Tag Archives: African-American

Officer convicted in killing of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards — a rare outcome in police shootings

A former police officer in Texas has been found guilty of murder in the high-profile shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards — a rare victory for civil rights activists seeking justice for the dozens of unarmed African American men and boys who have been killed by police officers in recent years.

As Judge Brandon Birmingham read the verdict Tuesday against Roy Oliver, who worked in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs, sobs came from the gallery of the packed courtroom. The last time an on-duty police officer in Dallas County was convicted of murder was in 1973. Oliver could be sentenced to life in prison.

“I’m just so thankful,” Jordan’s father, Odell Edwards, told reporters. “Thankful, thankful.”

Daryl Washington, an attorney representing the family, said the verdict meant more than justice for Jordan.

“It’s about Tamir Rice. It’s about Walter Scott. It’s about Alton Sterling,” he said, naming victims of police shootings in recent years. “It’s about every, every African American, unarmed African American, who has been killed and who has not gotten justice.”

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted a link to a news story about the conviction, saying that Jordan’s “life should never have been lost.”

On the night of April 29, 2017, Oliver fired an MC5 rifle into a Chevrolet Impala carrying Jordan and two of his brothers as it pulled away from a high school house party. Jordan, who was struck in the head, died later at a hospital.

Police initially said the vehicle had backed up toward Oliver “in an aggressive manner,” but body camera video showed the car was moving away from him and his partner. Days after the shooting, Oliver, who had served in the department for six years, was fired.

Jordan’s stepbrother, Vidal Allen, was driving the car the night of the shooting.

“I was very scared,” Allen testified. “I just wanted to get home and get everyone safe.”

Oliver, 38, has said he feared for his life and his partner’s safety.

“I had to make a decision. This car is about to hit my partner,” Oliver testified in the trial. “I had no other option.”

After a weeklong trial, it took the jury one day to reach a verdict.

Jordan’s death echoes other police shootings involving black boys and men. But no convictions were handed down in most of those cases.

In November 2014, Cleveland police got a 911 call about someone brandishing a pistol near a park — the weapon, the caller said, was “probably fake.” But in an incident captured on camera, a police cruiser pulled into the park and Officer Timothy Loehmann jumped out and opened fire. Within seconds, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a toy gun, was dead.

Even before Tamir’s death, the U.S. Department of Justice had been investigating the Cleveland Police Department. A month after his shooting, it released a report saying Cleveland police displayed a pattern of using unnecessary force.

A year later, a grand jury decided not to indict Loehmann in Tamir’s death, saying he had reason to fear for his life.

In September 2016, in Columbus, Ohio, police shot and killed Tyre King, 13, who was carrying a BB gun while running from police. A grand jury declined to file criminal charges against the officer who killed him.

And in May 2017, an Oklahoma jury acquitted an officer who shot and killed Terence Crutcher, 40, as he stood with his hands above his head along a rural highway.

Those cases and others illustrate the difficulty of convicting police officers. The law in most places gives them the benefit of the doubt.

Prosecutors usually must show that an officer knowingly and intentionally killed without justification or provocation. A fear of harm has been successfully used as the justification for many shootings, even when the victim turned out to be unarmed.

The most recent case that ended in a conviction came last year when Michael Slager, a former officer in North Charleston, S.C., was first tried on murder charges in the April 2015 shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was stopped for a driving with a broken taillight. But after those proceedings ended in a mistrial, Slager pleaded guilty to a civil rights violation and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The last Dallas County police officer convicted for murder while on duty was Darrell Cain, who shot and killed 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez after forcing him to endure a version of Russian roulette while handcuffed inside a patrol car.

There was no immediate reaction to Thursday’s verdict from local or national police groups.

John Fullinwider, a longtime Dallas activist and co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, said Oliver’s conviction came as a surprise.

“I expected to see an angel fly over City Hall before I saw this murder conviction,” he said. “This is a victory, but we really need independent federal prosecutors in all fatal police shootings.”

Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney who represents the Edwards family, said the conviction was justice for the country.

“We’ve seen time and time again, no charges, let alone convictions, in these high-profile shootings,” he said. “It is my hope that this is a turning point in the fight against police brutality against blacks.”

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Cop Fired For Pulling Over Daughter’s Black Boyfriend for No Reason

An Ohio police officer was fired after a video surfaced of him stopping and illegally detaining a young black man who was dating his daughter during a traffic stop.

Former officer John Kovach Jr. violated many conduct of policy procedures during a traffic stop that involved 18-year-old Makai Coleman. The footage from the stop has gone viral because of what Kovach said to Coleman. Kovach’s daughter was in the car as well. The officer told Coleman to get out of the vehicle and that he is “going to jail” after pulling him over with no cause.

When Coleman asked why he was being detained, the officer told him “Have a seat in my car, we’ll make s**t up as we go.” During this entire incident, Kovach ignored an emergency call about a road rage incident.

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Jordan Greenway is U.S. hockey team’s first African-American Olympian

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Jordan Greenway doesn’t know when this historic moment will hit him.

He predicts it won’t happen while he’s helping Team USA try to win a gold medal in Pyeongchang. But sometime down the road it will have more of an impact.

Greenway, a junior winger for Boston University, is the first African-American to compete for the U.S. men’s hockey team in the Olympics.

“I think it’s great, it’s unbelievable,” Greenway said following a practice at Gangneung Ice Arena. “I don’t think it’s hit me how I think it will later on in my life to be honest with you. I grew up around a predominantly white population and a lot of white people playing (hockey), so I’ve always looked at it as just another kid. I think it’s an honor. I’m very excited about it. I hope I’m the first of many.”

Greenway, 20, has played hockey all his life. He put on his first pair of skates when he was 3. It’s what kids are accustomed to growing up in Canton, N.Y., which is 20 miles from the Canadian border. Plus his brother J.D., who is a sophomore defenseman at Wisconsin, and all of his cousins played. He was just next in the family line. Greenway tried out other sports — football, lacrosse, baseball — but didn’t develop the same passion.

“I was OK at them,” he said, laughing. “I kind of mixed it up, but I don’t know. I always had the most fun playing hockey. I enjoyed waking up really early in the morning and playing hockey. I didn’t have the same enjoyment going to (play other sports). I didn’t want to do that for football or other sports. Just thought this was the right fit for me.”

Greenway was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2015, but chose to stay in school. Because the NHL prohibited its players from Olympic competition, he’s able to live out his dream as an amateur.

Physically, he’s a big body on the ice at 6-5, 230 flat-footed. Greenway estimates he’s 6-8 or 6-9 on skates, but such an imposing figure could fudge his numbers and say he’s 7-feet and no one would blink.

His height certainly provides an advantage when getting to the net, protecting the puck and creating space, but it’s not always better to be bigger, he said.

“You get some of these smaller guys who are quick and they put you on edge,” he said, smiling. “But it definitely has a lot of benefits.”

Greenway tallied 25 points in 28 games for Boston U. this season and was second with eight points on the U.S. team that won gold in the 2017 junior world championships. He also played for the 2017 world championship team that finished fifth.

By making history, Greenway hopes to use these Olympics to inspire other African-American kids to play hockey.

“That’s definitely the goal,” he said. “Trying to get more, not just African American, but more cultures playing. I don’t think it’s any secret that more white people play than black people. So hopefully I can try to be another role model to try to put it in these kids’ minds to hopefully try and do something different and hopefully we’ll get more black people and different cultures playing the game.”

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Merck CEO resigns from Trump council over Charlottesville

Merck & Co Inc Chief Executive Kenneth Frazier resigned from U.S. President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council on Monday, saying he was taking a stand against intolerance and extremism.

Frazier, who is African-American, is the only CEO so far to leave one of Trump’s advisory councils because of his reaction to the violence in Virginia. Prominent Democrats and Republicans criticized Trump’s response to the violence over the weekend.

A gathering of hundreds of white nationalists in Virginia took a deadly turn on Saturday when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters and killed at least one person.

Trump had said “many sides” were involved, drawing fire from across the political spectrum for not specifically denouncing the far right.

“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental views by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Frazier said in a statement announcing his resignation.

“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said.

Trump responded in a tweet, saying now that “Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents the pharmaceutical industry and lobbies on its behalf in Congress, declined to offer a statement of support for Frazier or to comment on Trump’s reaction.

SOURCE: REUTERS