Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cleared after three years of hell: Renowned violinist accused of raping a former pupil has case against him dropped after a battle that has cost him £35,000 and his career

A renowned music professor has been sensationally cleared of raping a former pupil after a three-year legal battle that has cost him £35,000, destroyed his career and almost saw his children taken from him.

Violinist Wen Zhou Li, 61, was due to stand trial later this year accused of raping and indecently assaulting a teenage girl he taught at Chetham's School of Music in the 1990s.

The Chinese-born musician was the last teacher facing charges after a four-year police investigation into historical sex abuse at Chetham's and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), both in Manchester.

But the case has now been dropped after his defence team is understood to have given evidence to a hearing that his accuser made similar allegations against another former teacher, who was never prosecuted.

It also emerged that the student asked Mr Li to teach her again years after he supposedly raped her. The prosecution offered no evidence in the hearing at Manchester Crown Court, with Judge Michael Henshall saying Mr Li left court 'without a stain on his character'.

Mr Li, who taught a string of prize-winning pupils, has now told of his anger over the case, which left him barred from teaching and from being alone with his sons John, 11, and Jack, eight.

He added that he felt unable to play his violin or even listen to the instrument during his ordeal. He said: 'It's been incredibly tough for me, but it's my family, my two beautiful boys, who have really suffered.

'I always used to put them to bed, read them stories, take them out at the weekend. For nearly three years I couldn't do any of that. Fortunately we're a very strong family, my wife has been incredibly supportive, but it could have torn us apart.'

Following his arrest in February 2013, Mr Li had to agree to let his sons stay with friends as his wife Lili, 38, was visiting relatives in China. During that time he said he had to get permission just to hug them.

After six weeks the boys were allowed back to the family home near Northwich, Cheshire, on condition that Mr Li had no unsupervised contact with them.

Social workers are said to have quizzed the boys to check he abided by the rule and to have gone to court twice to have them taken into care, but a judge rejected both applications.

Mr Li's bail conditions were only relaxed last autumn to allow him to take John to secondary school.

Mr Li, who was once the star of a Channel 4 documentary Learning With Mr Li, was also banned from teaching, losing his job at the RNCM where he had taught for two decades, and was not allowed to see former colleagues.

Mr Li said he felt his accuser, who retains lifelong anonymity, had 'won' and that he could not understand why police had believed her, adding: 'Several years later she came back to have lessons with me. Would she have done that if I had raped her? I thought in this country you were innocent until proven guilty. For me it felt like the other way around. I was treated like a criminal.'

He called for those accused of sexual abuse to be granted anonymity unless they are found guilty.

Mr Li, who paid around £35,000 for his own legal team after he was refused legal aid, added: 'I am so happy the case has been dropped. I cried for two hours after I found out. I'd bottled it all up for three years.'

His barrister Nina Grahame asked the judge to order a report from the Crown Prosecution Service into why it took so long to drop the case, but he declined. A CPS spokesman said: 'Following advice from prosecuting counsel the case was then subject to further review and the decision was taken to offer no evidence.'

The RNCM declined to comment on Mr Li's departure.

Greater Manchester Police said it had not received any new evidence relating to Operation Kiso, the investigation launched after former Chetham's director of music Michael Brewer was found guilty of sexually abusing ex-pupil Frances Andrade, who committed suicide during the trial in 2013.

Two ex-teachers from Chetham's and the RNCM were convicted of sexual offences and accusations were made against deceased staff members after more than 30 former pupils contacted police.

Original report here

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Media involvement in case gets rapid action

“Dateline NBC” has launched its first digital-only documentary series, “Conviction,” exploring the case of a New York man convicted of a murder he insists he didn’t commit.

The prime-time news program began streaming the first four episodes of “Conviction” on on Tuesday, after news broke that Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark will seek to overturn the murder conviction for Richard Rosario. “Dateline NBC” had originally planned to premiere the series on Friday.

“Conviction” — reminiscent of Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” series — investigates the case of Rosario, convicted of a 1996 murder. Rosario, who has served 20 years of a 25-years-to-life sentence, maintains his innocence and says that 13 alibi witnesses can verify he was in Florida when the crime was committed in New York City. “Dateline NBC” reported the docu-series over a two-year period, interviewing most of Rosario’s alibi witnesses.

On Tuesday morning, the Bronx DA’s office confirmed that it sent investigators to interview the witnesses and that Clark intends to ask a judge to throw out Rosario’s conviction and release him as soon as possible. Until now, the prosecution has stood by the conviction.

[UPDATE, March 23, 12:30 p.m. ET: Rosario was released from prison Wednesday, after a judge dismissed the conviction.]

“The story seemed to have so many elements, it seemed like a good opportunity to experiment,” said “Dateline NBC” executive producer Liz Cole about the decision to release the show only online.

In addition, Cole said, “We didn’t have to wait for Friday night at 10 for airtime” to release the series, after news broke about the Rosario’s impending release. “And as the story continues to unfold, we can updated it as it happens,” she added.

Original report here

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

NYPD cop shoots a dog dead even though it  was wagging its tail

I think that if I had a pitbull barking at me I might shoot too

These shocking pictures show the gruesome moment an NYPD cop shot dead a family's dog in what appears to be an unprovoked attack.

Two police officers were responding to a call at a neighboring apartment in the Bronx when Yvonne Rosado opened her door to see what the commotion was about.

Surveillance footage obtained by the New York Daily News shows her four-year-old pitbull, Spike, wandering out into the hallway and excitedly wagging his tail.

The barking dog - who seems more playful than aggressive - approaches one of the cops, who has already withdrawn his gun.

The spooked police officer backs down the stairwell before opening fire, fatally wounding Spike with a single gunshot to the head.

The cop, who the NYPD has refused to name, is then seen backing away down the stairs as furious relatives and friends of Ms Rosado stream out of their apartments.

One woman wearing just her underwear stumbles down the stairs and has to be restrained by more police officers as she tries to slap the cop who opened fire on Spike on February 13.

Ms Rosado said: 'The officer just reacted badly. I was screaming, "He’s friendly! He’s friendly!" But he still did that to my dog.'

She told the Daily News that her beloved pooch was 'a gentle giant' and her 'big snuffleupagas'.

'He would wag his tail letting everyone know he was friendly,' she added.

Ms Rosado said the officers have not explained why her dog was killed and that she is yet to receive an apology.

The 42 year old has filed a notice of claim concerning a lawsuit against the city of New York and plans to filed an official complaint too.

Neighbor Irma Sue Santiago, 46, said Spike 'died wagging his tail', but was also furious that police opened fire so close to her home.

'What if he had missed the dog and shot my daughter?' Ms Santiago said. 'She’s traumatized by the whole thing.'

The mother added that the person police were searching for when they called round at the apartment building in response to a domestic incident had left some time ago.

The police officer who shot dead Spike was taken to hospital to be treated for tinnitus, while Ms Santiago's 16-year-old daughter Serena - who saw the dog dying in a pool of its own blood - has had to undergo psychiatric therapy to help her deal with the grim scene she encountered.

Police spokesman Lieutenant John Grimpel said: 'The incident is being reviewed by our force investigation division and the findings will be subject to a firearms discharge review board.'

Original report here

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Ruling keeps lawsuit against Boston cops alive

A federal judge has questioned the city’s record of investigating allegations that Boston police officers used excessive force, issuing a ruling that keeps alive a lawsuit claiming the city has allowed police misconduct to go unpunished.

The judge’s criticism came in a lawsuit brought by a Boston man, Nicholas Cox, who said he was beaten by two police officers who thought they saw him participating in a drug deal near Orchard Park in 2010. Both officers have a history of complaints against them, though Boston police records show in some cases the city did not investigate seemingly obvious misconduct.

“Put simply, a very large amount of smoke could reasonably compel the inference that there must be at least a small amount of fire,” US District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV said in a ruling unsealed March 11 that allows Cox’s suit to move forward. “This is such a case.”

The judge’s ruling comes as police departments across the country are facing criticism for misconduct and shootings of unarmed individuals.

Boston police have generally won praise from civic leaders. However, a Globe survey earlier this year found that a dozen officers faced 20 or more complaints over the past 20 years, and that internal affairs investigations sometimes languished for years.

The judge noted in his ruling that Boston police internal affairs investigations rarely sustain complaints: Of the 698 complaints alleging improper use of force from 2001 to 2011, only 18 were sustained, and many remained open for years without resolution.

Saylor’s ruling allows the lawsuit to continue so that the claims of police abuse could eventually be heard by a jury. The judge rejected the city’s request to remove it from the lawsuit as a defendant.

“A reasonable jury could . . . conclude that the city did not take appropriate action in response, and indeed on some occasions did not even conduct a meaningful investigation,” the judge said.

The mayor’s office and the Boston Police Department declined to comment on Cox’s suit because it is pending. The unions representing the officers named in the lawsuit did not return calls seeking comment.

The ruling supported one of Cox’s key claims: that the City of Boston could be held liable for its failure to supervise and discipline the two officers, which, as Cox’s lawyers had alleged, “created an atmosphere in which the officers believed they could violate an arrestee’s civil rights with impunity.”

“The decision points to [the] fact that when individual police officers repeatedly engage excessive force, the internal structures of the police departments which allow this behavior to continue should be called into question,” said Jessica Hedges, of Hedges & Tumposky, one of the lawyers involved in the suit.

“The evidence that we have uncovered in this lawsuit suggests that the BPD and its internal affairs functions are turning a blind eye to officers who repeatedly engage in violence in our community. Such institutional failures thereby create a culture in police departments where the use of excessive force is sadly predictable.”

Each of the two officers — Sergeant Detective Paul Murphy, who now works in the department’s special investigations unit, and Officer Sean Flaherty, a member of the drug control unit — has a lengthy history of misconduct allegations that were never acted on by internal affairs investigators, the judge found.

A third officer, former detective Brian Smigielski, allegedly falsified police reports of the incident with Cox, according to the lawsuit. Smigielski resigned from the force last year. He was sentenced in federal court in January to a year of probation for lying to FBI agents about a separate investigation.

The ruling echoes the Globe’s review of complaints filed against police officers.

The Globe found that Boston spent more than $41 million to resolve thousands of legal claims and lawsuits against the police department over the past decade. Most of the money was spent to settle cases that alleged wrongful convictions or police misconduct.

Smigielski was the subject of five complaints between 2004 and 2009, according to Boston Police Department records; none was sustained.

Flaherty received 10 complaints between 2003 and 2013, including five alleging inappropriate use of force, according to the department. One complaint, in 2006, was sustained.

Murphy was the subject of 16 complaints between 1993 and 2013, including nine alleging inappropriate use of force. Only one complaint was sustained — one filed by a member of the department in 1999.

In one of the complaints cited in Saylor’s ruling, Murphy was accused in 2009 of choking and punching a man who was taken to the emergency room; Flaherty also was present during that incident.

Also, in 2011, Murphy arrested a man he knew from his work in South Boston, and Murphy can be heard in an audio recording threatening to beat the man “within an inch of [the man’s] life.” The tape was forwarded by state prosecutors to police investigators, who never questioned Murphy about it, according to Saylor’s ruling. That same month, he was transferred out of the drug control unit.

Murphy has also been named in five civil lawsuits, three of which the city settled and one that is still pending. A fifth was resolved in his favor. He was never disciplined for any of those incidents, according to the ruling.

Murphy was also accused in 2002 of indecently assaulting a young girl, though internal affairs investigators never questioned him about the incident, according to the ruling. In 2007, he was accused of choking a 14-year-old girl, though that allegation was not substantiated.

“It appears that the most severe discipline Murphy has ever received for any incident was an oral reprimand,” the judge found.

In his ruling, Saylor noted that police officers are likely to be accused of misconduct, sometimes erroneously, and he acknowledged that police officers, who have difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs, can at times commit forgivable errors. But he questioned whether the officers’ history of allegations of abuse that were outlined in the ruling and the city’s failure to sustain the allegations were indicative of more systemic problems.

“A supervisor could reasonably infer that when an individual officer accumulates a high or disproportionate number of complaints of excessive force or related misconduct, some further action . . . is warranted,” the judge said, adding that, “Nicholas Cox is by no means the first person to allege that Murphy choked him, punched him, or otherwise used excessive force.”

The judge added, “Given that evidence, a reasonable jury could conclude that the city was on notice as to the possible propensity of Murphy, or Murphy and Flaherty together, to use excessive force during arrests.”

Representatives of local civil rights groups lauded the judge’s decision.

“What is troubling is the officers being sued here have really bad histories,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. “It shows there is misconduct taking place, excessive force being used, and the city has not disciplined, has not properly investigated these incidents, and that’s concerning to the court.”

Boston civil rights attorney Howard Friedman said most Boston police officers end their careers with no complaints or one complaint. The fact that the officers named in the suit have such lengthy complaint histories, he said, is disturbing.

“The department is not doing all that it can; it’s not even trying,” said Friedman. “Four complaints of choking and punching should indicate that something is wrong. What message does that send?”

Original report here

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Jian Ghomeshi not guilty on all charges

Ghomeshi does not seem to be a very good character but this prosecution stank from the beginning.  But the biggest losers were not in court. They are the many victims of sexual assault who now, because of this fiasco, will be more reluctant than ever to come forward.

The lying feminist b*tch herself. Big picture of her here. She's a pretty rough looking bird so may have been attention-seeking

TORONTO - “Outright deception.” “Playing chicken with the justice system.” These are just a couple of the scathing comments Judge William Horkins made as he ripped apart the testimony of the three women who accused former CBC radio star Jian Ghomeshi of sexual assault.

The evidence from the three complainants “suffered not just from inconsistencies and questionable behaviour, but was tainted from outright deception,” the judge said Thursday before finding Ghomeshi not guilty of four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.

“The bedrock of the Crown’s case is tainted and incapable of supporting any clear determination of the truth,” Horkins said.

The judge said there was no corroborating evidence and no “smoking gun,” just the complainants’ testimony, which he found to be sorely lacking in credibility.

Defence lawyer Marie Henein had cross-examination bombshells waiting for the complainants — information the women hadn’t shared with the police or Crown.

The first complainant testified Ghomeshi suddenly yanked on her hair when they were kissing in his car in late 2002. A few days later, she said he abruptly pulled her hair while they were kissing in his home and punched her in the head.

Court heard she told police she didn’t have further dealings with Ghomeshi except for writing him one e-mail in anger which she couldn’t recall if she sent.

But under cross-examination, she admitted she sent friendly e-mails and a bikini photo of herself to Ghomeshi after the alleged assaults. These e-mails were “bait,” the witness explained, so she could confront her alleged abuser.

The second complainant, actress Lucy DeCoutere of Trailer Park Boys fame, the only woman who can be identified in the case, testified Ghomeshi pushed her against a wall, started choking her and slapping her face when they’d been kissing in his bedroom in the summer of 2003.

During cross-examination, Henein produced an e-mail the actress sent Ghomeshi hours after the alleged assault in which she expressed a desire to have sex with him.

DeCoutere also gave Ghomeshi a hand-written letter that closed with the words: “I love your hands.”

The third woman testified that while she was kissing Ghomeshi on a park bench in 2003 he bit her shoulder and squeezed her neck.

She waited until just before she was scheduled to testify to let authorities know she masturbated Ghomeshi days after she alleges he attacked her.

The judge said he accepted Henein’s “characterization” of the third complainant’s behaviour.

“She was clearly ‘playing chicken’ with the justice system. She was prepared to tell half the truth for as long as she might get away with it,” Horkins said.

In a statement released Thursday evening, Henein’s law firm said the case was determined on the evidence heard in court, “notwithstanding the unprecedented scrutiny and pressure.”

“In our system of justice, that is what must happen in every case regardless of who is accused or what crime is alleged.”

It says it’s been a “very long, exhausting and devastating 16 months” for Ghomeshi.

Prosecutor Michael Callaghan said the Crown will examine the judgment and consider its position.

“As you can imagine, we’re still within the 30-day appeal period,” he said

Original report here

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

South Australian Police settle homeless man’s $100,000 brutality lawsuit out of court, second man now missing

ONE of two homeless men who were bashed by a baton-wielding SA Police officer in the city has received an out-of-court settlement — while the other has gone missing.

On Thursday, the Adelaide Magistrates Court heard Christopher John Mackie had been offered a settlement in his $100,000 lawsuit.

All that remains is for Mr Mackie — who left SA and has refused to return, still fearful after his ordeal — to sign off on the offer.

However his friend, Shaun Robert Jones, will receive no money after the court dismissed his claim for want of prosecution.  The court was told Mr Jones went missing in Alice Springs last October, and the search for him had since been called off.

Last year, Mr Jones and Mr Mackie filed excessive force and assault compensation claims against SA Police and Constable Matthew Schwarz.

The lawsuits arose from an incident at Whitmore Square in
December 2012, which was filmed by Channel 7 and, when shown on television and, caused a public furore.

Mr Jones and Mr Mackie were charged over the incident and, at trial, Const Schwarz admitted striking them repeatedly because he feared his weapon “wasn’t working”.

The court condemned his evidence, threw out the charges and ordered SA Police pay $35,000 in court costs.

On Thursday Andrew Carpenter, for the men, said Mr Mackie’s claim was close to being resolved.  “We have reached an in-principle settlement and need only for the terms to be finalised,” he said.

“We have the difficulty of trying to get instructions from our client, who has since last year moved to a remote part of Australia.  “He’s quite scared of returning to the state based on the assault.”

Mr Carpenter asked for six weeks to obtain his client’s signature, and said he could “neither reject nor agree to” SA Police’s application to dismiss Mr Jones’ claim.

“We’ve had no instructions ... I was advised by Mr Mackie in October last year that Mr Jones was missing,” he said. “I’ve been in contact with missing persons in the NT, multiple times, and of late they had called off the search.”

Magistrate Brionny Kennewell granted the adjournment, dismissed Mr Jones’ claim and refused SA Police’s application for costs.

Original report here

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Friday, March 25, 2016

TX: Cop pepper sprays a handcuffed prisoner at he sits in the back of a police van

Austin police have launched an internal investigation after footage emerged appearing to show one of their officers pepper spraying a handcuffed prisoner in the back of a police van.

The incident, filmed by a bystander and uploaded to Facebook by the Peaceful Streets Project, occurred on Friday during the SXSW festivities in Austin, Texas.

It showed an officer opening the back door of a prison van, after having warned a prisoner not to kick the door.

When the handcuffed man protests that he 'didn't do anything', the cop appeared to spray him in the face, sending him reeling backwards and unable to protect himself.

The officer - identified by the Peaceful Streets Project as Cameron Caldwell - was then confronted by the bystander witnessing the incident.

She yelled: 'You a******! I saw that. I got that on film. Abusive a******. Why don't you let him out so he can breathe?'

When the officer explains the man was under arrest, she said: 'Yeah I know - can you keep him under arrest out where he can breathe?'

The officer responded that the prisoner had been 'fighting us for like 20 minutes'.

Antonio Buehler, the founder of the Peaceful Streets Project, told the officer's actions were not only against police policy, but bordered on criminal.

He said: 'They [the police] are treating pepper spray like a grand marshal treats candy at a parade, just throwing it out there like crazy.

We see these cops violating policy and committing crimes all the time, but usually there is some gray area that they like to dance [in].

'This was just crystal clear, there is no way by law or policy that what this guy did was acceptable. There is zero gray area.'

Austin Police have now launched an investigation into the incident and witnesses are being asked to contact them, the website reported.

Original report here

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Supreme Court orders SJC to reconsider stun gun ruling

The Supreme Court has ordered the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to reconsider its ruling that stun guns are not covered by the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the state’s highest court to reexamine the case of a homeless woman convicted of possessing a stun gun, with two justices delivering a withering rebuke to the court for upholding a state law banning the weapons.

In a two-page order, the high court said the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court erred last year in affirming the conviction of Jaime Caetano, who pulled a stun gun on a violent ex-boyfriend who had ignored several restraining orders.

The order sent the case back to the SJC for reconsideration.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito delivered a stinging rebuke to the SJC in a 10-page concurring opinion, which was joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.

Alito said the SJC wrongly held that stun guns are not protected by the Second Amendment because they were not in use when the Bill of Rights was created and because they fall within the traditional prohibition against dangerous and unusual weapons, among other factors.

"Stun guns are widely owned and accepted as a legitimate means of self-defense across the country," Alito wrote, noting that electronic firearms are legal in more than 40 states. "Massachusetts’ categorical ban of such weapons therefore violates the Second Amendment."

Stun guns are electronic devices, such as Tasers, that administer an electric shock to immobilize, but not kill, an individual. In Massachusetts, stun guns may be used by law enforcement officials but not by private citizens, according to the state law.

In Caetano’s case, the stun gun might have saved her life, Alito wrote.

"The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was either unable or unwilling to do what was necessary to protect Jaime Caetano, so she was forced to protect herself," Alito wrote. "To make matters worse, the Commonwealth chose to deploy its prosecutorial resources to prosecute and convict her of a criminal offense for arming herself with a nonlethal weapon that may well have saved her life."

The high court’s order stops short of overturning the state law but could prompt lawmakers to rethink the ban and consider passing legislation to license them, said Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless, president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association.

"Unfortunately, it’s another impediment in the way of gun control," Capeless said. "I think the Legislature was wise when they passed the prohibition because these [stun guns] can be very dangerous. And the fact that they’re intended not to kill does not mean that in certain circumstances, they could not actually cause an unfortunate result."

Caetano had obtained a stun gun to protect herself against the father of her children, who had beaten her severely enough to land her in the hospital, court records show.

The man confronted her outside her workplace in New Bedford and began screaming, so she displayed a stun gun for protection, and he fled, according to legal filings.

But that same stun gun later led Caetano to be charged with one count of possession of an electronic stun gun after she was questioned in a shoplifting incident in the parking lot of a Shaw’s supermarket in Ashland.

The stun gun was found in her purse by a police officer to whom she had given permission to search her bag, according to a past Globe article.

Caetano was convicted in 2013 under the state law that bans possession of a stun gun by private citizens. Caetano challenged the law in court.

Benjamin H. Keehn, a lawyer for Caetano, praised the Supreme Court’s order.  "We are looking forward to an opportunity to restore her good name," Keehn said, in a phone interview. "

But he noted the order did not vacate Caetano’s conviction.

Keehn filed a formal request for the Supreme Court to review her case last June. He praised the justices for finding that "criminalizing the simple possession of a stun gun obviously being used for lawful self-defense is unfair."

Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office, which prosecuted Caetano, said in a brief statement that the case "was prosecuted under the current Massachusetts law that bans private ownership of stun guns and classifies them as dangerous weapons. Today’s opinion asks the Supreme Judicial Court to further review this statute. We will await guidance from the court as they examine this issue."

Jennifer Donahue, a spokeswoman for the SJC, said the case has now returned to the state panel.

"When the justices convene, they will decide what further proceedings are appropriate, and whether to request further briefing or oral argument," Donahue wrote in an e-mail.

Keith G. Langer, attorney for the Commonwealth Second Amendment group, which has supported the challenges to the ban, said the Supreme Court has sent a clear signal to the SJC and the Massachusetts Legislature that the law banning ownership of stun guns must be overhauled.

Langer stressed that until those changes actually take place, it is still a crime to carry a stun gun in Massachusetts.

Original report here

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

British politician is CLEARED of triple murder and child abuse claims as £3m Operation Midland finally ends

Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor was today formally cleared of child abuse and murder allegations as Scotland Yard's £3million Operation Midland finally came to an end.

For more than a year Mr Proctor, 69, has strenuously denied historical allegations that he was part of a VIP paedophile ring that murdered three boys.

Mr Proctor is understood to be the last living person under investigation over the allegations of serial murder and abuse which were made against him and other high-profile figures by a solitary witness, a suspected serial fantasist known as ‘Nick’.

Today, the former member for Basildon and Billericay was told that police would be taking no further action against him, and called for a public inquiry into Operation Midland, the probe that was sparked by the allegations.

The decision to clear Mr Proctor is a humiliating climbdown for the Met, which had previously described his accuser’s allegations as ‘credible and true’.

'I have been advised that the Metropolitan Police Service have informed my solicitors that they intend to take no further action with regard to my involvement with Operation Midland,' he said.

'I wish to make a short statement. I will make a longer one on the publication of my book “Credible and True. The Political and Personal Memoir of K. Harvey Proctor” on Tuesday, 29th March 2016.

'I believe Operation Midland should now be the subject of a truly independent public inquiry.

'I consider that Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Patricia Gallan, Steve Rodhouse and Kenny McDonald should tender their resignations from the Metropolitan Police Service forthwith.'

He also called for Nick and news website ExaroNews, which has run a series of stories on the investigation, to be prosecuted for allegedly 'seeking to pervert the course of justice'.

At lunchtime today, a senior officer updated Mr Proctor’s solicitor on the bungled 15-month investigation, which has seen the former MP interviewed under caution and his home in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, raided by police.

Mr Proctor, who was twice interviewed under caution as part of Operation Midland, consistently denied any wrongdoing, and said he was the victim of a homosexual witch hunt.

As revealed by the Mail last month, Operation Midland, which has involved 27 officers and cost more than £2million, had uncovered no evidence to substantiate claims that senior politicians and defence chiefs had been part of a murderous paedophile ring.

The main witness, who uses the pseudonym Nick, has been discredited as a fantasist and critics have called for him – and anyone who encouraged him to make false allegations - to be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice.

Nick claimed to have witnessed the murder of three boys by a gang including former Prime Minister Edward Heath, the late ex home secretary Leon Brittan and a string of ex-spymasters.

He also alleged he was abused by Britain’s most distinguished living soldier, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, 92, whose home was raided in front of his dying wife before he was interviewed under caution.

In January, 10 months after police ransacked his home, Lord Bramall, a former head of the Army, was told he would face no charges but since then Met chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has repeatedly refused to apologise to him.

Last month, Sir Bernard was snubbed over a new long-term contract as he tried to justify sending 22 officers to raid Lord Bramall’s home at breakfast time.

The Met chief had originally hoped to receive a three-year extension to his current five-year deal, but amid the continuing furore over Operation Midland, Theresa May announced he would only get a further 12 months in the job.

The Home Secretary’s decision weakened Sir Bernard’s authority at the Met and led one of his arch critics to brand him a ‘lame-duck’ commissioner who was now effectively on ‘probation’.

Home Office sources believe he will leave later this year. It is believed Mrs May is already giving ‘serious consideration’ to the idea of recruiting his successor from overseas.

The commissioner's future had been in the balance following the Met’s shambolic child sex investigation into former Armed Forces chief and D-Day veteran Lord Bramall.

In the face of widespread criticism, Sir Bernard launched a fight-back, setting up an ‘independent’ inquiry into his force’s handling of historical sexual allegations against public figures, to be led by retired High Court judge Sir Richard Henriques.

However, the Met chief sparked a secrecy row by saying only the key findings of the report will be made public.

And friends of Lord Bramall and Lord Brittan claimed the move was a ‘blatant’ attempt to kick the row into the long grass.

Lord Brittan’s widow is said to be deeply unhappy about how the Met has handled Nick’s allegations against her late husband, and separate false rape claims made against him by a suspected fantasist known as Jane. The claims made by Nick relate to the period between 1975 and 1984, when he was aged between seven and 16.

The Met later confirmed that Operation Midland had now closed, after leading officer Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse had found there was not enough evidence for anyone to be charged.

'The credibility of the allegations was assessed after a process involving extended questioning of the complainant by specialist child protection detectives,' the Force's statement said. 'Following the assessment, an investigation was launched.'

Earlier today, Mr Proctor said deputy Labour leader Tom Watson, fellow Labour MP John Mann and London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith 'should hang their heads in shame', for making 'self-serving' comments on claims that a VIP child sex ring ran out of Westminster.

Mr Proctor accused the Met and other police forces of being 'the leakiest of bodies' after details of their investigation, including a search of his home, appeared in the media.

The resulting coverage 'engulfed me and destroyed my life', he wrote, as he issued a plea to Parliament to 'redress the imbalance in the law in favour of people alleging sexual abuse'.

In the letter he criticised some of today's politicians who, he said, have 'courted press attention and constituency idolatry' by publicly commenting on the claims.

He wrote: 'The likes of Tom Watson, John Mann (who described me on the day of my house search as 'the first of many') and Zac Goldsmith should hang their heads in shame - I doubt they will do so as by their words they have shown themselves to be the antithesis of their sobriquet in parliamentary terms, 'honourable' men.

'I only hope in their lives they never face the turmoil that their varying degrees of encouragement to fantasists and the police has caused me this past year.'

'Operation Midland, and its ineptitude, should be investigated by Parliament and the lessons learnt applied to all cases,' Mr Proctor wrote, adding: 'The Met, and other police constabularies, are the 'leakiest' of bodies.

'Currently to pass on such information to the press or third parties is a disciplinary offence; it should be a criminal one.'

He also attacked the police for stating publicly that they thought Nick's claims were 'credible and true' as he called for Parliament to investigate the probe.

However he also called on MPs to support Mr Hogan-Howe to 'to stand up to the bullying of the child abuse fantasists on the internet', as well as make internet companies such as Google liable to defamation laws.

Original report here

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mass.: Man who killed his rapist seeks early release

In some jurisdictions he might not have been jailed

A 22-year-old prison inmate who killed the man who molested him as a child is pleading with Governor Charlie Baker to shorten his sentence.

Marco Flores, who is serving a 15-year sentence for manslaughter for killing Jaime Galdamez in 2011, sent a request in December to the state’s parole board asking for a hearing that would allow him to make a case for early release.

“I was, and want to be again, a productive member of society, a student, a son, a brother and an uncle,” Flores wrote to the board, which reviews petitions for pardons and sentence commutations and then refers any recommendations to the governor. “I wish nothing more than your consideration so that I can achieve my heart’s desire to return to my family. ”

Flores is one of 22 inmates to seek a commutation, or sentence reduction, from Baker since he took office last year. In December 2015, Baker instituted new guidelines for who can receive a pardon or commutation. Those new guidelines state that those who have been out of prison at least 5 to 10 years and are no longer under parole supervision have the best chance at being granted a pardon, which would erase a criminal conviction.

That leaves commutation as the most realistic option for Flores, who was born in El Salvador and came to Boston when he was 6. He remained in the country on a student visa until his arrest but would now be considered an undocumented immigrant if he is released from prison, according to an immigration lawyer.

There was no one to protect Marco Flores, and, just 9 when it started, he couldn’t protect himself. But then one day he realized that others he loved were in danger, and that it was up to him to end it.

Flores can ask for a sentence reduction, but because of the felony charge he could still be deported if he is released. Officials at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they do not have a detainer on Flores but are tracking his case closely.

Despite the chance of deportation, Flores expressed hope that an early release from prison would allow him to pursue the goals he set for himself before his arrest, such as joining the Marines. He has set up a Facebook page to build public support for his request.

The Globe wrote about his case last May.

Suffolk prosecutors initially charged Flores with first-degree murder after he confessed to killing Galdamez, a 31-year-old cook, on May 23, 2011.

But they agreed to reduce the charge to voluntary manslaughter after it became clear Galdamez had victimized Flores since he was 9 years old.

“By the age of 15, all I had known is abuse, torture and an overwhelming fear of reaching out for help,” Flores wrote in his petition.

At 17, Flores began to suspect that Galdamez was also abusing Flores’s 6-year-old nephew.

He went to Galdamez’s East Boston apartment and strangled him, making a video of the crime.

Under Baker’s predecessor, Deval Patrick, a prisoner who could show he or she had been abused by the victim and that the abuse had led to the crime would receive special consideration for commutation. Baker undid that provision in his December reworking of the guidelines, but his new protocols do describe commutation “both as an extraordinary remedy and as an integral part of the correctional process.”

Joel Thompson, a lawyer with Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, which represents the human and civil rights of inmates, said the phrasing gives reason for prisoners like Flores to be optimistic.

“If it’s an integral part of the process, could we expect a grant of commutation sometime before the last year of [Baker’s] last term?” Thompson asked. “I hope so.”

The parole board has received 50 petitions for pardons since Baker took office, in addition to 22 commutation requests, according to the state Executive Office of Public Safety.

The board has not sent any recommendations for pardons or commutations to Baker, said William Pitman, a Baker spokesman. He had no specific comment on Flores’s request.

Politicians are often averse to shortening the sentence of convicted killers, but Flores deserves early release, said James Budreau, a Boston lawyer who represented Flores after he was arrested.

“I think the governor and the victims rights organizations should stand behind someone like him, not just because of his exceptional circumstances,” Budreau said. “This is not a man who I believe could ever hurt anyone else in the world. He’s not a danger to anyone.”

Flores’s case is the kind that a governor should consider carefully after first gauging the feelings of the families of Flores and Galdamez and prosecutors, said Douglas Beloof, a professor at Lewis and Clark Law School in Oregon and founder of the National Crime Victim Law Institute. He has helped states and the federal government develop procedures for assisting victims of crime.

Baker is “going to have to decide — has there already been enough mitigation or is this case unusual enough that there needs to be more clemency extended to this person,” Beloof said. “If a victim kills someone who victimized him then who’s the victim? That’s the cultural challenge.”

Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said prosecutors would most likely oppose the petition for an early release.

“The defendant agreed to the sentence imposed at his guilty plea, which took into account the deliberate brutality of Mr. Galdamez’s homicide and the abuse the defendant suffered at his hands years earlier,” Wark said. “Had the case gone to trial, Mr. Flores could very well have been sentenced to life without parole.”

Galdamez’s relatives could not be reached for comment.

Original report here

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Mother-of-four shot and killed by Virginia police after 'threatening' them with a fake handgun

How dumb can you get?

A young woman was shot and killed by police officers in Virginia on Saturday after she allegedly threatened them with what turned out to be a fake handgun.

India Beaty, 25, was approached by police officers who were conducting a surveillance operation when they came across a fight in the parking lot, according to police.

Investigators with the Norfolk Police Department's Vice and Narcotics Division said saw a woman involved in the altercation wave around what they believed was a handgun and threaten an unarmed man.

The officers approached Beaty, who refused to comply with their demands and made a threatening motion with the handgun before the officers fatally shot her, the department said.

An investigation determined that the handgun was a non-firing replica.

The officers have been pulled from the field and placed on administrative duty until the investigation is complete.

Names of the officers won't be released while the investigation is under way, according to the department.

Cpl. Melinda Wray, a police spokeswoman, said she didn't know the races of the officers who were involved.

Officers involved in the shooting as well as other eyewitnesses were at police headquarters Saturday morning to give their accounts, according to Wray.

Beaty was pronounced dead at the scene. Beaty's family members told WAVY-TV that she was the mother-of-four.

Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith said his thoughts and prayers are with Beaty's loved ones.

'Any loss of life is tragic,' Goldsmith said in a statement. 'This morning's events affect not only my officers and Ms. Beaty's family members, but our entire community,' he said.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that it was the third police-involved shooting in Norfolk this year.

Earlier this month, Norfolk police shot and killed Tyre Privott. The 25-year-old was a suspect in a killing and was confronted by police while walking in the road.

Privott shot at police and an officer fired, striking and killing him, police said.

Original report here

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

British cops found guilty of misconduct after they failed to check on mother who choked to death while in custody

Police have been found guilty of misconduct after a 48-year-old woman choked to death on her underwear while in custody.

Martine Brandon was arrested by officers in Eastleigh, Hampshire, after they discovered her carrying an eight-inch knife in November 2014.

The mother-of-one, who was described as 'very vulnerable' in a hearing, told police she wanted to kill her sister as she believed her family was in danger.

Mrs Brandon, 48, was taken to custody but was later found dead in a cell at Southampton Custody Centre. An inquest recorded a verdict of suicide.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission has now found two police officers and two members of police staff to have committed misconduct.

The police watchdog, which looked into Mrs Brandon's death and time in custody, found individual and systematic failings in her care.

Two custody detention officers were found to have conducted unsatisfactory and inadequate checks Mrs Brandon, who ate her underwear while in the cell.

They included a quick glances through the spyhole on her cell door, a missed check and inaccurate log entries.

One officer was given a final written warning while the second custody detention officer had left Hampshire Constabulary and therefore cannot face any disciplinary processes.

A third custody detention staff member made inappropriate comments in relation to detainees in the cell block during the time of Mrs Brandon's detention. He was found to have committed misconduct and received a written warning.

According to the IPCC investigation, two custody sergeants also committed misconduct with one failing to ensure adequate checks were made on Mrs Brandon and failing to conduct an adequate check himself.

The other sergeant had made inappropriate and unprofessional comments during Mrs Brandon's detention.

Jennifer Izekor, IPCC commissioner, described the situation as 'incredibly difficult' for Mrs Brandon's family.  She added: 'It was evident from our investigation that Mrs Brandon was a very vulnerable person who did not receive the level of care she needed while in custody.  'I hope and believe that Hampshire Constabulary will learn lessons from this sad case and ensure their practices are improved and their staff are properly trained.'

Speaking after Mrs Brandon's inquest last week, her husband Barry Brandon said: 'Nothing will bring Martine back, I know that.

'My sole intention is to make sure no one else will have to go through the treatment that Martine went through.'

The IPCC will publish the investigation report at a later date.

Original report here

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Three serving British cops and retired officer arrested over '£1million fraud at scandal-hit police union'

Robbing their own union!  How low can you go?

Three serving policemen and a retired officer were arrested yesterday over an alleged £1million fraud at the scandal-hit police union.

One of those detained was Will Riches, who quit as vice chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales this week as detectives were brought in to investigate claims of financial impropriety.

Surrey Police said its investigation centres on an alleged transfer of about £1million to a charitable account last August.

The suspects – two in their 40s and two in their 50s – were in custody last night as police searched grace-and-favour flats at the federation's £26million HQ in Leatherhead, Surrey.

It comes two years after the federation was engulfed in a series of controversies including disclosures over offshore bank accounts, lavish spending and alleged bullying of staff.

In April 2014, two of its most senior officials quit less than a week after the Mail revealed the union had hired a PR firm to mastermind a 'guerrilla' and 'blitzkrieg' campaign against government plans for reform.

There were also questions over the union's role in the Plebgate affair, which concerned an altercation between then-chief whip Andrew Mitchell and police officers at the gates of Downing Street.

Steve White, who took over as chairman two years ago, called in police this week over concerns about the £1million payment.

Riches, whom Mr White beat to the post of chairman by the toss of a coin, quit as deputy as detectives prepared to make arrests.

Rick Nelson, who sits on the union's constables' central committee, was also detained.

The third man arrested was Paul Barker, 56, ex-secretary of the constables' central committee. The fourth man's identity could not be confirmed.

The alleged fraud concerns a £1million 'start-up' payment into the account of the Peelers Charitable Foundation, which was set up last July to support officers in need.

Riches – renowned for his love of expensive restaurants and fine wine – is one of its four directors.

It was previously known as the Constables' Charitable Foundation. Barker, who appears to have retired from Greater Manchester Police, was also a director.

One insider said Mr White began asking questions about the money this week. They said: 'A lot of people are still scratching their heads as to exactly what has gone on.

'The creation of the Peelers Charitable Foundation was well-documented and was signed off after many meetings, all of which were minuted. Everyone agreed it was a well-intentioned and good idea and something that the federation should be doing.

How this has transformed into a fraud inquiry by Surrey Police is beyond many people's comprehension.'

The federation had raised concerns with Surrey Police on Tuesday. It made a formal allegation relating to accounts held by the constables' central committee on Wednesday – the day Riches quit.

Detective Superintendent Karen Mizzi, of Surrey Police, said inquiries were 'at an early stage but specialist officers, including our economic crime unit, are investigating to establish whether any offences have occurred'.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has been notified and the Charities Commission will be contacted, she said. The federation said it was 'co-operating fully'.

'Our Professional Standards Department is currently in liaison with colleagues in relevant forces to inform them of the arrest of their officers.'

The men were arrested under section four of the Fraud Act and conspiracy to defraud.

Det Supt Mizzi added: 'Due to the nature of the allegation, and those arrested being serving officers, Surrey Police has notified the Independent Police Complaints Commission and will also be in liaison with the Charity Commission going forward.'

Original report here

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Study Finds Wrongful Convictions Rampant in California

A study of more than two decades of criminal cases in California by three groups that work to exonerate the innocent finds evidence of almost 700 wrongful convictions resulting in almost 3000 total years in prison and nearly $300 million in costs to the state.

    The Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP), the California Innocence Project (CIP) and Loyola’s Project for the Innocent (LPI) welcome today’s release of Criminal (In)justice: A Cost Analysis of Wrongful Convictions, Errors and Failed Prosecutions in California’s Criminal Justice System by Rebecca Silbert, John Hollway, and Darya Larizadeh. This groundbreaking study found 692 faulty convictions in California between 1989 and 2012, resulting in 2,346 total years of wrongful imprisonment and more than $282 million in wasted costs. While attempting to quantify the impact of faulty conviction, the report notes that the human costs of faulty conviction are immeasurable.

    Eight categories of error—including eyewitness misidentification, official misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel—are highlighted in the study, which also emphasizes the need for statewide policies to address the causes of error. The study recommends, among other solutions, evidence-based eyewitness identification practices, noting the solid research in support of such practices. The study also notes the opportunity California has to implement policy reforms that build on the consensus represented by the 2008 California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice (Commission) recommendations.

    NCIP agrees. “For close to a decade, we have had a detailed road map available for effective criminal justice reforms in the form of the 2008 recommendations from the Commission. But as those reforms have not been adopted or implemented, faulty convictions continue to take place and errors continue to be made,” says NCIP Executive Director Hadar Harris. “This important new study shows that, as a result, the State of California has wasted millions of dollars in taxpayer funds and destroyed decades of innocent peoples’ lives.”

    The study was not limited to cases in which a claim of innocence was made; the authors noted that California’s uniquely difficult standard for proving actual innocence would restrict the evaluation’s parameters too much. Instead, the evaluation included all felony convictions that were reversed in the time period and in which charges were subsequently dismissed or the defendant acquitted.

    “This study shows how pervasive the causes of wrongful convictions can be, and how some simple, commonsense reforms would both save taxpayers money and strengthen our system to make sure innocent people do not go to prison,” said Justin Brooks, Executive Director of the California Innocence Project. “The conclusions and recommendations found here should not be read as a criticism of current practices, but rather a way to open an earnest dialogue concerning the long-term effects of wrongful convictions and how to change things for the better.”

    NCIP, CIP and LPI actively support criminal justice system reforms that rectify and prevent wrongful convictions. Reform efforts include statewide implementation of evidence-based eyewitness identification practices and mandatory videotaping of custodial interrogations.

    “There are some very real costs to wrongful convictions. Of course, the most significant costs are to the individuals whose cases are not handled fairly by the judicial system. But there are also costs to the public and criminal justice system itself,” said Laurie Levenson, who holds the David W. Burcham Chair in Ethical Advocacy at Loyola Law School. “Everyone profits when the police, prosecutors and defense lawyers act zealously and honestly to ensure that a defendant’s rights are protected. Loyola’s Project for the Innocent is dedicated to rectifying wrongful convictions and preventing future injustices.”

Original report here

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

New doubts in Avery conviction

The Steven Avery case continues to produce twists and turns as supporters and crime sleuths dig deeper into the evidence associated with the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach. The newest information to surface is that bone fragments found on Avery’s property may not actually be Halbach’s, at least according to a wrongful conviction advocacy group.

Global News reports that “Stop Wrongful Convictions” campaigner Lynne Blanchard wrote on the organization’s website that people are just assuming the bone fragments found in Avery’s firepit matched Halbach.

    “Obviously it appears to be very incriminating, but what is going on with this evidence? Why weren’t protocols followed? No coroner, forensic anthropologist, arson investigator or photographer was called to the scene when the evidence was discovered. They had all of these high paid experts at their disposal and didn’t call on them until after the evidence had been shoveled up and taken to the sheriff’s office.”

Blanchard also pointed out that there is no way tissue could have survived in Avery’s fire pit where the charred bone fragments were found, which, according to Blanchard, should deem the evidence used against Avery inconclusive.

    “How is it even possible for tissue to survive a fire that disintegrated 60% of the bone mass? The teeth which are commonly used to identify a body because they outlast bone didn’t even survive the fire.”

Blanche also reiterated that the “chain of command” wasn’t followed when authorities gathered the bone fragments, meaning that the mandated protocol that should be followed when evidence is collected in a crime scene was allegedly ignored in the Avery case.

    “They brought in the state officials right away to ensure that everything would be properly handled. Who dropped the ball? It is very suspicious given everything else that happened in this case. Since the scene wasn’t documented, there is no proof that any bones were ever on the Avery property……We are to simply accept the word of the state witnesses who claimed to see the bones.”

A Reddit blogger who goes by the screenname Amberlea1879 agrees with Blanchard. After spending numerous exhaustive hours pouring over Avery’s case files and online documents, the blogger stated that the FBI never confirmed whether the bone fragments were actually Halbach’s. The blogger forwarded the information to Avery’s wrongful conviction attorney Kathleen Zellner.

Yet other evidence found on Avery’s property include the remains of a Motorola V3 Razr cellphone, the same type of phone that Halbach owned. Additionally, the lens cover to a Canon Powershot A310 was found on the property, the same type of camera Halbach used to take photographs of vehicles for Auto Trader magazine.

For now, Avery still remains behind bars. He’s serving a life sentence after a 2007 murder conviction. Zellner continues to gather evidence and information on Steven Avery’s behalf, but she’s yet to file an appeal.

Avery, the victim of a 1985 wrongful conviction, spent 18 years in prison for sexual assault until DNA evidence cleared him in 2003. Upon release from prison, Avery filed a $36 million lawsuit against Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. Most Steven Avery supporters contend there’s no way a man who spent over a decade in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, coupled with an upcoming multi-million dollar lawsuit, would risk his freedom by committing murder.

Original report here

There's not much doubt he was fitted up by vengeful police

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Why the Disadvantaged Bear the Cost of Police Militarization

The deaths of Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Michael Brown over the past two years have sparked national protests. At front and center of these demonstrations was the issue of police militarization, the fact that modern-day police officers often look more like an occupying military force than “keepers of the peace.”

In addition to this issue, however, the deaths of these black men shed light on another important matter. That is, minorities are far more likely to have a negative experience with police than their white counterparts.

In a forthcoming paper, my coauthor Chris Coyne and I discuss this very issue, and provide an argument as to why racial minorities are more likely to bear the cost of police militarization.

Indeed, racial minorities are more likely to die while in police custody. According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, blacks are about four times as likely to die in police custody than whites. Data from the CDC found that between 1968 and 2011, blacks were anywhere from two to eight times more likely than whites to be killed by police.

Just as racial minorities are more likely to be killed while in police custody, they are also more likely to be involved in SWAT operations (on the receiving end, that is). According to the ACLU, SWAT raids primarily impact persons of color. Between 2011 and 2012, approximately 50 percent of all SWAT raids were conducted against black or Hispanic individuals while only 20 percent of raids involved white suspects.

The difference is even more striking when looking at certain kinds of raids. Some 68 percent of drug raids studied by the ACLU were conducted against minority suspects compared to a much lower rate for whites. This is despite the fact that rates of drug use and distribution are similar across racial groups. In some areas, blacks and Latinos are much more likely to be impacted by SWAT raids than their white peers. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, for example, Latinos are 29 times more likely to be affected by a SWAT raid than whites. Blacks are 23 times more likely to find themselves on the receiving end of a SWAT operation. In Huntington, West Virginia, blacks are 37 times more likely than their white counterparts to be victims of a SWAT raid. In Burlington, NC black individuals are 47 times more likely to be involved in a SWAT raid than whites.

So why is it that minority groups are more likely to be impacted by police operations, particularly the rise of militarized police? We find that the work of Albert Hirschman (1970) offers one plausible explanation. Hirschman argues that individuals are faced with two options when they encounter difficulties within organizations to which they belong, including communities and larger governments.

The first option is that persons may “exit,” or withdraw from the relationship. In the case of problems within a community, a person could move to a new location. The second option Hirschman offers is what he refers to as “voice.” That is, individuals can express their grievances in an attempt to address and fix the issues.

For those groups most likely to be adversely affected by police militarization, however, neither of these options may be available, or may be incredibly difficult to use. Consider first the “exit” option in communities more likely to see militarized police. Financial constraints may prevent individuals from leaving. Consider that Hispanics are more than twice as likely, and blacks almost three times more likely, to live in deep poverty as whites. Given these constraints, the option to exit the community in which they reside may be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

My coauthor and I also argue there is good reason to think that the “voice” option may also be weak or absent for many minorities. Studies have found, for example, that increased racial segregation leads to a decrease in black civic efficacy. They find that segregated black communities are often represented by “public servants” who fail to vote for policies favored by black constituents. More recent anecdotal data falls in line with these findings. Consider Ferguson, Missouri. Although 67 percent of the town’s residents are black, there are hardly any black political figures.

If we take these two problems together—the lack of exit and voice options, it becomes clear why minorities are more likely to bear the brunt of the intense police activity.

Many individuals see enhanced police tactics, equipment, and other methods of social control as a positive. They are supposed to “keep us safe.” In reality, however, we find that these tools are often used, not in the name of preserving liberty and safety, to predate against the very citizens they are intended to protect. The cost of these activities, however, are not incurred by those making the decisions, but those who are least able to avoid abuses by the state.

Original report here

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Anti-cop attitudes lead to shooting death of black officer

Police in suburban Washington, D.C., have taken two suspects into custody after an officer was shot dead outside a district station on Sunday.

Officials in Prince George's County, Md., tweeted late Sunday: "One of your defenders lost his life in defense of this community today."

Police Chief Henry P. Stawinski III said the shooting was "an unprovoked attack."

Authorities said another person, who is not a police officer, also was wounded.

A witness, Lascelles Grant, told The Washington Post that she heard what she thought was firecrackers or gunshots. When she looked outside she saw a man dressed in black firing a handgun. "He fired one shot, and then he started pacing back and forth, then fired another shot," she said.

The officer, 28-year-old Jacai Colson, was a four-year veteran of the department. He was just days shy of his 29th birthday.

"Jacai had an infectious smile, he lit up a room," said Fraternal Order of Police President Zeek Teletchea, who called him a "cop's cop" and personal friend, WUSA-TV reported.

"Those officers did not shrink. They bravely advanced and engaged this individual who was threatening not just the police officers and the police facility that he was opening fire upon but numerous members of the community in the area," Stawinski said, according to WUSA.

In a statement, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he was "shocked and saddened" by Colson's death. He said he had ordered flags to fly at half-staff in his honor.

Police had advised people near the Prince George's County Police Department District III Station in Landover to stay inside and avoid the area as they looked for the suspects. After the second person was apprehended Sunday evening, police said they did not believe more suspects were at large, but cautioned the investigation was "in early stages."

Original report here

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Fmr. Death Row Inmate Confronts Hillary: How Do You Justify Death Penalty Against Wrongful Convictions?

As Hillary Clinton took questions at tonight’s Democratic town hall, she got a particularly powerful one on her pro-death penalty stance from a member of the audience.

Ricky Jackson introduced himself as a man who spent 39 years in prison on death row after being wrongfully convicted of murder. From there, Jackson asked Clinton about how she can justify her stance on execution when there are documented cases of people who were exonerated after being sentenced to death.

Clinton expressed that states often don’t do enough to ensure fair trials and a respect for the legal rights of criminal defendants. Clinton said that she would like to see state and federal courts lower the frequency of death sentence usage, but she also said that it should be reserved for extreme cases of violence like 9/11 and the Oklahoma City Bombing.

Clinton explained that such cases would only be kept within the federal system, but that she was still working to find the proper threshold for reserving the death penalty. She also gave Jackson her condolences for the hardships he experienced throughout his ordeal.

Original report here

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Man wrongfully convicted of murder finally walks free after 25 years in jail

An intellectually challenged man who spent 25 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit was exuberant Thursday as a Brooklyn court overturned his conviction and declared him a free man.

'I told y'all I didn't do this,' Andre Hatchett said inside Brooklyn Supreme Court after his wrongful conviction for a 1991 murder was thrown out.

'I'm so happy to be free again. I lost my son, my mom and my dad while in here. I'm home again,' Hatchett said, according to the New York Daily News.

Hatchett's lawyers said they'd found the murder case was tainted with a dubious star witness, prosecutorial mistakes that denied Hatchett key information and defense lawyers who failed him at not one but two trials.

'Because I knew I didn't do it, I knew I was going to be home one day,' a cheerful Hatchett, 49, said as he left court, pausing to hug relatives and hoist two grandchildren into his arms.

The murder victim had been found dead, naked, beaten and dragged into a cross-like position in a park.

And Hatchett had an instant connection to the crime: He was a friend who left her apartment with her that night.

His 1991 case was among more than 100 often decades-old convictions that Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson's office has been revisiting in one of the most ambitious reviews of its kind nationwide.

So far, prosecutors have disavowed 19 convictions and are standing by 38 others.

Hatchett's case, Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale said, was one of 'systemic failure'.

Prosecutors' star witness originally named another man as the killer, yet police and prosecutors then credited the witness when he picked Hatchett from a lineup.

Prosecutors never told Hatchett's lawyers the witness had initially pointed to someone else. The witness falsely denied on the stand that he'd smoked crack the day of the killing.

And the fact that Hatchett had injuries that raise doubts about his ability to carry out the crime went unmentioned at trial, even by his own attorneys.

One was so inept that a judge declared a mistrial, and the next was hardly vigorous, giving only an 11-minute closing argument, Hale said.

And Hatchett could hardly help his defense: Because of lifelong intellectual disabilities, he was barely able to read or write at the time, his lawyers said.

Convicted at the second trial, Hatchett was serving 25 years to life in the February 1991 killing of Neda Mae Carter, who was strangled and beaten in the head.

She was 38 and lived in a rooming house where Hatchett frequently visited his aunt, according to his lawyers.

After her killing, Hatchett cooperated with police and gave an alibi, according to his legal team, which includes the Innocence Project and defense lawyer James Brochin.

A week later, a suspect in an unrelated burglary, Gerald 'Jerry' Williams, told police he and a friend had seen the killing in the park.

He identified a suspect, but that man turned out to have a powerful alibi: He was in jail.

Then police put Hatchett in a lineup, and Williams picked him out. So did Williams' friend, though she was unsure at first and was never called to testify, Hatchett's lawyers said.

Williams' switch in suspects cast his reliability into question, so prosecutors should have disclosed it, Hale said, attributing their failure to carelessness.

Meanwhile, Hatchett's jurors never heard that on the day of the killing, he was on crutches, having been shot in the legs and trachea months earlier.

Prosecutors now agree those injuries would have made it nearly impossible for him to drag Carter's body and shout at the witnesses, as Williams described.

The assistant district attorney who tried the case is no longer a prosecutor and didn't immediately return a message Thursday. The judge and Hatchett's trial defense lawyer have died. Contact information for Williams couldn't immediately be found.

Hatchett was denied parole in November, with a parole board noting disciplinary write-ups that included fighting and defying orders, according to state prison system records.

On Thursday, Hatchett restarted his life with a celebratory barbecue lunch with his family though also with thoughts of the mother, brother, son and other loved ones who died while he was in prison.

'I just kept holding on, holding on,' he said. 'And now I'm going to get back up.'

Original report here

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

British doctor who was an expert witness for parents accused of killing their children in 'shaken baby deaths' misled courts by giving 'irresponsible evidence'

A leading doctor who was an expert witness for parents accused of killing their children in 'shaken baby deaths' has been found to have misled courts.

Dr Waney Squier, based at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital, at civil and criminal proceedings was found to be irresponsible, deliberately misleading, dishonest and likely to bring the reputation of the medical profession into disrepute, a disciplinary panel has ruled.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) ruled that Dr Squier had given irresponsible evidence outside her area of expertise.

The tribunal was considering six cases in which Dr Squier, 67, a consultant neuropathologist, provided evidence, including the deaths of four babies and a 19-month-old child.

In all of the cases the 67-year-old took the view that brain damage caused was not due to inflicted injuries, the panel in Manchester was told.

It was said that her views on shaken baby syndrome were in contrast to the opinions of the 'majority of experts' in the field.

She gave expert evidence that the injuries involved were either not consistent with non-accidental injury, or were more likely to have been caused by some other means.

The panel found she misrepresented research to support her views and had brought the reputation of her profession into disrepute.

Her minority view on shaken baby syndrome is in contrast to the opinions of the majority of experts in the field who argue the so-called triad - swelling of the brain, bleeding between the skull and brain, and bleeding in the retina - is a strong indicator of trauma.

The panel heard Dr Squier disagreed with those opinions unless there was other evidence of external or internal injury.

In earlier evidence, she explained to the panel she had previously gone along with accepted thought on the syndrome until about 2000 when she became aware of a study by Dr Jennian Geddes of babies thought to have died from non-accidental head injuries.

She told the panel the study found no evidence of mechanical disruption of nerve fibres in the brain, which questioned whether trauma had taken place at all.

Dr Squier, represented by Sir Robert Francis QC, denied misconduct but the panel, sitting in Manchester, ruled against her on the vast majority of allegations she faced.

In its ruling, the panel stated: 'The tribunal notes that your opinion on the mechanisms of AHT (abusive head trauma) changed after the publication of Dr Geddes's hypotheses. It found that in your written and oral evidence you were dogmatic, inflexible and unreceptive to any other view.'

It added: 'The furthest you were prepared to accept any criticism was to state either that you had made a typing error or that you could have been clearer in what you had said in your reports or evidence.'

The panel also noted that Dr Squier had, in its consideration, made 'an outrageous and untruthful assertion' that she had gone to an operating theatre 'and asked the surgeon to try and damage the arachnoid (a protective membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord); it is extremely difficult'.

Opening the case last October for the General Medical Council (GMC), Tom Kark QC said Dr Squier's conduct was affected by her 'preconceived and blinkered approach'.

He said: 'In a number of cases in which she provided a report and gave evidence, the GMC suggests that Dr Squier went well outside her sphere of expertise and gave evidence and opinions in relation to areas of medicine and physiology in which she was not an expert.

'On occasions she misquoted or mis-stated the facts upon which her expert opinion was said to be founded in order to fit in with her preconceived ideas. On occasions she purported to rely upon medical and other research which, upon close examination, does not in fact support what she was saying. She failed in her overriding duty to the court to remain objective and to assist the court.'

The hearing was adjourned until next Monday ahead of submissions to be made by counsel on whether Dr Squier's fitness to practise is impaired because of her misconduct.

Dr Squier also denied misconduct in relation to an expert witness report she was said to have submitted in April 2014 to a Court of Appeal civil case involving a child.  It is said she failed to disclose to those instructing her, or the court, that there were outstanding disciplinary proceedings against her.

The panel ruled the above failure was misleading and irresponsible but was not deliberately misleading or dishonest.

In her overall ruling, panel chairwoman Michele Codd pointed out the tribunal was not empanelled to determine either the relevance of the triad to AHT or who was right in the cases before it.

But, last year, Mr Kark had submitted to the panel that it would have to answer whether her opinions had a 'significant effect' upon the various proceedings between 2008 and 2010.

He said among those misled would have been the families and other parties to litigation - the judges, the lawyers and the other experts.

In most of the cases, Dr Squier - who had not actively worked in paediatrics for more than 40 years, the panel noted - was the sole expert instructed on one side of the litigation.

The panel was told she had given evidence in between 150 and 200 cases since the mid-1990s involving either medical negligence or cause of deaths in early months and years of life.

In evidence, Dr Squier explained she was mostly instructed by the police in her early years as an expert witness, but the pattern changed from 2002 when she received more requests from defence solicitors.

Sir Robert, representing Dr Squier, had submitted that a number of witnesses called to Manchester by the GMC were, or could be, biased themselves because they held the majority view on shaken baby syndrome but the panel ruled their evidence was 'credible'.

Following Friday's ruling, human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith said: 'Shaken baby syndrome is not a medical diagnosis to be treated but, almost uniquely, it's a doctor's opinion that a crime has been committed.

'I have represented a number of people who have been sentenced to death based on this 'theory', although increasingly the evidence suggests that it is unscientific nonsense.

'Justice demands that a doctor who honestly holds views supported by scientific evidence be permitted to give testimony that challenges the hypotheses of others. After all, Galileo Galilei was forbidden from saying that the Earth revolved around the Sun 400 years ago. Unfortunately it took until 1982 before Pope John Paul II conceded the Catholic Church had been wrong.

'Setting aside the devastating personal impact on Dr Squier, I am most troubled by the effect of this process on the delivery of justice in this country and around the world. Hundreds if not thousands of parents or carers have been condemned, or lost custody of their children, when the medical profession has diagnosed a crime. Today, unqualified though they may be, the panel announced that the GMC will brook no scientific dissent.'

Original report here

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Friday, March 11, 2016

‘Thieving police’ caught out by mock drug sting in S. Australia

MOCK drug growing rooms were used in elaborate stings to collect evidence against a group of police officers accused of stealing from crime scenes.

The Adelaide Magistrates Court on Thursday heard two “test case” houses were set up as “targeted integrity tests” after the Anti-Corruption Bureau was tipped off that officers were allegedly stealing seized property.

Iain Mott, 53, Jed Raymond Coffey, 35, Michelle Kay Hack, 28, and three other officers whose identity remains suppressed, have been charged with theft-related offences.

Three of the officers are arguing that they have no case to answer.

The officers were current or former members within the Sturt Local Service Area at the time of their arrest, and allegedly stole alcohol, tools and electronics.

They were charged following joint investigations by police and the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

Prosecutor Jeff Powell told the court the items allegedly taken were of limited value and included two bottles of whiskey, perfume, walkie-talkies, transformers and a Bosch screwdriver set.

He said the intricate trap was ethical as the officers were left “unaided” and uninfluenced” over whether to act appropriately with the items.

“They (the houses) did nothing more than provide an opportunity,” he said.

“It was up to the defendants whether to remove the items or not.”

Mr Powell said recordings allegedly capture one of the officers, whose identity remains suppressed, saying “f---ing good, don’t put them (items) in property, they can go in our toolbox”.

Mr Powell alleged other recordings capture one of the officers saying it would be good to give a seized tool to another accused officer’s father.

“They were taken by him dishonestly and in our submission with the intention to infringe on the propriety rights of the owner,” he said.

“His motives were to treat the items as his own property and, as such, against the wishes of the owner.”

He alleged items were not checked in as police evidence and several items were found under the desk of Mott — the supervising officer.

Mott’s lawyer, however, argued his client was not in charge of the team that went to either of the mock drug houses and did not attend the raid.

Mott, and two other officers whose identities have been suppressed, have asked a court to dismiss the charges against them due to a lack of evidence.

Magistrate Paul Foley will hear further no case submissions from their lawyers before making a ruling next month.

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