Category Archives: Cases
On November 2, 2015, 6-year old Jeremy Mardis was in the car with his dad, Christopher Few, when Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse, Jr. opened fire, seriously wounding Christopher and killing Jeremy.
Stafford and Greenhouse, Jr. were charged with attempted second-degree murder and second-degree murder.
Stafford’s trial was in March 2017, in Marksville, Louisiana. We followed the trial here.
The officers, admitting that they did not see a weapon, alleged that Christopher backed up his vehicle and tried running them over. A ballistic expert at trial testified that all shots were fired to the side of the vehicle, and cars do not run sideways. Additionally, body cam footage showed that before the shooting, Christopher had both hands raised outside of his car window.
Derrick Stafford, 33, was found guilty of attempted manslaughter and manslaughter. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison with credit for time served since 11/3/2015. 20 years of his sentence has to be served without parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Read the rest of this entry
October 10, 2017
The Star Tribune calls it a “rare conviction for on-duty use of force”.
On May 30, 2016, Minneapolis police officer Christopher Michael Reiter, 36-years old, responded to a domestic abuse call. When he arrived, he found a woman badly beaten. Other officers arrived and found the suspect, Mohamed Osman, sitting in his SUV. Officers surrounded him and ordered him out of his car.
Surveillance video shows that as Osman was getting on the ground, one officer, Josh Domek, kicked him twice. Reiter then delivered a blow to Mohamed’s head that knocked him unconscious, broke his nose, started bleeding on the brain and caused a traumatic brain injury.
At trial in Hennepin County, state prosecutor Daniel Allard told the jury there was a conspiracy to protect Reiter. Reiter, another officer, and the victim testified that they believed Mohamed had a knife. However, other witnesses, including a security guard and several officers who were at the scene, said they did not see a knife.
Another officer, Luke Eckert, testified that he searched Mohamed and found a knife in his front pocket. However, there was no mention of a knife in the official reports, nor was it taken into police inventory for evidence. MPR News reports that when questioned at trial, Eckert said one could go through any squad car and find a number of items like keys, cellphones or pocket knives that hadn’t been inventoried. Read the rest of this entry
On August 13, 2017, Patrick Harmon was shot and killed by Salt Lake City, Utah police officer Clinton Fox. Patrick was 50-years old.
Initially, officer Kris Smith pulled Harmon over for riding his bike across six lanes and a median, and not having a red, rear tail light. Smith called for backup and found that Patrick had an outstanding warrant. As the officers took Patrick’s hands behind his back to place him in handcuffs, Patrick ran. He was shot 3 times in the back.
The Deseret News gives Fox’s version of the incident as reported by the District Attorney.
“Harmon pleaded with the officers not to go to jail. The officers took Mr. Harmon’s hands and placed them behind his back. As Mr. Harmon’s hands went behind his back, Mr. Harmon bolted from the officers and ran,” the report states.
At one point, Harmon stopped running and turned around to face the pursuing officers while holding a knife, according to the report.
“Fox said Mr. Harmon came at the officers with something in his hand. Officer Fox said he was terrified by how close Mr. Harmon was to the officers when Mr. Harmon stopped and turned toward them,” the report states. “Officer Fox said he feared if he didn’t immediately use deadly force, Mr. Harmon was going to stab him and/or the other officers.”
Fox fired his weapon three times, according to the report.
“Officer Fox said that in 10 years of law enforcement and two military deployments, it was the scariest situation he had ever been in,” investigators wrote.”
The latest news is 58 dead, more than 500 injured. At least 10 rifles were found in the room and the killer took his own life. I’ll follow this story as more details are reported.
For about a year now the old enemy of humanity has been pushed from the headlines by a number of situation….investigation, storms, etc….during that lull the blog posts on the subject have been almost non-existent….but as of 2008 hrs on 01 Dec that all changed….
Las Vegas police say one suspect is “down” after a mass shooting at a country music festival that has left at least two people dead and dozens wounded. University Medical Center spokeswoman Danita Cohen says 26 people were admitted to the hospital, the AP reports. Authorities shut down part of the Las Vegas Strip after receiving reports of an active shooter near the Mandalay Bay Casino late Sunday. The shooter or shooters apparently fired on the Route 91 Harvest music festival from upper levels of the Mandalay Bay across the street, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
On a live feed of a police scanner…
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(Published using Press This)
(Reuters) – A Louisiana police officer cannot sue Black Lives Matter because it is a social movement, a U.S. judge ruled on Thursday, finding the campaign could not be held responsible for injuries he got at a protest.
The unidentified officer sued Black Lives Matter and an activist involved in a July 2016 protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the officer was struck by a rock.
The Black Lives Matter movement began with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media in 2012 after black high school student Trayvon Martin was shot dead in Sanford, Florida, by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter.
It grew into a nationwide movement in response to the use of excessive force by police, particularly against black men.
“‘Black Lives Matter,’ as a social movement, cannot be sued, however, in a similar way that a person cannot plausibly sue other social movements such as the Civil Rights movement, the LGBT rights movement or the Tea Party movement,” Chief Judge Brian Jackson of a U.S District Court in Baton Rouge wrote in a 24-page ruling. Read the rest of this entry
“Shut up, slave.” “”Your children are disposable vermin!” “Get on all fours! Do not walk off on two legs!” That and more was said by 24-year old William Boucher back on June 6, 2017 in an altercation in a downtown Chicago Starbucks.
Boucher was all talk while inside the Starbucks but after he walked outside, he started actions that included spitting on a Black man. As Boucher walked further down the street, he sucker punched an innocent 59-year old Black man who was walking down the sidewalk. The man was taken to the hospital for injury to his eye.
Boucher got his wish for a Black man to “get on all fours” because one straddled Boucher, holding him down while they waited for the police.
The altercation allegedly started in Starbucks when someone spilled coffee on Boucher’s pants. Video that was captured did not start until Boucher began his racial rant. Read the rest of this entry
Claremont — Activists and community members in Claremont are calling on police to provide more information after allegations that a young boy was injured late last month in a racially motivated incident.
The family of an 8-year-old biracial boy said he was taunted with racial epithets by a group of young teenagers and then intentionally pushed off a picnic table with a rope around his neck in the backyard of a home near Barnes Park.
Ten days after the incident, aside from confirming an ongoing investigation, police have refused to release any details about the case, citing the confidentiality that protects juvenile proceedings.
But Twin State activists involved with racial justice issues said that by not offering any information about the case, officials could be stifling an important community conversation about racism.
“Folks don’t just deserve to be informed about what’s going…
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It was July, 2016 when a police lieutenant in Cobb County, Georgia by the name of Greg Abbott pulled over a vehicle he suspected of Driving Under the Influence. The white woman who was sitting in the passenger’s seat appeared incredibly nervous and said she was afraid to move her hands in front of the police officer due to the fact that she’d seen “way too many videos of cops” – an obvious reference to numerous videos of cops shooting people and then falsely claiming their victims appeared to be reaching for a weapon. What Lt. Abbott said to the woman in response, perhaps trying to assuage her fears, only confirmed in the eyes of many what they’ve long suspected was an unwritten rule of police protocol.
Sandra Bland is an example of the different way cops react when they interact with a Black person during a traffic stop.
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The verdict is unprecedented. Marco Proano has been convicted in federal court on criminal charges from an on-duty shooting. Proano was convicted of two felony counts of using excessive force, violating the victims’ civil rights. He faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. His sentencing is scheduled for November 20, 2017. Proano’s victims survived, and it has taken almost 4 years for this day to arrive.
On December 22, 2013, Proano spotted a stolen car that was filled with teens on Chicago’s Southside. One of the teens exited the vehicle and ran. Another attempted to get out but the door would not open because a cop cruiser had pulled up on the side. Yet another teen in the backseat, reached over to the front driver’s side and with his hands, pressed on the gas.
Proano opened fire, and continued shooting even after the stolen car ran into a light pole and stopped. Two of the teens were wounded.
There is dash cam video, but there was also some controversy to make it public,as reported in the below video by Roland Martin. During a civil case filed by the teens, the court sealed the video. It took a news publication to get the video to make it public. A lawsuit brought by the two wounded teens was settled by the City of Chicago for $360,000.
Proano’s trial began on August 21, 2017 in U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman’s courtroom. On August 28, 2017, the jury deliberated 4 hours and returned the verdict of guilty on both counts. Read the rest of this entry
There’s a Change.org petition. The title of the petition reads, “18-year old high school football player has been charged with murder defending his mom.” The petition asks that all charges against Luis Moux be dropped. I read the body of the petition three times and after a very long sigh, decided that I would share this.
According to CBS News, and the New York Post, Stanley Washington, (43-years old) arrived at the apartment where Luis Moux and his 37-year old mom, Lorena Sesemer live. An altercation took place between them and Luis found Washington on top of his mom. Luis wrapped his arm around Washington’s neck to pull him off his mom. Washington fell unconscious and died.
The New York Daily News reports that Luis had bite marks on his forearm and knee.
Luis was charged with manslaughter. Some reports say that Luis bail was set at $50K. Others say that his bail was set at $25K cash. Either way, Luis has been released on bail.
According to police, the boyfriend, Stanley Washington had a long criminal history that ranges from assault to criminal possession of a weapon, to menacing, criminal trespass and possession and sale of marijuana. Police had been to Sesemer’s apartment several times in the past to sort out domestic disputes involving Washington.
The New York Post reports that Stanley’s brother stated that he had taken care of Luis since he was 2-years old and that his brother was not violent. Djuana Martinez, identified as Stanley Washington’s wife, said that Stanley “has a heart of gold.”
That is the story.
People, this is where the rubber meets the road. I am now coming back full-circle to where I was during the George Zimmerman case. Anyone who follows this blog should know that I stand for equality for all and that includes equal justice. You might also know that I am opposed to Stand Your Ground law. This particular case, for me, is not one of taking sides of who is right or wrong. Rather, this is a case of people being careful of the things they request or demand of government officials in petitions. This is why … Read the rest of this entry
In the comment section of this blog on the post written by towerflower titled We Want His Badge, we discussed the shooting of Levar Jones in Columbia, South Carolina on September 4, 2014.
On September 4, 2014, State Trooper Sean Groubert pulled into a gas station behind Levar Jones for a seat-belt violation. He asked Levar for his license. Levar reached into his vehicle to get his license and Groubert shot him 4 times.
Sean Groubert was terminated from his job, and charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. The judge issued a $75,000 cash bond. Groubert remained in jail and in March 2016, he plead guilty.
The State reports that Groubert’s defense attorneys said that Groubert developed PTSD after an August 2012 car chase and shootout with a suspect. The disorder, which they say went undiagnosed, contributed to Groubert overreacting and shooting Levar Jones during the traffic stop in September 2014.
At his sentencing, prosecutors argued that while in jail, Groubert complained that black people in South Carolina “had a chip on their shoulder.” Read the rest of this entry
Heather Heyer, was killed when a Dodge Charger, allegedly driven by James Alex Fields, a self-identified white supremacist, plowed through a crowd of counter-protesters. Heyer was attending an Alt-White Rally, protesting the removal of a confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. She was a counter-protester when she was murdered. 20 others were severely injured. Heyer, was a paralegal at the The Miller Law Group, also in Charlottesville. According to their website,
Heather Heyer is one of our Paralegals here at Miller Law Group and continues to be an irreplaceable asset to our firm. Heather was born and raised in the beautiful state of Virginia. Originally from Ruckersville, VA, Heather now resides here in Charlottesville.
After being struck, Heyer was transported to UVA Hospital, where she was pronounced deceased.
Virginia Governor Terry McAulife tweeted that Heyer:
“died standing up against hate & bigotry.”
The driver, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old…
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Hat tip to Black Freedom @Freedom4Blks on Twitter for reminding me about this case. It inspired me to write this follow-up.
On September 26, 2015, I blogged on the shooting of Jeremy McDole in Wilmington, Delaware. Jeremy was partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
A call to 911 reported that Jeremy had wounded himself with a gun. Further investigation found that there was gunshot residue on Jeremy’s hands. While wounded and confined to his wheelchair, Jeremy was shot by officers 16 times.
The arrival and subsequent actions by four police officers were caught on cell phone video. The video was considered in the investigation into the officers’ use of deadly force.
The video showed Jeremy McDole rubbing his knees as Senior Cpl. Joseph Dellose and three other officers – identified in the report as Senior Cpl. Danny Silva, Cpl. Thomas Lynch and Cpl. James MacColl, moved into the open, without cover.
The investigative report found that Dellose fired at Jeremy approximately two seconds after initially ordering him to show his hands, creating uncertainty among other officers who, not knowing where the gunfire came from, also turned their weapons on McDole. Read the rest of this entry
On December 20, 2011, 24-year old Anthony Lamar Smith was pulled over by St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley on suspicion of making a drug deal. Anthony took off in a rented Buick. Against policy, Stockley shot at the fleeing car. Dash cam video shows that Anthony slowed down. Stockley called for another officer to “hit” the car driven by Anthony, and that officer, Brian Bianchi, did just that.
Footage from three recordings obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shows Stockley walking to Anthony’s rented Buick. One recording was from a cell phone, and at least one other was from a store’s surveillance camera.
The impact of being hit by the police SUV resulted in the Buick’s side curtain air bags engaging, blocking part of the view from the dashboard’s camera. Bianchi is seen reaching into the Buick with his gun still in its holster. Stockley is seen with an AK=47, and his head is bobbing up and down as if he was lifting the curtain as well.
Stockley shot 5 times. Officer Bianchi suddenly backed away as if he was not expecting the gunshots.
Stockley is seen taking his personal AK-47 back to his SUV and putting it into the backseat. Stockley then returned to the Buick that was driven by Anthony. St. Louis Today reports that according to officials, Stockley was not authorized to carry the rifle, which he personally owned.
Inside dashcam recorded Stockley going into a duffle bag in the back seat, and subsequently leave the SUV with nothing in his hands. Read the rest of this entry
The New York Times Reports:
After two mistrials, Prosecutor, Joseph T. Deters, said his decision to drop the charges against Ray Tensing is because he spoke to the jurors. Those jurors told him that a unanimous conviction was not possible. Federal prosecutors will now review the evidence to consider whether a civil rights investigation is warranted.
For other posts on this case, please see;
Have you heard of 24-year-old John Hernandez? What about Harris County Deputy Sheriff Chauna Thompson?
John Hernandez was at a Denny’s restaurant on May 28, 2017 in a town not far from Houston. Wait staff said he was celebrating his soccer team winning and was drunk, but he was not behaving belligerently. Chauna Thompson was off-duty and had just left Denny’s with her husband, Terry Thompson, when John Hernandez came outside the restaurant and urinated while standing close to the Thompson’s vehicle.
Terry beat John who landed on the ground and then Terry proceeded to place John in a choke hold and got on John’s back. Chauna, pinned down one of John’s arms. His other armed was underneath him. On her knees, Chauna yelled at Hernandez to “stay the f— down.” Her husband said to Hernandez: “Do you want me to hit you again?”
John’s wife and daughter were inside of the restaurant as the confrontation was happening. Hearing the commotion, they rushed outside.
Melissa Trammell, a Denny’s employee, said she was standing next to John’s daughter and begged Terry Thompson to let go of John Hernandez. Hernandez “was kicking for his life, struggling. At first I thought it was legitimate,” Trammell told reporters after testifying before the grand jury. “He was just going to hold him down, whatever. When I seen the man turning purple, there was no letup. And [Thompson] looked me in my face and told me he’s not getting off him.”
After paramedics arrived, John Hernandez was rushed to the hospital. Some witnesses say that it took paramedics 40 minutes to arrive. John was brain dead, went into a coma and died three days later.
A by-stander filmed the incident. He retained an attorney before turning the video over to the Sheriff’s office. Read the rest of this entry
It was Saturday, May 20, 2017. Richard Wilbur Collins III was 23 years old. He completed his ROTC training and had been recently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, where he expected to join the intelligence division.
Richard was attending Bowie State University, in Maryland. He was with two friends standing at a bus stop at the University of Maryland’s campus in College Park. In three days, he was to graduate.
Sean Christopher Urbanski took away Richard’s opportunity to graduate. Urbankski took away Richard’s military career. Urbanksi took away Richard’s future. Urbankski took all of that away by carrying out an unprovoked stabbing to Richard’s chest with a knife.
On the day of what would have been Richard’s commencement ceremony, his cap and gown were draped over an empty seat during the ceremony. His family received a standing ovation as they accepted a degree on Richard’s behalf.
Meanwhile, Sean Christopher Urbanski was sitting in a jail cell, denied bail. Read the rest of this entry
This is one of those cases where after I read it, I was filled with numerous emotions. I was saddened by knowing there are heartless people who take advantage of the vulnerable. I was saddened that those financially and emotionally damaged will not recover their losses. I felt despair because the perpetrators ran their scam for 7 years before they were brought to justice. I felt anger that the perpetrators would use the federal judicial system to illegally enrich themselves.
I was frightened because based on the charges, had they not used mail and wire in conducting their activity, they might have gotten away with it unless the states where they operated found an appropriate charge.
As Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, describes this case;
“Sentencing reduction fraud schemes that prey on the desperation, vulnerability and trust of federal inmates and their families exploit both the victims and the justice system. Federal partners across the nation will continue to target such schemes and prosecute the offenders.”
That is one reason why I feel this case is important to write about; i.e., there might still be con artists conducting this crime. The public needs to know about this.
Imagine that you have a relative serving time in federal prison. Along comes a company that promises they will get the sentence reduced by filing a Rule 35 Motion. They require payment for their services.
As an average person who knows little to nothing about Federal Rules, would you know how to look it up? Would you know about “standing” to understand the correct procedures?
In the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 35 allows the court to reduce a defendant’s sentence if the defendant is found to have provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person. ONLY GOVERNMENT PROSECUTORS CAN FILE SUCH A MOTION, AND THEY DO IT WITHOUT CHARGE.
On June 29, 2017, 40-year old Alvin James Warrick of Beaumont, Texas was sentenced in Miami, Florida to 235 months in prison. On the same day, 36-year old Colitha Patrice Bush of Port Arthur, Texas was sentenced in Miami, Florida to 96 months in prison. They have been ordered to forfeit $4.4 million. U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard of the Southern District of Florida entered the sentence.
Previously, Warrick and Bush pled guilty to wire and mail fraud conspiracy charges in connection with the scam they operated that targeted federal inmates and their families in Miami-Dade County and elsewhere.
In addition to their sentences for the Southern District of Florida matter, Warrick and Bush were also sentenced in a related case originally brought in the Eastern District of Texas, and subsequently transferred to Florida.
A third person was involved named Roland Bennett Shepherd, 32, of Houston, Texas, was sentenced to 28 months. He pled guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in the scam.
The scam was run from 2009 through September 7, 2016. The perpetrators held themselves out as owners and operators of Private Services, a company that reportedly worked with a network of informants and law enforcement personnel to identify and provide information and third party cooperation that could be credited to federal inmates in Rule 35 proceedings.
They used aliases such as “Peter Candlewood,” “Diane Lane,” and “Diane Rice,” targeting federal inmates and their families by phone, text, email, mail and in-person services. Read the rest of this entry
This in the letter section of a Minneapolis Paper. It points our that Officer Yanez could have retreated – and should have, if there was any question in his mind.
There was nothing about the stop that indicated that Castile posed any danger to the public. The “crime” he was stopped for was a basic traffic ticket – and in a lot of jurisdictions, would result in no fine if the driver went and got the issue fixed
I have been a police officer for 19 years. I love my job and serving my community. I have learned over the course of my career to never assume anything. As I watched the events unfold on July 6, 2016, on a Facebook Live feed, I thought that there must be more that happened. There must have been such a threat that…
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Reported by Reuters
“A Florida state court judge ruled on Monday that recent changes to the state’s “stand your ground” law are unconstitutional, finding that legislators overstepped when making it easier for defendants to argue self-defense to obtain immunity for violent acts.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Milton Hirsch said courts, not lawmakers, should set the process by which defendants can claim they were protecting themselves with an act of violence, according to the ruling posted online by the Miami Herald.
The revision shifted the burden of proof during pretrial hearings to prosecutors, rather than defendants, to show whether force was used lawfully. Supporters saw the changes backed by the National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, as bolstering civilians’ rights to protect themselves.
Monday’s ruling in Miami circuit court is not binding on other state trial courts, the Miami Herald reported.
Advocates predicted the ruling would be reversed on appeal.
“It is the role of the legislature to write the laws that govern how Floridians may exercise their statutory and constitutional rights,” Richard Corcoran, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, said in a statement. “The Florida House will continue to stand with ordinary citizens who exercise their right to self-defense.”
Florida’s “stand your ground” law, passed in 2005, received wide scrutiny and inspired similar laws in other states. It removed the legal responsibility to retreat from a dangerous situation and allowed the use of deadly force when a person felt greatly threatened.
This spring’s changes were adopted over outcry that gun owners could be emboldened to shoot first.
Critics cited the 2012 death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in the Orlando area, which spurred national protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. The neighborhood watchman who killed him, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of murder after the law was included in jury instructions. ”
There were debates on whether George Zimmerman claimed stand your ground during his trial. As Reuters correctly reports, Judge Nelson included stand your ground jury instructions in those given to the jury to decide Zimmerman’s fate.