Archive for June, 2011

Men Accused of Raping Girl, Forcing Her Into Prostitution for 8 Years

June 29, 2011

By Jonathan Allen | Reuters of June 29, 2011

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two Brooklyn men are accused of forcing a 13-year-old girl into prostitution in 2003 and assaulting and raping her for the last eight years, authorities said on Wednesday.

During those years, the two men threatened to harm the girl’s family if she told anyone what was happening, District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement.

Damien Crooks, 31, and Jamali Brockett, 27, are charged with first-degree rape. Crooks is also charged with two counts of sex trafficking, and Brockett is charged with compelling prostitution. They were slated to be arraigned on Wednesday in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

The girl first encountered the two men in a park in Brooklyn, where they both raped her, according to the indictment.

Soon after, the men allegedly began forcing her to have sex for money and continued to rape and beat her periodically for the rest of her teen-age years, prosecutors said. They said the girl and the men all live in the same Brooklyn neighborhood.

Now enrolled in college, the girl confided in a professor who convinced her to tell authorities, prosecutors said.

“If you are a pimp, we will catch you, and when we do, we will aggressively prosecute you and seek the maximum sentences,” Hynes said in announcing the indictment.

The girl and her family have been placed into protective custody, authorities said.

On one occasion, Crooks allegedly took the girl to a party to recruit other girls into prostitution. When she refused to comply, Crooks and an associate allegedly raped her as punishment, prosecutors said.

On another occasion, Crooks, Brockett and Brockett’s brother, Jawara Brockett, allegedly raped the girl on the roof of a building while her brother waited outside, oblivious to what was happening, they said.

Brockett’s brother and Darrell Dula an associate of the two men, also are charged with raping the girl.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)

6 Illegal Aliens Arrested in Georgia Protest

June 29, 2011

By KATE BRUMBACK – Associated Press of June 29, 2011

ATLANTA (AP) — Six young illegal immigrants were arrested Tuesday after they sat down and blocked traffic near the Georgia state Capitol to publicly declare their status and to protest state policies targeting people who are in the U.S. illegally, the latest in a string of such “coming out” events in Georgia and other parts of the country.

The young people were protesting a policy that bars Georgia’s most competitive state colleges and universities from accepting illegal immigrants and they were opposing strict new state legislation. A federal judge on Monday blocked two key provisions of that law. The young people, who decided to risk arrest and deportation for their protest, say that’s not enough.

Federal judges have now blocked parts of similar laws in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia from taking effect. Civil liberties groups have pledged to sue to block others in Alabama and South Carolina.

“It’s time to stand up and let the world know that we need to fight for what we believe in,” said Nataly Ibarra, a 16-year-old high school student.

Four of the young people arrested are high school students, one is a recent high school graduate and one is a 24-year-old college graduate. All six face charges of reckless conduct, obstructing law enforcement and obstructing the street. The three who are under 18 were to be released to their parents. Two 18-year-olds and the 24-year-old were set to be taken to the Fulton County Jail.

Barbara Gonzalez, press secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, issued a statement after the arrests: “ICE takes enforcement action on a case by case basis — prioritizing those who present the most significant threats to public safety as determined by their criminal history and taking into consideration the specific facts of each case, including immigration history.”

Last year, four young people were arrested during a sit-in at U.S. Sen. John McCain’s office in Arizona. Students at several suburban Atlanta high schools staged walkouts last month, and a group of seven illegal immigrant young people were arrested in April after they sat down in a downtown Atlanta street and blocked traffic to call attention to their situation. Five others were arrested in May at the Indiana office of Gov. Mitch Daniels after a protest grew confrontational.

Many of the activists hold out hope for the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide a path to legalization for certain young people brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. The bill has been introduced several times in Congress without success. A Senate subcommittee held a hearing on the legislation Tuesday.

Several dozen students in their caps and gowns attended the hearing, despite their status as illegal immigrants. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., introduced several who had demonstrated excellence in many facets of life but were unable to get jobs in their chosen fields.

“They want to serve the country they love,” Durbin said. “All they want is a chance.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said lawmakers from both parties have compassion for the students who would be helped by the legislation, but he said the details are important. He pointed to changes that he believes are necessary for the bill before it can gain more Republican support.

Opponents of the DREAM Act often agree that young people brought here when they’re young have compelling stories. But giving them a path to legalization could create increased competition for young Americans who already are having trouble finding jobs, they say.

The Georgia university system last fall adopted a policy barring state colleges and universities that have rejected academically qualified students in the prior two years from accepting illegal immigrants.

Judge Thomas Thrash on Monday ruled on a request by civil liberties groups to block Georgia’s new illegal immigration law from taking effect until a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality is resolved. Thrash temporarily blocked a provision that authorizes police to check the immigration status of suspects without proper identification and to detain illegal immigrants and another that penalizes people who knowingly and willingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing another crime.

The law’s author, state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, has said it’s needed to keep illegal immigrants from draining the state’s resources.

Many parts of the law will take effect Friday. One of them makes it a felony to use false information or documentation when applying for a job. Another creates an immigration review board to investigate complaints about government officials not complying with state laws related to illegal immigration.

Starting Jan. 1, businesses with 500 or more employees must use a federal database to check the immigration status of new hires. That requirement will be phased in for all businesses with more than 10 employees by July 2013. Also starting Jan. 1, applicants for public benefits must provide at least one state or federally issued “secure and verifiable” document.

Also on Tuesday, the Birmingham, Ala., City Council unanimously approved a resolution seeking the repeal of Alabama’s new law targeting illegal immigration, with members calling it a hateful reminder of the state’s not-too-distant past as a bastion of legalized racial segregation.

Associated Press Writer Kevin Freking in Washington, D.C., contributed to this story.

Washington State Corrections Officer Injured, Inmate Killed During Escape Attempt

June 29, 2011

Prisoner takes guard hostage, another shot dead after driving forklift into fence

From The Associated Press / June 29, 2011

CLALLAM BAY, Washington: A man convicted of wounding seven people during a 2005 mall rampage in Tacoma was involved Wednesday in a dramatic prison escape attempt that left another prisoner dead, corrections officials said.

Dominick Maldonado, 25, an inmate at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center, took a corrections officer hostage with a pair of scissors just after 10 a.m., said state Department of Correction’s spokesman Chad Lewis.

Image: Clallam Bay, Wash., Corrections Center inmate Dominick Maldonado

Clallam Bay, Wash., Corrections Center inmate Dominick Maldonado, serving a 163-year-sentence for charges related to a 2005 shooting rampage, was involved in a Wednesday escape attempt that left another inmate dead.

At the same time, another inmate drove a forklift out the doors of a work area and into a prison fence. A corrections officer shot and killed the forklift driver, who has been identified as 25-year-old Kevin Newland.

Newland was serving a 45-year sentence for first-degree murder in Spokane County.

Lewis said the hostage situation ended with minor injuries to the guard.

Maldonado is serving a 163-year sentence for numerous charges related to a 2005 shooting spree at the Tacoma Mall. Four people were taken hostage during the melee, which lasted for several hours and left seven people injured. The most seriously wounded victim was left partially paralyzed.

Maldonado was convicted in 2007 of 15 crimes, including attempted murder, assault and kidnapping. During his trial, Maldonado’s defense argued he was in the throes of a mental disorder and shouldn’t have been held responsible for the assault.

Newland began his 45-year prison sentence in November 2007 after a Spokane County jury convicted him of shooting to death Jamie Lynn Drake, the roommate of a woman he was dating.

Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza told The Spokesman-Review newspaper Drake was a “nice young lady” whose family suffered greatly over her loss.

“Most crimes are stupid and senseless,” Cozza said. “This was more stupid and senseless than most.”

CMPD Looking for Suspect Who Fired Shots into Church

June 29, 2011

By GLENN COUNTS / NewsChannel 36 – www.wcnc.com

June 29, 2011

CHARLOTTE, N.C – Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are trying to find the person who shot into a West Charlotte church Tuesday just before 11:30 in the morning.

The incident happened on Campus Street at the Gethsemane AME Zion Church.

35 people were inside at the time of the incident, most of them senior citizens.

“It went through the hall through two doors it shot through the window”, said a 79 year old woman who did not want to be identified.

She was in the church at the time participating in the senior lunch program.

“I heard a loud noise, but I thought something fell in the fellowship hall. What did it sound like? It was like a pop, it was a loud pop.”

No one was injured, but officers said the path of the bullet was close enough to some people that a few feet made a difference.

The 89 year old father of Janice Morris was in the church. She was stunned by the news.

“The picture that came to mind was him walking through the door and going down. It could have been him.”

Police are trying to determine who fired the shot and why, but they have not been able to make an arrest.

“They should put him away I think so he won’t shoot through nothing else”, said the 79 year old.

Police believe this was a stray bullet, because they have not been able to find anyone who was outside and saw or heard anything.

They said it was not a rifle round, but something that came from a large caliber handgun.

 

Historic Drug Bust for Mooresville, NC Police

June 29, 2011

By Greg Argos / Richard DeVayne NewsChannel 36 / www.wcnc.com

June 29, 2011

MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Police have removed more than 700 marijuana plants valued at over $1 million from inside a home in Mooresville.

Mooresville police arrived at the home on Comata Road Tuesday night. Ving Quang Vo, Tomson Truong, Thien Lam and Don Vo were arrested and charged with manufacturing and trafficking marijuana. Mooresville Police Captain Thomas Thompson says this is the department’s biggest drug bust ever.

“There was very sophisticated lighting and electrical supply, and irrigation systems throughout this home, to grow this marijuana and disguise it from being detected,” he explained.

Thompson says Huntersville Police notified Mooresville investigators about a tip. After police went to146 Comata Road, they soon returned with warrants. “When the resident there opened the garage door, officer immediately smelled an odor of marijuana,” he said.

Neighbors say they never suspected, smelled or realized what was happening in the home next door.

“We haven’t noticed anything,” said Eddie Wickline, who lives next door.

“We had no idea. They were really nice people and just kept to themselves.”

Ving Quang Vo, Tomson Truong, Thien Lam and Don Vo are all being held on $250,000 bond at the Iredell County Jail. Police tell us they’re currently facing state charges. However, they could face federal charges as the investigation continues.

The plants were removed from the home and brought to the Mooresville Police Department.

Mooresville – Police say a huge marijuana bust may have been part of a major drug operation.

Neighbors are still dealing with watching police haul away hundreds of plants of pot and arrest four men. When Mooresville police hauled away more than 700 Marijuana plants, it was based on a tip from another department.

Huntersville police said they were investigating a possible drug house on the 14 thousand block of Dryburgh circle for about a week. “We had a tip” said Ken Richardson of the Huntersville police department. But officer got another tip that someone was removing stuff from the house in what appeared to be efforts to shut down the operation.

“Someone must have tipped them off.” said Richardson.

Officers conducted a traffic stop and arrested three men who were renting the house on Dryburgh Circle. Officers said they found “drug materials” in the car. When they used a search warrant on the house they found about 50 pounds of marijuana and additional.

In both cases neighbors told NewsChannel 36 that the men rented the house and paid for the rental in cash for a year or more up front.

 

Seattle Police Leave Rifle Unattended on Cruiser

June 29, 2011

A Seattle police spokesman says the department is “embarrassed” after officers left a police rifle unattended on top of a patrol car outside a busy downtown area.

From The Associated Press via The Seattle Times of Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Holy shit! Free gun!

A Seattle police spokesman says the department is “embarrassed” after officers left a police rifle unattended on top of a patrol car outside a busy downtown area.

Spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb says the department has launched an investigation.

Whitcomb says that two good Samaritans spotted the rifle on the parked car. One flagged down bicycle officers to alert them. The other followed the cruiser as it drove through downtown Seattle and tracked down the driver after the car parked.

The alternative weekly The Stranger first reported the incident, posting a picture that shows the rifle sitting on top of the trunk.

Whitcomb says such rifles are assigned only to officers who have additional training. They’re usually kept in the trunk or between the driver and passenger seats.

He says people should expect more from the Seattle police department.

Two Reporters Arrested For Daring To Photograph/Videotape Public Meeting of DC Taxi Commission

June 29, 2011

  From http://www. reason.com By | June 23, 2011

On June 22, 2011, I attended a meeting of the D.C. Taxi Commission for a story I’m currently working on about a proposed medallion system in the district.

About 30 minutes into the meeting, I witnessed journalist Pete Tucker snap a still photo of the proceedings on his camera phone. A few minutes later, two police officers arrested Tucker. I filmed Tucker’s arrest and the audience’s subsequent outrage using my cell phone.

A few minutes later, as I was attempting to leave the building, I overheard the female officer who had arrested Tucker promise a woman, who I presumed to be an employee of the Taxi Commission, that she would confiscate my phone. Reason intern Kyle Blaine, overheard her say, “Do you want his phone? I can get his phone.”

(The woman who was given assurances by the officer that she could have my phone can be seen at the end of the video telling me, “You do not have permission to record this!”)

As I tried to leave, I was told by the same officer to “stay put.” I told her I was leaving and attempted to exit the building. I was then surrounded by officers, and told to remain still or I would be arrested.

I didn’t move, but I tried to get the attention of a group of cab drivers who were standing nearby. At this point I was arrested.

I spent the remainder of the day in a cell in the basement of the building. In the late afternoon, I was released.

We will be reporting more on this as it unfolds. Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions of this video.

Subscribe to Reason.tv’s YouTube Channel to receive notifications as new material goes live.

Related video: “The Government’s War on Cameras

 

Case Dismissed Against Woman Arrested While Videotaping Rochester, NY Police Traffic Stop

June 29, 2011

    By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com – 6/27/2011

The case against a Rochester woman arrested while videotaping police has been dismissed.

Early Monday afternoon, demonstrators rallied outside the Hall of Justice in support of Emily Good, the city woman who was arrested while videotaping police officers during a traffic stop on May 12th in front of her 19th Ward home. (Click here to watch the video)
Good kept recording police officers while standing in her front yard even though an officer ordered her several times go inside. She was charged with obstructing of governmental administration. Since then, the video from that night has made it onto news shows across the country.

Good’s attorney, Stephanie Stare, had asked for the charges to be dismissed. In court Monday, the District Attorney’s office says based on a review of the evidence, there was no legal basis to go forward. The charge was withdrawn and the judge dismissed the case.

Several of Good’s supporters who filled the small courtroom quietly cheered as the case was dismissed. They hugged her outside the courtroom and Good said “I think there are weaknesses in the brotherhood of the police, and they are not above the law.”

Good was asked if she would do it over again. “Yes, I would do it again. And I would encourage other people to do the same thing. Carry a camera. Stand your ground. Go to the scene of flashing lights and observe what’s going on. Keep a safe distance.”

News 10 NBC’s Ray Levato asked “Do you think there is racial profiling going on?” Good answered, “Everyday. Everyday. Absolutely.”

KaeLyn Rich, a spokeswoman for the Rochester office of the New York Civil Liberties Union afterwards called city police actions “a disgusting disregard for an individual’s First Amendment rights to videotape in public spaces. I hope we can repair the relationship between the community and the police by holding police accountable, and making sure police officers are getting the training they need to respect people’s constitutional rights.”

Supporter Rev. Willie Harvey of the Peace Baptist Church said “the police did the wrong thing.”

City activist Howard Eagle, a spokesman for a Rochester Anti-racism Movement said “This case really is about racial profiling. That’s the reason why Emily Good grabbed her camera in the first place and began to record the activity of the police. She suspected that a young black man was being racially profiled.”

A joint statement issued by Mayor Tom Richards, City Council President Lovely Warren and Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard says they support the decision of the District Attorney’s Office to dismiss the charges against Good. Click here to watch the video of Chief Sheppard’s statement.

The statement says whatever the specific circumstances that led to Good’s arrest, they see no purpose in pursuing the criminal charges.

The statement continues, “We believe that the incident that led to Ms. Good’s arrest and the subsequent ticketing for parking violations of vehicles belonging to members of an organization associated with Ms. Good raise issues with respect to the conduct of Rochester Police Officers that require an internal review. A review into both matters has been initiated.”
       
“Police officers must be able to cope with a high degree of stress while performing oftentimes dangerous duties, relying on their training and experience to guide their behavior. As routine as a traffic stop may appear, it has proven over time to be a potentially dangerous activity for police. Nonetheless, police must conduct themselves with appropriate respect for the rights of those involved or who are observing their actions.”
       
“There is a mandated legal process that governs our internal response when police officer behavior is called into question. We must respect this process and that may be frustrating to those who may have already made up their mind about the outcome. We have confidence that the review will be fair and impartial and invite Ms. Good and anyone else with firsthand information to participate. We will withhold our judgment until the review is completed.”
       
“Whatever the outcome of the internal review, we want to make clear that it is not the policy or practice of the Rochester Police Department to prevent citizens from observing its activities – including photographing or videotaping – as long as it does not interfere with the safe conduct of those activities. It is also not the policy or practice of the Department to selectively enforce laws in response to the activities of a group or individual. This has always been the case and it is being reinforced within the Department, so that it will be abundantly clear to everyone.”

High Court Strikes Down California Video Game Ban

June 27, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Uphold Ruling that Declared Law Unconstitutional

From Reuters News Service / June 27, 2011

Reporting by James Vicini; Editing by Will Dunham and Vicki Allen

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down on Monday a California law banning sales or rentals of violent video games to minors as a violation of free-speech rights, its first ruling in a video game case.

By a 7-2 vote, the justices upheld a ruling by a U.S. appeals court that declared the law, which also imposes strict video-game labeling requirements, unconstitutional.

The law was challenged by video game publishers, distributors and sellers, including the Entertainment Software Association. Its members include Disney Interactive Studios, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Corp and Sony Computer Entertainment America.

The law, adopted in 2005, has never taken effect because of the legal challenge. It defines a violent video game as one that depicts “killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being.” Retailers who sell or rent a violent video game to a minor could be fined as much as $1,000.

The nation’s video game industry has about $10.5 billion in annual sales. More than two-thirds of U.S. households include at least one person who plays video games.

Six other states have adopted similar laws, and all were struck down in court.

The Supreme Court rejected California’s argument that the Constitution’s free-speech guarantees under the First Amendment do not prevent a state from prohibiting the sale of violent video games to minors under 18.

“Our cases hold that minors are entitled to a significant degree of First Amendment protection. Government has no free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which they may be exposed,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in summarizing the court’s majority opinion from the bench

International Arrest Warrant Issued for Moammar Gadhafi

June 27, 2011

Libyan leader is accused of orchestrating killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians

From msnbc.com news services / June 27, 2011

The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants Monday for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, his son and his intelligence chief for crimes against humanity in the early days of their struggle to cling to power.

Judges announced that Gadhafi is wanted for orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of an uprising to topple him from power after more than four decades, and for trying to cover up the alleged crimes.

Image: Louis Moreno-Ocampo

Robert Vos  /  Pool via AP

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo, right, is seen in the courtroom in The Hague, Netherlands, on Monday.

The warrants turn Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam Gadhafi and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi into internationally wanted suspects, potentially complicating any efforts to mediate an end to more than four months of intense fighting in the North African nation.

The announcement came as Libyan rebels advanced to within about 50 miles of Tripoli and were fighting government troops for control of the town of Bair al-Ghanam, a rebel spokesman said.

“We are on the southern and western outskirts of Bair al-Ghanam,” Juma Ibrahim, a rebel spokesman in the nearby town of Zintan, told Reuters by telephone on Monday.

“There were battles there most of yesterday (Sunday),” he said. “Some of our fighters were martyred and they (government forces) also suffered casualties and we captured equipment and vehicles. It’s quiet there today and the rebels are still in their positions,” he said.

The rebels’ claim follows weeks of intense fighting in the Nafusa Mountains in which opposition forces have slowly pushed Gadhafi’s troops back toward the capital.

Libya’s rebels control the eastern third of the country and pockets, including a number of Nafusa mountain towns, in the west.

The bulk of the fighting in recent months has been focused on front lines to the east of Tripoli. But a push by rebels from the Nafusa Mountains could force Gadhafi to commit more troops to the southern and western approaches to the capital.

Guma el-Gamaty, a spokesman for the rebels’ National Transitional Council, said Bair al-Ghanam is significant because it is only 19 miles south of the city of Zawiya, a key western gateway to the capital and home to a crucial oil refinery.

‘High spirits’
Opposition fighters seized control of Zawiya in March before government troops crushed rebel forces there to retake the city. Fighting broke out in the city again earlier this month, briefly cutting access to the vital coastal highway that passes through Zawiya. The route links Tripoli with the Tunisian border and is one of Gadhafi’s last main supply lines.

In Tripoli, Gadhafi’s government remained defiant. Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said Gadhafi is in “high spirits” and remains in day-to-day control of the country. He insisted Gadhafi will remain in Libya, but wouldn’t confirm that the leader is still in the capital.

“Gadhafi is here, he is staying. He is leading the country. He will not leave. He will not step down,” Ibrahim told reporters in Tripoli, challenging the rebels and the NATO-led coalition giving them air support. “If they want to continue the fight, we are ready. We will fight street to street, house to house.”

Moussa told reporters that the government so far has distributed 1.2 million weapons to supporters in the west of the country to defend themselves.

Meanwhile, Libya’s foreign minister and two other senior officials were in Tunisia on Monday negotiating with “foreign parties”, according to Tunisia’s state news agency.

It was not immediately clear if the negotiations involved a possible peace deal with rebels fighting to end Gadhafi’s four-decade rule.

Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi was on the southern Tunisian island of Djerba, near the border with Libya, and had been joined by Health Minister Ahmed Hijazi and Social Affairs Minister Ibrahim Sherif, the TAP news agency reported.

Obeidi was “negotiating with several foreign parties,” the agency reported late on Sunday, without giving details.

Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice chairman of the National Transitional Council, said last week the rebel leadership had been in indirect contact with Gadhafi’s government about a possible peace deal.