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Woman accusing Las Vegas police, officer of excessive force
A 21-year-old Los Angeles fashion designer said Thursday she's suing Las Vegas police and a uniformed officer she says smashed her face into a marble and glass table during her arrest in the lobby of a Strip casino resort.

Ariana Mason told reporters she suffered broken teeth and facial gashes that required 26 stitches after her arrest a little before 3 a.m. Aug. 16 outside 1 Oak at The Mirage.

"I feel as if the way he reacted was unnecessary. I feel he escalated the situation," Mason told a news conference outside the office of her lawyer, Brent Bryson.

Her lawsuit alleging civil rights violations and excessive force was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas. It seeks at least $4 million in damages from the officer and the Police Department.

The lawsuit concedes that Mason punched the officer, Shawn Izzo, while she was being handcuffed, and notes that Mason is African-American and Izzo is white.

"I just feel as if the color of my skin was different, this wouldn't have happened to me," Mason told reporters.

Izzo didn't respond to email requests for comment.

Officer Michael Rodriguez, a police spokesman, said the department doesn't comment on litigation. Rodriguez said an internal affairs review found Izzo's actions weren't excessive.

Records show that Mason was one of two people arrested on felony battery on a police officer charges in the incident. Six others were arrested on misdemeanor charges.

Bryson released a compact disc with 6 minutes, 24 seconds of silent color video clips showing some parts of Mason's arrest.

It shows Mason variously compliant and combative while Izzo, in uniform, and a female security guard drag Mason away from other scuffles. At one point, Izzo holds Mason's head in the crook of his arm on the marble hotel lobby floor.

After Mason is handcuffed and brought to her feet, she appears to stiffen and Izzo pushes her forward over the large decorative table. A tall centerpiece glass vase wobbles but remains upright as Mason's head pitches forward.

Police and casino security appear to struggle with several other people nearby while tourists with suitcases point cellphone cameras toward the action.

Bryson said the CD clips were derived from casino ceiling surveillance camera video obtained by police and turned over to him by prosecutors while he defended Mason in a felony battery on an officer complaint. That case was dismissed March 17 in Las Vegas Justice Court. Records show Mason paid $285.

Mason appeared emotional as she faced reporters Thursday flanked by Bryson, her parents, Fred and Francina Mason of Teaneck, New Jersey, and an aunt from Los Angeles, television personality Rolonda Watts.

Mason acknowledged that she was 20 when she was in the club, but said she had "only two drinks" before the altercation outside. She said she wasn't asked for proof of age when she arrived with her boyfriend, who was performing as a disc jockey.

A risk management official with club operator Hakkasan Group didn't immediately respond Thursday to a question about underage drinking.
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ap Apr-24-2015 144 0
A 21-year-old Los Angeles fashion designer said Thursday she's suing Las Vegas police and a uniformed officer she says smashed her face into a marble and glass table during her arrest in the lobby of a Strip casino resort.

Ariana Mason told reporters she suffered broken teeth and facial gashes that required 26 stitches after her arrest a little before 3 a.m. Aug. 16 outside 1 Oak at The Mirage.

"I feel as if the way he reacted was unnecessary. I feel he escalated the situation," Mason told a news conference outside the office of her lawyer, Brent Bryson.

Her lawsuit alleging civil rights violations and excessive force was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas. It seeks at least $4 million in damages from the officer and the Police Department.

The lawsuit concedes that Mason punched the officer, Shawn Izzo, while she was being handcuffed, and notes that Mason is African-American and Izzo is white.

"I just feel as if the color of my skin was different, this wouldn't have happened to me," Mason told reporters.

Izzo didn't respond to email requests for comment.

Officer Michael Rodriguez, a police spokesman, said the department doesn't comment on litigation. Rodriguez said an internal affairs review found Izzo's actions weren't excessive.

Records show that Mason was one of two people arrested on felony battery on a police officer charges in the incident. Six others were arrested on misdemeanor charges.

Bryson released a compact disc with 6 minutes, 24 seconds of silent color video clips showing some parts of Mason's arrest.

It shows Mason variously compliant and combative while Izzo, in uniform, and a female security guard drag Mason away from other scuffles. At one point, Izzo holds Mason's head in the crook of his arm on the marble hotel lobby floor.

After Mason is handcuffed and brought to her feet, she appears to stiffen and Izzo pushes her forward over the large decorative table. A tall centerpiece glass vase wobbles but remains upright as Mason's head pitches forward.

Police and casino security appear to struggle with several other people nearby while tourists with suitcases point cellphone cameras toward the action.

Bryson said the CD clips were derived from casino ceiling surveillance camera video obtained by police and turned over to him by prosecutors while he defended Mason in a felony battery on an officer complaint. That case was dismissed March 17 in Las Vegas Justice Court. Records show Mason paid $285.

Mason appeared emotional as she faced reporters Thursday flanked by Bryson, her parents, Fred and Francina Mason of Teaneck, New Jersey, and an aunt from Los Angeles, television personality Rolonda Watts.

Mason acknowledged that she was 20 when she was in the club, but said she had "only two drinks" before the altercation outside. She said she wasn't asked for proof of age when she arrived with her boyfriend, who was performing as a disc jockey.

A risk management official with club operator Hakkasan Group didn't immediately respond Thursday to a question about underage drinking.

nancy dillon Apr-24-2015 848 0
Another three women accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault on Thursday, joining dozens of other alleged victims just days before the final show in the comedian’s embattled U.S. comedy tour.

Marcella Tate, Janice Baker Kinney and Autumn Burns stepped forward, along with their lawyer, Gloria Allred, to say the TV star drugged and took advantage of them decades ago.

More than 30 other women have made similar allegations against Cosby in recent months. His wife and representatives have issued blanket denials and questioned the credibility of some of the accusers.

He has never been charged with a related criminal offense, but the cascade of allegations caused a number of cancellations in his Far From Finished tour.

AP Apr-23-2015 160 0
Michael Brown's parents filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson on Thursday, opening a new chapter in the legal battle over the 18-year-old's fatal shooting by a white officer that sparked a protest movement about the way police in the U.S. treat blacks.

Attorneys for Brown's parents promised the case would bring to light new forensic evidence that would raise doubts about the police version of the events.

Brown was unarmed and walking in the street with a friend on Aug. 9 when officer Darren Wilson told them to move to the sidewalk. That led to a heated confrontation and a scuffle between Wilson and Brown inside Wilson's squad car.

Wilson shot Brown after the scuffle spilled into the street. Some witnesses said Brown was trying to surrender, but Wilson said Brown was moving toward him aggressively, forcing him to shoot.

Brown's shooting led to sometimes-violent demonstrations and spawned a national "Black Lives Matter" movement calling for changes in how police deal with minorities. In the end, local and federal authorities ruled that the shooting was justified.

Civil cases generally require a lower standard of proof than criminal cases. Jurors must find a preponderance of evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt needed to convict in a criminal trial.

The civil case had been expected for months. If it comes to trial, the lawsuit could force a full review of all the evidence in the shooting and bring key witnesses to be questioned in open court, including Wilson, who has resigned from the police force.

Brown's parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., attended a news conference announcing the lawsuit. A tear rolled down McSpadden's cheek as attorney Benjamin Crump spoke.

"It's all part of the journey," she said.

Messages seeking comment from Ferguson city officials were not immediately returned.

Former Police Chief Tom Jackson, who was named in the complaint along with Wilson, declined to discuss the lawsuit, telling The Associated Press that he was unaware of it until a reporter told him.

Civil suits often unfold much differently than criminal matters.

Two decades ago, football star O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. But a civil jury awarded the Brown and Goldman families $33.5 million in wrongful-death damages.

Apr-23-2015 170 0
The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to approve Loretta Lynch as President Barack Obama's next attorney general, ending a five-month deadlock that made Lynch wait longer for confirmation than the last seven attorneys general combined.

The first black woman to become the top U.S. law enforcement official, Lynch, 55, was approved by a 56-43 vote. Ten Republicans voted for Lynch, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. She is expected to take over as head of the U.S. Justice Department on Monday, replacing Eric Holder.

The voting margin reflected many Republicans' disapproval of Lynch's support for an executive order issued by Obama in November that was meant to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation.

Before the vote, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, an outspoken critic of that action, blasted Lynch.

"We do not have to confirm someone to the highest law enforcement position in America if that someone is publicly committed to denigrating Congress, violating law," he said.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid berated Republicans for delaying the confirmation and said Lynch was "as qualified a candidate" as he'd seen in almost 30 years in the Senate.

Lynch has awaited confirmation since November when Obama, a fellow Harvard Law School graduate, nominated her.

Despite the delay, she was widely seen as less controversial than Holder, who often clashed with Republicans. She has said she aims to smooth relations with Congress.

As attorney general, her earliest tests will likely include handling civil rights cases stemming from deadly altercations between police and unarmed black men in several U.S. cities. The Justice Department has said it will look into bringing civil rights charges over the death of a Baltimore man who died after sustaining a spinal cord injury while in police custody.

Lynch will also inherit major financial cases involving allegations that some of the world's largest banks helped clients evade U.S. taxes and manipulated the currency markets.

Apr-22-2015 182 0
With a murder trial looming amid widespread scrutiny of police misconduct, Bastrop County has agreed to give more than $1 million to the family of a woman who was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy last year, the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV have learned.

High-ranking county officials and lawyers for Yvette Smith’s family members negotiated a $1.22 million settlement on Thursday to end a civil lawsuit filed in federal court after the fatal shooting. The award is believed to be the largest in the county’s history and the second in recent months over incidents involving deputies’ use of force.

Officials have shared few details about the deadly encounter, which preceded multiple public missteps by the sheriff’s office related to the case.

The county initially said that then-Deputy Daniel Willis responded to Smith’s Bastrop home around 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 16, 2014, after receiving a report of two men fighting over a gun at a residence on Zimmerman Avenue near Cool Water Drive.

When Willis and other deputies arrived, people inside the home disregarded deputies’ commands to come outside until a woman, later identified as Smith, appeared in the doorway holding a firearm, according to a statement the sheriff’s office issued after the incident. Willis opened fire after Smith disregarded a deputy’s command, the statement said.

But within hours officials backpedaled. The sheriff’s office said it could not confirm that Smith had any weapon when she was shot on the porch and has not clarified the matter since.

A lieutenant and sergeant were later punished for modifying Willis’ training records, which weren’t signed properly, after the shooting.

Smith, the single mother of two adult children, was unarmed when Willis shot her, her eldest son has said.

She was a caretaker at Austin State Hospital until she had knee surgery a few months before her death, according to family, and was uncomfortable even holding a gun.

Willis, now 30, had been with the sheriff’s office for less than a year when he shot Smith. After he was indicted on a murder charge and fired from the sheriff’s office in June, her family sued the county and Bastrop County Sheriff Terry Pickering in August, seeking at least $5 million.

Bryan Goertz, Bastrop County’s district attorney, helped lead negotiations with the Smith family on behalf of the county. He declined to comment on the settlement “out of respect for the Smith family.”

Other county officials who participated in the negotiations Thursday were County Judge Paul Pape, County Auditor Lisa Smith and County Commissioner Clara Beckett.

Smith and Beckett did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Pape said he is satisfied with the outcome.

“I’ve expressed my condolences to the Smith family for their loss, and I’m thankful they saw the benefit to themselves to settle this matter and move on with their lives,” he said. “It doesn’t bring anyone back.”

The attorney who represents the Smith family, said “one of the major benefits to a resolution like this, it brings peace of mind to the family that they can have closure. That’s essential to living their lives after a tragedy such as this.”

The settlement is the second high-dollar amount the county has paid in the past year following the actions of sheriff’s deputies. In May, it paid $750,000 to the family of a teen critically injured after falling and hitting his head at Cedar Creek High School after a deputy used his Taser on the student.

Unlike the city of Austin, which operates its own taxpayer-funded litigation fund, Bastrop has a policy with a private insurer, which will pay the settlement. The county’s annual premiums are expected to go up at least 25 percent as a result of the payouts, officials said.

Willis is scheduled to stand trial in the murder case against him in late June, with two pre-trial hearings set for April 30 and May 28.

His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Apr-22-2015 558 0
A Charlotte woman may face a felony charge for allegedly putting a dead cricket in her meal at a restaurant in order to get the meal for free.

Gastonia Police say 26-year-old Shatanya Beasley is charged with obtaining property by false pretense after she put a dead cricket in her food at the Applebee's in Gastonia.

Police say Beasley asked for the manager after receiving her food, showed him the dead cricket, asked for a new plate, and stated she wasn't going to pay the bill, to which the manager obliged.

After Beasley and her son left the restaurant, their waitress noticed Beasley left her wallet open on the table, and the waitress reportedly noticed a bag of dead crickets inside of it. The waitress gave the wallet to her manager.

When Beasley attempted to retrieve her wallet, the manager informed her she needed to pay for the meal; she refused and left the restaurant, but not before employees took down her license plate number, police said.

Gastonia Police tracked Beasley down via her license plate and issued a warrant for obtaining property by false pretense.

Beasley turned herself in to police.

The Applebee's manager now has the option whether or not to pursue the charge.

Apr-22-2015 572 0
A former Spring High School assistant principal who admitted to having sex with a student in his office during a prom event in 2012 was sentenced Tuesday to four months in jail, then eight years probation.

Mark West, 32, pleaded guilty to improper relationship with a student on the eve of trial Friday, and went through a two-day hearing before being sentenced by State District Judge Catherine Evans.

"You did it because you enjoyed the attention of young girls," the judge said during the sentencing. "We're talking about a razor thin margin of three weeks between what separates a felony crime from a poor decision to have an inappropriate extramarital affair."

West, who was facing a maximum of 20 years in prison had asked Evans to sentence him to probation.

"It's just bad choices I made, based on impulses," West said on the witness stand. "Basically just being selfish."

West testified he had sex with an 18-year-old student who approached him during the early morning hours of a school lock-in during prom. It was three weeks before she graduated.

Although the teen was old enough to consent, state law prohibits educators having sex with students.

West, who remains married and has a young son, had raised eyebrows at the school because of his interactions with female students. He testified he tickled and picked up another teen, and made inappropriate comments to two others. Administrators also admonished him to stop having closed door meetings with students.

In court Tuesday, West admitted having sex with the girl once, but said she was lying about other incidents.

Spring ISD police initially investigated the allegation that West had inappropriately touched a female student after the incident, but no criminal charges were filed because of a lack of evidence, according to the complaint.

Investigators eventually connected a name with the allegations and tracked down a teenager in college. The former student told investigators that when she was a senior, she had sex with West in his office during a prom event.

He resigned after being arrested in 2013. His wife testified that he is no longer working.

Prosecutor Katie Warren argued that West should spend 12 years in prison.

"He wasn't just a teacher, he was principal," Warren said. "He's supposed to be watching the teachers to make sure they don't make this kind of mistake. That alone means it's not a probation offense."

She noted that West will not have to register a sex offender.

Defense attorney Charles Johnson joined his client in asking for probation.

"He's taken responsibility," Johnson said. "I think rehabilitation is the appropriate sentence."

Apr-22-2015 817 0
No charges will be filed against a Bibb County deputy who shot a handcuffed suspect in the arm, says District Attorney David Cooke.

Instead, Cooke said, the man will be charged with obstructing officers and several other charges.

The shooting took place last June 20 on Emery Highway.

Kenyae Jermaine Brown was wounded in the case.

The day of the shooting, deputies were dispatched to a loitering call in front of a liquor store on Emery Highway. They checked the IDs of some men when they arrived and learned Brown had warrants for his arrest.

A struggle occurred between Brown and deputies Patrick Robinson and Angela Endsley, and an officer used a Taser on Brown twice, Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said the day of the shooting. Brown continued to resist before being handcuffed from his front.

Although suspects are usually handcuffed with their hands behind them, Davis said the officers handcuffed Brown in front due to him struggling.

Once he was handcuffed, Brown ran, Robinson caught him, and Brown allegedly tried to grab the officer's gun, a news release stated the day of the incident.

Robinson fired his gun, hitting Brown in the left arm.

Brown initially told deputies his name was Kendra Brown, who is his brother.

Kenyae Brown was charged with giving false information and felony obstruction.

"Based on my review of the evidence and the report submitted by the GBI," Cooke said Tuesday,"no charged will be filed against the deputies...

"Deputy Robinson reasonably believed Brown was attempting to take his gun and posed an immediate threat to his safety," Cooke said.

Jason Silverstein Apr-21-2015 178 0
A suburban Detroit business owner and his wife who hung Confederate flags and nooses on their property insist that anyone who sees the actions as racist is “stupid.”

“I am not a racist,” Robert Tomanovich, owner of Robert’s Discount Tree Service in Livonia, Mich., told the Daily News Monday night.

“I know black guys, I have black friends. We’re all laughing at this stupidity. Do you know how many white guys were hung back in the day? This isn’t racist. But all of a sudden it’s out of control.”

Tomanovich , 55,made local headlines when WXYZ reported last Friday that Confederate flags and a noose were hanging outside two of his properties, one of which he uses for his tree-cutting business. The noose hung from a tree small enough for a child to scale.

The decorations have no connection to the racist history of the Confederacy, said his wife Lindy, rushing to his defense.

"Robert has a friend that died in that way (hanging himself), and that's in memory of his friend," she told WXYZ. "There's no crime in hanging a noose."

The noose and flags have drawn disgust from neighbors.

"One hundred fifty years after Abraham Lincoln's death, we are still going through this kind of atrocities. A hangman's noose and a Confederate flag?" neighbor Mary Greer said to WXYZ.

Once several neighbors shared their dismay, a second noose went up, the station reported.
One of Tomanovich’s employees, who wasn’t named, took credit for that one. When asked about the neighbors, the employee said, “Screw ‘em . . . We're gonna put more up.”

As for the Confederate flags, Tomanovich gave contradictory statements about his background and possible connections to the South.

He initially said he put up the flags because he was from “the South,” but then said he was from the Detroit area, then said again he hailed from the South and hung up the phone when asked to specify where.

In another phone interview, Tomanovich claimed he spent the first 30 years of his life in Pineville, Ky., shortly after saying he had run his Michigan business for 37 years.

“I like the Confederate flag, I like the colors,” he said in conclusion.

Tomanovich also said he has at least one black employee, and he claims WXYZ filmed this man but did not include him in its report. A WXYZ reporter said the news outlet chose not to include the man in the report because he wasn't "very credible."

The station noted that Tomanovich walked away from the reporter during an interview attempt.

“I left because I had two women in my house naked and I didn’t want them to see them,” Tomanovich told The News. “One of them was running around the house naked.”

Tomanovich said he has now taken down the nooses and flags, but offered no apologies to anyone offended.

“I don’t need to defend this to nobody. My business is doing very well,” he said. “I only want this story to get bigger. I want people to know I’m not a racist.”


Jason Silverstein Apr-21-2015 774 0
The young Chicago couple accused of murdering the girl's mom at a Bali resort and stuffing her body into a suitcase were both convicted of premeditated murder by an Indonesian court Tuesday.

Heather Mack, 19, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for the death of her 62-year-old mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack.

Her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, got 18 years in jail.

The three-judge panel of Denpasar District Court castigated the couple for their crime but also admitted to going easy on them because Schaefer showed remorse and good manners in court and Mack just had a baby.

"Her newborn baby badly needs a mother's love and breastfeeding," the verdict read.

The couple, who were tried separately in the same court, could have faced execution by a firing squad.

Schaefer and Mack were arrested last August, a day after Wiese-Mack's battered body was found in the trunk of a taxi at the St. Regis Bali Resort. The cab driver said the callous couple casually crammed the corpse into his car, strolled into the hotel and didn't return.

Mack and Schaefer sit with their baby inside a prison truck before heading to the Denpasar court.

All three hailed from Illinois and were vacationing in Bali.

Schaefer said he beat Wiese-Mack to death with a metal fruit bowl after the three got into an argument when the mom learned her daughter was pregnant. But an indictment said Schaefer and Wiese-Mack battled over the hotel bill.

The couple reportedly refused to cooperate with investigators after their arrest and Mack laughed and smiled during questioning.

Mack had a long history of physically abusing her mom, who never pressed charges or got professional help for the troubled teen.

They now have one week to decide if they will appeal the verdict.

TOBIAS SALINGER Apr-20-2015 258 0
A small town in the shadow of a volcano in Washington state is simmering with racial tensions over a fired African-American police officer’s claims of discrimination.

Gerry Pickens, 28, alleges he suffered racist jokes, different treatment from the entirely white rest of the force and an undeserved dismissal at the end of his first-year probationary period with the Orting Police Department last year, The Washington Post reported.

Vandals later wrote “N-----” on his SUV and threatened him “sue cheif [sic] and pay,” and Pickens filed a $5 million damages claim against the city in February, KING-TV reported.

Pickens’ colleagues called him the “black juvenile” after a local resident dialed 9-1-1 to report that a “black juvenile” was driving a police car shortly after he had started his beat and moved his family from Atlanta to the town 30 miles from Mount Rainier, he told the Post.

The three-year police veteran and son of a military man also drove an older squad car than his colleagues and received a one-week suspension for an unsubstantiated allegation that he had worked out a gym where he wasn’t a member, he says, according to the Post.

Police Chief Bill Drake called the 2013 hiring of Pickens — the 11-member police department’s first black police officer — “a crowning achievement for us,” in an interview with the newspaper. But Drake laid him off at the end of the trial first year period, citing “unsatisfactory performance,” according to The News Tribune of nearby Tacoma.

Pickens had hired a lawyer but hadn’t filed any formal claims against the city before the vandals targeted his Ford Explorer one night in January, KIRO-TV reported. He announced the next month while flanked by NAACP officials in Tacoma that he’ll file a wrongful termination lawsuit if city officials elect not to pay the damages during the required 90-day response period to his claim, according to the Post.

Police Chief Bill Drake cited "unsatisfactory performance" as the reason for firing Pickens last year in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission documents obtained by the Post.
“They took my manhood, my income, my security,” Pickens told the newspaper. “They thought I was just some dumb black guy who would take unemployment and kick rocks.”

But city officials don’t appear ready to fork over the sum. The city condemned the unsolved January incident but Orting Mayor Joachim (Joe) Pestinger told the Post that a $5 million payment could bust the city’s budget and isn’t warranted.

“I don’t want to settle for one dollar, if it’s my choice,” Pestinger said. “This is a false accusation, and I don’t want to give it any merit.”

AP Apr-20-2015 705 0
Relatives, activists and even Baltimore city officials have more questions than answers about what happened to Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died one week after he was rushed to the hospital with spinal injuries following an encounter with four Baltimore police officers.

Gray, who died Sunday morning at a University of Maryland trauma center, was stopped by Baltimore police officers on bike patrol April 12. Police have said Gray was running away from the officers when he was arrested and placed in a transport van. About 30 minutes later, Gray was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, according to police.

Billy Murphy, an attorney for Gray's family, said Sunday that 80 percent of the man's spinal cord had been severed near his neck.

On Monday morning, about 50 protesters gathered outside City Hall and later marched to police headquarters, about two blocks away. They carried signs reading "Black lives matter" and "Jobs, not police killings." They also unfurled a yellow banner reading "Stop police terror."

"This is just one of the most egregious cases I've ever seen," said Colleen Davidson of the Baltimore People's Power Assembly, which she said organized the rally at the request of Gray's family. "We felt the need to be out here and make it known that we will not stand and watch things like this happen."

"How was Mr. Gray injured? Were the proper protocols and procedures actually followed? What are the next steps to take from here?" Rawlings-Blake said.

She promised a thorough investigation and "real answers" for the community.

"I will ensure we will hold the right people accountable," Rawlings-Blake said.

Gray's family has declined, so far, to interact with police, said Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. He said the department would try again this week to share information with them.

"A mother has lost her son," Batts said. "Freddie Gray passed. My greatest hope and wish and desire is that any time we have an interaction as a police department or a contact, that everyone goes home safe."

Batts said he is assembling a "hybrid task force" that will include homicide investigators and the force investigation team.

Officers and other witnesses have been interviewed, according to Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez. However, not everyone has been interviewed, Rodriguez noted, saying the officers who are subjects of the criminal investigation have a right not to potentially incriminate themselves.

But Murphy said he has interviewed 11 witnesses as part of an investigation on behalf of the Gray family, and has asked the department for video footage, which it has declined to release to the public. Murphy said he disputes the department's timeline of events, and believes Gray was in police custody for longer than they say.

"We are tired of the words. We want to see action," Murphy said Sunday. "We want to see fair compensation for victims of police brutality, we want to see a fair response and an impartial investigation not cops investigating themselves.

"We have no confidence that the city or the police department is going to fairly and objectively investigate this case," Murphy added. "We have no confidence the investigation will reveal the truth."

Meanwhile, Baltimore's activist community on Sunday called for increased transparency and accountability of the city's police department, which last year volunteered for a Justice Department review of its policies and procedures.

Outside of the Western District station house, where Gray was brought after his arrest and before officers called for medical assistance, Cortly "C.D." Witherspoon, president of the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, called Baltimore a "police state" where criminalization of African American men is a pervasive problem. Witherspoon called for action, and an independent investigation into Gray's death.

"They want the citizenry to be patient. They want the citizenry to let the investigation play out," Witherspoon said. "We can't do that. There has never been honest and genuine conversation with the police department and the people on the ground. We want an independent investigation. We want the officers fired, we want them stripped of their pension and we want them charged."

John Council Apr-20-2015 212 0
Civil Rights pioneer L. A. Bedford started a firm that would become Bedford Bunkley & Davis and founded the J.L. Turner Legal Society in 1952—Dallas’ first association for black attorneys. Bedford was the first black attorney appointed as a municipal judge in Dallas, in 1966; he was the fourth black lawyer to join the Dallas Bar Association, in 1968, and was elected to the DBA’s board of directors in 1984. In his later years, Bedford continued practicing law as a solo practitioner

A year after his death, Dallas lawyers and historians and family recently gathered on the campus of Prairie View A&M University to discuss the legacy of Dallas civil rights pioneer Louis A. Bedford, who was a 1946 graduate of the historically black college.

And in a fitting tribute after the conclusion of lectures about the man who became Dallas' first African-American judge in 1966, his alma mater's mock courtroom was named in honor of him.

Segregation in Texas forced Bedford to travel to New York, where he got a law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1951.

Bedford returned to Texas later that year and set up a law practice in Dallas. He was one of only a dozen African-American lawyers who served North Texas' segregated black communities in the early 1950s. [See "Remembering Lawyer, Civil Rights Pioneer Louis A. Bedford," Texas Lawyer, April 21, 2014.]

In 1952, when the Dallas Bar Association still excluded African-American attorneys, Bedford founded the J.L. Turner Legal Society for black lawyers. Bedford later became the fourth black attorney to join the DBA in 1968 and was elected to its board of directors in 1984.

In 1970, Bedford served as counsel on Tasby v. Estes, the desegregation case that declared "separate but equal" provisions to be unconstitutional in Dallas public schools.


Read more: http://www.texaslawyer.com/id=1202723845791/Courtroom-Named-in-Honor-of-Dallas-Civil-Rights-Pioneer#ixzz3XrgmT2wq

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Sep-09-2014 1359 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 1947 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.


















Daryl K. Washington Nov-26-2013 2252 0
ARE WE DOING ENOUGH FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITIES?: I just finished talking to a mother who lost her son as a result of a police shooting. Hearing this mother talk about her son and how much he loved the holidays was simply heart wrenching. She went on to tell me that she's pleaded for help from our local politicians, pastors, leaders, etc. but no one wants to take her call, especially if the cameras are not rolling. To worsen matters, many of the leaders have put her son on trial and he's dead.

On last week they staged a protest in Dallas and sadly, 95% of the protestors were white. That made me wonder why do people make it in life and fail to reach back to help others? Why do people hear about injustices yet fail to say anything about it other than to say "that's sad!" During the 60's the leaders were individuals (black and white) who had college degrees, had bright futures ahead of them but they risk it all for us to be in the positions we are in today. The sad thing is that many of us believe it's all about us.

We must do more. We have to do more. We have to demand that our politicians and pastors step up to help us fight this battle. It truly takes a team effort. We must hold all of our community leaders accountable. When they ask for your vote, ask them to list ten things they did for the community in the last four years. Ask them how many times have they've attended a rally to show support to a grieving mother or father. We have serious issues and it takes all of us to stop this mess. I'm tired of seeing people who have never fought against a single injustice accept the Martin Luther King drum major for justice award. It's time for change.

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 Oct-19-2013 3907 0
I don't know all of the specifics and I most certainly will not respond to all of the comments, especially some of the racists comments I've read because if it continues I will personally make a National Call for all of the black athletes, especially the ones who attend the large institutions like LSU, Penn State, USC, etc., to stand in unity with the players at Grambling so that a true change can be made in college athletics. If you want to see changes made and need to bring attention to problems, you can learn from the athletes at Grambling. Let's see how many people will comment about this when their teams are not playing because the athletes are tired of not receiving a share of the billion dollars. The funniest thing I've read were the comments from some black people who did not attend a HBCU acting like it was not their problem but ours.

When Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis he was there to help the Black garbage collectors, not the Black Preachers. I'm glad he did not see it as their problems. Do we turn our backs on people just because it does not personally impact us? I personally wish things could have been handled differently but now that the ball is in motion, it's time for SOLUTIONS.

I will not let Grambling State University take all of the blame for this. First, we have to look at the leadership of the State of La. and what he has done. A lot of the problems start with him, although a lot of his supporters will beg to differ. Had he not played the politics and did what was in the best interest of the state of La., things may be different. Second, we have to look at the NCAA. For years the NCAA has turned its back to the cheating in recruiting because it does not want to penalize the large schools that help bring billions of dollars to the bottom line. Demand needs to be made to institute a revenue sharing program similar to what's in the NFL so that the small schools that play by the rules receive a share of the revenue made by the big schools who use an unfair advantage to recruit.

Finally, now that this problem has been brought to light, I hope some of the wealthy people in our country remember that but for Grambling and other HBCU's there would be no RG3, Russell Wilson, Michael Vick, Kap, etc. so start giving to the HBCU's. Let's not turn our backs on the HBCUs because you did not attend. Remember, if our President is not able to nominate one or two individuals to the Supreme Court before his term is up, Affirmative Action will be under attack and if some decisions are reversed, where will our kids go if there are no HBCUs? Will it be only our problems then? It's time to wake up.

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 Jul-17-2013 1399905 0
I've finally had the opportunity to review the complaint filed against Paula Deen. For one, many people have been making this incident about the "N" word only, but it's much more than that. I personally find it to be offensive whenever someone from another race is accused of using the "N" word they are somehow given a pass because of the use of the "N" word by some in the black communities. Let me be the first to say that I find the use of the word by anyone to be wrong. However, when it's used in a racist or insulting manner, it hurts more.

I think individuals who are trying to defend Paula Deen's use of the "N' word should probably familiarize themselves with all of the facts of the case against her. Just so you know, in case you didn't know, the person who initiated the complaint against Paula Deen and her brother is not "Black." She is a "white female" who was subjected to years of abuse and was finally fed up with her black employees being treated poorly, so stop thinking it was a black person complaining about Paula Deen's use of the N word. Furthermore, Paula Deen indicated that she used the N word over 20 years ago. That is not what's being alleged against her. She went as far as telling a guy he was as black as a blackboard. That lady is something else and I'm glad I never supported any of her ventures. I personally find it insulting that so many black people are coming to the defense of Paula Deen after reading what she and her family subjected their employees to. When I learned about the major companies dropping Paula Deen without being demanded to do so, I knew it was deep. The fact that any civil rights activist is supporting Paula Deen is insulting and is a slap in the face.

Here's a summary of some of the things being alleged against Paula Deen, her brother Bubba Hiers and the Deen business entities:

Summary:

Paula Deen, while planning her brother's wedding in 2007, was asked what look the wedding should have. She replied, "I want a true southern plantation-style wedding." When asked what type of uniforms the servers should wear, Paula stated, "well what I would really like is a bunch of little n*ggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around;

Black staff had to use the back entrance to enter and leave restaurant;

Black staff could only use one bathroom;

Black staff couldn’t work the front of the restaurants;

Brother Bubba stated his wishes: “ I wish I could put all those n*ggers in the kitchen on a boat to Africa”;

Bubba asked a black driver and security guard "don’t you wish you could rub all the black off you and be like me? You just look dirty; I bet you wish you could." The guy told Bubba he was fine as is;

Bubba on President Obama: they should send him to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, so he could n*gger-rig it;

He shook an employee (Black again) and said” F your civil rights…you work for me and my sister Paula Deen;

Paula’s son Jaime's best friend managed the Lady & Sons restaurant. He threatened to fire all the 'Monkeys' in the kitchen. When Paula found out…she slapped him on the wrist and suggested that the employee visited Paula's $13,000,000 mansion so he felt special and could be massaged.

I feel Paula Deen, her brother and anyone who treats people poorly should not be given a free pass. I wonder if Paula is truly sorry that she used the "N" word or that she was reported by someone who looks just like her. I appreciate the lady having the courage to report Paula Deen. It's people like her and the videographer who leaked the 47% comments made by Mitt Romney who should be receiving the attention, not Paula Deen.


Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. The opinions expressed in the commentary are those of Daryl K. Washington. You can follow Daryl on twitter at dwashlawfirm or you can email him at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. Go to the Black Legal Issue Home page and check the like button to receive future updates.

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