Tag Archive: Mark J Shuster Olmsted County


 

 

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A Tennessee woman who was convicted as a teenager for killing a man while she said she was a sex trafficking victim, was granted clemency.  Cyntoia Brown, now 30, was granted a full commutation to parole by Governor Bill Haslam and will be eligible for release Aug. 7 after serving 15 years in prison.  She will remain on parole for 10 years.  Brown was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery.  In 2006, she was sentenced to life for the death of Johnny Mitchell Allen, who paid Brown for sex.

Her case gained national attention and awareness about the toll of human trafficking.  At the time, Brown had run away from home and was living with her 24-year-old boyfriend, a pimp known as “Kut Throat,” who Brown said raped her and forced her into prostitution.    According to Brown, on the night of August 6, 2004, Brown, then 16-years-old, met Johnny Mitchell Allen, a 43-year-old real estate broker and US Army veteran, in the parking lot of a Sonic Drive-In in Nashville.  Brown agreed to have sex with Allen for $150.  The two then ordered dinner and Allen drove them to his home.

At some point during the evening, Brown shot Allen in the back of the head with a .40-caliber handgun.  Brown said she feared for her life and shot Allen, 43, while in bed with him because she believed he was reaching for a gun.  She then stole $172 in cash, several firearms, and a vehicle, a Ford F150.  She drove the stolen truck to InTowne Suites where she was living with her pimp.

During her trial, prosecutors argued the motive was robbery and say Allen was shot as he slept. Brown’s supporters and lawyer have argued her sentence was too extreme, given her age and circumstances.  Nashville police detective Charles Robinson testified that she told investigators she shot Allen because she feared for her life.  In a letter dated Dec. 12, 2017, Robinson urged Haslam not to grant clemency to Brown.  “First and foremost, Cyntoia Brown did not commit this murder because she was a child sex slave as her advocates would like you to believe. Cyntoia Brown’s motive for murdering Johnny Allen in his sleep was robbery.”  Among the evidence cited by Robinson, was how Allen’s “arms were folded underneath his head and his fingers were interlocked together,” which was inconsistent with Brown telling investigators he was reaching for a gun.

Haslam said in a statement that the decision comes after careful consideration of “what is a tragic and complex case. Cyntoia Brown committed, by her own admission, a horrific crime at the age of 16.  Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life.”

While in prison, Brown has earned a GED and an associate degree in 2015 through the Lipscomb Initiative for Education Program with a 4.0 GPA, Haslam said. Brown said she is scheduled to earn her bachelor’s degree in May.  Brown said she is committed to live the rest of her life helping others, especially young people.  “My hope is to help other young girls avoid ending up where I have been,” she said.

Brown thanked the governor and her supporters in a statement released by her attorneys.  “Thank you, Governor Haslam, for your act of mercy in giving me a second chance,” Brown said. “I will do everything I can to justify your faith in me.”  Brown said she is grateful for the support, prayers, and encouragement she has received, including from Tennessee Department of Corrections officials.

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Las Vegas police have identified the woman accused of killing a nail salon owner after failing to pay for a $35 manicure.  Police say they are looking for 21-year-old Krystal Whipple in the death of 53-year-old “Annie” Nhu Nguyen.  Police say Whipple stopped by the salon, Crystal Nails & Spa to get a manicure around 3:45 p.m. on Dec 29th.  She allegedly attempted to pay with a fraudulent credit card. When the credit card payment was declined, she allegedly said she would get cash from her black 2017 Chevrolet Camaro, but instead started to drive away.

When Nguyen noticed her pulling out of the parking lot, she rushed outside with husband Sonny Chung to try to stop her.  Nguyen ran in front of the vehicle and Whipple accelerated and hit Nguyen.  Nguyen was thrown under the car and dragged 50 feet as Whipple drove off.  Nguyen died of multiple blunt force injuries and her death was ruled a homicide by the Clark County coroner’s office.  Chung, who witnessed his wife’s horrific death, said he tried his best to stop Whipple from getting away by holding onto the back of the car.  Police said the car, a rental that had been stolen last month, was found abandoned at a nearby apartment complex.

Nguyen left behind three daughters aged 20, 25 and 28 and two grandchildren aged four and six.  She was a Vietnamese refugee who came to America and raised her three daughters as a single mother. She traveled the country before landing in Las Vegas two years ago, family members said. She and her husband Sonny loved their business. They were open 12 hours per day, seven days per week.

Las Vegas police released storefront security video footage of the incident along with a plea for information on the whereabouts of the suspect, Krystal Whipple.  Officer Larry Hadfield said “We are asking the public’s help if they have knowledge of where this person is to contact the homicide section.  Investigators have worked around the clock with no time off because they were determined to make Whipple “answer for this horrible crime.”  A previous booking photo of Whipple, dated April 2018, was provided in a press release from LVMPD.

Whipple was convicted in 2017 in Las Vegas of attempted possession of a stolen vehicle, according to Clark County District Court records. She was sentenced to four months in jail last year for violating probation in that case.

If you have knowledge of Whipple’s whereabouts or any information about the case, please call the Las Vegas Metro Police Department Homicide Section at 702-828-3521 or send an email to homicide@lvmpd.com.

 

 

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The actor Kevin Spacey has been charged with felony sexual assault for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenager in a bar in Massachusetts in 2016.  A public show-cause hearing was held for the case Dec. 20 where Clerk Magistrate Ryan Kearney issued a criminal complaint for the charge against Kevin S. Fowler, also known as Kevin Spacey.  Spacey is due in court on January 7 to face the felony charge that could bring him up to five years in prison. Spacey has denied the charges.

The alleged assault on a male victim took place at a Nantucket bar in July 2016.  Last year, former Boston TV news anchor Heather Unruh held a press conference to share her son’s allegation of sexual assault against Spacey.  She stated that her then 18-year-old son said was sexually assaulted by Spacey inside the Club Car Restaurant on Nantucket. Unruh says her son was not of legal drinking age but had told Spacey he was and that the actor bought him drink after drink after drink.  “My son was a starstruck, straight 18-year-old young man who had no idea that the famous actor was an alleged sexual predator or that he was about to become his next victim,” she said at the time. “When my son was drunk, Spacey made his move and sexually assaulted him.”

The Nantucket Police Department began its criminal investigation in November 2017, said Massachusetts attorney Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney for the alleged victim.   The department has since transferred the case to the district attorney’s office.  Garabedian said in a statement, “The complainant has shown a tremendous amount of courage in coming forward. Let the facts be presented, the relevant law applied and a just and fair verdict rendered.”  Multiple men have come forward with accusations of sexual assault and harassment against Spacey since October 2017, which prompted Netflix to abruptly cut ties with and drop the actor from its hit political drama House of Cards.  Spacey is still under investigation in Los Angeles and in England for other alleged sexual assaults.

Soon after the charges were filed against Spacey, the actor posted a bizarre video to his Twitter account where he portrays his House of Cards character Frank Underwood.  The actor addresses his House of Cards fate while also saying that he knows his fans want him back.  “I know what you want,” Spacey begins in Frank’s accent. “Oh sure, they may have tried to separate us, but what we have is too strong, too powerful. After all, we shared everything, you and I. I told you my deepest, darkest secrets. I showed you exactly what people are capable of. I shocked you with my honestly, but mostly I challenged you and made you think. And you trusted me, even though you knew you shouldn’t. So we’re not done, no matter what anyone says. And besides, I know what you want. You want me back.”

“Of course, some believed everything and have been just waiting with bated breath to hear me confess it all. They’re just dying to have me declare that everything said is true and that I got what I deserved. Only you and I both know it’s never that simple, not in politics and not in life,” he says. “All this presumption made for such an unsatisfying ending, and to think it could have been such a memorable sendoff.” He goes on to say that in both life and in art, nothing should be off the table: “I can promise you this. If I didn’t pay the price for the things we both know I did do, I’m certainly not going to pay the price for the things I didn’t do.”  Spacey ended the 3 minute video by directly calling out his death on House of Cards.  The actor puts on Frank’s signature ring before walking off. “My confidence grows each day that soon enough, you will know the full truth,” he says. “Wait a minute, now that I think of it, you never actually saw me die, did you? Conclusions can be so deceiving.”

 

 

 

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The Phoenix man involved in a murder suicide had lost his mother and brother to murder at the hands of his father.  Phoenix police say officers were doing a welfare check at a home on December 23rd at around 7:15 p.m. and forced their way inside after nobody came to the door.  Sgt. Tommy Thompson says they found 36-year-old Jocelyn Casdorph and 47-year-old Victor Issa dead.  A preliminary investigation indicates Victor Issa shot Casdorph and then himself.

Authorities say Victor Issa’s family had a history of domestic violence that resulted in the incarceration of his father and brother and the deaths of his mother and the same brother in California.  In 2010, his brother Amier Rocky Issa was convicted of slashing a former boyfriend’s face with a knife.  During jury deliberations, he fled to Las Vegas and was rearrested at the MGM Grand hotel with medications, large quantities of salt he had been eating, a rope and a tent, court records show.  Amier was sentenced to treatment at a state mental hospital and then to three years’ probation with further mental-health treatment and a domestic-violence class.

Six years later, between March 27 and 29, 2016, Shehada Issa fatally stabbed his wife inside their LA home and on March 29, 2016, fatally shot Amier Rocky Issa, 38 on the front lawn of the home.  The case drew national attention as family members said Shehada Issa wanted to kill his son because he was gay.

When police arrived at the family’s home, officers found the son’s body outside and the mother’s body was found inside a bathroom, according to evidence presented at trial.  Police said the father admitted to shooting his son with a shotgun, but said that it was in self-defense. His defense attorney argued that Amier Issa had killed his mother and threatened to kill his father with a knife, causing Issa to shoot his son in self-defense.   Detectives said Shehada’s story did not match with evidence at the scene, saying there was no knife found near his son’s body.

Prosecutors in the case told jurors that Issa thought he had committed the “perfect crime” by killing his wife and blaming it on his gay son, whom he claimed to have shot to death in self-defense.  According to prosecutors, Issa had a longtime gambling problem that caused him to have a constant need for cash and that Issa’s wife didn’t want to put their North Hills home up for sale.  The woman had told her husband that she would not sign home sale papers, and he responded by threatening her life and listing the home anyway.  During the trial, Victor Issa testified that his father was a troubled gambler who had a violent, abusive relationship with his mother Rabihah and an ever-increasing hatred for his gay son.  He told jurors about constant money problems and squabbles within the home as a result of his father’s gambling. He also said that when the defendant found out that Rocky was gay, “their relationship changed” and his father nursed a growing hatred for Amier Rocky.  He testified that his father detested the fact that his son was gay and was ashamed of him.  Victor said “He called him things like ‘whore of Babylon.’  It was constant for years. It was, ‘He deserves to die.’ ”   Shehada Issa was sentenced in 2017 to two consecutive life sentences plus 26 years in the murders.

Amier Rocky posted a message to Facebook ten days before the murder suicide saying he was worried that his parents, brother and sister were “literally controlling me in my sleep.  If there is a devil or evil spirit, I truly believe it manifests itself in my family.”

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The family of a New Jersey high school wrestler says racism drove a white referee to demand that their son, Andrew Johnson cut his dreadlocks before he could compete in a match. Video of the teen getting his hair cut with scissors in the gym sparked outrage.  The video was recorded just before the December 19th match and shows a sports trainer clumsily cutting the hair of the 16-year-old varsity wrestler, who’s dressed in a wrestling uniform and is visibly shaken to have his dreadlocks sheared off.  Johnson was told he had just 90 seconds to agree to the haircut or he would be forced to forfeit the match.  Andrew won the match in sudden victory in overtime.

Just out of the frame of the video—which has since gone viral—the referee, Alan Maloney, is directing the trainer to keep cutting Johnson’s hair until he was satisfied with its length.   Maloney had arrived late to the match and missed a weigh-in where referees would typically raise objections to a wrestler’s appearance.  Johnson was wearing his usual headgear and covering his hair when he stepped out to compete but the referee said his hair was not in compliance with state rules. The referee told Andrew his hair and headgear were not in compliance with league regulations.  Andrew told the referee he could push his hair back but the referee refused because Andrew’s hair “wasn’t in its natural state.”  He then gave the teen the ultimatum of cutting his dreadlocks or forfeiting the match with just 90 seconds to decide.  According to the NFHS wrestling rule book, a wrestler’s hair cannot fall below the top of a shirt collar in the back, below his earlobes on the sides, or below his eyebrows.  If it is longer than the rule allows, the wrestler has to braid his hair or hide it beneath a hair cover attached to his ear guards, the rulebook states.

New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Executive Director Larry White said in a statement that state authorities are investigating the incident.  The referee won’t be assigned to moderate matches until the incident “has been thoroughly reviewed,” White said.  “Finally, as an African-American and parent — as well as a former educator, coach, official and athlete — I clearly understand the issues at play, and probably better than most,” White added.  A spokeswoman for the office of New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said its civil rights division opened an investigation into the incident as part of a 2013 agreement with the NJSIAA “to address potential bias in high school sports.”

Charles and Rosa Johnson released a statement through their lawyer, saying they are overwhelmed with the unsolicited support their son has received – including from an Olympic wrestler, leading civil rights advocates, and elected officials.  They said their son has been dealing with the aftermath of the controversial incident.  “Wrestling has taught Andrew to be resilient in the face of adversity. As we move forward, we are comforted by both the strength of Andrew’s character and the support he’s received from the community. We will do all that we can to make sure that no student-athlete is forced to endure what Andrew experienced,” his parents said in the statement.

Dominic Speziali, the attorney representing the family, argued that the referee should have raised any concerns during the pre-match weigh-in.   Though the referee missed the weigh-in because he was late to the meet, he “failed to raise any issues with the length of his hair or the need to wear a head covering.”  The family defended the athletic trainer and their son’s coaches.  “As this matter is further investigated, the family wants to be clear that they are supportive of Andrew’s coaches and the team’s athletic trainer,” Speziali said. “The blame here rests primarily with the referee and those that permitted him to continue in that role despite clear evidence of what should be a disqualifying race-related transgression.”

 

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A Missouri judge has ordered a serial poacher who illegally shot and killed hundreds of deer, to watch the Walt Disney film “Bambi” at least once a month over the course of a 1-year prison term.  Authorities say over a 3-year period David Berry Jr. left hundreds of bodies to rot after beheading the deer for hunting trophies.  Berry is one of three members of a southwest Missouri family that had been caught in a multi-year poaching case where authorities say hundreds of deer were killed illegally.

Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Don Trotter said the deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste.  The southwest Missouri case involves David Berry Sr. of Springfield, David Berry Jr. of Brookline, and Kyle Berry of Everton. The trio were involved in a multi-year investigation by state, federal and Canadian law enforcement agencies and conservation officers involving suspects in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Canada.  Conservation agents are calling it one of Missouri’s largest cases of deer poaching.

David Berry Jr. received a 120-day sentence in Barton County Circuit Court for a felony firearms probation violation. On Dec. 6, he received a one-year jail sentence in Lawrence County Associate Court after pleading guilty to taking wildlife illegally on Oct. 11.  The 120-day sentence Berry Jr. received in Barton County Circuit Court will be served in addition to the one-year sentence he received in Lawrence County.  To date, the trio of poachers has paid $151,000 in bonds and $51,000 in fines and court costs and collectively served 33 days in jail.

David Berry Sr. and David Berry Jr. had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked for life by the Missouri Conservation Commission. Eric Berry and Kyle Berry had hunting and fishing privileges revoked for 18 years and 8 years, respectively.  Jerimiah Cline, of Republic, who took wildlife illegally and assisted the Berrys, had hunting privileges revoked for five years.  The family was caught and convicted through Missouri’s Operation Game Thief program.

Facts of the case were uncovered by several years of investigative work. On July 11, 2016, approximately 100 state, federal and Canadian wildlife officers simultaneously interviewed multiple suspects and other persons of interest in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada. Information gained from these and earlier interviews tied 14 Missouri residents to over 230 charges that occurred in 11 Missouri counties. Three suspects were tied to additional wildlife violations in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada. Two suspects were tied to Federal Lacey Act Wildlife violations that occurred in Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada.

Randy Doman of the Missouri Department of Conservation said ‘In situations like this, with serial poachers who have no regard for the animals, rules of fair chase or aren’t bothered by the fact that they’re stealing from others, it’s all about greed and ego.  Taking just the heads is their version of obtaining a ‘trophy,’ and leaving the carcass behind is merely an afterthought,” he continued. “While there are some cases where poachers go after the antlers for profit, with this bunch it was more about the thrill of the kill itself.”

 

 

 

Strasbourg Shooter Killed

 

 

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French Police have shot and killed 29-year-old Chérif Chekatt, the suspected gunman of the attack at an outdoor Christmas market in the northeast city of Strasbourg which killed five people and injured 11 others.  French authorities say Chekatt had multiple criminal convictions and was on a security services watchlist as a suspected Islamist extremist.  Chekatt was reportedly scheduled to be arrested for an armed robbery and attempted murder charge on the day of the shooting.

He was known to security services for a total of 27 convictions in France, Germany, and Switzerland, with 67 recorded crimes in France alone.  French police considered him a “gangster-jihadist”, a term referring to people convicted of various crimes and “radicalized” in prison.  Chekatt was released from prison in France in 2015, then received a prison sentence for theft in Singen, Germany and was expelled to France after his release in 2017.

On December 11th, just before 8pm, Chekatt allegedly entered the outdoor market area and opened fire in three different areas.  The shooting lasted ten minutes and was heard shouting “Allahu akbar” as he fired into the crowd.  He also attacked people with a knife before exchanging fire with soldiers of Opération Sentinelle  and with the National Police.  Despite being shot in the arm during the shootout with authorities, he escaped the area in a taxi cab.  The cab driver was unharmed and reported having taken an armed and wounded man from the area to police immediately.

France issued the highest level of security alert and two days later Chekatt was killed in a shootout with French police after a manhunt involving 700 officers.  An investigation was initiated after the attack and four people close to Chekatt were detained for questioning after the shooting.  Those detained were his father, his mother, and two of his brothers.  A fifth person was taken into custody and a search warrant was issued in Algeria for a “very radicalized” third brother.  Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz, who handles terror cases throughout France, told a news conference that a total of seven people were in police custody.  His parents and two of his brothers were later released “due to the lack of incriminating evidence at this stage” according to the prosecutor’s office.

Two victims of the shooting died at the scene and the three others later died in the hospital.  Four of the 11 people injured are in critical condition.  Anupong Suebsamarn, 45, a tourist from Thailand was shot multiple times and died at the scene.  He was on holiday with his wife, who was also shot but survived.  Strasbourg mayor Roland Ries told French TV that a local resident who has only been identified as a 61-year-old retired bank employee had also been killed.  Kamal Naghchband, a 45 year old mechanic and father of three was shot in the head while walking with his family.  He fell into a coma and died two days later.    Antonio Megalizzi, a 29-year-old Italian journalist covering the European Parliament plenary session was critically injured and died of his wounds three days later.  Barto Pedro Orent-Niedzielski, a 36-year-old Polish-born man was also critically injured in the attack and his death was announced three days later.   Orent-Niedzielski and his Italian friend Antonio Megalizzi, who were at the market together, were severely injured when they tried to stop Chekatt from entering a bar during the assault.

 

 

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James A. Fields Jr., the neo-Nazi who rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters at the Unite The Right rally on August 12, 2017, has been sentenced to life for first-degree murder; 70 years for each of five counts of aggravated malicious wounding; 20 years for each of three counts of malicious wounding; and nine years for leaving the scene of a fatal crash.  The jurors were instructed that the sentences would be “presumed to be consecutive” unless they recommended that the terms be served simultaneously. Fields’s overall sentence: life plus 419 years and $480,000 in fines.

The jury of seven women and five men convicted Fields of the 10 offenses in a Charlottesville Circuit Court.  In Virginia, trial juries determine what penalties should be handed out within sentencing ranges dictated by law.  Judge Richard E. Moore, who said he will formally sentence Fields on March 29th, can impose a lesser punishment than the jurors called for but is not allowed to increase the sentences.

During the trial, Fields psychiatric disorders dating to early childhood were detailed in court by a mental-health expert.  Psychologist Daniel Murrie testified that Fields was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 6 and has been prone to angry, sometimes violent outbursts since before he could walk and was “expelled from preschool” because of his volatile behavior.  As an adolescent, he was found to have schizoid personality disorder and was housed in psychiatric facilities for three stretches before his 15th birthday.

Murrie testified that Fields did not meet Virginia’s legal definition for not guilty by reason of insanity.  To be acquitted on the basis of insanity, a defendant must show that he did not understand the difference between right and wrong at the time of the offense or was mentally unable to control his actions.  Fields did not deny that he intentionally accelerated his Dodge Challenger into a group of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.  His lawyers contended that he was afraid for his safety and acted to protect himself but jurors rejected that argument and issued 10 guilty verdicts.

Several of the injured victims, testified at Fields’s trial and sentencing hearing, described lasting physical wounds, psychological anguish and dire financial distress.  They described their injuries including shattered bones and debilitating nerve damage that they may never fully recover from.  They spoke of nightmares, social isolation caused by post-traumatic stress disorder and crushing medical bills from surgeries that have depleted their insurance and could burden them far into the future.

Fields faces a separate federal trial for alleged hate crimes related to the incident, including one offense that carries a possible death sentence. No trial date has been set and the Justice Department has not said whether it will seek capital punishment.

 

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In France, the “yellow vest” protests continued for a fourth consecutive week with an estimated 130,000 people taking to the streets across the country.  Protesters and police clashed again in the capital and other cities with police firing rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas at crowds, and some protesters smashing windows and setting vehicles on fire resulting in over 1,700 arrests.

Civil unrest began on November 17th and have continued over the four weeks with little signs of slowing.  The protesters were dubbed “Les gilets jaunes” (the yellow vests) after the high-visibility jackets they adopted as a symbol of their complaint, blocked roundabouts, burned effigies and clashed with the police. They were objecting the almost 20 percent increase in the price of diesel since the start of the year, as well as the planned fuel tax hike President Emmanuel Macron had recently announced.  The demands have also expanded, with even students taking part, calling for changes to the French high school examinations and university entrance procedures.

The intensity of the protests forced the government to halt the plans for the fuel tax hike but demonstrators are calling for additional economic reforms, and many for the resignation of President Emmanuel Macron.  While Macron said the tax was necessary to “protect the environment” and “combat climate change”, protesters claimed the decision was yet another sign that the “privileged” president is out of touch with regular folk struggling to make ends meet.

In Paris, major attractions, including the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, are closed in anticipation of the demonstrations.  After images of police using tear gas and tanks against protesters in Paris hit newspapers worldwide, President Emmanuel Macron delivered a national address announcing he would raise the minimum wage and cancel a tax increase on low-income retirees.  In his address to the nation, Macron said the violent protests — which have morphed from a grassroots movement against fuel tax hikes into disparate demonstrations against his presidency — have been “unacceptable” and “will not be in any way indulged.”

He proposed some social reforms, including an increase in the minimum wage by 100 euros ($113) a month beginning in January that will not cost employers extra and a promise that overtime hours will not be taxed. Macron also remained defiant and said he would not reinstate the wealth tax but would fight tax fraud.  The reforms are expected to cost the government between $8.1 billion and $10.1 billion, according to Olivier Dussopt, France’s secretary of state to the Ministry of Public Action and Accounts.

While Macron’s announcement has appeased some demonstrators, some 77,000 people still turned out across the country, including 10,000 in Paris.  On December 8, many Paris tourist hot spots and stores were shuttered in anticipation of violent protests after the previous week’s demonstrations resulted in the worst riots to hit the French capital in decades. By the end of the week, 1,723 people had been taken in for questioning and 1,220 into custody, according to the Interior Ministry. Across the country, 135 people were reported injured.

 

 

 

 

 

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Four Missouri police officers have been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the assault of a fellow officer who was working undercover.  Officers Dustin Boone, Randy Hays and Christopher Myers with St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department are accused of beating the undercover officer with a riot baton and tampering with witnesses to cover up the incident, according to the Department of Justice. Myers was also charged with destroying evidence. Officer Bailey Colletta was indicted on a charge of providing false statements to a federal grand jury in connection with the incident.

The indictment charges officers Dustin Boone, 35, Bailey Colletta, 25, Randy Hays, 31, and Christopher Myers, 27, with various felonies, including deprivation of constitutional rights, conspiracy to obstruct justice, destruction of evidence, and obstruction of justice.  One of the charges carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The other three carry a maximum of 20 years. All four counts have a maximum of $250,000 in fines.  All four officers have been placed on administrative leave without pay.

In September 2017, the officers were assigned to a Civil Disobedience Team, which conducts crowd control, in anticipation of a protest against the acquittal of Officer Jason Stockley in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.  Protests broke out in St. Louis and a 22-year veteran of the St. Louis Police Department — referred to in the indictment as L.H. — was in the crowd working undercover as a protester to document crimes among the demonstrators so law enforcement could make arrests, according to the indictment.

The indictment claims the three officers believed Hall was a protester and assaulted him “while he was compliant and not posing a physical threat to anyone.”   The indictment alleges that Boone, Hays and Myers threw Luther Hall to the ground without probable cause and began to kick him and strike him with a riot baton.  Once Myers, Boone and Hays learned that Hall was a police officer, the indictment says, they made false statements justifying the assault, contacted Hall to dissuade him from taking legal action and contacted witnesses to try to influence their testimony.  Myers also destroyed Hall’s cellphone “with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence the investigation,” according to the indictment.

The indictment also details text messages between Myers, Boone and Hays prior to the incident.  “We really need these f**kers to start acting up so we can have some fun,” Boone texted, after they determined they were going to be on the same team.  “A lot of cops getting hurt, but it’s still a blast beating people that deserve it,” said another text from Boone.  He also remarked that he would be working with a black officer and referred to him as “a thug that’s on our side.”  Hayes also texted Boone “Remember we are in south city. They support us but also cameras. So make sure you have an old white dude as a witness.”

According to the indictment, Officer Colletta — who was in a romantic relationship at the time with Hays,  was on the team that night and offered inconsistent explanations as to why they arrested L.H.  Initially, Colletta said she had never come into contact with Hall that night. Then, she claimed that she witnessed the arrest and saw Hall taken to the ground “very gently.”  Colletta also said the group had “veered off” to arrest Hall, according to the indictment. The next day, she said she learned from her sergeant that they had stopped Hall because he fit the description of a radio dispatch yet in a later statement, she claimed she didn’t recall anyone saying that.