TIME Bizarre

A Florida Teen Impersonated a Doctor for a Whole Month

"I am really getting old because these young doctors look younger every year," one physician thought

A teenager in Florida managed to fool an entire medical center into thinking he was a doctor for a whole month before he was found out.

The teen wore a white coat that read “Anesthesiology” on the back as he walked through the corridors of St. Mary’s Medical Center in Palm Beach, KCTV 5 News reports.

“He presented himself with a patient of our practice and introduced himself as Dr. Robinson,” Dr. Sebastian Kent said. “The first thing I thought was, ‘I am really getting old because these young doctors look younger every year.'”

The teen was discovered after being caught in an examination room with a patient while wearing a mask and a stethoscope.

His mother told police he had an undisclosed illness and had not been taking his medication. Both police and the hospital decided not file charges.

[KCTV 5 News]

TIME Crime

Florida Cops Used Mugshots of Black Men for Target Practice

Someone recognized her brother among the bullet-riddled mugshots

A Florida woman discovered North Miami Beach Police had been using images of black men for target practice after recognizing her brother’s mug shot at a shooting range.

Sgt. Valerie Deant, a musician with the Florida Army National Guard’s 13th Army Band, arrived at a shooting range with her fellow soldiers just after police snipers had been practicing on the same range last month. Deant was shocked to see her brother’s photograph among the mug shots of black men apparently used as target practice by the police. Woody Deant was arrested in 2000 in connection with a deadly drag race when he was just 18 years old.

“I was like why is my brother being used for target practice?” Deant told NBC Miami on Friday. “There were like gunshots there.”

“Nobody expects to come across their family member as a target at a shooting range,” Andell Brown, an attorney for the Deant family, told TIME. “She was concerned about why he was there, and what that meant for his safety.”

Captain Jack Young, who oversees the shooting range, confirmed that the targets are selected by whoever is renting the range. Police chief J. Scott Dennis told NBC that the decision to use mugshots of black men was ill-considered, but that no rules had been broken. He said his department includes minority police officers, and said the use of actual photographs for target practice is very common. Requests for further comment from Dennis were not immediately returned.

“These young men are literally being used for target practice,” Brown said. “And if those in the leadership don’t see anything wrong with that practice, then we have a very serious issue.” Brown said that the family is weighing their legal options.

Woody Deant, who spent four years in prison after his arrest, told NBC he was disturbed at his sister’s discovery. “Now I’m being used as a target?” he said. “I’m not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a career man. I work 9-to-5.”

“The picture actually has like bullet holes,” he said.

TIME Crime

How Body Cams on Cops Brought a Murder Charge in New Mexico

James Boyd, Keith Sandy
In this photo taken from a video on March 16, 2014 James Boyd is shown during a standoff with officers in the Sandia foothills in Albuquerque, N.M., before police fatally shot him. AP

It could be the first of many

In March 2014, two Albuquerque cops shot and killed a homeless man following a prolonged standoff in the foothills of New Mexico’s Sandia Mountains. It was an incident that could have easily become another instance of a police-related death without enough evidence to bring about formal charges against the cops involved. But a police body camera caught the entire confrontation on video, providing prosecutors the evidence needed to file formal charges—and perhaps launching a new era of increased prosecutions against cops thanks to the growth of wearable cameras nationwide.

Kari Brandenburg, the district attorney for New Mexico’s Bernalillo County, filed murder charges Monday against Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez, the two Albuquerque officers who were involved in the death of James Boyd, a homeless man with a history of mental illness who was camping in the mountain’s foothills. It was an open murder charge against both officers, which will let prosecutors decide whether to pursue manslaughter, first- or second-degree convictions.

MORE 2 Albuquerque Officers Charged With Murder in Shooting of Homeless Man

In video released last spring by the Albuquerque Police Department and recorded with a helmet cam used by one of the officers, Boyd is first shown arguing with police before a flashbang goes off. Officers then fire at Boyd as he appears to turn away from police. Boyd, who was carrying two knives, can be heard wheezing on the video as he’s being apprehended before he died. An autopsy later showed that Boyd had been shot twice.

“The video is instrumental in pointing out some of the issues in the investigation,” Brandenburg says, adding that the recording provides prosecutors with probable cause in a case that otherwise wouldn’t have it.

Advocates of body cameras often argue that recordings of officers on duty provide more transparency regarding police behavior and could even alter that behavior because officers know they’re being recorded. In Rialto, Calif., for instance, the police department began using body-worn cameras a few years ago, and its police chief often touts numbers showing that use-of-force complaints have decreased since officers began using them.

But experts say cameras might have an additional side effect: more prosecutions of cops involved in civilian deaths.

“Body cams should increase the number of criminal cases brought against police officers,” says Paul Butler, a Georgetown law professor and former federal prosecutor.

Oftentimes one of the barriers to prosecuting officers, Butler says, is that trials turn into “credibility contests” between police officers and civilians. But video evidence can go a long way to clearing up discrepancies about what happened while giving prosecutors additional evidence to move forward in a case.

MORE ‘Ferguson’ is 2014’s Name of the Year

“When there is doubt, people believe the police over civilians, especially when the civilians are suspects in some kind of criminal conduct,” Butler says. “Knowing this, prosecutors are often reluctant to bring charges against police officers, even when the prosecutors themselves believe the officers are guilty.

Many police departments around the U.S. have started using body worn cameras following the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed last year by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. No video recording of that incident exists, and witnesses disagreed on the circumstances surrounding the confrontation between Brown and Officer Darren Wilson. Brown’s parents have been advocating for police departments to adopt cameras nationwide, believing that video recording of their son’s encounter with Wilson could’ve helped bring grand jury charges against the officer.

But cameras have their limitations. The fatal confrontation between Eric Garner and New York City officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed the Staten Island man in a chokehold in July, was all caught on video by a bystander. Yet a grand jury still decided against bringing murder charges against the officer.

“The increased use of cameras both by agencies and by citizens will make it easier for prosecutors and defense lawyers to get a sense of what happened in a fraught encounter,” says Columbia University law professor Dan Richman. “The cases brought against officers may be stronger and the decisions not to charge may be easier. Still, the controversy surrounding the death of Eric Garner highlights how filmed encounters can be deeply contested.”

Justin Hansford, a Saint Louis University law professor, says he doesn’t believe more body cameras will necessarily equal more prosecutions because the definition of what constitutes use of force in most states are still weighted heavily in favor of police officers.

“The problems we’ve seen in places like Ferguson are not with the amount of evidence but with the laws themselves,” Hansford says. “When you think hard about use of force standards, officers have so much leeway that you have only a few outliers in terms of cases where prosecutions can go forward because of the laws really going above and beyond what is reasonable.”

Hansford argues that an increase in police prosecutions could come from a change in those standards, not in more body cameras.

“The harm of the body cam is that people think it solves everything,” he says.

TIME georgia

Georgia Executes Vietnam Veteran for Killing Police Officer in Traffic Stop

Andrew Howard Brannan
Andrew Howard Brannan. Reuters

Lawyers said the shooting was tied to mental illness directly traced to Andrew Brannan's military service

(JACKSON, Ga.) — A man who fatally shot a sheriff’s deputy who stopped him for speeding on a Georgia interstate was put to death Tuesday for the 1998 killing, which was captured on the patrol car’s video camera.

Andrew Howard Brannan, 66, was pronounced dead at 8:33 p.m. Tuesday after a single-drug injection at the state prison in Jackson. He was convicted of the January 1998 shooting death of Kyle Dinkheller, a 22-year-old sheriff’s deputy in Laurens County, central Georgia.

“I extend my condolences to the Dinkheller family, especially Kyle’s parents and his wife and his two children,” Brannan said in a statement moments before the injection was administered.

Lawyers for Brannan, a Vietnam veteran, had unsuccessfully argued to authorities to spare the inmate’s life, saying the shooting was tied to mental illness directly traced to Brannan’s military service.

Dinkheller had stopped Brannan for driving 98 mph and demanded he take his hands from his pockets during a traffic stop, officials said Brannan then began cursing, dancing in the street and saying “shoot me” before he rushed the deputy. After a scuffle, Brannan pulled a high-powered rifle from his car and shot Dinkheller at least nine times, authorities said.

The confrontation was captured by a video camera in Dinkheller’s patrol car and a microphone he wore. Parts including the scuffle between the two happened off camera, according to court documents. But Dinkheller can be heard yelling orders at Brannan, who responded with expletives, authorities said. Brannan can also be seen crouching by his car and firing at the deputy as Dinkheller yelled at him to stop. Brannan walked toward the patrol car, still firing, exhausted one magazine, reloaded and continued firing, authorities said.

Police found Brannan the next day hiding under a camouflage tarp near his home. He had been shot in the stomach, apparently by Dinkheller.

Dinkheller, who was married, had been promoted months before to an elite interstate highway squad. He had nearly three years with the sheriff’s department.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles held a hearing Monday on a petition for clemency from Brannan’s lawyers and denied the request to commute the sentence to life without parole.

“Is it right to execute a mentally-ill veteran whose sole incidence of violent behavior is traceable directly and inexorably to mental illness resulting from his combat service?” Brannan’s lawyers had written in that clemency petition.

Brannan volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army in 1968 and received two Army Commendation Medals and a Bronze Star for his service in the Vietnam War, the clemency petition said, adding he was repeatedly exposed to death and violence in Vietnam.

Veterans Administration doctors had diagnosed Brannan with post-traumatic stress disorder in 1984 and determined that his condition had deteriorated to the point of 100 percent disability by 1990, the petition said. That mental illness was compounded by bipolar disorder diagnosed in 1996, his lawyers added.

Brannan was convicted and sentenced to death in 2000. He challenged the legality of his conviction and sentence in 2003, and a state court judge threw out his sentence on grounds that his trial lawyer failed to present complete mental health defenses. But the Georgia Supreme Court later tossed out that ruling and reinstated the death sentence.

TIME Crime

New York Cops Sometimes Use Chokeholds First, Report Says

NYC Mayor Police Graduation
New recruits bow their heads for a moment of silence during a New York Police Academy graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Dec. 29, 2014. John Minchillo—AP

Police agency frequently declined to discipline officers

A new report on chokehold incidents involving NYPD officers has found that the department routinely declined to discipline officers who used the banned maneuver even though it was the first act of physical force used in several instances.

The report, the first since the death of Eric Garner in July—who died after being placed in a chokehold by an NYPD officer—reviewed 10 chokehold cases involving NYPD officers between 2009 and 2014. According to the report issued by the NYPD’s inspector general’s office, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that investigates complaints against officers, recommended discipline that could’ve led to a loss of vacation days or even termination for officers involved in all 10 cases. But Raymond Kelly, who was police commissioner during six of those incidents, imposed a less severe penalty or declined to discipline the officers involved.

(MORE: Bill de Blasio’s Wife on Police Relations)

“There was no indication from the records reviewed that NYPD seriously contemplated CCRB’s disciplinary recommendations or that CCRB’s input added any value to the disciplinary process,” the report says.

In several cases, the inspector general found that NYPD officers used neck grabs, headlocks or other physical acts involving contact with a suspect’s neck or throat—all prohibited by the department’s guidelines—as a “first act of physical force in response to verbal resistance, as opposed to first attempting to defuse the situation.”

(MORE: Bill Clinton Says Eric Garner ‘Didn’t Deserve to Die’)

The report stated that the inspector general’s office plans to look at use-of-force cases more broadly to help determine how prevalent chokeholds are across the agency.

TIME Crime

Indianapolis to Hire More Cops to Tackle Rising Murder Rate

Indianapolis-Deadly Shooting-Officer
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers work on Indianapolis' Eastside after an officer was injured in in an exchange of gunfire that killed the suspect on May 30, 2014. Danese Kenon—he Indianapolis Star/AP

Number of homicides in the city rose by 8% last year

Indianapolis will hire dozens more police officers this year in an attempt to lower its increasing murder rate, one at odds with the majority of U.S. cities experiencing gradual declines in homicides.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has long pledged to lower the city’s crime rates, hoping an influx of police officers will help. Last year, the city hired 80 new recruits. But this year, the mayor will hire even more: 115 new police officers, according to local affiliate Fox59, 25 more officers than initially planned.

(MORE: Violent Crime Drops to Lowest Level Since 1978)

Since 2010, Indianapolis’s criminal murder rate has gradually risen as other cities like Baltimore and Dallas have seen declines. Last year, the number of homicides in Indy increased 8% to 135, the highest in eight years, and is up by about a quarter over the last decade. The murder rate per capita was the third-highest on record for the Midwestern capital and has even leapfrogged Chicago’s homicide rate in the last few years.

(MORE: Women Are More Likely to Be Killed by a Man in These States)

City officials often blame the rising homicide rates on gang violence and drug activity, particularly the growth of heroin use in and around Indy and its suburbs.

 

TIME Crime

Witness the Bronx Crime Scene Where 2 NYPD Officers Were Shot

The Monday night shooting of two plainclothes officers responding to a robbery call came just one day after the funeral of NYPD officer Wenjian Liu, who was fatally shot in Brooklyn, along with his partner Rafael Ramos, in December. The officers in the Bronx shooting are said to be in critical but stable condition

TIME Crime

3 Suspects in Custody for Shooting of NYPD Officers During Robbery Call

The Bronx attack occurred just one day after the funeral for Officer Wenjian Liu, one of two officers gunned down in Brooklyn in December

Three suspects were in custody Tuesday in connection with the shooting of two plainclothes police officers in New York City’s Bronx borough on Monday night, as the city reels from last month’s fatal shootings of two on-duty officers.

The alleged shooter, whose identity has not yet been released publicly, is one of the three men held in custody, CNN reports, citing an unnamed law enforcement official.

The two officers, Andrew Dossi, 30, and Aliro Pellerano, 38, were out of uniform at the time of the shooting Monday night and were among five “anti-crime officers” responding to a call about an armed robbery, NBC New York reported. Dossi is reportedly in critical condition following surgery, while Pellerano is in stable condition.

Mayor Bill de Blasio held a joint news conference with New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton early Tuesday morning, praising the officers for their service to the city.

He called the shootings “another indicator of the dangers our officers face while they’re on duty” and said the city would support them as they recover.

“As always, the city of New York and the NYPD will be with them through this challenge and as these officers recover,” de Blasio said.

The shooting comes as the city and its police force are still reeling from the slayings of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were gunned down in their vehicle in Brooklyn last month. Since that shooting, police union leaders and some officers have accused the Mayor of stoking anti-police sentiment. At the funerals for both Liu and Ramos, officers turned their backs on de Blasio as he spoke.

[CNN]

TIME Crime

Boston Police Officer Charged With Assaulting an Uber Driver

The officer also allegedly used a racial slur against the driver

A 16-year-veteran Boston police officer allegedly assaulted an Uber driver and used racial slurs during a Sunday morning attack, police said.

The officer, 40-year-old Michael Doherty, is on paid administrative leave following his arrest and charges of assault and battery and using a motor vehicle without authority, the Boston Globe reports.

According to a police report, the Uber driver said that the officer accused of him of being in the wrong place and used a racist term for Latinos before beginning to hit him. When the driver got out of the car and tried to waive down assistance, according to the report, the officer started driving the car away.

The driver got into a car of another man who stopped to help, and the two followed the officer. When they all got out, the officer allegedly resumed hitting the driver and used the n-word against the assisting man, who is black.

In a statement, Uber said they banned Doherty from the service and “stand ready to assist law enforcement” in investigating the alleged incident.

[Boston Globe]

TIME Crime

San Francisco Police Shoot and Kill Man Holding Fake Gun

The man had entered a police parking lot through an open gate

San Francisco police shot and killed a man brandishing a fake gun in the parking lot of a police station on Sunday.

The man, 32, had entered the restricted lot through an open gate and ignored officers’ requests that he leave, Police Chief Greg Suhr told the San Francisco Chronicle. Two officers opened fire when the man reached for what appeared to be the butt of a gun holstered at his waist. The weapon turned out to be an air soft or BB gun.

The shooting has the potential to draw further attention to the issue of realistic looking toy guns. A national outcry followed the shooting and killing of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was playing with a toy gun in November.

Officers in San Francisco and across the country have responded to recent tensions between police and civilians with heightened awareness of potential threats, Shur told the Chronicle.

“This is a job where very sadly we lose officers,” he said. “It’s on all our minds. But we’ve got a job to do, so we’re going to do it.”

[SF Chronicle]

Read next: NYPD Chief Calls for Respect at Slain Officer’s Wake and Funeral

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