Thursday, April 26, 2007

2 White Cops Plead Guilty In 92 Year Old Black Woman's Death

ATLANTA (AP) - Two white police offiers pleaded guilty Thursday to manslaughter in the shooting death of a 92-year-old black woman during a botched drug raid last fall. A third officer still faces charges in the woman's death.
Officer J.R. Smith told the judge Thursday that he regretted what had happened.
"I'm sorry," the 35-year-old said, his voice barely audible. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, violation of oath, criminal solicitation, making false statements and perjury, which was based on untrue claims in a warrant.
Former Officer Gregg Junnier, 40, who retired from the Atlanta police force in January, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, violation of oath, criminal solicitation and making false statements. Both men are expected to face more than 10 years in prison.
The charges followed a Nov. 21 "no-knock" drug raid on the home of Kathryn Johnston, 92. An informant had described buying drugs from a dealer there, police said. When the officers burst in without warning, Johnston fired at them, and they fired back, killing her.
Fulton County prosecutor Peter Johnson disclosed Thursday that the officers involved in Johnston's death fired 39 shots, striking her five or six times, including a fatal blow to the chest.
He said Johnston only fired once through her door and didn't hit any of the officers. That means the officers who were wounded likely were hit by their own colleagues, he said.
Junnier and Smith, who is on administrative leave, had been charged in an indictment unsealed earlier Thursday with felony murder, violation of oath by a public officer, criminal solicitation, burglary, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and making false statements.
The third officer, Arthur Tesler, also on administrative leave, was charged with violation of oath by a public officer, making false statements and false imprisonment under color of legal process. His attorney, William McKenney, said Tesler expects to go to trial.
Tesler, 40, is "very relieved" not to face murder charges, McKenney said, "but we're concerned about the three charges."
In Junnier's and Smith's cases, prosecutors asked the judge Thursday to withhold sentencing until after a hearing later Thursday in federal court where both are expected to enter pleas.
U.S. Attorney David Nahmias told The Associated Press that the recommended federal sentence for Junnier will be 10 years and one month in prison, and for Smith, 12 years, seven months. The state and federal sentences are expected to run concurrently.
Both men could have faced up to life in prison had they been convicted of murder.
The deadly drug raid had been set up after narcotics officers said an informant had claimed there was cocaine in the home.
When the plainclothes officers burst in without notice, police said Johnston fired at them and they fired back. No cocaine was found.
The case raised serious questions about no-knock warrants and whether the officers followed proper procedures.
Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington asked the FBI to lead a multi- agency probe into the shootout. He also announced policy changes to require the department to drug-test its nearly 1,800 officers and mandate that top supervisors sign off on narcotics operations and no- knock warrants.
To get the warrant, officers told a magistrate judge that an undercover informant had told them Johnston's home had surveillance cameras monitored carefully by a drug dealer named "Sam."
After the shooting, a man claiming to be the informant told a television station that he never purchased drugs there, prompting Pennington to admit he was uncertain whether the suspected drug dealer actually existed.
The Rev. Markel Hutchins, a civil rights activist who serves as a spokesman for Johnston's family, said the family was satisfied with Thursday's developments.
"They have never sought vengeance. They have only sought justice," he said.
Hutchins said the family is considering civil action against the police department.
"I think what happened today makes it very clear that Ms. Johnston was violated, that her civil rights were violated," he said.
Associated Press Writer Jason Bronis contributed to this report from Atlanta.

There's A Market For Niggaz

Monday, April 23, 2007

Teen suspect's talking led to vandals' arrests

According to an affidavit for a search warrant filed yesterday in Stafford Circuit Court, the student who was bragged to called Deputy J.C. Wright Sunday and named the suspect.

Date published: 4/5/2007


One of the four Stafford County teenagers charged with hate crimes and other vandalism-related offenses apparently bragged to the wrong person.
Court records show that the 17-year-old suspect, a student at Stafford Senior High School, told a fellow student that he was involved in the vandalism of two churches over the weekend and other vandalism in the past.
Union Bell Baptist Church on Hollywood Farm Road and Strong Tower Ministries on Ferry Road both were defaced by spray paint over the weekend.
Racial slurs were sprayed at Union Bell, and "[expletive] God" was sprayed on a sign at Strong Tower. A pentagram with a circle around it was sprayed on the other side of the sign.
According to an affidavit for a search warrant filed yesterday in Stafford Circuit Court, the student who was bragged to called Deputy J.C. Wright Sunday and named the suspect.
Wright went to the informant's house and observed an online conversation between the informant and the suspect, who used the screen name "xPTWxApathyx."
The suspect sent the informant a link to a news article about the church vandalism and typed incriminating statements about his role in the Union Bell incident, the affidavit states.
Wright then contacted Deputy Tom Calverley, a school resource officer at Stafford High. Calverley told Wright that the suspect, who is not being named because he is a juvenile, was already under investigation for hacking into the high school network and distributing Ku Klux Klan fliers at the school.
Police later interviewed the suspect at his southern Stafford home. Court records state that the suspect admitted to the crimes and named his three accomplices.
Two of the suspects are 17, and the other 14 and two are brothers. Their names are in court records, but are not being listed because they have not been charged as adults.
The affidavit states that those three also admitted to their roles in the incidents. The brothers said they had had contact with the initial suspect on the Internet.
Police raided a home on Sunset Ridge Lane in the White Oak area and seized several computers and cell phones.
A second search warrant was served on the same house, this time by fire investigator Ben Gouldman III. Fireworks and mortar tubes were seized in that raid.
The suspects in the church vandalism are also suspected of other crimes, including mailbox bombings and setting cars on fire.
On March 18, court records state, Gouldman responded to a mailbox vandalism at 194 New Hope Church Road. While heading there, Gouldman saw a mailbox on fire at 67 Ringgold Road. Both locations are in the White Oak area.
Because the mailbox at 67 Ringgold Road had already been vandalized numerous times, a surveillance camera had been set up.
The tape showed a white four-door vehicle similar to one owned by the brothers' parents. The same vehicle was captured on film at the same mailbox the day before, the affidavit states.
Gouldman is investigating possible charges of using fire bombs or explosive materials, but those charges hadn't been filed as of yesterday.
The four suspects have been charged so far with two felony counts each of entering property with the purpose of damaging it and two misdemeanor counts of injuries to a church.
Sheriff Charles Jett said more charges are pending. Among the other cases connected to the investigation is a recent incident at Scoops Ice Cream store in which $15,000 worth of ice cream was lost when someone turned off the power to the building.Keith Epps: 540/374-5404Email:

Female Officers Called Nappy Head Hoes In Roll Call


NY Post

April 23, 2007 -- Several NYPD sergeants and officers were on the hot seat yesterday for calling four black female cops "nappy-headed ho's" during two separate roll calls - within days of shock jock Don Imus' firing for using the same racist slur on air.
The incidents, confirmed by an NYPD source yesterday, have already led to one sergeant being transferred from his precinct and stripped of supervisory duties, and another being ordered to answer questions about his conduct by departmental investigators.
"This language is unacceptable under any circumstances, and even more egregious when it comes from individuals in positions of authority," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
The first incident occurred April 12 - the same day Imus was fired from his WFAN show - during evening roll call at the Queens Narcotics Division.
Detective Aretha Williams was looking for the sign-out book at the end of her shift.
"Don't give me no lip before I call you a nappy-headed ho," Sgt. Michael Cantatore, who is white, told Williams, according to the detective.
That comment "cut me to the core," said Williams yesterday. "I find it disrespectful, racist, sexist.
"It can't be tolerated," said the 15-year veteran, who broke down into tears during a press conference with 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care.
Cantatore is scheduled to retire today. An NYPD source said he would be interviewed tomorrow by Equal Opportunity Office investigators who are probing the women's complaints.
In another incident, on April 15, three black female officers - Tronnette Jackson, Maria Gomez and Karen Nelson - allegedly were singled out during a morning roll call in Brooklyn's 70th Precinct by Sgt. Carlos Mateo, who is Hispanic.
"Stand-up, ho's," Mateo said, according to lawyer Bonita Zelman, who works with the Guardians Association, an advocacy group for minority officers.
Police Officer Ralph Montenez then chimed in, "They're not just ho's, they're nappy-headed ho's," according to Zelman.
The women did not respond during this exchange.
On Friday, according to a police source, Mateo was transferred out of the 70th Precinct to an undisclosed assignment and stripped of his supervisory duties.
The sergeant had already been on thin ice over problems handling his administrative work and now faces possible demotion, a police source said.
"He wasn't a mean-spirited guy," a source said. "He was just a little dopey."

Center wins justice for Billy Ray Johnson

April 20, 2007 — A civil jury in Linden, Texas, today awarded approximately $9 million in damages to Billy Ray Johnson, a mentally disabled black man who was taunted, knocked unconscious and dumped along a desolate road by four white men in September 2003.
The Center brought suit on his behalf in 2005 after the men responsible for the crime received only misdemeanor convictions and light jail sentences — 30 days for three of them and 60 days for one.
"On behalf of Billy Ray Johnson, we thank the jury — the conscience of Cass County — for returning a just and fair verdict," said Morris Dees, the Center's founder and chief trial attorney, in a statement to the media after the verdict.
"The defendants in this case treated Billy Ray like trash. They broke his body and threw him in a ditch alongside a deserted road. The jury told all of Texas and, indeed, the entire country that Billy Ray is a human being who deserves to be treated with dignity, that the life of each of us — rich or poor, black or white, abled or disabled — is truly precious. It's a message, I hope, that we always remember."
Johnson, 46, who suffered serious, permanent brain injuries from the attack, will require care for the rest of his life.
The case exposed deep racial fault lines in the East Texas community. Many blacks viewed the episode as a vicious hate crime, but predominantly white juries acquitted two of the defendants of felony charges. Many whites in the town expressed sympathy for the defendants and indifference to Johnson's injuries.
After a four-day trial that began on April 17, the jury of 11 whites and one black deliberated less than four hours before returning a unanimous verdict finding James Cory Hicks and Christopher Colt Amox responsible for Johnson's injuries.
Two other defendants, Dallas Chadwick Stone and John Wesley Owens, earlier reached confidential settlements in the lawsuit.
Jurors said afterward they hoped the verdict sends a message to children in their community and to the nation as a whole.
"Billy Ray is not an 'it,' like one of the defendants said," one juror said. "He is a human being. We hope that our verdict sends a message to the nation about this community."
Another said, "No one — no one — should have to go through what this man went through. And no amount of money can fix that."
All four men were at a "pasture party" on the night of September 28, 2003, when Johnson — 42 at the time but childlike and naive — was picked up from town and brought to the party, where about a dozen people were sitting on tailgates drinking beer.
After a period in which they teased and taunted Johnson, the defendants began talking about beating him up. Amox, who had been a high school pitcher, punched Johnson in the face, knocking him unconscious. Instead of taking Johnson to the hospital, the men threw him into the back of a pickup truck and left him by the side of a remote rural road.
The Cass County juries that heard the criminal cases against Amox, who was 20 at the time, and Hicks, then 24 and a jail employee, acquitted them of serious felony charges and instead handed down lesser convictions with a recommended sentence of probation.
Stone, then 18, and Owens, then 19, were allowed to plead guilty to an "injury to a disabled individual by omission" charge. They testified against Amox and Hicks.
A judge sentenced Owens, Stone and Amox to 30-day terms in the county jail and Hicks to 60 days.
Johnson had no criminal background, history of violence or trouble of any kind, lived with his mother and brother before the assault. Now he lives in a Texas nursing home. 1 1 -->

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Racist German army tape stirs outrage

Associated Press Writer Sun Apr 15, 6:48 AM ET

BERLIN - A German army instructor ordered a soldier to envision himself in New York City facing hostile blacks while firing his machine gun, a video that aired Saturday on national television showed.
The president of the Bronx, the New York City borough that the army instructor referred to in his directions to the soldier, demanded an apology from the German military and said the clip "indicates that bias and assumptions and racism is alive and well around the world."
Coming after scandals involving photos of German soldiers posing with skulls in
Afghanistan and the abuse of recruits by instructors, the video seemed likely to raise more questions about training practices in Germany's conscript army.
The Defense Ministry said the video was shot in July 2006 at barracks in the northern town of Rendsburg and that the army has been aware of it since January.
"We are currently investigating the incident," said Florian Naggies, a spokesman for the army and Defense Ministry.
He did not identify the instructor or the soldier.
The clip shows an instructor and a soldier in camouflage uniforms in a forest. The instructor tells the soldier, "You are in the Bronx. A black van is stopping in front of you. Three African-Americans are getting out and they are insulting your mother in the worst ways. ... Act."
The soldier fires his machine gun several times and yells an obscenity several times in English. The instructor then tells the soldier to curse even louder.
In New York, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. said whoever was responsible for the video should be disciplined.
"We need to put to rest the prejudices and the hate that is allowed ... to be perpetuated so easily and cheaply," said Carrion, who is of Puerto Rican descent.
"The German government obviously has work to do to correct something that is insidious ... Clearly these folks don't know anything about African Americans or the Bronx," he said.
Carrion, who just returned from a trip to Germany to promote Bronx tourism, said he would be willing to go back to talk to people in the German military about his borough.
"If we can get a delegation of German military officials to come or government officials, I will host them," he added. "I'll take them around the Bronx."
The Rev. Al Sharpton' said he was outraged that Germans were "depicting blacks as target practice." "I think this is an incredibly racist kind of insult to African-Americans and it speaks to the kind of institutional racism that people think we are hallucinating about," he said.
The existence of the video was first reported on the home page of the German news magazine Stern on Friday and excerpts were aired on the news television channel n-tv on Saturday.
According to Stern, the 90-second clip had been posted on a Web site used by soldiers to exchange private videos. A soldier who used the site alerted his superiors, the magazine reported.
The video is the latest embarrassment for the German army. Eighteen army instructors are currently on trial for allegedly abusing and humiliating 163 recruits in 2004. Last year, newspapers published photos of German soldiers in Afghanistan posing with a skulls — including one who exposed himself while holding a skull.
"We can no longer talk about an isolated case," said Lt. Juergen Rose of the Darmstaedter Signal, a group of current and former army officers and sergeants who independently review military procedures.
"Things like this don't happen in the army on an everyday basis, but unfortunately in recent years there have been a number of comparable incidents."
Carrion said he spent much of his visit to Germany telling people about the "turnaround of the Bronx," which became a national symbol of urban decay after a 1977 visit by President Jimmy Carter. Movies like "Fort Apache: The Bronx," about a police precinct overrun by crime, added to the negative images.
Unemployment and crime have fallen dramatically in the borough, while investment in housing, office space and other projects is way up, Carrion said. The New York Yankees are building a new stadium next to their old one in the borough, a 53,000-seat open-air ballpark that is set to open in 2009.
The people of the Bronx, especially black residents, "deserve an apology from the German military," Carrion said.
Associated Press Writers Nahal Toosi and David B. Caruso contributed to this report from New York.

Tony Blair blames spate of murders on black culture

Political correctness not helping, says PM·
Community leaders react angrily to comments

Patrick Wintour and Vikram Dodd
Thursday April 12, 2007
The Guardian

Tony Blair yesterday claimed the spate of knife and gun murders in London was not being caused by poverty, but a distinctive black culture. His remarks angered community leaders, who accused him of ignorance and failing to provide support for black-led efforts to tackle the problem.
One accused him of misunderstanding the advice he had been given on the issue at a Downing Street summit.
Black community leaders reacted after Mr Blair said the recent violence should not be treated as part of a general crime wave, but as specific to black youth. He said people had to drop their political correctness and recognise that the violence would not be stopped "by pretending it is not young black kids doing it".

It needed to be addressed by a tailored counter-attack in the same way as football hooliganism was reined in by producing measures aimed at the specific problem, rather than general lawlessness.
Mr Blair's remarks are at odds with those of the Home Office minister Lady Scotland, who told the home affairs select committee last month that the disproportionate number of black youths in the criminal justice system was a function of their disproportionate poverty, and not to do with a distinctive black culture.
Giving the Callaghan lecture in Cardiff, the prime minister admitted he had been "lurching into total frankness" in the final weeks of his premiership. He called on black people to lead the fight against knife crime. He said that "the black community - the vast majority of whom in these communities are decent, law abiding people horrified at what is happening - need to be mobilised in denunciation of this gang culture that is killing innocent young black kids".
Mr Blair said he had been moved to make his controversial remarks after speaking to a black pastor of a London church at a Downing Street knife crime summit, who said: "When are we going to start saying this is a problem amongst a section of the black community and not, for reasons of political correctness, pretend that this is nothing to do with it?" Mr Blair said there needed to be an "intense police focus" on the minority of young black Britons behind the gun and knife attacks. The laws on knife and gun gangs needed to be toughened and the ringleaders "taken out of circulation".
Last night, British African-Caribbean figures leading the fight against gang culture condemned Mr Blair's speech. The Rev Nims Obunge, chief executive of the Peace Alliance, one of the main organisations working against gang crime, denounced the prime minister.
Mr Obunge, who attended the Downing Street summit chaired by Mr Blair in February, said he had been cited by the prime minister: "He makes it look like I said it's the black community doing it. What I said is it's making the black community more vulnerable and they need more support and funding for the work they're doing. ... He has taken what I said out of context. We came for support and he has failed and has come back with more police powers to use against our black children."
Keith Jarrett, chair of the National Black Police Association, whose members work with vulnerable youngsters, said: "Social deprivation and delinquency go hand in hand and we need to tackle both. It is curious that the prime minister does not mention deprivation in his speech."
Lee Jasper, adviser on policing to London's mayor, said: "For years we have said this is an issue the black community has to deal with. The PM is spectacularly ill-informed if he thinks otherwise.
"Every home secretary from [David] Blunkett onwards has been pressed on tackling the growing phenomenon of gun and gang crime in deprived black communities, and government has failed to respond to what has been a clear demand for additional resources to tackle youth alienation and disaffection".
The Home Office has already announced it is looking at the possibility of banning membership of gangs, tougher enforcement of the supposed mandatory five-year sentences for possession of illegal firearms, and lowering the age from 21 to 18 for this mandatory sentence.
Answering questions later Mr Blair said: "Economic inequality is a factor and we should deal with that, but I don't think it's the thing that is producing the most violent expression of this social alienation.
"I think that is to do with the fact that particular youngsters are being brought up in a setting that has no rules, no discipline, no proper framework around them."
Some people working with children knew at the age of five whether they were going to be in "real trouble" later, he said.
Mr Blair is known to believe the tendency for many black boys to be raised in families without a father leads to a lack of appropriate role models.
He said: "We need to stop thinking of this as a society that has gone wrong - it has not - but of specific groups that for specific reasons have gone outside of the proper lines of respect and good conduct towards others and need by specific measures to be brought back into the fold."
The Commission for Racial Equality broadly backed Mr Blair, saying people "shouldn't be afraid to talk about this issue for fear of sounding prejudiced".
Mr Blair spoke out as a second teenager was due to appear in court charged with the murder of 14-year-old Paul Erhahon, stabbed to death in east London on Friday. He was the seventh Londoner under 16 to be murdered since the end of January, and his 15-year-old friend, who was also stabbed, remains in hospital.