Review Category : National News

Bond Set for Prominent Atlanta Attorney Who Allegedly Fatally Shot His Wife

AlexStar/iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Prominent Atlanta attorney Claude “Tex” McIver spent his 74th birthday Thursday in front of a Georgia judge, making his first court appearance after he was taken to jail following a months-long investigation for allegedly shooting and killing his wife. McIver has said it was an accident.

The shooting happened in September, while McIver and his wife, Diane McIver, were being driven home by a friend, investigators said. They ended up driving through a “bad part of town,” he told investigators, according to the Fulton County medical examiner’s investigative summary.

Diane McIver was sitting in the front passenger seat; she took a gun — a revolver — from the center console and passed it to her husband, who was sitting behind her, he told investigators.

The driver told investigators that she heard a “boom” and McIver’s wife yelled out that she was bleeding from the chest; “it was presumed” that her husband shot her, investigators said. She died at a hospital that night.

McIver, who is also vice chairperson of Georgia’s Board of Elections, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an exclusive phone interview in October that the shooting was an accident, saying he fell asleep in the car with the gun in a plastic bag in his lap.

McIver told the newspaper he “was suddenly awoken. I lurched and the gun fired. … I must have forgotten it was in my lap.”

McIver also told the paper that his wife “was my life partner. My life as I know it is ruined because of this accident.”

McIver was booked at the Fulton County Jail on Wednesday night, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, which is a felony, and reckless conduct, which is a misdemeanor.

McIver’s bond was set at $200,000. The court also ordered him to wear an ankle monitor until the case is over.

According to ABC affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta, defense attorney Cal Leipold said Thursday after court, “We believe this was an accident and a tragedy.” Leipold said McIver is “distraught.”

If convicted, he could face up to a decade in prison.

McIver is a partner at the prominent law firm Fisher & Phillips. According to his firm biography, he was “named one of Georgia Trend magazine’s Legal Elite in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015.”

McIver was indicted for aggravated assault for a 1990 incident in which three teenagers accused him of firing shots into the air and into their car outside his home, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Prosecutors later dropped the case after the matter was settled privately.

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ACLU on North Carolina’s Failure to Repeal Bathroom Law: ‘We’ll Just Have to See Them in Court’

Kanoke_46/iStock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) — North Carolina’s failure to repeal its so-called bathroom law, which limits LGBT rights and has sparked widespread boycotts and controversy, doesn’t end the fight over the law also known as HB2, or House Bill 2.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal reminded the public in a news release Wednesday evening that they have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law.

“The Legislature may not be willing to undo their unconstitutional overreach and respect the rights of LGBT people, so we’ll just have to see them in court,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, in a statement. “These attempts to expel transgender people from public life will not be tolerated.”

The ACLU, the ACLU of North Carolina, Lambda Legal and a private law firm are challenging the law in federal court on behalf of four LGBT North Carolinians and members of the ACLU of North Carolina, according to the ACLU statement.

The state law requires transgender people to use bathrooms and changing facilities, such as locker rooms, in public buildings according to the sex on their birth certificate, not their gender identity.

It also bars local municipalities from creating their own rules prohibiting discrimination in public places based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

HB2 was passed by the state Legislature in March and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, sparking an immediate backlash, including boycotts and cancellations of major sporting events.

The NBA, for example, announced in July that it was moving its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte over concerns about the law. Similarly, the NCAA announced in September it would relocate its 2016–17 season championship games out of the state.

Many supporters of HB2 have argued that the law protects women and children from sexual offenders who, these supporters say, could falsely claim to be transgender to access bathrooms of the opposite sex.

LGBT advocacy groups have dismissed such arguments, calling the idea of a “bathroom predator” a myth.

The law became a main issue of contention during the gubernatorial race this year.

McCrory, the Republican incumbent, stood by the bill during the race, while Democratic challenger Roy Cooper — who is now the governor-elect — argued the bill should be repealed.

Election Day exit polls showed that 66 percent of North Carolina voters opposed HB2 while 29 percent supported it.

Cooper said this month, after McCrory conceded defeat in the race, that state legislative leaders had promised to hold a special session to repeal HB2 if the Charlotte City Council rescinded its LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance. Republican lawmakers said earlier this year they had passed HB2 as a way to challenge Charlotte’s ordinance.

Charlotte rescinded its ordinance on Monday as part of the proposed deal, but the state’s General Assembly failed to pass a bill repealing HB2 on Wednesday.

The City of Charlotte said in a statement Thursday that while it was “disappointed with this unfortunate outcome, our commitment to maintaining and protecting diverse and inclusive communities remains unchanged.”

Cooper said in a news conference that he was “disappointed” the effort to repeal failed: “We have yet to remove the stain on the reputation of our great state that is around this country and around the world.”

“Republican legislative leaders failed to live up to their promise,” the governor-elect said, after he and his staff had “worked day and night over the past week to forge an agreement that would bring back the jobs and sporting events” the state had lost in the backlash to the law.

“It is a shame that North Carolina’s General Assembly is refusing to clean up the mess they made,” Esseks of the ACLU said. “The support for the LGBT community from political leaders, faith leaders, businesses, and everyday people that has emerged this year will not fade.

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Passenger Removed from Flight After Allegedly Harassing Ivanka Trump

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A passenger was removed from a JetBlue flight after allegedly harassing Ivanka Trump, airline and Trump sources said.

Senior sources in the Trump transition team told ABC News the president-elect’s daughter and her children were heading to Hawaii for vacation when a passenger shouted at them.

The family was flying JetBlue and airline staff decided to remove the passenger at John F. Kennedy International airport in New York.

“The decision to remove a customer from a flight is not taken lightly. If the crew determines that a customer is causing conflict on the aircraft, the customer will be asked to deplane, especially if the crew feels the situation runs the risk of escalation during flight. In this instance, our team worked to re-accommodate the party on the next available flight,” a JetBlue spokesperson said in a statement.

A U.S. Secret Service official told ABC News the airline made the decision to remove the passenger from the plane. Secret Service agents were on board the flight with the Trumps but they were not involved in situation.

Donald Trump was not with Ivanka on the flight. The president-elect is currently at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

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Dashcam Video Shows Impaired Semi-Truck Driver Swerve off Highway

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Newly released video shows a commercial semitrailer driver stumbling and struggling to walk straight after being pulled over by police for weaving in and out of traffic erratically on a Minnesota highway, for which he was charged with driving while impaired.

Jonathan Czech, 48, a driver at the time of the incident for third-party company Crete Carrier Corp., was transporting a Walmart tractor trailer across Minnesota’s Highway 10 on July 18 when he was stopped by police.

The video released this week by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety shows the semitrailer swerve off to the right shoulder, hit a sign and struggle to get back on the road. After the truck got back on the highway, it crossed several lanes of traffic before finally coming to a stop.

Minnesota State Patrol troopers pulled over the vehicle and asked Czech to step out.

The video shows Czech falling out of the truck and then stumbling and struggling to walk straight. Czech fell to the ground again as an officer attempted to pull him up.

Police said they found two large bottles of vodka next to the driver’s seat and Czech tested at more than three times the legal limit for alcohol.

Czech can be heard in the video answering, “Yup,” when asked by a police officer, “Do you feel the effects of the alcohol you drank?”

Czech was later convicted of third-degree DWI, according to court documents, which also state that he was sentenced to serve 365 days in county jail, reduced to 36 days. He was also placed on supervised probation for four years, starting Sept. 14.

Crete Carrier Corp. fired Czech when officials learned of his arrest, the company said in a statement.

“Today is the first time Crete Carrier Corporation was made aware of the video of one of its former drivers and we are very disturbed by the actions of the driver and thankful no one was injured,” the company said in the statement Wednesday. “The driver in question was hired by Crete Carrier approximately six weeks prior to the situation in the video. At the time of his hire, he had previous experience as a commercial truck driver and a clear driving record for over 10 years. Once we were made aware of him being charged with DUI, his employment was terminated.”

Walmart told ABC News in a statement, “The driver in this case was working for Crete Carrier Corporation, a third-party transportation company that transports products to our stores. While Crete Carrier Corporation is responsible for its drivers and operations, we take this matter seriously. We contacted Crete Carrier Corporation to express our concerns and we’ve been told that the driver was fired.”

ABC News was unable to reach Czech for comment.

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11-Year-Old Girl Hailed as Hero After Calling 911 During Home Invasion

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An 11-year-old girl in Florida called 911 from her bedroom closet when three suspects burglarized her family’s home, taking an estimated $13,000 worth of items, including Christmas presents, according to police.

Ashley Bermudez, of Meadow Woods, Florida, retreated to a closet in her upstairs bedroom after watching an unknown vehicle pull into the driveway of her home.

“I was trying to be very quiet while in the closet so that they can’t hear me,” Ashley told ABC News.

Ashley can be heard on the 911 call pleading with the dispatcher to send help.

“Hello, please, I need help. I need help. I need help,” Ashley told the dispatcher. “They’re breaking into my house, please come really quick.”

The suspects later entered the bedroom where Ashley was hiding and knocked down a door, according to police.

“Oh no, please, please, I won’t say anything, I promise you,” Ashley can be heard saying on the 911 call.

Authorities say the suspects fled the home after seeing Ashley. They later crashed their getaway car into a flatbed truck a few miles from Ashley’s home and were apprehended, according to police.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said in a Facebook post Wednesday they were able to arrest the suspects — identified by police as an 18-year-old male and two juveniles, ages 16 and 14 — due to Ashley’s “incredibly accurate descriptions.”

“She followed all the instructions,” the 911 dispatcher, Michele Fernandez, told ABC News. “She did a great job. Being 11 years old, she did a better job than any adult out there.”

Fernandez met Ashley for the first time Wednesday night. The two gave each other a hug.

“She was kind of a lifesaver for me,” Ashley said of Fernandez. “I want to thank her because what she did is really, really, really important to me.”

Orange County Sheriff’s Department officials said they plan to honor Ashley for her bravery.

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Man Suffers Third-Degree Burns After E-Cigarette Explodes in His Pocket While Riding Bus

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A California man’s electronic cigarette exploded in his pant pocket Wednesday while riding a city bus, prompting paramedics to rush to him to a hospital with third-degree burns, according to officials.

A 53-year-old man told firefighters, who arrived on the scene in downtown Fresno, that an electronic battery-powered smoking device suddenly became hot and then seemingly exploded, reported ABC affiliate KFSN.

The man began jumping around after the device ignited, according to other passengers.

According to KFSN, the unidentified man suffered burns to his right thigh and hand and is expected to be recover.

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Pastor Pleads for Suspect in Road Rage Killing of 3-Year-Old to Come Forward

Onnes/iStock/Thinkstock(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — A pastor in Little Rock, Ark., is pleading for the gunman who allegedly shot 3-year-old Acen King to death in what is believed to be a road rage incident to come forward.

“I’ll take you to the police station and allow no harm to come to you,” Pastor Terrance Long told ABC News. “We just want justice to be served.”

The shooting happened Saturday while the three-year-old was in the car with his grandmother and his one-year-old sibling, Lt. Steven McClanahan of the Little Rock Police Department said Sunday.

When the grandmother, identified by police as Kim King-Macon, stopped at an intersection, a man in the car behind her honked, police said.

King-Macon honked back, and the suspect got out of his car and fired a gun, according to police.

The grandmother did not immediately realize the her grandson was shot and drove away, police said. She then pulled over and realized the boy was injured, after which she called police.

The boy was taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital where he died, police said. His sibling was not injured.

The pastor, who is organizing a Wednesday night vigil for King, told ABC News on Tuesday the family is “distraught.”

Long said the last time he saw the boy was at a local restaurant; he said King was running around, jumping, and his grandmother told him to slow down.

“He was having fun as a kid does. He was happy-go-lucky, no problems. That’s why this is so tragic,” he said. “An innocent child … getting ready to really enjoy the first Christmas that he’ll probably be able to remember at the age that he is. And now the family is sitting at their house, looking at these gifts that were for Acen, wondering why did this happen and who did it.”

Police called the shooting a road-rage incident and said the grandmother was innocent. They also said she had no relationship to the suspect.

McClanahan said Wednesday that police have interviewed the grandmother and believe she is telling the truth.

No arrests have been made, McClanahan said.

Local and federal authorities have offered a combined $40,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.

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What to Expect During Your Holiday Travel

Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s the most wonderful time of the year — once you get where you’re going.

U.S. holiday travelers this season can expect an increase in traffic both in the air and on the ground, according to industry projections. In fact, one group’s forecast indicates more Americans will travel this year-end holiday season than ever before.

Hitting the Road

Data from the American Automobile Association (AAA) says more than 103 million Americans are expected to travel during this year’s holiday period.

According to AAA, the vast majority of them will be hoping in a car and taking to the nation’s roadways. The group projects 93.6 million people will take a road trip, an increase of 1.5 percent over last year.

Lower gas prices and increased consumer spending are both driving forces behind the increase, according to the study.

The Airlines

Airlines for America, the industry trade organization representing many of the nation’s largest airlines, projects a 3.5 percent increase over last year’s holiday travel period in passengers flying on U.S. airlines around the world.

A total of 45.2 million passengers will fly on the nation’s domestic airlines during the 21-day period that began on Dec. 16, according to A4A. To keep up, the airlines will add 99,000 additional seats per day, a 3.9 percent increase over last year.

The busiest days in the sky are expected to be Dec. 22 and Dec 23. If you hate the crowds and are willing to wait, it may be wise to leave on Christmas Eve when projections indicate a lighter travel day.

The busiest airports this holiday season won’t surprise the seasoned traveler. Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver and Charlotte are projected to carry a great deal of the weight during the travel rush.

Top Destinations on Christmas Eve

For those on the ground, navigation app Waze studied its user’s destinations on last year’s Christmas Eve. The data reflected the many folks waiting till the last minute for their Christmas shopping. Trips to shopping locations increased 16% over the typical December day. Trips to the grocery store increased 34 percent.

But not all Christmas Eve errands are about procrastination.

Last year’s data from Waze users showed an increase of 148 percent to places of worship on Christmas Eve than the typical December day.

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Joint Bulletin Expresses Concern About Possible New Year’s Eve Attack

JANIFEST/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A joint bulletin involving multiple intelligence agencies was issued today and expresses concern about possible lone wolf attacks or homegrown violent extremists targeting the New Year’s Eve celebration in New York’s Times Square.

The bulletin was put out by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the NYPD, the FDNY, New York State Police and the New York and New Jersey Port Authority Police. It specifically states that there is “no information to indicate a specific, credible threat to or associated with the Times Square New Year’s Eve 2017 celebration in New York City.

Al Qaeda and ISIS “remain intent on attacking Western targets and continue to call on individuals to conduct independent attacks in the United States using edged weapons, vehicles, improvised explosive devices, and small arms,” the bulletin notes. “Terrorist attacks in the United States, as well as France, Germany, and Belgium, which resulted in significant casualties, have heightened concern about similar attacks being replicated in the near-term.”

It specifically cites the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin this week, the truck attack in Nice, France that killed 86 people, and the explosions in New York City and the Jersey Shore.

The bulletin adds that “based on historical precedence during past New Year’s anniversaries, we expect to see an increase in threat reporting during this timeframe, much of which is likely to be of dubious credibility, vague in nature, uncorroborated, and often meant to intimidate.

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North Carolina Lawmakers Fail to Repeal HB2 ‘Bathroom Bill’

iStock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) — North Carolina lawmakers failed to repeal House Bill 2, commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” which limits LGBT rights and has sparked controversy across the Tar Heel state since it was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in March.

The Senate Wednesday debated a bill that would repeal HB2 and also add a six-month moratorium on any local government from passing an anti-discrimination ordinance.

But the Republican-controlled legislature showed once again that it preferred to go its own way.

HB2 requires public schools, public college campuses and government agencies to designate multiple-occupancy bathrooms and changing facilities, such as locker rooms, for use according to the “biological sex” stated on a person’s birth certificate. Under the law, transgender people cannot use bathrooms and changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity unless they get the sex on their birth certificate changed.

HB2 has prompted economic boycotts and a loss of jobs in the state. The NBA announced in July that it was moving 2017’s All-Star Game out of Charlotte over concerns about the law.

The special session was called to “reconsider existing state legislation,” McCrory said in a statement Monday. The session was prompted by the Charlotte City Council’s Monday vote to rescind its LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance, a local law that led to the statewide HB2, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Charlotte’s city council met again Wednesday morning, and voted again to rescind the ordinance, a move the city called “additional steps to ensure the repeal of HB2 would not be jeopardized in any way.”

Wednesday’s vote was “7-2 to remove all aspects of the original ordinance that remained,” the city said in a statement. “The City Council acted in good faith to do everything that it understood was necessary to facilitate the repeal of HB2.”

After the initial Charlotte vote Monday, Gov.-elect Roy Cooper said that legislative leaders promised to call a special session to repeal HB2.

McCrory then said in a statement Monday, “As I promised months ago, if the Charlotte ordinance was repealed, I would call our General Assembly into a special session to reconsider existing state legislation passed earlier this year. And I’m doing just that for this Wednesday.”

McCrory added, “Now that the Charlotte ordinance has finally been repealed, the expectation of privacy in our showers, bathrooms and locker rooms is restored and protected under previous state law. I have always publicly advocated a repeal of the overreaching Charlotte ordinance. But those efforts were blocked by [Charlotte Mayor] Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper and other Democratic activists. This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election has ended sadly proves this entire issue, originated by the political left, was all about politics at the expense of Charlotte and the entire state of North Carolina.”

“The whole issue of gender identity is a national issue that will be resolved by the courts and the United States Justice Department,” McCrory said. “I look forward to that resolution and to working with our state legislators in the coming days.”

McCrory came under fire earlier this year for signing HB2 into law.

HB2 supporters say the law protects women and children from sexual offenders who they say might falsely claim to be transgender in order to access bathrooms of the opposite sex.

But groups including the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project have dismissed that concern as a myth.

Chase Strangio, staff attorney at the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, told ABC News earlier this year that allowing transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity “doesn’t increase in any way public safety incidents.”

Strangio said there were two central falsehoods to North Carolina legislators’ reasoning: one is “that transgender people aren’t real and [are] inherently dangerous.” The second falsehood is that without HB2, “non-transgender people will take advantage” of the situation — for example, a man could dress up as a woman to enter a woman’s bathroom.

“All this does is to heighten gender policing of everyone by law enforcement, and individual people who do not conform to gender norms are targeted,” Strangio said.

McCrory conceded the North Carolina gubernatorial race to Cooper earlier this month, weeks after requesting a vote recount.

Cooper, a Democrat, has called HB2 “one of the most discriminatory laws in the country” and argued that the bill should be repealed.

Cooper said in a statement Monday that a full repeal of the law “will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state.”

The special session began at 10 a.m., according to The Charlotte Observer.

As the special session began, Lt. Governor Dan Forest -– who was re-elected in November –- said today he supports HB2 and doesn’t want it repealed. “No economic, political or ideological pressure can convince me that what is wrong is right. It will always be wrong for men to have access to women’s showers and bathrooms,” he said in a statement.

“If HB2 is repealed, there will be nothing on the books to prevent another city or county to take us down this path again,” Forest said, adding that if it’s repealed, “we will fight this battle all over again with another city or county. The names will change, but the national groups who are pushing this agenda will not stop until their social engineering is accomplished.”

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