Archive for the ‘News’ Category

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – A white South Carolina patrolman charged with murder for shooting a black man in the back as he fled after a traffic stop will not face the death penalty if convicted, a prosecutor said on Monday.

None of the circumstances that allow lethal punishment apply in the April 4 shooting of 50-year-old Walter Scott by North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, said Scarlett Wilson, Charleston County’s chief prosecutor.

“Based on the facts revealed thus far, it does not appear South Carolina’s death penalty provision applies in this case because there are no statutory ‘aggravating circumstances’ present,” Wilson said in a statement.

Such factors include murders committed during a kidnapping, robbery, drug trafficking, or with poison or physical torture.

Scott’s death reignited a public outcry over police treatment of black Americans that flared last year after the killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, and elsewhere.

North Charleston fired Slager last week after he was charged with murder in Scott’s death. A cellphone video emerged showing him shooting at Scott’s back eight times as he ran away.

Slager was being held in Charleston County jail. He could face 30 years to life in prison if convicted.

In police dashboard camera video released Monday evening, Slager can be heard telling a fellow officer after the shooting he didn’t understand why Scott ran away.

“I don’t understand why he took off like that,” Slager said. “I don’t understand why he’d run.”

In a different case, Slager is accused of using excessive force during an August 2014 traffic stop in North Charleston in a lawsuit filed April 10 by Julius Wilson. Wilson was stopped for driving with a broken taillight, the same offense Scott was pulled over for the day he died.

Wilson says Slager and two other officers pulled him from his vehicle, restrained him face-down on the pavement and Slager fired a stun gun into his back.

A spokesman for the North Charleston police department declined to comment.

Another South Carolina man, Mario Givens, planned to file a lawsuit against Slager after his own complaint of abuse nearly two years ago was dropped after a brief police probe.

(Reporting by Harriet McLeod in Charleston, S.C.; Additional reporting and writing by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle and David Adams in Miami.; Editing by Peter Cooney and Doina Chiacu)

Related video:

North Charleston officer chuckled about adrenaline rush after shooting Walter Scott

‘Everything’s OK. … I just shot somebody,’ Officer Michael Slager says in a call

Jason Sickles, Yahoo

Yahoo News

Shortly after fatally shooting Walter Scott in the back, North Charleston police Officer Michael Slager nervously chuckled about his adrenaline “pumping,” but also assured a caller that things would be all right, according to new audio clips published by two media outlets.

“Hey. Hey, everything’s OK, OK?” Slager says in a phone call to someone believed to be his pregnant wife. “I just shot somebody. Yeah, he’s OK.”

If Slager meant Scott, then he wasn’t OK. Slager fired his .45-caliber Glock eight times. Four bullets struck Scott in the back and one hit him in the ear. He died at the scene.

View gallery


Fired officer Michael Slager is being held without bond for the fatal shooting of Walter Scott. (Charleston County Jail)

Fired officer Michael Slager is being held without bond for the fatal shooting of Walter Scott. (Charleston County …

The recording of the officer’s phone call and a conversation with a supervisor at the scene doesn’t show Slager — it’s audio only, from the patrolman’s uniform microphone that’s synched with his squad car’s dashboard camera.Last week, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) made public 4 minutes and 22 seconds of the dashcam video showing Slager stopping Scott for a broken taillight and then giving chase when Scott took off on foot prior to the shooting.

But on Sunday, The Guardian published quotes from audio after the fatal shooting. The newspaper said Slager’s patrol car picked up a total of about an hour of audio. On Monday, the Charleston Post and Courier obtained the same extended recordings.

Yahoo News emails to North Charleston Police and SLED, the agency investigating the shooting, were not immediately returned on Monday. Thom Berry, a spokesman for SLED, told The Guardian that he had not been able to confirm it, but that the person heard on the audio appears to have been Slager.

The April 4 shooting was captured on another video taken by a witness. Police and Slager initially said that Scott, 50, was shot after a skirmish over the officer’s Taser stun gun. But when the witness video showed Scott being shot eight times as he ran away, Slager was fired and charged with murder. The footage also shows Slager dropping an object — which has the appearance of a Taser — on the ground near Scott’s body.

In the audio clip the newspaper posted online, Slager answers a call after what sounds like an iPhone ringtone. After assuring the caller that he is OK, he appears to briefly describe what happened.

“He grabbed my Taser, yeah. Yeah, he was running from me. I’m good. I just wanted to let you know.”

[Related: Report: Charleston Co. prosecutor won’t seek death penalty against Officer Slager]

Through a spokeswoman, Andy Savage, Slager’s defense attorney, declined to discuss the new audio recordings.

The conversation between Slager and the unidentified supervisor appears to come from inside a patrol car. The dialogue is standard fare following an officer-involved shooting, but the sort of stuff that is rarely heard by the public.

“What happens next?” Slager, an officer for five years, can be heard asking. The supervisor tells him he’ll be transported to police headquarters before being taken home.

“Take your crap off, take your vest off, kind of relax for two or three,” the senior officer says.

“It’ll be real quick,” he continues. “They’re gonna tell you you’re gonna be out for a couple of days, and you’ll come back and they’ll interview you then. They’re not going to ask you any kind of questions right now. They’ll take your weapon and we’ll go from there. That’s pretty much it.”

View gallery


Walter Scott, a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, was buried on Saturday in Summerville, S.C. (Photo: David Goldman, AP/Pool)

Walter Scott, a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, was buried on Saturday in Summerville, S.C. (Photo: David Goldman, …

The supervisor tells Slager that it is likely to be a few days before he has to give an official account of what happened.

“The last one we had, they waited a couple of days to interview officially, like, sit down and tell what happened,” he says.

Then he leaves him with some advice.

“By the time you get home, it would probably be a good idea to kind of jot down your thoughts on what happened,” he says. “You know, once the adrenaline quits pumping.”

“It’s pumping,” Slager says, laughing nervously.

“Oh, yeah,” the senior officer replies. “Oh, yeah.”

Jason Sickles is a reporter for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter (@jasonsickles).

View Comments (802)
Details On Harrison Ford's Plane Crash Onto A CA Golf Course

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Lawyers for the parents of an unarmed, black 18-year-old who was fatally shot by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson said Thursday that they would file a civil lawsuit in Michael Brown’s death.

Attorney Daryl Parks said at a news conference in north St. Louis County that the City of Ferguson and former Officer Darren Wilson would be named in the wrongful death lawsuit, which they plan to file promptly.

The announcement came in response to the findings of a Justice Department investigation that charged the Ferguson police department with unfairly targeting blacks but cleared Wilson in Brown’s death.

Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, and his father, Michael Brown Sr., attended the news conference at Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, but they did not speak nor take questions.

Parks said the DOJ report makes it clear there are “rampant, wholesale, systemic” problems in the Ferguson police department that need to “change soon for the safety of the citizens.”

He did not say specifically when the suit would be filed. He said only that, “soon means soon.”

Officer Darren Wilson testifies

Officer Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, MO police officer who shot and killed in unarmed teen

St Louis, MO — According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Officer Darren Wilson, the police officer from Ferguson, MO who shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown on August 9th, has secretly testified Wednesday before a grand jury convened to investigate the shooting. Wilson testified for almost four hours in front of the seven men and five women (nine whites and three African-Americans) that make up the grand jury.

Not many other details have been released, but sources says Wilson was “cooperative” as he conversed with St. Louis County investigators and one withfederal investigators. Reportedly, several witnesses have also testified before the grand jury, but a spokesman for the prosecution refused to identify which ones.

The proceedings will determine whether or not Wilson will be charged with murder. In Missouri, nine grand jurors (or 3/4 of the total) have to agree there is sufficient probable cause to charge someone with a crime.

Robert P. McCulloch, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney, has already reportedly ordered an audio recording and transcripts of the proceedings, but those records will only be made public if there is no indictment in the case.

Meanwhile, the Brown family and local protesters have been irked by the secret proceedings. They have reportedly disrupted meetings with phone calls to remove McCulloch from office, questioning whether or not he can fairly oversee the case because his father and other family members are police officers. Even more, McCulloch could have filed charges against Wilson himself, but has chosen instead to let a grand jury decide.

Many say that such secret proceedings will only spark more protesting and looting.

FERGUSON, Mo. – Despite the cancellation of a planned Labor Day shutdown of Highway I-270 at West Florissant to protest the Aug. 9, killing of Michael Brown by local policeman Darren Wilson, demonstrators still took action and jammed up traffic during a short time around 4:40 p.m.

Several other nearby streets also experienced similar expressions of outrage, protesting the shooting of the unarmed Black 18-year-old by the Caucasian cop, such as on I-70 near Bermuda, wheredrivers slowed down and stopped, in defiance. St. Louis County police also stopped protesters who walked along I-70 carrying signs.

Initially scheduled for Monday, protesters were advised to turn on their hazard lights and stop on the highway for four and a half minutes to symbolize the four and a half hours Brown remained on the ground unattended, after being shot and killed by Wilson. But by Monday afternoon, Brown’s family had requested that the proposed protest be delayed, for unknown reasons.

Seemingly, many were not aware of the announcement and showed up anyway to answer the call, like Sherhonda Golden, who said, “I would definitely stop and I would do it as my form of protest coming from myself to symbolize that this is the mark we’re trying to make, and we want to keep trying to do any kind of protest we can to bring attention and awareness to basically getting anyone’s body from out from laying on the ground for that period of time.”

Reportedly, the highway shutdown has been rescheduled for Sept. 10. Activist Eric Vickers wrote President Barack Obama about that possibility. Zaki Baruti, with the Universal African Peoples Organization, confirmed the target date, saying, “We’ll be looking at that proposal by Eric. Eric is a very strong member of our community, the civil rights and human rights struggle in the area. I’ll personally probably support that cause and ask others to support it.”

Baruti stated that they have five demands, including the immediate termination of Wilson and for him to be formally charged with murder, adding, “As of now, not one demand has been met and that’s why we’ve got this ongoing tension. We’re saying that leadership just do the right thing.”

Police were concerned about serious and potentially deadly accidents from the protest where people are stopping on a highway.

Vickers walked the area around Lucas and Hunt and I-70 Monday afternoon, doing research about where they might organize the rescheduled shutdown, saying it looked like a good spot for Sept. 10 and that it will be better organized and prepared.

The recent news about the city finally financially compensating the five Harlem young men who were unjustly incarcerated a quarter ...

Central Park FIve

The recent news about the city finally financially compensating the five Harlem young men who were unjustly incarcerated a quarter of a century ago for the brutal April 19, 1989, assault and rape of Trisha Ellen Meili, a 28-year-old Caucasian female jogger in Central Park, conjures up memories about another highly politicized miscarriage of justice involving half a dozen Harlem teenagers who were also wrongfully convicted for a heinous crime committed against Caucasians.

Almost exactly 25 years earlier, an April 17, 1964, afternoon altercation between several local Black teenagers on their way home after a day of classes at Harlem’s Rice High School (74 W.124th St.) and a Caucasian store merchant at 368 Lenox Ave. sparked a mini-melee, which concluded after cops brutalized the teens, arrested two of them and blinded 31-year-old Frank Stafford in one eye after he questioned the cops about assaulting the youths. The incident became known as the “Harlem Fruit Stand Riot.”

The April 29, 1964, murder of a Caucasian woman, Margit Sugar, 45, and critical wounding of her husband, Frank Sugar, 50, in their secondhand clothing store at 3 W. 125th St. was blamed on some youths who were present during the Lenox Avenue conflict two weeks earlier. Wallace Baker, 19, William Craig, 17, Ronald Felder, 18, Donald Hamm,18, Robert Rice, 17, and Walter Thomas, 18, were arrested days later after acquaintance Robert Barnes Jr., 17, accused them of the crime.

Just as in the Central Park Five case two and a half decades later, the media vilified, tried and fried the youth before they had their say on the stand, alleging they belonged to an “anti-white gang” named “the Blood Brothers.”

“The existence of a Harlem gang indoctrinated in hatred of all white persons is chilling news,” reads a May 8, 1964, New York Times article.

The teens were wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder and attempted robbery July 17, 1965, in what infamously became known as the “Harlem Six” case. Months later, they were sentenced to life terms, which were later reversed upon appeal in November 1968 after it was revealed that the teens’ confessions had been coerced. They were granted a retrial, even though they remained incarcerated.

Rice was retried separately in 1970 and was convicted of first-degree murder. Later that year, Hamm pled guilty to manslaughter and was released, and in July 1972, Barnes confessed to lying, citing police intimidation.

In 1973, after being held behind bars without bail for nine years and enduring three hung juries, the remaining four men pled guilty to manslaughter in exchange for suspended sentences and were released.

Activists-actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee were staunch supporters throughout the ordeal, and Dee even portrayed one of the youths’ mothers in director Woodie King’s 1980 movie about the case, “The Torture of Mothers.”

In both situations, the media prejudiced the jury pool, as the highly publicized, racially tinged cases had the city on edge. The event acted as a springboard for several people who went on to have lucrative careers in the law arena. These cases raise the question, just how many more innocent people are serving time for crimes they didn’t commit, who didn’t have the media hype of these cases?

Ferguson, MO — Nearly 5,000 people attended Michael’s Brown funeral on Sunday in St. Louis, Missouri at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church. But millions watched it on television as it was broadcast live by CNN, NBC News, and other networks. Civil rights leader Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy, but many others spoke and/or prayed including T.D. Jakes, Jamal Bryant, and the family’s civil lawyer, Benjamin Crump.
Sharpton, during his speech, said: “We are not anti-police. We respect police. But those police that are wrong need to be dealt with just like those in our community who are wrong need to be dealt with.” He went on to criticize the police and how they left Brown’s body on the street for four hours after he was killed.
Sharpton also spoke about what the Black community owes itself. He commented, “Blackness was never about being a gangster or thug. Blackness was about how no matter how low we was pushed down, we rose up anyhow. Blackness was never surrendering our pursuit of excellence. When it was against the law to go to some schools, we built black colleges and learned anyhow.”

He continued, “And now we get to the 21st century, we get to where we got some positions of power. And you decide it ain’t black no more to be successful. Now you wanna be a n*gga and call your woman a ho. You lost where you come from. We got to clean up our community so we can clean up the United States of America.”

Crump, during his speech, talked about when the U.S. Constitution once referred to a slave as three-fifths of a person. He demanded that Brown get “full justice, not three-fifths justice.”

Also, in attendance was Ron Davis, father of Jordan Davis, 17, who was gunned down at a Jacksonville, Fla., gas station two years ago. He said he wanted to comfort the grieving family, and also saw the funeral as an opportunity to promote change. He commented that police should not use a “shoot-first mentality. He said, “We have to start going around the country and having seminars with police departments.”

Watch CNN’s footage below:

Georgia cops fired Taser 13 times ‘as a cattle prod’ to make tired man walk before he died


By David Edwards
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 10:59 EDT

A Georgia man died after police shocked him with a Taser as many as 13 times because he said he was too tired to walk due to a foot chase, his attorney said this week.

At a press conference on Tuesday, attorney Chris Stewart said that police records showed that East Point officers had discharged their Tasers 13 times to make Gregory Towns, who was handcuffed, get up and walk.

“This is a direct violation of their own rules,” Stewart explained, according to WSB-TV. “You cannot use a Taser to escort or prod a subject.”
“They used their Tasers as a cattle prod on Mr. Towns.”

Stewart said that he pieced together what led up to Towns’ April 11 death using official city records and eyewitness accounts.

“He wasn’t cursing. He wasn’t being abusive. He was saying, ‘I’m tired,’” the attorney pointed out.

Taser logs showed that Sgt. Marcus Eberhart fired his Taser 10 times, and officer Howard Weems pulled the trigger three times. However, the logs did not indicate how many times the Taser made contact with Towns.

In all, records indicated a total shock time of 47 seconds. Stewart called the situation “indefensible.”

Autopsy results obtained by WSB-TV showed that Towns’ death was ruled a homicide because the Taser shocks — combined with physical activity and heart disease — contributed to his death.

But Police Benevolent Association lawyers representing Weems continued to insist that the officer’s actions did not cause Towns to die.

Attorney Dale Preiser issued a statement saying that the “use of drive stun to gain compliance is permitted under federal and Georgia law.”