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Death of NY state judge found in Hudson River reportedly 'suspicious'
AP Apr-19-2017 197 0


The death of the first female Muslim U.S. judge—who was found dead last week on the banks of New York’s Hudson River--- is still being investigated and is reportedly considered suspicious.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam's body was discovered along the riverside near Harlem on Wednesday, a day after she was reported missing, police said. Police said her body showed no obvious signs of trauma.

Police sources told CBS2 that family and friends have said she was struggling with depression. Police told the station that although her death is being considered suspicious, there are no signs of criminality.

Abdus-Salaam, who was 65 years old, graduated from Barnard College and received her law degree from Columbia Law School. She started her career as a staff attorney for East Brooklyn Legal Services and served as a judge in Manhattan state Supreme Court for 14 years, according to the state Office of Court Administration's website.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appointed Abdus-Salaam to the state's Court of Appeals in 2013, called her a "trailblazing jurist."

"As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state's Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer," Cuomo said. "Through her writings, her wisdom and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come."

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said her colleague will be "missed deeply."

"Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her," DiFiore said.

Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said he knew Abdus-Salaam for many years. He said her death of was "difficult to understand."

"The court has suffered a terrible blow," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Jan-08-2018 74 0
International retail giant H&M has apologized for an ad featuring a black child model wearing a hoodie emblazoned with the phrase "coolest monkey in the jungle."

Social media blew up over the photo of a young boy wearing the green hooded sweatshirt, which had racist undertones.

The online advertisement for the top was for sale in the U.K.

"We sincerely apologize for offending people with this image of a printed hooded top," H&M said in a statement. "The image has been removed from all online channels and the product will not be for sale in the United States.We believe in diversity and inclusion in all that we do and will be reviewing all our internal policies accordingly to avoid any future issues."

Everyone from celebrities to social-justice experts to comedians chimed in. Tweets ranged form GIFs of head-shaking to adding the letters S, A and E to the retailer's name to spell "Shame."

"It was a horribly insensitive combination of memes," said Bruce Turkel, executive creative director of Miami-based firm Turkel Brands. "People will forget. Trouble will happen if they don’t fix their approval process and something like this happens again, because each time it does, this issue will be brought up again."

This isn't the first time the Sweden-based retail chain's has been criticized for racial and ethnic insensitivity. In 2015, it drew fire after its South Africa division featured no black models. When questioned about the lack of diversity, H&M's tweeted response suggested that white models conveyed more positivity. And in 2013, H&M pulled feathered headdresses from its stores after Canadian customers complained it made fun of First Nation tribal customs.

Founded in Sweden in 1947, the company now known H&M has more than 4,100 stores worldwide. The initials stand for Hennes & Mauritz
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Lawrence Hurley Jan-08-2018 59 0
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a black Georgia inmate to challenge his 1991 death sentence for killing his sister-in-law after he argued the case was tainted by a racist white juror who questioned whether black people have souls.


The justices, in a 6-3 unsigned decision, threw out a lower court's decision that had rejected his biased jury assertion. Keith Tharpe was found guilty and sentenced to death by a jury of 10 white people and two black people in Georgia's Jones County. The allegations of racial bias arose from an interview with one of the jurors years later, not comments made during the trial.

Monday's ruling means the case will return to lower courts and gives Tharpe a chance to avoid execution.

Tharpe had been scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection in a Georgia state prison on Sept. 26 but the Supreme Court granted his last-minute stay application so it could have more time to decide whether to hear his appeal.

Tharpe, 59, kidnapped and raped his estranged wife, Migrisus Tharpe, and used a shotgun to kill Jaquelin Freeman, her sister, in September 1990, according to court records.

Three of the court's conservatives, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, dissented from Monday's decision.

Thomas, the court's only black justice, is also from Georgia. He pointed out in his dissenting opinion that the court's decision will "delay justice" for the victim, who was also black.

"The court’s decision is no profile in moral courage," Thomas said.

In 1998 Tharpe's lawyers, as they were preparing an appeal in the case, spoke with the trial jurors including a man named Barney Gattie, who has since died.

"After studying the Bible, I have wondered if black people even have souls," Gattie told Tharpe's lawyers in an affidavit, according to court papers.

Gattie also told the defense lawyers that there are two kinds of black people, one who he called "regular black folks" and another group he referred to using a racial slur.

"Because I knew the victim and her husband's family and knew them all to be good black folks, I felt Tharpe, who wasn't in the good black folks category in my book, should get the electric chair for what he did," Gattie added.

The 12-person jury, including its two black members, voted unanimously to sentence Tharpe to death.
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reuters Jan-02-2018 74 0
A Maryland man accused in a 2017 workplace shooting that left three co-workers dead at a kitchen countertop company was indicted on first-degree murder charges on Tuesday, prosecutors said.

A Harford County grand jury indicted Radee Prince, 38, on three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder, as well as firearms charges, for the October attack near Baltimore, county prosecutor Joseph Cassilly's office said in a statement.

Prince is accused of shooting to death three co-workers and wounding two others at the Edgewood, Maryland, company before fleeing in a vehicle.

A surveillance camera inside the business captured the shootings, the statement said.

Prosecutors said Prince did not have an attorney.

Prince, of Elkton, remains jailed in Wilmington, Delaware, for a shooting that took place there hours after the deadly attack in Maryland. He faces a charge of attempted first-degree murder stemming from the shooting of a man at an auto shop.

Police have said Prince has a lengthy criminal record, including 15 felony convictions, and was associated with all six victims in the October shootings.
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cbs news Jan-02-2018 77 0
Christian Dawson was back in town during his college's winter break when he and a group of his close friends from high school headed to the Azure Banquet Hall in Dallas for a party to ring in the start of 2017. A year later, Dallas police say they still don't know who opened fire in the hall, around 1 a.m., killing Dawson and injuring others.

"We were dancing, having a good time, sharing those moments with each other, and then we heard like a pop," Dawson's friend and former high school football teammate Jameson Cooper told CBS DFW last January. Cooper described Dawson as "a loving and caring person who put others before himself."

Hundreds of partygoers scrambled for the exits as bullets ripped through windows and got lodged in the walls of the club. Dawson's friends made it out alive, but the Langston University student was hit.

He was transported to a nearby hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.

Dallas police said in a press release Monday that a $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of Dawson's killer.
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Dec-16-2017 135 0
The ex-wife of a slain NBA player has been arrested in connection to his murder, according to reports.

Sherra Wright was arrested in Riverside, Calif., on Friday night more than seven years after Lorenzen Wright’s bullet-riddled body was found decomposing in a Tennessee suburb, Fox13 reported.

It remains unclear what charges she faces since the indictment is still sealed.

Billy Turner — a deacon at the church Lorenzen and Sherra Wright attended — was arrested and charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty.

Lorenzen Wright's murder remained one of Memphis police's highest-profile cold cases until investigators found a murder weapon in Mississippi last month, according to Fox 13.

The 34-year-old who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers was last seen on July 18, 2010, as he left his ex-wife’s home.

In the early morning of July 19, a police dispatcher in the suburb of Germantown received a call from Wright's cell phone. Dispatchers acknowledged they heard noises like gunshots before the call was dropped.

But dispatchers didn't alert patrol officers or commanders because they couldn't confirm it came from their jurisdiction. They didn't send a patrol officer or relay the information to Memphis police until days later.

Wright's mother filed a missing-person report with Collierville police on July 22, 2010. Authorities in Collierville were accused of dragging their feet in the days after the report was filed, and an apparent lack of communication kept authorities from linking the 911 call to the missing-person report.

Wright's body was found in a field near some woods in the height of summer, complicating the investigation because evidence had likely deteriorated in the heat. An autopsy report showed bullet fragments were lodged in Wright's skull, chest and right forearm.

After Turner was charged with Wright’s murder, the NBA star’s mother Deborah Marion expressed her relief.

She told WREG-TV, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. You gotta pray for what you want and that's what I did."
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Dec-07-2017 144 0
Michael Slager, the former South Carolina police officer who killed unarmed black man Walter Scott, was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison.

US District Court Judge David Norton made his decision after hearing emotional victim impact statements from Scott's relatives. Norton earlier Thursday had said the "appropriate underlying offense" for Slager, who is white, was second-degree murder and suggested a sentence of 19 to 24 years in prison.

Slager pleaded guilty in May to violation of civil rights by acting under the color of law in Scott's 2015 killing. Slager's 2016 state murder trial ended in a mistrial.

Federal prosecutors sought a life sentence for Slager, arguing he had committed second-degree murder and also should be punished for obstructing justice by providing the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division with false statements.

Slager shot Scott five times in the back "for running away, simply for having a broken taillight," Jared Fishman of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division told the court in his closing statement this week.

It's "time to call it what it was -- a murder," Fishman said, specifying second-degree murder.

But defense attorney Andy Savage argued that while Slager's actions were criminal, they did not amount to murder. The appropriate offense was voluntary manslaughter, Slager's attorneys said.

A probation officer had recommended Slager be sentenced to 10 to 13 years in prison.

Norton recognized Thursday that neither the Scott family nor the Slager family likely would be pleased with his punishment, adding that sentencing is the hardest facet of his more than 27 years on the bench.

'Our family will never be the same'

Before the sentence was announced, Scott's mother broke down in tears as she addressed the court.

"If you met him, you would like him," Judy Scott said of her son. "I didn't know anyone who didn't like him."

Speaking to Slager, Scott also said she forgave the former officer, a sentiment echoed by Walter Scott's brother, Anthony Scott.

"I miss my brother, and our family will never be the same," he said. "Until I got the help I needed, it helped me to release the pain of losing my brother. God gave forgiveness in my heart for Officer Slager."

"I'm not angry at you, Michael," he added. "I forgive you, and Michael, I pray for you now."

Scott's son had addressed the court a day earlier to accommodate his high school schedule.

"Your honor, I miss my dad so much I can't sleep at night," Miles Scott, clutching a framed picture of his father, told the judge Wednesday. "As I get older, my dad will never see me or his future grandkids. I never thought I would lose him at a young age, and I still can't believe he is gone."
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Dec-05-2017 221 0
Representative John Conyers Jr., who faces allegations that he sexually harassed former employees, announced Tuesday that he will leave Congress immediately, and he endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to replace him.

Mr. Conyers, the longest-serving current member of the House and the longest-serving African-American in history, called into a local radio show on Tuesday to announce, “I am retiring today.”

“I am in the process of putting together my retirement plans. I will have more about that very soon,” Mr. Conyers said from a hospital in Michigan.

He continued to deny that he had harassed any of his former employees and said he did not know where the allegations came from.

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we are going through now,” Mr. Conyers said. “This too shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas, also announced Mr. Conyers’s retirement on the House floor Tuesday morning, saying Mr. Conyers had informed Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader. He also informed Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan.

The decision sets up a battle within the Conyers family for his Detroit-area House seat. Ian Conyers, a Michigan state senator and the grandson of Mr. Conyers’s brother, said he also plans to run for the seat held by his 88-year-old great-uncle.

“His doctor advised him that the rigor of another campaign would be too much for him just in terms of his health,” Ian Conyers, 29, said.

The congressman, who took his Michigan seat in the House in 1965, has already stepped aside as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee amid swirling allegations of sexual improprieties. He has been facing intense pressure to resign.

Mr. Conyers, however, remained protective of his time in Congress. “I am very proud of the fact that I am the dean of the Congress,” he said. He appreciated the “the incredible, undiminished support” that he had received from his state and the country as a whole, he said.

He also did not waver from his stance that he did nothing wrong and called the accusations against him false. “Whatever they are, they are not accurate. They are not true,” he said. “I cannot explain where they came from.”

Mr. Conyers also went on to say the allegations were just part of life as a lawmaker.

“This goes with the issue of politics, the game of politics which we are in,” he said. “We take what happens. We deal with it. We pass on and move on forward as we keep going trying to make as much as we can of this tremendous opportunity that has been given to me for so long.”

Mr. Ryan and Ms. Pelosi had each said Mr. Conyers should resign after a woman who settled a sexual harassment claim against him said on television that the congressman had “violated” her body, repeatedly propositioned her for sex and asked her to touch his genitals. Other former staff members have since come forward to say he harassed them or behaved inappropriately.

Ian Conyers said that despite the accusations, he believes Michigan voters will reward his family’s work in politics by electing him.

The congressman “still enjoys healthy support in our district,” Ian Conyers said.

He added, “People are ready to support our dean and to support our family as we continue to fight, as we have for leading up to a century, for people from Southeast Michigan.”

The elder Mr. Conyers called into “The Mildred Gaddis Show,” a local radio program, to make the announcement. His decision comes as several other lawmakers face allegations of inappropriate behavior.

Representative Joe Barton, a Republican and the Texas delegation’s most senior House member, announced last week in an interview with The Dallas Morning News that he would not seek re-election after sexually suggestive online messages that he sent to a constituent came to light.

Representative Blake Farenthold, Republican of Texas, is also facing pressure after it was revealed last week that he used $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim with his former communications director, Lauren Greene. She accused him of regularly making comments to gauge her interest in a sexual relationship, including saying he was having “sexual fantasies” about her.

And last week, an Ohio Army veteran became the fifth woman to accuse Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, of inappropriate touching. Senior House Democrats have also begun calling for Mr. Franken to resign.
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Jessica Chia Dec-01-2017 152 0
Two suspected murderers bragged about stabbing a black man and dragging him behind a pickup truck for socializing with a white woman, an investigator testified in court.

William Moore Sr. and Frank Gebhardt, two brothers-in-law from Georgia, were charged with murdering Timothy Coggins after police uncovered new evidence in the 34-year-old cold case.

Jared Coleman of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation claimed the murder was racially motivated, saying, “Something had happened between a black man and a white woman.”

“They were proud of what they had done. They felt like they were protecting the white race from black people,” Coleman added.

Coggins, who was stabbed nearly 30 times before his body was chained to a pickup truck and dragged into the woods, was found dead at the age of 23 in Spalding County.

The brutal murder case went cold until new witnesses came forward this March, according to the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office.

“Based on the original evidence recovered in 1983 and new evidence and interviews there is no doubt in the minds of all investigators involved that the crime was racially motivated and that if the crime happened today it would be prosecuted as a hate crime,” the sheriff’s office said when the suspects were arrested in October.

Moore and Gebhardt were charged with murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and concealing the death of another.

Three others, including two who were employed by local police departments in Georgia, were charged with obstruction.

On Thursday, the judge ruled there was enough evidence for the murder case to go before a grand jury.

A total of five people were arrested in connection to the murder. From left, Frankie Gebhardt, Bill Moore Sr., Sandra Bunn, Lamar Bunn and Gregory Huffman. (Spalding County Sheriff's Department/AP)

Outside the courtroom, Coggins’ family said hearing the new details for the first time was hard on all of them.

“Extremely difficult, extremely difficult to hear, to hold your tears, to hold your emotions, to contain your emotions listening to gruesome details of a loved one that was by himself,” said Coggins’ niece, Heather Coggins.
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Jessica Chia Dec-01-2017 155 0
A 10-year-old girl committed suicide after a video of her fighting with a bully emerged on social media, according to her heartbroken parents.

Ashawnty Davis hanged herself in a closet and died Wednesday after spending two weeks on life support, KDVR reported.

The fifth-grader was a “child of joy,” according to her father Anthony Davis — but she changed after she got into her first fight at school in October.

Ashawnty had confronted a girl her mother Latoshia Harris claims was a bully, and the two got into a fight at Sunrise Elementary while a group of kids gathered around to watch.

A cell phone video of the fight was posted on social media, and her father told KDVR, “She was devastated when she found out it had made it to Musical.ly.”

The bullying only intensified, and Harris said, “My daughter came home two weeks later and hanged herself in the closet.”

She spent two weeks on life support at the Children’s Hospital Colorado and died Wednesday.

Her parents are mourning the loss of their daughter, while family members paid tribute to the girl on Facebook.

“My family has lost an angel....The emptiness and unanswered questions are consuming. Please pray for my family during this unthinkable time,” Krystel Banks-Thomas wrote.

The school district, which called Ashawnty’s death a “heartbreaking loss” said they turned the video over to the police adding, “We do not tolerate bullying of any kind in our schools.”



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