Black Lives Matter-Ugliness of Racism.

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Minnesota trooper is charged with murder in shooting of motorist Ricky Cobb II during a traffic stop
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Steve Karnowski And Trisha Ahmed
Published Jan 24, 2024 • 4 minute read
Minnesota-Troopers-Freeway-Shooting
On Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, prosecutors charged Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Ryan Londregan with murder and two other counts in the shooting death of Cobb during a stop in July 2023.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota state trooper was charged with murder Wednesday in the shooting of motorist Ricky Cobb II, who failed to get out of his car during a July traffic stop and took his foot off the brake when officers tried to arrest him.


Trooper Ryan Londregan, 27, was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, first-degree assault and second degree manslaughter in the death of Cobb, a 33-year-old Black man, Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said at a news conference. She said Londegran’s use of deadly force was not justified.


“As with all Minnesota law enforcement officers, state troopers may only use deadly force when it is necessary to protect a person from a specific identified threat of great bodily harm or death that was reasonably likely to occur. That did not exist in this case. Ricky Cobb II should be alive today,” Moriarty said.

Londregan’s attorney Chris Madel called his client “a hero,” saying Londregan was trying to protect himself and a fellow trooper. Madel immediately filed papers seeking to have the case dismissed or at least to have Moriarty removed from the case.


“This county attorney is literally out of control. Open season on law enforcement must end. And it’s going to end with this case,” Madel said in a video statement.

Londregan has not been arrested. Moriarty said her office will not seek to hold him on bail but will ask the court to require him to surrender his passport and firearms. She expected his first court appearance to be scheduled for later this week or early next week.

Londregan shot Cobb after a July 31 traffic stop on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis. Two other troopers, including Brett Seide, initially pulled Cobb over when he saw the lights were out on the Ford Fusion that Cobb was driving, according to the criminal complaint.

Seide checked Cobb’s record and found he was wanted for violating an order for protection in neighboring Ramsey County. There was no outstanding arrest warrant, however, so the two troopers checked with Ramsey County officials to find out if they wanted Cobb taken into custody, the complaint said.


Ramsey County asked that he be arrested, and in the meantime, Londregan arrived to help.

Seide approached the driver’s side of Cobb’s car while Londregan went to the passenger door, according to the complaint.

The troopers asked Cobb to get out of the car, whose doors were locked and front windows down. Seide told him he was under arrest while Londregan reached inside, unlocked the doors and began opening the passenger door. The complaint said Cobb then shifted the car into drive and took his foot off the brake.

According to the complaint, Cobb’s car began to slowly move forward. Londregan reached for his gun. Cobb stopped the car. The trooper pointed his gun at Cobb and yelled, “Get out of the car now!” Cobb took his foot off the brake again. Within less than a second, Cobb fired his handgun twice at Cobb, striking him both times in the chest, the complaint said.


The car accelerated forward while Seide’s torso was still inside. Seide and Londregan tried to keep up with the car for several feet before falling to the ground. The car eventually collided with a concrete median about a quarter mile (0.4 kilometer) away.

The troopers caught up, pulled Cobb out and attempted lifesaving measures. Cobb was pronounced dead at the scene.

The defense filing quotes Seide and a third trooper, Garrett Erickson, as telling investigators that they believed Seide’s life was in danger.

The Minnesota State Patrol’s lead use-of-force trainer later told investigators that a reasonable officer would not believe that pointing a gun at a fleeing driver and yelling at him to stop would result in him stopping.


According to the complaint, State Patrol policy states that troopers shall not fire at a moving vehicle except when deadly force is authorized, and that troopers should not put themselves in a position that increases the risk that a vehicle that they’re approaching can be used as a deadly weapon.

The chief of the State Patrol, Col. Matt Langer, said in a statement that Londergan will remain on paid leave during an ongoing internal affairs investigation.

“This is a sad situation for everyone involved,” Langer said. “We acknowledge the deep loss felt by Mr. Cobb’s family and friends. We also recognize the gravity of this situation for the State Patrol and our troopers tasked with making difficult split-second decisions.”

Octavia Ruffin, Cobb’s sister, told The Associated Press that the family would not comment Wednesday and plans to hold a news conference on Thursday. Cobb’s family and racial justice groups demanded in August that Democratic Gov. Tim Walz fire the troopers who were involved.
 

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Central Park 5 exoneree and council member says police stopped him without giving a reason
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Jan 28, 2024 • 1 minute read
Salaam, a member of the exonerated group of men known as the Central Park Five, says he was stopped and pulled over by police without being given an explanation. The police stop in New York City on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024 casts a renewed light on the How Many Stops Act, a police transparency bill that sparked a fight between City Council members and Mayor Eric Adams after the mayor, a former police captain, vetoed the legislation.
Salaam, a member of the exonerated group of men known as the Central Park Five, says he was stopped and pulled over by police without being given an explanation. The police stop in New York City on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024 casts a renewed light on the How Many Stops Act, a police transparency bill that sparked a fight between City Council members and Mayor Eric Adams after the mayor, a former police captain, vetoed the legislation.
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Council Member Yusef Salaam, a member of the exonerated group of men known as the Central Park Five, says he was stopped and pulled over by police without being given an explanation.


The police stop in New York City on Friday casts a renewed light on the How Many Stops Act, a police transparency bill that sparked a fight between City Council members and Mayor Eric Adams after the mayor, a former police captain, vetoed the legislation. It would have required officers to publicly report on all investigative stops, including relatively low-level encounters with civilians.


In the encounter with Salaam, which lasted less than a minute at 6:20 p.m., a police officer — heard in body camera footage provided by the New York Police Department — asks Salaam to roll down the back windows of his car.

But after Salaam identifies himself as a council member, the officer quickly withdraws without providing further explanation for the stop.


Police later said in a statement that Salaam was stopped for driving with a dark tint beyond legal limits.

The police officer conducted himself professionally and respectfully, the NYPD said in the statement, adding that he used discretion to allow the council member to complete his official duties.

“This experience only amplified the importance of transparency for all police investigative stops, because the lack of transparency allows racial profiling and unconstitutional stops of all types to occur and often go underreported,” Salaam, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Salaam and four other Black or Latino men were falsely accused and convicted of raping and beating a white jogger in Central Park in 1989. Salaam was arrested at age 15 and imprisoned for almost seven years. Their convictions were eventually overturned through DNA evidence.

Salaam won a seat on the New York City Council in November and represents a central Harlem district.
 

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Friends imprisoned for decades cleared of 1987 New Year’s killing in Times Square
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Jake Offenhartz
Published Feb 01, 2024 • 2 minute read

NEW YORK — In the early hours of New Year’s Day in 1987, a French tourist was mugged while walking with his wife through Times Square. The man, 71-year-old Jean Casse, struck his head on the pavement. He was pronounced dead soon after.


Within days, police hauled in a pair of young Brooklyn residents, 19-year-old Eric Smokes and 16-year-old David Warren, charging them with killing Casse. While both maintained their innocence, they were convicted at trial of murder and sent to prison for decades.


Nearly 40 years later, a New York City judge and a Manhattan prosecutor have sided with the men, now in their 50s. On Wednesday, years after a judge first denied their motions, their convictions were overturned after prosecutors said they uncovered evidence that police pressured witnesses.

“Eric Smokes and David Warren lost decades of their life to an unjust conviction,” Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, said in a statement. “I am inspired by the unyielding advocacy of Mr. Smokes and Mr. Warren and hope that today’s decision can finally bring them a measure of comfort and justice.”


Smokes was released from prison on parole in 2011 after serving 24 years. Warren served 20 years before his release on parole in 2007.

The two men, who grew up together and described themselves as brothers, spent years trying to clear their name. No DNA evidence linked them to the crime. The four witnesses who testified at the trial were all teenagers — some of whom later said they were pressured by police and even threatened with arrest if they did not pin the killing on Smokes and Warren.

But when the two men brought a motion to vacate the convictions in 2017, the effort was opposed by Judge Stephen Antignani and the Manhattan district attorney’s office, then led by Cyrus Vance.

Christie Keenan, an assistant district attorney, questioned the credibility of the recanted witness statements. In a 2020 ruling, Antignani denied their motion, finding the men had “failed to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that it is highly probable that they are innocent.”


Another investigation was opened in 2022 under Bragg — one that prosecutors said uncovered “significant new evidence,” including transcripts showing the teenage witnesses were pressured by police and that at least one of them was likely not in the vicinity of the crime.

With the new evidence in place, Antignani agreed to vacate the convictions this week.

Jay Henning, an attorney for the two men, said his clients were thrilled to see their names cleared. But, he added, the finding was long overdue.

“This was a case of tunnel vision riddled with police and prosecutorial misconduct,” Henning said. “This should’ve been done a while ago.”
 

spaminator

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Black Canadians report high levels of racism despite workplace improvements
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Ian Bickis
Published Feb 05, 2024 • 3 minute read

Canadian companies are making uneven progress on efforts to make workplaces more inclusive and equitable for Black workers, according to a survey from KPMG in Canada.


In the results of the survey released Monday, a little over 80 per cent of respondents said employers are making improvements — but a similar proportion said they’ve experienced some form of racism or microaggression in the workplace in the past year.


“While there is the overarching perception that progress has been made, still the majority, 81 per cent of people, are feeling racism, and that’s a very scary reality,” said Amanda Bartley, senior manager of management consulting at KPMG in Canada.

The share of Black people experiencing some form of discrimination was up about 10 percentage points from last year’s results, which suggests companies are not pushing below the surface enough to get to the heart of the issues, said Bartley, who is co-chair of the firm’s Black Professionals Network.


To get at the deeper issues, it’s important companies listen to Black employees, she said.

“Having safe spaces where people can share what they’re experiencing, without the potential risk of backlash and repercussions, is a great thing.”

The results of the survey of 1,000 employed Canadians who self-identified as Black also showed that women continue receive less support than men.

Only 68 per cent said their employer had an allyship training program, compared with 81 per cent of men. Women also reported lower levels of being able to bring their genuine self to work, or having allies at work who have spoken up for them.

“It’s important to recognize that Black women continue to be one of the most marginalized groups in workplaces, in society,” said Bartley.


She said companies need to work on creating environments where Black people can stay truer to their values, and don’t feel they need to conform to prescribed mainstream standards of appearance or behaviour just to protect themselves.

“It’s really pushing past the respectability politics, which is a conversation that continues to come up. It’s obviously come up more and more with the state of the world.”

The gender disparities among Black workers was also something Rob Davis, KPMG’s chief inclusion, diversity and equity officer, raised as a key concern.

“There is a very different experience in terms of Black men versus Black women, so that’s an area as Canadian businesses we need to continue to focus on.”

However there are areas for optimism, said Davis, including the 76 per cent of respondents who said that compared with four years ago, their company now has a Black person in the C-suite or on their board of directors.


“That to me is huge, because until Canadian business sees that representation at the senior levels … it’s going to be tough to change.”

The third edition of the survey, conducted between mid-December and January, found there are also concerns that as the economy slows, some of the gains in inclusion could be lost.

About 80 per cent said they believe Black or racialized people were among the first to lose their jobs over the past year, and as many as 73 per cent said their career progress didn’t materialize because the company was preparing for a slowdown.

It’s important to look beyond a last-in first-out approach, said Davis, and for companies to look at everyone’s talent, and consider some of their best might have been recently hired.


To push toward more inclusion and equity, companies also need to look at the data and set targets, he said. KPMG has set representation targets for women and people of colour in the partnership level of the firm, and goals for positions below that level for Black and Indigenous people and those with disabilities.

The firm has also tied partner compensation to the targets.

“For companies to really move the dial, set targets — not quotas. Quotas are a dirty word for me — put in place concrete actions to meet those targets, and hold your senior leadership accountable,” said Davis.

With so much going on, businesses and leaders can get distracted, but it’s important to keep working on these goals, he said.

“We’ve got to make sure that everybody has the same opportunity to achieve success in Canadian business. As a Canadian society, I think it’s important for us to continue to focus on this, and it’s going to make us, make the economy, more vibrant and richer.”
 

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N.Y.C. mayor blames administration's woes on race, compares himself to Jesus
Author of the article:postmedia News
Published Feb 07, 2024 • 1 minute read

New York City Mayor Eric Adams blamed attacks against his administration on race and went as far as to compare himself to Jesus.


According to Fox News, Adams told a town hall in Brooklyn last week that he is being attacked in a similar way to the city’s first Black mayor, David Dinkins. Adams is facing an FBI investigation into his mayoral campaign and has struggled with the influx of illegal immigrants.


Adams suggested critics are targeting him because of the makeup of his administration, Fox News reported. Five of his deputy mayors — Sheena Wright, Anne Williams-Isom, Meera Joshi, Ana Almanzar and Maria Torres-Springer — are women and people of colour.



“We are moving the needle forward,” Adams said to an applauding crowd, Fox reported. “Is there more to do? You’re darn right there is, but this committed team is getting it done. … And then go down the line, look who’s here. This is representative of the city. That’s why people are hating on me. You’re trying to figure out, why the hating on me?”


Adams also compared himself to Jesus, based on text from the Book of Matthew in the Bible, in which Jesus overturns the tables of moneylenders and drives everyone out of the temple.

“This is a Matthew 21 and 12 moment. Jesus walked in the temple, he saw them doing wrong in the temple. He did what?” Adams asked. “I went to city hall to turn the table over.”

New York City’s population is 30.9% white, 28.7% Hispanic or Latino, 20.2% Black or African-American, 15.6% Asian and 0.2% Native American, according to the 2020 census.

Adams also mentioned the diversity of his administration during the event.

“First woman police commissioner of colour,” he said. “First Spanish-speaking police commissioner. First Spanish-speaking correction commissioner. Go through the line of what we’re doing in two years.”
 

Dixie Cup

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N.Y.C. mayor blames administration's woes on race, compares himself to Jesus
Author of the article:postmedia News
Published Feb 07, 2024 • 1 minute read

New York City Mayor Eric Adams blamed attacks against his administration on race and went as far as to compare himself to Jesus.


According to Fox News, Adams told a town hall in Brooklyn last week that he is being attacked in a similar way to the city’s first Black mayor, David Dinkins. Adams is facing an FBI investigation into his mayoral campaign and has struggled with the influx of illegal immigrants.


Adams suggested critics are targeting him because of the makeup of his administration, Fox News reported. Five of his deputy mayors — Sheena Wright, Anne Williams-Isom, Meera Joshi, Ana Almanzar and Maria Torres-Springer — are women and people of colour.



“We are moving the needle forward,” Adams said to an applauding crowd, Fox reported. “Is there more to do? You’re darn right there is, but this committed team is getting it done. … And then go down the line, look who’s here. This is representative of the city. That’s why people are hating on me. You’re trying to figure out, why the hating on me?”


Adams also compared himself to Jesus, based on text from the Book of Matthew in the Bible, in which Jesus overturns the tables of moneylenders and drives everyone out of the temple.

“This is a Matthew 21 and 12 moment. Jesus walked in the temple, he saw them doing wrong in the temple. He did what?” Adams asked. “I went to city hall to turn the table over.”

New York City’s population is 30.9% white, 28.7% Hispanic or Latino, 20.2% Black or African-American, 15.6% Asian and 0.2% Native American, according to the 2020 census.

Adams also mentioned the diversity of his administration during the event.

“First woman police commissioner of colour,” he said. “First Spanish-speaking police commissioner. First Spanish-speaking correction commissioner. Go through the line of what we’re doing in two years.”
And look what all that "chocolate" has gotten NYC! Terrible place to live. Were these "merit" hires or "race based" hires? Inquiring minds want to know just how well the city's policies are working....
 

petros

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And look what all that "chocolate" has gotten NYC! Terrible place to live. Were these "merit" hires or "race based" hires? Inquiring minds want to know just how well the city's policies are working....
They arent working.

NYC is crashing. Commercial real estate is tanking fast. Its going to spread across N. America. The property taxes lost wont be made up by something else.

Its like what happened to Calgary but 1000X worse. Its all commercial not just one sector (O&G).
 
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petros

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They arent working.

NYC is crashing. Commercial real estate is tanking fast. Its going to spread across N. America. The property taxes lost wont be made up by something else.

Its like what happened to Calgary but 1000X worse. Its all commercial not just one sector (O&G).
This year will be when the distress brewing in commercial real estate finally reaches its breaking point, according to Capital Economics.

The research firm pointed to pessimism that has clouded the commercial real estate sector for the past year. Commentators have been warning of a crash, thanks to tightening credit conditions as a wave of debt from property owners comes due.

Around $541 billion of commercial real estate debt officially matured in 2023, though fallout was muted as many loans were granted extensions, the firm said.

That's a sign many building owners are looking to "extend and pretend," but that strategy can't last forever as there's still a $2.2 trillion mountain of commercial real estate debt that will mature by 2027, according to Capital Economics deputy chief property economist Kiran Raichura.
 

spaminator

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Police in suburban Chicago sued over fatal shooting of man in his home
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Published Feb 28, 2024 • 1 minute read
Relatives of Isaac Goodlow hold signs up during a news conference outside Carol Stream police headquarters on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.
Relatives of Isaac Goodlow hold signs up during a news conference outside Carol Stream police headquarters on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024. PHOTO BY TERRENCE ANTONIO JAMES / CHICAGO TRIBUNE /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHICAGO — The sisters of a man fatally shot in his home this month by suburban Chicago police filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the officers and their department, alleging wrongful death and other counts.


Kyenna McConico and Kennetha Barnes, sisters of Isaac Goodlow III, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago against the Carol Stream Police Department and officers identified as John Does 1-6. The complaint seeks unspecified damages.


Messages seeking comment on the lawsuit were left Wednesday morning with the police department and Chief Donald Cummings.

Officers responding to a domestic violence call fatally shot Goodlow, 30, around 4:15 a.m. Feb. 3 in his home in the Villagebrook Apartments in Carol Stream.

At the time, the police department said on its Facebook page that officers “encountered a tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving situation, which resulted in officers discharging their weapons at the alleged domestic violence suspect.”

The sisters’ attorney, Andrew M. Stroth, said Goodlow was alone and in bed when officers, without identifying themselves, “bust open his bedroom door” and shot him.

“Isaac Goodlaw was shot directly in his heart,” Stroth said in a telephone interview.

Goodlow and his girlfriend had a dispute earlier in the evening, but she had left the home by the time officers arrived, Stroth said.

Stroth said he and Goodlow’s sisters have viewed police body camera footage of the episode, which he called an “unlawful, unjustified shooting.”
Isaac-Goodlow-shooting-Feb28-scaled-e1709133622601[1].jpg
 

spaminator

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Philadelphia death row inmate was never in the photo lineup that helped convict him. Now, he's free
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Maryclaire Dale
Published Mar 01, 2024 • 2 minute read

PHILADELPHIA — Daniel Gwynn found himself on death row at 25 after Philadelphia prosecutors said in court that two witnesses had picked him out of a photo array in a fatal arson case.


The photo spread had by then gone missing, and his trial lawyer in 1995 may not have asked for other proof of the supposed match. But appellate lawyers who spent decades pursuing his innocence claims finally unearthed the police photo — with a federal judge’s help — in 2016 and Gwynn was noticeably absent.


“He was nowhere to be found,” said lawyer Karl Schwartz, who joined Gwynn as he left prison this week after 30 years, most of it spent on death row in western Pennsylvania. “It shocks the conscience.”

Gwynn, now 54, joins more than 40 Philadelphians exonerated of serious crimes since 2016, and more than 3,500 exonerated across the U.S. since 1989.

“More times than you would like to see, it’s powerfully exculpatory evidence that has been either hidden or misrepresented at a homicide trial that results in a guy ending up with a life sentence, or worse,” Schwartz said.


The photo array was just one of several pieces of questionable evidence used to convict Gwynn in the capital case. Investigators also relied on a confession taken as he suffered from drug withdrawal and overlooked evidence that another person — now serving a life term on other charges — had threatened to torch the building three days earlier over an unrelated slaying. Evidence points to that suspect, prosecutors now say.

Marsha Smith died in the 1994 fire in West Philadelphia, while several other people staying there were injured jumping out of windows. Few of the relevant details Gwynn gave in his police statement matched the crime scene.

The case “exemplifies an era of inexact and, at times corrupt, policing and prosecution that has broken trust with our communities to this day,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who has championed dozens of innocence claims since taking office in 2018. Meanwhile, he said, “the guilty go free and are emboldened to do more harm.”


Gwynn turned to art in prison to counter what he called “the pain and anger blinding me to the beauty of life.” Raised by a grandmother, he said he abused drugs and committed petty crimes amid “the madness of the streets” as crack-cocaine ravaged Philadelphia during his early life.

“Painting has been my therapy, a form of meditation that helps me work through my issues,” he wrote as part of an online display of his work organized by the group Art for Justice, which promotes art done by incarcerated people to foster conversations about the justice system.

A federal judge had vacated Gwynn’s conviction last year. The victim’s closest surviving relative, a brother, did not oppose his release, and a city judge closed the case on Wednesday when Krasner’s office declined to retry him.

Krasner hopes Philadelphia police, under a new mayor and commissioner, will now revisit Smith’s death.
 

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Paramedic gets 5 years in prison for Elijah McClain’s death in rare case against medical responders
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Colleen Slevin And Matthew Brown
Published Mar 01, 2024 • Last updated 4 days ago • 5 minute read

BRIGHTON, Colo. — A Colorado paramedic was sentenced Friday to five years in prison in a rare prosecution of medical responders following the death of Elijah McClain, a Black man whose name became part of the rallying cries for social justice that swept the U.S. in 2020.


McClain was walking down the street in a Denver suburb in 2019 when police responding to a suspicious person report forcibly restrained him and put him in a neck hold. His final words — “I can’t breathe” — foreshadowed those of George Floyd a year later in Minneapolis.


Peter Cichuniec and a fellow paramedic were convicted in December of criminally negligent homicide for injecting McClain with ketamine, a powerful sedative ultimately blamed for killing the 23-year-old massage therapist. Cichuniec also was convicted on a more serious charge of second-degree assault for giving a drug without consent or a legitimate medical purpose.

McClain’s death and others have raised questions about the use of ketamine to subdue struggling suspects, and the prosecution sent shock waves through the ranks of paramedics across the U.S.


McClain’s mother, Sheneen, raised her fist in the air as she left the courtroom following Friday’s sentencing, as she has done after previous hearings.


In testimony before the sentence was handed down by Judge Mark Warner, Sheneen McClain said she once dreamed of being a firefighter and considered them heroes “until the day they took my son’s life.”

“You are a local hero no more,” she said as Cichuniec sat with his attorneys at a nearby table. “Next time, think for yourself and do not follow the direction of a crowd of cowards.”

She added that the other paramedics could have intervened “simply by just saying, ‘Stop hurting my patient.’ ”

Cichuniec had faced up to 16 years in prison on the assault charge, and the five-year sentence was the minimum the judge could have given him under sentencing guidelines. The second convicted paramedic, Jeremy Cooper, Cooper, is scheduled to be sentenced in April.


Cichuniec, who has been in custody since his conviction, asked the judge for mercy. He wiped away tears as family members and friends testified as character witnesses on his behalf, and later told the judge he had spent his 18-year career as a firefighter and paramedic putting his life on the line to save others.

“I have never backed down from a call and I’ve had more things happen to me than you can imagine,” he said. “It sickened me when the prosecution said during their closing argument that I showed no remorse for Elijah. … There was absolutely no intent to cause any harm to Elijah McClain.”

As he was led out of the court in handcuffs, someone from his family called out, “Love you Pete” as Cichuniec looked back and waved.


Cichuniec’s wife noted that the sentence was the most lenient her husband could have received, before starting to cry.

“It’s almost better knowing,” Katy Cichuniec said.

Before the hearing, supporters of Cichuniec took up some of the rows of seats on the prosecution side of the courtroom. When Sheneen McClain walked in and saw them, she said “You all supporting Elijah?” sarcastically, holding her hand to her heart.

Firefighters and officials from their union sharply criticized the state’s prosecution of Cichuniec. They said it was discouraging firefighters from becoming paramedics, decreasing the number of qualified personnel in emergencies and thereby putting lives at risk.

“Convicting Pete for the death is not justice. It’s the very definition of a scapegoat,” said former Aurora Fire Lieutenant John Lauder, who recently retired after working with Cichuniec over two decades. “Will paramedics now be held be held responsible for outcomes beyond their control?”


But Assistant Attorney General Jason Slothouber said Cichuiniec didn’t follow his training and never properly assessed McClain before he knowingly authorized giving him more ketamine than was needed.

“Elijah was treated as a problem that could be easily solved with ketamine, rather than as a person who needed to be evaluated, spoken to, treated with respect and care,” he said.

Paramedics who are not upholding their oaths to save lives should be held accountable, said Candice Bailey, a police reform advocate in Aurora, Colorado.

“If you’re doing your job and you’re living up to the oath of your job, why would we ever have a conversation outside of ‘Thank you’?” said Bailey, who was upset that the longest sentence for killing McClain was only five years.


“Not one of them should have gotten away without 30 years on their backs,” she said.

McClain’s death received little attention initially but gained renewed interest as mass protests swept the nation after Floyd’s death.

McClain was stopped by police after a 911 caller reported he looked suspicious walking down the street waving his arms and wearing a face mask on Aug. 24, 2019, in the Denver suburb of Aurora. McClain, who had been listening to music with earbuds, seemed caught off guard when an officer put his hands on him within seconds of approaching him. That began a struggle including a neck hold and a restraint that lasted about 20 minutes before McClain was injected with 500 milligrams of ketamine.

He suffered cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and was taken off life support three days later.


Experts testified that the sedative ultimately killed McClain, who was already weakened from struggling to breathe while being pinned down after inhaling vomit into his lungs during the struggle with police.

Prosecutors said the paramedics did not conduct basic medical checks of McClain, such as taking his pulse, before giving him the ketamine. The dose was too much for someone of his size — 140 pounds (64 kilograms), experts testified. Prosecutors say they also did not monitor McClain immediately after giving him the sedative but instead left him lying on the ground, making it harder to breathe.

The case against the paramedics was closely followed by firefighters and medical responders across the country. A firefighter union leader, Edward Kelly with the International Association of Fire Fighters, told reporters after Cichuniec’s sentencing that prosecutors were unfairly criminalizing split-second decisions by responders.


The case also highlighted gaps in medical protocols for sedations of people in police custody that experts said must be addressed so more deaths can be prevented.

“We failed to realize just how dangerous the restraint and chemical sedation of these individuals can be,” said Eric Jaeger, a paramedic and EMS educator in New Hampshire. “For better or worse the criminal convictions are focusing attention on the problem.”

The sole police officer convicted in McClain’s death, Randy Roedema, was convicted of criminally negligent homicide. He was sentenced to 14 months in jail in January. Two other officers who were indicted were acquitted following weekslong jury trials.
 

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Woman wins $3.8 million verdict after SWAT team searches wrong home based on Find My iPhone app
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Colleen Slevin
Published Mar 04, 2024 • Last updated 2 days ago • 3 minute read

DENVER — A 78-year-old woman who sued two police officers after her home was wrongly searched by a SWAT team looking for a stolen truck has won a $3.76 million jury verdict under a new Colorado law that allows people to sue police over violations of their state constitutional rights.


A jury in state court in Denver ruled in favour of Ruby Johnson late Friday and the verdict was announced Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, which helped represent her in the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that police got a search warrant for the home after the owner of a stolen truck, which had four semi-automatic handguns, a rifle, a revolver, two drones, $4,000 cash and an iPhone inside, tracked the phone to Johnson’s home using the Find My app, and passed that information on to police.


According to the lawsuit, Johnson, a retired U.S. Postal Service worker and grandmother, had just gotten out of the shower on Jan. 4, 2022, when she heard a command over a bullhorn for anyone inside to exit with their hands up. Wearing only a bathrobe, she opened her front door to see an armored personnel carrier parked on her front lawn, police vehicles along her street and men in full military-style gear carrying rifles and a police dog.


Detective Gary Staab had wrongly obtained the warrant to search Johnson’s home because he did not point out that the app’s information is not precise and provides only a general location where a phone could be, the lawsuit said.

Lawyers for Staab and the supervisor who approved the search warrant, Sgt. Gregory Buschy, who was also sued, did not respond to an email and telephone calls seeking comment. The Denver Police Department, which was not sued, declined to comment on the verdict.

The lawsuit was brought under a provision of a sweeping police reform bill passed in 2020 soon after the murder of George Floyd and is the first significant case to go to trial, the ACLU of Colorado said. State lawmakers created a right to sue individual police officers for state constitutional violations in state court. Previously, people alleging police misconduct could only file lawsuits in federal court, where it has become difficult to pursue such cases, partly because of the legal doctrine known as qualified immunity. It shields officials, including police, from lawsuits for money as a result of things they do in the course of their job.


The police used a battering ram to get into Johnson’s garage even though she had explained how to open the door and broke the ceiling tiles to get into her attic, standing on top of one of her brand new dining room chairs, according to the lawsuit. They also broke the head off a doll created to look just like her, complete with glasses, ACLU of Colorado legal director Tim Macdonald said.

Johnson is Black but the lawsuit did not allege that race played a role, he said.

Macdonald said the biggest damage was done to Johnson’s sense of safety in the home where she raised three children as a single mother, he said, temporarily forgoing Christmas and birthday presents to help afford it. She suffered ulcers and trouble sleeping and eventually moved to a different neighborhood.

“For us, the damage was always about the psychological and the emotional harm to Ms. Johnson,” he said.
 
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Mississippi ‘Goon Squad’ deputies get yearslong sentences for racist torture of 2 Black men
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Michael Goldberg
Published Mar 19, 2024 • Last updated 1 day ago • 5 minute read

Mississippi-Deputies-Sentencing
Two Black men who were tortured for hours by the six Mississippi law enforcement officers in 2023 called Monday, March 18, 2024, for a federal judge to impose the strictest possible penalties at their sentencings this week.
JACKSON, Miss. — Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker sat on the front row of a packed courtroom Tuesday and watched as a federal judge handed down yearslong sentences to two of the white former Mississippi law enforcement officers who tortured the two Black men last year in a brutal attack that began on the basis of race.


After a neighbour complained about them staying in a white woman’s home, the Black men were tortured by people who had sworn an oath to serve and protect them.


Hunter Elward, 31, was sentenced to about 20 years in prison, while Jeffrey Middleton, the 46-year-old leader of the so-called “Goon Squad” that abused the men, was given a 17.5-year prison sentence. Four other former law enforcement officers who admitted to torturing Jenkins and Parker are set to be sentenced later this week _ two on Wednesday and two on Thursday.

Before sentencing Elward and Middleton separately, U.S. District Judge Tom Lee called the former deputies’ actions “egregious and despicable” and said a “sentence at the top of the guidelines range” was justified.


The terror began on Jan. 24, 2023, with a racist call for extrajudicial violence when a white person phoned Rankin County Deputy Brett McAlpin and complained that two Black men were staying with a white woman in Braxton. McAlpin told Deputy Christian Dedmon, who texted a group of white deputies so willing to use excessive force they called themselves “The Goon Squad.”

The group of six burst into a Rankin County home without a warrant and assaulted Jenkins and Parker with stun guns, a sex toy and other objects. Elward admitted to shoving a gun into Jenkins’ mouth and firing in a “mock execution” that went awry.

Once inside, they handcuffed Jenkins and his friend Parker and poured milk, alcohol and chocolate syrup over their faces. They forced them to strip naked and shower together to conceal the mess. They mocked the victims with racial slurs and shocked them with stun guns.


After Elward shot Jenkins in the mouth, they devised a coverup that included planting drugs and a gun. False charges stood against Jenkins and Parker for months.

Prosecutors said Middleton told the other officers they had to stay quiet and that he “didn’t have a problem killing somebody.”

Last March, months before federal prosecutors announced charges in August, an investigation by The Associated Press linked some of the deputies to at least four violent encounters with Black men since 2019 that left two dead and another with lasting injuries.

Jenkins suffered a lacerated tongue and broken jaw. He is a musician, and his injuries have prevented him from singing as he used to. He also said he has trouble speaking and eating. Parker said he relives the episode in his nightmares.


Both victims had called for the “stiffest of sentences.” Their attorney, Malik Shabazz, said they were too traumatized to speak in court, and he read statements on their behalf.

“I am hurt. I am broken,” Jenkins wrote in his statement. “They tried to take my manhood from me. They did some unimaginable things to me, and the effects will linger for the rest of my life.”

Elward said before being sentenced that he wouldn’t make excuses. He turned to address Jenkins and Parker and looked at them directly.

“I don’t want to get too personal. I see you every night, and I can’t go back and do what’s right,” Elward said. “I am so sorry for what I did.”

Parker then stood up and said, “I forgive you.”

Elward’s attorney, Joe Hollomon, said his client first witnessed Rankin County deputies turn a blind eye to misconduct in 2017 and that he had been “initiated into a culture of corruption at the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office.”


Middleton’s lawyer, Carlos Tanner, urged the judge to give his client a shorter sentence, saying Middleton had committed fewer violent acts.

In his apology, Middleton said he tarnished the reputations of Rankin County, law enforcement and his family.

“I will never forgive myself for failing to protect innocent victims and my family,” Middleton said.

When Middleton spoke, he did not look at the victims or their families.

Lee disagreed with Tanner, pointing to statements from Elward and another co-defendant, Daniel Opdyke.

Opdyke submitted a memorandum to the court saying that his “downfall” was the day Middleton, who was a lieutenant, took an interest in him and inserted him into the Goon Squad. The judge also said Elward, like Opdyke, traced his own involvement in the 2023 attack to Middleton and McAlpin and a “culture of violence” perpetuated by the Goon Squad.


“It may be true that you had less hands-on involvement in the torture of Mr. Parker and Mr. Jenkins,” Lee told Middleton. “But, there’s no doubt that you and McAlpin are at least as culpable as any of your co-defendants for the attacks on these victims.”

Elward was also sentenced for his role in an assault on a white man that took place weeks before Jenkins and Parker were tortured. For the first time Tuesday, prosecutors identified the victim as Alan Schmidt and read a statement from him detailing what happened to him on Dec. 4, 2022.

During a traffic stop that night, Schmidt said Rankin County deputies accused him of possessing stolen property. They pulled him from the car and beat him. Then, Dedmon forced him to his knees and tried to insert his genitals into Schmidt’s mouth, as Elward watched.


“I pray every day that I can forgive them one day and hopefully forget the humiliation and the evil physical and sexual assault that I endured,” Schmidt wrote. “I know that I’m not their only victim, and I pray for each victim that has crossed paths with the Goon Squad members.”

The officers charged with torturing Parker and Jenkins include Elward, Middleton, McAlpin, Dedmon and Opdyke of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office and Joshua Hartfield, a Richland police officer. They have pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state charges.

The majority-white Rankin County is just east of the state capital, Jackson, home to one of the highest percentages of Black residents of any major U.S. city.

The officers warned Jenkins and Parker to “stay out of Rankin County and go back to Jackson or ‘their side’ of the Pearl River,” court documents say, referencing an area with higher concentrations of Black residents.

For months, Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey, whose deputies committed the crimes, said little about the episode. After the officers pleaded guilty in August, Bailey said the officers had gone rogue and promised to change the department. Jenkins and Parker have called for his resignation, and they have filed a $400 million civil lawsuit against the department.

— Associated Press reporter Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson contributed to this report.