$100,000 reward offered in ambush shooting of two Los Angeles County deputies

(Reuters) – As the manhunt for the lone gunman who ambushed and shot two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies enters its third day, authorities are offering a $100,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

Video footage of the shooting showed a man walk up to a parked patrol car on Saturday evening at a transit station in the Compton community and fire a pistol into the passenger side of the squad car. The man then ran away.

Both deputies received critical head wounds, but both are expected to survive, police said. The deputies are described as a 31-year-old female officer who is a mother and a 24-year-old man, police said.

“We’ll see what the long-term impact is. We don’t know that yet, but they survived the worst,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters on Sunday.

“We would like to offer our sincerest appreciation for the overwhelming support being offered from all over the Nation,” he wrote on Twitter.

The reward was offered late Sunday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

A few demonstrators gathered overnight Saturday outside St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood where the deputies were being treated, according to social media video and the sheriff’s department, blocking the entrance and chanting anti-police slogans.

Two people were later arrested, including a journalist who was later released.

The description of the shooter still remains vague.

“At this point we have a very, very generic description of a dark-skinned male and that came from one of the victims,” Captain Kent Wegener told a news conference Sunday.

President Donald Trump retweeted the video early on Sunday and wrote: “Animals that must be hit hard!”

Later, referring to the deputies, Trump tweeted: “If they die, fast trial death penalty for the killer. Only way to stop this!”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic rival in for Nov. 3 presidential election, called for the gunman to face “the full brunt of the law.”

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta)

New York police probing motorist who drove into Times Square protesters

(Reuters) – New York City detectives are trying to determine whether a motorist who drove into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Times Square on Thursday night committed a crime, the city’s police commissioner said.

Video of the incident, shared widely on social media, shows a black Ford Taurus driving through a group of marchers and people on bicycles in Times Square, a major tourist destination and entertainment center in Manhattan.

New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said on Friday that detectives were investigating the incident. He noted that no one has come forward with injuries and that two protesters had struck the window of the car.

“We have to interview both sides. We’d like to interview anyone that was in that vehicle, because we believe there was multiple people in that vehicle, and anyone that was on the scene,” Shea said on Fox 5’s Good Day New York.

The demonstrators had gathered to protest the death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man, after an encounter with police in Rochester, New York, in March. The incident has become the latest flash point in a summer of civil unrest over racism and police brutality.

The Times Square protest followed similar demonstrations in Rochester this week triggered by the release of body camera footage of Prude’s arrest showing police officers putting a hood over his head – apparently to prevent his spit from possibly transmitting the novel coronavirus – as he knelt on the ground, handcuffed and naked.

Seven police officers were suspended on Thursday in connection with Prude’s arrest and death, which the medical examiner has ruled a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.” An autopsy also cited acute intoxication by phencyclidine, or the drug PCP, among additional contributing factors to his death, according to the New York Times.

Prude’s family has called for the arrest of the officers involved in the March 23 incident in the upstate New York city.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Portland police make arrests after protest turns violent

(Reuters) – Several demonstrators were arrested in Portland after they threw rocks and projectiles at police officials, authorities in the U.S. city said.

The police said early on Thursday that demonstrators began a march around 11 p.m. local time, adding that officers closed a street and ordered protesters to not enter the area or risk facing arrest.

“Despite the announcements, the crowd continued to gather on Northeast Emerson Street.” Portland Police said. “Some people in the group threw projectiles such as water bottles and rocks towards officers.”

The police said they made “targeted arrests” without disclosing a figure.

Police said they did not use any crowd control munitions or tear gas.

Demonstrations against racism and police brutality have swept the United States since the death in May of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Portland, in particular, has seen over three months of daily demonstrations calling for policing and social justice reforms. These have at times turned into clashes between demonstrators and officers, as well as between right- and left-wing groups.

One person was shot dead on Saturday as rival groups clashed.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump deployed federal forces to Portland in July to crack down on the protests.

Trump signed a memo on Wednesday that threatens to cut federal funding to “lawless” cities, including Portland.

(Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

L.A. sheriff’s deputies fatally shoot Black man after suspected bike violation

By Lucy Nicholson and Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A Black man who was stopped on his bicycle for an alleged “vehicle code” violation was shot to death by two Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies, who fired 15 to 20 rounds after the man punched one officer and dropped a pistol on the ground, authorities said on Tuesday.

A semiautomatic handgun apparently fell from a bundle of clothes that the man, identified as Dijon Kizzee, 29, had been clutching and dropped when he struck an officer in the face, said Lieutenant Brandon Dean, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesman.

Dean said the two officers opened fire when Kizzee made “a motion that he’s going to pick up the firearm.”

“Whether the firearm was actually in his hand, if he was motioning towards it, I don’t have those specifics because we haven’t interviewed the actual deputies who were there yet,” Dean said.

Initial news of Monday afternoon’s shooting drew scores of angry demonstrators to the scene of the Westmont community on the southern edge of Los Angeles, becoming the latest flashpoint in a summer of protests over African-Americans killed at the hands of police.

“You don’t kill any race but us, and it don’t make any sense,” Fletcher Fair, Kizzee’s aunt, told reporters on Tuesday at the shooting scene, where activists called for an independent investigation by California’s attorney general.

A protest march was being organized for Tuesday evening by local activists from the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police.

Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who was retained to represent Kizzee’s family, posted on Twitter: “They say he ran, dropped clothes and a handgun. He didn’t pick it up, but cops shot him in the back 20+ times then left him for hours.”

A neighbor who said she watched the scuffle and the shooting that followed from her home directly across the street from the scene told Reuters on Tuesday that she never saw Kizzee throw a punch, never saw a gun, and that he “wasn’t a threat.”

Deja Roquemore, 31, said the two deputies kept firing at Kizzee even as he lay motionless, face down, on the ground.

“I watched him go from living, to dying to dead,” Roquemore said in a telephone interview. Roquemore, who is home during the day overseeing her 6-year-old’s online school lessons, said she was interviewed by investigators.

Dean told Reuters that the deputies, together, fired a total of 15 to 20 gunshots. He said Kizzee sustained several wounds to his upper torso, but the number of bullets that struck him would not be known until an autopsy was performed.

The two officers involved have been removed from patrol duty for the time being, he said.

According to Dean, events leading to the shooting began when the deputies saw a man, since identified as Kizzee, riding his bike “in violation of the vehicle code” and tried to stop him.

Kizzee jumped off his bike and darted away on foot, before the two officers caught up with him a short distance away, where the deadly encounter occurred.

In the version of events given by Roquemore, she said she witnessed Kizzee and one of the officers “tussling” over the clothes bundle before it fell to the ground.

At that point, she recounted, Kizzee threw both hands in the air, yelling, “I don’t have anything. What do you want?” before turning to run away. She said an officer then fired a Taser into Kizzee’s legs, and the two deputies gunned him down when he pivoted back toward them.

Dean denied that officers ever deployed a Taser, and he offered no explanation for the differing accounts.

Dean said he did not know what vehicle code Kizzee was suspected of violating. He told reporters on Monday: “It is not uncommon for deputies to conduct vehicle stops of bicycles. They have to adhere to the same rules of the road as a vehicle does.”

(Reporting by Lucy Nicholson and Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York and Heather Timmons in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Protesters sue Kenosha claiming arrests, curfew violate U.S. Constitution

By Keith Coffman

(Reuters) – Four people arrested for curfew violations while protesting the shooting of a Black man by a white policeman in Kenosha, Wisconsin sued the city and county governments on Tuesday, claiming they were denied free speech rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs argue that more than 150 people protesting the shooting have been taken into custody while pro-police demonstrators have been allowed to freely take to the streets, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

“In Kenosha, there are two sets of laws – one that applies to those who protest police brutality and racism, and another for those who support the police,” the plaintiffs argue in their complaint, which seeks a temporary restraining order until the litigation can be heard in court.

Reuters could not reach city and county officials for comment after business hours.

Kenosha has been the scene of sometimes violent protests after video footage surfaced showing a police officer shooting Jacob Blake, 29, multiple times in the back.

Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down and the officer, Rusten Sheskey, was placed on administrative leave during an investigation.

The protesters claim in their lawsuit that police were using the curfew to prevent them from taking part in constitutionally protected activity.

The plaintiffs also say police are selectively enforcing the curfew by not arresting pro-police demonstrators, a violation of equal protection under the law guaranteed by the constitution.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, was filed on the same day that U.S. President Donald Trump visited Kenosha over the objections of some local officials.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Stephen Coates)

Portland police break up protest with smoke grenades and pepper balls; 19 arrested

By Deborah Bloom

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – Protests flared again in Portland overnight on Monday as demonstrators clashed with police on the streets of the city which after months of sometimes violent confrontations has become a focal point of the U.S. presidential race.

Police used smoke grenades and pepper balls to control the crowd of protesters. Police acknowledged in a statement that officers “deployed some crowd control munitions” and said 19 people were arrested, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with police.

About 200-300 people gathered in the downtown area to march to the apartment of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to demand his resignation. They were seen setting fire to wooden benches and plastic trash bins along the march.

Police declared the gathering unlawful and later upgraded it to a riot after protesters set fire in an apartment building. The area was secured to allow firefighters to respond to the situation, police said.

Portland has seen nightly protests since the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, in Minneapolis on May 25. Hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested since the protests began.

In recent weeks, tensions between right- and left-wing groups in the city have roiled downtown.

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump have converged on the city as counter demonstrators, including one man who was fatally shot on Saturday night. Nobody has been charged in that case as police review poor-quality video of the incident.

State police and officers from neighboring suburbs were sent to Portland on Monday following the shooting.

(Additional reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; writing by Kanishka Singh, editing by Angus MacSwan and Chizu Nomiyama)

Portland mayor urges restraint, renunciation of violence after fatal shooting

By Steve Gorman and Maria Caspani

(Reuters) – Officials in Portland, Oregon, said on Sunday they were braced for an escalation of protest-related violence that has convulsed the city for three months, citing social media posts vowing revenge for a fatal shooting amid weekend street clashes between supporters of President Donald Trump and counter-demonstrators.

“For those of you saying on Twitter this morning that you plan to come to Portland to seek retribution, I’m calling on you to stay away,” Mayor Ted Wheeler told an afternoon news conference, urging individuals of all political persuasions to join in renouncing violence.

He also lashed out at Trump for political rhetoric that he said “encouraged division and stoked violence,” and brushed aside a flurry of weekend Twitter posts from the president criticizing Wheeler and urging the mayor to request help from the federal government to restore order.

“It’s an aggressive stance. It’s not collaborative,” Wheeler said of Trump’s tweets. “I’d appreciate it if the president would support us or stay the hell out of the way.”

Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell said investigators were still working to establish the sequence of events leading to the fatal shooting late Saturday in downtown Portland, and they provided few new details about the investigation.

Lovell said it remained to be determined whether the shooting was connected to skirmishes that night between a caravan of protesters driving through the city’s downtown district in pickup trucks waving pro-Trump flags and counter-protesters on the streets.

Video on social media showed individuals in the beds of the pickups firing paint-balls and spraying chemical irritants at opposing demonstrators as they rode by, while those on the street hurled objects at the trucks and tried to block them.

Authorities have not identified the shooting victim. But the New York Times reported the man gunned down was wearing a hat with the insignia of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer. On Sunday, the leader of the group, Joey Gibson, appeared to confirm that the victim was a Patriot Prayer member whom he knew.

“We love Jay, and he had such a huge heart. God bless him and the life he lived,” Gibson wrote on social media. “I’m going to wait to make any public statements until after the family can.”

Trump later re-tweeted a photo of a man identified as Jay Bishop and described in that post as “a good American that loved his country and Backed the Blue,” an apparent reference to police. “He was murdered in Portland by ANTIFA.”

Trump wrote, “Rest in Peace Jay!” in his retweet.

UNDER FIRE FROM TWO SIDES

The mayor also came under renewed fire from several left-wing Oregon-based civil rights and community organizations that have been at odds with Wheeler and called for his resignation in an open letter on Sunday.

“Amid 94 days and nights of protests against police brutality, Mayor Wheeler has fundamentally failed in his responsibilities to the residents of Portland,” the letter said.

Police warned against individuals taking to Twitter on the basis of misinformation.

“There are many who are sharing information on social media who are jumping to conclusions that are not based on facts,” Lovell said.

He said the shooting was preceded by a “political rally involving a vehicle caravan that traveled through Portland for several hours.” He said those vehicles had departed from a prescribed protest route that was supposed to funnel them along Interstate 5, outside Portland, to the site of the rally in neighboring Clackamas County.

He said that by the time the shooting took place, the caravan had already cleared that section of downtown, and that there were no police at the spot when it happened.

Protests, which have grown violent at times, have roiled downtown Portland every night for more than three months following the May 25 killing of George Floyd, the Black man who died under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

The demonstrators, demanding reforms of police practices they view as racist and abusive, have frequently clashed with law enforcement and on occasion with counter-protesters associated with right-wing militia groups.

The Trump administration in July deployed federal forces to Portland to crack down on the protests, drawing widespread criticism that the presence of federal agents in the city only heightened tensions.

On Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week” program, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said, “All options continue to be on the table” to resolve Portland’s unrest.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman and Maria Caspani; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Portland police use tear gas after declaring riot for second night

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – Police in the city of Portland said they fired crowd control munitions and tear gas on Wednesday night to break up a gathering of about 200 people who threw rocks, lit fires and vandalized a U.S. immigration agency building.

Law enforcement officials had declared a riot for a second successive night, calling a protest near the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office an “unlawful assembly”.

Federal officers fired pepper balls and set off a few smoke devices, the Oregonian newspaper reported earlier.

Protests against racism and police brutality have swept the United States since the death on May 25 of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The Portland protests are among those that have erupted occasionally in arson and violence, with federal officers sent into the northwestern city repeatedly clashing with crowds targeting its federal courthouse.

Wednesday’s protest began in the Elizabeth Caruthers Park before demonstrators marched toward the ICE building.

“All persons near SW Bancroft St and SW Bond Ave must disperse,” police had said on Twitter, warning the marchers they faced arrest and the use of tear gas, crowd control agents and impact weapons if they did not comply.

Two arrests were made on charges of “interfering with a peace officer and disorderly conduct”, police said in a statement. The arrested men were booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center.

Police officers sustained minor injuries, the statement added, without specifying how many were injured.

Police had also declared a riot on Tuesday after protesters lit fires, threw rocks and smashed windows at county government offices in another location, in violence that also led to two arrests and a minor injury for an officer.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr drew fire from Democratic lawmakers this month for sending federal officers to disperse protesters in the city.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue, Clarence Fernandez and Alex Richardson)

Protester’s arrest leads to crowd forming at Pittsburgh mayor’s home

(Reuters) – Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he had “serious concerns” over the tactics used in the arrest of a 25-year-old protester on Saturday, after the detention led a crowd of demonstrators showing up at the mayor’s home on Sunday.

Matthew Cartier, 25, was arrested on Saturday at a Black Lives Matter protest. A video cited by CBS News showed armed officers putting Cartier into an unmarked van; police say he interfered with public safety.

Local media footage showed a crowd gathering outside Peduto’s home on Sunday, carrying signs with slogans such as “Defund the Police”.

The crowd of about 150 marched to outside the mayor’s house after rallying in Mellon Park, according to local media reports.

Police said Cartier was arrested because he stepped in front of cars, tried to direct traffic and blocked an intersection used for hospitals and the University of Pittsburgh.

He was charged with failure to disperse, disorderly conduct and obstructing highways and other public passages. Cartier was released on recognizance bond Sunday.

“We did it with the tactics and tools necessary to do it safely for not only the individual being arrested, for the public at large and for the protesters their selves,” an official from the Pittsburgh Police told the media.

The American Civil Liberties Union said on Sunday that officers were “in clear violation of their own guidelines.”

“The ACLU of Pennsylvania has never suggested that the snatch-and-stash arrest of a peaceful demonstrator is ever acceptable,” Witold Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in a statement.

Protests against racism and police brutality have spread across the United States and around the world after the May 25 death of George Floyd, an African-American man, who was killed when an officer knelt on his neck for about nine minutes.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Portland mayor is tear-gassed in another night of unrest in U.S. city

By Deborah Bloom

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – The mayor of the U.S. city of Portland, Ted Wheeler, was stung by tear gas early on Thursday morning after he joined demonstrators protesting against racial injustice and police brutality.

Security forces have frequently tear-gassed and clubbed demonstrators during weeks of unrest and Wheeler, visiting the protest site outside the federal courthouse in downtown Portland, urged federal agents to be withdrawn from the city.

“They’re not wanted here,” he said.

But Wheeler, who is also the city’s police commissioner, was jeered at by demonstrators who called on him to resign and chanted “Shame on You.” Some said he should have done more to protect Portland’s citizens.

The deployment of federal agents in Portland on July 4 is a flash point in a national debate over civil liberties that has roiled the United States since the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Demonstrators and local officials see the move as a political ploy by U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, to drum up a “law and order” campaign as he faces an uphill re-election battle.

Wheeler, a Democrat, has called the intervention an abuse of federal power and said it was escalating the violence. Wednesday saw bigger and bigger crowds of supporters joining the demonstrations.

After a few demonstrators had set trash bags on the fire outside the courthouse, federal agents inside the Justice Center fired tear gas, flash bangs and pepper balls into the area.

Wheeler stood at the front of the line, in a surgical mask and goggles, and began to cough, a Reuters reporter said. He experienced two rounds of heavy tear gas. His eyes and nose were running, his face was red and his eyes were bloodshot.

USE OF FORCE

He was whisked away by his security team to the city’s municipal services building.

Prior to the incident, Wheeler faced an angry crowd of more than 1,000 demonstrators packed outside the courthouse.

The mayor’s office had said Wheeler would attend the demonstration that night to talk to protesters and attempt to de-escalate tensions that have played out between demonstrators and law enforcement over the past 54 nights.

Demonstrators screamed expletives at him and a few chucked water bottles at him.

The mayor has been criticized by demonstrators for the local police’s unchecked use of force against demonstrators, which has included tear gassing, trampling, and pummeling protesters.

Speaking to the crowd, Wheeler decried the presence of federal law enforcement officers, who were caught last week snatching protesters from the street into unmarked cars.

“They’re not wanted here. They’re not properly trained to be here. And we’re asking them right this minute – we’re demanding that they leave. We’re demanding that the federal government stop occupying our city,” he said.

One demonstrator asked him if he was willing to abolish the police, to which he replied ‘no’, and was loudly booed by many.

Asked about his experience of getting tear-gassed, Wheeler told Reuters: “You can’t really comply with any orders that are being issued because, frankly, you’re not paying attention to what’s around you, you’re focusing on your eyes. You’re focusing on trying to breathe.”

Asked if he might rethink the use of tear gas by local police officers, Wheeler said: “It makes me think long and hard on whether or not this is a viable tool.”

(Reporting by Deborah Bloom, Editing by Angus MacSwan, Jon Boyle, William Maclean)