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News Roundup

The major national criminal law news of the week was the murder conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes while arresting him for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store.  The jury’s verdict followed a trial that lasted nearly two weeks and included testimony from witnesses ranging from bystanders who filmed the incident and pleaded for Floyd’s life to the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department.  Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, spoke with the PBS NewsHour about what the verdict meant for his family and the wider movement to eliminate racial disparities in policing.  Keep reading for more news.

Elizabeth City.  A day after the verdict was rendered in the Chauvin trial, the shooting death of a Black man in Elizabeth City during the execution of a search warrant became national news and sparked calls for accountability and transparency from members of the city council and others.  The Associated Press reports that witnesses say that Andrew Brown Jr., was shot  by a Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputy while trying to drive away from the location where the warrant was being served.  Few details about the incident were available at the time of writing and body camera footage has not yet been released.

Columbus.  Another police shooting drawing national attention this week occurred in Columbus, Ohio, where an officer fatally shot a 16-year-old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant, after responding to a disturbance where Bryant was brandishing a knife.  As the Columbus Dispatch reports, body camera footage shows the officer arriving to an active fight between Bryant and at least two other people.  It appears that Bryant is preparing to stab one person with a knife immediately before the officer fires several shots.

Second Chance Act.  John Rubin recently was a guest on the Campbell Law Reporter podcast where he discussed the North Carolina Second Chance Act, which he blogged about last year, and other state law provisions related to expunctions of criminal records.  Check out the full podcast here.

Jury Duty Scam.  There were reports this week that a jury duty phone scam recently has been circulating in Wake County.  As a press release from the NC DOJ explains, the scammer tells the target that the Sheriff’s Office is putting out a warrant for their arrest because they have missed jury duty but claims that arrest can be avoided by paying money to the Clerk’s Office.  Don’t fall for it and call the DOJ if you think you’ve been a victim.

Bobcat Attack Foiled.  In simpler times, unusual encounters with wild animals and tales of heroism by everyday Americans were regular features of the News Roundup.  Those halcyon days are back this week thanks to Happy Wade, a Burgaw man who became a viral sensation when his home security video system captured him defending his wife from a rabid bobcat that attacked the couple in their driveway.  Footage shows Wade waving to a jogging neighbor, balancing an insulated mug on the hood of his SUV, and loading a tray of brownies into the backseat just prior to being startled by a piercing shriek like that of a “very angry cat” and the sight of a bobcat clawing his wife Kristi’s back.  WECT has the story of the ensuing bare-handed brawl here.

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