March 18, 2013 Associated Press
NEW YORK — A class-action suit challenging the New York Police Department's stop and frisk policy got under way Monday with a lawyer saying that officers have been wrongly stopping tens of thousands of young men based solely on their race.
Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights said the policy is legal, but the department is doing stops illegally. Changes must be ordered by a federal judge to ensure the department stops wrongly targeting black and Hispanic men, he said.
He called many of the half million annual stops a "frightening and degrading experience" for "thousands if not millions" of New Yorkers over the last decade. He called them "arbitrary, unnecessary and unconstitutional."
He promised plaintiffs will show the judge "powerful testimonial and statistical evidence" that New Yorkers are routinely stopped without suspicion.
March 17, 2013 Contra Costa Times
CONCORD -- Some Bay Area cities would like Daniel Meyers to be the new poster boy for copper thievery. In an era when copper thefts are soaring and thieves loot with near impunity, Meyers' arrest was surprisingly routine.
Police say that on May 21, Meyers cut and took $1,050 worth of copper wire from a rural area near Columbus Parkway in Vallejo, put the stolen goods in a Cadillac Escalade and drove to an apartment.
Thanks to tracking technology, police followed his every move. The 32-year-old was arrested a short time later. He has since pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial in April on charges of grand theft and receiving stolen property.
This electronic tracking technology is what Vallejo officials hope will put an end to the copper theft bonanza. Other cities also are eyeing the prospective solution to what has, in recent years, become a scourge that affects traffic lights, park lighting, building wiring and other public and private facilities that run on electricity.
Once a major component in making 1-cent coins, copper now is costing cities a pretty penny to replace. Thefts have soared along with the price of copper: The metal now goes for $4 a pound at salvage yards, nearly three times the price four years ago. But it's costing cities much more to replace.
March 14, 2013 CNN
After 22 years on death row, Debra Milke is close to freedom.
A jury convicted the Arizona woman, now 49, of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, child abuse and kidnapping on October 12, 1990, less than a year after her 4-year-old son was found dead.
A judge sentenced her to death a few months later.
But those convictions and the related sentence were tossed out Thursday by a federal appeals court judge. In explaining his decision, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals chided the prosecution for remaining "unconstitutionally silent" on the "history of misconduct" of its key witness, a Phoenix police detective.
"The Constitution requires a fair trial," Kozinski wrote. "This never happened in Milke's case."
March 14, 2013 Miami Herald
Jurors have begun deliberating in the case of a Hialeah man accused of targeting two black men and trying to run them over.
Prosecutors say Luis Gonzalez, still seething over being shot and wounded in Miami’s 1980 race riots, grew upset when he saw two young black men walking through a parking lot in a Hialeah parking lot in January 2012.
Angered because “they looked arrogant,” Gonzalez tried to reverse his pickup truck into Andy Alexander and Jarvis James. Fearing for their lives, James pulled a .22-caliber pistol from his pocket and shot Gonzalez in the neck.
“Two people minding their own business who got caught in the path of hatred,” prosecutor Breezye Telfair told jurors Thursday afternoon during closing arguments.
The truck plowed into a Palm Avenue funeral home. He initially told police that the two men robbed him. He later changed his story, saying he just wanted to scare the men.
March 14, 2013 Associated Press
PHOENIX - A prosecutor spent much of Wednesday pointing at Jodi Arias and angrily raising his voice, clearly frustrated with her unresponsive answers on the witness stand in her Arizona death penalty trial.
Arias concluded her testimony after more than six weeks. Trial was set to resume Thursday as defense attorneys call additional witnesses.
Arias is charged with first-degree murder in the June 2008 death of her lover in his suburban Phoenix home.
She testified for 18 days during which she described her abusive childhood, cheating boyfriends, dead-end jobs, a raunchy sexual relationship with the victim and her contention that Travis Alexander had grown physically abusive in the months leading to his death, once even choking her into unconsciousness.
Authorities say she planned Alexander's killing in a jealous rage, but Arias says it was self-defense when he attacked her after a day of sex.
March 13, 2013 Associated Press
CAIRO — The highest-level inquiry into the deaths of nearly 900 protesters in Egypt's uprising has concluded that police were behind nearly all the killings and used snipers on rooftops overlooking Cairo's Tahrir Square to shoot into the huge crowds.
The report, parts of which were obtained by The Associated Press, is the most authoritative and sweeping account of the killings and determines that the deadly force used could only have been authorized by Hosni Mubarak's security chief, with the ousted president's full knowledge.
The report of the fact-finding commission, created by Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, could weigh heavily in the upcoming retrial of Mubarak, as well as his security chief, former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, and six top police commanders. It is likely also to fuel calls for reforming the powerful security forces and lead to prosecutions of members of the police force.
The findings were leaked at a sensitive time for the country's police. Still hated by most Egyptians, the force is in upheaval, with segments of police on strike and its chief, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, pleading not to drag it into politics. The force is also facing a challenge from Islamist groups threatening to set up "popular committees" to fill what they call a security vacuum created by the police strike.
March 13, 2013 Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mary Han was a successful civil rights attorney who for decades battled over the rights of abused women, accused prostitutes and the homeless. In the close-knit Albuquerque legal community, she was known as a spitfire whose fervor was often directed at one entity in particular: The city's troubled police department.
Now, more than two years after Han was found dead in her garage in what authorities deemed a suicide, the department is under scrutiny amid questions over whether officers mishandled the investigation into the death of their former adversary.
The state attorney general's office is looking into the matter. It has also asked federal officials, who last year launched a civil rights probe into the department's high number of police shootings, to look at the case.
Han's relatives, meantime, have sued the city — along with the police chief, public safety director and more than a dozen officers and investigators — alleging shoddy police work resulted in a flawed investigation. More so, they question whether police failed to look at other explanations for the feisty and notoriously foul-mouthed attorney's death.