TIME Australia

Eight Children Found Dead at Home in Australia’s Far North

Police carry equipment near a road block outside a house where eight children have been found dead  in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, Australia, Friday Dec. 19, 2014.
Police carry equipment near a road block outside a house where eight children have been found dead in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, Australia, Friday Dec. 19, 2014. Graeme Bint—AP

Community preparing for the festive season receives devastating shock

Eight children, ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years, were found dead inside a home in the northern Australian city of Cairns on Friday.

Police went to the house in the suburb of Manoora after receiving reports of an injured woman, the Associated Press said. On arrival, the police found the bodies of the children inside the residence. They were reportedly stabbed.

The 34-year-old woman, believed to be the mother of seven of the children, is currently being treated for her injuries, according to authorities. Police said they are unable to confirm her relationship to the victims, however, and added that she is not in custody for the time being.

The Queensland Ambulance Service says the woman had a wound to her chest, and is currently in stable condition after being taken to he hospital.

Dozens of police vehicles are at the scene, according to the ABC.

Cairns detective inspector Bruno Asnicar, speaking to reporters at around 4.30 p.m. local time, said the identification of the children is an ongoing process and more details on that front might emerge on Saturday. Asnicar also said that there were no formal suspects as yet. “Everybody who’s had any involvement in the past two or three days is a person of interest, but we’re not identifying particular suspects at this stage.”

The top police official said it was “right up there” with the most serious cases he had dealt with in his career.

“These are trying days for our country,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement released Friday afternoon. “All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened.”

Friday’s incident comes four days after a gunman took more than a dozen people hostage at a café in Sydney, resulting in three deaths including his own.

TIME Obesity

Law Enforcement Is the Fattest Profession, Study Finds

Policeman in office, portrait
Getty Images

Along with firefighters and security guards

Police officers, firefighters and security guards have the highest rates of obesity of all professions, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

According to the Journal, 40.7% of police, firefighters and security guards are obese. Other jobs with high obesity rates include clergy, engineers and truckers.

On the other side of the obesity scale is a grouping of economists, scientists and psychologists, with an obesity rate of 14.2%. Other professions with low obesity rates are athletes, actors and reporters.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

TIME Crime

Los Angeles Plans to Outfit Every Cop With a Camera

Police Body Cameras
A Los Angeles Police officer wears an on-body camera Jan. 15, 2014. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti plans to equip every LAPD officer with a camera. Damian Dovarganes—AP

LAPD would be the biggest agency to fully adopt body-worn cameras

Los Angeles will announce plans Tuesday to outfit every city police officer with body-worn cameras, an ambitious change that would make it the biggest police force in the country to fully adopt the devices.

Mayor Eric Garcetti will announce the roll-out of wearable cameras Tuesday and attempt to position the LAPD as a national leader in using devices that advocates say reduce use-of-force incidents and citizen complaints, while also providing recorded evidence of confrontations with police.

MORE: The one battle Michael Brown’s family will win

Los Angeles police have been testing body-worn cameras since January, but communities have increasingly adopted them since the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August. No video recordings of the incident were taken, and witnesses had conflicting accounts of Brown’s encounter with Officer Darren Wilson, who a grand jury decided not to indict.

Experts say more than 5,000 of the 18,500 police departments around the U.S. are either testing or using the cameras, including some of the biggest agencies in the country, like the New York Police Department and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.

While there are few studies showing the benefits of body-worn cameras, the one department that appears to have had proven success with them is in the Los Angeles suburb of Rialto, where the agency reported an 88% drop in complaints filed against officers and a 60% decline in use-of-force incidents since its officers started using wearable cameras in February 2012.

TIME Australia

A Stunned Australia Asks How the Sydney Siege Could Have Happened

How was a man accused of being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, and facing 40 charges of sexual assault, able to obtain a gun and be at liberty?

Australian officials offered words of comfort and sympathy to a shocked nation after a 16-hour siege at a café in central Sydney ended with the death of two hostages on Tuesday.

Three people died, including the armed perpetrator, when police commandos stormed the Lindt café in Martin Place in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Six people, including hostages and police officers, were injured during the raid; however, all are in stable condition according to authorities.

“Those poor people who went into get a cup of coffee or buy some chocolates for a friend for Christmas got caught up in this terrible situation,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday. “It’s a truly shocking thing to happen in our city because our city is a very harmonious, socially diverse, welcoming and inclusive city.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott extended condolence to the victims’ families during a national address on Tuesday morning and also commended the public for being “resilient” and “ready to respond” during the crisis.

Earlier in the day, Abbott ordered flags across the country to be flown at half-mast.

Australian officials are meanwhile faced with daunting questions about how the gunman, Man Haron Monis, was able to obtain a firearm and remain at liberty after having several run-ins with the law. The self-declared sheik had reportedly been charged with committing an estimated 40 sexual assaults while being a so-called “spiritual healer.” Monis was also on bail and facing charges of being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.

“There will need to be tough questions about whether our systems for identifying potential perpetrators of terrorist crimes like this are good enough,” Rory Medcalf, security-program director at Australian think tank the Lowy Institute, tells TIME. “Questions will be asked why this particular individual was able to commit this act while on bail for serious crimes.”

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) reports that a recently passed bail law in New South Wales, which could have prevented an individual with a record on par with the gunman from remaining on the streets, is set to go in effect early next year.

The fact that it was not in force to prevent this tragedy is “frustrating for me as attorney general, frustrating for the premier, frustrating for the entire government, frustrating for the entire NSW community,” said Brad Hazzard, the New South Wales attorney general, according to ABC.

Analysts warned that the acts of a crazed lone gunman should not be used as political fodder to tighten the current government’s stringent policy toward asylum seekers trying to enter the country. (Monis was granted political asylum by Australia in 1996 after fleeing Iran.)

“Australia was founded by foreigners,” said Clarke Jones, a terrorism expert at the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific. “I hope we continue to take other nationalities into Australia. It makes it a much more interesting and healthy, wealthy place.”

TIME Australia

Hostages Killed in Sydney Siege Identified

A mother-of-three barrister and a café manager

Two hostages who died as a result of the siege in Sydney have been identified as a barrister and the manager of the café where the crisis unfolded.

Katrina Dawson, a 38-year-old mother of three, was taken from the scene on a stretcher and pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Tori Johnson, manager of the Lindt café in Martin Place, was named as the second fatality after the 16-hour standoff ended in a police shootout and the death of a lone gunman.

Dawson is said to have hailed from a prominent Australian family and was well-known among the city’s legal community. “Katrina was one of our best and brightest barristers who will be greatly missed by her colleagues and friends at the NSW Bar,” said Jane Needham, president of the New South Wales Bar Association.

Authorities identified the gunman as Man Haron Monis, a self-declared religious leader who was being investigated for murder and sexual assault.

Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald.

TIME Crime

Thousands Rally Against Police Brutality in Washington and New York City

In Washington, DC, New York City and around the country, Americans staged protests over the deaths of unarmed citizens by police

Demonstrators numbering in the tens of thousands marched on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and in New York City on Saturday, as well as other cities across the U.S., to protest the killings of unarmed black men by police officers.

In the nation’s capital, the families of black men killed by police, including relatives of Staten Island resident Eric Garner, Ferguson, Mo. teenager Michael Brown, and Cleveland, Ohio 12-year-0ld Tamir Rice and others, joined civil rights groups and other demonstrators at the Justice For All march. The marchers called for an end to police killings and for law enforcement who kill unarmed citizens to be held to account for their actions.

In New York City, protestors held signs featuring the words “I am Eric Garner” and chanted what has become a rallying cry of the movement to end police killings of unarmed black men: “Hands up/Don’t shoot.” Andre Irving, 31 and black, attended the rally with his father Mark Irving, 57. “I’m worried for my safety, the safety of my family, my friends, my neighbors,” he told TIME. “Can I go to the store and walk home without being killed?”

Eva Osborne, 8, wore a pin featuring the words “I can’t breathe,” some of the last words Eric Garner spoke before he dies in a video of his arrest, and a phrase that has also been used as a rallying call. “I have a black brother and a black dad,” she said. Her brother is five, her father 43, the same age as Eric Garner. “When my brother grows up, he might be treated the same way.”

Police declined to estimate the size of the ground in Washington, the New York Times reports, but media estimates place the size of the crowd in the tens of thousands. Police in New York City estimated the crowd size at roughly 12,000.

The protests mark a new level of civil action in weeks of sometimes violent unrest around the country, as citizens erupted in mass outrage after no charges were brought against police officers responsible for killing Brown, an unarmed teenager shot by police in Ferguson, and Garner, an unarmed Staten Island man who died after being aggressively subdued by police during his arrest for illegally selling cigarettes on the street.

The Justice For All march in Washington was spearheaded by the National Action Network led by Al Sharpton. Some demonstrators, expressing disdain at those they considered celebrity protestors, disrupted the proceedings at a pre-march rally, The Washington Post reports.

TIME Crime

Death of 12-Year-Old Shot By Cleveland Police Ruled a Homicide

Tamir Rice was playing with a toy gun when he was shot and killed

An autopsy of the 12-year-old black child shot by Cleveland police last month after they saw him holding a toy pistol has been ruled a homicide, authorities said Friday.

Tamir Rice died of a “gunshot wound of torso with injuries of major vessel, intestines, and pelvis,” according to the autopsy. Rice was shot by police on Nov. 22 after he was witnessed playing with a pellet gun near his home. He died the next day. The police were responding to a 911 call in which the caller said that “a guy” was pointing a pistol at people and scaring them, but the caller noted twice that the gun was “probably fake.” Police are investigating what portion of the 911 call was relayed to the responding officers who shot Rice.

MORE: Body cameras poised to become standard after Ferguson

Rice’s shooting death came amid growing national scrutiny into police use-of-force against unarmed black men who have died in recent months. The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City sparked nationwide protests this month after grand juries declined to indict the police officers in both cases.

Read Tamir Rice’s full autopsy here:

 

TIME India

New Delhi Police Plan to Use Drone Cameras to Boost Public Safety

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Richard Newstead—Getty Images/Moment RF

The drones will be equipped with night-vision cameras

In the face of increased outrage and scrutiny over the safety of its women, India’s capital New Delhi plans to incorporate a new tool into its surveillance arsenal: drones.

The helicopter-like unmanned aircraft will be equipped with night-vision cameras and will be launched next month in the city’s north district, the Times of India reported.

Each drone will fly at a height of about 200 m and will cover a hexagonal area of 3 or 4 km.

The announcement comes about a week after a New Delhi woman accused an Uber driver of rape, an incident that has reignited the conversation around public security in a city known for being unsafe for women.

TIME Crime

New York Cop Says He Didn’t Put Eric Garner in a Chokehold

Police Chokehold Death
Protesters rallying against a grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner gather in Columbus Circle, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in New York. Jason DeCrow—AP

NYPD officer says it was a takedown technique learned in police academy

The New York Police Department officer whose aggressive arrest of Staten Island resident Eric Garner led to his death has denied using an illegal chokehold to subdue him.

It was a take-down move, Officer Daniel Pantaleo has told NYPD investigators, and not a chokehold.

Pantaleo, whom a grand jury declined to indict in Garner’s death, has told NYPD internal affairs investigators that he used a takedown techniqueon Garner that he was taught in police academy.

(MORE: Here’s What a Chokehold Actually Is)

“He said he never exerted any pressure on the windpipe and never intended to injure Mr. Garner,” Stuart London, Pantaleo’s attorney, told CNN.

The video of Pantaleo taking down Garner as he tried to arrest the Staten Island man for illegally selling loose cigarettes led to protests and nationwide debates over police conduct and use of force. While a grand jury chose not to indict Pantaleo, he’s still subject to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice as well as an internal NYPD probe.

Since the grand jury decision, Garner’s last words of “I can’t breathe” have been widely used in demonstrations nationwide and in several other countries by protesters against police brutality.

[New York Post]

TIME Crime

Florida Cops Suspected of Deleting Internal Files Won’t Face Charges

Policeman
Luiz Felipe Castro—Getty Images

Accused of deleting computer records for officers who were under investigation by Internal Affairs

Two Florida cops suspected of deleting internal police department reports involving themselves or their friends won’t face criminal charges.

Hollywood Assistant Police Chief Ken Haberland and Maj. Norris Redding were accused of deleting computer records for officers who were under investigation by the police department’s Internal Affairs division, the Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

The records, deleted in December 2010 and January 2011, were meant to be kept public in accordance with state law. The officers apparently only deleted the electronic records but failed to get rid of the physical copies.

The two officers have admitted to violating state law and will have to pay a $500 civil fine, as well as to the Broward State Attorney’s Office for the investigation into their actions.

The two officers, initially relieved of duty with pay, won’t return to the Hollywood police department until an internal investigation is completed.

[Sun Sentinel]

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