Over a year ago, the Trump administration quietly closed the civil-rights investigation into the police killing of 12-year old Tamir Rice. In 2014, Rice was fatally shot on a playground by a Cleveland officer for carrying an air pellet gun. The police officer, Timothy Loehmann, who almost immediately opened fire on Rice when arriving to the scene, was fired from the Cleveland Police Department, yet never suffered any criminal charges.
What We Know:
- In August 2019, the Department of Justice shut down the investigation without any documents explaining why it was denied and without notifying Rice’s family or the public. Subodh Chandra, who represents the Rice family, disclosed the devastation of Tamir’s mother when she heard news of the closed investigation through media reports.
- Lawyer David Z. Seide filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Department of Justice’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, for the mistreatment of the investigation. After Horowitz expressed to Seide that he would not be investigating his complaint, Seide reached out to The New York Times.
- After a grand jury decided not to charge Loehmann in 2015, under Obama, the Department of Justice opened a federal civil-rights investigation at the request of the Rice family. The Justice Department then released a statement saying, “We will continue our independent review of this matter, assess all available materials and determine what actions are appropriate…”. In 2016, the Rice family received a settlement of $6 million, yet the DOJ remained quiet about the alleged investigation.
- In 2017, the investigation was reassigned to two career prosecutors, Nick Reddick and Jared Fishman, who wanted to explore a different approach. The officer claimed he repeatedly warned Rice to raise his hands before firing any shots; the prosecutors hoped to analyze statements given by Loehmann and his partner to check for accuracy and possible obstruction of justice charges.
- Prosecutors must get permission to use a grand jury to help collect evidence such as, subpoenaed documents or witness testimony. Reddick and Fishman wrote a 20-page case analysis memo with a request to conduct a grand jury investigation. The memo was turned into Robert Moossy Jr., a deputy assistant attorney general, who works alongside those appointed by Trump to run the civil-rights division. A request is usually denied within a few weeks, but the memo never met a response.
- In 2018, an additional memo was submitted by the prosecutors and with more evidence proving that a grand jury investigation was necessary. Still, no response was received. This brought on suspicion from lawyers that political appointees were purposefully stalling.
Chandra speculates that because the officers made their statements in 2014 and 2015, prosecutors “slow-rolled the investigation” to allow the statute of limitations to expire and “let the officers get away with murder and obstruction of justice”.
Derek Chauvin Found GUILTY on ALL Charges for the Murder of George Floyd
BLACK NEWS ALERTS SPECIAL REPORT
The jury has reached a verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
WATCH THE VERDICT LIVE:
Feed courtesy of Washington Post
What We Know:
- The verdict was read in open court with unanimous decisions on all three counts, none of which carry a charge of life in prison. The three counts are as follows:
- Second-degree unintentional murder (also referred to as felony murder): Sentence up to 40 years in prison.
- Third-degree murder: Sentence up to 25 years.
- Second-degree manslaughter: Sentence up to 10 years.
- The panel of seven women and five men began deliberating Monday after three weeks of witness testimony.
- The third-degree murder charge had initially been dismissed, but it was reinstated after an appeals court ruling in an unrelated case established new grounds for it days before jury selection started.
- Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd, who was Black, was handcuffed and lying on the ground.
- Prosecutors argued that Chauvin’s actions caused Floyd to die from low oxygen or asphyxia. The defense claimed that Floyd’s illegal drug use and a pre-existing heart condition were to blame and urged jurors not to rule out other theories, as well, including exposure to carbon monoxide.
- During closing arguments, prosecutors sought to focus jurors’ attention on the 9 minutes, 29 seconds they say Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, while Chauvin’s defense attorney told them that “the 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds” of the interaction.
- Prosecutors called 38 witnesses, including the teenager who recorded the widely seen bystander video that brought global attention to Floyd’s death. She and other bystanders who testified said they are haunted by Floyd’s death and that they wish they had done more to try to save his life. The defense called seven witnesses, two of whom were experts.
- Chauvin had agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder days after Floyd’s death, but William Barr, then the U.S. attorney general, rejected the deal because, officials said, he was worried that it was too early in the investigation and that it would be perceived as too lenient.
Floyd’s death touched off international protests against police brutality and racial injustice. The city of Minneapolis has spent months preparing for the trial and for the potential of unrest over the verdict.
Hester Ford, Oldest Living American, Dies at 115
The North Carolina woman died peacefully in her Charlotte home Saturday, a family member confirmed.
What We Know:
- According to the Gerontology Research Group, Hester Ford was 115 years and 245 days old at the time of her death. However, the family stated Ford was born on August 15th, 1904, which would’ve made her 116. Whichever age is correct, Ford was the oldest living American, having been confirmed as such in 2019.
- Ford was born on a farm in Lancaster County, South Carolina. She married John Ford at age 14 and had the first of her 12 children the next year. The couple moved to Charlotte where she remained for the rest of her life. From her 12 children, Ford was granted 68 grandchildren, 125 great-grandchildren, and possibly more than 120 great-great-grandchildren.
- In a statement, her great-granddaughter Tanisha Patterson-Powe called her grandmother a true innovator. “She never ‘fit into a one size fit all box’.” Patterson-Powe continued, saying “She never complained, never showed defeat or entertained a pity party.”
“She not only represented the advancement of our family but of the Black African American race and culture in our country. She was a reminder of how far we have come as people on this earth,” said Patterson-Powe.
- When asked about her secret to a long life, Ford stated, “I just live right, all I know.” According to her family, Ford enjoyed a daily routine of eating half a banana, going outside for fresh air, and reclining while looking through photos or listing to gospel music.
According to the Gerontology Research Group, Thelma Sutcliffe of Nebraska, born in 1906, is now the oldest living American. The oldest living person on Earth however is Kane Tanaka of Japan who is 118.
Otters in Georgia Aquarium Test Positive for COVID-19
Seven geriatric Asian small-clawed otters at the Georgia Aquarium showed mild COVID-19 symptoms like sneezing, runny noses, lethargy, and coughing. They are currently being cared for off-exhibit.
What We Know:
- The popular tourist location released a statement on Facebook and their website on Sunday about the situation. In the announcement, the Georgia Aquarium noted that the animals caught the virus from an asymptomatic staff member. This is despite “following all recommended health and safety protocols.” The institution tested all staff members and is certain a guest did not give the coronavirus to the otters because of the acrylic barrier that separates them.
- The group’s clinical signs helped leaders make the decision to test the animals. In addition, medical officials at the establishment consulted with the state veterinarian’s office and the Department of Health (DOH).
- The Georgia Aquarium announced vets and animal care team members would continue monitoring the otters on their website. After they no longer show symptoms, executives will determine if they can return to the display.
“We are providing supportive care as needed so they can eat, rest and recover,” said Dr. Tonya Clauss, vice president of animal and environmental health at Georgia Aquarium.
- According to the announcement, information on COVID-19’s impact on otter species is unknown. However, based on other zoological facility animals and the otters’ health status, the organization believes the animals will not have any long-term effects. The document also directs readers to visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) websites, as well as their own Animal Guide, for more information. People at the aquarium are hopeful the otters will recover quickly.
- Although these are the first coronavirus cases at the Georgia Aquarium, other animals have contracted the disease. In December, three snow leopards tested positive at the Louisville Zoo. Thousands of mink died at fur farms across Utah and Wisconsin after a series of outbreaks, CNN reports. Further, a small number of dogs and cats have gotten the disease throughout the pandemic as well.
Scientists are experimenting with a possible COVID-19 vaccine for animals. In February, the San Diego Zoo gave four orangutans and five bonobos two doses each of an experimental vaccine developed by a veterinary pharmaceutical company. Recently, Russia registered the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine for carnivorous animals. A report by CNN from March 31 declared mass production on the vaccine would start as early as April. These experiments may bring all animals protection soon.
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