Louisville police officer fired over fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor

By Bryan Woolston

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) – One of three officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed in a hail of gunfire when drug investigators burst into her home in Louisville, Kentucky, three months ago was dismissed from the police department on Tuesday.

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was killed on March 13 after the officers entered her apartment bearing a “no-knock” arrest warrant.

In a termination notice issued after an administrative hearing, Louisville police chief Robert Schroeder wrote that detective Brett Hankison “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly fired” 10 rounds into Taylor’s home.

Schroeder said the gunshots were fired through a patio door and window covered with material obscuring Hankison’s line of sight, preventing him from knowing whether anyone was inside the apartment, let alone whether they posed a threat. Some of the rounds he fired flew into the unit next door, the chief wrote.

Two other officers involved in the raid remain on administrative reassignment. No criminal charges have been filed against any of the three.

The notice also said Hankison, who joined the department in 2003, was disciplined in 2019 for reckless conduct that injured an innocent person.

Taylor’s slaying, which returned to prominence following the May 25 death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, has become a rallying cry in nationwide protests against police brutality and racial bias in the U.S. criminal justice system.

In the immediate aftermath of the Taylor killing, police said the officers had knocked on the door before forcing entry and were shot at by Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. One officer was struck in the leg, and all three returned fire, hitting Taylor at least eight times, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Walker was charged with attempted murder and assault, but prosecutors later dropped the charges, the Courier-Journal reported.

(Reporting by Bryan Woolston in Louisville, Ky.; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Leslie Adler)

Teenager killed in Seattle protest zone shooting, one wounded

(Reuters) – Seattle police on Saturday said they were investigating the fatal shooting of one person and wounding of another in a part of the city occupied by activists protesting against police brutality and racial inequality across America.

The Seattle Police Department said it was investigating a shooting at 10th Avenue and East Pine inside the Capital Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) area, which has been occupied by activists without any known police presence since June 8, when Seattle police abandoned the East Precinct located there.

The police said they responded to a report of shots fired in Cal Anderson Park at about 2:30 a.m. PDT (0930 GMT) only to learn that two male victims had already been moved to Harborview Medical Center by CHOP medics.

Harborview spokeswoman Susan Gregg confirmed the hospital received two shooting victims from Capital Hill in the early hours and that one, a 19-year-old, died shortly after arrival while the other was in critical condition in intensive care.

The police said that the suspect or suspects, for which they had no description, had fled and were still at large.

The occupation of the district came as widespread protests against police abuse and injustice took place across the United States after George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died while he was in Minneapolis police custody. A bystander recorded video of the officer who was charged with murder holding a knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Video footage after the Seattle shooting from Omari Salisbury, a reporter for Converge Media, showed a small group of police entering part of the protest zone on foot, holding riot shields and firearms, as occupants raised their hands and shouted at officers to drop their guns.

The footage, seen by Reuters, also showed people surrounding multiple police cars, which then left the area.

In a statement, the police called the protesters a “violent crowd that prevented officers safe access to the victims.”

(Reporting by Sinéad Carew; Editing by Tom Brown and Daniel Wallis)

‘I should have stopped them’ -Note left at slain Georgia man’s memorial

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – The family of Ahmaud Arbery, the black jogger whose fatal shooting in Georgia triggered a national outcry, appealed on Thursday for any new witness to the killing to step forward after a note reading “I should have stopped them” was found on his memorial.

The single-page note was discovered earlier this week by a television news crew at the memorial, set up in the victim’s hometown of Brunswick, about 300 miles (480 km) southeast of Atlanta.

More two months after the Feb. 23 slaying, a white former law enforcement officer and his son, who were seen on the video chasing the 25-year-old jogger, were arrested last week and charged with aggravated assault and murder.

S. Lee Merritt, an attorney for the Arbery family, said in a statement that the family believes that the person who left the note is a witness to the Feb. 23 shooting.

“They feel great sympathy for the person who wrote that note and would like to speak with them to determine what they knew or what they saw,” the attorney said in a statement.

The shooting was reminiscent of a spate of killings of black men in recent years that involved white police officers or former officers. Outrage over the killings and the response to them by the U.S. criminal justice system led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement and national protests.

“Ahmaud – I am so sorry. I should have stopped them. I am so sorry,” the note reads in full. It was posted on the internet by multiple media outlets.

The two suspects, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, were arrested and charged on May 7, after the local district attorney asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate the case.

Their arrests came just days after the release of the video, which set off the national furor led by civil rights activists and celebrities.

The U.S. Department of Justice has also launched an inquiry on why charges were not brought sooner and whether to charge the suspects with federal hate crimes.

A caravan of protesters plans to drive more than 300 miles from Atlanta to Brunswick on Saturday to draw attention to the case.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Former Florida policeman guilty in killing of motorist

FILE PHOTO: Family and supporters attend the funeral for Corey Jones at the Payne Chapel AME of West Palm Beach, Florida October 31, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Stocker/Pool/File Photo

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – A Florida jury on Thursday convicted a former police officer for manslaughter and attempted first-degree murder in the fatal 2015 shooting of a black motorist who was waiting for his car to be towed off the highway.

Nouman Raja, 41, was charged in 2016 after a grand jury found he had used unjustified force when he shot and killed 31-year-old Corey Jones while wearing plainclothes on a highway exit ramp in West Palm Beach. Prosecutors said he did not identify himself as a police officer.

Raja looked distraught as the jury read their verdict after five hours of deliberations, then he was placed in handcuffs and escorted out of the courtroom. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced on April 26.

Relatives of Jones left the West Palm Beach courtroom in tears, hugging each other and raising their hands in praise.

“It was truth that convicted him. It was truth that brought him to justice. It was the truth that sent him to jail,” the victim’s father, Clinton Jones, told reporters outside. “It was truth that gave us justice for Corey.”

Prosecutor Adrienne Ellis thanked the jury for their service.

“They’re a smart group and they were fair,” Ellis said. “When I say I’m speechless, it’s because I’m overwhelmed with just gratitude.”

Raja’s lawyer, Richard Lubin, had argued on Wednesday that the police officer feared for his life when Jones pulled out a gun during the roadside encounter, according to WPEC CBS12 News.

Lubin did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Raja was driving an unmarked van when he approached Jones early on Oct. 18, 2015, and fired six shots at the victim within 13 seconds, according to prosecutors.

Jones, who was a drummer, had pulled out a .380-caliber handgun that he had legally purchased three days earlier. He was hit three times and died of a gunshot wound to his chest.

Audio from the incident was captured on a recording of a roadside assistance call that Jones had placed before Raja arrived. According to prosecutors, the recording showed that Raja did not identify himself as a police officer.

Protesters held a peaceful rally in Palm Beach Gardens four days after Jones was killed, and dozens of mourners attended his funeral more than a week later.

Reverend Al Sharpton was among those who spoke at the memorial service, where the pallbearers wore hats and jerseys of the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders, Jones’ favorite team.

Lawyers for Jones’ family, including civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, said in a statement that the verdict was “a vindication of the good man that was Corey Jones, and an utter repudiation of a criminal who tried to hide behind a badge.”

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)

Toronto police seek motive after gunman kills two, injures 13

Police officers walk past Alexander the Great Parkette while investigating a mass shooting on Danforth Avenue in Toronto, Canada, July 23, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

By Anna Mehler Paperny and Danya Hajjaji

TORONTO (Reuters) – Toronto police on Monday sought a motive after two young women, ages 10 and 18, were killed and 13 other people were wounded by a gunman on a busy, restaurant-filled street. The suspect was later found dead, authorities said.

“We do not know why this happened,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters on Monday, adding that he would not speculate about the gunman’s motive. “It’s way too early to rule out anything.”

The suspect, armed with a handgun, opened fire at 10 p.m. on Sunday (0200 GMT Monday) on a stretch of Danforth Avenue filled with restaurants and family-friendly attractions in the city’s Greektown neighborhood, the Special Investigations Unit said. The gunman walked down the busy avenue firing.

Police did not identify the two young women. Local politician Nathaniel Erskine-Smith confirmed the 18-year-old was Reese Fallon, a recent high school graduate who planned to study nursing.

“The family is devastated,” Erskine-Smith said in a statement, adding that they ask for privacy while they mourn a young woman who was “smart, passionate and full of energy.”

The gunman, a 29-year-old Toronto man, exchanged fire with police, fled and was later found dead, according to the Special Investigations Unit, which investigates deaths and injuries involving police.

The suspect, who was not identified, had a gunshot wound but authorities would not elaborate on the circumstances or cause of his death. A postmortem will be conducted on Tuesday, Special Investigations Unit spokeswoman Monica Hudon said.

Hours after the fatal shooting, in an apparently unrelated incident, a man with a knife was arrested during a military ceremony on Parliament Hill in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. The defense ministry said no one was injured and gave no further details.

On Twitter on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote, “The people of Toronto are strong, resilient and brave – and we’ll be there to support you through this difficult time.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters the city has a gun problem, with weapons too readily available to too many people.

“Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?” he asked in an address to city councilors on Monday morning.

Canada’s newly appointed minister of border security and organized crime, Bill Blair, who has been given the job of tackling gun violence, was to meet with Tory on Monday afternoon.

To own a gun in Canada an individual must apply for a license, pass a background check and pass a firearm safety test. Guns must be kept locked and unloaded and can only be legally carried outside the home with a special permit. Handguns and other restricted firearms require passing an additional course.

Canada’s crime rate rose by 1 percent in 2017, the third consecutive annual increase, according to Statistics Canada. The murder rate jumped by 7 percent, due largely to killings in British Columbia and Quebec, while crime involving guns grew by 7 percent.

Toronto is grappling with a sharp rise in gun violence as gun deaths jump 53 percent to 26 so far this year from the same period last year. The number of shootings has gone up 13 percent.

Toronto has deployed about 200 police officers since July 20 in response to the recent spate in shootings, which city officials have blamed on gang violence.

Saunders said the police presence would be increased in the Danforth area following the shooting.

In April, a driver deliberately plowed his white Ryder rental van into a lunch-hour crowd in Toronto, police said, killing 10 people and injuring 15 along a roughly mile-long (1.6-km) stretch of sidewalk thronged with pedestrians.

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny and Danya Hajjaji in Toronto; additional reporting by Denny Thomas in Toronto and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; editing by Paul Tait, Jeffrey Benkoe and Jonathan Oatis)

One person shot, officer injured in second night of Milwaukee protests

A gas station is seen burned down after disturbances following the police shooting of a man in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.

By Brendan O’Brien

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) – Tension flared again overnight in Milwaukee, with one person shot and a police officer injured in the second night of riots triggered by the fatal shooting of a suspect by an officer.

Police violence against African-Americans has ignited sporadic, sometimes violent protests in the past two years. It also has prompted a national debate over race and policing while fuelling the growth of the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement.

Violence erupted in Milwaukee on Sunday after peaceful vigils by small groups of demonstrators, and police said late that night that they had rescued one shooting victim, who was taken to a hospital. It was not immediately clear if the injured person was a protester.

One police officer was hospitalized after a rock smashed a patrol car windshield, the city police department said. Another squad car was damaged by rioters hurling bricks, rocks and bottles, it said, adding that officers made multiple arrests.

Police said they began trying to disperse crowds after shots were fired and some protesters threw objects. A tense standoff continued into the early morning hours, punctuated by intermittent reports of gunfire.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had activated the National Guard in case more trouble broke over the death of Sylville K. Smith, 23, who was shot while fleeing a traffic stop.

Despite the violence, police said the National Guard had not been called in, as authorities worked to restore order.

“WITHIN LAWFUL BOUNDS”

Aiming to reassure the community that the police acted properly, Chief Edward Flynn told a news conference on Sunday that video from the officer’s body camera showed Smith had turned toward him with a gun in his hand.

Earlier on Sunday evening, about 200 people had gathered to light candles near the spot where Smith was killed in the Sherman Park neighborhood. A few officers looked on as faith and community leaders implored protesters to restrain their anger.

“We are not ignorant and stupid people,” one pastor told the crowd, echoing a feeling among many of the city’s African-Americans that they are systematically mistreated.

“Every single person needs to be looked upon as human beings and not like savages and animals.”

On Saturday night, shots were fired, six businesses were burned and police cars damaged before calm was restored in the area, which has a reputation for poverty and crime. Seventeen people were arrested, and four officers were injured.

At the news conference with Mayor Tom Barrett, Flynn said the officer who fired the fatal shot was black, and media reports also identified Smith as black.

He said a silent video of the incident appeared to show the officer acting within the law. The officer had stopped Smith’s vehicle because the driver was behaving suspiciously and then had to chase him on foot into an enclosed space between two houses, Flynn said.

Because the audio was delayed, he said, it was not clear when the officer fired his weapon.

“I’m looking at a silent movie that doesn’t necessarily tell me everything that will come out in a thorough investigation,” Flynn said.

“Based on what I saw, didn’t hear, don’t know what the autopsy results are going to be, (the officer) certainly appeared to be within lawful bounds.”

Barrett said Smith did not drop the gun as ordered before he was shot.

The mayor said Smith had a lengthy arrest record, and officials had earlier said he was carrying a stolen handgun loaded with 23 rounds of ammunition when stopped.

“SHOT IN HIS BACK”

On Sunday evening, several of Smith’s sisters addressed the crowd, saying their brother did not deserve to be shot.

“My brother was no felon,” said one of them, Kimberly Neal, 24, as she wept. “My brother was running for his life. He was shot in his back.”

Walker announced the National Guard activation after a request from Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. But Barrett said any decision to deploy the troops would come from the police chief.

The National Guard, which is under the dual control of the federal and state governments, was deployed in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014 after several nights of rioting over the police killing of an unarmed black man.

This summer has brought deadly ambushes of police. Five officers were slain by a sniper in Dallas last month as they guarded an otherwise peaceful protest against police killings. A gunman killed three officers in Baton Rouge less than two weeks later.

Policing in Milwaukee has come under scrutiny since 2014, when a white officer killed Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill, unarmed black man, in an incident that sparked largely peaceful protests.

(Additional reporting by Chris Michaud and Laila Kearney and Daniel Wallis in New York and Julia Harte in Washington; Writing by Chris Michaud; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)