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Man Kills wife and family because he thought she was cheating
The Queens dad who massacred his family Saturday blasted his baby mama to death in a fit of jealousy and shot his two daughters because he’d rather see them die than go into foster care after the attack, sources said.

Jonathan Walker, 34, was overheard at a liquor store the night before the attack, telling anyone who would listen that he was convinced his common-law wife, Shantai Hale, was being unfaithful.

“He believed she may have been cheating on him — possibly with more than one person,” a law enforcement source said. “He went and got drunk that night before heading home.”

After pounding drinks, Walker skipped his nightclub security gig Friday evening. Flowing with liquid courage, the murderous man instead showed up around 5:30 a.m. Saturday at his gal pal’s Springfield Gardens home, where he methodically executed 7-year-old daughter Kayla and badly wounded her 12-year-old sister, Christina.

“He wanted to kill the two kids because he didn’t want them in foster care” after he killed their mom, a source said.

Walker then went to another bedroom and fatally shot Hale, 31, and her mother, Viola Warren, before committing suicide in his parked car at JFK Airport.

“He destroyed a whole family,” said Hale’s cousin Joseph Simmons. “There are no words to describe how angry the family is. He is a loser. He is a coward.”

Christina survived the rampage and managed to dial 911 to explain her father’s barbaric deed. She even opened the door for first responders.

Relatives said Christina is in a medically induced coma and undergoing intensive care following surgery that involved cutting open her skull to ease brain swelling.

“The doctors are hopeful,” said the girl’s uncle, Silford Warren. “Thank God the bullet passed through the part of her head that it did. She moved her head backward at just the right moment when [her father] fired and that probably saved her life.”
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Jan-26-2015 140 0
The Queens dad who massacred his family Saturday blasted his baby mama to death in a fit of jealousy and shot his two daughters because he’d rather see them die than go into foster care after the attack, sources said.

Jonathan Walker, 34, was overheard at a liquor store the night before the attack, telling anyone who would listen that he was convinced his common-law wife, Shantai Hale, was being unfaithful.

“He believed she may have been cheating on him — possibly with more than one person,” a law enforcement source said. “He went and got drunk that night before heading home.”

After pounding drinks, Walker skipped his nightclub security gig Friday evening. Flowing with liquid courage, the murderous man instead showed up around 5:30 a.m. Saturday at his gal pal’s Springfield Gardens home, where he methodically executed 7-year-old daughter Kayla and badly wounded her 12-year-old sister, Christina.

“He wanted to kill the two kids because he didn’t want them in foster care” after he killed their mom, a source said.

Walker then went to another bedroom and fatally shot Hale, 31, and her mother, Viola Warren, before committing suicide in his parked car at JFK Airport.

“He destroyed a whole family,” said Hale’s cousin Joseph Simmons. “There are no words to describe how angry the family is. He is a loser. He is a coward.”

Christina survived the rampage and managed to dial 911 to explain her father’s barbaric deed. She even opened the door for first responders.

Relatives said Christina is in a medically induced coma and undergoing intensive care following surgery that involved cutting open her skull to ease brain swelling.

“The doctors are hopeful,” said the girl’s uncle, Silford Warren. “Thank God the bullet passed through the part of her head that it did. She moved her head backward at just the right moment when [her father] fired and that probably saved her life.”

Mitchell Armentrout Jan-26-2015 70 0
A man has been charged with a felony after shooting himself in the leg in the South Side Douglas neighborhood on Friday night.

Daekwon Cunningham, 19, shot himself in the leg about 10:20 p.m. in the 2900 block of South Dearborn, police said.

He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where his condition stabilized, police said.

Cunningham, of the 2600 block of South Prairie, was arrested after being treated for the gunshot wound and later charged with a felony count of unlawful use of a weapon near a school or park, police said. The shooting happened about a block away from Williams Park, and about two blocks away from John B. Drake Elementary School.

He also faces two misdemeanor charges for possessing a firearm and ammunition without a valid FOID card, police said.

A judge on Sunday ordered Cunningham held on a $55,000 bond, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office. He is next due in court on Jan. 30.

Jan-25-2015 120 0
An Eastern Michigan University women's basketball player and another student were killed early Sunday when their car crossed the center line of a road and hit an oncoming vehicle, authorities say.

The collision happened about 1 a.m. in Ypsilanti Township, west of the school's Ypsilanti campus, the Washtenaw County sheriff's department said in a statement.

Shannise Heady, a 21-year-old junior forward for the Eagles, was driving when her car veered into the vehicle of a 22-year-old driver, who was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries, the sheriff's department said.

Heady, of Hazel Crest, Illinois, and her 23-year-old passenger, Jordan Hopkins, an Eastern Michigan senior from Dexter, died.
''This is a tragic loss,'' said Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin. ''Our thoughts and prayers are with Jordan's and Shannise's families and friends at this difficult time.''

Heady transferred to the Eastern Michigan in January 2013 from Seton Hall University, in northern New Jersey. She appeared in 22 games for the Eagles last season, averaging 5 points in 14.4 minutes. In 17 games this season, she was averaging 23.2 minutes and 7.9 points.

''Obviously this is one of our toughest days as a program ... as we mourn the loss of Shannise,'' coach Tory Verdi said in a statement. ''We are truly devastated. ... Shannise was not only an inspiration to all of us, but she brought energy and liveliness to our team.''

Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon A. Steinbrecher said he ''was shocked and saddened to learn of this tragic event.''

The university said it would make counseling available to those who seek it.

Michael A. Fletcher Jan-25-2015 117 0
African Americans for decades flocked to Prince George’s County to be part of a phenomenon that has been rare in American history: a community that grew more upscale as it became more black.

The county became a national symbol of the American Dream with a black twist. Families moved into expansive new homes, with rolling lawns, nearby golf courses and, most of all, neighbors who looked like them. In the early 2000s, home prices soared — some well beyond $1?million — allowing many African Americans to build the kind of wealth their elders could only imagine.

But today, the nation’s highest-income majority-black county stands out for a different reason: Its residents have lost far more wealth than families in neighboring, majority-white suburbs. And while every one of these surrounding counties is enjoying a strong rebound in housing prices and their economies, Prince George’s is lagging far behind, and local economists say a full recovery appears unlikely anytime soon.

The same reversal of fortune is playing out across the country as black families who worked painstakingly to climb into the middle class are seeing their financial foundation for future generations collapse. Although African Americans have made once-unthinkable political and social gains since the civil rights era, the severe and continuing damage wrought by the downturn — an entire generation of wealth was wiped out — has raised a vexing question: Why don’t black middle-class families enjoy the same level of economic security as their white counterparts?

The impact of the financial devastation of the past several years is hardly visible along the quiet, well-tended streets of many Prince George’s neighborhoods. The county has the highest foreclosure rate in the District region, yet few houses appear to be abandoned.

Instead, the slow-motion crisis operates mostly in private, limiting people’s options, constricting their vision and forcing a seemingly endless series of hard choices. Having your wealth vanish means making pivotal life decisions — about where to send your children to school, saving for college, making home improvements and setting aside something for retirement — knowing you have no financial leeway.

“This big gorilla on your back, it changes you,” said Fred Bryant, 40, who lives with his wife and two daughters in a brick-front Colonial featuring a one-acre lot, high ceilings, an impressive two-story foyer and a mortgage far higher than the house is worth. “Sometimes you find yourself boiling mad when you shouldn’t be.”

Bryant and his wife, Jennifer, made it to the middle class after being raised on the edges of poverty. But whatever wealth they had built is gone.

Jennifer Bryant grew up in Prince George’s County, living in a Seat Pleasant apartment complex with her mother and brother. “All I ever experienced was apartment living,” she said. “We moved from one part of the complex to another.” Her father died when she was just 5, and her mother was a homemaker who poured her energies into seeing to it that her children had it better than she did.

Fred’s parents were separated, and his father was disabled and unable to help financially. His mother worked odd jobs in the tobacco fields near his hometown of Maysville, N.C., and other times she relied on public assistance. She raised Fred and his brother in a subsidized two-bedroom apartment that Fred remembers as being little bigger than his current living room and dining room.

Still, Jennifer and Fred managed to graduate college, although their mothers could lend only moral support. Today, she works as a supervisor in the federal workforce. He is a manager for a sports memorabilia firm.

The problem is not their income but their home. Once a source of wealth, it is now their biggest financial burden.

The Bryants owe just over $560,000 on their house, which they estimate is worth about $80,000 less than that. Since they moved in 2001, their monthly payment has more than doubled to nearly $3,900 a month — a predicament that arose because of an ill-advised refinancing into a loan whose terms the federal government now deems predatory.

The couple have never missed a mortgage payment. But now they are struggling to hold on. They have pulled their two preteen daughters out of private school. They bought inexpensive used cars. Instead of going on vacation last summer, they took the girls to Six Flags America, a nearby amusement park. They have little saved for college or retirement.

“We’re paying and paying, but we can’t get ahead,” Jennifer said.

Wealth in black and white

The recession and tepid recovery have erased two decades of African American wealth gains. Nationally, the net worth of the typical African American family declined by one-third between 2010 and 2013, according to a Washington Post analysis of the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, a drop far greater than that of whites or Hispanics.

The top half of African American families — the core of the middle class — is left with less than half of the typical wealth they possessed in 2007. The wealth of similarly situated whites declined by just 14?percent.

Overall, the survey found, the typical African American family was left with about eight cents for every dollar of wealth held by whites.

Not only is African American wealth down, but the chances of a quick comeback seem bleak. Just over a decade ago, homeownership — the single biggest engine of wealth creation for most Americans — reached a historic high for African Americans, nearly 50?percent. Now the black homeownership rate has dipped under 43?percent, and the homeownership gap separating blacks and whites is at levels not seen in a century, according to Boston University researcher Robert A. Margo.

“There was never a period in American history where the wealth gap was not enormous, but after this most recent recession, the wealth gap went from dismal to even worse,” said Darrick Hamilton, a professor of economics and urban policy at the New School in Manhattan.

For a substantial number of African Americans who remain homeowners, their properties only hurt their net worth. According to the Fed survey, 1 in 7 owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth in 2013, a sharp increase from 2010.

By comparison, just 1 in 18 white homeowners was underwater, an improvement from 2010. Also, African Americans own fewer businesses, stocks and other equities than whites — assets that have all recovered sharply since the recession.


Erik Badia Jan-24-2015 180 0
A deranged dad killed his wife, daughter and mother-in-law with bullets to the head in a methodical murder spree at their Queens home early Saturday, police said.

The suspected killer was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound five hours later in a wooded area of Queens, police said.

Hulking Jonathon Walker, 34, put a bullet into his own head near the Bergen Basin, and his body was discovered inside the silver GMC Arcadia used to flee the gore-spattered crime scene. A weapon was recovered by police.

The dead man’s 12-year daughter, who was fighting for her life Saturday after surviving a gunshot to her head, had managed to dial 911 and report the morning massacre, sources said.

Police arrived to find the bodies of Walker’s wife Shantai Hale, 31, her mom Viola, 62, and 7-year-old Kayla Walker after the gunman targeted the victims in their bedrooms, the sources said.

Viola’s weeping sister said the family was living in the slain older woman’s home.

“She was a lovely person,” said a devastated Patricia Simmons, 64, of her sister. “She cared for her grandkids. She always made a place for then. Her daughter was living with her — with this guy.

“They seemed to be such a happy family. I didn’t see anything I should be alarmed about. We’re all so shocked.”

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Walker, who played pro basketball in Portugal in 2008-09, fled the Springfield Gardens home on 148th Ave. near 231st St. after the 5:40 a.m. slaughter, the sources said.

Christina Walker, 12, is currently in critical condition at the Long Island Jewish Hospital.

Kayla Walker, left, was killed by her father John Walker and Christina Walker, right, is the 12 year old fighting for her life.

“It’s a very gruesome scene in there,” said City Council member Donovan Richards (D-Queens). “No one expected this. It’s horrific, just horrific.”

The wounded 12-year-old, Christina Walker, was undergoing surgery at Long Island Jewish Hospital Saturday morning, police said.

“She’s fighting, she’s fighting,” said a teary Wendell Warren, another of Viola’s six siblings. “She was always the toughest. I believe she’s going to make it.”

It was unclear if the child called 911 before or after her father pumped a bullet into her head.

But sources indicated she told police that Walker suddenly snapped before the killing started, with the shooter walking from bedroom to bedroom and opening fire.

Christina and her kid sister “are wonderful girls,” said Simmons, their aunt.

Facebook photos painted a portrait of domestic bliss in the family, including a series of shots showing the two girls posing happily in their school uniforms.

“That’s how they roll to private school,” wrote Walker.

Hale posted a picture earlier this month of an elaborate pink, three-story Lil Princess Barbie house put together by Walker for their two daughters.

“Assembled by dad,” she wrote proudly.

The dead mom’s brother, a police officer in the 79th Precinct, was at the murder scene as the investigation continued.

Walker and his common-law wife were together more than a decade, and both kids were his biological children. Walker worked as a bouncer at local clubs, and neighbors described him as a man who kept to himself.

“He’s very quiet,” said Gina George, 50. “He never talks to no one. I just see him pick up his kids and drop off his kids.”

Relatives of the victims said they believed Walker had a gun license because of his job. And a second neighbor said he was not a violent or abusive person.

“He was so nice, a very nice guy,” said Sam Santos, 21, who lived next door for the last 13 years. “Never saw cops come to the house, never heard a fight — nothing like that.”


AP Jan-24-2015 127 0
For the first time in nearly 40 years, Joseph Sledge woke up behind bars with a chance of becoming a free man.

The 70-year-old man needed one more win at an innocence hearing. As three judges listened to closing statements Friday about how Sledge was wrongfully convicted in the 1976 stabbing deaths of a mother and her adult daughter, he wrote down a few words on a yellow Post-it note — "closure," ''please" and "exonerated."

A few hours later, carrying his belongings in plastic bags, Sledge emerged from a North Carolina jail, saying he was looking forward to what most people consider the most mundane of activities: "Going home. Relaxing. Sleeping in a real bed. Probably get in a pool of water and swim for a little while."

A special three-judge panel unanimously voted Sledge had proven he was innocent of the killings and ordered his release.

But his freedom almost didn't happen because evidence had been lost for years.

His attorney, Christine Mumma, took the case in 2004 and felt like she had been running out of options and considered closing the case in 2012. Then court clerks discovered a misplaced envelope of evidence while cleaning out a high shelf of a vault.

The envelope contained hair, found on the victim and believed to be the attacker's, that turned out to be a key piece of evidence needed to do DNA testing, which wasn't available when Sledge went on trial 1978.

"I understand those shelves were very high, but there was a ladder in that room," said Mumma, a lawyer for the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence.

In 2013, the case was referred to the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, the only state-run investigative agency of its kind. So far, Sledge is the eighth person exonerated after an investigation by the commission, which started operating in 2007. It has reviewed and closed about 1,500 cases.

Nationwide, The Innocence Project said there have been 325 post-conviction DNA exonerations.

The North Carolina commission found there was enough evidence of Sledge's innocence to refer it to a panel of three judges, who were appointed by the state Supreme Court.

The judges considered the commission's investigative file, and a DNA expert highlighted lab tests in her testimony Friday. Meghan Clement of Cellmark Forensics said none of the evidence collected from the scene — hair, DNA and fingerprints — belonged to Sledge.

The key jailhouse informant, Herman Baker, signed an affidavit in 2013 recanting trial testimony. Baker said he lied at the 1978 trial after being promised leniency in his own drug case and he said he'd been coached by authorities on what to say.

Testimony from another jailhouse informant was inconsistent, according to the commission documents. That informant died in 1991.

The victims, 74-year-old Josephine Davis and her 57-year-old daughter, Aileen, were stabbed to death in September 1976. Aileen was also sexually assaulted.

They were found in their home in Elizabethtown, a day after Sledge had escaped from a prison work farm where he was serving a four-year sentence for larceny.

Sledge was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Katherine Brown, the granddaughter and niece of the victims, said Friday during the hearing that the women were humble and considerate people who looked after other family members.

During her statement, Brown said the family was "shocked that it will become an unsolved mystery" after years of believing they had some closure. She didn't directly address Sledge's innocence in her statement.

After his release, Sledge was headed to Savannah, Georgia, to live with family. He told reporters he never doubted he'd be freed someday despite spending more than half his life in prison.

"I had confidence in my own self. The self will and the patience," he said before trailing off and searching for the right word. "Patience is the word."

Meg Wagner / Jan-23-2015 175 0
An Oklahoma cop’s body camera captured graphic footage of a fatal police shooting outside a Muskogee church.

Officer Chansey McMillin shot and killed Terence D. Walker on Saturday after the armed 21-year-old suspect ran from police who were responding to a domestic complaint.

The footage showed McMillin — one of between 50 and 60 officers Muskogee officers with a body camera — begin to pat down Walker in front of the Old Agency Baptist Church. When the cop found Walker’s gun, the suspect ran, police said.

The unedited video, released Friday, captured the shooting and its aftermath: a shaken McMillian broke down and a witness claimed the cop did “everything right.”

The footage comes during a nationwide push for more officers to wear body cameras after a series of high-profile police killings, including that of Ferguson, Mo., teenager Michael Brown.

On the day of the Muskogee shooting, Walker repeatedly threatened his ex-girlfriend, Sgt. Mike Mahan told the Tulsa World. Walker — who lives in Texas but was in Oklahoma to pick up a car he left at his ex’s house — told her he “had a bullet with her name on it” before she went to church.

Walker followed her to the church, and police showed up soon after.

The officers asked to speak with Walker. Outside of the church, McMillin began to pat Walker down, but when he felt a gun, Walker bolted, police said.

McMillin chased after Walker before he fired at the 21-year-old. Walker, who was hit three times in the neck and torso, fell into a ditch, the video showed.

A man who identified himself as the church’s pastor ran toward the cop, begging him, “Don’t shoot no more.”

McMillin ordered the pastor to stand back while other officers surveyed Walker’s body.

Later, the video showed the same pastor tell other officers that McMillin “followed procedures” and that “he did everything right.”

Moments later, an emotional McMillin collapsed on another cop’s car.

"Why'd (Walker) have to do that?" he asked when other officers tried to comfort him.

McMillin was put on paid leave after the shooting — his second in a six-month period. In July, McMillin shot a knife-wielding man who stabbed a victim and then advanced toward a group of cops. The suspect, Angel Cerda, survived, and McMillin was cleared in the case.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation is investigating the Saturday shooting.

Police forces around the country have started putting bodycams on officers in an effort to increase transparency. The NYDP started its pilot program in December, testing several kinds of cameras that are worn on an officer’s shirt.

The increased use of the cameras means more officers’ duties will be visually documented.

Rachelle Blidner Jan-23-2015 172 0
A former Georgia fire chief who published a book vilifying homosexuality says he was fired for his Christian values.

Kelvin Cochran filed a complaint Wednesday claiming the City of Atlanta discriminated against his religious beliefs after he wrote a book calling homosexuality a "sexual perversion" equal to bestiality.

He was fired earlier this month after a 30-day suspension following the 2013 self-publication of his book, "Who Told You You Are Naked?"

"Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear of losing their jobs because of their beliefs and thoughts," Cochran's attorney, Jonathan Crumly, said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We are continuing to evaluate all available legal options to vindicate Chief Cochran after his unjust termination."

Cochran submitted the complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which oversees workplace discrimination. The agency typically investigates discrimination claims and determines if it should file lawsuits on the behalf of plaintiffs.

Cochran was fired for his "irreconcilable lapse in judgment," not his religious beliefs or free speech, Mayor Kasim Reed said at the time of Cochran's termination.

The city plans to "vigorously" defend Reed's decision to fire Cochran, city spokeswoman Anne Torres told the Washington Post.

A number of passages "directly conflict" with city nondiscrimination policies, Torres said in November.

Still, Cochran passed the book out to fire staff who did not ask for it, Reed said.

The former chief also did not notify city officials about his plans to publish the book or its "inflammatory content," Reed said in a statement.

Cochran, a deacon at Elizabeth Baptist Church, claims he got permission from the city's ethics office before publishing. He says he later learned he also needed the mayor's approval.

Religious groups, such as the Alliance for Defending Freedom, have defended Cochran for expressing his beliefs.

After Cochran's suspension, city officials said an "investigation revealed zero instances of discrimination by me against any other employee of the city," Cochran said in the complaint.

He was fired because "my faith influenced my leadership style," he said.

Jan-22-2015 213 0
A pair of 9-year-olds in New Hampshire who were left alone for days at a time over five months in their family’s apartment with just ramen noodles to eat and no operable telephone are now safely in the care of their parents, according to a court affidavit.

The twins’ uncle, who had been entrusted to care for them, has been charged with endangering a child, according to Michael Valentine, Hillsborough County assistant attorney. The charge is a misdemeanor.

Giobari Atura told police he agreed to watch his brother and sister-in-law’s twin boys while the couple traveled to Nigeria in July, but instead of moving into the apartment, Atura said he checked on the children three days a week.

The children told officials who were called to the home that they would “wake for school on their own, get ready for school, get on the bus and eat breakfast and lunch at school,” according to the affidavit.

Atura said he told the children to call him if they needed anything such as food or “help with their homework,” but because the phone in the apartment wasn’t operable, he instructed them to use a neighbor’s phone.

Officials visited the home after the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families received a call from the children’s school. A police officer said there was no edible food in the refrigerator and only ramen noodles in the cabinet.

The boys’ parents were supposed to return from Nigeria after a month but were held up because of “illness and passport issues.” They told police they had spoken to Atura by phone while they were gone and were told “everything was OK.”

According to Valentine, the parents arrived shortly after learning the children had been left alone and they do have custody of their children.

No charges are expected to be filed against the parents, because they “left the children in the care of the uncle,” Valentine said in a release.

A call to Atura’s attorney for comment wasn’t immediately returned.

Zachary Kiesch Jan-22-2015 239 0
A graduate of Stevenson University in Maryland is suing the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity for $4 million, alleging brutal acts of hazing that included beatings with canes and paddles that caused him to be hospitalized.

Johnny Powell, II went through recruitment at Coppin State University in Baltimore, in hopes of starting a Kappa Alpha Psi chapter at Stevenson. He and several other men were under the guidance of the fraternity's president of the Baltimore chapter.

"I wanted to give back to my community as well so I thought that was the organization for me," Powell said.

He claims he was beaten with paddles, forced to do painful exercises for several minutes at a time while reciting information, and slapped in the back while doing pushups and situps. Powell also said he was required to run errands and buy items for members of the fraternity. If he didn't fulfill those orders, Powell said he would be physically punished.

"I shouldn't have to die to be in a fraternity," Powell said.

Powell alleges at least one of the beatings occurred at a Fort Washington home, during what was supposed to be an informational session.

"We're talking about 30- and 40-year-old grown mean beating my client with canes, beating him with paddles," Powell's lawyer Jimmy Bell said.

Powell said he was hospitalized from the brutal beatings.

"The doctor told him if he hadn't come to the hospital, he probably would have died from internal bleeding," Bell said. "They did a lot of things that are sadistic."

Powell said he sees a therapist and still has back issues.
Under Maryland's anti-hazing law, those convicted can be jailed for up to six months and face a $500 fine. Bell is also representing a Bowie State University student who is suing Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity for $3 million over hazing allegations.

Sasha Goldstein Jan-21-2015 195 0
A Georgia high school girls' basketball coach faces criminal charges after she bit another coach on the nose, tossed a chair and threatened his life during a vicious, profanity-filled attack, police said.

Melonie Joyce Martin posted $7,500 bond after she turned herself in last week on charges of simple battery and a felony count of terroristic threats and acts, online records show.

The South Cobb girls’ basketball coach began to berate fellow coach Tyrone Harris inside on office Jan. 9 at the school campus northwest of Atlanta before the attack became physical, police said in an arrest affidavit.

“I’m about to beat your (expletive) and stomp you, and I’ll beat your (expletive) and knock your teeth out of your face,” Martin screamed at Harris, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

At one point, Martin is accused of twice biting the other coach’s nose and eye, threatening to bust up his “grill” and tossing a chair in his direction, according to the affidavit obtained by the newspaper.

Reuters Jan-21-2015 211 0
The U.S. Justice Department is about to close the investigation into the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and clear the white police officer involved of any civil rights charges, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The paper quoted law enforcement officials as saying federal prosecutors had begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against the officer, Darren Wilson, after an FBI investigation found no evidence to support the charges against him.

It would close the case of 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose death in August led to months of nationwide protests and sparked a debate on police use of force.

AP Jan-21-2015 233 0
A man convicted of killing a North Carolina teenager and putting her body in the Susquehanna River was ordered freed Tuesday by a judge who dismissed all charges against him.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge John Addison Howard dismissed second-degree murder and other charges against Michael Johnson, 30, saying the prosecution's "arguably circumstantial" case against Johnson was insufficient evidence.

The State's Attorney in Baltimore promises to appeal the ruling.

Johnson was charged in the death of Phylicia Barnes of Monroe, North Carolina. Barnes, 16, vanished in December 2010 while she was visiting relatives in Baltimore. Her body was found months later floating in the Susquehanna.

Johnson was arrested in 2012 and charged with Barnes' slaying.

Prosecutors alleged that Johnson killed Barnes in her sister's apartment and used a 35-gallon tub to move the body.

Johnson was convicted of second-degree murder in 2013. A judge ordered a new trial after ruling prosecutors withheld evidence about a key witness.

Last month, Howard declared a mistrial in Johnson's second trial.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a written statement Tuesday: "I want to be clear that there was no prosecutorial misconduct in this case. The court agreed there was no misconduct in its prior ruling in December, and again today."

She added that "... the court had no jurisdiction to grant the acquittal and we will be seeking an appeal on those grounds."

The Baltimore Sun first reported Tuesday's decision.

>>--More Black Legal News

Sep-09-2014 937 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 Apr-28-2014 1345 0
Sadly but real, it appears as though society feels you can treat a black person poorly by simply offering to give them something of value and everything is forgotten. This mindset has to go away otherwise racism and injustices will remain. Whenever I file a civil rights lawsuit the first question the media asks is how much money the family is asking for? My response is always very clear; the family wants JUSTICE and expects for the individual responsible for the act to be held responsible for his/her criminal acts.

On yesterday, 5-10 multimillionaires played a game of basketball despite being made aware that the owner they are earning millions for hates black people, especially black males. By not playing on yesterday they could have sent a major message out and forced the NBA to react immediately but they gave Donald Sterling and the NBA a way out. Let's face it, the Clippers are no candidate to win the NBA Championship this year so this was/is their opportunity to make a change but instead they are showing America that money and a championship is much more important than fighting blatant racism.

I have to admit that I'm truly disappointed in the Los Angeles Clippers. Professional athletes will stage a sit out when they feel they are not being paid enough money but they will continue to play for a racist owner who admitted to not want black people at the game and use the excuse that we are playing for a championship. Will we continue to turn our heads for money?

Many people criticized the football players at Grambling when they staged a protest last year. If those kids lost their scholarships they could probably not afford to attend college but they took the chance because they wanted to take a stand against what they consider poor playing conditions. They had the courage to do something that the Los Angeles Clippers, a group of multimillionaires, are not willing to do. What message are we sending to the World? You can tell millionaires you hate them but they will still work for you as long as they are being paid. Truly a lost opportunity. All money is not good money.

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 Apr-27-2014 1326 0
Donald Sterling made comments about Black people that have started a lot of conversation. Many people, including myself, have said that it will place Coach Doc Rivers and the players in an awkward situation but after thinking about it, it will also place White people in an awkward position and here's my opinion why. During the Civil Rights movement there were White people on the front lines and there were many who did not agree with the poor treatment of Black people. They were instrumental in helping with the fight for equal treatment.

Fast forward to today. 95% of the fans at the Clippers games are not Black and the majority are White people. It would be a great show of support if the White fans were as insulted by Donald Sterling's comments as Black people are. The games will go on but wouldn't it be great if the White fans proved to the country that they don't support a racist owner. We know it will not happen but only until everyone voice their dislike of what was said will a true change ever be made.

Donald Sterling's views are shared by so many individuals who will allow our talented Black athletes to attend the large colleges because they earn millions of dollars for the schools but will fight tooth and nails to prevent a young Black kid who may have not scored well on a standardized test from attending.

College athletes are fighting to be paid but I think what should be added to their agenda is the equal treatment of their brothers and sisters who are being denied admission to the same universities they are earning millions of dollars for. The fight should not be for money but for equality. Let’s never allow someone to pay us to keep our views to ourselves. We still have a long way to go. We will never get there unless we ALL come together.

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 1578 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 1947 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.
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