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Archive for January 10th, 2015

Ferguson’s prosecutor shows a pattern

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Alan Pyke writes at ThinkProgress:

Legal experts have accused Ferguson, MO prosecutor Robert McCulloch of mishandling the grand jury process that failed to yield charges in the August police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. One of the grand jurors in that case has flagged many of those errors in a new lawsuit against McCulloch. The anonymous juror’s suit also cites another case from nearly 15 years ago which suggests McCulloch has a history of demonizing the victims of police shooting, and skewing the evidence in favor of the police.

While the suit doesn’t delve into the details of the 2000 case, known locally as the Jack in the Box shooting, investigations by federal officials and St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters reveal familiar-sounding details about McCulloch’s strange use of the grand jury process and inflammatory public statements following the ultimate exoneration of police.

In June of 2000, federal Drug Enforcement Agency officers and local law enforcement conducted a joint drug sting in the parking lot of a busy fast food restaurant in Berkeley, MO. The target was a small-time drug dealer. In a matter of seconds, two officers had fired 21 shots through the target’s windshield, killing both the alleged dealer and his passenger, a personal friend who was not involved in the investigation at all. The officers who killed the two men testified that they shot because the suspect’s car moved forward toward them, something that was later proven false by physical evidence and expert testimony. But in McCulloch’s hands, news reports from the time reveal, the facts of the case took on a particular slant. In both the private grand jury setting and later public statements, McCulloch seriously misrepresented the key facts of the day and the background of one of the two victims.

Here are the four key takeaways about McCulloch’s conduct from that 2000 case, known locally as the Jack in the Box shooting.

1. McCulloch lied to the public about how witnesses testified to the key detail of the day.

McCulloch said that police witnesses unanimously backed the shooters’ story when in fact four officers said that story was wrong and only one agreed with the shooters. “McCulloch insisted in a recent interview that ‘every witness who was out there testified that it made some forward motion,’” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote in a 2002 investigative report accessed through LexisNexis. In fact, far more officers testified against the shooters’ story than in support of it. Just three out of the 13 officers who testified said the car moved forward toward the shooters. “Of the three, two were the shooters themselves,” the Post-Dispatch investigation found, and McCulloch later said the third appeared to be lying. Four of the officers on the scene testified the car had not moved forward, and the remaining law enforcement witnesses were never asked about the car’s movements or said they had not in a position to see them.

2. McCulloch steered the grand jury toward viewing the dead men as hardened criminals, and later referred to them publicly as “bums.”

McCulloch’s team spent the last day of the Jack in the Box grand jury presenting jurors with an exhaustive listing of every time either of the dead men had been arrested, the Post-Dispatch reports. Even if an arrest had produced no actual criminal charge, jurors heard it listed off as evidence of the dead men’s character. Although they were not the ones under investigation by the grand jury, McCulloch spent considerable attention on the two deceased. “These guys were bums,” he said at one press conference. Standing by that comment days later in an interview, he told the Post-Dispatch that “it is important for the public to know that these two and others like them for years have spread destruction in the community dealing crack cocaine and heroin.” Earl Murray, the driver and target of the sting, was allegedly a small-time dealer who routinely borrowed money from friends, rather than some kind of kingpin. Ronald Beasley, the passenger, was a working father of three with one conviction related to drugs and another tied to a stolen credit card.

3. McCulloch failed to secure expert testimony to allow grand jurors to resolve the conflicting stories officers testified to in private.

Despite having four witnesses who contradicted the shooters’ statement and only one witness other than the shooters who supported their claims, McCulloch failed to provide grand jurors with any way of determining which of those two conflicting stories was correct. According to the Post-Dispatch, “Prosecutors never brought independent evidence before the grand jury to sort out who was right.” A subsequent federal investigation did seek expert analysis of the crash and the scene of the shooting. The veteran law enforcement officer and collisions expert who conducted that analysis concluded with “one hundred percent” certainty that the car could not have been moving forward toward the officers when they shot the unarmed men. The federal investigation still produced no charges despite that finding, however. One investigator explained that despite the “troubling” evidence about the car’s movement, the legal standards for a federal civil rights charge meant that new information McCulloch had failed to gather was not enough to secure a federal indictment.

4. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

10 January 2015 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Law, Law Enforcement

Muck Reads Weekly

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See it here. The first from the (thankfully) brief list at the link:

The Florida sex crime sting-and-switch. WTSP reports a pattern of police misconduct in its ongoing investigation of sex sting operations in Tampa Bay. In some cases, men were facing felony charges for seeking sex with underage teens after responding to police decoys online. “Most of the cases examined by 10 Investigates involved men who weren’t necessarily looking for underage teens, but either posted – or responded to – ads seeking adults.” — WTSP Tampa via @conor64

And you can be sure that civil asset forfeiture plays a role. Civil asset forfeiture is an incentive to bend the rules, go by the letter of the law, and finally outright break the law. Let’s get rid of it.

OTOH, you also have situations like this (also in the list):

 Sex trafficking: The boom North Dakota isn’t prepared for. The influx of men working North Dakota’s Oil Patch has created a growing demand for commercial sex workers, including underage girls. More than a dozen men were convicted last year of attempting to buy sex from underage girls, and one sting “snared so many prospective johns it had to be shut down early.” The issue has caught law enforcement and local officials unprepared as they are “struggling to keep up with all the demands of a booming population and the crime that has followed” in the region. — Forum News Service / Pioneer Press via @rschalow

Written by LeisureGuy

10 January 2015 at 12:30 pm

Good resolutions via The Eldest

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12 resolutions


Written by LeisureGuy

10 January 2015 at 11:46 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

Superb shave with Parker 24C

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SOTD 10 Jan 2015

I have praised the Parker 26C for being surprisingly comfortable while also being surpisingly efficient. Almightywhacko pointed out that the Parker 24C has the same head, so I ordered one to test. The head is of the 24C is more polished—it seems to be chrome plated while the 26C seems nickel plated. I’m not at all sure of the platings, but the 24C is definitely glossier—and it has a different handle, perhaps a smidge grippier than the 26C handle.

But prep comes first, and I truly enjoy The Drunken Goat shaving soap. Great fragrance and great lather, which is pretty much all I ask from a shaving soap (other than a tub that is 1.5″ tall or less). The Omega S-Series “artificial boar” brush is always a pleasure to use, though it does require a shake before loading since it tends to hold a lot of water.

The razor came with a Shark blade, which I used and which worked fine: totally BBS with no nicks or burn after three passes.

I’ve have Saint Charles Shave’s Very V aftershave, but this morning I used Very V EDT for a slightly stronger fragrance, given how much I like Very V.

Great shave. And either the 24C or the 26C is a terrific razor.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 January 2015 at 9:47 am

Posted in Shaving

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