Family of Rayshard Brooks demands justice after Atlanta police fatally shoot him in the back

(Reuters) – The family of Rayshard Brooks, a black man whose death reignited protests in Atlanta over the weekend, on Monday said they were “heartbroken” and “tired” of the racial injustice that they said led to Brooks’ death at the hands of Atlanta police.

An autopsy conducted on Sunday showed that Brooks, 27, died from blood loss and organ injuries caused by two gunshot wounds to his back, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office said in a statement, ruling his death a homicide.

“We’re tired and we are frustrated. Most importantly we’re heartbroken, so we need justice for Rayshard Brooks,” his cousin, Tiara Brooks, said at a news conference.

“The trust that we have in the police force is broken. The only way to heal some of these wounds is through a conviction and a drastic change in the police department,” she added.

Brooks’ fatal encounter with the police came after police responded to a call that he had fallen asleep in his car in a Wendy’s restaurant drive-through lane.

Caught on video, the encounter seemed friendly at first but when an officer moved to arrest him, Brooks struggled with him and another officer at the scene before breaking away across the parking lot with what appears to be a police Taser in his hand.

A video from the restaurant’s cameras shows Brooks turning as he runs and possibly aiming the Taser at the pursuing officers, both white, before one of them fires his gun and Brooks falls.

Prosecutors will decide by midweek whether to bring charges, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said on Sunday.

Several members of Rayshard Brooks’ family attended the news conference in tears, and spoke of him as a warm family man who loved to take his daughter skating. One man left the room during the briefing in hysterics, shouting, “Somebody took my cousin!”

Atlanta’s police chief, Erika Shields, resigned over the shooting. The officer suspected of killing Brooks was fired, and the other officer involved in the incident was put on administrative leave.

Brooks’ death reignited protests in Atlanta after days of worldwide demonstrations against racism and police brutality prompted by the death of George Floyd, an African American, when a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25.

Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, implored the public to protest peacefully in her husband’s name.

“We want to keep his name positive,” she said.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Gabriella Borter and Nathan Layne; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis)

Independent autopsy finds Floyd died by strangulation, that it was a homicide

By Brad Brooks

(Reuters) – Two doctors who carried out an independent autopsy of George Floyd, the black man whose death in Minneapolis police custody last week triggered nationwide protests, said on Monday that he died from asphyxiation and that his death was a homicide.

The doctors also said Floyd had no underlying medical conditions that contributed to his death.

That contradicts the initial findings of the official autopsy by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. It said there was no evidence of “traumatic” strangulation and also said coronary artery disease and hypertension also likely contributed to his death. The county’s full autopsy report has not yet been released.

“The evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as cause of death and homicide as manner of death,” said Dr. Allecia Wilson, one of the two doctors who performed an independent autopsy, who is the director of autopsy and forensic services at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Michael Baden, who also took part in the independent autopsy at the behest of Floyd’s family, said he agreed with Wilson’s findings and that the death was a homicide.

Baden added that “the autopsy shows that Mr. Floyd had no underlying medical problems that caused or contributed to his death.”

Baden has worked on several high-profile cases, including the 2014 death of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being choked by police in New York City.

It was not just the knee to Floyd’s neck that killed him, Baden said, but also the pressure that two other officers were applying to Floyd’s back that cut off oxygen from flowing in or out of his lungs.

Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Floyd’s family, said the family wants first-degree murder charges lodged against all four officers who were at the scene – and they want the violent protests that has wracked the United States to end.

“George died because he needed a breath, a breath of air,” Crump said. “I implore you all to join his family in taking a breath…taking a breath for justice, taking a breath for peace, taking a breath for our country and more importantly taking a breath for George.”

(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Home is the deadliest place for women as violence rises – U.N

A relative of a woman who was disappeared holds a cross with part of the name of her relative as she takes part in a march for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Mexico City, Mexico November 3, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Romero

By Sonia Elks

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Home is the most dangerous place for a woman, according to a United Nations study that found the number killed by a partner or relative is rising globally.

About 50,000 women were killed worldwide last year by a current or former partner or a family member – equating to 137 per day or six per hour – found the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“While the vast majority of homicide victims are men, women continue to pay the highest price as a result of gender inequality, discrimination and negative stereotypes,” said UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov in a statement.

Despite recent high-profile campaigns such as #MeToo, in which women publicly called out sexual harassment, they are still far more likely than men to be murdered by their partner or family.

The total number of such murders rose slightly between 2012 and 2017 – and the proportion of female homicide victims killed by partners or family rose from less than half in 2012 to nearly six in ten last year, said the report.

Many were murdered by abusive partners, while others were victims in so-called honor killings or disputes over dowries, it added.

Murders by partners or family are often not one-off attacks, but the culmination of previous domestic abuse said the report.

“These shocking findings demonstrate the devastating consequences of gender inequality that perpetuates violence against women,” Sarah Masters, a director at the rights group Womankind Worldwide, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The UNODC report called for more action to combat gender-based violence including greater coordination between police, doctors and social services along with work to ensure specialized support services were available for women at risk.

Men should also be involved in programmes to combat damaging gender norms from early childhood education onwards, it added.

(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Deadly blast in Texas believed linked to earlier explosion

An FBI agent exits her car after arriving at the scene of an explosion near north Galindo street. Police investigators are at the home where a 17-year-old boy was killed and a woman injured in a package bomb explosion in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Flo

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – A package bomb that killed a Texas teenager and injured a woman on Monday was believed to be linked to a deadly blast in the state’s capital city earlier this month, according to police, who were also investigating a third explosion that injured one.

Austin police said Monday’s package bomb that killed a 17-year-old, as well as a March 2 explosion that killed a man, were being investigated as homicides. The two homes that received the packages belonged to African-Americans.

“We cannot rule out that hate crime is at the core of this but we are not saying that that is the cause,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley told a news conference.

Isiah Guerrero, 15, gives an interview to the media in the neighbourhood of the scene of an explosion. Police investigators are at the home where a 17-year-old boy was killed and a woman injured in a package bomb explosion in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Flores

Police said they responded to a second explosion of a package on Monday at another home in which a woman was injured. A police spokeswoman was unable to confirm if it was related to the other two explosions.

Monday’s blasts were in homes about 4 miles (6 km) apart in east Austin, while the March 2 blast occurred at house in the city’s northeast Harris Ridge neighborhood.

The March 2 blast, which killed a 39-year-old man, was initially investigated as a suspicious death but is now being treated as a homicide.

In the deadly blast on Monday, the 17-year-old resident found a package in front of his house in the morning and brought it into the kitchen, where it exploded, Manley said. The woman, in her 40s, was taken to an area hospital with injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening.

“We are looking at these incidents as being related,” Manley said, adding that federal investigators have joined the case.

After the March 2 explosion, Austin police said they had no indication the blast was related to terrorism.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Andrew Hay; Editing by Susan Thomas and Tom Brown)

With 25,339 murders in 2017, Mexico suffers record homicide tally

- A police cordon reading "Danger" is pictured at a crime scene where unknown assailants gunned down people at a garage in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, January 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – There were more than 25,000 murders across drug-ravaged Mexico in 2017, the highest annual tally since modern records began, government data showed.

Investigators opened 25,339 murder probes last year, up nearly 25 percent from the 2016 tally, interior ministry data released on Saturday showed. It was the highest annual total since the government began counting murders in 1997.

Mexico has struggled with years of violence as the government has battled vicious drug cartels that have increasingly splintered into smaller, more bloodthirsty, gangs.

Violence is a central issue in July’s presidential election. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto faces an uphill battle to keep his ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party in office.

There were 40 percent more murder investigations opened last year compared with 2013, Pena Nieto’s first full year in office.

Mexico on Thursday dismissed a claim by U.S. President Donald Trump that it was the most dangerous country in the world.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Chicago homicides fall 16 percent in 2017

Chicago Police officers investigate a crime scene after a motorist was shot in the head and lost control of his vehicle along the 5300 block of west Monroe Street in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., October 31, 2017. The driver later died in the hospital, according to the police.

(Reuters) – Homicides in Chicago fell 16 percent in 2017 while shootings were down and firearms arrests were up, police said on Monday, marking a reduction in bloodshed that made the city a symbol of U.S. gun violence and an object of criticism for President Donald Trump.

Police reported 650 homicides in an annual report on crime statistics, down from 771 in 2016. Shooting incidents fell 22 percent and the number of shooting victims fell by 892 people, a 21 percent drop. Meanwhile, gun arrests increased 27 percent and police reported seizing more than 8,600 illegal weapons.

Police attributed the drop to putting more officers on the streets, investing in new technology and a smarter policing strategy.

The city was also coming off a high baseline after the number of homicides in 2016, which represented a nearly 60 percent spike from the previous year.

The United States’ third largest city still ranks No. 1 in murders, with more than the two largest cities combined. New York and Los Angles each had fewer than 300 homicides in 2017.

Overall crime for other offenses – including sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery, burglary and vehicle theft – was down 2 percent, police said.

“I am proud of the progress our officers made in reducing gun violence all across the city in 2017, but none of us are satisfied,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in the report. “In 2018, we are going to work to build on the progress we made last year – to reduce gun violence, to save lives and to find justice for victims.”

Chicago initiated police reforms in 2017 after a federal investigation found officers routinely violated people’s civil rights, citing excessive force and racially discriminatory conduct.

The city hired more than 1,100 new police officers in 2017, and the department issued a new policy on use of force.

Crime fell by 43 percent in Englewood district and 26 percent in Harrison, the first two districts to employ so-called Strategic Decision Support Centers, police said.

The centers use predictive crime software to enable a more efficient deployment of officers, install more cameras, set up gunshot detection systems and send real-time notifications and intelligence data to officers on their smartphones, the department said.

The deployment of more than 7,000 body cameras was the largest of its kind in the United States, the report said.

Trump made Chicago crime a theme of his 2016 campaign and kept criticizing the city in 2017 even as crime fell.

“Crime and killings in Chicago have reached such epidemic proportions that I am sending in Federal help. 1714 shootings in Chicago this year!” the Republican president wrote on Twitter in June.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Trump’s tweet referred to sending more federal agents to Chicago and plans to prosecute firearms cases aggressively.

A spokesman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, thanked the U.S. government for 20 additional agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives but said the progress was made before those agents had arrived.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Frank McGurty and Jonathan Oatis)

Philippines’ Duterte says police can kill ‘idiots’ who resist arrest

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte greets Lorenza de los Santos and husband Saldy, parents of 17-year-old high school student Kian Delos Santos, who was killed recently in police raid in line with the war on drug, during their visit at Malacanang presidential complex in metro Manila, Philippines August 28, 2017

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told police on Monday they could kill “idiots” who violently resist arrest, two days after hundreds of people turned the funeral of a slain teenager into a protest against his deadly war on drugs.

Duterte met the parents of the schoolboy, 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, at the presidential palace in Manila on Monday, to assure them their son’s case would be handled fairly.

Delos Santos’ mother, Lorenza, said she was confident the president would help quickly resolve the case, while the father, Saldy, said he no longer feared for their lives and felt reassured by the meeting.

“He promised he would not allow those who have committed wrong to go unpunished,” the mother said in an interview posted online by Duterte’s communications office on a Facebook page after the meeting.

Duterte unleashed the anti-drugs war after taking office in June last year following an election campaign in which he vowed to use deadly force to wipe out crime and drugs.

Thousands of people have been killed and the violence has been criticized by much of the international community.

Domestic opposition has been largely muted but the killing of delos Santos by anti-drugs officers on Aug. 16 has sparked rare public outrage.

Residents stay at a wake of a victim of a shooting by masked motorcycle-riding men during a local community protest march against extrajudicial killings in Sampaloc, metro Manila, Philippines August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Dondi

Residents stay at a wake of a victim of a shooting by masked motorcycle-riding men during a local community protest march against extrajudicial killings in Sampaloc, metro Manila, Philippines August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao

More than 1,000 people, including nuns, priests and hundreds of children, joined his funeral procession on Saturday, turning the march into one of the biggest protests yet against Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.

Earlier, Duterte broke off midway through a prepared speech at the Hero’s Cemetery on the outskirts of Manila and addressed impromptu comments to Jovie Espenido, the police chief of a town in the south where the mayor was killed in an anti-drugs raid.

“Your duty requires you to overcome the resistance of the person you are arresting … (if) he resists, and it is a violent one … you are free to kill the idiots, that is my order to you,” Duterte told the police officer.

Duterte added that “murder and homicide and unlawful killings” were not allowed and that police had to uphold the rule of law while carrying out their duties.

Delos Santos was dragged by plain-clothes policemen to a dark, trash-filled alley in Manila before he was shot in the head and left next to a pigsty, according to witnesses whose accounts appeared to be backed up by CCTV footage.

Police say they acted in self defense after delos Santos opened fire on them, and Duterte’s spokesman and the justice minister have described the killing of the teenager as an “isolated” case.

U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, described the killing of delos Santos as “murder” in a tweet on Aug. 25, earning the ire of Duterte who in a separate speech on Monday called her “son of a bitch” and “stupid”.

“She should not threaten me,” Duterte said as he challenged Callamard to visit and see the situation in the Philippines.

A planned visit by Callamard in December was canceled because she refused to accept Duterte’s conditions that she must hold a debate with him. She turned up in unofficial capacity in May to address an academic conference on human rights.

 

 

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Robert Birsel)

 

FBI report expected to show violent crime rise in some U.S. cities

Phone banks of the FBI

By Julia Harte

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Violent crime in certain big U.S. cities in 2015 likely increased over 2014, although the overall crime rate has remained far below peak levels of the early 1990s, experts said, in advance of the FBI’s annual crime report to be released later on Monday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s report was expected to show a one-year increase in homicides and other violent crimes in cities including Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., based on already published crime statistics.

Coming on the day of the first presidential campaign debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the report could “be turned into political football,” said Robert Smith, a research fellow at Harvard Law School, in a teleconference on Friday with other crime experts.

A rise in violent crime in U.S. cities since 2014 has already been revealed in preliminary 2015 figures released by the FBI in January.

A recent U.S. Justice Department-funded study examined the nation’s 56 largest cities and found 16.8 percent more murders last year over 2014.

Trump last week praised aggressive policing tactics, including the “stop-and-frisk” approach.

Clinton has pushed for stricter gun control to help curb violence and has called for the development of national guidelines on the use of force by police officers.

FBI Director James Comey warned last year that violent crime in the United States might rise because increased scrutiny of policing tactics had created a “chill wind” that discouraged police officers from aggressively fighting crime.

Increased crime has been concentrated in segregated and impoverished neighborhoods of big cities. Experts said in such areas crime can best be fought through better community policing and alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent crime.

“We’re just beginning to see a shift in mentality in law enforcement from a warrior mentality … to a guardian mentality,” said Carter Stewart, a former prosecutor for the Southern District of Ohio, on the teleconference. “I don’t want us as a country to go backwards.”

In Chicago, 54 more people were murdered in 2015 than the year before, a 13 percent jump in the city’s murder rate, according to an April study by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Matthew Lewis)

Teen shot by Chicago police suffered gunshot wound to his back

Police placing handcuffs

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A teenager who was shot and killed by Chicago police officers last month suffered a single gunshot wound to his back, according to an autopsy by the Cook County medical examiner’s office made public on Wednesday.

Toxicology reports also found 18-year-old Paul O’Neal did not have drugs in his system. His death has been ruled a homicide, the autopsy report said.

“We knew he (O’Neal) didn’t have any drugs in his system,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a lawyer for O’Neal’s family. “We’re pleased for that.”

O’Neal, who was not armed, was fatally wounded by police officers on July 28 after he crashed a stolen Jaguar into a police car and then fled into a backyard where he was shot.

During the foot chase shots were fired by unidentified officers at the scene. An officer “believing the shots being fired were coming from O’Neal fired his Glock 9mm handgun five times in an attempt to stop the threat,” the autopsy said.

The shooting death of O’Neal adds to list of fatal encounters between police and black men and women in U.S. cities that have fueled protests over the past two years and stoked a national debate on race and police tactics.

The Chicago Police Department is currently facing a federal probe of allegations of racism and abuse against minorities. Protests rocked the city last year after dashboard video showed another black 17-year-old teenager being shot by a white cop as he jogged away from police officers during an October 2014 encounter.

Authorities released videos that captured the moments before and after police shot O’Neal, but not the shooting itself because a police officer’s body camera was not recording. No firearms were found on O’Neal.

Three Chicago police officers have been stripped of their law enforcement authority, a more severe step than a mere suspension, for their roles in the shooting.

(Reporting by Justin Madden; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Pastor and Family Killed In Houston

The faith community of Houston, Texas is reeling from the news a popular pastor, his wife and 5 year old son were murdered in their home.

Police confirm that Israel Ahimbisibwe, Jr. was found in his apartment around 9:30 a.m. Monday.  A welfare check had been made on the family after the pastor and his wife didn’t show up Sunday and didn’t return phone calls Monday morning.

“He didn’t show up for church yesterday afternoon, which is totally out of character for them not to let us know, and didn’t respond to text or phone calls,” church member Keever Wallace told the Christian Post.

Investigators say that there were no signs of forced entry into the apartment.

“I will say that they did suffer some type of unknown wounds,” Houston Police Department spokesman Victor Senties told FOX 26. “It is being investigated as a homicide.”

“This is a horrific and awful tragedy,” noted Bishop of Texas C. Andrew Doyle in a release from the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. “We are in touch with the police and Israel’s family here in Houston. Please keep the Ahimbisibwe and Redeemer families in your prayers.”

The pastor leaves behind two older sons.