Review Category : National News

Ray Tensing Allegedly Wore Confederate Flag T-Shirt When He Shot Unarmed Black Man

iStock/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) — Ray Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati police officer, was wearing a T-shirt with the Confederate flag under his uniform when he shot and killed an unarmed black man last year, according to evidence presented in court, ABC affiliate WCPO-TV reported.

A photo of the black T-shirt bearing the flag and the words “Great Smoky Mountains” was presented in court Friday during a crime scene technician’s testimony at Tensing’s trial.

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Two Former Aides to Chris Christie Found Guilty in Bridgegate Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(NEWARK, N.J.) — Two former aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have been found guilty on all counts in the so-called Bridgegate trial, according to ABC owned-station WABC-TV.

Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, a former official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey appointed by Christie, were accused of conspiring to close lanes at the George Washington Bridge for political retaliation.

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Actress Claims Her Discussions, Secret Recordings with Prison Snitch Blew Open Chandra Levy Case

ABC News (NEW YORK) — A part-time television extra claims her intimate discussions and secret recordings she made with the federal prosecution’s star witness in the Chandra Levy case blew the investigation wide open.

20/20 has obtained seven hours of conversations between Babs Proller, who once appeared in Netflix series House of Cards, and Armando “Mouse” Morales, the prison snitch crucial to the Levy investigation, which remains one of the most notorious cold case murders in the country.

“I think my tapes completely showed Morales is a liar and cannot be trusted as a witness,” Proller told 20/20.

Proller told 20/20 she met Morales in July when she and Morales coincidentally were staying at the same Maryland hotel. Proller had just been evicted from her home and was staying at the hotel with her dog Buddy. She said Morales introduced himself as “Phoenix” and “he was very kind, and very friendly.”

Proller claims she never had any romantic interest in Morales but the two became friends and he even watched her dog Buddy for her when she was out of town.

But during one of their conversations, Proller said Morales revealed to her that he was a career criminal and a former gang member who had spent more than 20 years in prison. Not only that, Proller said Morales told her he was also the prosecution’s star witness in one of Washington, D.C.’s biggest murder trials.

Chandra Levy was a 24-year-old federal intern from California who went missing in May of 2001. Her remains were discovered a year later in Rock Creek Park. It was rumored she had an affair with then-Congressman Gary Condit, D-Calif., but Condit was dismissed as a suspect in the case and has long refused to confirm any sexual interactions with Levy.

In November 2010, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador named Ingmar Guandique was convicted of two counts of felony murder for Levy’s death. At the time, Guandique had already pleaded guilty to attacking two other women in the park around the same time Levy was killed.

The prosecution’s star witness was Morales, a five-time convicted felon and a former California gang member. Morales and Guandique shared a federal prison cell for separate crimes in 2006 and he testified that while in prison together, Guandique confessed to him that he had murdered Levy.

Guandique was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

But in 2012, Guandique’s attorneys discovered that during the trial, Morales concealed he had a history of working with law enforcement. The defense argued in a 114-page motion that the prosecution either knew or should have known about Morales’ prior history of working with law enforcement, and that the prosecution was guilty of prosecutorial misconduct for not disclosing Morales’ past interactions with police. In an unusual twist, the U.S. attorney’s office agreed to a retrial for Guandique.

The retrial of Guandique was scheduled to begin Oct. 13 until Proller entered the picture.

Proller said once Morales started talking about paying retribution to someone he had harmed, Proller began recording him for her own protection. She started secretly recording their conversations everywhere they went together, including the car, the hotel and to a storage locker near Annapolis, Maryland, where she had asked him for help organizing her stuff since she was between homes. Once at the storage locker, Proller said she hid a recorder behind a plastic container on a shelf. That’s when she claims Morales told her about Guandique’s confession.

During the conversation, Proller is heard on the recording asking Morales questions about the Chandra Levy case and Guandique.

“The dude that I testified — he committed a homicide,” Morales is heard saying.

“Are you sure?” Proller asks.

“Why wouldn’t I be sure?” Morales says.

“People talk,” Proller tells him. “They just brag about stuff to make sure that they look good.”

“I don’t know. I can’t answer that,” Morales says.

Proller told 20/20 that any time she asked Morales “a really detailed question” he would say to her, “Don’t go there.”

“He’s got other victims,” Morales is heard saying on Proller’s recording.

“That he killed?” Proller asks.

“Don’t go there,” Morales says.

At one point, Proller asks Morales, “You said he didn’t mean to kill her, he robbed her?”

“Well no,” Morales says. “He’s in the cell with me. You think he’s going to tell me he meant to do that? Come on. Hello? Duh.”

Proller told 20/20 that’s when a light bulb went off in her head that maybe Morales hadn’t been telling the truth about Guandique.

“To me, it didn’t make sense,” she said. “I ended up feeling like, ‘You made this up.’”

Proller said she eventually got Morales to admit he had lied about Guandique’s confession.

“I never in my life thought he would be talking about the case or for him to admit at any point that he lied,” she said. “I honestly thought, ‘He’s going to kill me in the storage unit and they’re going to find my body one day.’”

Proller said after Morales confessed to lying, she contacted Chandra Levy’s mother, Susan Levy.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is so weird. Why don’t you send a tape for both the prosecutor and the defense team?’” Susan Levy told 20/20. “And that’s how I saw it as — send it to them!”

Proller did meet with the prosecution and defense. In July, the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia issued a stunning announcement asking that all charges would be dropped against Guandique. The statement said in part that there had been “recent unforeseen developments” in the case and concluded that “it can no longer prove the murder case against Mr. Guandique beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But in the seven hours of recordings ABC News obtained, Morale’s admission to Proller that he made up Guandique’s confession isn’t there and, in fact, Morales adamantly sticks to his story.

“I thought everything was in one file but it was three separate files,” Proller told 20/20.

Proller claims there are additional recordings that she’s turned over to authorities and no longer has a copy, but Morales’ attorney told 20/20 that Morales never told Proller he made up the confession.

Proller also has credibility and legal issues of her own. Court records show that Proller received three years’ probation after she was arrested for theft in Pennsylvania in 2012. She said it was for altering prices on toothbrush labels.

“I have never taken anything from anybody,” Proller said. “I have not taken money, what am I trying to scam out of this?”

Nevertheless, the U.S. attorney’s office asked for the charges against Guandique to be dismissed, with little explanation as to why. But Proller is convinced it was because she came forward.

“I think it was absolutely my tapes that blew it out of the water,” Proller said.

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Squirrel Attack Leaves at Least Three Injured at Florida Senior Living Facility, According to 911 Caller

iStock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Think squirrels are harmless? Think again.

One of the nimble, bushy-tailed rodents went on a rampage Thursday at a senior citizens living facility in Florida, leaving three people injured and bleeding, according to a 911 call released by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

“We had a squirrel that entered our building, and it’s in our activity room, and it’s jumping on people and biting them and scratching them … so we need help,” says the female caller, adding that she ran into her office at Sterling Court apartments in Deltona to make the call. Delton is about 30 miles northeast of Orlando.

The frantic-sounding caller tells the dispatcher, “We need some care for people here. It’s still in there and people are bleeding.”

The caller tells the 911 dispatcher that an ambulance is needed because “at least three or four, possibly more” were bitten by the squirrel.

In the background, someone is heard saying “the squirrel is still in here,” while another says “I feel lightheaded! I don’t feel good!”

“We need help for the people — it’s not about the squirrel,” says the caller.

The dispatcher asks where the pint-sized creature is, to which the caller responds, “They told me they threw it out of the building.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the injured “were doing fine.”

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Dakota Pipeline Activist Gets Shot with Rubber Bullet During On-Camera Interview

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(BISMARCK, N.D.) — An activist at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest got an unwelcome surprise in the middle of filming an on-camera interview, when she was shot in the back with a rubber bullet.

Erin Schrode, who describes herself as an activist journalist, said in a Facebook post on Thursday, “I was standing innocently onshore, not making any aggressive gestures, never exchanging a single word with the police who fired at my lower back from their boat.”

Schrode complained about what she called “the indiscriminate use of excessive force,” in the post.

“Authorities used less-than-lethal ammunition to control the situation,” the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. The Sheriff accused one protester of throwing bottles at police and another of refusing to disperse and charging at a police line.

“No lethal shots were fired from law enforcement,” the statement emphasizes.

For months, protesters have been demonstrating on and around the private land owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which is seeking to complete a 1,200 mile pipeline that will bring oil from North Dakota to Illinois. This week, the protesters took to the waters of Cantapeta Creek, just outside of the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation.

The shot and Schrode’s reaction can be seen and heard in a video she posted to Twitter.

Dakota Pipeline activist shot in the back with rubber bullet during on-camera interview. https://t.co/NSvcyAhYgb pic.twitter.com/teMggHHDts

— ABC News (@ABC) November 4, 2016

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Woman Rescued After Two Months in Container, Search for Boyfriend Continues

iStock/Thinkstock(WOODRUFF, S.C.) — Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said that Kala Brown, the woman rescued after spending two months chained up inside a metal container, was in good spirits and looked good considering her ordeal.

Wright spoke to reporters as investigators scoured the suspect’s 100-acre property in Woodruff, South Carolina in the hopes of finding Brown’s boyfriend, Charile Carver, who went missing with Brown back on August 31.

The sheriff called it “divine intervention from God himself,” that led investigators to Brown’s location and called it “good investigative work” that brought them out to the property in the first place.

After receiving a tip, investigators went out to a plot of land owned by the suspect, convicted sex offender Todd Kohlhepp, and began combing through the massive property when they heard “banging” coming from a container, authorities said.

Once they were able to get inside the padlocked, 30-by-15 foot metal container, they found Brown “chained up like a dog,” Sheriff Wright said. Asked about her condition on Thursday night, the sheriff said “She was in good spirits. She looked good,” considering the circumstances. Earlier he said that Brown was “obviously traumatized.”

Wright said that police had so far had not discovered any indication pointing to Carver’s whereabouts. “We don’t have any indication either way. We’re certainly praying for the best outcome,” he said.

Officials said they recovered multiple weapons and ammunition on the property, but that so far no human remains have been discovered.

Wright said that Brown “told us that there may be four people on this property,” and added, “We’re going back as far as we can for every piece of property this man has ever had to find what we need.”

Kohlhepp, 45, was jailed over a kidnapping charge back in 1987, South Carolina records indicate, and was required to register as a sex offender. He is currently being held on one charge of kidnapping as the investigation continues.

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Police Officer Praised for Saving Life of Unresponsive Woman During Traffic Stop

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A police officer in Blanchard, Oklahoma, is being hailed for his quick thinking and calm demeanor under pressure as he helped to revive an unresponsive woman on the side of a road.

Blanchard Police Officer Jordan Jones said he was pulling over a pickup truck on Monday after he saw it speeding with its hazard lights flashing. The driver stopped the vehicle and jumped out in a panic, Jones said, noting that the driver and his daughter yelled to him that his wife, who was in the truck, was not breathing.

Jones’ dash-cam video showed the officer, with the help of the driver, pulling the woman from the backseat of the truck and laying her down on the road between his patrol vehicle and the man’s truck, out of the way of traffic.

“Oh, sweetheart,” the driver could be heard saying at one point. “She’s gone!”

“No, she’s not,” Jones could be heard saying as he prepared to begin CPR.

Jones said he didn’t have time to really think.

“It was time to act and it was time to go,” he told ABC affiliate KOCO-TV. “We’re trained as far as handling people who are emotionally distraught and that you can’t let that factor into your judgment and what you’re trained to do.”

Jones said that he’d already called for an ambulance before he started trying to revive the woman. Within minutes, first responders had arrived and taken over. He said they got the woman’s heart going and then transported her to a hospital, where she remains. Police would not disclose details of the woman’s condition but said she was alive.

Blanchard Police Capt. Joe Beilouny praised Jones, saying that his work had been extremely vital in saving the woman’s life. The couple were still 15 to 20 minutes from the hospital when Jones stopped their truck.

He “kept his cool, remained very calm the entire time,” Beilouny said.

Jones said he’d been told by first responders that the incident could have been fatal.

“The adrenaline kind of slows down and you start realizing what [took] place,” he said. “It was surreal. It was a great team effort.”

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Why a Previously Proposed Route for the Dakota Access Pipeline Was Rejected

ABC News(NEW YORK) — President Obama said in an interview published this week that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was considering rerouting the Dakota Access Pipeline to accommodate the “sacred lands of Native Americans,” sparking speculation over the fate of the controversial crude oil pipeline.

But it also prompted some to point out that the current path of the pipeline is actually a reroute itself, with critics calling this reroute an act of “environmental racism.”

A previously proposed route for the 1,172-mile pipeline had it crossing the Missouri River north of Bismarck, North Dakota, according to a document filed as part of the permitting process. The eventual route that was decided on, and is currently in construction, moved the water crossing of the crude oil pipeline south of the North Dakota capital, to just upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation.

“This pipeline was rerouted towards our tribal nations when other citizens of North Dakota rightfully rejected it in the interests of protecting their communities and water. We seek the same consideration as those citizens,” Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said in a statement on Sunday.

“It’s disappointing to see our state and federal officials advance their corporate, pro-Big Oil energy platform here in North Dakota at the expense of human health, safety and tribal sovereignty,” Archambault added.

Prominent activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, who joined protesters in North Dakota last week, called the reroute “the ripest case of environmental racism I’ve seen in a long time.”

The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) refuted allegations of environmental racism, saying that the Bismarck route proposal was never submitted to the agency because permits for it were denied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during its environmental assessment.

“The river crossing north of Bismarck was a proposed alternative considered by the [Dakota Access] company early in the routing process. This route was never included in the proposed route submitted to the PSC and therefore was never vetted or considered by us during our permitting process. It had been eliminated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during their environmental assessment,” North Dakota Public Service Commission Chair Julie Fedorchak said in statement on Oct. 27.

“The final permitted route follows an existing pipeline corridor that has been previously disturbed,” added Fedorchak, who also serves as the “pipeline siting portfolio holder,” that is, the person in charge of permitting the pipeline route.

Gene Pawlik, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, told ABC News today that “the Army does not have a set timeframe to complete its ongoing review of previous DAPL permitting decisions. As part of this process, the Army is exploring a range of options that take into account concerns raised by the relevant stakeholders and will decide the best path to move forward.”

“We cannot speculate on what the possible outcomes of the review might be,” Pawlik added.

In its environmental assessment, the Corps rejected the Bismarck route to protect wells that serve the municipal water supply, according to The Bismarck Tribune. The Bismarck route would also have been more than 10 miles longer and would have made it difficult to meet PSC requirements to keep the pipeline 500 feet or more away from homes, the Tribune reported.

The current route of the pipeline, which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe argues traverses culturally sacred sites and poses a risk to the reservation’s water supply, was largely chosen because it runs along existing infrastructure such as railways and other pipelines, Dakota Access argued in its application to the PSC for permits.

“The most significant route revisions occurred early in the routing process and occurred primarily due to attempts to avoid tribal and federally owned lands, minimize environmental impacts, avoid environmentally sensitive areas, and maximize collocation,” the company stated in its permit application.

However, President Obama’s comments on a possible reroute come at a time when the pipeline is nearing completion, meaning there may be major hurdles to rerouting it now, according to some experts.

“For Dakota Access, time is money,” Tyler Priest, a professor at the University of Iowa who served as a senior policy analyst for the President’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, told ABC News on Monday. “They want to get this done as fast as they can.”

“Most of it is already built, so I don’t know if it would require pulling up pipeline,” Priest said of a potential reroute.

Afolabi Ogunnaike, a senior analyst at the energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie who specializes in North America’s crude oil markets, told ABC News, “one would imagine that a reroute is possible, but I don’t know how well that would be received,” adding that the pipeline is “approaching 90 percent” completion in areas other than the disputed 20-mile stretch in North Dakota.

The movement to block the pipeline has garnered nationwide support, with hundreds of environmentalists and Native American groups camping out in demonstration near the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. A crowdfunding campaign set up for the protesters recently reached the $1 million mark.

The fate of the controversial pipeline in its current route currently rests with the Army Corps of Engineers, which is reviewing the final easement that Dakota Access needs in order to construct beneath the Missouri River.

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Miss. Church Burning Comes Amid ‘Increasingly Inflammatory’ Campaign Rhetoric

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The “Vote Trump” graffiti that was spray-painted on a black church in Mississippi is being investigated as a possible hate crime and raises questions of whether the rhetoric on the campaign trail has inspired some to act violently.

The century-old Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi, was vandalized and set on fire Tuesday night. Police are investigating who was responsible.

While political experts are careful not to make a formal connection between the presidential campaigning and the incident, they concede that the tone of this election has reached record lows.

“We’ve got increasingly inflammatory rhetoric, much of which has a racist, sexist, nativist tone to it. I just don’t think there’s any doubt about that, and I don’t think it’s just the candidates. It’s clearly permeating many citizens as well,” said Dan Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University.

Donald Trump’s campaign put out a statement on Wednesday condemning “this terrible act that has no place in our society.”

According to Tokaji, it is impossible and imprudent to point to the Trump campaign rhetoric as the cause of violence such as the burning of the Mississippi church. But “that doesn’t mean [Trump] is not responsible, I suppose,” he added.

“I think the level of acrimony in this political campaign is, unfortunately, reflective of the polarization we’ve seen in recent years,” he said.

The FBI is investigating the fire at Hopewell to see if there were any civil rights violations.

It is also in the process of compiling stats for hate crimes in the U.S. this year.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate-group-monitoring organization, noted earlier this year that the number of active hate groups in the U.S. jumped from 784 groups in 2014 to 892 groups in 2015 — which included at least several months of presidential campaigning — about a 14 percent increase.

The Alabama-based SPLC says the terrorist attacks in the U.S. in 2015, such as the attack at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and the shooting in San Bernardino, California, contributed to the increase.

Heidi Beirich, the director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, which tracks hate groups, told ABC News that she has seen the racist website The Daily Stormer spawn “book clubs” that essentially serve as chapters for the site’s followers.

“That site in the last year has launched an organization, essentially,” she said of the group, which espouses neo-Nazi and white supremacist beliefs.

“There’s dozens of these chapters all over the year, and that’s a new thing, and that will add to the hate list,” she said.

Tokaji said that, despite the attacks on the Mississippi church and on a North Carolina GOP office in October, the rhetoric of the campaign was worse earlier on.

“The ratcheting up of the rhetoric, I actually think, was worse in the primary campaign because of the group of voters that Trump was competing for. If anything, it might have been ratcheted down a little bit in the general election,” he said.

James Campbell, a professor at the University of Buffalo in New York whose book “Polarized: Making Sense of a Divided America” was published this summer, said that the negative and hurtful rhetoric of the campaign season will continue past Nov. 8.

“This is a very, very bitterly fought election, and the conflict involved in it will not end with the counting of the ballots. The nation is highly polarized, and we have two very polarizing and very disliked candidates,” he told ABC News.

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City Sues Developer of Sinking and Leaning Luxury High-Rise

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) — The city of San Francisco announced Thursday that it is suing the developer behind the sinking (and leaning) luxury high-rise Millennium Tower for allegedly defrauding homebuyers.

“[Millennium Partners] knew for at least a year, before they began selling condominiums, that this 58-story residential building was sinking much faster than expected,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said during a news conference. “Yet, they went ahead and sold condominiums for a handsome profit without telling the buyers about the situation, even though they were legally required to disclose it.”

According to Herrera, when construction was completed in February 2008, the building had already settled by almost six inches — the maximum, he said, the tower’s geotechnical engineer had predicted the building would sink over its lifetime. He said it continued to settle, unevenly, subsequently causing the building also tilt.

“We’re not going to sit by and allow a developer or anyone else to enrich themselves at the expense of others by hiding crucial information that they’re required by law to disclose,” he said. “That gave the developer in this case an unfair advantage against competitors and it cheated homebuyers out of the information that they needed to make an informed choice.”

The 58-story building was completed in 2008. So far, Herrera said it has sunk at least 16 inches and has reportedly tilted at least two inches at its base.

The city was seeking damages that the court deemed appropriate, Herrera said today. He said the average price of a condo in the tower in 2013 was $1.8 million.

Residents like Frank Jernigan said they were rattled.

Jernigan, who became a Millennium resident in 2011, said he had not noticed the building’s lean. He said he was informed about it at a residents’ meeting in May. He said a friend had suggested rolling a marble around the floor to see what would happen so he did. Jernigan said the results were astounding.

He took a video and posted it online of a marble rolling — in different directions — across the floor of his condominium to illustrate the tilt in the building.

“It’s frightening,” Jernigan said. “We decided we really don’t feel safe in this building.”

In October, Millennium Partners said its building was safe.

“It’s seismically sound. Its structural integrity has not been compromised and that’s a good thing,” spokesman PJ Johnston of Millennium Partners told ABC-owned station KGO-TV at the time.

Johnston said today that Herrera’s allegations had “no merit” and that the tower’s developers had “complied with all state and local laws concerning the disclosure of information to prospective buyers.”

He pointed to the construction of the new Transbay Transit Center, which is located next to the tower, for causing the building to sink to 16 inches.

He said that the Transbay Joint Powers Authority project’s “dewatering of the underlying soils” and “excavation and construction” had led to the tower’s continued settling.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. Herrera, who is also legal counsel for (the authority), has chosen to take the focus off finding a fix for the building and is instead attempting to divert attention from the real culprit here — a government agency that has behaved recklessly, caused damage to a previously existing building, and still refuses to take any of the steps that are necessary to fix the problem,” he said. “Our top priority is to accurately assess the damage TJPA’s work has inflicted; halt that damage rather than allow it to continue unabated as TJPA has vowed to do; and work with the homeowners to fix the building. We would hope that Mr. Herrera, TJPA and the City agencies with responsibility would join in that effort and also make it their top priority.”

Transbay Joint Powers Authority, however, has said the sinking started before the terminal’s construction began.

In documents, the city agency said: “It is therefore clear that the Towers’ extreme weight, combined with its inadequate (short pile) foundation, is the sole cause of the excessive settlement and tilt.

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