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Grand jury indicts 1 police officer in Breonna Taylor raid

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Fired police officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into Taylor’s neighbors’ homes

September 22, 2020 –

CREDIT: Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for the killing of Breonna Taylor during a drug raid gone wrong, with prosecutors saying Wednesday two officers who fired their weapons at the Black woman were justified in using force to protect themselves.

The grand jury instead charged fired Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into Taylor’s neighbors’ homes during the raid on the night of March 13. The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in the case.

Along with the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, Taylor’s case became a major touchstone for the nationwide protests that have gripped the nation since May — drawing attention to entrenched racism and demanding police reform. Taylor’s image has been painted on streets, emblazoned on protest signs and silk-screened on T-shirts worn by celebrities.

The charges drew immediate sadness, frustration and anger that the grand jury did not go further. The wanton endangerment charges each carry a sentence of up to five years. Protesters began marching through the streets of Louisville, where Taylor was killed, after the announcement, shouting “No justice, no peace.” Some sat quietly and cried.

Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Taylor’s family, called the grand jury’s decision “outrageous and offensive!”

“Justice has NOT been served,” tweeted Linda Sarsour of Until Freedom, a group that has pushed for charges in the case.

Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by officers who entered her home on a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. The warrant used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside. The use of no-knock warrants has since been banned by Louisville’s Metro Council.

The case exposed the wide gulf between public opinion on justice for those who kill Black Americans, and the laws under which those officers are charged, which regularly favor working police and do not often result in steep criminal accusations.

At a news conference, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron spoke to that disconnect.

“Criminal law is not meant to respond to every sorrow and grief,” Cameron told reporters after the charges were announced.

“But my heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor. And I’ve said that repeatedly. My mother, if something was to happen to me, would find it very hard,” he added, choking up.

But Cameron, who is the state’s first Black attorney general, said that the officers acted in self-defense after Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them. He added that Hankison and the two other officers who entered Taylor’s apartment announced themselves before entering — and so did not execute the warrant as “no-knock,” according to the investigation.

“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by (Officers Jonathan) Mattingly and (Myles) Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves,” he said. “This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.”

Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire when police burst in, hitting Mattingly. Walker was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but prosecutors later dropped the charge.

Walker told police he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and fired in self-defense.

Regarding the disappointment of those who wanted criminal charges brought in Taylor’s death, he remarked, “The decision before my office as the special prosecutor in this case was not to decide if the loss of Ms. Taylor’s life was a tragedy. The answer to that is unequivocally yes.”

A Republican, Cameron is a protege of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who has been tagged by some as his heir apparent. His was also one of 20 names on President Donald Trump’s list to fill a future Supreme Court vacancy.

Before charges were brought, Hankison was fired from the city’s police department on June 23. A termination letter sent to him by interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said the white officer had violated procedures by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” shot 10 rounds of gunfire into Taylor’s apartment in March.

Hankison had already been placed on administrative reassignment, as were Sgt. Johnathan Mattingly, Officer Myles Cosgrove and the detective who sought the warrant, Joshua Jaynes.

On Sept. 15, the city settled a lawsuit against the three officers brought by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, agreeing to pay her $12 million and enact police reforms.

Protesters in Louisville and across the country have demanded justice for Taylor and other Black people killed by police in recent months. The release in late May of a 911 call by Taylor’s boyfriend marked the beginning of days of protests in Louisville, fueled by her shooting and the killing of Floyd while at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25.

Several prominent African American celebrities including Oprah and Beyoncé have joined those urging that the officers be charged.

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Suspect in Ark. cop’s shooting death captured

Officer Travis Wallace was shot and killed Thursday, November 12, 2020 while attempting to arrest a wanted suspect. (Helena-West Helena Police Department)

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Officer Travis Wallace was killed while attempting to arrest a wanted suspect

Duty Death: Travis Wallace – [Helena-West HelenaNone]

End of Service: 11/12/2020

By: Associated Press – Nov 13, 2020

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — A man wanted in the fatal shooting of a police officer in eastern Arkansas was arrested Friday in northwest Mississippi, according to Arkansas State Police.

Latarius Howard, 29, surrendered to U.S marshals shortly after 6 a.m. in Shaw, Mississippi, Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said.

Howard was wanted in a previous shooting that wounded a man when Helena-West Helena Officer Travis Wallace stopped an SUV on Thursday after seeing Howard in the passenger seat, Sadler said.

Howard then got out of the vehicle and opened fire, striking Wallace, 41, who returned fire, according to Sadler.

Wallace died at a hospital, while Howard was apparently not injured, Sadler said.

A second officer at the scene was not injured, according to Helena-West Helena Police Chief James Smith, and the vehicle in which Howard as a passenger fled the city, which is about 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of Little Rock.

The suspected driver, Bruce Hillie, 24, was also arrested Friday, in Indianola, Mississippi, on a hindering apprehension warrant, according to Sadler.

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Fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. prompts heated overnight protests in West Philly

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The shooting was caught by multiple cameras and shows Wallace charging officers yielding a knife swinging it aggressively at the police.

Police officers fatally shot a 27-year-old Black man armed with a knife during a confrontation Monday afternoon in West Philadelphia, an incident that quickly raised tensions in the neighborhood and sparked a standoff that lasted deep into the night.

Late Monday into early Tuesday, police struggled to respond to vandalism and looting along the commercial corridor of 52nd Street, an area that was the scene of clashes between police and protestors earlier this summer. At least one police vehicle was set on fire Monday night and destroyed.

By morning, an officer was hospitalized in stable condition with a broken leg after being struck by a pickup truck, police said. About 29 other officers suffered mostly minor injuries from being struck by rocks, bricks, and other projectiles, police said in a preliminary report.

Authorities detained 10 people overnight near 55th and Pine Street, police said, and those people were set to be released pending possible charges of assaulting police or rioting. Police said officers arrested about 20 people in relation to looting at various stores in West Philadelphia, University City, Overbrook Park, and Center City, some of which were not near the protest.

Six law enforcement vehicles were also vandalized, police said.

Hours earlier, shortly before 4 p.m., police said, two officers responded to the 6100 block of Locust Street after a report of a man with a knife. Family members identified him as Walter Wallace Jr.

A video posted on social media showed Wallace walking toward the officers and police backing away. The video swings briefly out of view at the moment the gunfire erupts but he appeared to be multiple feet from them when they fired numerous shots.

Police spokesperson Sgt. Eric Gripp said the officers had ordered Wallace to drop the weapon, and he “advanced towards the officers.” Gripp said investigators are reviewing footage of what happened. Both officers were wearing body cameras.

He said both officers fired “several times.” After the man was shot, he fell to the ground, and Gripp said one of the officers drove him to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he died.

Walter Wallace Sr., the man’s father, said his son appeared to have been shot 10 times.

“Why didn’t they use a Taser?” the senior Wallace asked outside a family residence on the block. “His mother was trying to defuse the situation.”

He said his son struggled with mental health issues and was on medication. “He has mental issues,” Wallace said. “Why you have to gun him down?”

One witness, Maurice Holloway, said he was on the street talking to his aunt when he saw police arrive. Wallace had a knife and was standing on the porch of his home, Holloway said, and officers immediately drew their guns.

Wallace’s mother chased after him as he walked down the steps of his porch, still holding the knife, according to Holloway. His mother tried to shield Wallace and tell police he was her son.

“I’m yelling, ‘Put down the gun, put down the gun,’ and everyone is saying, ‘Don’t shoot him, he’s gonna put it down, we know him,’” said Holloway, 35.

Wallace brushed off his mother and walked behind a car before emerging again, Holloway said.

“He turns and then you hear the shots,” Holloway said. “They were too far from him; it was so many shots.”

Gripp said it was unclear how many times the man was shot or where he was struck. The officers fired possibly a dozen or more times, according to an account by witnesses and family members. Police marked the crime scene with at least 13 evidence markers.

Both officers, who were not publicly identified, were taken off street duty pending an investigation.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw arrived at the scene shortly after the incident as a crowd of neighbors yelled at police and questioned the use of force. By 6:30 p.m. police reopened the street and the crowd had largely dispersed.

But dozens of protesters then gathered at Malcolm X Park at 51st and Pine Streets, chanting “Black Lives Matter.” They marched to the police station at 55th and Pine Streets as they chanted, “Say his name: Walter Wallace.”

For hours, protesters confronted officers who stood in a line with riot shields behind metal barricades at the station. People in the crowd could be seen throwing objects at the officers. A group also marched into University City, at least one TV news vehicle was vandalized, and police reported that windows had been broken on Chestnut Street.

Between 100 and 200 people then moved to the 52nd Street commercial district and caused considerable property damage from Market to Spruce Streets. Shortly before 1 a.m., a speeding black truck ran over an officer at 52nd and Walnut Street. The incident was captured on an Instagram livestream. The condition of the officer was not immediately known.

The 52nd Street corridor was the scene of unrest on May 31 and early June as nationwide protests erupted over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Protesters clashed with Philadelphia officers and set police vehicles on fire; police responded with rubber bullets and tear gas on residential streets. Since then, the police department has forbidden the use of tear gas.

At times Monday, the scene threatened to repeat. Just before midnight, someone set fire to a police vehicle on the street. Ultimately, more officers in riot gear arrived and flooded the neighborhood, dispersing the crowd.

Mayor Jim Kenney, in a statement Monday night, pledged a full investigation into the shooting that sparked the night. “My prayers are with the family and friends of Walter Wallace,” he said. “I have watched the video of this tragic incident and it presents difficult questions that must be answered. I spoke tonight with Mr. Wallace’s family, and will continue to reach out to hear their concerns firsthand, and to answer their questions to the extent that I am able.”

Outlaw, too, said the department would conduct an inquiry. “Residents have my assurance that those questions will be fully addressed by the investigation,” she said. “While at the scene this evening, I heard and felt the anger of the community. Everyone involved will forever be impacted. I will be leaning on what the investigation gleans to answer the many unanswered questions that exist. I also plan to join the Mayor in meeting with members of the community and members of Mr. Wallace’s family to hear their concerns as soon as it can be scheduled.”

Arnett Woodall, a community organizer who lives a few blocks away, came to the scene shortly after the incident. He said he immediately saw how many evidence markers were in the street and felt it was “a textbook example of excessive force.”

Then he saw the video. “Why not a warning shot?” Woodall, 56, asked. “Why not a Taser? Why not a shot in the leg?”

He said the incident shows why police must implement stronger community policing protocols and why the city should invest in town watch programs.

“The city of Philadelphia can do better,” he said.

District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement Monday evening: “The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office takes its obligation to try to be fair and to seek evenhanded justice seriously. The DAO Special Investigations Unit responded to today’s fatal shooting of a civilian by police shortly after it occurred, and has been on scene with other DAO personnel since that time investigating.”

Krasner encouraged witnesses or others with information to contact the District Attorney’s Office.

”In the hours and days following this shooting, we ask Philadelphians to come together to uphold people’s freedom to express themselves peacefully and to reject violence of any kind,” he said.

John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said in a statement: “Our police officers are being vilified this evening for doing their job and keeping the community safe, after being confronted by a man with a knife. We support and defend these officers, as they too are traumatized by being involved in a fatal shooting.

“We ask the public for its patience as investigators work to gather all the facts of this tragic incident in West Philadelphia today.”

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Chief: Illinois officer who fatally shot man in car fired

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The officer committed “multiple policy and procedure violations,” Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles said

October 25, 2020 – CREDIT: Associated Press

WAUKEGAN, Ill. — A suburban Chicago police officer who shot a Black couple inside a vehicle — killing a 19-year-old man and wounding his girlfriend — has been fired, the police chief announced late Friday.

The officer who fatally shot Marcellis Stinnette and the wounded Tafara Williams following what authorities have described as a traffic stop late Tuesday committed “multiple policy and procedure violations,” Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles said in a brief statement. No other details, including the officer’s name, were provided.

The announcement of the firing came shortly after Lake County’s chief prosecutor announced the FBI will join Illinois State Police in investigating the shooting.

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said he asked the U.S. Justice Department to review the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

“I am confident in the work being done by the Illinois State Police and welcome the assistance of the FBI,” Nerheim said in a statement. ”As I have said before, once the investigation is concluded, all the evidence will be reviewed and a final decision will be made with respect to any potential charges.”

Waukegan police have said Williams was driving and Stinnette was a passenger in a vehicle that fled a traffic stop late Tuesday and that the vehicle was later spotted by another officer. Police said that as the second officer approached, the vehicle started moving in reverse and the officer opened fire. No weapon was found in the vehicle.

The officer who shot the couple is Hispanic and had been with the Waukegan Police Department for five years. The officer who conducted the original traffic stop is white, police said.

During a Thursday demonstration, Clyde McLemore, head of the Lake County chapter of Black Lives Matter, called for a federal investigation. Activists and relatives of the couple also have demanded the release of police video of the shooting, which authorities say has been turned over to investigators.

Activist Chris Blanks said the video is particularly important because the police version of events and the version Clifftina Johnson said her wounded daughter, Williams, shared with her appear to contradict each other. Johnson said her daughter told her that Williams and her boyfriend had done nothing to provoke the officer.

Nerheim urged calm while the investigation takes place and pledged transparency.

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