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Gospel Singer Arrested On Abuse Charges
BlackLegalIssues.com Mar-13-2009 688 0


A star of gospel music is accused of assaulting his ex-wife on Valentine's Day weekend.

Debra Winans said her former husband BeBe Winans pushed her to the ground in front of their children. The two were married for 16 years before divorcing in 2003.

The alleged assault happened when BeBe Winans showed up at his ex-wife's Nashville home and the two began arguing about custody issues. Debra and BeBe Winans have a 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.

According to an affidavit, what started out as a "verbal altercation" turned into assault when Debra Winans was "pushed to the ground."

Later, the Grammy-winning Gospel recording artist and judge of the Black Entertainment Television reality show Sunday Best was arrested.

"When you're married to someone known all over the world, it has serious challenges," said Debra Winans.

Debra Winans said people of faith are held to an even higher standard, and many Christians suffer through abuse rather than reaching out for help.

"Until you realize something's not changing, you pray all day long. The power of God is real, but one thing he's not going to do is go against someone's will. We make choices," said Debra Winans.

She said she is not afraid of her former husband and hopes by speaking out she will help others.

A spokesman for BeBe Winans said the singer is in Atlanta working as a judge on a BET program. As of Thursday evening, there was no statement from BeBe Winans regarding his ex-wife's allegations.

Debra Winans said she is working with other abuse victims in hopes of helping them find healthy solutions to their problem.

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Dec-25-2014 222 0
A Dallas man who was released from prison three years ago for a rape he always maintained he didn’t commit has finally been declared innocent by a state district judge.

Rickey Dale Wyatt’s attorney, John Raley, called the judge’s order “happy holiday news” and said his client was “ecstatic, euphoric and very grateful to everyone involved,” including the attorneys with the Innocence Project who pushed for his release.

Last Thursday, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins asked the court to dismiss the indictment that led to Wyatt’s conviction. “There is no credible evidence” that implicates Wyatt, the filing said. Wyatt was much smaller than the man who committed the crime, and the district attorney now believes he is “actually innocent of the crime for which he was sentenced.”

The motion to dismiss also said DNA testing showed that Wyatt could not have committed the 1980 rape. When he was released three years ago, prosecutors did not yet have the DNA evidence they said they needed to exonerate him. Russell Wilson, who leads the Conviction Integrity Unit in the district attorney’s office, vowed to keep digging.

State District Judge Dominique Collins signed the order dismissing the case late last week: “The Court finds the defendant is actually innocent.”

Raley said: “Like most good things in life, this has been a team effort. We appreciate the DA’s office looking at the evidence and reaching this conclusion.”

Wyatt was released from prison in 2012 at the age of 56, having spent 31 years behind bars. Attorneys with the Innocence Project said prosecutors on the original case had withheld evidence that would have acquitted him, and state District Judge John Creuzot agreed.

But when Wyatt was released, he was not proclaimed innocent. Creuzot said at the time that his case was “not there yet.” Maybe it would get there, he said, if and when prosecutors found the evidence. Maybe. One day.

That day was Dec. 18, according to documents filed in federal court on Christmas Eve.

Raley — who earlier this year filed a federal lawsuit against the city, the Police Department and the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences — is now hoping the state will expedite paying Wyatt the money he’s owed for being wrongfully imprisoned for more than three decades. He’s entitled to $80,000 a year for each year he was behind bars.

In Wyatt’s case, that adds up to $2.5 million.

Raley said he would move to dismiss his suit against the city and the other defendants only when his client is paid the money coming to him.

“The timing of this compensation involves factors beyond Mr. Wyatt’s control,” says Raley’s Christmas Eve filing containing Collins’ order. “When the process is complete, and funding is approved and allocated, Mr. Wyatt intends to accept the funding and nonsuit the case. Until then, Mr. Wyatt wishes this case to remain on file to assure that all his rights are protected.”

Wyatt was actually arrested in connection with three rapes, but tried in just one. Attorneys with the Innocence Project discovered that the victim in that case had not identified Wyatt as her attacker during a live police line-up. Prosecutors and police also withheld evidence that Wyatt didn’t fit the victim’s description of her attacker. Innocence Project attorneys alleged prosecutorial misconduct. In 2012, the judge and district attorney agreed.

When Wyatt was sent to prison, his daughter was 3. He would go on to become the longest-serving exonerated man behind bars in the state’s history.


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Dec-25-2014 174 0
A man who was shopping at a suburban New Orleans mall on Christmas Eve was shot to death at close range and a suspect was in custody, police said.

The incident happened around 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, less than two hours before the Oakwood Center mall in Gretna was scheduled to close for the holiday, said Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand.

The victim had just purchased something from Foot Locker and had turned from the cash register when a man walked within 3 or 4 feet of him and began shooting, Normand said. No one else was injured.

"Obviously, based on witness accounts, he walked in with purpose of shooting this particular individual," Normand said when asked if the person was targeted.

At least three shots were fired and the man was pronounced dead on the scene, he said.

Sheriff's office spokesman Col. John N. Fortunato said in a statement Wednesday night that the incident was captured on surveillance video and that the victim had been identified as 24-year-old James Vaughn of Harvey.

In the aftermath of the shooting, "there was bedlam in the mall," Normand said. Mall security, deputies and Gretna police calmed everyone to make for an orderly evacuation, he said.

Normand said the shooter was apprehended several blocks from the mall.

The suspect is a 25-year-old man, according to Fortunato's statement. The Associated Press is not naming him because he has not formally been charged.

Normand said authorities were questioning the man, who would likely face a charge of second-degree murder.

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Nicole Hensley Dec-25-2014 177 0
An attempted robbery at a north Texas home left a promising Howard University football player dead during his holiday break, local reports said.

Terrence Neal Tusan, 22, was identified as one of two suspects discovered shot to death at a Denton apartment complex over the weekend after allegedly breaking into a home, authorities told the Denton Record-Chronicle.

He and Jakobi Dmon Gipson, 18, of Arlington, Tex., are accused of masking their faces and forcing their way into an apartment Sunday before gunfire erupted.

Tusan’s body was found outside the apartment in the 1500 block of Meadow St. Gipson’s body was discovered inside the apartment, police said.

The news shocked his mother, Donna Tusan, who last saw him Sunday to watch the Dallas Cowboys.

The Howard senior came home for Howard University’s holiday break and boasted about his grades.

“He was very happy with his grades,” his mother told the Record-Chronicle. “We were going to do some more Christmas shopping.”

Police are not sure if the attempted robbery was drug-related, but the victims have since moved out of their apartment.

Two handguns were recovered at the apartment - one on a victim’s person and another with the suspects, the newspaper reported.

Tusan played football at Euless Trinity High School before playing three seasons with the Howard Bisons.

The private university in Washington D.C. took note of Tusan’s death in a statement released Tuesday.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the Tusan family at this difficult time,” a spokesperson wrote.

His 70-yard touchdown with only 5:22 left in a Sept. 2014 game against Rutgers had a mention in the Daily News, despite his team’s loss.

Tusan's brother, Joe, also a football player, was killed in 2004 during a hit-and-run described as a racially motivated incident. The 18-year-old was riding in the back of a pickup truck that was rear ended and knocked off the road, according to a story published by the Oklahoman in 2005.

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AP Dec-24-2014 197 0
A suburban St. Louis police officer shot and killed a man who pointed a gun at him at a gas station late Tuesday, police said.

A crowd of about 100 people were gathered early Wednesday at the scene in Berkeley, Missouri, a few miles from Ferguson, where a white police officer fatally shot black 18-year-old Michael Brown in August.

According to a statement from St. Louis County police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schellman, a Berkeley police officer was conducting a routine business check at a gas station around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday when he saw two men and approached them.

One of the men pulled a handgun and pointed it at the officer, Schellman said. The officer fired several shots, striking and fatally wounding the man.

The second man fled, and the dead man's handgun has been recovered, according to Schellman.

The St. Louis County Police Department is handling the investigation, and no further details about the incident were immediately available.

Authorities did not immediately identify the man who was shot. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a woman at the scene, Toni Martin, said he was her son, 18-year-old Antonio Martin.

Toni Martin told the newspaper that her son was with his girlfriend at the time of the shooting.

The protesters who gathered early Wednesday milled around the gas pumps at the station, some taunting and yelling at police officers.

Some had strands of yellow police-line tape draped around their neck, with others using it as a headband.

Authorities from multiple agencies, some in riot gear, stood among the protesters.

Across the street, another gas station's glass doors were shattered, and police were standing outside the door, turning people away.

Orlando Brown, 36, of nearby St. Charles was among the protesters. He said he didn't have all the details about the shooting but said he wondered if it was a case of police aggression.

"I understand police officers have a job and have an obligation to go home to their families at the end of the night," he said. "But do you have to treat every situation with lethal force? ... It's not a racial issue, or black or white. It's wrong or right."

Brown said he was pepper-sprayed during the protest as police tried to separate him from a friend whose hand he was holding. He said his friend was arrested for failing to disperse.

Neither Schellman nor Berkeley police could immediately confirm that pepper spray was used or that arrests were made. Photos from the scene showed authorities scuffling with at least a few protesters.

Brown's death led to weeks of protests and some looting in the St. Louis area, actions that were renewed last month when a grand jury chose not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.

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Dec-23-2014 200 0
Washington, DC — The shooting death of two NYPD Officers was truly shocking and tragic. The National Bar Association extends its sincere condolences to the officers’ families, the New York Police Department and the citizens of New York City in mourning this senseless loss of life. We also wish a speedy recovery to the Baltimore victim who was seriously injured by the assailant.

Like so many others we have experienced in this Nation, including the deaths of 20 first graders in Connecticut; the murder of 12 and wounding of 58 in the theater shooting in Colorado; and the killing of 6 and wounding of 13 in Arizona at a Congresswoman's political rally, the taking of these lives provide continuing examples of individuals suffering mental illness having easy access to guns.

Many pundits have already suggested a causal connection between the senseless killing of these police officers and recent protests and community activism focusing our Nation’s attention on the issue of “police brutality” and “police shootings of unarmed African Americans."

"Any attempt to gain political mileage from this tragedy is divisive and only heightens the tension in communities across our Nation," stated Pamela Meanes, President of the National Bar Association.

"A careful and independent review of the killer's actions on the morning of the shooting and his background reveals that the senseless killing of these officers was not motivated by recent protests and activism, which for the most part have been peaceful and orderly by people of all races throughout the world, "President Meanes said. "On the same day that he committed the murder of the police officers, the assailant attempted to kill his ex-girlfriend as she tried to stop him from committing suicide. More importantly, the now deceased assailant had a documented history of mental illness, criminally violent behavior, and easy access to guns," stated President Meanes.

The National Bar Association understands and respects the job police officers perform every day to keep communities safe. However, we still believe that “police brutality” and “police shootings of unarmed African Americans” are concerns that requires an open discussion to improve the trust between communities of color and law enforcement. We will not waver in our demand for accountability when unarmed African Americans are being shot and killed.

#
ABOUT THE NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION
The National Bar Association was founded in 1925 and is the nation's oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges. It represents the interests of approximately 60,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students.The NBA is organized around 23 substantive law sections, 9 divisions, 12 regions and 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and around the world. For more information, visit: www.nationalbar.org

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Larry Celona Dec-23-2014 244 0
The NYPD’s chief of department abruptly quit Friday rather than take a promotion from Police Commissioner Bill Bratton that the chief believed was a powerless position setting him up for failure, law-enforcement sources told The Post.

Philip Banks III was to be promoted to first deputy commissioner at a ceremony Monday but backed out at the last minute during a heated meeting at Police Headquarters, sources said.

“You still have not done anything. You have not changed the direction of the Police Department. You asked me to come up with six or seven policies that you did not implement,” Banks fumed at the city’s top cop.

“The department is just going to go further into turmoil, and I don’t want to get blamed for that.”

The move left the NYPD without a black or Hispanic person in any of its top three positions after Bratton’s ouster of First Deputy Rafael Pineiro, who resigned under pressure in September.

It also set up a looming crisis between Mayor de Blasio and the minority community, with several City Council members expressing outrage at Banks’ departure.

In a statement, Council Members Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) and Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx) said de Blasio “was elected in large part [by] New York’s black and brown community on assurance that he would mend poor police-community relations.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton, an NYPD critic, said he had spoken to de Blasio and would discuss their “conversation about diversity” at a rally in Harlem on Saturday.

Sources said that when Bratton offered Banks Pineiro’s post, Banks — then No. 3 in the NYPD’s chain of command — insisted on assuming more responsibilities than Pineiro had.

Pineiro’s duties were largely administrative, including oversight of the Personnel, Support Services and Criminal Justice bureaus.

Banks demanded that his successor as chief of department report directly to him, which is how the NYPD has historically operated, except under Commissioners Lee Brown and Ray Kelly.

His other conditions included oversight of the Internal Affairs Bureau, sources said.

During his first stint as commissioner, Bratton had restored the first deputy’s authority over the chief of department.

Bratton initially promised to grant Banks’ wishes, sources said.

But Bratton dithered, and the power struggle came to a head during Friday’s morning meeting at 1 Police Plaza as Banks demanded a firm answer.

Bratton said he needed more time to consider the matter, at which point Banks exploded and said he was quitting, sources said.

Sources said Bratton implored Banks to stay, telling him, “I think you’re making a major mistake.”

“I’m asking you to reconsider. Give me 30 days to work it out,” Bratton said.

But Banks refused and stormed out, sources said.

Bratton then called de Blasio, who summoned the commish to City Hall and chewed him out.

“You promised me you were going to use Banks and implement some of his policies. I counted on you to make changes, and now I’m blindsided by this,” de Blasio yelled.

Bratton appeared shaken as he left the meeting and “looked like he needed a glass of water,” which he was handed by an aide, sources said.

Reached Friday night, Banks said he still backed de Blasio and Bratton. “I support both of them and any comments to the contrary are not my comments,” Banks told The Post, insisting there had been no disagreement over policy.

“Those are not my comments. I’m not concerned with that. That did not come from me,” he said.

Sources said the mayor didn’t want to lose Banks, who was First Lady Chirlane McCray’s choice for commissioner over Bratton.

In a statement, de Blasio said he was “disappointed to hear of Chief Philip Banks’ personal decision to step down.”

“He has served New York City admirably during his nearly 30 years on the force, and we were enthusiastic about the leadership and energy he would have brought to the position of first deputy commissioner,” he added.

Bratton told reporters he was surprised when Banks quit, and he insisted he had planned on giving him more responsibilities.

He said Banks “was going to focus very heavily on our personnel-development training initiatives at the academy, and also the significant rebuilding of relationships with the minority communities after the questionable stop-and-frisk issues over the past few years.”

“He was going to effectively be my right-hand man as he has largely been this past year, so he will be missed, certainly by me both personally and professionally,” Bratton said.

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AP Dec-23-2014 224 0
A white Milwaukee police officer fired after killing a mentally ill black man in April won't face criminal charges, the top county prosecutor said Monday, a decision that prompted the U.S. attorney to later announce a federal investigation of the incident.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said Christopher Manney won't be charged because he shot Dontre Hamilton in self-defense. Manney is at least the third white police officer across the country to avoid charges in the past month after a confrontation that led to a black man's death.

"(Manney's) use of force was privileged and justified," Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said during a news conference. "On a human level, of course, it's tragic ... (but) our job is not to tell people necessarily what they want to hear."

After waiting eight months for the decision, Hamilton's family reacted with disappointment and anger. At an emotional news conference on the steps of the federal courthouse, family attorneys said they had called for a federal investigation. They also urged that protests be peaceful "so as not to dishonor Dontre's name and the Hamilton family name."

But Hamilton's brother Nate spoke bitterly, saying the family had "cried too long" and "we don't have to be the voice of reason."

"We need to stop the violence in our communities so we can get rid of these pigs that kill us," he said to shouts and applause. "Because that's what they are. They feed, they feed off of us. And we can't let them do that no more."

His remarks came just two days after two New York City police officers were ambushed in their patrol car. Police said that attack was carried out by a man who posted online about putting "wings on pigs."

Police Chief Edward Flynn said he was disturbed by Hamilton's choice of words. "I would like to chalk it up to the emotion of the moment, but we don't need people implying or expressing a need for violence against police," he said.

Jon Safran, a Hamilton family attorney, later said Nate Hamilton doesn't condone "any type of violence" and the family was dealing with "great anxiety and frustration."

Hamilton's family has led mostly peaceful protests in the months since his death. They took to the streets again Monday afternoon, with Nate Hamilton leading a crowd as it marched through intersections chanting "Arrest the police!" and "Whose streets? Our streets!" The group eventually dispersed without incident.

Later Monday evening, more protesters gathered in a pouring rain at the park where Manney shot Dontre Hamilton. Nate Hamilton told the group to remain peaceful because media outlets are looking to broadcast violence and the protesters need to be smarter than that. "Don't nobody be violent," he said.

That crowd left peacefully as well.

About eight hours after Chisholm announced his decision, U.S. Attorney James Santelle said the Department of Justice, along with his office and the FBI, will conduct a review to determine if there was a violation of federal civil rights law. Manney's attorney didn't return a message seeking comment.

Manney shot Hamilton, 31, after responding to a call of a man sleeping in a downtown park. Manney said Hamilton resisted when he tried to frisk him. The two exchanged punches before Hamilton got hold of Manney's baton and hit him on the neck, the former officer has said. Manney then shot Hamilton 14 times.

Several witnesses told police they saw Hamilton holding Manney's baton aggressively before Manney shot him, according to Chisholm's report. Police said they have no video of the incident.

Chisholm consulted with police use-of-force experts, who concluded Manney's conduct was justified. Emanuel Kapelsohn of the Peregrine Corp. said all the shots were fired in 3 or 4 seconds and there was no evidence that Manney continued firing after Hamilton hit the ground.

Manney suffered minor injuries, including a bite to his right thumb, a neck strain and a neck contusion, the report said. He was treated for post-concussion syndromes, a mild traumatic brain injury and had physical therapy for bicep and rotator cuff injuries, the report said.

Flynn fired Manney in October. He said then that Manney correctly identified Hamilton as mentally ill but ignored department policy and treated him as a criminal by frisking him.

Hamilton's family said he suffered from schizophrenia and had recently stopped taking his medication.

The Milwaukee Police Association condemned Manney's firing as a political move, and members voted no confidence in Flynn soon after the firing, which Manney has appealed. On Monday, the union praised Chisholm's decision, saying the officer had "no other option" in the situation.

Hamilton's death preceded the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City, but the case hasn't attracted as much attention as those fatal encounters with police.

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Erin Calabrese Dec-22-2014 181 0
The Rev. Al Sharpton claimed Sunday that he’s received death threats in the wake of execution-style murders of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn.

Sharpton, appearing alongside the wife and mother of Eric Garner, played a voicemail for reporters purportedly of a racist threat made against him.

“Hey n—-r, stop killing innocent people, I’m going to get you!” according to the barely audible recording.

The voice mail also included three f-bombs that went over live television in New York.

Sharpton also took umbrage with police union leaders who have blamed Mayor de Blasio for allegedly inciting violence against cops.

NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were gunned down in cold blood as they sat in their patrol car on Saturday in Brooklyn.

“To blame the mayor and others is not what we need,” Sharpton said. “The blame game will only lead to further kinds of venom and further division.”

Sharpton urged protesters and police critics to remain peaceful.

“If we go into an area where it’s eye for an eye, then it is only a matter of who can out pluck eyes rather than who can make the system fair for everybody,” he said. “We have in every rally and march … been very clear in stressing of nonviolence. We even would stop rhetoric that was wrong.”

Police-community relations have been tense ever since a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict the white cop who put Garner, who was black, in a choke hold, contributing to his death.

Garner was being arrested for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes when Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a chokehold to subdue him.

Garner’s mom, Gwen Carr, and wife Esaw Garner eulogized the two slain officers Sunday and rejected any link between the protests they’ve led and Saturday’s tragedy in Brooklyn.

“Anyone that is standing beside us, we want you to not use Eric Garner’s name for violence because we are not about that,” Carr said.

“These two police officers lost their lives senselessly, and our condolence (are) with the family, and we stand with the family.”

Esaw Garner added: “My husband was not a violent man, and we don’t want any violence connected to his name, thank you.”

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Barry Paddock Dec-22-2014 217 0
Gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley had a “very troubled childhood” and had previously tried to kill himself, his mother told authorities, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.

“The mother expressed fear of him, and she said she hasn’t seen him in one month,” Boyce said. “Brinsley attempted suicide in the past and attempted to hang himself a year ago.”

The 28-year-old cop killer, who is estranged from his family, has a criminal record that stretches back at least a decade, with arrests in Ohio and Georgia.

Brinsley had 15 prior arrests in Georgia for misdemeanor assault, shoplifting, grand larceny and gun possession, Boyce said.

Brinsley was also arrested four times in Ohio for robbery and misdemeanor theft and did a two-year prison stint from August 2011 to July 2013 for criminal possession of a weapon, said Boyce.

Despite the long rap sheet, a friend of Brinsley said he was shocked to hear about the twisted execution, describing the killer as a smart and “God-fearing” man.


Ismaaiyl Brinsley, left, and friend Jay Romero, right. Romero recounted how Brinsley was a 'God-fearing person' and called Brinsley's actions 'a cowardly move.'
Jay Hustle via Facebook

Ismaaiyl Brinsley, left, and friend Jay Romero, right. Romero recounted how Brinsley was a 'God-fearing person' and called Brinsley's actions 'a cowardly move.'


“This would’ve never crossed my mind for him to do something like this,” said Jay Romero, who spent a month with Brinsley last Christmas.

“It brought tears to my eyes. No human has the right to take any human’s life, that’s wrong,” said Romero, 29. “What he did is a cowardly move. I don’t know what he went through, what was on his mind.”

After shooting his ex-girlfriend in Maryland, cops said Brinsley drove to Brooklyn and ambushed Officers Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32, as they were sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn. He then blew his brains out on a nearby G train platform.

The cop killer had a 'very troubled childhood' and had previously tried to take his own life, according to his mom.


He said Brinsley had two daughters and had been dating a woman in Baltimore for a long time and mentioned her often.

“He always talked about her, that she was the only girl he loved,” he said.

Brinsley’s rampage started about 5:45 a.m. when he shot ex-girlfriend Shaneka Thompson in Owings Mills, Md., police said.

She remains hospitalized with wounds to her stomach.

He stole the 29-year-old woman’s phone and took off to his native Brooklyn, posting ominous messages on Instagram showing his bloodstained pants and the handgun that was later used to murder the officers.

Romero said Brinsley would often post news stories on his Facebook page, but never accompanied them with strong opinions. He didn’t remember Brinsley talking about killing cops.

Officials said it didn’t appear that Brinsley was affiliated with any gang.

Brinsley was Muslim and also went by Isaiah and Moses, Romero said.

The Vegas man said he’d refer to his friend as “Brooklyn” when they texted each other.

“He was very proud of being where he was from, Brooklyn,” he said.

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