America’s Worst Sheriff Faces New Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Originally published on October 9, 2014, at NationofChange.org

The mother of a deceased inmate has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio. Found guilty of racial profiling in federal court and under Justice Department investigation, Sheriff Joe Arpaio oversees Arizona jails that have twice been ruled unconstitutional due to mistreatment and inhumane conditions. First voted into office in 1992, Arpaio has cost Maricopa County millions of dollars in settlements resulting from his campaign of abuse and corruption.

On September 30, 2013, Felix Torres was arrested on warrants for driving on a suspended license and failure to appear in court. After notifying officers of his history with ulcers, Torres waited for days before a doctor eventually evaluated him and diagnosed him with hernia pain. The doctor gave Torres an injection of a drug that should not be given to ulcer patients and had him treated for the hernia. After returning to his cell, Torres complained of severe pain but officers ignored his pleas. He was found dead in his cell on October 5, 2013.

“I don’t think the detention staff have done anything wrong in this case,” claimed Deputy Chief Jack Macintyre. “I think they’ve done exactly what they should do within the confines of the responsibilities for monitoring the care and custody of inmates.”

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Manslaughter Charge Dropped for Cop Who Killed 7-Year-Old Girl

Originally published on October 5, 2014, at NationofChange.org

A judge has dismissed the involuntary manslaughter charge against a Detroit police officer responsible for shooting a 7-year-old girl in the head. Although Officer Joseph Weekley has been caught lying about the incident to lessen the severity of his punishment, he has not been charged with perjury or obstruction of justice. With the felony manslaughter charge dropped, Weekley only faces a misdemeanor charge of negligent firing of a weapon causing death.

On May 16, 2010, a camera crew from A&E’s “The First 48” filmed the Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team executing a “no knock” search warrant just past midnight. Seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones slept on the couch alongside her grandmother, Mertilla Jones. Wrapped within a blanket, Aiyana laid her head on the armrest next to the front door. Mertilla laid on the couch with her head on the opposite armrest.

A window shattered as police threw a flashbang grenade onto the couch burning Aiyana’s blanket. After opening the unlocked front door, Officer Weekley fired a single bullet into the top of Aiyana’s head. According to Macomb County Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz, the bullet had passed through her brain, exited through her neck, and grazed her chest.

Unbeknownst to the police, they had raided the wrong apartment. The suspect, Chauncey Owens, lived upstairs.

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Investigation Launched Into Cop Tasing 61-Year-Old Woman in the Back

Originally published on October 3, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Florida police officials have launched an internal investigation into an incident involving an officer firing his taser into the back of a 61-year-old woman.

According to the police report, Officer Terry Mahan of the Tallahassee Police Department attempted to arrest the elderly woman for simply asking a question. When she turned to walk away from the aggressive officer, Mahan shot her in the back with his taser to subdue her.

On the afternoon of September 30, Officer C. Woods was on a routine patrol when he noticed five people including a child walking in the street. According to the police report, Quontarrious Jones, Quaneshia Rivers, Laguna Young, and two others stepped aside to let Officer Woods pass them. While the patrol car continued down the road, Woods noticed them stepping back into the street and immediately turned his car around to confront them.

According to witness statements, Woods had pulled up alongside the small group and ordered them out of the street. They replied that there was no other place to walk since no sidewalks existed along the street. Woods exited his vehicle and arrested Jones for talking back to him.

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Secret Service Director Resigns After Caught Lying to Congress

Originally published on October 2, 2014, at NationofChange.org

After providing slippery testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has resigned amidst multiple scandals and incompetency surrounding her agency. Failing to adequately provide protection for the president and the First Family, Pierson openly lied to congressional members regarding her failure to disclose all security breaches to President Obama.

On September 19, Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez leapt over the fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and broke into the White House. Equipped with a three-inch serrated knife, Gonzalez was finally arrested by two off-duty agents after breaching five levels of security. According to an anonymous Secret Service official, the security alarm near the front entrance had been disabled because White House staff had found it annoying.

During a visit to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention three days earlier, President Obama entered an elevator accompanied by an armed private contractor with three convictions for assault and battery. Refusing orders to stop recording the president with his cell phone camera, the contractor was interrogated by Secret Service agents after Obama exited the elevator. The contractor was fired on the spot when agents ran his name through a database and discovered his criminal background. Secret Service agents were completely unaware the contractor had been armed until he turned over his gun.

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Success: Marine Sanctuary Expanded to Prevent Overfishing

Originally published on September 30, 2014, at ForceChange.com

Target: Barack Obama, President of the United States of America

Goal: Applaud the president’s decision to dramatically expand the marine sanctuary near Hawaii

The steady decline of coral reefs and sea life has prompted President Obama to significantly expand a marine sanctuary near Hawaii. A previous ForceChange petition warned of the hazards of overfishing and the destruction wrought upon Hawaii’s marine life and ecosystems. This decision to expand the sanctuary is a huge step in the right direction, and the president should be commended for taking this action.

Established in 2009, the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument has now grown from 82,000 square miles to 490,000 square miles. The president’s decision has allowed the preserve to grow six times larger and nearly three times larger than California. Many endangered and species occupying this area include dolphins, whales, sea turtles, groupers, reef sharks, pearl oysters, coconut crabs, bumphead parrotfish, and giant clams.

Although Hawaiian tuna fishing companies fought against the idea, the White House has produced the largest marine reserve in the world completely off limits to commercial fishing and resource extraction. By invoking the Antiquities Act of 1906, the president is granted the authority to enshrine unique natural and historic sites without congressional approval. The law has previously been invoked to protect landmarks including the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.

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Police Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Disconnecting Camera and Beating Handcuffed Man

Originally published on September 29, 2014, at NationofChange.org

After 18 years on the force, a New York police sergeant has resigned and pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law for beating a handcuffed man inside the Fulton police station. After pulling the video camera out of the wall, Sgt. Joseph Arigo beat the handcuffed man then lied to his supervisors and filed two false reports to cover up his actions. Arigo had originally been charged with third-degree assault, making a punishable false written statement, and falsifying business records.

Gary Bloss was arrested the night of June 28 on a parole warrant. Taken to the Fulton police station, Bloss sat on a bench in the booking room with his hands cuffed behind his back yelling at the cops. Although Bloss did not threaten any of the officers or himself, Sgt. Arigo disconnected the video camera before entering the room. Bloss recalled arguing with Arigo when the 18-year veteran began choking the handcuffed man and punching him repeatedly in the face.

Arigo slammed Bloss’ head into the bench and continued punching him in the face. As Arigo started choking Bloss again, Officer Sean Hanks quietly fled from the booking room.

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Demand Justice for Assassinated Human Rights Activists

Originally published on September 28, 2014, at ForceChange.com

Target: Nouri Abusahmain, President of the Libyan General National Congress

Goal: Investigate the assassinations of two teenage human rights activists

While campaigning for peace and democracy, two human rights activists were gunned down inside their car. Near midnight, three cars surrounded the teenage activists and shot them in cold blood. The Libyan government must track down their killers and provide justice to the families and friends of the murdered human rights activists.

Publicly standing against the bombings in Libya, human rights activists Tawfik Bensaud and Sami ElKawafi advocated for peace and democracy in their war-torn country. Eighteen-year-old activist and blogger, Bensaud, and 17-year-old activist, ElKawafi, had joined other youth activists to discuss crisis management in Libya. Days before his death, Bensaud told the media that, “A military movement alone cannot solve the crisis; there must be a civil movement that works parallel to it. If young people are given a chance, they can find a peaceful solution. My message to Libya’s youth is, you are powerful and you can make a change. You just need to take the opportunity and act.”

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