racist, until local media began inquiring about it. He said at a press conference that he wants to apologize to King, who didn't file a formal complaint with the department after the arrest.

“After reviewing both videos, I and our leadership team were highly disturbed and disappointed in both the way Ms. King was approached and handled and in the mindset that we saw on display in those videos,” Acevedo told the Statesman. “But there is another piece, which has caused concerns as to our review process and the systems we have in place.”

The video of the arrest in a parking lot started with Richter asking King to get back inside her white Nissan Versa. He told her he had pulled her over for speeding.

"You were about to go inside without a wallet, so I know you were only coming over here because you knew I was going to pull you over," Richter said. "I can absolutely stop you if you’ve already parked, yes."

The encounter escalated when Richter asked her to get out of the car. When she didn't immediately get out, he began pulling her out of the car.

"No, why are you touching me?" King yelled. "Oh my God! Oh my God!"

"Stop resisting!" Richter yelled. "Get out of the car!" The car's horn honked as they struggled for a moment.

"I’m getting out, let me get out," King said. "Do not touch me."

Richter then pulled her out and flung her to the pavement, yelling at her to put her hands behind her back as she cried out in pain. He told her he was "about to Tase you."

"Oh God, why are you doing this to me?" she asked. She put her hands behind her back then struggled to her feet.

Richter kicked her legs out from under her, picked her up and threw her down again. He finally handcuffed her as another officer showed up to the parking lot.

The second video picked up with King handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser as she spoke with Spradlin. She asked him if he thinks racism still exists.

“Let me ask you this: Do you believe it goes both ways?” he asked. She said that she does think racism cuts both ways but thinks white people have more rights than African-Americans.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, when you hear about stuff like that, it is the black community that is being violent," Spradlin said. "That’s why a lot of the white people are afraid, and I don’t blame them. There are some guys I look at, and I know it is my job to deal with them, and I know it might go ugly, but that’s the way it goes.

He continued, “But yeah, some of them, because of their appearance and whatnot, some of them are very intimidating."

King paid a $165 ticket and court costs after Richter said he had clocked her driving at 50 mph in a 35 mph zone on Riverside Drive that day, the newspaper reported. Her attorney Erica Grigg told the Statesman she was disturbed by the footage.

"When I looked at this video, I was heartbroken because I thought, 'That would never happen to me because I’m white," Grigg said.

Larry Brown Jul-21-2016 134 0
Four men are being charged with beating up and robbing Moses Malone Jr. last month outside a strip club for criticizing James Harden on social media.

Malone Jr. wrote a Facebook post in June in which he criticized the cost of Harden’s basketball camp.

The son of the late NBA legend was then robbed at gunpoint and beaten up outside V Live strip club in Houston a few days later. He told police that one of the men who robbed him said he had “disrespected” Harden and needed to be punished for that. Harden is said to be a prominent customer at V Live.

Malone had a $15,000 piece of jewelry stolen. Four men — Darian Blount, Kavon Boutte, Oscar Wattell, and Deavion Lewis — have been charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Blount, known to Malone as “Blunt,” works as a bouncer at the strip club.

CBS News Jul-21-2016 158 0
Authorities say a Florida police officer shot and wounded an autistic man's caretaker following reports of a man threatening to shoot himself.

North Miami Assistant Police Chief Neal Cuevas told The Miami Herald that officers responded to the scene Monday to find 47-year-old Charles Kinsey, a therapist who works with people with disabilities, according to WSVN-TV, trying to get his 27-year-old patient back to a facility from where he wandered.

Cuevas says police ordered Kinsey and the patient, who was sitting in the street playing with a toy truck, to lie on the ground. Kinsey lies down and puts his hands up while trying to get his patient to comply. An officer then fired three times, striking Kinsey in the leg, Cuevas said. No weapon was found.

Kinsey's attorney, Hilton Napoleon, provided a cellphone video to the Herald on Wednesday taken moments before the shooting. It shows Kinsey lying in the middle of the street with his hands up, asking the officers not to shoot him, while the autistic man sits next to him, yelling at him to "shut up."

"Sir, there's no need for firearms," Kinsey said he told police before he was shot, according to the station. "It was so surprising. It was like a mosquito bite."

Kinsey is black. Police haven't released the name or race of the officer who shot him.

The Miami Harold posted video of the encounter on their website.

Circle of Brotherhood, a group of men who work together to perform acts of community service and crime prevention, are demanding answers after Kinsey, who is one their members, was shot.

The group had plans to gather Wednesday evening in front of the police department's headquarters to raise concerns about the shooting, CBS Miami reported.

"We found out bits and pieces and we're still finding things out," said friend Lyle Muhammad. "So we'd just like to go see him."

The Circle of Brotherhood said the North Miami Police Department is just the latest law enforcement agency to be called to task for the shooting of an unarmed black man.

They want answers and want the officer who shot Kinsey to be held accountable for criminal negligence.

donna owens Jul-18-2016 187 0
Baltimore prosecutors on Monday failed for the fourth time to secure a conviction against a city police officer for the death of black detainee Freddie Gray, as a lieutenant was cleared of all charges.

The acquittal of Lieutenant Brian Rice renews questions about the prospects for the remaining cases stemming from the death of Gray, who suffered a fatal neck injury in April 2015 after he was bundled into the back of a police transport van.

Police union officials have called on prosecutors to drop the charges against three officers still awaiting trial in the case, which triggered protests and rioting in the mainly black city and stoked a national debate about how police treat minorities.

Tensions flared anew this month with the deaths of African-American men at the hands of police in Minnesota and Louisiana. The controversy took a tragic turn when eight police officers were shot dead in apparent reprisal attacks staged by lone black gunmen in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Rice, 42, the highest-ranking officer charged in the Gray case, was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct on Monday following a bench trial.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams, who oversaw a non-jury trial at Rice's request, said prosecutors did not prove that Gray died as a result of Rice's failure to secure him with a seat belt.

In a statement, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked the community to respect the judicial process during "a very difficult time for our city."

Rice was the fourth of six officers to stand trial in the case. Williams previously acquitted Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr., both of whom were in court on Monday. Goodson, the driver of the van, had faced the most serious counts, including a second-degree murder charge.

Officer William Porter faces a September retrial after a jury deadlocked.

In addition to Porter's retrial, Officer Garrett Miller is scheduled for trial later this month, while Sergeant Alicia White's trial is set for October. Porter and White face manslaughter among their charges, while Miller is charged with assault and other crimes.

Warren Alperstein, a Baltimore defense attorney who attended the trial as a spectator, said he was "not surprised by the verdict whatsoever."

"At the end of the day, the state may have to say we're cutting our losses and moving on," he said.

But Doug Colbert, a law professor at the University of Maryland who has followed the cases, said there is still value in having brought the prosecutions, even if they are unsuccessful.

"The police departments are now on notice that the legal community stands ready to prosecute in these types of cases," he said. "Hopefully this will be the last time anyone suffers the kind of fate that Freddie Gray did."

Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case are barred from commenting by a gag order from Williams.

Rice, who is white, ordered two officers on bicycle to chase Gray, 25, when he fled unprovoked in a high-crime area.

Prosecutors said Rice acted negligently by failing to secure Gray with a seat belt in the van.

But defense lawyers said Rice made a reasonable split-second decision while Gray was being combative and a hostile crowd looked on, they said.

Williams said prosecutors failed to show the lieutenant was aware of a departmental policy requiring seat belts for prisoners during transport.

"A mere error in judgment is not enough to show corruption," the judge said.

CBS News Jul-17-2016 169 0
Court records show a white former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot a black motorist has been arrested.

Fulton County jail records show James R. Burns was arrested Saturday on charges including felony murder in the June 22 shooting of Devaris Caine Rogers.

Burns told investigators he shot a car that was "trying to run me over and kill me."

But a police internal affairs investigation found that evidence contradicted Burns' version of what happened. It showed that Burns shot into a vehicle not knowing whether 22-year-old Rogers was the person he'd been called to investigate at a northeast Atlanta apartment complex.

Burns also faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and violation of violation of his oath of office. No bond has been set.

Last week, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner defended firing Burns just nine days after the incident.

"Our communities are not going to allow us to spend six, eight, 10, 12 months before a grand jury determines if they are going to indict on an issue when there is clear evidence that suggests that the officer violated our standard operating procedures," Turner told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview last week.

Jul-17-2016 203 0
At least two police officers were killed and several officers wounded in a shootout in Baton Rouge, reports CBS affiliate WAFB.

Police responded to a report of officers shot at a location on Airline Highway near Old Hammond Highway around 9 a.m., WAFB reports.

Baton Rouge police are still processing the situation, which has apparently ended. Few details have been released.

Earlier Sunday, Sgt. Don Coppola with the Baton Rouge Police Department confirmed to WAFB that "multiple officers (were) struck by gunfire."

The shooting happened near the B Quick store on Airline Highway. Coppola said that authorities believe the "scene is contained," meaning that a shooter was unlikely on the loose.

"I do not have the extent of the injuries," Sgt. Coppola told WAFB. "We're hearing that it may also include some deputies [with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office], but that's preliminary information and I'm waiting on confirmation."

Authorities talk to the driver of a car near an area where several officers were shot while on duty less than a mile from police headquarters, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La.© AP Photo/Mike Kunzelman Authorities talk to the driver of a car near an area where several officers were shot while on duty less than a mile from police headquarters, Sunday, July 17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La.
Baton Rouge has been filled with tension since the July 5 shooting of a black man pinned to the ground by white police officers.

At a three-hour service Friday, mourners paid their respects to 37-year-old Alton Sterling, whose shooting outside a convenience store began a tumultuous week in race relations in America.

Last week, police arrested and identified three young people who they say plotted to kill Baton Rouge cops using guns stolen from a pawn shop. Law enforcement said at a conference they believe it to be a substantial and credible threat on police officers in the Baton Rouge area.

On Friday, grieving residents of Baton Rouge honored an appeal at the funeral of Sterling to celebrate his life rather than demonstrate about his death.

"If you want to protest, please leave now," Gary Chambers, master of ceremonies for the funeral, said at the beginning that the event at Southern University.

A steady stream of mourners filed past Sterling's casket, which was adorned with music notes and a smiling photo of the man. Sterling was selling CDs outside the Triple S Food Mart store, as he had done for years, when he was killed by police responding to a call of a man threatening someone with a gun. Police have said they found a gun in Sterling's pocket.

Sterling's death was captured on cellphone video and circulated widely on the internet. His death, along with another fatal police shooting in Minnesota last week, sparked widespread protests. Then the fatal shooting of five police officers in Dallas by a black sniper heightened tensions even more.

Sterling's death heightened tensions in Baton Rouge, where about 200 protesters were arrested over the weekend. East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore said his office reviewed initial police reports on 185 arrests between July 8-11 and determined it will not prosecute roughly 100 of those cases.

Moore said they involve protesters who were arrested only on misdemeanor charges of obstruction of a roadway or public passage. DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, was among them. Moore said his office is reviewing the rest of the arrests, which include allegations such as resisting arrest, carrying guns or some "act of violence."

SHEILA BURKE Jul-16-2016 198 0
A former Vanderbilt football player was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of taking part in the gang rape of an unconscious female student.

Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins handed down the sentence for Cory Batey after the victim in the case said her life has been shattered as a result of the rape.

The woman was a neuroscience and economics major when she was assaulted in a dorm on the Nashville campus in June of 2013. In all, four former football players were charged. The Associated Press does not generally identify victims of sexual assault.

The players used their cellphones to take pictures of the rape. One also videoed it and sent the footage to friends as it was happening.

The victim said she learned of what happened to her when detectives showed her the graphic images retrieved from the phones.

During her victim impact statement, she described the horror she felt seeing the images of herself.

"I've seen with my own eyes what I was when Mr. Batey was done with me: a piece of trash, face down in a hallway, covered in his urine and palm prints, a photograph he took himself," the woman said. "There are no words to describe the horror of the images from that night and how it feels to watch yourself be dehumanized."

She wept throughout much of her statement as she described how her life and her belief in the fundamental goodness of people were both upended with the discovery of what happened to her.

The victim has had to testify at multiple trials, and Batey's high-profile status and the international attention the case received left her in constant fear of being known as the victim. As a result, she said she feels the attack on her continues throughout every new court proceeding.

"Everything the defendant has done in this case and the media circus surrounding it have been a continuous disruption, repeatedly dragging me back every single step I try to take forward," she said. "I can only feel that the defendant has intentionally wanted this to be as tortuous for me as possible."

The sentencing comes amid widespread furor over a Stanford University swimmer who was sentenced to six months in jail for a similar crime: sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on a college campus.

In Tennessee, the judge did not have the discretion to give Batey a lighter sentence. Batey was convicted in April of aggravated rape, which carries a sentence of 15 to 25 years.

Prosecutors asked for the maximum, saying the crime was particularly egregious and that the punishment would send a message about campus rapes.

Prosecutors have said Batey urinated on the woman and made a racial statement at the end of the attack. Batey is African-American and the woman is white. One of the four former players is also white. They did not say what the statement was.

The victims said Batey violated her sexually in multiple ways, but it didn't end there.

"Mr. Batey continued to abuse and degrade me, urinating on my face while uttering horrific racial hate speech that suggested I deserved what he was doing to me because of the color of my skin."

Batey, a 22-year-old who grew up in Nashville, apologized to the victim and to his family and mother. He also apologized to Vanderbilt University. He testified at one of his trials that he was drunk and blacked out at the time of the rape.

"My mother and family did not raise me in any way to mistreat anyone, let alone a woman, as I have been raised predominantly by women," Batey told the court. "I hope that if not today, maybe one day, you will find it in your heart to forgive me for any damages that I may have caused."

Batey and Brandon Vandenburg were convicted last year, but the verdicts were tossed because a juror did not reveal he was a victim of statutory rape. They have both been convicted a second time. Two other players are awaiting trial.

In handing down his sentence, Judge Watkins said the case stood out among the thousands he has seen in 32 years of practicing law.

"I've seen so many cases, and this is one of the saddest," Watkins said.

>>--More Black Legal News

Daryl K. Washington Jul-14-2016 406 0
I had the pleasure to witness four NBA superstars issuing a “Call to Action” to the thousands of athletes who were in attendance at the ESPY Awards. It was the moment I waited on for so long because I personally know the influence professional athletes have on society. They have the platform and the power to demand change. We saw the immediate change that occurred when athletes at Grambling State University, Missouri and the Los Angeles Clippers, to name a few, decided to take a stance. Athletes have the power, the platform and the support to make a difference but should they have to do it alone?

As a civil rights attorney I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of protests throughout the U.S. I’ve attended rallies and marches where some of my closest friends lived but as I thought about it, I generally did not get to see any of them until after the events were over. I recently received confirmation that there is a perception that the only individuals out marching are the victims’ families, individuals from the communities we moved away from or individuals who are wrongfully labeled as troublemakers. What really confirmed it for me was when it was stated that “men should get off the protest lines and instead fill out job applications.” I know that comment can be taken many ways but the way I took it was that men who are out protesting do not have jobs. The sad reality of it all is the reason statements like that can be made is because many who have been blessed to obtain multiple degrees, fortunate to be employed by major organizations, live in the nice neighborhoods, drive the fancy cars, have the IRA’s and are living what is considered the American Dream will not get involved with the movement out of the fear of losing it all yet those same people have the audacity to call out athletes.

Here is the bottom line. This movement cannot be placed on the backs of a few. Until organizations see their star players out in the communities voicing their concerns, they will think the injustices are acceptable. I know it shocked the conscious of America to see Trauma surgeon Brian Williams publicly share his fear of police officers. There were many who probably thought “how dare a doctor make such comments” and I’m sure Dr. Williams understood that there was some risks involved in making his comments but I'm sure he realized that many would listen if he spoke. His comments needed to be made because America now sees that this problem does not only exist in what many call the hood. Many now understand that for black and brown people the hood is America and we are not safe anywhere.

Just recently I was traveling to conduct depositions. I guess because I had on a suit and was sitting in First Class (I had an upgrade because of mileage) the white gentleman sitting next to me perhaps was of the opinion that I was not concerned about what was going on in the black communities. Little did he know why I was traveling and what I fight for on a daily basis. He had the audacity to say he could not understand why people were so upset about the incident in Baton Rouge given the background of Alvin Sterling. My response to him was when an officer decides to use excessive force against a black or brown person, in most cases they do not know the name of the person or whether they have a criminal background. Only one thing is seen; the color of the person’s skin. They know in most cases that the law and media have been on their side so there is no fear of killing because there will be plenty of support for them. By the time our flight landed he admitted that his own personal biases had not allowed him to look beyond a certain point but because we discussed it, he now had a clearer picture.

I say all of the above to emphasize that athletes are not the only individuals with the power and platform to demand change. There are Black Presidents, CEO’s, Coaches, CPA's, CFO’s, Managers, Politicians, Directors and future stars of large corporations who also have the platforms. There are Black doctors, nurses, dentists, lawyers, pilots, flight attendants, scientists, engineers, sales professionals, educators, business owners, entertainers, etc. who also have the platforms and power to make a change. It’s time that we gave our brothers and sisters, who are out fighting for justice on a daily basis, the help and support they truly need. I can assure you that should you become the victim of police brutality in your nice neighborhoods or fired from you nice jobs, you will then understand the value of being a part of groups that fight for change. We all need to be out protesting so that the victims’ families can properly grieve. We are in this current state of chaos because so many believe it’s not their problem. Just remember, we are in our positions because someone fought for us.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Jun-24-2016 425 0
On yesterday the officer responsible for the incident in McKinney, Texas was not indicted for the assault on the young teenager that was seen all over the U.S. Also, on yesterday one of the officers in the Freddie Gray case was acquitted. As expected, my timeline on Facebook was flooded with posts from individuals talking about the injustices that take place throughout the U.S. One of my good friends, who is like a brother to me, even blamed attorneys for the injustices throughout the U.S. Generally, I do not comment on these type of issues but because it's Friday I would like to give everyone who this may apply to something to think about.

When is the last time you attended a judicial debate or even contacted an attorney to inquire about a judicial candidate or a DA to see if they had the proper temperament to serve? When is the last time you attended a rally or demanded that a DA present all of the evidence to the grand jury? When is the last time you took a day off from work to support the families who sons or daughters were wrongfully gunned down by a police officer? When is the last time you packed a courthouse to support a family you did not know? When is the last time you sent a letter to the family of a deceased offering your support, financially or emotionally? When is the last time you contacted your local city council member and asked them what they are doing to address the issue of police brutality and police misconduct?

I could go on and on with this but just know, the system will continue as is unless we become proactive and stop being so reactive. This system knows that people will get excited about an incident but once the media is gone, so is the support. As a Civil Rights attorney, I know who is putting it all on the line to bring about change. I know the people who are talking to the DA's, to the Chiefs of Police of various cities, to the city attorneys and others trying to save lives and/or bring about change. I know my friends who attend meetings when I'm in their cities trying to bring about change. It seems like an easy and at times, prestigious job but to be honest, it can be a lonely job. Many nights when most people are sleeping, I find myself in deep thoughts wondering if I could get the thousands of people I know to stand behind us in this fight, a major difference could be made.

Creating the wonderful posts on Facebook help bring attention to issues of injustice but we have to be consistent with our support. One million people strong can take a day off from work with very short notice to attend the CAVS victory parade but let a demonstration for the wrongful death of an unarmed black man or woman be planned and the hardest thing to do is get people to agree on a date or better yet, take off a day to show their support. I know many may not understand how deep this problem truly is but until you step out in the heat and show your support, you may want to stop some of the blaming. Just remember, there will not be change until we all change. Real support is needed to stop the injustices that are occurring throughout the U.S. Let's all come together to bring about a change in this country.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Nov-11-2015 13098 0
For years the question whether college athletes should be paid has been debated over and over only to be kicked down by legal rulings. The NCAA, the television networks, the media and large colleges have all profited off of the backs of primarily Black athletes, while the only colleges that would accept them are being forced to shut down because of a lack of resources. College coaches are earning millions of dollars per season, have large endorsement deals and live in upscale neighborhoods while college athletes, many who come from low income families, are penalize for accepting a meal from a booster, can’t afford to take a date out to dinner or a movie and can only wish that their families could afford to sit in the stands occupied by many who will not speak to them or support them after their college careers are over.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that in order for there to be a change within the system, the ones with the power would have to do something drastic. Two years ago the Grambling State University football team decided to stage a protest because of the lack of equipment and the conditions of Grambling’s facilities. Although I hated to see it come down to that, I understood their frustrations and realized that we were witnessing the beginning of a new movement. The day had come for college athletes to realize that they have as much power as professional athletes, to demand change.

Two years later, the football players at the University of Missouri made a bold statement that will have an everlasting impact on college sports. They walked away from a game they love to support their fellow students. They have now shown athletes at other schools the power they have when they join together in solidarity. As a result, the NCAA’s biggest fear just came to reality. There was not going to be any change or progress at the University of Missouri until the individuals responsible for generating a large share of the revenue said “Enough is Enough.” Within a few days of their walk-out, President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, the top administrator of the Columbia campus, announced their resignation. That's power.

The NCAA has long made the issues with college athletes, a legal one. The NCAA created rules that prevent athletes from earning a living until after they’ve made everyone else rich. College athletes are required to sign over all of their rights in exchange for a scholarship and cannot earn one single dime to support a parent who is sometimes forced to work two jobs and in some cases still don't have the resources to attend a game. LSU’s superstar Leonard Fournette is being questioned about a business venture his family started before his college career really took off. Now that he’s signed away his rights, it’s being frowned upon by the individuals who were earn millions off of him. In other words, we the NCAA and LSU own his rights. The system is old, is broken and it’s unfair. Schools like LSU and Alabama earn over $70 million per year off of football but the players receive $0. The coaches earn over $3 million per season but the players earn $0.

I'm predicting that we are a season or two away from college athletes staging one of the largest boycotts in college sports because they have come to realize that the power is in their hands. The Missouri football players did not have to miss one single game to get what they demanded but the fight is far from over. Today, the students in Missouri are being faced with the harsh reality of the racist society we still live in. They should be preparing for exams but instead they are fearing for their lives. One hundred thousand fans will cheer on black athletes on Saturdays but many will criticize their efforts and make fun of them on Monday morning. I applaud the efforts of our college athletes. It makes me feel good to see that Our future generation will not stop fighting the fight that many started years ago. We can only pray that one day we will be able to take off the gloves. Until that time, the fight must go on so that the future generation can experience what Dr. King died for many years ago; True equality for everyone.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Sep-09-2014 3147 0
On yesterday social media went crazy after the video of Ray Rice was released. Within hours Rice was released from the Ravens. Don't think for one second that it was not as a result of the public outcry on social media. The Ravens and the NFL did not have a choice but to release Rice because they had been exposed. However, the saddening part about of all of this is that the powers to be proclaimed they had not seen the video until yesterday.

Why do we live in a society where there's always a cover-up? If we are going to be angry at the police chief in Ferguson, MO for trying to cover up for one of his officers who killed Michael Brown we should also be upset with Commissioner Roger Goodell and Coach John Harbaugh because it appears that they took part in a scheme to deceive the public and by tuning in to the games as usual we are saying it's okay to cover-up a crime. Sean Payton, head coach of the Saints, was forced to sit out a year because an alleged wrongdoing took place under his watch. In my opinion, the same needs to happen to the Roger Goodell and Coach Harbaugh because somehow I think they knew and if they did not know it's even worse because they allowed a poor investigation to support a two game suspension.

Let's look at the severity of what they did. Their actions in trying to protect the NFL brand send the wrong message to ladies who are victims of domestic abuse. What the message says is that you should protect the abuser if there's something to lose. In this case, it was football games and plenty of revenue for a major brand. Their actions could help persuade a victim of domestic abuse to participate in a press conference in order to save a star and risk her life. This was not the right thing to do because someone following that same example could end up dead.

Releasing and/or suspending Rice for the year was the proper thing to do months ago but there are additional suspensions that need to be handed down before we stop talking about this. Take a year off Mr. Commissioner and Coach Harbaugh because you dropped the ball on this one. Better yet, if you won't suspend yourselves, donate your salaries for the year to a charity that supports domestic violence victims if you are really serious about the mistake that was made.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Feb-16-2014 3814 0
After the Michael Dunn verdict was read many voice their displeasure with the judicial system, rightfully so. However, the killing of our young black men is nothing new. Each time something bad happens we come together as a group for a month or so and then the energy dies down. When the Zimmerman verdict came back there were those who demanded that we stop supporting the state of Florida yet what happened to the follow-up to let us know how effective the efforts were? It reminds me of whenever someone dies. When we run into people we have not seen in years we all make a vow to do better and to make time for each other but after two or three months has past by we are all back to doing the same things.

As a country, we came together after 9/11 but soon thereafter the unity went away. There's so much happening in our communities. I thought the Zimmerman verdict would be our wake up call to do more but our young black men continue to be gunned down at a high rate by Men who don't look anything close to their fathers and most of them get away with it. Just in case you mention the black on black crime, remember that the killer normally ends up in prison.

Just recently, the grand jury failed to indict a North Carolina police officer for the killing of Jonathan Ferrell, a young black male, but after there was a public outcry about the injustice that took place he was eventually indicted. Right here in Dallas, Texas we have black men being killed by white police officers and in a great majority of the cases, the police officers are not indicted and judged by a jury of their peers. Instead, the victim is placed on trial and society has become conditioned to believe that it's okay to kill someone if they have a prior criminal record or considered a menace to society. Well, it's not and it's time that it stops.

We need to be proactive and make sure laws that don't benefit us are changed. I will continue to say this until I can't say this anymore; we have to get out and VOTE during the mid-term elections. We need to make sure the right people are elected and the wrong people are removed from office, irrespective of their race. If the same people are in office (local officials) yet we are having some of the same problems, it's time for change. Vote for someone who wants to make a change. Don't just vote based on race or political affiliation; that's what has gotten us to this point where we are today. We have to be proactive or the next Jordan Davis might be our brother, our son, our nephew, our father or our friend. Let's do it. Get involved or get out of the way!!!!!



Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.


















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