An Orlando man shot by police outside a downtown bar last week has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a bystander who was killed by police gunfire, reports the city's Sentinel. Kody Roach, 23, was shot and wounded by police outside the bar on Aug. 19 by officers responding to a 911 call of a "gun-wielding maniac." Roach survived, but bystander Maria Fernanda Godinez, 22, apparently struck by a shot from Officer Eduardo Sanguino's gun, was killed.
An arrest affidavit states, "As a result of Roach's actions, an individual was killed therefore probable cause exists to further charge Roach with first-degree felony murder." Sanguino and a fellow officer, Jeff Angel, were reponding to 911 reports that Roach had opened fire at the club. They found Roach at the bar's locked door. He reportedly pointing his right hand at the officers. Sanguino fired nine shots, striking Roach at least five times. As he fell, Roach dropped a .40 caliber Ruger handgun, which proved to be unloaded.
Californian lawmakers approved a bill on Thursday to require universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on U.S. campuses, says Reuters. The legislation went to Gov. Jerry Brown, who must give final approval.
The measure, passed unanimously by the state senate, has been called the "yes-means-yes" bill. It defines sexual consent between people as "an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity." The bill states that silence and a lack of resistance do not signify consent and that drugs or alcohol do not excuse unwanted sexual activity. If signed by Brown, the bill would mark the first time a U.S. state has mandated that such language to be a central tenet of school sexual assault policies. Opponents of the bill say it is politically over-reaching and could push universities into uncharted legal waters.
Wexford Health Sources complained that the bidding process for Alabama's $224 million inmate health care contract was biased toward its competitor Corizon, which was awarded the contract as the sole vendor that submitted a bid, reports AL.com. A Wexford executive made the complaint in a letter to Alabama's top prison health care official in August 2012 to explain why his firm did not compete for the work. Three months later, a state attorney called Wexford's claims "misunderstandings," and a week after that Gov. Robert Bentley executed Corizon's contract to provide health care to the state's 25,000 inmates for three years.
Earlier this summer, the Southern Poverty Law Center sued the state in federal court, alleging inadequate healthcare in Alabama prisons. Corizon has tapped the powerful lobbying firm Maynard Cooper & Gale to fight the lawsuit on behalf of Alabama. State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said he will meet next week with the head of Alabama's prison system to get answers about the Corizon contract.
Two high school buddies from the Minneapolis suburb of New Hope have been killed while fighting for terrorist groups in the Middle East, reports the Associated Press. It wasn't immediately clear how Douglas McAuthur McCain and Troy Kastigar were drawn into radicalism after their initial conversion to the Muslim faith or whether they might have influenced one another along the way. But the two best friends went down similar paths and met the same end.
They attended high school in New Hope at the same time in the late 1990s. A classmate described them as "goofy," "funny guys" and "just nice." U.S. officials confirmed that McCain, 33, was killed recently in Syria while fighting with the Islamic State group ISIS. Officials said Kastigar was killed in Somalia in September 2009 while fighting with the terror group al-Shabab. U.S. officials were looking into reports that a second American fighting with ISIS had been killed in Syria.
A federal lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that police in Ferguson and St. Louis County used excessive force and falsely arrested innocent bystanders amid attempts to quell widespread unrest after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, says the Associated Press. The five plaintiffs include a clinical social worker who said she and her 17-year-old son were roughed up and arrested after not evacuating a McDonald's quickly enough. They also include a 23-year-old man who said he was shot multiple times with rubber bullets and called racial slurs by police, and a man who said he was arrested for filming the disturbances.
The lawsuit seeks $40 million in damages and names Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, Ferguson officer Justin Cosma, several unnamed officers identified collectively as John Doe, and the city and county governments. Attorney Malik Shabazz of Black Lawyers for Justice called the Ferguson scene "virtually a police riot."
Two St. Louis-area police officers are no longer working at their departments due to their actions during the protests in Ferguson, Mo., reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Matthew Pappert, a Glendale officer who commented on Facebook that Ferguson protesters should be "put down like rabid dogs," has been fired. Meanwhile, Ray Albers, a St. Ann police lieutenant who pointed an assault rifle at protesters and cursed at them, resigned Thursday.
Pappert's Facebook comments also included postings that said Ferguson protesters were "a burden on society and a blight on the community." Another posting said, "Where is a Muslim with a backpack when you need them?" Albers, who had worked for the department for 20 years, resigned as a result of his actions in Ferguson on Aug. 19. A video of the incident captured Albers pointing his rifle at the crowd and saying, “I will (expletive) kill you. Get back.” Asked his name, he responded, “Go (expletive) yourself.”
Police associations are beginning a major lobbying push to protect their access to the military equipment that was used against demonstrators in Ferguson, Mo., says The Hill. Law enforcement groups argue a Pentagon program that provides surplus military gear helps protect the public. They are gearing up for a fight with lawmakers and the Obama administration over whether it should be continued. “We intend to be at our most vigorous on this issue,” said Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police.
The FOP and other police groups are already meeting with lawmakers’ staffs to get a jump on the issue before Congress returns from the August recess. Police groups fear a stopgap bill to fund the government, which Congress must pass in September to avoid a government shutdown, could be used to stop the transfer of military gear. Lawmakers in both parties have expressed support for curbing or defunding the Pentagon program. Pasco said his group is working to counter what he calls “misinformation.”
The Georgia parole board's votes to restore a convicted felon’s firearms rights is treated as a "confidential state secret," reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Each board member votes in isolation and in secrecy. The five members rarely, if ever, deliberate as a body over restoring offenders’ gun rights. They keep no public record of their votes. And they give neither public notice nor public explanation of decisions that enable felons to re-arm – not even to the felons’ victims.
Georgia’s process for restoring firearms rights to convicted felons, even those who used guns to commit violent crimes, is among the most secretive in the nation and is almost entirely unregulated by the state’s open government laws. Why? The board won’t say. Through a spokesman, board members declined to be interviewed. They also directed senior staff members not to comment. Some former board members suggest the process is overly secretive and open to abuse.
Denver police on Wednesday said they hope to equip 800 officers, including all patrol and traffic officers, with body cameras in 2015, reports the Denver Post. Many U.S. police agencies are experimenting with body cameras, and some smaller departments equip all officers, but their use in Denver apparently would be the most widespread. The cameras, which will record audio and video, not only will protect people who make legitimate complaints, authorities say, but the technology also should protect police from false allegations of excessive force.
The equipment will cost about $1.5 million. The City Council must approve the expense. Denver began testing and evaluating body cameras last year. Taser International and researchers from the University of Cambridge are conducting an independent study to determine their efficacy. Taser gave the department 125 cameras for the study, the first involving a major metropolitan police department. A pilot project in Rialto, Calif., which has about 250 police officers, triggered a double-digit reduction in excessive-force complaints.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar defended his department's use of tear gas, smoke, batons, rifles and armored trucks in the days of civil unrest that followed the Michael Brown shooting, reports USA Today, saying that the military equipment is sometimes necessary to patrol "very urban areas." Speaking at a news conference, he said he used his 28 years of law enforcement experience and deployed the appropriate response to peaceful demonstrators and others who officers saw carrying guns.
"I never envisioned a day in which we would see that type of equipment used against protesters," Belmar said. "But I also never envisioned a day in 28 years that we'd see the kind of criminal activity spin out of peaceful demonstrations." He said officers had to make a decision and that he had no regrets about his department's tactics. "Our choices were to rip, wade into the crowd with nightsticks and riot sticks," Belmar said. "In my 28 years, I've seen the damage they can do. They're not temporary damage, sometimes those injuries are long-lasting."