Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley

Nov. 26 2014 8:11 PM

Darren Wilson’s Lawyers Say He Kept Quiet Before Grand Jury Decision to Keep Story Consistent

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s legal team sat down with the Washington Post for an interview on Wednesday. The lawyers described the deliberate legal strategy implemented to keep Wilson out of the public eye, to keep his story consistent. From the Post:

They determined quickly after the shooting that Wilson shouldn’t speak publicly — in contrast to George Zimmerman, a volunteer watchman who in 2012 shot black teenager Trayvon Martin — because it could only hurt his case… He stayed silent publicly, and when he spoke to investigators and jurors, his version of events remained consistent… As the grand jury proceedings moved along over the past few months, Wilson’s lawyers — a group familiar with representing police cases — said they felt confident that they had the upper hand. That’s largely because witnesses who did speak publicly told conflicting stories about the 90-second encounter between Wilson and Michael Brown. If the grand jury had determined that Wilson should face a criminal trial, they would have had plenty of ammunition when cross-examining witnesses, they said.

The lawyers also recount the lengths Wilson went to in order to stay out of sight for more than three months following his Aug. 9th shooting of Michael Brown.

Darren Wilson was mowing his lawn on Aug. 19 — 10 days after he’d shot an unarmed teenager — when he got a call telling him that his address was popping up in online reports. He quickly packed up his belongings and moved in with a relative, somebody who didn’t have the same last name. By nightfall, media members were outside the house. Wilson then spent about a week with one of his lawyers, Greg Kloeppel, until finally he moved into what his legal team now calls the “quote-unquote permanent location,” which they declined to disclose. Wilson hasn’t been back to his ranch-style home since he stopped cutting the grass midway through…
[The lawyers] also described a period of life on the run in which Wilson bounced from house to house but rarely went out in public… One Wilson lawyer, Neil Bruntrager, said that Wilson used “certain [disguise] tricks” he’d learned as a police officer to go out incognito, without specifying what they were. He preferred going to movies because of the darkness.
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Nov. 26 2014 7:40 PM

Looted Ferguson Bakery Gets $170,000 in Crowdfunded Donations to Rebuild

Natalie DuBose opened a bakery in Ferguson, Missouri in June. The mother of two sank her life savings into the shop, called Natalie's Cakes and More, but sales plummeted in August after protesters took to the streets in Ferguson. She went weeks without a customer coming through her door. DuBose managed to rebound, but on Monday, after the grand jury declined to charge Darren Wilson with a crime, her small business was dealt another blow. Looters smashed her storefront windows, “sending shards of glass into the cake boxes, behind the counter and into bowls and utensils drying on a rack,” according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “The violent act jeopardized all her Thanksgiving sales – with more than 40 orders waiting to be filled.”

DuBose began calling her customers to tell them the news, and then started baking to remake the lost orders. The Ferguson community pitched in to help. A friend, suggested DuBose set up a crowdfunding site to take donations the help rebuild. The response was overwhelming. In just days, DuBose received over 5,000 donations amounting to over $170,000.

Here’s DuBose message on her GoFundMe page:
My shop, which had it's grand opening this summer was vandalized in the riots. My main windows were smashed and bakery damaged. I'm beside myself, but with the holidays, can't stop working. I'm very busy cleaning and trying to repair my business. I'm also trying to catchup on baking cakes for Thanksgiving! I promise to update this later. I'm truly mixing batter right now. I began baking and selling cakes at local flea markets, slowly saving money to start my small business. I LOVE TO BAKE !!! It was my dream and I'm working hard to accomplish that dream… It was suggested that I start this account by a new friend and here it is. I do need help to rebuild and create a website, so any donations would be a huge assistance. I'm not sure where to find the money to repair my little bakery. But, even if you just stopped by to say hello. Thank You !!!! I've never felt such love.

Nov. 26 2014 3:56 PM

Cleveland Cop Took Seconds To Decide To Kill 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice

A rookie Cleveland cop shot and killed Tamir Rice literally seconds after arriving at a park where the 12-year-old was carrying a BB gun. In disturbing new security video, released on Wednesday by police, officer Timothy Loehmann is seen exiting his police vehicle and almost immediately deciding to shoot the child.*


A rookie officer pulled the trigger, said Jeffrey Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association.
Police were sent to the Cudell Recreation Center at Detroit Avenue and West Boulevard about 3:30 p.m. when someone called 9-1-1 to report a "guy with a gun pointing it at people."
The caller told dispatchers twice that the gun was "probably fake," but that detail was not relayed to the responding officers, Follmer said.

The video was made public one day after the parents of Rice had sent out a letter asking the city’s Mayor Frank Jackson and the Cleveland Police Department to release the footage, NBC affiliate WKYC reported.

From the letter:

While we request the release of the complete video, we also ask for the media to give our family privacy as we continue to grieve and learn about what happened. We feel the actions of the patrol officer who took our son's life must be made public.
It is our prayer and request for citizens in the City of Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio to remain calm at this time. We ask for the public to demonstrate peacefully.
Though the hurt our family feels is too painful for words to describe, we still have faith in the justice system. We thank the community for their prayers, encouragement and support. It has helped us during this difficult time.

Officials have said that the boy was shot when he pulled the pellet gun from his pants after he was told by cops to raise his hands, although he didn’t point the gun at the officers. The video appears to show that he was shot before he would have had time to point the gun, or raise his hands, anywhere. 

*Correction, Nov. 27, 2014: This post originally misstated that the officer who shot Tamir Rice had not yet been named. The police released the name on Wednesday.

Nov. 26 2014 11:54 AM

Jian Ghomeshi Arrested

Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi surrendered to police Wednesday morning and has been charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of "choking." From the Toronto Star:

Toronto police began their investigation on Oct. 31. At the time, three women, including Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy DeCoutere, had come forward with allegations.
Nine women and one man have told the Star and other media that they were choked, hit or sexually harassed by Ghomeshi.

The CBC, Ghomeshi's former employer, said on Tuesday that he has withdrawn a $55 milion suit against the network. Ghomeshi was fired on Oct. 26 as the Star was preparing to publish a report about his alleged history of violent and harassing behavior.

Nov. 26 2014 11:28 AM

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Had Emergency Heart Surgery

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had emergency heart surgery and is recuperating, the court says. From Bloomberg:

The 81-year-old Ginsburg, a two-time cancer survivor, is expected to be released in the next 48 hours, the court said in a one-paragraph statement. She was hospitalized after experiencing discomfort last night during exercise at the court, and doctors discovered a blockage in her right coronary artery.

Staff at MedStar Washington Hospital Center placed a stent in that artery.

Nov. 26 2014 10:16 AM

A 20-Year-Old Man Was Found Dead in Ferguson Tuesday Morning

A 20-year-old man named DeAndre Joshua was found dead in Ferguson on Tuesday near the location where Michael Brown was killed. From USA Today:

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, a resident of an apartment complex spotted Joshua's body inside a parked car, a white Pontiac Grand Prix, near Canfield Green Apartments, the same complex where Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson shot Brown on Aug. 9. Blood-soaked shattered glass lay in a pile on the ground beside the car.

Joshua was shot in the head, CNN reports, and gasoline had been used to light his body on fire. Joshua was reportedly a friend of Dorian Johnson, the Ferguson resident who was with Michael Brown when Brown died.

Forty-five people were reportedly arrested in Ferguson Tuesday night as the town's City Hall, and a Meneike auto repair shop were damaged by rioters, though St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar described Tuesday as "a much better night" than Monday in terms of violence and property damage.

Nov. 25 2014 10:45 PM

Ferguson Protesters Are Shutting Down America’s Highways

Protests grew in size and intensity across the country on the second night of demonstrations over the grand jury’s decision not to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson with a crime for the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. On Tuesday evening, demonstrators spilled into the streets—and shut down highways across the country in protest.

Nov. 25 2014 8:18 PM

Car Plows Through Line of Protesters at Ferguson Rally in Minneapolis

A Minneapolis march in support of Michael Brown turned ugly Tuesday afternoon when a car plowed through a line of demonstrators blocking a downtown intersection. A Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter caught the incident on tape, as did the helicopter camera of local TV station KSTP.

Here’s what happened via the Star Tribune:

A Star Tribune reporter who is at the rally says that witnesses say the vehicle started honking at protesters blocking the intersection before running down a woman around the start of the rally at 4:30 p.m. In video from KSTP’s Chopper 5, the involved vehicle goes around another stopped car and into the crowd as other vehicles go around the crowd. People appear to get on the hood of the car as it pushes its way through the crowd and it hits and appears to run over the legs of a demonstrator. In video captured by Star Tribune videographer Mark Vancleave, what appears to be a dark-colored Subaru Outback is seen driving with a few people clinging to its hood as it pushes and then apparently runs over a victim’s leg. Protesters rush the vehicle with some people hitting its windows and windshield before it takes off.

Here’s another angle from KSTP:

Nov. 25 2014 7:32 PM

Darren Wilson Speaks About Shooting Michael Brown: “I Don’t Think It’s Haunting.”

A day after a grand jury declined to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, Wilson gave his first public interview on Tuesday. In the interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, taped on Tuesday afternoon, Wilson said he wouldn’t have done anything differently in his deadly altercation with Brown on Aug. 9.

The network aired portions of the interview on ABC World News Tonight, with additional parts of the hour-long interview scheduled for Nightline and Good Morning America.

In the first aired segment, Stephanopoulos asked Wilson to recall the events of Aug. 9. Wilson, who could potentially face a civil suit for the shooting, gave answers that mirrored his grand jury testimony. Wilson painted Brown as the aggressor, who threw the first punch while Wilson was in the police car. Brown escalated the confrontation with a “barrage of swinging and grabbing and pulling for about 10 seconds,” Wilson told Stephanopoulos. The officer describes Brown reaching into the car, grabbing his gun, and trying to turn it on Wilson to shoot him. Wilson said he fired on Brown and then exited his car in pursuit.

Here are some of Wilson’s reflections on how the 90-second encounter played out:

Stephanopoulos: Why not stay in the car? He’s running away …
Wilson: Because he’s not … my job isn’t to just sit and wait. I have to see where this guy goes.
Stephanopoulos: So you felt it was your duty to give chase?
Wilson: Yes, it was. I mean, that’s what we were trained to do.
Stephanopoulos: Is there anything you could have done differently that would have prevented that killing from taking place?
Wilson: No.
Stephanopoulos: Nothing?
Wilson: No.
Stephanopoulos: Is it something that you think will always haunt you?
Wilson: I don’t think it’s haunting. It’s always going to be something that happened.

Nov. 25 2014 6:16 PM

Pair of Young Female Suicide Bombers Kill at Least 20 in Nigeria

Two female teenage sucide bombers have killed more than 20 people at a bazaar in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, officials say. An official with Nigeria's Civilian Joint Task Force told the Guardian one of the girls detonated her bomb first, killing about three women; then, when a crowd gathered, the second girl detonated hers, killing more. Officials from the National Emergency Management Agency said 21 bodies had been removed from the marketplace thus far, according to Reuters.

While internationally Boko Haram is known for kidnapping hundreds of schoolgirls, women have also been instrumental actors in many of the group's attacks. The prominence of female fighters in extremist groups like Boko Haram might seem surprising given such groups' general attitude towards women, but that's part of the element of surprise that makes women so effective as bombers. (The explosive device can also be disguised as a baby bump.) In a single week last summer, four suicide bombings were carried out by Boko Haram–affiliated women in Kano, Nigeria. Explosive vests have been found on Nigerian girls as young as 10 years old.

Elsewhere, attacks by women have been carried out everywhere from Moscow to Mosul. The strategy can be traced back to Lebanon in the mid 1980s, where it was pioneered by the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party. While leftist and secular organizations were initially the only ones to employ women as bombers, the Washington Post wrote earlier this year, that's changed as Islamist radicals have evolved to identify a female obligation to participate in jihad—and in fact, female attackers have become so accepted among religious extremist groups that even some male members of Somalia's Al-Shabaab sometimes now disguise themselves as women before setting off bombs.