Category: Crime

Baltimore Police CCTV catches cop beating a civilian

A Baltimore police officer faces misdemeanor assault and perjury charges after an incident with a suspect was caught on video.

Officer Vincent Cosum Jr. was captured on a city surveillance camera on June 15, repeatedly punching Kollin Truss in the face with other officers present. He faces perjury because in his police report he said Truss assaulted him first, a claim not supported by the video evidence.

Truss is now represented by attorneys, who say charging Cosum alone is not adequate.

“The other officers participated,” Truss attorney Tony Garcia told CBS Baltimore. “They held his arms back. Our client was knocked unconscious on his feet.”

Truss’s attorneys have filed a $70 million lawsuit against the city.

The beating prompted a call from city officials and the public to look into complaints against the city’s police department. The mayor has asked the Department of Justice to investigate.

I hope he gets every penny. Corrupt cops only exist with the collaboration of corrupt government. And vice versa. The DOJ is reaching the point where they may as well ask for a separate seat in the Presidential cabinet to deal with the range of corruption from tickets issued as police fundraisers, police brutalization of minorities and young people in general, theft and collaboration with gangs and gangsters.

I’m more and more impressed with CCTV when it’s used to catch cops as well as civilian miscreants.

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The Disappearance of the Forty-Three


PHOTOGRAPH BY OMAR TORRES/AFP/GETTY

Every morning, the newspapers in Mexico City announce how many days it has been since forty-three students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School disappeared while in Iguala, Guerrero. On Friday, the number—twenty-eight days—was accompanied by an announcement that the governor of Guerrero state, Ángel Aguirre Rivero, had finally resigned after weeks of outrage over the violence and lawlessness that marked his tenure.

The disappearance of the forty-three has aroused horror, indignation, and protest throughout Mexico and all over the world. An air of sadness, disgust, fear and foreboding hangs over Mexico City, where I live, like the unseasonably cold, gray, drizzly weather we’ve been having. This is usually a festive time of year, with the Day of the Dead holidays approaching, but it’s impossible to feel lighthearted. As one friend put it, the government’s cardboard theatre has fallen away, exposing Mexico’s horrifying truths.

The journalists John Gibler (the author of the book “To Die in Mexico”) and Marcela Turati (who has been reporting on the disappearance in the weekly magazine Proceso and elsewhere) have provided the most complete reports of what happened in Iguala on the night of September 26th. “Scores of uniformed municipal police and a handful of masked men dressed in black shot and killed six people, wounded more than twenty, and rounded up and detained forty-three students in a series of attacks carried out at multiple points and lasting more than three hours,” Gibler wrote to me in an e-mail. “At no point did state police, federal police, or the army intercede. The forty-three students taken into police custody are now ‘disappeared.’ ” On September 27th*, the body of another student turned up. His eyes were torn out and the facial skin was ripped away from his skull: the signature of a Mexican organized-crime assassination.

The Ayotzinapa Normal School trains people to become teachers in the state’s poorest rural schools. The students, who are in their late teens and early twenties, tend to come from poor, indigenous campesino families. They are often the brightest kids from their communities. According to Gibler, six hundred people applied to the class that included the students who disappeared, and only a hundred and forty were accepted. To become a teacher is seen as a step up from the life of a peasant farmer, but also as a way for those chosen to be socially useful in their impoverished communities. When Gibler and Turati went to visit the Ayotzinapa School in early October, only twenty-two students were left. In addition to the forty-three missing classmates, many others had been taken home by frightened parents.

RTFA. Please.

Well written, detailed, the sort of work rarely matched by TV talking heads. And, of course, both the conservative and not-quite-so-conservative American Press is tame as ever on the topic. Even where it’s fashionable to recall we are a nation of immigrants, the specter of Fox News seems to haunt our nation’s editors.

Thanks, Mike

Park Service ready to prosecute graffiti creep


A gathering of her peers

Feds chase criminal case against artist who marred rocks in parks

She calls it art, blah, blah, blah..

The National Park Service calls it criminal.

The agency on Thursday announced it was investigating 21-year-old Casey Nocket’s recent cross-country jaunt during which she allegedly painted faces and sketches on rock formations in as many as 10 national parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park.

The agency, which did not name Nocket, said its investigation spans the nation’s most iconic Western parks. Investigators said the woman’s vandalism was found in Yosemite and Death Valley national parks in California, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and Zion and Canyonlands parks in Utah. National Parks Traveler on Thursday posted a photo of Nocket’s trademark scribble inside Rocky Mountain National park.

The Park Service was awaiting confirmation of vandalism in Grand Canyon, Sequoia Kings, Joshua Tree and Bryce national parks.

Park officials said in a statement it takes seriously the issue of vandalism, which can be a felony when committed in a national park…

An online petition at whitehouse.gov had collected more than 2,220 signatures Thursday afternoon, urging authorities to pursue “the most serious charges” and pleading “please don’t allow her to receive a slap.”

I have no sympathy for the Let’s Pretend-to-be-Artists who feel the need to display their crap smears on someone’s home or property, a public place they choose because no one cares to come and look at their pitiful attempts at self-agrandizement.

I have no interest in confronting her graffiti when I set out to be part of nature apart from urbanscapes. As a matter of princple, I don’t need to see her mediocrity on subway walls either. I see no justification for defacing the world around us. I’ll take it as it has grown in life and art, commerce and toil, on its own terms. Play therapy for a middle-class neurotic doesn’t qualify.

Thanks, Mike

Blackwater thugs finally convicted of killing Iraqi civilians

Blackwater and Bush

Three security guards working for the private US contractor Blackwater have been found guilty of the manslaughter of a group of unarmed civilians at a crowded Baghdad traffic junction in one of the darkest incidents of the Iraq war.

A fourth, Nicholas Slatten, was found guilty of one charge of first-degree murder. All face the likelihood of lengthy prison sentences after unanimous verdicts on separate weapons charges related to the incident.

The Nisour Square massacre in 2007 left 17 people dead and 20 seriously injured after the guards working for the US State Department fired heavy machine guns and grenade launchers from their armoured convoy in the mistaken belief they were under attack by insurgents.

But attempts to prosecute the guards have previously foundered because of a series of legal mistakes by US officials, and the case had attracted widespread attention in Iraq as a symbol of apparent American immunity.

Now, after a 10-week trial and 28 days of deliberation, a jury in Washington has found three of the men – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard – guilty of a total of 13 charges of voluntary manslaughter and a total of 17 charges of attempted manslaughter.

The fourth defendant, Slatten, who was alleged to have been first to open fire, was found guilty of a separate charge of first-degree murder. Slough, Liberty and Heard were found guilty of using firearms in relation to a crime of violence, a charge which can alone carry up to a 30-year mandatory sentence…

Federal prosecutor Anthony Asuncion said: “These men took something that did not belong to them: the lives of 14 human beings. They were turned into bloody bullet-riddled corpses at the hands of these men.”

“It must have seemed like the apocalypse was here,” said Asuncion in his closing argument, as he described how many were shot in the back, at long range, or blown up by powerful grenades used by the US contractors.

“There was not a single dead insurgent on the scene,” claimed the prosecutor. “None of these people were armed.”

Sounds like the qualities sought after by your local police department – guaranteeing these gangsters a job when they return to the States. That’s not just a smartass remark. It’s already part of the process of turning our local PD’s into military police.

RTFA for all the details. Personally, I think the GUARDIAN is too kind referring to “a series of legal mistakes by US officials”. Because never in over a half-century of civil rights activism have I ever seen any American officials make “legal mistakes” on behalf of someone poor, Black, working class.

The 14 victims killed by the Blackwater guards on trial were listed as Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y, Mahassin Mohssen Kadhum Al-Khazali, Osama Fadhil Abbas, Ali Mohammed Hafedh Abdul Razzaq, Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, Qasim Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, Sa’adi Ali Abbas Alkarkh, Mushtaq Karim Abd Al-Razzaq, Ghaniyah Hassan Ali, Ibrahim Abid Ayash, Hamoud Sa’eed Abttan, Uday Ismail Ibrahiem, Mahdi Sahib Nasir and Ali Khalil Abdul Hussein.

Someone in the United States ought to remember their names.

FTC expects record claims over AT&T cramming scam

AT&Y scum

Over 359,000 AT&T customers have already filled out an online application to obtain refunds from the company, which padded phone bills with suspect SMS charges.

Since the Federal Trade Commission announced a $105 million settlement with AT&T last week over fake billing charges, 359,000 individuals have already come forward to claim their share of the refund money, and that number is expected to climb.

The claims relate to so-called “cramming” charges in which AT&T customers paid extra fees, usually in the amount of $9.99, for “premium SMS” services that promised to deliver content like horoscopes and celebrity news to cell phones. Such services are a relic of the pre-smartphone days, but people still paid for them, often without authorization, with AT&T receiving a commission on the charges…

The process for making a claim is very straightforward: anyone who was an AT&T customer after January 1, 2009 can simply fill out this online form, which only requires a phone number and address.

Crooked corporation of the day, eh?

Banking security stronger — and scarier!

masked fraud

The caller said her home had burned down and her husband had been badly hurt in the blaze. On the telephone with her bank, she pleaded for a replacement credit card at her new address.

“We lost everything,” she said. “Can you send me a card to where we’re staying now?”

The card nearly was sent. But as the woman poured out her story, a computer compared the biometric features of her voice against a database of suspected fraudsters. Not only was the caller not the person she claimed to be, “she” wasn’t even a woman. The program identified the caller as a male impostor trying to steal the woman’s identity.

The conversation, a partial transcript of which was provided to The Associated Press by the anti-fraud company Verint Systems Inc., reflects the growing use of voice biometric technology to screen calls for signs of fraud.

Two major U.S. banks, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., use voice screening, also known as voice biometric blacklists, according to three people familiar with the arrangements, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because the system was meant to remain secret…

A recent AP survey of 10 leading voice biometric vendors found that more than 65 million people worldwide have had their voiceprints taken, and that several banks, including Barclays PLC in Britain and Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, are in the process of introducing their customers to the technology.

Like that phrase? “Introducing their customers to the technology?” Asking the banks for more info gets answers like…”sharing any information about our fraud prevention measures would jeopardize their effectiveness”.

Neither Wells Fargo nor Chase responded to questions specifically addressing the legality of their voice harvesting.

Meanwhile, our state and federal elected officials have done nothing about implementing oversight or regulation of the uses of this technology.

The technology, of course, isn’t the villain in the piece. Products like this or any other aren’t inherently good or evil. The people using them determine the conditions for that value judgement.

Texas forced, once again, to release an innocent man from death row


Manuel Velez – a free man

A building worker from Texas, who was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit, was released on Wednesday after spending nine years in prison, four of them on death row.

Manuel Velez, 49, emerged from Huntsville prison a free man at 11.32pm CT. He was arrested in 2005, and sentenced to death three years later, for killing a one-year-old who was partially in his care.

But over the years the conviction unravelled. Tests on the victim’s brain showed that Velez could not have caused the child’s head injuries. Further evidence revealed that the defendant, who is intellectually disabled, had suffered from woeful legal representation at trial, and that the prosecutor had acted improperly to sway the jury against him.

Golly – there’s a surprise.

Brian Stull, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who has represented Velez since 2009, said that “an innocent man went to death row because the entire system failed him. The defence counsel who are meant to defend him let him down, the prosecutor who is meant to secure justice committed misconduct, and even the judge made errors that were recognised on appeal…”

…When lawyers with the private firms Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, and Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber took up Velez’s case after he was put on death row, they were astonished by what they found. They discovered that expert opinion had been given in 2006 – fully two years before the trial – that destroyed the state’s case against him.

A neuropathologist had examined Angel’s body and recorded blood on the brain caused by a haematoma that was “well developed”. Crucially, the brain injury was at least two weeks old and was almost certainly inflicted between 18 and 36 days before Angel died.

The timing was critical, as Velez was not in contact with Angel until he moved into the Moreno home on 14 October, 17 days before the boy died. In fact, within the 18- and 36-day period specified by the neuropathologist, Angel was some 1,000 miles away in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was on a building job.

This key detail went unnoticed by Velez’s original defence lawyers who made nothing of it at trial, even though it had been prominently incorporated into the official autopsy report on Angel Moreno. The neuropathologist who made the finding was similarly never called as a witness…

Continue reading

Dumb Crook(s) of the Day

Family Values
Butt dial leads police to meth lab

Three Floridians were busted after one of them butt-dialed 911 while discussing their alleged drug operation.

The dispatcher heard Donna Knope, 55, Jason Knope, 32, and Thomas Stallings, 41, talk about “making and selling methamphetamine” for nearly half an hour on Saturday, authorities said.

Police traced the call to the backyard of the Knopes’ home on Roland Drive in Deltona, 30 miles north of Orlando…

Donna Knope is Jason Knope’s mother.

Volusia County Sheriff’s Office deputies looked inside an open window to a shed to find what appeared to be a meth lab…

They saw a “bottle that appeared to be smoking” and white smoke came streaming from the shed, according to police.

The trio was arrested at the scene where deputies say they found all the elements needs to operate a meth lab, including hypodermic needles, a butane torch, plastic tubing, coffee filters, lighter fluid and more.

All three suspects were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and possessing methamphetamine with the intent to sell or deliver…

Har!

Chicken held for ransom rots — finally dumped in Montana landfill

The truckload of rotting chickens abandoned at a truck stop west of Missoula was dumped in the landfill Friday morning.

Republic Services employees would not let visitors into the dump site while a crew from West Central Environmental Consultants supervised the unloading of 37,000 pounds of spoiled chicken meat…

The trailer had little smell Friday morning, despite having no refrigeration for at least several weeks – and possibly a month. A small amount of liquid was still dripping out of the drain at the back of the trailer. Piles of absorbent material were used to contain the leakage.

A crew from Iron Horse Towing brought a semi-truck to haul the trailer away from the Flying J at the Missoula Wye.

Driver Brian Baird said he drew the short straw this morning and got the job hauling the trailer

According to Nampa, Idaho Police Sgt. Joe Ramirez, the load of frozen chickens had been picked up on Aug. 20 in Springdale, Arkansas, and was supposed to be delivered to Kent, Washington, on Aug. 21. It never arrived, and the truck and trailer were first reported stolen from Dixie River Freight Inc.’s Nampa office on Aug. 27.

Nampa police listed the truck as a stolen vehicle on Sept. 9, but didn’t immediately enter it in the National Crime Information Center because of some doubt about the criminal nature of the circumstances, Ramirez said in an email.

Detectives later learned that suspect-driver, Christopher L. Hall, had an extensive criminal history and is wanted on a federal parole violation. Hall is now also wanted for the alleged theft of a 2013 Volvo semi truck worth $160,000…

Last Saturday, Flying J truck stop workers at the Wye noticed the abandoned trailer, but didn’t know its contents. On Wednesday, Missoula County Sheriff’s deputies learned the driver allegedly tried to hold it for ransom money. Dixie River officials declined to pay, and the driver abandoned the trailer at the truck stop.

Eeoough! Yuck!

Thanks, Mike

TV reporter quits on air — promoting medical marijuana, legalizing weed

A television reporter quit her job on live TV with a big four-letter flourish after revealing she owns a medical marijuana business and intends to press for legalization of recreational pot in Alaska.

After reporting on the Alaska Cannabis Club on Sunday night’s broadcast, KTVA’s Charlo Greene identified herself as the business’s owner.

“Everything you’ve heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all my energy toward fighting for freedom and for fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska,” she said during the late Sunday evening newscast. “And as for this job, well not that I have a choice, but fuck it, I quit.”

She then walked off camera.

KTVA News Director Bert Rudman apologized for blah, blah, blah

Greene is the professional name used by Charlene Egbe. She told The Associated Press on Monday that she knew about a month ago that she would be leaving the way she did. No one else at the station knew anything about it, she said.

Alaska voters will decide in the November election whether to join Washington and Colorado in decriminalizing pot…

After voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 1998, the state of Alaska never set up dispensaries, forcing people to criminalize themselves to access pot…

Perish the thought that conservative politicians let democracy get in the way of maintaining reactionary policies.

And in the tradition of sophistry which rules much of American journalism, AP takes the time and space at the top and bottom of this article to track down dweebs opposing any science-based regulation of cannabis to give them equal coverage – or more.