Notable developments in tensions between police, communities

AP News
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Posted: Jan 06, 2015 2:14 AM
Notable developments in tensions between police, communities

The killings of two unarmed black men by white police officers in Missouri and in New York this summer touched off protests and a national debate over police conduct that intensified after grand juries declined to indict the officers.

Tensions escalated further after two New York Police Department officers were killed Dec. 20 by a man who suggested in online posts their slayings were in retaliation for the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb, and of Eric Garner in New York. The gunman, who was black, committed suicide.

Some key developments amid the tension between police and communities:

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NYC MAYOR: FUNERAL SHOW 'DISRESPECTFUL'

Mayor Bill de Blasio says it was "disrespectful" that some NYPD officers turned their backs to him during a pair of funerals for slain police officers.

De Blasio said that the actions were hurtful to the families of the two cops killed in an ambush last month. He also said Monday, in his first remarks on the officers' protests, that the public rebuke was an offense to the city at large.

Police Commissioner William Bratton also condemned their actions.

The rift between the police unions and de Blasio has created the biggest crisis of his mayoralty. The unions have blamed de Blasio for fostering an anti-NYPD atmosphere they believe contributed to the murders of the officers.

Late Monday night, two New York police officers responding to a robbery were shot and wounded in the Bronx. Authorities say they were not targeted.

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NO RAPE CHARGES FOR LAWYER LINKED TO CHOKEHOLD CASE

Prosecutors say a flashy New York attorney who once represented the family of a man killed in a police chokehold won't face criminal charges after being accused of rape.

Joan Vollero, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney, said Monday that prosecutors had decided no charges were warranted against Sanford Rubenstein. He has denied any criminal conduct.

Rubenstein was accused of assaulting a woman who's a member of the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network.

An attorney for the woman said she awoke to find Rubenstein sexually assaulting her at his apartment Oct. 1, after both attended Sharpton's birthday party.

The accusation prompted Rubenstein to step down from representing Eric Garner's family. Garner's chokehold death has become a rallying point for protests about police conduct.

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INQUEST IN POLICE KILLING OF UNARMED MAN IN MONTANA

An inquest begins Tuesday to determine if the killing of an unarmed man by a Montana police officer was justified.

Officer Grant Morrison shot 38-year-old Richard Ramirez in April during a traffic stop in Billings.

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said a jury will decide if Morrison acted appropriately. Inquests are required under Montana law whenever someone is killed by law enforcement.

Twito says 17 witnesses could appear during two days of proceedings presided over by Big Horn County Coroner Terry Bullis.

Members of Ramirez's family have said they want charges filed against Morrison.

In 2013, Morrison shot and killed another man during a traffic stop after the victim reached for a weapon later determined to be a BB-gun. An inquest in that case cleared the officer of wrongdoing.

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CLEVELAND MAYOR DIDN'T TRUST OHIO TO REVIEW BOY'S FATAL SHOOTING

Cleveland's mayor says he doesn't trust a state agency to investigate the fatal police shooting of a 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun because he believes the agency mishandled a different shooting investigation that led to charges against officers.

The Northeast Ohio Media Group (http://bit.ly/1vS1I2W ) reports Mayor Frank Jackson explained Sunday how his thinking on the Tamir Rice case was influenced by the review of a November 2012 chase that ended with police shooting two unarmed suspects.

Jackson says he asked the county sheriff to investigate Tamir's death because he isn't confident a transparent investigation would be conducted by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation under Ohio's attorney general.

Attorney General Mike DeWine defends how the earlier investigation was handled and says he's not interested in arguing with Jackson.

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FERGUSON GRAND JUROR SUES TO BE ALLOWED TO TALK ABOUT CASE

A member of the grand jury that declined to indict the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown is asking a federal court to remove a lifetime order that prevents jurors from discussing the case.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of an unnamed juror in Missouri. The grand jury heard from about 60 witnesses over three months before deciding not to indict officer Darren Wilson.

The lawsuit also questions St. Louis County District Attorney Bob McCulloch's characterization "that all grand jurors believed that there was no support for any charges."

McCulloch oversaw the investigation. His spokesman declined comment.

Brown, who was black, was unarmed when Wilson, who is white, shot him in August. That sparked widespread protests, including some that turned violent.

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POLICE KILL SUSPECT NEAR SAN FRANCISCO STATION

Authorities say officers shot and killed a man near a San Francisco police station who held what appeared to be a handgun.

Police spokesman Albie Esparza says police opened fire Sunday evening after the man pulled what was later determined to be a type of air gun.

He says the 32-year-old man, who was not further identified, was hit three times and died of his wounds. The officers were uninjured.

The shooting occurred after three officers noticed a man hanging around the parking lot of the Mission District police station, and Esparza says when they walked toward him he pulled up his shirt and produced what they thought was a deadly weapon.

He says that earlier in the day the same man had asked some officers about their guns and ammunition.

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WHITE PITTSBURGH CHIEF MARCHES WITH BLACK CHURCHES

Pittsburgh's police chief joined several hundred members of predominantly black churches in a march calling for justice, an end to violence and better relationships with the police.

Sunday's march was organized by the Hill District Ministers Alliance, a group of 19 church leaders from the city's predominantly black Hill District.

The Rev. Victor Grigsby, who organized the alliance, says the march was meant to "get the ear not only of elected officials but of God."

Chief Cameron McLay, who is white, witnessed the march and says, "I love the call for unity, I love the call for people coming together."

McLay has been praised by the mayor and others, but criticized by police union officials, for having his picture taken holding a protester's sign on New Year's Eve that read, "I resolve to challenge racism @ work."