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Gospel Singer Arrested On Abuse Charges
BlackLegalIssues.com Mar-13-2009 813 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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KATE BRUMBACK Sep-05-2015 74 0
Citing a sliver of civil rights-era legislation more commonly used as protection against discriminatory landlords, a black couple is suing their former neighbor and a north Georgia city they say failed to stop him from harassing them.

Gregory and Sophia Bonds say the slurs and threats began the day they moved into the brick ranch rental home in a well-kept neighborhood in Gainesville, northeast of Atlanta, back in February 2012.

Roy Turner Jr., the white neighbor who worked for the city's solid waste department, verbally assaulted them whenever he saw them outside, including sometimes while he was working, the couple contends. He also sometimes walked and made sounds like an ape when he saw them, the Bonds family asserts in a lawsuit filed last month against Turner and the city.

Turner told The Associated Press he wasn't aware of the lawsuit but that he never threatened anyone.

"I said 'porch monkey,'" he said with a chuckle. "That's just a joking-around term."

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said he couldn't comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit details more than a dozen specific instances of alleged harassment. Gregory Bonds said the final straw came in May: The family had company and Turner came out into his yard with a baseball bat and began hitting a tree aggressively and yelling more slurs. The family moved the next month.

They cite a provision of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and a nearly identical section of Georgia law that says it's illegal to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with someone who is exercising or enjoying any right guaranteed by that law. Conceived to protect against violent actions such as cross burnings, bombs or other physical attacks, it also applies to verbal attacks, said Robert Schwemm, a law professor at the University of Kentucky who has decades of experience with the Fair Housing Act.

"It's specifically a separate section of the statute that was designed to apply to people who were not housing providers — neighbors and others," Schwemm said.

That provision isn't used very often against neighbors in the modern era, Schwemm said. He's aware of one or two cases a year but said there are likely others he doesn't hear about.

Schwemm said he's never heard of a case that sought to hold a municipality accountable for a neighbor's actions.

Gregory and Sophia Bonds had saved money to move out of an apartment into a house so their three teenage children would have a yard for the first time and would have more space to invite their friends over, their lawyer Ashley Bell said. Turner's behavior violated fair housing statutes that bar discrimination on the basis of a variety of factors when people are renting, buying or seeking financing for housing, the lawsuit says.

The city's knowledge of Turner's actions, many of which occurred while he was a city employee, and its failure to curb them make it liable for them, the family argues.

City records show some steps were taken against Turner, but the Bonds family says it wasn't enough.

Sophia Bonds first called police in March 2012, about a month after they moved in, and told an officer Turner regularly hurled racial slurs at them. She said she was afraid of him, according to a police report. Turner told the officer he wouldn't use words like that because he was a city employee, the report says.

A month later, on April 19, 2012, Turner and Gregory Bonds exchanged words outside before Turner went into his house and reappeared at his back door with a loaded rifle that he pointed at Gregory Bonds, the couple told police.

After a standoff lasting several hours, officers entered the home and forcibly removed Turner, using a stun gun on him when he refused to obey their commands, police reports say.

Turner pleaded guilty a month later to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. The judge ordered him to pay a $200 fine and to serve 12 months on probation with extra conditions: no violence or insults toward the Bonds family, no weapons on his property and no drinking or possessing hard liquor.

The Bonds family was frustrated that Turner only faced a misdemeanor charge, said Bell, their lawyer. Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard, whose office prosecuted Turner, said she understood that frustration.

"I was greatly outraged at the behavior that Roy Turner exhibited and at the behavior that this family and their children endured," she said, adding that her office can only prosecute misdemeanors and the district attorney had declined to bring felony charges.

Turner was in a car crash in the 1970s that left him with a traumatic brain injury that caused mental impairment and altered his behavior, said Dunagan, the mayor, who grew up with Turner and said he never knew him to be violent. A group of friends watches out for Turner and helps him live as independently as possible, two of them told Woodard before Turner's sentencing.

Woodard detected some cognitive disconnect when speaking to Turner, but she said she still believed Turner was capable of controlling himself.

Woodard said she believes the city's police handled him properly, sending in a SWAT team and using force to arrest him.

Turner landed back in court for probation violations several times. After his probation officer said Turner continued to insult the Bonds family, the judge ordered him not to drink or possess any alcohol, to submit to random alcohol testing, to allow police to enter his home randomly to make sure there were no guns and to have no contact with the Bonds family, court records show.

Turner had worked for the city's solid waste department since October 1992. In recent years, he worked as a garbage collector and had a string of run-ins with customers and co-workers, according to city personnel records. There's a record in his personnel file of a call from Sophia Bonds a few days after his arrest asking that Turner not work the route that included her house.

The city suspended him following his arrest in April 2012. After he was sentenced to probation, he was allowed to return to work but was warned not to have arguments or to use derogatory language.

After numerous confrontations with co-workers and the public, Turner was fired Oct. 23.

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Cindy George, Houston Chronicle Sep-04-2015 147 0
The family of former minor league baseball star Robbie Tolan is now just a little more than a week away from a potential trial in a long-running civil rights lawsuit against the Bellaire Police Department that takes on new resonance with the nation focused on the treatment of minorities by law enforcement officers.

U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon of Houston still could dismiss the case in response to motions filed by the city of Bellaire and officer Jeffrey Cotton, who shot Tolan. Those filings argue that Cotton did not violate the law in firing at Tolan during an altercation outside the family's home in 2008.

But lawyers representing the family say they are confident that the Tolans will get their day in court following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last year that revived the case on grounds that a jury, rather than a judge, may need to eventually settle the matter.

The trial is now scheduled to begin Sept. 14.

"The witnesses on both sides come to this case with their own perceptions, recollections, and even potential biases. It is in part for that reason that genuine disputes are generally resolved by juries in our adversarial system," the high court decision said, though the justices declined to expressly order a trial or offer an opinion about whether Cotton's actions "violated clearly established law."

Tolan, who intended to follow his father - Bobby Tolan - into the majors, was outside his Bellaire home in an SUV with his cousin, Anthony Cooper, around 2 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2008 when they were apprehended by Officer John Edwards, who mistakenly concluded the vehicle was stolen.

Edwards had noticed the black Nissan SUV as it turned into a residential area and parked on the street in front of a house. Two men, later identified as Robbie Tolan and Cooper, exited the vehicle. When the officer incorrectly typed the license plate number into the computer in his squad car, the SUV came back as stolen.

Edwards left his cruiser, drew his service weapon and ordered Tolan and Cooper to the ground. Hearing the commotion, Tolan's parents came out onto the porch in their pajamas.

The officer explained that he believed the vehicle was stolen and the Tolans replied that the SUV belonged to them, that the young men were their son and nephew and that the house was their home. When Edwards called for assistance, Cotton arrived and drew his pistol. Tolan's mother reiterated that nothing was out of order and Cotton told her to stand against the family's garage door.

During a scuffle between Cotton and Marian Tolan, Robbie Tolan told the officer to unhand his mother, and according to police rose up from the ground. Cotton fired three shots, hitting him.

The Tolans and Cooper sued Edwards, Cotton and other Bellaire officials ialleging that their civil and constitutional rights were violated. The case claimed that Tolan and Cooper came under suspicion that night because they were black and said that the Bellaire Police Department has a history of racial profiling in the predominantly white city.

Force claims

In 2012, Harmon dismissed the case's excessive force claims on the basis of qualified immunity - which shields public officials from liability to civil damages as long as their conduct does not violate clearly established law - by Cotton and Edwards. That dismissal did not include claims against the city of Bellaire.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2013 upheld Harmon's dismissal by finding that Cotton's actions did not violate clearly established law because the officer believed Robbie Tolan presented an immediate threat to his safety.

The Supreme Court specifically resuscitated Robbie Tolan's excessive force claim against Cotton because it found conflicts about the incident's details and determined that fleshing them out could influence whether the officer was entitled to qualified immunity.

Courts must review excessive force claims in "the light most favorable to the party asserting the injury" and determine whether the right in question was "clearly established at the time of the violation," the Supreme Court decision said.

The justices reached the "inescapable conclusion" that the 5th Circuit erred by giving more credence to Cotton's side of the story and not better scrutinizing contradictory evidence in four areas:

In depositions, Cotton said the Tolan family's porch was "fairly dark" while Bobby and Robbie Tolan described a better-lit area.

The parties disagree on how calmly Tolan's mother, Marian, spoke to officers and whether her comments intensified Cotton's belief that her son presented an immediate threat to the officers.

Tolan cursed when Cotton grabbed Marian Tolan's arm, but whether the young man was screaming and if his words amounted to an "overt threat" to Cotton is in dispute.

Was Tolan on his knees or his feet moments before the shooting? The record is unclear. Tolan and his mother said he was on his knees when he was shot, but the 5th Circuit gave more credit to Edwards' account that Tolan was "on both feet" in a "crouch" and looked like he was going to move forward.

Members of both legal teams say they are ready for trial.

"The United States Supreme Court has already ruled that there is factual dispute," said Daryl Washington of Dallas, who is among the new raft of lawyers hired last year by the Tolan family. The others include Florida attorney, Ben Crump, who represents relatives of Trayvon Martin, and Dallas lawyer Matthew Kita.

Their filings contend that the defendants lack the evidence to receive another dismissal.

"We have full confidence in the judicial system that we are going to go to trial on this matter," Washington said. "This is a matter that the jury should be able to hear and to decide."

The Supreme Court decision never guaranteed that a trial would be "appropriate or necessary to resolve this lawsuit," said Bill Helfand, who is representing Cotton and the city.

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DANIELLE GROBMEIER Sep-03-2015 141 0
Christian Taylor, the black, unarmed 19-year-old whose fatal shooting by an Arlington police officer last month garnered national attention, had used a synthetic drug that can cause hallucinations before his death, according to an autopsy report released Wednesday by the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office.

The autopsy characterized the illegal psychedelic found in Taylor’s blood, an NBOMe, as a drug that’s known to “cause distorted perceptions, agitation and hallucinations” and one that has been “associated with random and bizarre behavior in users.” The autopsy report likened some of the drug’s effects to those of LSD. Taylor’s autopsy also indicated recent use of marijuana.

Taylor, an Angelo State University football player, was shot four times in the early morning of Aug. 7. Brad Miller, an officer in training, was one of six officers responding to a burglary call at a car dealership. He fired after Taylor reportedly rushed him. Surveillance video showed Taylor acting erratically before the shooting.

Taylor’s death was ruled a homicide. Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson fired Miller four days after the shooting, citing Miller’s failure to follow proper police procedures during the call. Police said at the time they expected to present the case to a Tarrant County grand jury.

Zhivonni McDonnell, a public information officer for Arlington police, said late Wednesday the department declined to comment: “The case will continue progressing through the criminal justice system.”

Taylor’s family could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Mike Heiskell, an attorney who represents the family, told WFAA-TV (Channel 8) that “regardless of what may have been in his system, this was still an unjustified death of a young man.”

But John Snider, the attorney representing Miller, said in a statement that the autopsy report is “very significant evidence.”

“In light of this crucial development we hope that Chief Johnson will reconsider his rush to judgment,” he said in an emailed statement.

Snider had previously criticized Johnson, saying he only fired Miller to “appease anti-police activists.”

The footage

Surveillance camera footage released shortly after the shooting showed Taylor at the dealership, at one point standing on the hood of a silver Ford Mustang, stomping on the glass and trying to rip it away, and eventually trying to climb inside. Taylor also drove his Jeep through the dealership’s showroom window, though that’s not shown on camera.

Taylor died from gunshot wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen, according to the autopsy. The report stated “all the bullets appear to have been fired in front of him,” indicating Taylor was facing Miller when he was shot.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration, the drug commonly known as “N-Bomb” that was found in Taylor’s blood can cause agitation, aggression and visual and auditory hallucinations, among other health issues.

At least 19 deaths nationwide have been linked to a set of synthetic drugs known as the NBOMe compounds, according to the DEA.

A bill introduced in the Texas Legislature this year by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, added the NBOMe compounds and other substances derived from the same chemical structure to Penalty Group 1-A, which carries felony punishment.

That law went into effect Tuesday.

Friends’ reactions

Taylor was arrested in 2013 on a misdemeanor drug possession charge. The charge was dismissed after he completed probation this summer.

His friends said they never saw him using drugs.

Legista Beckford, who was Taylor’s close friend and teammate at Angelo State, said the budding defensive back was always the first person to say no to any kind of unsafe behavior.

“He was always the guy to be like, ‘Put on your seat belt,’ or ‘Be safe in my car,’” Beckford said.

Taylor’s close friends from Mansfield Summit High School said he had specifically steered clear of narcotics.

“In front of my face, I’ve never seen him do drugs,” said Sam Armardi. “Marijuana is probably the only thing anybody did in high school.”

And after Taylor turned suddenly religious over the summer, his friends said, he seemed intolerant of even small vices.

“He was saying: ‘You shouldn’t be smoking. You shouldn’t be doing this. You shouldn’t be doing that. God is good. God is great,’” Armardi said.

Armardi said he had heard unconfirmed rumors that Taylor had used LSD with a friend one month before his death and had planned to use it again the night he was slain.

“Those were the only two times they did it, and we never heard about the drugs again until after he passed away,” Armardi said.

Several friends recalled Taylor talking about running out of time or being tired. Most assumed he was just worn out from football practice or college stress.

“He told me he was a little depressed,” said Jordan McHenry. “We were just wondering if he needed help.”

Taylor didn’t respond well to the suggestion.

“Jordan just called me thinking that I’m crazy and need help,” he texted to his friends’ group chat a few weeks before his death. “Are you crazy?? … I know I’m living right with God.”

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sarah mervosh Sep-03-2015 278 0
The ongoing legal battle between former Dallas Cowboy Deion Sanders and his ex-wife, Pilar, has taken yet another turn.

Pilar Sanders recently filed a lawsuit in Dallas County seeking damages from her ex-husband because she says his legal maneuvers have caused her emotional distress, embarrassment and what she says was an unfair stint in jail.

In the lawsuit filed Aug. 26, Pilar Sanders alleges that her ex-husband gave false testimony that led to a judge to find her in contempt of court, sentence her to seven days in jail and put her on a one-year probation.

Her other allegations include that Deion Sanders lied about when he had rights to their children, disobeyed a judge’s order to pay her a nearly $1 million judgment and used the judicial system and the Internet to destroy her image, freedom of speech and access to her children.

Her suit is the latest development in a lengthy legal battle that has the wake of their divorce, which included Deion Sanders filing a defamation lawsuit against Pilar Sanders in 2014.

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JASON SILVERSTEIN Sep-03-2015 166 0
Justice may finally be served to four young Louisiana women accused of attacking a teenage McDonald’s worker at her restaurant last week — a beatdown that went viral days later thanks to a shocking cellphone video.

Three teenagers and one 20-year-old were arrested Wednesday for the McDonald’s melee, NOLA.com reported. One of the suspects, 17-year-old Kailin Holland, was charged with second-degree battery, a felony, and released on $10,000 bond. The other three — Sierra Gregoire, 18, Bradnika Gregoire, 20, and a 16-year-old who hasn’t been identified — face misdemeanor summonses for simple battery.

The arrests come one week after the four allegedly pulled the 16-year-old victim out of the drive-through window at the Laplace fast food franchise and beat her in the parking lot.

Days after the assault, cellphone video appeared online showing a teen — now identified at Holland — grabbing the McDonald’s worker by her hair and yanking her through the drive-through window and into a car, to the horror of her screaming friends. The clip appears to have been filmed by a passenger in the car, and one of Holland’s friends is heard screaming to someone named “Quita.” After the attack, the victim refused treatment at the scene, L’Observateur reported.

The victim and her four accused attackers are all said to be acquaintances, but police are still unsure what prompted the dispute.

A manager at the McDonald’s referred questions from the Daily News to McDonald’s corporate office.

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Abby Ohlheiser Sep-02-2015 144 0
Facing a deadlocked jury, Judge Robert C. Ervin has declared a mistrial in the case of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick, who shot and killed an unarmed man in September 2013.

Prosecutors argued during the three-week trial that Kerrick used excessive force when he fired 12 shots at 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, striking him 10 times, after Ferrell did not follow officers’ instructions. Kerrick testified that he opened fire because he believed Ferrell was “trying to get my gun.”

The jury deliberated for three and a half days but failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether Kerrick, who is white, should be convicted on a single charge of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Ferrell, who was black. If convicted, Kerrick could have gone to prison for up to 11 years.

The jury remained in an 8 to 4 stalemate late Friday afternoon after multiple votes. It was not immediately clear which way the majority of jurors were leaning, or whether prosecutors would seek to retry the case, as the Charlotte Observer noted.

Police officers are rarely charged for fatally shooting people in the line of duty. A Washington Post analysis published in April found that of thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police officers, just 54 officers were charged since 2005 — and most were subsequently cleared or acquitted.

Since April, a handful of other officers have been charged in fatal shootings and taser incidents, including three this week. On Monday, a former Fairfax County, Va., police officer was charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting an unarmed man who stood with his hands raised in the doorway of his home. And on Tuesday, two former Georgia officers were charged with murder in the death of Gregory Towns, a 24-year-old unarmed black man who died after a stun gun was used on him while he was in handcuffs.

And on Tuesday, a New Mexico judge decided that two police officers facing murder charges will go to trial.

Ferrell, a former Florida A&M football player, wrecked his car in a residential neighborhood in Charlotte on the evening of the 2013 shooting. He went to a nearby home and banged on the door, prosecutors say, in an attempt to get help.

The woman inside called 911 and told operators that she had opened the door to her home expecting to find her husband, but instead saw Ferrell, a man she didn’t know.

“There’s a guy breaking in my front door — trying to kick it down,” the panicked caller told operators, according to a transcript released after the shooting. “He’s not in the house, he’s in the front yard yelling.” The caller, Sarah McCartney, said Ferrell was yelling at her to “turn off the alarm,” which triggered when she opened the door to her home, McCartney later testified.

Kerrick was among three officers who responded to that 911 call. One officer armed his taser as Ferrell approached them, the Charlotte Observer reported. Kerrick had his gun out before that. At the trial, prosecutors and Kerrick’s defense team presented wildly different accounts of what happened next.

Lead prosecutor Adren Harris told the jury that Kerrick “panicked” and “abandoned all of his training,” including “a litany of other nonlethal options” he could have used to stop Ferrell’s approach.

Prosecutors added that Ferrell ran from officers in fear after one of them trained the laser sight from a taser onto his chest without first giving an order, the Associated Press reported.

Defense attorneys argued that Kerrick followed his training by using deadly force against Ferrell, and they accused prosecutors of using the “race card” during the trial to garner sympathy for their version of events, the Observer reported.

Kerrick’s lawyers also argued that Ferrell made bad choices that forced their client to fire at him, and they said Ferrell had used alcohol and marijuana before the wreck in the residential neighborhood where he died. A toxicology report showed that Ferrell had caffeine, nicotine and alcohol below the legal limit in his system at the time of his death.

Part of the encounter was captured on a dashcam video from one of the patrol cars at the scene. The video was released during the August trial; both sides have said they believe it proves that their version of events is correct.

The video shows Ferrell walking, and then running, toward officers. Once he’s out of frame, an officer yells “get on the ground” multiple times, and gunshots are heard.

The prosecution argued that the video shows that Ferrell was not behaving erratically or aggressively, as a police account had described, before he was shot. Defense attorney George Laughrun countered that an absence of the behavior in the video doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. “The Revolutionary War was in 1775. Did that not happen? There is no video,” he told the court, according to the Observer.

Kerrick was arrested after Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe viewed the video of the encounter. The officer “did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter,” Monroe said at the time.

In an earlier interview with The Washington Post, Jonathan Ferrell’s mother, Georgia Ferrell, said she was worried that jurors would accept the defense’s version of events not on the basis of evidence, but because “society has put it into our heads that the officer is always right.”

Ferrell’s family and the city of Charlotte settled a civil lawsuit for a reported $2.25 million this year.

Jonathan Ferrell’s sister, their mother noted, is a law enforcement officer herself. “My daughter loves being a police officer,” Georgia Ferrell told The Post, “but she knows that the uniform doesn’t make you a good person.”

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STEPHEN REX BROWN Sep-02-2015 149 0
A basketball player hanging out at a Washington Heights block party was brutally pummeled by cops who severely reinjured his torn Achilles tendon, a new lawsuit charges.

J-Quan Johnson says he was following police orders to disperse the "Love is Love" block party on Aug. 31, 2014, by hobbling away on crutches when Officer Dwight Powell allegedly shoved someone into him.

"Why are you being so aggressive?" Johnson asked the cop, telling him to be careful of his leg.

Johnson, 25, had stitches in his left ankle, as well as an intravenous PICC line administering antibiotics to his chest as a result of the basketball injury he’d suffered in June.

Powell allegedly replied, "I don't give a f--- about your foot!"

Johnson fired back that he didn't care that Powell was a cop, prompting Powell to slap him in the face, papers charge.

Then five unidentified cops pounced on Johnson and the beating began, according to the suit.

A video shows an officer swinging his baton at Johnson as cops are piled on top of him. Papers charge that blow was directly on his injured foot.

“It's an outrage,” Johnson's attorney Michael Braverman said. “They were completely out of control.”

J-Quan Johnson's suit says he had to undergo skin grafts to his ankle as a result of the police beating.

Braverman said his client has no criminal record and that an assault charge stemming from the incident was dismissed last month.

In the ambulance an officer twice punched Johnson in the face, papers charge.

The antibiotic line was dislodged and Johnson’s ankle was severely damaged. His foot was infected and his tendon was re-ruptured. He underwent skin grafts and several surgeries to repair it, according to the suit.

Johnson was hospitalized at New York Presbyterian Hospital from Aug. 31, 2014 to Oct. 3, 2014, as a result of the beating, documents claim.

He seeks damages to be determined at trial.

A city Law Department spokesman said the suit will be reviewed.

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BARRY PADDOCK Sep-02-2015 149 0
A devastated mom braced Wednesday to bury her second son in three years after the teen was fatally shot just three blocks from the corner where his big brother was killed.

“I don’t even know what to tell you right now,” Sharon Plummer said outside her Brooklyn home, where she held a photo of slain 16-year-old Neshawn.

“All I know is we’ve got to do something to stop this gun violence,” she added. “It’s a lot for one mother to go through, to bury two kids.”

Neshawn was mortally wounded Sunday night at Seagirt Ave. and Beach 126th St., a short walk from the 129th St. spot where Shawn Plummer, 18, was killed with a single shot to the head on July 13, 2012.

“It’s hard,” the distraught mom said. “I’ve got to take some me time right now.”

Police sources said two men on foot approached Neshawn at about 9:50 p.m. Sunday, with one firing a bullet into the teen’s head before they both fled.

A surveillance video released by police showed three suspects — two running away, and a third climbing into a waiting car. Neshawn died Tuesday at Long Island Jewish Hospital.

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No arrests were made in either the killing of Neshawn Plummer or his older brother, cops said.

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DAREH GREGORIAN Sep-01-2015 180 0
A Fox News anchor says she’s no hamster—or choking hazard.

In papers filed in New Jersey Federal Court, Harris Faulkner says she’s suffered “substantial commercial and emotional damage” from a plastic hamster doll that shares her name.

“Harris Faulkner, the uniquely named, acclaimed veteran journalist and author, has worked for decades to establish and maintain her personal brand and laudable professional reputation,” her $5 million lawsuit says.

But toy giant Hasbro Inc. has “willfully and wrongfully appropriated Faulkner’s unique and valuable name and distinctive persona for its own financial gain—by creating, manufacturing, and distributing for sale a plastic toy hamster named ‘Harris Faulkner.’”

The adorable toy, which was released last year, is part of Hasbro’s hit “Littlest Pet Shop” toy line.

Faulkner, 49, doesn’t think there’s anything cute about the big-eyed hamster, saying in her suit that Hasbro’s portrayal of her as “a rodent is demeaning and insulting.”

The company’s “manufacture, sale, and distribution of the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll is extremely concerning and distressing to Faulkner,” the suit says.

Fox News anchor named Harris Faulkner is suing Hasbro over its 'Harris Faulkner' hamster toy.
In addition to its “prominent and unauthorized use of Faulkner’s name,” it also has a “physical resemblance to Faulkner’s traditional professional appearance, in particular tone of its complexion, the shape of its eyes, and the design of its eye makeup.”

Also upsetting to Faulkner is that the toy’s packaging says its a “choking hazard.”

“Faulkner is extremely distressed that her name has been wrongly associated with a plastic toy that is a known choking hazard that risks harming small children,” the suit says.

The suit, which was first reported by Courthouse News, seeks $5 million in damages and a court order barring Hasbro “from further violations and misappropriations of Faulkner’s name, likeness, identity, or persona.”

Hasbro, which also makes Transformer toys, Nerf balls, Play-Doh and numerous board games, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Faulkner, a 49-year-old married mother of two, joined FNC in 2005, and anchors “Fox Report Weekend.”

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