Ohio Judge Shot; Assailant Is Killed by Probation Officer

Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. was shot by Nathaniel Richmond, the father of a teen who served 10 months behind bars for a well-reported rape. No immediate connection was drawn between the shooting and rape cases.

The man who shot and wounded an Ohio judge outside a courthouse before being gunned down by a probation officer was the father of a Steubenville High School football player who was convicted of rape in 2013, the Associated Press reports. Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. was shot at 8 a.m. Monday near the courthouse in Steubenville, 30 miles west of Pittsburgh. Authorities identified the gunman as Nathaniel “Nate” Richmond, 51, the father of Ma’Lik Richmond. Ma’Lik, then 17, served 10 months in a juvenile lockup after being convicted with another football player of raping a 16-year-old girl during an alcohol-fueled party in 2012.

Investigators are seeking a motive in the shooting and haven’t found a connection to the rape case, said Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin. A visiting judge from Cincinnati handled most of the rape case. Bruzzese, 65, was flown to a Pittsburgh-area hospital, and is expected to survive. The attack had to be intentional because people know about the reserved spots where judges park, said a colleague of Bruzzese, Judge Joseph Corabi. “Everybody knows who parks there. That’s why it’s not an accident what happened. He was clearly an intended target,” Corabi said.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Works With Sheriffs To Hold More Illegal Immigrants

The Trump administration is working with cooperative sheriffs on a plan to channel illegal immigrants from local jails into federal detention, the New York Times reports. It could vastly expand the dragnet that has begun to transform immigration enforcement.

The Trump administration is working with cooperative sheriffs on a plan to channel illegal immigrants from local jails into federal detention, the New York Times reports. If it succeeds, it could vastly expand the dragnet that has already begun to transform immigration enforcement. The plan is intended to circumvent court decisions that have limited the role of local law enforcement in immigration. It involves a legal move with detainers, which are requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to local sheriffs or police to hold people who are suspected of being in the U.S. illegally, even after they have posted bail, finished their jail sentence or otherwise resolved their criminal cases.

Some sanctuary cities refuse to honor detainers on ideological grounds. A larger number of sheriffs who otherwise support the Trump administration have turned down detainers because courts have found that they violate the Fourth Amendment. The legal move, in which sheriffs would serve as contractors for ICE, is intended to protect sheriffs from such court battles, which have sometimes resulted in costly payouts. Some legal advocates for immigrants expressed doubt that courts would view it as being different from current practices. The tactic would be a major step toward marrying local and federal law enforcement, a centerpiece of Trump’s plan to thwart illegal immigration. If enough sheriffs participated, the approach could lead to many more immigration arrests, which have risen more than 40 percent since last year. Since Trump was inaugurated, ICE has issued 11,000 detainers a month, a 78 percent increase over the previous year.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Fentanyl ‘Has Totally Taken Over’ Opioid Business

Fentanyl has overwhelmed the drug underworld in the past year, says author Sam Quinones. Among increasing overdose victims in Ohio, the composite picture is predominantly a white male, never married, age 25 to 54, with a high school education or less.

Powerful drug cartels in the U.S., South America and China are being joined by domestic illegal drug producers who filter the poison to a dealer network that frequently ends with drugs changing hands in someone’s living room. At least 16,971 Ohioans died of drug overdoses from 2010 to 2016. The composite picture is predominantly a white male, never married, age 25 to 54, with a high school education or less, reports the Columbus Dispatch. The flow of illegal drugs has been changing recently in a dramatic way. The new king of the jungle is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin that is being mixed with heroin, cocaine and even marijuana to hook users.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NYC Rally Opposes Police Violence Against Mentally Ill

Critics say that only 13 percent of New York City police officers are trained to deal with emotionally disturbed people, leading to their unnecessary deaths at law enforcement hands.

James Owens of Brooklyn wrestled with addiction and mental illness as he tried to eke out a normal life. “(He) was gunned down like a wild animal in his own home,” John Martin said about his 63-year-old uncle, who was shot and killed as he confronted police with a knife in January. “He was supposed to be protected.” Martin joined 200 others in condemning police violence against the mentally ill during a rally on Saturday, the New York Daily News reports. Many in attendance had relatives who suffered the same fate as Owens, who was shot in the head, neck and chest by cops even though he stood more than 10 feet away from them. Police were called when Owens, who was having an adverse reaction to his new medication, became agitated and began acting erratically. Cops Tasered Owens, but when that didn’t work, they shot him, authorities said.

Holding signs that read, “NYPD don’t kill the mentally ill,” the crowd marched to a nearby police station. The march was organized by attorney Sanford Rubenstein, who is representing four families who had mentally ill family members killed by police. “Only 13 percent of NYPD officers have been trained how to deal with emotionally disturbed people,” he said. “That is unacceptable for the people of New York. One hundred percent of police officers must be trained to deal with emotionally disturbed people. When a family calls 911 for help they don’t want to see their loved one killed by police.” Some 5,653 out of the 23,000 cops on patrol have received special training on how to handle the mentally ill.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Some Judges Still Allowing Disputed Forensic Evidence

Analysis of bite marks, latent fingerprints, burn patterns in arson investigations, footwear patterns and tire treads was once considered sound. It is now being denounced by lawyers and scientists who say it has not been studied enough to prove its reliability and in some cases has led to wrongful convictions. Even so, judges nationwide continue to admit such evidence regularly,

Hundreds of people have been convicted at least partly on the basis of forensic science that has come under fire during the past decade. Some of that science — analysis of bite marks, latent fingerprints, firearms identification, burn patterns in arson investigations, footwear patterns and tire treads — was once considered sound, but is now being denounced by lawyers and scientists who say it has not been studied enough to prove its reliability and in some cases has led to wrongful convictions. Even so, judges nationwide continue to admit such evidence regularly, reports the Associated Press. “Courts — unlike scientists — rely too heavily on precedent and not enough on the progress of science,” said Christopher Fabricant of the Innocence Project. “At some point, we have to acknowledge that precedent has to be overruled by scientific reality.”

See also: When New Research Proves Courtroom ‘Experts’ Wrong

Defense lawyers say prosecutors and judges are slow to acknowledge that some forensic science methods are flawed because they have for decades helped win convictions. Such evidence can be persuasive for jurors, many of whom who have seen it used dramatically on “Law & Order” and “CSI.” Rulings in the past year show judges are reluctant to rule against long-accepted evidence even when serious questions have been raised about its reliability. Two reports by scientific boards have sharply criticized such forensic evidence, and universities are moving toward more precise biometric tools. Some defense lawyers fear any progress on strengthening forensic science may be lost under President Trump. In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Justice Department would disband the National Commission on Forensic Science, an independent panel of scientists, researchers, judges and attorneys that had been studying how to improve forensic practices.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Few Crime Problems in Boston ‘Free Speech’ Rally

Police reported only four weapons arrests in the protest, where Mayor Martin Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evens had urged attendees “to embrace nonviolence over violence.”

Four men with weapons were arrested by Boston police during Saturday’s protest and “Free Speech” rally on Boston Common, along with another four from out of state, the Boston Globe reports. Most of the charges included disturbing a public assembly, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest, police said. Those arrested from weapons were from the Boston area and from Norwich, N.Y.

A 36-year-old man from Vermont and a 25-year-old man from Eugene, Ore., were each charged with disturbing a public assembly, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. Mayor Martin Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans had encouraged anyone who attended Saturday’s protest to “their best behavior and to embrace nonviolence over violence,” the police department said. “Thankfully, the majority of those attending did just that. Unfortunately, not everybody understood the importance of good behavior.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

DOJ Halt to Anti-Terror Training ‘Makes Abolutely No Sense’

National Fusion Center Association again questions why the federal program that trains local police how to fight terrorism is ending, especially after episodes like the violence in Charlottesville.

As Charlottesville, Va., struggles to recover from last weekend’s deadly violence and authorities warn of increased threats from domestic extremists, the Justice Department is shutting down a program that trains officers on combating terrorism. The State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) program, which has served more than 142,000 law enforcement officers, has run out of funding. Its last day is Sept. 30, the Kansas City Star reports“It makes absolutely no sense,” said Mike Sena of the National Fusion Center Association, which represents a network of 79 centers designed to help law enforcement agencies collect and share terrorism-related information. “Eliminating programs that are critical to preparing our people in the field to identify threats before they manifest and cause harm to our public is an egregious error.” (SLATT’s impending demise was described last month in The Crime Report.)

Sena and other experts question the effectiveness of a domestic terrorism task force the Justice Department revived in 2014. At a time of heightened concerns about violence, they say, they’ve heard nothing about the task force or its efforts, nor have they been asked to participate. The Justice Department did not respond to repeated questions for comment about why the anti-terrorism training program was being eliminated or whether the task force was still active. and if so, what it has accomplished. An assessment last year by the Rand Corp. said there was a huge demand for the training. “The SLATT Program receives more requests for training than it can fulfill,” the study said, adding that “is not uncommon to have a backlog of 120 requests for SLATT training.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

CA Murder Raises Pretrial Risk Assessment Issues

Photographer Edward French was murdered in San Francisco, allegedly by a teen who had served a jail term and had recently been arrested again. The victim’s partner charges that a judge made an “insane’ decision based on a risk-assessment algorithm.

In the dawn hours of July 16, Edward French, a professional film and TV scout, stood atop San Francisco’s Twin Peaks to photograph the sunrise. Lamonte Mims, 19, and Fantasy Decuir, 20, allegedly accosted French, 71, stole his camera, and shot him with a handgun, NPR reports.  French’s murder is raising concerns about a pretrial computer tool used to help determine if defendants should be held until trial. Supporters say the risk assessment algorithm is reducing jail crowding and increasing public safety by offering judges “validated, evidence-based data” on which defendants should be released. In this case, Mims was on probation after serving three months in jail for breaking into cars at Twin Peaks, a popular tourist spot.  On July 4, police arrested him for gun possession and parole violations. Judge Sharon Reardon released Mims with “assertive case management,” a program that requires check-ins. Reardon followed the advice of a “public-safety assessment” or PSA score. It’s a computer-generated score that’s used here to help calculate whether a suspect is a flight risk or likely to return to court.

French’s partner, Brian Higginbotham, calls Reardon’s decision “insane,” saying, “He’s violated two probations. He was a convicted felon. And he had a gun charge just five days before the murder of Ed French! It’s absolutely crazy. I think the judge has to be held accountable.” The score system was created by the Texas-based foundation of billionaire John Arnold, a former Enron energy trader who built and ran his own hugely successful hedge fund. The foundation, which advocates for criminal justice reform, gives the PSA tool free to any jurisdiction that wants it. Nine risk factors are plugged in, including criminal history, age, current charges, and past charges. The tool spits out a score for a judge to consider.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Marine Veteran Arrested In Florida Officer’s Killing

Everett Glenn Miller, 45, was arrested at an Orlando bar where he had fled after the shooting of officer Matthew Baxter. A second officer, Richard “Sam’ Howard, was in grave condition.

A Marine veteran has been arrested in Friday’s shooting death of a Kissimmee, Fl., Police officer, and there is “not much hope” a second officer he’s accused of shooting will survive, says Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Police arrested Everett Glenn Miller, 45, on charges of first-degree murder, resisting arrest and carrying a concealed weapon. Officer Matthew Baxter was killed and Sgt. Richard “Sam” Howard was shot and is in grave condition. The officers were investigating three suspicious people about 9:30 p.m. Five minutes later, dispatchers received the first call reporting the officers had been shot. The officers did not have time to return fire. O’Dell said “it looked like they were surprised” by the gunfire.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Border Patrol, Adding 5,000 Agents, Improves Training

A new curriculum emphasizes teaching agents how to operate safely in dangerous environments near security fencing on the border and to communicate effectively in Spanish. Perhaps more important, it trains agents to defuse tense situations involving people they encounter on patrol.

As the Border Patrol gears up to add 5,000 new agents in response to an executive order by President Trump, the agency is revamping its training, the New York Times reports. The new curriculum emphasizes teaching new agents how to operate safely in dangerous environments near security fencing on the border and to communicate effectively in Spanish. Perhaps more important, academy leaders say, it trains agents to defuse tense situations involving people they encounter on patrol. During the last hiring surge from 2006 to 2009, as Border Patrol ranks jumped from 12,000 to more than 20,000, essential training standards — including crucial Spanish language skills and physical training — were scaled back. The length of training. 117 days, was truncated to 66 days to move new agents into the field faster.

The need to meet tight deadlines for hiring and deploying new agents on the border came with a price: spikes in corruption, the hiring of people with ties to drug cartels, and an increase in the use of force, including cross-border shootings. The Border Patrol has been plagued by criticism from human rights activists who have claimed abuses of people who illegally crossed the border. Dan Harris was chosen to lead the Border Patrol Academy last year by R. Gil Kerlikowske, then commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. Kerlikowske was credited with instituting reforms, including more transparency about shooting cases involving agents. Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum, which produced a 2013 report about cases where agents’ force had resulted in deaths, called the new training a turning point. “It’s a sign of the times that the Border Patrol, which hasn’t always had a good track record in its use of force, wants to find ways to help agents defuse what could be volatile situations,” he said.

from https://thecrimereport.org