U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, before his departure back to Washington, U.S., December 2, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
By Roberta Rampton and Karen Freifeld
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A series of tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump about the investigation into contacts between his 2016 campaign and Russia prompted concerns on Sunday among both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham saying Trump could be wading into “peril” by commenting on the probe.
“I would just say this with the president: There’s an ongoing criminal investigation,” Graham said on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”
“You tweet and comment regarding ongoing criminal investigations at your own peril,” he added.
On Sunday morning, Trump wrote on Twitter that he never asked former FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating Michael Flynn, the president’s former national…
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Alton Sterling was 37-years old when he was killed on July 5, 2016, in Baton Rouge, LA. Alton was selling homemade CD’s and DVD’s outside the Triple S Food Mart when Officer Blane Salamoni fired six shots into Alton at close range. Officer Howie Lake II, shocked Alton with a stun gun and helped wrestle Sterling to the ground but did not fire his gun.
In May of this year, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not bring federal criminal charges against the officers. The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office is now investigating the case.
Alton’s children and their mothers have filed a civil suit. Attorneys representing them have requested a private viewing of videos that include police body cams and surveillance video that captured the moments before Alton was fatally shot. The Attorney General’s office has those videos, but as of October 5, 2017, have not complied with the request.
Two cellphone videos taken by bystanders captured the violent end of the encounter and were made public, but body cam and surveillance videos are in possession of the Attorney General’s office and have not been made public.
In May, the DOJ told lawyers and family members about the audio and video from the shooting, and at times described it. According to a source who spoke with The Advocate, Officer Salamoni is seen pointing his gun at Alton’s head, yelling profanities, and a threat to kill him. Read the rest of this entry
Miami-Dade State’s Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has changed her 24 year reputation for not charging law enforcement officers for on-duty shootings. On April 12, 2017, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office announced it has charged North Miami SWAT Officer Jonathan Aledda with felony attempted manslaughter and misdemeanor culpable negligence. Aledda shot Charles Kinsey, an unarmed Black man, on July 8, 2016. Kinsey is a therapist for a group home and was trying to help an autistic man, Arnaldo Rios-Soto, to get out of the street and return to the group home.
A bystander called 911 and said Rios-Soto might have been holding a gun. That caller also repeated several times that the person holding something to his head appeared to be mentally ill. Factually, Rios-Soto was holding a toy truck.
A cell-phone video captured Kinsey lying on his back with his arms in the air, stating who he is, his job, that Arnaldo Rios-Soto is his patient, that he did not have a gun, and begging officers not to shoot.
Investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) included taking statements of police witnesses. The Miami New Times obtained audio from North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene’s testimony to Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators. That testimony revealed that Eugene said his officers announced over police radio that Rios-Soto was holding a toy before Aledda shot Kinsey. Read the rest of this entry
Mario Tama/Getty Images
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The United States Department of Justice completed a probe of the Chicago Police. Its investigation was conducted over a period of 13 months. They found that the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) used biased techniques to investigate officers and a consistent unwillingness to probe or dispute officers’ statements.
The Chicago police force is one of the nation’s largest, with 12,000 officers.
The DOJ also found that the police received insufficient training in de-escalation techniques and poor training on all levels.
The investigation also found Constitutional violations, and violations of federal law by officers in the use of force, racial disparities and other systemic problems.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports;
“The Justice Department and City Hall have hammered out a pact, called a “statement of agreement,” which will detail remedies the city has already or will be taking to address problems that have ruptured relations between police and the people they serve, particularly minority communities.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch will be out of office on January 20, 2017, and wanted to complete DOJ investigations in Baltimore and Chicago before the new administration takes over. Read the rest of this entry
The DOJ released its report on its investigation into the Baltimore Police Department. You can read the entire 164 page report here. I’ve also placed a link to the report on the right-side border under “Documents”.
The DOJ ends its report by summarizing its findings;
“For the foregoing reasons, the Department of Justice concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that BPD engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law. The pattern or practice includes: (1) making unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests; (2) using enforcement strategies that produce severe and unjustified disparities in the rates of stops, searches and arrests of African Americans; (3) using excessive force; and (4 ) retaliating against people engaging in constitutionally -protected expression. We also identified concern s regarding BPD’s transport of individuals and investigation of sexual assaults. BPD’s failings result from deficient policies, training, oversight, and accountability, and policing strategies that do not engage effectively with the community the Department serves. “
The part I want address concerns stops and arrests that are not prosecuted. Read the rest of this entry
(I’m writing this on 3 hours of sleep, so please forgive any typographical errors.)
In January 2013, 17-year old Kendrick Johnson was found dead in a gym mat in the Lowndes High School gym in Georgia. The US Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia opened an investigation in October of 2013.
This afternoon, DOJ offices announced that they will not file criminal charges in the death of Kendrick Johnson due to “insufficient evidence” to prove that anyone “willfully violated Kendrick Johnson’s civil rights” or committed any other crime.
Acting U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon stated;
“The Department of Justice, in particular the lawyers and investigators who have worked tirelessly on this investigation, express their most sincere condolences to Kendrick Johnson’s parents, family, and friends. We cannot imagine the pain of their loss, or the depths of their sorrow. We regret that we were unable to provide them with more definitive answers about Kendrick’s tragic death.”
In October 2015, the DOJ filed a motion in the civil case that Kendrick’s parents filed for wrongful death. In their filings, they said that their investigation expanded to include witness tampering and obstruction of justice. They also advised the Georgia court that the grand jury had convened. Read the rest of this entry
Calling probe a ‘whitewash,’ Tamir Rice’s family asks Cleveland prosecutor to recuse himself – The Washington Post
By Wesley Lowery October 16 at 12:01
In an eight-page letter expressing “grave concern,” the family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer last November, called for the local prosecutor who is overseeing the investigation of the two officers involved to step aside and appoint a special prosecutor.
The letter, obtained by The Washington Post and addressed to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty from Rice family attorney Jonathan Abady and his co-counsel, argues that McGinty has unnecessarily delayed the grand jury process and decried his decision last week to release two expert opinions on the shooting that suggested the shooting was justified.“
The delay in presenting this case to a grand jury, the decision to retain pro-police ‘experts’ and release their reports to the media on a Saturday night over a holiday weekend… and the obvious shortcomings of the reports themselves have contributed to make the Rice family feel that your office is not committed to securing an indictment in this case,” attorneys for Tamir Rice’s mother wrote in the letter dated Oct. 16. Read the rest of this entry
Caterpillars, moths, butterflies, and all creatures great and small,
I’m trying out the Word Press feature “press this.” It is a feature where I can copy from a newspaper article and click “press this” and it puts it in a post for the blog, with attribution. It saves time writing new posts from scratch. The following is the “press this” article, followed with additional information.
Posted: Monday, September 21, 2015 11:01 amTULSA (AP) –
Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating the agency after a volunteer deputy fatally shot an unarmed man. Grand jurors have been conducting a probe of Glanz’s office for the past seven weeks. At least 19 current or former sheriff’s office employees and others have been called upon to testify, including fired Maj. Shannon Clark, demoted Capt. Billy McKelvey and former Maj. Tom Huckeby, the Tulsa World reported.
The investigation was launched after former reserve deputy Robert Bates fatally shot Eric Harris, who was unarmed, on April 2. Bates has said he mistook his hand gun for a stun gun. After the shooting, it was discovered that officer Robert Bates hadn’t received adequate training over the years of his service.
Bates has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death. Glanz confirmed the subpoena Thursday after a swearing-in ceremony for 21 cadets. He declined to comment further on his upcoming grand jury appearance next week. Read the rest of this entry
On January 10, 2013, the body of 17-year old Kendrick Johnson was discovered in a rolled-up gym mat in the gym of the high school he attended. The Lowndes County Georgia Sheriff’s Office conducted the initial investigation and concluded that Kendrick died from a freak accident. They said he was going for a shoe that was at the bottom of the mat, got stuck, and died from asphyxiation.
Kendrick’s body was subsequently exhumed and the family had an independent autopsy performed that among other things, found that all of Kendrick’s internal organs were missing, and had been replaced with newspaper. The private pathologist concluded the teen died of blunt force trauma to the neck.
Videos from inside the school were released, and caused many questions, many of which pertained to missing portions or what appeared to be edits.
In October 2013, the Department of Justice began an investigation under the direction of U.S. Attorney Michael Moore. Read the rest of this entry
Based on the dash cam video, Sandra’s car was searched. I would like to know Texas law for illegal searches of vehicles.
On Monday afternoon, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis announced the death of Sandra Bland, which was initially ruled a suicide, would be treated “as it would be in a murder investigation.” Mathis also said while the Texas Rangers were leading the investigation, the FBI was now supervising it.
“It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete,” Mathis reportedly said at a press conference.
On July 10, police officers pulled over Sandra Bland for failing to indicate before changing lanes in Waller County, Texas. She was violently arrested, according to a passerby’s video, after becoming allegedly combative with the arresting officer. She was found dead in her jail cell three days later.
After discussing Bland with those closest to her and those who saw her…
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Due to preliminary findings of a report, the City of Beloit has placed its police chief and deputy chief on administrative leave. Beloit, Wisconsin is a small city on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois, with a population of approximately 40,000. The city has a Manager, Lori Luther, and a city council.
Concerns regarding the leadership of the police department were expressed by its staff and the community. In February of this year, employees of the Beloit Police Department told the city council that leadership was damaging employee morale and could be affecting operations.
The city held two listening sessions for residents to voice concerns about the Beloit Police Department. The sessions were held at the Beloit Public Library, and although those in attendance might sound small with the number being around 12, the room was filled. Many attending did not want to be named, but they discussed the issues of communication between the police department and residents. Read the rest of this entry
Source: JORDAN GONZALEZ/AFP / Getty Images
Nearly six months after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed on a playground by a Cleveland police officer, investigators have presented the findings of their probe into the shooting to prosecutors, who expect to convene a grand jury soon, ABC Newssaid Wednesday.
A source tells ABC News that the grand jury will decide whether to charge either of the police officers involved in Tamir?s death last November, the report says.
Tamir was shot and killed by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann outside the Cudell Recreation Center. The child was holding an air-soft gun that police allege was indistinguishable from a deadly firearm, although a 911 caller identified it as a toy.
The death, which came amid a swarm of controversy over police-involved shootings in Black communities, sparked protests in Cleveland and across the nation.
From ABC News:
Walter Madison, one…
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It’s rather insignificant because it doesn’t lead to identifying who killed 17-year old Kendrick Johnson, but it’s significant in the sense that there are consequences for people who break the law.
You might remember about the anonymous email purporting to have overheard a confession in the killing of 17-year old Kendrick Johnson. We reported it in March 2014.
The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous email dated January 27, 2014. The sender did not suggest that he or she witnessed the confession. Rather, the sender claims to have been given that information by someone who purportedly is aware of the confession by a person implicated in the email. Read the rest of this entry
USA Today reports;
“A Justice Department review has found that the troubled Ferguson Police Department engaged in a pattern of racially biased enforcement during suspect stops and used unreasonable force against a disproportionate number of African American suspects, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the findings.”
The results of the investigation were detailed in a meeting between Ferguson and Justice Department officials on Tuesday. The full report should be released by tomorrow.
The Black population in Ferguson is 67%. However, the Justice Department conducted an investigation that covered 3 years, and found that 85% of people involved in vehicle stops were Black; 90% who received tickets were Black, and 93% of those arrested were Black. Were they all guilty? No. The Justice Department found that police in Ferguson routinely made arrests without probable cause. Blacks were twice as likely to be searched during vehicle stops but less likely to be found in possession of contraband. Read the rest of this entry
Washington, D.C. The Justice Department’s Inspector General’s Office is leading an investigation of an FBI agent for misconduct. The investigation has led to authorities quietly releasing at least a dozen convicts serving prison sentences in addition to several others awaiting trial, and still yet, several others awaiting sentencing. Allegations of the agent’s misconduct first surfaced the week of September 29th. On Friday, the FBI agent was suspended indefinitely. The agent’s name has not been released.
“During the week of September 29, 2014, the Washington Field Office became aware of possible misconduct by a Special Agent. The Field Office took immediate steps address the incident, to include notification to the appropriate U.S. Attorney’s Offices,” read a statement from Lindsay Ram with the FBI.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. released a statement saying it “is conducting a case-by-case review of matters in which the FBI agent at issue played some role. We have already begun taking steps to address this issue and are committed to doing everything that is necessary to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice process. Because our review is ongoing, the office has no further comment at this time.” Read the rest of this entry
The other day, a photo of a subpoena made its way around Twitter from Frank Taaffe to Nancy Grace. I decided to wait for confirmation before reporting it. Today, Orlando Sentinel reports that the federal grand jury is scheduled to hear witnesses, and that Frank Taaffe has indeed, been subpoenaed to testify.
For those not familiar;
On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin, shooting him in the heart. It started with Zimmerman making a “suspicious person” call to the non-emergency number (NEN) of the police department. While Zimmerman was on the phone, Trayvon ran. Zimmerman got out of his truck and followed Trayvon. Minutes later, Trayvon was dead with Zimmerman claiming self-defense.
Frank Taaffe became the main advocate for Zimmerman, alleging that Zimmerman had rights to racially profile Trayvon because there was a group of Black teens in the community committing crimes.
A jury of 5 White women and 1 Latina acquitted Zimmerman. The initial aggressor part of self-defense law was omitted from the jury instructions. During deliberations, Taaffe told Nancy Grace where the jury stood on voting, and it turned out to be true. Taaffe did not say how he obtained the information. Read the rest of this entry
On September 18, 2014, I wrote a post about Darren Wilson testifying before the St. Louis County grand jury. Darren Wilson is the Ferguson police officer who, on August 9, 2014, shot 18-year old Michael Brown 6 times, twice in the head. Witnesses say that Darren Wilson shot several times as Michael ran away and it appeared that Michael had been shot. He turned around and with his hands up in the universal position of surrender. Wilson proceeded to fire until Michael was dead.
Grand juries are presented evidence by the prosecution. The accused are not present. The job of the grand jury is to see if there is sufficient evidence to indict. It is not a trial where the accused gets to appear and defend him or herself. There are reports that St. Louis County State’s Attorney McCulloch invited Wilson to testify before the grand jury. Having no written report by Darren Wilson, the grand jury could only hear Wilson’s side of the story from his own mouth, but that is not standard procedure as the state does not (or is not suppose to) represent the accused. Read the rest of this entry
On August 29, 2014, I wrote that when searching for a copy of the $40 million lawsuit filed against the Ferguson, MO police department, that I discovered other lawsuits that name various Ferguson police officers as defendants. In that post, I also wrote that the U.S. Department of Justice has a division to receive and investigate complaints against law enforcement who violate civil rights under color and claim of official right. Considering that some citizens of Ferguson stated that no private attorney was willing to go against Ferguson, it was my opinion that their only option was to file complaints with the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
Today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder held a press conference announcing that the Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the Ferguson police department. The video is below. Please note that he says the investigation includes if the Ferguson police department has violated the constitution and/or federal law. Those are two different things under the DOJ. Read the rest of this entry