TIME justice

Cleveland Agrees to Strict New Policing Rules After Federal Probe

Cleveland Police Shooting
John Minchillo—AP Riot police stand in formation as a protest forms against the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a patrolman charged in the shooting deaths of two unarmed suspects, on May 23, 2015, in Cleveland.

New agreement with Justice Department would curtail use of excessive force, and encourage a more diverse police department

The Cleveland Police Department agreed Tuesday to strict, legally binding new regulations, after a Justice Department probe found it had regularly used unnecessarily excessive force.

The department agreed to close oversight from an independent monitor, pledged to overhaul its use of force regulations, and said it would develop a recruitment policy to attract a more diverse force. The city will also create a Community Police Commission, made up of representatives from across the community as well as police representatives.

The new agreement with the DoJ, which will be enforceable in court, is the response to the Justice Department investigation begun in 2013, which concluded in December that the Cleveland Police Department regularly engaged in a pattern of excessive force.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that every American benefits from a police force that protects and serves all members of the community,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in a statement. “The agreement we have reached with the city of Cleveland is the result of the hard work and dedication of the entire Cleveland community, and looks to address serious concerns, rebuild trust, and maintain the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.”

U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach of the Northern District of Ohio said he thinks this agreement can serve as “an example of what true partnership and hard work can accomplish – a transformational blueprint for reform that can be a national model for any police department ready to escort a great city to the forefront of the 21st Century.”

The announcement comes in the wake of widespread unrest in Cleveland following the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a Cleveland police officer who was charged with manslaughter after he climbed on the roof of an unarmed black couple’s car and fired at least 15 shots at close range, killing them both.

In total, Brelo and his fellow officers fired more than 100 shots in eight seconds at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams after pursuing them in a high-speed chase for 22 miles. After the verdict was announced Saturday, protestors took to the streets of Cleveland, demanding justice and reform.

TIME Education

Mom Attends High School Graduation in Late Son’s Place

A Chicago area woman sat among students at Thornton Fractional North High School's graduation in honor of her son who died in a car crash

A mother mourning the loss of her son took his place at the high school graduation ceremony on Wednesday that he was supposed to attend.

Katherine Jackson’s son, 18-year-old Aaron Dunigan, died in a weekend car crash in suburban Chicago after his senior prom, NBC Washington reports. Dunigan was the passenger in a vehicle that crossed over a median and collided with another car; the driver of the car Dunigan rode in was charged with DUI causing death, as well as reckless homicide with a motor vehicle.

On Wednesday, Jackson took her son’s spot among the graduates of Thornton Fractional North High School and walked the stage to receive his diploma.

“[My son] knows his mom never walked the stage,” she said. “I’m going to be his legs and he’s going to be my wings and we’re going to go up there and get our diploma.”

Dunigan, a quarterback, was set to play football at Southern Illinois University in the fall.

[NBC Washington]

TIME celebrities

Josh Duggar Responds to Child Molestation Claims: ‘I Acted Inexcusably’

19 Kids and Counting star responds to accusations

Josh Duggar, the eldest son in the family chronicled in TLC’s series 19 Kids and Counting, has spoken out after it emerged he had been accused of child molestation in the past.

“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends,” Duggar, who was accused as a teenager of molesting five underage girls, told PEOPLE in a statement. “I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation.”

Duggar, 27, who has since resigned from his role at the Family Research Council, said his parents took him to the authorities and later arranged for him and his victims to receive counseling. In a statement to PEOPLE, his parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, reaffirmed their support for their son and called the events “one of the most difficult times of our lives.”

“I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions,” Duggar added. “I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”

Read more at PEOPLE

TIME justice

Six Baltimore Officers Indicted in Freddie Gray’s Death

Gray died April 19, a week after his arrest

Six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray have been indicted by a grand jury, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced Thursday, the latest milestone in a case that brought riots and protests to the city and reignited the national debate over police force.

Gray, 25, died on April 19, a week after suffering a severe spinal injury in police custody after being arrested over a knife in West Baltimore. Mosby said Thursday that the charges against the officers—Caesar R. Goodson Jr., Garrett E. Miller, Edward M. Nero, William G. Porter, Brian W. Rice and Alicia D. White—were similar to what she had announced on May 1.

“As is often the case, during an ongoing investigation, charges can and should be revised based upon the evidence,” Mosby said, declining to take questions. Additional charges were brought against three officers, she said, while three others had a charge of false imprisonment dropped. A charge of reckless endangerment was added to the earlier charges against all six officers.

Goodson remains charged with the most serious of the charges against the officers, called second-degree depraved-heart murder.

Marc Zayon, who represents Nero, told the Baltimore Sun that he was “quite confident” of securing an acquittal after the charge of false imprisonment and one of the second-degree assault charges were dropped against his client.

Ivan Bates, one of White’s attorneys, told the Sun he “looks forward to trying this case against Mrs. Mosby herself and proving that Sgt. Alicia White is innocent.”

MORE: What Is ‘Depraved Heart Murder’?

Mosby said Gray’s injury occurred while he was being handcuffed and put head-first into a police van. She added that his pleas for aid were repeatedly ignored. Attorneys for the officers had previously called for Mosby to be dismissed from the case for what they claimed as potential conflicts of interest or bias. The Justice Department began a civil rights investigation into the city’s police department after Gray’s death.

In an interview with CNN, Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin said he wasn’t surprised by Thursday’s announcement, adding, “Now it’s up to our court system to process this.”

Read next: Why Charges in the Freddie Gray Case Came Quickly

TIME justice

Why This Red State Is Poised to End the Death Penalty

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is seen through bars during a tour of the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in Tecumseh, Neb., on May 19, 2015.
Nati Harnik—AP Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is seen through bars during a tour of the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in Tecumseh, Neb., on May 19, 2015.

It would be the first conservative state to do so since 1973

As a college student in the mid-1990s, Colby Coash attended an execution at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln. Two groups gathered to bear witness. On one side were death-penalty opponents, who prayed quietly. On the other side, the atmosphere was festive.

“It was like a tailgate party,” Coash recalls, replete with a band and barbecue, and locals banging on pots and pans. As the minutes ticked toward midnight and the condemned was strapped into the electric chair, the crowd drank beer and counted down “like it was New Year’s Eve,” says Coash, who supported the death penalty at the time. “Later, it didn’t feel right. I didn’t like how it felt to be a part of the celebration of somebody’s death.”

Coash now serves in Lincoln as a state senator, and on Wednesday he was among a cadre of conservatives who voted to abolish the death penalty in Nebraska. If the measure becomes law, Nebraska would become the first red state to ban capital punishment since North Dakota in 1973.

Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican who supports the death penalty, has threatened to veto the bill. But Wednesday’s 32-15 margin in the Nebraska legislature indicates supporters have the votes to override such a move. Ricketts has five days to sign or veto the measure before it automatically becomes law.

The landmark vote was a reflection of the shifting politics of criminal justice. For decades, law-and-order conservatives have been staunch proponents of capital punishment. But in recent years, a growing number of Republicans have begun to oppose the death penalty, arguing it violates the central tenets of conservatism.

“It does things that are cardinal sins for conservatives,” says Marc Hyden, a former NRA staffer from Georgia who serves as coordinator of a national group called Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. “It risks innocent life. It wastes taxpayer money when there’s cheaper alternatives, and fails to be representative of a limited government—while it meanwhile fails to deter crime.”

Overall, Americans’ support for the death penalty is relatively stable, according to a 2015 Gallup poll that found 63% of respondents favored capital punishment for convicted murderers. But among conservatives, support for the practice appears to be dropping, though it remains high. In 2014, Gallup found that 76% of Republicans supported the death penalty, down from 81% the year before. Says Hyden: “It’s just a broken government program that conservatives are speaking out against in greater numbers nationally.”

Eighteen states have banned the death penalty, mostly in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Nebraska might seem an unlikely candidate to join them. The state is a conservative stronghold, and while its unicameral legislature is officially nonpartisan, 36 of its 49 seats are held by Republicans.

But the Cornhusker State has been down this road before. In 1979, a bill banning capital punishment passed the legislature before it was vetoed by the governor. Though Nebraska has 11 inmates on death row, no one has been executed in the state since 1997. In 2013 some observers believed there were enough votes to pass such a measure, though not enough to override a veto. The current legislature had voted twice already to abolish the death penalty.

In preparation for the push, opponents of the death penalty lobbied lawmakers extensively, circulating studies that show the practice is ineffective as a deterrent to crime and enlisting the family members of murder victims to testify about how the endless appeals process compounded their grief.

Stacy Anderson, a conservative Christian and former Republican operative who directs a group called Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said the unique nature of the state legislature—the only nonpartisan, unicameral legislature in the U.S.—helped break down traditional partisan lines. “It’s a very cordial, small body,” Anderson says. “They engage the issues far beyond the regular political rhetoric.”

Some conservatives originally ducked meetings on the topic, Anderson added. Over time, a number came to change their minds. “They learned how much it cost, the risk of executing innocents, how it didn’t align with pro-life values,” she says.

Death penalty opponents hope Nebraska’s vote will be the beginning of a trend. A push to abolish capital punishment in conservative Montana fell one vote short earlier this year. Anti-death penalty legislation has also been introduced in Kansas.

Before the vote Wednesday, Ricketts released a statement urging lawmakers to listen to their constituents. “No one has traveled the state more than I have in the past 18 months, and everywhere I go there is overwhelming support for keeping the death penalty in Nebraska,” he said, calling a vote to abolish the death penalty a vote to “give our state’s most heinous criminals more lenient sentences. This isn’t rhetoric. This is reality.”

For Coash, that’s precisely the point. “People sent me here to Lincoln to find and root out government waste,” he says. In addition to the expense, he came to believe that the protracted appeals process prevented the families of victims from achieving closure. “Justice delayed is justice denied,” he says. And “I’m a pro-life guy. I couldn’t reconcile my pro-life beliefs regarding the unborn with doing something different with the condemned.”

TIME Education

Teen Barred From Prom for Wearing a Kilt

He was told to change into a different outfit

A North Carolina teen was not allowed to attend his prom until he changed out of the kilt he was wearing.

David Leix, wore a kilt from his late grandfather to the dance last Friday, but was turned away by organizers, ABC 11 reports.

The event, called Praise Prom, is a Christian alternative prom for kids who are homeschooled. The prom has a dress code, and asks girls to wear floor-length gowns and guys to wear something along the lines of dress pants. Jeans, shorts, sagging pants and T-shirts are not allowed.

“They started going into ‘well even for dresses it’s too short to be a dress,’ I was being quiet, ‘OK we’re calling it a dress. That’s not what it is,'” Leix told ABC 11. Leix had reportedly worn kilts to formal events since he was a child.

Leix was allowed into the prom two hours later after parents of prom attendees bought him black pants to wear.

Praise Prom did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

[ABC 11]

TIME Crime

George Zimmerman Involved in Florida Shooting, Police Say

Reportedly suffered a minor gunshot wound

George Zimmerman, the onetime neighborhood watchman acquitted of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in 2013, was involved in another shooting incident Monday, according to Florida police.

Lake Mary police chief Steve Bracknell said the incident involved two men in Lake Mary, local TV station WESH reports. Zimmerman’s condition is unknown, but police at the scene said he appeared to sustain a minor wound.

Police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett told CNN the shooting appeared to be a road rage-related incident, but TIME was unsuccessful in reaching Gillett to confirm Zimmerman’s involvement.

The Florida resident fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old, in February 2012 after an apparent altercation. The shooting and subsequent trial sparked a national debate about racial profiling that acted as a precursor to recent protests over police brutality of young African American men.

He was arrested in January after being accused of assault by his girlfriend. The charges were dropped after she recanted her story.

[WESH]

TIME justice

Attorney General to Investigate Baltimore Police Department

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch appears before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 7, 2015.
Mark Wilson—Getty Images U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch appears before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 7, 2015.

"We're talking about generations of mistrust"

The Justice Department is investigating the Baltimore Police Department to determine whether there is a pattern of discriminatory policing, and whether police are violating residents’ civil rights, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Friday.

“It was clear to a number of people looking at the situation that the community’s rather frayed trust was even worse and has been severed,” Lynch told reporters as she announced the investigation. “We’re talking about generations of mistrust, and generations of communities who feel very separated from government.”

Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake requested the investigation on Wednesday, and the Justice Department rarely declines such requests. During the probe, the Justice Department will track the Baltimore Police Department’s use of force, and its pattern of stops, searches and arrests. The Attorney General said that when she first saw the demonstrations and riots in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, “my first reaction was profound sadness, sadness for the loss of life, erosion of trust, for the sadness and despair that the community was feeling.”

The federal investigation comes just a few months after the Justice Department’s report on the Ferguson, Mo. police department following the death of Michael Brown last year, an investigation that uncovered a pattern of racist comments within the police department and led to the resignation of Ferguson’s chief of police.

The Attorney General acknowledged the recent federal investigations into police departments accused of civil rights violations, noting that “we’ve had a number of situations that have highlighted this fracture in various communities.” She added that she hopes these reports can help other jurisdictions maintain a fair law enforcement system.

“Our hope is that other jurisdictions, cities large and small, can look at these reports and say ‘are these the issues that I face?’” she said. “Our goal is to be a resource and a guide, but not to be a hand reaching into police departments…We truly believe that cities and police departments, they know these issues best.”

TIME justice

Baltimore Police Chief Welcomes Mayor’s Request for Federal Probe

Anthony Batts, Kevin Davis
Patrick Semansky—AP Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Anthony Batts, center, approaches a news conference before announcing that the department's investigation into the death of Freddie Gray was turned over to the State's Attorney's office a day early on April 30, 2015.

Anthony Batts embraces call for civil rights review of the “patterns and practices” of the city's police department

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said Thursday he welcomed “with open arms” a request by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for a Department of Justice civil rights review of his department.

“We have never shied away from scrutiny or assistance,” Batts said in a statement. “Our work is ongoing and anyone who wishes to be a part of helping the department better connect with the community will always be welcome.”

Rawlings-Blake asked for a full-scale civil rights review of the “patterns and practices” of the Baltimore police department in the wake of 25-year-old Freddie Gray’s death. Gray died from injuries sustained while in police custody and his death sparked outrage across the city. Six police officers were charged last week in Gray’s April 19 death.

“We need to have a foundation of trust,” Mayor Blake said at a Wednesday press conference. A “collaborative review” of the Baltimore police department by the Department of Justice is already ongoing, but that doesn’t carry the weight of the full-scale civil rights investigation Mayor Blake has asked for.

Batts noted Thursday the Baltimore Police Department was already attempting to address some of these issues, and said as a result of changes they began implementing over two years ago, there was a “54% reduction in discourtesy complaints, a more than 40% reduction in excessive force complaints and a dramatic drop in lawsuits.”

TIME justice

Attorney General Loretta Lynch Meets with Freddie Gray Family

Attorney General Lynch speaks with congressmen and faith leaders after meeting in private with Freddie Gray's family at Baltimore University in Baltimore
Jose Luis Magana—Reuters Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks with congressmen and faith leaders after meeting in private with Freddie Gray's family at Baltimore University in Baltimore, MD. on May 5, 2015.

Just days after the city's prosecutor announced officers would face charges in Gray's death

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch made a stop in Baltimore Tuesday, as tensions have begun to cool following a week of unrest and uncertainty.

Lynch, who is one week into her new role as the nation’s top prosecutor, met with community and faith leaders and politicians just days after the Baltimore City prosecutor announced charges against six Baltimore police officers in Freddie Gray’s death. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Elijah Cummings were reportedly in the room.

“This is a flashpoint situation,” Lynch said at the meeting. “We lost a young man’s [life] and it begins to represent so many things.”

The death of 25-year-old Gray, who died due to injuries he sustained while in police custody, was the match that lit the proverbial flame in Charm City, leading to days of protest that at one point turned violent. Lynch met with the family of Gray around noon on Tuesday. The meeting was closed off to press. Later in the afternoon, Lynch is expected to meet with Baltimore police and the mayor.

The new Attorney General is following in the footsteps of the now-retired Eric Holder in her visit to a city where a young black man’s death shined new light on mistrust between the community and police. Following the death of Michael Brown in Missouri, Holder traveled to Ferguson to meet with local leaders.

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