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Just a point made at trial. The allegation that Justine banged on the police car was refuted by forensic evidence that found none of her fingerprints or DNA on the police car.
Mohamed Noor (1985- ) in 2015 became the first Somali American police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2019 he became the first police officer in Minnesota, of any race or ethnicity, found guilty of a crime for an on-duty police shooting.
Like Ilhan Omar, Noor came to Minneapolis in the 1990s as a child when his family fled the war in Somalia.
On the night of July 15th 2017, Justine Damond (nee Ruszczyk), a 40-year-old White woman, called police to report what sounded like a rape behind her house. As Noor tells it, when he and Officer Matthew Harrity arrived in a police car in the alley behind her house, there was a loud bang and then Damond suddenly appeared at Harrity’s open window. Her right arm was raised. Harrity said “Oh Jesus!” as he tried to draw his gun.
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The incident happened on October 18, 2015. It appeared to be another case of a Black man on the side of the road being shot down by a cop who claimed that the “suspect” had a gun and he feared for his life. The family of Corey Jones waited more than 3 years for the trial of Nouman Raja, 41. The trial lasted 8 days, and the jury deliberated for 4 hours. The all White jury of 4 men and 2 women convicted Raja of manslaughter by culpable negligence while armed, and attempted first-degree murder with a firearm.
The manslaughter count is punishable by up to 30 years. The attempted murder count, for the bullets that missed Corey, is punishable by 25 years to life. On April 25, 2019, Raja was sentenced to 25 years in prison for both counts, to be served concurrently.
The most interesting evidence in this case was the audio tape of Corey Jones calling for a tow truck. Raja gave a false report that he immediately identified himself as a police officer. Sun-Sentinel reports:
The main reason ex-cop Nouman Raja was found guilty Thursday — let alone even charged in the fatal shooting of stranded motorist Corey Jones — was an extraordinary audio recording.
This case, joining a series of police killings of young black men across the country, turned on the discovery of Jones’ recorded call for a tow truck that early morning of Oct. 18, 2015, on a highway off-ramp.
Played repeatedly in Raja’s eight-day trial, it allowed the jury to hear the tragic 3:15 a.m. encounter between the Palm Beach Gardens police officer and the beloved musician and family man, ending in six gunshots.
Prosecutors said Raja never identified himself as an officer and acted so aggressively that Jones must have thought he was about to be carjacked or killed. Raja said he first thought the SUV was empty, but then saw Jones inside. Raja’s supervisor testified the officer had been told to don a police vest if he approached a civilian. He didn’t. Prosecutors also questioned why Raja didn’t pull his badge from his pocket. Read the rest of this entry
In April 2018, in the Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills, Brennan Walker missed his school bus. His mom had taken his cell phone from him the night before, so he could not call or get a map to school. He attempted to follow the path of the school bus but became lost. He went to a house, rung the bell, and Jeffrey Ziegler grabbed a loaded shotgun. Brennan ran, and Jeffrey took a shot at Brennan’s back. Fortunately, he missed.
For more background on the case, see the post at this link.
Ziegler was charged with assault with intent to murder and felony firearms. The jury was given instructions on a lesser charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. It took the jury three hours of deliberation to find Ziegler guilty of the lesser charge. It carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Ziegler was also found guilty of possessing a firearm in the commission of a felony. which has a mandatory sentence of two years in prison. Read the rest of this entry
17-year old Laquan McDonald was killed by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke on October 20, 2014. Van Dyke was not arrested until a judge set a date for the release of dash cam video. That was in November 2015.
Van Dyke’s murder trial began the first week of September 2018 with jury selection. Twelve jurors and 5 alternatives have been selected. The jury consists of one Black woman, and two Blacks as alternatives.
On Thursday, September 20, 2018, the prosecution rested its case. Van Dyke’s defense will now be presented to the jury.
Following the trial has been difficult for me due to personal matters, but I do plan on blogging the verdict. Meanwhile, I have copied the post originally published in November 2015 because it contains background on what happened, including that without the intervention of Brandon Smith, an independent journalist, Van Dyke might not have been charged.
Originally published in November 2015.
It’s not what Laquan did or did not do. Rather, it is what the Chicago Police Department did after officer Jason Van Dyke killed Laquan.
Brandon Smith’s introduction on The Guardian, says that he is a Chicago-based independent journalist who, with the help of whistleblowers and the Freedom of Information Act, has reported on civil rights abuses, privatization of public assets, digital privacy concerns and pollution of land and water.”
“Independent journalist.” I like that title because it reflects a form of journalism that has almost gone the way of the dinosaur. It would be correct to replace “independent” with “investigative” in this matter, because what Brandon Smith did goes beyond reporting. Without the backing of a publication to finance his endeavors, Brandon Smith did not have to proceed at his own costs. Brandon worked along with another independent journalist, Jamie Kalven, and University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman. Because they are independent journalists, they aren’t often issued press credentials to attend press conferences and such. In fact, he was not allowed to attend the press conference that discussed the release of video that came about due to his persistence and good work.
Had they not been independent and determined, we would not have the video of the killing of Laquan McDonald. Without the release of the video, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke would still be on paid desk duty; and his fictionalized report of what happened would be business as usual in cover-ups. Read the rest of this entry
On the second day of deliberations, a Dallas jury found police officer Roy Oliver guilty of murder. Oliver was found not guilty on two aggravated assault charges.
This was one heck of a trial.
Roy Oliver is the former Balch Springs, Texas officer charged with murder and two counts of aggravated battery by a public servant. I first blogged about this case in May 2017 when Roy Oliver was charged for the April 29, 2017 incident. His trial began on Thursday, August 16, 2018.
To summarize, Oliver and his partner were called about an under-aged drinking party. However, no alcohol or drugs were found. While in the house where the party was taking place, gunshots were heard outside. (It was subsequently determined that the shots were unrelated to the party.)
Jordan Edwards, 15 years old, was at the party with friends and relatives. When the police showed up, they decided to leave and went to the car. They were trying to drive away when Oliver and his partner ran outside after hearing the gunshots. Oliver used his service rifle and fired at least 5 shots into the car where Jordan was a passenger. Jordan was shot in the head. Read the rest of this entry
On July 24, 2017, I blogged about the strangling death of John Hernandez. Two persons were charged; Terry Thompson and his wife, 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. Terry Thompson engaged John outside of the restaurant, who Thompson accused of urinating in public. Thompson’s daughter called her mom, Chauna Thompson, who was off-duty.
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 arrived and 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?”
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. Read the rest of this entry
A Brown Deer police officer, 28-year old Devon Kraemer, is on trial, charge with aggravated battery and intending great bodily harm for shooting 28-year old Manuel Burnley Jr. in the back. If convicted, the officer faces up to 10 years in prison. Brown Deer is a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Manuel Burnley, Jr. suffered rib fractures and lost part of a lung, but after 12 days in the hospital, he survived the shooting and lives to tell his side of the story at trial.
During jury selection, several potential jurors admitted they likely couldn’t be impartial when the defendant is a police office. About 6 potential jurors said they keep “We Back the Badge” signs in their yard, and 1 person said he has a “Black Lives Matter” sign. Two men said that even if the prosecutor presented solid evidence of guilt, they would not vote to convict.
One potential juror works in a dry cleaners patronized by police officers. One woman said that she and her husband, both White, were profiled when they were stopped on the north side because of the kind of car they were driving. She said the officer looked shocked when her husband rolled down the window and saw they are not Black. The officer warned him that the car’s tint was too dark.
The jury consists of 14; the standard 12 plus 2 alternates. I was unable to find any information on the jurors who were selected. A condition imposed on the media might prevent them from making that information available to the public because Manuel is Black, and the two officers involved are White.
Circuit Judge Christopher Dee has imposed extra restrictions on news media covering the trial, including a prohibition on showing the faces of all witnesses. He has also prohibited live streaming of the trial without his express permission. Television station reporting staff is working the pool feed from a single bench. Read the rest of this entry
This is becoming the norm for America. The dead cannot testify, and defendants testify what he or she thought the deceased was going to do that caused them to use discretion to take human life.
Hugh Barry, 32-years old, had been charged with murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for the killing of 66-year old Deborah Danner who was in a mental health crisis.
I followed the trial at this post.
Barry opted for a bench trial. There was no jury and the judge was the only person hearing evidence and deciding the case. Justice Robert A. Neary of State Supreme Court presided over the trial.
Prosecutors argued that Barry created the conditions that placed him within a distance of Deborah Danner that he claimed caused him to feel threatened when Deborah picked up a baseball bat. There were witnesses at trial that testified not seeing Deborah swing the bat at Barry as he claimed. There were also witnesses that testified that they were following their training to calm Deborah down when Barry came into the apartment, walked past them, and entered Deborah’s bedroom.
Barry testified that he could not back away from Deborah because of other officers being too close behind him. 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 and shot Deborah dead. For more about what happened, see my post from May 2017.
In May 2017, Barry was charged with murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide. His trial began yesterday, January 30, 2018. It is expected to last 3 weeks. Barry has waived his rights to a jury trial and opted for a bench trial. The question to be decided by Judge Robert A. Neary is whether Sergeant Barry had exhausted other options for safely containing Ms. Danner before he fired his pistol. As I’ve written in other posts, this is clearly an abuse of discretion standard; not a beyond a reasonable doubt standard.
Deborah was intelligent. She wrote a six-page essay about her illness to a lawyer saying, “We are all aware of the all too frequent news stories about the mentally ill who come against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals and end up dead.”
The Message In His Defense Is that Black Lives Matter Is An Inconvenience Because Had Deborah Been White, Barry Would Not Have Been Charged For Killing Her
Not only did officer Carlos Anglero shoot into a house, he shot into the wrong house. The 911 dispatcher gave him the wrong address.
On February 6, 2016, Anglero was dispatched to a domestic disturbance call. The Winter Garden police dispatcher told Anglero that a mother and daughter were arguing, that the daughter wanted to leave the house on Bent Grass Avenue, and her mother told her she was too drunk to drive and wouldn’t give her the car keys. The daughter called police and said she would wait for officers in the driveway.
The dispatcher, however, entered the street name as “Bend Grass” which is about a half mile away from the address given to the dispatcher.
Anglero turned off his headlights as he neared the house. There was no one waiting in the driveway. Two other officers and a trainee arrived. Officer Stephanie Roberts rang the bell and knocked on the door.
Trial testimony revealed that the homeowner, Christopher Lewis, woke up after hearing the noise. Christopher is a retired electrical engineer. His wife and their son, who is now 14, were in the house. He did not know who the people outside his door were and did not hear an answer when he asked who was there. He got his Glock 19 handgun, which he had never fired before, and walked back toward the door with it down by his side. Christopher Lewis testified that he did not point the gun at anyone, and that he had no idea that the people outside his house were police officers.
Officer Stephanie Roberts shined her flashlight through the pane of glass in the front door and yelled “gun”.
Officer Roberts testified that she fired about two shots through the glass and retreated. The homeowner, Christopher Lewis testified that he could feel a bullet whiz past his left ear, and that he dove to the ground in the room next to the foyer and yelled for his wife to call 911.
Anglero’s story was that he did not realize his partner fired the shots and thought they were coming from inside the house. Anglero fired through the door. A total of 9 bullets were fired. Read the rest of this entry
Delrawn Small, 37-years old, worked as a maintenance engineer at a Chelsea supermarket. He was raising three children and two stepchildren.
On July 4, 2016, Delrawn was in his car with his family when he was allegedly cut-off in traffic by Wayne Isaacs, who had just left his shift as a New York police officer. Isaacs was out of uniform, but was carrying his service weapon.
At a red light, Delrawn approached Isaacs’ car. Isaacs fired three times, hitting Delrawn in the arm, chest and abdomen, killing him.
Officer Wayne Isaacs, who joined the department in 2013, stayed at the scene and told investigators that he acted in self-defense after Mr. Small punched him through an open window.
Based on a preliminary investigation, police initially said they believed Isaacs opened fire after Delrawn reached through the officer’s open window and repeatedly hit him on the head as he sat behind the wheel. Isaacs’ claimed that he shot Delrawn in self-defense.
Then surveillance video surfaced. 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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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 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
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.
Just a quick note to update. The introduction to the video says:
Dylann Storm Roof who shot and killed nine black parishioners at a historic Charleston church in 2015, pleaded guilty Monday to state charges stemming from the massacre as part of a deal with prosecutors to spend the rest of his life in prison to avoid a second death-penalty trial.
Roof already had been sentenced to die earlier this year for his convictions in federal court on hate crimes charges, though the state could have pursued a second such penalty in its murder case against the young man.
Roof was charged both federally and at the state level after the June 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, when nine black parishioners were shot and killed down during an evening Bible study.
The federal death sentence still stands!
After impact statements and Roof’s grandad speaking on Roof’s behalf, the Judge sentenced Roof to 9 life sentences on state charges.
Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager was charged with murder or voluntary manslaughter in the killing of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man. Walter Scott was shot in the back 5 times. Slager’s state trial began on November 3, 2016, with closing arguments on November 30, 2016. It ended with a hung jury. Slager is scheduled to be retried by the State of South Carolina, and also by the federal government. His trial was reported on this blog.
Meanwhile, three men had filed lawsuits against North Charleston for being wrongfully or excessively tased by Michael Slager. Two have reached settlement. Mario Givens was awarded $27,500 and Jerome Stanley $50,000 for their 2013 run-ins with Slager.
The Post Courier reports:
“They were among three people who filed actions in 2015 amid intense scrutiny of the city’s police force. An eyewitness video of patrolman Michael Slager shooting the fleeing black man sparked the frenzy.
The men alleged excessive use of the stun gun, though Slager’s lawyers have defended his record as exemplary.”
Mario Givens is quoted as saying,
“If they’d listened to me Walter Scott might not be dead’: Man who filed excessive force complaint after being tasered by ‘killer cop’ in 2013 speaks out – and announces he’s suing.”
Givens was initially charged with resisting arrest, but was later released without charge. He filed a police complaint but Slager was exonerated. Read the rest of this entry