April 25, 2013
By TAMI ABDOLLAH
The city of Los Angeles reached a $4.2 million settlement with two women who were injured when police mistakenly opened fire on them during the manhunt for disgruntled ex-cop Christopher Dorner, an official said Tuesday.
City Attorney Carmen Trutanich announced the sum to KNBC-TV Los Angeles, and an attorney representing the women confirmed the amount to The Associated Press.
The settlement must still be approved by the Los Angeles City Council.
Margie Carranza and her 71-year-old mother, Emma Hernandez, were delivering papers around 5 a.m. on Feb. 7 when LAPD officers guarding the Torrance home of a target named in an online Dorner manifesto blasted at least 100 rounds at their pickup.
Hernandez was shot in the back and Carranza had minor injuries.
The settlement means they cannot pursue any future injury claims against the city.
Dorner had vowed warfare on Los Angeles Police Department officers and their families for what he called an unfair firing.
He killed four people, including two law enforcement officers, during his nearly one-week run from authorities.
Attorney Glen Jonas, who represents the women, called the settlement amount fair and said it spared the city from defending a case that involved eight police officers and would have likely cost millions of dollars.
“The only certainty was the litigation was going to cost everyone a lot of money and a lot of time,” Jonas said.
Jonas sent a nine-page demand to the city more than a month ago that provided an opening to negotiations. He said he negotiated with Trutanich for weeks before the deal was reached on Monday night.
“We’re two veteran trial lawyers trying to settle a case, and we both understand the reality of litigation and what it costs to both sides,” Jonas said.
The women agreed to receive the payment after June 30 — the end of the fiscal year — to help the city with its budgeting. The agreement came in addition to a separate $40,000 settlement reached earlier for the loss of the women’s pickup truck.
“For them, the money is not the issue as much as (the city) just doing the right thing,” Jonas said. “Everyone agreed that they were wronged, but we didn’t know whether responsibility would be assumed ... It’s pleasant to get that done without having to go through years of litigation.”
The eight officers remain assigned to non-field duties pending an internal investigation.
April 25, 2013
A state law enforcement agency is investigating the son of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan after a newspaper determined he is a part-time suburban police officer who uses an unmarked squad car to provide traffic control for his father, an official said this week.
The (Chicago) Sun-Times also reported that Mustapha Farrakhan hasn't worked a shift for the department in more than four years.
"We opened a preliminary investigation after the Sun-Times told us about their investigation," said Kevin McClain, the executive director of the Illinois Police Standards and Training Board.
McClain said he ordered the investigation last week after a reporter contacted his office about what would become a front-page story.
Harvey Police Chief Denard Eaves described Farrakhan as a "volunteer" police officer, but declined to provide the newspaper any details, saying only in a statement that he "stands behind" Farrakhan's appointment and that "Officer Farrakhan assists the Police Department with community relations."
Eaves did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press. Farrakhan does not have a listed number and the Nation of Islam did not immediately return a call for comment from the AP.
The Sun-Times reported that the 52-year-old Farrakhan "certainly has a police badge" from Harvey, a suburb located just south of Chicago, and since 2006 has been registered as a "gun-carrying Harvey cop."
But the paper also found that Farrakhan lives in Crete, about 12 miles from Harvey.
And while state records show he has not worked for the department in four years, the newspaper found YouTube videos that show he has used the lights of his unmarked squad car to stop traffic and escort his father's "unofficial motorcade."
John Millner, the chief of police in Elmhurst and head of the Illinois Police Chief's Association, said that state law allows officers to use their police powers outside their jurisdiction but typically do so only in an emergency, or at the request of the department whose jurisdiction they are in.
McClain would not discuss the Sun-Times story or whether Farrakhan's actions as described by the paper might have been illegal.
Even before Farrakhan stopped logging hours as a sworn police officer more than four years ago, he worked very little, the newspaper said. According to Harvey police records filed with the state, he worked just nine hours in the first half of 2007, 14 in the second half, and 118 1/2 hours in the second half of 2008. After that, the newspaper reported, he stopped working for the department altogether.
Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://www.suntimes.com/index
April 25, 2013
By SANDRA CHEREB
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — As Nevada legislators emotionally debated a move toward same-sex marriage, one lawmaker rose to his feet and declared, “I’m gay.”
Nevada state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson says that he quickly picked up hundreds of new friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter.
“I never considered myself not out,” said Atkinson, a North Las Vegas Democrat. “I didn’t care who knew, I just didn’t ever think that I needed to make a public statement about it.”
However, he was moved to speak out late Monday night after listening to passionate, soul-searching testimony from his colleagues as they debated Senate Joint Resolution 13, which would abolish the heterosexual definition of marriage that’s been in the Nevada Constitution since 2002, when voters overwhelmingly approved the Protection of Marriage Act.
“I didn’t think. I just knew it was time,” Atkinson said.
Nevada is one of 29 states with a constitutional provision prohibiting same-sex marriage, and SRJ13 seeks to repeal the law and declare that Nevada recognizes all marriages, regardless of gender. It passed the Senate and is now in the Assembly where passage is likely. If approved by legislators this year and in 2015, it would go before voters in 2016.
The debate brought revelations from lawmakers who described personal evolutions on gay marriage and personal conflicts between religious convictions and their love for gay family members and friends.
State Sen. Mark Hutchison, who is Mormon, said supporters of gay marriage should refrain from categorizing those against it as bigots and intolerant. He said he supports same sex unions, but not marriage.
“I simply cannot do that because of my own religious beliefs and convictions,” he said.
Atkinson, on the floor, scoffed at comments that gay marriage would threaten the sanctity of marriage.
“If this hurts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place,” he said.
Atkinson said his statement confirmed something that he hadn’t tried to hide.
“I know who I am,” he said. “My family knows who I am. My daughter knows who I am.”
April 18, 2013
By Frank J. Phillips
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
Two African-American generals made history this year by simultaneously taking charge of major regional commands.
President Barack Obama nominated Generals Lloyd Austin and Vincent Brooks to head U.S. Central Command and U.S. Army Pacific, respectively. Each powerful command position allows the generals to oversee operations in either the Middle East or Asia. Brooks will earn his fourth star upon assuming command, while Austin is already a four-star general.
Although the nominations highlight a first for African Americans, both generals have had a career of firsts. A year ago, Austin became the first African American to hold the Army’s second highest position, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. In 1979, Brooks became the first African-American to assume the cadet First Captain position at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, the highest position a cadet can hold.
Along with their graduations from West Point, their honorary doctorates degrees and their 6-foot, 4-inch frames, these generals also share an ability to understand, counsel and inspire others toward excellence.
“Gen. Austin …is an outstanding illustration of what a Black male can achieve in America,” said Craig Hanford, president of Hanford Consulting and Austin’s West Point classmate. “He’s a great leader, decorated warrior, and compassionate mentor.”
“Lt. Gen. Brooks is a soldier’s soldier,” said Col. Rivers Johnson Jr., public affairs officer for U.S. Cyber Command. “I’ve never worked so hard in my Army career as I did when I was his executive officer. He was the consummate mentor, teacher and dedicated leader.”
Both generals have legacies rich in military service. Austin, who hails from Thomasville, Ga., traces his military roots back to his distant relative, 2nd Lt. Henry O. Flipper, the first African American to graduate from West Point in 1877.
Brooks, born in Anchorage, Alaska, comes from a family of generals. His father, and older brother, Leo Brooks Sr. and Jr., retired as general officers. Brooks’ family service dates back to the Civil War, when his great-great grandfather, an escaped slave, joined the Union Army.
While some may see these nominations as the reasoned and strategic choices of a wise president, Foster Payne II, retired Army Col., also sees their value to others.
“In a society that searches for role models for our youth, both generals are trailblazers not only for their service to the nation but to mankind,” said Payne.
Whether defending America’s interests, developing soldiers or inspiring youth, these storied generals continue to make history.