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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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President Trump Won’t Be Invited To Celebrity-Studded Hurricane Harvey Telethon

Houston rapper Bun B and Scooter Braun are busy planning the September 12, 2017, celebrity-studded Hurricane Harvey telethon, but President Trump may not get an invite. As devastating flooding has engulfed Texas and the full damage is still too early to assess, people nationwide are standing in solidarity to help their fellow citizens.


The Hurricane Harvey telethon will not be a place to promote political agendas or spread bigotry and hatred. According to Bun B, unless President Trump can find his place alongside other presidents, such as Barack Obama in a show of strength and unity, he won’t be invited to appear.

There will be three simulcasted telethons across the nation including one in Nashville, Tennessee, New York, New York, and Los Angeles, California. Reese Witherspoon and Blake Shelton will host the Nashville telethon, tentatively Michael Strahan and Kelly Rowland will host the New York telethon (this is subject to change) and Jaimie Foxx and Hillary Duff are tentatively scheduled to host the Los Angeles telethon. Organizers are interested in celebrities who were born and/or raised in Houston to participate in the telethon.

Bun B is outspoken about the treatment of blacks in a country that is seemingly on the verge of a race war. With white supremacists rearing its head again, Bun B is one of the most outspoken and vocal rappers on issues of race and division in the nation.

He has repeatedly called upon white Americans to stand up against racism, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he would withhold an invitation to President Trump unless he proudly stands alongside Barack Obama and other presidents.

The news that Bun B will not invite President Trump unless he stands in unity with other presidents is getting a mixed reaction on social media. Some feel that Bun B shouldn’t single out President Trump, while others wholeheartedly agree.

SOURCE: CI

How Simone Biles Won Our Hearts

It’s a wrap for US gymnast Simone Biles at the Rio Olympics. The 4-foot-8 powerhouse made her final stand at the 2016 games with a floor exercise the won her a gold medal. She’ll leave Rio with one bronze medal and four golds. That’s the most golds any US gymnast—male or female—has collected in a single Olympics.

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With 19 Olympic and world competition medals, Biles also becomes the most decorated gymnast in US history, breaking the previous record held by Shannon Miller.

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But America’s love for Biles isn’t all about the bling. The 19-year-old Texan also won our hearts with her virtuoso routines and awe-inspiring power tumbles. She showed us that teenage girls can be both serious athletes and giggly, fun-loving adolescents. And her triumphs have been felt by black women around the country during a period of tense race relations in the US.

Here are all the ways Biles won our hearts during the Rio games:

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She dazzled audiences with her nearly flawless routines and was even called “the greatest gymnast of all time.”

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She was more excited for team captain Aly Raisman than herself when the pair shared the podium in the individual all-around finals.

Biles clinched the gold, becoming the second consecutive African-American woman to take the accolade. Raisman won the silver.

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After the women’s all-around last week, Biles shut down any comparisons to renowned male Olympians and made it clear that her accomplishments were her own. “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps,” she told Sporting News. “I’m the first Simone Biles.”

Biles stumbled and nearly fell off the beam during the competition, but held on. The slip up cost her the gold, but she took it like a champ.

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Biles is a big supporter of her male counterparts. She reportedly went out of her way to watch American gymnast Alex Naddour compete.
Biles got a lot of love during the games from celebrities including Taylor Swift, Floyd Mayweather, rapper G-Eazy, and Kim Kardashian-West, whose two-year-old daughter North is apparently quite taken with Biles. But it was her celebrity crush Zac Efron who truly made the Olympian star-struck.
The actor, who is a big fan of the Final Five, surprised the young women during an NBC broadcast on Tuesday night (Aug. 17). And they all lost their cool.

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He gave Biles, who reportedly has a life-size cardboard cutout of the actor in her home, a cute kiss on the cheek.

Last, but not least, Biles has an amazing support team in her family, 17 of whom flew to Rio. In Biles’ own words: “Family is everything.”SOURCE: QZ