Category Archives: Cases
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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On July 10, 2015, Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Brian Encinia stopped Sandra Bland for failure to signal a lane change. Sandra was 28-years old. She was in Texas to start a job on August 3, 2015 as a summer program associate with Prairie View A&M University in Waller County, Texas.
Upon returning to Sandra’s car with citations for her to sign, Encinia asked Sandra to put out her cigarette. When Sandra asked Encinia why she would need to put out her cigarette in her own car, Encinia ordered Sandra out of her car, and taking out his stun gun, threatened to “light” her up if she did not comply. Encinia accused Sandra of assaulting him and she was taken to jail.
On July 13, 2015, Sandra was found dead in her jail cell. She was found hung with a plastic trash bag around her neck, from a partition that was shorter or about the same height as Sandra, who was 6 feet tall.
In January 2016, a grand jury indicted Brian Encinia (the arresting officer) for perjury. The grand jury did not believe Encinia’s statement that he wanted Sandra removed from her car so he could conduct a safer traffic investigation. The Texas Department of Public Safety terminated Encinia for violating department standards. Encina was freed on a $2,500 bond. If convicted for perjury, he faced up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
In March 2016, Brian Encinia was formerly fired from his law enforcement job. Read the rest of this entry
In 2015, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, the parents of 18-year Michael Brown, filed a suit against the city of Ferguson, MO, the former Police Chief Tom Jackson and former police officer Darren Wilson. Today, the city settled that lawsuit.
Terms of the wrongful death settlement were not disclosed. United States District Court Judge E. Richard Webber approved the settlement and ordered it sealed, writing;
“The gross settlement amount is fair and reasonable compensation for this wrongful death claim and is in the best interests of each plaintiff.”
In 2014, Michael Brown was shot multiple times, with the fatal wound being to the top of his head, spilling his brains onto the street. His body laid in the street for more than 4 hours. A grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson, and the DOJ began a probe that found systematic racial discrimination in Ferguson that targeted Black residents and created a “toxic environment.” The report said the city overwhelmingly arrested and issued traffic citations to Blacks to boost city income, and used the police as a collection agency. Read the rest of this entry
Dominique Heaggan-Brown (25 years old) is a former Milwaukee police officer. He shot and killed 23-year old Sylville Smith in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood on August 13, 2016. On December 15, 2016, Heaggan-Brown was charged with one count of first-degree reckless homicide. If convicted, he can be sentenced to a maximum of 60 years in prison.
At the time of the shooting, Sylville was armed with a semi-automatic pistol. Heaggan-Brown and his partner wore body cameras which show that Sylville threw the gun over a fence into a yard. Heaggan-Brown shot Sylville, who fell to the ground on his back and had his hands near his head. Heaggan-Brown then shot Syville again, center mass. At the time he fired the second and fatal shot, Sylville was unarmed.
In his interview, Heaggan-Brown said that he fired once at which time he observed the pistol fly out of Smith’s hands and over the fence into the backyard of the residence. Smith then fell to the ground and Heaggan-Brown believed he was reaching for his waist so he discharged his weapon a second time. At no time after the shooting did Heaggan-Brown or any other officer search Smith for a second firearm. Read the rest of this entry
Ray Tensing is a former University of Cincinnati officer who shot and killed Samuel Dubose during a traffic stop in 2015. A mistrial was declared on November 12, 2016. The straw poll by jurors was unanimous for murder. After 25 hours of deliberation however, four jurors were ready to convict Tensing of murder, four were ready to convict him of voluntary manslaughter and four were ready to find him not guilty. The jury consisted of 2 Black women, 4 White women and 6 White men.
The trial was covered on this blog.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said that how jurors went from unanimously agreeing on a murder conviction in their straw poll to being unable to reach a verdict on any charge is unclear. He talked to the jurors and said that he learned a lot.
On November 28, 2016, Deter announced that he was retrying Tensing on the charges of murder and involuntary manslaughter.
The jury for Tensing’s retrial has now been seated. It consists of 7 White women, 2 White men, 1 Black man and 2 Black women.
Opening statements are anticipated for this morning. The trial is being live streamed at this link. I’ll update in the comment section below.
On May 14, 2017 at about 1 a.m., 40-year old Tashii Brown (also known by the last name Farmer) approached police offficer Kenneth Lopera of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Lopera and another officer were in a coffee shop in the Venetian which is located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.
According to police, Tashii asked them if they knew where a drinking fountain was located and said that people were chasing him. He then abruptly ran through an employee-only area. Lopera gave chase. When he caught up with Tashii, he was trying to unlatch the tailgate of an occupied pickup truck. Lopera believed that Tashii was trying to carjack the truck, and he tased Tashii. The driver later told investigators that he did not think he was being carjacked.
Lopera shocked Tashii 7 times. Body cam video from the incident shows Tashii writhing on his back in pain with his hands in the air as Lopera commanded him to roll onto his stomach. Lopera hit Tashii with a closed fist several times in the head and face. He then put Tashii in a chokehold and held him in that chokehold until other officers arrived. Body cam video shows that another officer told Lopera to release his chokehold on Tashii, but Lopera continued the hold for another 46 seconds. Read the rest of this entry
On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, when he was fatally shot by Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer. Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter were passengers. Diamond live-streamed Philando’s dying moments and the aftermath on Facebook. The officer shot 7 times, hitting Philando Castile 5 times, twice in the heart.
Yanez’s attorney, Thomas Kelly, said Yanez stopped Castile because he matched the description of a suspect in a robbery a few days earlier. (Castile was found to not be connected to the robbery.)
Today, prosecutor Dusterhoft told the jury;
“What he could see were dreadlocks, eyeglasses and the fact that Mr. Castile was a black man,” Dusterhoft said. “Based on that glimpse” he stopped the car in Falcon Heights.”
Jeronimo Yanez has been charged with three felony counts; second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.
On June 5, 2017, a jury was seated and opening statements were made. The jury consists of 9 men and 6 women which includes 3 alternates. There is one Black man and one Black woman on the jury.
Michael Tyree was 31-years old when he died on August 26, 2015. He was bi-polar and was arrested for misdemeanor theft and drug possession. Tyree was jailed in a section of the Santa Clara County Correctional facility that is reserved for inmates with special needs. There, he was beaten with the coroner finding the cause of death as internal bleeding due to blunt force trauma. There were lacerations to Michael’s liver and spleen, which was nearly severed in half. Michael was found in his cell naked and covered in vomit and feces.
Three guards, Matthew Farris, Jereh Lubrin and Rafael Rodriguez, were charged with second degree murder. Jereh Lubrin was also charged with assault under color of authority and the three guards were charged with assault under color of authority for allegedly beating inmate Juan Villa. Read the rest of this entry
Deborah Danner was a 66-year old senior citizen with schizophrenia. On October 18, 2016, Deborah was in her Bronx apartment when a neighbor called the police and reported that Deborah was screaming. New York City Police Sergeant Hugh Barry arrived on the scene.
Initially, the police said that Sergeant Barry persuaded Ms. Danner to drop a pair of scissors, but that she picked up a bat and tried to swing at him. Several other officers were at the scene, in the building at 630 Pugsley Avenue, but only Sergeant Barry was in the bedroom with Ms. Danner.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, said Sergeant Barry failed to follow police protocol for dealing with people with mental illness. Specifically, he did not use his stun gun to try to subdue Ms. Danner, and he did not wait for a specialized Emergency Service Unit to arrive. Read the rest of this entry
On April 12, 2015, Freddie Gray was taken into custody by Baltimore police officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller. Freddie sustained a spinal injury in a police van ride and died on April 19, 2015. Officer Ceasar Goodson was driving the van.
WBALTV reports that Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer Caesar Goodson have been suspended, pending termination. They were found to have failed to follow policies for seat-belting Freddie Gray.
Officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero who took Freddie into custody, face five days suspension without pay.
Officer William Porter, whose trial resulted in a hung jury, faces no punishment.
On July 29, 2016, charges were dropped by prosecutors after a jury deadlocked on charges against Porter, and a judge acquitted Rice, Goodson and Nero.
The internal discipline review, conducted by the Montgomery and Howard county police departments, determined the officers broke department rules.
The officers can accept the recommended punishment or choose to dispute the charges. Read the rest of this entry
Opening statements were made today in the trial of police officer Betty Shelby, accused of fatally shooting Terence Crutcher on September 16, 2016 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Shelby is charged with manslaughter and faces four years to life in prison if convicted.
The jury consists of two black women, seven white women and three white men. The alternates are one black man and one white woman.
Shelby, 43, shot and killed Crutcher, 40, after approaching him on the street after his car broke down. Video shows him walking away from her with his hands up.
The Tulsa County District Attorney’s office claims Shelby “reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation from a confrontation with Mr. Crutcher, who was not responding to verbal commands and was walking away from her with his hands help up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted.”
Shelby’s defense attorney Shannon McMurray told the jury it was a rush to file charges.
Shelby has been on unpaid leave since the shooting, and said that she fired her weapon because she thought Crutcher was going for a gun.
The prosecution’s first witness was Tulsa police officer Tyler Turnbough. He described coming to the scene and said that he saw Shelby had drawn her gun, so he drew his Taser in order to offer up a less-lethal option. Turnbough testified that he told Shelby he had drawn his Taser, but Turnbough said he wasn’t sure if Shelby acknowledged that she heard him.
Turnbough said he saw Crutcher reach his left hand into the window of his Lincoln Navigator, which prompted him to fire his taser at the exact moment Shelby fired her gun.
Trial is expected to take about a week. News on 6 has notes from the opening statements. I’ll do my best to update the trial in the comment section below.
On April 29, 2017, 15-year old Jordan Edwards was leaving a party with two of his older brothers. He was in the passenger seat of a vehicle when shot in the head by Balch Springs, Texas patrol officer Roy Oliver.
The Balch Springs Police Chief was quick coming forth with the officer’s side of the story. It was reported that Officer Roy Oliver was called to investigate reports of underage drinking at a house party. When they arrived, they heard what they believed were gunshots. A car of teenagers leaving the party was driving toward the police in reverse in an “aggressive manner.” Oliver opened fire, striking Jordan Edwards in the head. Jordan died at a hospital.
Roy Oliver was placed on administrative duty while the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’ Office began investigating the shooting. The Balch Springs Police Department began an internal investigation.
The following Tuesday, Roy Oliver was fired on the basis that he violated department policies. Police Chief Jonathan Haber stated that he rushed to get information out to the public, but since watched two body cam videos showing that the teens were driving away from the officers when Oliver fired. Read the rest of this entry
Hello everyone. Chuquestaquenumber1 here.
In 2016 NFL San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a peaceful protest against police brutality and criminality of Black people. Especially the unjust killings of unarmed non threatening Black males. His peaceful protest consisted of not standing for the national anthem. Once he started, he was accused of harming our LEOs and disrespecting the US military. He was subjected to massive outrage from people of all backgrounds, especially from military personnel.
Fast forward to April 2017. April 23,2017 was the last day for Marine Sgt. Justin Noah Lampkins. On Sunday April 23, 2017 at 1:19 am, 25 yr old Marine Sgt. Justin Noah Lampkins was at a McDonald’s Drive thru in Bedford, ,Indiana. Several vehicles were ahead of Sgt. Lampkins’ vehicle when he honked a horn in the drive thru. At this point, Evan Schaffer, 22 yr old criminal who had a warrant from another state, because he skipped a court hearing, got out of his truck and punched Lampkins in his face.
Schaffer walked away but decided to turn around and continue the confrontation. Lampkins, defending himself, shoved Schaffer. Schaffer pulled out a gun and shot the unarmed Lampkins in the chest. Schaffer and his friends fled the scene . Lampkins was taken to IU Health Hospital where he died of his wounds.
Bedford Police caught up with Schaffer and his friends. The 4 friends cooperated and gave up. Schaffer resisted arrest and was Tasered into submission. Schaffer has been charged with Lampkins murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
Sgt. Justin Noah Lampkins joined the military in 2011, one year after graduating from Bloomington High School North. He was inspired to join the military by his grandfather, an Army veteran. Lampkins was honorably discharged in 2015.
Evan Schaffer had a warrant for carrying a weapon without a permit and transporting a weapon to another county. He is also facing charges of arson. Read the rest of this entry