Crime & Public Safety

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Case of Mistaken Identity, and Theft of Dignity

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 at 9:54 AM


Story: A neatly dressed, well groomed 30-something man is standing outside a nice hotel in Manhattan, waiting quietly, a smile on his face. At the same time a sting operation is going down inside the hotel where the police are arresting some people who have been accused of identity theft. The man just standing there minding his own business is identified as looking like one of the people in the theft ring. Oh, and, by the way, the 30-something man is white.

How do the plainclothes officers outside the hotel respond? Do a few of them move in this man's direction, form a loose circle around him, show their police identification and tell him to put his hands up, then only take more aggressive action if he fails to comply? Or do they rush him without warning, pick him up, body slam him to the ground and cuff him? Either scenario is possible, but since he's only a suspect, not someone who they've seen commit a crime, since the crime he may have committed is a white collar, nonviolent crime, and since he's standing quietly in front of the hotel, I think good police work would mean refraining from the use of force unless it's necessary.

The incident I described unfolded Wednesday night in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan, but one thing about the man is different than the way I described him. He's black. He's James Blake, the 35 year old tennis star who has retired from the tennis circuit but is still playing in the Champions Tour with the likes of John McEnroe and Jim Courier. When he was identified as one of the people possibly involved in the identity theft ring, he was waiting for a car that would take him to the U.S. Open where he was going to be interviewed. According to an interview Blake gave on ABC News, a plainclothes policeman wearing t shirt and shorts without a visible badge charged him.
"I saw someone from the street running directly at me. . . . He picked me up and body slammed me,  put me on the ground, told me to turn over, shut my mouth, and he put the cuffs on me."
Sure, it could've happened to any well dressed, 30-something guy standing quietly on the sidewalk outside a fancy hotel who the police thought had committed a crime, but the chances are far more likely that the aggressive take-down would happen to a black male than a white male who was similar in every way except for skin color. It can be dangerous to be Driving While Black, Walking While Black or Standing While Black.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

ACLU of Arizona Sues City of Surprise Over an Ordinance That's Pretty Terrible to Domestic Violence Victims

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 9:00 AM

  • Courtesy of Photospin
The City of Surprise has this ordinance in place that allows a landlord to evict tenants who place calls to the police more than four times in 30 days, and there are no exceptions if the tenant is the victim of said crime. Well, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona have decided to challenge that rule on behalf of a domestic violence survivor.

Nancy Markham was a victim of "repeated domestic violence" who "needed to contact and rely on the Surprise police for protection and assistance at her rental home. In response, Defendants sought Ms. Markham’s eviction," the lawsuit, filed Thursday, says. Markham is a single mother of two children.

Between March and September of last year, Markham’s ex-boyfriend choked her, punched her, and threatened her with weapons. A Surprise police officer then enforced the nuisance ordinance by notifying her landlord about the police calls and encouraged her eviction, the ACLU argues. "In September 2014, the property manager of Markham’s apartment notified her that she would be evicted for having violated the law, even though the police never mentioned the law to Markham during any of her calls," the press release says. 

The groups argue the so-called "nuisance ordinance," passed by the Surprise City Council in 2010, violates the First Amendment right to free speech, ignores the Fair Housing Act's prohibition on gender discrimination, as well as an Arizona housing law that states there shouldn't be a limit on how many times a tenant can call the cops, among other allegations, according to a press release from the ACLU of Arizona. 

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

E.W. Has an Update for the 'Serial' Obsessed

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 10:30 AM

Adnan Syed
  • Adnan Syed

I was so late to the Serial* bandwagon. I listened to the entire series in two days, only taking a break when coworkers would approach my desk demanding attention. When I finished the final episode, I was unsatisfied. I, having been a big reader/television watcher all my life, wanted a satisfying answer. A well throughout, all encompassing final chapter. But this is "real life" and this story isn't over just because we're ready for a Law & Order-style recap. 

Though Serial is done with the story that kept us so entranced last season, the story is still developing. Through Undisclosed, more details of the case are being discovered. This time around, there's no This American Life level production and the narrator is firmly on Team Anon. Its content will be interesting for Serial fans, but Undisclosed is absolutely a different experience. 

Entertainment Weekly has been kind enough to keep up with this for us and wrote something up giving us a Serial recap, the facts relevant to each claim and (!!!) five new things that have come up since the original podcast ended.  

Head over to EW to read the whole thing, but I'll leave you a taste here: 
3. The cell phone tower pings mean nothing

If Gutierrez had paid closer attention to an AT&T cover sheet that included information about the cell phone towers pinged by Adnan’s phone on Jan. 13, the trial may have ended differently. The cover sheets stated, “outgoing calls only are reliable for location status. Any incoming calls will NOT be considered reliable information for location.” One of the reasons for this disclaimer was due to a glitch with AT&T at the time, which had incoming calls ping the tower near the person making the call rather than the person on the receiving end. The two key phone calls in the case, at 7:09 p.m. and 7:16 p.m., pinged the tower that covers Leakin Park and the surrounding areas. The State claimed the pings from those calls placed Syed in the park, where he allegedly buried Hae. However both of those calls were incoming calls, thus making it impossible to determine the location status. According to Syed’s current attorney, C. Justin Brown, the fax cover sheet was included in Gutierrez’s file, but she “simply failed to act on it.”

*I'm not going to summarize it for you, you just have to listen to it. I'm obsessed with it, everyone is obsessed with it, just do it. You've put it off long enough.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Remember Kandis Capri and Stop The Killing

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Friends, family and allies gathered last Wednesday in a vigil remembering Kandis Capri. - ANNE SCHMITT
  • Anne Schmitt
  • Friends, family and allies gathered last Wednesday in a vigil remembering Kandis Capri.

Kandis Capri was murdered last week. This added her to the list of trans women of color being brutally destroyed at a rate that continues to increase.

  • Anne Schmitt
This calendar year is far from over and we have already passed the number of hate-fueled murders of trans women from last year.

What we don’t know is how accurate any of these numbers really are. The statistics say there were a dozen trans women murdered last year, and in 2015 we already have 20. These are the known murders of trans women and many more may be tangled in the system by the names on their driver licenses, the name at the top of the report, the failure of some families to accept who their children are, and until recently the limited ability of most news sources to know how to approach the subject. These issues need to be addressed to bring this violence into view.

Kandis Capri was loved by many people. At the vigil held this past Wednesday in Phoenix, there was an incredible mix of humanity there to attest to that love. There were  lots of little kids who adored her playfulness and friendship, buddies from childhood who had accepted the change from Dedrick to Kandis and only spoke lovingly of how Kandis remodeled the GI Joe they played with in their youth. There were members of the gay and trans youth groups showing respect and asking how to keep themselves safe. But most of all there was Adrias Gaines, Kandis' mother, who had the grace and strength to stand up and talk about the importance of love. 

Monica Jones served as the MC at this event. Her prostitution arrest garnered media attention as being only a case of “walking while trans.” Monica, who is studying social work at ASU, has stepped forward as a community activist. This is a mantle she wears well and her sincerity was beautiful. 

It is really easy to read about a murder in the paper and then never think of it again. It is easy to say that someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Violence is so much a part of the American cultural experience that we consider it entertainment. We stop and mourn when someone famous dies or when the event is spectacular. Something is innately wrong with this scene.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Juneteenth, 150 years

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 9:00 AM

  • Illustration

With the horror of the shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, a little more than 24 hours old, and with the racial hatred that led the murderer to fire on the members of a devout Bible study group so palpable, I feel that it's more important than usual to point out that today, June 19, is Juneteenth—actually, the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth. It's a celebration of the end of legal slavery in the U.S. and a reminder of how great the resistance was at the time and how jagged the path to racial equality was and continues to be.

This old white man, who considers himself reasonably well educated, knows very little about Juneteenth. I hadn't even heard of it, I believe, until the posthumous publication of Ralph Ellison's novel, Juneteenth, in 1999, and I might not have paid attention even then if Ellison's Invisible Man wasn't one of my all-time favorite novels. Juneteenth: it seemed like a strange word and an odd title to me at the time. I put the blame partly on myself for not digging deeply enough into the history of race relations in the U.S., but I can't blame myself for not having the holiday even mentioned in the history textbooks I read in school or in the mainstream media I absorbed all my life. That omission, as well as the omission of so much of the history of racial oppression in this country from slavery to the present day, is part of that same jagged path, with all its switchbacks and washed-out bridges, we are taking in our attempts to increase our knowledge and understanding of our shared history and to move toward greater racial equality. That the road is so torturous is one of the great shames of our nation.

Here are two descriptions of the history of Juneteenth you can read if you wish. One is on the website. The other, a more caustic and cynical view titled The Hidden History Of Juneteenth, appeared on the Talking Points Memo website yesterday.

Here's a very short history of the events leading to the holiday, which I'm quoting directly from the website so I don't put my shameful ignorance on further display:
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

UA/Biosphere 2 Researcher Killed by Drunk Driver

Posted By on Sat, May 30, 2015 at 10:21 AM

UA/Biosphere 2 researcher killed by drunk driver Raphael Sagarin explains the facilities at Biosphere 2 - J.D. FITZGERALD/TUCSON LOCAL MEDIA
  • J.D. Fitzgerald/Tucson Local Media
  • UA/Biosphere 2 researcher killed by drunk driver Raphael Sagarin explains the facilities at Biosphere 2

Gary L. Colvin, 44, from Tucson allegedly swerved partially off the road and struck Raphael Sagarin from behind, killing him.
  • Gary L. Colvin, 44, from Tucson allegedly swerved partially off the road and struck Raphael Sagarin from behind, killing him.
Raphael Sagarin, a UA associate research scientist, was killed on Thursday, May 28 around 6:37 p.m. while riding his bicycle on State Route 77, Milepost 99.3 near Oracle. He was 43 years old.

A pickup truck driven by Gary L. Colvin, 44, from Tucson is said to have swerved partially off the road and struck Sagarin from behind. Sagarin was thrown off his bicycle and although he was wearing a helmet, he succumbed to injuries at the scene.

Colvin was allegedly impaired at the time of the collision and he was arrested and booked for a manslaughter charge into the Pinal County Jail. Further charges are still pending.

The UA purchased the Biosphere 2 about eight years ago, and brought in Sagarin to manage and help transform the 700,000-gallon, 9,000 square-foot ocean inside the facility to replicate the Gulf of California.

Sagarin's passion for marine life shined when Tucson Local Media, our parent company, interviewed him in 2014 for a story highlighting the program.

“Every single stranger that I tell I’m a marine biologist and that I live in Tucson, they laugh, and they say, ‘What’s a marine biologist doing in Tucson?’” said Sagarin.

At least one reason Sangarin was in Tucson was his love for his work. More details will be released as they are available.

Friday, May 29, 2015

They Found Zoey! Puppy Stolen From Humane Society While Awaiting Spay Surgery Recovered

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2015 at 4:30 PM

Excellent news from the Pima County Sheriff's Department! They found Zoey.

From the Humane Society:

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department received a tip last night and recovered Zoey. She is now at HSSA and the family that adopted Zoey has been notified. They are thrilled to know she will be coming home, safe and healthy, soon.

Zoey is currently in the office of one of our staff members. She has eaten, had water and is currently playing with our staff member and puppy toys.

We will only be able to release limited details to our Facebook constituents; we do not want to inadvertently jeopardize this ongoing investigation. The Sheriff’s department will release details as they can.

Thank you all for playing a vital role in Zoey’s return. It is through your participation in the conversation, coverage by local media and the partnership of PACC that Zoey has been found safe and sound. We are grateful to you all.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Did You See a Fight in the Maynard's Parking Lot in March?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 3:00 PM



From an email I received from Raymond Duron of Optimus Investigations:
WITNESS? On March 14th, 2015 at about 2:00 a.m., a physical altercation involving law enforcement officers and an individual occurred on the north east area of the parking lot of Maynard’s Kitchen. If you saw altercation or witnessed events leading up to the incident please call 520.339.2342  

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