News Roundup

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan were convicted this week by a federal jury of hate crimes related to their murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia two years ago.  All three men were convicted of state murder charges in December of last year.  Outside the courthouse, Arbery’s family celebrated the verdict and thanked supporters for standing by them in what they called a “very long, stressful fight” for justice.  Keep reading for more news.

Floyd Civil Rights Verdict.  As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports, three former Minneapolis police officers who were on the scene when Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in May 2020 were convicted by a federal jury yesterday of violating Floyd’s civil rights.  Former officers J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao, and Thomas Lane each were convicted of failing to render aid to Floyd, and Kueng and Thao also were convicted of failing to intervene while Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck.  In case you missed it, Jeff had a blog post earlier this week discussing law enforcement officers’ statutory and constitutional duty to intervene.  State charges still are pending against all of the former officers.

HBCU Threats.  USA Today reported this week that at least 57 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and places of worship have been the targets of bomb threats since the beginning of the year, with many of the threats coming since the beginning of February, which is Black History Month.  In a recent statement, the FBI said it is aggressively investigating the threats and has been briefing law enforcement and community partners on its efforts. At a virtual HBCU mental health summit this week, Governor Roy Cooper condemned the threats and said that he would be meeting next week with university chancellors to discuss safety strategies.

Officer Arrested.  WRAL reports that a Raleigh police officer was arrested by federal law enforcement agents this week after allegedly selling drugs to a confidential DEA informant while on duty.  At a press conference, US Attorney Michael Easley said that the DEA and the Raleigh Police Department received a tip that officer Keven Rodriguez was selling drugs.  Based on that tip, state and federal authorities launched an investigation that included the controlled buy.  Rodriguez allegedly conducted the sale while driving his patrol car, wearing his uniform, and while armed with his service weapon.

Warrant Lawsuit.  ABC 11 reports that a group of people have filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Raleigh and several Raleigh police officers alleging that searches of their homes were illegal and involved the use of excessive force.  One of the plaintiffs, Yolanda Irving, told ABC 11 that officers with the police department’s Selective Enforcement Team executed a no-knock search warrant at her home in May of 2020 and created a chaotic scene by bursting through the door with their weapons drawn and handcuffing her teenage son.  The search apparently was executed at the wrong house.  One of the officers named in the suit is Omar Abdullah, who allegedly was involved in using fraudulent evidence in drug cases last year.

Alternative Responder Implementation.  The Atlantic published an article this week that looks at the challenges Durham has faced as it works to implement and alternative responder system for situations where calls for police service involve a person experiencing a mental health crisis.  Many jurisdictions across the country, Durham included, believe that responding to such calls with trained social workers and crisis counselors is a better approach than responding solely with police officers.

One issue the city discovered while evaluating how to effectively implement an alternative responder system is that it appeared there was a substantial undercount by operators of the number of 911 calls that involve a mental health crisis, with just 1 percent of calls over a three-year period being so identified.  The article is an interesting read and, among other things, discusses expansion in the use of the 911 system over several decades.