TIME Crime

Ferguson Cop Says Dislike of Police Is ‘Not a Race Issue’

St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office undated evidence photo from August 9 Ferguson Police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri shows officer Darren Wilson
Reuters Officer Darren Wilson is pictured in this undated handout evidence photo

In an interview with the New Yorker, the cop who killed Michael Brown says race did not affect his policing

Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown last year, said in an interview published Monday that he does not see race as a factor in day-to-day policing.

“Everyone is so quick to jump on race. It’s not a race issue,” Wilson said in a new profile published by the New Yorker.

Wilson said there are two opposing views about policing: “There are people who feel that police have too much power, and they don’t like it. There are people who feel police don’t have enough power, and they don’t like it.”

In March, the Ferguson Police Department received a scathing review from the Justice Department showing police regularly targeted black residents, fining and arresting them disproportionately. A separate Justice Department report cleared Wilson of any civil rights violations in his confrontation with Brown.

Wilson, who is currently living near St. Louis, told the New Yorker he experienced “culture shock” as a white officer in the mostly black counties around the city where he began his police career. “They’re so wrapped up in a different culture than—what I’m trying to say is, the right culture, the better one to pick from,” Wilson said.

When asked to clarify what he meant by “culture,” which the New Yorker noted could sound racially charged, the the former officer said he was referring to a “pre-gang culture” focussed on instant gratification, and that this mentality “is the same younger culture that is everywhere in the inner cities.”

Read the full New Yorker interview here.

TIME Crime

U.S. Police Chiefs Meet to Address Rising Homicide Rates

Police Chief Cathy Lanier
Win McNamee—Getty Images Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department Cathy Lanier speaks at a press conference at police headquarters in Washington, DC., May 21, 2015

Some cities have seen the number of murders so far in 2015 increase by more than 50 percent over last year

Police chiefs from around the U.S. met in Washington, D.C., on Monday to discuss the nation’s spike in homicides.

“The goal of the summit is to identify potential gaps and propose solutions that will help us stop this escalating violence,” Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier, who organized this meeting of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, said in a statement.

Some cities, including Baltimore, Houston, and Milwaukee, have seen the number of murders on record in 2015 rise by at least 50% over the past year, Fox reports. Gun violence is so rampant in Milwaukee, police say, that an estimated 80% of gun shots recorded by police sensors do not result in a 911 call. Chicago has also seen 243 homicides in 2015, a 20% increase from last year.

“In the major cities, of course, you have a lot of issues with drugs and gangs and violence,” Richard Beary, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told Fox. “And then throw in the mental health, and throw in the availability of guns, and here we are.”

 

TIME Crime

Colorado Theater Shooting Jury Keeps Death Penalty as Option

James Holmes, trail
AP In this file image, made from Colorado Judicial Department video, defense attorney Tamara Brady, left, questions Robert Holmes, top right, the father of James Holmes, background left, during the sentencing phase of the Colorado theater shooting trial in Centennial, Colo, July 28, 2015

The same jury last month convicted Holmes of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 2012 attack

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Jurors in the Colorado theater shooting trial declined to rule out the death penalty Monday as they move toward sentencing James Holmes, finding his defense failed to persuade them to show him mercy.

The decision clears the way for a last plea from both sides, including what is expected to be gripping and emotional testimony from victims about the harm and suffering Holmes caused with his slaughter.

After those arguments, the jury will make its final decision on whether the 27-year-old should die by lethal injection or spend the rest of his life in prison.

The same jury last month convicted Holmes of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 2012 attack at a suburban Denver movie theater. Jurors rejected the defense claim that mental illness had so warped his mind that he could not tell right from wrong.

In the first step of Colorado’s complicated death sentencing process, prosecutors argued Holmes sprang a terrifying and cruel ambush on hundreds of unsuspecting victims. Jurors agreed and said the crime was so heinous that the death penalty could be appropriate.

In the second step, defense lawyers pleaded with jurors to show mercy, saying it was mental illness and not free will that drove Holmes to murder. They called dozens of former teachers, family friends, and Holmes’ parents and his sister, who told jurors Holmes had been a happy, friendly child known as “Jimmy” but kept to himself in his later years.

Holmes’ parents, Robert and Arlene Holmes, testified that they never suspected their son was mentally ill. But Robert Holmes acknowledged they rarely communicated with Holmes in the months before the shooting and, in his family, emotions just weren’t talked about.

A forensic psychiatrist testified that the younger Holmes was “genetically loaded” for mental illness, as Robert Holmes’ father and twin sister had been hospitalized with mental illness.

“He was not a violent person. At least not until the event,” Robert Holmes said, referring to the theater attack.

Jurors deliberated for less than three hours before reaching their latest decision. They found the appealing portrait of a younger, kinder Holmes didn’t outweigh the heinous nature of his methodical and calculated attack on defenseless moviegoers.

Now both sides can call witnesses and present evidence before the jury deliberates one last time to decide whether Holmes lives or dies.

Holmes was a promising student in a demanding neuroscience Ph.D. program at the University of Colorado when his life went awry. He broke up with his first and only girlfriend and dropped out of school, abandoning his longtime goal of becoming a scientist.

In an eerie notebook introduced as evidence in his trial, Holmes laid out his plans of attack, diagnosed himself with a litany of mental problems and wrote that he hid the depths of his problems — and his homicidal plans — from everyone.

Shortly after midnight on July 20, 2012, he slipped into the suburban Aurora theater and opened fire with a shotgun, assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol before surrendering meekly to police outside.

TIME Crime

Amy Schumer Calls for Action on Gun Control After Trainwreck Shooting

"Unless something is done and done soon, dangerous people will continue to get their hands on guns"

Comedian and actress Amy Schumer joined her cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, on Monday to make an emotional call for more intensive background checks and increased government funding for mental health care to combat mass shootings.

“Unless something is done and done soon, dangerous people will continue to get their hands on guns,” the Trainwreck star said, several days after a gunman—whose name she refused to say—killed two people and injured nine others when he opened fire during a screening of the romantic comedy.

“We need a background check system without holes and fatal flaws,” she said. “We need one with accurate information that protects us like a firewall. The critics scoff and say, ‘Well, there’s no way to stop crazy people from doing crazy things,’ but they’re wrong. There is a way to stop them. Preventing dangerous people from getting guns is very possible. We have common-sense solutions. We can toughen background checks and stop the sale of firearms to folks who have a violent history or history of mental illness.”

The Democratic senator for New York laid out proposals to incentivize states to share information on felons, domestic abusers and dangerously mentally ill, to increase funding for mental illness treatment, and to standardize involuntary commitment for the mentally ill across all 50 states.

 

 

TIME Crime

Nationwide Homicide Spike Hits Small Connecticut Capital City

Hartford has already seen as many murders as it did all of last year

The murder of a 25-year old Hartford man over the weekend was the Connecticut city’s 20th murder this year, making this year already more deadly than last year as homicide rates spike across the country.

The incident in Hartford could indicate that a crime uptick sweeping larger cities is hitting smaller ones, too. Hartford saw only 19 homicides last year, but that was a low point in the city’s crime rate in recent years. According to police statistics, there were 33 murders in all of 2009, 27 murders in 2011, and 23 murders in 2013.

“Our police department continues to work with State and Federal partners in an effort to identify these criminals before they act, without concern for life, with the goal of preventing these most violent crimes,” Mayor Pedro Segarra said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can within our means to identify potential correlations that may assist our policing efforts. Even with a commitment of significant resources and partnerships across all levels of government, our community needs to continue to come together as government cannot address this issue alone.”

The nationwide uptick has prompted police chiefs from all over the country—including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia—to gather Monday in Washington to discuss tactics for stemming the bloodshed.

In larger cities, murders are noticeably on the rise. Baltimore is seeing an unprecedented spike in shootings, especially since the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in May.

Forty-five people were killed there in July, making it Baltimore’s deadliest month since 1972, even though the city has 275,000 fewer people than it did back then. Police say 191 people have been killed in Baltimore so far in 2015, and 116 of them were killed between May and July—the highest of any three-month period in records kept since 1970, the Baltimore Sun reports. And 2015 is also the first year that has seen two months with more than 40 killings.

Washington, D.C., is also seeing a spike in violent crime, with 84 homicides so far this year, putting 2015 on track to be the most deadly year since 2008. And in Chicago, murders and shootings have gone up, even as overall crime has gone down—there were 10 more murders in July than last year. Violent crime in Los Angeles is up more than 20%, even as the homicide rate in the city drops by almost 7%, according to the Los Angeles Times.

TIME Crime

Man Shoots Defendant Waiting at Mississippi Courthouse

Mississippi Courthouse Shooting
Jeff Amy—AP Authorities investigate a shooting outside a courthouse in Canton, Miss. on Aug. 3, 2015.

The victim was expected to appear for a status conference on a case for which he'd been indicted on drug charges

(CANTON, Miss.) — A man fatally shot a defendant waiting in a small courtyard outside a criminal courthouse in Mississippi on Monday morning, and a suspect is in custody, law enforcement officials said.

The suspect has been arrested and is in jail, Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker said, but he declined to identify him or the victim.

Tucker and Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest said they don’t know why the suspect would have shot the other man. The victim was expected to appear in court on drug charges, but he was not a witness or a suspect in other current criminal cases, Guest said.

The shooting happened outside Madison County’s criminal courthouse in Canton, a historic antebellum town known for its Christmas light festival on the town square.

The suspect got out of a car, walked up and shot the victim once with a semiautomatic handgun, Tucker said. Deputies emerged from the courthouse, and the suspect laid down the handgun and was arrested without a struggle, Tucker said.

The victim was hit once in the chest and died on the scene, Tucker said. He described the shooting as unfolding quickly.

In the courtyard, two semicircles of four benches surround a flagpole. Law enforcement officials searched with metal detectors under crepe myrtle trees, looking for the shell from the handgun. But despite an hour of sifting through pine straw, Tucker said, authorities had not yet found the shell.

There are metal detectors inside the courthouse door, but the parking lot is open to the public and unguarded. The Canton Police Department sits at the rear of the parking lot, less than 200 yards from the front door of the courthouse.

District Attorney Michael Guest said the victim had been waiting outside the courthouse with his lawyer, Rusty Willard. Guest said the victim was expected to appear for a status conference on a case for which he’d been indicted on drug charges. Prosecutors expected that the victim would reject a plea offer and the judge would then set the case for trial, Guest said.

Guest said he thought there was little that deputies could have done to prevent the shooting. “There would have been, in my opinion, no way this could have been stopped,” Guest said.

Canton is the seat of Madison County, just north of Jackson. The south end of the county is a rapidly growing suburb, while the northern half is poorer and a more traditional part of the South. Canton also is the home of a Nissan assembly plant that employs more than 6,000 people. Canton’s population is about 13,000.

The 1996 movie “A Time to Kill,” based on John Grisham’s novel, was filmed in part at the courthouse. In the movie, a father played by Samuel L. Jackson goes to court and kills two men on trial over the rape of his daughter.

TIME Crime

Texas Attorney General Charged With Securities Fraud

Ken Paxton
Eric Gay—AP In this July 29, 2015 file photo, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks during a hearing in Austin.

Paxton will be allowed to stay on the job while his criminal case proceeds

(McKINNEY, Texas) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton turned himself in Monday to face charges that he misled investors and didn’t disclose money he made for referring financial clients as part of his private business before becoming the state’s top lawyer in January.

Paxton, a 52-year-old Republican, was fingerprinted and photographed at the Collin County jail while a throng of media waited outside. It was a frenzy reminiscent of one year ago when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who was also still in office — was booked after being indicted on charges of abusing his power with a 2013 veto.

Neither Paxton nor his attorney commented on the matter after news of the indictment leaked over the weekend. Other top Texas Republicans have also remained silent, including Gov. Greg Abbott, who last held the attorney general job, and Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican presidential candidate and the state’s one-time solicitor general.

Just as Perry was allowed to finish his term after his indictment, Paxton can stay on the job while his criminal case proceeds.

The booking documents released Monday by the jail in Paxton’s hometown of McKinney, a Republican stronghold near Dallas, show that he faces with two counts of first-degree securities fraud and a lesser charge of failing to register with state securities regulators. Each of the fraud counts carries a punishment of five to 99 years in prison.

Questions about Paxton’s financial dealings shadowed the tea party conservative throughout his first seven months on the job. His aides have denied any wrongdoing by Paxton and described the criminal investigation led by two special prosecutors as a political smear campaign.

Among the allegations is that Paxton encouraged investment in Servergy Inc., a tech startup under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Associated Press last month reported the connections between the company and Paxton, who listed himself as a shareholder and whose name is among search terms that Servergy attorneys used to satisfy a federal subpoena.

In the middle of last year’s heated Republican primary, Paxton admitted to violating state securities law by not disclosing to regulators that he was receiving commissions for referring law clients to a financial planner. He paid a $1,000 fine and chalked it up as an administrative oversight.

Paxton joins other current or recent state attorneys general facing criminal charges.

A Pennsylvania grand jury in January recommended that state Attorney General Kathleen Kane face charges over allegations of engaging in a cover-up and lying about her role in a grand jury leak to a newspaper. Kane, a Democrat who took office in 2013, has not been charged and has denied breaking any laws. Utah’s previous two attorneys generals were also arrested last summer on charges of running pay-to-play schemes during their combined 13 years in office.

TIME Innovation

Why Some District Attorneys Are Trying to Prove Themselves Wrong

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Some district attorneys have dedicated units working to prove them wrong.

By Nicole Porette with Dean Meminger in the Crime Report

2. Find out why the U.S. unskilled labor visa program is like a new American slavery.

By Jessica Garrison, Ken Bensinger and Jeremy Singer-Vine in BuzzFeed

3. For Turkey, the fight against ISIS upends a fragile peace with the Kurds.

By Kaya Genç in Pacific Standard

4. The next billion entrepreneurs will be women.

By Carol Leaman in the Next Web

5. What is your attention really worth?

By Manoush Zomorodi in Note to Self from WNYC

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME United Kingdom

Former British Leader Was Accused of Sex Abuse, Watchdog Says

edward heath
Reuters Edward Heath, former British Prime Minister, leaves Westminster Abbey after a service to mark the centenary of modern Australia on July 7, 2000.

Edward Heath was accused of child sex abuse, but he died in 2005 and was never prosecuted

A former British prime minister was accused of sex abuse involving children in the 1990s, the country’s police watchdog revealed on Monday.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it was investigating Wiltshire Police force’s handling of claims against Edward Heath. Heath — who died in 2005 — was never prosecuted.

The IPCC said in a statement that it was looking into allegations that a criminal prosecution was not pursued and whether Wiltshire Police “took any steps to investigate” claims against Heath. A retired senior officer made both allegations, it added.

The watchdog said it was investigating whether a criminal prosecution was…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Burundi

Gunfire in Burundi After Assassination of General

Assasination of Adolphe Nshimirimana could spark revenge killings and fuel further violence in the country

BUJUMBURA, Burundi — Gunfire rang out in Burundi’s capital Sunday night following the killing of a feared military general who was a close ally of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Nkurunziza, who was re-elected last month, said in a televised address that he has ordered the police to find Lt. Gen. Adolphe Nshimirimana’s killers within 10 days.

The killing of Nshimirimana — who was the senior presidential adviser for internal security — could spark revenge killings and further fuel violence that stemmed from Nkurunziza’s controversial bid for a third term. Nshimirimana was killed in a drive-by shooting early Sunday in the capital, Bujumbura.

Carina Tertsakian, who researches Burundi for Human Rights Watch, said Nshimirimana was “one of the key hardliners around the president” and became even more influential as Nkurunziza faced regular street protests by civilians who wanted Nkurunziza to retire after serving for two terms.

“Despite or perhaps because of his brutal reputation, Adolphe was generally seen as untouchable, with no one in a position of power daring, or even suggesting, holding him to account,” she said.

Human Rights Watch has received frequent allegations that he was behind many incidents of killing, torture, arrests of suspected opponents and other abuses over the past several years, she said.

Nshimirimana, a former army chief of staff as well as head of the intelligence services, is believed to have helped to defeat an attempted coup against Nkurunziza in May.

The U.S. has condemned the killing and is urging restraint.

Nkurunziza won the July 21 presidential polls with 69 percent of the vote. The international community condemned the elections as not credible because of violence, intimidation, media restrictions and questions over the legitimacy of a third term for Nkurunziza.

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