Posts tagged with "police"

Justice for George illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Derek Chauvin Trial Coverage

By: Emily Bunn

The case regarding the former police officer involved in the death of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has been unfolding. Chauvin has now been charged with both second- and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He was found guilty on all accounts. The case can be viewed live on CNN’s website here.

George Floyd’s death was recorded via cellphone footage from a nearby bystander, Darnella Frazier. Frazier, then seventeen at the time, has brought critical attention to Floyd’s death as a result of her footage, a major piece of evidence in bringing light to the case. Frazier has revealed that she only observed violence from the police officers at the scene of Floyd’s death, which contradicts the defense’s illustration of the bystanders as a “angry mob that was striking fear into the police.” Earlier this month on Facebook, Frazier had posed a query to her followers, asking what would have happened if no one recorded Floyd’s arrest and death, posing an important question surrounding the relationship between the police and the community members that the force governs. Frazier ended her testimony with an emotional statement: “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad. I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all Black. I have a Black father. I have a Black brother. I have Black friends. And I look at that, and I look at how that could have been one of them.”

Frazier had witnessed the distressful scene alongside her nine-year-old cousin. The witness said that the officer on the scene had his knee on Floyd’s neck, even after the EMT personnel asked “him nicely to get off of him.” She continues, explaining that the ambulance personnel had to get the officer off of Floyd. “I was sad and kind of mad”, she remarks, “because it felt like he was stopping his breathing, and it was kind of like hurting him.”

Another witness to Floyd’s death, mixed-martial artist Donald Williams II, has taken to the stand to account what he observed at the scene of Floyd’s arrest. Williams had called the police on the police after seeing Floyd transported from the gruesome scene via ambulance. Williams claims, “I believed I witnessed a murder.”

Williams has faced speculation and discreditation from the defense attorney of Officer Chauvin, Eric J. Nelson. Nelson spent much of the morning on the second day of the trial questioning William’s knowledge of martial arts defense. Nelson also attempted to portray Williams as angry, to which Williams clarified his reaction was out of desperation because of the harrowing situation at hand. Nelson also attempted to portray the crowd of bystanders as mad at and violent towards the police officers present at the scene. As earlier stated, this claim contradicts Frazier’s assertion that the police were the source of violence at the scene. Nelson averted the attention from the video footage, asserting that there are 50,000 items in evidence and this case is “is clearly more than about 9 minutes and 29 seconds.”

On the other hand, the prosecution said it would bring in seven medical experts and the Hennepin County medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Floyd (who classified the case as homicide) to bring further clarity to the case. Chauvin’s attorney is arguing that Floyd died due to a drug overdose and heart condition, though the nine minutes and twenty-nine second video also clearly shows Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, restricting his ability to breathe. Prosecuting attorney, Jerry W. Blackwell, spoke about the video footage: “You can believe your eyes, that it’s homicide–it’s murder.”

Another witness to the scene, paramedic Seth Zachary Bravinder, testified that when he arrived on scene, he could tell that Floyd already wasn’t breathing. When lifting Floyd into the ambulance, the paramedic recalls Floyd’s state: “I guess limp would be the best description. He wasn’t — he was unresponsive and wasn’t holding his head up or anything like that,” Bravinder said. He continues, explaining that Floyd flatlined while on the way to the hospital. Once realizing his patient had flatlined, Bravinder and his partner stopped the ambulance to give medical aid to Floyd. Bravinder elaborated on the condition of Floyd, explaining that the term “flatlining” refers to “not a good sign…basically just because your heart isn’t doing anything at that moment. There’s not — it’s not pumping blood. So it’s not — it’s not a good sign for a good outcome.”

Another paramedic who delivered medical assistance to George Floyd, Derek Smith, also delivered a testimony in the trial of Chauvin. Upon arriving on scene, Smith reports that he saw Floyd on the ground with three officers on top of him. He continues detailing the scene: “I walked up to the individual, noticed he wasn’t moving. I didn’t see any chest rise or fall on this individual.” Smith reported that he thought Floyd was dead, and upon checking the victim, he says that Floyd’s pupils were “large” and “dilated” and that he couldn’t detect his pulse. Still, Smith says he did all that he could in an attempt to revive Floyd: “”[H]e’s a human being and I was trying to give him a second chance at life.”

A doctor who provided emergency care to Floyd at Hennepin County Medical Center, Dr. Bradford Wankhede Langenfeld, also took to the stand. Dr. Langenfeld had pronounced Floyd dead on May 25, 2020. Langenfeld attested that the emergency responders who responded to the event were originally called upon for a “lower type of acute event of facial trauma,” but the call was later upgraded to call for “an individual under distress.” When Floyd arrived at the hospital, Langefeld explains that the paramedics attempted to resuscitate Floyd for “approximately 30 minutes,” by inserting a tube down his throat to ventilate his lungs, as well as attempted to administer CPR and medication. The report did not mention that the police officers on scene nor any of the bystanders attempted to give Floyd CPR. Langenfeld, who provided medical treatment to Floyd, testified that hypoxia was likely a cause of Floyd’s cardiac arrest. He says,  “Based on the history that was available to me, I felt that hypoxia was one of the more likely possibilities.” Langenfeld clarified to prosecutor Jerry Blackwell that hypoxia refers to “cardiac arrest meaning oxygen insufficiency.” Langenfeld continues describing the condition of his patient: “There was no obvious, significant external trauma that would have suggested he suffered anything that could produce bleeding to lead to a cardiac arrest.” Jerry Blackwell asked if Langenfeld theorized oxygen deficiency as the leading cause of Floyd’s death, to which Langenfeld replied: “That was one of the more likely possibilities. I felt at the time based on information I had, it was more likely than the other possibilities.”

Capt. Jeremy Norton of the Minneapolis Fire Department had also been in the ambulance which escorted Floyd to the hospital. In his testimony, he recalled the scene when he entered the ambulance: “He was an unresponsive body on a cot.” Norton continues, attesting that after Floyd was delivered to the hospital, he filed a report with his supervisors regarding the incident. Norton says, “”I was aware that a man had been killed in police custody, and I wanted to notify my supervisors to notify the appropriate people above us in the city, in the fire department and whomever else, and then I also wanted to inform my deputy that there was an off-duty firefighter, who was a witness at the scene.”

Minneapolis police inspector, Katie Blackwell, also testified in Chauvin’s trial. She detailed that she had worked with Chauvin for over 20 years, and had selected him as a field training officer. Blackwell documented that Chauvin had been regularly instructed in defensive tactics and the proper use of force as taught by the Minneapolis Police Department. She continued testifying, adding that officers are also trained in their medical unit about the dangers of possible asphyxiation and the cruciality of positioning people up right or on their side to recover from such. She added that once a person is under control, officers should position them in a recovery position “as soon as possible.” Further, Blackwell said that Chauvin participated in a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training in 2016, and another seven hour refresher course in 2018– which included de-escalation training as part of the program. In viewing an image of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, Blackwell said: “I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is,” she said. “It’s not what we train.”

Another witness, Christopher Martin, continues to fill in more details to the harrowing day of Floyd’s death. Christopher Martin was the cashier at Cup Noodles, a convenience store in south Minneapolis. He explains that Floyd came in to buy cigarettes with a friend on May 25, and describes Floyd’s condition as “very friendly” and “talkative.” Martin testified that Floyd appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Martin continues, explaining that Floyd had paid with a counterfeit $20 bill. After realizing the counterfeit payment, Martin reported it to his manager, as the store had a policy of deducting the amount of counterfeit payment from its employee’s paychecks. Martin’s boss instructed the worker to approach Floyd and ask him to come back into the store, and Martin was met with refusal. He returned to the store and told his manager that he would accept the pay deduction, but Martin’s manager encouraged him to again approach Floyd. After Floyd refused for the second time, Martin’s manager told another store worker to call 911. Minutes later, Martin says that he recalls a large crowd of people gathering outside, “yelling” and “screaming.” Martin joined the crowd outside, observing as bystanders demanded for the police to take Floyd’s pulse as Chauvin continued to kneel on the victim’s neck. Reflecting on the scene, Martin says he felt “disbelief and guilt.” Elaborating on that statement, Martin explains: “If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.” Martin has also added that “the one thing I would say to Derek Chauvin is justice will be served.”

The man who had been in the car alongside Floyd, Morries Hall, refuses to testify in the trial of Derek Chauvin and has asserted that he will invoke his Fifth Amendment if called to the stand. Hall had fled Minnesota shortly after Floyd died, and was soon after arrested in Texas on account of outstanding felony warrants that had been issues to him prior to Floyd’s death. One of the charges includes being a felon in possession of a firearm. Regarding the day of Floyd’s death, Hall has been accused of trying to get rid of evidence related to the case. A court document filed by the defense reports: “Surveillance video from the nearby Dragon Wok restaurant shows that Mr. Hall appeared to use Mr. Floyd’s resistance as a distraction to destroy evidence…The video demonstrates that Mr. Hall watched through the windows of Mr. Floyd’s vehicle to ensure that he was not being observed by police, then…. Mr. Hall furtively dropped something into the sewer drain on the street.”

Courteney Batya Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend since August 2017, took to the stand and revealed that both herself and Floyd had struggled with opioid addiction. She explains their opioid use: “Both Floyd and I, our story — it’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids. We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck and his was in his back. We both have prescriptions. But after prescriptions that were filled, and we got addicted, and tried really hard to break that addiction many times.” Elaborating on Floyd’s opioid usage, Ross disclosed that Floyd had been hospitalized for overdose in March of 2020.

The prosecution presented this information regarding Floyd’s usage to light not to paint him in a negative light, but to show the full truth of the situation. CNN legal analyst Laura Coates explains the prosecution’s strategy: “’It’s because as the prosecutor, you want to present and address and resolve these bad facts. You don’t want to have the defense be able to say, ‘Hey, jury, why didn’t they tell you about this? Here are the things they don’t want you to know.’ Sprinkling seeds of doubt’….Coates added that the prosecution is addressing it so they can “package it essentially” to say, “‘So what? He has an opioid addiction.’ And of course in America, we view opioid abuse very differently than we did even decades ago. How does this actually impact Chauvin’s decision to act?’”

Retired Sgt. David Pleoger of the Minneapolis Police Department took to the stand to describe a phone call that had taken place between Chuavin and himself on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin had kneeled on Floyd’s neck. He recalls: “I believe he told me that they had — tried to put Mr. Floyd — I didn’t know his name at the time, Mr. Floyd into the car. He had become combative,” adding that “I think he mentioned that he had injured — either his nose or his mouth, a bloody lip, I think, and eventually after struggling with him, he suffered a medical emergency and an ambulance was called and they headed out of the scene.” Pleoger also detailed that he has known Chauvin since 2008.

Another member of the force, Jon Curtis Edwards, a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department, took to the stand to discuss details about the crime scene and body camera footage. Edwards reports that he arrived at the scene of 38th and Chicago around 9:35 p.m. ET. Upon arrival, Edwards says there were only two officers still present­– J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane– and not many other people around. While Edwards attests that he arrived on scene with his body camera turned on, he says that the two officers who had been at the scene did not have their cameras on. Edwards asked them to turn their body cameras on. Then, after the two officers detailed to Edwards where the scene had occurred, Edwards told them to place crime scene tape around the area “so that we could preserve any potential evidence that was there.”

The most senior officer on the Minneapolis police department and head of the Minneapolis Police’s homicide unit, Lt. Richard Zimmerman, also took to the stand. He clarified that the actions of Chauvin are not compliant with the training that police officers receive, adding that  “if your knee is on a person’s neck, that could kill them.” As the most long-standing member of the police force, and having been trained every year in the appropriate use of force, he says that he has never received instruction to deliver force via kneeling on the back or neck of someone, as Chauvin demonstrated. “Pulling him down to the ground face down, and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for. I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger — if that’s what they felt — and that’s what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force,” Zimmerman stated. He says that Chauvin’s use of force would only be used in a “top-tier, deadly force” situation and in case of Floyd was “totally unnecessary.” There are varying degrees of how officers can work to restrain someone. Zimmerman explains, “Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way. They are cuffed, how can they really hurt you,” he said. “You getting injured is way down. You could have some guy try to kick you or something, but you can move out of the way. That person is handcuffed, you know, so the threat level is just not there.” Upon arriving at the crime scene around 10 p.m., Zimmerman recalls walking up to officers J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane. Determining the two as “involved officers,” Zimmerman says he instructed them to go to city hall to be interviewed. Zimmerman explains that the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) took over the handling of the case when the hospital determined Floyd had passed. Lt. Richard Zimmerman, head of the Minneapolis Police’s homicide unit, said the use of force by former officer Derek Chauvin against George Floyd was “totally unnecessary.”

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo from the Minneapolis Police Department also took to the stand to discuss the use of force and de-escalation techniques. He has held his position as chief for three years, and has been involved with the department since 1989. At the beginning of his testifying, he was asked to identify Derek Chauvin, whom he successfully pointed out. He discussed de-escalation tactics and the use of force in the Minneapolis Police Department. Reading the department’s policy, Arradondo states: “As an alternative and/or the precursor to the actual use of force MPD officers shall consider verbally announcing their intent to use force including displaying an authorized weapon as a threat of force when reasonable under the circumstances.” He continues, “The goal is to resolve the situation as safely as possible. So you want to always have de-escalation layered into those actions of using force.”

When asked about Chauvin’s use of force unto Floyd, Arradondo said “The conscious neck restraint by policy mentions light to moderate pressure. When I look at exhibit 17 and when I look at the facial expression of Mr. Floyd, that does not appear in any way, shape or form that that is light to moderate pressure.” Arradondo comments on the use of restraint by Chauvin: “I absolutely agree that violates our policy,” detailing that the Department’s core values include treating everyone with “dignity and respect.” Arradondo continues, “Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting. And certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped. There is an initial reasonableness in trying to just get him under control in the first few seconds. But once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive, and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned-out, handcuffed behind their back. That, in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy. It is not a part of our training. And it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”

Arradondo also commented on the first amendment right of protesters to record officers with their cellphones, even if the officers find the recording “irritating.” This “absolute first amendment right” is granted to all people, “with the exception that they cannot obstruct the activity of the officers but they absolutely have the right, barring that, to record us performing our duties,” he added. In the case of Floyd, the recording of officers was deemed by Arradondo as non-obstructive.

In his own viewing of the footage surrounding Floyd’s death, Arradondo commented that the city-owned video camera footage he originally saw didn’t show as much detail as community member footage. Arradondo recalls learning of the bystander video recording: “Probably close to midnight a community member had contacted me and said, chief, almost verbatim, but said, chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man at 38th and Chicago? And so once I heard that statement, I just knew it wasn’t the same milestone camera video that I had saw. And eventually within minutes after that, I saw for the first time what is now known as the bystander video.”

In reviewing the footage, which showed Chauvin’s use of force on Floyd’s neck, Arradondo commented on whether the officer followed the department’s de-escalation policy: “”I absolutely don’t agree with that”…”that action is not de-escalation. And when we talk about the framework of our sanctity of life and when we talk about the principles and values we have, that action goes contrary to what we’re taught.”

George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, also was present in the court room alongside the Floyd family attorney, Ben Crump.  Having to relive his brother’s death through re-watching the traumatic video footage, Philonise commented that it was an “emotional day watching his brother being tortured to death, screaming for his mom, talking about his kids… it was a tragedy that should have never happened.” While Chauvin and his defense are attempting to pin Floyd’s death on other factors, including drug use and health issues, Crump refocuses the case on Chauvin’s defense’s allegations: “That’s their playbook. That’s what they’ve done to so many people of color who have been unjustifiably killed by police. [They] assassinate their character so it can be a distraction from their excessive use of force.” As Chauvin’s defense looks to explain the cause of Floyd’s death as due to factors outside of the police force, Crump declares “The reason Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck is because he lacks humanity.”

When it came time for Chauvin to take the stand, he plead his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent, choosing not testify in his own defense. On Thursday, Chauvin’s attorneys rested their case shortly after his invocation. The prosecution had rested its case on Tuesday, after hearing from 38 witnesses over 11 days of the murder trial. Chauvin has plead not guilty to second-degree unintentional manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, and third-degree murder charges.

Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, said during his closing argument that “that Derek Chauvin’s own use of force trainer at the Minneapolis Police Department testified that placing the knee on the neck of a suspect “is not an unauthorized move,” according to CNN. Nelson is referring to the earlier testimony of Minneapolis Police Lt. Johnny Mercil, who conducts the training for the Department. Mercil had testified that using a knee on someone’s neck “can be justified in certain circumstances,” perhaps as a means of “using body weight to control.” However, Mercil had also remarked “however, I will add that we don’t — we tell officers to stay away from the neck when possible and if you’re going to use body weight to pin, to put it on their shoulder and be mindful of position.” Keeping all this in mind, during his closing argument Nelson urged the jury to consider the circumstances Chauvin had arrived at on-scene, including meeting “active resistance” and “potentially active aggression” from Floyd. Nelson stated to the jury, “The state has really focused on the 9 minutes and 29 seconds, 9 minutes and 29 seconds, 9 minutes and 29 seconds. It’s not the proper analysis because the 9 minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 15 minutes and 59 seconds. Completely disregards.” Nelson reminded that jury that his client, Chauvin, has a “presumption of innocent,” until possibly being proven guilty beyond a reasonable guilt by the state.

The case’s prosecuting attorney, Steve Schleicher, reminded the jury that “George Floyd is not on trial here,”…”For 9 minutes and 29 seconds. He begged, George Floyd begged until he could speak no more, and the defendant continued. This assault. When he was unable to speak, the defendant continued. When he was unable to breathe the defendant continued. Beyond the point that he had a pulse. Beyond the point that he had a pulse, the defendant continued this assault. Nine minutes and 29 seconds.” During Schleicher’s closing statement, he asserted that Chauvin’s actions were not in line with the motto of the Minneapolis Police Department, “to protect with courage.”

Another prosecuting attorney, Jerry Blackwell, took to the stand again to deliver his closing statement. He reminded the jury that while “”when he [Eric Nelson] was talking about causation, he talks about fentanyl, heart failure, hypertension. He says that we have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that none of these other factors played a role”…but “”what we need to prove is that the defendant’s actions were a substantial causal factor in his death. It does not have to be the only causal factor. It doesn’t have to be the biggest substantial factor. It just has to be one of them.” Further, he asserted the power that Chauvin held over Floyd while kneeling on the victim’s neck: “He had the bullets, the guns, the mace that he threatened the bystanders with. He had backup. He had the badge. He had all of it. And what was there to be afraid of, here particularly, at this scene?”

Blackwell also urged the jury to consider what he called the case’s 46th witness– common sense. He cited the eyewitness account of the nine-year-old bystander, claiming that the case is “so simple a child could understand… [t]he 9-year-old girl said, ‘get off of him.’ That’s how simple it was. Get off of him. Common sense.”

As the closing arguments of the case are being released today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released her statement: “Today is a solemn day as the closing arguments are presented in the George Floyd murder trial. I commend the Floyd family for their dignified calls for justice, which were heard around the world”…”As outraged as we are by his death, let us be prayerful that the truth will prevail and will honor George Floyd’s memory.”

Chauvin is on trial for  three different charges, in which the jury must deliberate whether or not the prosecution “proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” The first charge Chauvin could be convicted of is second-degree unintentional murder. The prosecution must prove that Chauvin caused George Floyd’s death while committing an underlying felony. Futher, prosectors must also prove that Chauvin acted with no intent to kill, just intent to act. If convicted, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison. Secondly, Chauvin faces a possible charge for third-degree murder. In order to be convicted, prosecutors must prove Chauvin committed a reckless act that is “eminently dangerous” to others with “depraved mind.” If Chauvin is convicted of third-degree murder, he could face up to 25 years in prison. Finally, Chauvin faces a third conviction for second-degree Manslaughter. In order to be charged, the prosecution must prove Chauvin was “culpably negligent” and disregarded awareness of substantial risk of great bodily injury or death of Floyd. If convicted of second-degree manslaughter, Chauvin could face up to 10 years in prison. All of the charges are seperate, so Chauvin could end up being charged for a combination of charges, being found guilty on all accounts, or be found completely non-guilty.

While the world waits to heart the outcome of Derek Chauvin’s trial, the NYPD is bracing for the reaction to the case’s verdict. In a statement, the. NYPD said that the department has been preparing for months and has provided the necessary training for its officers to “protect and facilitate the constitutional right to peace protest.” In DC, the Army has positioned 250 members of the National Guard in preparation for potential protest, riots, and civil unrest. Around the country, police departments are preparing to face the reaction to the outcome of the trial.

The jury panel working to determine the outcome of the trial consists of six white jurors and six Black or multi-racial people. Of the jurors, seven are women and five are men. The panel consists of a grandmother, nurse, chemist, and auditor, among others. The jury’s verdict must be unanimous, and must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Shortly after the juror deliberations had begun, several of Minnesota’s most prominent politicians spoke about to urge for calm, regardless of the trial’s outcome.

Gov. Tim Waltz spoke to Minnesota residents: ““We must acknowledge two truths: We cannot allow civil unrest to descend into chaos, we must protect life and property,” the governor continued. “We also must understand very clearly, if we don’t listen to those communities in pain, and those people on the streets, many of whom were arrested for speaking a fundamental truth, that we must change, or we will be right back here again.”

Minneapolis’ mayor, Jacob Frey, echoed similar peaceful sentiments: ““There’s been pain and anguish, anger and frustration that is undoubtedly acutely felt by our Black and Brown communities,” Frey said. “Regardless of the outcome of this trial, regardless of the decision made by the jury, there is one true reality, which is that George Floyd was killed at the hands of police.” Similarly, Saint Paul’s mayor cautioned against violence.

Gov. Melvin Center spoke out about the jury deliberations on Monday afternoon: ““Whatever the jury decides, we know that in this age of insurrection and extremism that we must be ready for the possibility of those who would exploit this moment and drown out the powerful voices of constructive protests across our nation with violence and destruction.'”

Even President Biden spoke out about the trial, sharing similar thoughts. The President said he hopes the right outcome of the trial will prevail, and commented on the “overwhelming” evidence of the case. Biden also had a private conversation to discuss familial loss with George Floyd’s brother, Philonise.

The verdict of the case has been decided and publicly announced, as reported by CNN: “Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted on all charges by a jury in the Hennepin County court. The jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd’s death in May 2020.”

As seen in media from Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach:

“Today’s three guilty verdicts in the trial of Derek Chauvin are an important public act of accountability. But any verdict on a charge of less than first-degree murder — a charge that Chauvin did not face — is a sign that we still have work to do. Before the entire nation, fellow officers took the stand in this trial and testified that their colleague did not protect and serve but abused power and killed George Floyd. We must meet this public act of justice and accountability with federal legislation that will hold officers of the law accountable in every state, and we must continue to work in every community to shift public investment from over-policing poor, Black and brown communities to ensuring restorative justice and equity for all people.”

Gun Violence illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Indianapolis FedEx Mass Shooting

EIGHT KILLED IN INDIANAPOLIS FEDEX FACILITY SHOOTING

What we know so far

  • Brandon Hole, the shooting suspect, opened fire outside and inside of a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana on Thursday evening.
  • Eight people were shot and killed, while several others were wounded in addition to the gunman.
  • Police believe the gunman killed himself as officers encountered him.
  • The motive for the shooting known at this time.

Law enforcement were notified of a mass casualty situation at the Indianapolis FedEx location late Thursday evening. Timothy Boillat, a FedEx employee, was inside of the building when the gunshots began, according to CNN. He was on break when he heard “two loud metal clangs,” not realizing that it was gun shots. Boillat said his friend saw someone grabbing a gun out of the trunk of their car. It was at that moment that Boillat saw a body on the ground. Levi Miller was interviewed this morning by the Today Show and stated “I saw a man, a hooded figure. The man did have an AR in his hand, and he started shouting and then he started firing. I thought he saw me, so I immediately ducked for cover.”

Deputy Chief of Criminal Investigations for Indianapolis Police, Craig McCartt, stated that four of the victims were found inside of the FedEx facility and four were found outside. The suspect was found deceased, in addition to eight other people. The Indianapolis Police Department said they have an idea of who the suspect was, however, have not formally identified him. The Department believes that the shooter was using a rifle, but they do not yet have any specifics on the weapon. The police are being assisted by the FBI in searching the suspect’s house. Special agent Paul Keenan is in charge.

During a news conference McCartt stated, “This suspect came to the facility. He got out of his car and pretty quickly started some random shooting outside the facility. There was no confrontation with anyone. That began in the parking lot and then he did go into the building.”

Alfarena McGinty, the Chief Deputy Coroner at the Marion County Coroner’s Office, said that the Department is conducting an investigation, but cannot yet enter the crime scene to confirm the victims’ identity until all evidence has been collected. “We are still a number of hours out before we are able to go on to the scene to conduct our investigation, and then after that, we’ll work with the families. Following that process, what we have to do is we will perform our examinations,” she said, adding that extra staff will be called in to complete those examinations in the next 48 to 72 hours, reports CNN.

According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 147 mass shootings incidents in 2021 in the United States. The Gun Violence Archive is an online archive of gun violence incidents collected from various law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources daily in order to provide near-real time data about the results of gun violence. GVA is a non-profit corporation based out of Washington DC, as stated on their website.

UPDATE:

Indianapolis Police has released the names of the deceased victims from Thursday night’s shooting. 

The victims are: 

  • 32-year-old Matthew R Alexander 
  • 19-year-old Samaria Blackwell
  • 66-year-old Amarjeet Johal
  • 64-year-old Jaswinder Kaur
  • 68-year-old Jaswinder Singh
  • 48-year-old Amarjit Sekhon
  • 19-year-old Karlie Smith
  • 74-year-old John Weisert

A statement by IMPD says the next of kin has been notified by the Marion County Coroner’s Office.

The cause of death will be determined after autopsies are complete, according to the statement. 

IMPD said the names of those injured are not being released. 

No More Hate illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Atlanta Shooting

By: Carly Cohen × Heather Skovlund

Early this week, a tragedy had occurred in Atlanta, Georgia. A total of eight victims were killed at the Georgia spa. Six of the eight victims were Asian, and when the suspect got caught, he claimed that “his actions were not racially motivated.” It was stated that it was too soon in the investigation to claim this shooting as a hate crime; however, the shootings were “aimed at a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.” The suspect claimed that apparently “sex addition” drove him to commit these murders.

There were multiple incidents: the first occurred at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor in a mall off Highway ninety-two, about thirty miles north of Atlanta. When the police got the call, five people were shot, and two were dead while three were rushed to the hospital. An hour later, after this tragedy, two other shootings happened right across the street- one being on Piedmont, the other at the Gold Spa and Aromatherapy.

There were seven women and one man; most of them were Asian. The victims have been identified as Delainia Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng.

Yaun and her husband, Mario Gonalez, were off work getting a couples massage at Young’s Asian Massage when the tragedy started. Her husband safely made it out of the salon, but he and his wife were in separate rooms when the shooting was started. They had a family together; a thirteen-year-old son and an infant daughter. It is sad to say that this woman was a victim in this shooting that not one person deserved -separating families, taking parents, taking siblings. It is a terrible, terrible thing that no one deserved. John Beck, Yaun’s manager, voiced to BuzzFeed News that “her heart was so big.” She would feed homeless people and offer them clothes and a place to shower. Hearing a person who is so kind and so pure as Yaun makes you ask the question, “why do bad things happen to good people.” It doesn’t make sense and is not fair.

Xiaojie Tan was the owner of Young’s Asian Massage as was another victim of the attack. She was known for being an extremely hardworking small-business owner and had such a big heart filled with love and kindness. Her client, Greg Hynson, stated that when he came for an appointment on his birthday a year ago, she had a birthday cake waiting for him. Another victim, Paul Andre Micheals, was a U.S Army infantry veteran married for more than two decades. He was a “dedicated, hardworking, loving man,” his brother stated.

These killings brought a “wave of outrage and attention to violence against Asian-American people.” As soon as social media was notified of the attacks and assumed to be focused on Asian’s, you could see all over the media celebrities, influencers, and people left and right posting regarding standing up for the lost lives and spreading awareness to this hate crime and all hate crimes in general. The media has been outraged and will continue to stand together.

Explosion illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Nashville Christmas Bombing

By Hannah DiPilato

Christmas morning had a horrific start for Nashville, Tennessee when a bomb went off at 6 a.m. Friday morning. 

Planted in an RV that was parked on the street, the bomb left excessive damage for the city; over 40 buildings were impacted. The most bizarre part was the fifteen-minute evacuation warning that played before the bomb erupted. This gave the surrounding area time to evacuate in order to prevent death and injury.

The police are currently investigating the situation and believe it was a suicide bombing. Human remains have been recovered from the scene of the incident, but no fatalities have been confirmed yet. So far, three injuries have been recorded due to the blast, but all are in stable condition. 

A tip released to law enforcement about the vehicle involved in the bombing has led agents to Antioch, a town just southeast of Nashville, to search a home. According to FBI spokesman, Jason Pack, they are conducting “court-authorized activity,” but have not reported who resides in the home. Law enforcement has received 500 leads and tips that are now being investigated. 

Douglas Korneski, FBI special agent in charge of the Memphis Field Office, was unable to identify any potential suspects at a press conference held on Saturday afternoon. However, as of now, police have identified one person of interest. 

One possible motive of the attack could be the destruction of the nearby AT&T building which caused major problems for cell service in many southern states. Korneski said the FBI is, “looking at every possible motive that could be involved,” when asked about the AT&T building being a possible target.

Mayor John Cooper has enforced a curfew in the downtown area until Sunday as a preventative measure until investigators can learn more about what occurred. The downtown area, and heart of Nashville tourism, was shut down so investigators could comb through the remains from the explosion.

Many residents of the area reported hearing gunshots at approximately 5:30 a.m. on Christmas morning. The white RV responsible for the explosion was parked directly in front of 166 Second Ave. North, which is the AT&T transmission building. 

The eerie message projecting from the van said, “This vehicle will explode in 15 minutes,” according to Betsy Williams, a resident that lived nearby the scene. The message repeated for a minute and then proceeded to count down from 15 minutes. At approximately 6:30 a.m. the recording changed as the time inched closer to the threat of an eruption. “If you can hear this message, evacuate now,” the voice boomed, minutes from when the street was blown up. 

Six police officers that were on the scene immediately began evacuating homes after hearing the message. No officials suffered serious injuries, one officer was knocked over by the force of the blast and another officer suffered from hearing loss. 

The investigation for answers continues into Saturday night and law enforcement is working hard to keep Nashville safe in the coming days. Korneski said the investigation will take time because “the investigative team is turning over every stone.” 

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a Drug Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Oregon Decriminalizes Drugs

By Justin Lyons

This year’s election will go down as a legendary one in the history of the United States of America, and for some of the bigger fights, the country still doesn’t have an answer.

Where answers do exist seem to be in propositions and measures, and the big winners are those hoping for the decriminalization of drugs. Mississippi, New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona all approved the legalization of recreational marijuana.

The biggest victory for those in favor of drug decriminalization probably came in Oregon, where the penalty for small amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs was lessened.

According to Ballotpedia, Oregon’s Measure 110 would reclassify the possession of controlled substances such as those listed above from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E violation, which would result in a $100 fine or the necessity of a “completed health assessment.”

The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission estimated that convictions for possession would decrease by 90.7%.

Addiction recovery centers conduct the health assessments, which will include a screening from a certified alcohol and drug counselor and must be completed within 45 days of the Class E violation.

The funds for the assessments and the recovery programs will come from the Oregon Marijuana Account and money the state of Oregon saves from reductions in arrests, incarceration and official supervision. The recovery centers will provide treatment 24 hours per day along with health assessments, intervention plans, case management services and peer support and outreach.

The possession quantity of the now decriminalized drugs to be classified as a Class E violation are as follows: one gram of heroin or less, two grams of cocaine or less, two grams of methamphetamine or less, one gram or five pills of MDMA or less, 40 or fewer user units of LSD, less than 12 grams of psilocybin, fewer than 40 user units of methadone and fewer than 40 pills, tables or capsules of oxycodone.

A person carrying more than the specified amounts may face a misdemeanor with less than a year imprisonment, a $6,250 fine or both.

According to Yes on Measure 110, more than 125 Oregon-based organizations endorsed the measure, including Oregon Chapter of the American College of Physicians, Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon School Psychologists’ Association and Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

Ballotpedia also said the Democratic Party of Oregon, Multnomah Democrats and Working Families Party of Oregon support the bill, right alongside 11-time-GRAMMY-Award-Winning artist John Legend.

The measure is to be implemented no later than Feb. 1 of 2021.

Rita Azar Illustrates a Basketball Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Jaylen Brown x George Floyd Bill

by Justin Lyons

Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics wing, in a press conference Sunday said he would like to see the city of Boston pass the George Floyd bill.

Brown, who has been one of the more active players in social justice conversations throughout the NBA, was asked about the Celtics’ commitment to spend $25 million over the next ten years to fight social injustice.

He said it was a great step, and that change happens over a period of time, but he thinks there are things that can be catalysts for change right now.

“One thing I would like to see in Boston is the George Floyd bill enacted,” Brown said, adding that conversations need to be had about police and qualified immunity. “Some things just need to be held accountable, and hopefully Boston can be a place where a tone is set that can be transpired in other cities.”

Brown went on to say that he thinks Boston is moving in the right direction, but he would still like to see more companies and organizations be diversified as well as more opportunities for people of color.

“I’m proud to be a part of the Celtics organization. I’m proud to have an ownership group, or a leadership group, that’s willing to take these steps because they recognize that we need to live in a better, more forward progressing world.”

The George Floyd bill, or H.R.7120, aims to achieve a few goals.

First, it would lower the criminal intent standard to convict an officer of law enforcement. The standard currently requires that officers act willfully, while H.R.7120 would only necessitate that officers act knowingly or recklessly.

Second, it would limit qualified immunity, which grants officers immunity in lawsuits regarding violations of constitutional rights of civilians.

Third, it would allow the Department of Justice to issue authorizations to investigate departments demonstrating patterns of discriminatory practices.

It would also create a national registry of police misconduct, lay the bricks for prohibition of racial profiling and implement new standards for training regarding racial profiling and use of body cameras.

It passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 236-181, and it will move to the Senate.

Brown’s comments come just weeks after NBA players boycotted games on behalf of Jacob Blake, whom was shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and victims of police brutality everywhere.

A reporter asked Brown if he thought the boycott’s message was still effective even as players returned to the court.

“These issues have been here for a very, very long time, and they’re still going to be here regardless of if we protest or not or boycott or not. I think sports plays a huge role in society, and I’m very aware of that, so using our platform is something I’m always going to support,” Brown answered.

While he said the cure for racism might not come from the NBA, the players can always use their platform to let the world know that these issues are important.

Brown, who wears the word “Liberation” on the back of his jersey, scored 21 points and picked up eight rebounds to help the Celtics defeat the Toronto Raptors Friday by a score of 92-87. They advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will meet up with the Miami Heat, who are playing on six days of rest after eliminating the Milwaukee Bucks in just five games.

The first game of the series begins Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. EST with the Celtics favored by a point and a half.

Rita Azar illustrates NBA basketball story for 360 MAGAZINE.

NBA Protests

by Justin Lyons

The clock struck 4:05 p.m. on Aug 26 in Orlando, and neither the Magic nor the Bucks were on the court for the tip-off of the fifth game of their playoff series.

Playing their home games just 40 miles from Kenosha, Wisconsin, it’s safe to say that the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police literally hit close to home for the Bucks players.

The Orlando Magic originally took the court for their game, but they decided to leave when it appeared the Bucks weren’t coming. That court was now empty aside from the NBA logos, the regulation markings and “Black Lives Matter” in bold text across the side closest to the scorer’s table.

Then, the tweet from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski came at 4:13 p.m. Orlando time saying that the Bucks officially decided to boycott the fifth game of the series.

News broke later that the Rockets, Thunder, Trail Blazers and Lakers all decided to boycott their games, as well, in a show of unity.

It was the spark that started the fire, as basketball wouldn’t be played again until Aug. 29.

Bucks guard George Hill was one of the most outspoken players on the team regarding the shooting of Jacob Blake, making it very clear that he couldn’t continue to play basketball to distract from the reality of what’s happening in the United States.

The Brewers, the Milwaukee baseball team that plays its home games just a short drive from where the Bucks play, also decided to cancel their Aug. 26 game against the Reds.

Brewers star Christian Yelich said it was a unanimous decision from the team to not play.

“I think the Bucks spearheaded it for us,” Yelich said. “They started the discussion. It gave us a conversation to have. It was eye-opening for us, and we felt like it was the right thing to do.”

The NHL also joined in the protests, postponing games Aug. 27 and Aug. 28.

Later on the night of Aug. 26, Shams Charania reported via Twitter that the Lakers and Clippers, both of which are still contenders for the title, voted to boycott the rest of the season. LeBron James reportedly led the movement to cancel the season, which is no surprise given his history of fighting for social justice.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said the Bucks were able to get in contact with Blake’s father very quickly. Blake’s father was moved to tears by the gesture.

According to an article from ESPN, Antetokounmpo said, “Obviously, it’s gonna be games that you come in and score 30, 35, 50 or whatever the case might be, but that you’re going to remember. The way we felt, we’re going to remember the way we felt for the rest of our lives.”

The Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs Tuesday, which begs the question of how they will respond. Hill expressed disappointment that he had to be in the Orlando bubble instead of fighting for justice, so it should be interesting to see where the Bucks go from here.

Eyes are also shifting to the NFL, which starts Thursday. The entire nation will have its eyes on protests and social justice initiatives from a league that has been just as outspoken as the NBA.

Mulan illustration by Maria Soloman for 360 Magazine.

Mulan Boycott

by Justin Lyons

A new movement is taking over social media as pro-democracy activists try to spread a boycott of the new Disney film Mulan.

Disney’s live-action remake of the 1998 original film hit Disney’s streaming service Disney+ this weekend. On top of the monthly subscription fee, those wanting to see Mulan would have to pay $29.99 to unlock it.

Social media users in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand called for movie fans and Disney lovers to avoid the new film because of comments from Liu Yifei, who plays the titular Mulan.

In Aug. 2019, Liu expressed via Weibo, a Chinese social media site, that she supported Hong Kong police. The comments came amid pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Liu was met with instant backlash, but now that her movie is available to stream, the widespread boycott seems to have intensified.

Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong activist, has been particularly outspoken regarding the situation. He asked everyone who believes in human rights to boycott the film.

He also retweeted multiple tweets from other activists. One of which was from Twitter user Gwyneth Kwai-lam Ho, who linked a story about the boycott from The Guardian.

“Not while the true Mulans are suffering in the darkness of a Chinese jail,” the tweet said.

Mulan currently sits at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes among critics but 55% among audience members. It had a production budget of $200 million.

Trump Tax Findings posted by 360 MAGAZINE and illustrated by Rita Azar.

SSPBA endorses Donald Trump

Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Inc. (SSPBA) announced today that it is endorsing Donald Trump for President in the 2020 election. SSPBA board members and representatives met with Vice President Mike Pence in Raleigh today to announce the endorsement. SSPBA is composed of over 60,000 law enforcement officer members throughout the Southeast. This is the association’s first presidential endorsement in over twenty years.

“With the stakes as high as they are for the law enforcement profession today, we felt that we must speak up in support of the true law enforcement candidates,” said Chris Skinner, SSPBA president.

“President Trump has been unwavering in his support of law enforcement,” President Skinner continued.  “He has shown time and again that he stands behind the men and women who put on their uniform and badge and go to work each day,” President Skinner said.  “In these times when many are attacking the law enforcement profession, it is imperative that law enforcement officers know that they are not on their own as they face the dangers of their job.  We believe that President Trump and Vice President Pence have demonstrated that they understand and appreciate the honor and sacrifice of serving as a law enforcement officer.”

“The number one priority of government is to provide for safety and protection of the citizens. We are convinced that President Trump recognizes the fact that law enforcement and law enforcement officers are vital to the strength and stability of our communities,” President Skinner added. “We support President Trump and Vice President Pence because we know that they are the candidates who will continue to support us.”

Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Inc. is a non-profit professional organization dedicated to improving the law enforcement profession. PBA members are active or retired employees of federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement and correctional agencies. This professional association provides legal, legislative, disciplinary and other representation to member officers as well as a salary replacement death benefit to members’ beneficiaries. The PBA prohibits members from engaging in or condoning any strike by law enforcement officers, electing instead to represent members through aggressive political action. For more information, please visit our website at www.sspba.org.

Megan Thee Stallion illustrated by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

Shooting Allegations

Rapper Megan Thee Stallion has publicly accused fellow rapper and singer Tory Lanez of shooting her in the feet after an argument last month. Megan made the Instagram last Thursday during an Instagram Live on her personal account.

“You shot me,” she claims against Lanez “And you got your publicist and your people going to these blogs lying and sh*t. Stop lying. Why lie? I don’t understand.” At the time of the incident, Lanez was arrested and charged with possession of a concealed weapon but has not faced charges for the alleged shooting. Lanez has also not yet commented on the allegations made by Megan Thee Stallion.

The Los Angeles District Attorney has stated that the investigation is ongoing regarding the scene last month. A traffic stop was conducted by the police, where Megan sustained her injuries. She later was taken to a local hospital, where she claims she had surgery to remove the bullets from her feet.

Reports initially surfaced that Megan’s injuries stemmed from broken glass, but she explained in her Instagram Live video that she was fearful of telling the police what really happened due to all the situations of police brutality in past months. “You think I’m about to tell police that we … us, Black people, got a gun in the car?” she said. “You want me to tell the law that we got a gun in the car so that they can shoot all of us up.”

Celebrities such as Halle Berry and Michael Jordan have come out in support of Megan Thee Stallion speaking up. The situation continues to develop.