TIME Crime

Prosecutors Seek Prison For Police in South Carolina Taser Case

Both Eric Walters and Franklin Brown will be sentenced on federal charges Monday

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — Two former small town police officers in South Carolina should spend at least a year in prison for shocking a mentally disabled woman at least eight times with a Taser without giving her time to follow their orders, federal prosecutors say.

Both Eric Walters and Franklin Brown will be sentenced on federal charges Monday in Florence. The two Marion police officers pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law in October.

Walters was patrolling in Marion early on the morning of April 2013 when he saw 40-year-old Melissa Davis walking out of the yard of a home for sale. He asked her what she was doing, thinking she might have broken into the home, then shocked her with his Taser, according to court papers.

After Davis fell to the ground, Walters ordered her to put her hands behind her back, then shocked her four more times before she could respond, prosecutors said.

By the time Brown responded, Walters had determined Davis did nothing wrong and was removing the Taser probes from her back. Brown noticed one of Davis’ hands had slipped from her improperly applied handcuffs and ordered everyone to move away and shocked Davis again, even though she was not trying to fight or escape, according to court papers.

Brown shocked Davis twice more, then offered to let her go if he could shoot her in the forehead one more time with his Taser, prosecutors said.

Brown told the other officers at the scene he shot Davis with the Taser because he “did not want to touch that nasty (obscenity),” according to his plea agreement.

Both officers are white. Court records did not indicate Davis’ race.

Prosecutors said they agree with federal sentencing guidelines that ask for 12 to 18 months behind bars for Walters and an 18- to 24-month sentence for Brown. The guidelines are tougher for Brown because Davis was in a vulnerable position when he shocked her.

Walters’ lawyer asked for a six-month prison sentence and six months of home detention because he is in poor health after several heart attacks suffered before age 39. The lawyer added that Walters had a good record as an officer before the incident. Brown’s lawyers did not file any motions asking for mercy before the sentencing.

Prosecutors said the officers should have known Davis had a diminished mental state, and a lawsuit filed by her caretaker against the officers and the city of Marion said she was well known around town.

The civil suit said along with the physical pain and suffering from the shocks and their after-effects, Davis also continues to need help to deal with mental anguish from what happened. Her lawsuit is seeking a minimum of nearly $2 million.

The officers originally faced state charges, which were dropped when federal prosecutors took over. At least three officers in South Carolina have been recently charged with shooting unarmed suspects.

TIME Education

Meet the 2015 National Teacher of the Year

Peeples has been named 2015 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Davy Knapp—AP Peeples has been named 2015 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Shanna Peeples will be recognized by President Barack Obama

(LUBBOCK, Texas) — A high school English teacher in Texas who works with students facing poverty and traumas related to their immigration to the United States on Monday was named the 2015 National Teacher of the Year.

Shanna Peeples from Amarillo was selected for the honor by the Council of Chief State School Officers. She is the first Texas teacher to win the award since 1957.

Peeples works at Palo Duro High, where about 85 percent of students live below the poverty line and where more refugee children are enrolled than in any other high school in the 31,000-student district.

She will be recognized by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday.

Peeples said a childhood that exposed her to alcoholism and domestic violence has provided her with empathy for students from Burma, Somalia, Ethiopia, Iraq and Cuba, many of whom are survivors of emotional or physical trauma in their war-torn homelands. That can make trust difficult, she said.

“That’s what helped me as a teacher probably more than anything, that I have that connection with them, unfortunately,” Peeples said. “You can’t really learn when you’re scared.”

Texas has led the U.S. in refugee resettlements for the last four years. Most are settled in large cities, but immigrant populations also are thriving in more remote areas, including Amarillo.

The 50-year-old mother of three grown children, whose teachers when she was young urged her to write to find a way out of her pain and isolation, began teaching after working as a disc jockey, medical assistant, pet sitter and journalist at the Amarillo Globe-News, where she covered education. She’s taught for 12 years, the past seven at Palo Duro.

Peeples, who was nominated by a Palo Duro colleague and won campus, district, region and state teacher of the year honors, teaches AP English and serves as the English department chair as well as an instructional coach for other teachers.

One former student knows there are plenty of selfless teachers in Texas and across the country. But Peeples has something intangible, said Viet Tran, a college junior who believes he wouldn’t be at Harvard studying neurobiology on a scholarship without Peeples’ help.

“The reason for her being a special teacher is she is able to bridge a very wide gap of both student achievement and student experience,” said the 21-year-old junior who came to the U.S. in 1998 from Vietnam. “She teaches kids who have never been in a classroom before and students who want to go to Ivy League schools.”

On occasion, she has spoken with refugee parents who wanted their children to get jobs so they could contribute financially to the family, rather than attend school.

“She tries to help the parents in families understand that their (child’s) future is really in education,” Tran said.

Peeples is a “brilliant” teacher who is animated and captivating, Palo Duro principal Sandy Whitlow said.

“She continually tries to improve herself as a teacher,” Whitlow said. “She is like an onion — there are so many layers to her.”

Peeples was selected from among four finalists named in January. The other three teachers hail from Alabama, Hawaii and Indiana. Peeples will spend a year traveling the nation to represent educators and advocate on behalf of teachers.

“I hope to remind people that public school teachers are amazing, dedicated, hard-working, smart and gifted people,” she said. “There are great things (at schools across the country) that happen every day. It’s not flashy or dramatic.”

TIME Addiction

Hawaii Set to Become First State to Raise Smoking Age to 21

TIME.com stock photos E-Cig Electronic Cigarette Smoke
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

The bill covers both cigarette and e-cigarette use

Hawaii is set to become the first state to pass a law banning the sale, use and possession of cigarettes and e-cigarettes to people under the age of 21.

If a bill approved by Hawaii lawmakers on Friday is signed into law by Gov. David Ige, adolescents will be prohibited from smoking, buying and possessing both conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. First-time offenders will be fined $10, and after that they can be charged a $50 fine or be required to complete community service, the Associated Press reports.

Some local governments have raised the smoking age to 21 in certain counties and cities — New York City among them — but if the bill becomes law, Hawaii will be the first state to do so.

Though the rates of high school age smokers have dropped in recent years, some 2.3 million children and young adults started smoking in 2012. In addition, a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that e-cigarette use among middle school and high school students tripled in one year.

If the Hawaii bill passes, it will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.

[AP]

TIME Crime

James Holmes Trial Set to Begin in Colorado

James Holmes sits in court for an advisement hearing at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colo. on June 4, 2013.
Reuters James Holmes sits in court for an advisement hearing at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colo. on June 4, 2013.

Holmes acknowledges killing 12 people and wounding 70 more, but has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity

(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) — The key to the death penalty trial of a man who methodically shot at moviegoers at a Batman movie premiere will be what was going on inside his mind as he threw smoke canisters and then marched up and down the aisles, firing at anyone who tried to flee.

James Holmes acknowledges killing 12 people and wounding 70 more inside the packed theater, but has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyers will argue that he was too addled by mental illness to tell right from wrong.

And unlike most other states, Colorado puts the burden on prosecutors in insanity cases: They must convince jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Holmes was sane. It adds another obstacle for a state that has already spent millions to manage an outsized number of victims, hundreds of witnesses and more than 85,000 pages of evidence.

Even so, experts say Holmes faces long odds. Insanity defenses are successful in only 25 percent of felony trials nationally, even less so in homicides.

“Lay people tend to think of people with mental illness as extremely dangerous, and that also influences jurors, especially if someone has killed someone,” said Christopher Slobogin, a professor of law and psychiatry at Vanderbilt Law School. “Usually there’s evidence of intent and planning that seems to be counterintuitive to the lay view of mental illness.”

Winning a trial on mental-health grounds is rare, but then again, so is a jury trial for a mass shooter, many of whom are killed by police, kill themselves or plead guilty.

A review of 160 mass shootings found killers went to trial 74 times, and just three were found insane, according to Grant Duwe, a Minnesota corrections official who wrote the book “Mass Murder in the United States: A History.”

Just one mass shooter has won a mental-health case in the last two decades, Duwe said: Michael Hayes, who shot nine people, killing four, in North Carolina in 1988.

Based on that, Holmes “faces some pretty long odds,” he said.

Holmes was arrested almost immediately, while stripping off his body armor in the parking lot outside the Century 16 movie theater. That he was the shooter who replaced Hollywood violence with real human carnage has never been in doubt. The victims include a 6-year-old girl, two active-duty servicemen, a single mom and an aspiring broadcaster who had survived a mall shooting in Toronto. Several died shielding friends or loved ones.

Nearly three years have passed as trial preparations were stalled by complicated legal debates over capital punishment and insanity pleas.

Prosecutors will argue that the once-promising doctoral candidate in neuroscience plotted and planned for months, amassing guns, ammunition, tear gas grenades and enough chemicals to turn his dingy apartment into a potentially lethal booby trap that could have caused even more carnage.

They’ll ask jurors to find him guilty, and if so, sentence him to death rather than life without parole.

If jurors decide instead that Holmes was insane at the time of the shooting, he would be committed indefinitely to a state psychiatric hospital.

Dueling mental health evaluations could factor in their deliberations. Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. ordered a second exam after prosecutors said the first was biased. Defense attorneys have objected to the results of the second one, suggesting it might not help them.

Like many other details, the results of both exams have been kept from public view. Also secret is the list of people expected to testify.

Holmes faces 166 counts, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and an explosives offense.

The judge read each charge, naming each victim, out loud. It took nearly two hours.

Holmes’ trial could take at least four months or more and is sure to be emotionally wrenching. Jury selection alone took nearly three months as attorneys and the judge settled on 12 jurors and 12 alternates from a pool of 9,000. Experts said the jury selection was among the largest and most complex in history, in part because it was so difficult to find people who weren’t personally affected by the shooting.

Holmes’ parents begged prosecutors to consider a plea deal sparing his life and avoiding a drawn-out trial. But some survivors want Holmes executed, even if that means reliving horrific details.

“My intent to go down there is to see that that guy gets convicted of all 166 counts that were against him,” said Tom Sullivan, whose son, Alex, was killed while celebrating his 27th birthday and wedding anniversary.

W. David Hoover wants Holmes executed to avenge the death of his 18-year-old nephew, A.J. Boik.

“It still doesn’t bring him back, but we want justice,” Hoover said. “Real justice is going to happen when this animal leaves this Earth.”

TIME Texas

‘Extremely Dangerous’ Mile-Wide Tornado Spotted in North Texas

A slow-moving and “extremely dangerous” tornado was confirmed Sunday night in north-central Texas, much of which was under tornado watches and flash flood warnings as a storm system swept through with large hail and damaging wind gusts, the National Weather Service said.

After moving through the town of Rio Vista, the tornado moved east into rural parts of Johnson County, Emergency Management Director Jamie Moore told NBC News. The tornado was about a mile wide when it was first spotted, he said.

The twister was spotted about 10:44 p.m. near Covington and near Cleburne State Park, about 25 miles south of Fort Worth …

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

TIME portfolio

Meet Hillary Clinton’s Official Campaign Photographer

Barbara Kinney has been photographing Hillary Clinton for the past 20 years

It’s Sept. 28, 1995, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat are getting ready to make history by signing the Oslo II Accord expanding Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank. Flanked by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, King Hussein of Jordan and U.S. President Bill Clinton, they wait in a hallway at the White House. One photographer, Barbary Kinney, is here to witness the scene. As four of the men adjust, in concert, their ties, she presses her shutter, capturing the incongruous behind-the-scenes ritual that will earn her, a few months later, a World Press Photo prize, one of the most prestigious photojournalism awards.

For the past 20 years, Kinney, an Indiana-born photographer who’s worked for USA Today, Reuters and the Seattle Times, has been following the Clintons — from Bill’s years in the White House, to Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign, to Chelsea’s wedding. Along the way, she has gained unprecedented access to the leading family in Democratic politics.

Now, as Hillary Clinton embarks on her second presidential run — one that could make history — Kinney is back on the campaign trail as the candidate’s official photographer.

Earlier this month, Kinney joined Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the candidate has been holding low-key events with small groups of voters. But when the campaign will be in full swing, the two will travel together at all times — from the first to the last event, Kinney tells TIME.

Kinney’s goal is twofold: she’s there to provide the campaign with the necessary photos to feed the various social-media channels that have come to play an important role in politics, and also to capture the off-the-cuff moments that could take on historical value in the coming months and years.

“[I want] to make great pictures that define the campaign and define Hillary,” she says. “Yes, I will have to do the pictures that the campaign will need, which, obviously, makes her look good and engaged. But I’m also looking to shoot those great documentary pictures that, to me, define a campaign even more.”

The key is access, and Kinney has it. And she’s built over two decades as a photographer.

When she was 13 years old, Kinney wanted to be an artist, but she readily admits that she lacked the skill to draw or paint. So she turned to a different medium. “I think photography became my creative outlet,” she says.

Kinney attended a couple of photography classes in high school before joining the student newspaper and yearbook. One day, her father sent to meet the editor of her hometown newspaper in Evansville, Ind. “I wanted to know what colleges would be good to study photojournalism,” she says. “He recommended Kansas, Missouri and Indiana, and I ended up at the University of Kansas.”

When she graduated with a degree in photojournalism and news writing, Kinney moved to Washington, D.C., thinking she would easily find a job. She was wrong. “I ended up working for a trade association for a couple of years,” she says. “[Until] a friend told me to apply to this new newspaper: USA Today.”

Kinney became a photography assistant, which allowed her to take pictures on a part-time basis for the paper. “I became known as the marathon photographer because I had shot one great image at the New York marathon once,” she says. She went to cover the Boston marathon five times.

After six years, she quit to become a freelance photographer. Then, in early 1992, she received a call from President Clinton’s new Administration. “They were staffing for his Inauguration,” Kinney says. “And a friend of mine, who had worked on the campaign, gave my name to the First Lady’s press secretary, Lisa Caputo.”

Kinney photographed the Inauguration and was quickly hired on a 30-day tryout period as one of the White House’s four staff photographers. Bob McNeely was head photographer — a position held by Pete Souza in President Barack Obama’s Administration — with three staff photographers working with him, including Kinney. In addition, “the Vice President had two photographers, and then we had a photo-editing staff,” she recalls. “Each day, we would alternate between working with the President and the First Lady.”

While most White House staff photographers live in the shadows, Kinney’s name made its mark in 1995 when she won the World Press Photo prize in the People in the News category for her Oslo II Accord image. Kinney spent six years in the White House before joining Reuters as an entertainment picture editor and then moving to Seattle where she worked for the Seattle Times, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Digital Railroad, a web hosting service for photographers.

In 2007, when Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for President, Kinney reconnected with her former colleagues. “I lobbied [for them] to bring me on as a photographer,” she says. “I just kept on calling and sending emails telling them that this was historical and it needed to be documented.”

Clinton’s staff finally got back to her in early 2008, inviting her to Iowa to cover the caucus — one their candidate would lose to Obama. “I was really depressed about that,” she tells TIME. “Plus, when I came back I learned that I had been laid off from Digital Railroad, [which went bust].”

Suddenly unemployed, Kinney called Clinton’s staff again, offering her services on a full-time basis. “When they came to Seattle in February of that year, I got on the plane and worked through June,” she says, recalling the unexpectedly long primary campaign of that year.

“It was hard,” she says. “I didn’t know whether we were going to win or not; I was just focusing on making the pictures. You go out in this campaign where, obviously, the people who show up are your supporters, and so there’s just so much emotion and excitement. We’d work all day, we’d do three events and we’d have one left in the evening. And you just want to be done and back in your hotel room. And then, you go into this auditorium full of people screaming and you’re just pumped up again. You’re energized again.”

And then, in the end, all those months of excitement translated into one last night of a different kind of energy, when Clinton made her concession speech after months of a razor-edge battle that Obama won. “That last event was very emotional,” she says. “I remember shooting pictures in tears, trying to focus.”

Now Kinney’s second stint as Clinton’s official campaign photographer promises to be, in some ways, even more trying. “Photography is so much more an important aspect of the ongoing campaign [than it used to be],” she explains. “It’s not an afterthought this time around because of social media. Today, they have all of these outlets — from Facebook to Twitter and Instagram. And the speed has definitely increased.”

In 2008 Kinney was able to file her images at the end of each day; this year, she’s sending her edit after each event, “just like a wire photographer would,” she says. And the response to Kinney’s work has also changed dramatically. “The reach has [expanded],” she says. “I got a little overwhelmed by the number of responses I got from people. I went to bed one night and I had to turn my phone off because I kept getting beeps for people adding me on their Twitter accounts. There’s so much attention.”

High expectations come with the job; “There are a lot of great photographers out there, from David Burnett and Stephen Crawley to Doug Mills, so there may be a higher standard that people are expecting,” she tells TIME. To meet those expectations, Kinney is banking on the access she’s secured over her years with the Clintons. “I’ve been around her enough that she’s comfortable having me there,” she says. “I’ve learned, over the years, when to go and when to leave. That’s how you get those great behind-the-scenes real moments, the unguarded moments that make for great photojournalism.”

And for great stories. Kinney says that a few years after she took that famous picture of the Oslo II Accord signees, King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan visited the White House. She learned from the Queen that the photo held a place of honor at the royal residence in Amman. As she was about to photograph the Royal couple with Bill and Hillary, Kinney recalls, “I said, ‘Mr. President, you need to straighten your tie a little bit. And he said, ‘Oh, Barbara, don’t you start again.’”

Barbara Kinney is a photographer based in Seattle.

Marisa Schwartz Taylor, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME.com. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

TIME Race

Calm Restored in Baltimore as the City Awaits the Funeral of Freddie Gray

Protestors encourage passing cars to honk while standing in the middle of York Road near Vaughn Greene Funeral Services during the wake of Freddie Gray in Baltimore on April 26, 2015.
Drew Angerer—Getty Images Protestors encourage passing cars to honk while standing in the middle of York Road near Vaughn Greene Funeral Services during the wake of Freddie Gray in Baltimore on April 26, 2015.

Hundreds visited a local funeral home to pay their respects

Freddie Gray’s body lies in state on a city fault line.

To the west of Vaughn Greene Funeral Services, where a wake was held Sunday for the 25-year-old Baltimore man who died in police custody, is Loyola University and largely white and affluent surrounding neighborhoods. To the east are Winston-Govans and Richnor Springs and Kenilworth Park—all low-income, predominantly black neighborhoods.

On Sunday, Gray’s body was at a nexus of those two Baltimores. The funeral home is located on York Road, a north-south corridor that almost neatly divides those starkly different areas of the city. Gray, who was black, died in police custody on April 19 after he was arrested a week earlier near Gilmor Homes, a public housing complex. Gray ran from police after he “made eye contact” with officers and was eventually detained. Video taken by bystanders shows police dragging Gray into a police van. An autopsy later showed that Gray died from a severe spinal injury.

The incident has joined those in Ferguson, North Charleston, Cleveland and New York—all instances in which police use of force incidents against black men have been called into question. On Saturday, protests over Gray’s death briefly turned violent when Baltimore police arrested 35 protesters after businesses were vandalized and police vehicles damaged. Officials blame a small group of people from outside the city for the violence. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at least one of those arrested was from outside of Baltimore.

But on Sunday, Baltimore remained largely quiet aside from several dozen demonstrators lining York outside the funeral home where hundreds of family and friends paid their respects. Some stood in the street for hours holding cut-out cardboard signs that read “We Will Remember Freddie” in black marker while urging passing cars to honk in support.

Joseph Capista, a lecturer at Towson University who helped organize Sunday’s demonstration, said he hoped Gray’s death would be a tipping point for the city.

“We live in an antebellum society in terms of racial justice,” Capista said, adding that he believed police behavior differed depending on the neighborhood. Policing in white neighborhoods, he said, is often more respectful on the whole than in poorer black ones.

A number of protesters were concerned that Baltimore—nicknamed “Charm City”—was being treated unfairly in the media after the trouble on Saturday.

“Baltimore was not out of control,” said Karen DeCamp, a director at the Greater Homewood Community Corporation, a nonprofit advocacy organization, who was demonstrating outside the funeral home. “Baltimore was not burning. A very small number of people made some trouble, and it was completely blown out of proportion.”

While there was no violence Sunday, there was still anger. Patrices Kelly, 40, who lives in West Baltimore and was watching demonstrators Sunday, said she wanted both the mayor and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts to step down.

Kelly said she was “angry as hell,” and “frustrated” at city officials’ response. “We just want to do something about it.”

Several miles away, Baltimore’s mayor convened a press conference at the Bethel A.M.E. Baptist Church alongside about a dozen religious and community leaders. Rawlings-Blake said that a “small group of agitators” turned otherwise peaceful demonstrations violent on Saturday, calling their actions “unacceptable.”

“We cannot and will not let a minority of incendiary individuals exploit the honorable intentions of those trying to exercise their rights,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said he saw “tremendous restraint” on the part of the Baltimore police Saturday.

On Monday, Gray is set to be buried at the New Shiloh Baptist Church in the neighborhood of Mondawmin. The fault line of York Road will remain for now.

TIME White House

Russian Hackers Read Some of Obama’s Email, Report Says

The hackers did not access any highly-classified information

Russian hackers read some of President Obama’s personal emails when they breached White House computer systems last year, according to a new report.

The New York Times, citing unnamed senior American officials, reports that hackers accessed the email archives of government officials who work in the White House and communicate with the President. Through those archives, hackers were able to see officials’ correspondence with Obama.

The hackers did not access any highly-classified information or breach the servers that connect to Obama’s Blackberry, according to the report.

The hackers are suspected to be connected with the Russian government, according to the report.

Read more at The Times

TIME Veterans

WWII Vet Who Flew on D-Day Skydives to Celebrate 95th Birthday

'You're sitting there, and you can see everything below you. It's beautiful'

A retired Air Force colonel who flew a combat plane on D-Day celebrated his 95th birthday last week perhaps one of the best ways he knew: by jumping out of an airplane at 12,000 feet.

Hal Shook of North Carolina was a combat pilot during the Allied invasion in June 1944, but after being shot down he continued to fly for the Air Force in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, according to WNCN. Though Shook gets around with the help of a walker, he’s still enthusiastic about being able to take a leap from a plane.

“It’s a joy,” he said. “You’re sitting there, and you can see everything below you. It’s beautiful.”

[WNCN]

TIME Bizarre

Man Sidetracked by Tater Tots During Suspected Robbery Attempt

The man was awoken when a woman tried to escape her home, police say

A suspected burglary attempt in California went awry last week when authorities say the man got side-tracked by, of course, tater tots.

A homeowner in Petaluma went downstairs Thursday afternoon and found an unfamiliar man, identified by police as James Adams, asleep on her sofa after he apparently enjoyed a snack of frozen tater tots, the San Fransisco Chronicle reports. After calling the police, she tried to leave her house but accidentally awoke the man.

Adams, 44, who was said to have a long criminal history, was apprehended by authorities as he tried to leave the yard.

[SF Chronicle]

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