New York City reached a settlement with the family of Eric Garner on Monday, agreeing to pay $5.9 million to resolve a wrongful death claim over his killing by the police on Staten Island last July…
The agreement, reached just a few days before the deadline to file suit, headed off one potentially fractious legal battle over Mr. Garner’s death even as a federal inquiry into the killing and several others at the state and local level remain open and could provide a further accounting of how he died.
Still, the settlement was a pivotal moment in a case that has engulfed the city and the Police Department since the afternoon of July 17, 2014, when two officers approached Mr. Garner as he stood unarmed on a sidewalk and accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes.
The death of Mr. Garner, 43, followed by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August, set off a national debate about policing actions in minority communities and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.
Mr. Garner’s final words — “I can’t breathe” — repeated 11 times as one officer held him in a chokehold, became a national rallying cry. A Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, fueled weeks of demonstrations…
“The City of New York has agreed to pay $5.9 million to resolve the Garner case,” said Jonathan C. Moore, the lawyer for Mr. Garner’s family…
The resolution is among the biggest reached so far as part of a strategy by the comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, to settle major civil rights claims even before a lawsuit is filed. Mr. Stringer has said the aim is to save taxpayers the expense of a drawn-out trial and to give those bringing the suits and their families a measure of closure.
…The settlement did not provide any greater clarity on the actions of the officers that day or the policing strategies that have come under criticism in the year that has followed…
The city medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, citing the chokehold and the compression of Mr. Garner’s chest by other officers who held him down.
Several inquiries into Mr. Garner’s death were still pending, including investigations by the United States attorney’s office, the Civilian Complaint Review Board and state health officials, who are looking into the actions of emergency medical responders in treating Mr. Garner.
The Police Department has concluded its internal investigation but has yet to say whether any officers would be disciplined.
IMHO, the relationship between most American police departments and the communities they’re supposed to serve is a criminal farce. That criminality is doubled and tripled when victims are non-white and other minorities.
In general, too many coppers behave like they are above the law – they are judge, jury and executioner. And if a confrontation involves a non-white civilian the operative word is executioner.
Yes – there are good cops. I’ve known more than a few including members of my extended family. If they stand up for honest community relations, too often, they get screwed over for doing just that.
Jess Cunningham tried to stop the murder of Iraqi detainees — Photograph/Jonas Fredwall Karlsson
Cunningham was now a pariah.
He says warnings spread through Alpha Company to be careful about what was said around him. Thirteen men had been present at the killings at the canal site, and Cunningham was the one who could take them all down. For Cunningham it was a dangerous position to be in.
Critics later blamed him for not coming forward at once, but the army has no mechanisms in place that would have whisked him away and protected him. For precisely that reason, war crimes are more common than is generally supposed: they are simply too dangerous to report. A related truth is that some number of soldier suicides in combat zones are not suicides at all—they are murders committed to cover up crimes.
At the highest level, American military leaders must be aware of the pattern. They could begin to remedy the problem if they chose to—just as they have in the case of sexual assaults within the ranks, where immediate protections are offered to accusers. But war crimes are different. The United States takes a serious hit every time one is reported. It seems that the leadership would rather not know about them than have to deal with every one that takes place. The consequence, however unintentional, is that soldiers who report war crimes are put in harm’s way.
Had Cunningham come forward in Baghdad, he would have been exposed to a battlefield where there were a hundred ways to die. Even silent dissent was tricky for him now.
RTFA from the beginning. Long – and worth every word. Once again VANITY FAIR does the world journalistic service.
The tale is too real. Ignorant blind patriotism taken down to the gangbanger level. A command structure, military incompetence from the grunt level up to a White House that rejected global treaties and standards of conflict that respected the value of human life.
Jess Cunningham deserves the gratitude of the portion of this nation that stands for justice and honor. The remainder hate people like Cunningham for supporting justice over gang pride.
Fifty years ago today, assassins killed black power activist Malcolm X during a speech to the Organization for Afro-American Unity at New York City’s Audubon Ballroom. Although they ended the life of one of the 20th century’s most dynamic leaders, they did not kill his impact. His insights into racism and freedom are as necessary today as when he first spoke them. A half-century after his murder, Malcolm X may still be one of our best guides for making sense of American racism, the evil that once again roils the country in unrest.
Malcolm X’s enduring influence owes in part to the truth of his metaphors, his way with words and the relentlessness of his criticism — in particular, his depiction of the United States as a prison. In making the comparison, he gave voice to the confinement he saw in a white supremacy still evident.
“Don’t be shocked when I say I was in prison,” he often told his audiences. “You’re still in prison. That’s what America means — prison…”
To Malcolm X, prison was more than its bricks and mortar. It was a metaphor for racism. Prisons use armed force to deny the mobility, insult the integrity and restrict the civic and political participation of its captives. And for the black audiences who heard Malcolm X speak — men and women who went to underfunded schools, worked dangerous and low-paying jobs where they could find them, faced harassment in employment lines or welfare offices, were forced to live in only certain neighborhoods and in many parts of the country were barred from voting by police and vigilante organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan — the United States did mean prison.
Prison, then, was an exaggerated form of the daily indignities black women and men faced. What made this metaphor ring so true is that black communities — years before the launch of the war on drugs — were already heavily policed and disproportionately incarcerated…
Imprisonment was the price of blackness. It respected neither class nor crime: Black people were incarcerated for protesting racism, engaging in antisocial activity or simply living in a neighborhood subject to pre-emptive policing.
At the time that Malcolm X began to challenge the prison of America in the late 1950s, the United States incarcerated fewer than 200,000 people in prisons and jails. Today, that number has metastasized to more than 2.3 million people, almost half of whom are black. Accounting for a mere 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 25 percent of the world’s prison population.
I was lucky to hear, to listen to this wonderful voice calling for freedom. The idiots who rail against Malcolm’s message as intimidating to whites illustrate their own guilt, their fears of being found out. Too ignorant to see that class is as critical as color.
I stood in the middle of hundreds of Black residents of Harlem in the 1950’s. Took the train to New York, to Harlem, to get to Lewis Micheaux’s National Memorial African Bookstore once every month or so. The only white face in a crowd filling an intersection and stopping all traffic from proceeding while a slender giant stood elevated on one corner. He spoke of freedom and justice. And more than once he recognized this class brother willing to stand and say, “Fix it, brother!”
Some of the best early days of my personal awakening.
Stephen Torres was meeting with a client at his law office, in downtown Albuquerque, on April 12, 2011, when he received a call from a neighbor, who told him that police officers were aiming rifles at his house. He left work and drove to his home, in a middle-class suburb with a view of the mountains. There were more than forty police vehicles on his street. Officers wearing camouflage fatigues and bulletproof vests had circled his home, a sand-colored two-story house with a pitched tile roof. Two officers were driving a remote-controlled robot, used for discharging bombs, back and forth on the corner.
Stephen’s wife, Renetta, the director of human resources for the county, arrived a few minutes later, just after three o’clock. A colleague had heard her address repeated on the police radio, so her assistant pulled her out of a meeting. When Renetta saw that the street was cordoned off with police tape, she tried to walk to her house, but an officer told her that she couldn’t enter the “kill zone…”
Renetta knew that the only person at home was the youngest of her three boys, Christopher, who was twenty-seven and had schizophrenia. Two hours earlier, he had stopped by her office for lunch, as he did a few times a week. Then he visited an elderly couple who lived two houses away. He said that he needed to “check up on them”; he often cleaned their pool or drove them to the grocery store. Because he found it overwhelming to spend too much time among people, he tried to do small, social errands, so as not to isolate himself…
At around five-thirty, a female officer stepped out of a mobile crime unit, an R.V. where detectives processed evidence, and waved the family over. “She was so detached,” Renetta said. “All she said was ‘I regret to inform you that your son is deceased.’ ” She did not tell them how their son had died or where they could find his body. The Torreses asked if they could go home, but the officer said that it was still an active crime scene…
It is not clear what the officers thought they were doing at that point. In a report filed later that day, one officer wrote, “Detectives believed another person was inside the house refusing to exit. Supposedly they saw movement in the house.” Another wrote, “There may be three people still inside the residence and all were possibly armed.”
There was no one in the house. Christopher Torres’ body was in the back yard. Shot in the back, point blank, three times. He was dead.
The lies the police told have been contradicted by an eye witness.
Albuquerque TV stations, print media journalists, make a big deal about courageous investigative journalism. Most of it is laughable, useless, cow country comedy. Rachel Aviv – for the NewYorker – knows what she is doing. This is a masterful piece of writing. Detail included you never get in TV news-bites; but, nothing extraneous. Worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.
Mike, one of our regulars, emailed me the link. I sat and read it it and decided I wanted to hold off on posting it till the weekend. This is not something you dash through on your coffee break at work. Read it and reflect.
Albuquerque politicians are stuck into spin and denial. Their sell to the public, after all, is we’re Republicans, we’re going to solve these problems. Trouble is – they weren’t the ones to contact the Department of Justice and ask for an investigation into police killings. Were they, now?
It ain’t just Albuquerque’s problem – it’s America’s problem.
Here are links to the Rolling Stone article on the shooting of James Boyd and a Washington POST article on the Albuquerque PD’s response, their treatment of the DA who dared to indict a couple of their cops for murder.
Marc Piasecki/Getty Images
After the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the phrase “Je Suis Charlie” — “I am Charlie” — became the unofficial slogan of solidarity with the shooting victims. #JeSuisCharlie trended on Twitter, and people held up signs featuring the phrase at rallies all over the world.
Je Suis Charlie’s message is an important one in the wake of this horrifying crime. But now a new hashtag campaign, #JeSuisAhmed, has arisen to augment it. Its message of tolerance deserves — perhaps needs — to be heard as well.
#JeSuisAhmed honors Ahmed Merabet, the French police officer who was murdered outside the Charlie Hebdo offices by the same gunmen who went on to murder the magazine’s staffers. Merabet, in addition to being a police officer, is believed to have been part of France’s large Muslim community.
Twitter users have rallied to the hashtag to argue that Merabet, like the murdered journalists, should be honored as a defender of free speech — particularly because he died trying to protect a publication that had mocked and derided his own religion.
#JeSuisAhmed does not dispute the sentiment of Je Suis Charlie. Rather, it adds to it, by calling attention to the importance of tolerance as well as solidarity. That is important in its own right, but it’s also an elegant response to those who might respond to the attack with broad hostility towards Islam, or suspicion of Muslims as a group…
The hashtag was also a reminder that the victims of Islamist terrorists are primarily Muslim…
In an update, VOX notes that candyass [my word] sources like the NY TIMES say Merabet’s religion is unconfirmed. While the British press reports that his family says he was Muslim and will be buried in a Muslim cemetery.
Close enough for folk music, folks.
The heart that belonged to Laylah Petersen, the 5-year-old Wisconsin girl shot in the head in her living room last week, will go on beating for another child.
Laylah was killed Thursday as she sat in her grandfather’s lap when an unknown gunman sprayed their Milwaukee home with about a dozen bullets…
“Quite frankly, at this point we’re befuddled as to motive for this crime,” said Capt. Aaron Raap, commander of the Metropolitan Investigations Division. “Normally when we respond to shootings of individuals in most circumstances that victim is the intended target of that shooting.”
“In this case, at this point, we believe that this bullet read ‘to whom it may concern.’ And that concerns all of us and it should concern everybody in our community.”
Still, investigators believe the shooting was targeted because all 12 bullets they believe were fired hit just one house. Police say it’s possible the shooters had the wrong house.
The Milwaukee branch of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said there was a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
No word, yet, on a statement from the NRA. We expect something like their usual…”if she was only carrying a Smith & Wesson handgun this never would have happened.”
It’s especially important to mention one of the brands they pimp for.
Gosh – that house looks familiar
A Missouri woman found out that her $810-a-month dream home in Ferguson was actually a nightmare after seeing a documentary about serial killers on the A&E network.
After watching the show, Catrina McGhaw discovered she was living in the home that serial killer Maury Travis used as a torture chamber.
Authorities believe Travis killed between 12 and 20 women and that many of them died in the basement of the home. He hanged himself in jail in 2002.
McGhaw was freaked out by what had happened in the basement and she was even more rattled when she realized the house’s dining room table was the same one seen in crime scene photos.
Perhaps that shouldn’t have been a surprise, because as is turns out, McGhaw’s landlord is the killer’s mother.
“When she showed us the house, she said you can have this table if you want,” McGhaw told KMOV. “This whole basement was his torture chamber and it’s not okay.”
After confronting her landlord about the house’s history, McGhaw will be breaking her lease thanks to some help from the St. Louis Housing Authority.
Eeoough!. Makes for some interesting dreams, eh?
Two teenage sisters have been murdered in Pakistan after they were accused of tarnishing their family’s name by making a video of themselves dancing in the rain.
The girls, aged 15 and 16, are seen running around in traditional dress with two other younger children outside their bungalow in the town of Chilas, in the northern region of Gilgit.
The sisters, named as Noor Basra and Noor Sheza, appear to break into dance and one even flashes a smile at the camera…
Police are investigating whether the attack was arranged by the girls’ step-brother, named as Khutore, who allegedly wanted to ‘restore the family’s honour’…
The sisters’ other brother has filed a case against Khutore and the four other alleged accomplices who are now believed to be on the run.
The girls were shot alongside their mother in their home by five gunmen in the town of Chilas…
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said at least 943 women and girls were murdered in 2011 for allegedly defaming their family’s honour.
Gotta love religious fundamentalism. Yes, they vary according to degree – and point in history. Anyone with a conscience knows that most American lynchings were perpetrated by “Good Christians” – according to their peers.
Meanwhile, I don’t see a whole boatload of reasons for continuing the taxpayer dollars poured into the rathole that is Pakistan’s military and political sewer. Benefits to America’s questionable foreign policy is nil. The fraction that filters through the corrupt bureaucracy is negligible.
A trial date is set for 2nd week in May in a controversial animal cruelty case involving Bastrop pastor Rick Bartlett.
Bartlett was charged with animal cruelty last year after a neighbor’s cat named Moody was found dead on the bank of the Colorado River directly underneath the Hwy 150 bridge in Bastrop…
Bartlett trapped Moody on his property on January 15, 2012. He placed Moody in a cage in the back of his pickup truck. Bartlett later admitted that he left Moody trapped in the cage for two days without any food or water.
On January 17 Bartlett drove the caged cat to the Bastrop County Animal Control office and met with Officer Susan Keys…Bartlett told Keys that he often trapped cats in his yard that he considered feral and brought them to Animal Control…But Moody wasn’t a feral cat. Officer Keys noticed Moody’s collar and name tag and she told Bartlett to return the cat to the Bell family, Moody’s owner (and Bartlett’s neighbor)…
Later that evening Keys was told about a dead cat that was found underneath the Hwy 150 bridge…It was Moody. He had fallen some 50-feet to his death.
A veterinarian later told investigators, “Moody’s injuries were caused from a compressive force caused from falling from a high level.”
When investigators caught up with Bartlett, he stated that Moody had escaped from the cage and he didn’t know what had happened to him…
Bartlett was bounced from his former gig as pastor for the Bastrop Christian Church after his arrest. He knows a good hustle when he sees one and now has set up a new church – out of his home.
None of this helps Moody or his people. Bartlett’s unwillingness to admit any responsibility, care or concern for the pet’s death is unfortunately typical of animal cruelty cases.
Texas hasn’t moved beyond the 19th Century in dealing with animal cruelty cases – and I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise, either. We ain’t much better here next door in New Mexico. It took decades to outlaw cock fighting – just a few years ago.
Meanwhile – you can sign a petition for justice for Moody over here.
UPDATE: Bartlett found guilty.