Tuesday, August 30, 2016



Advocates want feds to probe wrongful convictions in Orleans

A man exonerated after 14 years on Louisiana’s death row for a murder he didn’t commit is leading a call for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate practices at the New Orleans district attorney’s office and look for other wrongful convictions and civil rights violations.

John Thompson’s complaint calls for special attention to cases prosecuted by Jim Williams, an assistant prosecutor in the 1980s under then-District Attorney Harry Connick.

Thompson and other advocates for criminal justice reform say state and local officials have failed to investigate and remedy abuses they attribute to Williams.

Thompson spoke Tuesday at a news conference In New Orleans.

“I was a victim,” Thompson said of the prosecutor who helped put him on death row. “He tried to kill me.”

His petition to federal officials cites five other death penalty cases prosecuted by Williams: two in which sentences were commuted to life; two in which the convicts were exonerated and one in which a new trial has been ordered.

Williams, now a private attorney in the suburb of Gretna, denied withholding evidence to favorable to Thompson in a brief emailed statement.

“To make the record clear for the very last time, I never withheld any favorable evidence in either of John Thompson’s criminal trials that I prosecuted,” Williams’ statement said.

Connick, who retired in 2003, has long defended his 30-year tenure as district attorney against allegations of prosecutorial misconduct in Thompson’s and other cases. He declined to comment Tuesday on Thompson’s letter.

Current District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, whose office is criticized in the letter for “failure to identify and review the integrity of the conviction for each and every individual prosecuted by Williams,” did not respond to an emailed request for comment to his public information office.

“Wrongful convictions are not limited to New Orleans and cases where prosecutors disregarded the law are not limited to New Orleans,” said Emily Maw, an attorney and director of the Innocence Project New Orleans. However, she said the problem is serious in New Orleans. She said her office’s work over the last 15 years has resulted in 28 people being freed or exonerated in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Tuesday’s complaint also notes the case of Curtis Lee Kyles, who won a new trial in a 1984 death case after prosecutors withheld information.

Thompson’s case drew national attention in 2011 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided 5-4 to overturn a $14 million judgment he’d won against Connick’s office, Williams and others for his wrongful conviction.

According to the court record, Thompson was first convicted in 1985 in an unrelated attempted armed robbery. That conviction proved important at his murder trial. Fearing the conviction would be used to challenge his credibility, Thompson chose not to testify in his own defense. Then, prosecutors noted the armed robbery attempt as they argued for the death penalty in the murder case.

Later, it was found that prosecutors under Connick had not disclosed the existence of a swatch of victim clothing stained with the would-be robber’s blood, or a test showing the blood to be type B.

Thompson, who has type O blood, eventually was exonerated in the robbery and the murder.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a majority opinion rejecting the idea that the district attorney’s office should be punished for failing to provide specific training to prosecutors on evidence that must be turned over to the defense. A strong dissent from Ruth Bader Ginsburg held that Thompson was entitled to the award “for the gross, deliberately indifferent, and long-continuing violation of his fair trial right.”

Original report here


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Monday, August 29, 2016



15-year-old black teen chased by cops and shot at SIXTEEN TIMES - even as he was on his knees surrendering with hands up

Refusing to co-operate with the police is always foolish and dangerous.  And running away tends to be a sign of guilt

A Brooklyn teenager who was shot at 16 times by police was unarmed and surrendering when cops opened fire, his lawyers said in a new lawsuit. Keston Charles was 15 when he was shot three times during a foot chase in December 2013.

At the time police said that Charles pointed a gun at officers in Brownsville and then fled the scene. The weapon, it turns out was a BB gun.

New surveillance footage, obtained by the New York Daily News, shows the teen was not armed as police shot at him during the chase, and was surrendering when further shots were fired.

New footage from the 2013 shooting shows Charles was running away and unarmed when a cop opened fire at him, shooting him in the buttocks

Charles was shot once in the buttocks while fleeing, and then again in the side and chest after he dropped the BB gun and had his hands above his head.

'I put up my hands, they was still shooting,' Charles said in a sworn deposition.

The teen was placed in a medically induced coma for three weeks, underwent surgery and later pleaded guilty in Family Court to possessing a fake pistol.

Charles said he ran from police because he was scared for his life.

An internal police investigation found that the officers involved acted appropriately. Only one of the cops had opened fire and emptied the clip of his pistol. He was never disciplined over the shooting.

A Manhattan Federal Judge will now decided whether the lawsuit should be put before a jury to decide whether there was excessive force used.

Lawyers for Charles and his family say the video disproves claims that Charles was threatening the officers.  They had claimed Charles was caught pointing a gun - which was a BB gun - at another boy during a dispute in the street when arrived at the scene.

'The officer's claim that this young man repeatedly took aim at him with an unloaded toy gun not only defies logic, but it is blatantly contradicted by the video,' lawyers David Shanies, Phil Smallman and Michael Colihan said in a statement to the Daily News.

Charles was fortunate enough to survive the shooting.

Original report here


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Sunday, August 28, 2016


Idiot British cop

A hero police officer has been sacked for stealing a kayak and a set of paddles which he then tried to sell on eBay.

PC Andrew Hamilton was caught after Nottingham Kayak Club members spotted that one of their boats, which had gone missing in May, was for sale online.  They bid for the items in an undercover sting and confronted Hamilton, who had been awarded for bravery just months before, at his home.

At first the police officer lied that he had got the kayak from Scotland, before claiming he thought it had been thrown out.

But Hamilton admitted the allegations and was dismissed without notice after a police misconduct hearing at Lincolnshire Police headquarters yesterday.

The hearing came after the officer, who served in Grantham, was convicted of two counts of theft between May 1 and July 9 when he appeared at Nottingham Magistrates Court on August 8.

Dismissing him, Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Neil Rhodes said: 'I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities the officer's conduct amounts to gross misconduct.

'Let me be clear I understand the impact on the officer will be massive. 'But there can be no place in the police service for an officer who demonstrated such unequivocally disingenuous behaviour.'

The disciplinary panel heard about the undercover sting mounted by  by Nottingham Kayak Club.

Solicitor Matt Greene, representing Lincolnshire Police, said: 'A woman's daughter who attended the club noticed her kayak was missing. 'Her mother asked people round the club and was told a kayak matching her description was on eBay. 'The kayak was bid on by another member of the kayak club and was arranged to be collected from the home address of the seller.'

Hamilton, who was not present at the hearing, also stole a set of paddles which he sold for £142.

Police Federation solicitor Craig Hewitt, who represented Hamilton, said: 'He says he's struggling to see a future. 'He and his family may lose their home and he accepts he will be dismissed from the force.  'He knows he let Lincolnshire Police down and can't forgive himself for what he has done.'

Original report here


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Saturday, August 27, 2016



A Wrongful Conviction ‘Destroyed’ This Man’s Life



He comes across as reserved and as a reluctant spokesperson for a miscarriage of justice. But who can blame Dion Harrell, who just last week was formally cleared of a 1988 rape, even the prosecutor now admits, he did not commit.

Schmertz: Can you describe to me your feeling when at least at that point this chapter of your life was over?

Harrell: I felt good.

Harrell and his attorney, Vanessa Potkin from The Innocence Project, sat down with us to share Harrell’s story — a tortured journey through the justice system that began on the streets of Long Branch.

Going from accused, to convicted to eventually cleared. A woman had accused him of raping her, and it is largely on that testimony that he went to jail.

Harrell: It was crazy.

Schmertz: Why?

Harrell: It was like a shock, man. I was getting arrested for something. They took me downtown. They kept questioning me. I kept asking them what they were locking me up for. When they told me I just flipped out.

Schmertz: And that does happen. People think eyewitness testimony is so compelling, but the cases seem to suggest that without additional evidence it’s often wrong.

Potkin: That’s right. The mind is not like a tape recorder — people think you can go back and replay exactly what happened. In this case the victim was working at McDonalds and she was on her way home, she lived about a block and a half away, when she was attacked. Dion happened to live across the street from that McDonalds. He was 22 years old at the time. You know, he was just in the McDonalds parking lot when she saw him and thought he was her attacker.

So in 1988, Harrell was arrested and charged with rape. At just 22 years old, Harrell couldn’t afford an attorney, so he was represented by a public defender, who he says kept pushing for him to plead guilty.

Harrell: From the door, she tried to get me to cop out. I told her she was crazy. I’m not going to cop out to nothing.

But Harrell did go to trial, and was convicted in 1992 and spent four years in prison. In 1996, upon release, he had to register as a sex offender. Then in 2013, after receiving numerous letters from Harrell, The Innocence Project, a nonprofit co-founded by famed OJ Simpson attorney Barry Scheck, agreed to take the case.

But they faced an obstacle, New Jersey wouldn’t allow DNA testing for defendants if they weren’t currently in jail.

Schmertz: What was your reaction when you found out at first the state would not test the DNA because you were out of prison.

Harrell: I don’t quite understand that part.

Schmertz: You feel like they should have done that.

Harrell: They should have took the DNA before they put me in jail, or try to. You don’t put someone away because someone says you did something to them — that’s wrong.

It wasn’t until 2015 that the state changed the law. Harrell’s DNA was tested, it didn’t match the assailants and last week the conviction was tossed out.

But not before Harrell spent 20 years on the sex offender registry — a publicly accessible list created by Megan’s Law.  Megan Kanka was a 7-year-old girl from Hamilton Township who was raped and murdered by a known-sex offender.

Schmertz: Then you got out, and the ordeal was not over. Because now you had to register as a sex offender. What was your reaction to being told you had to do that?

Harrell: Confused.

Schmertz: And you didn’t want to do it at first?

Harrell: Nope.

Schmertz: How did it impact your life?

 Harrell: It destroyed my life. Tore my whole life up. Took me away from my family for years.

Schmertz: You couldn’t live, you were going to move in with a family member who had children?

Harrell: Couldn’t do it.

Schmertz: Couldn’t do it. What about employment?

Harrell: That was a struggle, too.

Schmertz: What do you say to people who say that this list is very important, that people should be aware of potential sex offenders, that despite the cases where there’s wrongful convictions, the good from it outweighs the bad?

Potkin: We really need to rethink what we’re doing with sex offender registries and really take a step back and look at all the collateral consequences of convictions. I think that what Dion’s case really exemplifies is that the sex offender registry is overly broad because there are people who are factually innocent. He’s not the only person. There are other people who are on parole before him around the county who are on parole and on sex offender registries in other states who later were proven innocent by DNA testing.

The Monmouth County prosecutor issued the following statement: “Our goal as prosecutors is to see that justice is done. Mr. Harrell’s 1992 conviction was based upon the best evidence available at that time. Advancements in science have now provided evidence of Mr. Harrell’s innocence, and our duty to act is clear.”

New Jersey does have a program to compensate those wrongly convicted of crimes, but The Innocence Project says it only covers the years spent in jail — not the years of stigma that follow.

Schmertz: What is your message for people in a similar situation that you went through?

Harrell: If you get arrested for something you didn’t do, don’t give up. Keep fighting. Eventually the doors will open for you.

Original report here


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Friday, August 26, 2016



Australia: Backpacker sues NSW Police accusing force of cover-up over  alleged bashing

A backpacker who was prosecuted for a petty offence after allegedly being the victim of a serious assault is suing New South Wales Police, accusing the force of an institutional cover-up over the failure to investigate or discipline an off-duty officer involved.

English backpacker Liam Monte claims he was unlawfully imprisoned in 2013 following a fight in the Sydney CBD which broke out after a heavily intoxicated police constable pulled out a police badge and attempted to arrest him at a McDonald's restaurant.

Mr Monte was pursued down George Street by the off-duty officer and his friends following the McDonald's incident, and a witness to the fight said Mr Monte was repeatedly kicked and bashed while he lay on the ground.

According to a magistrate, police initially investigated Mr Monte for assault of the off-duty officer. However, when the evidence indicated Mr Monte had in fact been the victim of an assault, officers charged the backpacker with stealing the constable's police badge.

Mr Monte is now suing the police for damages including assault and battery, misfeasance in public office, unlawful imprisonment and collateral abuse of process.

He said he was pursuing the civil claim against the police because he believed he had been the victim of an injustice.

"I've lost a lot of faith in the police," he said. "I felt like they're meant to be there to protect us, and I didn't feel like they protected me on that night."

How the fight unfolded

The altercation between Liam Monte and off-duty police officer Osvaldo Painemilla began when Mr Monte objected to the behaviour of the off-duty officer and his friends who were dining at a McDonald's restaurant in George Street in Sydney's CBD.

In a judgment delivered in 2014, local court magistrate Michael Barnes said Mr Monte threw a chip at the men, who then pursued him out of the restaurant when Mr Monte went to leave.

At the exit of the McDonald's, Mr Painemilla, who admitted in court to having consumed 16 drinks, produced a police badge and said to Mr Monte: "I'm a cop and you're under arrest."

Mr Monte, who said he did not believe the badge was real, grabbed the badge and exited the restaurant.

According to evidence accepted by the magistrate, Mr Painemilla's friends then dragged Mr Monte backwards out of a cab and chased him up George Street. Mr Monte threw the police badge back, but one of Mr Painemilla's friends continued to pursue him. He tackled Mr Monte to the ground on a footpath, allegedly punching and kicking him repeatedly.

According to the statement of a bus driver who witnessed the assault tendered to the local court, Mr Monte was "punched approximately 10 times to the face as he lay on the ground".

Mr Painemilla and his friends denied the claims and disputed Mr Monte's version of events.

Following the fight on April 19, 2013, Mr Monte was taken to hospital by ambulance with severe facial bruising and a suspected fractured eye socket.

Monte charged over stealing officer's badge

Shortly after he was discharged from hospital, detectives from The Rocks police station in central Sydney arrived at his backpacker's hostel and arrested him.

The case against Mr Monte for stealing proceeded to a full prosecution in 2014, and at the time, the magistrate hearing the case, Michael Barnes, described it as an abuse of process.

Magistrate Barnes said it was difficult not to conclude that police had brought the prosecution in an attempt to "somehow negate the suggestion that the force applied to Mr Monte was otherwise completely unjustifiable". Mr Barnes said Mr Painemilla had abused his powers of arrest.

"In my view abuse of the power of arrest goes far beyond being merely undesirable," Mr Barnes said.

"When the officer purporting to exercise the power is very drunk and in the company of others who have provoked the confrontation leading to its exercise, the arrest can readily be classified as unnecessary and improper."

Mr Barnes found that the facts that supported the police's charging of Mr Monte for stealing a police badge were proven, but he did not convict Mr Monte of the offence, instead giving him a Section 10 bond.

Mr Monte's statement of claim argues that the NSW Police is vicariously liable for Mr Painemilla's actions and that the police officers investigating the 2014 incident failed in their duties.

The claim argues Mr Monte suffered "extreme fear and substantial pain" during the assault, "embarrassment and distress" during his subsequent arrest, and "a strong sense of ongoing injustice" over the failure to investigate Mr Painemilla's behaviour.

"Two things shocked me, first of all that I was arrested on that night, and then that I was handcuffed while I was clearly concussed and had taken a severe beating," Mr Monte said.

"It was clear as day that they had assaulted me and it was a three-on-one situation which was a group beating. So I was incredibly shocked that they weren't arrested at that point."

NSW Police are yet to file a defence in the case. When contacted about the case, a spokesperson said NSW Police would not be making any comment as the matter was before the courts.

Last month, lawyers acting for the NSW Police applied to the NSW District Court for security of costs.

In that application, NSW Police asked the court to order Mr Monte to pay $60,000 upfront to cover the costs of the court case in case he lost the case and was ordered to pay the police's costs. The application failed.

Stephen Blanks, president of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, said he was disturbed by the legal tactic.

"The police attempted to shut this case down by using litigation tactics of a kind that normally only happens in the big commercial courts," Mr Blanks said. "And they were using it against a victim of their own violence."

"What we need in the NSW Police force is a culture of intolerance of wrongdoing, an intolerance of violence by police against innocent members of the public, an intolerance of using the courts to prosecute cases that ought not to be prosecuted.

Original report here


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Thursday, August 25, 2016


State trooper shoots dead an unarmed deaf mute father who was trying to communicate via sign language

A North Carolina state trooper shot dead a deaf and mute man who was apparently trying to communicate using sign language after he was pulled over for a speeding violation.

Daniel Kevin Harris, 29, a father to a four-year-old boy, was killed just feet from his home in Charlotte by trooper Jermaine Saunders on Thursday evening.

Police say Saunders tried to pull Harris over for a speeding violation on Interstate 485 at around 6.15pm, but the driver led authorities on a brief pursuit before stopping.

Officials said that's when the driver got out of his car and an encounter took place between the driver and the trooper, causing a shot to be fired. Harris died at the scene.

But witnesses said Harris – who was unarmed – was shot ‘almost immediately’ after he exited his vehicle, WCNC reports.

They also say he appeared to be trying to communicate with the trooper using sign language.

However, Saunders has said he shot Harris because he was advancing and not following commands, WCCB reports.

But Harris' immediate family, who are also hearing impaired, think he was 'just afraid' and not understanding the situation.

Jay Harris, who spoke to the local station through a sign language interpreter, believes his brother was not aware that troopers were trying to pull him over.

'He was unarmed - and he is a deaf individual, and I think that he was just afraid,' he said.

'He could not hear their warnings. He could not hear their commands to stop or to stay away from them.'

He added that his mother has been in the hospital with a heart issue since the shooting. 'He was shot, and now we’re left with nothing,' Jay said.

Neighbors blasted the decision to ‘shoot first, ask questions’ later.

‘You’re pulling someone over who is deaf, they are handicapped. To me, what happened is totally unacceptable,’ neighbor Mark Barringer told the local station.  ‘They should have de-escalated and been trained to realize that this is an entirely different situation.’

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police report identified Harris as hearing and speech impaired, but did not give further details about his impairments.

Saunders was placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting.

State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Audria Bridges said agents will interview Saunders this week.  However, the SBI report doesn't mention that Harris is impaired.

The police report identifies Harris as white. Bridges said she was uncertain of the trooper's race.

Harris’ family have set up a fundraising page since his death, which has raised almost $5,000 so far, for his memorial and cremation costs.  In a post on the page, they say: ‘He was unarmed when shot and killed by a state trooper.

‘His tragic death could have been prevented. Police brutality ends NOW.’

They also plan to set up a foundation in his name to ‘educate and provide law enforcement [with] proper training on how to confront deaf people.’

The family also hope to change the DMV registration system to require states to set up a ‘DEAF’ alert to appear when a car’s license plate is looked up.  ‘With this change, Daniel will be a hero in our deaf community,’ they add.

Activist Shaun King notes that it’s not clear if Harris understood what was happened in the moments before his death ‘since he could not have heard the sirens’ in his New York Daily News column.

He adds that while some cases of police shootings pose genuine threats to law enforcement, this case is ‘hard to justify.’   ‘Beyond being unarmed, deaf and mute, Daniel Harris appears to have been a rather small, thin man,’ he wrote in his column.

King insists opening fire could not have been the trooper’s only option.  ‘What threat did Harris pose? Was a Taser or pepper spray used? Could the officer truly not subdue Harris on his own?

‘If reports from neighbors are accurate, it doesn't appear the officer even tried, but pretty much shot and killed Harris mere seconds after he got out of the car.’

He added: ‘Virtually any other option the officer could've considered was better than what he chose in this case, but here we are with another avoidable casualty of police violence.

‘Daniel Harris should be alive with a speeding ticket, but instead his family is raising funds for his cremation.’

Original report here


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Tuesday, August 23, 2016




Medical examiners in Mass. can be a jury of one

When Dr. Peter Cummings was a state medical examiner, he didn’t often receive e-mails or phone calls from lawyers, except for prosecutors just before trial. But shortly after he ruled that a 6-month-old Malden baby had died violently of shaken-baby syndrome, he received an e-mail from a defense attorney on the case — the first of a number of contacts he would have with the team hired to represent the child’s father.

Cummings later stunned prosecutors when, before trial, he said he was changing his finding on the manner of death from homicide to undetermined, devastating the prospects for a criminal conviction. When prosecutors sought a second opinion, fearful that the murder case would be derailed, Cummings became angry.

Not even the chief of the medical examiner’s office, he said, can override him. “It is of no concern to me whether he feels it is homicide or not,” he said in a 2014 e-mail to a colleague. “I am the medical examiner on the case and it is my opinion that gets recorded in the death certificate.”

A Globe review of Cummings’s changed decision, and two subsequent retractions of shaken-baby rulings by other medical examiners, found a highly decentralized system of ruling on suspicious deaths in Massachusetts, in which forensic pathologists are given extraordinary freedom to make — and change — their rulings, with little scrutiny of what factors, including personal ones, may have influenced them.

In this extraordinary series of revisions, which occurred over the course of 18 months, the examiners, all physicians, became powerful de-facto judges, wielding tremendous pretrial clout while operating out of public view and without fear of being overruled, according to a Globe review of e-mails, case notes, medical records, state ethics filings, court filings, and other documents. That made them prime targets for defense attorneys pursuing a novel strategy, focusing first on introducing doubt in the minds of these medical examiners — not jurors at trial — to help free their clients.

The lack of any kind of mandatory supervisory review of the examiners’ rulings also meant there was little opportunity to probe whether other factors, including possible conflicts of interest, could have played a role.

In Cummings’s case, for instance, a review might have uncovered the fact that, while he was analyzing the Malden infant’s death, he had months earlier finished work as a paid defense expert in a shaken-baby case on the West Coast as part of the private practice that he was operating on the side. Soon after changing his decision in the death of the Malden infant, Nathan Wilson, he would leave government work and expand the business, devoting himself almost exclusively to consulting work for defense lawyers on shaken-baby cases.

Nearly a year after Cummings’s revision, Dr. Katherine Lindstrom, another state pathologist, would retract her shaken-baby homicide ruling in the case of a 1-year-old Cambridge girl after an unusual level of pretrial lobbying by the defense, according to e-mails obtained by the Globe through a public records request. And Dr. Anna McDonald would follow suit on a third case soon after, a full year after she had stopped working as a Massachusetts medical examiner and begun working for a North Carolina doctor who frequently testifies for the defense in shaken-baby cases. Despite her job change and relocation, she retained control of the case, which the agency allows.

The consequences of these revisions have been profound: Two murder prosecutions were dropped, including the high-profile prosecution of a Cambridge nanny, and a third homicide case against a Burlington baby sitter has been seriously weakened.

Concentrating so much unchecked power in individual forensic pathologists is something many major medical examiner’s offices try hard to avoid, the Globe review found.

David Fowler, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, said his accreditation organization calls for each autopsy report to undergo a mandatory “quality assurance” review process.

In Maryland, where he is the chief medical examiner, Fowler said he is required to personally review and sign off on all death certificates involving a homicide, a child under age 2, and any rulings that call the cause of death “undetermined.” In New York City, which has its own medical examiner’s office, each homicide determination must be initialed by a second examiner, according to a spokeswoman.

Cummings, 44, the only one of the three medical examiners who spoke to the Globe, defended his decision to retract his shaken-baby finding as an honorable response to fresh doubts based on new information from the defense. Lindstrom and McDonald each gave similar reasons when explaining their changed decisions to prosecutors, records show.

Cummings said he prides himself on being an independent thinker and hopes, as he pursues his private practice, to be a “reasonable voice” in the highly emotional debate around whether shaken-baby syndrome is wrongfully applied to explain some infant deaths. The major signs of this form of head trauma — marked by a combination of brain bleeding, brain swelling, and retinal damage — can have nonviolent causes, he said.

He said he has also started a nonprofit dedicated to helping indigent clients facing shaken-baby charges, and has recruited McDonald, whom he used to mentor while working for the state, to join him in this effort.

Some in the legal and medical community hailed these three retractions as a sign of professional courage, a willingness by doctors to admit mistakes. However, many in the state’s child-protection community sounded an alarm.

Officials from the Massachusetts chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics called on the governor to investigate, saying these abrupt shifts in such critical cases make the state seem arbitrary and incompetent when it comes to identifying abusive head trauma, which they say kills or maims some 1,000 children a year nationwide.

They suggested a cottage industry of well-paid defense experts, promoting marginal medical theories, may be undermining valid prosecutions.

“Sadly these extraordinary and alarming events call into question both the capacity and independence of our medical examiner’s office,” they wrote in a letter to Governor Charlie Baker this spring.

The chief medical examiner, Dr. Henry Nields, 62, who oversees 12 full-time forensic pathologists, declined the Globe’s request for an interview about the string of retractions and his management of the office.

During his decadelong tenure, his office has been plagued with low staffing and huge case backlogs, two factors that have led the National Association of Medical Examiners to give it only a “provisional” accreditation.

Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett, who oversees the medical examiner’s office, acknowledged that three retractions in such a short time is unprecedented, but he said he trusts that these medical examiners acted professionally. He said the office also allows its medical staff to pursue consulting practices on the side, provided the work does not conflict with Massachusetts cases.

Medical examiners typically discuss cases with their supervisors and colleagues, he said, but he does not believe additional oversight is necessary.

“The medical examiner who does the autopsy is the one who makes the final decision in every case,” Bennett said.

Cummings had just started his $150,000-a-year full-time state job when the body of 6-month-old Nathan Wilson was brought to the Boston morgue.

The child’s father, Geoffrey Wilson, an administrator in the MIT Media Lab, had been caring for him the morning of March 7, 2010, a Sunday, while his wife was at church. When his wife returned to their Malden home, she found the baby in his crib, struggling to breathe.

Nathan’s parents then drove their only child to the emergency room at Boston Children’s Hospital, where doctors found the infant unresponsive. He had multiple bruises on his head and body, bleeding on the left side of his brain, and bleeding in both eyes, records show.

Two months later, after conducting an autopsy and receiving test results, Cummings testified that Nathan had died of a violent act, not natural causes.

“There’s an injury to the head that is both blunt, which means something hit it, and shaken,” Cummings told a grand jury. The baby’s father was charged with murder, even as he insisted he was innocent and would never harm the baby he cherished.

But after issuing his homicide ruling, Cummings apparently began wondering if this child abuse diagnosis, while valid in many cases, was over-applied in some.

In a blog posting in December 2010, he referred to the “dogma” of this diagnosis and questioned whether the typical triad of symptoms always points to abuse. “What once was the truth became a little foggy to me!” he wrote.

In the months to come, Cummings’s doubts would grow as Wilson’s defense lawyers, led by J.W. Carney Jr., recruited medical experts to review Nathan’s death.

One was Dr. Elizabeth Laposata, a former chief medical examiner in Rhode Island. She met with Cummings and suggested Nathan may have had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that in its most severe form can cause damage to blood vessels and be deadly.

Although the baby was never confirmed to have this disorder, the child’s mother and maternal grandmother did — and this fact appeared to play a role in Cummings’s thinking as he cited the family’s medical history in his revision.

But hospital records obtained by the Globe show that the mother after extensive testing was found to have a less serious form of the illness that is commonly marked by excessively flexible joints and loose skin, but is almost never fatal.

Cummings — who agreed to one interview with the Globe, then did not respond to subsequent requests for comment — said that he had an “extended dialogue over months” with the defense in 2013, over the phone and in personal meetings, prior to his new ruling.

Carney told the Globe that such open exchange of information is a positive thing — and needed. He said medical examiners, who are supposed to be independent, are typically too close to prosecutors, and defense attorneys often are “just trying to balance the access.”

Cummings said Carney is a forceful advocate — one, he indicated in the interview, he dreaded facing on the witness stand. But his changed ruling was based entirely on medical evidence, he maintained, adding that he now sees himself as part of a more open-minded younger generation of forensic pathologists.

On Sept, 24, 2013, shortly after one of his meetings with the defense, Cummings e-mailed the prosecutor on the case, Katharine Folger.  “Hey, I’ve been thinking about this case. I want to change it to undetermined. I am interested to hear what you think tomorrow. I won’t do anything until we talk,” he wrote.

Around this time, as part of a private business that he disclosed on state ethics forms, Cummings had recently finished serving as a paid consultant on a shaken-baby case in the San Francisco area, involving a father facing homicide charges.

In a turn that what would foreshadow events in Massachusetts, prosecutors there dropped the case when a California medical examiner revised the manner of death to “undetermined” after hearing from Cummings and five other experts, said defense attorney Stuart Hanlon.

In the late summer of 2014, about a year after first sharing his doubts with prosecutors, Cummings revised Nathan’s death certificate. Though the reason for the delay is unclear, some e-mails suggest Folger thought Nields, the chief medical examiner, was sympathetic to the prosecution’s homicide stance and was urging him to intervene.

That possibility upset Cummings. He insisted to a colleague that he alone was in charge of the case — and even complained about being “bullied” by prosecutors.

Soon after, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan dropped murder charges against Geoffrey Wilson. A finding of an “undetermined” cause of death doesn’t rule out the possibility of homicide, but she didn’t believe jurors, after hearing testimony from a wavering medical examiner, could be persuaded to reach such a verdict.

Within the year, Cummings would leave his state job and expand his private consulting practice, a field in which experts typically receive anywhere from $200 to $500 an hour.

Cummings told the Globe that he is committed to advancing accurate knowledge about abusive head trauma. When he reviews cases for the defense, he said, he often sees evidence of abuse and tells them so. But he also lets them know when a shaken-baby diagnosis is not clear-cut.

“I don’t do this for the money,” he said.

Original report here


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress.  If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where  posts  appear as well as on  the primary site.  I have reposted  the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts  HERE or HERE




Monday, August 22, 2016



Australia: Probe launched into wrongful conviction of Sudanese refugee jailed over Edward Spowart murder

The NSW Director of Public Prosecutions has launched an inquiry into a miscarriage of justice that saw a young Sudanese refugee wrongly convicted of murder.

The family of the young man, who spent almost seven years in prison for a crime they insist he did not commit, say their experience in the justice system has destroyed their faith in the rule of law in Australia.

"What has happened to my nephew is something unbelievable," the refugee's uncle told the ABC. "He's an utterly broken man."

The conviction of the Sudanese boy, known only as JB, was quashed in late April by the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.

The teenager had been convicted in 2009 of murdering western Sydney man Edward Spowart and sentenced to 23 years in jail.

In submissions to the NSW Supreme Court, the NSW Attorney-General said the Crown prosecutor as well as the prosecuting solicitor, and investigating police had all failed to reveal to the defence that the key witness who implicated JB in the stabbing murder was a registered police informant.

The Crown Prosecutor during JB's trial was experienced barrister Terry Thorpe. However, the court made no findings about who within the prosecution knew about the status of the police informant, when they knew, or exactly what they had been told by police.

The failure to disclose the crucial evidence is now being criticised not just by the young man's family, but also by a retired Supreme Court judge.

The CCA said in its April judgment that JB's trial had miscarried because of "failures of the prosecuting authority".

According to the Attorney-General's submissions, the Crown Prosecutor and his instructing solicitor had met with A107, but notes of that meeting provided to the defence "appear to have been edited" and did not mention that A107 was a police informer.

It is not known who edited the notes, however, the submissions raise questions about who in the prosecution knew about A107's status and why it was not disclosed.

Registered informants receive benefits for their assistance to police and are often given discounted sentences in their own criminal matters.

A spokesperson for the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Lloyd Babb told the ABC a probe was underway.  "This matter is being reviewed internally and accordingly it is not possible to provide any comment at this stage," the spokesperson said.

The NSW Police are also conducting an internal investigation into its role in the matter. In a statement, the force said: "As a result of the acquittal of JB, NSW Police Force has become aware of the apparent non-disclosure connected with the matter.

"NSW Police Force will have to conduct its own investigation and until such time that is concluded it is not appropriate to make comment on specific issues concerning the matter.

Now, the retired Supreme Court judge who rejected a 2012 appeal by JB against his conviction, Anthony Whealy QC, has spoken out to express his concern, saying that, if substantiated, the failure of disclosure would be a "serious dereliction of duty" on the part of the prosecution. "It's a terrible situation where this man has spent nearly seven years in jail as a consequence of a confession that should never have been allowed into evidence," Mr Whealy said.

Mr Whealy said he would have acquitted JB in 2012 if he had known the key witness was a registered police informant. "I'm quite sure that had we known those facts … the appeal would have taken a completely different course," Mr Whealy said.  "That course would have resulted in the conviction being set aside and more than likely a verdict of acquittal being entered on behalf of this young man who has needlessly spent all these years in jail."

The ABC submitted detailed questions to Mr Thorpe. In response, the Crown prosecutor said he had no comment.

JB was sentenced to 23 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 16 years, for the stabbing murder of Edward Spowart. Mr Spowart, 54, was killed in April 2008 during a fight between two groups of young men in the south western Sydney suburb of Granville.

He was not participating in the fight, in which the two groups of men armed themselves with sticks, bricks and street signs.

He was standing by the side of the road carrying a plastic shopping bag when he was stabbed in the stomach, thigh and trunk.

JB, aged 15 at the time, was initially arrested for affray over the incident.

When police seek to interview juveniles, the child must be supplied with a youth support person. When JB was in custody in April 2008, detectives called in a support person who is now known only as A107.

The man entered JB's cell for a private conversation, and after he emerged he told police that the 15-year-old had confessed to stabbing Spowart.

"It was the key plank in the prosecution's case," Mr Whealy said. "The prosecution relied on it even to the absence of other evidence to convict the young person."

A107 avoided jail on fraud charge after police cooperation

In 2014, defence barristers unearthed sensational fresh evidence which revealed the youth support person A107 was a registered police informant.

At the time, he told police JB had confessed to stabbing Spowart, A107 was himself facing charges of having defrauded victims of $40,000.

Police later swore an affidavit that laid out the assistance A107 had given police in the JB case, among others.

Largely as a result of A107's assistance to police, he avoided jail and received a suspended sentence.

Prominent Sudanese lawyer Deng Adut said he had visited JB in prison in the years before he was acquitted. "He told me clearly that he did not kill that man," Mr Adut said.

"He didn't have a knife. He didn't even have anything in his hand. He had nothing in his hand. He never did anything."

In its April judgment, the CCA ruled that without the evidence of A107 that JB had confessed to stabbing Edward Spowart, the prosecution had insufficient evidence to conduct a retrial.

The judges said the case had been a miscarriage of justice. "The trial of JB miscarried because of failures on the part of the prosecuting authority," the judgement said.

"These consisted of an inadequate investigation of the position of A107 and an inadequate disclosure of that position to the defence. "There was no conduct on the part of JB which contributed to the mistrial."

The trial hinged on the evidence of the police informant. The ABC understands that Merrylands detectives never recovered the murder weapon.

The ABC has been told their investigations ceased after the alleged confession was obtained.

It was also revealed in the CCA that the defence lawyer who was on the record as acting for JB, Robert Kaufmann, was also acting for the police informer A107 in his criminal case.

Mr Kaufmann attended the first day of the trial but afterwards relied on a junior solicitor at his firm to defend JB.

Mr Kaufmann said he was unaware A107 was a registered informant and rejected any conflict of interest. "I reject any suggestion that I acted under a conflict of interest in relation to matters for JB, either before his trial, during his trial or for his initial appeal," Mr Kaufmann said.

Original report here


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress.  If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where  posts  appear as well as on  the primary site.  I have reposted  the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts  HERE or HERE



Sunday, August 21, 2016



Dragged from her classroom. Shut in a cell all day. Not even allowed to call her parents... Why did British police lock up this schoolgirl on the word of a fantasist?

Bone-headed brutes at work

Emma Raymond was wearing her school uniform when she was hauled out of class, arrested, marched across the school grounds to a waiting police car and taken to the cells. And why wouldn’t she be? She is, after all, only 16. ‘A child,’ points out her mother Victoria, bitterly.

At 9am on that day in January — a day that has left her afraid to be in the house on her own, and her parents white with fury — she was in a GCSE revision class, swotting for imminent exams.

She never got her revision done. She didn’t get her packed lunch that day either, because it was taken from her and the contents meticulously documented on the police arrest sheet.

What crime could warrant the arrest of a teenager while in class, and the holding of her in the cells for five hours? Murder? Terrorism?

No. Emma had been accused of being the ringleader of a gang who were bullying another girl, targeting her online, threatening to ‘get her’ and even hacking into her family’s webcam.

Emma opens her eyes wide. ‘I mean, hacking a webcam. How do you do that? Is it even possible? I certainly couldn’t. I failed my IT course. I have to get my little sister to help me with basic computer stuff. And all this had supposedly happened on the night before I was arrested. Hello! I was at home, watching Spider-Man with my family. If they’d asked, I could have told them that.’

What followed was the sort of Kafkaesque nightmare no parent could envisage when they wave their child off on the school bus on an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday morning. Even if the allegations had been true, argues Emma’s father, Carl, ‘This would have been too heavy-handed an approach by the police.’

But Emma’s case is shocking because even the police now admit she had no case to answer. The accusations against her were entirely false.

Today her parents claim Nottinghamshire Police should have known this. Astonishingly, the same girl who made the accusations had done so around 18 months previously. And, staggeringly, it was the same police force that had investigated the earlier claims — and dismissed them.

‘The whole thing is a joke,’ says Carl. ‘It would actually be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.’

To say the experience was traumatic for Emma is an understatement. Never having been arrested before (‘the worst that had happened to her was getting detention for wearing the wrong shoes,’ says Victoria), Emma was shocked by the brutality of the process.

‘At the police station they went through my schoolbag and noted every single thing down, every pencil, every sheet of paper. They’d already taken my phone — I’d asked if I could phone my mum and they said no — then they took my packed lunch.

‘They went through my make-up bag, listing it all. They took my blazer, my shoes. They did a search and checked in my socks. And of course they took my school tie, I suppose in case I tried to hang myself with it. Do you know the best bit? It was a clip-on tie. I wouldn’t have had much success there.

‘I didn’t cry until they locked me in the cell,’ says Emma. ‘I was so confused before that, and so convinced there’d just been a mistake. I just wanted my mum and dad but they kept saying “no”.’

The occupants of the other cells seemed more familiar with the process. ‘They were all men, all shouting and swearing and kicking the doors. I was terrified.’ The officers who put her in that cell cannot have been in any doubt about her age and immaturity, though.

‘They handed me a magazine to read. It was a magazine for little girls, full of articles about One Direction.’

Meanwhile, events outside the cell were every bit as alarming. When Carl and Victoria were informed by a police welfare officer that their daughter was being held, they rushed to the station to try to see her, but were refused.

At the same time, police travelled to their family home with a search warrant. Caught in an unfolding nightmare, the couple rushed back home and stood, powerless, as their daughter’s bedroom was searched.

The police seized her laptop and two iPods — one of which didn’t even connect to the internet and was only used to play music. At 4.45pm, Emma was finally released, after being interviewed. Victoria shudders. ‘When she came out of that cell she fell into my arms and was sobbing her heart out. I don’t think they have any idea what they’ve done to her.

‘Afterwards, while we were waiting to see if she would be charged, she asked me, “Mum, am I going to going to jail?”. This was the point where she should only have been thinking about her GCSEs. The timing could not have been worse.’

Emma nods. ‘I knew I hadn’t done anything, but if you can get arrested for doing nothing, then surely you can go to jail for doing nothing.’ At the family home in leafy Mapperley, Nottingham, Emma’s parents explain why they are speaking out about their daughter’s three-month ordeal.

Normally a private family, Carl, 49, is a firefighter, while Victoria, 39, is a teaching assistant. Part of them wants to put the events of earlier this year behind them, and they are clearly mortified at being involved with the police at all.

‘People think “No smoke without fire”, don’t they?’ says Carl. ‘But we’re a normal, law-abiding family and yet — out of the blue — we found ourselves in this nightmare.’

Carl was shocked by what his daughter endured. ‘They treated her like a criminal from the off. And there was no basic humanity in how they dealt with her. At one point we begged them to let her have her GCSE coursework off that laptop.

‘We offered to give them a memory stick so they could do it themselves. They said no. There was no budging. They have put her whole future at risk. They owe my daughter an apology.’

Quite how this could have happened isn’t clear, but the family claim the girl who made the accusations had made similar ones previously against Emma.

‘She’d moved to our school in the summer of 2014,’ says Emma. ‘I was nice to her. I befriended her. I felt sorry for her. She seemed nice enough.’

Weeks later, however, the family were horrified when officers from Nottinghamshire Police arrived at their door, with accusations of online bullying. ‘We were stunned, shocked beyond words,’ says Victoria. ‘This was not the daughter we knew.’

But all too aware that teenage girls aren’t always the sweet souls that their parents think they know, the pair confronted Emma.

‘Emma was adamant she didn’t know what on earth this girl was talking about. She offered to give the police her laptop. She said, “I have nothing to hide, take it.” They refused.’

Emma insists that, at that time, there had been no bullying, indeed there had been hardly any contact outside school.

‘I didn’t even Facebook her. I honestly had no idea where this had come from. I was really upset because I’d been so nice to her. Why was she doing this?’ The family asked the school to arrange a meeting with both sets of parents, ‘to discuss what on earth was going on’, says Victoria.

‘They refused. And from the day she made the complaint, the girl stopped coming to school. She’s at another school now. She has been bullied there, too, it seems.’

They thought the matter finished. Then on a Wednesday morning in January this year, not long after she’d dropped her daughter to the bus stop, Victoria was shocked to receive a phone call from the school saying the police were there and wanted to speak to Emma.

She made no connection to the previous bullying complaint. ‘Had she done something? I said to them I didn’t want the police speaking to Emma without me there. They said that the police would contact me.’

Distraught, Victoria got in the car to drive to the school, but pulled over halfway there to ring again.

‘They told me the police had gone. I assumed Emma was in class. I went home. I had no idea that they had actually taken her in a police car, and I’m furious that I didn’t know that.

‘She is a vulnerable teenager and was in a police car with two male police officers, not even a female one. It makes me go cold thinking about it. As a parent, I should have known where she was.’ Meanwhile, from the back of the police car, Emma was making attempts to call her mum.

‘I got my phone out in the back of the car. They said: “You can’t use that.” I said, “But surely I’m allowed a phone call? I only want to tell my mum where I am.” They said no. I went to switch the phone off and one of them said to the other “They were right about her. She does have an attitude.” ’

Emma wasn’t taken to her local police station but a bigger one at Mansfield, half an hour away.

She describes the moment the accusations were put to her. ‘They said they thought I was involved in harassment and improper use of computers,’ she says. ‘The minute they started talking about bullying, the penny dropped. I knew it was this girl. What I didn’t know was why.’

Emma insists she had not seen the girl, or had any contact either on the phone or online, since the first bullying allegations 18 months previously. Yet according to police, a more recent ‘campaign of bullying’ had been ongoing. ‘They said this girl had had messages put in her bag.

‘She’d been sent stuff — threats — online. There was apparently this guy, Dave, who’d been employed to do the nasty work — by me,’ Emma says. ‘I’ve never even heard of someone called Dave.’

Carl was allowed to be in the room when Emma was finally interviewed by the police at around 3pm on the day of the arrest. ‘At this point I was shaking, I was sweating,’ he says. ‘I was in a worse state than Emma, if I’m honest. I thought: “They must have some serious evidence here if they have gone to these lengths.” ’

What was unveiled, however, was ‘a joke’. They pulled out a piece of A4 paper, a printout from a few Facebook messages allegedly sent by Emma. This girl wasn’t mentioned. One message, supposedly from Emma to a friend, said “We will get her.” ’

Emma interjects. ‘You could see immediately it had just been Photoshopped or something. It wasn’t a real message. I never sent it.’ According to Emma it was sent to a Facebook account she had never used before. ‘Surely these things are easy enough to verify?’

Carl says he challenged the officers. ‘I remember saying, “Is this it? Who is this Dave? Have you spoken to him?” They admitted they hadn’t. They went shuffling their papers, looking embarrassed. They said they had lots more. But obviously they didn’t. Yet they put us through that, for three months.’

The family were initially critical of the school, too, for their complicity, but now appear to feel that the school were also victims. ‘The headmaster was told not to discuss it with us, so in a way their hands were tied,’ says Victoria. ‘But I still feel they had a duty of care to my daughter.’

They accuse both the school and police of ‘hysteria’ over the idea of ‘being seen to be on top of bullying’.

‘As far as I can see, this has happened because they’ve been criticised in the past for not taking bullying seriously,’ says Carl.

‘The problem is that they charged in and went after my daughter without doing any basic policing first. They took the word of one person against the other without looking at the facts.’ What’s contemptible, he says, was that Emma was assumed guilty.

‘I was there. I saw how they spoke to her, how they spoke to us, and they assumed guilt. That’s not right.

‘It is not the way this country works, and I say this as someone who has friends and family in the police, who has always supported them. I’d never have had them down as the bad guys, but this has changed everything. I do not trust them now.’

The family have made a formal complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Although Nottinghamshire Police admit their actions were ‘distressing’ to the family, and have pointed out they would not normally enter school premises to make an arrest, they say: ‘As a result of new information and an escalation of the potential risk, a decision was made to make the arrest at the earliest possible opportunity.

‘The subsequent investigation has shown this information to be false and no further action was taken.’

This is little comfort for Emma, who is still waiting to see if the stress affected her GCSEs — she’ll get her results later this month — and is still reeling from the ordeal.

‘I don’t like to be on my own in the house. Every time the doorbell goes I worry it’s the police and that they are going to take me away again.’

As she is photographed for our article, Emma experiences a sudden flashback to the bewildering moment she had her mug shots and DNA taken by police. A worrying thought suddenly assails her. ‘Mum, will this mean I have trouble travelling to America. Will my mug shot come up at immigration?’

Perhaps the most troubling aspect is the family still do not know why Emma was targeted by this girl. No action has been taken against the other child, as far as the family are aware.  ‘It is not in the public interest, apparently,’ says an incredulous Carl. ‘And what they did to my daughter is in the public interest?’

Original report here


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress.  If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where  posts  appear as well as on  the primary site.  I have reposted  the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts  HERE or HERE

Saturday, August 20, 2016


When the Suspect Is an Armed Black Man — and the Cop Is Black

Larry Elder

After the death of a young black man by a Milwaukee police officer, riots, looting and fires followed. In one instance, as a gas station burned, people watching chanted, “Black power!” Local news reported that the 23-year-old suspect was not only armed but that he also defied orders to drop his gun. The Milwaukee police chief refused to identify the officer involved, but did say that he was “black.” At one time, such a fact would suggest that racism and police brutality were not at play.

But as the death of Freddie Gray — a black man who died after being transported in a Baltimore police van — shows us, not necessarily. Of the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and van transportation and who were prosecuted, three were black. In fact, just weeks before the death of Freddie Gray, a White House task force praised the Baltimore Police Department, as well as its black chief, for “implementing national best practices for policies and training” and “use of force” reforms.

In Baltimore, at the time of Gray’s death, the No. 1 and No. 2 heads of the Police Department were black, and most of the command staff and rank-and-file officers are people of color. The mayor of Baltimore is also black, as are the majority of city council and the state attorney who brought the charges. Four of six officers were tried, and in each case the state failed to obtain convictions. This led to the decision to drop charges against the remaining two officers, and plans for the retrial of one of the four. Zero for six.

As to Milwaukee, a city with a population of approximately 600,000, it is 40 percent black and 37 percent non-Hispanic white. Yet of its 146 homicides last year, 84 percent of the victims were black — and most of those were killed by other blacks. The nearly 150 murders constitute a 50 percent increase over the number of homicides just five years earlier.

The point, of course, is that killers of blacks are overwhelmingly other blacks. At 13 percent of the population, blacks commit nearly half of the nation’s homicides, and almost always the victim is black. Old people tend not to kill. Nor do women and the very young. This means 3 percent of the population, black men from 15 to 44 years old, commit nearly half of the country’s homicides.

The focus on the number of blacks killed by police kicked into high gear after the death of Ferguson’s Michael Brown. Never mind Brown did not, as his friend at the scene initially told the police, have his hands up while supposedly telling the cop, “Don’t shoot.” Both the Ferguson grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice found that many witnesses observed otherwise, and that forensic evidence showed that Brown charged the officer and attempted to wrestle the cop’s gun away from him.

Facts don’t matter.

It doesn’t matter that over the last 47 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there has been an almost 75 percent decline in the number of blacks killed by cops. It doesn’t matter that, compared with blacks, twice as many whites are killed by cops. It doesn’t matter that, according to economist John Lott, black teens commit murder at nine times the rate of white teens. Cable news reporters seem oblivious to rates of offending. It’s as if they believe that at 13 percent of the population, blacks should commit 13 percent of the crime — or “institutional racism” must be at play. This is as silly as assuming that since non-Hispanic whites are 62 percent of the population, they should comprise 62 percent of the NBA.

The reason the Democrats beat the drum of “racism” is simple — votes. In the case of the media, it must be ratings. But it’s also something else. Our major media are run by large corporations: What’s the upside for them in criticizing those who believe that racism remains a major problem in America? Telling blacks to calm down, examine the facts, that they are not victims, that racism is no longer a major problem in America and that the real problem is the breakdown of the black family — this is not a recipe for profits. It is an invitation for protests by “activists.”

Original report here


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress.  If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where  posts  appear as well as on  the primary site.  I have reposted  the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts  HERE or HERE

Friday, August 19, 2016



'The truth is coming out': Making a Murderer's Steven Avery promises he will be freed, saying new evidence PROVES he was framed

This case always reeked of a stitchup by angry police

Steven Avery, the Wisconsin man whose conviction for rape and murder was the subject of hit Netflix documentary 'Making a Murderer,' says he will soon be free thanks to new evidence.

Speaking to In Touch magazine from prison, Avery, 54 - who was convicted in 2007 alongside nephew Brendan Dassey, 26, for the 2005 killing of Teresa Halbach was certain he would be free.

'I'm going to be free,' he said, referring to his appeal, which will be filed on August 29. Dassey's conviction was overturned Friday.

'I thought sooner or later (this day) would (come),' said Avery. 'The truth is coming out.'

One vital piece of evidence in the appeal being filed by Avery's new lawyer, Kathleen Zellner, centers on the sample of Avery's blood found in Halbach's car, a source told In Touch.

'There's strong scientific evidence that the blood found in Teresa's car was planted by using a cotton swab,' the source said.

Avery's previous legal team contended that Manitowoc County police had framed Avery for murder because he was suing them and the county over his wrongful conviction for rape and attempted murder in 1985.

A key moment in the documentary shows his former lawyers learning that a vial of Avery's blood, being held by police as evidence from that case, had been opened and apparently pierced with a needle.

Retired NYPD detective Hal Sherman told In Touch that if the defense can prove forensic teams took blood samples from the car with a synthetic swab, then the cotton fibers found in the blood would prove tampering.

If they cannot, however, then it proves nothing.

The source also says that Zellner can prove the blood in the car was too old to be fresh - again suggesting it came from the 1985 sample - but experts say there's no way to tell that.

Avery's hopes for release have been buoyed up by Dassey's conviction being overturned on Friday, after Judge William Duffin said the boy's confession was coerced.

Dassey was just 16 when he was interviewed, but has a mental age of nine. Footage appears to show police railroading him into a confession and feeding him information that he later admits to.

Avery told In Touch that he hopes people will believe his claim that he was framed. 'Hopefully more people understand (that I was framed) because of the judge's decision,' he said. 'He has seen through all of that.'  'I'm 1,000 per cent confident that I'll be free,' he promised.

Original report here


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress.  If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where  posts  appear as well as on  the primary site.  I have reposted  the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts  HERE or HERE




Thursday, August 18, 2016


British police 'refused to Taser dog as it savaged dogwalker to death – because they feared it would kill the ANIMAL'

A 52-year-old man has died in a savage dog attack in Huddersfield that happened as he was walking his own dog.

David Ellam, was injured yesterday morning trying to shield his Yorkshire terrier from an attacking Staffordshire bull terrier-Labrador cross that had previously been reported to the police. He died hours later.

According to one witness, police officers at the scene of the attack did not Taser the animal as they were worried they would kill it.

The drama happened at about 9.45am in Riddings Road, Sheepridge, close to the victim's home.

Mr Ellam, who reportedly declined an opportunity to stab the dog as it savaged him, was treated by paramedics and taken to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary where he was pronounced dead at 9pm.

The 29-year-old male owner of the dog was arrested and later released on bail.

West Yorkshire Police said a dog warden had visited the address following concerns from members of the public about the same animal being a dangerous breed in June 2016.

It was seized by police who determined that it was not a banned breed under the Dangerous Dogs Act, and it was returned to its owner on August 8.

Witnesses to the attack described how the victim let out 'blood curdling screams' as the animal clamped its jaws around his head.

They said the Staffie-cross ripped off his kneecap before shaking his head 'like a rag' as it attempted to drag him into his kennel.

One witness said the police refused to Taser the animal amid fears they would kill it and the dog only relented when his owner arrived home from work.

The resident - who asked not to be named - said: 'I was sitting inside watching Jeremy Kyle then I heard screams of "help, this dog is attacking me".

'As soon as I saw the dog attacking him I ran inside and called the owner, who told me he would be there in a minute.

'I went back outside and the victim was shouting 'can someone get this dog off my f***ing leg'.  'And by that time his kneecap was completely gone and blood was everywhere.

'And while someone else was ringing for the police, the dog latched onto the guy's head and had him in a vice.  'The dog then started ragging his head from side to side.

'The victim was shouting and wailing 'help me' in a blood-curdling type of splattering noise - it was awful.

'The police then turned up but said they wouldn't use their Tasers on the dog to stop it because they thought they would kill it.

'Someone else got out a hosepipe and used that at the dog - but it still wouldn't let go and kept on dragging the man closer to its kennel.

'There was literally blood everywhere - but it wasn't until the dog owner got back from work and shouted 'Ross' that the dog let go and it freed him.'

Police say in October 2012 a dog control order was issued to Kirklees Council against the dog and its owner - putting conditions in place for the management of the animal. The order remains in place to this day.

Residents said Mr Ellam had previously clashed with the owner over the dog.

'The neighbour who was attacked was the one who reported the dog to the police for being dangerous in the first place.

The dog, which is usually chained up in a pen outside the owner's flat in Riddings Road, was said to have been running loose at the time of the attack.

Another neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous, said: 'I went over to the gate and that was enough for me, I had to turn away. It was horrific.  'He was on the ground and the dog had his arm.'

'When the owner arrived and saw what had happened, he put his hands on his head, like 'what has my dog done?'.'

Shocked neighbours threw Mr Ellam a kitchen knife urging him to stab the animal as it locked its jaws around him but he did not use it.

When police arrived an officer tackled the bloodied dog with a fire extinguisher. It was later seized and taken away.

It is not known if the dog will now be destroyed.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Swift of West Yorkshire Police, who is leading the investigation, said: 'Clearly our thoughts go out to the family at this tragic time.

'They are understandably devastated by what has happened and are being supported by specially trained officers.

The suspect dog has been detained in kennels by the police and a referral has been made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Asked for a response to the claim that officers refused to Taser the dog, a West Yorkshire Police spokesman replied: "The police dispatched a firearms unit but the dog was detained using non-lethal methods."

Original report here


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress.  If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where  posts  appear as well as on  the primary site.  I have reposted  the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts  HERE or HERE


Tuesday, August 16, 2016



Was black ex-Premier League star Dalian Atkinson Tasered while he was on the FLOOR?

A Taser is usually non-lethal and is a reasonable way of taking down someone behaving irrationally.  So the death was the result of the man's severe pre-existing illnesses, not the Taser.  The police seem to have acted reasonably in this case

Former Premier League footballer Dalian Atkinson was Tasered to death in the street by police after flying into a rage possibly fuelled by drink or drugs, his heartbroken father has said.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing the 48-year-old drunkenly stumbling towards officers in a 'non-threatening' manner before being shot 'four or five times', even when he had fallen to the floor.

West Mercia Police, whose officers rushed to the scene in Telford, Shropshire, amid 'concerns for the safety of an individual', declined to comment on the allegations because the incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

IPCC deputy chairman Rachel Cerfontyne said this evening that an investigation team had met with Mr Atkinson's family to explain their role probing officers' actions.

She said: 'I would like to assure people that we have begun a full and thorough investigation into police contact with Dalian Atkinson prior to his death, including the level and type of force used.

'Our investigation team have been securing and preserving relevant evidence, and identifying witnesses. Investigators have met Mr Atkinson's immediate family to explain our role and we have appointed a family liaison manager to keep them updated.'

The ex-striker, who made his name playing for Aston Villa in England's top flight in the 1990s, was 'very agitated' shortly before officers discharged the Taser, his elderly father Ernest has said.

He had been visiting the 85-year-old at the time and a next door neighbour told how Atkinson's father repeatedly said this morning: 'He's gone, my boy is dead'. Others said the former Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday player had a weak heart and had suffered from kidney failure in the past.

Neighbours claimed to see Atkinson banging on his father's door and 'shouting about being homeless' in the lead up to his death. He then went down 'like a lead balloon' after being hit by the Taser, an eyewitness said.

Speaking from his home in Telford, Shropshire, the former footballer's father said: 'He was in a real state. I don't know if he was drunk or on drugs but he was very agitated and his mind was upset.

'The last thing he said to me was "don't move" when the police came to the door. He was threatening and very upset. I didn't call the police but someone else did.

'He got tasered in the street outside in the road. I didn't see him but I saw a flash. I haven't had any sleep and cannot take it in. The police are dealing with this now.'

Eyewitnesses reported seeing the 48-year-old drunkenly stumbling towards officers in a 'non-threatening' manner before being shot 'four or five times'.

Eyewitness Paula Quinn, 44, claimed the Taser was discharged numerous times by an officer even after Atkinson fell to the floor. She said: 'I was up and about and I could hear a car alarm going off. It was Dalian's Porsche alarm.

'I heard shouting and that's when I looked out the window and saw the two police officers and the gentleman, who I now know was Dalian.

'He was walking toward them, not aggressively, he appeared to be drunk or something. They warned him they were going to Taser him and he appeared to be stumbling forwards.

'Then he was Tasered and he fell to the floor. I heard the taser go off again a number of times, at least four or five, when he was on he ground.

'There wasn't any noise coming from the gentlemen anymore. The ambulance arrived 10 to 15 minutes after and they worked on him for 15 minutes. He was wheeled off and appeared to be unconscious.'

Atkinson's 31-year-old nephew, Fabian, today criticised police for using 'excessive force'.

He said: 'Nobody deserves being Tasered in such a way without due care. I think these situations are sprung by fear.

'It was an argument, I don't know what it was for but I think it was an argument between family. Apparently he stumbled and then they tasered him. This is one thing that has got me angry because of the way the police operated.

'I know they will just push it under the carpet the best they can. 'I'm frustrated, annoyed, shocked and overwhelmed. They didn't need to use such excessive force.'

The National Police Chiefs' Council - which represents senior police - say that 'officers who are trained and equipped with Taser must decide on the most reasonable and necessary use of force in the circumstances'.

The guidance adds: 'The level of force used must be proportionate to achieve the objective and officers are individually accountable in law for the amount of force they use on a person.'

Fabian Atkinson said his uncle 'had a few problems with drink', adding: 'He was having dialysis for kidney problems, he was just getting himself back together with that and that is why his heart was weaker.'

Another family friend said the former footballer had only just come out of hospital a few days ago.

Neighbours described hearing 'a lot of shouting and police' outside the family home at around 1.30am.

Several claimed he had been trying to kick in the door of his family home while his father barricaded himself inside.

'Dalian was shouting about being homeless, he wanted his dad to let him in - but his dad wouldn't so he was kicking the door. I have no idea why, or what they were fighting about.

'Then someone phoned the police, and they came - I don't know exactly what happened after that, but it's very tragic.

Original report here


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The false rape claims never stop coming in Britain

A daughter admitted lying about being raped by her father after reading Fifty Shades Of Grey - because she wanted to 'teach him a lesson'.

The girl confessed she had 'made the whole thing up' after just seven minutes of questioning by her father's defence barrister, who asked her about the 'striking similarities' between her story and the E.L. James novel.

Her father was cleared of eight counts of incestuous rape over a six year period after the judge directed the jury to acquit him.

Writing on her blog, barrister Cathy McCulloch said: 'She had described not only what her father had allegedly done, but how her body felt as a result.

'The only odd thing was the use of certain words, phrases and descriptions of how she felt which seemed beyond her years.'

She said her client mentioned his daughter's favourite book was 'about a millionaire who takes a young woman under his wing and “teaches her about art”', adding: 'He had no idea what Fifty Shades of Grey was about'.

Ms McCulloch said her instructing solicitor's representative bought a copy of the novel and overnight found 'too many striking similarities' between the daughter's police interview and the book to be a coincidence.

She continued: 'I raised the striking similarities between her interview and the book. She suddenly broke and said I was absolutely right. 'She had made the whole thing up because she was angry with her father and wanted to teach him a lesson.

'I asked her whether she had got all the ideas from Fifty Shades of Grey. She confirmed this book, and others – which she named.'

Original report here


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress.  If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where  posts  appear as well as on  the primary site.  I have reposted  the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts  HERE or HERE


Monday, August 15, 2016



Chicago Car Thief Is Latest Martyr for Black Lives Matter

The irony was surely unintentional, but on Saturday the Chicago Tribune provided the perfect illustration of the opposing directions the city of Chicago and its police department are simultaneously being pulled. On the Tribune’s website, the top story concerned the shooting of Paul O’Neal, who on July 28 was killed by police after fleeing from a stolen car. Police videos of the incident were released on Friday and greeted with the sort of outrage we’ve come to expect, though in this instance the outrage is not without some justification.

Immediately beneath that story was one recounting the latest mayhem in the city: “4 dead, 17 wounded in Chicago shootings.” The dead included a 16-year-old boy.

The 16-year-old and the others who died, like most of the 386 people killed in Chicago so far this year, will soon be forgotten by all but their family and friends, but Paul O’Neal’s name will be long remembered as the latest martyr in the Black Lives Matter movement. He was unarmed and reportedly shot in the back while running through the backyard of a South Shore neighborhood home. In the moments prior to being shot, O’Neal led officers on a high-speed chase in a stolen Jaguar, sideswiped one police car and crashed head-on into another before running away.

The videos released by the Chicago Police Department on Friday are troubling on a number of levels, not least for the fact that O’Neal was killed. But even exclusive of the grim outcome, the videos reveal the tactical nightmare that can arise when inexperience, confusion, and poor communication among police officers combine in a rapidly evolving, highly stressful event. They also reveal the pitfalls of recording every utterance a police officer might make in the course of such an event, then having those utterances analyzed, dissected, and misunderstood by people who themselves have never experienced even a remotely similar event.

In the videos, we first see two officers responding to the pursuit, only to find themselves in the disadvantageous position of coming head-on with the car being chased: these officers are headed south on Merrill Avenue near 74th Street when the stolen Jaguar is coming north. The body camera worn by the passenger officer shows him inexplicably with his gun already in hand as he exits the car and the Jaguar comes into view. When O’Neal tries to weave his way between a parked SUV and the police car, he clips them both. The passenger officer opens fire as the Jaguar passes. He fires his first rounds with one hand, putting one through the hood of his own police car and placing his partner, who had exited the driver’s seat and narrowly avoided being hit by the Jaguar, in genuine danger of being shot. The passenger officer appeared to fire about ten rounds in total.

The driver officer unholsters his weapon and fires what appears to be a single round at the Jaguar, which continues north and runs the stop sign at 74th Street before colliding head-on with another police car coming south on Merrill. After this collision, O’Neal jumps from the car and runs westbound down a driveway. Officers give chase, and all but one are impeded by a locked gate leading to the backyard. As the one officer makes it over the gate, more gunshots can be heard somewhere nearby. We later see the aftermath, with O’Neal wounded and dying near the back door of a home.

In addressing reporters about the incident on Saturday, Superintendent Eddie Johnson spoke of the split-second decisions officers must make. “Listen,” he said, “I’ve been involved in four police shootings and countless incidents where we had stolen autos. It’s not easy being the police.”

Which is certainly true, as far as it goes, but the job can be made easier if certain principles are observed, as they appeared not to be in this incident. What follows is one cop’s critique of what appears on the videos, one based on a long career of dealing with just this type of situation. I understand fully how easy it is, from the comfort of my home and with the benefit of hindsight, to second-guess an officer who has erred in the heat of dangerous situation. That said, it comes down to some basic principles that could and should have been observed during and after the fatal encounter.

We begin with the first two officers who fired. The driver of the car unnecessarily placed himself and his partner in danger by stopping in the street as the Jaguar approached. O’Neal very nearly ran over the driver officer. And if O’Neal had instead chosen to stop, he would have been between two sets of officers, with all of them exposed to a cross-fire if shooting were to start. The more prudent course of action would have been to pull out of the way and let the Jaguar pass. They didn’t, beginning the chain of events that led to O’Neal’s death.

The next link in the fatal chain came when the passenger officer opened fire. Chicago P.D. policy prohibits firing at moving vehicles, and here the officer had no compelling reason to deviate from that policy. Making matters worse, he fired without adequate control of his weapon, at first holding it with one hand. His first or second shot went through the hood of his car, some number of the next few were fired in the direction of his partner, and the rest went northbound in the direction of not only the Jaguar, but also of homes and another police car coming south to the eventual head-on collision.

The driver officer, after narrowly escaping being run over, may have believed the gunshots he heard were coming from the Jaguar. The idea that his partner may have been firing in his direction probably never crossed his mind. But even with this reasonable though erroneous justification, the single round he fired was nonetheless inadvisable. It had little chance of having the desired effect, and it was fired in the direction of the approaching police car.

Turning now to the officers in the car that collided with the Jaguar, I don’t fault them for coming nose-to-nose with it. It must have appeared to them that the Jaguar would stop south of 74th Street, and they were eager to assist in the anticipated foot chase. As the Jaguar swerves around the first police car, gunshots can be heard, and these officers may have believed – again, reasonably but erroneously – it was some occupant of the Jaguar who was shooting.

Even after the collision and the compounding mistakes, the fatal shooting might have been avoided had the officers adhered to another basic principle: When a suspect flees “through the houses,” as we say in the trade, one must not feel compelled to chase him. Instead, set up a perimeter around the block where he is believed to be, then let the situation stabilize before conducting a systematic search with police dogs. It is clear from the videos there were sufficient officers in the area to contain O’Neal in the one-block perimeter between 73rd and 74th Streets, and between Merrill and Clyde Avenues. Had this been done, O’Neal eventually would have been found hiding behind some bushes or inside a trash can or what have you. Today he’d be in jail but alive, and the two officers who had fired at him would be facing some discipline for an out-of-policy shooting but nothing more.

As I watched the videos, I couldn’t help but wonder when I would see some evidence that someone was taking charge at the scene. Chicago P.D. supervisors, i.e. sergeants and above, can be identified by their white shirts. There were several officers in white shirts at the scene within minutes, including at least one captain, yet I neither saw nor heard anything indicating that any of them was in command of the situation. The officers who had fired were allowed to walk here and there throughout the crime scene, all the while saying things on camera they surely have come to regret. Dozens of officers milled about with no apparent direction, with many needlessly crossing through the crime scene.

It is the duty of the first supervisor at the scene of an officer-involved shooting to get answers to these questions:

Is anyone injured?

If yes, where are they, and is medical help on the way?

Are all officers accounted for?

Who fired his weapon?

How many rounds did each officer fire, and from where?

Which direction did the rounds go?

Are all the suspects accounted for?

Are there any witnesses?

Is there any evidence that needs to be safeguarded?

When these questions are answered, the officers who fired can be sequestered while others can be directed to contain the scene and watch over any evidence, such as shell casings and expended magazines, that needs to be preserved and photographed in place. Any officer without a specific task within the crime scene needs to be directed to its outer perimeter so as to protect the scene’s integrity.

What officers must realize is that in any officer-involved shooting, the very moment the tactical situation ends, it instantly becomes a matter of preparing for litigation. Any lapse in procedure, any off the cuff remark that’s recorded, no matter how innocent, will be seized upon as evidence of some malevolent conspiracy among the police. Attorney Michael Oppenheimer has been retained by O’Neal’s family, and he began preparing his jury pool by labeling the shooting an “execution.”

It was hardly that, but the videos released on Friday will nonetheless provide Oppenheimer with much to exploit. Among the moments recorded after the shooting were the officer who shot O’Neal accusing him of shooting at the police, then asking a colleague, “They shot at us too, right?” He later says to another officer, “The way [stuff’s] going, I’m going to be f***ing crucified.” Also recorded was the first officer to fire lamenting that he faces 30 days of desk duty.

But even as we acknowledge the mistakes the officers made, it bears reminding that it was Paul O’Neal who, more than any of the officers, had control over his fate. It was he who chose to steal a car, lead police on a dangerous chase, nearly run down an officer, ram a police car, and finally flee on foot. Had he made a different choice at any of those junctures he would be alive today.

Yes, the police made mistakes, but it was O’Neal’s own choices that brought those mistakes about. If the Chicago Police Department is further villainized in the wake of this incident, whatever shrinking group of officers that remains willing to do proactive police work will continue to diminish. Before long, the headlines of the Chicago Tribune won’t include any that tell of errors by the police, for you can’t make a mistake if you never try to arrest anyone. The headlines will only tell of the worsening violence as the city collapses further and further into lawlessness.

Original report here


(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress.  If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where  posts  appear as well as on  the primary site.  I have reposted  the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts  HERE or HERE