St. Joseph MO Sept 23 2010 A St. Joseph policeman killed last week had asked another officer to shoot him with a plastic training round so he would know how it felt, the department said.
But the other officer didn’t realize he was using a real gun with live ammunition, according to a department statement released Wednesday.
Officer Dan De Kraai died at a hospital shortly after being shot in the back. St. Joseph police expect to forward a report about the shooting to Buchanan County prosecutors within a week for review.
“Clearly, this accident should not have happened, and the application of safety rules was not sufficient to prevent an otherwise very preventable tragedy,” the police statement said.
The incident happened Sept. 15 while De Kraai and Officer Jason Strong were on break during a training session. Instead of live ammunition, police said, officers used a training round called Simunition, a type of plastic projectile.
But when the two men went to a convenience store to get a drink during their break, they took their regular weapons with them, the department said.
The shooting happened upon their return, outside the unoccupied school where the police had been training.
Typically, instructors or safety officers check each officer before letting him or her into the training area, making sure they haven’t accidentally brought in real weapons or ammunition.
Other agencies in the Kansas City area said they follow this type of protocol, too.
The St. Joseph shooting occurred before the men resumed training, police said, so they hadn’t been checked again.
“Officer Strong failed to realize he had not transitioned back to a Simunitions-modified weapon,” the police statement said.
It isn’t clear how common deaths like this are. The Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that tracks the line-of-duty deaths of law-enforcement officers nationwide, lists De Kraai’s death as one of only two caused by accidental gunfire in 2010.
There are only a few such cases each year, and they don’t necessarily happen during training.
De Kraai, who was hired by the St. Joseph department in 2006, was married and had a young daughter. He served on the department’s special-response team and was an evidence technician and a field training officer. His memorial service was last weekend.
Strong, who also serves on the special response team and received the Medal of Valor earlier this year, is still on administrative leave. The department is conducting an internal affairs investigation of the matter.
It’s not clear when that report will be completed, but the department said it will be a large undertaking.
St. Joseph police described the Simunition projectile as “painful,” but not lethal. Regular weapons can fire Simunition cartridges, but only after a modification that prevents them from firing real ammunition.
De Kraai had asked to be shot with a Simunition round so he could experience it before he got hit during training, the police statement said. That training was designed to prepare officers for dealing with hostage situations or school shootings.
Some departments, including the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and Kansas City police, use training weapons that are painted bright colors, as another way to prevent mix-ups.
It isn’t clear whether St. Joseph uses gear like that. A police spokesman could not be reached to elaborate on Wednesday’s statement.
Kansas City police currently use a type of airsoft gun with orange markings for the department’s training simulations, said Capt. Rich Lockhart. Several years ago, the department used real weapons with fake ammunition, but stopped after a sergeant was shot in the hand during training.
Chicago IL Sept 23 2010 A man tried to rob an armored car at gunpoint and exchanged gunfire with at least one of the car’s guards at Hawthorne Race Course in southwest suburban Stickney this afternoon, police said.
Officers who went to the scene found armored car guards were involved, according to the release. A man tried to rob the armored car about 1:50 p.m., and exchanged gunfire with the robber, who fled east from the parking lot of the race course.
Police found no one wounded at the scene, but it was not known if the the robber was wounded in the gunfire, police said.
Stickney police were investigating and had notified the FBI.
Jim Miller, assistant general manager at the track, said that no one was hurt in the incident and that no money was stolen.
He estimated that on a Wednesday there are usually about 500 to 1,000 people at the race track.
The racetrack’s Web site said the live horse racing season does not begin until Oct. 1 at the track, but that simulcasting of races at other tracks across the country is being held.
“This happened nowhere near the simulcast operation,” Miller said.
According to an incident report, Deputy Kevin White arrived at Tropicana field wearing a Tiger Woods shirt with the quote, “sinking putts and nailing sluts.”
Tropicana Field security asked the deputy to turn his shirt inside out. He agreed, but later turned the shirt right side out again according to the report.
When security returned, they say he refused to comply and became belligerent, and flashed his badge.
Deputy White was escorted to the security office where he was asked to leave the ballpark and told not to return.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s office has since suspended from work for several days. The report goes on to say the only reason White wasn’t arrested was because he’s a deputy sheriff.
NEW YORK NY Sept 23 2010 AP – Thousands of tourists and residents who took New York City’s iconic yellow taxis were quietly ripped off by drivers who frequently manipulated their meters to double the fare rate, officials said Wednesday as 59 drivers were arrested.
Six drivers reeled in more than $10,000 apiece by repeatedly bumping their meters up to a higher suburban rate when they actually were in the city, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said. One driver overcharged than 5,100 times between November 2008 and June 2010, prosecutors said.
Unsuspecting passengers overpaid an average of about $5, officials have said. But they said the overcharges added up to a sprawling scam among the cabs that are part of fast-paced life in New York and are seen fondly as symbols of the nation’s largest city.
The criminal cases represent the most serious offenders among thousands of drivers believed to have deployed the fare trick before the city took steps to stop it this spring, officials said.
“With the imperceptible tap of a button, taxi riders went from trusting customers to the unwitting targets of a widespread con operation,” District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance said.
Still, officials stressed that the allegations involve a fraction of the city’s roughly 48,000 yellow-cab drivers — and that their roughly 13,000 taxis are now equipped with warning systems that alert passengers if the higher rate is being charged.
Some passengers said they hoped the prosecutions would further deter such fraud. Others wondered whether they might, unknowingly, have been victims of the suburban-fare scam.
“It might’ve happened, and I might not have known about it,” lawyer Robert Davis, visiting from Washington, D.C., mused Wednesday as he waited for a taxi outside Pennsylvania Station. “Suspicion only gets you so far.”
Cabbies, meanwhile, worried that the arrests would taint them.
“Usually, we’re known to be honest people. When something like this happens, then everyone’s in trouble,” said Mamadi Keita, 46, a taxi driver since 1997.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, an advocacy group, criticized the criminal cases, derived from data collected through taxi technology that includes GPS systems.
“How can data from GPS alone be used to take away a person’s freedom?” alliance executive director Bhairavi Desai said.
The investigation began after a passenger complained to the city about a fare that seemed to go up too fast last July.
The city Taxi & Limousine Commission concluded in May that almost 22,000 cabbies had improperly charged the double rate, which is supposed to apply only when taxis cross into suburban Westchester or Nassau counties. Passengers were overcharged 286,000 times, for a total of about $1.1 million, the TLC said.
Drivers said some seeming overcharges were actually honest mistakes. Taxi Commissioner David Yassky said in May that cabbies who overcharged once or twice would not be punished.
Wednesday marked the most serious potential punishment so far: arrests on felony charges of scheming to defraud against 45 drivers, and misdemeanor petty larceny cases against another 14.
The drivers stole a total of more than $235,000 during about 77,000 taxi trips, Vance said. Each is accused of overcharging at least 300 times.
Arraignments were still in progress Wednesday night.
One driver, Mfamara Camara, overcharged a total of about $15,500 through nearly 4,800 fares, prosecutors said. He hadn’t been arraigned yet, and his lawyer’s name wasn’t immediately available.
Another, Santiago Rossi, pleaded not guilty to charges of upping the fare 5,127 times to bilk about $11,000. He told investigators he was trying to make some extra cash, assistant district attorney James Meadows said.
Rossi’s lawyer, Cynthia D. Fisher, said the allegations were misguided.
“The technology is flawed, their computations are flawed and their theory is flawed,” she said.
The city has also pursued fines or license revocations against about 2,000 cabbies, Yassky said. So far, 161 have lost their licenses, and another 124 have been assessed fines from $1,000 to $10,000, he said.
While the individual losses may be small, the rip-off allegations struck a nerve with riders, city Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn noted.
“A trip in a yellow taxicab is a quintessential New York experience for visitors to the city and a needed means of transportation for many New Yorkers,” she said.
And, she added: “Most people view the rates as high enough.”
ATLANTA GA Sept 23 2010 – As a Christian author, gospel singer and leader of one of the nation’s best-known black megachurches, Bishop Eddie Long finds a wide audience for messages such as marriage is “between one man and one woman.” Those words hung heavy Wednesday over accusations that the TV preacher, a married father of four, used jewelry, cars and cash to lure three young men into sexual relationships.
Lawsuits filed Tuesday and Wednesday say the young men were 17 or 18 years old at the time, enrolled in New Birth Missionary Baptist Church’s ministry for teen boys.
A lawyer for Long, who writes books on heterosexual relationships and has strong ties to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s family, adamantly denied the allegations. Few at Long’s 25,000-strong church will discuss the situation, and the grounds were quiet Wednesday save for a small group walking in prayer. But those who will speak say they are supporting him.
Lance Robertson, who joined New Birth nearly two decades ago and has coached youth basketball there, said Wednesday that members were hurting.
“I support and will stand with my bishop, but right now in the court of public opinion, it does not look good,” Robertson said. “This affects too many people. As the bishop goes, New Birth goes. He built New Birth.”
B.J. Bernstein, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said she opened her investigation after getting a call from one of the men. The Associated Press normally does not name people who claim they are victims of sexual impropriety, but Bernstein said all three — Maurice Robinson, 20, and Anthony Flagg, 21, and Jamal Parris, 23 — have consented to making their identities public.
Bernstein said she didn’t trust local authorities to investigate the claims.
“This is a really large church that’s incredibly politically powerful,” Bernstein said. “There are pictures of this guy with every politician around. With something this important, how can I trust that word didn’t get back to the bishop?”
DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown has been a member of New Birth for more than 15 years and sits on the advisory board for Long’s Longfellows Youth Academy. He said he would stand by the bishop and bristled at Bernstein’s suggestion that local authorities couldn’t be trusted.
“I take offense to that,” he said. “It does not merit a dignified response.”
Bernstein said that her case hinges on her three clients’ testimony and that she doesn’t have much physical evidence backing up her complaint. Bishop sent dozens of e-mails and phone calls to her clients, though they weren’t “overly sexual,” she said. Bernstein said she plans to subpoena records from Long that will show he traveled with the young men to New York, Las Vegas, New Zealand and elsewhere.
Long has been silent since the lawsuits were filed, though he did have a news conference planned for Thursday. But urban radio, Internet sites like Facebook and Twitter, and cable television news shows have been abuzz.
Atlanta radio host Frank Ski devoted much of his 4-hour morning show to the issue. Ski, a 12-year member of New Birth, called the accusations “painful” and said he doesn’t believe them.
Ski said he and his fellow church members are generally supportive of Long and are awaiting the outcome of the case.
“This church is used to the controversy coming against him,” Ski said. “It’s all about faith. When you have faith, you understand that those kinds of things will happen.”
Robertson, the church’s youth basketball coach, said he wants to hear Long respond to the accusations.
“The bishop has helped so many people,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for him to mentor young men and groom them to be productive members of society. The bishop’s heart has always been in the right place. But the New Birth family, we’re weeping. This is not a good day for New Birth.”
Long, who was appointed pastor of New Birth in 1987, presides over an empire that claims athletes, politicians and entertainers as members.
President George W. Bush and three former presidents visited the sprawling New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia for the 2006 funeral of Coretta Scott King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Long introduced the speakers and the Rev. Bernice King, the Kings’ younger daughter, delivered the eulogy. She is also a pastor there.
Today, New Birth sits on 250 acres and has more than 25,000 members, a $50 million, 10,000-seat cathedral and more than 40 ministries.
Not all of his attention, though, has been positive. The church was among those named in 2007 in a Senate committee’s investigation into a half-dozen Christian ministries over their financing.
Long has called for a national ban on same-sex marriage. In 2004, he led a march with Bernice King to her father’s Atlanta grave to support a national constitutional amendment to protect marriage “between one man and one woman.”
This isn’t the first allegation against a religious leader who has crusaded against gay marriage. Ted Haggard left New Life Church of Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2006 after a male prostitute said Haggard paid him for sex. Haggard denied the allegations but later admitted to “sexual immorality” and launched a new church in June 2010
Greely CO Sept 23 2010 A Jefferson High School language arts teacher was arrested Tuesday on charges of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, a class four felony.
David Anthony Rangel, 28, was arrested after a woman reported to the Greeley Police Department that one of her foster children, reportedly, had sexual relations with Rangel in the classroom.
Rangel was placed on paid leave by the district Thursday when district officials learned of the matter, Roger Fiedler, spokesman for Greeley-Evans School District 6 said. Rangel has been a teacher in the district since last year.
DURHAM NC Sept 23 2010 — Durham County sheriff’s deputies say they will charge a father in the death of his 4-year-old son.
The incident happened early Wednesday at a home on Thistle Trace, which is north of Guess Road off St. Mary’s Road in Durham/Hillsborough’s Hardscrabble Plantation subdivision.
Deputies say they received a call from inside the home around 12:30 a.m. When they arrived at the scene, they discovered the 4-year-old not breathing and his father injured.
Investigators believe the boy was smothered.
The father — 46-year-old Joseph Mitchell — now faces one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder.
Although authorities are not able to release many details because the investigation is ongoing, Lieutenant Stan Harris says the 4-year-old’s siblings — a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old — along with the children’s mother were in the house at the time of the incident.
After smothering the child, detectives say Mitchell apparently stabbed himself. He was scheduled for surgery at a local hospital Wednesday morning.
Authorities say when Mitchell is released from the hospital, he will be taken to the Durham County Magistrate where he will be formally charged.
According to the 911 call released Wednesday afternoon, the 4-year-old’s maternal grandfather, who also lives in the house, made the call to authorities.
The man told the operator that his daughter discovered the toddler unresponsive in his room, and the child’s father was locked in an office on the second floor. The grandfather said he didn’t know what happened but believed the child’s father may have hurt the boy.
The grandfather went on to say he had just returned home for the evening when he was alerted to the situation.
The child’s mother and a sibling can be heard on the 911 call performing CPR until EMS workers arrived. Workers transported the boy to the hospital but were unable to revive him.
According to the maternal grandfather, Mitchell was a former EMS worker but had been out of work for about a year. He described his son-in-law as an easygoing, nice guy.
Mitchell’s father, Eugene Mitchell, said he found out what happened when another one of his sons came to his home and delivered a frantic message.
“‘Joseph’s son is dead!’” Eugene Mitchell recalled his son yelling. “Come on Daddy, come on!”
Eugene Mitchell said hearing the news made him flip out. “You’re hearing about your grandchildren,” he said.
“He loved his children, the wife got along well together, the father-in-law,” Eugene Mitchell said. “They were always, they were always happy, a happy family. Always. No problems at all. That’s why it shocked me when this happened.”
Lieutenant Harris says the entire family is struggling to cope with the situation.
“We just try to reassure them, the best we can,” Lt. Harris said. “In a situation like this, you can only console them so much. We just ask everybody to be patient and let us do our job.”
The Mitchell’s neighbors, Cynthia and Tim Ross, say they’ve known the Mitchell family for about 10 years.
“They were just active in the community and this is so out of character,” Cynthia Ross said. “No one can understand.”
“Our kids play with their kids,” Tim Ross said. “It’s been real difficult, but we’re just astonished. We just don’t know what to make of it all.”
Neighbors say Mitchell had once worked in the Durham County medical services but had been out of work for about a year.
Meanwhile, court documents show the family’s money troubles started in 2005. The family’s home was in the process of foreclosing, but investigators haven’t said whether that was the motive.
JAMES CITY VA Sept 23 2010 — A jury on Tuesday convicted a former Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail correctional officer on one felony count of having sex with an inmate, but only imposed a $25 fine as punishment.
Letica Dina Stagg, 41, who until her arrest in 2009 was a guard at the jail in James City, was tried on the same charge in July, but that jury declared a mistrial when it failed to reach a unanimous verdict following about two hours of deliberation. Tuesday’s jury returned a unanimous conviction after about three hours of deliberation.
The jury could have sent Stagg to prison for up to five years, but instead imposed a sentence of $25.
Williamsburg-James City County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nate Green recommended the jury fine Stagg rather than send her to jail, noting that her crime has already taken a toll on her life.
Stagg was employed at the regional jail from 2004 until she resigned in September 2009 amid an investigation into her relationship with Tarik Watson, a 33-year-old inmate. Maj. Frank Huotte, director of jail support services, testified Watson made more than 230 phone calls within a 60-day period to Stagg in which they graphically describe their sexual relationship.
When questioned by her superiors at the jail, Stagg initially admitted to having sex with Watson one time in the programs area of the jail where there are no security cameras. Stagg on Tuesday maintained her innocence and testified she had been coerced into giving the confession.
Stagg resigned from her job as corporal at the jail the day after being confronted by her superiors with evidence of the relationship, but never filed a grievance claim with the jail, which was her right.
Stag testified Tuesday she and Watson met previously while attending Thomas Nelson Community College and had a sexual relationship before his incarceration, which both had denied in interviews with police investigators.
WASHINGTON DC Sept 23 2010 AP – Drugmaker Abbott Laboratories said Wednesday it is recalling millions of containers of its best-selling Similac infant formula that may be contaminated with insect parts.
The voluntary action affects up to 5 million Similac-brand powder formulas sold in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam and some Caribbean countries. The company said the products may contain a small beetle or larvae, which could cause stomach ache and digestion problems.
The recall does not affect any liquid formulas or other Abbott-brand products.
A company spokeswoman said Abbott uncovered the insects last week in one section of a manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan.
“We immediately shut down that one area and began an investigation,” said Abbott’s Melissa Brotz. “We’re in the process of resolving it now.” Abbott manufactures Similac at several U.S. sites.
Brotz said the company has been consulting with the Food and Drug Administration, which determined there was no “immediate health risk” from the contamination.
Consumers can enter the lot number on their containers online to determine if they are subject to the recall. The products should be returned to Abbott for a full refund.
“Delivering anything less than the highest quality infant formula is unacceptable to us,” said Brotz. “We will do whatever is necessary to maintain the trust of parents in the coming weeks.”
The affected products were sold in plastic containers and various can sizes, including 8-ounce (227-gram), 12.4-ounce (352-gram) and 12.9-ounce (366-gram).
Similac is the best-selling infant formula in the U.S. Abbott’s nutritional products — which include adult brands like Ensure — had sales of $5.3 billion last year.
Abbott expects to lose $100 million in connection with the recall. However, the North Chicago, Illinois, company confirmed its third-quarter earnings guidance between $1.03 and $1.05 per share.
Shares of Abbott Laboratories fell 16 cents to $51.99.