News Roundup

The nation has been gripped by protests this week following the death of George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis.  As the News Roundup noted last week, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd’s neck to the ground with his knee for nearly nine minutes while Floyd, who was handcuffed, pleaded that he could not breathe and bystanders repeatedly told Chauvin and other officers at the scene that Floyd appeared to be in great distress.  A memorial service for Floyd, who had family in North Carolina and was born in Fayetteville, is scheduled to be held on Saturday in Raeford, where his sister lives.  Keep reading for more on this story and other news.

Officers Charged.  Last Friday, Chauvin was arrested on Minnesota state charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.  On Wednesday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who now is leading prosecutions arising from Floyd’s death, added a second-degree murder charge against Chauvin that is based on a felony murder theory, with an underlying felony of third-degree assault.

Three other former Minneapolis officers who were at the scene of Floyd’s death also were charged this week.  As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao each have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.  Kueng and Lane were the first officers to respond to the scene where Floyd was alleged to have used a forged $20 bill at a convenience store.  The pair helped restrain Floyd while Chauvin knelt on his neck and Thao provided support and monitored onlookers.

Chief Marches.  While there have been several news stories from around the country involving clashes between citizens and law enforcement during the protests sparked by Floyd’s death, there also have been numerous reports of law enforcement officers and officials expressing solidarity with calls to end racial disparity in policing.  In one such story from North Carolina, the Fayetteville Observer reports that Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins joined marchers in her city on Wednesday, where she carried a handwritten sign reading “FAYPD Is Against Police Brutality.”

Arbery.  The Associated Press reports that a special investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation testified at a hearing this week that William “Roddie” Bryan said that he heard Travis McMichael use a racial slur while standing over Ahmaud Arbery after fatally shooting him with a shotgun in the middle of a Georgia street in February.  The News Roundup previously noted that Bryan allegedly assisted Travis and Greg McMichael in pursuing Arbery in their vehicles while purportedly attempting to make a citizen’s arrest.

As the AP report notes, other testimony at the hearing raised questions regarding the legitimacy of the men’s efforts towards a citizen’s arrest.  The special investigator testified that Greg McMichael told police that “he didn’t know if Mr. Arbery had stolen anything or not, but he had a gut feeling” that Arbery had committed break-ins in the neighborhood.  The investigator also testified that Travis McMichael’s truck was adorned with a Confederate flag sticker and that messages on his phone contained racial slurs.

Medford.  The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Lee Medford died this week from COVID-19 at a hospital near Butner Correctional Institution, where Medford was serving a 15-year sentence for federal corruption and extortion convictions.  Medford served as Buncombe County Sheriff from 1994 to 2006 and was convicted in 2008 of taking bribes from video poker operators in return for not interfering in their illegal business.  The Citizen-Times article is worth a read for its perspectives on Medford from his successor, Van Duncan, as well as from local attorneys.  Medford, who was 74 years old and had a projected release date of October 11, 2021, is the 15th Butner inmate to die due to complications from the coronavirus.

AWIF.  The School of Government recently published an entirely new edition of our reference manual for drafting criminal pleadings, Arrest Warrant and Indictment Forms.  The new edition of the book is current with legislative changes and caselaw through the end of 2019 and is available for purchase here.

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