News Roundup

Film producer Harvey Weinstein was indicted this week in Manhattan on charges of rape and a criminal sexual act.  The indictments relate to incidents that occurred in 2004 and 2013 involving two women who have not been identified.  Weinstein currently is free on $1 million cash bail, and has surrendered his passport and is wearing an electronic monitoring device.  Weinstein’s attorney said that he plans to enter a plea of not guilty and expects an acquittal if the case goes to trial.  Dozens of women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, and the allegations against him were the genesis of the broad and ongoing #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment.  Keep reading for more news.

Use of Force.  Earlier this year, a group of doctors led by William P. Bozeman, M.D., a professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, published a study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery that examines injuries associated with police use of force.  The study looked at both the incidence of use of force by law enforcement officers and the likelihood of serious injury associated with different types of force.  A press release about the study notes these statistics derived from a review of over 1 million calls for service received by police departments in three states, including the Winston-Salem PD:

  • 1 in 1,167 (.086 percent) of all calls for service resulted in a use of force incident (there were 893 total incidents of use of force)
  • 1 in 128 (0.78 percent) of calls that resulted in a criminal arrest also resulted in a use of force incident
  • Of the suspects affected by the use of force incidents, 39 percent suffered mild injuries; 1.8 percent suffered moderate or severe injuries; and there was one fatality

Professor Bozeman said that the findings suggesting an overall infrequent use of force by police runs contrary to people’s perceptions that police commonly use force in their interactions with the public.

Federal Prison Director Resigns.  The New York Times says that disagreements between Jared Kushner and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the issue of prison reform have caused Mark S. Inch to resign from his post as the director of the federal Bureau of Prisons. Inch is a retired Army Major General and joined the bureau last September.

Jack Johnson.  Late last week President Donald Trump granted a posthumous pardon to boxer Jack Johnson, a former heavyweight champion who was convicted of violating the Mann Act after a racially-motivated prosecution in the early 1900’s.  Johnson was black and his relationships with white women were controversial and led to his prosecution.  The NewsHour has an interview with filmmaker Ken Burns discussing Johnson’s life and legacy here.  Johnson died in a car crash in North Carolina in 1946; the News & Observer has a post about his death here.

Overdose Murders.  Against the backdrop of the national opioid epidemic, Shea blogged last year about murder charges based on the unlawful distribution of drugs.  The New York Times has a recent story exploring that issue in various jurisdictions across the country.

License Lawsuit.  WRAL reports that a federal lawsuit filed this week argues that North Carolina’s practice of revoking drivers’ licenses of people who can’t afford to pay traffic fines and court costs is a violation of due process and equal protection.  The suit was filed by the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Citizens Stop Shooter.  Whether permitting law-abiding citizens to be armed in public increases or decreases community safety is a controversial topic, and a recent incident in Oklahoma provided another data point on the issue.  Last Thursday evening, Alexander Tilghman started shooting into a popular restaurant in Oklahoma City.  As Tilghman was shooting, two bystanders, Juan Carlos Nazario and Bryan Whittle, ran to retrieve handguns from their vehicles and returned to shoot Tilghman dead.  USA Today has the story here.

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