TIME Crime

Darren Wilson Joins Hundreds of Cops Who Commit ‘Justifiable Homicide’ Each Year

A police officer is charged under the same homicide laws that apply to private citizens, but most states make it tough to convict officers for action in the line of duty

By avoiding indictment in the lethal shooting of Michael Brown, Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson became one of hundreds of cops whose use of force is deemed justifiable under the law each year.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded 410 “justifiable homicides” in 2012, and that is self-reported by states with varying degrees of rigor. The actual count is likely higher.

Fatal shootings such as Wilson’s encounter with the unarmed Brown on Aug. 9 resonate deeply in African-American communities across the country. Black teenagers were 21 times as likely to be shot dead by an officer than white teenagers, according to statistics compiled by Pro Publica.

A police officer is charged under the same homicide laws that apply to private citizens, but most state legislatures have carved out exceptional circumstances for officers in the line of duty. In Missouri, the protections come down to three short sentences located in a single statute.

“You certainly see in that statute a desire of the legislature to give special protections to police officers,” says Eric Zahnd, the Platte County, Mo. prosecuting attorney who has overseen a handful of homicide investigations in his community of 93,00.

The broadest protection permits police to use lethal force to prevent the escape of anyone who the officer “reasonably believes” is a felon. The narrower protections allow use of force against anyone whom the officer “reasonably believes” will use a deadly weapon or do harm to other people.

“Ultimately it all boils down to a single issue,” says Zahnd. “Did the officer use force in the reasonable belief that he had to do so?”

In choosing not to charge with Wilson with any one of five potential crimes, the grand jury essentially determined that the officer’s actions were reasonable under the law.

TIME Crime

4 Theories for Why the Ferguson Announcement Was Delayed

Questions asked after another violent night

Correction appended, Nov. 25

A grand jury had decided by early Monday afternoon not to indict a white police officer in the August shooting death of an unarmed black teen that sparked weeks of violent protests in Ferugson, Mo. But hours passed before a St. Louis County prosecutor announced the decision not to indict Darren Wilson. By the time Robert McCulloch delivered the news after 8 p.m. local time, tension had built for eight hours and the city was once again gripped by violent clashes.

Even before then, observers were asking skeptically why there had been such a long delay between the decision and the announcement, with critics blaming it for fueling the fire.

And when questions about the timing of the announcement reached Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, his response was terse: Ask McCulloch.

In the absence of any elaboration from public officials, critics lashed out at McCullough and speculation abounded to explain the delay. Here are some of the theories, none of them confirmed or substantiated in any way.

To thin out the crowds

Falling temperatures may have winnowed down the crowds gathered in Ferguson to a committed few, though Vox reports that pundits warned such a tactic had the potential to make the situation only more combustible. The decision had “deliberately almost left themselves with the people most committed to despair,” said MSNBC’s Joy Reid.

To get publicity

One theory is that McCulloch, who issued a long critique of the news media before making the announcement, just wanted his 15 minutes of fame on primetime TV.

To beef up patrols

Nixon had previously said police would have 48 hours advanced notice before the decision was revealed to the public. That window of opportunity was shaved down to less than a day, raising questions about police preparedness, and more time might have been needed to get ready for the unrest that followed.

Incompetence

Among the harshest critic was CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, who penned an op-ed calling the delay “devastating”

“Here’s the thing about that time of night: it’s dark,” Toobin wrote. “The ultimate verdict on the grand jury’s decision is up to history at this point. But the verdict on McCulloch opting to announce the decision at night is clear—and devastating.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the name of MSNBC host Joy Reid.

TIME Video Games

Halo: Master Chief Collection Developers Apologize for Xbox One Problems

Experience: HALO by Xbox 360
Master Chief stands guard at the Liechtenstein border during the HALO 4 launch by Xbox 360 on October 29, 2012 in Balzers, Liechtenstein. Getty Images—2012 Getty Images

"We will make this right with our fans."

The game developers behind Xbox One’s Halo: The Master Chief Collection released a public apology to gamers Tuesday for a multiplayer glitch that has left fans fuming over social media.

“Please accept my heartfelt apologies for the delay and for the negative aspects of your experience to date,” wrote Bonnie Ross, 363 Industries studio head, in an open letter posted to the Xbox website.

The glitch became apparent shortly after the November 11 release of the Master Chief Collection, a package of remastered Halo games for Microsoft’s latest console. Some gamers queueing up for a multiplayer game waited for minutes to upwards of an hour for matches to begin. Gamers vented their frustration over Twitter under the handle “#halomcc.” Some tweeted demands for refunds.

Halo’s developer, 343 Industries, acknowledged that the glitch would take a series of fixes to the game’s back-end servers and patches for the game itself to fix. The studio vowed to keep gamers in the loop about their progress through a running blog.

“Once we’ve done that, we will detail how we will make this right with our fans,” Ross wrote.

TIME tragedy

Father of 12-Year-Old Shot by Cleveland Police: ‘Why Not Taze Him’

This undated photo provided by the family's attorney shows Tamir Rice, 12.
This undated photo provided by the family's attorney shows Tamir Rice, 12. AP

The father of a Cleveland boy who was fatally shot by local police on a playground Saturday raised questions about the use of live ammunition against his slain son on Sunday.

Police approached Tamir Rice, age 12, with weapons drawn, after a caller told emergency services a “guy with a gun was pointing it at people” in Cudell Commons Park, Cleveland.com reports. Police say Rice reached for the handle of a BB gun tucked into his waistband, which they mistook for a real weapon. The caller reportedly said on two occasions that the weapon was most likely a “fake.”

The responding officers fired two shots, one of which struck Rice in the abdomen.

“Why not taze him,” Gregory Henderson asked in a Sunday press conference following the shooting. “You shot him twice, not once, and at the end of the day you all don’t shoot for the legs, you shoot for the upper body.”

The department will open a lethal force investigation, which will be submitted to the prosecutor’s office within 90 days, officials said during a Monday press conference. They declined to release video footage capturing the incident on tape or to comment on the officer’s conduct, except to say that he was “very distraught” over what happened.

“The facsimile weapon in this incident was indistinguishable from a real firearm,” said police Chief Calvin Williams.

NBC reported Monday afternoon that a grand jury will hear the case.

Asked if the city was prepared for protests similar to the ones that shook the city of Ferguson, Missouri, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson replied, “Whatever comes, we’re prepared to handle it.”

[Cleveland.com]

TIME Food & Drink

Competitive Eater Devours a 20-Pound Turkey Whole

2014 Nathan's Famous 4th July International Hot Dog Eating Contest
Joey Chestnut wins the Men's Division with 61 Hot Dogs at the 2014 Nathan's Famous 4th July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Bobby Bank—WireImage/Getty Images

Competitive eater Joey Chestnut cleaned 9.35 pounds of meat off of a 20 pound turkey on Saturday, breaking a new record in the field of competitive eating.

Chestnut devoured nearly twice as much meat in 10 minutes as the previous record-holder, Sonya Thomas, who put down 5.25 pounds of turkey meat in 2011, the Associated Press reports.

The legendary gobbler, who scarfed down 61 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win the Coney Island contest this year, polished off the whole bird at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. He won $5,000 in reward money, while the remainder of the pot, $10,000, was split among the nine contenders.

[AP]

TIME animals

Deep Water Shrimp Offer Evidence of Life on Inhospitable Planets

The tiny shrimp survive without sunlight and crawl within an inch of boiling hot waters

NASA scientists say that deep water shrimp, thriving in scorching hot water devoid of sunlight, could offer clues to how alien lifeforms might survive on a distant planet.

The tiny shrimp cluster around thermal vents, which are submerged 7,500 feet below the ocean’s surface and spew scorching hot water at temperatures reaching 750 degrees Fahrenheit. The blind shrimp can move within an inch of the hot water by using thermal receptors in the backs of their heads, and feed on hydrogen sulfide, a chemical that is normally toxic to organisms, but can be converted into energy with the help of specialized bacteria in the shrimp’s mouth and gills.

“It’s a remarkable symbiotic system,” says Max Coleman, senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “You go along the ocean bottom and there’s nothing, effectively, and then suddenly we get these hydrothermal vents and a massive ecosystem. It’s just literally teeming with life.”

Scientists believe the shrimp offer proof of how an organism might survive on an inhospitable planet, such as Europa, an icy moon orbiting Jupiter. Astronomers have found evidence of an ocean beneath the planet’s surface. With the right amount of thermal energy, researchers say, it too may be teeming with life.

TIME diplomacy

Iran Nuclear Talks Expected to Hit Deadline Without Deal

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry steps out as Britain's Foreign Secretary Hammond, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, Iranian FM Zarif and German FM Steinmeier, French FM Fabius, EU envoy Ashton and Chinese FM Yi pose in Vienna
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry steps out as Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, EU envoy Catherine Ashton and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose for photographers during their meeting in Vienna on Nov. 24, 2014. Pool/Reuters

Deadline was Monday but indications are talks will continue

Negotiations to curb Iran’s nuclear program will likely end in a stalemate on Monday, according to reports, but could resume one month after what had been called a deadline for striking a deal.

The New York Times, citing an unnamed Western diplomat, reports that Western negotiators were encouraged by “progress made this weekend” in Vienna and were likely to reconvene in December. But officials offered conflicting accounts of how far the negotiators had come toward reaching an agreement.

President Barack Obama called the differences “significant” in a Sunday television interview, but diplomats offered more optimistic assessments on Monday.

MORE: Iranians ponder economic future as nuclear talks near deadline

One Western diplomat told the Associated Press that the negotiators should complete a broad agreement by March 1 and settle the final details by July 1. Those comments were at odds with Secretary of State John Kerry’s insistence that the objective of the talks was to complete an outline of a final accord by Monday.

Western nations agreed to relax sanctions against Iran in July in exchange for new limits on the nation’s nuclear program and an extension of talks on a final status agreement until this Monday.

TIME technology

New Drone Rules May Require Commercial Flyers to Have License

Attendees Visit The Commercial UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Show
An exhibitor adjusts a Sony Corp. digital camera mounted to a drone, developed by Flairics GmbH and Co., as it hangs on display during the Commercial UAV show in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. Chris Ratcliffe—Bloomberg / Getty Images

Rules will require pilots to get licensed

The Federal Aviation Administration is set to restrict use of drones to within 400 feet of the ground and forbid flights beyond the eyesight of the operator, according to a new report, rules far less permissive than what companies like Amazon had hoped for.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the highly anticipated ruling, reports that drone operators will be expected to obtain a pilot license, which traditionally require hours of flight training.

The rules will allow drones to be used in filmmaking, construction and farming, among other industries.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

TIME Video Games

Microsoft’s Black Friday Xbox One Deals Will Blow You Away

Visitors At The Eurogamer Expo 2013 For Gamers
A logo sits on an Xbox One games controller during the Eurogamer Expo 2013 in London, U.K., on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. Matthew Lloyd—Bloomberg / Getty Images

The Xbox One is about to get $50 cheaper

Microsoft is slashing the price of its Xbox One gaming console by $50 price and offering further discounts for select game titles for the Black Friday holiday weekend.

The Xbox One will retail for $349 at participating retail stores — or, for gamers who don’t care to be trampled under a Black Friday stampede, the console can be had at Microsoft’s online store.

A package deal that includes a Kinect and one free game from the popular Assassin’s Creed series will start at $449.

Further Xbox-related markdwons will be unveiled on Microsoft’s website as soon as this giant doomsday clock counts down to zero.

 

TIME Infectious Disease

Africa Nears Polio Eradication, CDC Says

German Minister Mueller Travels Nigeria
German Development Minister Gerd Mueller vaccinates a child against polio in a hospital on June 11, 2014 in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Thomas Imo—Getty Images

Health officials credit successful vaccination efforts in Nigeria

Correction appended, November 21, 2014

Wild poliovirus has nearly been eradicated in Africa thanks to successful vaccination efforts in Nigeria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed in a new report Thursday.

No case of polio has been recorded on the continent since August, the report finds. There have been 22 cases of polio in Africa overall since the beginning of 2014, six of which were in Nigeria, one of the last three endemic nations alongside Pakistan and Afghanistan. The latest tally marked a drastic reduction from 49 cases in Nigeria the previous year.

That drop has been credited to vaccination campaigns in the country’s restive northern states, where a decade of periodic outbreaks had reintroduced the virus to 26 polio-free countries. “Interrupting all poliovirus circulation in Nigeria is achievable,” the report finds, but only with expanded vaccination coverage to some of the region’s most remote and hard-to-reach communities.

Correction: The original version of this article misstated the total number of polio cases across Africa and how many countries were affected. There were 22 cases in Africa since the beginning of 2014 and the virus was reintroduced to 26 polio-free countries since 2003.

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