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Soldier's Grieving Mother in Insurance Battle With Army
Jan-13-2011 1127 1


The mother of a North Texas soldier killed in Afghanistan says the U.S. government is giving her grief over his life insurance.

Pvt. Devon Harris from Mesquite was killed in action Nov. 27 at the age of 24.

His mother, Sorainya Harris, said the Army is denying coverage that she said her son arranged.

"I'd rather have him," she said. "I really would rather have him. If he was still with me, it would make me happy. But I know he will never come back."

Sorainya Harris said her life insurance form completed two weeks before her son deployed to Afghanistan indicates that he was increasing his coverage.

Documents that she said came from her son's Army file show that he submitted a form requesting $100,000 coverage on Dec. 29, 2009. Another form that appears to request $400,000 in coverage is dated Sept. 27, 2010.

"My conclusion is that, when he filled out the second one, he wanted his policy to be increased," Sorainya Harris said. "He's being deployed. He filled this out two weeks before he left."

She said Army officials were rude and disrespectful to her when she inquired about the issue.

"Devon did everything that was asked of him -- everything," she said. "He went, and he fought, and he died in the war. He made one request, and they denied it."

A spokesman at the U.S. Army Public Affairs Office at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. said the Army does not comment on matters concerning a soldier's confidential personnel file.

Sorainya Harris wrote to U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the family’s congressman in Washington.

Hensarling spokesman George Rasley said the congressman's office is looking into the matter.




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He was the Don of students.

A top educator at a Boston high school ran an underworld crime syndicate, punctuated by the “execution-style” shooting of a pupil over a marijuana deal gone bad, authorities said.

The Rev. Shaun Harrison, 55, lured his young protege into an ambush on Tuesday evening with promises of weed and girls before blasting him in the head, the Boston Herald reported.

The 17-year-old victim survived and told investigators he’d been selling pot for Boston English High School’s dean of students for several months but had clashed with him before the cold-blooded attack, authorities said.

Boston cops busted Harrison and three young men, who were leaving his house on Wednesday.

The three — Dante Lara, 24; Wilson Peguero, 23, and 19-year-old Oscar Pena — were headed out the door with guns, marijuana and a police scanner, Suffolk County prosecutors said in a news release.

Acting on a tip from the 17-year-old, investigators found a mural celebrating the Latin Kings street gang painted on a wall of Harrison’s house, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Prosecutors also noted the respected educator and two of the suspects had matching tattoos, authorities said.

Harrison at one time ran the “street ministry” for Charles Street A.M.E. church and led an anti-gang program for youth in the community.

In secret, he also operated a criminal enterprise and enlisted young men to deal marijuana for him, the teen victim told investigators.

Tuesday’s shooting was captured on surveillance video from a nearby business, authorities said.

Harrison reportedly met the teen at his house and told him to walk with him to a house where there would be drugs and young ladies for him.

Harrison drifted behind as they strolled Magazine St., pointed pistol at the back of the teen’s head and fired, prosecutors said.

He allegedly ran off after the 7:15 p.m. shooting, leaving his wounded victim in the street.

The 17-year-old was rush to Boston Medical Center.

Harrison was arraigned Thursday on one count of armed assault with intent to murder and numerous felony weapons charges.

A judge set bail at $250,000.

He was fired Thursday morning following Wednesday's arrest, school officials said. He'd been at Boston English for about two months and held various other positions during the past six years, a spokeswoman told the Daily News.

“The district and the school are saddened and shocked by today's news and the school is providing counseling support for students," Boston Public Schools spokeswoman Denise Snyder said.

Harrison is scheduled to return to court on April 6.

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There's still a slim chance that Bobbi Kristina Brown will live — but there’s little possibility she’ll recover.

Whitney Houston’s daughter remained in a medically induced coma on Thursday — more than a month after she was discovered face down in a bathtub on Jan. 31 — but Brown’s doctors are continuing the risky strategy hoping the 22-year-old’s youth will pull her through.

"In someone young we definitely give her a chance to recover as much as possible, so it is not surprising that they're keeping her sedated for a long time," says Dr. Rafael Ortiz, director of the Center for Cerebrovascular Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital.

The purpose of the medical coma is to allow Brown’s brain swelling — which resulted from Brown’s loss of oxygen — to lessen. At that point, physicians will consider pulling her out of the coma.

"That's the only point (at which) you can make an accurate assessment.

Doctors attempted to bring Brown out of the coma last week — a process that takes a few days — but she reportedly started going into seizures, which could cause more brain swelling, Ortiz said.

A decision to take Brown off life support is still a few weeks away, says NYU Langone Medical Center medical ethicist Dr. Art Caplan.

"After a couple months they start to think you're not gonna come back," he said.

Brown may regain enough bodily functions — breathing, temperature control, blinking — to be in a permanent vegetative state, he said. Unless Brown has given advance instructions in the event of her incapacitation, there will likely be a family dispute on how to move forward.

The extent of her injury — and how long her brain was deprived of oxygen — is still unknown. But being underwater for more than a few minutes is very dangerous.

"Brain tissue dies really quickly without oxygen and the damage is irreversible," Caplan said.

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African-American Ferguson residents may have felt like they were being used as the city's personal ATM, by the way the police department hit them with traffic fines, according to a scathing new Justice Department report.

One woman has paid $550 on what was original a $151 fine for two parking tickets -- and, more than seven years later, she still owes $541.

The police also let dogs loose on residents, sometimes without warning.

One 14-year-old African-American boy said he was waiting for his friends at a house, unarmed, when police released a dog that bit his ankle, thigh and arm.

Harassment was also a common occurrence.

An African-American man was cooling off in his car after playing basketball in a public park in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2012 when a police officer approached him and accused him of being a pedophile.

This was the atmosphere of the city where white Officer Darren Wilson and 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown confronted each other last August -- with Wilson's shooting of Brown triggering months of protests that only intensified after local officials decided not to charge Wilson with a crime.

The Justice Department completed a months-long review of the case and released those results Wednesday. The report cites "unlawful bias against and stereotypes about African-Americans," and points to a number of violations of constitutional rights.

Attorney General Eric Holder said a "highly toxic environment" existed between Ferguson police officers and the city's African-American residents before Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown last year.

"It's not difficult to imagine how a single tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg," Holder said.

He pointed to the use of excessive force overwhelmingly against African-American residents, noting that only African-Americans were bit by police dogs, and said "no alternative explanation" except racial bias exists to explain it.

Holder also said Ferguson's police department violated residents' First Amendment rights to record the activities of officers, regularly conducted illegal searches and unlawfully detained citizens and competed with each other to "see who can issue the largest number of citations in a single stop."

He said the city's municipal courts and local government "relies on the police force to serve essentially as a collection agency."

In a press conference later on Wednesday, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said the Justice Department decision to not press federal charges against Wilson was not surprising, given the evidence.

He also took the opportunity to slam the federal agency for leaking information to the media.

"The only pattern and practice I can talk about is the pattern and practice of the Department of Justice of leaking information to the media," he said. "[No one is saying] there haven't been instances of racial profiling and other profiling, but to suggest that somehow it's all that goes on out there in fact does a great disservice to everybody."

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A sleeping 8-year-old child was shot in her bed early Tuesday, hours before she was to wake up and begin attending elementary school in New Orleans.

Steps away from little Paris Williams’ bedroom lay her 25-year-old mother, Walesha Williams, murdered in a gruesome triple shooting that police are still trying to untangle.

The child, who was shot in the head, died hours later at a nearby hospital, leaving relatives wailing in grief outside the bloodied home.

“It’s not fair,” said Mercedes Brown, Walesha’s aunt. “She was sleeping. This baby was in her bed. Oh, my God, she was in the bed!”

Mercedes Brown, Walesha’s aunt, said the shooting ‘wasn’t fair’ because Paris had been shot in her bed.

The lone survivor, a 39-year-old woman who slipped in a puddle of blood and said she played dead after the gunman shot her several times, told police the shooter was Walesha Williams’ new boyfriend.

Williams and the man had been arguing, said the woman, who has not been identified. The man’s wherabouts were still unknown Wednesday, and police had yet to name him as a suspect.

Walesha Williams returned to New Orleans last summer from Houston, where she had been living for nearly a decade since Hurrican Katrina, the Times-Picayune reported.

The young mother secured a home for herself and her daughter and just last month, Paris’ grandparents brought the little girl to Louisiana to be with her mother.

Walesha and her boyfriend registered Paris for third grade on Monday, and she went shopping with the other woman injured in the shooting to buy the girl new school clothes.

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The U.S. Department of Justice has cleared Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson of civil rights violations in the August shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, the department said in a report on Wednesday.

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The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday concluded that the Ferguson, Missouri police department routinely engages in racially biased practices, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the department's findings.

The investigation into the police department began in August after the shooting of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson sparked national protests.

The findings are expected to be formally released as early as Wednesday, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.

The findings will be used by the Justice Department to either negotiate with Ferguson officials and enter a consent decree or, if negotiations fail, sue the city.

Analysis of over 35,000 pages of police records found that African Americans make up 93 percent of arrests in Ferguson while accounting for only 67 percent of the city's population, the official said.

African-Americans also made up the majority of the incidents in which officers used force and all of the incidents where dogs bit citizens, the official said.

In the city's court system, African Americans were less likely to have their cases dismissed by a municipal judge and made up 95 percent of people held longer than two days in the Ferguson jail.

The Ferguson Municipal Court, which Attorney General Eric Holder has previously criticized for unfairly penalizing the city's poor, issued the majority of its warrants for minor violations such as parking, traffic and housing code violations.

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Former Atlanta Public School Superintendent Beverly Hall has died, Channel 2 Action News has learned.

A member of Hall's legal team confirmed the death to Channel 2's Mark Winne.

Hall has been battling breast cancer as dozens of educators stand trial for a cheating scandal that happened during her tenure as head of the school district.

Hall faced racketeering and conspiracy charges but has not been well enough to stand trial.

Hall's oncologist argued in court last summer that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that spread through several parts of her body.

She was first diagnosed with the disease in 2004.

Hall defended her leadership style and denied any involvement in the cheating scandal. She blamed staff for allowing wide spread cheating on standardized tests.

A report by the state accused Hall of ignoring cover-ups during her twelve years as superintendent.

Hall resigned from her position in 2010. The American Association of School Administrators named Hall as National Superintendent of the Year in 2009.

Hall was 66 years old.

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Meg Wagner Mar-02-2015 191 0
A 4-year-old Texas boy accidentally shot and killed himself Sunday after he found a loaded gun in his babysitter’s house.

Codrick McCall Jr.’s mom dropped the boy off at a friend’s Harris County home Saturday so she could celebrate her birthday, relatives told the Houston Chronicle. At some point on Sunday morning, Codrick found a gun in the home and shot himself, deputies said.

"My baby is gone," Codrick’s mom, Ashley Beal, cried at the scene.

Harris County deputies and Texas Child Protective Services are investigating how the 4-year-old got his hands on the loaded weapon. Any charges in the case will be determined by a grand jury, officials said.

Codrick's mom dropped him off with the sitter Saturday so she could celebrate her birthday. His grandmother Sharron McCall said the weapon should have had a lock on it.

Codrick's mom dropped him off with the sitter Saturday so she could celebrate her birthday.

The 4-year-old’s family said the boy’s death could have been prevented. His grandmother Sharron McCall told ABC 13 the weapon should have had a lock on it.

"You can't bring death back,” she said. "All we can do is try to pick up the pieces and continue with life. There is nothing else to do."

Two days before Codrick’s death, another Harris County boy accidentally killed himself. The unidentified 3-year-old shot himself in the neck while his mom was in another part of the house, police said.

In January, a 2-year-old boy in Florida died after he found his father’s loaded gun. Last month, a 3-year-old Louisiana girl died after she picked up her dad’s handgun.

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Tobias Salinger Mar-02-2015 191 0
She left a prescription for how she hoped her quadruplets' lives would unfold, but little else.

Erica Morales, who died shortly after giving birth to quadruplets, left her husband Carlos a road map for raising their children in the form of an iPad note that outlined her wishes for them to learn English and Spanish, attend college and get good jobs.

"I will try my hardest to make sure that happens," said Carolos Morales

The Arizona father, 29, shared new details about the moments leading up to her death and how the babies are progressing.

Erica Morales suffered severe blood loss and died early in the morning Jan. 16, shortly after doctors and nurses delivered her quads via a C-section.

Morales is now caring for son Carlos Jr. and daughters Tracey, Paisley and Erica, the widower told People magazine.

Morales, a Phoenix manufacturing worker, discussed his efforts to cope with the tragic loss of his wife Erica, 36, who experienced severe blood loss and died early in the morning Jan. 16, shortly after doctors and nurses at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital delivered the quads via a C-section.

"I went from having the best day of my life to the next morning experiencing the worst day of my life," Morales told People. "My four babies came into the world and then my wife died."

Erica Morales gave birth to four babies before she died.

Morales said infants Carlos and Tracey have come home from the hospital and that he visits Paisley and Erica — his wife's namesake — every day.

The couple experienced a miscarriage before conceiving the quadruplets through in vitro fertilization.

Family friend Nicole Todman started a fund-raiser on GoFundMe. As of Monday morning, over 7,000 donors had given more than $253,000, according to the website.

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