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
Bullets do not discriminate.
Grief does not discriminate.
On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling was killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was killed in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Both were killed by police officers. Protests organized across America.
On July 7, 2016, people organized a peaceful protest in downtown Dallas, Texas. At the end of the protest in Dallas, gunshots ranged out. Five Dallas police officers lost their lives. Nine other officers and two civilians were injured.
The Dallas Police Officers who lost their lives were;
Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, age 48. He joined the department in 2002.
Sgt. Michael Smith, 55, had been with the department since 1989.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Officer Brent Thompson, 43, had been with the department since 2009. Thompson was the first DART officer to be killed in the line of duty since the department’s inception in 1989.
Officer Michael Krol, 40, had been on the force for 8 years.
Officer Patricio “Patrick” Zamarripa, 32, who had been with the department since 2011.
Micah Xavier Johnson was found to be the person who fired upon the group of protesters and police officers. Johnson was an Army veteran who reportedly was angry over the police shootings of black men. Micah Xavier Johnson was killed after police deployed a bomb-carrying robot. Read the rest of this entry
Science fiction movies, especially those that involve space travel, generally allow human logic in their characters. At least, it is logic that goes with the plot. Most of them that involve hyper-sleep while traveling to other planets, are with a purpose of conducting something scientific or capitalistic.
In the second movie in the Alien franchise, the movie tells us that they sent a group of settlers to a planet that is inhabited by alien creatures whose sole purpose is to use human bodies as hosts to give birth to reproduce more aliens.
In the movie Avatar, we see scientists and mercenaries travel to a moon for a company that is stripping it of natural resources. In Avatar, the people on the ship were in hyper-sleep for 5 years.
What about a movie where Earthlings pay money to be put on a space ship to travel so far away, that they will be in hyper sleep for 120 years? The only reason that the movie gives to us is that the people want to start over.
The movie I’m talking about is Passengers. Since first seeing Chris Pratt in the movie Jurassic World, I became a fan. In fact, I became so much of a fan that I looked up other movies he appeared in before Jurassic World and watched them, such as Guardians of the Galaxy. I also like science fiction movies, so you might say that with Chris Pratt being in Passengers, I had to see the movie. 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.
Black St. Louis Cop Shot By White St. Louis Cop But Armed and Dangerous White St. Louis Escaped Prisoner Wasn’t Shot
Hello. chuquestaquenumber1 here.
The 2 stories I’m bringing to you show how, in a system motivated by racism/white supremacy, race matters all the time. It matters so much that a white male criminal can be treated better by law enforcement (even though the greatest threat to law enforcement is a white male) than a black cop.
On June 21,2017 in St Louis, Missouri, police officers approached a car that had been reported stolen. Inside the car were 3 black males. The car drove off and the suspects fired on police. The car eventually crashed and the suspects ran with the police chasing them on foot. (Source: NY Times)
An off duty Black police officer(name unknown) was home when he heard what was happening. He grabbed his service firearm and decided to help his fellow officers. When he was at the crime scene 2 of the cops ordered him down to the ground . After he was on the ground they recognized him and told him to walk toward them. At this point a White police officer (name unknown) showed up and immediately fired at the Black officer, hitting his “brother” officer in the arm.
When asked why he shot his fellow Black officer ,the white officer responded “Fear for my safety.” Rufus J Tate a lawyer representing the wounded officer, stated that he saw nothing in the police report that showed that the officer feared for his safety. An investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
Now the website known as Blue Lives Matter, which states it is run by active and retired LEOs, covered this story. Blue Lives Matter took the position on how “the media was pushing a racist cop narrative” instead of offering sympathy or demanding justice for the wounded Black cop, and instead of asking why the White cop shot a fellow Black officer when the other cops had the situation in control? Also out of the 25 comments on that site, only 2 offered sympathy for the wounded black cop. Obviously his Blue Life doesn’t matter. Here is the link, tell me if my assertions are incorrect. Read the rest of this entry
Some people wonder why police officers do not shoot to wound, or fire warning shots rather than first using deadly force. In this incident, an officer for the Gautier, Mississippi Police Department fired a warning shot, and is facing disciplinary action because warning shots are in violation of department policy.
The incident is described by Gautier Police Department spokesman Casey Baxter.
On June 19, 2017, 27-year old Lamarcus Deantonio Williams was being pulled over for a traffic stop when he sped off. The officer, who has not been named in media reports, followed Williams.
After about a mile and a half pursuit, Williams stopped the car, got out, and ran off with something in his hand. According to Baxter, there were repeated commands to stop and “let me see your hands,” but Williams turned and charged the officer. That’s when the officer fired a warning shot into the ground. Williams ran past the officer and the officer tackled him. Read the rest of this entry
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
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish motives.
BE KIND ANYWAY.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.
BE HONEST AND SINCERE ANYWAY. Read the rest of this entry
Last week, a friend told me a joke about a talking dog. I found it on Youtube. I laughed much longer than the 3 minute video.
Hope you enjoy it.
Ray Tensing, the former University of Cincinnati police officer who fatally shot 43-year-old Sam DuBose in July 15, 2015, first went to trial for voluntary manslaughter and murder in 2016. That jury hung. We followed that trial and you can read it here and here.
Tensing’s retrial began June 8, 2017. The jury deliberated for more than 25 hours. Today, the judge declared a mistrial.
Joe Deters, Hamilton County Prosecutor, said he will not comment until next week.
Jurors had questions during deliberations. I am looking for those questions and if I locate them, I’ll post them in the comment section.
The DuBose family said in a statement through an attorney, “We are outraged that a second jury has now failed to convict Ray Tensing for the murder of our beloved Sam DuBose.” The family is demanding another retrial, the statement said. Read the rest of this entry
Thanks so much to all followers new and old. There has been such an increase in subscribed followers lately that I’ve not had time to keep up visiting their blogs. Please forgive me. Rather than clicking like and moving on, I prefer reading posts and if there is something I would like to say, to leave comments. Time does not always allow me to leave comments. I’m hoping to set aside at least one hour on the weekends to visit and catch-up on the blogs I follow. Here’s hoping that it works.
Now for a couple of things ….
It’s a humbling experience to discover that things you have written have been cited in professional publications.
In October 2016, blogger Supabutterfly wrote a post honoring me. I was already humbled and honored by his handle. For those who might not know, in July 2014, I made a decision to use the option that a Word Press account would be needed to submit comments to this blog. It was because since mid-2013, I was bombarded with harassing comments submitted through proxy IP addresses. For over 6 months, I blacklisted the IP addresses, but one proxy IP address service might have hundreds of proxy IP addresses. It was a never-ending battle.
There were people who had participated on this blog since it opened in August 2012. They opened Word Press accounts and many of them incorporated the word “butterfly” into their new handles. One did not consider himself a butterfly so chose a handle that includes “moth.” What they did was honorable and a blessing to me. None of them had to go through opening a Word Press account to continue posting comments here, but they did and I am forever grateful. 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
After approximately 29 hours of deliberations, the jury in the manslaughter case of St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez has returned a verdict of not guilty. Yanez was also charged with two felony counts of intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety for firing his weapon. When he shot and killed Philando Castile, Castile’s girlfriend and her 4-year old daughter were passengers in the car. Bullets barely missed both of them.
During deliberations, the jury requested to review the transcript of Yanez’s interview with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Judge William H. Leery III denied their request. By Wednesday, the jury was deadlocked, but the judge sent them back to keep deliberating.
Kare11 reports that this morning, the jury handed a note to Judge Leary III requesting to have the transcript of Yanez’s testimony while on the stand and the cross examination read aloud in court. The judge denied their request.
We followed the trial at this link.
If there are press conferences filmed later where the videos are on Youtube so they can be embedded here, I will post them in the comment section.
Thanks for this post. We should never, ever, forget history.
Two anniversaries make this a bitter-sweet day.
Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court made interracial marriage the law of the United States in its ruling in Loving v. Virginia. The 1967 unanimous decision came nine years after Mildred Jeter, a black woman who later identified as Native American, married Richard Loving, a white man, and the couple was threatened with prison if they didn’t leave Virginia. Justice Anthony Kennedy cited Loving v. Virginia in the Supreme Court ruling that legalized marriage equality, a case in which four of the nine justices—John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas—supported bigotry.
On the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, one year before Mildred Loving died in 2008, she talked about her support for marriage equality:
“I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government…
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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