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Fatal shooting of Florida teen turned over to state attorney
Vivian Kuo Mar-14-2012 1652 5


A case involving the fatal shooting of an unarmed Florida teen, which has sparked outrage and calls for justice, is in the hands of the state attorney's office.

Police say Trayvon Martin, 17, was returning from the convenience store to the home of his father's fiancee in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, around sunset on February 26.

A neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, 28, saw the teen and called 911 to report a suspicious man, authorities said.

The 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman not to confront Martin, but by the time police arrived, the teenager lay dead with a gunshot wound in the chest, said Bill Lee, the Sanford police chief. He was carrying a small amount of cash, some candy and an iced tea.

Zimmerman told police he shot Martin in self defense, authorities said.

"When you add it up, it just doesn't even make sense," said Ben Crump, the Martin family's attorney. "Trayvon Martin, a kid, has a bag of Skittles. (Zimmerman) had a 9 mm gun. Trayvon Martin didn't approach George Zimmerman, George Zimmerman approached Trayvon Martin. So how can he now assert self defense?"

A gunshot can be heard on the 911 calls recorded that night, police said.

The Martin family has sought to make the tapes available, but State Attorney Norm Wolfinger said Tuesday the calls will not be made public until the investigation is complete.

"Trayvon Martin and his family, interested persons, and the public-at-large are entitled to no less than a through, deliberate and just review of the information provided, along with any other evidence that may or may not be developed in the course of the review process," Wolfinger's office said in a statement. "We intend to honor that commitment."

The shooting has sparked an outrage in the community, with some accusing Zimmerman, who is white, of profiling the black teenager.

Numerous attempts to contact Zimmerman were unsuccessful, and it is unclear whether he has retained an attorney.

Police said they have not charged him because there are no grounds to disprove his story of what happened.

"The evidence and testimony we have so far does not establish that Mr. Zimmerman did not act in self defense. We don't have anything to dispute his claim of self-defense, at this point, with the evidence and testimony that we have," Lee said.

Lee said the 911 directions asking Zimmerman not to confront the teenager are not mandatory instructions.

"That is a call taker making a recommendation to him. He's not under a legal obligation to do that, so that is not something we can charge him with," he said. " But it would have been a good outcome ... if Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman never came in contact with one another."

In a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the NAACP expressed doubt in the Sanford Police Department and asked the Department of Justice to review the case.

"The NAACP has no confidence that, absent federal oversight, the Sanford Police Department will devote the necessary degree of care to its investigation. We therefore call upon you to detail personnel to Sanford immediately to review the facts, ensure that the Sanford Police Department conducts an impartial, thorough and prompt investigation of the circumstances involving the death of this unarmed teen, and ensure that the responsible person is held accountable if a crime was committed," the letter said.

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

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Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby is going from prosecutor to civil defendant in connection with the case of the death of Freddie Gray.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CNN left messages Wednesday with Cogen and his attorney.

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

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

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

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

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

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Attorney and former Louisiana lawmaker Rick Gallot was chosen Tuesday as the newest president of Grambling State University, a mere 26 days after the former president resigned.

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

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

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He touted his political connections and relationships, and his ability to navigate the politics of higher education funding and policy as one of his strengths.
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A black therapist who was trying to calm an autistic patient in the middle of the street says he was shot by police even though he had his hands in the air and repeatedly told them that no one was armed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kinsey's attorney, Hilton Napoleon, provided the cellphone video to the Herald.
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Tobias Salinger Jul-21-2016 141 0
Austin, Tex., police officers face an investigation after disturbing videos showed a violent arrest and comments afterward by one officer saying blacks have “violent tendencies.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"When I looked at this video, I was heartbroken because I thought, 'That would never happen to me because I’m white," Grigg said.
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Larry Brown Jul-21-2016 145 0
Four men are being charged with beating up and robbing Moses Malone Jr. last month outside a strip club for criticizing James Harden on social media.

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

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

Malone had a $15,000 piece of jewelry stolen. Four men — Darian Blount, Kavon Boutte, Oscar Wattell, and Deavion Lewis — have been charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Blount, known to Malone as “Blunt,” works as a bouncer at the strip club.
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CBS News Jul-21-2016 169 0
Authorities say a Florida police officer shot and wounded an autistic man's caretaker following reports of a man threatening to shoot himself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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