The footage lasted 44 seconds from the time officers got out of their vehicles, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said in a news conference announcing he wouldn’t prosecute the deputies. “Mr. Brown’s death, while tragic, was justified because Mr. Brown’s actions caused three deputies to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others,” he said during the news conference. Renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who’s part of the Brown family’s legal team, tweeted on Thursday that Womble “has had to do the right thing, he’s taken the route of cowardice and deceit.” “Shame on him,” Crump added in the tweet.
Attorney Chance Lynch, another attorney on Brown family’s legal team, said upon viewing slightly longer clips of dash-camera and body-camera footage in May that at all times in footage Brown’s hands remained visible. He may’ve been on the phone, but he was no threat to law enforcement officers, Lynch said during a news conference. When a deputy fired at Brown, he reversed his car “several feet, if not yards away, from the police who were there” and turned his wheel left away from authorities, Lynch said. “At no point did we ever see Mr. Brown make contact with law enforcement,” Lynch added. “We were able to see where they possibly reached out to make contact to him, but we did not see any actions on Mr. Brown’s part where he made contact with them or tried to go in their direction. In fact, he did just the opposite.”
Lynch described Brown driving away from authorities and across a yard to the side of his house as another shot was fired. His car left tracks in the mud as it accelerated, and police officers stood on the pavement “unloading their weapons,” Lynch said. “There were so many shots that we found difficulty in counting the number of shots that his vehicle received,” the attorney said.
Womble said in ruling the shooting justified that when Brown got into his vehicle it constituted a threat. “When you employ a car in a manner that puts officers’ lives in danger, that is a threat,” Womble said. “And I don’t care what direction you’re going — forward, backwards, sideways. I don’t care if you’re stationary, and neither do our courts and our case law.”
Two of three Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputy placed on administrative leave following the shooting went back to work earlier this month, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II announced in a news release. Deputy Daniel Meads went returned to work last Tuesday, and Deputy Robert Morgan returned the next day. Deputy Aaron Lewellyn told the sheriff’s office he is resigning effective June 30. “He will be using accrued leave until that date,” Wooten said in the release.
“The three deputies involved will keep their jobs,” Wooten said in a video statement on May 18. “They will be disciplined and retrained. Here’s why: While the district attorney concluded that no criminal law was violated, this was a terrible and tragic outcome, and we could do better.”
Kristie Puckett-Williams, statewide manager of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina’s Campaign for Smart Justice, said in a statement that it “should not come as a surprise that the criminal legal system has upheld the legitimacy of another police murder of a Black person.”
“Communities deserve justice and accountability, but history shows justice for people of color is rare in a system that was built upon slavery and has been modified over time to control and limit the lives of those who are not white,” Puckett-Williams said. “The decision not to bring charges against those who killed Andrew Brown Jr. is a sign that the system is working as it was designed to. These cases of state-sanctioned murder are not anomalies.
“They are business as usual. Until we have radically changed the many ways the criminal legal system harms and kills Black and Brown people, justice will continue to elude its victims.”
Read the complete statement from Brown’s family attorneys:
“The autopsy results prove what we’ve always known to be true: Pasquotank County deputies executed Andrew Brown Jr. with a kill shot to the back of the head. The false narrative that DA Womble has attempted to weave is completely discredited by this autopsy report.
While we are not surprised by the findings, we are both astounded and disgusted that the authorities in this case didn’t even have the decency to share these results with the family – we were alerted of their release by the media. Every single opportunity DA Womble has had to do the right thing, he’s taken the route of cowardice and deceit. Shame on him.
Despite law enforcement’s and the district attorney’s best efforts to hide the facts in this case, and paint Andrew as a villain, we are confident that the truth will be revealed and justice will prevail. We will continue to demand release of video footage from the day Andrew was killed, and we won’t stop fighting for transparency and accountability from law enforcement and the district attorney. From what we’ve seen thus far from both parties, we have a long way to go.”
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Biden sets record for judges and more diversity on federal bench, thanks to filibuster reform
“We’re so pleased with both the pace and high quality of the Biden nominees, particularly that so many come from all corners of the legal profession,” Nan Aaron, outgoing president of the Alliance for Justice, told the Associated Press. “It’s a wonderful departure from previous Democratic administrations.” It really is, reflecting a prioritization of the judiciary that previously only Republicans seemed to hold.
That means that rock stars like Ketanji Brown Jackson, a potential Supreme Court nominee, are advancing. She was the first of Biden’s picks to be seated, and is the first Black woman confirmed for an appeals court seat in a decade. Other recent appointees are Tiffany Cunningham, the first Black judge in U.S. history for the Federal Circuit (the court that hears appeals from every jurisdiction primarily on patents), and Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, only the second Black woman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Myrna Pérez spent 15 years as a voting rights advocate at the Brennan Center for Justice. Her confirmation hearing was in mid-July. Her fierce advocacy for voting rights makes her the most controversial among appeals court nominees—she would become the only Latina on the Second Circuit, filling a role previously held by now-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “The right to vote keeps us free. It protects us from tyranny. It is preservative of all other rights,” she said at the hearing. “And as an advocate, I have been duty bound to ensure that the promises this Constitution makes about being able to participate in your own self governance are actualized.”
Certainly with a deep belief in our democratic system like that, she’s not going to get Republican votes. But she doesn’t need to because there isn’t a filibuster for judicial nominees any more, thanks to Harry Reid and his decision in 2013 to change the filibuster rule. That’s the one thing that got Obama those nominees he did get seated—it broke McConnell’s blockade on lower court judges—and meant that many fewer vacancies for the former guy to fill.
Which means fantastic people like these are getting onto the courts to help dilute the effect of the Trump/McConnell judges. That’s a fantastic thing, once again demonstrating that getting rid of the filibuster can make good things happen.
We need more of them on the courts, all the way up to the very top: the Supreme Court. Because McConnell has packed the courts with an unprecedented number of unqualified and extremist jurists, many of whom are young and will be there for decades. Extremists who are far out of the political and cultural mainstream of America. They have to be countered. Fighting for justice demands it. These fantastic new judges need backup.
Neither filibuster reform nor expanding the courts needs to be scary for Democrats right now. Both could very well be necessary if democracy as we know it survives.
Biden admin is allowing Stephen Miller to continue dictating immigration policy
Legislators, advocates, and medical experts alike have been calling on the Biden administration since Day One to end the anti-asylum Title 42 policy, which was revealed by the Associated Press last October to have been implemented under political pressure from the previous administration. CDC experts at first refused to endorse it, saying there was no public health reason to do so. “That was a Stephen Miller special. He was all over that,” a former Pence aide said in that report. “There was a lot of pressure on DHS and CDC to push this forward.”
These political officials were salivating over it for a reason. It’s proven more effective than any physical wall, advocates have said, quickly deporting hundreds of thousands of people.
But months into the new administration, officials refused to end the policy, instead agreeing during negotiations with the ACLU to ease restrictions and process a small number of vulnerable asylum-seekers at at time. But advocates also continued pressure on the administration to end it outright, noting the harm it has inflicted on Black migrants in particular. Under the policy, more Haitians have been deported in the first months of the Biden administration than the previous administration carried out in a whole year.
“We must be decisive and unapologetic in our efforts to dismantle racist and discriminatory policies. Title 42 is no exception,” Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley said. In a clear indication of that, the previous president’s unlawfully appointed acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, Chad Wolf, cheered the Biden administration’s decision to keep Title 42 in place.
The New York Times reports that the Biden administration had considered phasing out the policy by the end of summer. Roughly one month later, that plan was scrapped, supposedly out of concerns over the delta variant. “Delaying those plans, possibly through the end of the year, is sure to be welcomed by Republicans who have proposed legislation to maintain the rule for as long as necessary,” the report continued.
Groups including the ACLU, Texas Civil Rights Project, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Oxfam, ACLU of Texas, and ACLU of the District of Columbia say the policy violates “longstanding immigration statutes requiring that asylum seekers receive a full and fair proceeding to determine their right to protection in the United States.” While unaccompanied children and some families are being allowed to enter the U.S., many are still being quickly expelled back to danger. Now groups are returning to court to attempt to restore the asylum system.
“We took the government to court over Title 42 because the lives of children, entire families, and extremely vulnerable people are on the line,” said Texas Civil Rights Project senior attorney Karla Marisol Vargas. “It’s beyond cruel to use an obscure public health rule to turn away families seeking safety without due process and functionally shut down our asylum system—it’s illegal. People have a legal right to seek safety in America and our government has the resources to safely process them into the country to have their cases heard. Initial promises on the part of the Biden administration to phase out Title 42 for only family units will not do enough. It is time to double down on the push to end Title 42 and force the government to follow the law.”
“It’s racist, it’s illegal, and it has no valid basis in public health, as medical experts have attested for over a year now,” said Center for Gender & Refugee Studies managing attorney Neela Chakravartula. “That the administration has chosen to continue this Trump-era policy, which violates our domestic and international legal obligations to refugees, is a moral failure and an abdication of leadership.”
Five Miami Beach officers charged after police swarm, attack suspect and bystander who recorded it
“Police officers face a variety of dangers on the job each and every day,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said at a press conference. “However, as I’ve previously said, excessive force can never, ever, ever, be an acceptable foundation for the policing of any community.”
The incident, which occurred on July 26, was not only captured by a bystander’s camera but on hotel surveillance footage and the police officers’ body cameras. During a press conference, Rundle played edited, pre-captioned, and highlighted portions of the incident, which totaled four minutes of content.
(Warning: The Twitter thread below contains violent video, photos, and language that may not be suitable for all readers.)
The video begins with an officer stopping 24-year-old Dalonta Crudup at gunpoint following a brief chase into a hotel. Crudup is seen putting both hands in the air and lying facedown on the floor before he is swarmed by more than a dozen officers. According to the state attorney, a total of 21 officers converged at the hotel before excessive force was used on Crudup, the Miami Herald reported.
According to police officials, the whole incident began when Crudup allegedly illegally parked his scooter. When confronted about it, he allegedly struck an officer with the scooter and then fled in the direction of the hotel. The struck officer was allegedly left with leg injuries that required hospitalization and crutches.
After being ordered to leave an elevator at gunpoint in the hotel, Rundle said Perez kicked Crudup in the head three times and Perez kicked him four times. The video depicts this violence, with the officers appearing to even lift Crudup from the ground before slamming his head on the floor.
“You see officer Kevin Perez kicking Mr. Crudup. You see him being kicked in the head. You see Kevin Perez kick him 4 times. Then you see officer Jose Perez, who is no relation to Kevin Perez, kick him three times,” Rundle said. Rundle noted that from the footage and audio evidence, Crudup seems to have already been handcuffed during this violence.
Excessive force was not only used on Crudup but also on the innocent bystander who attempted to use his cellphone to record the arrest. According to the state attorney, the bystander was identified as 28-year-old Khalif Vaughn.
“You see officer Robert Sabater run and tackle him,” she said. “You see a bunch of punches to his rib area and kidneys. Then you see Officer David Rivas punch Mr. Vaughn in his rib cage area. And you see Officer Steven Serrano repeatedly strike him,” she explained.
Police had accused Vaughn of impeding their investigation and not maintaining a 20-foot distance. He was charged with resisting an arrest with violence and impeding a police investigation, while Crudup was charged with things that include aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer.
In response to the incident, Miami Beach Police Chief Robert Clements said: “I’m disappointed that this is out there, and it depicts our department in the manner that it does when I know we are much better than that.”
He added: “This in no measure reflects the men and women in the Miami Beach Police Department. Moving forward, I can tell you that my staff and I promise you, as individuals and as an agency, we will learn from this, and we will grow from this, and we will do better. This is not what you see from officers.”
After seeing the footage, Clements immediately suspended the officers. He also asked that charges against both victims be dropped. Investigations into the incident began when Clements contacted Rundle’s office and Internal Affairs.
In a Twitter post on Monday, Rundle thanked Clements for “swiftly recognizing the wrongs committed & bringing the matter to my attention.” According to CNN, the state attorney confirmed charges against Vaughn have been dropped, but the case against Crudup for allegedly hitting an officer with his scooter is under investigation.
“When we saw that kick to the head. And then we, and then we replayed it and we see all the other kicks that preceded it, it was just unfathomable, it was unspeakable, it is just inexcusable.” Rundle said. “I’m not alone in that feeling. I watched the chief watch that video and his head just went right down on the desk. So we’re all really horrified by it.”
All five officers have been relieved of duty pending an investigation into the case, according to Clements.
In a statement, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber thanked prosecutors and police for moving so quickly on the case, which is an uncommon occurrence, the Miami Herald reported.
“The video is not who we are, which is why our department took decisive actions within hours of the incident.”
In an interview with Local 10 News, Crudup said he believed the officers were after him for riding a scooter with headphones on. He denied hitting the officer who police say is now injured. Crudup said that he ran from the scene because he was scared of being chased by the officers.
“They trying to put a Black man in jail for no reason,” he said. “I ain’t do nothing wrong.”
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