Mohamed Noor, US policeman guilty of Australian Justine Damond’s murder

Mohamed Noor pictured in two police mugshotsMohamed Noor was taken into custody upon his conviction

A former policeman in the US state of Minnesota has been found guilty of murdering an unarmed Australian woman.

Mohamed Noor shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond as she approached his patrol car to report a possible rape behind her Minneapolis home on 15 July 2017.

Noor, 33, testified last week that he opened fire because he feared he and his partner were being ambushed.

Ms Damond, 40, a yoga instructor from Sydney, was engaged and was due to marry a month after the shooting.

The death drew international criticism and Australia’s prime minister at the time, Malcolm Turnbull, said it was “inexplicable”.

Noor was handcuffed and taken into custody immediately upon being convicted by a jury on Tuesday of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

He was acquitted of the most serious charge of second-degree murder with intent to kill.

Australian woman Justine DamondJustine Damond

The trial heard the victim, a dual US-Australian citizen, lay dying from a gunshot wound just over a minute after ending a phone conversation with her fiance.

She had told Don Damond that police had just arrived after she called them to report a possible sexual assault in the alley behind their home. No such attack was ever found to have occurred.

Noor took the stand last week to say he recalled seeing a blonde female in a pink T-shirt approach his squad car on the night of the shooting.

He said he believed there was an imminent threat after he heard a loud bang and saw Ms Damond with her right arm raised.

Noor said his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, shouted “Oh Jesus!” and fumbled with his gun in its holster before “he turned to me with fear in his eyes”.

The defendant said he “had to make a split-second decision” and shot Ms Damond across his partner through the car window.

Justine Damond’s family hold a silent vigil at a beach in Sydney last year

Noor told the court that upon realising he had shot an unarmed woman he “felt like my whole world came crashing down”.

Prosecutors questioned whether the loud bang was real, pointing out that neither Noor nor his partner initially mentioned anything at the scene about hearing such a noise.

Ms Damond’s fingerprints were not found on the squad car, the court heard.

She had moved to the Midwestern city to marry her boyfriend, Don Damond, and had adopted his surname ahead of their nuptials.

Mr Damond was in Las Vegas, Nevada, when investigators called him to say she was dead.

Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in court on 2 AprilNoor joined the police force in 2015

He told the court he learned from a second phone call that she had been shot by a police officer.

Mr Damond said contacting her family in Australia to tell them the news was the “worst phone call” he ever had to make.

Noor is a former Somalian refugee whose family moved to the US and settled in Minneapolis.

He joined the police force in 2015, but was sacked after being charged in the shooting.

The fallout also cost Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau her job and was a factor in the election defeat of the city’s mayor a few months later.

The Damond family have filed a civil lawsuit against the city and several police officers seeking $50m (£38m) in damages.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo apologised to Damond’s friends and family in a statement released after Tuesday’s verdict was read.

“This was indeed a sad and tragic incident that has affected family, friends, neighbours, the City of Minneapolis and people around the world, most significantly in her home country of Australia,” he said.

Aljazeera: US police brutality videos emerge showing unnecessary force

Police brutality continues to make African American community feel marginalised.

Relations between police and the African American community in the United States have flared up again after controversial new videos emerged appearing to show officers using unnecessary force.

 

2018 saw most killings linked to US far right since 1995: ADL

Watchdog says 2018 saw most far-right-linked killings since 1995, with 42 of 50 murders carried out by firearm.

People protesting against US President Donald Trump wait near the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [Brendan Smialowski/AFP]

People protesting against US President Donald Trump wait near the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [Brendan Smialowski/AFP]

From a deadly ambush on a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 to a Parkland, Florida school shooting that left 17 dead, every US “extremism-related murder” in 2018 was linked to the far right,according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Last year marked the most killings by far-right attackers since 1995, with 42 of 50 murders carried out with firearms, an annual report published by the ADL concluded.

The report adds that 2018 was the fourth-deadliest year on record since the ADL started tracking such murders in 1970.

“The white supremacist attack in Pittsburgh should serve as a wake-up call to everyone about the deadly consequences of hateful rhetoric,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO, in a statement.

“It’s time for our nation’s leaders to appropriately recognise the severity of the threat and to devote the necessary resources to address the scourge of right-wing extremism.”

Hate before the vote: Pipe bombs, shootings, incitement

The ADL partly attributes the comparably high number of deaths to a series of mass shootings, including 17 incidents involving “shooting sprees that caused 38 deaths and injured 33 people”.

One of the perpetrators, 17-year-old Corey Johnson of Florida, had switched from white supremacism and “allegedly converted to Islam” prior to stabbing several people during a sleepover, killing a 13-year-old and injuring two others.

A demonstrator waits for the start of a protest in the aftermath of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh [Matt Rourke/AP Photo]

Unlike previous years, the ADL included a new category of political motivation known as the incel (or “involuntary celibacy”) movement.

The incel movement is a predominantly white online subculture populated by men who blame women for their failure to find sexual or romantic partners.

In November 2018, Scott Paul Beierle opened fire on a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, killing 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem and 21-year-old Maura Binkley. Four others were injured; Beierle killed himself.

Media reports later found that Beierle had posted several YouTube videos in which “he revealed deep-seated hatred towards women, particularly women in interracial relationships who had ostensibly betrayed their ‘blood'”, the report says.

Hate crimes on the rise

In California’s Orange County on January 2, 2018, Samuel Woodward, a member of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, stabbed to death Blaze Bernstein, a former classmate of Woodward’s who was gay and Jewish. Woodward was charged with first-degree murder with hate crime enhancement.

In February 2018, Nikolas Cruz shot up his former high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 and wounding 17 more.

In October 2018, white nationalist Robert Bowers allegedly stormed a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania synagogue and shot dead 11 worshipers. Authorities charged him with 44 counts, including religious hate crimes.

The youngest victim was 53 years old and the oldest was 97.

Barry Werber, a 76-year-old survivor of that attack, later told the Associated Press, “I don’t know why he thinks the Jews are responsible for all the ills in the world, but he’s not the first and he won’t be the last.”

Anti-Muslim campaigning in the US is a ‘losing strategy’: report

Werber added, “Unfortunately, that’s our burden to bear. It breaks my heart.”

In the wake of the massacre, critics accused US President Donald Trump of stoking hatred and inciting against minorities, a charged Trump rejected.

Writing on Twitter after visiting the community in the wake of the incident, Trump dismissed the criticism and claimed his office was “shown great respect on a very sad and solemn day” in Pittsburgh.

The FBI reported a 17-percent rise in hate crimes in 2017, the largest increase in more than a decade.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Members of group giving food, water to migrants convicted of misdemeanors.

Four members of the group No More Deaths face a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a possible $500 fine.

Four humanitarian aid volunteers were convicted of misdemeanor charges on Friday after leaving food and water for migrants crossing a remote wildlife refuge on the United States-Mexico border in 2017.

Image: Scott Warren
Scott Warren’s trial is due to begin in May.Arizona State University

Four other volunteers with the group No More Deaths are set to go on trial next month and in March over similar charges, the organization said.

A ninth volunteer, Scott Warren, also faces felony harboring and concealment charges after allegedly providing food, water, beds and clean clothes to two undocumented immigrants last year. His trial is scheduled to begin in May.

In Friday’s decision, United State District Court Judge Bernardo Velasco said the volunteers — Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse and Zaachila Orozco — hadn’t obtained permits to enter the Cabeza Prieta Refuge and Wilderness Area or followed the Department of Interior’s rules while they were there.

They face a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a possible $500 fine.

No More Death has described the food and water its volunteers leave for the migrants in the 860,000-acre refuge, located west of Tucson, Arizona, as life-saving.

In a news release, the group said that 155 people are known to have died in the area since 2001.

“This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country,” one of the group’s volunteers, Catherine Gaffney, said in a statement. “If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?”

Last year, No More Deaths published videos of apparent border agents kicking and emptying water jugs that its volunteers had left in the desert. A report that was co-authored with La Coalición de Derechos Humanos documented what No More Deaths described as the “intentional destruction” of more than 3,000 gallons of water.

Video shows border agents dumping water left for migrants

“If anybody sees any activities like the ones seen in the videos, they need to inform us so we can take the corrective action because it’s not acceptable,” he said.

As punishment, the refuge’s law enforcement officer could have admonished or banned the volunteers from the refuge, Velasco wrote. But in this case, he added, the Department of Interior and Department of Justice authorized their prosecution.

In addition to not obtaining entry permits, Velasco wrote, the volunteers did not remain on designated roads and they left food, water and crates in the refuge — moves that erode the area’s “pristine nature,” he wrote.

“No one in charge of No More Deaths ever informed them that their conduct could be prosecuted as a criminal defense,” Velasco wrote. “The Court can only speculate as to what the Defendants’ decisions would have been had they known the actual risk of their undertaking.”

By Tim Stelloh, NBC

New York: “Crime + Punishment” Exposes Racial Quotas in the NYPD & Retaliation Against Heroic Officers Who Speak Out

JANUARY 08, 2019
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A group of New York Police Department officers are challenging what they call a racially charged policy of quotas for arrests and summonses. Known as the ”NYPD 12,” they risked their reputations and livelihoods to confront their superiors, fight illegal quotas and demand a more just police force. We look at a film following their story called “Crime + Punishment.” It has just been shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. We speak with Stephen Maing, the film’s director and producer, and Lieutenant Edwin Raymond, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the NYPD 12.

[There are good people out there, good police officers even, who STILL try and do the right thing.  Salute.]

Georgia, USA: Bad southern cop caught telling citizen ‘suck my dick!’

GRIFFIN, Ga. — Police body cameras recorded an officer telling a citizen to “suck my ****” during an otherwise-calm custody dispute.

The now-viral video might never have been seen had the 11Alive Investigators taken the word of the Griffin Police Department. After we asked for “any and all” video from the incident under the Georgia Open Records Act, the city gave us only a single body camera pointed skyward, showing nothing but the porch ceiling.

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A second police body camera video — showing the entire exchange — was released to the 11Alive Investigators only after we found evidence of its existence in an internal police department email.

Officer Travis Wick resigned from the Griffin Police Department after begging Police Chief Mike Yates not to fire him.

Officer Wick was one of two officers responding to a call for help from Andrew Orahoske, who is locked in a custody fight for his daughter. The Griffin officers told Orahoske that they could not take the girl from her mother without a signed order by a judge.

porch 3shot_1540588513101.png.jpg

The August 26 exchange, caught on both officers’ body cameras, was relatively routine until Officer Wick asked Orahoske for his first name. “I’m not gonna give you none of my information now, because I don’t want to get in trouble tonight,” the father said.

That’s when Officer Wick responded, “well you can suck my d***!”

The situation quickly escalated in response to the officer’s profane outburst. The official police report suggests the citizens were responsible, and made no mention of Officer Wick’s euphemistic demand for oral sex.

The citizens “seemed to become irritated that the police couldn’t help them, and became uncooperative at which point they requested a supervisor to the scene,” according to the police report.

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After a heated argument with the citizens, Officer Wick turned to leave. That’s when a female friend sitting next to Orahoske said, “We’re trying to get a child back, and you told us to suck your d****!”

Officer Wick turned back and responded, “No, I didn’t ask you. I asked him,” referring to Orahoske.

The officer’s body camera was still recording in his patrol car. Officer Wick called a lieutenant on his cell phone and said, “and he’s like, ‘well just never mind, I’m not going to give you my information.’ And I told him, ‘well you can suck my d***!’ And they flipped out.”

“I f***ed up,” the officer told his lieutenant.

Watch | Video of the entire encounter UNCENSORED

Officer Wick then lit up a cigarette in his patrol car and drove to back to Griffin Police headquarters to face the consequences.

“You made a pretty darn stupid remark,” Chief Yates told Officer Wick during an August 29 disciplinary meeting. Officer Wick replied, “I just said it. I don’t know why. I don’t. I mean that’s it, chief. It was f****** stupid, man.”

The police chief agreed, but worried how this incident would look to outsiders. Chief Yates asked Officer Wick, “if you got involved in a…use of deadly force, and then somebody got that video and played it, how do you think that would play out? If were sitting in federal court or before some grand jury or something like that?”

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Officer Wick responded,“I apologize chief. I don’t know why that happened. I don’t know what set me off.” Chief Yates asked again, “is that what we’re gonna tell the grand jury?”

“Or (news channels) 2, 5, or 11,” Captain Michael Natale added.

Officer Wick begged for his job, saying “please don’t fire me chief” four times in a row. “I’m a good officer, chief,” he added.

Audio Track _1540588430899.png.jpg

Chief Yates brought up Wick’s previous employer, The Locust Grove Police Department. “If that was just a one-time thing,” the chief said, “and it just popped out of nowhere because you were having a bad day and your dog just died, that would be one thing. But on the tail end of you being hired after you got fired from Locust Grove…”

Personnel records show Officer Wick resigned voluntarily from the Locust Grove Police Department in 2008. His resignation followed an internal review of an alcohol-related incident on duty.

Internal memos show Officer Wick called in sick the day he was supposed to be returning from vacation because he was drinking. The police review concluded Officer Wick showed up to court smelling of alcohol.

The records indicate Officer Wick had a blood alcohol concentration of .036 percent right before he was scheduled to testify in court.

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Locust Grove officials still strongly recommended that Griffin Police hire the officer in 2009.

While we were interviewing Andrew Orahoske on his front porch, he received a call from Griffin Police investigators. He told a police commander, “Chad called me last night and offered me a steak dinner to drop the charges.”

He was talking about Officer Chad Moxon.

Orahoske reported to Griffin Police Internal Affairs that Moxon had called him with an offer to drop the complaint against his friend, Officer Travis Wick.

Officer Moxon is currently with the Roberta Police Department, but he was a Griffin officer until 2015.

Moxon’s police officer certification is currently on probation, according to records provided by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. Moxon agreed to the probation amid a POST investigation into his 2014 DUI arrest.

A Pike County deputy sheriff pulled over Moxon after his motorcycle was seen speeding at 95 to 100 miles per hour through the county. Moxon identified himself as an officer with the Griffin Police Department, which deputies confirmed with a phone call to the department.

Officer Moxon admitted to drinking four beers in the 30 minutes before he got on his motorcycle. He was arrested for DUI after completing several roadside sobriety tests. A breath test revealed a blood alcohol content of .108 percent, according to Moxon’s citation.

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The Griffin District Attorney’s Office reduced the DUI to reckless driving, writing that, “issues exist where (the) state cannot prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Moxon resigned from Griffin after the DUI arrest.

That wasn’t Officer Moxon’s first time on the other side of the law. He was indicted for a 2012 incident in which he was shot by a woman’s ex-boyfriend. Moxon was off duty and in the woman’s home when the ex-boyfriend showed up and demanded to know what Moxon was doing there.

Police records show there was a fist fight in the woman’s house. When the fight spilled outside, the ex-boyfriend pulled out a gun and fired several shots, hitting Officer Moxon in the buttocks as he was running away.

Moxon was indicted for making false statements because of the way he described the fight to a 911 operator. “He just kicked the door into the house, then come in an attacked me,” Moxon is heard saying on the 911 recording. “And then we I took off out the other door, he shot me,” Moxon said.

A judge threw out the case, but Moxon was indicted a second time. The final indictment was also dismissed, in part because two of the grand jurors were convicted felons, according to police records.

Griffin restored Moxon to full duty in 2013 after the indictments were thrown out. POST did its own investigation, and Moxon agreed to a year’s probation that expired before the Pike County DUI stop.

“Basically he was offering to take me out to dinner,” Orahoske said about Moxon’s phone call to him.

“He wanted to take me and Travis (Wick) out to dinner, and buy us both a steak dinner and see if we can resolve this,” Orahoske added.

When the 11Alive Investigators first contacted Officer Moxon about this through Facebook Messenger, he first denied any knowledge of the Wick case. “I’m not familiar with that. I left Griffin two years ago,” he wrote in response to our message.

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When we pointed out Orahoske’s complaint to Griffin about the steak dinner offer, Moxon responded, “As far as the steak dinner, all I told him was he would like Travis if he got to know him. I said the IA doesn’t involve me, but is (SIC) he wanted to talk to Wick (he indicated that he did) I’d buy them both dinner. With the other stuff, I have kids now and just want to put it behind me. I’ve been punished and now I just want to move forward with my life,” Officer Moxon said.

Moxon insists he was the one to tell Orahoske to go to internal affairs in the first place.

Orahoske has a different version of events. “(Moxon) asked me if I would go down to the police department today and drop the complaint,” he told police investigators on the phone.

“You go down there and drop the complaint, I’ll take you dinner. I’ll buy you both dinner,” Orahoske said.

 WARNING: This video contains explicit language. This is the full uncensored video.

Attorney: Accused deputy killer was ‘beat and pummeled’ to point of defecation

John Williams’ defense attorney claims their client was “severely injured” during his arrest to the point of “causing him to defecate himself.”

PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) — A motion to suppress has been filed in the case against accused deputy killer John Williams, requesting the court to throw out any statements made by Williams after his arrest due to “coercive tactics in violation of due process.”

Williams is accused of shooting and killing Somerset County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Eugene Cole on the night of April 25. After a statewide manhunt that drew national attention, he was arrested on April 28.

The defense attorney for Williams alleges that during their client’s arrest officers “beat and pummeled him to the point of causing him to defecate himself,” according to court documents.

June 12Suspected deputy killer John WIlliams enters ‘not guilty plea’

May 2Timeline of John Williams’ movements on night of Cpl. Cole’s murder

Williams’ attorney said photos show that officers “severely injured [him], kicking him in the head and face, among other things, and causing severe bruising and then holding up his head by the back of his hair like game trophy.”

The attorney claims Williams was convinced he would “continue to be beaten and traumatized by overzealous police officers, who apparently felt justified in their treatment” of him.

April 30Maine State Police defends controversial photo of alleged deputy killer

April 28Suspect brought to justice using Cpl. Cole’s handcuffs

Williams’ attorney said their client “was not physically and mentally able to provide a voluntary statement to detectives due to his withdrawal from opiates,” which they claim made him incapable of advocating for himself or making important decisions, and thus his statements made after his arrest “were not voluntary under Maine and federal law.”

Maine Public Safety spokesperson Steve McCausland said he had “no response” to the claims.

NEWS CENTER Maine reached out to the Maine Attorney General’s office, which is prosecuting the case, but we received no response.

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via Maine State Police

Motion to Suppress in State of Maine v. John Williams by NEWSCENTER26 on Scribd

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UPDATE: NEWS CENTER Maine initially stated Corporal Cole was killed on March 25 and John Williams was arrested on April 21. The correct dates are April 25 and April 28 respectively and the text has been updated to reflect the corrections. We apologize for the error.

US Senate passes sweeping criminal justice reform bill!

Prisoners in an overcrowded California correctional facilityPrisoners in an overcrowded California correctional facility

The US Senate has passed a sweeping criminal justice reform bill seeking to address concerns that the US locks up too many of its citizens.

The First Step Act, which has been championed by US President Donald Trump, passed by a vote of 87-12.

The bipartisan measure found unlikely support from hardline conservatives and progressive liberals alike.

The US leads the world in number of jailed citizens. Around 2.2m Americans were in jail in 2016, figures show.

The bill, which is expected to be debated in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, would only affect federal prisoners accounting for about 10% of the total US prison population.

Moments after the vote passed, President Trump tweeted: “America is the greatest Country in the world and my job is to fight for ALL citizens, even those who have made mistakes.”

What does the law actually do?

The bill would overhaul the US justice system by giving more discretion to judges during sentencing, and by strengthening prisoner rehabilitation efforts.

Among the sentencing guidelines being revised is one reducing the “three strikes” penalty for drug felons from life in prison to 25 years.

The “three strikes” policy – introduced during the Clinton presidency – mandated strict penalties for those convicted of three serious crimes.

How police line-ups jail the innocent

The First Step Act also limits the disparity in sentencing guidelines between powder and crack cocaine, which could affect up to 2,600 prisoners, according to the Marshall Project.

It allows for more criminals to serve their sentences in halfway houses or under home confinement, and requires offenders to be jailed within 500 miles (800km) of their families.

The exterior of a prison in IllinoisThe exterior of a prison in Illinois

It bans shackling pregnant prisoners and mandates that tampons and sanitary napkins be available to women.

It reduces the mandatory minimum sentences for serious drug crimes, and authorises $375m (£297m) in federal spending for job training and educational programmes for prisoners.

New Jersey Democratic Cory Booker hailed the legislation as “one small step [that] will affect thousands and thousands of lives”.

How did it get this far?

All 49 Democrats in the Senate voted in favour of the bill, with several mentioning that prisons are disproportionally filled with minority groups.

Twelve conservative law-and-order Republican senators voted against the bill.

Many of the supporters of the First Step Act had also rallied behind the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, which was supported by former President Barack Obama.

That bill looked set for passage before Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell blocked it, and refused to put it to a vote in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Earlier this year, White House adviser Jared Kushner began working with Republicans to draft a bill that Mr Trump could sign into law.

With Mr Trump’s endorsement, the Republican group was able to shore up enough support to bring the bill to a vote.

“This is the biggest thing,” said Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley after the vote was held.

Presentational grey line

So Congress actually did something?

Analysis box by Anthony Zurcher

The first two years of the Donald Trump presidency have been defined in part by high-profile partisan battles in Congress – over healthcare, immigration, tax reform and presidential nominees. Beneath the surface, however, there’s been a somewhat surprising undercurrent of bipartisan co-operation.

Democrats and Republicans have come together to pass legislation to address the opioid addiction crisis, modernise the Federal Aviation Administration, provide additional resources for veterans and fund vast swaths of the federal government using traditional appropriations processes.

In the last few weeks alone, Congress enacted – and the president signed – a law to provide research and treatment for sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorderthat predominantly affects African-Americans. It unanimously passed a $60m bill to prevent maternal mortality.

This criminal justice reform bill could represent the highest-profile accomplishment yet.

With Democrats in control of the House of Representatives next year, Congress and the president will have no choice but to seek bipartisan solutions if they want to enact any significant legislation. That may be a challenge, given that even as White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders heralded the reform bill as a “historic win”, she couldn’t resist taking a shot across the political aisle.

“Imagine how much more we can accomplish in the years ahead if – like on criminal justice – Democrats spend more time working with GOP to build America up and less time tearing the President down,” she tweeted.

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