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AP Apr-19-2017 101 0
The death of the first female Muslim U.S. judge—who was found dead last week on the banks of New York’s Hudson River--- is still being investigated and is reportedly considered suspicious.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam's body was discovered along the riverside near Harlem on Wednesday, a day after she was reported missing, police said. Police said her body showed no obvious signs of trauma.

Police sources told CBS2 that family and friends have said she was struggling with depression. Police told the station that although her death is being considered suspicious, there are no signs of criminality.

Abdus-Salaam, who was 65 years old, graduated from Barnard College and received her law degree from Columbia Law School. She started her career as a staff attorney for East Brooklyn Legal Services and served as a judge in Manhattan state Supreme Court for 14 years, according to the state Office of Court Administration's website.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appointed Abdus-Salaam to the state's Court of Appeals in 2013, called her a "trailblazing jurist."

"As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state's Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer," Cuomo said. "Through her writings, her wisdom and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come."

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said her colleague will be "missed deeply."

"Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her," DiFiore said.

Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said he knew Abdus-Salaam for many years. He said her death of was "difficult to understand."

"The court has suffered a terrible blow," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report
AP Apr-19-2017 129 0
Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction and just days ago was acquitted of a double murder, died after hanging himself in his prison cell early Wednesday, Massachusetts prisons officials said.

Hernandez, 27, was found by guards in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley just after 3 a.m., Department of Correction spokesman Christopher Fallon said in a statement.

The former New England Patriots tight end was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial-HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster about an hour later.

Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit in the maximum security state prison. He hanged himself using a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window, Fallon said.

Hernandez tried to block the cell door from the inside by jamming the door with various items, Fallon said.

Fallon said he's not aware of any suicide note written by Hernandez and stressed that an investigation is ongoing. He said that officials had no concern that Hernandez was planning on taking his own life, and if there was a concern about his well-being, Hernandez would have been transferred to a mental health unit.

Hernandez was moved to tears on Friday after he was acquitted of the 2012 fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston. Just before his acquittal, Hernandez was seen blowing kisses to the little girl he fathered with fianc?e Shayanna Jenkins. Cameras captured the tender exchange.

But, Hernandez was still serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his conviction in the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiancee's sister.

Hernandez's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hernandez's death comes the same day the Patriots are making their visit to the White House today to mark their Super Bowl win. Team spokesman Stacey James said the Patriots were aware of the reports of Hernandez's death but didn't anticipate the club commenting Wednesday.

Massachusetts State Police remain on the scene investigating the death.
Jason Silverstein Apr-18-2017 84 0
Facebook murderer Steve Stephens shot and killed himself in Pennsylvania Tuesday morning, ending a three-day manhunt for the Cleveland killer, state police confirmed.

Stephens turned the gun on himself after an attempted traffic stop in Erie County, police said. He was found in a white Ford Fusion in Erie, according to GoErie.com.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf commended police for the pursuit and said no one else in the state was hurt.

Stephens, 37, remained on the run for nearly 48 hours after shooting a stranger in the head in Cleveland and posting the snuff footage on Facebook. 

His death came just hours after police announced that they had received about 400 tips nationwide for the case, but did not have a clear idea of where he might be. 

Police also found no evidence of Stephens' claim, in a Facebook Live rant, that he had killed 13 people. 

The sprawling manhunt ended about 100 miles away from the crime scene — less than a two-hour drive. 
AP Apr-17-2017 85 0
Authorities in several states were on the lookout Monday for a man police say shot a Cleveland retiree collecting aluminum cans and then posted video of the apparently random killing on Facebook.

"He could be nearby. He could be far away or anywhere in between," FBI agent Stephen Anthony said on Day 2 of the manhunt for Steve Stephens, a 37-year-old job counselor for teens and young

Police said Stephens killed Robert Godwin Sr., a 74-year-old former foundry worker, on Sunday.

Investigators said that Godwin was the only victim so far linked to Stephens, despite the suspect's claim in a separate video on Facebook that he killed over a dozen people.

Officers searched dozens of places around the city and spoke with the suspect by cellphone, police said.

Police Chief Calvin Williams warned residents to be careful as the go about their day.

Authorities also warned people in Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Michigan to be alert for Stephens, who was wanted on a charge of aggravated murder.

"We're going to make this individual's world very, very small," said U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott.

Godwin apparently was shot while out picking up cans in a plastic shopping bag, his daughter said.

"Not because he needed the money, it was just something he did," said 52-year-old Debbie Godwin. "That's all he was doing. He wasn't harming anyone."

She said her father, who had 10 children, was a gentle man with nothing mean about him. "We called him the junk man," she said. "He'd pick up things off the street and fix them. He picked up bikes and he fixed them."

The motive for the shooting wasn't entirely clear from the shaky video, in which Stephens told Godwin a woman's name and said, "She's the reason that this is about to happen to you." Godwin did not seem to recognize the woman's name.

The suspect then pointed a gun at Godwin, who shielded his face with the plastic bag.

The woman Stephens mentioned, Joy Lane, said in a text to CBS that "we had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened."

She also said Stephens was "a nice guy" who was generous to everyone and was "kind and loving" to her and her children.

Facebook said the video was posted after the killing but wasn't broadcast on Facebook Live as police initially indicated. The suspect did go live on the social media site at another point Sunday.

The video of the killing was on Facebook for about three hours before it was taken down. Stephens' Facebook page also was eventually removed.

"This is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook," the company said. "We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook, and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety."

In the separate video, Stephens said: "I killed 13, so I'm working on 14 as we speak."

Police said they have not verified any other shootings or deaths.

Stephens worked at Beech Brook, a behavioral health agency headquartered in Pepper Pike, near Cleveland. He helped young people develop job skills and find employment, said Beech Brook spokeswoman Nancy Kortemeyer.

An extensive background check before he was hired turned up nothing worrisome, she said.

"We just hope Mr. Stephens is apprehended as quickly as possible so that no one else is injured," she said.

In one of the videos, Stephens could be seen holding up his employee identification and said: "I'm killing with my Beech Brook badge on, too."
Elizabeth Elizalde Apr-16-2017 547 0
A gunman accused of fatally shooting an elderly man in Ohio broadcasted the homicide on Facebook Live on Easter Sunday, police said.

The horrific shooting occurred at 635 E. 93rd St., according to the Cleveland Police Department.

The suspect identified as Steve Stephens is believed to be armed and dangerous, police said.

The suspect also claims to have committed other homicides, police said.

Police have not verified those claims.

Stephens, sporting a full beard and a dark blue, gray or black striped polo shirt, is believed to be driving a white or cream-colored SUV, police said.

The video posted to Facebook around 2 p.m. appears to belong to Stephens under the profile name Stevie Steve, NBC4 reported.

The video shows the gunman walking up to an elderly man and asking him a question before fatally shooting him in what appeared to be his head.

The video, which had the caption “Easter day slaughter,” was later taken down, the station reported.
Dan Wetzel Apr-14-2017 229 0
In the end, a Suffolk County jury simply couldn’t buy the entire story that Alexander Bradley, the compromised star witness for the prosecution, was spinning.

So they found Aaron Hernandez not guilty on Friday of murdering Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in a 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston’s Theatre District. The jury deliberated for 37 and a half hours, spread out over six days.

As the not-guilty verdict was read, some family members of de Abreu and Furtado rushed out of the courtroom in tears. Hernandez’s fiancé, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, who only days earlier arrived in court with the couple’s 4-year-old daughter, sobbed.

“We based our decision on the evidence and the law,” foreperson Lindsey Stringer said in a brief statement.

Hernandez was found guilty of the unlawful carrying of a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and was sentenced by Judge Jeffrey A. Locke to four-to-five years.

The decision changes little for Hernandez, who was already serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole in a Massachusetts prison for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd in North Attleborough. While that first conviction will be automatically appealed, it is unlikely the former New England Patriots star will be granted a new trial, let alone ever walk free.

The not-guilty verdict comes one day before the two-year anniversary of Hernandez’s conviction for the murder of Lloyd.

As he walked out of court escorted by at least four officers, heading back to prison, Hernandez turned toward Jenkins-Hernandez and mouthed, “I love you.”

The verdict is a difficult blow for prosecutors and the families of two innocent men who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time – running into Hernandez and Bradley on a summer Sunday night in a Boston nightclub. The Commonwealth tried the case in an effort to deliver justice and closure for the victims and their supporters.

It is a massive victory, however, for Jose Baez, the celebrated defense attorney hired to defend Hernandez. Baez, who was not in court for the reading of the verdict reportedly due to a medical issue, can add this high-profile victory to helping young Florida mother Casey Anthony beat a charge that she murdered her 2-year-old daughter in 2011.

Too much of this case relied on the word of Bradley, an admitted drug and gun dealer who is serving time in Connecticut for an unrelated incident in which he shot up a Hartford nightclub after being involved in a gunfight. Bradley testified that Hernandez, angry at de Abreu for spilling a drink on him at a nightclub, was still fuming some two hours later when he unloaded five shots into the BMW carrying de Abreu and Furtado.

The defense countered that it was, in fact, Bradley who pulled the trigger due to a drug deal gone bad.

Neither side disagrees that Bradley was the wheelman that night. He proved, however, to be the only witness who identified Hernandez as the triggerman. Bradley had multiple motives to lie – from an immunity deal to his own hatred of Hernandez, whom allegedly shot Bradley in the face in 2013 and left him to die.

On the witness stand Bradley acknowledged he was testifying as a means of revenge only because his preferred method – murdering Hernandez – was not available due to Hernandez being incarcerated.

With so little physical evidence it was not simple to determine whether it was Hernandez who was the triggerman or Bradley. On that precise, but all-important point, there was clearly reasonable doubt.

“The man who committed these crimes was given immunity by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and will be out of prison soon,” defense attorney Ronald Sullivan said, referring to Bradley and according to Chris Villani of the Boston Herald.

Hernandez, 27, may have beaten the charge of the actual killings, but he was hardly innocent that night. He didn’t report the crime and afterward helped stash the murder car in a Connecticut house garage he was connected with.

The fall of Hernandez ranks among the most baffling and tragic in modern sports history. He, at the very least, was witness to the murder of de Abreu and Furtado just months after catching a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl and just weeks before signing a $40 million contract extension with the New England Patriots. He and his longtime girlfriend/fiancée had a baby on the way at the time.

The trial played out across six weeks in downtown Boston, just across the street from where Hernandez’s former teammates held another Super Bowl parade and celebration in February.
Cindy George Apr-14-2017 129 0
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Texas death-row inmate Duane Buck the right to pursue his claims of ineffective counsel and relief under a rule that covers mistakes and neglect - a move that could spare him from execution.

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that race improperly tainted Buck's death sentence and remanded the case to the lower court for a new hearing.

In a two-page ruling filed Thursday, the federal appeals court also ordered him released unless the state initiates proceedings for a new trial for punishment within six months or "elects not to seek the death penalty and accedes to a life sentence."

Buck was convicted in Houston 20 years ago for the killings of his ex-girlfriend, Debra Gardner, and her friend, Kenneth Butler. He was sentenced to death after a psychologist testified he would be a continuing threat to society because he is black.

The case, which has made national headlines for years, could be a harbinger of how the country's highest court deals with death penalty cases with racial overtones, experts have said.

After February's decision, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said her office would review Buck's case, including speaking with the victims' families and looking over mitigation evidence, before deciding how to proceed.

"Racially charged evidence has no place in any courtroom, and this administration will not tolerate its presence," she said. "We remain committed to seeking justice for the victims of Duane Buck's heinous criminal acts and will do so without what Chief Justice Roberts described as the 'strain of racial prejudice' present at the 1997 trial in which Buck was convicted."
David Boroff Apr-13-2017 132 0
A Georgia police officer was fired one day after authorities say he kicked a handcuffed man in the face.

A shocking video shows Master Police Officer Robert McDonald of the Gwinnett County Police Department appearing to use excessive force on suspect Demetrius Hollins on a major roadway just outside of Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon.

McDonald "stepped outside the guiding principles of our agency," Thursday's statement from the Gwinnett County Police Department said."We do not tolerate actions that are not consistent with our core values or state law."

The police department has also launched a criminal investigation of McDonald's behavior. He was sent home on administrative leave and his department-issued gun was taken.

Georgia police officer arrested after revenge porn incident
The statement emphasizes the video is "very disturbing and speaks for itself" and was "very crucial to the investigation and it confirmed that the force used was unnecessary and excessive."

Hollins appears to have blood on his nose and lip in a booking photo.He faces charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license, operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked registration, failure to signal, having a brake light that's not in good repair, obstructing a law enforcement officer and having less than an ounce of marijuana.

The video, posted to Facebook by Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta, shows a white officer pulling a black man out of a car and placing him in handcuffs. The man can be heard yelling as the officer hovers over him.

Suddenly, a second officer comes running from the right hand side.

As the first officer observes, the second officer, seemingly unprovoked, stomps the handcuffed man in the face. Both officers then hold the man down before putting him in the backseat of their squad car.

"Stay down," one of the officers can be heard saying.

The violent incident occurred on Sugarloaf Parkway outside Lawrenceville around 5 p.m., according to Maejor Page, the President of Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta.

Page told the Daily News that the maker of the video provided the clip to his organization shortly after the incident occurred.

The video maker charged that "blood splattered everywhere" after the officer landed the kick to the man's face, Page said.

In a statement, Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta praised the dismissal of the officer.

"We are extremely happy that the command staff of the Gwinnett Police Department heard our voices did the noble and honorable thing, and that's to fire this officer and seek criminal charges," read the statement. "We do not want to paint the entire GCPD as a bad group of people, when I know for a fact there a bunch of fine men and women who work for the department with respect, honor and integrity."
Jeremy Gorner Apr-13-2017 243 0
Chicago police say the attempted armed robbery of a slain Cook County judge and his injured girlfriend early Monday was not a random act while announcing murder and other charges against the first of several suspects.

Police also revealed that shell casings found outside the judge's Far South Side home matched ballistics evidence from an attempted armed robbery in the early morning hours three months ago. The victim was shot and wounded.

At a news conference Wednesday evening at police headquarters, Chief of Detectives Melissa Staples answered few questions, emphasizing that the investigation remained "open and ongoing" and that more details would come out in court Thursday. But she did call the attack on Associate Judge Raymond Myles and his girlfriend "a targeted robbery." However, Staples wouldn't say whether it was the judge or his girlfriend who was the target of the robbery.

According to the Cook County state's attorney's office, Joshua T. Smith, 37, was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and armed robbery.

Tandra Simonton, spokeswoman for State's Attorney Kim Foxx, said Smith is expected to appear in bond court at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Thursday.

Police would not identify Smith's role in the attempted armed robbery, but multiple law enforcement sources told the Chicago Tribune that he acted as the alleged getaway driver.

According to court records, Smith was charged in Cook County Circuit Court in 2002 with armed robbery, aggravated vehicular hijacking and aggravated unlawful restraint. He pleaded guilty the following year to armed robbery and was sentenced to six years in prison, the records show.
Police are still seeking the gunman and a third participant, according to sources.

At the news conference, Staples said video surveillance in the area of the judge's home in the West Chesterfield neighborhood played a crucial role in identifying the getaway car used in the attempted holdup and its license plate. The cameras did not capture the shooting itself, however, she said.
There had been a push recently to get cameras installed throughout the neighborhood - an effort that the judge had joined in.

"I can tell you that the placement and the concentration of cameras in and outside of the judge's neighborhood was instrumental for detectives to get a jump-start on this case," Staples said.

Tactical officers found the suspected getaway car - a red 2005 Pontiac Sunfire - in the Calumet Police District on the city's Far South Side on Tuesday night, even though its license plate had been switched since the shooting in an attempt to "hinder our investigative efforts," Staples said. The officers noticed the car had different plates on the front and rear, she said.

Records show that Smith shares an address with the woman who owns the Pontiac. But detectives do not believe she was involved in the attempted holdup, Staples said.

Staples told reporters that the shell casings found outside the judge's home matched those retrieved at the scene of an attempted armed robbery and shooting in the Englewood neighborhood in January, but she said the two shootings don't appear to be otherwise linked. Police said guns used in Chicago shootings often change hands and that the victim of the January holdup attempt was not cooperating with investigators. The victim, identified by police sources as an alleged gang member with a long arrest record, was shot in the leg.

The brazen attack on Myles, believed to be the first fatal shooting of a Chicago-area judge in more than three decades, touched off a massive investigation.

An early riser, Myles was up before dawn Monday, getting ready to go to the gym with his girlfriend before reporting to his courtroom. But as the 52-year-old woman left the two-story brick residence shortly before 5 a.m., she was confronted near the garage by a gunman who shot her in the leg, according to police. Hearing the commotion, Myles, 66, ran outside and exchanged words with the assailant before he was shot and killed.

A neighbor and friend of the judge told the Tribune he was awakened by the shouts of the woman and the crack of about six gunshots. "She was screaming, 'Don't kill him, don't kill him!' " the neighbor said.

An autopsy found Myles had been shot multiple times, the Cook County medical examiner's office said Tuesday.

The FBI has offered $25,000 for information leading to the apprehension of the killer.
Sheriff Tom Dart's office investigates about 10 death threats against Cook County judges a year but had no record of any threats against Myles in recent years.

News of Myles' death stunned colleagues at the county's main criminal courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue, where Myles had worked for years. Longtime courthouse employees described Myles as hardworking and friendly. He was assigned to the "youthful offenders" call, where he heard narcotics cases involving defendants about age 27 and younger.
Thomas Tracy Apr-13-2017 167 0
The pioneering judge found dead on the banks of the Hudson River was struggling with depression and likely took her own life, a police source said Thursday.

It was unclear if state Court of Appeals Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam left behind a suicide note, and cops were awaiting the results of an autopsy before saying anything more, the source told the Daily News.

There were no signs of trauma or injuries indicating a more sinister demise when her fully-clothed body was found Wednesday afternoon near W. 132nd St. — about a mile from her Harlem home.

The 65-year-old Abdus-Salaam, hailed as the nation’s first female Muslim judge and the first black woman appointed to the state’s highest court, was reported missing by her husband on Tuesday morning.

The shocking disappearance and discovery of her body rattled her many friends and colleagues across the state.

“I just saw her on the subway the other day,” said former Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright. “She was always a very calming, beautiful presence ... She became one of the brightest and most respected legal minds in the U.S.”

Abdus-Salaam was nominated by Gov. Cuomo in 2013 for a seat on the state’s Court of Appeals, the high point of a legal career that began with her Columbia University School of Law degree.

Among her classmates: Future U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

She served as a Manhattan Supreme Court judge for 14 years before Cuomo’s promotion. The governor praised Abdus-Salaam for her “unshakable moral compass.”

Harlem neighbor Pat Miller, 56, couldn’t accept the idea that Abdus-Salaam took her own life.

“I could not imagine her doing anything to herself to harm herself," he said. She’s not that type of person ... I’d like to know what happened. I would really like to know.”
MATTHEW HAAG Apr-13-2017 274 0
Sheila Abdus-Salaam, an associate judge on New York State’s highest court and the first African-American woman to serve on that bench, was found dead on Wednesday in the Hudson River, the authorities said.

Officers with the New York Police Department’s Harbor Unit responded about 1:45 p.m. to a report of a person floating by the shore near West 132nd Street in Upper Manhattan. Judge Abdus-Salaam, 65, was taken to a pier on the Hudson River and was pronounced dead by paramedics shortly after 2 p.m.

The police were investigating how she ended up in the river, and it was not clear how long Judge Abdus-Salaam, who lived nearby in Harlem, had been missing. There were no signs of trauma on her body, the police said. She was fully clothed.

A law enforcement official said investigators had found no signs of criminality. Her husband identified her body.

Since 2013, Judge Abdus-Salaam had been one of seven judges on the State Court of Appeals. Before that, she served for about four years as an associate justice on the First Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court, and for 15 years as a State Supreme Court justice in Manhattan. She was previously a lawyer in the city’s Law Department.

Zakiyyah Muhammad, the founding director of the Institute of Muslim American Studies, said Judge Abdus­-Salaam became the first female Muslim judge in the United States when she started serving on the State Supreme Court in 1994.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement on Wednesday that Judge Abdus-Salaam was a pioneer with an “unshakable moral compass.” He added, “Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all.”

In nominating her to the highest court in 2013, Mr. Cuomo praised her “working-class roots” and her “deep understanding of the everyday issues facing New Yorkers.” Her nomination was part of a push by Mr. Cuomo to diversify the court. When another judge, Rowan D. Wilson, joined the court this year, it was the first time the Court of Appeals had two African-American judges in its 169-year history.

On the court, Judge Abdus-Salaam was among the most reliable and steadfast liberal voices, regularly siding with vulnerable parties — the poor, impoverished immigrants and people with mental illnesses, for instance — against more powerful and established interests. She also tended to lean toward injured parties who brought claims of misconduct, fraud or breach of contract against wealthy corporations.

Among her colleagues, she was admired for her thoughtfulness, her candor and her finely crafted and restrained writing style. She was not one to use her decisions as a soapbox to make high-sounding political points or to wax poetic, even when her rulings were precedent-setting.

In a statement, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said, “Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her.”

Last summer, Judge Abdus-Salaam wrote an important decision, Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C., that expanded the definition of what it means to be a parent, overturning a previous ruling. For 25 years, the court had held that the nonbiological parent in a same-sex couple had no standing to seek custody or visitation rights after a breakup.

But Judge Abdus-Salaam wrote that the previous ruling had become “unworkable when applied to increasingly varied familial relationships.” In a tightly reasoned decision, she determined that nonbiological parents did have standing to seek custody if they showed “by clear and convincing evidence that all parties agreed to conceive a child and to raise the child together.”

The Court of Appeals last heard oral arguments at the end of March and issued opinions on April 4. It is scheduled to be back in session on April 25.

Judge Abdus-Salaam grew up in Washington, one of seven children in a poor family, and earned her law degree at Columbia University in 1977. After law school, she became a public defender in Brooklyn, representing people who could not afford lawyers, and then served as an assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State attorney general’s office. In one of her first cases, she won an anti-discrimination suit for more than 30 female New York City bus drivers who had been denied promotions.

Seymour W. James Jr., the attorney in chief of the Legal Aid Society, the nation’s largest provider of free legal services, said he had first met Judge Abdus-Salaam in the early 1980s, when she worked at the Civil Rights Bureau. Mr. James said her upbringing and years spent representing the poor and disenfranchised had shaped her perspective on the bench. “She was a strong believer in equal rights and equal access to justice,” he said in an interview.

In an interview in 2014 about black history, Judge Abdus-Salaam said that she had become interested in her family’s history as a young girl in public school and that her research had led her to discover that her great-grandfather was a slave in Virginia.

“All the way from Arrington, Va., where my family was the property of someone else, to my sitting on the highest court of the State of New York is amazing and huge,” she said. “It tells you and me what it is to know who we are and what we can do.”

Eric H. Holder Jr., the former United States attorney general, was classmates with Judge Abdus-Salaam at Columbia Law School and sang her praises at her swearing-in ceremony in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

It was clear that she was intelligent, serious and witty, he said at the time, according to The A.P. But she could have fun, too: “Sheila could boogie,” he said.
Ryan Parker Apr-12-2017 91 0
Charlie Murphy, Chappelle Show star and older brother of Eddie Murphy, has died, publicist Domenick Nati told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 57. 

Murphy died from leukemia on Wednesday, Nati said.

Murphy became a household name through Dave Chappelle's Comedy Central skit show thanks to his amazing stories of interactions with other celebrities during the height of his brother's fame in the 1980s. The most popular short turned into a skit about Rick James. 

Murphy's final tweet on Tuesday: "One to Sleep On: Release the past to rest as deeply as possible." 

Murphy also appeared in numerous movies, TV shows and even lent his voice to some video games.

Murphy was on record as saying he was a hothead when he worked as a bodyguard for his brother. He said he loved Eddie so much, and thought he was so funny, that he would pick fights with people who did not laugh at his brother's jokes when he performed.

"It was to the point that, if I went to a show and you were the hater in the audience that was like, 'That s--- wasn't funny' POW! I'm jamming you, man," Murphy once said. "Because the s--- was funny. There was 10,000 people laughing, and you that one joker that wanna try and squeeze a lemon. F--- you. I don't even want you to be there. And I took it as a personal crusade, and they were like, 'You know what, you're a little overzealous with your job.' So, that is how I ended up not doing that anymore."

Murphy is also remembered for his amazing tale about the legendary musician, Prince. Made into a skit for Chappelle Show, Murphy said he and friends played basketball against Prince and his entourage one night in the 1980s. Murphy said he was shocked how good Prince was at the game. Afterward, Prince made everyone pancakes. Prince was on record saying the story was true, even the breakfast.

"We just lost one of the funniest most real brothers of all time . Charlie Murphy RIP," Chris Rock wrote on Twitter.

Mogul Russell Simmons tweeted: "Just came out of meditation and learned that one of my friends and my biggest comedy idol passed. Damn I loved Charlie Murphy."
"Terribly saddened ... Charlie," comedian Paul Mooney wrote. 
Dan Kopf Apr-11-2017 135 0
The US-based economists Felipe Goncalves and Steven Mello have both had the police give them a break. It gave them a brilliant idea for uncovering racial bias in policing.

Both Goncalves and Mello had been stopped for driving above the speed limit, and when a police officer wrote their ticket, it was for less than the speed they were actually driving. The officer in both cases was being lenient. By reducing their official speed, they received a lesser fine. This kind of “speed discounting” is fairly common practice across US police departments.

Goncalves and Mello, PhD students at Princeton University who use economic analysis to study police misconduct, had stumbled on a test they could use to see if the police treated people of different races in this particular context. Were certain groups less likely to be treated leniently when caught driving over the speed limit? In a recently released paper (pdf), the researchers show that minorities are 50% less likely to get this kind of break.

In order to uncover this bias, Goncalves and Mello analyzed nearly one million tickets given out by Florida Highway Patrol from 2005-2015. They chose Florida because the state is particularly open with its fines data.

In Florida, like most states (pdf), the size of a speeding fine depends on the magnitude of the violation. In Florida, driving 6-9 miles per hour (mph) over a posted limit carries a fine of $125; 10 mph over, and it’s a minimum of least $200. Florida Highway Patrol officers give an inordinate amount of 9 mph tickets—more than 30% of all tickets were for going exactly 9 mph above the speed limit, indicating that the highway patrol does tend to be pretty lenient overall.

If racial bias plays a role in the likelihood of getting a break, we would expect minorities to get fewer 9 mph speeding tickets. That is exactly what Goncalves and Mello found. About 35% of all speeding tickets for drivers self-identifying as white are 9 mph tickets, while only 25% of tickets for minority drivers fall in that category.

Goncalves and Mello found the disparity has two causes: direct racial bias and regional differences.
“If you forced every officer to treat minorities the way they treat white people,” Goncalves told Quartz, the leniency disparity would drop, but only slightly. He and Mello found the majority of police officers actually don’t exhibit any bias at all. Their analysis suggests only 20% of officers are more lenient to a particular race—and though the majority of bias benefits whites, some officers are actually more lenient towards minorities. Women, younger officers, and minorities are all less likely display bias.

There are regional differences, though, that hide an insidious form of bias, explains Goncalves, that is powerful enough to have about twice the impact on the leniency disparity as direct racial bias. “Minorities tend to live in areas that are less lenient towards everybody,” he says. If all people in a 90% white area are given breaks, but all people in a 90% minority are not, it amounts to huge difference in actual experience, even if no individual police officer is acting biased.

What’s to be done? After they analyzed the impact of various policies, such as firing biased officers and hiring more minorities and women, Goncalves and Mello came to the conclusion that the most impactful policy would be to put more of the lenient officers in areas with large minority populations. In other words, give everybody an equal chance at a break.

Jim Malewitz Apr-11-2017 83 0
A federal judge has ruled — for the second time — that Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Latino and black voters in passing a strict voter identification law in 2011.  
by Jim MalewitzApril 10, 2017 5:20 PM
A federal judge has ruled — for the second time — that Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Latino and black voters in passing a strict voter identification law in 2011.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos ruled Monday that Texas “has not met its burden” in proving that lawmakers passed the nation’s strictest photo ID law, know as Senate Bill 14, without knowingly targeting minority voters.

The 10-page ruling, if it withstands almost certain appeals, could ultimately put Texas back on the list of states needing outside approval before changing election laws. A 2013 Supreme Court ruling sprung Texas and other states with a history of discrimination from that list.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last July that the Texas law disproportionately targeted minority voters who were less likely to have one of the seven forms of state-approved photo ID — a violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act. And Texas conducted the 2016 general election under a court-ordered relaxation of the rules.

But the appeals court asked Ramos, of Corpus Christi, to reconsider her previous ruling that lawmakers discriminated on purpose, calling parts of her conclusion “infirm.”

After weighing the evidence again, she came to the same conclusion, according to Monday’s ruling. Her decision did not identify what some have called a smoking gun showing intent to discriminate, but it cited the state’s long history of discrimination; “virtually unprecedented radical departures from normal practices” in fast-tracking the 2011 bill through the Legislature; the legislation's “unduly strict” terms; and lawmakers' “shifting rationales” for passing a law that some said was needed to crack down on voter fraud.

“The Court holds that the evidence found 'infirm' did not tip the scales,” Ramos wrote. Civil rights groups and others suing the state offered evidence that “established a discriminatory purpose was at least one of the substantial or motivating factors behind passage of SB 14," she added.
Marc Rylander, a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, said his office was "disappointed and will seek review of this ruling at the appropriate time." And Brantley Starr, Paxton's first deputy assistant, told the House Committee on Elections on Monday that he believes an appeals court will overturn overturn Ramos’ ruling — by considering the state’s effort this year to pass a new ID law.

Texas Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have long disputed that the Legislature discriminated — let alone did so knowingly — and have suggested that the law bolstered the integrity of elections. 

Democrats sought to capitalize on the ruling Monday, saying it highlighted "sickening" and "shameful" state efforts to suppress voter turnout.

“It is disgusting and shameful that Republicans have worked so hard to keep Texas’ diverse new majority away from the polls," Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a prepared statement. "Sadly, the damage has been done."

With the ruling, two federal courts — in consecutive months — have found that Texas lawmakers knowingly discriminated against Latino and black voters in elections. In March, a three-judge panel in San Antonio ruled the Legislature illegally “packed” and “cracked” minority populations in certain districts while redrawing the state’s congressional map in 2011— an effort to reduce their influence across Texas.
AP Apr-10-2017 133 0
A 19-year-old man charged with murder in the likely gang-related killings of four men on Chicago's South Side had lost his father in another shooting a day earlier in the same neighborhood, police said Wednesday.

Maurice Harris faces four counts of first-degree murder in the March 30 slayings in the South Shore neighborhood, Chicago police said. Harris was arrested Tuesday, police said. It wasn't immediately clear whether he has a lawyer who can comment on his behalf.

Two of his alleged victims were found shot to death inside the restaurant, a third was found outside and a fourth was found a block away. They included two brothers whose mother worked at the restaurant.

The deaths were part of gun violence in South Shore that left seven people dead in a 12-hour period. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said last week that the shootings were mostly due to gang conflict.

Commander Brendan Deenihan said Harris is the son of Jerry Jacobs, 37, who was shot March 29 about a mile away from the restaurant. Deenihan said less than "24 hours later, his own son goes and kills four people."

Following the deaths, Johnson promised a heavy and aggressive police presence in South Shore, saying coordinated police operations would target the people who are driving the violence.

The Cook County medical examiner's office identified the victims as brothers Raheem and Dillon Jackson, ages 19 and 20 respectively, and 28-year-old Emmanuel Stokes. The fourth was identified as Edwin Davis, 32.

According to police, Stokes and Davis were found dead inside the Nadia Fish and Chicken restaurant, Dillon Jackson was found outside and Raheem Jackson was found slumped against a tree a block away.

Jacksons' grandmother, Georgia Jackson, has said the two had gone to the restaurant to get food and to see their mother, who had worked there for several years. She said their mother called to tell her about the shooting.
Meera Jagannathan Apr-10-2017 368 0
A Chicago judge was shot dead in front of his South Side home early Monday in what cops called “yet another senseless act of violence.”

Cook County Judge Raymond Myles, 66, died after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds from a still-at-large suspect just before 5 a.m., Chicago police said in a press conference Monday.

A woman, whom authorities called “a close associate of the judge,” was shot once in the leg and suffered a non-life threatening injury. Multiple news outlets reported her age as 52.

Myles and his friend had likely been preparing to embark on their regular early-morning workout, Chief of Detectives Melissa Staples said. The woman exited Myles’ residence and encountered a man with a gun; after the two exchanged words, the assailant shot her — prompting Myles to investigate the commotion outside.

“Based off of this very preliminary information, he exchanged words with the offender before he was fatally shot multiple times,” Staples said.

The injured woman managed to phone 911. The suspect, who did not appear to have stolen any property, fled on foot.

“Based off of this very preliminary information, he exchanged words with the offender before he was fatally shot multiple times,” Staples said.
The injured woman managed to phone 911. The suspect, who did not appear to have stolen any property, fled on foot.

First Deputy Superintendent of Police Kevin Navarro branded the killing “a reminder of the ever-present challenge we have with illegal guns” and “a direct attack on the criminal justice system that keeps our society safe.”

“Every day, civil servants like Judge Myles and those of us in law enforcement work tirelessly to hold criminals accountable and make our streets safer,” Navarro told reporters. “You have our word that we will not let Judge Myles’ life be lost in vain, and we will hold his killer accountable.”

Myles joined the circuit court in October 1999 and was appointed as an associate judge in June 2011 — at one point ordering William Balfour, the man later found guilty of killing Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s family, to be held without bail. The judge had served in the criminal division for the past eight years.

Timothy Evans, the circuit court’s chief judge, eulogized Myles’ “wealth of experience in law and extensive service to the community.”

“I have always known Judge Myles to be focused and determined in the pursuit of justice, and his conduct earned him the confidence and respect of the people who appeared before him,” Evans said in a statement.

“All of our colleagues at the Leighton Criminal Court Building will miss Judge Myles, who they came to know for his kindness and his impartial administration of justice.”
A California gunman shot and killed his wife and one of her 8-year-old students at a San Bernardino elementary school before turning the gun on himself, officials said.

Jonathan Martinez, 8, was near his teacher Karen Smith when her husband opened fire in her special needs classroom at North Park elementary, police said at a Monday press conference. 
Cedric Anderson, 53, is believed to have said he needed to drop something off to Smith, also 53, concealing a handgun before terrifying her 15 students and two teachers aides.

Another boy, 9, was wounded in the gunfire, but was in stable condition late Monday.

San Bernardino police said that the children were not targeted, but were "the unfortunate victims of injuries from being in close proximity" to his instructor, with Jonathan pronounced dead shortly after arriving at a local hospital by helicopter. 

Cedric Anderson, 53, is believed to have entered Northpark Elementary in San Bernadino and shot and killed his estranged wife Karen Smith. (Facebook)

Anderson, who police said may have been recently estranged from Smith after a brief marriage, is believed to have reloaded at least once before shooting himself in the head with a revolver.

Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said that the suspect had a criminal history including domestic violence in a previous relationship.

It was not immediately clear what led to the shooting. 

A Facebook profile that appeared to belong to Anderson showed him and Smith on a "date night" at the beginning of March.

Smith was known for being "a very nice and generous and honest teacher," fifth-grader Camron Marshall told the Daily News.

The 10-year-old added that he was exhausted after a day of chaos at the Southern California school, filled with crying teachers who told him to duck for cover.

Roughly 600 students were evacuated by bus to nearby California State University San Bernardino for safety.

Some parents spent hours waiting to be reunited with their young children.

"It's a parent's worst nightmare. I heard about it at work and just took off, heading for the school," dad Jose Ramirez told the Daily News.

The shooting, which quickly gathered national attention, came less than a year and a half after a massacre hit the city in December 2015.

San Bernardino was the site of a mass shooting in December 2015 that left 14 people dead at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center.

The shooters — married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik — were killed hours later in a police shootout.

"We still haven't really healed from the massacre at the Inland Regional Center. And for this to happen at an elementary school, it's tantamount to pure evil," the Rev. Arnetta Carpenter, a 70-year-old waiting for her grandchildren at a local high school, told The News.

Monday's shooting also evoked memory of other shootings in recent years, particularly the Newtown massacre where 20 children were killed in 2013.

Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman shot at a 2011 event in Tucson, posted on Twitter, "elementary school classrooms should be safe places, full of kindness — never horror."
Chris Sommerfeldt Apr-08-2017 426 0
A Georgia man celebrating his honeymoon disappeared after jumping into the ocean from a cruise ship balcony Friday morning — and the vessel has since resumed course.

Reco Scott, a 32-year-old from suburban Atlanta, was on the Carnival cruise line’s Liberty ship northwest of the Berry Islands when he was seen jumping from a ninth deck balcony around 5 a.m., a Carnival spokesman told the Daily News in a statement.

The ship turned around after crew members learned of Scott's plunge and initiated a search mission.

A Coast Guard ship and a helicopter joined the effort in hopes of finding the missing man, but as of early Saturday he was still nowhere to be found.

"The missing guest's family has been notified and our CareTeam is providing support," the Carnival spokesman said. "We extend our thoughts and prayers to his family and loved ones during this difficult time."

Scott was on his honeymoon with wife Angelijica Scott after they renewed their vows last Saturday, relatives told WAGA.

They originally got married in November 2015, according to Angelijica Scott’s social media page.
Apr-08-2017 94 0
Former TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested for the second time in 11 days in San Antonio on Thursday.

Boykin turned himself in for a violation of his probation and was released on bond according to Bexar County.

Boykin's legal trouble started in San Antonio prior to the Alamo Bowl in January of 2016. In June, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of resisting arrest and was given one year's deferred adjudication probation and community service.

An incident less than two weeks ago in Dallas is what violated his probation.

According to WFAA, on March 27, Boykin was in a car that struck pedestrians in Dallas. He was arrested for public intoxication and possession of marijuana.

The Dallas Police Department says eight people were injured and that seven people were taken to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

Boykin is currently a backup quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks.
Victoria Bekiempis Apr-06-2017 83 0
Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha will get a $4 million payout from the city to settle his police brutality lawsuit, officials said Wednesday.

Sefolosha was patronizing the posh 1OAK nightclub in the early hours of April 8, 2015. After the 6-foot-6 Sefolosha left, former Knick Chris Copeland was knifed outside the club.

Cops from the NYPD's Cabaret Unit came to the scene and told people to leave, Sefolosha’s Manhattan Federal Court lawsuit, filed in April 2016, claimed.

Sefolosha was on his way out with his then-teammate Pero Antic when NYPD Officer Jean Paul Giacona "abused his authority," the suit claimed.

"After being provoked by Giacona," Sefolosha "referred to Giacona as a midget."

Officers arrested Sefolosha and broke his leg — which could have ruined his career, his suit maintained.

Sefolosha, 32, was found not guilty of charges relating to the incident — such as resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and obstruction of governmental administration — in October 2015.

"This settlement is not a concession that Mr. Sefolosha was blameless in this matter and there was no admission of liability by the defendants," the city Law Department said in a statement, "but in light of the gravity of his injuries, the potential impact on his career as a professional athlete and the challenge for a jury in sorting out the facts in this incident, the resolution of the case was in the best interests of the City."

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