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Jurors award man shot by deputy $23.1 million
A federal jury awarded $23.1 million on Wednesday to a 22-year-old black man who was unarmed when he was shot and paralyzed by a sheriff's deputy, but Florida lawmakers will have to approve any award above $200,000.

The six-woman, two-man jury ruled after 3½ hours of deliberation that Palm Beach County Sheriff's Sgt. Adams Lin violated Dontrell Stephens' civil rights when he shot him in September 2013.

Lin, who had stopped Stephens for riding his bicycle into traffic, testified that he shot him four times because he reached for his waistband with his left hand and then flashed a dark object that he thought was a small handgun. Stephens testified that he was raising his hands when Lin opened fire for no reason. Video from the dashboard camera in Lin's patrol car showed Stephens' left hand was empty and a cellphone was in his right hand.

An appeal is expected.

Stephens had been seeking more than $5 million to cover medical treatment and future care, but his attorney Darryl Lewis told a federal jury in his closing arguments Wednesday that the man should get at least $24 million. Lewis said Stephens will have more than $6 million in medical expenses during his lifetime, and that he deserves at least $18 million for his pain and suffering.

The jury apparently rejected Lin's claim that he had made an "objectively reasonable mistake" when he shot Stephens.

The case is among several nationwide that have sparked debate about the deaths of unarmed black males following encounters with law enforcement officers. Federal Magistrate Judge Barry S. Seltzer had instructed jurors that they could consider only the specific circumstances of Stephens' shooting and no other. Lin, an Asian-American, was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by sheriff's investigators and local prosecutors and was later promoted to sergeant.

Lin, 38 and a 12-year veteran of the sheriff's office, testified that he stopped Stephens for riding his bicycle into traffic and because he didn't recognize him from the neighborhood. Stephens had been riding back to a friend's house where he had been staying after a trip to a convenience store.

In the dashcam video, Lin speeds up his patrol car to catch Stephens as he pedals down a West Palm Beach residential street. Stephens sees Lin and turns into the parking lot of a duplex, hops off his bike and puts it down, his right hand holding his cellphone. Stephens moves behind a car and both men are now outside the camera's view.

Attorneys for both men say Lin told Stephens to put up his hands, but a radio station is playing in Lin's car and no verbal exchange can be heard. The shots are fired in rapid succession after Lin exits the car. Stephens comes back into the frame, makes two quick steps, turns and falls to the ground.
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Feb-05-2016 64 0
U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley was nominated Thursday by President Barack Obama to serve as a federal judge in the U.S. Western District of Louisiana, which includes Lafayette, Lake Charles, Alexandria and Shreveport.

Finley, a career federal prosecutor, has been U.S. attorney for the Western District since 2010.

She was the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney in the state.

The White House on Thursday also announced the nomination of Claude Kelly III to an open federal judgeship in the New Orleans-based U.S. Eastern District. Kelly has served as the chief federal public defender for the Eastern District since last year.

“Throughout their careers, these nominees have displayed unwavering commitment to justice and integrity,” Obama said in a written statement. “Their records of public service are distinguished and impressive, and I am confident that they will serve the American people well from the United States District Court bench. I am honored to nominate them today.”

Finley served as an assistant U.S. attorney for 15 years, from 1995 to 2010 and as an assistant staff judge advocate in the Air Force from 1991 to 1995.

She received her law degree from Southern University in 1991 and her undergraduate degree from Grambling State University in 1988. Her nomination comes after the retirement last month of U.S. District Judge Richard Haik, whose position was up to be filled after he took senior status last year.

AP Feb-03-2016 139 0
A federal jury awarded $23.1 million on Wednesday to a 22-year-old black man who was unarmed when he was shot and paralyzed by a sheriff's deputy, but Florida lawmakers will have to approve any award above $200,000.

The six-woman, two-man jury ruled after 3½ hours of deliberation that Palm Beach County Sheriff's Sgt. Adams Lin violated Dontrell Stephens' civil rights when he shot him in September 2013.

Lin, who had stopped Stephens for riding his bicycle into traffic, testified that he shot him four times because he reached for his waistband with his left hand and then flashed a dark object that he thought was a small handgun. Stephens testified that he was raising his hands when Lin opened fire for no reason. Video from the dashboard camera in Lin's patrol car showed Stephens' left hand was empty and a cellphone was in his right hand.

An appeal is expected.

Stephens had been seeking more than $5 million to cover medical treatment and future care, but his attorney Darryl Lewis told a federal jury in his closing arguments Wednesday that the man should get at least $24 million. Lewis said Stephens will have more than $6 million in medical expenses during his lifetime, and that he deserves at least $18 million for his pain and suffering.

The jury apparently rejected Lin's claim that he had made an "objectively reasonable mistake" when he shot Stephens.

The case is among several nationwide that have sparked debate about the deaths of unarmed black males following encounters with law enforcement officers. Federal Magistrate Judge Barry S. Seltzer had instructed jurors that they could consider only the specific circumstances of Stephens' shooting and no other. Lin, an Asian-American, was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by sheriff's investigators and local prosecutors and was later promoted to sergeant.

Lin, 38 and a 12-year veteran of the sheriff's office, testified that he stopped Stephens for riding his bicycle into traffic and because he didn't recognize him from the neighborhood. Stephens had been riding back to a friend's house where he had been staying after a trip to a convenience store.

In the dashcam video, Lin speeds up his patrol car to catch Stephens as he pedals down a West Palm Beach residential street. Stephens sees Lin and turns into the parking lot of a duplex, hops off his bike and puts it down, his right hand holding his cellphone. Stephens moves behind a car and both men are now outside the camera's view.

Attorneys for both men say Lin told Stephens to put up his hands, but a radio station is playing in Lin's car and no verbal exchange can be heard. The shots are fired in rapid succession after Lin exits the car. Stephens comes back into the frame, makes two quick steps, turns and falls to the ground.

REUTERS Feb-03-2016 83 0
A lawyer for Bill Cosby said on Wednesday that he never would have allowed the comedian to give a deposition in a civil lawsuit brought by a woman accusing him of rape if he knew his client's words could be used for a criminal prosecution.

Cosby, 78, was in court for a second day in suburban Philadelphia, where he faces charges of sexually assaulting a woman more than a decade ago.

His attorneys are asking the judge to toss out the charges, contending that a deal reached with a former Montgomery County District Attorney spared their client from prosecution in exchange for a 2005 civil deposition in which he admitted giving what he said was an anti-allergy drug to his alleged victim before a sexual encounter that he described as consensual.

Andrea Constand, now 44, has said Cosby plied her with alcohol and drugs before raping her.

More than 50 women have accused the once-celebrated entertainer, whose long career was based on family-friendly comedy, of sexually assaulting them in attacks dating back to the 1960s. Many of the incidents are too old to prosecute. The Pennsylvania case is the only incident for which Cosby has been criminally charged.

The former district attorney, Bruce Castor, testified on Tuesday that he had declined to bring charges in 2005 that Cosby had assaulted Constand, a former employee at Cosby's alma mater Temple University in Philadelphia, because he did not consider her case "viable."

Defense attorneys on Tuesday presented a 2005 press release from Castor's office that they said amounted to an agreement not to prosecute Cosby.

The defense called Cosby's chief attorney, John Schmitt, as a witness on Wednesday. Schmitt testified that would not have allowed Cosby to give the deposition if he had not been sure it could not be used against his client.

On cross examination, District Attorney Kevin Steele attacked the idea that Cosby's lawyers would allow a deal that was never spelled out in a formal non-prosecution agreement.

Prosecutors on Wednesday are expected to begin making their case that there was no binding agreement not to bring charges and that the case against Cosby, who faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty, should ultimately proceed to a trial.

Castor said he believed Constand's charges but thought a jury would view her as less than credible because she had waited a year to bring charges and had hired a lawyer to look into a civil suit.

He said declining to prosecute Cosby set the stage for a civil deposition in which the entertainer admitted to giving Constand the anti-allergy drug Benadryl before the sexual encounter.

Laurie Hanna Feb-03-2016 122 0
A furious father was arrested after allegedly threatening his daughter with a knife after she came out.

Ike Wright, from Nashville, is accused of chasing family members with a knife after his daughter told him she was gay.

Wright was reportedly drunk when he waved the knife at his daughter, her girlfriend and his son, according to the police affidavit.

He is accused of pointing the knife at each in "separate threatening actions," reported Fox 17 News.

Police described Wright as "angry and agitated" after the Jan. 30 incident, and said that he "ranted about his daughter being a lesbian."

Investigators later found the weapon in the kitchen of his house, and Wright was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

BARRY WILNER Feb-03-2016 93 0
Newton on Tuesday emphatically tried to lay to rest any relevance of an African-American quarterback appearing in the NFL's championship game.

During a series of questions by a media member that bordered on confrontational, Newton finally said to the reporter: "It's not an issue. It's an issue for you."

Carolina's All-Pro quarterback, seemingly tired of the topic, added: "I think we shattered that a long time ago."

This was the third time Newton had to deal with the subject since the Panthers made the Super Bowl. He didn't need to point out that several other black quarterbacks have led their teams to the big game: Doug Williams, Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb, Colin Kaepernick, and Seattle's Russell Wilson the past two years.

Color? It matters not at all and never should have.

"I don't even want to touch on the topic of `black quarterback' because I think this game is bigger than black, white or even green," the fifth-year Panther said. "I think we limit ourselves when we just label ourselves just black this, that ...

"I want to bring awareness because of that, but yeah, I don't think I should be labeled just a black quarterback. It's bigger things in this sport that need to be accomplished."

Newton was on a podium for the media session, calmly and often comically answering questions for about 30 minutes. But when the issue of race was raised, his demeanor turned serious, and his answers profound.

He spoke about being a role model and an inspiration to others. About living the dream he has had since he was very young. And about making a difference.

"I pray to God that you know I do right by my influence," Newton said. "So when you ask me questions about African-American or being a black and mobile (quarterback), it's bigger than that.

"Because when I go places and I talk to kids and I talk to parents and I talk to athletes all over, they look at my story and they see a person -- African-American or not -- they see something that they can relate to. They see a guy who went a different route than just going to a major Division I school and flourishing there.

"But I just want to become relatable, you know what I'm saying? It's bigger than race. It's more so of opening up a door for guys that don't want to be labeled, that have bigger views and say: `Well, I'm in this situation, I'm living in this environment right now, but I also want to be an artist, I want to be a poet. But I don't have the means, you know, to necessarily do the right things at that point.

"As for me, I just want to give those people hope."

Maria Puente Feb-02-2016 77 0
Bill Cosby's first hearing here in the criminal sexual-assault case against him is proving to be a mixed bag so far in helping or hurting his efforts to persuade a judge to dismiss charges.

Former District Attorney Bruce Castor, considered by the Cosby legal team to be a key witness, on the one hand testified that he declined to pursue criminal charges against him years ago because of "credibility" issues with Cosby's accuser in the case, ex-Temple University employee Andrea Constand.

On the other hand, Castor also testified he hopes Cosby fails in his efforts to get the case thrown out.

Castor said there was “insufficient, credible and admissible evidence” in 2005 to show Cosby had committed a crime without a reasonable doubt. Plus, he told the court, Constand didn't behave like a victim of sexual assault.

“The behavior detailed within (police interviews) was inconsistent with a person who had been sexually assaulted," Castor testified. "Her actions, on her own, including going to a lawyer before going to police, had created a credibility issue for her that could never be improved upon.”

Still, he was firm: He supports the prosecution team against Cosby.

“Let’s be clear," Castor said to Cosby's attorney. “I’m not on your team here. I want (prosecutors) to win” at the hearing.

On cross examination, Castor was asked whether he believed what Constand said happened to her more than a decade ago. What he believes and what he can prove are two different things, he replied.

"What I think is that Andrea Constand was inappropriately touched by Mr. Cosby,” Castor said. “I am not analyzing back in 2005 as to what I think. I am analyzing it back in 2005 as to what I can prove."

Therefore, he said, he declined to prosecute Cosby in 2005. He said this decision made it impossible for Cosby to claim his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in the civil case Constand later brought against Cosby. Castor said he thought getting Constand money from Cosby via a civil suit would be “the best he could do.”

Earlier, Cosby, dressed in a dark tan suit and tie and flanked by two men helping him to walk, arrived to the anticipated media mob outside the small courthouse, the only place most of the media can photograph him during the hearing before Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill.

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby, center, arrives for a court appearance Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Norristown, Pa. Cosby was arrested and charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home in January 2004. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)© The Associated Press Actor and comedian Bill Cosby, center, arrives for a court appearance Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Norristown, Pa. Cosby was arrested and charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home in January 2004…

The scene outside the courthouse resembled in many respects the scene on Dec. 30, when Cosby was charged and arraigned in an even smaller courthouse, in Elkins Park, Pa., on charges of felony indecent sexual assault stemming from an encounter 12 years ago at his nearby home with Constand, who accused him a year later of drugging and raping her.

The Constand case against Cosby dates to 2004. Castor, the then-district attorney of Montgomery County, declined to prosecute Cosby in 2005 for lack of evidence. So Constand sued Cosby in civil court, and Cosby testified for three days in a deposition. The suit was eventually settled on undisclosed terms and sealed in 2006.

Since then, some five-dozen women have accused Cosby of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them in episodes dating back to the 1960s.

Last year, excerpts of Cosby's deposition were released and the new district attorney of Montgomery County, Kevin Steele, decided to file charges just weeks before the state statute of limitations was due to expire.

Steele intends to press his case against Cosby based in part on Cosby's own words in the Constand deposition.

Cosby's legal team will argue that the charges should be dismissed because of a "no-prosecution" deal in 2005, when Castor says he told Cosby's lawyer that if Cosby answered questions in the Constand deposition, Castor would agree not to prosecute Cosby based on the deposition.

Andrea Constand in 2015© Provided by Associated Press Andrea Constand in 2015 Castor was the first witness called at the hearing by Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle, to testify about his reasoning in not pursuing criminal charges against Cosby.

Steele has argued against Cosby's motion to dismiss, saying any immunity deal by Castor should have been written down and agreed to by a judge, and since it wasn't, it's irrelevant in this case.

But Castor said he believes his decision on the deal is binding on his successors and forever closes the door on prosecuting Cosby.

"For all time, yes," Castor said when pressed on the point.

Some legal analysts say that if Cosby can demonstrate that he relied on Castor's promise to his detriment — by agreeing to testify in the deposition — then he might be able to persuade the judge to throw out the deposition — or even dismiss the charges altogether.

Leonard Greene Feb-02-2016 116 0
The troubled son of Rachel Noerdlinger, former aide to Mayor de Blasio's wife, was charged with aggravated manslaughter Monday after stabbing a teen who was robbing him, authorities said.

Khari Noerdlinger, 19, fatally stabbed the 16-year-old boy in the femoral artery while fighting off several people who were mugging him in Edgewater, N.J., around the corner from Noerdlinger’s home, said acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal.

A group of people accosted Noerdlinger and tried to rob him on Old River Road around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Grewal said. The attack ended with Savion Lewallen mortally injured.

Noerdlinger was being held on $500,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, charged with aggravated manslaughter, weapons possession and resisting arrest. His devastated mother could not be reached for comment.

Lewallen was rushed to Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, where he died several hours later.

Lewallen was recently released from the Rockland County Jail, where he was being held on charges that he assaulted and held a 15-year-old high school girl against her will.

“I am broken,” the teen’s emotional father wrote on Facebook.

“How can I bury my son before me, Lord plz bury us together, take me now Lord,” Conrad Lewallen pleaded.

Friends of the teen posted equally grief-stricken goodbyes.

“I miss you lil’ bro,” a user named Jah Tyb Bango wrote.

Wendell Floyd, 18, who said he was Lewallen’s cousin, said the shell-shocked family was gathering in their Spring Valley, Rockland County, home.

“We grew up together. He was a good kid, cared about others,” Floyd said of the aspiring rapper.

Noerdlinger and four of his alleged attackers — Kevensky Lubin, 28, Richard Jean-Pierre, 18, Calim Gaspard, 23, and Mirleny Tremols, 33 — were arrested. The four, all from Rockland County, were hit with various armed robbery and conspiracy charges.

Noerdlinger took steps to remove evidence from the tragic scene, prosecutors said.

His lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, said he hadn’t been allowed to speak to his client, and he was given no more information than what the prosecutor issued in a press release Monday night.

Lichtman said Noerdlinger was arrested Monday morning at his home by cops who initially said they wanted to question him, his mother and his mother’s ex-con boyfriend.

“We’re disappointed that he was charged with such a serious crime, and he was the victim of a crime, of armed robbery,” Lichtman said. “He fought back, and for that he was rewarded with a manslaughter charge.”

Lichtman said there was no resistance when Noerdlinger was arrested at 9:30 a.m., and his mom was “deeply upset.”

Mother and son made headlines when a string of mishaps forced her to resign her $170,000-a-year job as First Lady Chirlane McCray’s chief of staff.

Noerdlinger was his mom’s official excuse for not meeting a city residency requirement. She said he had been injured in a car crash, despite playing football for his high school team.

Mayor de Blasio and the First Lady, in Iowa stumping for Hillary Clinton, sent condolences.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family that has lost their son, and with everyone affected by this tragedy,” the couple said.

Noerdlinger and his mother’s boyfriend, Hassaun McFarlan — who was convicted in a 1993 homicide — have ranted online against cops. The teen once tweeted: “Pigs always killing people” and was also arrested in 2014 on a trespassing charge.

Michael Skolnick,political director for Russell Simmons, said Khari was “a good kid” who had interned for him last year.

“I love Khari. He's a really wonderful young man. I’m devastated by the news,” said Skolnick. “The reports about him being troubled — he’s just a teenager who’s trying to get through life, go to college and make it.”

Rachel Noerdlinger, who works at Mercury Public Relations, is also the longtime spokeswoman of the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Christina Carrega-woodby Jan-31-2016 106 0
The Staten Island District Attorney’s office is making black history by appointing the first African-American prosecutor to serve at an executive level.

Thomas C. Ridges enforced the law in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office 17 years. Now he’ll kick off Black History Month in the newly-created post as Special Counsel to newly-elected DA Michael E. McMahon.

The Brooklyn native will advise McMahon on legal matters.

McMahon was sworn earlier this month and started cleaning up the office of his predecessor by letting go of seven prosecutors.

“Tom has a proven track record of success in the courtroom and brings with him a wealth of knowledge gained from working on some of the city's most high-profile crimes,” said McMahon. “Adding Tom to our already impressive roster of prosecutors will help us to continue to keep Staten Island safe.”

Prior to becoming a lead prosecutor, Ridges was a NYPD officer. Ridge was a Bureau Chief that oversaw crimes within Bensonhurst, Brownsville, Crown Heights, Park Slope as well as NYCHA and transit.

Ridges prosecuted about 50 homicide cases, including the murder trials of Imette St. Guillen, Police Officer Dillon Stewart and Detectives Patrick Rafferty and Robert Parker.

“I'm confident that Tom will now serve the residents of Staten Island with the same outstanding work ethic, unquestionable integrity, dedication to fairness and enormous skill that he demonstrated while in Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson.

Jason Silverstein Jan-31-2016 116 0
A Chicago man was convicted of first-degree murder Saturday for giving a gun to his 14-year-old niece — which she allegedly used to kill another girl in broad daylight over a Facebook dispute.

The defense for Donnell Flora, 27, argued he was only trying to protect his niece when he went with her to the fatal encounter in April 2014, packing a stolen .38 revolver.

But prosecutors blamed him for the bloodshed that followed.

“He became her provider — the provider of a handgun,” Assistant State's Attorney Barbara Bailey said in court, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“When there were about 1,000 other options that could’ve been taken by an adult, he chose to continue the cycle.”

Flora’s niece, who was charged as a juvenile and has not been named, confronted Endia Martin outside a Southside home where Martin’s best friend had posted threats to the niece on Facebook.

Flora’s attorney Joel Brodsky said the threats were serious enough that Flora believed his niece needed some muscle — and a weapon.

“These were not mere threats,” he said.

“They were, ‘I’m going to kill you. I’m going to put you in the ground next to your dad.’”

Flora’s “only intent was to protect his niece,” Brodsky said.

“It was not the brightest idea he ever had. But it doesn’t change the fact that that was his intent.”

The confrontation ended with the niece opening fire, killing Endia.

Florda admitted in court he gave the gun to his niece, but said he told her to pass it on to her “auntie” so she could hold onto it, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The girl who posted the Facebook threats, Lanekia Reynolds, was armed with chain — something prosecutors pointed out as proof self-defense was not necessary.

“This, versus this?” Assistant State's Attorney Athena Farmakis said to jurors, holding the chain in one hand and the gun in the other.

The niece, who is now 16, has yet to stand trial.

AP Jan-30-2016 176 0
A white police officer in the greater Atlanta area who told a black driver “I don’t care about your people’ during traffic stop ” has resigned, authorities said Friday.

Police in suburban Cobb County on Friday released Officer Maurice Lawson’s resignation letter, which arose from a traffic stop in November.

The letter was dated a day earlier and submitted to Chief John Houser.

“We accepted his resignation effective today,” Houser said in a statement.

Lawson had recently been suspended without pay for two weeks after completing a 16-hour training class on de-escalation.

In dashcam video of the Nov. 16 incident, Lawson gives motorist Brian Baker two citations. Lawson then says on video, “Leave. Go away. Go to Fulton County.”

Atlanta is in neighboring Fulton County.

Lawson wrote in response to Houser’s Jan. 15 memo that he said “I don’t care about you people,” not “your people.” He also wrote that there was no racial motivation behind his comments, but that he had lost his temper when Baker was uncooperative during the stop.

In the video, Lawson can then be heard asking Baker whether he wants to get out of the car to “talk with” him. Houser wrote in the memo to Lawson that those words could be seen as “an invitation for a possible altercation.” Lawson then continued to engage in heated conversation with Baker, Houser wrote.

After Baker drove off, Lawson was visibly upset, used profanities and could be saying, “I lose my cool every time.”

Authorities said the officer’s statements raised concerns it might not have been an isolated incident and led officials to conduct random reviews of video from his other traffic stops and order a fitness for duty evaluation by a physician.

Houser said that Lawson immediately recognized his behavior was contrary to policy and reported his own actions before any investigation had begun — and before there was any media attention.

Lawson was given a Jan. 4 memo from the deputy police chief that proposed the two-week suspension without pay and 20-hours of verbal defense and influence training.

Houser said the Department of Public Safety’s Code of Conduct demands that officers show courtesy and tact and that they control their temper.

“We will be reiterating the importance of courtesy and compliance with policy to our members since unbecoming conduct reflects discredit upon the individual and the Department and will not be tolerated,” Houser said.

Lawson also had been ordered to attend 20 additional hours of training on verbal defense in March.

But Houser said “In preparation for his return to active duty with a field training officer, we reviewed additional videos and additional policy issues were discovered.”

Houser didn’t offer more details regarding the discovered policy issues.

Messages to lawyers of Lawson and Baker were not immediately returned.

Tim Perone Jan-30-2016 137 0
A Florida toddler was shot multiple times during a “gang-related” drive-by shooting, cops said Saturday.

Little Aiden Michael McClendon, who was only 22 months old, was shot dead Friday around 6:10 p.m. in Jacksonville while sitting in a car, cops said in a statement.

Aiden was wounded at least three times in the upper body. He was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, but he could not be saved.

Investigators do not belive Aiden or anyone else sitting in the car were the intended targets.

“The only one hit in this entire barrage of bullets was this little 22-month-old,” Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Chief of Investigations Tom Hackney said.

“This little boy, Aiden Michael McLendon, has got my prayers tonight,” Hackney told First Coast News.

Cops suspect someone who lives on the block was the intended target.

A white vehicle was seen fleeing the mayhem on Spearing St.

"We are trying to locate any witnesses right now, because we need to get these dirt bags off the street," Lt. George Grant said,

Sheriff Mike Williams said that local business leaders collected $20,000 for reward money for information that leads to an arrest in the heartbreaking murder.

Denis Slattery Jan-28-2016 165 0
Federal officials and leaders in Ferguson, Mo. reached a tentative deal Wednesday that would overhaul the city’s criminal justice system and spare the city a long and expensive court fight.

The agreement, stemming from systemic failures discovered in the wake of the 2014 police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, demands changes to how and when cops can use force, bars officers from using stun guns as punishment, and would require all patrol officers and jail workers to wear body cameras.

The city also agreed to revise its municipal code, including repealing sections that authorized jail for people who fail to pay fines for violations.
Violent protests erupted in the city after Brown, who was black, was killed by a white police officer.

A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict the former Ferguson officer Darren Wilson.

The recommendations comes after seven months of negotiations and likely averts a civil rights lawsuit that federal officials have the option to bring against departments that resist changing their policing practices.

Such deals also generally require the appointment of a monitor to oversee a police department’s compliance.

City officials posted the proposed 131-page deal on the city’s website and scheduled three public sessions over the next two weeks. The Ferguson City Council will vote on the deal Feb. 9.

The federal inquiry came amid heightened national scrutiny over deadly police shootings in Ferguson and Baltimore, and the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island.

Barbara Ross Jan-26-2016 215 0
Jay Z stinks when it comes to promoting his fragrance line, a $20 million lawsuit says.

The superstar was slapped with the big-buck lawsuit Tuesday by a perfume distributor accusing him of breaking written promises to promote his own signature fragrance, Gold Jay Z.

Papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court say the entertainer, whose real name is Shawn Carter, was supposed to have made at least six promotional appearances by now to promote the fragrance, which was launched in October 2013. He's made none.

Parlux Fragrances, which is involved in licensing, designing and marketing celebrity fragrances, says they lined up an appearance on Good Morning America, an exclusive interview with Women's Wear Daily, an appearance at Macy's and even several social media posts — but Jay Z would have none of it.

"Jay Z declined ... declined ... declined ... declined" six different times to participate, according to court papers.

At another point, Parlux lawyer Anthony Viola says in papers, the company teamed up with Jacob the Jeweler to create five prototypes of lavish perfume bottles for the fragrance. Each one had solid gold caps and gold drizzled on the exterior. They cost $20,000 each.

"Mr. Carter rejected all of them and kept the prototype," court papers say.

He also kept his guaranteed $2 million up-front royalty fee, the filing says.

The lawsuit says the initial launch was very successful but "in the fragrance industry, it is virtually impossible to sustain the success of a celebrity fragrance" without both celebrity promotional appearance and "regularly updating and refreshing the brand” with off shoot fragrances.

Viola says Jay Z did not help with those either.

Parlux says its executives met repeatedly with Carter's business manager, Desiree Perez, in Miami, to present ideas, potential off-shoot fragrances and private collections, but they never got "any substantive feedback from Jay Z or his management team."

In October 2014, they sent "bottles, cartons and fragrance juices" to Perez for Gold Jay Z Noir, Gold Jay Z Parish Lights, and Gold Jay Z London Underground. At her request, they changed the color of some of the boxes but Carter still hasn't signed off on the products, court papers say.

As a result, Parlux claims, after getting off to a roaring start in 2014, Gold Jay Z sales flagged in 2015 and the company lost millions in potential sales and development costs.

The company wants the courts to order Jay Z to return the $2 million royalty payment and 300,000 stock shares in Perfumania, void the contract and award them at least $18 million in compensatory damages.

>>--More Black Legal News

Daryl K. Washington Nov-11-2015 12247 0
For years the question whether college athletes should be paid has been debated over and over only to be kicked down by legal rulings. The NCAA, the television networks, the media and large colleges have all profited off of the backs of primarily Black athletes, while the only colleges that would accept them are being forced to shut down because of a lack of resources. College coaches are earning millions of dollars per season, have large endorsement deals and live in upscale neighborhoods while college athletes, many who come from low income families, are penalize for accepting a meal from a booster, can’t afford to take a date out to dinner or a movie and can only wish that their families could afford to sit in the stands occupied by many who will not speak to them or support them after their college careers are over.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that in order for there to be a change within the system, the ones with the power would have to do something drastic. Two years ago the Grambling State University football team decided to stage a protest because of the lack of equipment and the conditions of Grambling’s facilities. Although I hated to see it come down to that, I understood their frustrations and realized that we were witnessing the beginning of a new movement. The day had come for college athletes to realize that they have as much power as professional athletes, to demand change.

Two years later, the football players at the University of Missouri made a bold statement that will have an everlasting impact on college sports. They walked away from a game they love to support their fellow students. They have now shown athletes at other schools the power they have when they join together in solidarity. As a result, the NCAA’s biggest fear just came to reality. There was not going to be any change or progress at the University of Missouri until the individuals responsible for generating a large share of the revenue said “Enough is Enough.” Within a few days of their walk-out, President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, the top administrator of the Columbia campus, announced their resignation. That's power.

The NCAA has long made the issues with college athletes, a legal one. The NCAA created rules that prevent athletes from earning a living until after they’ve made everyone else rich. College athletes are required to sign over all of their rights in exchange for a scholarship and cannot earn one single dime to support a parent who is sometimes forced to work two jobs and in some cases still don't have the resources to attend a game. LSU’s superstar Leonard Fournette is being questioned about a business venture his family started before his college career really took off. Now that he’s signed away his rights, it’s being frowned upon by the individuals who were earn millions off of him. In other words, we the NCAA and LSU own his rights. The system is old, is broken and it’s unfair. Schools like LSU and Alabama earn over $70 million per year off of football but the players receive $0. The coaches earn over $3 million per season but the players earn $0.

I'm predicting that we are a season or two away from college athletes staging one of the largest boycotts in college sports because they have come to realize that the power is in their hands. The Missouri football players did not have to miss one single game to get what they demanded but the fight is far from over. Today, the students in Missouri are being faced with the harsh reality of the racist society we still live in. They should be preparing for exams but instead they are fearing for their lives. One hundred thousand fans will cheer on black athletes on Saturdays but many will criticize their efforts and make fun of them on Monday morning. I applaud the efforts of our college athletes. It makes me feel good to see that Our future generation will not stop fighting the fight that many started years ago. We can only pray that one day we will be able to take off the gloves. Until that time, the fight must go on so that the future generation can experience what Dr. King died for many years ago; True equality for everyone.

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Civil Rights Law, Sports and Entertainment, Litigation (Personal Injury and Commercial) and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl by email at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Danny Woodson Oct-22-2015 622 0
Highly-recruited since the sixth grade, Christian Jackson, has received countless visits from high school and college personnel. They’ve fawned over him and his abilities in an attempt to coax him to attend their institutions to bolster their pedigree of outstanding enrollees! Interested “third parties” will make countless monetary resources available to them, if they can secure top recruits such as he.

If they could only get Christian’s commitment to attend, surely others will follow his lead and attend there as well. It’s like a domino effect: like lemmings following the leader over a cliff, sheep cajoled by their shepherd and ducklings behind their mother. It’s the natural tendency to fall in line with what seems safe, comfortable and beneficial. Other top talents will get on the “bandwagon” with Christian because they know “he’s a winner and leader”. Unspeakable wealth and long-life prosperity await him and all who are on board with him. Everyone knows that this is just a stepping-stone for Christian because he’ll likely enter the professional ranks much more quickly than most. With his acumen and ability, he’ll surely leave school in three years or less.

The boosters, alumni and current student body are abuzz with the possibilities of Christian attending their illustrious institutions. They tweet him, post to his Facebook Page and his other social media accounts in hopes of winning him over to their side! They’ve seen his promising stats and know of his many attributes. “If we can get C. Jack, we’ll definitely win it all this year!!!”

Christian’s scouting report reads like a proverbial cornucopia of attributes; Christian Jackson, 5’11”, 210 lbs., Cumulative GPA, 4.3 on a 4.0 scale, 2 summer internships in his future major with two top, nationwide firms, 250 hours of community service, explosive grasp of all curriculums, able to improvise and adjust on a dime, great vision, high IQ, intuitive and possesses an innate ability to make those around him better.

This is different than the prevailing theme in today’s world, isn’t it? Why isn’t this the norm? Something’s missing. What, no mention of his playing a sport? Well, why in the heck would a university make such a big deal about someone like Christian? Sadly, there’s a stark difference between Christian and those they poach from our destitute and downtrodden neighborhoods with promises of future wealth in professional sports. Because of their athletic prowess, universities will sacrifice their own ethical and moral standards to attract those who can run fast or who can catch or shoot a ball well. They’ll spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make repeat recruiting trips, countless phone calls, send thousands of texts and make empty promises in hopes of landing top talents to play sports for them. What if they did that for students like Christian, who can make a much greater impact on the world and who can truly be a beacon for others to attend their institutions? Well, those “third parties” aren’t paying the big bucks for the student who’ll change the world, only the student whose performance on the court or field, will keep the world from changing the channel!

What if the major networks paid these large institutions millions of dollars to broadcast that young men like Christian are scoring big in the classroom or in the community? I can see the rewards to the world that exist “outside of the white lines”, increase astronomically, as we observe those benefits being reaped nation and worldwide. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen because we’d rather be entertained than have our lives and our children’s lives improved. We just want to gloat that our team beat your team, yet again, and to have bragging rights for another year. That “entertainment” brings in and provides the suppliers of that entertainment MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, so it won’t ever stop.

What if it did? What if society grew and developed a higher level of consciousness and truly valued the promise of those who can change their world for lifetimes, not just for the temporary consequence of a win in four quarters or two halves of a sporting contest? Then, the recruiters would be parked outside of “C. Jack’s” house like the paparazzi. What if multiple websites posted footage of young, talented people at science fairs and other scholastic events and ranked them nationally according to their ACADEMIC, instead of their ATHLETIC potential? How awesome would that be? Christian would be ranked #3 or 250,000 scholars nationwide and colleges near and far would come calling!

You see, Christian’s goals are to graduate with a triple major in Economics, Sociology and Systematic Demographic Realignment so that he can strengthen his community and make it a viable, resilient and prosperous juggernaut in the local economy. He hopes to duplicate that throughout the country and to be a key player in the NFL. That stands for National Fortification League, which fortifies communities and whose teams consist of players with the same goals as he and his many cohorts. His team is fighting for a long-denied championship whereby all people, regardless of color and economic background, win control of their own communities; a place where people understand how to use their capital and assets to leverage building better schools, neighborhoods and establish a firm socioeconomic foothold in this country.

Christian no longer wants young African-American men and others to be pawns in a chess game that is played by a chess master whose interests lie only in capturing the king by using the pawns’ athletic prowess; a sacrificial lamb, if you will. When they’ve served their purpose, they’re thrown away. For years, their families have been brainwashed into believing that “sports” is the only way out of poverty as opposed to implanting the belief that an education and its application to the betterment of their present circumstances, is the most tangible and most realistic way to self-sufficiency.

It’s time to reassess where our own strengths lie and to demand to be recruited for our mental attributes instead of just our physical capabilities. The sad truth is that society and the media continue to thwart that constructive mantra with the “get rich with a big professional contract, shortsighted, self-centered gain” approach. Christian is not swayed. He wants to insure that all who look like him or who share his circumstances, are empowered and given the opportunity to earn an advanced degree, bring that newfound intellect back to the neighborhood and build a brain trust to revitalize, restore and reinvigorate a dying community and a marginalized people. Recruit him for that reason and for that reason alone, if you dare!

So, universities, how about offering scholarships en masse to burgeoning and brilliant young people with budding minds to make a name for themselves as well as your institutions? Offer scholarships and recruit those who may not be the brightest, but who show promise and desire, much like a “special teams player” or a “walk-on”. Wouldn’t you prefer to have the bragging rights that hundreds of your alumni have changed the circumstances of those locally, state-wide, nationally and globally or are you too caught in winning a network contract to have all of your team’s games broadcasted for the next 10 years for $100 million? Christian doesn’t care about television contracts. He only cares that those in power live up to their moral contracts with the people. To him that’s the only score and winning percentage that really matters. That’s when we’d all win a real NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!
Sep-09-2014 2508 0
On yesterday social media went crazy after the video of Ray Rice was released. Within hours Rice was released from the Ravens. Don't think for one second that it was not as a result of the public outcry on social media. The Ravens and the NFL did not have a choice but to release Rice because they had been exposed. However, the saddening part about of all of this is that the powers to be proclaimed they had not seen the video until yesterday.

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

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

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

Daryl K. Washington is an attorney located in Dallas, Texas. His practice includes Sports and Entertainment, Civil Rights, Litigation and Business Transactions. You can reach Daryl at dwashington@dwashlawfirm.com or you can visit his website at www.dwashlawfirm.com. To receive updates, go to the Black Legal Issues page on Facebook and check the like button.
Daryl K. Washington Feb-16-2014 3144 0
After the Michael Dunn verdict was read many voice their displeasure with the judicial system, rightfully so. However, the killing of our young black men is nothing new. Each time something bad happens we come together as a group for a month or so and then the energy dies down. When the Zimmerman verdict came back there were those who demanded that we stop supporting the state of Florida yet what happened to the follow-up to let us know how effective the efforts were? It reminds me of whenever someone dies. When we run into people we have not seen in years we all make a vow to do better and to make time for each other but after two or three months has past by we are all back to doing the same things.

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

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

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



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


















Daryl K. Washington Nov-26-2013 3509 0
ARE WE DOING ENOUGH FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITIES?: I just finished talking to a mother who lost her son as a result of a police shooting. Hearing this mother talk about her son and how much he loved the holidays was simply heart wrenching. She went on to tell me that she's pleaded for help from our local politicians, pastors, leaders, etc. but no one wants to take her call, especially if the cameras are not rolling. To worsen matters, many of the leaders have put her son on trial and he's dead.

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

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

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