Tag Archives: charged

Sandra Bland’s mother: Trooper perjury charge ‘not justice’

The mother of a black woman found dead in a Texas jail cell after a traffic stop in July expressed outrage this week that the white state trooper who pulled her over was only charged with nothing more than perjury. And even on that misdemeanor, Sandra Bland’s anguished mother said she had little confidence in the prospect of a conviction.

Geneva Reed-Veal told reporters in Chicago the trooper should have been charged with assault, battery and false arrest.

“To charge this guy with a misdemeanor, are you kidding me?” she said of the perjury charge, which carries a maximum of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. “I’m angry, absolutely. … That’s not justice for me.”

Bland, a 28-year-old former resident of Naperville, Illinois, was stopped in July for an improper lane change. The stop quickly escalated into a shouting match and a physical confrontation in which the trooper threatened to use a stun gun. Bland was arrested on suspicion of assaulting the trooper. Authorities say Bland hanged herself in her jail cell three days later.

Trooper Brian Encinia was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury in Texas on allegations that he lied when he claimed in an affidavit that Bland was “combative and uncooperative” after he pulled her over during the traffic stop and ordered her out of her car.

Hours after the indictment, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it would “begin termination proceedings” against Encinia, who has been on paid desk duty since Bland was found dead in her cell.

Reed-Veal said the trooper should not be out on the street “to infect anyone else’s life.”

The family has filed a civil rights lawsuit that it hopes will shed more light on what happened to Bland and compel authorities to release documents, including a Texas Rangers investigation into the case. Authorities had withheld the Rangers report, citing the grand jury process that has now finished.

Reed-Veal said the separate criminal proceedings in the trooper’s case would not bring “true justice.”

“Who is going to prosecute this guy? Is it the same group of folks who selected the grand jury?” she said, chuckling in apparent disbelief. “… I don’t trust the process.”

Encinia was not immediately taken into custody, and an arraignment date has not yet been announced. Encinia could not be reached for comment; a cellphone number for him was no longer working.

Bland’s arrest and death provoked national outrage and drew the attention of the Black Lives Matter movement. Protesters questioned officials’ assertion that Bland killed herself and linked her to other blacks killed in confrontations with police or who died in police custody, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Encinia pulled Bland over on July 10 for making an improper lane change near Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater, where she had just interviewed for and accepted a job.

Dashcam video from Encinia’s patrol car shows Encinia drawing his stun gun and telling Bland, “I will light you up!” Bland eventually steps out of the vehicle, and Encinia orders her to the side of the road. She can later be heard off-camera screaming that he’s about to break her wrists and complaining that he knocked her head into the ground.

Encinia wrote in his affidavit that he had Bland exit the vehicle and handcuffed her after she became combative, and that she swung her elbows at him and kicked him in his right shin. Encinia said he then used force “to subdue Bland to the ground” and she continued to fight back. He arrested her, alleging assault on a public servant.

Bland was taken to the Waller County jail in Hempstead, Texas, about 50 miles northwest of Houston. Three days later, she was found hanging from a jail cell partition with a plastic garbage bag around her neck. The grand jury has already declined to charge any sheriff’s officials or jailers in her death.

Police officer charged in shooting of unarmed man in South Carolina

A white South Carolina police officer who claimed he killed a black man in self-defense was swiftly charged with murder after a bystander’s video recorded him firing eight shots at the man’s back as he ran away. Government authorities sought on April 8 to contain the outrage as protests began.

About 75 people gathered outside City Hall in North Charleston, led by a Black Lives Matter.

“Eight shots in the back!” local organizer Muhiydin D’Baha hollered through a bullhorn, and the crowd yelled “In the back!” in response.

The video recorded by an unidentified bystander shows North Charleston Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager dropping his stun gun, pulling out his handgun and firing at Walter Lamer Scott from a distance as he runs away. The 50-year-old man falls after the eighth shot, fired after a brief pause.

The dead man’s father, Walter Scott Sr. said on April 8 that the officer “looked like he was trying to kill a deer running through the woods.” He also told NBC’s “Today Show” that his son may have tried to flee because he owed child support and didn’t want to go back to jail.

The video is “the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen,” said Judy Scott, the slain man’s mother, on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“I almost couldn’t look at it to see my son running defenselessly, being shot. It just tore my heart to pieces,” she said.

The bystander is assisting investigators after providing the video to Scott’s family and lawyers.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey announced the murder charge on April 7, saying that “when you’re wrong, you’re wrong.” “When you make a bad decision, don’t care if you’re behind the shield or a citizen on the street, you have to live with that decision,” the mayor said.

Police initially released a statement that promised a full investigation but relied largely on the officer’s description of the confrontation, which began with a traffic stop Saturday as Slager pulled Scott over for a faulty brake light.

Slager’s then-attorney David Aylor released another statement on April 6 saying the officer felt threatened and fired because Scott was trying to grab his stun gun.

Aylor dropped Slager as a client after the video surfaced, and the officer, a five-year veteran with the North Charleston police, appeared without a lawyer at his first appearance. He was denied bond and could face 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder.

Scott’s family and their attorney, L. Chris Stewart, appealed to keep the protests peaceful, saying the swift murder charge shows that the justice system is working so far in this case.

But Stewart said the video alone forced authorities to act decisively.

“What if there was no video? What if there was no witness, or hero as I call him, to come forward?” asked Stewart, adding that the family plans to sue the police.

The video, shot over a chain link fence and through some trees, begins after Scott has left his car. Slager follows him, reaching at the man with an object that appears to be a stun gun. As Scott pulls away, the object falls to the ground and Slager pulls out his handgun as Scott runs away.

The final shot sends Scott falling face-down about 30 feet away. Slager then slowly walks toward him and orders Scott to put his hands behind his back, but the man doesn’t move, so he pulls Scott’s arms back and cuffs his hands. The officer then walks briskly back to where he fired the shots, speaking into his radio. He picks up the same object that fell to the ground before and returns to Scott’s prone body, dropping the object near Scott’s feet as another officer enters the scene.

Scott had four children, was engaged and had been honorably discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard. There were no violent offenses on his record, Stewart said. He also speculated that Scott may have tried to run because he owed child support, which can lead to jail time in South Carolina until it is paid.

The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division are investigating as well. Proving that an officer willfully deprived an individual of his or her civil rights has historically been a tall burden for federal prosecutors, particularly when an officer uses force during a rapidly unfolding physical confrontation in which split-second decisions are made.

North Charleston is South Carolina’s third-largest city, and its population is about half black. Its economy slumped after the Charleston Naval Base on the city’s waterfront closed in the mid-1990s, but the city has bounced back with a huge investment by Boeing, which now employs about 7,500 people in the state and builds 787 aircraft in city.

Florida high court to define ‘sexual intercourse’ in HIV case

The Florida Supreme Court is considering the definition of sexual intercourse in a case involving a gay man charged with not letting a partner know he was HIV-positive.

Arguments were held on Feb. 4 in the case involving Gary Debaun, who is trying to have a charge dismissed under a 1986 law designed to prevent the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus.

Lawyers for Debaun argue that the law says it’s illegal not to disclose an HIV infection before “sexual intercourse,” but that the definition in Florida applies only to traditional sex between a man and a woman — not two men.

A lower-court judge dismissed the charge against Debaun, but an appeals court reinstated it, saying the law was clearly intended to include other sexual activity with a risk of transmitting the virus.

3 charged in beating of gay couple in Philadelphia

Three people are charged in connection with an attack on a gay couple outside a Philadelphia restaurant earlier this month.

The assault, which resulted in hospitalization for the gay men, became a focus for amateur investigators who responded via social media to requests for leads from Philadelphia police.

Early Sept. 25, authorities announced charges against three young adults, who released on bail the same day.

They are 24-year-old Philip Williams of Warminster, 24-year-old Kathryn Knott of Southampton and 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan of Warrington.

Court records allege that the three individuals committed criminal conspiracy and two counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless endangerment.

They are accused assaulting a gay couple on the street outside a restaurant near Philadelphia’s popular gay neighborhood. The three allegedly held the two men on the ground and beat them, while hurling anti-gay slurs.

One man suffered an orbital fracture, which required his jaw to be wired.

Philadelphia, in the past decade, has made an effort to position the city as an eastern U.S. mecca for LGBT tourists.

Dairy farm workers in undercover video charged with mistreating cows

Four Wisconsin dairy farm workers have been charged with mistreating animals after an animal rights group released secretly recorded video.

Video released in December by the animal rights group Mercy For Animals showed workers at Wiese Brothers Farm attacking sick and injured cows.

Farm owner Mark Wiese told The Associated Press then that he had fired two workers and reassigned a third to duties that didn’t involve animals.

The workers were charged earlier this week in Brown County with multiple counts of mistreating animals. Each count is punishable by up to nine months in prison.

The four are scheduled to appear in court in Green Bay on March 4. They do not have attorneys listed in online court records.

Mercy For Animals said its undercover video showed Abelardo Jaimes, Crescencio Pineda, Lucia Martinez and Misael Monge-Minero “viciously kicking, beating, whipping, dragging and stabbing cows.”

The farm, according to Mercy, supplies cheese to DiGiorno Pizza.

On the Web…


3 face hate crime charges after putting lock on black student in dorm

Three white students at San Jose State University face misdemeanor hate-crime and battery charges after authorities say they harassed a black roommate by outfitting their dormitory suite with a Confederate flag, barricading him in his room and fastening a bicycle lock around his neck and claiming they lost the key.

Santa Clara County prosecutors filed the charges late Wednesday against Logan Beaschler and Colin Warren, both 18, and Joseph Bomgardner, 19. The young men each face up to a year in jail if convicted.

University President Mohammad Qayoumi said in a statement that the suspects have been suspended.

The victim, now 18, moved into the four-bedroom suite in August with seven other young men, all of whom are white. The harassment began after all the roommates had attended an orientation that included cultural sensitivity training, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The victim’s name was redacted from the police report, and the newspaper did not name him at his parents’ request.

According to a university police report, the suspects admitted that they harassed the freshman but claimed they were merely playing “pranks” or “jokes.”

At first, the suspects nicknamed the victim “Three-fifths” and “Fraction,” referring to the way the U.S. government once counted a slave as three-fifths of a free person, police said. According to the incident report, they told investigators they also wrestled their roommate to the ground and placed a metal bicycle lock around his neck, and they blocked the victim’s bedroom door with furniture several times to prevent him from coming out. They’re also accused of writing a racial epithet on a dry-erase board in the suite’s living room and hanging a Confederate flag in a window.

Investigators said they found Nazi symbols in the suite, including the “SS” lightning bolt symbol and a swastika, as well as pictures of pentagrams, apparently intended to alarm the victim, who is Christian.

The victim’s parents had seen the Confederate flag and the epithet on the dry-erase board and reported it to housing officials. Two of the suspects were then transferred to a different dorm, the Mercury News reported.

Dorm staff were apparently aware even before the parents’ report that the Confederate flag had been placed in a window and had asked the suspects to remove it so it was not visible to the public.

Beaschler declined to comment to the Mercury News, and efforts to reach the other two suspects were not successful. It was not clear whether they have retained lawyers.

Students at the university held a rally protesting the incident.

Qayoumi, SJSU’s president, announced that the school will re-examine its diversity programs and campus housing safety measures.

“Diversity and a commitment to social justice are in SJSU’s institutional DNA,” he said, adding, “this deeply disturbing incident reaffirms that we must protect and steward our values.”

4 detained for anti-gay attack in France

Four people have been detained on suspicion of carrying out an attack at a Lille gay bar, the Interior Ministry said this week, amid nationwide tensions over a bill that would legalize gay marriage.

Several other people were detained in Paris late Wednesday after a protest against gay marriage that ended with some demonstrators fighting police and damaging cars along the Champs-Elysees avenue.

Legalizing gay marriage was one of President Francois Hollande’s campaign promises, and polls show a majority of voters support the idea, as an increasing number of governments open marriage to same-sex couples.

But opposition to the bill has mounted throughout the French legislative process, largely from conservative groups from France’s conservative heartland. While the protests are largely peaceful, violence has occasionally erupted on the sidelines.

At the same time, gay rights groups say they are seeing an increasing number of anti-gay attacks in recent weeks and months.

Hollande urged calm, expressing concern about “homophobic acts, violent acts” related to the gay marriage bill while insisting he respects “the right to protest.”

Interior Minister Manuel Valls took a sterner tone, saying in a statement that he “condemns, with the greatest firmness, the homophobic aggression perpetrated last night in a bar” in Lille. He said the four suspects “clearly belonged to the extreme right movement” and are accused of intentionally targeting gay customers in the bar, punching the bar manager and causing material damage.

In a first reading, both houses of the French parliament have approved the bill that would legalize gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

UPDATED: 5 arrested in Milwaukee in slaying of transgender rapper

UPDATED: Milwaukee police have now arrested five people in connection with the disappearance of transgender rapper Evon “Yung LT” Young, who was reported missing on New Year’s Day and is believed dead.

The 22-year-old transgender man was reported last seen in public near North 52nd Street and West Custer Avenue later on Jan. 1 and did not report for work. Young’s mother filed a missing person report with the Milwaukee Police Department on Jan. 2.

On Jan. 23, the arrest of three people in connection with the case — Victor Stewart, 27, Ashanti Mcalister, 19, and Billy R. Griffin, 26, Young’s roommate. Later on the day, the arrests of Ron Joseph Allen, 37, and Devin Lattrez Seaberry, 23, were reported.

The Milwaukee District Attorney’s office has charged two of the men – Seaberry and Allen – with first-degree intentional homicide and three – Stewart, Mcalister and Griffin – with substantial battery to cause harm.

The criminal complaint states that investigators suspect Young was killed in the basement of the residence he shared with Griffin in what began as a gang re-initiation test for Griffin.

According to the complaint, Young and Griffin were home when the door bell rang. Stewart and Mcalister were at the door, along with Allen and Seaberry. The men entered and went into the kitchen, where an argument ensued.

Griffin allegedly told police that the men began to punch Young and said the victim could not be trusted. Young then was led to the basement, where the attackers choked Young with a chain. Then they placed a plastic bag over his head, rendering Young unconscious. The assailants beat and shot Young, possibly as many as three times. Mcalister allegedly fired the weapon.

Authorities allege the basement was cleaned with beach. Evidence collected in the crime includes DNA, blood, burned clothing and a chain.

Both Griffin and Stewart allegedly made admissions to police, who were searching a landfill on Jan. 23 for Young’s body, which the men allegedly placed in a Dumpster.

The defendants are scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 31.

In a statement on Jan. 23, FORGE, a transgender rights and support group, said, “FORGE sends its condolences to Young’s family and friends. We also recognize that when anyone is killed or harmed, those who share the victim’s identity may react with intense grief, anger or fear. We ask our community to be caring, compassionate and supportive of each other as we acknowledge the pervasiveness of violence in our culture, and the accompanying sorrow many of us are feeling.”

Regarding reports on Young’s life and death, FORGE asked for accuracy and respect in coverage. The statement said, “Several media outlets have inaccurately characterized Young’s gender. In interviews with his mother, (Annette) Cross-Perry has consistently referred to her child as male and with masculine pronouns and name. FORGE encourages all media and individuals talking about this case to respectfully use masculine pronouns (he, him, his) and name (Evon, or his rapper name YuNG LT).”