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News in Brief

Arkansas: Is the Union County Sheriff’s Department making a mocking social statement by having prisoners wear Nike shirts for their mugshots? Colin Kaepernick is the face of the Nike Just Do It Campaign and symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement for his civil rights activism, including kneeling during the National Anthem. According to thefreethoughtproject.com, “Shaun King tweeted out a collage of photos he says were given to him by a source from within the Union County Sheriff’s department. They were accompanied by the following description: ‘The Sheriff in Union County, Arkansas is putting Nike t-shirts on people they arrest and making them wear them during mugshots. Source says it is to mock Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Disgusting.’” Union County Sheriff Ricky Roberts denies this. In a statement sent to CBS MoneyWatch, he said the garb is given to jail detainees who don’t have “‘proper attire during the booking process.’ The intent was not to ‘demean or disparage’ anyone accused of a crime.”

California: A judge has sentenced former Los Angeles police officer Robert Cain to two years in prison for the statutory rape of a 15-year-old in the department’s cadet program. Cain received credit for serving 405 days. The 32-year-old pleaded no contest each to oral copulation with a minor and unlawful intercourse, reports ktla.com, citing the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. He was accused of sexually assaulting the girl on June 14, 2017, the day the two reportedly visited a theme park. Investigators uncovered incriminating texts between Cain and the teen while probing the theft of two LAPD patrol cars. According to ktla.com: “Cain ‘groomed, seduced, coerced and tricked’ her into engaging in sexual activities with him, giving her gifts in exchange for her silence, according to a civil complaint filed by the teen’s attorney.” The victim told the court he was a “monster” who messed up her life. She is suing the City of Los Angeles.

Connecticut: New Haven police Lieutenant Rahgue Tennant has been suspended amid allegations of assaulting his wife and holding her and their three children hostage for days, according to the New Haven Independent. He threw an aerosol can at her head, and allegedly told her she would “lose everything” if she sought hospital treatment for her injury, a police investigative report reveals. The next day he cleaned his guns, and reportedly told her, “If anyone comes in, the house will get lit up.” Police hostage negotiators elicited Tennant’s surrender, and he was charged with “six charges of domestic violence: one felony count of assault, one felony count of threats and three felony counts of risk of injury to a minor as well as a misdemeanor count of unlawful restraint,” the Independent reported. “For six days, he was held at Yale-New Haven Hospital for a mental-health stabilization.” Tennant’s lawyer Norm Pattis said the officer denies the allegations and told the court at arraignment that “In recent weeks Mr. Tennant discovered she was in touch with an old lover and confronted her about it.” The 18-year veteran of the force has been stripped of his gun and badge, and his estranged wife is in witness protection, the Independent reports. Tennant’s bond was set at $500,000, and he was ordered to wear a GPS monitor.

Florida: A cop with a long disciplinary track record is back in the news. Dubbed “Florida’s Worst Cop” by some media outlets, Opa-locka police Sergeant German Bosque has been investigated 40 times by Internal Affairs, arrested three times and fired six times over two decades for “stealing drugs, possessing counterfeit cash, brutalizing suspects and bystanders, lying, insubordination, sexual assault,” among other things, according to reason.com. “Now a magistrate has ruled that he can return to work on the Opa-locka police force after a jury acquitted him of a battery charge. In 2011, a youth counselor testified that Bosque punched him while trying to take a baby out of his hands during a domestic-dispute call. After the youth counselor filed a complaint, Bosque reportedly reacted physically, pushing him up against the wall and arresting him. Prosecutors said Bosque acted without ‘probable cause,’ and he himself was arrested on battery, witness tampering, and false imprisonment. Though acquitted of the battery charge, Bosque was still convicted on the other two counts, both felonies. A Miami-Dade judge eventually dismissed the false imprisonment charge.”

Georgia: A town lockdown, a dragnet search and an apprehended suspect all proved to be a 2016 hoax in Jackson, Georgia, leading to charges, a conviction and sentence in August 2018 for former Jackson Police Department Officer Sherry Hall, according to news reports. Hall said she had approached a black man sitting alongside the road who proceeded to argue and then shoot her before fleeing. Coincidentally, all video and audio recording devices were off during the shooting, but a bulletproof vest was credited with saving Hall’s life. Inconsistencies in her story led to a probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “She was charged with making False Statements, Tampering with Evidence, Interference with Government Property and Violation of Oath of Office,” reports the freethoughtproject.com. “It was dumbfounding that she went to trial,” District Attorney James Moss was quoted in thefreethoughtproject.com. “She never took responsibility. She invented out of whole cloth a black man who shot her, and if law enforcement hadn’t done their jobs right, we could have had a gentleman wrongly charged with a crime.” The sentence? Fifteen years in prison followed by another 23 years on probation.

Maryland: Ryan Macklin, a six-year veteran of the Prince George’s County Police Department, faces sex crime charges after allegedly assaulting a woman during an early-morning traffic stop in October 2018. They include first-degree rape, second-degree rape, perverted practice, second-degree assault and a fourth-degree sex offense, according to cnn.com. While in uniform, 29-year-old Macklin allegedly made a traffic stop. The driver said the officer attempted to touch her breast before ordering her to move her car behind a store, according to charging documents. Behind the store, the officer allegedly forced the woman to perform oral sex on him and told her he wanted to have sex with her, the documents said. Officers fear that Macklin could have been targeting other women. He was suspended without pay.

Michigan: Two Detroit police officers who reportedly kicked in an innocent homeowner’s door and falsely arrested and jailed him are facing charges for the incident propelled by a random review of body camera footage, the Associated Press reports. Officer Bradley Clark and Sergeant Paul Glaza were arrested and charged in October 2018 with second-degree home invasion, misconduct in office, malicious destruction of property under $200, and entering without a homeowner’s permission, according to the Detroit News. On Jan. 22, 2018, the officers were working with a burglary task force when they arrived at the wrong home looking for a suspect. “They also did not have an arrest warrant for the person they were searching for, who was not in the house,” Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller said in a statement. “They instead detained and arrested the homeowner.” Tashar Cornelius said he asserted his Fourth Amendment rights, but the officers held him at gunpoint, handcuffed him, and then falsely arrested him. “They claimed a Taser he had in his home for protection was ‘illegal,’ so they brought him to jail,” the Detroit News reports. “I spent 36 hours at Mound [jail],” Cornelius told the News. “My lawyer assured me there were no charges against me. Finally they just released me and I walked out of there.” The officers were arraigned in early October and suspended with pay.

New Jersey: A lawsuit by five police officers and a part-time employee against the Borough of Mountainside over a hostile work environment can proceed, ruled a New Jersey superior court judge, reports mycentraljersey.com. The lawsuit (Stinner et al. v. The Borough of Mountainside et al.) filed in May 2018 cites sexual harassment by Internal Affairs Officer Detective Sergeant Andrew Huber and Lieutenant Thomas Murphy over nearly 20 years. Plaintiffs reportedly endured recurring displays of a dildo nicknamed ‘Big Blue’ (including one incident captured on video) and “a laundry list of pranks involving nudity, homophobic games and racial slurs,” according to nj.com. As part of a resignation settlement, the now-resigned chief Allan Attanasio and Huber have agreed to give up accrued vacation and sick time, according to unionnewsdaily.com, $37,918 and $52,346, respectively. Another officer “Lt. Thomas Murphy has requested a hearing after being suspended without pay July 13,” the newspaper reports. Huber taunted co-workers with the dildo and engaged in sexual misconduct, including placing his testicles on soda cans, the suit alleges. Several of the officers’ claims “are supported by video evidence,” thefreethoughtproject.com reports. Murphy allegedly rammed flashlights at officers’ backsides and engaged in a game in which he would point at their zippers and when someone looked he would be called a “gazer” (aka gay). Other behavior alleged in the suit includes Attanasio pointing his police revolver and its laser sight on different officers when he was a lower-ranking officer.

New York: Brooklyn police officer Ali Sheppard was suspended in October 2018 after a prostitute allegedly stole his vehicle and gun. The New York Post reported that Sheppard picked up 20-year-old Taquanna Lawton (a.k.a. “Unique”) off-duty in his Jeep Wrangler, then stopped at an ATM to withdraw cash to pay her. While he left the vehicle, Sheppard allegedly jumped in the driver’s seat and drove away with the officer’s service pistol on the front seat. Cops located Lawton, the Jeep, plus some narcotics and drug paraphernalia, but Sheppard’s pistol was missing, sources told the Post. “Even Sheppard’s father couldn’t believe his 38-year-old son — a U.S. Army vet who has been a cop the last 13 years — could be such a bonehead,” the Post reported. “‘You’ve got to be f–ing kidding me,’ stunned dad Eugene Sheppard said from his home in Brownsville that he shares with his cop son. ‘I’m in total shock. I would never have thought this. The man has been in the service twice. I’ve never heard that he would pick up a prostitute.’” Lawton was charged with grand larceny and she told the New York Daily News that Sheppard still owed her $2,000 for an earlier tab and had kept her in the Jeep “against my will.”

North Carolina: “I feel like we were duped by the system,” is how one juror put it, after he and fellow jurors met with defense team members to determine how they wrongly put a man on death row for the 1983 rape and murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie in North Carolina. Others expressed shame. Another hoped for God’s forgiveness. Leon Brown and Henry McCollum were eventually exonerated, but not before McCollum spent 30 years on death row. “All [the jurors] were denied the information they needed to reach a fair verdict,” said Kristin Collins, associate director of public information for North Carolina’s Center for Death Penalty Litigation, according to deathpenaltyinfo.org. McCollum and Brown were only 19 and 15, respectively, when they gave coerced confessions after prolonged interrogations. “Brown spent eight years on death row before the Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional for children under age 16, and his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment,” deathpenaltyinfo.org reports. One juror told Collins that he was too trusting of prosecutors. Wrote Collins in the Raleigh News & Observer: “No one told the jury that another, almost identical crime was committed just a month after the girl’s murder — and that the culprit was not McCollum, but a man who lived by the field where her body was found. The jury didn’t know fingerprints were found at the scene, and that none of them were McCollum’s. They didn’t know the case against McCollum started with a rumor from a teenage girl, who later admitted she made it up.” DNA evidence that matched a neighbor to the crime cleared the half-brothers.

Ohio: The former Cleveland police officer who killed Tamir Rice in 2014 and had been hired as a police officer in Bellaire, Ohio, has “backed out of the part-time job,” reports nbcnews.com. “Rice’s mother, Samaria, and members of Black Lives Matter said ‘thousands’ of people had contacted the police department to protest the hiring.” Officer Timothy Loehmann, who was responding to a 911 call about “a guy in here with a pistol,” fatally shot the 12-year-old boy who was unarmed. “A camera that captured Tamir’s killing showed that Officer Loehmann stepped out of the passenger side of a patrol car and within seconds opened fire on Tamir, who was playing with a pellet gun, at a park,” nytimes.com reports. The officer was cleared of wrongdoing after he said he feared for his life. Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, was taken aback. “How could anyone even consider putting him on a police force?” she told the dailybeast.com in response to the hiring. Others agreed. “Hopefully, he will not be hired as a police officer by any other state,” Samaria Rice told nbcnews.com.

Ohio: Follow-up on rape-kit testing could pick up. Just when a trove of 400 to 500 matches of DNA was revealed by the Akron Police Department (“APD”), came the news that there was insufficient manpower to tackle the job. Forensic magazine reports just a solitary detective was working part time on the big collection in 2017. However, a new nearly million-dollar U.S. Department of Justice grant called the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (“SAKI”) targets “securing justice in these cases,” APD chief Kenneth Ball told forensicmag.com. “The [three-year program] grant will allow for three full-time investigators. It also will include a portion of the funds to cover a prosecutor, a victim’s advocate and an administrative assistant to help in the work.” A “dirty secret: getting rid of a ‘backlog’ at one point may only move it to another pressure point in the process.”

Rhode Island: Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza was recently accused of fueling a mob mentality in front of a convicted child sex offender’s home, according to aclu.org in October 2018. “We want him out!” and “Que se vaya!” neighborhood residents shouted as flashlights shone on the Richard Gardner’s windows. The loud protests came after local police leaked the address of Gardner, who was convicted in 1989. Gardner had served 30 years behind bars and was living peacefully in Washington Park with his fiancée. In fact, Gardner’s actions happened so long ago, that he is “not subject to the community notification provisions that apply to more recent offenders under the state’s Megan’s Law.” Steven Brown, the executive director of the ACLU Rhode Island, criticized Elorza in a letter, saying the protests violate a city ordinance that bans residential picketing.

Texas: Call him the Grinch cop. Linnard Crouch, who was caught on his own body cam helping himself to some cash rather than helping the victim of a heart attack, will not be going to jail. The former Texas City police officer was seen on video rifling through the front pockets of 74-year-old James Mabe, who was carrying more than $2,000 to buy Christmas gifts for his grandchildren in December 2016. Crouch encountered the man after responding to a truck stopped on a road. While at the hospital, Crouch reportedly gave the victim’s wife several hundred dollars in a plastic bag. According to the Galveston County Daily News, Crouch pleaded guilty to the theft and was sentenced in a plea deal to 10 years’ probation. A lawsuit against Crouch and Texas City was settled.

Tennessee: The execution of prisoner Billy Ray Irick on August 9, 2018, was nothing short of torture, said a prominent anesthesiologist. “Dr. David Lubarsky, the Vice Chancellor for Human Health Sciences at the University of California-Davis Health, said Irick was not properly anesthetized during his execution and experienced the torturous effects of the second and third lethal-injection drugs while still conscious,” according to deathpenaltyinfo.org. Irick, 59, was injected with midazolam, a sedative, then the paralytic drug vecuronium bromide that rendered him unable to move or to show whether he was in pain when the final lethal drug, compounded potassium chloride, was finally injected to stop his heart. Lubarsky concluded that Irick “was aware and sensate during his execution and would have experienced the feeling of choking, drowning in his own fluids, suffocating, being buried alive, and the burning sensation caused by the injection of the potassium chloride.” In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court described potassium chloride as “chemically burning at the stake.” Irick’s attorney Gene Shiles called the process “Kafkaesque.” 

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