Two officer-involved fatal shootings are making national headlines this week, in part because video of each shooting has been published on the internet. On Tuesday, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by a Baton Rouge police officer during an encounter at a convenience store where Sterling made a living selling CDs in the parking lot; Sterling reportedly had brandished a gun which prompted a 911 call and the police response. The front page of The Advocate, a Louisiana newspaper, has comprehensive coverage of the story. Wednesday, Philando Castile was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in a suburb of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Details of the story were developing at the time of writing. The New York Times has an early report here which suggests that a passenger in the car livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting to Facebook.
Sterling Video Filmed by Anti-Crime Group. While the Castile video was filmed by a passenger in the car he was driving, the Washington Post reports that the Sterling video has a more unusual source. Reportedly, the video was filmed by members of a group called Stop the Killing, “an organized group that specifically seeks out violent crimes using police scanners with the intention of filming them, not for the purpose of exposing police but to deter young people from crime.” The group uses the videos to discourage participation in gangs.
Accuracy of Drug Field Tests Questioned. The New York Times Magazine has an article that says that there is “widespread evidence” that drug field tests routinely produce false positives. The article examines the accuracy of the tests and also tells the story of one Louisiana woman who pled guilty to a felony after being charged based on a field test that was later determined to be inaccurate. Years later, after serving her sentence and losing her job and home, the woman received a letter from the county district attorney’s office informing her that she had been prosecuted and convicted “in error.”
Report Names “Deadliest” Prosecutors. The ABA Journal notes that a new report has been released by the Fair Punishment Project at Harvard Law School that “identifies the nation’s five ‘deadliest’ prosecutors whose offices are collectively responsible for more than 440 death sentences in the last 40 years.” Four of the five prosecutors, one of whom is the late Joe Freeman Britt who was the District Attorney of Robeson County, are no longer in office. The report suggests that there is a “problem of personality-driven capital sentencing.” The ABA story has links to the report and a related press release.
Struggle for Mental Health & Drug Treatment. The News Roundup previously has noted the intertwined nature of mental health disorders, drug addiction, and criminal activity. Though not directly touching upon a criminal law issue, The News & Observer has a story that describes one North Carolina family’s struggle to find appropriate treatment for their daughter as she battled bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
High-Profile Cases. The Wall Street Journal reports that the FBI won’t recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton based on her use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State. Reuters reports that Oscar Pistorious was sentenced to six years for murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The Baltimore Sun reports that the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, the subject of the popular podcast Serial, has been vacated.
NC Prisons Reviewed by Users. Now that we’ve got Yelp and Angie’s List, everybody’s a critic, including inmates at North Carolina correctional institutions. The News & Observer reports that most correctional facilities in North Carolina have been reviewed on Google reviews, with many getting at least two stars.
The Rockets’ Red Glare. Iowa news outlet KWQC TV 6 reports that a Des Moines man was so overcome with patriotic spirit over the holiday weekend that he ended up being charged with using illegal fireworks, public intoxication, and disorderly conduct. Early Sunday, officers confiscated fireworks from Quinnlan R. O’Meara and warned him that further pyrotechnics would land him in jail. Soon thereafter, officers returned to find O’Meara preparing to launch a roman candle from his front door. O’Meara was taken into custody following a creative refusal to take a preliminary breathalyzer test, but announced that after being released from jail “he was going to light another firework ‘with a blunt in his mouth because this is America.’”