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NYPD to Retrain Every Officer on Use of Force After ‘Chokehold’ Death

NYPD to Retrain Every Officer on Use of Force After ‘Chokehold’ Death

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Every member of the New York City Police Department will be required to undergo retraining on the use of violence following the death of a man in custody who appeared to have been subdued with a chokehold, the police commissioner said on Tuesday.Police Commissioner William Bratton said his investigators have spoken with the FBI “to discuss their monitoring of this investigation,” and said that he would “not be surprised” if federal prosecutors began their own civil rights violation case.Bratton was referring to the death last week of Eric Garner. Garner, who was 6-foot-3 and roughly 350 pounds, died Thursday as police struggled to arrest him on suspicion of selling “loosies,” or individual cigarettes, according to the NYPD. A video of the incident showed police apparently putting Garner in a chokehold while he says he can’t breathe.Authorities said Garner appeared to have a heart attack, but the results of an autopsy have not yet been released.The district attorney is also investigating Garner’s death and Bratton said that he expects Garner’s family to file a civil suit in his death.Bratton said that the incident indicated to him that “We need to do a lot more, a lot more, on the issue of training.”He said there would be a “special focus on the use of force” involving the “retraining of every member of the New York Police Department in the coming weeks and months and years.””The department clearly needs to do more training,” Bratton said.A team from the NYPD will travel to Los Angeles to study the program at the LAPD, which Bratton noted he used to command.The NYPD told ABC News on Tuesday that an internal police report prepared right after Garner’s death played down the incident, with officers saying Garner was not in “great distress” during the arrest.The Internal Affairs report quoted two officers, Sgt. Dhanan Saminath and Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, telling supervisors immediately after the incident that cops were “maintaining control of him” and that Garner’s condition did not seem serious, a law enforcement source told ABC News.Adonis did tell supervisors that she “believed she heard the perpetrator state that he was having difficulty breathing,” the source said.The NYPD placed Officer Daniel Pantaleo, an 8-year veteran who was seen in the video holding Garner, on modified assignment pending the outcome of the dual probes by the district attorney and Internal Affairs.Panataleo’s gun and badge were taken away pending the outcome of the investigations.”We’re hanging back right now. We wouldn’t want to get in the way of the criminal investigation” being conducted by the district attorney, another federal source said.FBI spokesman Christos Sinos stressed that a formal inquiry has not yet been opened up.Garner’s funeral will be held Wednesday in Brooklyn.
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Where Was Missing NH Teen for the Past Nine Months?

Where Was Missing NH Teen for the Past Nine Months?

Conway Police Department(CONWAY, N.H.) — Questions surround the return of a teenage girl who disappeared on her walk home from school nine months ago.Abigail Hernandez vanished when she left her school in Conway, New Hampshire, on Oct. 9, and aside from one letter to her mother this winter, there had been no indication by officials that there was any trace of her until she was reunited with her parents on Sunday.Investigators were remaining tight-lipped about the 15-year-old’s return, refusing to even say how the girl was reunited with her mother, Zenya Hernandez.The criminal investigation into the teen’s disappearance has not stopped, authorities said.”We have said from the beginning and we continue to believe that this was a 14-year-old girl who went missing in October,” Associate Attorney General Jane Young told ABC News. “She was gone for nine months. She didn’t have the means to orchestrate and facilitate this on her own.”Abigail’s whereabouts during her disappearance remain a mystery, with the only two locations publicly connected to the case being her school, Kennett High School in North Conway, New Hampshire, and her mother’s home in Conway.According to the website established to bring attention to her case, Abigail was last seen walking on a path near a power line near her school at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 9. Her final text to a friend was sent at 2:57 p.m. that afternoon and her cell network noted last contact with the phone at 3:07 p.m.She did not have money, IDs or any additional sets of clothes with her when she went missing, according to the website.The biggest break in the case appeared to come in November when, according to officials, her mother received a letter from Abigail postmarked in late October.”Our worst fear right now is that while she could have left willingly, someone may now be coercing her, someone may now be manipulating her,” FBI Special Agent In Charge Kieran Ramsey said in a December press conference detailing the letter. “When we received this letter, I’ll tell you it was unprecedented. …It gave us hope.”That hope was rewarded Sunday when Abigail was reunited with her sister and mother, who said, “Today, we are the happiest people on earth.”
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Robbers Get Away with Nearly $200K in Atlantic City Casino Heist

Robbers Get Away with Nearly $200K in Atlantic City Casino Heist

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.) — A pair of gunmen pulled off a heist early Tuesday morning at Caesars casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.The Press of Atlantic City reports that two masked robbers brandished guns, likely in the casino part of the hotel, and obtained more than $180,000.They then fled the hotel in a car around 6:20 a.m., according to a bulletin distributed to police and obtained by the Press.Caesars operates a high-rise building that takes up an entire block between the city’s famous boardwalk and Pacific Avenue, which runs parallel to the boardwalk. It sits between two side streets, Arkansas and Missouri Avenues, that could all have allowed the perpetrators access to a vehicle.Caesars operates a casino, hotel, spa and multiple restaurants and attractions inside the massive building, but the robbery likely happened in the casino portion of the building, according to the report.The State Police Casino Gaming Bureau, which has jurisdiction over casino floors, is investigating the incident rather than the Atlantic City police, which monitor the other public areas of the hotel, according to the report.
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See Video of Lighter-Fluid Truck Bursting Into Flames After Train Crash

See Video of Lighter-Fluid Truck Bursting Into Flames After Train Crash

Purestock/Thinkstock(SOMERSET, Ky.) — A truck driver was in stable condition Tuesday morning recovering from an accident on a Kentucky highway in which a train smashed into his tractor-trailer, officials said.The driver’s truck, loaded with charcoal lighter fluid, burst into flames as the train hit it.The truck was headed into Warner Fertilizer in Somerset, Kentucky, Friday when it was hit by a southbound train, investigators say. The truck split on impact, leaving the cab on one side of the track and the trailer on the other.The driver didn’t notice the approaching train as he made a turn, focusing on the rear of his truck to ensure that it wouldn’t run off the road, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.Officials said a UPS train trailer loaded with black powder was just a few cars from the fire on the train, but the fire never made it that far.“It would be a completely different situation [if fire reached black power],” Doug Baker, chief of Somerset-Pulaski Special Response, told ABC News Tuesday. “Luckily, that didn’t happen, thanks to the quick actions of the local fire department.”
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Police Baffled by FSU Professor’s Fatal Shooting

Police Baffled by FSU Professor’s Fatal Shooting

iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Authorities are scrambling to unravel the mystery around the killing of a prominent law professor at Florida State University.Dan Markel, 41, was fatally shot Friday in his home, located in the Betton Hills section of Tallahassee, Florida, a neighborhood marked by Spanish moss and ranch-style homes, and now suspicion that a killer lurks nearby.There were no signs of forced entry, police told ABC News — leading investigators to conclude Markel knew his killer and may have literally opened his door to his own death.“We do believe that this was not a random act where he just surprised somebody,” Officer David Northway said. “We believe that Mr. Markel, unfortunately, was the intended victim.”Police responded to Markel’s house after neighbors reported hearing a loud bang. Markel was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The Tallahassee Democrat reported that he was killed by a single gunshot wound to the back.The Harvard grad had been published in the New York Times and served as a legal scholar, with a focus on criminal law. Markel was a father of two boys and had recently completed a protracted divorce that included multiple motions by the two sides for sanctions against each another.Markel’s ex-wife, fellow FSU professor Wendi Jill Adelson, said through her lawyer that she was “just devastated” and “scared to death.” At a memorial service held Sunday, mourners recalled Markel’s kindness and generosity.“At the core,” said his friend, Professor Ethan Leib, “what he cared most about was making sure that our criminal justice system actually produced justice, and he’s going to be long remembered for that achievement.”Authorities have opened a tip line, hoping to provide Markel justice, Northway said.“There are probably two people in this world that know exactly where Mr. Markel was injured,” Northway added. “One of those would be Mr. Markel himself and the other would be the suspect in this case.”
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Girl Attacked in ‘Slender Man’ Case Receives Anonymous Purple Heart

Girl Attacked in ‘Slender Man’ Case Receives Anonymous Purple Heart

Courtesy Steve Lyons(WAUKESHA, Wis.) — First she survived being stabbed 19 times. Police say it was by her 12-year-old friends. The suspects allegedly told police they did it to please an online fictional character named “Slender Man.”Then she crawled to safety from the woods near Waukesha, Wisconsin.Now as she heals, the girl, whose identity ABC News is not revealing because of her age, continues to inspire many worldwide, with well-wishers creating cards for her on homemade purple hearts.“The little girl and her brother open up the hundreds and some days thousands of packages sent to the family from generous people from all over the world,” Stephen Lyons, the survivor’s spokesperson, told ABC News. “It’s therapeutic and something she and her brother do every day.”But this month a different kind of Purple Heart came for her in the mail: one issued to members of the military wounded service to the country, or to a family whose loved one was killed in the line of duty.A simple note came attached, Lyons said. It read, “The Only Heart I Could Find – Stay Strong.”The stabbing survivor and her family are now hoping to thank the anonymous donor publicly or privately, if they can find that person.“[Her parents] explained to her the significance of a Purple Heart in the military and what it means, what a personal sacrifice it is to be wounded on behalf of the country, and how incredible it is to be sent this,” Lyons said. “The gift really resonates with the family because they are still dealing with wounds, emotionally and physically, from the events of May 31.”Prosecutors say on May 31 the 12-year-old survivor’s friends Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser tried to kill her in hopes of becoming agents of “Slender Man,” a niche mythical character the duo read about online.After the stabbing, authorities say the survivor crawled from the woods and was discovered by a passing cyclist who called 911 as she fought for her life.Geyser and Weier have been charged with first-degree attempted murder. While the two have yet to enter pleas in court, the stabbing survivor continues to heal at home with her family by her side.Lyons says the family is now trying to decide where they will display the gifted military Purple Heart in their home.“Our family continues to be so moved by the prayers, well wishes, packages, financial support and purple hearts from around the world,” they wrote in a statement. “It does not surprise me that a decorated veteran unselfishly gave this amazingly brave and courageous little girl something from his or her heart.”Along with the numerous mailings they’ve received, Lyons said the family is also grateful for the money raised in an online “Hearts for Healing” campaign. According to the family’s statement, “supporters have donated over $50,000 to assist the family in their goal of $250,000 to help with mounting medical expenses.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Four EMTs Suspended over Response in NYPD Chokehold Death

Four EMTs Suspended over Response in NYPD Chokehold Death

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The four EMTs who responded to the scene where New York City cops had taken a man named Eric Garner down with an apparent chokehold have been suspended without pay while their actions are being investigated. Garner died an hour after the controversial arrest.
On Sunday, the Fire Department of New York, which handles citywide emergency medical dispatch, barred the EMTs from responding to 911 calls. Richmond University Medical Center, which employs the first responders, made the decision to suspend them.
“The EMTs are suspended without pay while the investigation continues as they are placed on operational restriction,” the hospital said in a statement announcing the move. “This restriction means they are not working at this hospital or throughout the 911 system. Richmond University Medical Center continues to fully cooperate as this matter is under investigation.”
On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters trailing him on vacation in Italy that — as a layman — he thought a chokehold had been employed by a cop during the controversial caught-on-camera incident on Staten Island on Thursday.
“As an individual who’s not expert in law enforcement, it looked like a chokehold to me. But I also emphasize you have a full investigation because all sides need to be heard and all evidence has to be looked at,” de Blasio said in the statement provided to reporters in New York by the mayor’s office.
The mayor left New York City for Italy on Saturday night, after postponing his departure for a day to deal with the developing firestorm over Garner’s death.
Garner, who stood at 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighed about 350 pounds, died Thursday after police struggled to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island, according to the NYPD. Police said he appeared to suffer a heart attack.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo, an 8-year veteran who was seen on video apparently putting Garner in the chokehold, was placed on “modified assignment” Saturday, meaning he was stripped of his badge and gun, pending the outcome of the dual probes by the district attorney and Internal Affairs.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton had announced Friday that the cop and his partner were on “desk duty,” but at that point they still had their guns and shields.
A chokehold is a violation of NYPD policy, regardless of whether the move causes any damage. Beyond that, prosecutors and police investigators will be looking at whether it caused or contributed to Garner’s death about an hour after he was taken into custody.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office said Sunday it had not reached any finding on Garner’s cause of death. Official preliminary results could come in the next few days.
Garner was arrested in Staten Island after he was allegedly seen selling “loosie” cigarettes, police said. Garner was known for selling individual cigarettes for 50 cents each in his Staten Island neighborhood.
Police said the cigarettes come from North Carolina and Garner is the end of the supply line. Because the Staten Island man allegedly sold cigarettes to children, the police called the cigarette sales a “quality of life” issue in the neighborhood.
Garner’s death has led to outrage, especially after video obtained by the New York Daily News appeared to show that the man was put into a chokehold as he was arrested.
The video shows officers approaching Garner, who initially denies that he’s selling loose cigarettes.
“I’m minding my business, why don’t you leave me alone?” Garner can be heard saying.
When police officers move in, Garner appears to not comply and at least five officers wrestle him to the ground as they attempt to handcuff him.
As Garner is being held down, he can be heard telling police that he “can’t breathe.” Eventually when officers realize he is not responsive, they called in an ambulance, which took Garner to a hospital where he died a short time later.
The apparent violence of the arrest led to outrage and the internal investigation. Online, numerous people tweeted #JusticeforEricGarner, calling attention to the deadly incident.
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Coloradans Still High on New Pot Laws

Coloradans Still High on New Pot Laws

iStock/Thinkstock(HAMDEN, Conn.) — How do state voters feel now about Colorado Amendment 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults as well as sales of one ounce or less by licensed stores?About the same as they did in April, when Quinnipiac University previously asked the question.Fifty-four percent say they support the overall passage of Amendment 64. However, it was as high as 58 percent last February.In other findings, two-thirds of Coloradans maintain that people who want to smoke marijuana should only do so in their homes or at members-only clubs.Meanwhile, just over six in 10 respondents to the Quinnipiac poll say that smoking pot should not be allowed in establishments that serve alcohol or at any venue that charges admission.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Poll: Most Americans Not Anxious to Get Involved in Foreign Entanglements

Poll: Most Americans Not Anxious to Get Involved in Foreign Entanglements

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The upheavals overseas have made Americans more skittish about any kind of U.S. military involvement, according to a new POLITICO survey.For instance, 67 percent of those polled say that military action should only be taken when there is a direct threat to national security. Only 22 percent believe that the U.S. should be compelled to act whenever democracy is threatened elsewhere.The survey of 834 adults, which was taken before Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed over eastern Ukraine, found that just 17 percent feel the U.S. should do more to help the central government in Kiev, while 34 percent want less involvement and three in ten contend the current policy is correct.In regards to Afghanistan, nearly three-quarters agree on the timetable to withdraw all U.S. forces from the country. Twenty-three percent oppose a complete withdrawal.As for Iraq, 51 percent believe the worsening situation there has little or no effect on national security, while 42 percent says it affects national security “a lot.”Another source of concern is the ongoing civil war in Syria, although just 15 percent believe the U.S. should do more. Meanwhile, 68 percent agree with the present U.S. policy or think it should be limited further.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Mother of Jailed Former US Marine in Iran Pleads with Obama

Mother of Jailed Former US Marine in Iran Pleads with Obama

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — The mother of a United States-born former Marine accused of espionage in Iran recently pleaded with President Obama “not to forget” her son’s plight as the U.S. continues tense, high-level negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
“Amir [Hekmati] was taken from me nearly three years ago, falsely accused of being a spy and sentenced to death,” Behnaz Hekmati wrote in a letter to Obama over the weekend. “That sentence was later overturned due to a lack of evidence, yet still he languishes. This is a historic time for Iran and the United States. I plead that you do not forget Amir, his service, his beautiful smile and his zeal for life… Mr. President, the stress is unbearable, but we persevere – just as I know Amir is strong.”
Born in Arizona, Amir Hekmati, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran, was traveling to Tehran in the fall of 2011 to visit his elderly grandparents when he disappeared, according to his family. In December, Hekmati suddenly appeared on Iranian state television where he “confessed” to being a secret agent sent by the CIA to infiltrate Iranian intelligence. U.S. officials and Hekmati’s family have firmly denied the allegations against him.
“My son is no spy. He is innocent. He’s a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man,” Hekmati’s father, Ali Hekmati, told ABC News shortly after the broadcast. “These are all unfounded allegations and a bunch of lies.”
Ali Hekmati’s health has been failing for months as he fights terminal brain cancer, his family says. “He wants nothing more than to see his son once again,” Behnaz Hekmati wrote in the letter.
Hekmati was sentenced to death after a secret trial in early 2012, only for the verdict to be overturned. He has been held in an Iranian prison ever since.
Bernadette Meehan, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, confirmed the White House received Behnaz Hekmati’s letter and told ABC News the administration remains “concerned about the lack of due process in Mr. Hekmati’s case” and is saddened by reports of Ali Hekmati’s failing health.
“We urge Iranian authorities to release Mr. Hekmati immediately so that he may be reunited with his family,” Meehan said in an email.
While Meehan said that U.S. officials do “raise the cases” of Hekmati and two other Americans currently believed to be held in Iran – former FBI agent Robert Levinson and American pastor Saeed Abedini – during negotiations, it is done “on the sidelines” and “they are not discussed in the context of the negotiations.”
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Woman, 105, Takes Pitching Mound for San Diego Padres

Woman, 105, Takes Pitching Mound for San Diego Padres

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) — A California woman celebrated her 105th birthday by throwing out the first pitch at a San Diego Padres game.
Agnes McKee, who is originally from Indiana, used a walker to get onto the field at Petco Park Sunday and tossed a ball underhand to open the game against the New York Mets– a move she practiced with friends at her San Diego retirement home, she told South Bend’s ABC station.
It didn’t quite reach the plate, but it got her a jersey with her name and the number 105 on it.
“My main thing is to enjoy every day as it comes along,” she told ABC57. “I enjoy life, I’m a happy person.”
The Padres won the game 2-1.
McKee admitted to another ABC affiliate, KGTV in San Diego, that she doesn’t have any tips for growing old.
“Everybody asks me that and I have no secrets,” she said. “I have no idea how I got to be 105 years.”
An employee at her retirement home said McKee is “overwhelmed” by all the media attention and spent part of today playing Wii Bowling — trying to score a 300.
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Chicago’s Gun Violence Is Taking a Toll on City’s Youth

Chicago’s Gun Violence Is Taking a Toll on City’s Youth

Fuse/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — An 11-year-old girl became the latest child in Chicago to be killed by gunfire this past weekend when a stray bullet sailed through a bedroom window and struck her.Shamiya Adams was at a sleepover in the city’s West Garfield Park neighborhood when a shooting occurred outside and a bullet hit her in the head, according to ABC News station WLS.She is one of 10 children under the age of 18 who have been killed since the summer began in what is quickly becoming a very deadly summer across the city, according to Chicago officials.There were three other people killed and 39 injured this weekend alone. More than 70 individuals have been killed since Memorial Day weekend, many of whom were young men in their teens and early 20s.”I don’t wish this on nobody. My daughter was so sweet and so kind. She kiss me on my cheek every night and told me how much she loved me,” Shaneetha Goodloe, Adams’ mother, said at a prayer vigil Sunday night, according to WLS.”I don’t want nobody to retaliate because I want no more killing. Let police do what they do,” Goodloe added.Police are still searching for the shooting suspect.The other children shot this summer include:

Kevin Diaz, 14
Dekarlos Scott, 15
Christopher Jones, 16
Nicholas Keener, 16
Lafayette Walton, 16
Adam Lara, 16
Marcel Pearson, 17
Michael Patton, 17
Brandon Peterson, 17

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Michigan Jail Trades In Orange Jumpsuits for Black and White Stripes

Michigan Jail Trades In Orange Jumpsuits for Black and White Stripes

iStock/Thinkstock(SAGINAW COUNTY, Mich.) — Is black and white the new orange? A prison in Michigan is trading in its orange jumpsuits for black and white stripes.
The change was made in part due to the popularity of the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.
Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel says the change-up is to help tighten security.
“I wanted us to differentiate in a real hard-line manner, so my constituents know when they see an inmate work crew or when they see an inmate out in public, that it’s actually an inmate and not just a citizen who’s wearing colors like our inmates,” Federspiel said. “We really need to tighten that security up because we don’t want one of our in-custody inmates who has to be transported out of a jail, whether on a work detail or medical situation, to blend in with the average citizenry.”
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Reserve Cop Who Posted Offensive Cyclist Rant Resigns

Reserve Cop Who Posted Offensive Cyclist Rant Resigns

iStock/Thinkstock(SANTA PAULA, Calif.) — A volunteer reserve police officer in California has resigned after a video that she posted in which she jokes about running over cyclists went viral.Laura Weintraub of the Santa Paula Police Department posted to her Facebook on Saturday apologizing for the “mistake” and asking for forgiveness. The same day, the police department updated its Facebook saying that the volunteer who made the video had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.Then on Sunday, Police Chief Steven Mclean reported on the Facebook page that he had accepted Weintraub’s resignation, effective that day.“It’s a black eye and it’s embarrassing,” Mclean told ABC News Monday. “The whole police department is completely horrified. I’m just beside itself.”After receiving multiple death threats, Weintraub said she knew it was best for both herself and the department to resign, Mclean said.Another volunteer who tried to make light of the situation by posting sarcastic comments on Weintraub’s video has also issued an apology taking responsibility for his comments. That volunteer has been suspended pending an investigation, Mclean said.The video has since ignited a firestorm of debate on the department’s Facebook page. Thousands of users have flocked to the page, many of whom are unsatisfied with Weintraub’s “dignified” departure.
One comment that has garnered nearly 300 likes demands that Weintraub be charged with violating California Penal Code Section 422, aimed at any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime that results in a death.“That video was posted in L.A. County, on her own time, and doesn’t reflect any of our views here. If someone thinks she did something criminal, they can do something about it,” Mclean said.Others, however, appear more sympathetic. Many who say they know Weintraub personally have changed their profile pictures to a screenshot of the video that reads, “I support Laura Weintraub. Share this if you know her for the person she is. Not who the media has made her into.”In the video, Weintraub filmed herself from her car commenting on bikers’ spandex and claiming, “I hate bicyclists — every single one of them.”At one point she asks her husband who was driving the car, “How much would I have to pay you to run one of these over?” The video was part of her Web series Cup Holder Commentary.Weintraub, who is a personal trainer, was not on duty while filming the video nor did she state that she worked at the police department.
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Florida Cop Fired for KKK Ties Was Undercover, Ex-Wife Claims

Florida Cop Fired for KKK Ties Was Undercover, Ex-Wife Claims

iStock/Thinkstock(FRUITLAND PARK, Fla.) — The wife of a Florida police officer fired for allegedly secretly belonging to the Ku Klux Klan is claiming that she and her husband were ordered to infiltrate the white supremacist group.The woman’s allegations come with a description of the Klan’s initiation ceremony that included kneeling with pillow cases over their heads.The departures from the Fruitland Park Police Department earlier this month of Deputy Chief David Borst and Officer George Hunnewell have revived emotions of Fruitland’s past. The department had already dismissed an officer in 2009 for being affiliated with the KKK and the overwhelmingly white former citrus town turned retirement community has had a history of racial violence in the past.Since the initial news of the investigation broke, the release of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s report has revealed more details about the explanation that Hunnewell’s ex-wife gave to attempt to support his claims of innocence.The FDLE report states that Ann Hunnewell told investigators that she was working as a secretary for the Fruitland Park Police Department in 2008 when she and her then-husband George were assigned to an undercover mission by then-chief James Isom.”Ann Hunnewell said in 2008 through 2009, she and her ex-husband successfully infiltrated the [United Northern and Southern Knights] chapter of the KKK in an undercover capacity,” the report states.It goes on to say that she claimed Isom “received allegations” that an officer in the department, James Elkins, was involved in the supremacist group and she said Isom “assigned George and Ann Hunnewell to follow up with the matter.”Ann Hunnewell told investigators that they befriended Elkins and his wife and began exercising and dining with them before James Elkins reportedly asked her husband to join the KKK.”Ann Hunnewell stated her ex-husband did not share the KKK ideology, but agreed to join in the spirit of the undercover investigation,” the report states.The former police chief has denied he ordered any such investigation.”At no time did I ever instruct, or have anybody working undercover or infiltrating a Klan organization while I was the chief of police,” Isom said in sworn statement he gave to his successor, current Fruitland Park police chief Terry Isaacs, which was shared with ABC News. According to Isom’s statement, the men also denied any involvement in the KKK when Elkins was fired in 2009.Isom reportedly resigned in 2010 after signing a plea deal following a misconduct investigation.A photo surfaced of Elkins being sworn into the group while surrounded by other members in their infamous white hoods. He was fired on the same grounds that Hunnewell was dismissed five years later — for belonging to a subversive group, which is not illegal but is against the police department’s code of conduct.Ann Hunnewell described for the FDLE what she said was the KKK’s initiation rite.”Once in the room, a pillow case was placed over their heads,” Ann Hunnewell said of the induction at the Elkins’ home alongside six to eight others. “As the ceremony began, they were led into the living room and told to kneel. After a reading, their pillow cases were removed from their heads and the ceremony was complete.”Isaacs told ABC News that when he confronted George Hunnewell about the accusations, Hunnewell said “none of that is true about me.”ABC News was unable to contact either George or Ann Hunnewell in spite of numerous inquiries.
ABC News | ABC Sports NewsHunnewell was described by Isaacs as a “marginal” officer who had five letters of counseling due to poor work performance and one demotion to his name last year.Borst, however, was considered a leader in the police department.”Borst served as my fire chief,” Isaacs said of his former deputy. “He was in a position that had a lot of prestige and a lot of responsibility.”There is less evidence in the case against Borst.The FDLE report was sparked by a broader FBI investigation and portions were redacted for that reason. Of the readable portions, there are inconsistencies between two of their sources about Borst’s alleged involvement in the KKK. One source said that Borst knew about Hunnewell’s membership and did nothing, while another point in the report suggests that it is unclear if Borst was a sworn member of the group, the report states.Isaacs said that Borst “became very emotional” when confronted with the accusations and denied everything, but offered his resignation.”He said it is an absolute lie but…because of his family and the public outcry, he said he simply wanted to resign,” Isaacs said. Borst could not be reached by ABC News.Questions about racism in the area first sprung up in 2009 with Elkins’ dismissal.”Florida in general has a fairly large number of hate groups,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that monitors and tracks hate groups. “Once upon a time this was absolutely common. Right up through the 1960s there were very large numbers of police officers who were members of the Klan or largely sympathetic.”Fruitland Park, a community of nearly 5,000 people that is almost 90 percent white, lies about 50 miles north of Orlando and is home to a large number of retirees.The city’s website calls itself “The Friendly City,” but there is a history of racial violence, specifically within the citrus industry in the 1940s and 1950s.ABC News’ calls to the Ku Klux Klan and the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan went unreturned.Elkins spoke to the SPLC after news of Hunnewell and Borst’s alleged KKK membership broke and he said that when he was on the force, “probably 10 out of the 12 full time officers” were either members or sympathetic to the group.Isaacs said that since he joined the department in 2011, he has not had any incidents relating to racism or other officers being members of subversive organizations, but that much of the police force he inherited has left for various other reasons.”Ten out of the 13 officers who were here [when he joined]- for one reason or another, they’re gone and that shows you that I disagree with the mindset that was here and I’ve worked hard with programs to weed out the mentality of that culture,” Isaacs said. “I never dreamed it would be that officers of the law were members of the Klan. I just prayed to God that was behind us.”Neither Borst nor Hunnewell face criminal charges for their alleged actions and the county rules allow them 10 days to appeal any dismissal. Isaacs said he has not heard from either of them about plans to file an appeal.
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Video Shows Hot Air Balloon’s Fiery Crash into Power Lines

Video Shows Hot Air Balloon’s Fiery Crash into Power Lines

Photos.com/Thinkstock(CLINTON, Mass.) –  Federal authorities are investigating a hot air balloon crash into power lines Saturday in Massachusetts, an accident that sparked a pair of powerful explosions and injured five people.Six people were on board the balloon, named “Raspberry Ripple,” including a grandmother. The operator was attempting to land in a residential area in Clinton, Worcester County, when the balloon struck the power lines around 7:40 p.m. Two of the passengers sustained severe burns, authorities said. Moments before the crash, the passengers seemed unconcerned, waving and talking to people below. But the balloon wasn’t flying high enough. The balloon’s impact with the power lines sent sparks flying — two big explosions, leaving bystanders terrified.The balloon finally crash-landed into Dennis MacDonald’s backyard. MacDonald rushed to help after witnessing the accident.“We brought out ice for their wounds,” MacDonald said. “They were all shaken up, but they were all walking.”Damn Yankee Balloons, the Maine company that owns the balloon, removed the basket from MacDonald’s yard Sunday and refused to comment.Accidents of this nature aren’t common. Last year, former NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth and a friend suffered serious burns after a balloon they were in hit power lines.“I saw we were getting really close to the power lines,” Stallworth said at the time. “When I realized we were gonna hit, it was too late.”
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Two Injured, 5,000 Gallons of Fuel Spilled in Wisconsin Train Derailment

Two Injured, 5,000 Gallons of Fuel Spilled in Wisconsin Train Derailment

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SLINGER, Wis.) — A pair of freight trains collided in southeastern Wisconsin on Sunday night, causing a derailment and a fuel spill.Rick Hanke, Fire Chief from the Slinger Fire Department said at an early morning new conference that 13 train cars derailed, including three engines. The trains, operated by Canadian National Railway and Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, were carrying sand, lumber and other materials.Two people were injured, Hanke said, though their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening. Additionally, more than 100 homes were evacuated in the wake of the 4,000 gallons of spilled diesel fuel.
The evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes later Monday morning. Washington County Hazmat was on the scene and began the cleanup phase of the response on Monday. Hanke said that officials were not sure what caused the accident, though an investigation is underway.
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Four Killed in Single-Engine Plane Crash in Arizona

Four Killed in Single-Engine Plane Crash in Arizona

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEDONA, Ariz.) — A plane crash in the Bear Mountain area of Sedona left four people dead and a fire burning.U.S. Forest Service spokesman Brady Smith said he did not know how many people were onboard the plane at the time of the crash, but that authorities believe four people were killed. The crash site is difficult to access due to steep terrain and the ongoing fire, authorities said. Initial flyovers at about 4 p.m. on Sunday were unsuccessful in locating the wreckage, but just after 6 p.m. the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that it had located the downed single-engine plane. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were alerted to the crash.
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Southwest Jet Turns Back After Smoke Reported in Cabin

Southwest Jet Turns Back After Smoke Reported in Cabin

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) –  A Dallas-bound Southwest Airlines flight returned to Austin minutes after takeoff Sunday due to a report of smoke in the cabin, an airline spokesperson confirmed.Flight 4625 left Austin at 9:18 p.m. Central Time. The smoke was reported after takeoff — and the plane turned back, landing after 9:30 p.m., according to FlightAware.Firefighters responded to Austin Bergstrom International Airport after the plane landed, ABC affiliate KVUE reports.According to a Southwest Airlines spokesperson, passengers boarded onto a new plane and arrived in Dallas about two hours behind schedule.The aircraft, a Boeing 737, was taken out of service for inspection. No one was injured, and the cause of the situation remains under investigation.
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NYPD Cop’s Chokehold May Not Have Caused Serious Injury to Man’s Throat

NYPD Cop’s Chokehold May Not Have Caused Serious Injury to Man’s Throat

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A man who died after a New York City police officer took him to the ground in a chokehold appeared to have little damage to his neck and trachea, according to preliminary autopsy results, a law enforcement source said, but that may not be enough to keep him from being disciplined or even facing criminal charges.
Eric Garner, who was 6 feet 3 inches tall and about 350 pounds, died Thursday after police struggled to arrest him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island, according to the NYPD. Police said he appeared to suffer a heart attack.
Officer Daniel Pantaleo, an 8-year veteran who was seen in a video that has sparked outrage putting Garner in a chokehold, has been placed on “modified assignment,” meaning he was stripped of his badge and gun, pending the outcome of the dual probes by the district attorney and Internal Affairs.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton had announced Friday that the cop and his partner were on “desk duty,” but they still had their guns and shields.
A chokehold is a violation of NYPD police, regardless of whether the move causes any damage, but beyond that, prosecutors and police investigators will be looking at whether it caused or contributed to Garner’s death about an hour after he was taken into custody.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office said Sunday it had not reached any finding on Garner’s cause of death.
“At this time, no determination has been made by the Medical Examiner’s office as to the cause and manner of death of Eric Garner,” ME spokeswoman Julie Bolcer said. “The cause and manner of death are pending further studies, and no findings will be released until the investigation is complete. Any other information or suggestion to the contrary is simply not true.”
Official preliminary results could come in the next few days.
Garner was arrested in Staten Island after he was allegedly seen selling “loosie” cigarettes, police said. Garner was known for selling individual cigarettes for 50 cents each in his Staten Island neighborhood.
Police said the cigarettes come from North Carolina and Garner is the end of the supply line. Because the Staten Island man allegedly sold cigarettes to children, the police called the cigarettes a “quality of life” issue in the neighborhood.
Garner’s death has led to outrage, especially after video obtained by the New York Daily News appeared to show that the man was put into a chokehold as he was arrested.
The chokehold is prohibited by NYPD departmental policy.
Mayor Bill De Blasio called the video of the arrest “very troubling” and delayed a planned vacation for a day after hearing about the incident. De Blasio said NYPD internal affairs and the local district attorney were investigating the incident.
The video shows officers approaching Garner, who initially denies that he’s selling loose cigarettes.
“I’m minding my business why don’t you leave me alone,” Garner can be heard saying.
Eventually when police officers move in, Garner appears to not comply and at least five officers wrestle him to the ground as they attempt to handcuff him.
As Garner is being held down, he can be heard telling police that he “can’t breathe.” Eventually when officers realize he is not responsive, they called in an ambulance, which took Garner to a hospital where he died a short time later.
The apparent violence of the arrest led to outrage and the internal investigation. On line, numerous people tweeted #JusticeforEricGarner, calling attention to the deadly incident.
Policeman’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, questioned by ABC News about what constitutes an appropriate use of force, said the public should not rush to judge before the official investigation is concluded.
“At times, when officers are required to make an arrest, they must employ the use of force in order to get compliance from an individual who NYPD policy requires must be rear-cuffed for transport to a precinct,” Lynch said. “Force, by its very nature, is an ugly thing to witness. Taken out of the context of what is happening, necessary force can be misinterpreted to be excessive by those who are not trained in law enforcement procedures.”
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