Thursday, December 31, 2015

Widow of man wrongly accused dies from drug overdose

THE widow of the man wrongly accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart has died from a drug overdose — but her son says she “died from a broken heart”.

Angela Ricci was found dead in her Utah home on December 18, the Deseret News reported.

Her late husband, Richard Ricci, was arrested over the kidnapping of 14-year-old Smart in 2002 and died in prison before his name was cleared.

“The official cause of death was suicide, but I believe she (Angela Ricci) died from a broken heart,” Trevor Morse wrote on a fundraising page for his mother’s funeral expenses. “Since the day Richard Ricci died, my mother’s broken heart never healed.”

Richard Ricci, the Smart family handyman, was arrested on June 14, 2002, accused of kidnapping the young teen.  He was sent to Utah State Prison for a parole violation, suffered an aneurysm and died on August 30.

Although he maintained his innocence and was never charged, Richard Ricci remained the top suspect in Smart’s disappearance until her real kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, were arrested on March 12, 2003. They are now behind bars.

“He (Richard Ricci) was convicted by the police and the public, and was intensely interrogated, all the while trying to tell anyone who would listen that he was innocent,” Trevor Morse, who was 11 when Richard Ricci was arrested, wrote on GoFundMe.

Trevor Morse said his mother never got over how her husband was treated. She sued various government entities claiming her husband’s civil rights were violated and received a $US150,000 settlement from the Utah Department of Corrections in 2004.

“Our lives changed drastically from the moment he was falsely accused,” Trevor Morse wrote. “Even through her many trials and tribulations, my mother would always make time for family and friends. Her house was open to anyone who needed a place to stay.”

Smart described her horrific abduction from her Utah home and her nine-month ordeal in her memoir,My Story, released in 2013.

She said she was repeatedly raped and denied food and water for days at a time.

Smart, now a married mother, said Mitchell believed that anything in the world was his for the taking, and that he was a man who never cared for anyone even as he ranted about God.

Original report here

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cleveland officers won’t face charges in shooting death of black boy with toy gun

The elephant in the room is that young black males are often aggressive and confrontational towards police -- so police are at hair trigger alert in dealing with them.  A black man with a gun is readily seen by police as a severe danger to them. It is blacks who have created that situation, not the police.  The Left ignore all that, of course

CLEVELAND — After more than a year of investigation, a grand jury declined to bring charges against either of the two police officers involved in the fatal 2014 shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was playing with a toy weapon in a Cleveland park.

In announcing the decision Monday, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty said he did not recommend that the grand jury bring any charges.

McGinty said he believes both of the Cleveland officers involved were reasonable in their belief that Rice had a real weapon, and that new analysis of the video of the shooting leaves it "indisputable" that the boy was pulling the weapon from his waistband when he was killed.

"The outcome will not cheer anyone, nor should it," McGinty said. "Simply put, given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes, and miscommunications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police."

Rice, who was black, was fatally shot by officer Tim Loehmann, a white rookie officer, on Nov. 22, 2014, as the young boy played with a toy gun in a public park. The grand jury also reviewed the actions of Loehmann’s partner, Frank Garmback.

The officers said earlier this month that Rice appeared much older and reached for the toy gun that was tucked in his waistband before Loehmann shot at him.

Police officers are rarely charged after on-duty shootings. There have been at least 975 police fatal shootings in the United States this year, according to a Washington Post database; officers have been charged with a crime in just eight of those shootings.

McGinty said the death of Rice did not meet the standard of a crime.

In a statement issued not long after the prosecutor’s announcement, attorneys for Rice’s family decried the grand jury process and renewed their calls for the Department of Justice to bring federal charges.

"It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment," the family attorneys said.

"Even though video shows the police shooting Tamir in less than one second, prosecutor McGinty hired so-called expert witnesses to try to exonerate the officers and tell the grand jury their conduct was reasonable and justified," the attorneys said. “It is unheard of, and highly improper, for a prosecutor to hire ‘experts’ to try to exonerate the targets of a grand jury investigation."

About two dozen protesters gathered Monday in downtown Cleveland and at the Cudell Recreation Center, the westside park where Rice was killed. Some demonstrators held signs demanding "Justice for Tamir Rice" and declaring that the boy was "stolen by law enforcement."

The US attorney’s office for the Northern District of Ohio said Monday that federal officials monitored the grand-jury process, and that the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is currently conducting its own independent investigation into Rice’s death.

Tamir Rice’s death came just days before massive protests and unrest would break out in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City after officers in those cities were cleared in the deaths of two black men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

The deadly shooting here prompted a round of protests that at times blocked freeways and interrupted public meetings, with local residents demanding indictments for Loehmann and Garmback. Local activist groups vowed Monday to again take to the streets, and Mayor Frank Jackson urged calm.

On the day of the shooting, the two officers were responding to a call about a young man with a gun who was pointing it at people outside a local recreation center. Although the caller specified to the dispatcher that the person in question was possibly a child playing with a toy, that information was not relayed to the officers and the officers responded to the call as an "active shooter" situation, authorities said.

"The suspect had a gun, had been threatening others with the weapon and had not obeyed our command to show us his hands. He was facing us," Loehmann said in his statement to investigators. He said he then saw Rice’s elbow moving upward, and that the weapon was coming up out of his waistband so he fired two shots.

McGinty and other officials from the prosecutor’s office said Monday that they believed the officers’ story, noting that the toy gun appeared identical to a real weapon, that the 12-year-old looked much older than he was, and that both officers behaved in ways consistent with the Cleveland police’s policies for dealing with an "active shooter" situation.

McGinty said an enhanced video of the shooting showed that Rice was reaching into his waistband and pulling out the toy weapon.

McGinty said it was likely that Rice “either intended to hand it to the officers or to show them it wasn’t a real gun. But there was no way for the officers to know that."

"Tamir Rice’s death was a heartbreaking tragedy and I understand how this decision will leave many people asking themselves if justice was served," Governor John Kasich said. "We all lose, however, if we give in to anger and frustration and let it divide us." Kasich is a Republican candidate for president.

US Representative Marcia Fudge, a Democrat, said McGinty’s decision to release pieces of evidence throughout the ongoing investigation tainted the process, and that he should have stepped aside and allowed for a special prosecutor.

Original report here

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Policeman who pursued vulnerable domestic abuse victims who came to him for help found guilty of misconduct

A policeman who pursued vulnerable domestic abuse victims and fathered a child with one of them, is facing jail after being found guilty of misconduct.

Simon Salway, 39, an officer with Hertfordshire Police, targeted the women after they had contacted police for help.  Married-man Salway was found guilty at Luton crown court of six charges of misconduct in a public office, concerning his dealings with six different women. He was acquitted of a seventh misconduct charge involving another woman.

The disgraced officer, from North Hertfordshire, denied all charges and was granted conditional bail by Judge Richard Foster. He will be sentenced in the new year.  The judge warned it was 'inevitable' that he would be sent to prison.

The court heard how the PC at Hatfield Police Station, had 'wilfully abused' his position over a sustained period of time."

Original report here

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Monday, December 28, 2015

The IRS Seized $107,000 From This North Carolina Man’s Bank Account

For most of his life, Lyndon McLellan has been in the business of country stores—the types of stores where the employees know customers’ names by heart and workers remain loyal for years and years.

His parents owned a general store and grill, and McLellan began helping out there at the ripe old age of 9. Then, 14 years ago, McLellan decided to try his hand at the family business and purchased his own store in the heart of the Bible Belt, naming it L&M Convenience Mart.

Business has been good for McLellan, and though L&M, located in Fairmont, N.C., began as just a convenience store and gas station, he’s since expanded it to include a restaurant that serves hot dogs, hamburgers and catfish sandwiches.

While most of his employees and their families spend Sunday mornings making right with God, McLellan skips church to man the store. He’s there on Christmas Day and during Thanksgiving dinner—a sacrifice McLellan makes for his employees.

“It’s my livelihood,” he told The Daily Signal. “This is all I know how to do. I’m 50 years old, and if I had to do something else, I’d probably be in trouble. This is what I was brought up in. This is all I know.”

What McLellan didn’t know, though, was that the federal government could come in and take away what he’d worked so hard for.

On a summer day last July, McLellan, who hadn’t yet arrived at the store, received a phone call from one of his employees summoning him to L&M. More than a dozen federal agents had flooded into his business—officers from North Carolina’s Alcohol and Law Enforcement, the local police department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation—and they were asking for him.

“It’s my livelihood. This is all I know how to do. I’m 50 years old, and if I had to do something else, I’d probably be in trouble,” said Lyndon McLellan.

When McLellan arrived at the store, he met two federal agents dressed in suits who asked to speak with him in private. McLellan led the agents to L&M’s stock room, where they asked him if he knew of the term “structuring.”

He had no idea.

The federal agents then showed McLellan paperwork that included deposits to the store’s account at Lumbee Guaranty Bank. The statements showed two deposits made within a 24-hour period totaling $11,400.

The statements, they said, indicated he had a history of consistent cash deposits of less than $10,000, which is illegal.

Then, the agents told the small business owner something that shook him to his core: The Internal Revenue Service had seized all of the money in L&M’s bank account: $107,702.66.

“‘Are you telling me you took my money?’” McLellan recalled asking the agents. “I didn’t understand what was going on. They dropped a bomb on me. I was lost for five to 10 minutes. I can’t believe that y’all guys can walk in here and tell me y’all took every bit of my money out of the bank.”

After law enforcement cleared McLellan’s store, he drove to Lumbee Guaranty Bank. The agents had been there hours earlier and emptied his account, McLellan recalled, walking out of the building with a cashier’s check. McLellan walked out of the bank with nothing.

Unknowingly Breaking the Law

Though he didn’t know it at the time, McLellan committed structuring violations when making cash deposits of less than $10,000.

McLellan himself doesn’t handle the deposits—that’s his niece’s responsibility—and a bank teller had previously advised her to make deposits of less than that amount. If cash deposits totaled more than $10,000, the bank had to file additional paperwork, the teller said.

“[Agents] asked if I knew what it was,” McLellan said of structuring. “I didn’t know what it was then, but I’ve learned a lot about it now.”

Structuring laws were originally put in place to catch drug trafficking and money laundering, but more and more instances have arisen where innocent Americans have committed structuring violations without even knowing it.

For unknowingly committing a structuring violation, the government seized all of the money in McLellan’s bank account by using a section of civil asset forfeiture laws that regulates cash deposits.

Civil asset forfeiture is a procedure that allows law enforcement to seize property if it’s suspected of being related to a crime. The practice began decades ago with good intentions.

However, law enforcement agencies have been using civil asset forfeiture to seize property and money for profit.

Between 2005 and 2012, the IRS seized $242 million for structuring violations.

In recent years, seizures executed because of structuring violations have increased dramatically. In 2005, the Internal Revenue Service made just 114 structuring seizures. By 2012, that number had risen to 639. During that same time period, the agency seized $242 million for structuring violations.

While banks must submit reports to the Department of the Treasury for cash deposits of more than $10,000, the government also receives “suspicious activity reports” on deposits below that threshold, Robert Johnson, a lawyer for the Institute for Justice and McLellan’s attorney, told The Daily Signal.

It’s likely the government received a suspicious activity report detailing McLellan’s deposits, which is how he “came onto the government’s radar.”

Johnson also noted that the IRS frequently teams up with local law enforcement to look through suspicious activity reports. By seizing property and money through the Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing Program, law enforcement agencies share the proceeds of the forfeiture.

“The IRS deputizes these local law enforcement officers to go through suspicious activity reports and to identify cases where people are subject to forfeiture,” Johnson said. “So you have somebody who is not a federal official and yet is deputized to be enforcing federal law.”

In McLellan’s case, an affidavit was completed by a North Carolina law enforcement official, which indicated to Johnson that it was a state official likely combing through these suspicious activity reports who flagged the Fairmont convenience store, he said.

“The government has a financial incentive to broadly apply the forfeiture laws,” Johnson said. “When an agency like the IRS takes money under the forfeiture laws, that money goes back into the pockets of the agency and it’s available to the IRS to fund law enforcement activities without appropriation from Congress. It’s a powerful incentive for law enforcement to abuse civil forfeiture laws.”

Recognizing the increase in structuring violations from Americans who unknowingly violated the law, the Internal Revenue Service announced last year it would only pursue structuring cases if the money was tied to a crime.

Then, in March, the Justice Department announced it, too, would only pursue structuring cases if the defendant had been charged with a crime or if the money was used for criminal activity.

“Appropriate use of asset forfeiture law allows the Justice Department to safeguard the integrity, security and stability of our nation’s financial system while protecting the civil liberties of all Americans,” then-Attorney General Eric Holder said at the time.

During a February 2015 hearing on civil asset forfeiture, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was asked broadly about McLellan’s case, in which there were no criminal charges pending or illegal activity conducted.

“I can tell you there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I don’t think $107,000 is a lot of money to me. To make it and have it taken—it’s not right.” said Lyndon McLellan.

“If that case exists, then it’s not following the policy,” Koskinen told lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee.

The policy change, though, didn’t stop the IRS from seizing McLellan’s money.

“I can tell you there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I don’t think $107,000 is a lot of money to me,” McLellan said. “To make it and have it taken—it’s not right.”

Months after seizing McLellan’s money, the federal government offered him 50 percent of his money back if he agreed to a settlement deal by March 30. Such settlement offers occur frequently in civil asset forfeiture cases, Johnson said, as victims often opt not to pursue years of litigation and lawyers fees.

McLellan declined the offer, because for him, the government’s seizure of his $107,000 is a matter of what’s right and wrong.

“I guess I’m old school. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. If you’re right, you’re right. And in this case, I feel like they’re wrong,” he said. “And I was raised on—preached to about—what would be right and what would be wrong.”

“In criminal cases, defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Civil forfeiture cases flip this basic legal tenet on its head,” said Jason Snead of The Heritage Foundation.

Now, as is often the norm in civil asset forfeiture cases, McLellan must appear in court to prove his innocence. And it’s that practice that has policy experts calling on Congress to reform civil asset forfeiture laws.

“In criminal cases, defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Civil forfeiture cases flip this basic legal tenet on its head,” Jason Snead, research associate at The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, told The Daily Signal.

“Once the government shows that your property is subject to forfeiture, the burden is on you as the owner to disprove the government. In effect, you are asked to prove your own innocence in order to win back your property. That is a high hurdle to clear.”

For McLellan, the thought of the government seizing citizens’ hard-earned money and property without their knowledge still puzzles him.

“It’s not fair to the American people who work for a living that one day they can knock on the door, walk in their businesses, and say, ‘We just took your money,’” McLellan said. “ … I always thought your money was safe in the bank, but I wouldn’t say that now.”

Original report here

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Chicago cop fatally shoots college student, mother of five

Sounds like they were trying to deal with an insane young black guy waving a bat. That's a hell of a bad combination and those situations are always fraught. And the cops will fire if they feel threatened. They are not psychiatrists. And with bullets flying, bystanders can be affected. UPDATE: The kid was threatening his father with a metal baseball bat, a very dangerous weapon

A CHICAGO police officer shot and killed two people, including a mother of five, while responding to a domestic disturbance call on the city’s West Side on Saturday, police said.

Quintonio Legrier, a 19-year-old college student, was pronounced dead at a hospital at 4:51am and Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old mother of five who was Legrier’s neighbour, died at a different hospital at 5:14am.

Autopsies have not been scheduled, medical examiner’s office spokeswoman Becky Schlikerman said.

The shootings happened around 4:25am after officers who responded to the call “were confronted by a combative subject,” the Chicago Police Department said in a statement.

Both people killed were black, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.  Police did not disclose the race of the officer, how long the officer has been with the department or the officer’s current work status.

Legrier’s mother, Janet Cooksey, told the Chicago Tribune that her son was studying engineering at Northern Illinois University.

She said he graduated from Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago and “was going somewhere.”

Cooksey, who was not present at the time of the shooting, told the Chicago Tribune that her son had been dealing with mental issues, but said police didn’t have to react the way they did.

“We’re thinking the police are going to service us, take him to the hospital. They took his life,” she said. She said her son “didn’t have a gun. He had a bat.”

Chicago police didn’t immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press for additional comment. It is not clear from the police statement if either Legrier or Jones were armed or if there are any video recordings of the incident.

Cooksey said she wants a personal apology from Mayor Rahm Emanuel for what happened to her only child. “Are we gonna get protected or is the police just gonna keep taking lives?” Cooksey said. “I mean, whose gonna answer these questions?”

Emanuel’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Melvin Jones, the brother of the woman killed Saturday, said his sister celebrated Christmas at her apartment Friday with about 15 other relatives. He said she “had an excellent Christmas.”

He said Bettie Jones lived in a first-floor apartment with her boyfriend and was the mother of four daughters and a son. Her children range in age from 19 to 38. They include 19-year-old twins.

“There are so many questions and no answers,” Melvin Jones said. “I’m numb right now. Right now there’s a whole lot of anger, a whole lot of tears. … I don’t have time to feel. I have a funeral to prepare.”

Police said the shooting is under investigation and the case has been referred to the city’s main police oversight agency. Independent Police Review Authority spokesman Larry Merritt confirmed Saturday that the agency was investigating an officer-involved shooting but had no further information.

Original report here

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

British security worker beaten up in France is ordered to court after one of his attackers claims he injured his wrist in the assault

A British security worker who was beaten up in France has been ordered to attend court after one of his attackers claimed he injured his wrist.

Andrew Johnson, from Moldgreen, Huddersfield, suffered head injuries, bruised ribs and other injuries to his left arm after three men tried to force their way into his French home in 2010.

The 50-year-old managed to fight back and shut the door on the attackers. But one of the men claimed he had been hurt by Mr Johnson and said he had to have eight days off work.

He has now agreed to return to France for the criminal court hearing after being warned he could never visit the country again if he decided not to attend.

But he has demanded protection from French authorities amid fears he may be targeted again by the attackers. He faces one year in jail if he is convicted.

He said: 'I have accepted to attend court in Marseille on one condition from the French authorities that they assure my protection at my hotel in Marseille, my trip to court and back and return to the airport to catch my flight.

'It may seem extreme but due to the attack I sustained head injuries, bruised ribs, and injuries to my left arm.

The case against the attackers was dropped two years ago and Mr Johnson was also told he would face no action.

He moved with his wife to Monaco and thought the incident had been dropped.

But as Mr Johnson was coming back to the UK in October he was detained at Marseille Airport.

He was told that a warrant had been issued as he had failed to turn up for a court case, which he knew nothing about.

He was advised to either go before the courts next month, or never return to France, where his mother lives. He says he has no choice but to go to court.

Original report here

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Three police officers are being investigated for their treatment of a vulnerable man who was tortured and stabbed to death by his ex and her boyfriend

Three police officers are being investigated over their treatment of a vulnerable man who was later murdered by his ex-partner and her new boyfriend.

The officers were called in after social workers raised concerns about the welfare of Phillip Nicholson, who had learning difficulties.

The 22-year-old was later tortured and stabbed to death by his ex-girlfriend Isabella Gossling and her new boyfriend Richard Moors, both of whom have now been jailed for murder.

A week after the pair were sentenced, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has announced it is investigating three officers connected to the case.

The new investigation relates to a report by an independent domestic violence advisor who had warned that Mr Nicholson was at at very high risk of sexual, mental, financial and emotional abuse by Gossling.

The social services report was made eighteen months before Mr Nicholson's death, at a time he was still in a relationship with Gossling.

A spokesman for the police watchdog said: 'The IPCC investigation is looking at how Dorset Police officers investigated threats against Mr Nicholson in the 18 months before his death, including one made 11 days before his fatal stabbing.

'It will also look at whether police acted appropriately in their dealings with Mr Nicholson.

'At this stage, three Dorset Police officers have been served with gross misconduct notices informing them their conduct is under investigation.

'Misconduct notices do not imply guilt but are to inform the officer that their behaviour and conduct are under investigation and the level of severity.'

Gossling and Moors lured Mr Nicholson to their flat in Boscombe, Dorset, and subjected him to a brutal ordeal of torture before stabbing him to death on May 26 this year. Gossling, 20, recorded 17 minutes of the attack on her mobile phone.

CCTV footage from Boscombe on the day of his death showed the pair leading Mr Nicholson to his death. They were later seen boarding a bus.

Gossling was convicted of murdering Mr Nicholson and was last week sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 19 years.

Moors, 26, admitted murder at an earlier hearing, and was also sentenced to life behind bars with a minimum term of 22 years.

Following the killing Dorset Police referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission

Original report here

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

James Deen: the injustice of Twitter trials

The rape-culture crusade has ushered in a new era of mob justice

The world of adult entertainment has been rocked by allegations of rape and sexual violence against one of its biggest stars. James Deen, variously called the Tom Cruise and Ryan Gosling of porn, was accused by his ex-girlfriend and fellow porn actor, Stoya, earlier this month. Deen had developed a reputation as a ‘feminist porn star’, often including disclaimers in his films that everything depicted was completely consensual, and advocating for greater awareness of consent and sexual violence. Stoya took to Twitter and denounced Deen, accusing him of holding her down and raping her ‘while I said no, stop, used my safe word’. The tweet has been retweeted over 11,000 times. And there are now a total of 10 porn actresses who have come out and accused him of similar crimes. One woman, Tori Lux, posted an online essay accusing Deen of pinning her to the floor during a film shoot and hitting her on the head.

These accusations led to an online rush to express support for the women making them. An article in Time claimed the case represented a ‘shift in rape culture’ in which a ‘tidal wave of women’s truth’ was ‘washing away the detritus of lies about sex and violence’. The article appeared to have the case against Deen all sewn up, arguing that because between 0.2 and 8 per cent of rape allegations are false, Deen was probably guilty. Another writer said, ‘I don’t need Stoya or any woman to “prove” that she has been raped for me to believe her… I BELIEVE WOMEN. Period.’ The hashtag #IStandWithStoya began trending, with one tweeter claiming that if you questioned the truth of the allegations then you were ‘part of rape culture’. The fallout from the tweets has been swift: Deen has had his sex-advice column with a women’s magazine pulled and he has resigned from the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee.

Make no mistake: what’s happening to James Deen and others who find themselves on the harsh end of the Twitterati is terrifying. Deen’s is just the latest case of an allegation of serious sexual violence playing out in the kangaroo court of social media, in which the presumption of innocence and due process are routinely ignored. Sadly, these informal Twitter courts are becoming more popular. Deen’s case mirrors that of Jian Ghomeshi, the Canadian talk-radio host, who was subject to an allegation of sexual assault in a newspaper at the end of 2014. Shortly after the story was published, the hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported began trending, with women posting allegations of sexual violence that they had not taken to the police. Ghomeshi has now been charged with sexual assault. Last year, 23-year-old YouTuber Sam Pepper was accused by a young woman in a lengthy YouTube video of raping her. The video received over two million views. But when the Los Angeles police contacted the woman, she refused to proceed with a complaint.  

These Twitter tribunals pose a significant threat to justice. By plastering allegations all over the internet, by throwing opinions and judgements on to any available social-media platform, those making allegations and their supporters risk seriously prejudicing any future trials that may come as a result. When these allegations are made, the internet becomes awash with all kinds of potentially inadmissible evidence, which any defence lawyer worth their salt would point to as potentially prejudicial.  Worse, the online scrutiny these allegations receive may work to undermine the credibility of these women. What if they say things at this stage that are inconsistent with what they may say later on? We may be very keen to ‘believe’ Deen’s accusers, but if he is ever to receive a fair trial they will have to convince a jury of his guilt. This will be a lot harder if they have shown themselves to be unreliable on Twitter or in the celebrity gossip pages.

The use of statistics in the discussion of Deen’s case, and other cases in which people rush to ‘believe at any cost’, has also been revealing. It is often said that a low number of rape allegations are false, and so most allegations of sexual violence are likely to be true. But the important caveat to the statistic that the Time piece and others missed was the word ‘provably’. It is true that only 0.2 to eight per cent of rape allegations are provably false. But, for obvious reasons, proving an allegation is false or misconceived is extremely difficult, perhaps even more difficult than proving an allegation to be true. Rape is a crime for which there is likely to be little objective evidence. It often comes down to one person’s word against another. The whole concept of ‘truth’ and falsity is very difficult when considering rape: two people’s perceptions of a particular interaction could be very different, with one person feeling as though what occurred was consensual and the other genuinely believing otherwise.

This is especially true in Deen’s case. Working on a porn set, in which extreme forms of sexual behaviour are far more common than in your average bedroom, means that the scope for misunderstanding, confusion and ambiguity is bound to be far higher. Once the word ‘provably’ is included the logic of the argument so often used to convict men like Deen completely collapses. Just because a low percentage of allegations are provably false does not mean that the rest of them are true.

But what makes these twitch-hunts even more dangerous is that we may never know if an injustice has been done. The move away from due process to online kangaroo courts means that those accused are simply punished at the behest of an online mob, without any scrutiny whatsoever, and then left to live with their sentence. If James Deen loses his career without ever going before a courtroom, we will never know whether this was a just outcome. We will just have to accept blindly the verdict of the Twitter court.

What the James Deen fiasco shows is that rape culture is a catastrophically dangerous idea. It is being used to usher in a new era of ‘no smoke without fire’ justice. In this world, the rush to ‘believe’ at all costs is elevated above the need for objectivity, impartiality and due process. We need to end the Twitter trials and give allegations of rape and sexual violence the serious and careful attention that they deserve.

Original report here

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tyler Edmonds plans appeal of wrongful conviction lawsuit

TUPELO, Miss. -- A man once convicted of capital murder and later set free on retrial is heading back to court.  Tyler Edmonds and his attorneys, Waide & Associates, are planning to appeal a circuit court judge's decision to dismiss a wrongful conviction lawsuit.

In November, Edmonds argued in front of the Circuit Court of Oktibbeha County that he was wrongfully convicted for the 2003 murder of his brother-in-law Joey Fulgham.


According to court documents, Joey Fulgham was shot in the back of his head and later died of his wounds in May 2003. Originally, law enforcement suspected his wife, Kristi Fulgham, as the suspected killer.

During questioning, Kristi Fulgham denied being responsible and blamed her half-brother, Tyler Edmonds, who was 13 at the time.

Court documents show that while being questioned by police, Edmonds confessed to the murder but later recanted in the following days.

Edmonds was eventually arrested, indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced for the capital murder of Fulgham.

In 2007, the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial, which fell in his favor in November 2008 when the jury found him not guilty on all charges.

Edmonds was jailed from May 2002 until May 2007, about two weeks over five years.


In October 2009, Edmonds filed a lawsuit to recover damages under the "Compensation to Victims of Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act." He and his attornies were seeking $158,333.

Last month Circuit Court Judge Lee Howard ruled against Edmonds and dismissed the case.

Under the "Compensation to Victims of Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act," a plaintiff must prove "he did not commit or suborn perjury, or fabricate evidence to bring about his conviction."

Judge Howard's ruling said Edmonds fabricated evidence by confessing to murder and later recanting; therefore, violating the final clause of the wrongful conviction act.

Edmonds' attorneys argued that his age, influence by his half-sister, and improper police procedures led to his original confession.

Despite the arguments, Judge Howard sided against Edmonds.


WTVA contacted Waide & Associates, who says they are in the planning stages of appealing Judge Howard's dismissal.

There's currently no trial date but could later be heard by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Original report here

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Shocking video 'captures cops shooting dead an unarmed and handcuffed man, 23, then planting a gun beside him'

Graphic new cellphone video has emerged which appears to show cops shooting dead a 23-year-old cyclist as he lay handcuffed on the ground.

Noel Aguilar was killed by Los Angeles County deputies Albert Murad and Jose Ruiz in 2014 who claimed that they shot him after he tried to grab one of their guns. They also alleged Aguilar had a loaded weapon.

Now footage of the incident, dropped off anonymously at the attorney's office for the suspect's family, appears to show the two officers shooting Aguilar while he was lying face down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind him.

Attorney for the family, Humberto Guizar, said the video is 'clear evidence of an execution, a murder.'

Guizar also claims footage shows one of the deputies planting a weapon on the ground next to Aguilar before taking out another gun and shooting him, the Press Telegram reports.

The lawyer, who has filed a suit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the two deputies, has now released the video to the public.

The incident began in May, 2014, when deputies Murad and Ruizi pulled over Aguilar, who was riding a bicycle. It is not clear why they decided to stop the cyclist.

Aguilar tried to flee from the officers who caught up with the 23-year-old and pinned him to the floor in Long Beach.

Cellphone footage then shows the two deputies grappling with the suspect on the ground before one warns the young man that if he moves, 'I'm going to kill you.'

Sheriff's officials say Aguilar reached for one of the deputies' guns although this is not clear in the video.

The next moment, one of the officers complained 'I've been shot.'  It was later discovered that the officer was shot with his partner's gun.

Aguilar is heard insisting that he had not shot anyone and asks to know why one of the officers was pulling a gun on him.

The deputy who had been shot in the abdomen then shot the suspect three times in his back as he lay on the ground.

Guizar condemned the police's actions as an 'execution.' The attorney said that not had the officers shot Aguilar, but they continued to restrain him with one officer 'putting all his weight on top of him' while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

The department's Internal Affairs Bureau has now completed its investigation into the shooting.

Findings will be presented to the Executive Force Review Committee in January which will decide if the incident breached any laws or police policies.

Both Murad and Ruizi have already returned to field duty.

Aguilar's devastated fiance Mary Herrera was pregnant with Aguilar's now 1-year-old daughter when he was killed.  She told NBC her fiance had not been resisting arrest or posing a threat when he was shot.  'It just breaks my heart to see that and one day my daughter is going to have to see that,' Herrera added.

Original report here

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

UK: Jailed 'Cocaine Crew' CAN'T be guilty

Lobsterman Jamie Green gave the eulogy at his wife Nikki’s funeral ten days ago – handcuffed to a prison officer, with two more guards hovering in the background. The crematorium chapel at Newport on the Isle of Wight was packed to bursting with Green’s family, friends and local Channel fishermen, a gruff, sea-hardened bunch, not generally given to public displays of emotion.

Almost all of them were openly weeping. It wasn’t just that Nikki, a much-loved mother of three, died from cancer far too young, aged only 50. It was that everyone present was convinced that Jamie and his crewmen, convicted and jailed for between 14 and 24 years for a plot to smuggle cocaine worth £53 million, are innocent.

Almost two years ago, The Mail on Sunday disclosed grave doubts about the prosecution case at Green’s trial, which alleged that Green’s lobster boat, the Galwad-y-Mor, picked up 11 sports bags containing a total of 560lb of cocaine tossed from the deck of a passing Brazilian container ship.

Now, following months of further investigation, we can present overwhelming new evidence that the events described at the month-long hearing at Kingston Crown Court in 2011 simply never happened.

The MoS investigation has been conducted jointly with the Centre for Criminal Appeals, a new legal charity which specialises in representing victims of miscarriages of justice. It has revealed that:

    Electronic navigation records show Green’s boat was never where the prosecution claimed it was – cruising in the wake of the container ship Oriane in the Channel, to collect drugs thrown overboard

    Analysis by a marine drift expert shows that currents would have carried the drugs, packed in floating holdalls, away from Green’s boat

    A drugs investigator who spent 41 years with Customs and Excise and Soca (the Serious Organised Crime Agency, that led the investigation into the alleged smugglers) found that observation records used to incriminate Green and his co-defendants appear to have been fabricated.

    The Brazilian ship was not in the South American port on the day when the smuggling plot was allegedly hatched at a meeting of local conspirators and members of its crew.

A dossier setting out this evidence is now being examined by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which is set to rule on whether to grant a fresh appeal next year. Tragically, its decision will come too late for Nikki. Her husband was allowed one visit to her deathbed in a hospice, for which he was shackled. Heartbreakingly, a second visit that would have been their farewell was cancelled.

To the Isle of Wight community, the case always seemed baffling. Green and his co-defendants – his lifelong friend Jonathan Beere, and deckhands Danny Payne and Scott Birtwistle – had no criminal history. They were all staunch family men, with modest lifestyles.

Nikki, to whom Jamie was devoted, was already seriously ill: her cancer had spread from her breast to her liver and she was having chemotherapy. Beere – supposedly the plot’s onshore co-ordinator – was a local scaffolder, married to a teacher for children with special needs: the couple had three young children.

However, the evidence persuaded the jury, which reached a majority verdict. Green, Beere and casual labourer Zoran Dresic were sentenced to 24 years; Payne and Birtwistle were given 18 and 14 years respectively. The Soca detectives heralded the result a triumph. According to the prosecution, Green and his crew, Dresic, Payne and Birtwistle, took the 39ft Galwad-y-Mor to the middle of the Channel on the stormy night of May 29, 2010, not to collect lobster pots, but the cocaine-packed sports bags tossed from the Oriane.

The prosecution claimed that the records from the Galwad-y-Mor’s electronic navigation system showed that, for a period of about two minutes, she slowly motored back and forth in Oriane’s wake. Somehow, lashed by 20ft waves and buffeted by a Force 8 gale, the Galwad’s crew had spent this time collecting the drugs bags from the water. This, say other Wight fishermen, would have been an extraordinary feat in the calmest of seas in broad daylight.

For most of the next day, the jury was told, Green and his crew went back to looking for crabs and lobsters. Then, many hours later, they headed towards the shallower waters of Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight. Two Hampshire policemen had been stationed by Soca at the top of the towering cliffs overlooking the Bay. They said they saw the bags being jettisoned back into the water – presumably being left for someone to retrieve.

The officers reported this by radio, but then left their look-out post, leaving the bags unattended. The bags, tied together with rope and fixed to the sea bed with a pig-iron anchor, were found there next morning by another local fisherman.

There was no evidence that drugs were ever on board the fishing boat. Soca’s high-tech equipment could not detect a single cocaine molecule anywhere on the Galwad, although the bags leaked so that whole packets of cocaine were damp and salty by the time they were found.

The claim that the Galwad crossed the wake of the Oriane was critical. Determined to produce the most accurate chart of the two vessels’ movements, this newspaper obtained all the raw data from the Oriane’s AIS satellite tracking system from a specialist Dutch company. Recently, it has emerged that the prosecution expert had his own copy of this information before the trial – but it was not disclosed to the defence. With this data at hand, it was possible to see that a crucial ‘mark’ for the Oriane – a record of its position when it was almost at its closest to the Galwad-y-Mor – was, unaccountably, omitted from the chart the prosecution showed the jury.

Emily Bolton, Green’s solicitor from the Centre for Criminal Appeals, engaged an expert to compare the AIS records with those of the Olex tracking system on the Galwad.

The conclusions reached by the expert, Dr James Allen, technical director of Precision Marine Survey Ltd, are devastating.

Rather than crossing the Oriane’s wake, the closest the Galwad-y-Mor got to the wake was about 170ft. And at the brief instant the Galwad was in this position, the Oriane was more than a mile and a half away.

Could the bags have drifted from the ship towards Green’s boat?
Brazilian container ship the Oriane, which the cocaine-packed sports bags were allegedly tossed from

Not according to another team of experts, from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. Their report says that on the night in question, at the relevant point in the Channel, anything thrown from the Oriane would have drifted east-north-east – away from the course plotted by the Galwad-y-Mor.

The AIS data contains a further bombshell. According to the Crown, plotters based in Brazil met members of the Oriane crew and figured out how to get the drugs on board when the ship docked at the port of Navegantes.

In fact, the data shows the Oriane was not there at all on the date in question.

And there is still further fresh evidence. After the trial, doubts began to emerge about the observations made by the two Hampshire policemen posted on the hill over the bay, and their assertion that they saw the Galwad crew throwing the drugs bags overboard.  Their story had kept on changing, and an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission found it contained significant ‘discrepancies’.

The MoS approached drugs investigator Don Dewar to review all the evidence. Recently retired, Dewar won awards and commendations, during a long career in charge of some of the biggest drug cases in British history, first with Customs and Excise, then with Soca. He was in charge of the seizure of what, until last year, was the UK’s record cocaine haul: a ton found sealed inside lead ingots in 1990. He also led the UK-end of the transatlantic operation that saw the arrest of the cannabis smuggler turned writer, Howard Marks.

Dewar has analysed the case thoroughly. In a statement included in the CCRC dossier, he says that some crucial observation records were not set down in the usual, tightly controlled and monitored official Soca logs, but in a Marathon Products logbook that was not Soca issue.

Damningly, crucial observations were recorded out of sequence – suggesting they were tampered with or fabricated. For instance, according to the records, the Galwad docked at a jetty before she entered her home port at Yarmouth harbour – an obvious impossibility.

Dewar’s statement also points to crucial, unexplained gaps in the documents Soca provided to the defence – including 21 pages of the ‘Surveillance Management Record’, which should have contained a detailed account of the movements and observations of all officers deployed on the island that day.

Green and the others have already lost one appeal, in 2012. At that stage, none of the fresh evidence had come to light.

But a member of the jury wrote to Green’s trial defence lawyer, Julian Christopher QC. He said that Soca officers had discussed the case with a fellow juror at a health club, making allegations that were never aired in court, and urging the jury to convict.

Another juror knew a former police community support officer who sat in the public gallery throughout the trial, and was thus privy to legal argument which took place when the jury was absent.

Usually, evidence of this kind would persuade the Appeal Court to order a retrial, but in this case, it declined. That left the CCRC as the only recourse.

Bolton submitted a preliminary dossier in October last year. In February the commission appointed a ‘case review manager’ to oversee its inquiries. Bolton filed further evidence in March and November.

As Nikki Green’s condition deteriorated, her husband, who is being held at Erlestoke prison in Wiltshire, was granted one brief visit, which he spent cuffed to an officer. When Nikki developed an infection, doctors warned she was unlikely to survive more than days. Jamie was told he would be taken to see her again on November 8. But as he was getting ready in his cell, the trip was suddenly cancelled. Nikki died on November 30.

Bolton said: ‘Nikki died without her husband at her side because the CCRC has not been given enough funding to be able to identify miscarriages of justice promptly.

‘We have presented enough evidence to convince the Court of Appeal to reverse these convictions, but the Commission does not have the resources it needs to process this evidence swiftly.

‘Last Thursday’s service wasn’t just a funeral for Nikki, but for British justice.’

Green’s sister, Nicky, said the family felt ‘betrayed’, adding: ‘Not only did the system make a terrible mistake in charging my brother with this crime, the process of correcting it has been drawn out for so long that Jamie has been robbed of his brave, courageous wife and his right to a family life.’

According to a CCRC spokesman, it currently receives nearly 1,500 applications a year, which creates a huge backlog. Normally, he said, a prisoner would have to wait six months before a Commission inquiry could even begin, and for Green, this had indeed been ‘expedited’. But he added: ‘Once it starts, it takes as long as it takes, and this is a complex case.’

The best that Green and his co-defendants can hope for is that the CCRC will refer them back to the Court of Appeal next year. After that, it is likely to take many months before their case is reheard.

The guilty verdicts that have ruined their lives and those of their families may be overturned some time in 2017. By then they will have spent seven years behind bars.

Original report here

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

New York City to Pay $2.75 Million in Wrongful-Conviction Settlement

New York City has agreed to pay $2.75 million to settle a wrongful-conviction lawsuit, the city’s Law Department said on Thursday, in a case that prompted philosophical questions about the meaning of a guilty plea.

The plaintiff, Michael Poventud, 45, served nine years in prison before his 1998 conviction — for the attempted murder and attempted robbery of a Bronx livery driver — was overturned on grounds that the authorities withheld evidence from his lawyers that could have helped his defense.

Rather than face a retrial, Mr. Poventud pleaded guilty in 2006 to attempted robbery in the third degree, acknowledging that he had been armed and had tried to rob another person. He received a one-year sentence and was released immediately.

But Mr. Poventud continued to maintain his innocence, his lawyers said, and pleaded guilty in order to get out of prison, where he had been subjected to abuse by other inmates and had twice tried to commit suicide.

The guilty plea, as it turned out, became a legal hurdle when Mr. Poventud sued the city and claimed his rights were violated in the 1998 trial. A judge, Deborah A. Batts of Federal District Court in Manhattan, dismissed the suit in 2012, finding that it was barred because Mr. Poventud had pleaded guilty to conduct that “necessarily required his presence at the scene of the crime.”

Success in his lawsuit “would logically imply the invalidity” of his guilty plea, Judge Batts wrote.

But in 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which typically rules in three-judge panels, overturned Judge Batts’s decision by a 2-to-1 vote, saying Mr. Poventud could sue.

The debate did not end there. In an unusual move, the full or “en banc” appellate court, with 15 judges participating, reviewed the matter, and last year, a majority of the judges agreed that Mr. Poventud could sue.

“Poventud’s claims are not the stuff of prison idleness or self-absorption,” the opinion’s author, Judge Richard C. Wesley, wrote. He “accepted an offer from the state to plead to a lesser offense; he now seeks to recover from those who violated his right to a fair trial.”

A judge who concurred in the ruling, Gerard E. Lynch, wrote in a separate opinion, “The choice of freedom in exchange for an admission would be easy for a guilty man, but even an innocent one would be hard-pressed to decline the prosecution’s offer.”

The conviction of Mr. Poventud, who once used the first name Marcos, stemmed from the 1997 shooting of Younis Duopo, a cabdriver. The settlement was noted in papers filed in court late on Wednesday.

Mr. Poventud, speaking by phone on Thursday, thanked his lawyers and said, “Nothing can give me back those years of my life I lost, but I’m happy to put this behind me.”

In a statement, the Law Department said, “This case raised a novel legal issue concerning the resolution of the plaintiff’s criminal charges and its effect on his civil claims.” The department added that in light of the appellate rulings allowing the suit to go forward, the agreement was “fair and in the best interest of the city.” The city admitted no wrongdoing.

One of Mr. Poventud’s lawyers, Julia P. Kuan, said on Thursday, “We were not challenging the validity of the guilty plea.” Another of his lawyers, Joel B. Rudin, said, “We had an innocent person who had pleaded guilty in order to escape more trauma in prison.”

“A plea bargain is a compromise that ends the criminal litigation,” Mr. Rudin added, “but it doesn’t necessarily resolve the truth in God’s eyes.”

Original report here

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Friday, December 18, 2015

VIP child abuse witness retracts murder claims: Outrage of ex-Tory MP who was implicated by 'Darren'

A former Tory MP last night demanded an independent inquiry into Scotland Yard’s VIP paedophile investigation after a key witness retracted claims that he had witnessed two murders.

Harvey Proctor reacted furiously after the man, known as Darren, admitted that a news website had tried to put pressure on him to make allegations against people including Mr Proctor.

Darren said the controversial website Exaro had shown him photographs of Mr Proctor to try to identify him. The former MP’s home was later raided by police and he was interviewed under caution.

Mr Proctor – accused of being a member of a murderous paedophile gang including ex-prime minister Edward Heath, former Tory home secretary Leon Brittan and ex-heads of the Army and security services – called for an urgent inquiry into Scotland Yard’s dealings with Exaro.

He said it should look at Exaro’s handling of vulnerable witnesses such as Darren and a man known as ‘Nick’, who has made hotly contested allegations of serial murder and child sex abuse against VIPs.

Mr Proctor, who denies the allegations, told the Daily Mail: ‘There should be a police inquiry into Exaro and their dealings with vulnerable witnesses, and that inquiry should not be handled by the Metropolitan Police.

‘The inquiry should extend to examining links between Exaro and certain detectives in Operation Midland [which is investigating Nick’s allegations].’

Darren, now in his 30s, said he had made statements to two police forces investigating historic abuse allegations about senior politicians, celebrities and ex members of the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange. He had claimed that abuse took place in London, including at the Dolphin Square apartment block near Westminster, in Suffolk and Wales.

Many of his claims have been carried by the controversial Exaro news website.

Under the headline ‘Murder at Thornham Magna: Darren relives harrowing scene’, he was quoted as saying that he saw a boy being stretched between two vehicles and that he believed he died.

‘Both vehicles then slowly reversed and I heard a scream. I think he must have passed out because he made no more sound,’ Darren told Exaro in February. He now insists he never saw the boy being killed. In another story about alleged abuse parties at Dolphin Square he was quoted as saying that a girl may have been killed. He claims now that the girl is alive.

Darren, whose real name cannot be disclosed for legal reasons, said yesterday he had felt under pressure to make allegations and disclose names during his dealings with some journalists, campaigners, politicians and police over the past two years.

On being shown pictures of Mr Proctor by Exaro, he told The Times: ‘I had to tell them that I never met Proctor – I feel rather sorry for him now.

‘I want the authorities to realise that adult survivors should be allowed to tell their stories and walk away. They shouldn’t be hounded. I’ve been through two-and-a-half years of hell because of these people.’

He said he wants no further contact with detectives over his claims and had agreed to provide a statement to Mr Proctor’s lawyers on his dealings with Exaro. He added: ‘I feel like I’ve been used. Making the allegations has destroyed my life and left me vulnerable.’

According to reports, several people have been interviewed under caution as a result of Darren’s claims but no one has been charged.

Darren also revealed he had been in contact with Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, who made explosive claims about an alleged Westminster paedophile ring in the House of Commons in 2012.

He confirmed that Mr Watson had offered to email Scotland Yard to ‘chivvy them up a bit’ in relation to one investigation.

Asked about his email contact with Mr Watson, Darren said: ‘I don’t believe Tom Watson had my best interests at heart. I think he was trying to score political points.’

Last night a spokesman for Mr Watson said: ‘Mr Watson passed all relevant information to the authorities and acted to ensure procedures were followed.’

Mark Watts, the Exaro editor, said: ‘We have always reported the evidence and witness testimony accurately. Many survivors of child sex abuse have approached Exaro with their stories in recent years and we have featured some of them. We have always treated abuse survivors fairly.’

Scotland Yard is still reeling from recent condemnation by a committee of MPs over its protracted inquiry into a false allegation of rape made against Lord Brittan, who died from cancer in January.

The Yard also now has grave doubts about claims made by the alleged victim Nick, who last year had claimed three children had been murdered by a VIP gang.

Original report here

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

UK: Crime scene blunders let murderers off the hook

Damning report says officers are missing 'obvious indicators of suspicion' such as violence when investigating deaths.  They're afraid it might make work for them

Murderers are likely to be escaping justice because of police blunders when a body is discovered, a damning report revealed yesterday.

Officers are overlooking ‘obvious indicators of suspicion’ – such as signs of violence – when confronted with unexplained deaths, especially of elderly people or those who drank or used drugs, the Government study said.

It added that relying on routine post-mortem examinations for unaccounted deaths was also ‘risky and potentially unlikely to identify a complex murder’.

Last night a senior police officer acknowledged that the mistakes meant ‘the potential existed’ for homicides to be missed.

Half of a sample of cases studied by the Home Office’s Forensic Pathology Unit were found to be homicides or suspicious deaths after an expert intervened.

Incredibly, killings that did not prompt the police to call in an expert immediately included a severely-wounded body found in a remote rural location, a young man who had been stabbed and a corpse lying in a large pool of blood.

The report said: ‘It is concerning that evidence uncovered...has identified cases where apparent and obvious indicators of suspicion were overlooked by those making decisions at the scene of unexplained deaths.

‘It therefore seems entirely reasonable to suspect that a number of homicide cases may have been missed in the past and will continue to be missed in the future.’

It added that assessments by investigators at a death scene were ‘inadequate’ and urgent action needed to be taken to ‘address the shortfalls’.

The study raised the chilling prospect of police assuming that if a person was old or had been ill their death was due to natural causes, when they had in fact been murdered – so allowing the killer to escape.

This ‘cognitive bias’ was also seen with people who had used drugs or alcohol, with one force admitting it presumed such deaths were ‘due to intoxication’.

The study looked at 32 cases where police non-forensic post-mortem examinations were started before being passed to a Home Office-registered forensic expert after concerns were highlighted.

Of these, ten turned out to be murders, while another five were suspicious and required further investigation.

These cases ‘should have been treated as suspicious from the outset’, with the decision not to have a forensic autopsy in all 32 cases ‘flawed’.

Senior officers suggested cash-strapped forces might balk at calling a forensic pathologist, who cost £2,500 a time compared to around £100 for a routine post-mortem. In all of the cases studied, justice was served.

The report said an additional 150 cases reported since January 2014 should now be examined, adding: ‘The findings ... have highlighted the potential for professionals involved in death investigation to “miss” homicides by conducting limited scene assessments and not utilising the advice and expertise of a Home Office-registered forensic pathologist early on ... The prevailing situation poses an obvious threat to the criminal justice system.’

Chief Constable David Crompton, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: ‘Whilst it is important to recognise that there is no evidence that homicides have been missed, it is equally important to acknowledge that this potential exists.

'Procedures for dealing with deaths are being reviewed in order to reduce the likelihood of this occurring.’

Original report here

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Judge acquits Chicago police commander accused of shoving gun down suspect's throat

He'd frighten me to death

A judge on Monday acquitted a Chicago police commander accused of shoving his gun down a suspect's throat, outlining what she said were flaws in the state's case and stressing that it shouldn't be conflated with other recent cases of alleged police misconduct that have come to the fore in Chicago and elsewhere.

Cook County Judge Diane Cannon found Cmdr. Glenn Evans not guilty of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and official misconduct stemming from the 2013 arrest of Rickey Williams, whom Evans believed he had seen holding a gun.

Cannon said she didn't find Williams' story believable, accusing him of changing it repeatedly and of offering to change it if it would help investigators. She also dismissed evidence thought to be among the most damning -- Williams' DNA on Evans' gun -- suggesting it was collected so sloppily that that it was of "fleeting relevance. But she opened and closed her remarks by cautioning that the case shouldn't be grouped with other recent cases of alleged police misconduct.

"My ruling does not pertain to (police) misconduct," the judge said. "This is just one case."

Evans' case received widespread attention because of his aggressive tactics -- condemned by some, praised by others -- as the city has struggled to lower its violent crime rate. Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and residents of crime weary neighbourhoods said Evans helped clean up a number of areas under his command, while others say he symbolized the department's failure to control its officers. Both Evans and Williams are black.

Evans showed little reaction upon hearing the verdict. He could have faced up to five years in prison.

Williams' lawyers issued a statement saying they will proceed with a lawsuit and are confident they'll meet the burden of proof needed to show that Evans violated Williams' rights.

Prosecutors alleged that Evans tackled Williams and stuck his gun in Williams' mouth while demanding to know where he had put a gun he believed he had seen Williams holding. Williams testified that he hadn't been carrying a gun and that Evans must have mistaken it for a cellphone he had been holding. He said Evans shoved his gun so far down his throat that he gagged and later spat blood.

Investigators never recovered a gun, and the charges against Williams were later dropped.

In dismissing the usefulness of the DNA found on the gun, Cannon pointed out that investigators swabbed the entire weapon instead of just the barrel. She also said Williams' saliva wasn't tested for gun residue and the inside of the barrel wasn't tested for his DNA, suggesting the DNA could have gotten on the gun during a tussle with officers.

Evans' attorneys questioned Williams' credibility and the reliability of the DNA evidence. After the verdict, though, they were most critical of the Independent Police Review Authority, the city's main police oversight agency that investigated the incident and has been harshly criticized for not recommending that enough officers be punished.

"They were inept, they were at times corrupt (and) they didn't want to see the things that made Glenn Evans ... innocent,' said Laura Morask.

Evans, who is one of the highest ranking members of the department to ever face criminal charges, was a polarizing figure in the community. Repeatedly praised by McCarthy for his aggressive tactics, Evans was also the subject of at least 45 excessive-force complaints over a 20-year period, according to a study done for the People's Law Office in Chicago. Critics pointed to that total as evidence of the department's willingness to condone or at least ignore the brutal behaviour of its officers.

After the verdict Alvarez defended her decision to charge Evans.

"This case underscores the reality that it is extremely difficult to convince judges or juries in Cook County and around the country to convict police officers of misconduct in the line of duty, despite the fact that this victim made an immediate outcry and we had DNA evidence to support our case," she said in a statement.

The verdict marks the second time this year that the office has suffered a high-profile defeat after bringing charges against a Chicago police officer. Dante Servin was charged with involuntary manslaughter and other charges in the shooting death of an unarmed black woman in 2012, but in April a judge suggested that prosecutors filed the wrong charges against the officer and acquitted him.

Original report here

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Family of knife-wielding man who shot by FIVE San Francisco cops release new video of his death as they launch lawsuit

A second graphic video showing the shocking moment a San Francisco man was shot dead by 10 police officers in the street has been released.

Mario Woods, 26, was killed last week after he was reportedly hit 20 times by the five cops, who claim he refused commands to drop an 8-inch knife he was carrying.

The new video, recorded on a cell phone, shows Woods surrounded by cops, backed up against a garage.

A second graphic video showing the shocking moment Mario Woods, 26, was shot dead by five San Francisco police officers in the street has been released

He appears to kneel down briefly, and then walks a couple of steps forward before a barrage of gun shots are fired and his body is suddenly on the ground.

'What did he do, he's literally standing there,' someone can be heard asking behind the camera. 'The kid is standing and you shot him, what did he he do?'

The camera then turns to show at least four police cars surrounding the area with their sirens on and lights flashing.

Police were responding to a stabbing report in the city's Bayview neighborhood when they encountered and surrounded Woods.

The video is the second to be released that shows Wood's death.

In the first video, a woman standing in front of the person recording can be heard shouting 'Just drop it! Just drop it, please!'

Woods is seen walking away as one officer steps in front of him, and then begins to walk backward as the officer points his gun at him.

The camera then cuts away as gunfire erupts and the screams of people can be heard in the background.

Woods' family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Friday, saying officers needlessly opened fire.

The shooting has also angered community activists, who have called for San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr's resignation and for the officers who fired their guns to be charged criminally.

Suhr said the department is investigating the shooting along with the district attorney and the city's Office of Citizens Complaints.

The chief also said the department is reviewing its 'use-of-force' policies and procedures and called on the police commission to arm the department with stun guns.

Police departments in San Francisco and Detroit are the only cities with more than 500,000 residents to not arm officers with stun guns.

The five officers who fired their guns have been placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigations.

The department released the officers' names Friday night. They are: Winson Seto, Antonio Santos, Charles August, Nicholas Cuevas and Scott Phillips. No further details on them were released.

Martin Halloran, president of the police union, said the officers acted appropriately and fired their weapons after pepper spray and the shooting of bean bags full of lead pellets failed to stop Woods.

'With innocent bystanders nearby and the erratic behavior of the subject, the threat to life was imminent,' Halloran said. 'With no other options available, the officers were forced to discharge their firearms.'

Suhr said at a news conference on Wednesday that police opened fire when it appeared Woods was raising the knife and approaching one of the officers.

Lawyer John Burris, who is representing Woods' family, disputed that account Friday and said Woods never raised his hands.

'This was all the indications of a murder,' he said, according to ABC News. 'You do not see him lunge at the officers, run at the officers with anything in his hand.'  

Burris said Suhr also came to his conclusions regarding the shooting too quickly.

'I'm sort of insulted by the chief's comments, that he would make a comment to justify and support the police officers' conduct so quickly,' he said.  

Woods' mother and two brothers attended the news conference and sobbed while the first publicly released video played on a large television screen.

Burris also displayed four photos taken of Woods at the morgue and said his body had 20 gunshot wounds, including one to the back of the head.

Woods' mother briefly spoke Friday, saying her son 'was the best of me' while crying uncontrollably.

'He was the best of me and redeemed himself,' Gwendolyn Woods said of her son, who had just been released from prison for robbery.

'He did. He redeemed himself. He was the best of me.'

Original report here

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Black guy liked his gun

The genius concerned

Police say that the man fatally shot by Los Angeles Sheriff's deputies on Saturday refused to drop his gun before he was shot.   Close-up security footage shows that 28-year-old father-of-three Nicholas Robertson held a gun in his hand as he lay dying on the ground.

Two deputies fired 33 bullets at the gunman after Robertson refused to drop the gun and walked across a busy street to a gas station where a family was pumping gas, Sheriff homicide Cpt Steven Katz said.

Robertson walked down a residential street and then along a busy commercial area holding the gun and acting strangely, Katz said, adding that he went into at least one business ‘behaving erratically with a gun in hand’.

He said that witnesses reported Robertson fired six to seven shots in the air and briefly went into a car wash and a pizza parlor before the deputies arrived.

Officers said they found Robertson at a gas station beside a busy road at around 11am and repeatedly asked him to drop his weapon, and when he didn't they opened fire.

Katz told the Los Angeles Times that ‘public safety was critical here’ because there were people in the area and at the gas station Robertson was walking toward.

Cell phone footage shot from a restaurant across the street shows officers firing at the man as he falls to the floor, and then continue shooting as he attempts to crawl away.

Roberson later died at the scene, where officers recovered a loaded .45 caliber pistol.

The cell-phone video footage, which starts seconds before the officers open fire, does not appear to show the main aiming at officers, but rather shows cops following him as he walks away from them.

Lieutenant Eddie Hernandez told KABC-TV that his department is aware of the video and that it is being looked at, and appealed for anyone else with footage to come forward.

He said: 'The video is just one piece of evidence that's going to be examined as part of a comprehensive, protracted, long investigation and that'll be analyzed against the physical evidence, the witness statements and the deputies' statements.'

Katz told the LA Times that the investigation is ongoing, and that Robertson may have had a ‘domestic discord’ with his wife that could have prompted his actions.

Authorities have released three 911 calls from witnesses who saw Robertson firing gunshots in the air minutes before the man was fatally shot by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies.

The sheriff's department released the calls on Sunday in addition to the security video showing Robertson stretched on the ground with a gun in his hand.

The calls were made several minutes before two deputies confronted Robertson near a gas station.

Within hours of the shooting protesters gathered at the scene of the shooting and began chanting 'no justice, no peace' at officers.

At one point, the crowd tore away 'caution' tape and deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department had to hold it up.

Speaking to the LA Times, one of Roberston's in-laws, Tracy Brown, 47, of Lynwood, said: 'They shot him. They shot him; as he crawled, they continued to shoot him.'

Nekeisha Robertson, described by relatives as the suspect's wife, sobbed uncontrollably as Brown, shouted to police: 'He ain't getting away with it!'

Brown said Robertson graduated from Lynwood High School and took good care of his three children, adding that the family didn't know anything about Robertson carrying a gun.

Seth Stoughton, a criminal law professor at the University of South Carolina, said there are circumstances in which officers could shoot a man walking away from them, and the fact that Robertson was armed will play in their favor.

He said: 'If the deputies reasonably believe the suspect with a firearm presents a danger by walking toward a gas station with vehicles and bystanders, they would be justified in using deadly force.

'It does not strike me as egregious like [the] Walter Scott video here in South Carolina. If the suspect wasn't armed or they didn't have a solid basis for that belief, that would more problematic.'

Original report here

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

New video shows the shocking moment Hispanic cops shoot crazy Hispanic  dead while he holds his hands in the air - but they WON'T be charged

The guy was behaving in a very erratic way but that does not give the cops authority to execute him

A second video has been released that shows the controversial fatal police shooting of a Texas man who had raised his hands up just before he was shot.

Gilbert Flores, 41, was killed on August 28 by two Bexar County deputies. Investigators have maintained that they believed he was armed with a knife.

The footage was made public this week after a grand jury chose not to indict officers Greg Vasquez and Robert Sanchez.

Flores is first seen in the eight minute long video yelling at police, who were answering his mother's 911 call reporting domestic violence, from the entrance of his home.

'He says he lost too many people in prison,' says a woman behind the camera in the full video that was released by San Antonio Express-News.

'He's got a knife in his hand,' whispers the man, who we later find out is filming the scene.

Flores can be seen holding an object.  'He's got a knife, he's got a knife,' the man keeps repeating.

Flores is then seen walking toward the cops with two fold-up chairs and the man indicates that he used the chairs to shield himself from getting tased by the deputies.

'He wants to be shot,' says the woman. 'He's provoking,' says the man.

Flores then goes around the cars parked in front of the house and, still holding the chairs, he picks up the now useless stun gun and throws it to the side.

An inaudible conversation continues between Flores and the deputies for a few minutes and then he picks up his chairs and brings them back to the door.

Earlier in the video Flores talks to the police from his porch and the man filming claims he is holding a knife

Flores then seems to run toward the cop car, and the man behind the camera says he's still got his knife.

But then Flores walks toward the deputies with his hands out, waving them to his chest.

He then walks behind the patrol car and is obscured for a brief moment before he walks toward the deputies again and put his hands up. There does not appear to be a knife in his hand.

A second later two shots are fired and Flores falls to the ground.

'Oh f*** they shot him?' the girl exclaims. 'Why did they shoot him?'

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood said he believed there would have been a grand jury indictment if only the second video had been seen.

'The 911 audio, when you hear that, you'll get what I mean,' he tells the paper.  'You have a man saying he wanted to die by police officer, suicide by cop, he had been violent to his wife and to a baby and his mom was crying.' 'It's not a flattering 911 tape of the deceased.'

In the 911 call, which was released on Friday, Flores' mother tells police her son has 'gone crazy' and that he's 'beating up his wife and she's bleeding'.

She also reveals that Flores' child had a 'black eye' and said was tearing up everything in the house and just 'cursing, cursing, cursing'. 'He's got a knife, he's got a knife,' she tells the dispatcher.

Flores can then be heard yelling that it's his 'time to go'.  'I'm on parole, I'm not going back to prison,' he can be heard saying in the background. 'So I'm going to die today.'

Flores also says he's armed with a knife. 'I'm going to suicide by cop,' he says. 'I'm going to die today.'

Authorities said an injured woman and baby were found inside the house after Flores was shot, according to NBC News.

Flores' family has since filed a civil lawsuit against the deputies' and sheriff's office, accusing them of 'executing' him.

Vasquez and Sanchez were placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting and will now be allowed to go back to work.

Sheriff Susan Pamerleau said there were 'no winners' in the situation. 'A man lost his life,' she said. 'And for that, we are all saddened.'

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, December 12, 2015

Justice Dept. to Investigate Chicago Police After Laquan McDonald Case

The Justice Department will begin a far-ranging investigation into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department, part of the continuing fallout over a video released last month showing the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Monday.

The Justice Department has long had concerns about the Chicago department. But the current scrutiny centers on a controversy that began with a two-paragraph statement a year ago from the Chicago Police Department about the death of a young black man who had been shot 16 times by the police.

“Near the intersection of 4100 S. Pulaski, uniformed officers confronted the armed offender who refused to comply with orders to drop the knife and continued to approach the officers,” said the statement, from Oct. 21, 2014. “As a result of this action, the officer discharged his weapon striking the offender.”
Continue reading the main story

On the night of the shooting, a police union spokesman, Pat Camden, went further, announcing at the scene that Mr. McDonald was “a very serious threat to the officers and he leaves them no choice at that point but to defend themselves.” Mr. Camden said, “He was coming at the officer.”

For months in 2014 and 2015, as police shootings were drawing close scrutiny around the nation, that was all most Chicagoans knew about Mr. McDonald’s death. That changed last month when a county judge ordered that a police video be made public. It showed Mr. McDonald seeming to try to jog or walk past officers, then veering at an angle away from them before being shot, again and again, even as he lay on the pavement.

The video outraged many. Along with anger over the shooting, there is an added element fueling frustration here: a lingering sense that the authorities, from the police department to City Hall, tried to keep the case out of the spotlight as long as possible.

“No person, no sane human being who’s lived in this city, no sane human being, looks at this situation and thinks there weren’t people who knew a lot and refused to divulge it,” said Mariame Kaba, a member of the Chicago-based activist group We Charge Genocide. “That, to me, is a cover-up.”

Critics have raised many questions.

Did Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election fight play a role in his administration’s decision this year to pay $5 million to Mr. McDonald’s family members even before they filed a lawsuit? Why did City Hall include a provision in the settlement to keep the video private at least temporarily? And why did it take Anita Alvarez, the Cook County State’s Attorney, 13 months to charge the police officer involved in the shooting? She waited until hours before the city was forced to release the video to charge the officer, Jason Van Dyke, with first-degree murder.

“People have a lot of questions, and I don’t think this is going away any time soon,” said the Rev. Marshall E. Hatch, who leads a West Side church. “It was almost surreal to think people thought this was a life that could be thrown away and walked over for apparent political advantage.”

The authorities in Chicago insist that there was no cover-up. In a statement issued Monday, the mayor pledged cooperation with the investigation.

“Our mutual goal is to create a stronger, better Police Department that keeps the community safe while respecting the civil rights of every Chicagoan,” the statement said. “Nothing is more important to me than the safety and well-being of our residents and ensuring that the men and women of our Police Department have the tools, resources and training they need to be effective crime fighters, stay safe, and build community trust.”

Last week, a spokeswoman for Mr. Emanuel, Kelley Quinn, said, “Any suggestion that politics played a role in this investigation is patently false.” Faced with growing criticism and demands for his resignation, Mr. Emanuel wrote an op-ed column in Chicago’s newspapers over the weekend, calling for broad changes at the police department but also laying out a defense of his own role. “What I strongly reject is the suggestion that the videotape of the McDonald shooting was withheld from the public because of the election,” Mr. Emanuel said.

Already, outcry over the case appears to be forcing a change. Under scrutiny over another case — a police shooting that occurred only days before Mr. McDonald’s death — Mr. Emanuel says that the city will now reverse course from its longstanding practice and release police video from that case sometime this week. The video will show the fatal shooting of Ronald Johnson, 25, on Oct. 12, 2014. Chicago police say Mr. Johnson pointed a gun at officers, but a lawyer for his family said that the video will show that he was running away.

The confrontation with Mr. McDonald, who was 17, began after 9 p.m. on Oct. 20, 2014 when he was stopped by the police after a report of someone breaking into vehicles on the Southwest Side. Officers said Mr. McDonald had a three-inch folding knife and ignored calls to drop it. Instead, they said, he walked and jogged away and at one point slashed the tire of a police car.

A growing number of officers followed him for several blocks. A police dashboard camera video, made public on Nov. 24, shows Officer Van Dyke’s police vehicle pulling up just before the shooting began. He fired 16 shots at Mr. McDonald from about 10 feet away, prosecutors have said. No other officer at the scene fired his gun, although at least five corroborated Officer Van Dyke’s version of events — that Mr. McDonald appeared to be coming at them in a threatening way.

After the shooting, the Independent Police Review Authority, a group assigned to review police shootings in Chicago, began investigating. Within two weeks, the city’s information was handed over to prosecutors to conduct their own criminal inquiries.

As lawyers for Mr. McDonald’s mother began looking at the case in late 2014, they say they found puzzling contradictions. Some witnesses disagreed with the police account that Mr. McDonald was coming at Officer Van Dyke. Workers at a nearby Burger King said the police arrived almost immediately after the shooting and began intensely studying a computer that handles the restaurant’s surveillance system.

Later, the Burger King’s surveillance recordings of more than 80 minutes — covering the time of the shooting itself — seemed to have vanished. Ms. Alvarez has said that there is no evidence of tampering and that the camera would not have captured the shooting anyway. Still, a federal investigation, which is continuing, is believed to be looking at questions, including the missing Burger King video, what other officers said at the scene that night, and why police dashboard cameras collected little audio.

By February 2015, the lawyers for Mr. McDonald’s mother had obtained the dashboard camera video itself. Michael Robbins, one of the family’s lawyers, said the lawyers had subpoenaed the video as part of a separate probate case. On Feb. 27 they contacted the city, seeking $16 million before they filed any lawsuit.

As it happened, three days earlier, Mr. Emanuel had learned that he was about to face an intense, six-week test of his leadership. He had failed to get the 50 percent plus 1 vote that he needed to win re-election to a second term outright, and was forced into an April 7 runoff with Jesus G. Garcia. Mr. Emanuel’s campaign was especially vulnerable among some black and Latino voters who had been upset by his administration’s closing of nearly 50 public schools as well as policing and crime.

“If that video would have surfaced around that time, he would have lost the whole support of the black, African-American community in Chicago,” said William Calloway, an activist here.

Mr. Robbins said he believed that the issue unfolded when it did simply because he and his co-counsel were able to assemble their evidence at that point. “How much did politics play in on the city’s end?” Mr. Robbins said. “I don’t know. From our standpoint it was happenstance.”

After a meeting in mid-March, lawyers for the family and the city reached an agreement to pay the family $5 million. City Council approval was needed, though, and that body’s next meeting was on April 15, eight days after Mr. Emanuel won re-election.

Chicago law department officials said settlements before lawsuits have even been filed are not unprecedented. The speed with which negotiations proceeded, the officials said, reflected the wishes of the lawyers for the other side and the nature of the case.

The city included in their settlement with the McDonald family a provision barring release of the video until criminal investigations were complete. Law department officials said that has been standard practice in Chicago for decades so as not to hinder such investigations. In this case, they said, no one expected the investigations to take much longer. City officials also said the family itself was not eager for the police video to be made public.

Mr. Emanuel himself was aware of the case and the video at the point at which a city settlement was being weighed, city officials said. His office did not respond to questions about when the mayor first learned of the case and the video. He has said he did not watch the video until it was released to the public.

On April 15, Chicago’s City Council approved the settlement. Stephen R. Patton, Chicago’s Corporation Counsel, had already told members of the council’s finance committee at a public meeting: “The shooting officer contends, as I understand it, that Mr. McDonald was moving toward him. He was in fear of his life.” He also told them: “The plaintiffs contend very vehemently that Mr. McDonald had been walking away from the police and was continuing to walk away from the police, and they contend that the videotape supports their version of events.”

Requests from the media for the video came, one after the next. At least one Chicago news radio station asked for the video as early as December 2014, a police spokesman said. All the requests were denied. The city argued that the video was exempt from the state’s public records law because it was part of a continuing investigation. A freelance journalist, Brandon Smith, filed suit to see the video — an effort the city’s lawyers continued to fight until the Cook County judge ruled against them on Nov. 19.

After that, Mayor Emanuel changed course. He said the city would no longer fight the release, and urged prosecutors to conclude their investigations. He has since said a task force needs to decide whether to change a policy of keeping evidence private while investigations are going on.

Asked last week whether he would have won re-election in April if the public had seen the McDonald video at the time, Mr. Emanuel grew testy.

“That’s a hypothetical,” he told a crowd gathered to watch him interviewed on stage with Politico at the Willis Tower. “And that said, I faced the election, faced the voters. They made a decision.”

Original report here