News Roundup

Clashes between federal law enforcement agents and protesters in Portland, Oregon, have been major national news this week after reports emerged that, in addition to extensive use of tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets, there have been instances where unidentified federal agents in unmarked vans are arresting and interrogating people and later releasing them without filing criminal charges.  Details about the extent of the alleged practice are hard to come by at the time of this writing, but late last week Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Federal Protective Service arguing that the agencies’ actions are unconstitutional and asking for a temporary restraining order.  Keep reading for more on this story and other news.

Portland.  In other Portland news, on Wednesday night the city’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, was tear gassed repeatedly by federal agents as he joined protesters in an effort to get a first-hand look at the clashes.  The previous link notes that Wheeler is the city police commissioner and that the Portland Police Bureau itself has regularly used tear gas to break up the protests.  Also on Wednesday, the Portland City Council passed policies banning city police bureau members from cooperating with federal law enforcement.  On Thursday, the Justice Department inspector general announced that it will conduct a review of the conduct of federal agents in Portland and in Washington, D.C., where federal officers controversially cleared protests in Lafayette Square last month.

Philadelphia.  Responding to reports that federal agents may be deployed to other cities, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced this week that his office is willing to charge federal agents with kidnapping and assault if similar tactics as those alleged in Portland are used in his city.

Neville.  Earlier this month the News Roundup noted that several former detention officers and a nurse have been charged with involuntary manslaughter following the death of John Neville at the Forsyth County Detention Center in December.  The Winston-Salem Journal reported this week that protesters have been holding all-day demonstrations at the city’s downtown Bailey Park asking for answers about Neville’s death and changes in jail policies.  There have been nine days of protests so far, some during rain storms and intense heat.

Federal Judge Targeted.  As CBS News reports, there was a tragic incident in New Jersey this week where a disgruntled attorney targeted a federal judge in a murder plot and ended up killing the judge’s son and wounding her husband.  On Sunday, a man posing as a delivery driver knocked on Judge Esther Salas’s door and fatally shot Salas’s son Daniel when he answered the knock.  Salas’s husband Mark Anderl, who is a criminal defense attorney, also was shot during the incident and is in critical condition.  Salas was in the basement of the home and was uninjured.

The shooter, Den Hollander, was a self-described “anti-feminist” attorney who previously had participated in a case before Salas.  Hollander apparently had been diagnosed recently with a terminal illness and is considered a prime suspect in a similar murder of another attorney earlier this month.  Hollander died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound sometime after the incident involving Judge Salas and her family.

Mojarrad.  Last year the News Roundup noted an officer-involved shooting in Raleigh involving Raleigh police officer Brett Edwards and Soheil Mojarrad, who Edwards fatally shot while Mojarrad wielded a knife.  Raleigh District Attorney Lorrin Freeman determined that Edwards reasonably believed his life was in danger at the time of the shooting and declined to file charges against him, but Mojarrad’s family said that they would pursue a wrongful death civil suit.  WRAL reported this week that the civil suit, which names Edwards, Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck Brown, City Manager Ruffin Hall, and the City of Raleigh as defendants, is proceeding and has moved to federal court.

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