NYC Probe Finds Firm Knowingly Participated in Video About Killing Police Officers

Investigation focuses on The Bronx Defenders

A public defense firm that receives significant funding from New York City knowingly participated in a music video that advocated for the killing of police officers, an investigation by the city’s Department of Investigation has found.

Attorneys at The Bronx Defenders not only appeared in the video but allowed it to be filmed at their headquarters, according to a department statement on the findings. Rap lyrics in the “Hands Up” video include “For Mike Brown and Sean Bell a cop got to get killed” and “time to start killing these coppers.” In one scene, two men point guns at the head of a man dressed as an officer.

“Advocating the killing of police officers is unacceptable and offensive,” DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said in the statement. “These attorneys have abysmally failed to meet their obligations to their clients, to the courts and to the city as a whole.”

The video was released at a tense time for the city, which faced tough police-community relations following the chokehold-related death of Staten Island man Eric Garner and lack of indictment for the officer involved in that case. The video, however, was released prior to the deadly ambush of two officers in Brooklyn.

Investigators also found that the executive director of the firm misled city officials about the organization’s involvement. The New York Daily News reports Robin Steinberg, the organization’s director, released a statement saying the rappers “released a version of ‘Hands Up’ we did not authorize or endorse,” shortly after the video went public.

The Department of Investigations began looking into the Bronx Defenders involvement on Dec. 12. City officials are mulling a next action.

TIME Civil Rights

FBI Letter to Martin Luther King Jr Reveals Ugly Truths From Hoover’s Era

Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964
"First person in the Western world to have shown us that a struggle can be waged without violence"

MLK is depicted as evil and a fraud in the letter that urges the civil rights icon to commit suicide

A scathing letter sent by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Civil Rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has been uncovered, pulling back the curtain on J. Edgar Hoover’s efforts to discredit the leader as his popularity grew.

In the anonymous letter, published for the first time in the New York Times Wednesday, the author refers to the Nobel Peace Prize recipient as “evil,” a “fraud,” and a “dissolute, abnormal moral imbecile.” The author threatens to expose King as an adulterer and in the end flat-out suggests that the leader commit suicide.

One passage reads: “No person can overcome facts, not even a fraud like yourself. Lend your sexually psychotic ear to the enclosure. You will find yourself in all your dirt, filth, evil, and moronic talk exposed on the record for all time. I repeat—no person can argue successfully against facts. You are finished.”

The FBI under Hoover devoted a great deal of attention to Dr. King, whom Hoover considered a threat to national security, Vox reports. The letter reportedly came to be after Hoover failed to prove King was a Communist, which he could have used to disgrace him. Yale professor of American History Beverly Gage wrote in the New York Times, the letter is “the most notorious and embarrassing example of Hoover’s F.B.I. run amok.”

Read the full letter at the New York Times.

TIME Congress

Illinois House Member Investigated by Ethics Committee

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) may have violated House rules by paying his former Chief of Staff as a contractor

The House Ethics committee is continuing an investigation into Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) to determine whether he improperly used funds to pay a former staffer, according to a statement released Monday. Gutierrez is under review for allegedly paying his former chief of staff Douglas Scofield thousands of dollars a month to provide training, which may not be permissible under House rules.

Gutierrez paid Scofield $595,000 for providing services that included staff development and training between 2003 and 2013, according to a report released by the committee. Because the funds were reportedly derived from the Congressman’s Members’ Representational Allowance — his office’s annual budget — Gutierrez may have violated congressional rules. While funds from the Allowance may be used to hire a contractor, the services Scofield provided “more closely resembled those performed by an employee or consultant – someone who provides professional advice or services—than those performed by a contractor – someone who performs a discrete task or job, such as maintenance, data entry, custodial services, or staff training,” the report says.

The investigation was reportedly sparked after USA Today published an article in June noting Scofield had been paid over $500,000 after he left Gutierrez’s staff. The Office of Congressional Ethics referred their report to the House committee, which decided Monday to review the matter further. Scofield, who is currently a lobbyist, worked as the Congressman’s Chief of Staff, until 2002 before leaving and eventually launching his own Chicago-based firm.

The committee released the following statement on the review: “The Committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.”

Rep. Gutierrez’s spokesman Douglas G. Rivlin, also released a statement on the investigation: “As the Committee reviews this matter, Congressman Gutiérrez and his office will continue to cooperate fully. As the Committee points out, its review does not indicate that any violation has occurred or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.”

TIME Crime

Police: Denver Man Ate Pot-Infused Candy Before Shooting Wife

This undated photo provided by the Denver Police Department shows of Richard Kirk. Kirk is being held for investigation of first-degree murder in the death of his wife in their Denver home.
AP This undated photo provided by the Denver Police Department shows of Richard Kirk. Kirk is being held for investigation of first-degree murder in the death of his wife in their Denver home.

His wife had been on the phone with 911 for almost 13 minutes before police arrived

A Denver man accused of shooting his wife while she was on the phone with 911 dispatchers had eaten marijuana-infused candy before the incident, authorities say.

Detectives are investigating whether the candy had influenced his actions, the Associated Press reports. Richard Kirk, 47, is being investigated as a suspect in the shooting but charges have not been filed. Investigators reportedly found receipts for “Karma Kandy Orange Ginger” and said he appeared under the influence of drugs during an interview. They’re investigating whether there were any other drugs in his system at the time of the shooting.

Kristine Kirk, 44, was shot in the head Monday almost 13 minutes into her call with 911 dispatchers. Police had not yet arrived at the time of her shooting. Throughout the call, the AP reports, Kirk said her husband, who was reportedly hallucinating and asking her to shoot him, had frightened her and her children.

Neither the 911 call nor dispatch records have been released to the public.



Feds Probe Florida State’s Handling of Jameis Winston Rape Claims

Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles in action during the BCS National Championship. Florida State defeated Auburn 34-31 in the game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 6 2014.
John Pyle—Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles in action during the BCS National Championship. Florida State defeated Auburn 34-31 in the game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 6 2014.

The U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Office has begun to investigate whether the university violated Title IX laws while looking into allegations of sexual assault against Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating Florida State University’s handling of an alleged sexual assault last year involving Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston.

The investigation will determine whether or not the university violated Title IX laws while looking into allegations of rape against Winston. The alleged rape—which the football player has always denied—is said to have occurred in December 2012.

The university announced Winston would not face criminal charges for the alleged rape in December. But the victim filed a Title IX complaint in March with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, USA Today reports. The university is accused of meeting with Winston in January to discuss the assault, without the accuser present.

Because the investigation and meeting were reportedly conducted so far after the incident, the Office of Civil Rights is looking to see whether or not the school is in violation of the federal law that protects students against sex discrimination, including acts of sexual violence and harassment. Under that law, schools are required to conduct timely and neutral investigations into all complaints of harassment and violence and discipline accordingly. A university is at risk of losing federal funding if it does not comply.

FSU told USA Today it could not comment on the ongoing investigation, but said the school has rules in place to protect students. “The Code of Conduct imposes no time limits on when an aggrieved student may file a complaint or when new information can be considered,” the statement read. “The university evaluates all information it receives and acts on it when appropriate. We take seriously the trust and privacy of the entire university community.”

[USA Today]

TIME Transportation

Chicago Train Operator Admits She Fell Asleep Before Crash

A handout photo shows a derailed commuter train resting on an escalator at O'Hare international airport in Chicago
NBC Chicago/Reuters A derailed commuter train is shown resting on an escalator at O'Hare international airport in Chicago March 24, 2014.

The rail operator steering the commuter train that derailed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Monday, injuring more than 30 people and causing about $6 million in damages, admits she had fallen asleep at the controls before the 3 a.m. accident

The woman operating the Chicago commuter train that derailed and injured more than 30 people on Monday morning has admitted she fell asleep before the early accident and only woke up on impact, investigators said Wednesday.

“She did admit that she dozed off prior to entering the station,” Ted Turpin, a National Transportation Safety Board’s investigator, said during a briefing Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. “She did not awake until the train hit.”

The woman had only been a Chicago Transit Authority operator for two months before the crash, in which the train went airborne and hit an escalator at O’Hare International Airport, injuring at least 32 people and causing about $6 million worth of damage. Turpin said the operator, who name hasn’t been released, is cooperating with authorities and that Monday’s incident was not the first time she had fallen asleep on the job. She dozed off at the helm in February and caused a train to partially miss its stop, Turpin said.

Turpin added that her recent schedule was erratic and she would often fill in for colleagues. “Human factors” contribute to about 40 percent of train crashes, the Federal Railroad Administration estimated as recently as March 10, and fatigue often plays a role. The NTSB is investigating her training, work schedule and whether she has any prior infractions.


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