TIME Drones

Kentucky Man Arrested for Shooting Down a Drone Over His Property

Drone with Camera
Getty Images

"Everyone I've spoken to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing"

Kentucky police charged a man on Sunday for shooting down a drone that was flying over his home.

William H. Meredith, 47, told police in Hillview, Kentucky that his children alerted him to a camera-mounted drone hovering around the neighborhood. Meredith says he got his shotgun and waited for the drone to fly over his property before shooting, according to WDRB Louisville.

“Within a minute or so, here it came,” Meredith told WDRB. “It was hovering over top of my property, and I shot it out of the sky.”

Police arrested and charged Meredith with two felonies, first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment. The owner reportedly told the police the drone was worth over $1800, and was being used to take pictures of a friend’s home.

FAA guidelines say drone pilots must receive permission from property owners pre-flight when flying over a residence — but a FAA spokesperson told local media that shooting at an unmanned aerial vehicle posed a bigger threat.

Meredith, however, said he had every right to take the law into his own hands. “Everyone I’ve spoken to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing,” he said.

[WDRB]

TIME Family

A Mom Called the Police on My 3-Year-Old Son After a Playground Accident

playground
Getty Images

xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

"She wanted to press charges," the police officer told me. I'm not sure if he meant against me or my pre-schooler

xojane

I wasn’t sure whether or not to write about this. I generally prefer not to write about my son, out of respect for his privacy, and I don’t want to put myself in a legally questionable situation by writing about what happened. But it’s been several days since the incident and I’ve still got a crazy cocktail of rage, panic, and sadness churning inside my chest and I don’t know how else to get it out.

Here’s the short version: A mother called the police after my son and her daughter collided in a playground accident. That really happened. He’s 3.

The longer version is this: I was sitting on a bench, in a spot where I could see the entire circular track the kids scoot and ride their bikes around. When my son didn’t complete his lap in a timely manner, I stood up to look for him and saw him standing with a family including several children. He’s extremely social and often stops to talk and make friends, so I assumed he was just chatting with them.

A minute or so later I heard him yelling “Mommy, Mommy.” I ran over to find two children sobbing hysterically, a little girl and my son.

A woman sitting nearby volunteered, “I saw the whole thing! They ran into each other. They’re both just scared.” I gathered my son into my arms and comforted him, telling him it was OK, that it was an accident.

“I didn’t mean to knock her over,” he sobbed. He then repeatedly tried to apologize to the little girl and her mother, who ignored him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he sputtered over and over.

“Is she OK?” I asked the little girl’s mother. She told me her tooth was wiggly and bleeding. My son was still hysterical, so I picked him up and started to move to another corner to continue calming him down.

The other mother motioned to me not to leave.

“What do you want from me?” I asked her. “It was an accident.”

I didn’t mean it in a sarcastic way at all — I wasn’t sure if she wanted money, or my contact info, or in what way she expected me to help. I was (probably stupidly) prepared to do what she asked for. The last thing I expected was what she said next.

“I called the police.”

“YOU CALLED THE POLICE?” This is the point at which I have been mentally punching this woman for days now.

“Your son hit my daughter,” she said. “I called the police.”

At that moment, my internal Mama Bear rose up to her hind legs and bared her claws. “He’s 3 YEARS OLD. It was an accident,” I snarl/yelled. I have never in my life felt a sense of assertiveness so strong for my own self, but when it came to my kid, I felt an unprecedented sense of agency and strength. I knew I would stand up for my child in absolutely any way needed to protect him.

“She’s crazy,” shouted the witness. “I saw the whole thing. They ran into each other. It was a total accident.”

I asked the witness if she would stay until the police arrived, then scooped up my hysterical 3-year-old and marched to the other end of the playground, where I stewed as he asked questions like “Why did she call the police? Am I going to jail? Is the little girl OK? Is SHE going to jail?”

When the police car rolled up outside the gate of the playground area, I let the woman tell her side of the story before walking over to talk to them.

“It’s my son,” I volunteered. “He’s sitting right there, in the green helmet.”

“Look,” the police officer tried to explain to the other mother, “I can see him crying from here. It was an accident. It’s not like he did it on purpose.”

The mother, who had a shaky command of English, then leaned down to her daughter and asked her to translate to the police that “the mother” (me) hadn’t shown up for 10 or 20 minutes after the accident, which was a complete lie. I’d actually been running my stopwatch as my son went around the track so I know it hadn’t been more than 2-and-a-half minutes since he’d set out.

Again, the police explained that it was an accident and there was nothing they could do about it.

“It’s a park,” said the officer from before.”Kids are running around all over the place here.”

They offered to call an ambulance for the injured little girl, which the mother accepted. I stayed back while they loaded her in and finished their interactions.

From my vantage point I could see another family member or friend who had been with them telling her version of the story to a large crowd that had collected. From her broad “wooshing” hand gestures, I could see that she was intimating that my son was some sort of reckless danger to society on a 3-wheeler scooter. I somehow managed to not stomp over there and ask her to stop regaling the park with stories about my 3-year-old son at least until he had stopped sobbing.

When the family was on their way, I asked the police officers if they needed my information or anything. They said no. “She wanted to press charges,” he told me. I’m not sure if he meant against me or my pre-schooler.

“I can see the woman over there telling everyone the story…” I began.

“Yeah, he’s a maniac, right?” the police officer said winkingly, before he and his partner headed on their way.

It’s been a few days since this happened, and my son seems to be fine. He got a scare, but he’s back on his scooter and hasn’t mentioned the incident again. He’s always been very conscientious about watching out for pedestrians while on his scooter, but it can’t hurt for him to be even more so. We haven’t yet been back to the area of the park where the collision happened, but I think that’s more because of my fear than his.

Because while he’s fine, I’m not. I’m furious. And I’m scared. My black son just had his first police interaction at age 3.

I have tried to be understanding of the panic the other mother probably felt when her daughter was hurt. My son knocked his teeth back into his gums in a fight with a slide and had to be held down in the ER while he got stitches where he bit through his own tongue. I know how it feels to be scared for your injured child. I feel terrible, as did my son, for the little girl who was hurt.

It’s still hard for me to understand how a fellow mother could call the police on a sobbing 3-year-old. But I want to believe that she simply didn’t know what to do, and called the police out of fear and confusion. I even want to believe that she was trying to lay the groundwork to sue me, that she wanted money. I want to believe those things more than some things I could believe.

I’m glad the police were reasonable and straightened things out. Perhaps in this instance, it was best they were there to handle what was obviously a touchy situation. In this instance. This time.

But to be the mother of a black son is to be scared for them, constantly. Black mothers know this better than me, have known it for a long time. I am not the person to tell that story.

I don’t know if there was a racial component to what happened this time, but I can’t help but flash forward to someday when someone may wrongfully point their finger at my son again, someday when he’s not an adorable 3-year-old, someday when I’m not there to speak for him.

And I think that’s why my guts are still roiling days later, why I am still feeling emotional about an incident that everyone seems to agree was crazy, but over now. That I shouldn’t let it get to me. It got to me. I’m not over it. I wish I was.

But if nothing else, I am glad I felt that Mama Bear rise up inside me. I am glad that I knew, in that moment, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would and will always do anything, ANYTHING to protect my son. Because, unfortunately, he lives in a world where he needs a little extra protection.

Emily McCombs wrote this article for xoJane

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Crime

University of Cincinnati Cop Indicted in Killing of Unarmed Black Man

Ray Tensing
Greenhills Police Department Officer Ray Tensing

"I'm treating him like a murderer"

University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing has been indicted on murder charges for the shooting of Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black man, during a routine traffic stop on July 19.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced the indictment in a press conference on Wednesday. Shortly afterward, Tensing voluntarily turned himself in and will be held overnight in the Hamilton County Justice Center before he is arraigned Thursday morning.

“I’m treating him like a murderer,” Deters, who is calling for life imprisonment for Tensing, said.

After the indictment was announced, University of Cincinnati fired Tensing, according to university officials.

The indictment marks the first of a Cincinnati police officer for killing a civilian, according to Deters. He called the shooting “senseless” and offered his condolences to DuBose’s family.

“This is the first time that we thought: ‘This is, without question, a murder,'” Deters said.

Stuart Mathews, who is representing Tensing, said he was “stunned” by the murder charge.

“I don’t believe there was any criminal activity that occurred by Officer Tensing,” he told TIME. “Murder is about as serious as it gets. In Ohio, murder is purposefully causing the death of another and there was no purposeful causing of death here.”

Tensing stopped DuBose, 43, at an intersection near the University of Cincinnati campus for driving without a front license plate. According to UC Police Chief Jason Goodrich, Tensing asked for a driver’s license, which DuBose did not provide. According to Tensing, he was dragged down the road when DuBose began driving away. Tensing then fatally shot DuBose once in the head, according to the police report.

Deters says that according to the body-camera video footage, which was released during the same press conference on Wednesday and that Deters said was “invaluable” to the investigation, Tensing’s account was false. Without the body camera evidence, Tensing could have continued to falsely assert that he had been dragged.

“He was not dragged. If you slowed down this tape, you see what happened,” he said. “People want to believe that Mr. DuBose had done something violent towards the officer. He did not.”

Later in the conference, DuBose’s mother, Audrey DuBose, similarly praised body cameras for proving what she already knew.

“My son was a righteous man. Seeing that video let me know that my son did absolutely nothing,” she said. “There are a lot of [police] murders that go unsolved. My son was killed by a cop. I’m so thankful that everything was uncovered. With this, I can rest.”

Tensing was on paid administrative leave up until the indictment was announced, at which point he was fired by the university.

When asked what Tensing should have done in the scenario, Deters articulated that the stakes were not high enough to justify the use of a weapon.

“If he’s starting to roll away, seriously, let him go,” he said.

Deters was quick to point out that Tensing is not a Cincinnati police officer and said this would never have happened with one of their officers. According to Deters, Tensing lost his temper when DuBose did not immediately step out of the car. He said it took Tensing “maybe a second” to shoot DuBose.

“It’s ridiculous that this would happen,” Deters said. “I feel so sorry for his family and what they lost.”

Deters also said the current Black Lives Matter movement against police violence towards people of color in urban communities did not play a role in the indictment.

“I have paid attention to some of the protests about this,” he said. “It didn’t affect my decision in any fashion.”

DuBose’s funeral took place on Tuesday, with more than 500 people packing the pews to honor the memory of the former rapper and music producer.

People have been demonstrating since DuBose’s death and his family urged activists on Wednesday to continue the fight peacefully.

“All the soldiers who were out there marching with me for justice for my son, I thank you,” Audrey DuBose said “And I hope that you continue to do this. Not just for my son, but for many others. And I’m ready to join the battlefield because my heart goes out for so many.”

TIME Cambodia

This Country Just Made It Legal for Cops to Keep 70% of All the Traffic Fines They Collect

A Cambodian traffic police drives a car
Tang Chhin Sothy—AFP/Getty Images A Cambodian traffic police officer drives a car during a ceremony in Phnom Penh on Feb. 14, 2012

Officials do not foresee a rash of spurious fines being handed out as a consequence

Drivers in Cambodia have a lot to contend with: cavernous potholes, weaving motorcycles kicking up clouds of choking dust and noodle hawkers trundling down the “fast” lane. Now motorists may find their pockets as ravaged as their nerves, after officials announced a fivefold bump in traffic fines and gave permission for issuing officers to keep 70% of all cash collected.

The new rules, coming into force in January, are an attempt to curb corruption, reports the Phnom Penh Post. Currently, traffic cops keep half of much smaller penalties, meaning that many supplement their meager salaries by soliciting bribes.

The current $1.25 official penalty for not wearing a car seat belt, for example, will rise to $6.25, with the officer allowed to keep $4.38. Of the remaining 30%, some 25% will go to the station where the officer is based, with the final 5% sent to the Ministry of Finance.

“We plan to issue an edict in the future to encourage and promote this measure,” Ti Long, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s Public Order Department, said at a press conference on Monday.

Local road-safety analyst Chariya Ear, for one, applauded the move. “It will be a good idea to give more incentives to the officers who are doing their jobs,” he told the Post.

However, not all drivers agree, fearing that, in a nation ranked 156 out of 175 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, officers will hand out spurious punishments to feather their nests.

Phnom Penh resident Gary Morrison, 49, says he already pays traffic fines on a regular basis, ostensibly for “being a foreigner,” even though he has all the correct documentation for his vehicle. “So,” he says sardonically, “it’s nice to know they are encouraging the police to fine me even more.”

TIME Florida

Florida Cop Caught Throwing Peanuts at Homeless Man

Randy Miller was arrested for trespassing at a convenience store when the incident took place

A Florida police department is mired in criticism after an officer was seen on surveillance video throwing peanuts at a homeless man.

The tape shows Officer Andrew Halpin tossing peanuts while booking Randy Miller at the Sarasota County Jail on July 18. Miller is seated and handcuffed, and opens his mouth like a circus animal — apparently at Halpin’s command.

Two officers watch in the background as the apparently intoxicated Miller tries to catch the peanuts.

The video was made public on Monday. Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino told NBC station WFLA she was not aware of the incident until the…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Race

Majority of Americans Now Say Race Relations Are Bad

Confederate Flag Columbia South Carolina
John Moore—Getty Images A man holds a Confederate flag on the state house grounds in Columbia, S.C. on July 18, 2015.

A significant reversal since President Obama's election

When Americans elected the first black president in 2008, two-thirds thought race relations were generally good. But that’s not the case anymore.

According to a new New York Times/CBS poll, six in 10 Americans now think race relations are poor, and four in 10 think they are getting worse. The reversal comes in the wake of the June killing of nine black people in a historically black church in South Carolina and amidst ongoing, racially charged protests concerning police killings of black people around the country.

Blacks in particular have had a dramatic shift in their view of race relations during the Obama era. Six in 10 said race relations were bad in 2008, but that figure dropped to around 30% just after President Obama was elected. Today more than two-thirds of blacks say race relations are poor, which is close to the figures seen in the aftermath of Rodney King’s beating by police officers in the early 1990s.

A majority of white respondents also said race relations were poor, but for them it was the first acknowledgement of that fact in a long time. In 2008, before Obama’s election, nearly 60% of whites said race relations were good in the U.S.

[NYT]

TIME Innovation

How Marijuana Can Help Mend Broken Bones

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Can marijuana help broken bones heal?

By Judah Ari Gross in the Times of Israel

2. Parking spaces make it harder to build affordable housing.

By Joseph Stromberg in Vox

3. A decade ago, the west didn’t take a similar deal with Iran, and paid with a decade of regional chaos.

By Gareth Evans at Project Syndicate

4. Want better police relations with the community? Let teenagers train the cops.

By Brentin Mock in CityLab

5. Could today’s militias dividing Iraq and Syria become the peacekeepers of a future truce?

By Barbara F. Walter in Political Violence at a Glance

 

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

‘Insight Policing’ Could Have Helped Sandra Bland

It helps officers recognize and defuse conflict behavior when they see it

The disturbing video released earlier this week of the stop and arrest of Sandra Bland highlights once again the excessive and inexcusable use of force by police officers in this country. The 28-year-old’s death in police custody after a routine traffic stop is currently being investigated as a murder.

Both ordinary citizens and experts have been calling for police departments to ramp up efforts to stop these kinds of abuses, but tragically, they continue.

Why they continue is perplexing and complicated – from history and power to the role of implicit bias. But one answer, as a Memphis cop put it to me in an interview for the Retaliatory Violence Insight Project, is what police officers call the “tricky part”: maintaining trust with citizens while enforcing the law.

The tricky part

Part of what is tricky, I found talking with police officers, is that traditional policing practice uses deterrence methods – force and the threat of punishment – to motivate compliance.

Most of us are familiar with these methods. Perhaps we have gotten a speeding ticket, or been subject to stop and frisk. The principle is the same – obey the law or face consequences.

Deterrence policies may stop crime in some cases, but they are counter to most people’s conception of trust, which depends on the belief that another person will not cause harm.

Because of this trust deficit, deterrence methods can fail to produce compliance; and instead, produce conflict between the public and the police. Just watch Sandra Bland’s arrest video, or the public reaction to the high-force police response during last year’s Ferguson protests.

Research from the Retaliatory Violence Insight Project into the challenges police departments face curtailing retaliatory violence in high crime communities has produced an alternative: Insight Policing.

Insight Policing is a community-oriented, problem-solving policing practice designed to help officers take control of situations with the public before conflict escalates. By doing so, the police maintain trust and enhance the probability of cooperation in difficult situations of enforcement.

The role of Insight Policing

Insight Policing helps officers recognize and defuse conflict behavior when they see it – both their own and the public’s. Often, conflict behavior resembles such stress-based behaviors as fight, flight and freeze; these are the actions people take when they feel threatened.

The thing about conflict behavior, and what Insight Policing pays particular attention to, is that when we feel threatened, we are reactive, not reflective, in how we respond. We do not take time to think about what we are doing, we simply do, in hopes that we will successfully stop the threat.

Sandra Bland refused to get out of her car (conflict behavor), responding to the threat the officer posed when he ordered her to. The officer pulled a taser on Bland (conflict behavior) in response to the threat her refusal posed to him as an agent of the law.

While clearly there are more dramatic instances of conflict behavior in police–citizen encounters – the high speed chase, the standoff – the more mundane conflict interactions are what are undermining police legitimacy.

When conflict behavior manifests as noncompliance, when citizens refuse to cooperate, as was the case with Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray and most recently Sandra Bland, what begins as mundane can become lethal when conflict behavior escalates.

Insight Policing, which has been piloted in two American police departments, Memphis, Tennessee, and Lowell, Massachusetts, is a promising tool for helping officers get a handle on the “tricky part.” Eighty percent of officers trained agreed that Insight Policing enhanced their ability to defuse the feelings of threat citizens have about their encounters with police officers.

An example of Insight Policing

Take an example from Memphis. Three Memphis officers trained in Insight Policing responded to a call for shots fired. They arrived on the scene to find a crowd of young men behind a house. They asked them the kinds of questions they always ask at the scene of a crime: “What happened?” “What did you see?” “Who did this?” The young men refused to cooperate: “We didn’t see anything.” “Leave us alone.” “We don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The officers suspected otherwise. And ordinarily, they reported, they would have arrested the young men on gang-related charges and questioned them down at the station – to delay any retaliation that might have been brewing as well as to get the information they were after. Instead, having been trained in Insight Policing, they recognized the young men’s resistance as conflict behavior. They dropped, for the moment, their crime investigator hats, and put on their conflict investigator hats. They used Insight Policing techniques to become curious about what was motivating the young men’s resistance.

What the officers found was not that the young men were protecting somebody or hiding something or breaking the law in some way, but that they had had trouble with police in the past. They did not want to speak because they were afraid of incriminating themselves.

Getting this information allowed the officers to delink the threat they posed by assuring the young men that they were not after them, they were after the shooter. They were able to build enough trust in the moment that the young men gave them the information they needed to catch the shooter later that night.

Had the officers used their power to arrest the young men, just for hanging out together, they would have played into the young men’s fear of incrimination. They would have escalated a situation, and who knows how it would have turned out.

By engaging the men in terms of their conflict behavior, the officers were able to build trust, garner cooperation and effectively enforce the law.

What if the officers who stopped Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray and Mike Brown and Eric Garner had been trained to recognize conflict behavior and defuse it? Perhaps history would be different.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

TIME baltimore

Former Baltimore Policeman Will Perform in Blackface to Raise Funds for Freddie Gray Officers

Baltimore Police Death
Patrick Semansky—AP Protesters march through Baltimore the day after charges were announced against the police officers involved in Freddie Gray's death on May 2, 2015

"There's no racial overtones to this show. There's nothing racial to the show"

(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) — A former Baltimore police officer said Wednesday that he plans to perform an Al Jolson routine in blackface to raise money for the six Baltimore officers who have been indicted in the death of Freddie Gray.

Bobby Berger, whose performances as Jolson created tension with the department in the 1980s, said Wednesday that 610 tickets have been sold in eight days at $45 each for the Nov. 1 fundraiser in Glen Burnie.

But the venue where Berger intended to hold the event, Michael’s Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, posted a notice on its website that the fundraiser will not be hosted there.

“No contract was signed with Mr. Berger,” the notice said. “Michael’s does not condone blackface performances of any kind.”

Berger said in an interview he doesn’t believe there is anything racist about his routine.

“It’s coincidence,” Berger said about the fact that the entertainer he impersonates wore blackface. “There’s no racial overtones to this show. There’s nothing racial to the show.”

Michael Davey, an attorney for the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police, said officers do not support the fundraiser. Gray was black. He died of injuries received in police custody. Davey said no money would be accepted from the fundraiser.

“They’ve been put in a pretty bad position without their knowledge,” Davey said of the police officers.

Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP, says the idea is “very distasteful.”

“This is showing no sensitivity to the family of Freddie Gray,” Hill-Aston said.

Gray’s death prompted a wave of arson, looting and open confrontations with riot police in Baltimore in April.

Berger, who is 67, has performed the blackface signing act for decades. He was fired from the police force in the 1980s for performing the act in his spare time. He was reinstated to his job following an appeal, but later retired. His performance at a retirement dinner for a white Baltimore County officer in 1996 prompted a black officers group to protest outside the dinner.

Berger said in an interview Wednesday that he only intended to help the officers who were indicted in the Gray case.

“I want to get these people some money,” Berger said. “I know they need it, and that’s the long and short of it.”

TIME Criminal Justice

Sheriff Says Sandra Bland Told Jailer of a Previous Suicide Attempt

Bland indicated she had attempted suicide at least once in the past year

Sandra Bland—the African-American woman whose mysterious and sudden death in a Waller County, Tex. jail last week after a traffic stop has incited controversy—told jailers that she had previously attempted suicide, according to information from a closed meeting with Waller County officials on Tuesday.

On a form, Bland indicated that she had attempted suicide over the past year, apparently due to the loss of a baby. At the time of her arrest, however, Bland indicated that she did not feel suicidal. Her mental history remains “a little bit fuzzy,” Rep. Sylvester Turner told The Houston Chronicle.

Forms filled out by Bland at the jail and released by Waller County officials said she had previously attempted suicide over losing her baby, but those documents had several inconsistencies, according to the Associated Press. One form said she took pills in the hopes of killing herself in 2015, and another said the attempt was in 2014. On one form, Bland apparently indicated she had suicidal thoughts over the last year, but in another form said she had not.

Authorities should have put a greater watch on Bland after learning of her suicide attempt, Turner said, illustrating “the need to make sure we provide the care and the interventions for people who are having a behavioral and mental health issues when people are coming into our county jail system.”

An attorney for Bland’s relatives, Cannon Lambert said that there was “no evidence” that she had previously attempted suicide, according to the Associated Press.

Bland’s death was ruled a suicide, but the Waller County District Attorney said it would be given the same amount of scrutiny as a murder investigation. Authorities released a dashcam video of the traffic stop, which included the officer threatening Bland with a stun gun.

Bland had just moved to Texas from Chicago for a temporary position with Prairie View A & M University.

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