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Firefighters rescue mother, four children from burning Brooklyn building
Firefighters rescued a family trapped in a burning building in Brooklyn on Sunday, pulling a mother and her four children out of their third-floor apartment, a witness said.

The Fire Department said 12 units responded to the fire at a three-story building on E. 96th St. near Linden Blvd. in Brownsville around 12:30 p.m.
The witness said firefighters helped the children and their mother out of the apartment, as flames and smoke poured from windows on the second and third floors of the building.

Stephanie Abney, 36 lives with her four kids next to the apartment that caught fire.

“I heard screaming,” she said. “The Fire Department had to break them (window bars) to get them out. Luckily, we’re OK. Material things can be replaced, but not lives.”

The FDNY said the family was taken to hospitals, with one person in serious condition.

Authorities were still investigating the cause of the fire Sunday evening.
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Keldy Ortiz Aug-03-2015 123 0
Firefighters rescued a family trapped in a burning building in Brooklyn on Sunday, pulling a mother and her four children out of their third-floor apartment, a witness said.

The Fire Department said 12 units responded to the fire at a three-story building on E. 96th St. near Linden Blvd. in Brownsville around 12:30 p.m.
The witness said firefighters helped the children and their mother out of the apartment, as flames and smoke poured from windows on the second and third floors of the building.

Stephanie Abney, 36 lives with her four kids next to the apartment that caught fire.

“I heard screaming,” she said. “The Fire Department had to break them (window bars) to get them out. Luckily, we’re OK. Material things can be replaced, but not lives.”

The FDNY said the family was taken to hospitals, with one person in serious condition.

Authorities were still investigating the cause of the fire Sunday evening.

KANTELE FRANKO Aug-02-2015 142 0
A year after a 22-year-old black man was killed by a white police officer while carrying an air rifle in an Ohio Wal-Mart, federal officials' review of the case remains unfinished as his relatives plan an anniversary vigil — and the region grapples with the aftermath of a different deadly police shooting.

John Crawford III was shot Aug. 5 in suburban Dayton after a 911 caller reported seeing someone at the store waving a gun. A local grand jury concluded the shooting was justified, but his family contends he was shot without a chance to respond to police.

The case and others that followed — including the deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown days later in Ferguson, Missouri, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland in November — have fueled national dialogue about police use of force, especially by white officers against blacks. Attention again turned to southwest Ohio over the past few days as a now-fired University of Cincinnati policeman who shot a driver during a traffic stop pleaded not guilty to murder.

"It does not appear that anything has changed for the better in this past year — that we're still having a lot of police-involved shootings of young black men," said Michael Wright, an attorney for Crawford's family.

They want to see charges filed in Crawford's case and plan to voice that call as they mark the anniversary with a rally and prayer vigil Wednesday at Dayton's courthouse square.

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office responsible for the Dayton area are reviewing what happened, said Jennifer Thornton, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor's office. She said a "review of the facts and circumstances" is continuing but she couldn't provide a timeline for its completion.

Crawford's relatives have said they hoped the federal review would include analysis of whether race was a factor in the case. Crawford was black, and the two officers who confronted him are white.

The shooting was captured on surveillance video by cameras inside the Beavercreek store, but it didn't include sound.

Police said Crawford appeared to have a real weapon and was shot when he didn't respond to orders to drop it. Investigators later determined the Fairfield man was talking on a cellphone and holding an air rifle that he had picked up from a store shelf.

Crawford's relatives and their attorneys have argued he was "shot on sight."

The family filed a federal lawsuit against Beavercreek police and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., alleging negligence and violation of Crawford's civil rights. The city and Wal-Mart have denied the allegations.

Kristina Wong Aug-02-2015 140 0
Presidential candidate and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson said Sunday that the "Black Lives Matter" controversy is "political correctness going amuck."

"Of course all lives matter," Carson, an African American, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Carson on Sunday defended his remarks during a rally last week, when he reportedly said, “Of course all lives matter. I don’t want to get into it, it’s so silly."

Carson said he does not recall calling the "movement" silly.

"What I called silly is political correctness going amuck. That's what's silly," he said.

At the same time, Carson said, "of course we should be very concerned about what's going on, particularly in our inner cities."

"It's a crime, you know, for a young black man, the most likely cause of death is homicide. That is a huge problem that we need to address in a very serious way," he added.

"The vast majority of police are very good people. Are there bad apples? Of course," he continued. "But if you hire a plumber and he does a bad job, do you say all plumbers are bad? Let's go out and kill them? I don't think we do that," he said.

"We need to be a little more mature, but certainly in cases where police are doing things that are inappropriate, I think we ought to investigate those promptly and justice should be swift," he said.

Carson also addressed illegal immigration, calling it "impractical" to round up 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.

He said those who favor that "have no idea what they're talking about and how much that costs and how impractical that is."

Carson has come out in favor of giving them a guest worker permits, so they would have to pay back taxes and taxes going forward.

"It does not give them voting rights, it does not make them a citizen, and if they want citizenship, they get in the back of the line and go through the same process as everybody else, because we cannot neglect the people who have done it the right way," he said.

On whether that was amnesty, Carson said, "They can call it whatever they want to. But we also have to be pragmatic."

Carson also said he thought a lack of political experience is helping him as a candidate, and the fact that Donald Trump is also not a politician is helping him as well.

"It's a tremendous help. It's a tremendous aid because fewer people are talking about my lack of political experience now," he said. "And that's good because, you know, experience can come from a variety of different places."

"And certainly the life that you have led, you know, in my case, you know, solving complex problems, being involved in corporate America, starting a national nonprofit, you get an enormous amount of experience doing these things, particularly in solving problems," he added.

"It's an erroneous thought that only political experience is expedient," he said.

Jason Silverstein Aug-02-2015 132 0
The hotheaded Texas trooper who arrested Sandra Bland days before her jail cell death had a previous complaint of “unprofessional conduct” after only a year on the job, records revealed Friday.

It’s unclear what led to that mark on Trooper Brian Encinia’s personnel records with the Texas Department of Public Safety, which otherwise rave about his job performance, ABC Chicago reported.

The “unprofessional” incident happened at a school in Austin, and led to Encinia receiving written counseling and occasional supervision, according to HR records obtained by the station.

Otherwise, the records make Encinia out to be a model cop. Under a section about “stress tolerance,” Encinia’s bosses commended him for performing “effectively and rationally” during a pursuit involving “a firearms discharge.”

His bosses also praised his “good problem solving skills and judgment,” “responsibility for any failures” and “courage” in the field.

Sandra Bland died in her jail cell days after a heated confrontation with Trooper Encinia, which led to her arrest after a traffic stop.

Encinia, 30, was caught on camera confronting Bland during a July 10 traffic stop, after he pulled over for not signaling a turn to let him pass. Dash video showed him arguing with Bland before he pulled her out of her car, threatened to use his Taser and arrested her on the ground.

Bland died in her jail cell three days later from suicide by hanging, according to authorities and an autopsy, but her family and supporters continue to doubt that story.

Encinia was reassigned to desk duty after Bland's arrest, when officials determined he violated traffic procedures during their heated encounter

Roni Robbins Aug-01-2015 202 0
Bobbi Kristina Brown's family just can't put aside their differences – not even for her funeral.

The funeral for the only daughter of Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston was held at the Saint James United Methodist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, on Saturday.

But the somber occasion was disrupted by feuding betwen the Houston and Brown clans – resulting in Bobby Brown's sister Leolah getting kicked out of the church.

A day prior, Leolah had accused Pat Houston of scheming to make money off the 22-year-old's death.

Leolah double-downed on her accusations in a statement to the media outside the church, after she was booted from the service for an outburst directed at Pat, according to TMZ.

"We will hunt Pat Houston from the grave," she said, wearing a white fedora, a white blazer over a black shirt and white sneakers. "It's not over. It has just begun."

She also noted that the funeral was "wonderful" until "Pat started speaking and I didn’t like that. I walked out.”

She said she yelled to Pat while she was at the dais that “Whitney is going to haunt you from the grave.”

The tension between the two families had also led them to separately attend the Atlanta wake Friday evening.

Six hundred invitations were sent out for the funeral, according to a city official. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, singer Monica Brown and actor Michael Jai White were among those in attendance.

Despite his email begging to be allowed to come to the service, Bobbi Kristina's boyfriend Nick Gordon did not attend, according to People.
The hearse arrived from Murray Brothers Funeral Home in Atlanta about an hour and a half before the service.

There was a heavy police presence at the church, with the main roads to the church blocked as cars were screened to ensure attendees were on the invitation list.

Two stretch limos and a longer procession of about 30 cars arrived about a half-hour before the service, led by nine police motorcyclists with flashing lights.

Many fans also gathered outside the church to pay their respects, with some even hoping to attend.

A pair of women who claimed to be friends of Bobbi Kristina said they were turned away by the police.

"I was one of her best friends. I met the uncle, family. Half the people there don't even know her. We hung out. We got our nails done. We did girly things," said the woman, who would only give her name as L.O.

St. James Church, located about an hour north of Atlanta, has close ties to the Houston family.

Whitney Houston was a regular at the church, and sister-in-law Pat is a member, according a family source. Bobbi Kristina also lived close by in the neighboring city of Roswell.

She is expected to be laid to rest beside her mother in New Jersey on Monday.

Bobbi Kristina passed away Sunday in hospice care after nearly six months in a coma. She was found unresponsive in her bathtub at her home on Jan. 31.

Jimmie E. Gates Jul-31-2015 285 0
Court papers were filed Thursday in Hinds County Chancery Court on behalf of more than half of the members of the Jackson State University Prancing J-Settes dancing team suspended from the squad for the remainder of their academic careers at the university.

The Prancing J-Settes are a widely popular part of the Sonic Boom of the South marching band’s halftime show at JSU football games.

Jackson State University wouldn’t confirm nor deny the suspensions. “The Prancing J-Settes are and will continue to be an important student organization and an integral part of student life at Jackson State University. The university does not comment on internal disciplinary actions,” said Charles N. Smith, associate provost for Student Affairs.

Edna Jones Stringer, an attorney and mother of one of the suspended J-Settes, said the nine J-Settes were booted from the 16-member squad in June after a hazing allegation was made last year. They cannot have any role with the J-Settes during the remainder of their time at the school. The school also assessed a $300 fine against each student, Stringer said.

A campus security investigation found no evidence of the students engaging in hazing. However, they had to go before an Office of Student Affairs disciplinary committee hearing June 15, leading to a finding that the students violated an aiding and abetting statute by conducting an off-campus J-Settes practice.

Stringer said university officials haven’t been able to articulate a real policy that the young women violated that could lead to such a severe sanction.

“These girls were cleared of hazing twice,” Stringer said.

Parents and the students have tried unsuccessfully to get JSU officials to reconsider the decision.

An injunction petition was filed in Chancery Court on behalf of the students to try to put the sanctions on hold and allow the students to return to the squad.

Stringer said school officials have indicated the decision has been made and there is no appeal for the students left. She said school officials didn’t follow proper procedure and the students have been denied their due process rights.

“These girls haven’t done anything wrong,” Stringer said.

Stringer said she told the students to tell the truth at all times and they admitted they had gotten together outside of the normal school day and had practice once off campus. But Stringer said there isn’t anything in the student handbook bylaws to prevent the students from coming together outside of school.

Jewell Smith, one of the suspended J-Settes, said she always wanted to be a J-Settes from the time she was a young girl. “It was my dream come true,” she said.

“When I received the sanction letter, I couldn’t stop crying,” Jewell Smith said.

Jewell’s father, Wardell Smith, said they have sent letters to JSU officials and met with some officials.

“They keep saying it’s a done deal,” Wardell Smith said.He said he is a member of the Blue Bengals Club, alumni who support the university, said he said he can no longer support JSU after the ordeal.

Stringer’s daughter, Cameron, became emotional and cried as she waited for court papers to be filed.

Morgan Hightower, one of the nine ex-J-Settes, said being a member of the J-Settes was one of the reasons she chose JSU for her education.

“It hurts,” Hightower said, wiping away a tear. “It has been snatched away from us.”

Tryouts for new 2015-2016 Prancing J-Settes are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

Jul-30-2015 218 0
Police officers in Cincinnati appear to have corroborated a false account of the fatal shooting of Samuel DuBose in the immediate aftermath of the incident, a detailed analysis of body-camera video released on Wednesday shows.

DuBose, an unarmed 43-year-old black man, was shot dead by white University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing on 19 July. The officer claimed he was “dragged” by DuBose’s vehicle following an altercation during a routine traffic stop, and was therefore forced to open fire, shooting DuBose once in the head.

On Wednesday, Tensing was indicted for murder after Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph Deters said body-camera footage, which he released at a press conference announcing the charge, showed the officer was not dragged during the encounter.

“It is our belief that he was not dragged. If you slow down this tape you see what happens, it is a very short period of time from when the car starts rolling to when a gun is out and he’s shot in the head,” Deters told reporters on Wednesday.

Related: 'Senseless' and 'asinine': prosecutor's words on Samuel DuBose killing a win for reformers

The footage shows that Tensing falls back, after DuBose is killed instantly by a single shot to the head and immediately chases after the vehicle. Deters said that DuBose’s limp body likely caused the car to accelerate.

A Guardian analysis of the nearly 28 minutes worth of Tensing’s body-camera footage released by the prosecutor’s office also shows the aftermath of the shooting and reveals that on three occasions, two other police officers repeat Tensing’s account that he was dragged by DuBose, and one of these officers claims to have witnessed it occurring.

To which a second officer, who stands out of the frame, replies: “Yeah, I saw that.”

Tensing continues: “I thought I was going to get run over. I was trying to stop him.”

Then, at six minutes and 54 seconds into the footage, while Tensing is seemingly conversing with the same officer, he states: “He was dragging me, man.”

The officer replies, “Yeah.” To which Tensing continues: “I got my hand and my arm caught inside.” The officer then replies, “Yeah, I saw that.”

The identity of this officer is not immediately clear. A copy of the University of Cincinnati Police Division’s information report on the shooting names university police officer Phillip Kidd as a witness to the entire event.

The information report, written by UC police officer Eric Weibel, states: “Officer Kidd told me that he witnessed the Honda Accord [DuBose’s vehicle] drag Officer Tensing, and that he witnessed Officer Tensing fire a single shot.”

Weibel’s report continues: “Looking at Officer Tensing’s uniform, I could see that the back of his pants and shirt looked as if it had been dragged over a rough surface.”

About 14 minutes into the video, while Tensing is still at the site of the shooting, but has now moved further away from DuBose’s crashed car, he is instructed by a third officer to indicate where the altercation had started.

This officer appears to be a member of the Cincinnati police department and wears a Sgt’s lapel on his arm. He states: “You can talk about anything you want except for what happened [sic]. The only thing that I ask of you is where did it start?”

Tensing replies: “I initiated the traffic stop at Vine and Thill.”

The two officers then clarify the direction Tensing was driving. The Sgt then states: “And, it looks like you got dragged if I’m understanding, looking ...”

To which Tensing replies: “Yes.”

The Hamilton County prosecutor’s office did not reply to a question from the Guardian after Deter’s press conference over whether any other officers were being investigated in relation the incident.

A representative for the UC police referred all questions to the prosecutor’s office. The Cincinnati police department did not respond to a request for comment.

At a rally in Cincinnati on Wednesday night organized by Black Lives Matter, protester James Yaacov Delaney said he thought the responding officers should be held accountable.

“They knew and they had plenty of opportunities to change their story about what occurred and they didn’t,” Delaney told the Guardian, as rain and night fell on Cincinnati.

Lolly Bowean Jul-30-2015 188 0
On the day he was finally released from prison after murder charges were dropped, Alprentiss Nash vowed he would use his freedom studying to become a chef, learning about antique cars and traveling.

And in the nearly three years since, he kept true to his word, visiting New Orleans, Miami and Atlanta and learning to ski at a resort in Wisconsin. He also bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a 1960 Buick Electra 225 and completed a culinary program.

"He was really happy to be free, and he never talked about his time in prison," said Nash's mother, Yvette Martin. "He wanted to just get past it and be happy. He was overjoyed and excited about building a new life."

But on Tuesday afternoon, Nash's second chance at life came to a tragic end as he was gunned down while leaving a currency exchange in Chicago, according to Chicago police and his family. A person of interest is being questioned, authorities said.

Nash's family believes he was the target of an armed robbery.

After he was released from prison in August 2012, Nash obtained a certificate of innocence and a $200,000 payout from the state, his attorney said. And he was seeking millions of dollars in a federal lawsuit against the city of Chicago and a number of police officers.

As a result of the $200,000 payout and loans against the expected settlement of his lawsuit, Nash lived the good life, dressing extravagantly and driving a nice car. It could have attracted negative attention, his attorney and family said.

"He had been robbed last year," said Nash's attorney, Kathleen Zellner, who helped him win his exoneration and was representing him in his lawsuit. "He was stressed out, and he felt pressured and that people were after him. People thought he had money."

Close Nash relatives agreed.

"I think the money attracted the wrong people, and they were watching him," said his cousin, Coby Adolph. "He worked hard to get back into society. Being locked up for so long ... he was trying to get into the swing of things."

Nash, 40, who grew up in the Roseland neighborhood, was convicted in the 1995 murder of Leon Stroud during a home invasion and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

During his 17 years in prison, Nash missed countless family celebrations, gatherings and milestones, including the funeral of his maternal grandmother and his son's entire childhood.

But he also earned his GED diploma and wrote the legal brief that eventually helped him win his freedom. DNA testing linked another man to a ski mask found near the crime scene, clearing Nash of the crime. Cook County prosecutors refused to say he was innocent but dismissed the murder charges.

On his release, Nash said he was determined not to be bitter.

"I'm on a new journey," he said that day. "As far as my life, it begins now, and I'm thankful."

Back in Chicago, Nash took on life with an urgency, his family said. He re-established bonds with his younger sister and took an interest in the nephews and nieces he met for the first time. He visited his mother weekly, driving her to errands and walking her to the lakefront to relax. He spent time with his maternal grandfather on the West Side.

"He wanted to be a good uncle, so he'd check up on the kids," said Nash's sister, Robin Martin. "We'd talk on the phone for hours about our childhood, the time before he was taken away."

He enrolled in a 13-week culinary arts program and took on an apprenticeship, said officials with Inspiration Corp.

"We had discussions about the stress of things he was experiencing, but he was always enthusiastic and faithful and determined to finish," said Sharon Ako, who was the head chef trainer who instructed him. "He was hard working. He got along with the other students and he was genuinely liked. It took tenacity and diligence to stick with it and take orders and learn the skills he needed to learn."

His family said Nash planned to move to New Orleans and open a restaurant but was taking life day by day in the meantime.

On Tuesday morning, his mother said Nash called her as he usually did. Hours later she learned he had been killed.

"I just screamed from my innermost belly because I wanted God to know I hurt," Martin said.

As she moved about her modest apartment Wednesday talking about her first-born son, Martin paused and wept out loud. The tears rolled down her face.

"Nothing has ever felt so heavy on my heart," she said. "All those years he was taken from us and to lose him again in a short amount of time.

"He got a second shot at life and then someone took it away. For nothing."

On the day he was killed, Nash sent a text message to his attorney just 30 minutes before the shooting, telling her he was out looking for a job. Despite his certificate of innocence, he had difficulty finding work.

"He was trying to have a normal life," Zellner said. "The streets are so vicious and so cruel."

MEG WAGNER Jul-29-2015 246 0
A University of Cincinnati cop was charged with murder on Wednesday for the quick-trigger shooting of an unarmed driver as prosecutors released disturbing body camera footage of the fatal traffic stop.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters ripped into Officer Ray Tensing during a news conference to announce the Grand Jury indictment in a killing that has set the city on edge.

“This is the most asinine act I've ever seen a police officer make — totally unwarranted,” Deters said of the July 19 shooting of 43-year-old Samuel DuBose. “This does not happen in the United States.”

The 25-year-old cop, who is white, surrendered at the county courthouse shortly after the indictment was handed up in the death of DuBose, who is black. The officer could face life in prison if convicted.

"We wanted the right thing to be done, the just thing to be done, the fair thing to be done," Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley told reporters. "We wanted the truth to come out."

Tensing pulled over DuBose near the university campus for a missing front license plate and fatally shot him after grilling the father of 10 about whether he had his driver’s license.

But Deters said video from the stop showed no such thing. Instead DuBose began to slowly pull away from the officer, and Tensing "fell backward after he shot (DuBose) in the head," the prosecutor said.

Tensing "purposely killed" DuBose, Deters said, adding that the cop "should have never been a police officer."

“He wasn't dealing with someone who was wanted for murder. He was dealing with someone who didn't have a front license plate,” Deters said, calling the traffic stop "chicken crap."

DuBose’s mother, Audrey DuBose, said she could forgive Tensing “if he asks,” and praised God for the indictment.

“I want everybody to just lift up their heads in prayer and thank God, because this one did not go unsolved,” the mother told reporters.
DuBose’s mother, Audrey DuBose, said she could forgive Tensing “if he asks,” and praised God for the indictment.
“I want everybody to just lift up their heads in prayer and thank God, because this one did not go unsolved,” the mother told reporters.

Earlier on Wednesday, Tensing's attorney Stewart Mathews said the Grand Jury indictment was likely “given the political climate.” But Mathews said given the evidence he'd seen, he didn't believe there should be an indictment.

Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell, who leads the separate city-run force, brushed off concerns the murder charge would make policing tougher for other officers faced with difficult situations.

"This officer was wrong," Blackwell said. "And when we're wrong, we have to be accountable."

DuBose's family had been pressing for the release of footage from Tensing's body-mounted camera following the deadly confrontation. The video showed the officer try to pull open the car door after DuBose failed to hand over a driver's license. DuBose shifted the car into gear, and Tensing immediately pulled his weapon and fired.
The car rolled down the street and came to a rest on the sidewalk. DuBose, shot in the head, was dead behind the wheel.

Tensions have run high following the killing. University President Santa Ono said he decided after speaking to police leaders to close the main campus on Wednesday as they waited for the news from the Grand Jury.

DuBose has a stepdaughter who is student at the university and recently returned from China, said Ono, who has met with the dead man's family.

The traffic stop shooting came amid months of national scrutiny of police dealings with African-Americans.

Mayor Cranley said prosecutor's decisive handling of the case should be a "model for the whole country" and called for peace. Bishop Bobby Hilton said there was "absolutely no reason" for any violence given the response by Deters and the Grand Jury to hold Tensing responsible.

"That brought a lot of solace," Hilton said. "That brought as much comfort as could be be expected to an enormous amount of pain."

Mourners packed Cincinnati’s Church of the Living God on Tuesday for DuBose’s funeral.

"I feel so sorry for this family and what they lost," Deters said Wednesday. "And I feel sorry for the community, too."

Tensing joined the university police force since April 2014 after working as both a part-time and full-time officer in Cincinnati suburb Greenhills for three years.

He received an overall satisfactory rating on his annual performance evaluation this April. It noted he was extremely strong in the traffic area and maintained control of his

Austin Siegemund-Broka Jul-28-2015 241 0
Terrence Howard's ex-wife filed suit against the actor Tuesday claiming he assaulted her in 2013.

In the civil complaint filed in Los Angeles, Michelle Howard claims the alleged assault took place while they were staying in a rental house in Costa Rica.

On the evening of July 29, 2013, Howard "followed Plaintiff into the restroom of the rental house and punched her on the left side of her face. Defendant also grabbed Plaintiff by her neck and pushed her against the bathroom wall and strangled her for several seconds," states the complaint. The filing continues he "grabbed her neck again and pinned her against the shower glass and her head hit the wall" when she tried to flee the room, leading the actor's son-in-law Billy to intervene.

"While Billy tried to pry Defendant's hands from Plaintiff's neck, Defendant whispered to Plaintiff, 'Remember what I told you in Bora Bora? That is what I'm gonna do,' referring to a prior instance where Defendant told Plaintiff that her body would never leave the island," states the complaint. "Plaintiff interpreted the reference to mean that Defendant was going to kill her."

Later on the evening of July 29, claims Michelle, he charged at her and she pepper-sprayed him in the face. "Defendant continued swinging his arms and caused Plaintiff to fall down. While Plaintiff was on the ground, Defendant repeatedly mule-kicked Plaintiff in the head and shoulders," states the complaint.

She claims assault and battery, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. In the same complaint, she claims he defamed her by "mak[ing] accusations disseminated to the public through the media that Plaintiff had made death threats and other threats against Defendant and his family through various social media accounts."

She doesn't specify damages.

This is not the first time the Empire star has been accused of spousal abuse. He was arrested in 2001 on charges of assaulting his then-wife Lori McCommas, and in Michelle's 2011 divorce papers she claimed he repeatedly threatened and hit her throughout their marriage. In 2013, she received a restraining order against him on claims including the allegations regarding the Costa Rica trip in the Tuesday complaint.

Howard and executives for Fox, which airs Empire, were questioned about the accusations at the Television Critics Association's winter tour in January. Fox TV group chairs Dana Walden and Gary Newmanclaimed they weren't aware of the accusations until December 2014, when they were already in business with him, "A lot of the things I did were the product of not knowing how to deal with frustration, not knowing who Terrence Howard is," said the actor. "I've grown so much from anything that's happened in the past."

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Howard's reps for comment.

Ben Chapman Jul-28-2015 252 0
Teachers College Community School principal Jeanene Worrell-Breeden admitted to cheating on students' state reading exams before she committed suicide in April, according to an internal memo released by city Education Department officials Monday.

Worrell-Breeden threw herself in front of a subway train on April 17, the same day a whistleblower complained to the city's Special Commissioner of Investigation about the principal's cheating. Worrell-Breeden died on April 25.

The story of Worrell-Breeden's death was first confirmed by Education Department officials over the weekend, but the single-page memo on the investigation into the Harlem principal's misdeeds was just released Monday.

"This investigation substantiated the allegations of testing improprieties against Principal Breeden," states the internal Education Department memo submitted by city Education Department investigator Robert Small and dated June 9.

The reading exam scores of 47 third graders at Teachers College Community School were invalidated as a result of the investigation, Education Department officials said.

An Education Department spokeswoman declined to answer additional questions about the city's probe into cheating at the Harlem school.

Jason Silverstein Jul-28-2015 224 0
As racial tensions in Baltimore exploded earlier this year following the death of Freddie Gray, former Police Commissioner Anthony Batts allegedly lied about meeting with Gray's family, according to a letter from their attorney.

That accusation could add another disgrace to the career of the man who was fired earlier this month following the city’s violent riots and rising homicide rate.

As protests escalated following the death of the 25-year-old Gray, who died a week after suffering a spinal cord injury in police custody in April, Batts told media he had met with Gray’s grieving family.

But on April 24, just days before the most destructive night of rioting, the family’s lawyer called out Batts’ claim, according to the Baltimore Sun.

“It has come to our attention that you made statements claiming to have met with the family of Freddie Gray, Jr. about the investigation into his death,” the attorney, William H. Murphy, Jr., wrote in a letter to Batts.

“These statements are not true. Stated succinctly, you have not met with Mr. Gray's family. Please cease and desist making such statements.”

Murphy noted in his letter that he would have helped arranged any such meeting.

Batts was criticized for the police department's response to violent riots over Gray's death and the rising homicide rate following those riots.

Murphy copied Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in the letter. Rawlings-Blake eventually chose to can Batts, saying he failed to make the city safer after the riots and “the people of Baltimore deserve better.”

His ouster came around the same time a city police union criticized the handling of the riots,

The riots resulting from Gray’s death led to about 200 officers getting injured and cost the city millions in damages from looting and fires. Police commissioners later revealed Batts and other top cops instructed officers at the riots to “not engage” demonstrators, even after violence broke out.

Six Baltimore officers now face charges for Gray’s death, which came after an alleged "rough ride" in a police van shattered most of his spinal cord.

Bobby Blanchard Jul-27-2015 299 0
Sandra Bland’s toxicology report, released on Monday, showed she had levels of marijuana in her system when she died.

The report detailed little new information and was brief. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said additional tests will be conducted. After releasing the toxicology on Monday, he declined to comment on the findings. Mathis also announced he is forming an independent committee of former prosecutors and defense attorneys to review evidence about the arrest and death of Bland.

“There are many lingering questions regarding the death of Sandra Bland,” Mathis said.

Bland was pulled over on July 10 in Waller County for failing to signal a lane change. The routine traffic stop turned heated when Bland refused to put out a cigarette. Bland and the state trooper got in a screaming fight that ended in her arrest. Three days later she was found dead in her jail cell. Since then, her case has attracted national attention.

Medical examiners ruled the death a suicide and an autopsy report released on Friday said she died by suicide. But both the Texas Rangers and the FBI are conducting formal investigations into her death and arrest. Bland’s family has said they had no reason to think Bland might be depressed.

>>--More Black Legal News

Sep-09-2014 1785 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 or you can visit his website at To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Feb-16-2014 2389 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 or you can visit his website at To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.

Daryl K. Washington Nov-26-2013 2759 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 or you can visit his website at To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Oct-19-2013 4357 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 or you can visit his website at To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Jul-17-2013 1402904 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:


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 or visit his website at Go to the Black Legal Issue Home page and check the like button to receive future updates.

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