TIME India

Eight Dead as Protests by Tribal Communities in India Turn Violent

INDIA-NORTHEAST-POLITICS-UNREST
STR—AFP/Getty Images People watch a blaze at the residence of Manipur State Health Minister Phungzaphang Tonsimg, which was torched during a protest against controversial tribal-rights laws at Churachandpur, India, on Aug. 31, 2015

The tribes are protesting legislation they say will deprive them of their land

Violent clashes over the passage of three controversial bills by the legislature in India’s northeastern state Manipur saw three more people killed on Tuesday, taking the total death toll to eight with more than 30 others injured over the past two days.

An angry mob drawn mainly from the state’s tribal communities also vandalized and set fire to the houses of around a dozen state lawmakers, the Hindu newspaper reported.

Two men in their 30s, and a 10-year-old child, were killed when the police opened fire on a crowd on Tuesday, adding to the five deaths that took place during Monday’s protest by tribal student organizations against the legislation they perceive as a threat to their livelihoods.

The bills — the Protection of Manipur People’s Bill; Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill; and Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill — have angered locals, who say they make it easier for people from outside the state to acquire land and deprive indigenous residents of their ancestral property.

The state is facing an influx of migrants not only from other parts of India but also from countries like Burma, with which it shares a border.

The new bills are “just a ploy to get rid of us and reduce our numbers,” a leader from the protesting Kuki Students’ Organisation, which represents one of Manipur’s hill tribes told the Indian Express.
The state government as well as several activists, however, insist that the bills actually add rigor to the process of land acquisition by outsiders.

“Earlier the permission to buy land had to be sought from a section or subsidiary of the Cabinet, but now the entire Cabinet needs to approve land-buying by an outsider,” activist Babloo Loitongbam said to the Hindu, adding that the actual content of the legislation has not been properly explained. “The tribal areas — being Scheduled areas — remain protected and are not disturbed under the new amendments,” he said.

The Manipur agitation is the second ethnicity-related mass movement in a week, after violent protests demanding affirmative action for an affluent community in the western state of Gujarat saw at least six people killed last Wednesday.
TIME Texas

Second Video Emerges of Texas Shooting by Deputies

"All I can tell you is the video is disturbing"

(SAN ANTONIO) — A second video has emerged that gives authorities a “very clear view” of a confrontation between deputies and a Texas man who had his hands raised before he was shot and killed, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood described the new video and one broadcast earlier as “disturbing,” but cautioned against a rush to judgment as authorities investigate the shooting that killed 41-year-old Gilbert Flores northwest of San Antonio.

An initial video recorded by a motorist from some distance was posted online by a San Antonio TV station. It shows Flores outside a residence Friday facing two deputies when he raises his hands — one arm obscured by a utility pole. The deputies fired multiple times.

Sheriff’s officials say Flores was armed, though didn’t specify with what, and that nonlethal efforts to subdue him, including a Taser, were unsuccessful. LaHood declined to say Tuesday whether Flores’ arm motion was surrender.

“I don’t know what his intent was,” he said. “All I can tell you is the video is disturbing. But my encouragement to everyone is to press the pause button.”

San Antonio attorney Thomas J. Henry, who is representing the family, said in an interview Tuesday that the initial video appears to show that deadly force was unnecessary but he is seeking more evidence.

“From a lay perspective, seeing the video, it does appear the immediate danger is gone because he had both hands in the air,” Henry said. “Now there are other videos and other pieces of evidence that we want to gather.” He said the family is considering filing a lawsuit to compel authorities to turn over more evidence.

Flores’ death is the country’s latest law enforcement shooting to draw heavy scrutiny for using deadly force in a situation where it may not have been necessary. Law enforcement officials in the U.S. have expressed concern that the deadly confrontations have spawned retaliatory shootings of officers, including last week’s death of a suburban Houston deputy at a gas station.

The second video was recorded by a witness closer to the incident, LaHood said, but he declined to provide further information about what it reveals or when authorities acquired it. An investigation is underway to determine whether the deputies will face criminal charges or whether the danger to them was imminent, LaHood said.

Deputies Greg Vasquez and Robert Sanchez, who were not equipped with body cameras at the time of the encounter, have been placed on administrative leave. Sanchez has worked more than 20 years with the sheriff’s office and Vasquez has been with the agency more than 10 years, according to records with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. Both had received training in use of force and nonlethal devices.

Michelle Lee, a special agent for the FBI in San Antonio, confirmed Tuesday that “experienced civil rights investigators” are monitoring the investigation.

The deputies had responded to a domestic disturbance, authorities have said, and found a woman at the residence with a cut on her head and a baby who appeared to be injured. Sheriff’s officials have not indicated whether they believe Flores harmed the two.

Attempts to contact members of Flores’ family were unsuccessful Tuesday, but Henry said that Flores’ wife is devastated. The couple have a child who is just 21 days old, he said.

Bexar County court records show Flores was convicted in 2003 of aggravated robbery, and the San Antonio Express-News reports he also has a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who represents part of the San Antonio area, said in a statement that Friday’s shooting was “extremely disturbing.”

“This incident is further evidence that police officers and deputies should wear body cameras,” he said. “The widely supported technology brings transparency and accountability that protects law enforcement and civilians alike.”

Bexar County commissioners approved a county budget Tuesday that includes more than $630,000 to provide deputies with body cameras and also cameras for patrol vehicles.

TIME Bizarre

A Man Sent Naked Selfies to the HR Manager of a Company That Offered Him a Job

Not exactly getting off to a good start

A 23-year-old man from Chicago, reportedly sent nude pictures of himself to the human-resources manager of a company that had just hired him.

Police said the manager informed them of the incident on Aug. 14, one day after the man had sent her two naked selfies over three days, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Elmhurst police chief Michael Ruth said the company had made the 23-year-old man a “conditional offer of employment” earlier in the month. “He texted the HR director and sent a nude photo of himself,” Ruth added.

According to the police report, the man admitted to sending the photographs but said they were meant for someone else. The company did not respond to calls for comment from the Tribune.

“My understanding is they’ve rescinded the offer of employment,” Ruth said.

[Chicago Tribune]

TIME North Carolina

North Carolina Cop Will Not Face Retrial for Fatal Shooting of Black Man

Police Shooting Charlotte randall kerrick
Davie Hinshaw—AP Police officer Randall Kerrick, left, and defense attorney Michael Greene listen during opening arguments at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Charlotte. N.C., on Aug. 3, 2015.

Randall Kerrick had been accused of voluntary manslaughter but was acquitted

(RALEIGH, N.C.) — North Carolina state attorneys have decided against retrying a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man after his trial ended last week in a deadlock.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Robert Montgomery told the Mecklenburg County district attorney Friday of the state’s decision in the case of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Officer Randall Kerrick. He had been accused of voluntary manslaughter in the September 2013 death of Jonathan Ferrell, a former college football player.

The jury in the case deadlocked with an 8-4 vote in favor of acquittal, leading the judge to declare a mistrial.

Montgomery wrote to District Attorney Andrew Murray that state attorneys will submit dismissal papers to end the case. Montgomery says it’s the prosecutors’ “unanimous belief a retrial will not yield a different result.”

TIME India

Two Indian Sisters Ordered to Be Raped by Village Council Beg Supreme Court for Help

They are being punished by the unelected council because their brother eloped with a married woman from a higher caste

A petition to save two sisters in India from being raped and publicly humiliated for their brother’s actions, a punishment handed down by an unofficial village council, has gathered considerable support for its demand that authorities intervene and stop the “disgusting ruling” from being enforced.

The petition by human-rights organization Amnesty International has garnered over 16,000 signatures thus far, and calls for law enforcement to stop the council-sanctioned rape of 23-year-old Meenakshi Kumari and her 15-year-old sister in Baghpat village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

The unelected council of elders ordered that Kumari and her sister — both members of the low Dalit caste — be raped and paraded naked with blackened faces, after their brother eloped with a married woman of a higher caste. He and the woman, who belongs to the dominant Jat caste, were in love and eloped after she was forced to marry someone from her own caste, according to reports.

Kumari also approached India’s Supreme Court herself last week, saying that police have been harassing her and her family instead of protecting them.

In a plea to the court Kumari said she and her family “cannot return back to her village and have been rendered homeless.”

The court has asked for a response from the Uttar Pradesh government.

“Nothing could justify this abhorrent punishment,” the Amnesty petition reads. “It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s against the law. Demand that the local authorities intervene immediately.”

Village councils in northern India, known as khap panchayats, are generally comprised of senior male members of the community’s high castes. Although the councils have been declared illegal by the courts, their edicts are still observed in many parts of rural India.

Read next: Riots Break Out in India Over a Dominant Caste’s Attempt to Gain ‘Backward’ Status

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME Crime

Los Angeles Police to Launch Largest Body Cam Program in U.S.

County of Los Angeles Sheriff's Lt. Chris Marks poses wearing the Taser Axon Flex, on-officer camera system attached to glasses in Monterey Park on Sept. 17, 2014.
Jay L. Clendenin—Los Angeles Times/Getty Images County of Los Angeles Sheriff's Lt. Chris Marks poses wearing the Taser Axon Flex, on-officer camera system attached to glasses in Monterey Park on Sept. 17, 2014.

The first of 7,000 cams will be deployed next week

The Los Angeles Police Department will begin rolling out body cameras next month, the first stage of a program that will eventually become the largest in the U.S.

The LAPD, which has been studying the technology for two years, will begin introducing the first batch of a total of 7,000 cameras next week, according to the LA Times. The first 860 cameras, paid for by private donations of around $1.5 million, will be gradually deployed over the next month. The program will make the police department the biggest law enforcement agency to widely adopt the technology.

About 7,000 police agencies currently use body cameras around the U.S., with many adopting them over the last year as a means of providing transparency and accountability as scrutiny of police tactics and the use of force has increased. Body cameras have routinely been a topic of discussion among protesters concerned about police misconduct.

While many welcome the growing use of body cameras by police departments, the ACLU says it’s opposed to it in Los Angeles, as LAPD policy states that the department will only release recordings publicly if they’re involved in court proceedings.

TIME Crime

Cop Shoots and Kills Man Threatening Him With a Spoon

Law enforcement says Jeffory Tevis was "suffering from a mental episode"

A police officer in Tuscaloosa, Ala. fatally shot a man wielding a “large metal spoon in a threatening manner.”

The officer was wearing a body camera at the time, but it was not turned on, the Guardian reports.

The man, 50-year-old Jeffory Ray Tevis, had a confrontation with the officer on his balcony on Thursday after a report that there had been an assault on the premises. When the police arrived arrived, Tevis was seen to have blood on his face and legs; he said someone had attacked him in his home, while another man said Tevis had threatened him.

Officials say they believe the wounds to have been self-inflicted, and that Tevis was either on drugs or “suffering from a mental episode.”

When Tevis became physically aggressive, the officer responded by using a stun gun, which was not effective. Tuscaloosa police say Tevis then charged at the officer with the spoon, reportedly about 10 to 12 inches in length, which prompted the officer to shoot twice. Tevis was pronounced dead on the scene.

The officer, who was treated for minor injuries and whose identity has not been released, has been on the force for 16 years. It is unclear why the body camera was not turned on. A grand jury will determine if wrongdoing occurred.

[The Guardian]

TIME Crime

Police Shot Black St. Louis Teen in the Back

Mansur Ball-Bey memorial
Lawrence Bryant—Reuters Chris Ball-Bey, the brother of Mansur Ball-Bey, sits by his brother's memorial after a candlelight vigil on Walton Ave in St. Louis, Mo., on Aug. 20, 2015.

Mansur Ball-Bey died on Wednesdsay

Mansur Ball-Bey, the black 18-year-old killed by police in St. Louis, was shot in the back, his autopsy has revealed.

Ball-Bey was apparently found fleeing a home for which officers had a search warrant on Wednesday. The two cops, who are white, say that he pointed a gun at them, which prompted both of them to fire their weapons. Ball-Bey died from a single wound, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Police Chief Sam Dotson said the news does not necessarily indicate wrongdoing: “Just because he was shot in the back doesn’t mean he was running away,” he said. “It could be, and I’m not saying that it doesn’t mean that. I just don’t know yet.”

Dotson said he would be taking statements from the two officers involved, and results of fingerprint and DNA testing on the gun allegedly in Ball-Bey’s possession are pending.

The home that the police were investigating is owned by Ball-Bey’s relative, who says she doesn’t know why he was there. Police say weapons and drugs were discovered during the search in and around the home.

Demonstrators protested the killing in St. Louis, less than two weeks after the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in nearby Ferguson.

[St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

TIME celebrities

Police Search Gene Simmons’ Home Even Though He’s Not a Suspect

Gene Simmons
Paul A. Hebert—Invision/AP Gene Simmons performs during a benefit concert at Lucky Strike Live in Los Angeles on Aug. 16, 2015

Simmons and his family were "extremely cooperative"

(LOS ANGELES) — Los Angeles police say a task force investigating Internet crimes against children served a search warrant at the home of Kiss rocker Gene Simmons, but neither Simmons nor anyone in his family is suspected in the case.

Lt. John Jenal says the warrant was served Thursday at the Simmons home in Benedict Canyon near Beverly Hills.

Jenal says the detectives involved want to emphasize that Simmons and his family were “extremely cooperative” and none of them are suspected of a crime.

Police would give no further comment on the investigation.

Phone and email messages to Simmons’ publicist were not immediately returned.

The 65-year-old Simmons has been a central member of Kiss since the early 1970s. His family was the subject of a reality TV series that aired for several years.

TIME Crime

Baltimore Murders Pass 2014 Total With Four Months Still to Go

A member of the Baltimore Police Department removes crime scene tape from a corner where a victim of a shooting was discovered in Baltimore on July 30, 2015.
Patrick Semansky—AP A member of the Baltimore Police Department removes crime scene tape from a corner where a victim of a shooting was discovered in Baltimore on July 30, 2015.

Crime rates since Freddie Gray incident echoes 1990s levels

The number of murders in Baltimore hit 212 on Thursday, overtaking the number of homicides recorded in 2014 with over a third of the year left to go.

A 28-year-old man hospitalized after being shot in the chest died Thursday. He was shot Wednesday night on the West side of Baltimore, near where another man was shot and killed the day before.

Baltimore is now experiencing almost a homicide a day, a murder rate that is reminiscent of 1990s crime levels when the city regularly saw upwards of 300 murders a year.

The city has seen a significant spike in crime since the April death of Freddie Gray in police custody. The 25-year-old’s death set off a series of protests around Baltimore, leading to a state of emergency and National Guard troops entering the city to keep the peace. Six officers were later indicted in the incident.

Following Gray’s death, arrests by Baltimore police plunged. According to the Baltimore Sun, there were 2,630 arrests per month from January to April with only 1,557 in May, the first month after Gray’s arrest and the ensuing protests. The Sun says that the number of arrests per month in 2015 is 2,381, down from 3,281 last year.

Representatives of the city’s police union along with criminal justice experts say that many Baltimore police have been hesitant to use force and arrest potential criminals after the six officers allegedly involved in Gray’s death were arrested, fearing potential legal repercussions. Criminals also may feel emboldened following this spring’s riots, in which some police held back from using force.

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