NYT: Settlement Reached in Samuel DeBose Shooting

The NY Times reports that  the University of Cincinnati will settle with the family of, yet another unarmed black man killed b y police, Samuel DuBose:

The University of Cincinnati has agreed to pay $4.85 million to the family of an unarmed black man who was shot to death in July by one of its police officers, a settlement that also requires the college to provide an undergraduate education to his 12 children, create a memorial to him on campus and include his family in discussions on police reform.

The family of Samuel DuBose, who was killed by a white officer during a routine traffic stop in what a prosecutor called a “senseless, asinine shooting,” reached the settlement after two days of mediation, the university said Monday in announcing the deal. It estimated the total cost to the university, which is publicly funded, to be $5.3 million.

Mr. DuBose, 43, was shot and killed on July 19 by Officer Ray Tensing, who pulled him over in a Cincinnati neighborhood adjacent to the campus because his car lacked a front license plate. The shooting was captured on a body camera, and Officer Tensing, who was fired from the department, faces trial on a charge of murder….

The university has since created a community advisory council, led by a prominent African-American judge, and the settlement calls for a DuBose family member to participate in the panel. Mr. DuBose’s sister, Terina DuBose Allen, an educational consultant in Columbus, said the provision “brings us peace with the fact that they are going to make some reforms.”

The deal, mediated by Billy Martin, a Washington lawyer whose clients have included basketball stars and other prominent figures, appears in line with other recent settlements of cases involving police officers. The City of Baltimore agreed in September to pay $6.4 million to the family of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man who suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody….

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Boston Globe: Lowell bank to repay borrowers in discrimination settlement

Lowell bank to repay borrowers in discrimination settlement: “Sage Bank, a small community bank in Lowell, will spend $1.2 million to settle allegations by the US Department of Justice that it charged African-American and Hispanic borrowers more for their home loans than their white counterparts.

The bank denied any wrong-doing and said it did not intentionally discriminate against minority borrowers. It is changing its pricing policy.
African-American borrowers on average paid about $2,450 more and Hispanic borrowers $1,440 more than whites under the bank’s pricing structure, which was in place between 2011 to 2014, according to the civil complaint and consent agreement filed Monday in US District Court in Boston.

‘Sage Bank’s loan pricing policies created the risk that borrowers would be treated differently based on impermissible characteristics like race and national origin, and that was in fact the result,’ said Vanita Gupta, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in a statement.

The bank paid loan officers more money for generating loans from borrowers who didn’t have a continuous work history or readily available tax returns, under the belief that these loans required more work, said Peter Conrad, the president of Sage Bank. Many of these borrowers were African-American and Hispanic, Conrad said.

That cost was passed on to these minority borrowers, and was not unusual among mortgage lenders, he said.

The bank will refund more than 500 borrowers affected by the policy, under the agreement. Sage has less than $200 million in assets.”

Wash. Times: Ill. attorney general asks Chicago to release shooting video

CHICAGO (AP) – The Illinois Attorney General’s Office is asking the Chicago Police Department to release the video that shows an officer shooting a black teenager 16 times last year, killing him.

In a letter released Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Neil Olson says the department failed to offer evidence that releasing the video would interfere with an ongoing investigation of the October 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Read the article here.

This is not surprising in light of the recent Department of Justice report that Black Americans are more susceptible to non-fatal force by police officers: the study “found that an annual average of 44 million U.S. residents older than 16 had at least one face-to-face contact with police between 2002 and 2011. About 75 percent of those who had encountered force from the police perceived the force to be excessive.”  Continue reading

NYT: Racism Is Rampant In Jury Selection. The Supreme Court Can’t Fix It.

Timothy Foster has spent almost 30 years on Georgia’s death row. On Monday, his lawyer will appear before the Supreme Court to fight for his life.

That’s because Foster v. Chatman, a high-profile case about racism in jury selection, is really not a case about racism in jury selection. It’s a case about racism in the application of the death penalty.

Consider what Stephen Lanier, the prosecutor who tried Foster in 1987, told the all-white jury who heard the case. During the penalty phase of the trial, he said a death sentence was appropriate for Foster to send a message “to other people out there in the projects.” Foster lived in government housing, and about 90 percent of his neighbors were black.

Or ponder a psychiatrist’s testimony on Foster’s behalf, who found he “was in the borderline range for intellectual disability” — with an IQ range between 58 and 80 his entire life. The jury rejected it and voted for death anyway.

Or the very length of time Foster has spent on death row, or the reality he is only one of the 56 percent of those awaiting execution who are people of color, according to a recent NAACP Legal Defense Fund report.

There’s a lot of things inherently suspect with the Foster case — and the capital system in general — and yet the Supreme Court on Monday will only be confronting the very limited issue of whether prosecutors improperly excluded on the basis of race all blacks who were perfectly capable of sitting in Foster’s trial. This is a real problem that’s still very much alive today.

Foster v. Chatman has been styled that way because that’s how advocates chip away at the death penalty these days — by showing how it’s unconstitutionally stacked against some defendants and not others….

Read the rest of the article here

NYT: Corey Jones, Black Drummer Killed by Police in Florida, Had Gun

The musician, Corey Jones, 31, was shot by a plainclothes officer who had been on the job for six months, Chief Stephen J. Stepp said. Mr. Jones’s handgun was recovered on the ground outside his car; the new box it came in was inside, the chief said.

In a brief news conference Tuesday night, Chief Stepp addressed the swelling questions about how a respected church drummer and housing inspector wound up dead in the middle of the night off Interstate 95, a half-hour from his home. The case, another focused on the shooting of a black man by a police officer, had begun to gain attention on social media, and the department was sharply criticized by a county police union official for not coming forward with facts sooner.

The investigation into the shooting is being conducted by the Palm Beach County sheriff’s office, a different agency, so the chief stressed that his knowledge of the shooting was limited. He offered his condolences to Mr. Jones’s family and said the department had tried to meet with them.

“No matter what the circumstances turn out to be, his is a tragic loss of life that affects us all,” Chief Stepp said.

Mr. Jones was on his way to his home in Lake Worth from playing with his band, Future Prezidents, when his car broke down, his family told the WPBF television station.

About 3:15 a.m., at the southbound exit near PGA Boulevard, Officer Nouman K. Raja stopped to investigate what he thought was an abandoned vehicle on the darkened ramp. The chief said that as Officer Raja stepped out of his vehicle, “he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject.”

He did not say whether Officer Raja identified himself as a police officer. It is not clear whether the two men exchanged words or if Mr. Jones pointed his weapon.

Calling the encounter a “confrontation,” the chief said the officer “discharged his firearm, resulting in the death of Mr. Corey Jones.” He did not say what prompted the officer to fire.

He did not clarify whether Mr. Jones had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

The chief said the officer’s unmarked vehicle was not equipped with a dashboard camera, and the department does not use body cameras. He said the sheriff’s office asked him not to release public records such as radio transmissions and 911 calls….Read the rest of the article at New York Times


The South Florida Sun Sentinel (10/20, 651K) reports police said Jones “bought a gun just three days before his death.”

http://launch.newsinc.com/?type=VideoPlayer/Single&widgetId=1&trackingGroup=69016&siteSection=nydailynews-news&videoId=29832795The Palm Beach (FL) Post (10/20, 497K) reports Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) said he “is ‘deeply concerned’” by the incident. The New York Daily News (10/21, Silverstein, 3.75M) reports that John Kazanjian of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association “scolded the department for keeping mum on what led to the death.” He said, “We don’t want another Ferguson. They need to get out there and address the public.” (AAJ)

Police Misconduct: What’s going on in South Carolina?

The news has been littered with allegations of police misconduct, excessive force, and discriminatory practices all stemming from South Carolina leaving us with the question, What is going on in South Carolina?

Alternet: New Video Shows SC Cop Gunning Down Unarmed Teen as He Drives Away From Weed Bust

A South Carolina police officer won’t face any charges in the shooting death of an unarmed man during a drug bust.

Prosecutors declined to charge Seneca Police Lt. Mark Tiller in the July 26 shooting death of 19-year-old Zachary Hammond as he attempted to drive away from the officer in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant…. Read more about it here

Alternet: South Carolina Teen Who Filmed School Cop’s Assault Is Arrested for ‘Disturbing Schools’

UPDATE: This has gotten much worse. Niya Kenny, 18, who filmed the now infamous arrest has been arrested herself for “disturbing schools.” She’s out on $1000 bail.

WLTX reports that Kenny was trying to “stand up for her friend” when she filmed the assault, telling Loren Thomas of WLTX, “I was crying, screaming and crying like a baby. I was in disbelief.” Both Kenny and her mother are understandably skeptical as to why she was arrested for “disturbing schools.”

“But looking at the video, who was really disturbing schools?” Kenny’s mother told WLTX. “Was it my daughter or the officer who came into the classroom and did that to the young girl?”…Read more about it here.

NBC: School Body Slam Report Due Weds., Sheriff Says

The investigation into a videotaped incident where a South Carolina school resource officer slammed a high school student sitting at her desk will be completed within 24 hours, authorities said.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told reporters that the department’s internal affairs investigation should be finished by Wednesday, NBC News reported. He said that three videos, including one showing the girl punching Senior Deputy Ben Fields during the confrontation, will play a part in the investigation into whether Fields violated policy in Monday’s incident at Spring Valley High School in Columbia… read the rest of the article and watch the video here.

NYTimes: South Carolina Officer Is Charged With Murder of Walter Scott

WASHINGTON — A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder on Tuesday after a video surfaced showing him shooting in the back and killing an apparently unarmed black man while the man ran away.

The officer, Michael T. Slager, 33, said he had feared for his life because the man had taken hisstun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop on Saturday. A video, however, shows the officer firing eight times as the man, Walter L. Scott, 50, fled. The North Charleston mayor announced the state charges at a news conference Tuesday evening.

The shooting came on the heels of high-profile instances of police officers’ using lethal force in New York, Cleveland, Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere. The deaths have set off a national debate over whether the police are too quick to use force, particularly in cases involving black men….. Read more about it here

Alternet: Citizens Forcing Police Accountability Is Working: Killer Cops Prosecuted at Record Rate

A once apathetic society, which had become so unquestioningly content with the status quo, is beginning to wake up. For over a decade, Americans stood by as police killings went largely unchecked. No one to count how many citizens had their lives taken by cops. But the days of unaccountable government killings seem to be numbered as killer cops have awakened a sleeping dragon.

Over the past two years, with Ferguson, Missouri, playing a key role, the American people have realized that some police officers are taking lives at an alarming rate — and they have taken action. Multiple independent sources, fed up with the failure of the federal government to track police killings, have begun tracking these killings independently. The Guardian, and now the Washington Post have been airing the dirty laundry the feds have kept under wraps for so long….read all about it here.

‘Ferguson Effect’ Probably Not Keeping Police From Doing Their Jobs, Study Suggests

The threat of having their behavior captured in viral videos is not necessarily keeping police officers from doing their jobs, a new study from the American Psychological Association suggests.

Following the bad press and public outcry related to the August 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, politicians and federal authorities have worried that cops may be less motivated to do their jobs due to the so-called “Ferguson effect.”

The White House has denied its existence, but FBI Director James Comey last week told students at the University of Chicago Law School that the “era of viral videos” has left officers feeling “under siege” and unwilling to do their duties for fear of consequences. He also attributed a national uptick in violent crime to the public’s use of cell phones and cameras to record police incidents.

The study, which was published online this month in the journal Law and Human Behavior, didn’t find empirical evidence of the “Ferguson effect.” It did, however, find evidence that officers feel less inclined to engage in their communities or stay in law enforcement in general.

“There is a portion of officers who… appear to be less motivated to be police officers, and there’s an extent to which officers pull back from the community,” said Scott Wolfe, an assistant professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina and the study’s lead author.

In February, researchers surveyed 567 deputies at a mid-sized sheriff’s department that serves 393,000 residents in the southeastern United States. All the officers involved were promised anonymity. The line of questioning was set up to reduce bias — for example, officers weren’t asked directly if they ever shirk their duties — and keep officers comfortable, Wolfe said.

It’s important to note that the study group is located nearly 800 miles from Ferguson. Wolfe said the results are “limited” in that sense, but found that these feelings of alienation among officers have permeated through the country, just as the public’s reaction to these national events have.

Although there wasn’t any hard and fast evidence among the sample group that upticks in violence could be attributed to officers not doing their jobs because of viral videos, the “Ferguson effect” appears to have hold in certain jurisdictions.

Read the whole article at the Huffington Post: here

S.C. sheriff fires officer who threw student across a classroom

A South Carolina police officer was fired Wednesday after videos emerged showing him yanking a high school student out of her chair and throwing her across a classroom earlier in the week.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said that deputy Ben Fields, who is white, was fired from the department for using excessive force during the arrest of a black female student in a math class at Spring Valley High School.

The incident was captured on multiple cell phone videos and showed the officer asking the student to stand up before he grabbed the young woman and tossed her out of her chair. The deputy’s dismissal comes after the Justice Department’s office of civil rights, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Columbia, S.C., announced they were investigating the case involving Fields, a school resource officer at the high school.

[FBI, Justice Department investigating S.C. school resource officer]

Fields had been suspended without pay and banned from school district properties in the wake of the incident.
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Black LAPD officer sues city, says white officer wrongly followed and stopped him

The Los Angeles Times Reports:

A black Los Angeles police officer is suing the city, alleging he was retaliated against after complaining that a white colleague wrongly followed and stopped him as he drove off-duty through South Los Angeles.

Lamark Ferguson said in the lawsuit that when he told the officer that he also worked for the LAPD and showed him his police identification, the officer said he needed to verify Ferguson’s employment because gang members “down here are known to impersonate LAPD.”

Ferguson joined the department in 2010, according to state police records. The other officer was not named in the lawsuit…..

Read the whole story here

Sitting While Black in Minnesota: Cops Tase Man For Not Stating His Name

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/sitting-while-black-minnesota-cops-tase-man-not-stating-his-name

Video posted online on Tuesday depicts the arrest and Tasing of an unidentified Black man in St. Paul, Minnesota for seemingly little reason other than his refusal to state his name, the Twin Cities Daily Planet reported.

“Why am I going to jail?” the man can be heard saying toward the end of the nearly 6-minute long clip.

“It’ll be explained to you,” a male officer responds.

The video, which seemed to have been taken on a cell phone this past winter, begins with a female officer walking beside the man and asking for his name.

“Why do I have to let you know who I am?” the man asks. “I don’t have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws.”

Minnesota does not currently have a “stop and identify” statute in place. Those laws give police the right to arrest someone if they do not identify themselves

“I want to find out who you are, and what the problem was back there,” the first officer says. The Daily Planet reported that a store clerk called police after the man was sitting in front of his store.

“I do not have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws,” the man says, adding that he explained to the clerk that he sat near the store for 10 minutes before going to pick up his children at a nearby school, New Horizon Academy.

“He walked up to me a minute later and got irate with me,” the man says of the clerk. “That’s a public area, and if there’s no sign that [says], ‘This is a private area, you can’t sit here,’ no one can tell me I can’t sit there.”

“The problem was,” the officer begins to say, before the man cuts her off, saying, “The problem is, I’m Black.”

Seconds later, the male officer approaches, and the man asks, “Please don’t touch me.”

“You’re gonna go to jail, then,” the officer responds, before he and his colleague grab the man.

“Come on brother,” the man says, “This is assault.”

“I’m not your brother,” the second officer answers. “Put your hands behind your back otherwise it’s going to get ugly.”

At that point, the male officer orders him to put his hands behind his back. The argument continues for a few more seconds before the image goes black. But the man can be heard yelling for help. As some children are heard in the distance, the man says, “That’s my kids right there.”

“Put your hands behind your back,” the officer can be heard yelling, before threatening to use the Taser. The device can be heard flickering at the 2:17 mark, before the man yells for help again.

Later on, the female officer can be heard asking, “Did I not ask you to stop to talk to me?”