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Grand jury clears Jasper officers accused of brutality of Keyarika Diggles caught on tape
Criminal charges will not be brought up against the two former Jasper officers accused of police brutality.

The grand jury cleared former officers Ricky Grissom and Ryan Cunningham Wednesday morning.
According to 12News file stories, Keyarika Diggles claimed video taken by surveillance cameras inside the Jasper police station show that she is the victim of police brutality. On May 5, Diggles was arrested for an unpaid traffic ticket, and said that's the only thing of which she's guilty. But police charged her with resisting arrest.

Diggles said the arresting officer was pleasant at first, even allowing her to call her mother for money to pay the $150 fine. But after it seemed she was not going to be able to collect the full amount, Diggles claims the officer snapped.

Diggles obtained surveillance video from the Jasper police department.

Jasper County District Attorney Steve Hollis asked the Texas Rangers to investigate the case after the accusation against the officers was made. The Texas rangers completed their investigation then passed the case to the Texas Attorney General's office to present to the grand jury.

Assistant Attorney General David Glickler presented the case to the grand jury Wednesday morning. Members of the grand jury cleared the officers.

Diggles sued the city shortly after the incident happened and eventually reached a $75,000 settlement.

Jasper City Councilman Alton Scott said this confirms the President's statement that law enforcement has declared open season on African Americans in America.

"You have a video that is as plain as day that has been seen nation-wide and the grand jury basically said what they did was ok," said Scott.

Scott even compared the grand jury's decision in Jasper to the grand jury decision currently pending in Ferguson, MO where they will decide whether Officer Darren Wilson will be indicted for the shooting death of Michael Brown.

"For two men to do a woman like that is inexcusable," Scott said. "It sends a message loud and clear I wouldn't be surprised in the Michael Brown case if there was no charges brought against that officer at this point."

Scott also said he thinks Diggles' criminal history could have been a factor in the grand jury's decision.

Diggles has had several run ins with the law both before and after the May 2013 altercation including charges of theft, forgery and failure to appear in court.

Jasper Mayor Mike Lout said he doesn't know what charges the grand jury considered for the former officers but he supports the city's decision to let them go.
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Nov-22-2014 263 0
Criminal charges will not be brought up against the two former Jasper officers accused of police brutality.

The grand jury cleared former officers Ricky Grissom and Ryan Cunningham Wednesday morning.
According to 12News file stories, Keyarika Diggles claimed video taken by surveillance cameras inside the Jasper police station show that she is the victim of police brutality. On May 5, Diggles was arrested for an unpaid traffic ticket, and said that's the only thing of which she's guilty. But police charged her with resisting arrest.

Diggles said the arresting officer was pleasant at first, even allowing her to call her mother for money to pay the $150 fine. But after it seemed she was not going to be able to collect the full amount, Diggles claims the officer snapped.

Diggles obtained surveillance video from the Jasper police department.

Jasper County District Attorney Steve Hollis asked the Texas Rangers to investigate the case after the accusation against the officers was made. The Texas rangers completed their investigation then passed the case to the Texas Attorney General's office to present to the grand jury.

Assistant Attorney General David Glickler presented the case to the grand jury Wednesday morning. Members of the grand jury cleared the officers.

Diggles sued the city shortly after the incident happened and eventually reached a $75,000 settlement.

Jasper City Councilman Alton Scott said this confirms the President's statement that law enforcement has declared open season on African Americans in America.

"You have a video that is as plain as day that has been seen nation-wide and the grand jury basically said what they did was ok," said Scott.

Scott even compared the grand jury's decision in Jasper to the grand jury decision currently pending in Ferguson, MO where they will decide whether Officer Darren Wilson will be indicted for the shooting death of Michael Brown.

"For two men to do a woman like that is inexcusable," Scott said. "It sends a message loud and clear I wouldn't be surprised in the Michael Brown case if there was no charges brought against that officer at this point."

Scott also said he thinks Diggles' criminal history could have been a factor in the grand jury's decision.

Diggles has had several run ins with the law both before and after the May 2013 altercation including charges of theft, forgery and failure to appear in court.

Jasper Mayor Mike Lout said he doesn't know what charges the grand jury considered for the former officers but he supports the city's decision to let them go.

Ben Rooney Nov-22-2014 199 0
It turned out to be anything but: His years as a driver for FedEx Ground ended with him filing for bankruptcy and taking the company to court.

Gray is one of the thousands of FedEx (FDX) drivers who have sued the company for classifying them as contractors, rather than employees. Many, including Gray, have won.

"We all signed up for what we thought was the American dream," said Gray. "We received the exact opposite. It was a really bad deal."

The FedEx Ground division, created in 2000, delivers small packages to homes and businesses nationwide. But its army of 32,500 uniformed drivers, managers and affiliated workers are classified as contractors, a controversial policy that allows FedEx to save on health benefits, unemployment insurance, retirement accounts and overtime pay, among other things.

"This is an intentional policy on the part of FedEx Ground to deny drivers their rights as employees," said Erin Johansson, research director at Jobs with Justice, a labor rights group.

For Gray, it all started when he left his job in 2002 as a letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service in Missouri, and signed a contract with FedEx Ground. He thought it would be a great way to start his own independent business with the backing of a major brand.

But Gray quickly realized he wasn't really independent. In fact, FedEx controlled almost all the aspects of his business, even though he had to put up a lot of his own money.

Gray had to purchase his delivery route for $5,000. He bought his own van for $17,000. FedEx later made him to buy another vehicle for $11,000 and hire a second driver when his route got so busy that one van wasn't enough to deliver all the packages. The vehicles needed constant maintenance -- oil changes, brakes, transmission and radiator replacements -- and all came out of his own pocket.

He paid for FedEx uniforms and decals for his vans, company mapping software and also leased a FedEx scanner for the package bar codes. He also had to pay for Department of Transportation inspections and random drug tests the company required.

Gray said FedEx managers in the terminal where he worked hounded him about the condition of the tires on his van and the conduct of a driver he hired to help him with his route.

His supervisors constantly threatened to revoke his contract and docked his pay with inflated "claims" for lost packages. In one case, he said the company charged him $1,600 for a $400 box of vitamins that he failed to deliver.

The debts piled up and Gray was forced to file bankruptcy in 2008. The financial turmoil took a toll on his marriage, which ended in divorce. He almost lost his house.

"This whole ordeal cost me a lot, it really did," said Gray. "Financially, it was a huge, huge hit. And the pressure of that weight was crushing."

The tipping point for Gray came when the IRS reviewed a copy of his contract and told him that he was actually an employee of FedEx, which implied that he was losing out on eligible benefits. He went online and found other drivers in the same situation. After his attempts to work things out with FedEx were unsuccessful, Gray decided to take legal action. (The IRS wouldn't comment on individual cases.)

In 2006, he and a few other drivers filed a lawsuit against FedEx seeking compensation for employee benefits and pay that were denied.

Related: 'My job is super stressful and it pays badly, too'

After several years in court, a jury sided with the drivers this past April. Gray was awarded more than $90,000 in damages.

FedEx drivers have won some significant legal battles recently. Courts in Oregon, California and Kansas have ruled that FedEx Ground drivers fit the legal definition of an employee. The National Labor Relations Board ruled on September 30 that drivers in Connecticut are FedEx employees. A decision is expected soon from the Seventh Circuit court of appeals, which has jurisdiction over cases in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

The company is currently facing 30 more active lawsuits from former contractors in several states.

FedEx points out that the ruling in Gray's case runs counter to more than 100 other cases where courts have upheld its policy of classifying drivers as independent contractors.

However, that's a fraction of the lawsuits former FedEx contractors have filed against the company, said Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel at the National Employment Law Project.

"FedEx actually loses more of these cases than it wins," said Ruckelshaus, who has followed lawsuits against FedEx closely. "But because calling drivers contractors is such a lucrative practice, they keep doing it."

FedEx disputes that it has lost more cases than it has won, and stands by its employment policy.

Under pressure from Attorneys General in several U.S. states, FedEx Ground changed its policy in 2011. The drivers are still not FedEx employees. But the company now contracts with incorporated businesses that agree to treat staff as employees. That way, drivers get basic protections required by law such as workers compensation coverage and unemployment insurance. But again it's the contractor that provides those protections, not FedEx Ground.

FedEx's policy is in stark contrast with its main rival. UPS classifies all of its drivers as employees. As members of the Teamsters Union, UPS (UPS) drivers have significant bargaining power.

FedEx recently started tracking how much cash its contractors generate. The company says the average business with about four drivers each brings in $443,000 a year in revenue.

Before taxes and expenses, Gray said he brought in between $50,000 and $70,000 per year. After paying all his dues, insurance and the other driver, Gray's net income ranged between $25,000 and $35,000 per year. At that rate, Gray was earning roughly minimum wage while putting in 12 to 16 hour days.

The court's decision for Gray has been a hard-won battle, even though it's stuck once more in FedEx appeals limbo.

"The men and women in that terminal made this company millions and millions of dollars," said Gray, 44, who is now back working for the postal service as a letter carrier. "For this company to knowingly and willingly do this to us -- it's wrong."

Nov-22-2014 232 0
A brutal video catches an NYPD officer bash an alleged fare beater in the head with a baton, opening a gash in the man’s head and sending him stumbling around the Brooklyn subway station in a daze.

Blood spurted from Donovan Lawson's cut and sprayed witnesses and the walls at the Myrtle Avenue J, M, Z stop during the arrest Thursday just before 8 p.m., Marielle Anas told the Daily News.

“It was one of the most awful things I’ve ever seen,” Anas, 28, said. “I have blood all over my jeans. The brutality of the nightstick – it was crazy. It looked like his head exploded. I couldn’t believe I was seeing it happen.”

Lawson, 20, had “doubled up” with a pal, going through the turnstile together on a single swipe, cops said. He was sitting on a wooden bench when an officer threw at least three punches, Anas said.

“The kid wasn’t doing anything – that’s why I started recording,” Anas said. “If he can't subdue this kid – he wasn’t even resisting that much!”

A video captures the unnamed NYPD officer bash 20-year-old Donovan Lawson in the head with a nighstick Thursday after he allegedly jumped the turnstile at the Myrtle Ave. station in Brooklyn.
Skuf YKK/via YouTube

A video captures the unnamed NYPD officer bash 20-year-old Donovan Lawson in the head with a nighstick Thursday after he allegedly jumped the turnstile at the Myrtle Ave. station in Brooklyn.

As Anas began filming, other bystanders, including the man’s girlfriend, began to yell at the officer to stop the beatdown. Anas went to call 911 just as the officer pulled out his truncheon and cracked the man on the head, sending him reeling across the room in a daze as blood poured from his skull.

Another clip, first obtained by PIX 11, captures the officer brutally arresting the man and using the nightstick across his head, reportedly in violation of New York Police Department policy.

“Everyone was horrified,” Anas said. “There were at least 30 or 40 people that gathered. It just seemed so obvious that it was unnecessary violence.”

The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the incident, officials said. The officer involved in the clash had not been suspended or put on modified assignment as of Friday night. Lawson was arrested for fare beating, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, obstructing government administration and harassment charges.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lawson was hospitalized for his head wound, as was the officer, who reportedly had right hand and arm injuries.

Anas said police frequently harass young people in the station “for no reason.” She tried to get the offending officer’s badge number, but was rebuffed by officers who ordered bystanders to clear the station.

“It’s just so jarring,” Anas said, remembering almost breaking down as she made the short walk home. “It was horrible. I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Lawson was previously arrested in 2013 after holding up a man with a BB gun in broad daylight, robbing him of his iPhone and cash and repeatedly punching him, according to court papers. The victim had to be hospitalized.

Lawson pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and served 11 months in prison before being released last month on parole, records show.

Nov-22-2014 169 0
In possibly the speediest settlement of a wrongful conviction suit, a Brooklyn man who served over 21 years in prison for a triple homicide he didn’t commit was awarded $3.6 million by the state, the Daily News has learned.

Anthony Yarbough, 40, was the first of 10 men who has been cleared of old murder convictions by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office so far in 2014 — and also the first to get paid.

“He won’t have to worry about money for quite a long time,” said his lawyer, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, indicating that the financial security would allow his client to take a separate federal lawsuit against the city and the NYPD all the way to trial.

Yarbough and pal Sharrif Wilson were 18 and 15 when they were charged in 1992 with stabbing Yarbough’s heroin-addled mom and his 12-year-old sister and her friend.

New evidence helped toss out the convictions in February and Yarbough filed a claim in June.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who approved the settlement this week, “is concerned about the rights of the wrongfully convicted, and the obligation the State of New York has to ensure that people who were unjustly jailed — in some cases for decades — get some justice,” said spokeswoman Melissa Grace.

“The office is working diligently to ensure that those who spent time behind bars get the justice they deserve as speedily as possible.”

The payout is in line with the $3 million received this summer by Jabbar Collins, who was railroaded into doing 15 years in prison for killing a rabbi. But Collins was exonerated in 2010.

Sources said that five months is the fastest resolution of such a case in memory.

Yarbough called 911 after returning with Wilson from a night out in the West Village and finding a bloodbath in the seedy Coney Island drug den where his mom had been threatened earlier by junkies.

Yet cops immediately zeroed in on the two teens and elicited brief confessions from them. That was the only evidence at trial.

A DNA test in 2013 showed that a sample from under the mother’s fingernails matched one from an unsolved 1999 murder of a prostitute. That, along with other evidence, convinced the DA’s office to throw out the convictions.

“They need to answer,” Margulis-Ohnuma said of past prosecutors and detectives who had handled the case, some of whom still stand by the men’s guilt. “Now, it’s time to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

He said a planned lawsuit will seek a much higher sum.

An attorney for Wilson declined to comment.

Wilson and five others are in line to get compensated after the Conviction Review Unit — that was beefed up under DA Kenneth Thompson — had cleared them this year. Three other wrongfully convicted men have died, but their relatives can potentially make a claim.

Another parolee, Derrick Hamilton, whose conviction has been reinvestigated, saw the resolution of his case delayed Friday. Sources said he’s still expected to be cleared in early 2015 or his lawyers will demand a hearing to prove his innocence of a 1991 killing.

Yarbough, meanwhile, is working a union job in a Manhattan hotel, which he will hold on to despite his new riches.

“He plans to keep doing that,” his lawyer said. “It’s gratifying.”

Nov-22-2014 169 0
A Wisconsin man who was repeatedly described by police as a “monster” has been charged with first-degree murder in the ghastly killing of his 11-month-old daughter, authorities said.

Russell Lamar Rose Jr. repeatedly slammed little Serenity into a Kenosha sidewalk, at times raising his hands over his head, according to police.

Rose, 34, had gone on a seething rampage Tuesday while arguing with the child’s mother, police said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Officers were so repelled by what they found after answering an emergency call, the Kenosha Police Department posted the graphic criminal complaint on its Facebook page.

First responders performed CPR on the battered and disfigured baby, but she was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Her skull had been fractured several times.

Her mother told police Rose had choked her, kicked her down the stairs and tackled her as she tried to run away with the baby.

During the violent rampage, Rose screamed at her to shut up the crying child and threatened to kill them both, the woman told police.

“Do you want to live or die?” he shouted at her, she said. “If you want to live, shut the f--- up.”

He screamed for Serenity to stop crying, saying she would be next, the mom said.

At some point, the mother was able to scoop up Serenity and bolt out the front door, the complaint said.

But Rose ran after her and knocked her to the ground, she said, and she tried “not to fall on Serenity,” police said.

Rose jumped on top of the woman and began punching and choking her, the court document said.

A neighbor who heard screaming and a baby crying came out his home and confronted Rose.

The neighbor heard a “thud” and the crying stopped, he told police, and as he ran toward Rose he heard two more thuds.

The man “knew then that the thuds he heard were from the male slamming the baby on the ground,” the complaint says.

Rose managed to escape and ran into a nearby apartment. He told police he had a stick of dynamite. After setting the apartment on fire, he turned himself in to officers outside.

Deborah Hastings Nov-21-2014 380 0
Cara Simmons thought she had been hired to clean a suburban Cleveland house.

Instead, she had been chosen by “Prank It Forward” as the well-deserving recipient of the newly renovated home.

Housekeeper Cara Simmons, a single mother-of-three from Cleveland, recently received a surprise visit from ‘Prank It Forward,’ a series produced by Break.com, and dedicated to doing 'pranks for good'.
Break via Youtube

Housekeeper Cara Simmons, a single mother-of-three from Cleveland, recently received a surprise visit from ‘Prank It Forward,’ a series produced by Break.com, and dedicated to doing 'pranks for good'.

“Thank you,” a clearly overwhelmed Simmons said as she was handed the keys at the end of an elaborate hoax that started with Simmons thinking she was just on her way to another job as a house cleaner for Maid Brite.

Cleveland maid Cara Simmons was the subject of an elaborate prank that featured a gourmet meal, a massage and a free house courtesy of the series ‘Prank It Forward.’.
Cara Simmons is surrounded by family as she is told the house she was hired to clean is actually hers to keep, courtesy of the series ‘Prank It Forward.’.

The single mother of three had recently been hospitalized for exhaustion but somehow managed to keep working and providing for her children.

Her boss and her sister nominated her for Break.com’s “Prank It Forward,” a series that rewards a deserving soul with a positive prank.

“Cara is an amazing person. An amazing sister. She’s selfless, she works hard,” said sister Glo Nicholson.

Nov-21-2014 185 0
A former Cleveland police officer said working too hard led him to videotape himself having sex in his uniform with a 15-year-old girl.

Charles Locke, 42, was sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison after pleading guilty last month to having a sexual relationship with the teen and videotaping two encounters.

"It was an emotional thing," Locke told the court Wednesday. "I had no control."

Locke said he was exhausted from working 90 hours a week when he met the girl at a recreation center, according to Raw Story. He served as a security guard there, in addition to his police duties.

The girl's family became suspicious when the two began spending a lot of time together at the recreation center and in his police cruiser, according to 19 Action News. Her parents said they heard rumors he had relationships with teens he met at the rec center.

Locke was arrested in July and placed on unpaid administrative leave. He was fired after pleading guilty last month to five counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor, two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and one count of possessing criminal tools.

Videos of Locke's encounters with the teen were too graphic to show in court.

Locke is an "aberration," Carl Hartman, Internal Affairs investigator, said.

"He is a cancer among the proud, honest and hard-working members of the Cleveland Division of Police," Hartman said. "Charles Locke is a monster."

The girl said she is now struggling with depression.

"I trusted him a lot," the teen wrote in a letter to the court. "My mood now changes too much. I'm depressed. I'm sad, mad, and sometimes happy."

This case was the first time Locke was disciplined since he began working for the police department in 2007, attorney Deanna Robertson said. He gained notoriety in 2009 as the officer who arrested serial killer Anthony Sowell and testified at his trial.

Ryan Sit Nov-21-2014 207 0
A “nervous” rookie cop, in a tragic misfire, fatally shot an unarmed man without a word of warning in a Brooklyn housing project stairwell late Thursday, police said.

The innocent victim’s helpless girlfriend recounted Friday how she was left to watch Akai Gurley die after the single gunshot tore into his chest during a routine police patrol gone horribly wrong.

“What happened last night was a very unfortunate tragedy,” said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton at a Friday news conference. “... It appears this may have been in fact an accidental discharge.”

Officer Peter Liang, who fired the fatal shot, “heard a noise,” a police source told the Daily News. “It was dark. He must have been nervous.”

Gurley, 28, was not a suspect in any crime or engaged in illegal activity when Liang fired his weapon once in the pitch-black stairwell, Bratton said.

Gurley had just entered the stairwell near his steady sweetheart’s seventh floor apartment at about 11:15 p.m. when Liang fatally shot him in the chest, said the source and the girlfriend.

The two only used the stairs because the building elevator was slow.

“I shot him accidentally,” Liang told colleagues afterward. His partner never fired his gun, the source said.

Devastated gal pal Melissa Butler, with tears pouring down her face Friday morning, said the officer coming downstairs from the eighth floor blasted Gurley without explanation.

The only sound was the deafening echo of the gunshot in the stairwell at the Pink Houses.

“They didn’t identify themselves,” said Butler, 27, who began dating Gurley in January 2011. “No nothing. They didn’t give no explanation. They just pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.”

The terrified couple ran down to the fifth floor before Gurley collapsed in a pool of blood. Butler, who was standing alongside her boyfriend when he was hit, recalled their frantic final moments together as she begged Gurley to keep fighting.

“Yo, you OK? Talk to me!” she recalled shouting. “He wasn’t saying nothing. That was the last thing I said to him.”

The victim’s helpless girlfriend has said she was left to watch Akai Gurley die after the single gunshot without a word warning.

Butler said the officers never came down to check on the mortally wounded man, and medical help was only sent after she banged on a neighbor’s door for help.

“She opened the door and said, ‘Yo, is somebody hurt?’” recounted Butler, holding a damp washcloth over her red and swollen eyes. “I said, ‘Yeah, my boyfriend.’”

Gurley died at Brookdale University Hospital shortly after his arrival by ambulance, police said.

“My heart goes out to the family of the young man who was lost,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We don’t know enough but it does appear to have been an accident. And look, we’re going to do a full investigation.”

Liang, who joined the force in January 2013, was placed on modified duty after turning in his gun and badge, the mayor said.

Local politician Charles Barron condemned the shooting as an outrage.

“They didn’t find a gun,” said the state assemblyman-elect. “And believe me, if he had anything, if he had a slingshot, they would have put that in the report. This is incredible.

“I want to hear the justification for this one.”

Just a short time earlier, Butler had braided her boyfriend’s hair inside her apartment. She said the slain man lived with his 2-year-old daughter in Red Hook, and was just about to start working for the city.

The NYPD, in a press release, said the two uniformed officers were on a vertical patrol in the building when they came down the stairs at about 11:15 p.m.

One of the officers fired a single shot, but further information was not provided. It unclear why the officer fired, and a police source said Gurley was not armed.

The NYPD press release described the stairwell as “dimly lit.”

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was expected to brief the media about the shooting at an 11:30 p.m. press conference at police headquarters in Manhattan.

Both officers were taken to Jamaica Hospital for treatment of tinnitus.

Alexis Stevens Nov-21-2014 170 0
An Atlanta doctor convicted of Medicaid fraud must repay $300,000 he stole from the state, the Attorney General’s Office said Monday.

In July, Nathaniel Johnson pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud and aiding the unlicensed practice of medicine, The AJC previously reported. Johnson, owner and operator of Regency Professional Health Services for Women, was given a 10-year prison sentence, with the first six months to be served in the Fulton County Jail.

In addition, Johnson was ordered to surrender his medical license and to repay the stolen money.

At the restitution hearing late last month, medical professionals and state investigators presented evidence that Johnson stole more than $300,000 from the state Medicaid program, Attorney General Sam Olens’ office said. A state auditor testified that in some categories of billing, 100 percent of Johnson’s claims were fraudulent, according to Olens.

During Johnson’s trial, witnesses testified that he fraudulently double-charged for services rendered during pregnancies, overbilled for claims such as office visits, and failed to produce any documentation that some services were actually performed.

A review of Johnson’s bank account revealed that he spent money he had received from Medicaid to build other personal enterprises, such as Tulut Entertainment and a cosmetic surgery center, Royal Cosmetics, Olens’ office previously said.

Johnson also employed Jeff Romeus, a recent graduate of the American International School of Medicine in Guyana, as a doctor, though Romeus did not have a license to practice medicine.

fox 8 Nov-21-2014 189 0
A man who spent almost 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit talked exclusively with FOX 8 News on Thursday.

“I was sentenced to die, as was Ricky and my brother. We were 17, 18, and 20. For a crime we didn’t do,” said Kwame Kamu Ajamu, of Cleveland.

Ajamu was once Ronnie Bridgeman and he’s now 54 years old.

“You have a young man who at 17, watched his older brother who was his idol, lay three cells over on death row, as we were sentenced to die,” said Ajamu.

He, along with his brother, Wiley Bridgeman, and friend Ricky Jackson, were convicted of murdering a man near University Circle in Cleveland back in 1975.

“I remember May 1975 as if it were five minutes ago,” said Ajamu.

And it’s all he’s thought about until Tuesday.

That is when a key witness, Edward Vernon, who was 12 at the time, recanted his testimony at a hearing for Ricky Jackson.

“I was putting in a fuel pump on my car with a friend when Ricky Jackson actually called me. That is me on the phone in the picture. He says, it’s over, it’s over. And so my brother, my friend, we are free,” cried Ajamu.

Jackson will be released from prison Friday after 39 years behind bars.

Wiley Bridgeman remains incarcerated.

Before he was Ajamu, Ronnie Bridgeman spent almost 28 years in prison.

“I was about 25 when I actually forgave Edward Vernon. Edward put me on death row for absolutely no reason at all. But Edward didn’t do that, he was a child at the time,” said Ajamu.

He went from death row to general population.

Due to good behavior and participation in outstanding programs, Ronnie Bridgeman paroled out in 2003.

He changed his name to Kwame Kamu Ajamu in 2005.

“I changed it because Ronnie Bridgeman was dead. He had died and it was over with. He was never getting out of prison,” said Ajamu.

Since then, Ajamu has gotten married and tried to resume life as a normal man.

“To this day, I still get lost. I have a GPS in my car. And this is my town, I was born and raised in Cleveland. I was in prison more time than I was actually in Cleveland,” said Ajamu.

He still keeps a close friendship with Kyle Swenson, a writer for Cleveland Scene, who published Ajamu’s story in 2011.

Swenson’s article was instrumental to the Ohio Innocence Project’s investigation that eventually prompted Jackson’s release from prison.

“This high I am on right now, I can’t even tell you. My hands are kind of shaking. And it has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with Wiley Bridgeman and Ricky Jackson and to see them on on this side of the fence,” said Ajamu.

Nancy Dillon Nov-21-2014 274 0
A predatory Bill Cosby, in a freaky Las Vegas hotel scene, allegedly assaulted another actress — who was forced to fondle America’s Dad in his luxury suite.

The naked Cosby was lying in wait before the 1992 ambush of model-actress Angela Leslie, a beauty who says she was targeted after sending the comedian a letter and photograph.

“The main thing I want is for people to know him for who he really is,” Leslie told the Daily News on Thursday. “He’s not this dad of America.”

After a driver delivered her to the hotel, she checked into her room before Cosby summoned Leslie to his place. When she spoke about her career aspirations, Cosby called for an impromptu audition.

Comedian and actor Bill Cosby has stayed silent as eight women have accused him of sexual harassment, assault or rape.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Comedian and actor Bill Cosby has stayed silent as eight women have accused him of sexual harassment, assault or rape.

“If you want to act, show me what you’ve got. Pretend you’re intoxicated,” she recalled he demanded.

The egotistical comedian then poured Leslie a stiff drink and told her to act like she was blasted on booze.

“I couldn’t drink it,” she recounted. “I tasted it and put it down. Then he asked me to go into the bathroom and wet my hair. . . . I walked back out, and he had removed his clothing and gotten into bed.”

Cosby began rubbing against the actress before pouring lotion into her palm and pulling her hand under the blankets.

“With his hand on top of mine, he had me massage his penis,” she said. “He masturbated with my hand. I wasn’t pulling back. I was in shock.”

She now assumes that the cocktail was probably dosed with something to knock her out.

She recalled that Cosby quickly tired of her — “I didn’t drink the alcohol, and maybe since I didn’t pass out, he decided to get rid of me.”

The despondent actress spent the rest of her Vegas stay alone.

“I felt so used,” she said. “I felt that he didn’t get what he wanted, and he threw me out. . . . He didn’t make me feel special in any way. He said, ‘Come here, put your hand here, do this.’ ”

The allegations from Leslie boosted the number of Cosby accusers to eight as the four-time Emmy winner continues to remain mum about the seamy allegations.

Cosby’s attorney, Martin Singer, did not respond to a request for comment.

Leslie, who had met Cosby about two years earlier, recalled an invitation from the comedian to visit him at the Flamingo — where the superstar stayed in his own suite.

Leslie, now 52, described a scenario similar to one related by another accuser, Barbara Bowman.

Other common threads emerged in the growing number of retellings: Cosby’s victims were all younger than he was, and six claimed the funnyman drugged them.

Leslie, of Warren, Mich., believes she narrowly escaped the same fate. She said she received two money orders for $700 and one for $800 with instructions from Cosby’s camp to travel to California. She got sick, however, and returned her ticket, she said. Two years later, she went to Las Vegas.

Bowman, who alleges Cosby sexually abused her starting at age 17, told a similar story.

When they first met, Cosby asked her to go into the bathroom, wet her hair and act like she was wasted on booze. Later, she claims, he fixed her a drugged drink and then raped her.

Registered nurse Therese Serignese recounted her tale of a Cosby rape in Las Vegas in a Thursday story on the Huffington Post, while the wife of actor and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno claimed Cosby roughly kissed her at his home in 1967.


The alleged 1992 assault took place in a luxury suite in a Las Vegas hotel.
Peter Bischoff/Getty Images

The alleged 1992 assault took place in a luxury suite in a Las Vegas hotel.

Serignese said she was just 19 when Cosby met her in the Hilton gift shop and invited her backstage after his show. He then told her to take two white pills with a glass of water.

“The next memory I have was I was in a bathroom and I was kind of bending forward and he was behind me having sex with me,” she recalled.

Leslie said Cosby never called her again after Vegas.

Leslie first met Cosby around 1990 when she was hoping for a role in his movie flop “Ghost Dad.” The acting hopeful was personally invited to the set of “The Cosby Show” after sending him the letter and photo.

She wound up disgusted by the behavior of a man viewed by many — including Leslie — as a role model.

“Whenever I looked at Cosby, I thought he was a father figure,” she said. “I was in shock that he was that kind of (sick) person. I couldn’t believe it.”

The former actress, now working in logistics management, said she decided to come forward after hearing the tales of other women targeted by Cosby.

“I just feel he’s been too quiet, not saying anything, not apologizing,” said Leslie. “He’s trying to pretend these girls are lying. It’s frustrating.

“He is that type of person, a predator. It doesn’t matter your age, he’s going to put his hands on you and degrade you,” she said.

ap Nov-20-2014 188 0
The suburban St. Louis police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown seems confident that he will not face criminal charges from a grand jury that has been investigating the case for several months, a police union official said Thursday.

Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, said he met Thursday with Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who has remained secluded from the public eye since the Aug. 9 shooting that sparked tense and occasionally violent protests and drew national attention.

Wilson has been under a lot of pressure and stress but appeared confident in the outcome of the grand jury investigation, Roorda said.

"It's fair to say that neither he nor his defense team expect an indictment," Roorda said, offering his impression of the situation based on the meeting with Wilson.

Roorda later told the AP in a text message that he was only speaking for himself.

"Wilson seems confident that justice will be served, but neither he nor his attorneys shared any expectations with me," he said in the text.

One of Wilson's attorneys, who also attended Thursday's meeting, said there was no specific discussion of expectations.

"We have absolutely no idea — no more than anyone else — what may or may not happen," attorney Neil Bruntrager said. "The only expectation that we would have is that the grand jury would be thorough and fair."

If he is indicted, Wilson will immediately turn himself in to authorities, Bruntrager said.

Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting.

A 12-person St. Louis County grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case as it weighs whether to issue charges against the white officer for the black 18-year-old's death. A decision could come soon, though authorities have not publicized any specific date for an announcement.

Roorda said St. Louis city police have been notified that they are switching to 12-hour shifts starting Saturday, a preparation for a potential uptick in protests.

The St. Louis County Police Department has not yet decided whether to switch to longer work shifts, spokesman Brian Schellman said.

For weeks, local and state police have been preparing for a grand jury announcement in anticipation that it will result in renewed protests. Earlier this week, Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to help with security.

Authorities have said Wilson shot Brown, who was unarmed, following some sort of physical confrontation that occurred after Wilson told Brown and a friend to stop walking down the center of a street.

Wilson told authorities that the shooting happened after Brown struggled with him for his gun, according to reports by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the New York Times that cited unnamed sources. But some witnesses have said Brown had his arms raised — as if to surrender — when the fatal shot was fired.

Riots and looting occurred a day after the shooting, and protesters filled the streets for weeks. Police responded by firing tear gas and smoke canisters into crowds of demonstrators after some people threw rocks and Molotov cocktails.

Protests have been nearly constant since the shooting. The vast majority of protesters want to see the officer charged with murder. Many are also pushing for changes in the way police and the courts interact with minorities. A handful of demonstrations have been in support of Wilson.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Brown's family, described the investigation as an "emotional roller-coaster" for his clients. Even if Wilson is indicted, there's no guarantee of a conviction. And if he isn't charged, Crump said Thursday, "they get no chance of justice for their child."

Crump said he had no insight into the timing of the grand jury's decision, but that he expected to be notified ahead of any public announcement.

Wilson has incurred significant legal, medical and relocation expenses, and a police charity has raised close to $500,000 for him, Roorda said.

Associated Press writers Jim Salter in St. Louis and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

Nov-20-2014 174 0
The son of a slain St. Louis woman wants to know why a convicted double-murderer was released after serving only 17 years and is now accused of killing his mother.

"Someone's killed twice and they knew it and they let him out?" asked a weeping Martez Brown, whose mother, Sylvia Brown, was stabbed and shot last week, allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend, Harry Little Sr. The 63-year-old man had been sentenced to life in prison for the 1977 murders of two people — one of them his wife — but the Missouri Parole Board released him in 1995, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

"I just don't understand," said the 37-year-old son. "You can't just keep killing people."

Little has been charged with murder in Brown's death. The 59-year-old woman's body was found in the backyard of the home she shared with Little, authorities said. Neighbors reported hearing a woman's screams on Nov. 13, followed by gunshots, the paper reported. St. Louis police officers discovered her remains the next day. Cops have not said whether they visited the home on the night nearby residents complained.

The reasoning behind the parole board releasing Little is not public information, the panel's spokesman David Owen told the paper Thursday. At the time of Little's parole, state law allowed anyone sentenced to a term of years or more was eligible for early release after 12 years.

That law has since been changed.

In 1977, Little confessed to shooting to death his estranged 26-year-old wife, Sharon Little, in her apartment. He was released on $10,000 bail, pending trial. A month after posting bail, he was charged with beating to death his friend, Hargrove Bunting, with a car jack. He was convicted of second-degree murder in both cases. He was sentenced to life for his wife's killing, and to 30 years for his friend's slaying.

After he was set free, Little went back to prison in 2000 when he violated the conditions of his release committing theft. He was freed in 2002, the paper said.

Martez Brown said he didn't know about Little's violent past. It wasn't clear if his mother was aware.

"My mother was a beautiful woman who gave her happiness for others' happiness," he said. "She didn't deserve that kind of torture, that kind of treatment. No one does."

>>--More Black Legal News

Sep-09-2014 679 0
On yesterday social media went crazy after the video of Ray Rice was released. Within hours Rice was released from the Ravens. Don't think for one second that it was not as a result of the public outcry on social media. The Ravens and the NFL did not have a choice but to release Rice because they had been exposed. However, the saddening part about of all of this is that the powers to be proclaimed they had not seen the video until yesterday.

Why do we live in a society where there's always a cover-up? If we are going to be angry at the police chief in Ferguson, MO for trying to cover up for one of his officers who killed Michael Brown we should also be upset with Commissioner Roger Goodell and Coach John Harbaugh because it appears that they took part in a scheme to deceive the public and by tuning in to the games as usual we are saying it's okay to cover-up a crime. Sean Payton, head coach of the Saints, was forced to sit out a year because an alleged wrongdoing took place under his watch. In my opinion, the same needs to happen to the Roger Goodell and Coach Harbaugh because somehow I think they knew and if they did not know it's even worse because they allowed a poor investigation to support a two game suspension.

Let's look at the severity of what they did. Their actions in trying to protect the NFL brand send the wrong message to ladies who are victims of domestic abuse. What the message says is that you should protect the abuser if there's something to lose. In this case, it was football games and plenty of revenue for a major brand. Their actions could help persuade a victim of domestic abuse to participate in a press conference in order to save a star and risk her life. This was not the right thing to do because someone following that same example could end up dead.

Releasing and/or suspending Rice for the year was the proper thing to do months ago but there are additional suspensions that need to be handed down before we stop talking about this. Take a year off Mr. Commissioner and Coach Harbaugh because you dropped the ball on this one. Better yet, if you won't suspend yourselves, donate your salaries for the year to a charity that supports domestic violence victims if you are really serious about the mistake that was made.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Apr-28-2014 1088 0
Sadly but real, it appears as though society feels you can treat a black person poorly by simply offering to give them something of value and everything is forgotten. This mindset has to go away otherwise racism and injustices will remain. Whenever I file a civil rights lawsuit the first question the media asks is how much money the family is asking for? My response is always very clear; the family wants JUSTICE and expects for the individual responsible for the act to be held responsible for his/her criminal acts.

On yesterday, 5-10 multimillionaires played a game of basketball despite being made aware that the owner they are earning millions for hates black people, especially black males. By not playing on yesterday they could have sent a major message out and forced the NBA to react immediately but they gave Donald Sterling and the NBA a way out. Let's face it, the Clippers are no candidate to win the NBA Championship this year so this was/is their opportunity to make a change but instead they are showing America that money and a championship is much more important than fighting blatant racism.

I have to admit that I'm truly disappointed in the Los Angeles Clippers. Professional athletes will stage a sit out when they feel they are not being paid enough money but they will continue to play for a racist owner who admitted to not want black people at the game and use the excuse that we are playing for a championship. Will we continue to turn our heads for money?

Many people criticized the football players at Grambling when they staged a protest last year. If those kids lost their scholarships they could probably not afford to attend college but they took the chance because they wanted to take a stand against what they consider poor playing conditions. They had the courage to do something that the Los Angeles Clippers, a group of multimillionaires, are not willing to do. What message are we sending to the World? You can tell millionaires you hate them but they will still work for you as long as they are being paid. Truly a lost opportunity. All money is not good money.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button
Daryl K. Washington Apr-27-2014 1100 0
Donald Sterling made comments about Black people that have started a lot of conversation. Many people, including myself, have said that it will place Coach Doc Rivers and the players in an awkward situation but after thinking about it, it will also place White people in an awkward position and here's my opinion why. During the Civil Rights movement there were White people on the front lines and there were many who did not agree with the poor treatment of Black people. They were instrumental in helping with the fight for equal treatment.

Fast forward to today. 95% of the fans at the Clippers games are not Black and the majority are White people. It would be a great show of support if the White fans were as insulted by Donald Sterling's comments as Black people are. The games will go on but wouldn't it be great if the White fans proved to the country that they don't support a racist owner. We know it will not happen but only until everyone voice their dislike of what was said will a true change ever be made.

Donald Sterling's views are shared by so many individuals who will allow our talented Black athletes to attend the large colleges because they earn millions of dollars for the schools but will fight tooth and nails to prevent a young Black kid who may have not scored well on a standardized test from attending.

College athletes are fighting to be paid but I think what should be added to their agenda is the equal treatment of their brothers and sisters who are being denied admission to the same universities they are earning millions of dollars for. The fight should not be for money but for equality. Let’s never allow someone to pay us to keep our views to ourselves. We still have a long way to go. We will never get there unless we ALL come together.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.

Daryl K. Washington Feb-16-2014 1340 0
After the Michael Dunn verdict was read many voice their displeasure with the judicial system, rightfully so. However, the killing of our young black men is nothing new. Each time something bad happens we come together as a group for a month or so and then the energy dies down. When the Zimmerman verdict came back there were those who demanded that we stop supporting the state of Florida yet what happened to the follow-up to let us know how effective the efforts were? It reminds me of whenever someone dies. When we run into people we have not seen in years we all make a vow to do better and to make time for each other but after two or three months has past by we are all back to doing the same things.

As a country, we came together after 9/11 but soon thereafter the unity went away. There's so much happening in our communities. I thought the Zimmerman verdict would be our wake up call to do more but our young black men continue to be gunned down at a high rate by Men who don't look anything close to their fathers and most of them get away with it. Just in case you mention the black on black crime, remember that the killer normally ends up in prison.

Just recently, the grand jury failed to indict a North Carolina police officer for the killing of Jonathan Ferrell, a young black male, but after there was a public outcry about the injustice that took place he was eventually indicted. Right here in Dallas, Texas we have black men being killed by white police officers and in a great majority of the cases, the police officers are not indicted and judged by a jury of their peers. Instead, the victim is placed on trial and society has become conditioned to believe that it's okay to kill someone if they have a prior criminal record or considered a menace to society. Well, it's not and it's time that it stops.

We need to be proactive and make sure laws that don't benefit us are changed. I will continue to say this until I can't say this anymore; we have to get out and VOTE during the mid-term elections. We need to make sure the right people are elected and the wrong people are removed from office, irrespective of their race. If the same people are in office (local officials) yet we are having some of the same problems, it's time for change. Vote for someone who wants to make a change. Don't just vote based on race or political affiliation; that's what has gotten us to this point where we are today. We have to be proactive or the next Jordan Davis might be our brother, our son, our nephew, our father or our friend. Let's do it. Get involved or get out of the way!!!!!



Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.


















Daryl K. Washington Nov-26-2013 1652 0
ARE WE DOING ENOUGH FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITIES?: I just finished talking to a mother who lost her son as a result of a police shooting. Hearing this mother talk about her son and how much he loved the holidays was simply heart wrenching. She went on to tell me that she's pleaded for help from our local politicians, pastors, leaders, etc. but no one wants to take her call, especially if the cameras are not rolling. To worsen matters, many of the leaders have put her son on trial and he's dead.

On last week they staged a protest in Dallas and sadly, 95% of the protestors were white. That made me wonder why do people make it in life and fail to reach back to help others? Why do people hear about injustices yet fail to say anything about it other than to say "that's sad!" During the 60's the leaders were individuals (black and white) who had college degrees, had bright futures ahead of them but they risk it all for us to be in the positions we are in today. The sad thing is that many of us believe it's all about us.

We must do more. We have to do more. We have to demand that our politicians and pastors step up to help us fight this battle. It truly takes a team effort. We must hold all of our community leaders accountable. When they ask for your vote, ask them to list ten things they did for the community in the last four years. Ask them how many times have they've attended a rally to show support to a grieving mother or father. We have serious issues and it takes all of us to stop this mess. I'm tired of seeing people who have never fought against a single injustice accept the Martin Luther King drum major for justice award. It's time for change.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
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