Review Category : National News

Panel Will Study Conditions in Ferguson That Spurred Angry Protests

Scott Olson/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) — Missouri Governor Jay Nixon appointed a commission Tuesday to study the outrage that resulted from the shooting of an 18-year-old black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last August 9.

The 16-person panel with both white and black members will be chaired by businessman Rich McClure and the Rev. Starsky Wilson, who was involved in some of the demonstrations that followed the shooting.

Nixon’s move comes as a grand jury is preparing a decision on whether to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown following a brief altercation. A coroner’s report says Brown, who was unarmed, was shot six times, including once in the head.

Earlier this week, Nixon declared a state of emergency to prepare law enforcement officials for the possibility of civil unrest, regardless if Wilson is indicted or not.

When he announced plans in October to form a commission, the governor stated that he wanted a thorough and wide-reaching review of the conditions in the Ferguson community that spurred anger leading to confrontations between police and protesters.

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Police Officers Not Required to Disclose When Recording with New Body Cams

ABC News(NEW YORK) — In Celina, Texas, dash-cam footage taken from the hood of a police cruiser seems to show an arrest gone horribly wrong. The officer orders the suspect to “put your hands behind your back,” then suddenly seems to tackle him and wrestle him to the ground face down.

The officer’s reaction escalates for no obvious reason, at least from the dash cam perspective.

The footage taken from the tiny body camera the officer was wearing that day tells an entirely different story.

From the body camera view, the footage shows the suspect compliant at first. Then he appears to sucker punch the officer, provoking the tackle. The dash-cam footage doesn’t show the punch, just the sudden overpowering response.

Two cameras. Same scene. Two very different versions of events.

Camera footage, especially from citizen cell phones, has shined a harsh spotlight on police tactics, making for some uncomfortable questions for police in recent years.

This past July, a Staten Island man named Eric Garner was killed when an officer held him in a choke hold for selling illegal cigarettes. A bystander’s cell phone captured Garner repeatedly screaming, “I can’t breathe,” before he died.

Sometimes there is no footage to prove what happened either way. That’s part of the issue in Ferguson, Missouri, where police have been hard pressed to refute allegations that Officer Darren Wilson used excessive force when he shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Was Brown trying to surrender with his hands in the air, as some eyewitnesses say, or did Brown attack Wilson, justifying the use of deadly force? It’s impossible to know because there’s no firsthand video of the scene.

A grand jury is wrestling with those questions now and the Missouri governor has declared a state of emergency in anticipation that the outcome of the jury’s decision could spark violence.

The desire to have clear evidence of what takes place in an encounter between law enforcement and the general public is why police departments across the country are now investing in body cameras.

The Los Angeles Police Department has started a pilot program with body camera devices, which are about the size of a pack of cigarettes and worn, like a police radio, on the officer’s shirtfront.

The LAPD is still haunted by one of the most notorious police beatings ever caught on camera, the assault on Rodney King, which resulted in ferocious riots more than 20 years ago. It’s a big reason why LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who wears his body camera on his chest, is eager for his department to embrace this technology.

He believes in a few more years, body cameras will be standard issue for police officers.

“In a couple of decades…every public safety employee, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, everybody will have them,” he said. “I think it improves behavior on both sides of the camera, which is our goal.”

While having an incident caught on camera has its obvious benefits, Peter Bibring, the director of police practices for the ACLU, said having police officers wear body cameras also raises concerns about privacy.

“People behave better. Officers are less likely to initiate uses of force and apparently to initiate conduct that might draw up complaints if they’re wearing body cameras,” Bibring said. “But we do think that they’re privacy concerns that need to be addressed through strong policies…if you don’t have strict policies in place to prevent videos from getting out, they will get out.”

For instance, could a police officer pull over a celebrity and then sell the footage from their body camera to the media? Beck said such actions would be a “violation of our policy because that’s not the intent” But Bibring said it was a concern.

Another issue is police don’t have to say they are filming before they start recording.

Case in point when ABC’s Nightline went on a ride-along with the LAPD while they were testing their new body cameras and police responded to a traffic accident at an intersection. An officer spoke to witnesses and the two people involved in the accident with his camera rolling, but didn’t mention he was filming. At the time, one of the people involved in the accident denied he had run a red light.

After that person gave his report of the accident to police, Nightline told him the officer had been recording him the whole time. When asked if that bothered him, the man said, “It bothers me in the sense that I didn’t realize I ran a red light. But I’m also a human being, and I know that kind of stuff jumps out and people say it. I don’t remember running a red light.”

“It’s hard to change your story when it’s all captured on video,” said Deputy Joel Anzuras, who is part of the LAPD’s body camera pilot program. “So I feel it’s a valuable tool.”

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Police Officers Not Required to Disclose When Recording with New Body Cams

ABC News(NEW YORK) — In Celina, Texas, dash-cam footage taken from the hood of a police cruiser seems to show an arrest gone horribly wrong. The officer orders the suspect to “put your hands behind your back,” then suddenly seems to tackle him and wrestle him to the ground face down.

The officer’s reaction escalates for no obvious reason, at least from the dash cam perspective.

The footage taken from the tiny body camera the officer was wearing that day tells an entirely different story.

From the body camera view, the footage shows the suspect compliant at first. Then he appears to sucker punch the officer, provoking the tackle. The dash-cam footage doesn’t show the punch, just the sudden overpowering response.

Two cameras. Same scene. Two very different versions of events.

Camera footage, especially from citizen cell phones, has shined a harsh spotlight on police tactics, making for some uncomfortable questions for police in recent years.

This past July, a Staten Island man named Eric Garner was killed when an officer held him in a choke hold for selling illegal cigarettes. A bystander’s cell phone captured Garner repeatedly screaming, “I can’t breathe,” before he died.

Sometimes there is no footage to prove what happened either way. That’s part of the issue in Ferguson, Missouri, where police have been hard pressed to refute allegations that Officer Darren Wilson used excessive force when he shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Was Brown trying to surrender with his hands in the air, as some eyewitnesses say, or did Brown attack Wilson, justifying the use of deadly force? It’s impossible to know because there’s no firsthand video of the scene.

A grand jury is wrestling with those questions now and the Missouri governor has declared a state of emergency in anticipation that the outcome of the jury’s decision could spark violence.

The desire to have clear evidence of what takes place in an encounter between law enforcement and the general public is why police departments across the country are now investing in body cameras.

The Los Angeles Police Department has started a pilot program with body camera devices, which are about the size of a pack of cigarettes and worn, like a police radio, on the officer’s shirtfront.

The LAPD is still haunted by one of the most notorious police beatings ever caught on camera, the assault on Rodney King, which resulted in ferocious riots more than 20 years ago. It’s a big reason why LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who wears his body camera on his chest, is eager for his department to embrace this technology.

He believes in a few more years, body cameras will be standard issue for police officers.

“In a couple of decades…every public safety employee, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, everybody will have them,” he said. “I think it improves behavior on both sides of the camera, which is our goal.”

While having an incident caught on camera has its obvious benefits, Peter Bibring, the director of police practices for the ACLU, said having police officers wear body cameras also raises concerns about privacy.

“People behave better. Officers are less likely to initiate uses of force and apparently to initiate conduct that might draw up complaints if they’re wearing body cameras,” Bibring said. “But we do think that they’re privacy concerns that need to be addressed through strong policies…if you don’t have strict policies in place to prevent videos from getting out, they will get out.”

For instance, could a police officer pull over a celebrity and then sell the footage from their body camera to the media? Beck said such actions would be a “violation of our policy because that’s not the intent” But Bibring said it was a concern.

Another issue is police don’t have to say they are filming before they start recording.

Case in point when ABC’s Nightline went on a ride-along with the LAPD while they were testing their new body cameras and police responded to a traffic accident at an intersection. An officer spoke to witnesses and the two people involved in the accident with his camera rolling, but didn’t mention he was filming. At the time, one of the people involved in the accident denied he had run a red light.

After that person gave his report of the accident to police, Nightline told him the officer had been recording him the whole time. When asked if that bothered him, the man said, “It bothers me in the sense that I didn’t realize I ran a red light. But I’m also a human being, and I know that kind of stuff jumps out and people say it. I don’t remember running a red light.”

“It’s hard to change your story when it’s all captured on video,” said Deputy Joel Anzuras, who is part of the LAPD’s body camera pilot program. “So I feel it’s a valuable tool.”

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Police Officers Not Required to Disclose When Recording with New Body Cams

ABC News(NEW YORK) — In Celina, Texas, dash-cam footage taken from the hood of a police cruiser seems to show an arrest gone horribly wrong. The officer orders the suspect to “put your hands behind your back,” then suddenly seems to tackle him and wrestle him to the ground face down.

The officer’s reaction escalates for no obvious reason, at least from the dash cam perspective.

The footage taken from the tiny body camera the officer was wearing that day tells an entirely different story.

From the body camera view, the footage shows the suspect compliant at first. Then he appears to sucker punch the officer, provoking the tackle. The dash-cam footage doesn’t show the punch, just the sudden overpowering response.

Two cameras. Same scene. Two very different versions of events.

Camera footage, especially from citizen cell phones, has shined a harsh spotlight on police tactics, making for some uncomfortable questions for police in recent years.

This past July, a Staten Island man named Eric Garner was killed when an officer held him in a choke hold for selling illegal cigarettes. A bystander’s cell phone captured Garner repeatedly screaming, “I can’t breathe,” before he died.

Sometimes there is no footage to prove what happened either way. That’s part of the issue in Ferguson, Missouri, where police have been hard pressed to refute allegations that Officer Darren Wilson used excessive force when he shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Was Brown trying to surrender with his hands in the air, as some eyewitnesses say, or did Brown attack Wilson, justifying the use of deadly force? It’s impossible to know because there’s no firsthand video of the scene.

A grand jury is wrestling with those questions now and the Missouri governor has declared a state of emergency in anticipation that the outcome of the jury’s decision could spark violence.

The desire to have clear evidence of what takes place in an encounter between law enforcement and the general public is why police departments across the country are now investing in body cameras.

The Los Angeles Police Department has started a pilot program with body camera devices, which are about the size of a pack of cigarettes and worn, like a police radio, on the officer’s shirtfront.

The LAPD is still haunted by one of the most notorious police beatings ever caught on camera, the assault on Rodney King, which resulted in ferocious riots more than 20 years ago. It’s a big reason why LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who wears his body camera on his chest, is eager for his department to embrace this technology.

He believes in a few more years, body cameras will be standard issue for police officers.

“In a couple of decades…every public safety employee, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, everybody will have them,” he said. “I think it improves behavior on both sides of the camera, which is our goal.”

While having an incident caught on camera has its obvious benefits, Peter Bibring, the director of police practices for the ACLU, said having police officers wear body cameras also raises concerns about privacy.

“People behave better. Officers are less likely to initiate uses of force and apparently to initiate conduct that might draw up complaints if they’re wearing body cameras,” Bibring said. “But we do think that they’re privacy concerns that need to be addressed through strong policies…if you don’t have strict policies in place to prevent videos from getting out, they will get out.”

For instance, could a police officer pull over a celebrity and then sell the footage from their body camera to the media? Beck said such actions would be a “violation of our policy because that’s not the intent” But Bibring said it was a concern.

Another issue is police don’t have to say they are filming before they start recording.

Case in point when ABC’s Nightline went on a ride-along with the LAPD while they were testing their new body cameras and police responded to a traffic accident at an intersection. An officer spoke to witnesses and the two people involved in the accident with his camera rolling, but didn’t mention he was filming. At the time, one of the people involved in the accident denied he had run a red light.

After that person gave his report of the accident to police, Nightline told him the officer had been recording him the whole time. When asked if that bothered him, the man said, “It bothers me in the sense that I didn’t realize I ran a red light. But I’m also a human being, and I know that kind of stuff jumps out and people say it. I don’t remember running a red light.”

“It’s hard to change your story when it’s all captured on video,” said Deputy Joel Anzuras, who is part of the LAPD’s body camera pilot program. “So I feel it’s a valuable tool.”

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Buffalo Snow Storm Turns Deadly with Four Fatalities

ABC News(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — The early winter snow that has buried parts of the Buffalo area has turned deadly, blamed for the deaths of four people in Erie County.

The storm dumped more than 4 feet of snow in places and was accompanied by high winds creating bone chilling conditions and thick drifts. New York’s National Guard was even deployed to the area.

In some places, snow has been falling at a rate of 4 to 5 inches every hour, a phenomenon known as lake effect snow — when moisture-rich air blowing off the Great Lakes dumps precipitation when it reaches land.

Buffalo residents said this is the worst storm in recent memory.

And the white stuff shows little signs of easing. A snow advisory has been issued for the rest of the week; the area is forecast to get as much as 70 inches of snow.

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Book Reignites Mystery Over Model’s Suicide, Sect

Jamie Tregidgo/WireImage(NEW YORK) — A Russian model who committed suicide in 2008 after joining a sect ended her days angry, confused and struggling to cope, journalist Peter Pomerantsev says in a new book.

Ruslana Korshunova, who leaped off a Manhattan building to her death one summer day, had joined a group called Rose of the World while living in Russia, wrote Pomerantsev, who spent years researching what happened to the model for a 2011 documentary. Now his findings are detailed in his book, Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia, out this month.

Korshunova’s friends and family struggled to understand what made the successful beauty, only 20 when she died, take her own life.

“Nothing quite adds up,” Pomerantsev told ABC News. “Everyone keeps on saying she was such a normal girl. But to be honest, that’s not unusual for suicides. It’s a horribly tragic story, very depressing.”

At the time she turned to the group, Korshunova’s modeling career appeared to be in decline. Pomerantsev said she joined the group in part to confront her problems with relationships and was sucked in to a world of “life trainers.” The apparent goal is to for sect members to “perfect” themselves and be more “effective” people, according to the book.

But it appeared to take over Korshunova’s life, friends told Pomerantsev, to the point where they noticed alarming changes in her behavior.

Korshunova became angry, depressed and frustrated with her love life before she died, he said, despite having lived the high life in Manhattan, even becoming the face of a Nina Ricci perfume campaign.

According to Pomerantsev, Rose of the World claims breakdowns are part of a healing process.

“That’s normal,” a senior member of Rose of the World named Volodya told Pomerantsev, according to his book. “We call it a rollback. Ruslana had one. She would cry at night. Would wander about town, not knowing where she was going. You have to go through that to grow.”

Pomerantsev said Rose of the World, which is active in Russia, has since changed its name.

A Russian group called Novgorodtsev Education confirmed to ABC News it used to be called Rose of the World, but director Denis Vasijiev said he has never heard of Pomerantsev’s book or documentary, and declined to comment to ABC News on Korshunova.

However, Korshunova’s reported “life coach” spoke to the New York Daily News after her death in 2008 and suggested the sect was helping her address romantic and money troubles.

“I saw her and heard her stories, stories that no one else has heard,” Vladislav Novgorodtsev told the Daily News. “The most important thing about her and her internal world was that she was lonely. There was no one who was really dear to her, except for her mother.”

Police ruled Korshunova’s death a suicide, but some friends and family members still buy into conspiracy theories or blame the group, Pomerantsev said.

“Suicide is a very, very complex thing,” he said. “To say it was just because of this or this or this is probably naive. It doesn’t work that way.”

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NY National Guard Deployed to Buffalo After Snowstorm

ABC News(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — New York’s National Guard was deployed to Buffalo after a massive snowstorm on Tuesday.

In the past 15 hours, communities in the area have been covered with three to four feet of snow, according to ABC News’ Buffalo affiliate WKBW.

In some places, snow has been falling at a rate of 4 to 5 inches every hour, a phenomenon known as lake effect snow — when moisture-rich air blowing off the Great Lakes dumps precipitation when it reaches land.

Buffalo residents said this is the worst storm in recent memory.

And the storm shows little signs of easing. A snow advisory has been issued for the rest of the week. The area is forecast to get 70 inches of snow.

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Daughter Graduates from FDNY Academy 13 Years After Dad Died on 9/11

Kami Dimitrova/ABC News(NEW YORK) — The daughter of a New York City firefighter who was killed on 9/11 graduated Tuesday from the Fire Academy, carrying on a family tradition.

Kevin Smith, 47, of Long Island, N.Y., was stationed at Hazmat Co. 1 in Manhattan and rushed with his unit to the World Trade Center, where he and many of his comrades were killed.

“He’d be so proud,” said Josephine Smith, 34. “He’d be absolutely proud. He’d be worried. Being a firefighter himself, he knows what goes with the job, but he knows I’d be able to handle it — how strong I am, mentally and physically.”

Smith said she has always wanted to be a firefighter. After first trying to take the entry test in 2007, she took the test again in 2012.

“Training was tough — really tough,” she said. “I thought about him when I was tired and wanted to stop. I thought about what he’d say: ‘Keep going, keep going, keep pushing.'”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio honored Smith’s father and his sacrifice at the beginning of Tuesday’s ceremony.

The new firefighter said she had dreamed about graduating but was “nervous” about “walking across the stage, shaking the mayor’s hand and getting my plaque.”

The thought of her father and “working with my dad everyday” has comforted her, she said.

“I believe my dad was sitting in the front, front of everybody,” she said. “It feels amazing. I accomplished something so big that I wanted to accomplish.”

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What May Happen to Officer Darren Wilson After Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

Scott Olson/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) — The Ferguson police officer under investigation for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown will soon learn if he will be indicted in the unarmed teen’s death.

As the world awaits the decision from a grand jury, there are many scenarios that could play out for the officer, Darren Wilson, who has been on paid administrative leave from the police department since the shooting in August.

If Wilson is cleared of criminal charges in Brown’s death, legally he would be able to continue working as a cop in Ferguson, but many people can’t imagine Wilson would ever return to that police force. Wilson may also face an internal investigation that could result in disciplinary action by the police department.

Experts agreed there are two possibly competing interests at play — the letter of the law and the court of public opinion.

“If there’s no prosecution and he’s not convicted of any crime, I don’t see any bar to him returning to his employment as a police officer, or any other employment,” said Robert Herman, an attorney in St. Louis. “Whether he would want to is another story.”

Steven Gottlieb, a former police officer who now runs crime and intelligence training, agreed that the scenario could play out in many ways.

“It could be uncomfortable for him to return to the police department; it might be uncomfortable for the department to take him back,” Gottlieb said. “But if he is indeed acquitted, the law gives him the privilege of returning. If he feels his effectiveness there is diminished, he may choose to go to another police department. Or, he may choose to quit the profession.”

It’s also a possibility Wilson could be relegated to desk work as opposed to being on the street, he added.

If Wilson is indicted, Wilson will likely turn himself in within a day or two at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Missouri. State law requires that a grand jury indictment remain under seal until the accused is in custody. Unless news of an indictment leaks to the press or public, Wilson would likely have surrendered, been booked and possibly released on bond before a public announcement is even made.

The charges Wilson could face range from involuntary manslaughter to murder in the first degree, according to the prosecutor’s office.

If indicted, his first court appearance would be an arraignment, though many defendants waive their arraignment, opting instead to have their lawyers appear and enter a plea on their behalf. A judge will then be assigned the case and a bond hearing could be held, but only if Wilson is jailed or wishes to contest the conditions of his pre-trial release.

Neither Wilson nor his attorneys have commented publicly about whether he intends to remain in law enforcement if cleared of criminal charges.

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Charles Manson’s Future Mother-in-Law Speaks Out

California Dept of Corrections(NEW YORK) — The woman who might become Charles Manson’s mother-in-law is concerned about her daughter’s engagement, but said she believes the mass murderer is truly in love with her daughter.

“He does; I think he does,” Melissa Burton, 48, of Bunker Hill, Illinois, told ABC News Tuesday morning. “She has been good to him.”

Manson has also been good to her daughter, Burton added.

Burton’s daughter, Afton Elaine Burton, 26, received a California marriage license on Nov. 7 to wed Manson, 80.

The couple has yet to announce a wedding date, but have until February until the license expires.

Melissa Burton will not attend the California wedding, she said.

“It’s going to happen,” Burton said. “She [Afton] doesn’t know when. It’s up to the prison to give the date.”

Burton said her daughter, who also goes by the name Star, announced her intention to marry Manson last year.

She remembers being concerned when her daughter announced the engagement. “She doesn’t live close to us,” she explained. “We can’t be there for her.”

Afton Burton left her parents’ home in Illinois at age 19 to move to California, where she could be closer to Manson, Burton said.

It was Manson’s work as an environmentalist that drew her daughter into him, according to Burton.

“He’s an environmentalist, and she’s involved in his environmentalist program,” Burton said.

It’s work that involves supporting the air, trees, water and animals, she added.

Burton understands that her daughter’s engagement is unusual. “It’s a different situation,” she said. “But my daughter is smart. She plans out what she wants to do.”

“She’s come to love him,” she added.

Burton has never met Manson and does not expect to meet him in the future.

Manson is an inmate at California State Prison, Corcoran. Afton Burton lives nearby and manages websites advocating Manson’s innocence.

Manson was convicted in the murders of seven people, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate. He is serving a life sentence and is not eligible for parole again until 2027. He was denied for the 12th time in 2012.

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