DETROIT RETIREES, OFFICIALS BLAST BANKRUPTCY PLAN, EM AT LAST-MINUTE HEARING

MayDay protest against Detroit bankruptcy, emergency management blocks Woodward Ave. May 1, 2014.

MayDay protest against Detroit bankruptcy, emergency management blocks Woodward Ave. May 1, 2014.

Say plan is racist attack mounted by state that owes Detroit $1.5 B, vow appeal

Call city’s failure to disclose interest rate on ASF clawbacks fraudulent

Bankruptcy Judge Rhodes more interested in FGIC settlement, trial end

Daily media insults pro se testifiers

By Diane Bukowski

October 16, 2014

Stephen Brogan, head partner at pro- corporate law firm of Jones Day, with Detroit EM Kevyn Orr, its "former employee."
Stephen Brogan, head partner at pro- corporate law firm of Jones Day, with Detroit EM Kevyn Orr, its “former employee.”

Detroit—City retirees and citizens, all without lawyers, faced off against Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and other corporate profiteers in court Oct. 15, as the largest Chapter 9 bankruptcy case in U.S. history proceeded to a close at breakneck speed.

Those who testified had filed objections to the Plan of Adjustment (POA), then compiled motions and briefs, identified witnesses, and stood proudly in court to present their cases. They had been given only one day’s notice, a phone call from the bankruptcy clerk, to appear at the hearing, which lasted about three hours. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes had previously killed many other motions by pro se objectors.

“We have stayed the course, and are taking it to the end,” objector Cecily McClellan of the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA), told VOD after the hearing. “We won’t just go away. We have resources and we are planning an appeal, not only for what’s fair and just, but also for leverage. Most judges don’t like being appealed.”

Fredia Butler, a dignified well-dressed senior citizen, who attended the hearing with Stop the Theft of Our Pensions Committee leader Ezza Brandon,  hit the nail on the head during her testimony.

Orr the overseer, Snyder the master

Slavesmaster Gov. Rick Snyder takes over Michigan's Black-majority cities.
Slavemaster Gov. Rick Snyder takes over Michigan’s Black-majority cities, including Detroit, under Emergency Manager laws.

“This Plan of Adjustment will send many retirees into poverty, people who worked many years with the promise and hope they could live a decent life at the end,” Ms. Butler said. “I am an African-American, and I know from our history that they always put someone who looks like us in charge. Kevyn Orr is the overseer. [Gov. Rick] Synder is the master. Detroit did not have to be placed in bankruptcy. It is a power grab, taking our tax dollars to give to corporations for profit, a planned racist act, involving reductions in pensions, benefits, and unjust clawbacks. . . .[by] Wall Street.”

She also noted the seizures of the city’s assets including the Water Department, Belle Isle, and art owned by the city in the Detroit Institute of Art.

Detroit is the only city in the U.S. undergoing bankruptcy proceedings filed by an unelected official, Orr. Stockton and San Bernadino, CA filed over a year before Detroit did, but have not yet reached the POA stage.

They have so far held off on pension cuts and their bankruptcy plans do not include asset seizures, which are forbidden under Chapter 9 “unless the debtor consents.”

UNBIASED? Judge Rhodes chairs Oct. 10, 2012 forum on Chapter 9 and EM's with one-sided panel including (l to r) Frederick Headen, state treasury official who has led many takeovers, Edward Plawecki, Emergency Manager trainers Douglas Bernstein and Judy O'Neill (who co-authored Michigan's original EM law, PA 4), and Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a chief witness for Jones Day at the bankruptcy trial.
UNBIASED? Judge Rhodes chairs Oct. 10, 2012 forum on Chapter 9 and EM’s with one-sided panel including (l to r) Frederick Headen, state treasury official who has led many takeovers, Edward Plawecki, Emergency Manager trainers Douglas Bernstein and Judy O’Neill (who co-authored Michigan’s original EM law, PA 4), and Charles Moore of Conway McKenzie, a chief witness for Jones Day at the bankruptcy trial.

In this case, U. S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes early on recognized Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr as the debtor, in response to a motion by his “former” employee, Jones Day, which Rhodes recognized as representing the City of Detroit.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes heard the mostly Black objectors as he awaited a settlement with the city’s largest hold-out creditor, Financial Guaranty Insurance Corporation (FGIC), on a claim of $1.1 billion, the following day. He said during the hearing he expected to hold closing arguments by Oct. 21 or 22 next week.

Former two-term City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson said the state has a conflict of interest in “shepherding” Detroit into bankruptcy.

Michigan owes Detroit about $1.5 B, says Councilwoman Watson

“The state is a debtor to the city,” she explained, saying it owes Detroit at least a billion and a half dollars.

JoAnn Watson pleads her case at an earlier Detroit City Council meeting. She and three others voted NO on the consent agreement which led to the appointment of an Emergency Manager.
JoAnn Watson pleads her case at an earlier Detroit City Council meeting. She and three others voted NO on the consent agreement which led to the appointment of an Emergency Manager.

She cited a recent report from the Michigan Municipal League which showed that the state has deliberately withheld $732 million in revenue-sharing to Detroit over the last 10 years. She also said the state reneged on an agreement between former Governor John Engler and former Mayor Dennis Archer to increase revenue-sharing in exchange for decreasing taxes on non-residents. As a result, she said, the city lost an additional $224 million in revenue sharing and $600 million in non-resident income taxes.

“The City of Detroit’s executive and legislative branches never saw the bankruptcy filing, the most historic in the U.S.,” Watson continued. “Over 2.3 million citizens repealed the Emergency Manager law in 2012, but the state re-enacted basically the same law. If the executive and legislative branches had an opportunity to deliberate on the bankruptcy, there might have been a decision to litigate the swaps and recoup some of that money.”

Watson referred to the interest-rate swaps associated with the $1.5 billion Pension Obligation Certificates loan of 2005-06, but Judge Rhodes responded that Orr filed litigation which is before him now. He referred to the entire loan, which Orr filed suit against on Jan. 17, calling it “void ab initio, illegal, and unenforceable.”

Orr/Jones Day have reportedly offered to withdraw that lawsuit in exchange for a settlement with FGIC.

Jan. 31, 2005: Fitch Ratings Joe O'Keefe (at mike) with Stephen Murphy of Standard & Poor's press City Council to approve disastrous $1.5 Billion POC loan. They are assisted by then Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, who shortly afterwards took a high level job with one of the lenders, and (r) Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams.

Jan. 31, 2005: Fitch Ratings Joe O’Keefe (at mike) with Stephen Murphy of Standard & Poor’s press City Council to approve disastrous $1.5 Billion POC loan. They are assisted by then Detroit CFO Sean Werdlow, who shortly afterwards took a high level job with one of the lenders, and (r) Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams.

Many object to non-disclosure of 6.75% interest rate on annuity clawbacks; Orr: “I don’t know”

Much of the testimony centered on a 6.75 percent interest rate attached to the so-called “claw-backs” from retirees’ annuity savings funds (ASF), large cuts which would last the lifetime of retirees and beyond, affecting their beneficiaries. While retirees themselves contributed the money, Orr/Jones Day contended the payments they received included interest rates that surpassed the going rates of return.

Retirees did not discover the facts about the rate until a July 17 and July 21 bankruptcy hearing after they had already voted on the plan. Retiree Stephen Wojtowicz brought it to light then. During the Oct. 15 hearing, many demanded that both the interest and the entire ASF clawbacks be eliminated from the plan.

Wanda Hill during earlier run for City Council.
Wanda Hill during earlier run for City Council.

City retiree and former City Council candidate Wanda Jan Hill calmly and professionally queried Orr himself as part of an apparently thoroughly researched presentation on that issue. She went back through the various Plans of Adjustments (there are now seven) as well as numerous other documents that failed to include any mention of the 6.75 percent interest rate.

“It was never presented or listed as part of the official record until April 10, when it was included under ‘other factors,’” she told Orr. “It was not mentioned when dealing with the ballots April 17, but you had already decided on the claw-backs. Did you know about the interest rate at that time?”

“I don’t know, I would have to look at my notes,” Orr replied. “It was not included in the disclosure statement. There was some information on the city website. I don’t know if the documents sent to the retirees were put on record with the court.”

Jones Day attorney Heather Lennox rushed to the witness stand to make up for Orr’s lack of expertise. Coughing nervously, she argued that ballots listed the actual amounts resulting from the additional interest, and that the actual percentage was in the disclosure statement, and was discussed at two informational meetings for retirees in metro Detroit.

She said she assumed pensioners understood the complicated ASF process at the time of their retirement.

“We have to stop dealing with assumptions,” Hill retorted. “For 30 years and more, people set aside spendable cash so they would be in a position to live in comfort during their retirement. It should have been plainly explained in the ‘plain language statement.’ We needed the calculation and the reason for it. The [lack of disclosure] was nothing but a ruse.”

Retirees would likely have voted against plan if ASF interest rate disclosed

Walter Knall is earlier protest against EM takeover, bankruptcy.
Walter Knall is earlier protest against EM takeover, bankruptcy.

She argued that if retirees had known about the interest rate, they may have voted against the plan.

Elaine Thayer, representing her city retiree mother as well as her “significant other,” called the lack of disclosure of the interest rate “fraud” under the legal definition of the term.

Retiree Walter Knall blasted the ASF cuts and the undisclosed interest rate.

“I have engaged in no fraud or deceit with regards to my own annuity, which I subscribed to according to pension fund standards, and therefore I am not liable [for repayment],” he testified. “The idea that me and my fellow retirees should be asked to pay back tens of thousands of dollars from our savings funds is outrageous and illegal.”

He concurred with objections including citations of state and federal laws violated, wich were filed by Law Department retirees James Karwoski and John P. Quinn. Karwoski is himself an attorney who did not testify, but said he has participated in the bankruptcy hearings by cross-examining witnesses and plans to participate in closing arguments as well. He said he felt the retirees who did testify did very well in presenting their cases.

Cecily McClellan
Cecily McClellan

Retirees McClellan and Yvonne Williams-Jones called David Kausch, chief actuary for the global firm Gabriel, Roeder and Smith (GRS) to the stand. GRS has done actuarial reports for Detroit’s retirement systems for 75 years. Earlier, it contested the Orr/Jones Day estimate that the systems are underfunded by up to $3.5 billion, based on a report by Milliman, Inc. that was never completed. They issued a statement in June criticizing the Milliman estimate, available at link below story.

Kausch testified that the General Retirement System is 70 percent funded as of June 30, 2013. In 2012, it was 77 percent funded, and in 2011, 83 percent funded. Those percentages actually exceed those of the State of Michigan and other large cities in the U.S.

Kausch said long-term solvency is based on cash contributions to the system from both employees and employer over time. The City of Detroit stopped its federally-mandated contributions to the System when it declared bankruptcy, so they are not included in the 2013 report.

Yvonne Williams Jones
Yvonne Williams Jones

It does not intend to reinstitute them until 2023 under the proposed Plan of Adjustment. It wants to replace them with a one-time “Grand Bargain” payment of $816 million that is not yet fully in place and nowhere near commensurate with what payments would have been.

Kausch said the Great Recession of 2008, caused by Wall Street itself, was responsible for losses to pension systems across the U.S. He said the retirement system is gradually recovering along with the economy.

For solvency, he said, “the city must make contributions on a continued basis.” Under the Plan of Adjustment, he said, the city has proposed adjusting interest rates down to 6.75 percent.

“That means they are assuming the system’s assets are not going to grow as fast,” Kausch said. He explained that means the city’s required contributions will increase in order to maintain required payments to retirees.

Stephen Wojtowicz, who first exposed the 6.75 percent interest rate on the ASF recoupment, pointed out that while the system lost money during the Great Recession, in other years it earned rates as high as 22 percent while paying out only the standard 7.9 percent to retirees and returning the remainder to the system as a whole.

Michael Karwoski, retiree and attorney
Michael Karwoski, retiree and attorney

Many local mainstream media reports mocked the retirees’ testimony and questioning of witnesses as unprofessional, although Attorney Karwoski said it was handled very well. In a covertly racist and insensitive comment, Christine Ferretti of the Detroit Free Press, a young white reporter, said Ms. Butler “was allowed to wear a floppy hat,” and left out the essence of her testimony that the bankruptcy is a profound racist assault on the people of the nation’s largest Black-majority city.

In contrast, Reuters reported largely on Ms. Butler’s testimony (see link below) and a local TV anchor was seeking her out for an interview during the break. However, Ms. Butler had already left.

Related stories cited above:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2013/07/01/orr-milliman-attack-on-detroit-pensions-a-very-rough-preliminary-guesstimate/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/15/usa-detroit-bankruptcy-idUSL2N0SA23T20141015  


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

DETROIT RETIREES CALL FOR SUPPORT AS THEY TESTIFY AT BANKUPTCY HEARING WED. OCT. 14 8:30 AM

City retirees protest draconian cuts during Detroit bankruptcy hearing Aug. 19, 2013

City retirees protest draconian cuts during Detroit bankruptcy hearing Aug. 19, 2013

DAREA says they have resources to appeal trial outcome if it benefits only banks, not retirees

FGIC, party to infamous $1.5 billion COPS loan, reported ready to settle in exchange for unknown amount, city real estate

Kevyn Orr on COPS loan: “Void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable”

By Diane Bukowski

October 14, 2014

DAREA meets July 17, 2014
DAREA meets July 17, 2014

DETROIT – The Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association (DAREA) say they and others will appeal U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven W. Rhodes’ final ruling on the Plan of Adjustment if it continues to devastate retirees. As the case stands now, it appears likely only global banks will profit from the POA.

Major creditor and final hold-out Financial Guarantee Insurance Corporation (FGIC), which along with Syncora, Inc. insured the notorious $1.5 billion “Certificates of Participation” loan to Detroit in 2005-06, is reported to be ready to settle by Oct. 16. In exchange, they will get cash from bond issues and large chunks of revenue-producing downtown city real estate.

DAREA leader and city retiree Cecily McClellan
DAREA leader and city retiree Cecily McClellan

“We have the resources for an appeal now,” retiree Cecily McClellan told VOD.

“The Objectors to the bankruptcy are being called today to appear in court tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. The lack of notification is to prevent participation, preparation and public awareness. These are citizens without attorneys. We need your support and presence in court Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in Room 242 of the Federal Building, 321 W. Lafayette.”

Individual objectors, including former Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, along with many DAREA members, prepared motions with witnesses and briefs at Rhodes’ command weeks ago, but were not informed exactly when the hearing would be. Rhodes said at the time that he planned to schedule it on the last day of the POA trial.

Jones Day, on behalf of the city, has already filed an omnibus response to the objectors, likely to speed Rhodes’ final decision along.

McClellan noted that drastic cuts to retirees’ pensions and annuities proposed in Detroit’s bankruptcy are now being considered in the California bankruptcy proceedings of Stockton and San Bernadino. Previously, those cities had refused to touch pensions themselves, while at the same time enacting cuts in retiree health care. CalPERS (California Public Employee Retirement System), the largest in the U.S., wielded its clout in hearings to protect pensions.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) public workers on strike in California last year.
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) public workers on strike in California last year.

CalPERS also came to the aid of Detroit, filing an amicus brief with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to support appeals of Judge Rhodes’ bankruptcy eligibility decision by seven Detroit retiree and union entities. All seven have now indicated they will withdraw their appeals if the so-called “Grand Bargain,” $816 million to the retirement systems while the city withdraws its legally obligated payments for at least the next 10 years. Detroit’s retirement systems are worth about $6 billion.

 But Stockton bankruptcy judge Christopher Klein, taking a page from Rhodes’ eligibility decision last December, ruled Oct. 1 that California’s public employee retirement law “is simply invalid in face of the U.S. Constitution.” Terming state public pension protections nothing but contracts, as did Rhodes, he said they can be cancelled or modified under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in order to pay off bankers.

Oakland CA public workers demand "Make the banks pay"
Oakland CA public workers demand “Make the banks pay”

Klein has not actually sanctioned pension cuts yet, because the Stockton bankruptcy has not even reached the Plan of Adjustment stage, although it was filed a year before Detroit’s. Detroit is the only city that filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy under at the command of an unelected Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr.

Bloomberg News reported that Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition of school teachers, police officers and other public employees, blasted Klein’s ruling. .

“We are disappointed that the judge has sided with Wall Street in a decision that has the potential of devastating citizens, employees, and making bad situations worse,” said Dave Low, the group’s chairman.

The Detroit Free Press reported today that FGIC, after months of closed-door mediation supervised by U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan Chief Judge Gerald Rosen, is ready to reach a deal by Oct. 16, 2014.

O
Joe O’Keefe of Fitch Ratings smirks as Stephen Murphy of Standard & Poor’s presses disastrous $1.5 BILLION COPS loan on Detroit City Council Jan. 31, 2005. Rhodes has not yet ruled on Kevyn Orr’s lawsuit challenging this loan as “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.” Photo by Diane Bukowski

“City lawyer Tom Cullen told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes that the sides are close to a deal and hope to announce it in court Thursday morning,” reported Matt Helms. “Cullen said only that the deal would involve a share of bonds the city will issue to pay off creditors and ‘development aspects’ he didn’t detail.

 “People familiar with the negotiations have told the Free Press that the deal with Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. would involve cash from bonds and access to downtown real estate, including possible long-term leases of city parking garages. FGIC has a $1.1 billion claim against the city.”

Syncora, the other POC insurer, reached a similar deal with the City (i.e. Kevyn Orr-Jones day) Sept. 15. Syncora was a minor insurer compared to FGIC. Their deal involves a $44.8 million pay-out from new debt, plus control of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, and the Grand Circus Park Garage, including all their revenues.

FGIC CEO Timothy Travers. FGIC itself has just emerged from a financial crisis.
FGIC CEO Timothy Travers. FGIC itself has just emerged from a financial crisis.

FGIC’s deal can be expected to be much larger.

 In January, EM Orr filed a lawsuit against the POC holders, stating the entire debt, which has skyrocketed to $2.8 billion with interest and default fees, is “void ab initio, illegal and unenforceable.” But instead of canceling the debt in toto, Orr and Jones Day have played footsie with the creditors under the table during Rosen’s secret mediation sessions. Rhodes has never heard the lawsuit.

Related stories:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/15/syncora-gets-13-7-percent-44-8-m-in-detroit-bankruptcy-deal-fgic-fights/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/02/11/em-lawsuit-v-cops-loan-demands-1-45-billion-back-to-city-make-the-banks-pay-no-detroit-pension-or-health-care-cuts/


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

RACISM, REPRESSION AND RESISTANCE DURING #FERGUSON OCTOBER

Final call logoBy Richard B. Muhammad | Last updated: Oct 14, 2014 – 9:16:06 AM 

ferguson_week_of_resistance_2014.jpg

 

ferguson_protest_10-21-2014.jpg

Protesters stand in front of police outside the Ferguson police station, Oct. 11 in Ferguson, Mo. Organizers of the four-day Ferguson October summit are protesting the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Photos: AP/Wide World photos


The passion, emerging power of Black youth fuel demands for justice

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (FinalCall.com) – A moment borne out of angry Black youth facing heavily armed police officers, snarling police dogs, tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and armored military personnel carriers in the streets continues to grow into a movement.

ferguson_cornel_west_10-21-2014.jpg

Philosopher Dr. Cornel West, left, and another man are taken into custody after performing an act of civil disobedience at the Ferguson, Mo., police station Oct. 13, as hundreds continue to protest the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police in August. In fact, tensions escalated last week when a white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr., who authorities say shot at police before he was killed.

That moment has captured some of America’s attention and exposed the country’s oppressive policing, racial failures and national shame to the world.

“Missouri is the new Mississippi,” said Tef Poe, a young activist and hip hop artist from St. Louis.

Conditions and protests over two months in the streets of “New Mississippi” mushroomed into a weekend of civil disobedience, protests, marches rallies, prayers, hip hop performances and rebellion. The Weekend of Resistance, Oct 10-13, “#FergusonOctober,” drew young people, activists, organizers and elders from across the country.

Their presence flowed from Ferguson, Mo., a predominantly Black suburb, where Michael Brown was shot down by a White police officer in early August to St. Louis, which had a police shooting just before the gathering.

ferguson_protest_10-21-2014b.jpg

Youth protestors have taken to the streets to protest and demonstrate their anger and frustration with the shooting deaths of two young, Black men in Ferguson and St. Louis, Mo.

The Ferguson teenager’s body lay in the street for over four and a half hours and a swift, militarized police response stoked outrage and a backlash from Black youth fed up with racial profiling, humiliation, targeting and abuses by police. White officer Darren Wilson, who remains out of public view, shot the unarmed 18-year-old to death. Local police say the young man charged the officer after an encounter and struggle initiated because of jaywalking. Instead of ending up with a traffic citation, the teenager had at least six bullets pumped into his body. Witnesses screamed that the police were lying and an autopsy paid for by the family seemed to verify what witnesses said happened that Saturday afternoon. Mike Mike was shot with his hands up, said witnesses.

When social media beamed videotaped images around the country and the world—Black resistance had begun.

‘No justice, no peace; no racist police’

ferguson_protest_10-21-2014c.jpg

Protestors question why no arrest has been made of the police officers who shot Mike Brown in Ferguson and Vonderrit Myers Jr. in St. Louis.

“Black lives matter! Black lives matter!” chanted demonstrators regularly throughout a weekend that drew Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, labor, socialists, Muslim and Palestinian and other groups to St. Louis and Ferguson. The weekend was organized by the Organization for Black Struggle, a longtime activist group in St. Louis and new youth groups born out of two months of protests, arrests, pain and struggle. These groups include Hands Up United, Millennial Activists United and Lost Voices, which was composed of young people who literally slept on streets in early nightly standoffs against rubber bullets and tear gas in Ferguson, less than 15 miles from St. Louis.

While “Turn Up Don’t Turn Down, We Do This For Mike Brown!” was an initial battle cry, by Monday, Oct. 13, “Justice for Vonderrit!” was added to the cry. The 18-year-old Black male was killed by an off-duty officer in St. Louis who was moonlighting as a security officer in the city’s Shaw neighborhood. Police chief Sam Dotson told the media the youth was killed after firing a weapon at the still unnamed officer. The shooting victim’s family denies the young man was armed. All he had was a sandwich after exiting a shop in the multi-racial neighborhood when the officer aggressively approached him and friends, they said.

Protestors gathered in the Shaw neighborhood to call for justice for Vonderrit Myers, Jr., and Michael Brown, Jr. They stopped traffic and sat-in at a convenience store. Police responded in a militarized fashion to peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience, activists said.

st_louis_protest_10-21-2014.jpg

A candlelight vigil was held for Vonderrit Myers Jr. who was shot to death by a White police officer in St. Louis who was moonlighting as a private security officer. Photo: D.L. Phillips

Protestors took to streets for Moral Monday and engaged in civil disobedience outside Wal-Mart and other targets in St. Louis and massed Oct. 13 outside the Ferguson Police Dept. Dr. Cornel West, who spoke at a program the previous night and participated in a 2 a.m. sit-in at St. Louis University, was among those arrested.

“I didn’t come here to speak, I came to get arrested,” he had said at the Chaifetz Arena on the campus of St. Louis University. His word was made bond the next day as police took him away in handcuffs.

ferguson_protest_10-21-2014d.jpg

Black youth expressed their outrage over police killings during recent weekend of resistance.

Sunday evening at the arena Dr. West was to be keynote speaker. But the interfaith program was interrupted by young people who demanded to be heard instead of simply listening while religious leaders and national figures like NAACP President Cornell William Brooks and the Rev. Jamal Bryant spoke.

The crowd chanted its agreement and young people took to the stage. On stage, Tef Poe offered his street level assessment of issues and problems.

So-called gang members like the GD’s and the Vice Lords are not on this stage, he noted. But it wasn’t the professional people or academics out on the streets protecting us, it was the brothers with tattoos and their shirts off, he declared.

We are not professional activists or organizers but we are real people dealing with real problems, he said.

“I don’t need Don Lemon to tell me what happened. I was there,” said Tef Poe, referring to the CNN newsman.

Elders were challenged to listen to, respect and support this emerging crop of fearless young leaders, who have not stopped their demands for justice.

When a White man shouted from the audience about contributions Whites had made to Blacks, the mixed race crowd started to boo. “Get your people! White folk get your people, collect him,” shouted a Black woman standing near steps inside the arena.

st_louis_rally_10-21-2014.jpg

Activists Tef Poe and Ashley Yates emcee national rally against police violence.

The evening ended, however, with solidarity and audience members holding hands and invited to join a protest that started at the place near where Vonderrit Myers, Jr. lived the last moments of his life. It ended on the campus of the prestigious St. Louis University, one of the city’s major educational institutions.

A midnight march for justice

“I thank everybody for coming out. My son was loved and he still is loved,” said Vonderrit Myers, Sr., in the early morning hours of Oct. 13, with his wife Syreeta by his side and surrounded by family members and a huge crowd that marched about 40 minutes to the university campus. The trek included a standoff with police armed in riot gear, holding and beating shields with batons. After some negotiations and insistence that protestors had the right to march on sidewalks and talks with legal observers, police pulled back and the group was allowed to proceed.

st_louis_rally_10-21-2014c.jpg

Thousands came to St. Louis and Ferguson, Mo. to participate in a demonstration against police violence, racism and oppression.

“We are here to destroy systemic racism and White supremacy,” said one of the protest organizers as the crowd applauded and cheered. That isn’t anti-White, it is anti the 99 percent who exploit the masses of the people, he added.

“I refuse to have my children grow up in this world,” he said.

Hardship forging new leadership

The boldness of Black youth was on display throughout the weekend as was the political and organizational growth of young people who two months earlier were living normal lives.

Joshua Williams, 18, is one of the emerging young leaders and lives in Ferguson. According to the young activist, Michael Brown was a first cousin.

Keep in mind that Mike  Brown died for an unjustified reason, he said. “That could have been your son laying in the street,” said Joshua. “Hands up means I surrender, don’t shoot me down in the streets.”

st_louis_rally_10-21-2014b.jpg

A. Akbar Muhammad of the Nation of Islam speaks during major protest rally in St. Louis. Photos: Cartan X. Moseley

Calvin Green stood outside the Ferguson Police Station as hip hop music played and police lined up in riot gear. A thin yellow tape separated Mr. Green from the armed officers. He came in with a group of students from Kalamazoo, Mich., that included students from Western Michigan University and activists.

“God allowed me to be here for a reason,” he said. “God allows us to be here for a reason. In our path we are supposed to serve our people, confronting his evil,” he said.

“Our main weapon is love which is what I am showing to people in Ferguson,” Mr. Green added.

Expressions of love and support came from stages, through megaphones and through  one on one conversations and group discussions.

ferguson_protest_10-21-2014e.jpg

Some 800 people turned out Oct. 10 for a Capital Justice Now March and Rally at the Buz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Mo. Rain did not deter demonstrators who want County Prosecutor Bob McCullouch to resign the case involving the death of Michael Brown. Black leaders, youth and politicians have called for a special prosecutor in the case. Photos: Cartan X. Moseley

The system tells Black children to be quiet but these are our children and they are crying out in pain, said Rev. Renita Lamkin. Instead of telling them to be quiet, we should be attending to their needs, she said.

Parents are too busy, schools punish them and police and adults want them to go away, she said. But, added the Caucasian pastor, it’s time to stand with them. “The whole damn system is no damn good,” said Rev. Lamkin, echoing a chant youth have shouted day and night.

Tory Russell of Hands Up United marveled at how far things had come in a little over 60 days. Speaking after the major Saturday rally that drew thousands to downtown St. Louis, he described himself Oct. 11 as a conscious person before Mike Brown’s death. But he and the young people are maturing in activism. They remain strong but more disciplined, more focused, and perhaps more committed.

Mr. Russell, in his twenties, is an organizer and part of a movement that has international reach. People have to go home and work, organize against police violence and injustice where they live, he said. This young movement has veteran activists talking about poverty, racism, voracious capitalism and universal rights—but it started with young people making a single declaration: “Black lives matter!”

Their work remains undone, justice has not come. There has been no indictment for the shooting of Mike Brown and the shooting of Vonderrit Myers, Jr. has been written off as justified by some.

But this movement didn’t start with approval from the police and the powerful and youth leaders say disruptions will continue. We won’t go back to business as usual, things will never be as they once were, they vow.

They have not left the streets—and there is no sign that they will.

But this movement didn’t start with approval from the police and the powerful and youth leaders say disruptions will continue. We won’t go back to business as usual, things will never be as they once were, they vow. They have not left the streets—and there is no sign that they will. They want justice.

hiphop_ferguson_protest_10-21-2014.jpg

Hip hop artists Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, Jasiri X, Rebel Diaz and others joined activist Rosa Clemente, intellectual Cornel West and others for a five hour hip hop and resistance event on Oct. 12 in St. Louis. The concert was part of the Weekend of Resistance organized to bring attention to the problem of police brutality, police murder, police oppression and to support the efforts of young leaders seeking justice for Michael Brown, an unarmed Black youth shot to death by a White Ferguson, Mo. police officer in August. Photos: Cartan X. Moseley

And while youth are organizing and pursuing peaceful protest they are neither in a compliant mood nor in a mood to capitulate. Their peaceful protests are nose-to-nose with police officers and youthful rage over injustice is nearly boiling over.

They are unafraid of police and have little patience with those seen as apologists for injustices they face and the murder of their brothers and sisters. When mocked outside a Cardinals baseball game, young demonstrators chanted: “Who do you want Darren Wilson? How do you want him? Dead!”

Youth who are not necessarily part of the organizations want justice too. When police shootings have happened in St. Louis, their cry has been, “Hands Up! Shoot back!”

If justice is not done, nothing may be able to contain the explosion, and law enforcement agencies are already planning for potential riots.

“Missouri authorities are drawing up contingency plans and seeking intelligence from U.S. police departments on out-of-state agitators, fearing that fresh riots could erupt if a grand jury does not indict a white officer for killing a black teen,” Reuters reported before the Weekend of Resistance. Continue reading


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DTE EXTORTION AND INTIMIDATING TERRORIST TACTICS

Rally against DTE at its headquarters March 10, 2011. Participants also stormed inside and took over the lobby.

Rally against DTE at its headquarters March 10, 2011. Participants also stormed inside and took over the lobby.

State Senator Tupac Hunter adds hardship to poor families

Hunter also supported legislation to allow 20-year state takeover of Detroit

By Agnes Hitchcock 313-873-1513 

Sept. 29, 2014

I am personally experiencing the negative repercussion of legislation introduced by Tupac Hunter (Primary Sponsor) and other regional legislators. This legislation holds a property owner liable for utilities used by any occupants (tenants, squatters, freeloaders) when DTE loosely uses the term “utility theft.” This practice destroys lives without an explosion. Not only does it destroy lives, it also further destroys the housing stock in the city of Detroit. DTE is at the point of calling unpaid bills utility theft.

Gov. Rick Snyder(r), with State Sen. Tupac Hunter and Detroit EM Kevyn Orr at left, laud the passage of 11 bills that will keep Detroit under state control for the next 20 years.
Gov. Rick Snyder(r), with State Sen. Tupac Hunter and Detroit EM Kevyn Orr at left, laud the passage of 11 bills that will keep Detroit under state control for the next 20 years.

Attached is my complaint to the Michigan Public Service Commission. I further intend to forward a complaint to Attorney General for the State of Michigan, the United States Department of Justice, the ACLU and any other individual or entity I find associated with the legislation I believe it is fundamentally wrong to deny an individual a basic necessity to life: particularly to make a profit for DTE.

 DTE, Public Act 128 and Senate Bill 1310 are telling me:

Once DTE alleges Utility Theft

As a property owner I am liable for the unpaid bill USED BY ANYONE AT THE ADDRESS once DTE used the term “utility theft.”

DTE has a right to deny future service at the address for anyone.

DTE can transfer a bill to another account and threaten or carryout shut off because of an unpaid bill at a different property.

Youth participate in demo against DTE March, 2011.
Youth participate in demo against DTE March, 2011.

DTE can charge additional fees and tariffs.

 DTE can charge a property for installation of additional utility facilities (Whatever that means.)

DTE loosely defines unpaid bills as utility theft.

Further details will be provided to anyone interested. You or someone you know may be the next one impacted by this legislation. If you know of anyone else caught in this situation, please forward the information to me.

A fund raiser/awareness event is being planned for the payment of this ransom. Further details will follow.

Attached: Public Act 128/Senate Bill 1310 July 2010

Click on DTE SB 1310_001 and DTE SB 1310_0002

Prayer was offered by Tupac Hunter when this bill passed into law.

Call 'em Out strategy meeting on water shut-offs May 31, 2014.

Blackinaw strategy meeting on water shut-offs May 31, 2014. Agnes Hitchcock is at center in Call ‘em Out tshirt.

Related:
http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/06/01/call-em-out-goes-back-to-war-direct-action-to-stop-water-shut-offs/


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘WARRIOR COP’ WEEKLEY WALKS AGAIN IN AIYANA JONES’ DEATH

Dominika Charles Aiyana FB

Judge, prosecution, defense conspired to protect Detroit police state

 Family left in agony, as St. Louis rises up

 COMMENTARY

By Diane Bukowski

 October 11, 2014

Warrior cops on streets of St. Louis this week.
Warrior cops on streets of St. Louis this week.

DETROIT – As “warrior cops” armed with assault weapons and tanks rode through the streets of St. Louis this week to stem protests against police killings of three young Black men, here in Detroit, a mistrial was declared Oct. 10 in the case of another “warrior cop,” Joseph Weekley, Jr., for the second time.

Weekley shot seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones to death May 16, 2010, shortly after midnight, during a military assault on a home on the city’s impoverished east side, as cameras from A&E’s “First 48” TV program rolled. Four young children, with their parents, grandmother, great-aunt, uncles and cousins, were asleep there when an incendiary grenade shattered the flat’s front window. Within seconds, Weekley stormed in and shot Aiyana through the top of her head with his MP5 submachine gun.

From that moment in occupied Detroit, the fix was in.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

“As soon as they hit the window, I hit the floor and reached for my grandbaby,” Aiyana’s grandmother Mertilla Jones said after police released her several days later. They had arrested her immediately after shooting Aiyana to death. At the time, police admitted that Weekley’s story that she interfered with him, causing his gun to fire, was not supported by the evidence. (See her testimony at this trial, above.)

“I saw the light go out of her eyes and blood coming out of her mouth,” Ms. Jones, the mother of eight children, said. “I had never seen anything like that before: my beautiful, gorgeous granddaughter. I can’t trust them; I can’t trust the Detroit police.”

Joseph Weekley shown as star on A&E's Detroit SWAT website.
Joseph Weekley shown as star on A&E’s Detroit SWAT website.

She spoke at a press conference held by family attorney Geoffrey Fieger May 19, 2010, after this reporter questioned her to counter the first question asked by a mainstream reporter, “Didn’t Charles give Chauncey the gun?” in the killing of JeRean Blake, 17, on May 14, 2010.

 Shocked, Fieger asked, “What has that go to do with it?”

Aiyana’s father Charles Jones was not charged in the Blake case until 17 months later. An inside source has said that a Michigan State Trooper investigation of Aiyana’s death was primarily aimed at setting her father up to justify the invasion of her home. The source said shell casings found in the backyard, produced as evidence in the trial of weaponry in the home, were dug up and looked as though they had been there for years. No weapons or ammunition were found during the raid. The only person named in a warrant for the raid was Chauncey Owens, who lived in the upper flat with Aiyana’s aunt.

From that point on, most of the mainstream media has acted as virtual press spokespersons for the Detroit Police Department, taking advantage of deliberate police leaks. In recent months after the Jones-Owens’ convictions, many reported that police had a warrant for Jones before the raid, an utter falsehood never testified to in any trial. They have also repeatedly reported that Owens was “hiding” in the upper flat, when in fact that was where he had lived for a lengthy time.

Warren Evans in trailer for A&E series "The Chief." He was fired shortly after his plans for this series became known.
Warren Evans in trailer for A&E series “The Chief.” He was fired shortly after his plans for this series became known. He is now running for Wayne County Executive.

Then Detroit police chief Warren Evans sanctioned the embedding of “The First 48” crew with raid teams and authorized “no-knock” raids without first asking the person sought to step outside, which Owens did on his own the night of April 16.

Police reported in Weekley’s first trial that they had surveilled the home all day before the raid, and saw Owens emerge several times. Despite their denials, four minutes (the time it took VOD to walk the distance reported at the trial) was clearly long enough for them to speed around the corner and arrest him without incident.

They also took take daytime photos of numerous brightly-colored children’s toys in the two-family flat’s front yard, shown in evidence at both trials. Nearly every “Special Response Team” member questioned during Weekley’s trial denied seeing the toys, a virtual impossibility. They are even partially seen in the A&E video of the raid. Aiyana’s cousin Mark Robinson, held outside while the “warrior cops” invaded the home, testified that he repeatedly cried out, “there’s children in the home.”

This photo was taken hours after Weekley shot Aiyana to death, by VOD. Toys seen here are the same toys portrayed on slides during Weekley's trials.

This photo was taken hours after Weekley shot Aiyana to death, by VOD. Toys seen here are the same toys portrayed on slides during Weekley’s trials.

Weekley’s testimony that Mertilla Jones grabbed his gun, contradicted by forensic and eyewitness testimony, as well as the testimony of officers who said they saw no toys, should constitute perjury.

Team leader Sgt. Tim Dollinger said they would have carried out the raid regardless but might not have used the stun grenade if children under “18 months” were in the home, towards the end of the prosecution’s case, an utterly arbitrary selection of age.  In addition to Aiyana, her three baby brothers were also in the home, including Dominika and Charles Jones’ two-month-old newborn baby. In Georgia this year, a 19-month old baby was severely burned when a stun grenade landed in his crib.

Aiyana and one of her three little brothers, all present in the home when she was killed, celebrate Christmas during happier days.
Aiyana and one of her three little brothers, all present in the home when she was killed, celebrate Christmas during happier days. FAMILY PHOTO

Aiyana’s family and supporters had called for the entire police command involved in the raid, from Evans on down, to be indicted for Aiyana’s murder, but a Wayne County Grand Jury, composed of Chief Criminal Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny, a member of the ultraconservative Federalist Society, only authorized “involuntary manslaughter” and “reckless use of a fiream resulting in death charges.”

 

Weekley was released on personal bond and has been free since, while Jones and Owens were remanded without bond, and have not seen the light of day for years.

After Owens was brought to trial and accepted a plea bargain for second degree murder, the media reported for months afterwards that he named Charles Jones as the gun provider in the Blake case. This reporter combed through his court file for hours. It said only that Owens pled guilty on condition that he “tell the truth.”

Charles Jones (l) and Chauncey Owens (r) during trial; Jones' attorney Leon Weiss with back to camera.
Charles Jones (l) and Chauncey Owens (r) during trial; Jones’ attorney Leon Weiss with back to camera.

In police videotapes of Owens’ interrogation after the raid, shown during the Owens-Jones trial in April of this year, Owens only confessed to the killing after police allowed him to talk to his fiancée, who told him, “’Yana’s dead.” Owens repeatedly insisted that Jones did NOT give him the gun, naming another man.

 In April, 2014, two separate juries found Owens guilty of first-degree murder despite lingering questions about the involvement of his brother Sh’rron Hurt. The second found Jones guilty of second-degree murder for “aiding and abetting,” although they exonerated him of the gun charges which were the only reason for his murder charges.

Owens was sentenced to life without parole. Jones, who had crawled through his daughter’s blood and brains on police orders the night of her killing, was sentenced to 40-60 years plus 10-20 years for perjury. He tried to put a brave face on at his sentencing, but broke down in tears, overwhelmed by grief for his daughter and his separation from his family, including six sons.

Both sentences are on appeal.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy with Asst. Pros. Robert Moran at her left, testifying at state legislative hearing.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy with Asst. Pros. Robert Moran at her left, testifying at state legislative hearing.

Mostly appallingly, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy allowed Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran to try both Aiyana’s father Charles and Chauncey Owens, while at the same time pursuing the case against Weekley.

Moran’s demeanor during Weekley’s trials was not protective of Aiyana’s relatives, for whom he should have been advocating. He never once jumped up to object to defense attorney Steve Fishman’s continued characterization of Mertilla Jones’ emotional, weeping testimony as a “diatribe,” and his continual demeaning of Ms. Jones on the witness stand, during the second trial.

Fishman repeatedly mocked her statement that “the police came to kill,” that Weekley put his gun to Aiyana’s head. None of the rest of the media aside from VOD reported Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt’s testimony that a contact gunshot wound to the head would NOT cause stippling, a condition Fishman cited as evidence that there was no close-range firing.

Fishman continually testified FOR Weekley, who never took the stand in his second trial, that Mertilla Jones had tried to grab his gun. Forensics experts testified neither the DNA nor the fingerprints of Ms. Jones were found on the gun, which was falsely reported at first by George Hunter of the Detroit News, who also called Ms. Jones testimony a “diatribe.”

SRT police officer Shawn Stallard said he saw no struggle with Weekley.
SRT police officer Shawn Stallard said he saw no struggle with Weekley.

His statements were discounted by the second officer on the scene, Shawn Stallard, who testified he never saw any struggle between Jones and Weekley, and by Sgt. John Robert Collins, who described Weekley’s frantic behavior after the shooting, coming up to him and grabbing and shaking HIS gun, after which Collins told him, “Just tell the truth.”

 Moran never objected to Fishman’s irrelevant statements about Ms. Jones’ sons being in prison. During the first trial, he objected to the use of Facebook photos, taken at unknown times and places by unknown individuals, allegedly showing male family members with guns, but not in the presence of the jury, who freely saw and handled the bogus evidence.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway’s stance in both of Weekley’s trials has clearly been biased toward him. She instituted a thorough screening of the jury venire of hundreds, having them fill out questionnaires asking whether they would be influenced by events in Ferguson, MO or by books and articles such as “The Rise of the Warrior Cop” on the militarization of the police. Only those who were not tossed out based on their questionnaires were verbally examined in court.

She also demeaned Mertilla Jones, calling her testimony “acting out.”

Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway.

Astounding even mainstream media, Hathaway granted a “directed verdict” dismissing the involuntary manslaughter charges against Weekley, leaving the jury to ponder only the high misdeameanor of “reckless use of a firearm resulting in death.” The prosecution’s appeal of that verdict was denied by an appeals court headed by Judge Michael Talbot, known for his racist treatment of those who come before him.

In 1986, as a Detroit Recorders’ Court Judge, he caused gasps when he sentenced Damion Todd, 17, to mandatory life in prison without parole at hard labor and in solitary confinement, for murder, a sentence that does not even exist in Michigan jurisprudence. He added another term of 100 to 200 years for assault with intent to commit murder. He likewise has ruled that the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing juvenile life without parole is not retroactive, a ruling being appealed by a consortium of attorneys on behalf of Michigan’s juvenile lifers.

He was on the appeals panel that summarily overturned Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Richard Skutt’s ruling barring “jail-house snitch” Jay Schlenkerman from testifying against Charles Jones, the father of Aiyana Stanley-Jones.

Jail-house snitch Jay Schlenkerman testified against Aiyana's dad. He is shown here in his current MDOC residence.
Jail-house snitch Jay Schlenkerman testified against Aiyana’s dad. He is shown here in his current MDOC residence.

Months ago, VOD was contacted by an inside source with friends in the Prosecutor’s office who foretold the dismissal of the manslaughter charge, and that Weekley would walk with no jail time. He said many were upset about Moran’s handling of the case, which was confirmed later by Moran’s statement to family members that many in the office were no longer speaking to him.

Where does the blame lie in this debacle? Clearly, the police state and prison nation that this country has become, the judge, the prosecutor and the defense attorney conspired to get Weekley off. Prosecutor Kym Worthy conspired to blame Charles Jones for the death of his daughter.

But what has happened to the people of Detroit?

Many conducted an angry candlelight vigil outside Aiyana’s home after her death.

But then media personalities like the late Angelo Henderson and Mildred Gaddis of 1200 AM began muddying the waters, using repeated interviews with Lyvonne Cargill, the mother of JeRean Blake, to criminalize the entire Jones family. Despite Henderson’s pro-police stance, including his daily reporting of crimes among poor people while ignoring the crime of the rich, he was hailed by many prominent Detroiters as a hero at his funeral.

Youth protest St. Louis police killing of Vonderrit Myers, 18.
Youth protest St. Louis police killing of Vonderrit Myers, 18.

In the wake of their commentary, and other biased mainstream media reporting, the people of Detroit went to sleep, unlike the people of St. Louis and Ferguson, MO, in particular the youth, who have risen up after the virtual executions of three young Black men by white police officers there.

Meanwhile, during our sleep, not only Aiyana Jones’ life, but the entire City of Detroit, including our Water Department and Belle Isle, has been stolen from under our feet with virtually no effective resistance or outcry. “Warrior cops” and the police state are meant to suppress any resistance to the blatant robbery of everything owned by Black and poor people in the U.S., beginning first with the largest Black-majority city in the country, Detroit.

WHEN WILL DETROIT RISE UP?

Related articles on this trial (put “Aiyana” in VOD search engine to review dozens of stories published since the day Aiyana was killed; VOD has covered virtually every trial and hearing in this case.)

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/06/appeals-court-upholds-dismissal-of-killer-cop-charge-in-aiyana-jones-case-despite-wilful-disregard-of-ordinary-care/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/05/national-outrage-over-possible-dismissal-of-charge-vs-detroit-cop-who-killed-aiyana-jones-7/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/03/shock-judge-likely-to-dismiss-manslaughter-charges-against-weekley-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-without-jury/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/03/shock-judge-likely-to-dismiss-manslaughter-charges-against-weekley-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-without-jury/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/29/judge-denies-mistrial-in-killer-cop-weekleys-case-after-aiyana-jones-grandmothers-testimony/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/aiyanas-grandmother-confronts-killer-cop-from-witness-stand-weekly-re-trial-suspended/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/03/shock-judge-likely-to-dismiss-manslaughter-charges-against-weekley-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-without-jury/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/03/shock-judge-likely-to-dismiss-manslaughter-charges-against-weekley-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-without-jury/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/29/judge-denies-mistrial-in-killer-cop-weekleys-case-after-aiyana-jones-grandmothers-testimony/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/aiyanas-grandmother-confronts-killer-cop-from-witness-stand-weekly-re-trial-suspended/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/

BELOW: A&E VIDEO OF POLICE RAID MAY 16, 2010; SECOND VIDEO TAKEN BY POLICE HAS NEVER BEEN SHOWN TO ANY JURY


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

WHITE OFF-DUTY ST. LOUIS COP KILLS VONDERRIT MYERS, JR., 18 WITH 17 SHOTS

UPDATE by tweet from Joel Currier, a freelancer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; opinions are his

joelcurrier ✔@joelcurrier

Follow

Clarifying: Market mgr saying Myers had no gun in store is HIS opinion based on surveillance video. #shawshooting

Store video of Vonderrit Myers and friends just before St. Louis police killed him.

Store video of Vonderrit Myers and friends just before St. Louis police killed him.

Witnesses say teen only had a sandwich

Off-duty cop, in St. Louis police uniform, was  working for private firm, doing “pedestrian check”

St. Louis Police claim Myers had 9mm Ruger, fired at cop

October 8, 2014

UK independentBy Adam Withnall — The Independent

October 9, 2014

Vonderrit Myers with his mother
Vonderrit Myers with his mother Syreeta Myers

St. Louis, MO — An off-duty police officer in St Louis has shot and killed a black teenager, prompting a repeat of the Ferguson protests that followed the death of Michael Brown two months ago today.

Police in the already conflict-ridden county of Missouri said that the officer involved was wearing his uniform but working a second job as a security guard when the incident occurred late on Wednesday night.

The officer, who is 32 years old and white, was unharmed in the incident.

Pictures from the scene on Shaw Boulevard in south St Louis showed people gathering to protest the shooting. KTVI News reported that the crowd was preparing to march on the St Louis police station, with many chanting “hands up don’t shoot”, a slogan that was used across the US after Ferguson.

Crowd confronts police car in St. Louis; tweets later reported police car and truck windows were broken out.

Crowd confronts police car in St. Louis; tweets later reported police car and truck windows were broken out.

As with the death of Michael Brown, there were conflicting initial reports on whether or not the victim, who has been named locally as 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers, was armed.

Teyonna Myers, 23, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper that she was the cousin of the man and that he was unarmed when he was killed.

Crowd at Clemm and Shaw
Crowd at scene of shooting, Clemm and Shaw

“He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It’s like Michael Brown all over again,” she told the paper.

St Louis Public Radio quoted chief of police Sam Dotson as saying that the officer fired “17 times”, while alderman Antonio French, on the scene with protesters, tweeted: “At the scene of yet another young man’s death. This happens too often in our city. It’s a crisis that we should all be concerned about.”

He later wrote: “The victim’s mother was here. She fainted. An ambulance came to attend to her. There is nothing like a mother’s pain at the loss of a child.”

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French at scene.
St. Louis Alderman Antonio French at scene.

But a spokesperson for St Louis Police, Colonel Alfred Adkins, said the officer – who has not been named – approached Myers and three other men in the street and only “returned fire” after he was shot at himself.

 “As [the officer] exited the car, the gentlemen took off running. He was able to follow one of them before he lost him and then found him again as the guy jumped out of some bushes across the street,” Adkins said.

“The officer approached, they got into a struggle, they ended up into a gangway, at which time the young man pulled a weapon and shots were fired. The officer returned fire and unfortunately the young man was killed.”

Angry crowd confronts St. Louis police after off-duty cops kills Black teen Oct. 8, 2014/AP

Angry crowd confronts St. Louis police after off-duty cops kills Black teen Oct. 8, 2014/AP

TWEETS

Delonte@mettawordlife83

STL Delonte

Wearing a hoodie, walking in the street, playing w/ toys & eating a sandwich are now Capital Offense. #ShawShooting #16Times #VonderritMyers

1:09 AM – 9 Oct 2014

 RT @Patricialicious: They just broke out the back window of a police truck.

1:41 AM – 9 Oct 2014St Louis, MO, United States

@andybankertv

Suspect’s aunt cries: “they shot my Drew 16 times. All he had was a sandwich” ; fatal police shooting Klemm&Shaw So StL @FOX2now

9:56 PM – 8 Oct 2014

@andybankertv

Threats at police hurled from crowd at shooting scene at Shaw&Klemm in SoSTL; officer wrkng 2dary security shot,killed suspect @FOX2now

Rachel Lippmann@rlippmann

Crowd is breaking windows on an @SLMPD car.

11:51 PM – 8 Oct 2014

Matthew Wyczalkowski@MaciekStL

STL WHOSE STREETS

Chanting “Our Streets!” and walking down #Shaw avenue. #shawshooting #STL

12:52 AM – 9 Oct 2014

Mariah Randi Stewart@MzzzMariah

Intersection of grand and gravois shut down #shawshooting

Charles Wade@akacharleswade

STL cop shooting protest Charles Wade

#ShawShooting area NOW #16times #16shots

2ND NIGHT OF PROTESTS OVER ST. LOUIS COP KILLING OF BLACK TEEN

UPDATE FROM AP

October 10, 2014

State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed jostled with police as she attempted to deliver petitions in August, calling for a special prosecutor in the case of Michael Brown, killed by Ferguson police Aug. 9, 2014.
State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed jostled with police as she attempted to deliver petitions in August, calling for a special prosecutor in the case of Michael Brown, killed by Ferguson police Aug. 9, 2014.

ST. LOUIS — Protesters angered by the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by police faced off with officers in south St. Louis for a second night as accusations of racial profiling prompted calls for a federal investigation ahead of a weekend of planned rallies and civil disobedience.

State and city leaders have urged the Justice Department to investigate the death of Vonderrit D. Myers in the Shaw neighborhood Wednesday night, fearing he was targeted because he was black. Police say the white officer who killed Myers was returning fire, but Myers’ parents say he was unarmed.

Marchers in St. Louis block street in a second night of protests over police killing of Vonderrit Myers, 18.

Marchers in St. Louis block street in a second night of protests over police killing of Vonderrit Myers, 18.

“This here was racial profiling turned deadly,” state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat, said at a news conference Thursday.

Myers’ death comes two months after the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a black unarmed 18-year-old, by a white police officer in nearby Ferguson. Brown’s killing sparked dozens of often violent protests in the St. Louis suburb. A state grand jury is deciding whether Officer Darren Wilson will face charges in his death.

Late Thursday night following a quiet candlelight prayer vigil for Myers, hundreds of people joined a more rowdy gathering in Shaw to protest his death.

Police in riot gear lined up on a high street, flanked by brand name stores and restaurants. Protesters yelled abuse and profanities to taunt the officers, who silently stood their ground. Police helicopters buzzed above the neighborhood. Officers used pepper spray to force the crowd back.

St. Louise police in riot gear line up to block protesters October 9, 2014. AP

St. Louise police in riot gear line up to block protesters October 9, 2014. AP

Some protesters burned the American flag, while others banged on drums and shouted “This is what democracy looks like!” Some slammed the sides of police vans. Broken glass littered the street.

Eventually the protesters backed off, moving a couple of blocks away. Riot police remained in the area.

Organizers say thousands of activists and protesters from around the country are expected to come to the St. Louis area for four days of rallies, marches and civil disobedience to protest the Ferguson shooting, racial profiling and police violence. The events, which start Friday and include a march Saturday in downtown St. Louis, have taken on added urgency in the wake of Myers’ death.

Atty. Jerryl Christmas at site of protests in Ferguson, MO over Michael Brown's killing.
Atty. Jerryl Christmas at site of protests in Ferguson, MO over Michael Brown’s killing.

“This is a racial powder keg,” said Jerryl Christmas, a St. Louis attorney who was among more than 20 black leaders who joined Nasheed at a news conference Thursday outside police headquarters. “All this is going to do is escalate the situation.”

Police say Myers was both armed and aggressive, using a stolen 9 mm gun to shoot at the officer.

Syreeta Myers said her son was holding a sandwich, not a gun. “Police lie. They lied about Michael Brown, too,” she told The Associated Press by phone Thursday.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said the officer spotted Myers and two other males around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday while working a security job and patrolling a neighborhood near the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Dotson said the officer, who was off-duty but wearing his uniform, became suspicious when one of them started to run.

He chased them, first in his car and then on foot, Dotson said.

During the chase, he got into a physical altercation with Myers, who ran up a hill, turned and fired at the officer, the chief said. The officer, who wasn’t hurt, shot back.

Ballistic evidence shows Myers fired three shots before his gun jammed, Dotson said. Police said they recovered the 9 mm gun, which was reported stolen on Sept. 26.

The officer fired off 17 rounds. Preliminary autopsy results show a shot to the head killed Myers, according to medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Graham said Myers was shot six or seven times in the lower extremities and the fatal shot entered his right cheek.

Authorities have not released the name of the six-year veteran of the St. Louis Police Department. The 32-year-old officer is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

An attorney for the officer told the newspaper that his client served with the U.S. Marines in Iraq and was “shaken up” by the incident. He called claims that Myers was carrying a sandwich not a gun “ridiculous.”

Online court documents show Myers was free on bond when he was killed. He had been charged with unlawful use of a weapon, a felony, and misdemeanor resisting arrest in June.

Myers’ was the third fatal shooting of a black male by St. Louis-area police since Brown’s death.

“It’s imperative that we began to heal this community,” Nasheed said. “This community has been broken down. We have too many deaths at the hands of police officers.”

STL protest RIP Anon


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FERGUSON WEEKEND OF RESISTANCE: JUSTICE FOR MIKE BROWN! OCT. 10-13, 2014

Ferguson weekend
From the Organization for Black Struggle www.obs-onthemove.org

October 6, 2014

From the Stop Killer Cops campaign by the Congress of African People in the early 70’s to this moment, OBS and its members have consistently educated, agitated and organized our people and allies about the role of the state and how to fight for justice in a system that has disproportionately targeted black and brown people for prisons and America’s death rows.

Justice for Mike Brown
Justice for Mike Brown

Our lived experience has been tested since the racist shooting of Mike Brown on August 9 by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson. Our local social justice movement immediately rose to action to navigate through the chaos to a place of planned strategic action. We are serious when we say “No more business as usual!”

Local authorities thought it would be a fleeting flare-up and then complacency would set in. But here we are almost two months out and there continues to be daily protests, organizing meetings and trainings.

You have shown your solidarity in many ways including holding actions in your respective cities, making financial contributions, or actually coming to the Ferguson epicenter to bring your skills and energies. Even Hong Kong youth have been inspired by the actions in Ferguson with images of the “Hands up, don’t shoot!”

OBS and our coalition partners invite you to join us for a Weekend of Resistance. If you cannot attend, pass this on to those who may be in driving distance and who can participate in one or more of the days of activities. This is a movement building moment that requires our collective wisdom and action if we are to build and sustain a national campaign to address the systemic issues of police violence.

Mike Brown means we got to fight back

Get & Stay Connected! Text HANDSUP to 90975 to get updates * Follow @OBS_StL or #FergusonOctober on Twitter * RSVP on Facebook

Endorse the Weekend
If your group would like to endorse the Weekend, send your full name and organizational logo to mcphearson@veteransforpeace.org.
Get the Info
*The official website is FergusonOctober.

*Register for the Weekend of Resistance.

*Sign up to volunteer during the Weekend. When you do, you’ll see there’s a volunteer training coming up this Sunday.

*Get info housing and hotels at Logistics.

*Check out the main schedule for the Weekend.

Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS DISMISSAL OF KILLER COP CHARGE IN AIYANA JONES CASE, DESPITE ‘WILFUL DISREGARD OF ORDINARY CARE’

Top: (l) Joseph Weekley (r) Aiyana Jones; bottom: depiction of shooting.

Top: (l) Joseph Weekley (r) Aiyana Jones; bottom: depiction of shooting.

UPDATE: COA panel, headed by Michael Talbot, one of the most racist, backward judges on the bench, has denied the prosecution’s appeal of Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway’s dismissal of involuntary manslaughter charges against Aiyana Jones’ killer, Joseph Weekley.

Appeals Court Judge Michael Talbot
Appeals Court Judge Michael Talbot

The court said, “The trial court orally granted defendant’s motion for directed verdict and entered a written order to that effect. Because [this] took place before any appellate review was able to occur, the Court is barred from reviewing the trial court’s decision.”

 

The appeals court order was posted in George Hunter’s article in the Detroit News before it was even up on the court website, indicating that he got it from his usual source, defense attorney Steve Fishman. The decision is at Weekley final COA order.

Supporters of Aiyana Jones and her family are calling for all to come out to Ferguson, MO this weekend, Oct. 10-13 for a national protest against police killings and the disregard for Black lives in this country, called by the Organization for Black Struggle. See post below at http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/06/ferguson-weekend-of-resistance-justice-for-mike-brown-oct-10-13-2014/ for all details.

VOD published stories months ago that a scenario where Weekley would plead guilty to the high misdemeanor charge of  reckless use of a firearm resulting in death, and get probation,  was being planned.  See http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/04/18/dad-of-aiyana-jones-7-killed-by-detroit-police-sentenced-to-40-60-years-in-blake-killing. AND

By Diane Bukowski

October 6, 2014

Aiyana Stanley-Jones
Aiyana Stanley-Jones/photo from mother Dominika Stanley-Jones’ Facebook page

A state Court of Appeals panel is currently reviewing the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office appeal of Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway’s order dismissing an involuntary manslaughter charge against Detroit Police Officer Joseph Weekley in the death of Aiyana Jones, 7, on May 16, 2010. (Links to appeals documents are at bottom of story.)

 

The panel is headed by Appeals Judge Michael Talbot and includes Kurtis T. Wilder and Kirsten Frank Kelley.

In their appeal, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Chief of Research on Appeals and Training Timothy Baughman, and Asst. Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Chambers argue that the case should go to the jury as presented. They say that Judge Hathaway’s ruling was a “legal error” contrary to her actual finding in the case, and cite a 1995 Michigan Supreme Court opinion defining involuntary manslaughter.

Hathaway said as part of her ruling that “the trier of fact can decide if the Defendantfailed to use the ordinary care to avoid injuring another when to a reasonable person it must have been apparent that the result was likely to be serious injury.”

The prosecutor then cites People v. Datema, where the high court ruled that the crime of involuntary manslaughter can be committed EITHER with the intent to injure OR in a grossly negligent manner.

Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway with husband Dewayne Hayes, a Wayne Co. Dep. Sheriff.
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway with husband Dewayne Hayes, a Wayne Co. Dep. Sheriff.

 

“In the latter instance,” it says, criminal liability is imposed because, although the defendants’ acts are not inherently wrong, the defendant has acted or failed to act with awareness of the risk to safety and in willful disregard of the safety of others.”

According to the transcript of the Oct. 3 arguments, Asst. Prosecutor Robert Moran said, “He [Weekley] knew what the standard was, he knew what ordinary care was required because they go in there with all this powerful equipment, an MP5 submachine gun, a ballistic shield, vest, whatever the case may be, they’re trained how to use it, they’re trained the proper way to use it. He could have avoided injury if he had followed his training, he didn’t. As a result of not following his training and not following the mandates of ordinary care, someone was killed.”

Numerous Special Response Team members testifed earlier that they are repeatedly trained to keep their index finger on the slide of the gun, off the trigger, even if involved in a confrontation. One officer said the training results in automatic “muscle response.”

Brent Sojea weapons expert

Brent Sojea, weapons expert, said Weekley’s gun, which he is holding, cannot fire accidentally.

A weapons expert said Weekley’s gun could not be fired accidentally, only by exerting eight to nine pounds of pressure on the trigger.

Defense Attorney Steve Fishman cited only the U.S. Supreme Court case, People V. Evans, which Detroit News reporter George Hunter included in his Oct. 3 story, without acknowledging that Fishman was his source for finding the case.

In that case, Fishman said, “The United States Supreme Court has clearly stated that the trial judge’s ruling cannot be appealed and that retrial on that count is prohibited by the Double Jeopary clause of the United States Constitution. Therefore, the prosecution’s emergency application for leave to appeal should be denied.”

The Evans case is more fully discussed in VOD’s previous article at http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/05/national-outrage-over-possible-dismissal-of-charge-vs-detroit-cop-who-killed-aiyana-jones-7/.

National Trayvon Martin protest.

National Trayvon Martin protest.

However the Appeals Court rules, courts have proven throughout this country that justice for people of color in particular is rarely rendered, as in the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Travyon Martin, and Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper’s refusal to prosecute Northland Mall security officers who killed McKenzie Cochran, 25, as he cried out, “I can’t breathe” and “I’m dying” while they held him down.

Many hope that actions like the protests in Ferguson, including the one planned for this weekend, cited below in VOD’s post at http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/06/ferguson-weekend-of-resistance-justice-for-mike-brown-oct-10-13-2014/, will eventually provide justice.

RELATED DOCUMENTS:

Prosecution appeals brief at weekley_app

Defense answer brief at weekley_ansr

Transcript of Oct. 3 arguments at weekley_tr

Justice for Aiyana Jones banner

Banner flown over Detroit on second anniversary of Aiyana’s death.


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NATIONAL OUTRAGE OVER POSSIBLE DISMISSAL OF CHARGE VS. DETROIT COP WHO KILLED AIYANA JONES, 7

Youtube video above posted by “Lady Justice,” who quoted Benjamin Franklin, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

“They are killing our people and it hurts my soul so much.”

 “The officer openly lied in court and said the Grandmother physically attacked him.”

 “We just witnessed a travesty of justice.”

 Court scheduled for Mon. Oct. 6 8:30 A.M. in Weekley trial; Jones family supporters ask people to come

By Diane Bukowski

 October 5, 2014 

(L to r) Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Officer Joseph Weekley
(L to r) Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Officer Joseph Weekley

UPDATE: The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled late Oct. 3, “The Court orders, pursuant to MCR 7.205(E)(2), that plaintiff’s application for leave to appeal is HELD IN ABEYANCE pending the Courts review of the pleadings, and further proceedings are STAYED pending resolution of this appeal or further order of this Court.” Click on Weekley COA order to read order. VOD will provide updates as appeal proceeds.

DETROIT – Outrage is building nationally in the wake of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway’s move to dismiss involuntary manslaughter charges against police officer Joseph Weekley for killing Aiyana Jones, 7, on May 16, 2010. Her ruling has been stayed pending a decision by the state Court of Appeals.

Many who have attended the trial called on the public to turn out in court Monday, Oct. 6 at 8:30 a.m. to let Judge Hathaway know they are watching. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office confirmed that the jury will reconvene that day.

“They are killing our people and it hurts my soul so much,” said “Em” on the national Black website Madame Noire. “It was bad enough they were killing our men. Now it’s our women and kids and the babies. I can’t deal with this. I pray that God covers all of the people of color. It’s not safe for us.”

Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana, weeps as she shows the child's photo before hearing on the cop who killed her October 29, 2012.
Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana, weeps as she shows the child’s photo before hearing on the cop who killed her October 29, 2012.

Nat X said, “The same Officer openly lied in court and said the Grandmother physically attacked him upon entry. Which is a Felony [perjury]. His testimony was not backed up by other Officers who said they saw no one attack him or try to take his weapon and the discharge was not in fact accidental.”

Daniel Ferguson III of Detroit posted a photo of Hathaway on Facebook, remarking, “This is the face of a compromised kneegrow. She should be recalled now. WE JUST WITNESSED A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE.”

Police brutality activist Ron Scott noted, “I think that the question of manslaughter, that’s what it was. This family has suffered for four years.”

When the charge was announced in 2011, many in the community called for a higher charge of second-degree murder to be brought against Weekley, but a one-man grand jury comprised of Wayne County Circuit Court Criminal Division Chief Judge Timothy Kenny authorized the manslaughter charge after lengthy investigation.

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office confirmed Oct. 3 that a stay is in place on Hathaway’s ruling and that an emergency appeal has been filed with the state Court of Appeals, contradicting a report from the Detroit News that a decision to appeal had not yet been made.

“The [Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office] has filed an Application for Leave to File Emergency Interlocutory Appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals,” Wayne County Asst. Prosecutor Maria Miller said in a release. “Because the jury trial is in progress no further comment will be made about the matter. The judge has instructed the jury to return to court on Monday, October 6, 2014.”

Aiyana Jones/Photo from mother Dominika Jones' Facebook page,
Aiyana Jones/Photo from mother Dominika Jones’ Facebook page,

Meanwhile, Aiyana’s mother Dominika Jones posted photo after photo of her first-born child on her Facebook page, saying “Heyyyy Yannnnnaaaa! I miss you so much.” Her grandmother Mertilla Jones cried out, “My little princess!” when told of the attempt to dismiss the charges.

The same Detroit News article, by George Hunter, said without substantiation that Weekley is likely to serve no time on the misdemeanor charge of reckless discharge of a firearm resulting in death.

The applicable statute MCL 752.861(1) says however, “Any person who, because of carelessness, recklessness or negligence, but not wilfully or wantonly, shall cause or allow any firearm under his immediate control, to be discharged so as to kill or injure another person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 2 years, or by a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 1 year, in the discretion of the court.”

Hunter also cited also a U.S. Supreme Court decision which he said bars appeal of a judge’s grant of a directed verdict, failing to note that Hathaway has stayed her ruling pending a COA decision.

The Feb. 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Evans v. Michigan, upheld a trial judge’s directed verdict of acquittal of a man charged with burning a vacant home, saying a re-trial would subject him to “double jeopardy.” (Read full ruling at USC Evans v Michigan.)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

However, the decision distinguished between directed verdicts based on “substantive” vs. “procedural matters,” with the latter not implying double jeopardy.

 “Thus, an ‘acquittal’ includes ‘a ruling by the court that the evidence is insufficient to convict,’ a ‘factual finding [that] necessary establish[es] the criminal defendant’s lack of criminal culpability,’ and any other ruling which relates to the ultimate question of guilt or innocence,’ Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, citing a previous case.

“These sorts of substantive rulings stand apart from procedural rulings that may also terminate a case midtrial, which we generally refer to as dismissals or mistrials. Procedural dismissals include rulings on questions that ‘are unrelated to factual guilt or innocence,’ but which serve other purposes,’ including ‘a legal judgment that a defendant, although criminally culpable, may not be punished’ because of some problem like an error with the indictment.”

Paralegal Roberto Guzman  has written many successful appellate briefs for Michigan prisoners.

Davontae Sanford family and supporters after appeals court hearing August 6 Mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon and stepfather Jermaine Tilmon at right. Sanford was convicted of four drug house murders that happened when he was 14, and his family is fighting to overturn his conviction because another man, Vincent Smothers, has confessed. Paralegal Roberto Guzman is in bottom center of photo

Davontae Sanford family and supporters after appeals court hearing August 6 Mother Taminko Sanford-Tilmon and stepfather Jermaine Tilmon at right. Sanford was convicted of four drug house murders that happened when he was 14, and his family is fighting to overturn his conviction because another man, Vincent Smothers, has confessed. Paralegal Roberto Guzman is in bottom center of photo. The Sanford-Tilman and Jones families earlier held joint protests about their cases.

He said, “Evans held that jeopardy bars retrial after a directed verdict midway through the trial even when the court grants a dismissal based on an erroneous element of a charged offense. We don’t have the same situation here that was present in Evans . . . . Instead Weekley’s situation is one where the judge dismissed the charge on the basis of the definition of ‘gross negligence’ found in the jury instructions; not on an element of the offense. So if the court of appeals is being asked to review the jury instruction I can’t see how that’s jeopardy for purposes of a retrial because it doesn’t appear to have been a dismissal on the element of the charge.”

Mertilla Jones tearfully tells Weekley, with his attorney Steve Fishman, "You know I never touched you, Officer Weekley."
Mertilla Jones tearfully tells Weekley, with his attorney Steve Fishman, “You know I never touched you, Officer Weekley.”

He added, “I can’t understand why Mertilla’s testimony alone would make or break the gross negligence standard. I would have thought the other officers’ testimony that Weekley violated protocol established gross negligence.”

 Defense attorney Steve Fishman said in arguing for the directed verdict, “The only evidence that points to any kind of knowingly creating a danger or intending to cause injury, the only testimony is that of Mertilla Jones, which is by its nature and by comparison to the other testimony, including the medical examiner, is completely and totally unbelievable.”

However, the following testimony has also been given during the trial:

A weapons expert testified that Weekley’s MP5 submachine gun cannot be accidentally fired, that it takes 8-9 lbs. of pressure on the trigger to fire.

SRT member Sgt. Shawn Stallard, second into the house, testified he saw no struggle between Mertilla Jones, Aiyana’s grandmother, and Weekley. Weekley testified in his first trial that such a struggle caused his weapon to fire. Stallard said Weekley kept asking him what he saw.

Sup. Sgt. John Robert Collins was clearly still distressed by killing of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones as he testified this week.
Sup. Sgt. John Robert Collins was clearly still distressed by killing of 7-year-old Aiyana Jones as he testified this week. He said: “My life has not been the same since that night.”

SRT Sgt. Supervisor John Robert Collins testified that Weekley ran up to him on the porch of the house in after the shooting. “I had my MP5,” Collins said. “It was in a low ready position on a sling. I made contact with Officer Weekley in a frantic state. He was reaching and grabbing and clawing at my gun repeatedly with both hands; he appeared to be in shock. He kept saying, ‘She grabbed my gun.’ I made sure my gun was on safety, because I didn’t want it to go off. He said, ‘I shot her.’ I think what I said, because of the circumstances the only thing that came to mind was, ‘Tell the truth.’ We’ve been trained not to say everything will be OK. My family always told me when I was in trouble, ‘Tell the truth.’”

Numerous SRT members testified that they are repeatedly trained in trigger discipline and weapons retention, i.e. keeping one’s index (trigger) finger on the slide of the gun above the trigger even if someone tries to take the gun.

Fishman repeatedly demeaned Mertilla Jones’ testimony that Weekley entered, put his gun to Aiyana’s head, and fired. Wayne County Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt testified there was “no evidence of close-range firing” due to the lack of stippling around the wound. However, he added that in a case where the muzzle of a gun is placed directly against the head, there would also be no stippling. Numerous scholarly pathology articles support that.

Taminko Sanford-Tilman (left) weeps at joint rally for justice for her son Davontae, Aiyana and Charles Jones, Travyon Martin April 23, 2013.

Taminko Sanford-Tilman (left) weeps at joint rally for justice for her son Davontae, Aiyana and Charles Jones, Travyon Martin April 23, 2013.

Related articles on this trial:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/03/shock-judge-likely-to-dismiss-manslaughter-charges-against-weekley-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-without-jury/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/03/shock-judge-likely-to-dismiss-manslaughter-charges-against-weekley-for-killing-aiyana-jones-7-without-jury/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/29/judge-denies-mistrial-in-killer-cop-weekleys-case-after-aiyana-jones-grandmothers-testimony/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/aiyanas-grandmother-confronts-killer-cop-from-witness-stand-weekly-re-trial-suspended/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SHOCK: JUDGE LIKELY TO DISMISS MANSLAUGHTER CHARGES AGAINST WEEKLEY FOR KILLING AIYANA JONES, 7, WITHOUT JURY

(L) Aiyana Stanley-Jones at play; (R) children and others attend memorial at house where she was killed by Joseph Weekley May 16, 2010,

(L) Aiyana Stanley-Jones at play; (R) children and others attend memorial at house where she was killed by Joseph Weekley May 16, 2010,

Prosecutor filing emergency appeal, court t0 re-convene Mon. Oct. 6

Defense claims “gross negligence” must be “wilfull”;

Prosecution said in opening statement that Weekley didn’t kill child on purpose, deflected consideration of testimony to the contrary

By Diane Bukowski

Oct. 3, 2014

DETROIT – At 10 a.m. this morning, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway granted a motion by Joseph Weekley’s defense attorney Steven Fishman to dismiss count one of the charges against him in the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones—involuntary manslaughter.

The second count is “reckless use of a fiream resulting in death.”

Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway
Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway

“I don’t see evidence in this case that the defendant willfully disregarded the results to others,” Hathaway said. “This entire trial has been about the carelessness of the defendant based on his skills. In the light most favorable to the prosecution, there is a conflict between one part of the jury instructions and another part. There is no evidence that supports willfully disregarding care. But the [next] three questions are for the trier of fact. With the conflict, I am going to err on the side of the defense, and grant the motion for dismissing count one.”

 Weekley was part of a military “Special Response Team” that raided Aiyana’s home May 16, 2010 late at night. Other members of the team said his gunshot went off within at the most, three seconds after his entry into the house. They testified extensively that they are trained to keep their finger off the trigger, even if someone tries to take their gun.

Weekley claimed Mertilla Jones grabbed his gun, causing it to fire. The second officer into the home after Weekley said he saw no such confrontation. An evidence technician reported that neither the DNA nor the fingerprints of Mertilla Jones were on Weekley’s MP5 submachine gun.

Mertilla Jones, Aiyana's grandmother
Mertilla Jones, Aiyana’s grandmother

Fishman argued that the only evidence supporting a verdict of guilty on the first charge was the testimony of Mertilla Jones, Aiyana’s grandmother, who directly saw Weekley shoot Aiyana in the head, from where she was in the room only a short distance away. He claimed Jones said Weekley “assassinated” Aiyana, a term she has never used in her testimony.

He said the elements of the legal definition of involuntary manslaughter involve finding gross negligence, which means more than carelessness.

Hathaway granted a stay of her decision, requested by the prosecution, until 11:10 a.m. when the court was to resume today’s hearing. However, the prosecution said it had filed an emergency appeal with the Court of Appeals and asked for an expedited hearing, so the hearing in front of Hathaway will resume Monday, Oct. 6.

Hathaway described the elements in question (summary, not verbatim):

Elements of instructions on manslaughter to prove charge:

  • The defendant caused the death of Aiyana Jones with a gunshot wound.
  • In doing so, he acted in grossly negligent manner.
  • Gross negligence means more than carelessness, it means willfully disregarding ordinary care

Elements of instructions to jury:

  • Defendant knew of the danger to another.
  • He could have avoided injury by using ordinary care.
  • Defendant failed to use ordinary care.
Dominika Stanley-Jones, Aiyana's mother, collapses in court after first mistrial declaration in June, 2013. She had to be carried out,
Dominika Stanley-Jones, Aiyana’s mother, collapses in court after first mistrial declaration in June, 2013. She had to be carried out,

Asst. Prosecutor Robert Moran also prosecuted Aiyana’s father Charles Jones in the killing of JeRean Blake May 14, 2010, resulting in a sentence of 40-60 years, with the jury convicting him of second-degree murder but acquitting him of the gun charges on which the murder charges were based. That case is on appeal.

Moran objected to a directed verdict in Weekley’s case and asked for a stay.

“There is enough on the record to send the elements to a jury,” Moran said. He said the prosecution had never argued that Weekley intentionally shot Aiyana. “The JURY will have to decide the three elements of crime, not whether it was willful or not. If they find those elements, it means gross negligence.”

Throughout the trial, however, the prosecution has failed to object to what one activist called “racist and sexist,” insulting treatment of family members by the defense. Judge Hathaway herself has demeaned family members in her comments from the bench, scolding them as if they were children for “acting out” when they broke down to overwhelming grief caused by reiterating what happened.

Fishman cited Medical Examiner Carl Schmidt’s testimony in his argument this morning as favorable to the defense because there was no evidence of gunpowder “stippling” on the wound. However, VOD reported that at the end of his testimony, Schmidt said if the muzzle of a gun is placed directly against the head of the victim and fired, there WOULD BE NO STIPPLING.

The diagram illustrates the basic differences between the skin appearance of a contact, close (intermediate), and distant (indeterminant) range gunshot wound. From Medical Library, University of Utah
The diagram illustrates the basic differences between the skin appearance of a contact, close (intermediate), and distant (indeterminant) range gunshot wound. From Medical Library, University of Utah

That is what Ms. Jones testified she saw–a gun placed at Aiyana’s head, testimony which Fishman continually badgered her about, as if it was inconceivable that a police officer would deliberately shoot anyone. VOD brought his testimony to the attention of both Moran and Mark Hindelang, the second asst. prosecutor, during breaks, but they scoffed it off. It clearly interfered with their theory that the shooting was not deliberate.

Testimony from a blood splatter expert earlier was that there were large droplets of blood on the portion of Weekley’s ballistic shield which covers the eyes with see-through material. That appears to indicate that Weekley must have shot Aiyana while holding the shield, a grossly negligent action. Other members of the team testified they are taught to drop the shield upon entry if there is no immediate danger such as gunfire. Most said they do not carry the shield, and if they do, they carry it using a short gun.

The blood splatter expert also said that blood on the shield dripped down afterwards in a horizontal pattern as if the shield had finally been placed on the floor after the shooting. Numerous members of the SRT team testified that they are trained and retrained with regard to “trigger discipline,” keeping their trigger finger held straight out against the slide above the trigger, even if someone tries to take their gun.

Trigger discipline: man's gloved trigger finger pointed straight out on slide above trigger.
Trigger discipline: man’s gloved trigger finger pointed straight out on slide above trigger.

A weapons expert testified that Weekley’s gun could not be fired accidentally. So if he did not fire it accidentally, he fired it ON PURPOSE, WILFULLY.

 Judge Hathaway herself has repeatedly said throughout the trial that she trusts the members of the jury, which was extensively weeded out regarding opinions on the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and on the militarization of the police. However, one juror told the judge during a subsequent voir dire on an earlier defense motion for a mis-trial that she thought Fishman was disrespectful to family members, in contrast to the way he questioned police.

VOD reported much earlier that an individual in close contact with members of the Prosecutor’s office reported that such a scenario was in the works, with count one being dismissed and the jury considering only “reckless discharge” of a firearm. He said many in the prosecutor’s office are upset with the way the case has been handled with regard to Aiyana’s family.

Family members of Aiyana told VOD that Moran told them all jurors wanted to find Weekley guilty of manslaughter during his first trial. But Hathaway declared a hung jury during that trial after only three days of deliberation.

MORE TO COME LATER.

Rally for Justice for Aiyana on courthouse steps March 8, 2013,

Rally for Justice for Aiyana on courthouse steps March 8, 2013,

Related stories on this trial, many of which contain information deliberately not reported by daily print and TV media:

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/10/02/weekley-shot-aiyana-instantly-gun-at-head-grandmother-says-weekley-grabbed-raid-sgt-s-gun-after-shooting/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/29/judge-denies-mistrial-in-killer-cop-weekleys-case-after-aiyana-jones-grandmothers-testimony/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/aiyanas-grandmother-confronts-killer-cop-from-witness-stand-weekly-re-trial-suspended/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/24/did-police-tamper-with-key-evidence-in-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-to-back-up-killer-cop-weekley/

http://voiceofdetroit.net/2014/09/18/stunning-revelation-in-cop-killing-of-aiyana-jones-7-direct-contact-gunshot-could-have-killed-her/

EMAIL SENT TO JUDGE HATHAWAY BY PARALEGAL ROBERTO GUZMAN:

Dear Judge Hathaway:

As a resident of Wayne County who has, like you, sat through and heard much of the testmony in the Joseph Weekley trial, I write to urge you to reconsider your decision preliminary dismissing the count of involuntary manslaughter. The court’s comments on the record early this morning expressing reservation that the people have met their burden is belied by the evidence.

In particular, the court expressed concern that the people have not shown that Officer Weekly “willfully” disregarded the results of his actions toward others. The contrary is true. The evidence showed that (1) the SRT and Weekley himself KNEW there were children in the home as they sat out there surveiling the home for hours that day and saw children coming to and fro the residence; and (2) Weekley’s finger on the trigger is a willful disregard that the gun would fire into an occupied home and shoot its occupants.

There is no question he knew the home was occupied and children were in that home. Moreover, the evidence shows he violated protocol on having his finger on the trigger. Clearly, that showed willfulness.

And as an aside, I find it pretty pathetic that much focus was placed on the grandmother’s alleged lies about whether Weekly deliberately walked up to the little girl and shot her while the court, and the media backing Detroit Police, seem content to ignore the lies Weekly told that Ms. Jones struggled with him over the weapon and that is what caused it to fire.

If the court grants a directed verdict, that would tell me that the Court believes Weekley, despite the medical examiner’s findings and the forensics evidence showing he shot the girl immediately upon entering that home. I can only hope your conscience will not allow you to make the wrong decision and let a lying cop walk free. As a result a darling little girl is dead. Your decision will only give Detroit Police the license to kill and lie about it.

I will hold you to your publicly sworn duty as a justice hired by the taxpayers of Wayne County to uphold justice,failing of which I will remember this at election time.

Sincerely,

Roberto Guzman

Roberto Guzman on bullhorn in march to free Davontae Sanford and Charles Jones, and Justice for Aiyana Jones.

Roberto Guzman on bullhorn in march to free Davontae Sanford and Charles Jones, and Justice for Aiyana Jones.


Print Friendly
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment