Killed by the Cops


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Chicago authorities have released bodycam
showing the fatal shooting of Paul
O'Neal, who was unarmed at the time.

Chicago authorities have released bodycam video showing the fatal shooting of Paul O'Neal, who was
unarmed at the time. Video shows Paul ram officers with his vehicle before officers discharged shots.

What the Paul O'Neal videos show

A Jaguar rolls toward a police SUV on a leafy Chicago street, passing between the SUV and a parked car, striking one.

One officer — his gun drawn while still in his vehicle –— jumps out of the passenger side of the SUV, and as the Jaguar moves past, opens fire.

The officer strafes the scene with bullets, striking his own vehicle at least once, his gunfire passing near another officer standing on grass across the street. As the Jaguar gets farther away from them, both officers fire.

The officers fire some 15 shots in about five seconds.

Video clips released Friday by the Independent Police Review Authority show the chaotic moments surrounding the fatal Chicago police shooting of Paul O'Neal, 18, in the South Shore neighborhood on July 28.

O'Neal, an African-American, was driving the Jaguar convertible that police said had been reported stolen from Bolingbrook. Nine video recordings from police officers' dashcams and body cameras show various aspects of the shooting incident, including officers firing at the fleeing vehicle while other officers appear to be in the field of gunfire and reactions of officers in the shooting's aftermath.

The videos show officers chasing O'Neal on foot around fences and through a backyard, where police said he was shot. The videos do not show the fatal shot, however, and police have said the officer's body camera did not capture it.

After striking that first vehicle, the Jaguar eventually barrels head-on into a police SUV. On one recording, an officer can be heard yelling, "Emergency, emergency, let me see your f------ hands, hands up!"

Someone can be seen running away from the crashed Jaguar as police pursue. The officers dart behind homes, shouting their locations to dispatchers along the way. The officers run up driveways and jump fences. One officer struggles to get over a fence and goes around a home instead.

About 20 seconds after the head-on crash, five shots can be heard.

O'Neal was shot in the yard of a home in the 7300 block of South Merrill Avenue.


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Officer fatally shoots 15-year-old boy in
car in Dallas suburb. Accounts at odds.


A 15-year-old boy was fatally shot by police Saturday night on a residential street in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs.

By Sunday, two versions of what prompted the shooting had reached the public.

Balch Springs police chief Jonathan Haber told reporters at a news conference Sunday afternoon that officers dispatched to the 12300 block of Baron Drive in Balch Springs after receiving a 911 call at 11 p.m. reporting several drunken teens walking the neighborhood.

Once officers arrived, they heard gunshots, Haber said. In what police described as an “unknown altercation,” a vehicle then began “backing down the street toward the officers in an aggressive manner.” One officer shot at the vehicle, Haber said, striking the front seat passenger.

Family later identified the passenger as high school freshman Jordan Edwards.

Edwards, 15, was transported to a hospital where he died.

The officer, whose name has not been released, was placed on administrative duty. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office are conducting their own investigations into the shooting, and the Balch Springs police department will oversee an internal investigation.

“On behalf of the entire Balch Springs Police Department and the city of Balch Springs we express our sincere condolences with the family,” Haber said during the news conference. “I have reached out and personally met and spoken with the parents and expressed my condolences as well.”

Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney representing Edwards’ family, has challenged the police account of Saturday night’s fatal shooting, claiming the five teens inside the car were not driving aggressively, but backing out of a parking space.

“Another family ripped apart by police brutality,” he wrote on Twitter Sunday. “There was absolutely no justification for this murder. We demand justice!”

In a phone interview with The Washington Post Sunday night, Merritt said Edwards, his 16-year-old brother and three other teen boys were at a party on Baron Drive when they learned that police were on the way.

They went to the car parked outside and saw flashlights and heard gunshots, Merritt said. As they climbed into the car, the teens apparently heard somebody yell profanities. Then they were being fired upon.

They fled for about a block, Merritt said, before they noticed there was smoke coming from Edwards’ head. The driver of the car, the boy’s older brother, stopped the car and they flagged down an approaching police cruiser for help.

Several of the teens played on the football team together. Edwards, a freshman, was going through spring training for next year’s season.

“They’re never going to be the same,” Merritt said. “These kids are never going to be the same.”

Merritt claimed three bullets were fired into the car. They came through the driver’s side window, he said.

Edwards and the four teens with him had not been drinking, according to Merritt. They were not cited for underage drinking and have not been charged with any crimes, he said.

According to reporting from the NBC affiliate in Dallas, all Balch Springs squad cars have dash cameras and officers wear body cameras. Merritt said he was told there is body camera footage of the incident and that it has been turned over to the sheriff’s office.

Requests for comment from The Washington Post were not immediately answered by Balch Springs police, including what policies the department has on shooting into moving vehicles.

Many major law enforcement agencies, federal officials and policing experts advise against shooting into moving vehicles, according to a 2015 investigation by the Guardian. The risk of harming an innocent party is too great, the Guardian reported, and the shots don’t often stop the vehicle.

The 2016 L.A. Rule

In 2016, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department — the largest sheriff’s department in America — wrote a new policy essentially banning officers from firing into a moving vehicle unless they feel threatened by something else, like a weapon.

It states: “Firearms shall not be discharged at a stationary or moving vehicle, the occupants of a vehicle, or the tires of a vehicle unless a person in the vehicle is imminently threatening the Department member or another person present with deadly force by means other than the moving vehicle.”

Haber, the police chief, told the CBS affiliate in Dallas that the department had been receiving threats online.

“Over the last several hours, we’ve received threats through social media towards officers … also towards our community,” said Chief Haber. “We want to encourage everyone to please just be patient.”

It has been nearly a year since a wave of officer-involved shootings was followed by ambush style attacks on law enforcement officers around the country, most notably in Dallas, where last July five officers were fatally shot and nine other officers injured by a sniper during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.

Merritt said that the Balch Springs Police Department, by reputation, is a small force and that the neighborhood where the shooting took place is relatively quiet and not known for gun violence.

Merritt said the tight-knit Edwards family is “devastated.”

“They seem to be walking around in shock,” he said. “I imagine they’re going to sleep tonight hoping to wake up to this all being a dream.”




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Officer fatally shoots 15-year-old boy in
car in Dallas suburb. Accounts at odds.
Texas officer charged with murder in shooting death of black teen in car leaving party

DALLAS (AP) -- A white Texas police officer has been charged with murder in the shooting of a black teenager for which the officer was fired, according to an arrest warrant issued Friday.

The warrant for Roy Oliver, a former officer in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, was issued by the Dallas County Sheriff's Office for the April 29 shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. He turned himself in Friday night at the Parker County Jail in Weatherford, Texas, about 95 miles west of Dallas, and his bond was set at $300,000.

In a statement it released Friday evening announcing the warrant, the sheriff's office cited evidence that suggested Oliver "intended to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that caused the death."




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Police Killing Without a Hint of Racism

Daniel Shaver begged officers not to shoot him. What role will his death play in the push for law-enforcement reforms?

Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

On January 18, 2016, Daniel Shaver, a traveling pest-control worker, was in between shifts at his motel, a La Quinta Inn and Suites in Mesa, Arizona. In the elevator, he met a man and woman who’d just finished their own workdays, the two later testified in court. Did they want to join the 26-year-old Texan for Bacardi shots in his room?

They’d already begun drinking when one of the guests asked about an unmarked case in the corner. Was it musical instrument? No, a pellet gun. He used it at work. His job was to go hunt down birds that had flown into businesses including Wal-Mart. Soon he was standing by his room’s window showing off his pellet gun to the man. Down below, two motel guests in the La Quinta Inn and Suites hot tub looked up and saw a man with a gun near a fifth-floor window. Someone called 911.

By the time six police officers gathered in the fifth-floor hallway, Daniel Shaver was intoxicated. The other man had already left and gone back to his own room. The woman was still there. When they were ordered out of the room by cops, Shaver appeared confused.

Still, Shaver exited unarmed, put his hands up, and did his best to comply with the demands of police, who ordered him to lay down on the ground. Soon after that, Officer Philip Brailsford, 26, shot and killed him with a service weapon on which he had etched, "You're fucked.” Brailsford is now on trial for second-degree murder.

The case hasn’t attracted the higher degree of attention from the press, the public, or policing reform activists, partly because body-cam footage of the killing has been withheld from the media and partly because the cop and the dead man were both white, rendering the killing less controversial than one possibly animated by racism. But it warrants more attention than it has received.

* * *

Police killings in the U.S. have come under intensified scrutiny since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent rise of Black Lives Matter, a protest movement that seeks numerous policy reforms to stop unjust uses of deadly force. Although a Department of Justice investigation later cleared Ferguson cop Darren Wilson, it also documented decades of racist policing in the St. Louis suburbs; and a disproportionate number of the most egregious police killings involve black victims: Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Laquan McDonald, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, and more. African Americans make up a disproportionate percentage of all police killings, too.

Given the historic abuses African Americans have suffered at the hands of police and the disproportionate ways they are affected even today by racist or inept police officers, many find the racial framing of Black Lives Matter is essential. At minimum, it is both understandable and substantively defensible. And in my estimation, the race-neutral policy reforms that the movement advances are long overdue.

Its protests have certainly helped mobilize support for police reform among the subset of Americans who believe that fighting racism should be a high priority. Unfortunately, its explicitly racial focus has been alienating to others, including those who don’t believe that racism is a significant factor in police killings; those who put fighting racism low on their priority list; and anti-black racists. In debates that ensue, critics of Black Lives Matter often try to argue that African Americans are not in fact disproportionately victimized by police killings. Here is a representative example.

Rather than engage that debate, though, I want to argue that it is largely irrelevant. Even if Black Lives Matter critics were right that police killings in America are not racially suspect, that would not be a sufficient argument against police reforms. It would still remain the case that American police officers kill many more people overall––and many more unarmed and mentally ill people in particular––than do police officers in other democratic countries.

Why isn’t that enough to warrant serious, systemic reform?

Black Lives Matter and its progressive allies who want to advance its reform agenda, believing that it will save innocents of all races and that it will disproportionately save lives in black communities, display a laudable commitment to speaking out every time the police killing of a black person illustrates a flaw of the status quo. But publicizing and protesting egregious instances of white people being killed would do as much to advance its agenda agenda.

Daniel Shaver’s case is instructive. His killing deserves more journalistic coverage as a matter of substance and more activist attention as a matter of strategy. Here is how Mark Geragos, an attorney in the case, describes the body-cam footage, which has been shown in court but not released to the public:

I know why they have not released it. It’s not bloody. It’s the most chilling, horrific thing you’ve seen in your life. This kid was begging for his life. He raised his hands, did everything the cops told him to do. And then they just executed him. It’s bone chilling. One of the worst experiences I’ve ever had in my life is sitting in a court room with his widow, who watched it for the second time, and she literally went into convulsions. I had to grab her to hold her in a bear hug. It was just awful.

Ben has been with me for eight years and does nothing but the civil rights practice. I’ve been doing criminal and civil rights for 35 years. I’ve seen thousands of tapes. This is light years beyond anything I’ve ever seen… it burns a hole in your brain. I literally had nightmares about it.

And here is an excerpt from the incident report produced by a Mesa police officer, who watched the body-cam footage of the encounter and described what happened from beginning to end. Throughout the events about to be described, Daniel Shaver is totally unarmed, and wearing basketball shorts and a t-shirt:

Shaver could be partially seen walking from the alcove into the hallway a split second after Sgt. Langley shouted for them to stop. Shaver raised his hands in the air prior to any further command, round the alcove into the hallway and immediately dropped to his knees with his hands in the air facing the officers ... Sgt. Lanley shouted for both of them to get on the ground. Shaver placed his hands in front of him and laid down on the ground on the south side of the hallway with his hands extended above his head. In the video, Shaver appeared to be wearing a dark colored shirt and dark shorts. No weapon was visible in the video, but also it was not clear Shaver did not have a weapon from the camera view. Shaver was, however, obviously compliant and offered no resistance at that point.

Sgt. Langley asked Shaver if there was anyone else in the room and Shaver answered that there was no one else in the room ... Sgt. Langley then calmly asked if both of them could understand him ... Sgt. Langley then stated, "Alright, if you make another mistake, there is a very severe possibility you are both going to get shot, do you understand?"

Shaver responded "Yes" to this question ... Sgt. Langley then began to talk when Shaver started to ask a question by saying "what's––". Sgt. Langley told Shaver to shut up and stated that he was not there to be tactful and diplomatic with Shaver and they need to obey his commands. At that point, Shaver's outstretched arms had both palms facing up so the officers could see his hands. As Sgt. Langley was saying they needed to obey his commands. Shaver moved both his arms in front of his face in a similar manner to what would occur when someone is lying on their stomach and intending to rest their head in their crossed arms. Sgt. Langley took note of this and asked Shaver if he had told Shaver to move. Shaver immediately moved his hand back out in front of him with his palms facing up and said, "I'm sorry. No, sir."

Sgt. Langley then ordered Shaver to place his hands on the back of his head and interlace his fingers. Shaver was again compliant. Sgt. Langley then told Shaver to cross his left foot over his right foot. Shaver complied with this but appeared confused as to which foot Sgt. Langley had ordered him to cross. He crossed his feet both ways before finally crossing his feet as Sgt. Langley had instructed. Sgt. Langley then asked again who else was in the room and Shaver responded with "nobody."

Sgt. Langley then asked if both of them were drunk and they both responded that they were not ... He then told Shaver that he turn his eyes down and look at the carpet and not move. He further instructed that Shaver needed to keep his fingers interlaced on his head and his legs crossed. Sgt. Langley then told Shaver that if he moved, it would be considered a threat and the officers would have to deal with that and Shaver "may not survive it." Shaver acknowledged with “yes sir” when asked if he understood this.

This is already vexing. A guy who had done nothing illegal is ordered into a motel hallway. Six cops are there with their weapons drawn; he is presumably a bit drunk, which would only add to his alarm and confusion; he is clearly trying to cooperate from the start; but the cops are hostile, yelling at him for trying to ask a question, adding to his fear by shouting that he may not survive, and giving lots of complicated instructions—it isn’t enough for the six men with guns that the man is laying on the ground with his hands outstretched and his palms up. They’re ordering him to cross his legs with specific instructions for which leg goes on top; they want his eyes closed; they want fingers interlaced on his head.

At this point, the woman crawls to police, who get her out of the way. The other individual had already left the room by the time the cops arrived on scene.

Now back to the incident report:

Shaver remained compliant and was not moving … Sgt. Langley told Shaver to listen to his instructions and “do not make a mistake.” Portillo’s purse was clearly visible in the middle of the hallway approximately three feet in front of Shaver.

Sgt. Langley told Shaver to keep his legs crossed and to place his hands out in front of him and push himself up into a kneeling position. Shaver moved his hands in front of him and then when he started to push himself into a kneeling position, he uncrossed his legs. Sgt. Langley immediately shouted at Shaver to keep his legs crossed. Shaver crossed his legs and was now on all fours on his hands and knees on the floor. Shaver’s head was down and he could be heard saying he is sorry and continued to mumble something I could not understand. Shaver then attempted to raise his body into a kneeling position as he had originally been instructed and brought both of his hands behind his back. This did not appear to be an exaggerated movement and looked similar from the vantage point of the video as when someone is handcuffed with officers behind them.

I invite readers to lay face down on the floor, hands outstretched, legs crossed; and then attempt rising to a kneeling position without uncrossing your legs or drawing your hands toward your waistband. Do not make a mistake or you die.

Sgt. Langley began to tell Shaver that he was not interested in a conversation as Shaver pushed himself up and placed his hands behind his back. Sgt. Langley stopped mid-sentence and began loudly screaming at Shaver about his hands. The initial command of what to do with his hands was loud and indiscernible on the recording as to what is being asked of Shaver. Sgt. Langley then followed up with shouting for Shaver to place his hands in the air. Shaver complied and rapidly put his hands above his head.

At approximately sixteen minutes and forty seconds on the recording Sgt. Langley shouted at Shaver, “If you do that again, we are shooting you. Do you understand?” Shaver immediately responded with the statement, “No, please don’t shoot me.” Shaver’s voice appeared to be panicked and Sgt. Langley shouted that Shaver needs to listen to instructions. At that point, Shaver’s arms were above his head with his elbows at approximately 90 degree angles. Shaver was ordered to put his hands in the air again by Sgt. Langley and he pushed his hands high above his head in compliance.

Sgt. Langley then shouted to Shaver that he was to keep his hands high in the air and that if he puts them in the small of his back again that they will shoot him. Shaver could audibly be heard sobbing at that point and Sgt.Langley asked if he understood. Shaver again said, “Yes, sir,” but could now be audibly heard sobbing as he said this.

Sgt. Langley could then be heard telling Shaver to crawl towards him. Sgt. Langley shouted this command and Shaver again dropped to his hands and knees and again can audibly be heard sobbing “Yes,sir,” as he began to crawl forward. Shaver reached the area where Portillo’s purse was and his left hand moved across his body and around the purse in order to crawl past it. Shaver was audibly sobbing as he crawled. Officer Brailsford’s rifle was primarily pointed down the hall until this movement was made. Officer Brailsford then swung his rifle back towards Shaver where Shaver could be seen with his braced left hand and his right hand moving back towards his waist with his elbow raised behind him. Shaver’s head appeared to be down with his face looking at the carpet. What appeared to be multiple voices, including Sgt. Langley’s, then began to say “Don’t” as Shaver’s hand moved back toward the front of his body. When his hand moves toward the front it is very slightly balled and his thumb is towards the top. Officer Brailsford fired his first shot as Shaver’s hand was moving toward the front of his body and as at least one officer was heard saying, “Don’t.”

The incident report recounts that “the movement of Shaver’s right arm in the recording was a very similar motion to someone drawing a pistol from their waist band. Officer Brailsford rapidly fired five shots at Shaver and Shaver slumps to the ground on Portillo’s purse. Shaver’s underwear were clearly visible and it appeared his shorts had fallen partially down his legs at that point. Shaver’s motion was also consistent with attempting to pull his shorts up as they were falling off. No other purposes for this movement appear to be viable.”

Only one of the six police officers chose to shoot.

* * *

Even if police killings were rare in America, this case would warrant more attention, not only because of the deadly shots fired by Brailsford, but also due to the confounding commands issued by Langley. It would warrant more attention regardless of the race of the victim.

But we live in a country where 963 people were shot by police in 2016; where at least 48 unarmed people were shot; and where there was confirmed body camera footage in 144 cases. What’s more, we live in a country where many reasonably suspect that neither the president nor the attorney general are as committed to protecting the civil rights of black people as the civil rights of white people; where Congress is controlled by a political party antagonistic to the Black Lives Matter movement; where some citizens are racist against blacks; where others don’t believe racism is a significant factor in police killings; and where still others rank fighting or remedying racism low on their priority list.

Given all that—and understanding that police kill roughly twice as many white as black people every year, with some killings of whites among the most egregious and best-documented unjust killings—the tendency of some journalists and activists to put less emphasis on unjust killings of white people, whether because they are less controversial or less illustrative of disparities, undermines both the journalist’s task of informing the public about the scope of the police-killing problem and the activist’s task of building a winning coalition.

Those who believe that America is a racist country should be most persuaded that if the public more fully grasped how many white people police unjustly kill, that might move public opinion more than knowing that an identical number of black people were killed. That’s awful. I find it depressing that some people are racists and others are unable to extend as much empathy or concern to those they perceive as different. Unjust killings of black people alone should have been enough to prompt significant, nationwide reforms years ago. But it hasn’t been enough.

That is just reality.

Now think of those who are not yet persuaded that police reforms are needed, but who could be brought on board. On average, are they more likely to be won over by today’s approach, or one that highlights egregious police killings even when they don’t implicate the newsworthy problems of racial bias and inequality?

Among police officers asked about killings of African Americans, “about seven-in-ten white officers (72%) but fewer than half of all black officers see these encounters as isolated incidents,” Pew found in January. “By contrast, majorities of black officers (57%) as well as the public overall (60%) say the incidents are signs of a broader problem between police and the black community.”

I suspect that 72 percent of white cops would be more easily persuaded that there is a training problem or a “bad apple” problem than a race problem. I further suspect that even some straightforward racists would be converted to supporting significant police reforms if they knew about Daniel Shaver and other cases like his. And even if the most deplorable of all Americans pushed policing reform efforts over the edge, their passage would help people of all races, and would disproportionately help demographic groups whose members are most likely to be killed, like African Americans, men, and the mentally ill.

All killings by police are worthy of attention, at least until American law-enforcement officers kills fewer rather than many more of the citizens they’re sworn to protect than police in other countries. No unjust killing of a black person should go uncovered. But I suspect it would be in everyone’s interest if journalists and activists paid more attention to egregious police killings of white people. If you’re horrified by Daniel Shaver’s untimely death, yet against Black Lives Matter, consider that Shaver might well be alive if only the Mesa police department had long ago adopted reforms of the sort that Black Lives Matter suggests.


  • CONOR FRIEDERSDORF is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction .





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Police Killing Without a Hint of Racism

Daniel Shaver begged officers not to shoot him. What role will his death play in the push for law-enforcement reforms?
Every peep on this board should read the article quoted above. How does a sick sadistic man like demented police officer Philip Brailsford who shoots an unarmed man who is on his knees get onto any police force. Is there any psychological screening at all? Before he shot the guy it's obvious he was having 'fun'? giving the on his knees man orders while pointing a AR-15 machine gun at him which was engraved with "You're Fucked". This so-called cop deserves at least a 30 year sentence for killing this innocent man for no reason at all.

Philip "You're Fucked" Brailsford; killer cop
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Every peep on this board should read the article quoted above.
As I posted the article, the only thought that came to mind was, if they would do that to a white person, what chance at all would we stand. The answer being obvious.


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This so-called cop deserves at least a 30 year sentence for killing this innocent man for no reason at all.


Police body cam footage shows the moment a Mesa, AZ police officer gunned down an unarmed man in a hotel hallway -- a shooting where the jury found the officer not guilty of 2nd degree murder.

The 2016 shooting happened in a hotel where police were responding to a report of someone pointing a gun out a window. Philip Brailsford was one of the responding officers, and in this video you see and hear the cops barking out commands to a man and woman the moment they walk out of their room.

While attempting to take Daniel Shaver into custody ... Brailsford fired his AR-15 five times, shooting and killing 26-year-old Shaver. Brailsford, who is no longer on the force, was on trial for 2nd degree murder and reckless manslaughter -- until the jury returned not guilty verdicts Thursday on both counts.

Mark Geragos represented Shaver's family and described the shooting as "an execution, pure and simple. The justice system miserably failed Daniel and his family."

This footage was critical in the trial, and was released hours after the verdict. In it, you see Shaver on his knees, begging cops not to shoot him. After struggling to follow some of Brailsford's directions ... he starts crawling toward the officers as commanded.

Brailsford testified he opened fire because it appeared Shaver was reaching for a weapon.!article/2017/12/07/mesa-police-involved-shooting-bodycam-philip-brailsford-not-guilty-daniel-shaver/



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Warning Graphic ! ! !



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source: ABC News

White ex-cop gets 20 years for Walter Scott slaying

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, file photo, Judy Scott, center, Walter Scott's mother, is comforted by her son Rodney Scott, as the family attorneys, Chris Stewart, left, and Justin Bamberg, right, hold a press conference after a mistrial was declared in former South Carolina officer, Michael Slager's trial in Charleston, S.C. Slager, who fatally shot a black motorist, Walter Scott, in 2015, could learn his fate as soon as his federal sentencing hearing winds down. On Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, attorneys are expected to call friends and relatives of both men who'll tell the judge how Scott's death and the officer's arrest have impacted their lives. (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)

One by one, relatives of the late Walter Scott urged a judge to mete out a significant punishment for Michael Slager, the white former police officer who fatally shot Scott, an unarmed black man, in the back after a 2015 traffic stop.

Through tears, Scott's family told Slager they felt sorrow for him and the loss his young children would feel in his absence. In the end, a judge sentenced Slager to 20 years in prison, giving the Scott family the justice they had sought ever since a stranger came to them with the shocking video of Scott being killed.

"I forgive Michael Slager. I forgive you," Scott's mother, Judy, said as she turned toward her son's killer. "I pray for you, that you would repent and let Jesus come in your life."

Sitting just a few feet away, Slager wiped tears from his eyes and mouthed: "I'm sorry."

The punishment wrapped up a case that became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. Slager, 36, is one of only a few police officers to go to prison for a fatal shooting, and his sentence is by far the stiffest since the shootings came under extra scrutiny in recent years.

Attorneys for the former North Charleston officer said he shot the 50-year-old Scott in self-defense after the two fought and Scott grabbed Slager's stun gun. They said race didn't play a role in the shooting and Slager never had any "racial animus" toward minorities.

Still, Slager pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Scott's civil rights. As part of a plea agreement reached in May, prosecutors dropped state murder charges.

"This is a tragedy that shouldn't have happened," U.S. District Judge David Norton said.

Slager apologized to the Scott family, calling Scott's mother and brothers by their names.

"With my actions that day, Walter Scott is no longer with his family, and I am responsible for that," Slager said. Of their forgiveness, he added: "I am very grateful for that."

Slager's emotions stood in stark contrast to his stoic demeanor during his state murder trial when jurors deadlocked over a verdict. He has several weeks to appeal his sentence and will be housed at the Charleston County jail until he's assigned to a federal prison.

After the sentencing, Judy Scott and Walter's two brothers told reporters that, while they had made peace with the case, they remained adamant the officer should pay for his crime.

"Who are we not to forgive?" Rodney Scott said.

A bystander recorded the shooting on a cellphone, and it was shared around the world, setting off protests across the U.S. as demonstrators said it was another egregious example of police officers mistreating African-Americans.

Slager fired at Scott's back from 17 feet (5 meters) away. Five of eight bullets hit him.

The video was seized on by many as vivid proof of what they had been arguing for years: that white officers too often use deadly force unnecessarily against black people.

When the jury failed to reach a verdict in the state murder case, many black people and others were shocked and distressed, because the video seemed to some to be an open-and-shut case. Some despaired of ever seeing justice.

The shooting angered local African-Americans who complained for years that North Charleston police harassed blacks, pulling them over or questioning them unnecessarily as they cracked down on crime. But after the shooting, the Scott family successfully pleaded for calm, asking everyone to let the justice system run its course.

Two months after the shooting, a young white man killed nine black church members in a racially motivated massacre during a Bible study in Charleston. The family members of those victims struck a similar forgiveness tone after that attack.

Before Slager's sentence was handed down, the judge had to decide whether the shooting amounted to second-degree murder or manslaughter. Norton found that it was murder.

"No matter what sentence I give, neither the Scott family nor the Slager family is going to think that it's right," the judge said.

After the shooting, Slager picked up his stun gun and placed it next to Scott. Slager contended he was securing the weapon. Prosecutors think he put it there to bolster his self-defense story.

The judge also found that Slager obstructed justice when he made statements to state police after the shooting.

A pre-sentencing report for Slager found that he committed manslaughter and recommended 10 to nearly 13 years in prison. But the judge was not bound by that review.

If Slager had faced another state trial and been convicted of murder, he could have been sentenced to anywhere from 30 years to life in prison.

Convictions in police officer shootings are uncommon in the U.S. and prison time is even rarer.

South Carolina has been aggressive in charging white officers who shoot unarmed black people. Four have pleaded guilty in state or federal court in the past six years. But only Slager and former state trooper Sean Groubert, who shot a man as he tried to get his wallet during a seat belt violation check, will have been sent to prison. Groubert was sentenced to five years behind bars.


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Beneath the Skin
Episode 2

Updated 11:14 AM EST December 6, 2017
Video 16:57

In fear for his life, a Chicago police officer shoots an armed black teen. At least, that's one version of the story. What really happened the day Roshad McIntosh died?



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Philando Castile and his Mother Valerie Castile

by Michael Harriot |

Today—almost a year after a man who took an oath to protect and serve sent a bullet into the skull of another human being at point-blank range who was absolutely no threat to anyone on earth—12 jurors, a judge and and the entire American justice system stood on the grave of Philando Castile, took an extended piss, wiped their bloody hands in the soil and said, “Fuck that guy.”

Please spare me the self-assured comments about how you knew what the verdict would be, or the narcissistic passive-aggressive question of “What did you think would happen?” If I were forced to wager my life’s savings on the verdict, I, too, would have bet that Jeronimo Yanez would never be convicted of Castile’s murder. But if you informed me on Monday that you planned to kick me in the gut on Friday, I could prepare myself for it all week, but that doesn’t mean it still wouldn’t hurt.

America is a bitch.

America has always been lovely from the outside, with her spacious skies and amber waves of grain. We see white people enjoying freedom, liberty and equality and wonder if America could ever love us like that. But America is a cruel mistress who cuddles up to us and murders black people in their sleep. She has never meant us any good. Only harm. Only pain. America is a liar. America is a murderer. America is a bitch.

Acquittal is different from a hung or deadlocked jury; it means Yanez is “not guilty.” It means that even if a black man complies with every letter of the law, it is still OK for a law-enforcement officer to kill him.

It means that even if a black man is legally carrying a gun but never pulls it out, he can still be killed for carrying a gun.

Which means—even though the Constitution guarantees every American the right—a black man cannot carry a gun.

Which means that a black man’s constitutional rights can be arbitrarily taken away from him.

Which means that a black man has no constitutional rights.

America is bullshit.

All of it. Every stripe on the flag is bullshit. Every star that spangles the banner is bullshit. Do not ever wonder why a second-string signal caller would “disrespect” it when it has never protected us.


It is impossible for justice to coexist with inequality. Justice is a constant—either it is or it isn’t. It is unflagging. The fact that it is applied to black lives arbitrarily and sparingly is proof that it doesn’t exist for us. We live under the delusion that there is something we can do to prevent our brains from being splattered onto a random sidewalk, but that is bullshit, too.

If you stand still, like Eric Garner, America will kill you.

If you drive away, like Sam Dubose, America will kill you.

If you walk away slowly, like Terence Crutcher, America will killl you.

If you run away, like Walter Scott, America will kill you.

If you fight back, like Trayvon Martin, America will kill you.

If you get on your hands and knees like Kenneth Walker, America will kill you.

And like Brendan Hester and Philando Castile, even if you comply with every word that you are told; even if you pose no threat; even if there is absolutely no reason for her to be afraid, America will pump bullets into a black body and never miss a minute of sleep in her comfortable bed at home, because America is an evil bitch.

Do not be mad at Yanez. He is a police officer, and we already know what they do. This is the fault of America. Yanez admitted that Castile didn’t pull out a gun. He conceded that Castile didn’t do anything dangerous. America is the one that let him go. Her laws. Her courts. Her criminal-justice system that fucks black men for half a joint but allows white killers their freedom, unmarred by their guilt.

Because America is bullshit.

The truth is, it’s all bullshit. Whatever you tell your son or daughter to do when the police stops him or her is bullshit. The idea that it means anything to “know your rights” is bullshit. It’s bullshit for anyone to suggest that a black man should ever trust a police officer in this country. It’s bullshit for anyone without white skin to ever believe that he or she enjoys the full and equal protection of the law. It’s bullshit to believe that America gives a fuck about you and won’t put a gun to your head and pull the trigger for no reason at all. And even though it is not a new revelation, it still hurts my gut.

I imagine that Philando Castile loved America. I bet that he thought she was fair. I bet he thought that telling a police officer that he was carrying a gun was the right thing to do, right up until the bullet entered his skull. In that instant, he probably wondered how this could be—how he could love something so much and do everything right by her, only to have her stand over him and watch the blood trickle down his cheek, the same way she had stolen the breath from countless black bodies before.

I bet America celebrated a little bit. I bet she even smiled as Philando Castile descended into the infinite darkness, still loving her, confused and wet with pieces of his own brain fluid.

Imagine getting fucked like that.
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Can Cops Unlearn Their Unconscious Biases?

“Implicit bias” training is spreading to departments around the country, the theory being it can influence officer behavior on the street. But it’s still not clear that the classes actually work.

Mark Makela / Getty
SALT LAKE CITY—On a clear, cold morning this fall, Police Sergeant Scott Stuck stood at the front of a long, high-ceilinged room, visible to a reporter outside, his brow furrowed as he faced more than a dozen officers.

Quietly and methodically, Stuck was trying to convince them of an idea that goes against much of what they’ve been taught it means to be a cop—one that at first blush seems to validate the deepest criticisms activists level against police, and even call into question whether the fundamental equation of policing itself might be flawed.

On that cold morning, Stuck was trying to convince the officers that they are biased.

And although nearly everyone I spoke with about the training seemed to take pains to avoid one word—“racism”—that’s the kind of bias that was on everyone’s mind.

“It’s just something that you don’t admit. It’s the elephant in the room that you just don’t talk about,” said Sergeant Sam Wolf, another trainer in the department. “You don’t talk about discrimination and bias, because then … people might think cops are discriminatory, they’re biased. If we admit that, then what does it mean about how we serve the public?”

The morning’s class was only the third to be offered in Salt Lake, but it puts the department among a growing number adopting similar courses, generally referred to as implicit-bias training. In at least four states, state police and their training academies offer the classes, as do local departments in more than a dozen.

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But even as the classes spread, it’s not clear whether they actually work. Few specific guidelines exist for what courses should include, how the material should be taught, or how to measure its effects. Indeed, little data exist about their efficacy over the long term. The Obama administration’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing included implicit-bias training on its list of best practices for law enforcement, but without specifics. That ambiguity leaves each agency to decide what the classes should look like—and whether they’re succeeding.

At their root, the trainings spring from one basic proposition: that unconscious biases—including those linked to factors like economic class and gender, but especially racial biases—are the inevitable product of growing up in a society where stereotypes are woven into the fabric of everyday life. Beneath the surface of the conscious mind, biases influence how people frame and interpret those around them—from whether a smile is shy or sarcastic, to whether a hand is reaching for a wallet or a gun.

Crucially, what makes implicit biases implicit—and important—is the fact that they can exist despite people’s best intentions. Over and over, researchers have found that subjects can consciously embrace ideas of fairness and equality and yet, on tests that measure subconscious tendencies, still show a strong propensity to lean on stereotypes to fill in the blanks about people they don’t know. And while biases can influence just about everything, perhaps nowhere do they have the potential to have such a profound, immediate effect as in policing, where a split-second decision by a stranger—exactly the kind of situation where biases come into effect—can mean life or death.

In Salt Lake, the trainers told me their goals can be boiled down to one hope: that by showing officers evidence of the existence of bias, and by encouraging them to discuss their own, seeds of self-awareness will ultimately grow—and change behaviors on the street.


The ideas behind the trainings aren’t particularly revolutionary. The twin assumptions they hinge on—that osmotically absorbing bias is an inherent feature of growing up in America, and that admitting its presence is the first step toward its eradication—have become well accepted in progressive circles. But in the context of law enforcement, accepting bias as inevitable also raises questions about the fundamental equation of policing, which is built on the notion of the fair cop.

Not a judge, the American police officer is nonetheless given—and expected to wield judiciously—substantial power over which crimes to pursue and, crucially, whose behavior to scrutinize for signs of criminality. In turn, that discretion ideally allows police to ignore minor offenses and spend their time pursuing people who pose real threats to their communities. In other words, impartiality, combined with broad power, should produce impartial enforcement of the law.

But that equation is clearly flawed, a fact manifest not only in the deaths of black men at the hands of police, but in the disproportionate presence of police in the day-to-day lives of people of color. Black Americans, in particular, are a third more likely than whites to be stopped by police, up to a third more likely to be ticketed during a stop, and three times more likely to be searched. They’re also as much as three times more likely to be subject to the use of force, with one study finding that unarmed black people are almost three-and-a-half times more likely to be shot by police than unarmed whites.

Salt Lake is not immune to police violence against African Americans, who make up just 3.5 percent of the city’s population. A coalition of civil-rights groups requested the police department implement implicit-bias training, along with other reforms, after police shootings in 2014 and 2015. The city drew media attention in 2016 when it passed the year-and-a-half mark since its last fatal police shooting. But that run was broken in August, when an officer shot and killed 50-year-old Patrick Harmon.

While linking any one incident to officer prejudice is difficult, all signs point to implicit bias playing at least some role in the broader disparity between police interactions with whites and people of color. In a 2007 study that received wide notice, a team of researchers led by University of Colorado neuroscience and psychology professor Josh Correll ran officers through a simulator that repeatedly challenged them to identify what objects black and white subjects were holding in their hands, and then decide whether to shoot. In repeated trials, officers were quicker to decide to shoot armed black subjects than armed whites, and took longer deciding to spare unarmed blacks. There were virtually no racial discrepancies in the officers’ mistaken shots—but later studies found bias crept in when officers were subjected to mental stress.

While Correll’s work gained notice, it wasn’t the first to spot bias: Studies dating back to at least 2001 have found police officers and civilians are consistently more likely to associate black faces with criminality, to misidentify common objectsas weapons after being shown photos of black faces, and to label photos of black people as threatening.

And “this isn’t something that’s just wrong with police officers,” said Kimberly Kahn, a social-psychology professor at Portland State University who studies bias in policing and has helped formulate implicit-bias courses. “It would actually be pretty weird if police weren’t subject to these problems” the way other Americans are.

But, Kahn added, the power cops wield obligates them to better combat their biases, and that begins with acknowledging one simple, central fact: Everyone is biased, and I am, too.


Back in Salt Lake, that admission seemed to be the hardest for officers to make. I wasn’t allowed inside the classroom. The lieutenant in charge of training at the department told me that the proceedings are so sensitive—and the openness they’re trying to cultivate so profound—that my presence could throw the learning process off its rails. But a few of the officers were willing to talk afterward.

More than one referred to the landmark “doll study” that was cited in Brown v. Board of Education. According to its findings, children, including black children, reliably associated positive characteristics with light-skinned dolls and negative characteristics with dark-skinned ones. Officers watched a video reproduction of the study, which is meant to show just how baked-in biases are. “I looked at them and thought, ‘If they’re having it at that age, [and] I have a lot more life experience than they do, I know I must have it,” said Officer Andrew Sylleloglou, a 10-year veteran. “That was quite the eye-opener.”

Similarly, a second officer, Jeffrey Denning, called the study tragic. But he also told me he still viewed racism as a “buzz topic,” inflated beyond its true importance.

Even after taking the course, Denning said he was still skeptical of the class’s central idea: That despite his best intentions—what he described as a deep desire to be fair—negative biases about certain groups could affect his thinking and behavior, and that bias can play a role in the treatment of minorities by police. Instead, he said, disparate use of force on black people seems to be more likely linked to their “higher degree of crime.”

Denning at first said the course had opened his eyes only to positive biases, toward groups like senior citizens, that might lead him to mistakenly let down his guard.

But when asked point-blank if the course had at all opened his eyes to any negative biases he has, Denning had to pause. Finally, he said his answer would depend at least in part on who was asking, whether he was in uniform, and whether—as he put it—“they were anti-cop people.” Then, with a tone almost of resignation, Denning circled back.

“Just me speaking to you, yeah. Unfortunately I do,” he said. “Just like you, and every other person in the world.”

The crux of surmounting bias, said both researchers and the officers themselves, is setting aside the expectation of what police are supposed to be—“kind of the lady justice,” as Sylleloglou put it—and with it the dissonance between what they’ve learned and the way they see themselves. “The hard part is bringing [bias] out into the open and talking about it. And I‘m talking about just amongst peers,” Sylleloglou said. “Imagine talking about it with community members. … I’d be afraid what they’re going to think of me.

“We want to be looked up to,” he added. “We want people to think that we are 100 percent always trying to do the right thing. Maybe someone who’s not in a position of authority like an officer—it might be easier for them to admit that they have biases.”


Expanding officers’ awareness of their prejudices might seem an intuitive exercise. But a lack of standards for implicit-bias training—namely, what exactly courses should include and how to monitor their impact—means no one really knows how effective they actually are, even as they are adopted by more and more departments.

To make things even more confusing, debate also swirls around which tests to use to measure bias, the degree to which implicit biases are truly unconscious, and even the strength of the link between bias and behavior.

“Some of these trainings are based on wishful thinking and intuition,” said Patricia Devine, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin who runs a lab focused on prejudice. At least two national groups offer the trainings, and departments can and do also put together their own.

If agencies skip key steps, Devine said, like arming participants with concrete strategies for monitoring their own biases, they won’t work. “By doing this kind of training and not having standards for effectiveness ... you don’t know if somehow they left an ingredient out,” she said.

“The trainings have great potential, but they need to be tied to assessment,” said Phillip Goff, a City University of New York professor and the head of the Center for Policing Equity, a think tank based at the university that helps departments set up trainings. Assessments need to go well beyond feedback from participants, he said: They should include rigorous testing after classes finish to see if officers’ reactions, behavior, or perceptions were actually changed by the material. While the courses designed by his group include that testing, few others do, he added.

Correll, the Colorado researcher, described the risk of uneven standards another way. A training session could include all the right information, and create a basic awareness that bias exists, but still fall short of actually bringing officers across the threshold of acknowledging their own. And a program might look from the outside like it was succeeding, and perhaps even cause changes in officer behavior—but only in situations where they have time to think their actions through.

“That’s cool,” Correll said. “But when someone jumps out from behind the bushes and pulls something from his waistband, that’s not the way the brain is working.”

There’s an additional risk to the lack of standardization, he said: If government leaders and the public treat this first wave of courses as a referendum on whether bias can be mitigated through training, mediocre results from even some departments could fuel criticism of the courses, and doubts that bias reduction itself is a worthwhile pursuit.

Devine and others did sound hopeful notes, emphasizing that law-enforcement leadership with whom they’ve spoken recognize the urgency of the issue. And despite some initial defensiveness, Devine and others said, many officers seem to warm to the training for perhaps the same reason they were attracted to policing in the first place: because they genuinely value fairness.

That sense of hope was reflected by at least one activist in Salt Lake, where Black Lives Matter Utah organizer Lex Scott described her feeling that the trainings are a good thing.

“You can’t have people saying they don’t see color,” Scott said. “I’m a black woman, and if you’re telling me you don’t see color, you’re telling me you don’t see the injustices that I’ve faced, the struggles that I have, … and you definitely can’t celebrate my culture.”

For her to feel like the classes are succeeding, Scott added, she’d need to see two things: First, that people of color are involved in the teaching (Stuck said he believes none are), and second, that the teachers tell the unvarnished truth about how minorities fare at the hands of police.

“They shouldn’t sugarcoat it at all,” she said. “You have those biases, you have to face them.”

Bias is paradoxical. It can drive people’s actions one way, while their conscious minds strain in the opposite direction. It can be a feeling people hardly notice, but one that can profoundly change how they see the world. And it’s fairly straightforward to explain, but difficult to accept. One way around that difficulty would be to water down the hardest parts, like the idea that racial biases in particular are widespread, and that they affect the everyday application of the law. Framing bias only in positive terms—as a warning, for example, not to mistakenly go easy on senior citizens and soccer moms—would likewise be an easy way to make the material more palatable to an audience that is deeply invested in a vision of itself as impartial. Yet that framing conveniently elides the hardest, most important truth of all: The racial divide in policing is real, it is ugly, and it grows from a thing that has worked its way into all Americans’ minds.

This article is part of our project “The Presence of Justice,” which is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge.

  • TOM JAMES is a freelance reporter based in Seattle. He’s a former Reuters reporter and a former state political correspondent for Crosscut.
The Presence of Justice
Beyond the age of mass incarceration

This project is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge.



International Member

Josh Begley

December 30 2017, 3:00 p.m.

FOR THE THIRD year in a row, police officers in the United States have killed more than 1,000 people.

How do we make sense of such a staggering number?

This week, the research collective Mapping Police Violence, led by Sam Sinyangwe, released the 2017 Police Violence Report — an analysis of data concerning every deadly run-in with law enforcement recorded this year.

“Compiling information from media reports, obituaries, public records, and databases like Fatal Encounters and the Washington Post,” the website reads, “this report represents the most comprehensive accounting of deadly police violence in 2017.” Whereas 2016 saw 1,093 people killed by the police, that number has risen to more than 1,100 today.

They allow readers to download their data. As in previous years (see the 2015 and 2016 versions of this project), I spent some time looking at the locations of these encounters. What might we see in the landscape?

Using the Street View API, I wrote a computer script that runs each address through the all-seeing eye of Google, downloading three images for each location.

What emerges is a triptych of police brutality in 2017. Every frame you see is from one of these sites of violence.



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Police are still killing black people. Why isn’t it news anymore?

The activism never stopped. But the attention to it vanished

Protestors gather last year near the spot where Philando Castile was fatally shot by a police officer in Minnesota. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

By Wesley Lowery | March 13 2018 |
Wesley Lowery is a national correspondent covering law enforcement, justice and their intersection with politics and policy for The Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics. In 2015, he was a lead reporter on the "Fatal Force" project awarded the Pulitzer Prize and George Polk award.

As the video begins, Edward Minguela, 32, is standing on the sidewalk. His hands are in the air. Three Camden County, N.J., police officers approach from all sides with their weapons drawn. They’d received an anonymous tip about a man with a gun. Minguela, who seemed to fit the description, is unarmed. The first officer to reach Minguela grabs him from behind and slams him to the ground. The officer then curls a fist and starts punching — landing a dozen rapid blows to Minguela’s head as two other officers help pin the man to the ground.

A surveillance camera mounted to a nearby liquor store captured the Feb. 22 beating frame by frame, the latest addition to a familiar genre stretching from Rodney King to Alton Sterling.

Unlike those other videos, you probably haven’t seen this one.

Police violence — beatings, Taserings, killings — and criminal justice reform more broadly were arguably the leading domestic news storyline during the final two years of the Obama administration. The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile and others dominated headlines, inspired nationwide protests and brought on a pro-law-enforcement backlash that helped elect President Trump. Now the issue has all but vanished from the national political conversation.

It’s not because police violence has stopped. As of this week,, 198 people had been shot and killed by American police officers so far this year, according to The Washington Post’s police shooting database — about the same pace of three fatal shootings per day that The Post has recorded since we began tracking police shootings in 2015.

And it’s not because reporters have abandoned police accountability: Recent months have seen intensive investigations from BuzzFeed, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Tampa Bay Times and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, among others. Several Post reporters, myself included, spent 2017 investigating what happens to “bad apple” police officers after they are fired. As it turns out, they often end up right back on the job.

The first of several reasons policing reform has lost our national attention is obvious: Trump. The election of a reality television host under a cloud of Russian interference — whose White House is plagued by scandals, constant turnover, policy reversals, leaks and staff infighting — is deservedly the drama at center stage. Cable news stations, the political press corps and social media networks have covered Trump above all else. As a result, they no longer play the same role in amplifying the cause of police reform. A video like Minguela’s, or the one showing the similar beating of Johnnie Jermaine Rush in Asheville, N.C. — which just 18 months ago would have spurred columns, debates, cable news panels and sustained protests — is no longer breaking through. “The nation has a short attention span, and frankly, is interested in what the major networks tell the nation it should be interested in,” Devon Jacob, the civil rights attorney representing Minguela, told me in an email.

This shift comes as many of the young activists who gained prominence after the Ferguson, Mo., protests have changed their tactics. While some of them initially disavowed the formal democratic process, many during the past two years have begun efforts focused on bending the political system from within. St. Louis activist Kayla Reed and political strategist Jessica Byrd helped launch the Electoral Justice Project, which has held town halls and voter registration efforts in dozens of cities. Writer and activist Shaun King last month started a political action committee aimed at electing progressive, smart-on-crime prosecutors, sheriffs and judges.

Others have found a home inside the broader framework of the Resistance. The team behind the police-reform-oriented Campaign Zero has launched the Resistance Manual and the Our States projects, both aimed at empowering their supporters to undercut the Trump agenda locally. Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza recently announced the Black Census project, which aims to survey 200,000 African Americans so organizers can better mobilize black votes around issues considered most urgent by black communities.

This evolution is a common phenomenon for activism born out of national tragedies and traumas: Some participants return to their lives and their jobs. Some tire of being in front of the cameras. And some adapt along with the news cycle. That was the model through which mothers and fathers of those killed at Sandy Hook reappeared to discuss the mass shootings in Orlando and Las Vegas, and the foot soldiers of 2014’s #YesAllMen movement eventually helped power 2017’s #MeToo movement. Dozens of community organizers and activist groups are doing the same police reform work they did before the masses in the streets drew the eyes of the nation to Ferguson, but once again, their work often isn’t enough to seize our attention.

What’s more, unlike President Barack Obama, Trump isn’t interested in police reform. The Obama administration oversaw a significant reduction in federal incarceration, scaled back federal drug prosecutions and went further than any other modern White House in its efforts to reform local police departments. Trump, by contrast, has encouraged officers to rough up “thugs” they take into custody, telling an audience of officers last year, “Don’t be too nice.” His attorney general has openly heaped scorn on the legitimacy of his predecessors’ investigations into local police forces, ordering a review of each of those probes and declining to open new ones.

And unlike Obama, who was immediately and persistently asked to weigh in on issues of race and policing — from Henry Louis Gates’s arrest to Trayvon Martin’s death to the Ferguson protests — Trump faced no such questioning when police in Texas shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards last April or when a video of an Arizona officer fatally shooting unarmed Daniel Shaver was released last year.

Among other complicating factors is that, while police shootings have continued, the number of unarmed people being killed has dipped and therefore so has the number of videos of such shootings that galvanize the public. In 2015, 36 unarmed black men were fatally shot by police; footage of the armed yet compliant Castile, 12-year-old Tamir Rice and Walter Scott dying from their wounds prompted massive protests. In 2017, the figure was 19. Of the 31 black people fatally shot by police so far in 2018,only one incident is known to have been caught on a body camera. Some policing experts say officers have become more cautious.

What have people who ostensibly care about police reform missed since the advent of Trump? In Baltimore — where the community outrage after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent Justice Department report documenting routine civil rights violations by the police force prompted wall-to-wall coverage — a police corruption trial that resulted in the conviction of two detectives surfaced evidence that the city’s elite gun task force routinely stole money and drugs from residents. The police commissioner called the revelations “some of the most egregious and despicable acts ever perpetrated in law enforcement.” In Philadelphia, a civil rights lawyer was elected district attorney and has begun implementing reforms that wow activists and infuriate the local police union. In Chicago, former police superintendent Garry McCarthy — who is at times hailed as a reformer, but who also oversaw the city’s botched handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting — is flirting with the idea of running against Rahm Emanuel, the mayor who hired and then fired him.

And then there’s Camden, where prosecutors say they are investigating the officer who beat Minguela. Meanwhile, Minguela himself still faces charges of resisting arrest and obstructing justice. In a world where the video of his beating got meaningful cable news play, or where more national reporters called the prosecutors for comment, would those charges still be on the books?

It can be hard, understandably, to focus on things that feel like they aren’t happening. And we don’t lack for alternate storylines: hurricanes that wrecked Houston and Puerto Rico, homicidal white supremacists in Charlottesville, and a massacre in Las Vegas that ranks as the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Still, if we collectively care about an issue only when the streets are literally burning, it’s reasonable to wonder if we actually care at all.

Twitter: @WesleyLowery
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They should get medals for shit like this where they refrain from using deadly force at the risk of their own lives. Being a police officer should be seen as going to war, not a regular safe job.


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They should get medals for shit like this where they refrain from using deadly force at the risk of their own lives.
Actions like these might be medal grade when we see this kind of restraint being exercised when the subjects are black like me.



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Stephon Clark's Family Urges Criminal Charges Against Police Who Shot Him

March 26, 20188:30 PM ET


A tearful Sequita Thompson pleads for police officers who killed her unarmed grandson, Stephon Clark, to face criminal charges. Thompson was accompanied at a news conference by Clark's uncle, Kurtis Gordon (left) and attorney Ben Crump (right).Rich Pedroncelli/AP

The family of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old unarmed black man fatally shot by police in his grandparents' back yard, on Monday urged the Sacramento, Calif., district attorney's office to bring criminal charges against the two officers who killed him.

In a press conference held at City Hall, Clark's grandmother, Sequita Thompson, wailed in mourning over the violent and unfathomably sudden death of her grandson, captured on police body cameras and helicopter video overhead.

Video Shows Sacramento Police Shooting Unarmed Black Man In Grandparents' Backyard

Thompson demanded an explanation for why officers fired about 20 shots at Clark, who at the time was holding a borrowed cell phone in his hand. Police said at the time they believed it was a gun.

"They didn't have to kill him like that. They didn't have to shoot him that many times," she sobbed, as Clark's uncle, Kurtis Gordon, wiped tears from her face.

"Why didn't you shoot him in the arm? Shoot him in the leg? Send the dogs? Send the taser? Why?" she asked.

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump is representing the family in the case, and cradled Thompson as she wept on his shoulder.

In recent years, Crump has handled several high-profile officer-involved shooting cases, including Tamir Rice and Michael Brown.

Crump drew comparisons between the Sacramento police officers' response when dealing with Clark, a black suspect, and that of law enforcement in other cities pursuing white suspects.

The Florida high school shooter who allegedly killed 17 people last month before he was apprehended, "was not shot once. But a young black man holding a cellphone is shot 20 times," he said. "Young man who was bombing homes in Austin, [Texas], the police followed him for hours. He wasn't shot once. But an unarmed black man holding a cellphone is shot 20 times."

"We will stand up for Stephon, we will speak up for Stephon ... until we get justice," he added.

Alice Huffman and Betty Williams of the NAACP were among nearly a dozen African American community leaders standing with Clark's family Monday.

After the press conference, Huffman told The Sacramento Bee efforts by the NAACP to reach Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert had gone unanswered but that the organization is in talks with the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division about investigating the shooting at the federal level.

Shelly Orio, a spokeswoman with the district attorney's office told NPR that members of Schubert's office are in the process of setting up a meeting with Williams sometime in the near future.

"The meeting being scheduled with the NAACP is at their request, so we are not sure what they would like to discuss," Orio said in an email. She also added, "The Sacramento County District Attorney's Office reviews all officer-involved shootings that occur in the county which result in injury or death."

Activists and protesters have been demonstrating in the days since footage of the killing was released last week. A day after the videos went viral Black Lives Matter led a march that spilled onto Interstate 5, shutting down traffic in both directions during rush hour.

As NPR reported, over the weekend protesters merged with the March for Our Lives event against gun violence on school campuses. That drew the attention of Reverend Al Sharpton, who said on MSNBC that he would attend Thursday's funeral for Clark.

On Sunday night basketball players from the Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics wore black t-shirts with Clark's name on the back during a pregame warm up.

Before collapsing into Crump's embrace Monday, Thompson stared up toward the ceiling and pleaded for justice.

"I want justice for my baby. I want justice for Stephon Clark," she cried.



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Stephon Clark Was Shot 8 Times Primarily in His Back, Family-Ordered Autopsy Finds

The New York Times
By Frances Robles
and Jose A. Del Real
March 30, 2018

Stephon Clark, the unarmed black man who was fatally shot last week by Sacramento police officers, was struck eight times, mostly in his back, according to an independent autopsy released Friday, raising significant questions about the police account that he was a threat to officers when he was hit.

The autopsy — commissioned by the family of Mr. Clark, 22, and conducted by Dr. Bennet Omalu, a private medical examiner — showed that he was shot three times in his lower back, twice near his right shoulder, once in his neck and once under an armpit. He was also shot in the leg. The neck wound was from the side, the doctor found, and he said that while the shot to the leg hit Mr. Clark in the front, it appeared to have been fired after he was already falling.

“He was shot from the back,” Dr. Omalu said Friday at a news conference. Standing next to diagrams of the findings, he said that seven of the shots could have had a “fatal capacity.” He described severe damage to Mr. Clark’s body, including a shattered vertebrae, a collapsed lung and an arm broken into “tiny bits.”

“He bled massively,” said Dr. Omalu, who became nationally known for his fight with the National Football League over head injuries to its players.

Dr. Omalu said he believed the first bullet to hit Mr. Clark on his side caused him to turn, so he was facing away from the officers when they fired the barrage of bullets.

The Sacramento police on Friday said they had not viewed the autopsy and declined to comment, saying it was “inappropriate” because the investigation was continuing. “We acknowledge the importance of this case to all in our community,” the police said in a statement.


Activists from the group Black Lives Matter and community members marched through downtown Sacramento on Friday. Protesters have demanded that the city’s leadership fire the two officers involved.CreditMax Whittaker for The New York Times

Protesters in California’s capital have taken to the streets nearly every day since Mr. Clark was killed on March 18, demanding that the city’s leadership fire the two officers involved.

Mr. Clark’s family have accused the police department of trying to cover up misconduct by its officers and decided to conduct its own autopsy.

Video showed officers shouting at Mr. Clark minutes after the shooting stopped. “We need to know if you’re O.K.,” an officer yelled about three minutes after the gunfire ended. “We need to get you medics but we can’t go over to get you help unless we know you don’t have a weapon.”

Dr. Omalu said the autopsy suggested that Mr. Clark lived for three to 10 minutes after the shooting, adding to questions about the amount of time it took to get him treatment. Medical assistance did not arrive until about six minutes after the shooting.

Dr. Omalu said that he could not determine if Mr. Clark would have survived if he had received medical attention more quickly, but “every minute you wait decreases probability of survival.”

In its initial account, the Police Department said Mr. Clark had “advanced toward the officers” while holding what they believed to be a firearm. In body camera footage provided by the police, it is not clear which direction Mr. Clark is facing, and the family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, said the independent autopsy contradicted the assertion by the police that he was a threat.


In the days since Stephon Clark, 22, was fatally shot by officers investigating a vandalism complaint in his south Sacramento neighborhood, protesters have stormed City Hall and taken to the streets in anger.CreditMax Whittaker for The New York Times
Mr. Crump said the results proved that Mr. Clark could not have been moving toward the officers in a threatening fashion when they opened fire.

“These findings from the independent autopsy contradict the police narrative that we’ve been told,” he said. “This independent autopsy affirms that Stephon was not a threat to police and was slain in another senseless police killing under increasingly questionable circumstances.”

Outside experts who have examined the case say it will be difficult to determine whether the officers could be held criminally accountable. The Supreme Court has sided with the police in fatal shootings if it is shown that officers reasonably believe their lives were in danger.

Justin Nix, who teaches policing at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said, “Any police shooting on camera is going to look bad. But when the guy is on his stomach and they continue to shoot, a lot of people are going to be bothered by it.”

Mr. Nix agreed the autopsy undercut the police’s version of events, but said: “He’s facing slightly in their direction. And it is possible they felt he was still reaching for what they thought was a gun.”

David A. Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law who studies police accountability, said the officers were at a disadvantage because they were relying on information about the suspect from a police helicopter circling overhead.

Once they confront the suspect however, the officers order Mr. Clark to “show” his hands, rather than raise his hands, which Mr. Clark may have been doing when he was shot, Mr. Harris said.

But he said that if the officers perceived that Mr. Clark was armed and moving toward them, they are trained to shoot. “It is not clear they could have done anything differently,” he said.

The shots to Mr. Clark’s back were “not enough by itself to seal a negative judgment,” he said. In part because, “the victim’s body may have turned after the shooting began, and it is still unclear whether they could see that he had turned.”

The Sacramento police chief, Daniel Hahn, requested assistance from the California Department of Justice earlier this week, headed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, to join the department’s investigation as an independent party. Mr. Hahn said he hoped that step would reassure residents that the investigation would be impartial.

The episode began when two officers were dispatched to the Meadowview neighborhood in South Sacramento to investigate a report that someone was breaking car windows. A county sheriff’s department helicopter joined the search and hovered above, at one point telling officers that a suspect had picked up a crowbar.

The officers eventually spotted Mr. Clark, who appears to have run from them into his grandmother’s backyard. In body camera video, an officer is heard shouting the word “gun” repeatedly and opening fire almost immediately. No weapon was found on Mr. Clark’s body; the only object found was his cellphone.

After other officers arrived, the two officers involved in the shooting muted the audio on their body cameras as they discussed what had happened, which has also drawn criticism.

Mr. Clark’s funeral was on Thursday, attended by hundreds of mourners, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and other leaders from the Black Lives Matter movement. Mr. Clark’s brother, Stevante, pleaded with supporters not to forget his brother. Protests over the shooting, which have spread nationwide, are planned to continue on Saturday.

Timothy Williams contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on March 30, 2018, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: 8 Bullets Struck Sacramento Man As He Faced Away. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe



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White ex-Texas cop gets 15 years in black teenager's death


© Provided by Reuters Ex-Texas cop found guilty of murdering black teen

DALLAS (AP) — A white former police officer was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday night, after being convicted of murdering an unarmed 15-year-old boy when he fired into a car packed with black teenagers leaving a house party in suburban Dallas.

Roy Oliver, who faced up to life in prison, was sentenced one day after being convicted in the 2017 death of Jordan Edwards. The verdict marked an extremely rare murder conviction for shootings involving on-duty police officers. His lawyers are expected to appeal.

Oliver was a police officer in Balch Springs when he and his partner responded to reports of underage drinking at the party. Oliver fired into a car carrying Edwards and his friends, later saying he feared the vehicle was moving toward and endangering his partner. Edwards, who was in the front passenger seat, was shot.

Police initially said the vehicle backed up toward officers "in an aggressive manner," but later admitted that bodycam video showed the vehicle was moving forward as officers approached. Oliver's partner told jurors he didn't believe his life was ever in danger.

Investigators said no guns were found in the vehicle. Oliver was fired from the Balch Springs Police Department days after the shooting.

When the verdict was read Tuesday, gasps echoed around the courtroom. Edwards's relatives sobbed and hugged prosecutors, waved their hands in the air and proclaimed "Thank you, Jesus!"

"I just want to say I'm happy, very happy," Edwards father, Odell Edwards, said outside the courtroom. He said it had "been a long time" since he felt that way.

The jury, which featured two black members out of 12 jurors and two alternates, acquitted Oliver on two lesser charges of aggravated assault stemming from the shooting.

It's extremely rare for police officers to be tried and convicted of murder for shootings that occurred while they are on duty. Only six non-federal police officers have been convicted of murder in such cases — and four of those convictions were overturned — since 2005, according to data compiled by criminologist and Bowling Green State University professor Phil Stinson.

Edwards' father has also filed a civil lawsuit in connection to the shooting.



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Chicago Cop Who Allegedly Shot Teen
Laquan McDonald 16 Times Charged With Murder
In Laquan McDonald case, was justice served ?

CNN — Almost four years after taking the life of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in a hail of 16 bullets, police Officer Jason Van Dyke was held accountable by a Chicago jury. Friday, he was convicted of murder in the second degree. What that means is that the jury concluded that he acted unreasonably and without any lawful justification.

The jury came to this conclusion after hearing testimony for more than two weeks, and after deliberating for more than seven hours
The critical legal issue was whether Officer Van Dyke was justified in killing the African-American teen back on October 20, 2014. They concluded that he was not.

One could only wonder what Officer Van Dyke was thinking when he took McDonald's life.

Why did he jump out of his police cruiser and start firing his service weapon in the first place -- much less six seconds after arriving upon the scene?​

Other officers at the scene stayed in their cars. Why didn't he?

No other officers discharged their firearms. Why did Van Dyke?​

What was his rush?​

Why didn't he make an effort to de-escalate the situation?​

Why not allow McDonald more of an opportunity to comply?​

Why did he feel he was in danger when McDonald was so far away from him? Why did he shoot to kill when McDonald was not advancing toward him?​

These are just some of the many questions that apparently troubled the jury and led to Van Dyke's conviction.

The narrative spun by the defense was predicated upon a spirited attack on Laquan McDonald's character that painted the deceased as a villain. Officer Van Dyke himself had pointed to what he characterized as McDonald's bugged-out eyes that he never lost sight of, and that seemed to be "staring right through me." Additionally, the defense highlighted the PCP that was found in McDonald's system, his troubled youth and his failure to obey police commands to drop the knife before being shot.

In doing so, the defense sought to put McDonald on trial, while arguing that Officer Van Dyke perceived him to represent a deadly and immediate threat. It was the standard police refrain: The officer feared for his life, and the victim was a really bad guy who failed to obey commands. That line of attack was about as commonplace as police shootings of African-American men -- in Chicago and across the country. And alas, it failed.

So too, did the defense fail to adequately explain why 16 bullets were necessary to end the supposed "threat" posed by the black youth. Notably, he was multiple feet away from Officer Van Dyke, with a knife, not a gun.

The jury also held Van Dyke accountable for this misconduct as well. He was found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery -- one for each shot.

Officer Van Dyke did not do himself much good with his own testimony. His version of events includes the teen attempting to rise from the ground while still pointing the knife at the officers on the scene after being shot. Importantly, the dashcam video seems to tell entirely another story.

Recognizing this, the defense attempted to shift the focus to Officer Van Dyke's perceptions, and away from the facts. It even presented expert testimony to explain his level of anxiety, why his perceptions might differ from reality and how any inconsistent statements he made to authorities after the shooting were understandable and excusable. Van Dyke tried to explain this inaccuracy by saying he was "in shock." Hmmm.

And as to the knife, Van Dyke specified that McDonald raised it across his chest. The video, however, seems to show McDonald with both hands at his side. Van Dyke goes on to say that McDonald was still pointing the knife at him while on the ground. The video, however, shows McDonald lying motionless. That same video contradicts Van Dyke's core contention that McDonald was approaching him at the time he was shot. To the contrary, the video shows him moving in a different direction.

'Stand your ground' laws encourage racially charged violence

Officer Van Dyke made still more assertions in his testimony that just didn't seem to square with the facts. For starters, he claimed that he and McDonald never lost eye contact. Yet, the encounter happened in the dead of night and McDonald was multiple feet away. Strange how he was able to see McDonald's eyes so well, especially given his vivid description of what McDonald was doing with the knife. Common sense would suggest that's what Van Dyke was focusing upon.



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The forensic pathologist who shed light on police violence

Gabriel Thompson

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
January 27, 2019

Excerpted from an article that originally appeared in San Francisco magazine. Reprinted with permission.

Bennet Omalu is not a man who seeks out controversy. He's been known to flee it, in fact. But it has a way of finding him.

Last March, 22-year-old Stephon Clark became the latest flash point in the ongoing national furor over the police use of force against African-Americans. After the unarmed black man was shot and killed by Sacramento police officers in the backyard of his grandmother's house, Black Lives Matter activists led a march that shut down Interstate 5 and forced the cancellation of a Sacramento Kings NBA game. A week after the shooting, during a game between the Kings and the Boston Celtics, both teams wore jerseys with Clark's name and the words "Accountability" and "We Are One" on them during warm-ups and the playing of the national anthem.

Soon after Clark's death, his family contacted Omalu, a forensic pathologist, and asked him to perform a private autopsy. On March 30, Omalu released his findings. He determined that Clark had been shot eight times and that six of the bullets had entered the back of his body. This cast doubt on the veracity of the police report, which stated that Clark had been approaching the officers when they fired. In response to what the county coroner called the "erroneous information" provided by Omalu, the following day the county released its official autopsy, which found that Clark had been shot seven times, only three times in the back.

A soft-spoken, devoutly Catholic, 50-year-old forensic pathologist from Nigeria is not exactly the first person you'd expect to keep materializing at the center of major American controversies involving contested deaths and charges of official cover-ups. Yet Omalu has now played a leading role in three such scandals — including the mother of all sports-medicine train wrecks, the National Football League concussion debacle.

For a man who became a forensic pathologist in part because, he says, it "placed me as far away as possible from living, breathing patients while still allowing me to practice medicine," Omalu has had a career — and a life — crowded with high-pressure human interaction. He grew up in a village in southern Nigeria during the Biafran War; his family was displaced, and his father was almost killed at a checkpoint manned by militiamen hostile to his Igbo tribe. He earned his medical degree but suffered from depression and desperately wanted to get out of corruption-riddled Nigeria, where he once watched a patient die in a hospital because the surgeon on duty inexplicably refused to operate. In 1994, Omalu managed to obtain a coveted visa and immigrated to the United States to study cancer epidemiology at the University of Washington.

Omalu venerated the United States as a place that "sets you free to be whatever you want to be," but in Seattle he learned about its darker side: Employees followed him in the grocery store, and police repeatedly stopped him as he walked through his mostly white neighborhood. Omalu didn't understand what was going on — "I thought there was something wrong with me," he says — until his landlady suggested that he go to the library and read up on U.S. history. "Slavery, ah! Civil rights, ah!" Omalu says.

After Seattle, Omalu did a residency in clinical and anatomical pathology at Columbia University, then completed several fellowships and earned master's degrees in public health and business administration at other universities. His curriculum vitae runs to 32 pages. He was determined that his skin color would not hold him back, and he regarded education as the key. "I may have overcompensated," he jokes.

Omalu produced his forensic masterpiece in 2002, as an unknown pathologist in the coroner's office in Allegheny County, Pa. One day, he was assigned to perform an autopsy on the brain of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, and he discovered that it was riddled with lesions — the first diagnosed case in an NFL player of what he would come to call chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Additional research confirmed his hypothesis: The repeated blows to the head suffered by most football players put them at risk for serious brain damage.

During a long and tortuous process that culminated in a class-action lawsuit brought by 20,000 former NFL players — and the league finally admitting that there was a link between football and CTE and creating a $765 million fund to help deal with the problem — Omalu became a hot commodity. Journalists sought him out for quotes, and job offers came in from all over the country. But there were just as many negatives: Strange cars began following him; other scientists took credit for his discovery. Battered and overwhelmed, Omalu fell into a deep depression. I wish I had never met Mike Webster, he told himself.

At this moment, an unlikely escape hatch opened: Out in California, an official at San Joaquin General Hospital began wooing him to be the county's chief forensic pathologist. Omalu and his Kenyan-born wife, Prema, were flown out and given tours of San Francisco, Sacramento, and Napa Valley. Worried about her husband's depression and smitten with the idea of a move west, Prema urged Omalu to take the job. He did, and in 2007 they moved with their son to Lodi, a midsize city north of Stockton that is surrounded by farmland. It felt like the middle of nowhere, which was just what they were looking for. He and his family soon fell in love with San Joaquin County.

"Lower profile, no NFL presence," Omalu says, "I just wanted out. A lot of people think I want attention. I don't. I was running away from it." He didn't realize he was about to find himself involved in another high-profile controversy.

Omalu's new boss was the sheriff of San Joaquin County, a bow tie–wearing department veteran named Steve Moore. The system Omalu would be working in, called a sheriff-coroner system, is highly unusual. In Pennsylvania, Omalu had worked within the far more common medical examiner system, in which physicians, often board certified in forensic pathology, declare the manner of death. Only in California, South Dakota, Montana, and Nevada can the person who makes that determination also be the county's top law enforcement officer.

In a sheriff-coroner system, a forensic pathologist like Omalu is responsible only for determining the medical cause of death, such as asphyxiation or blunt force trauma. The far more legally consequential manner of death — accident, homicide, or suicide — is ruled on by the sheriff, although the medical official also issues a recommendation. The potential conflict of interest is obvious: When a person dies in police custody, should the sheriff be the one investigating the death?

Omalu's first major problem with Moore began in the summer of 2008, after the body of Daniel Lee Humphreys was wheeled into the morgue. The 47-year-old had crashed his motorcycle on Interstate 5 while fleeing from a California Highway Patrol officer, then attempted to climb the median that divided the freeway, whereupon the officer had shocked him with a Taser. According to newspaper reports, Humphreys' ex-wife was told that the CHP officer had discharged his Taser twice.

When a Taser is used, the sheriff's office is required to create a printout documenting its use. Omalu waited six months for the printout, but it didn't arrive. At that point, and without more information to guide his autopsy, he examined Humphreys' preserved brain and found that he had suffered a mild traumatic brain injury — a concussion — which in rare cases can lead to death. He concluded that Humphreys' death had likely been caused by a head injury suffered during the crash.

It wasn't until two years later that Omalu finally obtained the Taser printout from an assistant district attorney. It had been created the day after the incident, and it showed that Humphreys had been shocked 31 times over a period of more than seven minutes. Omalu revised his autopsy: He now found that Humphreys had been killed by "repeated conducted electrical excitation." He also changed his recommendation concerning the manner of death from accident to homicide. Despite the new information, Sheriff Moore continued to classify the death as an accident.

Omalu was angered by this, and in a larger sense by what he considered Moore's dictatorial tendencies. He also balked at the county's practice of removing the hands of corpses to identify individuals, which Omalu considered unnecessary and, as he later wrote, "a form of body mutilation." But he remained in his post, convinced that his prime responsibility was to "protect the autopsy," as he told me. Omalu is not a particularly modest man, and he was certain that he could slowly change the culture of the sheriff-coroner's office from within.

All that changed in 2016. Three people in San Joaquin County died while being arrested by police, and in two of the cases, Omalu and Moore again clashed. The first case, in March, involved a man named Abelino Cordova-Cuevas. What happened between Cordova-Cuevas and the arresting officer is disputed. The Stockton Police Department claims that, after a traffic stop, the 28-year-old ran from his vehicle and fought with officers, which led them to use a choke hold and a Taser to subdue him. An attorney representing the family of Cordova-Cuevas, citing witnesses, claims that the man's hands were up in surrender and that he told officers he didn't have a weapon. Omalu judged the death a homicide caused by asphyxiation, compression of the neck, and blunt force trauma to the head, face, neck, and trunk. But Moore's office ignored his recommendation and concluded that the death was an accident.

Omalu began documenting his meetings with Moore in memos. "In my mind," Omalu wrote in one, "he seems to believe that every officer-involved death should be ruled an accident because the police did not mean to kill anyone." What he had once considered an anomaly had "become routine practice," he noted.

In November 2017, Omalu's colleague Susan Parson resigned, motivated in part by what she described as Moore's "intrusion into physician independence." Parson had come to the sheriff-coroner's office in 2016 for the chance to work with Omalu, but she had an adversarial relationship with Moore, who she felt tried to control her every move, and over the summer she had filed a gender-harassment complaint against Moore's office.

Several days later, Omalu resigned as well. The pair released to the press more than 100 pages of memos in which they described what they considered to be gross incompetence and interference on the part of Moore and his staff.

Moore vigorously disputes every one of Omalu's allegations. Asked about the missing Taser printout, Moore's office replied, "Neither the sheriff nor chief deputy coroner was aware of the printout until Dr. Omalu provided the information." Moore also strongly denies that he ever attempted to influence Omalu's findings.

In March 2018, as Moore came under increasing scrutiny, his office reclassified the death of Cordova-Cuevas as a homicide. In April, the county released an independent audit of the sheriff-coroner's office, spurred by the resignations. "The office must be and appear to be independent of law enforcement, particularly when investigating deaths in the custody of law enforcement or while in jail/prison," the auditor wrote. "This requires a complete shift towards a Medical Examiner System." The next month, the county supervisors unanimously endorsed such a shift. In June, Moore, a three-time incumbent, faced a retired deputy sheriff named Pat Withrow, whose campaign highlighted Omalu's resignation. In an upset, Withrow defeated Moore by 17 points.

Omalu's resignation made waves. The most consequential outcome, beyond Moore's ouster, was Senate Bill 1303, which would require California counties with populations greater than 500,000 to adopt a medical examiner system. Omalu worked hard to get it passed, but it was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, whose office issued a boilerplate statement that such decisions were best left to local jurisdictions.

"All you can do is do your best," says Omalu. His name is a shortened version of his father's surname, Onyemalu-kwube. In Igbo, the language spoken by Omalu's ancestral tribe in southeastern Nigeria, it means "If you know, come forth and speak."


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Ex-officer gets 25 years for fatally shooting black motorist
Nouman Raja was convicted last month in the killing of Corey Jones, who was waiting for help on the side of a South Florida highway when Raja shot him.

Corey Jones' former NFL star brother reacts to guilty verdict
April 25, 2019
By Doha Madani

A former Florida police officer was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday after being convicted of manslaughter and attempted murder in the fatal shooting of a stranded black motorist in 2015.

Nouman Raja, 41, was facing life in prison for killing Corey Jones, 31, who was waiting for help for his broken-down SUV on the side of a South Florida highway when Raja shot him. Raja remained silent during sentencing.

"This has been a heartbreaking case," Circuit Judge Joseph Marx said. "I think it has had a profound effect on every single person that has sat through this trial."

Nouman Raja is brought into the courtroom for sentencing Thursday, April 25, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Raja, a former Palm Beach Gardens police officer, was convicted on one count each of manslaughter by culpable negligence and first-degree attempted murder. He shot and killed stranded motorist Corey Jones Oct. 18, 2015.Lannis Waters / Palm Beach Post via AP, Pool
Jones was returning home from a nightclub performance early on the morning of Oct. 18, 2015, when his SUV broke down on an off-ramp of Interstate 95.

He had drums valued at $10,000 in the back of his car and pulled out his legally owned handgun because he feared he was being robbed, prosecutors said.

Raja was on duty but in plainclothes for the Palm Beach Gardens police and driving an unmarked white van but he had never identified himself, according to an audio recording played at his trial.

He was wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap because he was investigating auto burglaries. His sergeant testified at a hearing that he told Raja to wear a vest marked "police" if he confronted anyone, but the vest was found inside the unmarked van.

Raja shot him repeatedly. A medical examiner testified that Jones was killed by a shot through his heart. The musician, who also worked as a housing inspector, was also shot once in each arm.

Raja was fired less than a month after the shooting, and he was charged in 2016.

Raja's attorneys argued during his trial this year that he should be protected under the stand your ground law, which says anyone with a legitimate fear of imminent danger can use lethal force.

Raja shot him repeatedly. A medical examiner testified that Jones was killed by a shot through his heart. The musician, who also worked as a housing inspector, was also shot once in each arm.

Raja was fired less than a month after the shooting, and he was charged in 2016.

Raja's attorneys argued during his trial this year that he should be protected under the stand your ground law, which says anyone with a legitimate fear of imminent danger can use lethal force.

Raja's attorneys did not make a statement after the sentencing.



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Texas officer faces questions after killing woman at home

Jake Bleiberg
Associated Press
Monday, October 14, 2019


Protesters gather outside the house, right, where Atatiana Jefferson was shot Saturday and killed by police, during a community vigil for Jefferson on Sunday, October 13, 209 in Forth Worth, Texas. A white police officer who killed the black woman inside her Texas home while responding to a neighbor's call about an open front door "didn't have time to perceive a threat" before he opened fire, an attorney for Jefferson's family said. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

Destinie and Floriberto Bartolo mourn for their friend Atatiana Jefferson, who they say they have known since high school, outside the house where Jefferson was shot and killed by a police officer.


A large crowd of protesters, including a man carrying an upside-down American flag, gather outside the house where Atatiana Jefferson was shot Saturday and killed by police.


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Man calls police for wellness check on black neighbor's home, white cop shoots and kills her instead


Atatiana Jefferson, from an anatomy class assignment uploaded to YouTube in 2015

Jessica Sutherland
Daily Kos Staff
Saturday October 12, 2019

A Fort Worth woman was shot and killed in her own home early Saturday by one of the police officers sent to do a wellness check on her residence.

This is the seventh shooting of a civilian by the department since June 1, and the sixth to be fatal.

“It makes you not want to call the police department,” James Smith told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Smith is struggling in the wake of the shooting: He’s the one who dialed a Fort Worth non-emergency number after noticing his neighbor’s door was ajar and lights were on in the home of Atatiana Jefferson, 28, her aunt, and an 8-year-old nephew.

“I’m shaken. I’m mad. I’m upset. And I feel it’s partly my fault,” Smith explained. “If I had never dialed the police department, she’d still be alive.”

But Smith didn’t pull the trigger. A white police officer, who police say joined the department in April 2018, is the one who killed Jefferson. A little under two minutes of bodycam footage has already been released, and indicates that the unnamed shooter fired his service weapon once, into the window of a dark room.


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Former Fort Worth police officer charged with murder for killing Atatiana Jefferson in her own home

By Holly Yan, Amir Vera and Sheena Jones, CNN
Mon October 14, 2019

CNN) The former Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot Atatiana Jefferson in her home Saturday morning was arrested and charged with murder Monday, police said.

The officer, Aaron Dean, is being held in the Tarrant County Jail, the Fort Worth Police Department wrote on Twitter. He is being held on a $200,000 bond, according to the Tarrant County Inmate website.

"The family of Atatiana Jefferson is relieved that Aaron Dean has been arrested & charged with murder," Lee Merritt, an attorney for Jefferson's family, said in a statement.

"We need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution & appropriate sentencing. The City of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing."


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Fort Worth officer who shot woman inside her home charged with murder

A Fort Worth, Texas, police officer who shot and killed a woman inside her home early Saturday was charged with murder on Monday, shortly after he resigned from the force. Aaron Dean is being held at the Tarrant County Correction Center, Fort Worth Police Sgt. Chris Daniels said.

The woman, 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson, was babysitting her nephew when she was shot. A neighbor had noticed Jefferson's front door was slightly open, and called police, asking them to do a wellness check.

Body camera footage released by the police department shows an officer shining a flashlight into the house, then yelling, "Put your hands up, show me your hands," before firing one shot.

The white officer shooting a black woman inside her home caused immediate outrage in Fort Worth, and Daniels said the department can "understand" the community's anger and disappointment.

Source: NBC News



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Video posted online as DA says case of Georgia Jogger who was chased and killed will go to grand jury

Former police officer and his son chased subject down

By Angela Barajas,
Amir Vera and
Steve Almasy,
May 6, 2020

Brunswick, Georgia (CNN)The fatal shooting of a black man -- apparently recorded on video in February and posted online Tuesday by a local radio station host -- will go to a grand jury in coastal Georgia, according to a district attorney.

Elements of the disturbing video are consistent with a description of the shooting given to police by one of those involved in the incident.

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was jogging in a neighborhood outside Brunswick on February 23 when a former police officer and his son chased him down, authorities said. According to a Glynn County Police report, Gregory McMichael later told officers that he thought Arbery looked like a person suspected in a series of recent break-ins in the area.

After they chased down Arbery, McMichael told police, Arbery and McMichael's son Travis struggled over his son's shotgun. McMichael said two shots were fired before Arbery fell to the street, the report said.

In a letter to police, George Barnhill , one of the district attorneys who has recused himself from the case and who saw the autopsy report, wrote that Arbery sustained three wounds during the struggle for the gun.

Tom Durden, the district attorney for the Atlantic Judicial Circuit, wrote in a news release obtained by CNN on Tuesday that he expects to present the case to the next available grand jury in Glynn County to consider whether charges are merited for those involved in Arbery's death.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, courts are currently prohibited from empaneling grand juries.

Durden did not return CNN's calls for comment, but the local branch of the NAACP provided CNN with the document -- labeled as a press release -- which matches a statement Durden gave to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

S. Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Arbery family, said in a statement that the two men involved in the chase "must be taken into custody pending their indictment."

CNN's attempts to reach the McMichaels on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Gov. Brian Kemp said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has offered resources to Durden for his investigation. "Georgians deserve answers," Kemp tweeted.

Kemp also retweeted the GBI's post that Durden "formally requested the GBI to investigate the death of Ahmaud Arbery."

State Attorney General Chris Carr said he was "deeply concerned" by the video and news reports.

Wanda Cooper, Arbery's mother, told CNN on Sunday that when police notified her of her son's death, she was told her son was involved in a burglary and that there was a confrontation between her son and the homeowner and a struggle over a gun.

"He was not armed," Cooper said. She said she never worried about him jogging because she said he wasn't bothering anyone.



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Father and son arrested, charged with murder in shooting of Ahmaud Arbery

Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested on Thursday for the deadly shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations announced. They have been charged with murder and aggravated assault. On Feb. 23, Arbery was jogging through a a Glynn County neighborhood when the armed McMichaels pursued him in a pickup truck.

Travis McMichael shot and killed Arbery, with the father and son telling police they chased Arbery because they thought he was behind a string of burglaries in the neighborhood. Amid outcry over the lack of arrests, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations said this week it would open an investigation in to the shooting, which was captured on video. No evidence has been presented showing Arbery was involved in any burglaries.

Source: WJCL


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25-year-old Ahmaud, Arbery and his mother Wanda Cooper.
Ahmaud would have been 26-years-old on May 8th – (Courtesy: CNN)

- Statements of official
- Community reaction
- A young man described as humble and admired



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Georgia AG requests DOJ investigate handling of Ahmaud Arbery case
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has requested the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) launch an investigation into the handling of the case surrounding Ahmaud Arbery's death.

Georgia AG requests DOJ investigate handling of Ahmaud Arbery case
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ATLANTA (AP) — Officials in Georgia say they are investigating an online threat against people protesting the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who authorities say died at the hands of two white men as he ran through a neighborhood.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Sunday said that it “has been made aware of a Facebook post that contains a threat to future protests related to Ahmaud Arbery. We are actively investigating this situation and will provide pertinent updates as necessary.”

Spokesperson Nelly Miles declined to provide further information.

Several hundred people protested the case Friday in Brunswick, near the site where Arbery was fatally shot on Feb. 23. National outrage over the case swelled last week after video surfaced that appeared to show the shooting. The social justice arm of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation entertainment company on Sunday called on Georgia officials to take quick action in the case.

Shortly after the video’s leak, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault. The arrests came hours after officials asked the GBI to start investigating. The inquiry was previously in the hands of local officials.

The father and son said they thought Arbery matched the appearance of a burglary suspect who they said had been recorded on a surveillance camera some time before.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper Jones, has said she thinks her 25-year-old son, a former high school football player, was just jogging in the neighborhood before he was killed.

On Saturday, the GBI confirmed that it has obtained other photos of video that might shed light on the case. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published footage from a surveillance camera at a Brunswick home near where Arbery was shot that shows someone who appears to be Arbery walking into a home under construction. Arbery then came back out and ran down the street. Someone else comes out across the street from the construction site, and then a vehicle drives off farther down the street, near where Travis McMichael lives.

Lawyers for Arbery’s family say the video bolsters their position that Arbery did nothing wrong, and shows he did not commit a felony. Under Georgia law, someone who isn’t a sworn police officer can arrest and detain another person only if a felony is committed in the presence of the arresting citizen.

“Ahmaud’s actions at this empty home under construction were in no way a felony under Georgia law,” the lawyers wrote in a social media post. “This video confirms that Mr. Arbery’s murder was not justified and the actions of the men who pursued him and ambushed him were unjustified.”



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son arrested, charged with murder in shooting of Ahmaud Arbery
EXCLUSIVE: Man charged in Ahmaud Arbery murder leaked original video of the shooting

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. — In a stunning twist to a story that drew worldwide attention, Channel 2 Action News has confirmed that the man who leaked the viral video of the shooting of an unarmed black jogger in south Georgia is one of the murder suspects.

The video spread across social media just days before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Gregory and Travis McMichael. It shows Travis McMichael and Ahmaud Arbery in the street in Satilla Shores, a neighborhood outside Brunswick.
Travis has a shotgun, his father is in the back of a pickup truck as the confrontation unfolds.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne has confirmed that Greg McMichael leaked the video to a radio station, starting the avalanche of attention that landed him in jail on murder charges with his son.
Brunswick attorney Alan Tucker says Greg McMichael wanted to clear up some rumors circulating in the community and he had no idea the video would spark global outrage.

“He had that tape by himself. He delivered it. We have questions about the length of it,” L. Chris Stewart, attorney for Arbery’s family, told Winne.
Tucker says his parents live in Satilla Shores, and he hoped when the video was viewed by the public, it would ease racial tensions in the community.

“I didn’t want the neighborhood to become a Ferguson,” Tucker said.

Tucker said Greg McMichael brought the video and others to his office for assistance in getting the video downloaded for delivery to a talk show host on a Brunswick radio station.

Tucker said Greg McMichael brought the video and others to his office for assistance in getting the video downloaded for delivery to a talk show host on a Brunswick radio station.

Tucker says McMichael came to him as a friend and not as an attorney.

“That young man did not deserve to be shot Tucker” told Winne in a conversation. “There was no reason in the world for Travis to pull a shotgun out of a damn truck. None,” Tucker told Winne.

Tucker did not want to comment publicly on the charges against either McMichael.

Earlier on Friday Greg McMichael’s new attorneys. Frank and Laura Hogue, spoke for the first time.

“Greg McMichael did not commit murder," Frank Hogue said in a news conference in Macon.
The Hogues say the public has come to certain conclusions about that day and there is more to the story.

“We know several other critically important facts. Those facts point to a very different story," Linda Hogue said.

“I have no doubt that Mr. McMichael and his son believe what he did was OK. It just wasn’t,” Stewart said. “Travis never should have gotten that shotgun. That is significant.”