Monday, May 31, 2021

Mangino talks workplace shootings on WFMJ-TV21

Watch my interview on WFMJ-TV21 Weekend Today on workplace shootings.  

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Work place shootings in the shadow of COVID-19

Workplace mass shootings are rare, but the killing of nine people by a fellow employee at a Northern California rail yard on Wednesday marks the third such rampage in under two months, reported NPR.

That could foreshadow a rise in this type of violence after the nationwide shutdown of businesses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, says Jaclyn Schildkraut, associate professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Oswego.

However, Schildkraut stresses that while such shootings "are increasing incrementally in frequency, they're still extremely statistically rare."

In San Jose on Wednesday, authorities say, a public transit employee opened fire on co-workers at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, fatally shooting at least nine people and then taking his own life. The suspect was identified as a 57-year-old current employee. A motive is still unknown.

The attack comes on the heels of a similar shooting in Indianapolis on April 15 in which a former FedEx worker killed eight people before killing himself. That was reported to be the deadliest workplace massacre since a brewery employee gunned down five people at the Molson Coors campus in Milwaukee in February 2020, shortly before the pandemic shutdown.

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About a week before the Indiana shooting, a gunman killed one person and wounded five others in an ambush at a cabinet manufacturing facility in Bryan, Texas, where he worked. He survived and was arrested.

More people are returning to work

database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University found that between 2006 and February 2020, there had been 13 mass workplace shootings carried out by a current or former employee — roughly one a year on average.

"The reason they seem more frequent right now is because we haven't had them really for the last year because of COVID," Schildkraut says. Such restrictions have also served to limit opportunities for potential shooters "because it reduces the available targets for a person," she says.

"Now that much of the country is returning to work, we're seeing an uptick in these events in the sense that they're now out there because people are back out there," she says.

Shooters may have had time to plan

Another reason we may see more workplace attacks is that potential perpetrators, who've likely been in isolation over the past year, have had time to plan, Schildkraut notes. "One of the things that we know about shooters, especially those who target schools or other specific public spaces, is that they don't usually wake up and snap."

There are as yet few details about the person who carried out the latest shooting in San Jose. But Schildkraut says, "It's very unlikely that the individual woke up this morning and said, 'It's Wednesday, I'm going to go and commit a mass shooting.' "

At the very least, some planning goes into committing these acts of violence, she says, "and so when we think about the pandemic and this idea of opportunity, not only did we remove the opportunity for the crime to occur, but we gave them more opportunity to plan."

There's been an overall rise in shootings

Although definitions vary by agency or organization, the independent research group Gun Violence Archive reports there have been 15 mass murders in 2021. But only the incidents already detailed were committed by an existing or former employee in the workplace. A third assault in an office park in Orange, Calif., involved a man who had a "business and personal relationship" with many of the nine people he killed, but he did not appear to have been directly affiliated with the company he targeted.

The archive defines mass murder as any instance in which four or more people are fatally shot in a single event, which is why it excludes the Texas shooting where only one person was killed. And it differentiates between mass murders and mass shootings, which it counts as when four or more individuals are shot or killed in a single event. According to those parameters, there have been 232 of those since the start of the year.

"It appears as if a tsunami of gun violence has hit parts of the nation," Robert McCrie, deputy chair of the Department of Security, Fire and Emergency Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice said, citing a national rise in shootings over the past year.

Like Schildkraut, McCrie — who has written about mass homicides in the workplace — believes the spike we've been experiencing can be attributed to the pandemic. "It has had a pervasive effect on behavior, releasing inhibitions of fragile populations in ways that we have not seen before."

They follow a similar pattern

Workplace mass shootings often follow a similar pattern, according to Seamus McGraw, author of From a Taller Tower: The Rise of the American Mass Shooter.

These shooters use multiple weapons that they have often acquired only shortly before a planned shooting, he says.

"They're usually acquired within the last couple of months as part of the preparation for this sort of thing," McGraw says, adding that similar behavior extends to nearly all mass shooters. "They either began or accelerated their collection of weapons" when they started seriously planning the violent event.

Whether the shooters survive to explain the "why" of their actions or die without leaving behind an explicit rationalization, they tend to share similar motivations, according to Schildkraut.

She says that typical "precipitating factors" are that the perpetrators "feel ostracized by co-workers or maybe they feel like they've been bullied or slighted in some way or maybe passed up for promotion."

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, May 29, 2021

DA no longer pursuing death penalty for Scott Peterson

Stanislaus County, California District Attorney Birgit Fladager filed a notice in court saying she no longer plans to pursue the death penalty against Scott Peterson, reported the Modesto Bee.

The notice, first reported by The Bee, says prosecutors met with Laci Peterson’s family to discuss what a new penalty trial would involve.

“While the family of Laci and Conner have no doubt that defendant is guilty of these crimes and that his conduct warrants the death penalty ... the family has decided this process is too painful to endure once again.”

Fladager and Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Harris did not respond to attempts by The Bee to reach them Friday.

The decision means Scott Peterson’s sentence would remain life without the possibility of parole. It was reverted to that in August when the California Supreme Court overturned his death sentence for the murder of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner, because it said the trial judge erred by excluding potential jurors opposed to the death penalty.

Peterson still has a chance to get a new trial if his conviction is overturned.

In a separate matter, the California Supreme Court in October also ruled that a trial court must decide whether one of the jurors intentionally withheld information on a questionnaire in order to get on the jury.

The case was remanded back to San Mateo Superior Court, where the original trial was held.

Scott’s sister-in-law Janey Peterson said in a text that she is “Grateful that they are no longer seeking to take Scott’s life, but still looking forward to getting back into the courtroom.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, May 28, 2021

France recognizes role in Rwandan genocide

French President Emmanuel Macron, in a visit to Rwanda, has said France recognised its “responsibility” in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, asking for forgiveness for his country’s role but without offering an official apology.

His comments on Thursday came during a solemn speech at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where 250,000 victims of the mass killings are buried.

Some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu militias in 100 days of bloodletting that began in April 1994. The genocide ended in July 1994 when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), led by current President Kagame, swept in from Uganda and seized control of the country.

Macron said France did not listen to those who warned it about the impending massacre in Rwanda and stood de facto by a “genocidal regime”.

“Standing here today, with humility and respect, by your side, I have come to recognise our responsibilities,” he said, adding, however, that France “was not an accomplice” to the genocide.

Macron said France had a duty to admit the “suffering it inflicted on the Rwandan people by too long valuing silence over the examination of the truth”.

He added that only those who had survived the horrors “can maybe forgive; give us the gift of forgiveness”.

For his part, Kagame hailed Macron’s speech.

“His words were something more valuable than an apology. They were the truth,” he told a joint press conference after the two leaders met in Kigali.

While Macron’s comments went further than his predecessors, many in Rwanda were hoping for a full apology.

Ibuka, the country’s main genocide survivor group, said it was disappointed did not “present a clear apology”. Egide Nkuranga, president of the association, said Macron did not “ask forgiveness”, but he “really tried to explain the genocide, how it happened, what they didn’t do, their responsibilities … It’s very important, it shows that he understands us.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Pennsylvania House copies Texas on 'Constitutional Carry'

Pennsylvania’s House Republicans gave a first approval to a bill that would end the state’s longstanding requirement of a separate license for all handgun owners to carry a concealed weapon on their person or in a car, reported

Rep. Aaron Bernstine’s bill passed it’s first test on a 14-11 vote in the House Judiciary Committee, with 14 of the 15 Republican members voting yes, and all 10 Democrats plus Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery County, voting no.

The Pennsylvania measure, in some ways, mirrors a bill that just was signed into law in Texas, which became the 21st state in the nation to adopt the so-called “constitutional carry” language earlier Tuesday. Supporters use the term constitutional carry because they argue that it’s just as much a fundamental right to bear arms as it is to own them.

But in some ways, the change to the Pennsylvania law is a smaller step.

Unlike in some states, where a permit to carry carries requirements for training, a written exam and a shooting proficiency test, all Pennsylvanians need to get the permit is to have a clean background check, two character references and $20 for the application fee.

As such, Bernstine argued Tuesday, the current requirement only creates unnecessary hoops for law-abiding citizens, who already have to pass a background check when they purchase their gun.

“This is not going to affect non-law abiding citizens because, to be honest with you, they just don’t care about the law anyway,” the Lawrence County Republican.

That argument carried little weight with gun control advocates on the committee, who expressed concern about relaxing any gun regulations at a time when gun homicides in some of the state’s urban areas is on the increase.

The a spate of gun violence in Philadelphia this weekend pushed the city’s homicide count as of Monday morning to 185 victims, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. That was more than 30% higher than at this time last year, and 2020 was a year when the city’s police reported more known shooting victims than at any time since it started keeping separate records on that in 2007.

Stephens, the lone Republican dissenter Tuesday, said he believed there were easier ways to make the permit requirement less-onerous for handgun owners, like requiring the state to notify permit holders that it’s time to renew their five-year permits, just like the state Department of Transportation does now for vehicle registrations and driver’s license renewals.

Stephens said he was especially concerned about seeing an explosion in the number of people who would might decide to carry guns in their cars.

Other Democrats said they see nothing particularly burdensome about the permit requirement, noting that about 1.3 million state residents have the permits now.

“We can have a right that is protected, but that is also protected in a way that is responsible and respectful of others’ rights,” said Rep. Joe Hohenstein, a Philadelphia Democrat.

House Judiciary staff said the bill is opposed by the state District Attorneys Association and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, while the municipal police officers union and county sheriffs’ are neutral.

Bernstine has bigger things to worry about, however.

If his bill would eventually get through the full House and the state Senate, it would almost certainly face a veto by Gov. Tom Wolf.

In a statement Tuesday night, Wolf’s Press Secretary Lyndsay Kensinger said “The governor urges the General Assembly to join him in prioritizing addressing gun violence; specifically, take up safe storage legislation to reduce the number of shootings by people who should not have access to guns, including accidental shootings by children; to tighten reporting requirements for lost or stolen guns; to swiftly pass the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, also known as the red flag law; and to pursue state-level universal background checks on all gun purchases.”

Pennsylvanians are already generally allowed to openly carry loaded firearms, although the law is silent on it. Only in Philadelphia is a permit required for that.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Indianapolis passes Chicago in rate of intentional murder

At 10.6 homicides per 100,000 residents, Indianapolis’ rate of intentional murder is greater than that of Chicago and several other large, regional U.S. cities, FOX 59 in Indianapolis.

When compared with homicide rates from seven other cities as of May 19, Indianapolis was firmly in the middle of the pack.

“The statistics you cite for Indianapolis are right in the middle of the group of cities that we looked at with respect to the increase from 2019-2020,” said Rick Rosenfeld, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, “and the increase from the first quarter 2020 to the increase in the first quarter of the current year, [what it] means is Indianapolis has had a very sizable increase in homicide now running nearly two years.”

Monday afternoon, Indianapolis recorded its 102nd homicide for the year.

In 2020’s record year for homicides, Indianapolis didn’t hit the triple digit mark until mid-June and didn’t reach that level until late August in 2019.

Right now, Indianapolis’ homicide rate is roughly 30% higher than a year ago and is statistically on a path to approach 300 homicides for 2021.

“Our city has really gone past the tipping point of violence that is surging in our community,” said Fraternal Order of Police #86 President Rick Snyder. “Not only are we seeing record-shattering levels of violence for our city, but when you do that comparative analysis, especially with other cities like our neighbors to the north, you really get a feel for the context in which the numbers make more sense.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

MCN/USATODAY NETWORK: ‘Goodbye and good luck’

Matthew T. Mangino
May 24, 2021

Eight years ago I wrote my first column for what was GateHouse Media. Over those years, GateHouse expanded to include More Content Now and many more local newspapers. I have had the pleasure of writing 406 columns.

This is the end of the line - More Content Now ends its run this weekend. In this final column, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned observing the criminal justice system over the years.

First, the criminal justice system is nuanced and complicated. It is also overused - from our schools to our homes and criminal statutes that don’t even require intent to get a conviction - people today are at the greatest risk in the history of this country to encounter the criminal justice system.

Unfortunately, there is little consistency in policy and lawmaking from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Unlike the medical profession where diagnostic and treatment procedures are very similar nationwide, no such national consensus exists in the criminal justice system.

This hodge-podge of lawmaking may be best exemplified by the death penalty. More than 23 states have abandoned the death penalty. Ten states never adopted state-sponsored death after 1976 in what has become known as the modern era of the death penalty. Since then, 13 more states have outlawed the death penalty and three states have in place moratoriums on executions.

Yet, the federal government which has the death penalty on the books, and hadn’t carried out and execution in 17 years prior to July 2020, executed 10 people right up to end of President Donald Trump’s term.

There are roughly 2,553 men and women on death row. In the last five years 91 people have been executed. The death penalty has become arbitrary in the way executions are carried out.

The militarization of the police has exploded into a serious problem in the United States. During the process of creating quasi-military police units, law enforcement officers have evolved from peacekeepers to warriors.

The mentality of “us vs. them” has created police officers who believe the end justifies the means. Claims of excessive force continue to rise; racial profiling is a statistical reality and police officers kill on average 1,000 civilians per year.

The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police office ignited the nation, and world for that matter, in a movement to hold bad cops accountable. There are efforts underway in countless states to reform things like limited immunity, monetary bail and mandatory minimum sentences.

Qualified immunity provides the often ridiculous barriers that litigants must get through to bring a civil rights action against a police officer. Monetary bail is a growing problem. Many men and women sit in jail awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford bond. This scenario often puts defendants in the unenviable position of taking a plea or continuing to sit in jail. Finally, mandatory minimum sentences, relics from the “tough on crime” era, don’t reduce recidivism and precludes judges from imposing mitigating sentences based on individual facts and circumstances.

We all need to be vigilant in the fight to abandon the policies of a generation of “lock’em up” politicos whose agenda has had a horrific impact on juveniles - often, underprivileged juveniles of color.

The “lock’em up” crusade of the 1990s has been slowly unraveling. Dating back to 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roper v. Simmons, outlawing the death penalty for juveniles, the Supreme Court has offered up a series of decisions limiting juvenile culpability. In Graham v. Florida, the court ruled that life without parole can only be imposed for a juvenile convicted of murder.

In Miller v. Alabama, the high court ruled states cannot sentence a juvenile to mandatory life without parole. In Montgomery v. Alabama the court went further and found that a trial judge may not sentence a juvenile to life without parole without a find of “incorrigibility.”

However, this past month, for the first time in 16 years the newly realigned U.S Supreme Court took a step backward on juvenile culpability. The court essentially reversed its finding in Montgomery and ruled that a judge need not find incorrigibility for a life sentence, the court judge need only consider sentences other than life without parole.

My admonishment to you: pay close attention. The tide may be turning in the judiciaries’ view of reform. Emphasizing punishment over rehabilitation will be bad news for those caught up in the criminal justice system and those who have to flip the tab - taxpayers.

Thanks for reading.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010 was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.

To visit the column CLICK HERE

Monday, May 24, 2021

Violent crime is on the rise in a dramatic way

Early estimates find that in 2020, homicides in the United States increased somewhere between 25 percent and nearly 40 percent, the largest spike since 1960, when formal crime statistics began to be collected. And early estimates indicate that the increase has carried over to 2021, report New York Times.

Violent crime is a crisis on two levels. The first, and most direct, is the toll it takes on people and communities. The lost lives, the grieving families, the traumatized children, the families and businesses that flee, leaving inequality and joblessness for those who remain.

It’s also a political crisis: Violent crime can lead to more punitive, authoritarian and often racist policies, with consequences that shape communities decades later. In the 1970s and ’80s, the politics of crime drove the rise of mass incarceration and warrior policing, the political careers of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, the abandonment of inner cities. If these numbers keep rising, they could end any chance we have of building a new approach to safety, and possibly carry Donald Trump — or someone like him — back to the presidency in 2024.

There’s still time. Just this week, Philadelphia’s progressive district attorney, Larry Krasner, handily fended off a primary challenge. But the politics are changing, and fast: Democratic primary voters in New York City say crime and violence is the second most important problem facing the city, behind the coronavirus but ahead of affordable housing and racial injustice. And just a few weeks ago, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, who was facing political challengers attacking her for being soft on crime, announced she would not seek re-election in the fall.

So do liberals have an answer to violent crime? And if so, what is it?

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, May 23, 2021

DOJ sues Alabama Corrections for cruel and unusual punishment under 8th Amendment

The US Department of Justice filed an amended legal complaint against Alabama and its Department of Corrections for several alleged violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, reported Jurist.

In its complaint, the Department of Justice (DOJ) claims that the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of male prisoners by “failing to prevent prisoner-on-prisoner violence and sexual abuse, by failing to protect prisoners from the use of excessive force by security staff, and by failing to provide safe conditions of confinement.”

According to the original complaint, filed in December 2020, as well as the amended version, the DOJ began investigating Alabama’s male prisons in 2016. In April 2019, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division notified Alabama state attorneys of the prisoner violence and sexual abuse violations. The Division also notified Alabama of the correctional officers’ frequent use of excessive force in July 2020.

The DOJ stated that Alabama “is deliberately indifferent to the serious and systemic constitutional problems present” in its state prisons for men and that “constitutional compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means.”

In a statement responding to the amended complaint, the ADOC stated that while it “was pleased to see the DOJ’s willingness to reconsider the scope of facilities covered” by the complaint, it was “disappointed” that the amended complaint did not “acknowledge the substantial investments and improvements made” by the state. The ADOC also criticized the DOJ’s use of anecdotal evidence.

Alabama has until June 16 to respond to the DOJ’s amended complaint.

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, May 22, 2021

LWOP is replacing the death penalty but the lawyering isn't keeping up

Life-without-parole sentences are steadily replacing the death penalty across the United States, reported The Marshall Project. Almost 56,000 people nationwide are now serving sentences that will keep them locked up until they die, an increase of 66% since 2003, according to The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit that advocates for shorter prison terms.

By comparison, only 2,500 people nationally are on death row according to the Death Penalty Information Center; the number of new death sentences dwindled to 18 last year, as prosecutors increasingly seek life instead. Executions are less popular with Americans than they used to beaccording to Gallup, and are astronomically expensive to taxpayers. In Dallas, the district attorney’s office says it asks for capital punishment only for egregious crimes where defendants present a continuing threat to society.

But as life without parole displaces capital punishment, the country’s patchwork system of public defense hasn’t kept up. Only 11 states report having minimum qualifications for lawyers who represent impoverished people facing a lifetime behind bars, according to the nonprofit Sixth Amendment Center. In Texas, there’s a continuing dispute over whether the standards for death penalty defense apply if prosecutors seek life without parole instead.

Most states have no rules, The Marshall Project and The Dallas Morning News found. Someone just out of law school could handle a life-without-parole case in Illinois or Nebraska. In California, where a third of the prison population is serving some form of life sentence, minimum qualifications apply only in death penalty cases; the state hasn’t executed anyone since 2006.

Other states have minimal standards. South Carolina requires just three years of experience in criminal law; Arkansas specifies that lawyers should have handled at least one homicide trial.

When it comes to life without parole, “the idea that you would treat these cases like you would treat other felonies is somewhat incomprehensible to me,” said Pamela Metzger, the director of the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “The sentencing stakes are so high and often irreversible.” People facing life have far fewer chances to appeal than those facing capital punishment, and their cases draw far less scrutiny, she said.

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, May 21, 2021

New Jersey will review sentences imposed as mandatory minimums

While the governor and state legislators battle over a provision that would abolish mandatory minimum sentences for public corruption, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office effectively abolished mandatory minimums for six non-violent drug offenses, reported New

The office debuted an online application where inmates serving mandatory minimum sentences for a handful of crimes can request a court review and new sentence, according to a statement from Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. 

The directive effectively takes mandatory minimum sentences "off the table," the statement said.

Applications are open to anyone serving a minimum sentence for the following violations:            

·         Maintaining or operating a facility that produces controlled dangerous substances
·         Manufacturing, distributing or dispensing a controlled dangerous substance
·         Employing a juvenile in a drug distribution operation
·         Distributing drugs within 1,000 feet of a school
·         Distributing drugs to juveniles or leading a narcotics trafficking network

Inmates convicted of most state crimes are eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of their sentence, the office said. But mandatory minimums disqualify inmates from that protocol, and impose prison terms that must be served for a specific number of years before parole is considered.

If the court believes a prisoner applying for a new sentence presents a significant public danger based on aggravating factors, a prosecutor can request a new mandatory minimum, but it must be shorter than the original minimum imposed, under the new policy.

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Five counties in Oregon vote to secede to Idaho

This week, voters in five counties in eastern Oregon urged county officials to begin to promote border relocation and joining Idaho, reported UPI.

The counties -- Malheur, Sherman, Grant, Baker and Lake -- join Jefferson and Union counties, whose voters applied to join Idaho last year, in their planned secession to what is being called "Greater Idaho."

While President Biden defeated former President Donald Trump statewide in last fall's election, the five counties heavily favored Trump.

The group, Move Oregon's Border for a Greater Idaho, is behind the effort. In addition to rural eastern Oregon, the planned Greater Idaho would also encompass large swathes of northeastern California.

Last year, a drive "to seek refuge from the blue states" was stalled after petitioners seeking signatures to place the item on the ballot said COVID-19 stopped their efforts.

"This election proves that rural Oregon wants out of Oregon. If Oregon really believes in liberal values such as self-determination, the Legislature won't hold our counties captive against our will," Mike McCarter, lead petitioner, said.

Last year McCarter said that the movement was a "peaceful revolution" and that the vote would be a crucial decision between rural and urban areas.

Any such change in the state's boundaries would require ratification by the Oregon Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats. From there Oregon and Idaho would have to sign a formal agreement, which will then have to be ratified by the U.S. Congress.

Future elections on similar ballot items will be held for residents of Harney County and Douglas County.

To read more CLICK HERE

Texas first state to carry out an execution in 2021

The 4th Execution of 2021

On May 19, 2021, Quintin Jones of Texas was executed by lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the September 1999 beating death of his great aunt, 83-year-old, Berthena Bryant, Texas Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Desel told The Associated Press.

The execution was not witnessed by members of the media, Desel never received the usual phone call from the Huntsville Unit prison to bring reporters from The Associated Press and The Huntsville Item to the prison. He and the media witnesses were waiting in an office across the street.

“The Texas Department of Criminal Justice can only apologize for this error and nothing like this will ever happen again,” he said.

He said the execution, the first in Texas in nearly a year, included a number of new personnel who have never participated in the process.

“Somewhere in that mix there was never a phone call made to this office for me to accompany the witnesses across the street into the Huntsville Unit,” Desel said.

Desel said he didn’t immediately know if the glitch was a violation of state law or a violation of agency policy.

The previous 570 executions carried out by Texas since capital punishment resumed in 1982 all had at least one media witness.

“My assumption is there will be a thorough investigation into how this all transpired and what was missed that allowed it to happen, and I expect that investigation is already underway,” Desel said.

There were no unusual circumstances with the execution itself, he said, relying on accounts from agency officials who were inside the death chamber.

Jones made a brief statement thanking his supporters and expressing love for them.

“I was so glad to leave this world a better, more positive place,” he said, according to a prison transcript of his remarks. “It’s not an easy life with all of the negativity.

“I hope I left everyone a plate of food full of happy memories, happiness and no sadness.”

As the lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered, he took four or five deep breaths followed by “a long deep snore,” Desel said.

Jones was pronounced dead at 6:40 p.m., 12 minutes after the drugs began.

Less than an hour before the scheduled punishment, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to halt the 41-year-old man’s execution.

Prosecutors said after Bryant refused to lend Jones money, he beat her with a bat in her Fort Worth home then took $30 from her purse to buy drugs.

Some of Bryant’s family members, including her sister Mattie Long, had said they didn’t want Jones to be executed. Jones was Long’s grandnephew.

“Because I was so close to Bert, her death hurt me a lot. Even so, God is merciful. Quintin can’t bring her back. I can’t bring her back. I am writing this to ask you to please spare Quintin’s life,” Long wrote in a letter that was part of Jones’ clemency petition with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

The board denied Jones’ clemency petition a day earlier and Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t go against that decision and also declined to delay the execution. Abbott has granted clemency to only one death row inmate, Thomas Whitaker, since taking office in 2015.

On the day of the execution, Jones’ attorney filed a civil rights complaint against the board, alleging race played “an impermissible role” in its denial of Jones’ petition. Jones’ attorney argued the case was similar to that of Whitaker’s and the only difference was that Whitaker is white and Jones was Black. U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. dismissed the complaint, writing that Jones didn’t present direct evidence of his allegation.

Helena Faulkner, a Tarrant County assistant criminal district attorney whose office prosecuted Jones, said not all of Bryant’s family members had opposed the execution.

In his final appeals, Jones’ attorney, Michael Mowla, argued that Jones was intellectually disabled and that his death sentence was based on since discredited testimony that wrongly labeled him as a psychopath and a future danger. Mowla also said Jones’ history of drug and alcohol abuse that started at age 12 and physical and sexual abuse he suffered were never considered at his trial.

Jones was the first inmate in Texas to receive a lethal injection since the July 8 execution of Billy Joe Wardlow. Four other executions had been set for earlier this year but were either delayed or rescheduled. While Texas is usually the nation’s busiest death penalty state, in 2020 it executed only three inmates — the fewest executions in nearly 25 years, mainly because of the pandemic.

In court documents filed last week, prosecutors argued the death sentence was justified because Jones had a violent history, including assaulting teachers and participating in two other murders.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

State Police demand apology from Governor Wolf

The head of the union that represents Pennsylvania’s State Police troopers is demanding an apology from Gov. Tom Wolf over a Juneteenth-themed letter the Democratic governor sent to all state employees, arguing that it insulted his officers, reported John L. Micek of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

At issue is language that Wolf included in his letter last week, noting that “Juneteenth is a celebration of the progress we have made as a nation towards equality and justice for all. Sadly, the continued death of African Americans at the hands of police … are painful reminders that racism and intolerance are still with us today.”

The state observes Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, as a state holiday. It commemorates the emancipation of the last enslaved people in the United States.

In an op-Ed sent to news organizations, including the Capital-Star, David Kennedy, the president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, blasted Wolf for “[pushing] a false narrative that police are racist murderers,” and called it the “worst kind of political pandering. He added that “it only serves to further divide our nation at the expense of officers who already work incredibly dangerous jobs.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

SCOTUS: No standalone 'community caretaking' exception to the Fourth Amendment

The US Supreme Court ruled that there is no standalone “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment that would allow police to conduct a warrantless search and seizure of a person’s home as part of a welfare check, reported Jurist.

This case, Caniglia v. Strom, involved a welfare check, which led to police searching and seizing the petitioner’s guns against his wishes. Officers used false pretext to gain his wife’s consent, then claimed that such warrantless searches and seizures were permissible under the “community caretaking” doctrine established in Cady v. Dombrowski. The decision in Cady allowed police to search an impounded car for weapons because this kind of search was incidental to their caretaking duties like maintaining public highways and responding to accidents.

The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the government’s claim that the Cady exception extended to searches and seizures within the home that are justified by the need to protect the public. But Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority with three concurrences, overturned this application of the exception. He said that the home is given significantly more constitutional protection than the car, which the Cady decision repeatedly acknowledges. This “unmistakable distinction” suggests that “what is reasonable for vehicles is different from what is reasonable for homes.”

In his concurrence, Justice Samuel Alito raised several issues that this opinion did not touch. In particular, he noted that red flag laws, which allow police to “seize guns pursuant to a court order to prevent their use for suicide or the infliction of harm on innocent persons,” may be challenged under the court’s ruling in this case. These laws have passed in several states as a way to prevent gun violence in abusive domestic situations.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s concurrence clarified that police could still enter a person’s home without a warrant if they were “reasonably trying to prevent a potential suicide or … help[ing] an elderly person who has been out of contact and may have fallen and suffered a serious injury.”

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Monday, May 17, 2021

Accountability for police misconduct elusive

Section 242 of Title 18 of the federal code makes it a crime for a public official acting in their official capacity to willfully deprive a person of their constitutional rights. Yet prosecutors rarely bring charges under the statute, averaging just 41 cases per year, reported The Brennan Center for Justice. The recent federal indictment of the Minneopolis police officers related to the killing of George Floyd is an exception that highlights just how infrequent such prosecutions are, even when they are clearly warranted.

Why? The answer boils down to a little-known 1945 Supreme Court case called Screws v. United States.

In that case, Sheriff Claude Screws of Baker County, Georgia, had arrested Robert Hall, a Black man, for allegedly stealing a tire. Screws and two other officers then drove Hall to the local courthouse, where they bludgeoned him — while he was handcuffed — with their fists and a blackjack. The officers then dragged Hall’s limp body from the courthouse to the jail and called an ambulance. Hall died within the hour.

Screws was charged and convicted under the law known today as 242. But he appealed. Screws’s argument went something like this: because 242 is so poorly written, he couldn’t have known that he was breaking it. And punishing him for a law that he couldn’t have known he was breaking, his logic ran, violated his due process rights under the Fifth Amendment.

The Supreme Court agreed and overturned Screws’s conviction. To hear the justices tell it, the statute was indeed so vague that it had failed to give him fair warning about what he could and couldn’t do. But rather than strike down 242, the Court decided instead to save the law from unconstitutionality, holding that to violate the law, a public official need “willfully” deprive a person of their constitutional rights.

If only curing 242’s deficiencies had been so simple.

But Congress can fix it, and the Brennan Center has published a report laying out a blueprint enabling lawmakers to do just that. And it is essential because there are so many places where a lack of local accountability allow police to act with impunity. The broad strokes are illustrated by our two main suggestions.

Start with 242’s due process problem. Recall from the Screws case that criminal defendants bear a right to know what conduct is illegal. Our first recommendation would take care of this by having Congress spell out what conduct is off limits. It can do this by including some of the most egregious criminal civil rights violations the Supreme Court has long understood as out-of-bounds — excessive force, sexual misconduct, and deliberate indifference to the medical needs of a person in custody.

Turn now to 242’s high standard-of-proof problem. Thanks to the Screws opinion, prosecutors must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a public official “willfully” deprived a person of their rights. But proving specific intent — basically, establishing what a person was thinking when they acted — is a difficult needle to thread. Hence prosecutors’ reluctance to bring 242 charges. Indeed, just look at what all it took for Derek Chauvin’s 242 indictment to happen: a chilling video capturing the barbaric plunder of George Floyd’s body that sparked a national racial awakening.

Our second recommendation would remedy this. Congress should lower 242’s intent standard from “willfully” to “knowingly or recklessly.” No longer would a jury need to try to peer into a defendant’s mind as part of finding a defendant guilty.

By taking together our twin suggestions, Congress would make it easier to pursue and prove 242 violations. And that would signal that our Constitution cannot tolerate palpable misconduct and brutality. That the lives of those routinely subjected to state cruelty matter. That America can be better than this.

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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Carlisle, PA Borough Council creates racial Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Carlisle, PA Borough Council creates Truth and Reconciliation Commission, reported The Sentinel. The members are: Raff Donelson, Andrew Razanauskas, Kendall Isaac, TaWanda Stallworth, Emily Kelahan, Dorene Wilbur and Tristin Milazzo.

Councilman Sean Shultz said the council received a large number of applicants, creating a “deep pool of applicants” for the positions on the commission.

“I think this is going to be an incredible step forward for the borough,” he said. “I think the group that we have together is really going to move this ball forward and provide the council with some meaningful, actionable steps that we can take to improve life in this borough.”

Terms for the commission members are effective immediately and will expire on Dec. 31, 2022.

The borough council passed a resolution creating the independent, nonpartisan commission at its March 11 meeting. Its goal is to improve racial justice and racial equity within the scope and jurisdiction of Carlisle Borough Council.

The commission will look at policies, practices and actions that have contributed to racial inequity and systemic racism.

Its first order of business, though, will be to hold its first meeting within 30 days and to submit a proposed mission statement to the borough council within 60 days.

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Saturday, May 15, 2021

MCN/USA TODAY NETWORK: Is your car spying on you?

Matthew T. Mangino
May 14, 2021

Your car is spying on you. Most late model vehicles have the ability to log speed, when and where a vehicle’s lights are turned on, which doors are opened and closed at specific locations as well as gear shifts, odometer readings, ignition cycles - and that is only the tip of the iceberg.

As the U.S. Supreme Court has extended protections to the privacy of your smartphone, your car has unexpectedly become a safe haven for law enforcement to access your personal information without a warrant.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Carpenter v. United States, that the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, protects cell phone location information. In an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court recognized that location information - collected by cell providers creates a “detailed chronicle of a person’s physical presence compiled every day, every moment over years.”

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, perhaps the most significant part of the ruling is its explicit recognition that individuals can maintain an expectation of privacy in information that they provide to third parties. As a result of what has become a landmark decision the police must now get a warrant before obtaining cell phone data.

However, when a smartphone is plugged into a vehicle’s USB port to make a call or listen to music all that precious personal data is downloaded into the vehicle.

The Intercept recently reported on a 2015 podcast of “The Forensic Lunch,” wherein Ben LeMere the founder of Berla, a company that manufactures vehicle forensic kits, talked about the accidental data transfer unbeknownst to the vehicle owner or operator.

“Your phone died, you’re gonna get in the car, plug it in, and there’s going to be this nice convenient USB port for you,” LeMere said. “When you plug it into this USB port, it’s going to charge your phone, absolutely. And as soon as it powers up, it’s going to start sucking all your data down into the car.”

The Fourth Amendment may afford individuals some protection from invasive searches of a personal vehicle. However, that may not protect you while on vacation or traveling for business.

In the same podcast, as reported by The Intercept, LeMere discussed pulling data from a rental car, “We had a Ford Explorer ... we pulled the system out, and we recovered 70 phones that had been connected to it. All of their call logs, their contacts and their SMS history, as well as their music preferences, songs that were on their device, and some of their Facebook and Twitter things as well.”

The individuals who rented that vehicle unwittingly left their personal information in the vehicle. As a result, law enforcement can access a lot of personal information - embarrassing, and maybe even incriminating, information without a warrant.

Plugging into your vehicle is the same as throwing your personal information in the garbage and putting it out on the curb. In 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a California case that the Fourth Amendment does not require that police obtain a warrant before searching trash containers placed on the curb.

No person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in items left in a public place. “What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection,” said the justices. That goes for personal information dumped into a vehicle’s data system.

The courts have yet to catch up with this new form of invasive surveillance technology. In the meantime, the willy-nilly exposure of personal data may come at a cost.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010 was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.

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Friday, May 14, 2021

Federal court finds racial slur is protected speech

 A retired Air Force officer’s use of a racial slur toward a Black store clerk did not fall within the “fighting words” exception to free speech protection, the Fourth Circuit ruled Tuesday.

A U.S. magistrate judge found Lt. Col. Jules Bartow guilty under Virginia’s abusive language statute in a case stemming from a series of rhetorical questions — that included a racial slur — Bartow posed to a store clerk in 2018. 

Cathy Johnson-Felder, a Black sales associate at the Marine Corps Exchange store in Quantico, Virginia, testified that she was involved in a heated exchange with Bartow while he tried on boots. The exchange started off badly, with Johnson-Felder wishing Bartow a good morning.

“If I had indigestion, diarrhea, or a headache, would you still address me as good morning?” Bartow said in a raised voice to Johnson-Felder, who froze in shock, according to the opinion written by U.S. Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, a Bill Clinton appointee.

Johnson-Felder then asked Bartow, “Can I help you, sir,” to which he replied: “I’m not a sir — I’m not a male, I’m not a female, if I had a vagina, would you still call me sir?” According to the opinion, Bartow gestured and pointed his finger several times at Johnson-Felder, who was a number of steps away from him. She testified she was “taken aback.”

The interaction continued to devolve when a Black man in civilian clothing stepped in to explain that Johnson-Felder’s use of “sir” is was to be expected when purchasing merchandise on a military installation. 

 “If I called her a nigger, would she still say good morning?” Bartow responded, according to Johnson-Felder’s testimony. That led to Bartow’s removal from the store by security personnel, who arrested him.

After Bartow pleaded not guilty to violating the Virginia speech statute, a magistrate judge concluded he had directed the slur toward the Black man in civilian clothing and fined Bartow $500. Bartow appealed the conviction to the Fourth Circuit.

During oral arguments this past December, U.S. Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker — a Barack Obama appointee — said “the presence of the n-word is what makes this case complicated.” But in the end, the panel found that while ugly and racist, the epithet did not rise to the level of “fighting words” under the statute.

“The ugly racial epithet used by Bartow undoubtedly constituted extremely ‘abusive language’” U.S. Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, a Bill Clinton appointee, wrote in a 14-page opinion issued Tuesday. 

But Motz noted the government failed to prove or offer evidence “that Bartow’s use of this highly offensive slur tended to cause immediate acts of violence by anyone.” 

The First Amendment allows criminalization of abusive language, Motz said, but only if the government proves that the language had a “direct tendency to cause immediate acts of violence by the person to whom, individually, it was addressed.” 

Furthermore, Motz noted the magistrate “did not make any findings as to whether the African American man was in fact likely spurred to immediate violence or as to the likelihood of such a response from an individual in the man’s position.” 

Accordingly, the panel reversed the magistrate’s judgment and remanded the case for vacatur of the former officer’s conviction and sentence. 

Bartow’s attorney, Rick Redmond with the Washington firm Cleary Gottlieb, told the panel during oral arguments Bartow’s “mode of expression was rhetorical questioning and therefore constituted protected speech and not ‘fighting words.’”

The government provided a store security camera video that lacked audio, and the testimony of two store workers as evidence.

“Because the video lacks audio and individuals move in and out of the frame, it is not possible to determine from the video when Bartow was talking or to whom he was looking when he did speak,” Motz wrote, though she noted the video did not appear to show Bartow taking any aggressive action toward the clerk or customer.

Thacker and U.S. Circuit Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr., a Donald Trump appointee, joined Motz’s opinion.

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Thursday, May 13, 2021

AG Garland warns of growing threat of white supremacist groups

Domestic violent extremist groups, particularly white supremacists, pose a growing threat to the United States, Attorney General Merrick Garland told a Senate panel, reported Reuters.

"The threat of lethality is higher than it ever was ... I have not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the invasion of the U.S. Capitol" by rioters on Jan. 6, said Garland, who as a prosecutor led the investigation into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

Garland noted the FBI recently said that the top domestic violent extremist threat facing the United States is from "racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, specifically those who advocate for the superiority of the white race."

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the committee that racially or ethnically motivated extremists are "most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians," while people tied to right-wing militia groups are the most likely to target police and government employees and buildings.

The threat of attacks inside the United States by foreign militants such as Islamic State also persists, Mayorkas said. "It is not as if they have disappeared... We don't take our eye off one to focus on the other," he said.

Garland and Mayorkas said they were concerned about how disinformation and misinformation spread on social media, and Mayorkas said such "false narratives" can instigate violence.

Garland said the Director of National Intelligence's office was monitoring "sharing of information" between U.S. and European extremists.

Mayorkas said that Homeland Security, whose leadership in the Trump Administration was accused by a whistleblower of playing down right-wing extremist threats, is devoting more intelligence resources to domestic extremism and allocating "at least $77 million" to help local governments prepare for "acts of domestic violent extremism."

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

10 out of 12 Louisiana prison doctors have had their license restricted or suspended

The UCLA Medical Center it is not, but ten of the Louisiana Department of Corrections’ 12 physicians — including six medical directors and two assistant medical directors — have had their medical licenses restricted or suspended. Several were disciplined for illegally distributing drugs, two committed fraud, one engaged in sexual misconduct, and another former medical director pled guilty to possession of child pornography, according to Buzzfeed.

Helming the state’s prison hospital wards are medical professionals tasked with taking care of people who cannot choose their doctors and live in conditions that often lead to health problems. But at least three Louisiana doctors began working in the state’s prisons before their licenses were fully restored, and one, the medical director at Rayburn Correctional Center, is currently still working with a restricted license, even though the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and the American College of Correctional Physicians (formerly the Society of Correctional Physicians) oppose the practice of hiring physicians with license restrictions.

“The doctors they hired there are there serving a sentence of their own,” said a man recently released from Angola, who requested anonymity to protect his privacy as he transitions back into the outside world.

Doctors with disciplinary records have often clustered at prisons in the state because of a loophole: The Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners allows physicians barred from practicing medicine in most hospitals to work in certain “institutional” settings, such as prisons.

In response to questions from BuzzFeed News, the Louisiana Department of Corrections leaned on that exception. In order for doctors to be considered for jobs in prisons, a department spokesperson said in an email, “their licensing status must meet the Louisiana Medical Boards’ standards for working in a correctional setting.” He said that the doctors employed by the state provide “professional and responsive care” to people incarcerated in the prisons.

But under their care, a culture of medical neglect has flourished, according to interviews with two men who were previously incarcerated at Angola, a Tulane University doctor who frequently sees patients from Louisiana prisons, a lawyer who has represented many clients in prisons in the state, and the three correctional medicine experts who conducted a comprehensive review of Angola’s medical practices in 2016 as part of a lawsuit against the prison.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Georgia repeals citizen arrest statute after Ahmuad Arbery's murder

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Monday signed a bill that repeals an 1863 civil war-era statute, one year after Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot, reported Jurist.

The bill amends Title 17 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, which was enacted to allow white citizens to arrest anyone they suspected of committing a crime and mainly used to capture slaves who were fleeing north. The law was frequently used during the lynching era to justify mob violence against Black people. The legislation came under scrutiny early last year after it was cited by a prosecutor to justify not charging three white men involved in the shooting of Arbery. He was shot while running through his neighborhood on the Georgia coast in February 2020 after the men claimed they thought he was a burglar.

Under the repeal of the statute, citizens who are mere bystanders or witnesses do not have the right to detain people. It restricts the use of deadly force to self-protection, protecting a home, or preventing a “forcible felony.” However, the amendment still allows officers and investigators to detain someone they believe has committed a crime.

In his press statement, Kemp said, “After the tragic killing of Ahmaud Arbery, we knew that action was needed to ensure an antiquated, Civil-War era statute could not be used to justify rogue vigilantism in the Peach State.”

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said she was thankful and that “the state of Georgia is moving in the right direction passing this particular bill, unfortunately, I had to lose my son to get significant change but I am still thankful.”

The bill makes Georgia the first state to repeal a citizen’s arrest statute.

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Monday, May 10, 2021

Alabama police officer convicted of murder for killing suicidal mentally ill man

With little national fanfare, unlike the Derek Chauvin verdict, Huntsville, Alabama  police Officer William Ben Darby was convicted last week of murder for shooting and killing Jeff Parker, a suicidal man, three years ago, reported

A Madison County jury found Darby guilty after about two hours of deliberations on Friday morning, returning a verdict that left local police “in the first stages of shock.”

Circuit Judge Donna Pate ordered that Darby be taken to the Madison County jail from the courtroom. He was released on a $100,000 bond just over two hours later, records show.

Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard this morning welcomed the verdict. “I’m not saying it was a pleasant day,” he said at a press conference, but the “facts bore out there was nothing justified about this encounter.”

Darby’s defense attorney Robert Tuten said he looks forward to appealing the case and believes the verdict “won’t stand.”

“The jury got it wrong,” Tuten said at a press conference outside his office.

Darby was on duty when he shot and killed Parker on April 3, 2018. Parker called 911 that afternoon and said that he was armed and suicidal.

When the first two officers got to Parker’s west Huntsville home, they found him sitting on a couch with a gun to his own head. The first officer, Genisha Pegues, testified against Darby and told the jury that she was de-escalating the situation before he got there.

Darby testified that he shot Parker in defense of himself and other officers because he feared Parker might shoot them.

Body camera video showed Darby grab a shotgun from his patrol car and sprint to the house. Less than a minute later, he shot Parker in the face. Darby testified that he had to take over the situation from Pegues, a senior officer, because he believed she was putting herself in danger by talking to Parker.

Darby walked up to the house and shouted for Pegues to “point your fu**ing gun at him,” bodycam video showed. Darby repeatedly shouted for Parker to drop his gun. Darby fired the fatal shot 11 seconds after entering the house, according to the video.

In closing arguments, Tuten told the jury that Darby had to shoot. He said if Parker had decided to turn his gun on the police, it would have taken twice as long for the officers to return fire.

Madison County prosecutors saw the case differently. Tim Douthit, an assistant district attorney, argued that Darby killed Parker because the man didn’t follow his orders to drop the gun.

Tim Gann, Madison County’s chief trial attorney, said that Darby violated his oath to serve and protect.

“An innocent man was murdered,” Gann told the jury. “He called for help and he got Ben Darby.”

In a case that has divided city and county leaders, Huntsville police issued an immediate response.

“We are in the first stages of shock,” said Chief Mark McMurray in a statement emailed to the news media. “While we thank the jury for their service in this difficult case, I do not believe Officer Darby is a murderer.”

“Officers are forced to make split-second decisions every day, and Officer Darby believed his life and the lives of other officers were in danger. Any situation that involves a loss of life is tragic. Our hearts go out to everyone involved.”

The Huntsville City Council voted to dedicate $125,000 in public money for Darby’s criminal defense. In 2018, when approving the first $75,000 in support, the city resolution said Darby’s shooting was “within the line and scope of his duty.” The council voted without seeing the bodycam footage.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle has said the shooting was within policy and that he disagreed with the district attorney’s office.

“While I respect the jury’s opinion,” said Battle today, “I disagree with the verdict.”

“We recognize this was a hard case with a lot of technical information to process. Officer Darby followed the appropriate safety protocols in his response on the scene. He was doing what he was trained to do in the line of duty. Fortunately, Officer Darby has the same appeal rights as any other citizen and is entitled to exercise those rights.”

District Attorney Rob Broussard this morning said the evidence “was off the charts. He was not justified in any way.”

Broussard said the case was not a reflection on Huntsville police or local law enforcement. “We have as good of law enforcement as any community could ever hope to have,” he said.

Broussard said Parker showed “zero hostility or aggression” during the encounter, and that Officer Pegues did what you would hope for from police. “She was trying to help this man.” As for Darby, he said: “He had maybe no business being a police officer, truthfully. He was not wired for it … pretty clear.”

Pegues and Justin Beckles, the second officer who arrived at Parker’s home on the day of the shooting, have both since left the Huntsville Police Department. After the shooting, they were both sent to remedial training, while an internal police department review cleared Darby of wrongdoing.

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