Baltimore Mourns Freddie Gray as Officials Call for Reforms Mount

Gloria Darden, mother of Freddie Gray, is embraced before her son's funeral at New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.
Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images Gloria Darden, mother of Freddie Gray, is embraced before her son's funeral at New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore on April 27, 2015.

The service was part remembrance, part political protest

Hundreds of mourners attended an often emotional funeral on Monday for Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man whose death in police custody on April 19 has ignited protests around the city and spurred calls for police reforms.

The two-hour ceremony was part remembrance, part political protest, and featured national civil rights leaders and family members of several black men who have died in police-related deaths. Below projected screens reading “Black Lives Matter & All Lives Matter” sat Gray’s body in a white shirt, pants and shoes inside a white casket.

Along with the prayers and sermons came calls for change. Billy Murphy, the Gray family’s lawyer, urged the police to adopt body cameras. Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said Baltimore would not rest until incidents like Freddie Gray’s death no longer happened. Rev. Jesse Jackson reminded those attending that “the White House is watching. The whole world is watching,” while saying that violence distracts the city from making real change.

Jackson also urged officials to focus on bringing change to low-income neighborhoods like the one surrounding Gilmor Homes, where Gray was arrested on April 12. He died a week later from a severe spinal injury.

The most dramatic moments at Monday’s ceremony came from Jamal Bryant, a prominent Baltimore preacher, who electrified those in attendance by pledging that “Freddie’s dead is not in vain.”

“After this day, we’re going to keep on marching,” Bryant said, urging the city’s young black men to take action to help change some of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. “I don’t know how you can be black in America and be silent.” He finished by leading a call-and-response of “No justice, no peace,” which the city’s protesters have routinely chanted.

Will Perkins, a 28-year-old resident of West Baltimore who attended the funeral to “be a part of it”, said that the violent protests seen on television in the last few days represented only a small fraction of the mostly peaceful demonstrations throughout the city.

He described the relationship between police officers and residents of his West Baltimore neighborhood as essentially non-existent. “There’s no communication between police and the community,” he said. “They’re not helping us. They don’t get out of their cars. They don’t help. And I feel like if it doesn’t change, it’s going to be a riot. If nothing good comes out of this, then it’s going to get bad.”

TIME Crime

Prosecutors Seek Prison For Police in South Carolina Taser Case

Both Eric Walters and Franklin Brown will be sentenced on federal charges Monday

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — Two former small town police officers in South Carolina should spend at least a year in prison for shocking a mentally disabled woman at least eight times with a Taser without giving her time to follow their orders, federal prosecutors say.

Both Eric Walters and Franklin Brown will be sentenced on federal charges Monday in Florence. The two Marion police officers pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law in October.

Walters was patrolling in Marion early on the morning of April 2013 when he saw 40-year-old Melissa Davis walking out of the yard of a home for sale. He asked her what she was doing, thinking she might have broken into the home, then shocked her with his Taser, according to court papers.

After Davis fell to the ground, Walters ordered her to put her hands behind her back, then shocked her four more times before she could respond, prosecutors said.

By the time Brown responded, Walters had determined Davis did nothing wrong and was removing the Taser probes from her back. Brown noticed one of Davis’ hands had slipped from her improperly applied handcuffs and ordered everyone to move away and shocked Davis again, even though she was not trying to fight or escape, according to court papers.

Brown shocked Davis twice more, then offered to let her go if he could shoot her in the forehead one more time with his Taser, prosecutors said.

Brown told the other officers at the scene he shot Davis with the Taser because he “did not want to touch that nasty (obscenity),” according to his plea agreement.

Both officers are white. Court records did not indicate Davis’ race.

Prosecutors said they agree with federal sentencing guidelines that ask for 12 to 18 months behind bars for Walters and an 18- to 24-month sentence for Brown. The guidelines are tougher for Brown because Davis was in a vulnerable position when he shocked her.

Walters’ lawyer asked for a six-month prison sentence and six months of home detention because he is in poor health after several heart attacks suffered before age 39. The lawyer added that Walters had a good record as an officer before the incident. Brown’s lawyers did not file any motions asking for mercy before the sentencing.

Prosecutors said the officers should have known Davis had a diminished mental state, and a lawsuit filed by her caretaker against the officers and the city of Marion said she was well known around town.

The civil suit said along with the physical pain and suffering from the shocks and their after-effects, Davis also continues to need help to deal with mental anguish from what happened. Her lawsuit is seeking a minimum of nearly $2 million.

The officers originally faced state charges, which were dropped when federal prosecutors took over. At least three officers in South Carolina have been recently charged with shooting unarmed suspects.

TIME Crime

James Holmes Trial Set to Begin in Colorado

James Holmes sits in court for an advisement hearing at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colo. on June 4, 2013.
Reuters James Holmes sits in court for an advisement hearing at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colo. on June 4, 2013.

Holmes acknowledges killing 12 people and wounding 70 more, but has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity

(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) — The key to the death penalty trial of a man who methodically shot at moviegoers at a Batman movie premiere will be what was going on inside his mind as he threw smoke canisters and then marched up and down the aisles, firing at anyone who tried to flee.

James Holmes acknowledges killing 12 people and wounding 70 more inside the packed theater, but has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyers will argue that he was too addled by mental illness to tell right from wrong.

And unlike most other states, Colorado puts the burden on prosecutors in insanity cases: They must convince jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Holmes was sane. It adds another obstacle for a state that has already spent millions to manage an outsized number of victims, hundreds of witnesses and more than 85,000 pages of evidence.

Even so, experts say Holmes faces long odds. Insanity defenses are successful in only 25 percent of felony trials nationally, even less so in homicides.

“Lay people tend to think of people with mental illness as extremely dangerous, and that also influences jurors, especially if someone has killed someone,” said Christopher Slobogin, a professor of law and psychiatry at Vanderbilt Law School. “Usually there’s evidence of intent and planning that seems to be counterintuitive to the lay view of mental illness.”

Winning a trial on mental-health grounds is rare, but then again, so is a jury trial for a mass shooter, many of whom are killed by police, kill themselves or plead guilty.

A review of 160 mass shootings found killers went to trial 74 times, and just three were found insane, according to Grant Duwe, a Minnesota corrections official who wrote the book “Mass Murder in the United States: A History.”

Just one mass shooter has won a mental-health case in the last two decades, Duwe said: Michael Hayes, who shot nine people, killing four, in North Carolina in 1988.

Based on that, Holmes “faces some pretty long odds,” he said.

Holmes was arrested almost immediately, while stripping off his body armor in the parking lot outside the Century 16 movie theater. That he was the shooter who replaced Hollywood violence with real human carnage has never been in doubt. The victims include a 6-year-old girl, two active-duty servicemen, a single mom and an aspiring broadcaster who had survived a mall shooting in Toronto. Several died shielding friends or loved ones.

Nearly three years have passed as trial preparations were stalled by complicated legal debates over capital punishment and insanity pleas.

Prosecutors will argue that the once-promising doctoral candidate in neuroscience plotted and planned for months, amassing guns, ammunition, tear gas grenades and enough chemicals to turn his dingy apartment into a potentially lethal booby trap that could have caused even more carnage.

They’ll ask jurors to find him guilty, and if so, sentence him to death rather than life without parole.

If jurors decide instead that Holmes was insane at the time of the shooting, he would be committed indefinitely to a state psychiatric hospital.

Dueling mental health evaluations could factor in their deliberations. Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. ordered a second exam after prosecutors said the first was biased. Defense attorneys have objected to the results of the second one, suggesting it might not help them.

Like many other details, the results of both exams have been kept from public view. Also secret is the list of people expected to testify.

Holmes faces 166 counts, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and an explosives offense.

The judge read each charge, naming each victim, out loud. It took nearly two hours.

Holmes’ trial could take at least four months or more and is sure to be emotionally wrenching. Jury selection alone took nearly three months as attorneys and the judge settled on 12 jurors and 12 alternates from a pool of 9,000. Experts said the jury selection was among the largest and most complex in history, in part because it was so difficult to find people who weren’t personally affected by the shooting.

Holmes’ parents begged prosecutors to consider a plea deal sparing his life and avoiding a drawn-out trial. But some survivors want Holmes executed, even if that means reliving horrific details.

“My intent to go down there is to see that that guy gets convicted of all 166 counts that were against him,” said Tom Sullivan, whose son, Alex, was killed while celebrating his 27th birthday and wedding anniversary.

W. David Hoover wants Holmes executed to avenge the death of his 18-year-old nephew, A.J. Boik.

“It still doesn’t bring him back, but we want justice,” Hoover said. “Real justice is going to happen when this animal leaves this Earth.”


Calm Restored in Baltimore as the City Awaits the Funeral of Freddie Gray

Protestors encourage passing cars to honk while standing in the middle of York Road near Vaughn Greene Funeral Services during the wake of Freddie Gray in Baltimore on April 26, 2015.
Drew Angerer—Getty Images Protestors encourage passing cars to honk while standing in the middle of York Road near Vaughn Greene Funeral Services during the wake of Freddie Gray in Baltimore on April 26, 2015.

Hundreds visited a local funeral home to pay their respects

Freddie Gray’s body lies in state on a city fault line.

To the west of Vaughn Greene Funeral Services, where a wake was held Sunday for the 25-year-old Baltimore man who died in police custody, is Loyola University and largely white and affluent surrounding neighborhoods. To the east are Winston-Govans and Richnor Springs and Kenilworth Park—all low-income, predominantly black neighborhoods.

On Sunday, Gray’s body was at a nexus of those two Baltimores. The funeral home is located on York Road, a north-south corridor that almost neatly divides those starkly different areas of the city. Gray, who was black, died in police custody on April 19 after he was arrested a week earlier near Gilmor Homes, a public housing complex. Gray ran from police after he “made eye contact” with officers and was eventually detained. Video taken by bystanders shows police dragging Gray into a police van. An autopsy later showed that Gray died from a severe spinal injury.

The incident has joined those in Ferguson, North Charleston, Cleveland and New York—all instances in which police use of force incidents against black men have been called into question. On Saturday, protests over Gray’s death briefly turned violent when Baltimore police arrested 35 protesters after businesses were vandalized and police vehicles damaged. Officials blame a small group of people from outside the city for the violence. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at least one of those arrested was from outside of Baltimore.

But on Sunday, Baltimore remained largely quiet aside from several dozen demonstrators lining York outside the funeral home where hundreds of family and friends paid their respects. Some stood in the street for hours holding cut-out cardboard signs that read “We Will Remember Freddie” in black marker while urging passing cars to honk in support.

Joseph Capista, a lecturer at Towson University who helped organize Sunday’s demonstration, said he hoped Gray’s death would be a tipping point for the city.

“We live in an antebellum society in terms of racial justice,” Capista said, adding that he believed police behavior differed depending on the neighborhood. Policing in white neighborhoods, he said, is often more respectful on the whole than in poorer black ones.

A number of protesters were concerned that Baltimore—nicknamed “Charm City”—was being treated unfairly in the media after the trouble on Saturday.

“Baltimore was not out of control,” said Karen DeCamp, a director at the Greater Homewood Community Corporation, a nonprofit advocacy organization, who was demonstrating outside the funeral home. “Baltimore was not burning. A very small number of people made some trouble, and it was completely blown out of proportion.”

While there was no violence Sunday, there was still anger. Patrices Kelly, 40, who lives in West Baltimore and was watching demonstrators Sunday, said she wanted both the mayor and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts to step down.

Kelly said she was “angry as hell,” and “frustrated” at city officials’ response. “We just want to do something about it.”

Several miles away, Baltimore’s mayor convened a press conference at the Bethel A.M.E. Baptist Church alongside about a dozen religious and community leaders. Rawlings-Blake said that a “small group of agitators” turned otherwise peaceful demonstrations violent on Saturday, calling their actions “unacceptable.”

“We cannot and will not let a minority of incendiary individuals exploit the honorable intentions of those trying to exercise their rights,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said he saw “tremendous restraint” on the part of the Baltimore police Saturday.

On Monday, Gray is set to be buried at the New Shiloh Baptist Church in the neighborhood of Mondawmin. The fault line of York Road will remain for now.

TIME Bizarre

Man Sidetracked by Tater Tots During Suspected Robbery Attempt

The man was awoken when a woman tried to escape her home, police say

A suspected burglary attempt in California went awry last week when authorities say the man got side-tracked by, of course, tater tots.

A homeowner in Petaluma went downstairs Thursday afternoon and found an unfamiliar man, identified by police as James Adams, asleep on her sofa after he apparently enjoyed a snack of frozen tater tots, the San Fransisco Chronicle reports. After calling the police, she tried to leave her house but accidentally awoke the man.

Adams, 44, who was said to have a long criminal history, was apprehended by authorities as he tried to leave the yard.

[SF Chronicle]

TIME Crime

A Dozen Arrested in Baltimore as Freddie Gray Protests Turn Violent

Suspect Dies Baltimore
Patrick Semansky—AP A member of the Baltimore Police Department stands guard outside of the department's Western District police station as men hold their hands up in protest during march for Freddie Gray, April 22, 2015, in Baltimore.

Gray died after suffering a fatal spinal injury while in police custody

(BALTIMORE) — A protest over the death of Freddie Gray, who was critically injured in police custody, started peacefully with thousands marching through downtown streets before the demonstration turned violent and volatile.

The chaotic scene Saturday night prompted the first public remarks from Freddie Gray’s twin sister, who pleaded for peace at a news conference alongside the mayor.

“My family wants to say, can you all please, please stop the violence?” Fredricka Gray said. “Freddie Gray would not want this.”

Just before nightfall, groups of protesters marched from City Hall to the Camden Yards baseball stadium, where the Baltimore Orioles played the Boston Red Sox. Fans were told to briefly stay inside the stadium until the police were able to clear an intersection outside of the venue.

Meanwhile, a smaller “splinter group” looted a convenience store and threw tables and chairs through storefront windows, shattering the glass. One group smashed the window of a department store inside a downtown mall and, at one point, a protester tossed a flaming metal garbage can toward a line of police officers in riot gear as they tried to push back the crowd.

Earlier, a group of protesters smashed the windows of at least three police cars and got into fights with baseball fans outside a bar.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said roughly 1,200 officers were deployed downtown and across the city to try and keep the peace. At least five officers were injured and 12 people were arrested. Batts said he believes the “very violent agitators” are not from Baltimore.

“I’m proud of our residents,” Batts said. “The majority of the people here did a great job.”

But Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she was “profoundly disappointed.”

“Unfortunately a small group of agitators turned what was otherwise a peaceful demonstration into a violent protest. This is something that’s unacceptable to me and everyone who lives in Baltimore,” she said.

Fire officials said roughly 1,200 protesters gathered at City Hall Saturday afternoon to protest Gray’s death, which has prompted near-daily demonstrations since his death on April 19. Gray was arrested one week before that when officers chased him through a West Baltimore neighborhood and dragged him into a police van.

Police acknowledged Friday that Gray, 25, should have received medical attention at the spot where he was arrested — before he was put inside a police transport van handcuffed and without a seat belt, a violation of the Police Department’s policy.

Gray, who is black, was arrested after he made eye contact with officers and ran away, police said. Officers held him down, handcuffed him and loaded him into the van. While inside, he became irate and leg cuffs were put on him, police have said.

Gray asked for medical help several times, beginning before he was placed in the van. After a 30-minute ride that included three stops, paramedics were called.

Authorities have not explained how or when Gray’s spine was injured.

On Saturday afternoon, protesters gathered at the site of Gray’s arrest in the Sandtown neighborhood of West Baltimore before making their way to City Hall.

Leonard Patterson, 56, said he drove from Manassas, Virginia, to be a part of the protest. Patterson said he decided to come after thinking about his college-aged daughter.

“I’m trying to do everything in my limbs, everything in my power, to make this a better world for her,” he said as he held a drawing of Gray being hoisted from a police van to heaven by two angels. “I’m here to do what I can. Police brutality is as old as the 1950s, 1960s. It’s still here.”

Wearing a sign around his neck that said “I am Freddie Gray,” 33-year-old Dante Acree joined thousands of others outside City Hall. Acree said he came out to the protest because “it could have been one of my kids.”

“It could have been my brother, my father,” he said. “I’d want the same support.”

One of the protest’s organizers, Malik Shabazz, the president of Black Lawyers for Justice, said the crowd exceeded their expectations, adding that protesters’ anger is not surprising.

“This is a problem that has not been solved,” he said. “When there’s no justice, they tend to want to take matters into their own hands.”

TIME Crime

Baltimore Man Who Died in Police Custody Should Have Received Care, Officials Say

Baltimore seeks answers in Freddie Gray's death in police custody
Family of Freddie Gray

(BALTIMORE)—Freddie Gray should have received medical attention at the spot where he was arrested—before he was put inside a police van, authorities said Friday.

Baltimore police have come under intense scrutiny after Gray was taken into custody and suffered an unexplained spinal injury that led to his death. Six officers have been suspended with pay as local police and federal authorities investigate.

Commissioner Anthony Batts said the investigation is being refined and the picture is getting “sharper and sharper.” He did not elaborate.

As for calls for his resignation, he said: “That’s not going to happen.”

Gray, who is black, was arrested April 12 after he made eye contact with officers and ran away, police said. Officers held him down, handcuffed him and loaded him into a police van. While inside, he became irate and leg cuffs were put on him, police have said.

Gray was not buckled in by a seat belt, a violation of the police department’s policy.

He asked for medical help several times, and after a 30-minute ride that included three stops, paramedics were called. At some point — either during his arrest or inside the van — he suffered a mysterious spinal injury. Authorities have not explained how or when it occurred.

Deputy police commissioner Kevin Davis said Friday that Gray should have received medical attention at the spot of his arrest. Bystander video shows Gray screaming as officers carried him to the van, his legs appearing limp.

After a week of protests, people angry over the death promised their biggest march Saturday, when they would try to “shut down” the city. The demonstrators say Gray’s death shows police mistreatment of blacks in Baltimore and throughout the country.

The mayor thanked protesters for being peaceful so far. She expects the results of the investigation to be turned over to prosecutors in a week, and they will decide whether any criminal charges will be filed.

“I will not deny we have had a very long and complicated history on issues such as these,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. “But it’s important to remember that we have an equally long history of peaceful and legal protest.”

Asked if Gray’s possible “rough ride” is a one-off, the mayor said: “It’s clearly not a one-off. The reason we have the policy around seat belts in the police vans is because of an incident that happened previously,” referring to Dondi Johnson. He died of a fractured spine in 2005 after he was arrested for urinating in public and transported without a seat belt, with his hands cuffed behind his back.

The leader of a group of local ministers called on Batts to resign immediately.

“It seems that no one in the police department can explain what happened,” said the Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr., president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Baltimore.

He said the police department is “in disarray” and Batts has shown a “lack of viable leadership capabilities.”

The mayor appeared to back the police commissioner at her own news conference.

The president of a black lawyers’ group predicted thousands of people would turn out Saturday, when good weather is forecast and the Orioles are hosting the Boston Red Sox in a Major League Baseball game.

“Things will change on Saturday, and the struggle will be amplified,” said Malik Shabazz of Black Lawyers for Justice.

Shabazz rejected the notion that he was an outside agitator who would stir up trouble.

Bernard Young, Baltimore City Council president said prior to a rally on Thursday that he hoped citizens wouldn’t let “outside forces come in here and dictate how we act by destroying our infrastructure.”

“We can lead ourselves. We’re capable of doing that,” he said.

TIME Crime

This Man Was Willing to Take His Time To Steal a Load of Ice Cream

It took him 15 minutes to pull the cooler out of the shop

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. — Deputies in Florida say a thief worked for 15 minutes to drag a cooler full of Good Humor ice cream past a sleeping clerk at a gas station near Fort Lauderdale.

Surveillance cameras captured a man walking up to the Oakland Park store at 4:09 a.m. on April 2 to find the clerk sleeping.

Authorities say the man opened the ice cream cooler, peered at the clerk, looked directly into the camera and flashed a middle finger.

After a few minutes, he carefully pulled the $2,500 cooler through the store’s doors.

Authorities arrested Dennis Norman on grand theft charges on April 22. He was released from jail on $1,000 bond. There was no phone number available for Norman.

TIME indonesia

The Execution of Several Foreigners in Indonesia Appears Imminent

President Joko Widodo has said he will not interfere

Correction appended, April 24

In a sign that it may be preparing to put 10 mostly foreign drug offenders to death, Indonesia has asked foreign diplomats to travel Saturday to visit the maximum-security prison on the island of Nusakambangan where the inmates are being held.

According to Reuters, the legally required 72-hour notice has not been announced but a diplomat the news agency spoke with on condition of anonymity said, “We still don’t know when the actual date of the execution will happen but we expect that it will be in days.”

On Tuesday, through the state-owned news agency Antara, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the executions were “only awaiting the conclusion of all procedures and the legal process, which I will not interfere in. It is only a matter of time.”

The condemned include Australian, Brazilian, French and Nigerian nationals, as well as a Filipina maid named Mary Jane Veloso who has sparked a social-media campaign for clemency.

Also set to be executed are the two Australian ringleaders of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Repeated appeals to spare their lives have been made by the Australian government and the case has created tensions between the two countries. France also blasted the Indonesian legal system on Thursday.

According to David McRae, a senior research fellow at the Asia Institute in the University of Melbourne, who wrote an analysis paper on the subject in 2012, Jakarta is torn between domestic and international considerations. “One [stream of thought] relishes the opportunity for the government to present itself as firm in the face of international pressure,” he tells TIME. “But I think there are others who are concerned at the prospect of Indonesia’s relations with various of its important international partners becoming mired in needless rancor.”

Indonesia has severe punishments for drug offenses and has once again started implementing the death penalty after a five-year stoppage.


Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described the drug offenders. Nine are foreigners and one is Indonesian.

TIME police

Maryland Governor Sends State Troopers to Baltimore Protests

Hundreds of people march through the streets of Baltimore to seek justice for the death for Freddie Gray who died from injuries suffered in Police custody, Baltimore on April 22, 2015.
Samuel Corum—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Hundreds of people march through the streets of Baltimore to seek justice for the death for Freddie Gray who died from injuries suffered in Police custody, Baltimore on April 22, 2015.

"The last thing we need is more violence in Baltimore City"

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said Thursday he sent state police troopers to Baltimore as protests over a man’s death following an injury in police custody heat up.

“People legitimately have concerns, and the community is out in force protesting,” Hogan said, The Baltimore Sun reports. “I want to thank the folks involved in that. So far it has been peaceful. We want to try to keep things under control. The last thing we need is more violence in Baltimore City.”

Protests have popped up in Baltimore in the past few days as investigations continue into Gray’s case. The 25-year-old died Sunday after suffering an injury during an arrest on April 12, but exactly how he sustained the fatal injury—his spine was 80% “severed at the neck,” a family attorney said earlier—remains a mystery.

Thirty-two troopers reached Baltimore on Thursday afternoon to support and assist police, who Hogan said will continue to be at the protests, after the city requested state help.

While speaking to reporters in Annapolis, Hogan also expressed support for a recently passed police body-camera bill. “Having the real evidence of of exactly what happened, having everything videotaped, is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Several videos of the arrest have emerged in the wake of Gray’s death. One witness said he saw officers have Gray “folded up like a crab.”


[Baltimore Sun]

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com