December 20, 2012
By LOLITA C. BALDOR Associated Press
Reported sexual assaults at the nation’s three military academies jumped by 23 percent overall this year, but the data signaled a continued reluctance by victims to seek criminal investigations.
According to a report obtained by The Associated Press, the number of assaults rose from 65 in the 2011 academic year to 80 in 2012. However, nearly half the assaults involved victims who sought confidential medical or other care and did not trigger an investigation. There were 41 assaults reported in 2010.
Reported sexual assaults have climbed steadily since the 2009 academic year. The Defense Department has urged the academies to take steps to encourage cadets and midshipmen at the Army, Navy and Air Force academies to report sexual harassment and assaults in order to get care to everyone and hold aggressors accountable. The number of assaults reported by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., increased, while reports at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., declined.
In addition to the sexual assault report, the military also is releasing the results of its biannual anonymous survey of academy students, which showed that 12 percent of the women said they experienced “unwanted sexual contact” and 51 percent said they were sexually harassed. Of the men, 2 percent experienced unwanted contact and 10 percent said they were sexually harassed.
Officials are concerned whenever the number of reported sexual assaults goes down while the anonymous survey suggests that unwanted sexual contact goes up or stays the same. That's because military officials want victims to feel comfortable going to their superiors to report incidents.
The report divides the assaults into two categories, restricted and unrestricted. Unrestricted reports rose slightly from 38 last year to 42 this year, and those are provided to either law enforcement or military commanders for an investigation. Restricted reports jumped from 27 last year to 38 this year, and in those cases victims sought medical care and advocacy services but did not seek an official investigation.
According to the report, all three academies are now meeting department policies and requirements for training and the appointment of sexual assault response coordinators.
December 20, 2012
By Brian W. Carter
LAWT Staff Writer
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has ruled in favor of Pasadena police officers, Jeffrey Newlen and Mathew Griffin, in the shooting of 19-year old Kendrec McDade. It has been determined that the police officers responded with necessary force when they fatally shot the unarmed teenager.
A letter, received Monday, from the district attorney's Justice System Integrity Division stated an investigation concluded the officers acted in lawful self-defense and in defense of others.
On March 24, McDade was shot after a false 911 call from Oscar Carillo who claimed assailants had robbed him at gunpoint. It was stated that McDade was seen reaching for his waistband during a pursuit. Prosecutors stated that McDade was shot twice, one officer having wounded him, the second from the other officer believing Mcdade had opened fire.
Carillo, an undocumented worker, stated in the 911 call eight times that the men who robbed him were armed. It was later revealed that he admitted to having lied about the suspects being armed to garner a quicker response. Carillo was arrested on manslaughter charges but prosecutors declined to charge him.
Caree Harper, attorney for McDade’s father Kenneth McDade, has stated she didn’t agree with the D.A.’s ruling, especially concerning Carillo.
“You can’t have both, either (Carrillo) is responsible or he’s not, you can’t have it both ways,” said Harper.
“You can’t slice the story, cut and splice it the way you like it; you argue out of both sides of your mouth. Either he is responsible for making a false report and he should be held accountable and officers should have responded code three with cameras activated, or they didn’t believe the false report.”
The McDade shooting happened after the controversial Trayvon Martin shooting, which raised even more ire earlier this year.
December 20, 2012
By Shannen Hill
Police have found security video footage of the alleged gunman who killed Brandon Woodard, the Los Angeles man who was shot in Manhattan last week.
Police believe that the alleged killer is a professional hit man because of his calm demeanor during the shooting. Providing more evidence for their claim, cameras showed the gunman arriving to the scene at least 30 minutes before the shooting.
“The man could be seen exiting – and carefully pulling the hood of his jacket over his head – the passenger side of the parked Lincoln sedan and pacing as he waited,” according to an NYPD officer.
Detectives are tying the shooting to Queens. Cameras captured the get away car speeding through the Midtown Tunnel to Queens, where it was found, parked on Wednesday December 19. After a license plate reading, police found that the Lincoln Sedan was rented from Avis Car Rental, in Huntington Station. Avis was already investigating that particular site after noticing their employees renting cars on behalf of unidentified third parties.
Police have also searched Woodard’s California condo, but were unable to find any drugs, weapons or evidence. Detectives are examining three phones carried by Woodard when he flew to New York as well. The gunman has not been found and NYPD continues to investigate.
December 13, 2012
By Jennifer Bihm
“The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to consider marriage equality takes our nation one step closer to realizing the American ideal of equal protection under the law for all people,” said Attorney General Kamala Harris, part of a growing number of elected officials and community leaders lauding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week to review a California gay marriage case and the validity of Proposition 8.
“For justice to prevail, Proposition 8 must be invalidated so that gay and lesbian families are finally treated with equality and dignity.”
Proposition 8, a descendent of California’s 2000 Proposition 22, was the “California Marriage Protection Act,” later titled “Eliminates Rights of Same Sex Couples to Marry” on the November 2008 ballot. The prop added to the “Declaration of Rights” portion of the state’s constitution, providing that “only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The ban on gay marriage went into effect the day after Prop 8 passed and was in direct opposition to the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling that it was unconstitutional.
The next year, same sex couple Kristin Perry and Sandra Steir, applied for a marriage license in Alameda County, which was denied, as was one for Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo. The couples filed a suit against state officials including then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown. Brown agreed that the ruling violated the 14th Amendment to the United State’s Constitution and did not participate in the defense; neither did Schwarzenegger although he did agree that the courts should hear the case.
ProtectMarriage.com organizer Dennis Hollingsworth a staunch supporter of Prop 8, was allowed to step in as a defendant. Now governor, Brown continues his refusal to defend the lawsuit as does Harris who promised as much during her campaign for attorney general. Other elected officials are also weighing in, looking forward, they said, to the ban being overturned.
“I sincerely hope that the Supreme Court finds Proposition 8 violates the promise of equal protection guaranteed by the Constitution,” Senator Barbara Boxer said in a statement released shortly after the December 7 decision.
“I believe support for marriage equality keeps growing stronger.”
“Today’s announcement that the Supreme Court will take up Hollingsworth v. Perry and the challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act is a reminder that the pathway to justice is long and difficult,” said Speaker John A. Perez, who also released a statement last week.
“I am very confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of our community in Hollingsworth v. Perry, as it is now known, and affirm that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. But until that outcome is secured, our community must continue to fight for justice on every front, from working to secure the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to addressing the issues of homelessness among LGBT Youth.”
LGBT activist Jasmyne Cannick agrees. While attitudes about same-sex marriage are changing—with about 48 percent of Americans in favor of it, the community should stay “focused on the real issues facing all of us—gay, lesbian, and heterosexual--jobs, affordable housing, education, and access to healthcare,” she said.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the Supreme Court’s decision an ‘opportunity.’
“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court faces the opportunity to rectify the injustices caused by denying gay and lesbian Americans the right to follow their hearts and marry the person they love,” he said.
“I am confident that the highest court in our land will follow the wisdom of the 9th Circuit and grant all couples — regardless of sexual orientation — the freedom to marry.”
“We understand that our nation has to be a nation of laws and that there is one class of people, and the law has to apply equally to all of us regardless of race, gender, class or sexual orientation,” Black AIDS Institute Executive Director Phil Wilson.
“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will affirm that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.”
The Court is expected to make the final decision in June 2013.