Blood, money & justice: Michael Brown settlement follows trend in officer-involved shootings

Blood, money & justice: Michael Brown settlement follows trend in officer-involved shootings
On August 9, 2014, unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The killing sparked nationwide protests against police brutality, but justice has only come in the form of a monetary settlement.

It’s been three years since Brown, a recent high school graduate, was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson from the Ferguson Police Department. Wilson was placed on paid administrative leave as hundreds of residents of the predominantly black suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, took to the streets. The following day, protests and vigils turned violent overnight with reports of riots and looting.

Within days, the FBI opened a civil rights investigation into the Brown shooting. On November 24, 2014, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch waited until 8pm local time to announce that a grand jury declined to indict Wilson on any charges relating to the shooting death of Brown. Then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the US Department of Justice would continue its investigation into Brown’s death, despite the lack of an indictment on the local level.

Ferguson again erupted into a night of fierce riots.

By the end of the month, Wilson resigned from the Ferguson PD. In early March, the DOJ announced it would not prosecute Wilson for civil rights violations in the Brown shooting case. In mid-April, Brown’s family filed a lawsuit against Wilson, the city of Ferguson, and chief of the Ferguson PD at the time of the shooting.

It’s not unusual for officers involved in shooting civilians to avoid charges. A 2016 study found that law enforcement avoided federal civil rights charges in 96 percent of cases in which they were accused of violating someone’s civil rights over the course of 20 years. Many police killings are ruled as justified without public knowledge.

Cop killers & killer cops: Lives lost in US officer-involved shootings in 2016 https://on.rt.com/7zcm 

Photo published for Cop killers & killer cops: Lives lost in US officer-involved shootings in 2016 — RT America

Cop killers & killer cops: Lives lost in US officer-involved shootings in 2016 — RT America

While the disturbing trend of officer-involved shootings continued to garner national attention in 2016, the year also saw a disturbing rise in police being murdered. Ambushes of cops shook the…

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Instead, victims’ families find justice through the civil side of the judicial branch, by accepting payouts in settlements with local jurisdictions. In June, Brown’s parents settled their wrongful death suit against the city, though the terms were not made public because it could jeopardize the safety of those involved in the matter “whether as witnesses, parties or investigators,” US District Judge E. Richard Webber wrote.

Terms of  lawsuit settlement are sealed citing safety concerns for involved parties http://on.rt.com/8fmd 

Photo published for Michael Brown’s parents settle wrongful death lawsuit with Ferguson — RT America

Michael Brown’s parents settle wrongful death lawsuit with Ferguson — RT America

Nearly three years after a white police officer shot and killed an African-American teen, his parents have settled their wrongful death lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown’s death…

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While the amount that Brown’s parents received has been sealed, Ferguson is one of many jurisdictions around the country forced to shell out millions in taxpayer money to atone for police brutality. In the last year, big cities and small towns have settled lawsuits for officer-involved shootings. In most cases, those payments are the only closure the victims and their families have received.

READ MORE: 2nd anniversary of Michael Brown’s death: What’s changed?

In June, the family of Philando Castile, a school cafeteria worker fatally shot by Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez, reached a $3 million settlement with the city of St. Anthony.

Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop last July while his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and her four-year-old daughter were in the car. Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter and intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety earlier in the month.

In mid-July, Yanez was awarded a $48,500 payout to leave the St. Anthony Police Department, in addition to “up to 600 hours” of accrued personal leave.

Although a settlement was already reached last April in the fatal Tamir Rice shooting ‒ to the tune of $6 million dollars for the 12-year-old’s family ‒ one of the two officers responsible for the preteen’s death was fired at the end of May, but not because of Rice’s death on a Cleveland, Ohio, playground.

Instead, Timothy Loehmann was dismissed from the department because he omitted from his employment application that he was allowed to resign from the nearby Independence Police Department, where officials found him to be emotionally unstable and unfit to be an officer. He also concealed that he had failed a written exam for another Ohio law enforcement agency. A grand jury declined to indict Loehmann in December 2015.

Earlier in May, only one officer-involved shooting that made national headlines found justice through the judicial system ‒ but only after a mistrial. In December, jurors in Charleston, South Carolina, could not reach a unanimous verdict as to whether former officer Michael Slager, who is white, should be convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter for fatally shooting African-American Walter Scott in the back.

On May 2, Slager pleaded guilty to violating Scott’s federal civil rights in the incident, which was caught on video. As part of the agreement, South Carolina prosecutors agreed not to retry the former cop. He faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine at sentencing.

David Joseph was a black teen shot and killed by a police officer in early February 2016, albeit a African-American one. Officer Geoffrey Freeman fired twice at a nude, unarmed Joseph, 17, in response to calls that a man was harassing residents in a North Austin, Texas neighborhood.

The Austin Police Department found Freeman’s use of force unjustified and fired him. This February, the city council approved a $3.25 million settlement with Joseph’s family ‒ the largest such payout in Austin’s history.

A month before the Joseph settlement, the city of Los Angeles, California, agreed to pay $1.5 million to the family of Ezell Ford, an unarmed black man who was gunned down by police in August 2014, just days before Brown’s death made national headlines.

Ford’s family filed a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit in March 2015, claiming that Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas “intentionally and/or negligently fatally shot unarmed decedent Ezell Ford multiple times with their firearm” after he had followed their directions to lie on the ground during an encounter in South Los Angeles. Prosecutors concluded the officers “acted lawfully in self-defense and in defense of others,” and declined to indict them.

In January, the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, reached a $4.4 million settlement with Philippe Holland, a black delivery man whom two police officers mistakenly shot 14 times in 2014, leaving him with permanent injuries and a seizure disorder.

It was the city’s second largest payment for an officer-involved shooting. Philadelphia prosecutors never filed charges against the two officers, who were placed on desk duty after the shooting.

A week after the second anniversary of Brown’s death, New York City agreed to pay $4.1 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Akai Gurley, an unarmed African-American fatally shot in 2014 by a police officer in a Brooklyn housing complex.

Former officer Peter Liang was convicted by a jury of second-degree manslaughter in February 2016, but the judge reduced his conviction to criminally negligent homicide, sentencing him to five years of probation and 800 hours of community service.

The settlement also includes an additional $400,000 from the New York City Housing Authority, and $25,000 from Liang. The money will be placed in a trust fund for Gurley’s young daughter, which cannot be accessed without court approval until she turns 18.

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N. Korea crisis spurs surge in global missile defense requests to Lockheed Martin

N. Korea crisis spurs surge in global missile defense requests to Lockheed Martin
The Pentagon’s top weapons supplier, Lockheed Martin, says that customers’ requests for missile defense systems are rising, and North Korea’s continued threats as well as the US reaction may be responsible.

Acquiring missile defense systems is at the top of some countries’ to-do list, as interest has risen over the last 12 to 18 months, the vice president of Lockheed’s Air and Missile Defense business, Tim Cahill, told Reuters.

“The level of dialogue around missile defense is now at the prime minister and minister of defense level,” he said.

The uptick in requests comes on the heels of North Korea’s recent long-range missile tests. On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council voted 15-0 in favor of slapping North Korea with sanctions that could cost the country $1 billion annually by targeting its main exports.

Lockheed shares are up almost 8 percent, to $300.10, since North Korea’s first long-range missile test on July 4. Meanwhile, Lockheed’s stock is also up 20 percent, year-to-date.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump addressed concerns related to threats from North Korea against the US.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” he said.

The US government has accounted for roughly 70 percent of Lockheed’s revenue in 2016. Lockheed’s international customer base accounted for 27 percent of revenues and they are trying to grow in that area.

READ MORE: South Korea & US missiles launched in response to North Korea test (VIDEO)

Over the coming years, the surge in interest in the defense systems could turn into sales for Lockheed. However, the US government sanctions the sales of weapons in a process that sometimes takes years and usually requires the approval of legislators.

Lockheed mainly sells security and intelligence products, which include ships, planes and missile defense systems that are sold to the US military, intelligence community and NASA.

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Bizarre clouds form a ‘vortex’ over Finland (PHOTOS)

Bizarre clouds form a 'vortex' over Finland (PHOTOS)
A mesmerizing cloud which appeared as a huge round hole in the sky captivated onlookers in Helsinki, Finland.

The incredible phenomenon was spotted in Finnish skies on Wednesday morning and snapped by locals who shared pictures of the stunning formation on social media.

While social media users speculated on what could have caused the vortex-like swirling clouds, the Finnish Meteorological Institute weighed in with their scientific explanation, saying it was likely a result of ice crystals reacting with a cloud ‘plate’ of droplets below.

“That cloud layer, which is now there, is about six to seven miles (10-12km) high, and the temperature is over 20 degrees frost (12 Fahrenheit). One explanation could be that if ice crystals come from above cloud layers, it causes very rapid liquid water freezing in ice crystals, where clouds will rain down and evaporate at the same time,” Paavo Korpela, a meteorologist with the Finnish Meteorological Institute, told Iltalehti.

Jääkiteet reagoivat alijäähtyneistä pisaroista koostuneen pilvilautan kanssa ->pilvi alkoi sataa alas ja siihen syntyi aukko. 

Trump says US nuclear arsenal is ‘stronger, more powerful than ever before’ amid North Korea threat

Brooke Singman

President Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday to note the United States’ nuclear arsenal is “stronger than ever before,” hours after issuing a harsh warning that North Korea would face “fire and fury” if it continued to provoke America.

“My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”

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Trump’s tweets come after his boldly chilling response to reports that North Korea has produced a compact nuclear warhead capable of topping missiles that could reach half of the United States.

While Trump’s claim that the U.S. arsenal is more powerful than ever is true, that process began before he took office. The Obama administration consistently pushed for modernizing the nuclear arsenal, beginning with the 2010 treaty with Russia that reduced warhead numbers, but updated firepower.

In Obama’s exit memo, he outlined the importance of ensuring “the security and reliability of our nuclear arsenal” to “refurbish aging weapons.”

At the end of the Obama administration, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the Pentagon would spend $108 billion over the next five years to sustain and improve the U.S. nuclear force.

The president is on a “working” vacation from his property in Bedminster, N.J., and said Tuesday afternoon that Kim Jong Un and North Korea “will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

Trump also said that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un “has been very threatening beyond a normal state” and said the regime “best not make any more threats to the United States.”

The report that Pyongyang has missile-ready nukes, first appearing in the Washington Post, has been confirmed by Fox News. The assessment of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities was prepared in July by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

“The [intelligence community} assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” an excerpt from the DIA analysis read.

The report also says that Un may control up to 60 nuclear weapons.

TRUMP: NORTH KOREA ‘WILL BE MET BY FIRE AND FURY LIKE THE WORLD HAS NEVER SEEN’ IF MORE THREATS EMERGE

The DIA report echoed evaluations in a Japanese defense white paper, also revealed Tuesday.

“It is conceivable that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has already considerably advanced and it is possible that North Korea has already achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons into warheads and has acquired nuclear warheads,” Japan’s defense ministry said in the 500-page report.

The North Korean regime has conducted 12 tests so far this year, with one ICBM test conducted in late July sending a missile 2,300 miles into space and 45 minutes into the air. It was the longest, and farthest ballistic missile test in the history of North Korea, officials told Fox News at the time.

HALEY: NORTH KOREA NEEDS TO BRACE FOR COMBINED PRESSURE FROM US AND THE WORLD

North Korea has threatened that the United States would pay dearly “thousands of times” for new sanctions passed over the weekend by the United Nations Security Council to cripple the nation’s economy, but U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. told Fox News that America has the upper hand.

“It was a gut-punch to North Korea, to let them know the international community is tired of it and we’re going to start fighting back,” Haley said on “The Story” earlier this week. “Every dollar of revenue that the North Korean government gets, they’re not feeding their people with it. They’re using it toward a nuclear weapons system. Going after these sanctions is going after their ability to build these missiles.”

Fox News’ Wes Barrett and Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report. 

Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Courtesy, Fox News

Israel strikes Hamas militants over rocket fire

The Israeli military has targeted “two Hamas posts” in the Gaza Strip after a rocket landed in Israeli territory. At least three people were hospitalized by the airstrikes, including one in critical condition.

Israeli F-16 participating in war games with Greece (EPA/ABIR SULTAN)

Israeli warplanes early Wednesday launched airstrikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket attack by militants in the coastal enclave.

“A short while ago, a projectile hit an open region in the Ashkelon region. No injuries have been reported,” the Israeli Defense Forces said in a tweet. “In response, IAF aircraft targeted two Hamas posts in the northern Gaza Strip.”

Public health authorities in Gaza City said three people were taken to a hospital due to injuries sustained during the airstrike. At least one of the injured was in critical condition, a medical official added.

Read more: What it means to be a soldier in Israel

Israeli security sources said the airstrikes targeted sites used by Hamas’ military wing Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades in retaliation for firing a rocket into Israeli territory. The sources added that the rocket attack did not result in Israeli casualties.

Hard-line Islamist groups opposed to Hamas’ rule frequently launch rockets into Israeli territory. The groups tend to accuse Hamas of failing to resist the occupation. However, Israel generally holds Hamas responsible for the attacks, even if they are not the culprits.

Gaza under Hamas rule

In 2006, Hamas won nearly 45 percent of the vote during parliamentary elections, effectively placing it in a position to lead the government.

However, fighting between Hamas and rival faction Fatah, alongside Israeli attacks on the Palestinian government, led to open conflict and the Islamist movement taking control of the Gaza Strip.

Read more: When Israelis started to talk about the occupation

Since assuming power, Hamas has fought three wars with Israel. The most recent conflict in 2014 left at least 2,000 Palestinians dead, including more than 500 children, along with 73 Israelis, most soldiers.

Attempts to foster progress on a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain elusive, in part due to reluctance from the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Fatah’s failure to jointly administer the occupied Palestinian Territories with Hamas.

Watch video02:28

Middle East: Hurdles on the way to peace

ls/cmk (AFP, dpa)

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FBI raids former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s home

FBI agents have seized documents from the home of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, his spokesman confirmed. The raid was part of an ongoing probe into Russian interference in the US election.

Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort

Federal agents carried out a predawn raid at one of the homes belonging to Paul Manafort, US President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Manafort’s spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.

US President Donald Trump and former campaign head Paul ManafortManafort served as Trump’s campaign manager from June to August 2016

“FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr. Manafort’s residences,” spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement, confirming a Washington Post report on Wednesday which claims the raid took place in late July.

“Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well,” Maloni said.

He did not, however, comment on when the search occurred or which property was raided. Manafort owns homes in Florida, New York City, Long Island and Virginia.

Read more: As Russia investigation boils, Trump slams Jeff Sessions, accuses Ukraine of meddling

Documents reportedly seized

The Post, which was the first to report on the FBI search, said that the predawn raid was conducted as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Citing unidentified sources close to the probe, The Post said the raid took place without advance warning on July 26 at Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Virginia – which is located outside of Washington D.C.

At approximately the same time the raid took place, Trump tweeted about removing acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe – who has been serving as head of the FBI after Trump dismissed his predecessor, James Comey. In two tweets, Trump appeared to question McCabe’s impartiality over his wife’s alleged ties to Hillary Clinton.

Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got….

…big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!

Citing a person briefed on the Manafort incident, The New York Times reported that investigators were searching his home for foreign banking records and tax documents. According to The Post, FBI agents ended up seizing several documents and other materials during the search.

Read more: Trump Jr. meeting relevant to Russia probe – US special counsel Mueller

Key figure in federal probes

The raid reportedly came one day after Manafort met with the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss a meeting he attended along with Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer tied to the Kremlin in June 2016.

US President Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr.Manafort reportedly took part in a meeting with Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-connected lawyer last June

In emails released last month by the eldest Trump son, the meeting was described – at least by the man who wanted to set it up – as part of a Russian government effort to assist the Trump campaign by delivering potentially damaging information on rival candidate Hillary Clinton.

The former Trump campaign manager has denied any wrongdoing and has cooperated with congressional committees investigating alleged Russian interference. He has handed over documents to the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

Read more: Donald Trump Jr. and his Russian friends – what do we know about them?

Manafort headed Trump’s presidential campaign from June to August 2016, but stepped down after allegations surfaced that he received large payments linked to Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.

Besides being a key figure in Special Counsel Mueller’s probe into the 2016 election, Manafort is also the subject of a longstanding FBI investigation into his work for former Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych and his dealings in the country.

Last week, Mueller convened a grand jury in the Russia investigation.

rs/msh   (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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Kenya protests turn deadly after election

Kenyan police have fired live rounds at anti-government protesters in Nairobi, as unrest broke out in several cities over election results. Opposition leader Raila Odinga claims he has evidence the vote tally was hacked.

Kenia nach Wahlen Unruhen und Protest (Reuters/T. Mukoya)

As many as four protesters were reportedly killed as election-related violence erupted across Kenya and the opposition claimed massive vote rigging. Two protesters were shot dead in the Nairobi slum of Mathare, with reports of police firing live rounds also coming from the opposition stronghold of Kisumu, in western Kenya.

Nairobi police chief Japheth Koome said the two were shot because they were stealing during the protests.

Another police officer said that the police were sent into the slum to “quell the chaos.”

Protesters shouting and shaking sticks in Mathare slum (Getty Images/AFP/L. Tato)Odinga supporters came out to Mathare slum armed with sticks

“We are told many of them were also thieves who took advantage and could not even obey the police,” the officer told the AFP news agency. “Two have been fatally wounded.”

Later, two more people were reportedly killed in the southeastern Tana River region, after five men armed with knives stormed a vote tallying station, stabbing one person.

“Our officers killed two of them and we are looking for others who escaped,” regional police chief Larry Kieng said. “We have not established the motive yet, we don’t know if it is political or if it’s a criminal incident but we are investigating and action will be taken.”

Hyena triggers bomb

In a separate incident in Kenya’s southeast Lamu region, a hyena accidentally set off a homemade bomb which a security official claimed was planted to disrupt the elections.

Joseph Kanyiri, the head of a task force of security agents, said that the bomb was planted on a road that officials use to transport ballots to a counting center, and that the animal walked over it. Al-Shabab extremists previously threatened attacks on election day. The group often targets the Lama region which borders their stronghold of Somalia.

The latest uptick in violence is linked with yesterday’s general and presidential election, and comes as the electoral commission is still tallying up the results. According to results based on 96 percent of the polling stations, officials put opposition leader Raila Odinga 1.4 million votes behind the current President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has garnered 54.4 percent of votes to Odinga’s 44.8 percent.

Hacking allegations linked to dead IT expert

Watch video02:20

High turnout in Kenyan general election

However, Odinga has dismissed the results and repeatedly insisted that he was actually in the lead.

The 72-year-old opposition leader claims that the program counting up the votes was hacked, and that the attackers used credentials of the murdered election official Chris Msando. The IT expert, who helped develop the vote-counting system, was found dead less than two weeks ago. His body showed signs of torture.

On Wednesday, Odinga slammed the entire election as a “fraud.”

“This is an attack on our democracy,” he said. “It is the machine that has voted.”

He later posted a trove of computer logs on his Facebook page, claiming they were a proof of election fraud.

Kenya’s electoral commission has denied any instances of interference in the voting or vote tallying. “We confirm there were no interferences before, during [or] after the polling exercise,” the commission stated on its Twitter profile.

Our election management system is secure. We confirm there were no interferences before, during and after the polling exercise

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Nairobi leading a mission of election observers, endorsed the election commission, saying its ability to secure its voting system “appears to be very, very strong.”

Kenya has faced election violence in the past, most notably in 2007, when Odinga also lost narrowly according to the official count. In the post-election violence that followed, more than 1,100 people were killed.

dj/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

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