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Freddie Gray Arrest: Cell Phone Video May Shed More Light on Case

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Courtesy Murphy, Falcon & Murphy(BALTIMORE) — Shaky cell phone video released on Wednesday may show officers with Freddie Gray during one of the stops made while the Baltimore man was in police custody after his arrest, according to a report.

The Baltimore Sun released the footage taken by an unidentified witness. The video appears to show police officers surrounding Gray, 25, as he is motionless outside a police van.

It is the latest of several videos that have emerged in the case.

Police took Gray into custody in Baltimore on April 12. An officer was heard telling dispatch at 8:40 a.m. that officers had one person in custody in the 1700 block of Presbury Street, two blocks south of North and Mount Streets, police said.

The cell phone footage takes place at the first stop officers made during Gray’s apprehension, at the corner of Mount and Baker streets, according to The Baltimore Sun. Multiple police are seen in the video, though it is not clear which of six officers arrested in the case are involved in this particular moment.

Reached for comment about the video, State Attorney’s Office Director of Communications Rochelle Ritchie said, “We have nothing to add at this point.”

Earlier this month, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said officers put flex cuffs on Gray’s wrists and leg cuffs on his legs before loading him “on his stomach, head first into the wagon.”

They did not secure him with a seat belt, she said, which is “contrary to a [Baltimore Police Department] order.”

The medical examiner’s office ruled Gray’s death was ruled a homicide by severe trauma by earlier this month.

Officers Caesar Goodson Jr., William Porter, Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, Lt. Brian Rice, and Sgt. Alicia Miller were arrested and charged in Gray’s death.

The officers have not yet entered pleas, according to White’s attorney, Ivan Bates, who had no comment on the new video other than saying he did not see White in it.

However, Michael Davey, an attorney hired by one of the officers who spoke on behalf of all six, said after charges were filed, “These officers will be vindicated because they have done nothing wrong.”

He added, “No officer injured Mr. Gray, caused harm to Mr. Gray, and [they] are truly saddened by his death.”

Gray sustained a spinal injury when he was in custody and required medical attention. He went into a coma several days later and died a week after his apprehension.

It remains unclear why Gray was taken into custody, with police only noting he ran away from officers.


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Pet of the Week

Virginia Mom Thanks White State Trooper for Not Stereotyping Her Son

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Courtesy Nada Owusu(DANVILLE, Va.) — A Virginia State Trooper’s act of kindness has gotten him a lot of attention from one loving mom.

Dr. Nada Owusu’s son, Joseph, was driving home from an exam at Virginia Tech on May 14 when one of his tires had “blown off his car,” ABC News affiliate WSET-TV reported on Tuesday.

According to a post on Facebook, Dr. Owusu wrote that Virginia State Trooper Matt Okes “got on his knees to replace his tire” and “provided all the needed protection” until 2 a.m.

In the post, Dr. Owusu wrote the trooper never questioned why her son was driving a Mercedes, just showed up and tried to help.

“I wanted to thank him and share it with my Facebook friends about how a police officer helped my son,” she told ABC News on Wednesday. “It was late in the night and he stayed with my son for 4 hours. I was expecting 50 maybe 100 friends to like it. Then it went viral, and I was surprised.”

Dr. Owusu told WSET-TV that Joseph was in a dangerous area because “the road is curvy [and] there are no lights.”

Owusu said she went public with the incident since she was trying to give recognition to the trooper for keeping her son safe because “it was very comforting to me as a mother.”

Now, that recognition has been shared over 22,000 times and widely commented on, including by Montel Williams, who said “Grateful that your son is okay, and also grateful that you shared Trooper Okes’ act of heroic kindness with the world.”

In a statement, Okes said, “The attention the photo has generated on social media has been overwhelming and I certainly wasn’t expecting the photo to receive as much attention as it has. I was simply doing my job as any other Virginia state trooper would. I appreciate the kind comments by Dr. Owusu and am glad Joseph and his parents were able to finally make it home safe. I am honored to be a member of the Virginia state police and am blessed by God to serve and protect.”


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Washington Mansion Fire: Friend of DC Blaze Victim Calls Her ‘Devoted’ Mom

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Facebook(WASHINGTON) — A friend of the woman who was murdered in her D.C. mansion after it was set on fire said that she was a devoted and “selfless” mother.

Amy Savopoulus was found dead in her home alongside her husband Savvas, their 10-year-old son Phillip, and their longtime housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa under mysterious circumstances.

Their bodies were only discovered when their house was allegedly set ablaze the same day they are believed to have been killed, authorities said.

“Amy was one of the most devoted loving caring thoughtful mothers friends i have ever known she was incredibly devoted to her children,” her friend Elizabeth Blalack told ABC News. “Every minute of every day, she was thinking about them.”

The Savopoulus’ had three children, but their two teenage daughters were away at boarding school when the family’s Washington D.C. home was burned on Thursday.

“She would call her girls her little pearls because she saw each one as so precious and rare and something to be cherished, and she called Phillip her little prince,” Blalack said.

In the last voicemail Blalack received from her friend, Savopoulus reportedly said that she called just because she missed Blalack’s smiling face. That was just one of many anecdotes Blalack said she can remember showing Savopoulus’ kindness.

“I had a daughter who was very sick when she and Phillip were in kindergarten together and Amy showed up at my door with a gift in had because she didn’t want my daughter to miss out on the fun they had had that day in school,” Blalack said.

“The world lost a really tender soul way too prematurely and that the world would not be as good a place without Amy in it,” she said.

D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department is still investigating the case and a $25,000 reward has been issued to anyone who gives a tip that leads to the arrest and conviction of a suspect.

As of now, police have issued surveillance footage showing a person of interest running from the scene but they have not publicly announced any leads on that individual since the footage was made public Friday.

Blalack said that she hopes “there is justice in the world.”


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Crusin In Cruces

How Taking a Photograph of Old Faithful This Summer Could Land You in Jail

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

AdamLongSculpture/iStock/Thinkstock(YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo.) — Visitors to Wyoming’s renowned Yellowstone National Park could find themselves thrown in jail for simply taking a photograph without permission, according to critics of a statute signed into law by the Wyoming governor this spring.

While the law is meant to criminalize the act of entering public and private lands in order to collect pollution data, critics argue that the law’s wide-ranging restrictions could ensnare a tourist taking photos in one of the state’s National Parks.

“A Yellowstone tourist who goes for a hike with the intention of photographing the natural resources in Yellowstone is in violation of this law because they are entering into open land for the purpose of collecting what falls under the definition of resource data,” Susan Kraham, a senior attorney for the Environmental Law Clinic at Columbia University, told ABC News.

Kraham noted that to violate the law, a tourist would have to have the intent to submit their photos to a government agency, though that intent could be as benign as wanting to enter the photo into a government-sponsored photography contest.

Proponents of what has been called the “trespassing to collect data” law passed last March, argue that prosecutors would never bring such a case to court, but opponents point out there’s nothing in the law’s language to prevent prosecutors from doing so.

“A promise is wonderful but the law allows for prosecution,” said Linda Burt, a lawyer and former director of the now-closed Wyoming ACLU chapter, which fought the law during legislative proceedings.

Under the law’s broad framework, anyone who enters “open land” defined as “land outside the exterior boundaries of any incorporated city, town, subdivision” with the intent to collect data without explicit permission to do so, could face up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Burt called the law “a very dangerous precedent.”

Opponents have called the law an “ag-gag,” alleging the new regulations are intended to prevent the reporting of pollution on public lands.

“What is unique and highly problematic is that it is clearly intended to apply to public land,” Mark Squillace, a law professor at the University of Colorado who specializes in natural resource law, told ABC News. “It essentially makes a party guilty of trespass if they engage in what would otherwise be lawful activity on federal public land.”

Critics say it’s no coincidence that such a law was passed amid an ongoing dispute between a group of Wyoming ranchers and the Western Watershed Project, a group of “citizen enforcers” who set out to collect data on E. coli contamination in public streams and rivers that they allege is caused by industrial cattle grazing.

“The ag industry didn’t like what I was doing so it passed a law to make it illegal,” said Jonathan Ratner, a researcher with the WWP who has been documenting alleged pollution in Wyoming for more than a decade.

A group of twelve ranchers are currently suing Ratner and the WWP for allegedly trespassing through private land in order to collect pollution data on public streams that the WWP alleges have been contaminated by the ranchers’ cattle. Lawyers for the WWP have asked the suit to be dismissed, calling it “an abuse of the legal process.”

“The idea that people would use common law to destroy an organization that is going out into public lands and revealing legal problems is deeply troubling to me,” Justin Pidot, an environmental law professor at the University of Denver and a lawyer representing the WWP on a pro-bono basis, told ABC News.

“Information about the environment is vital both to the government and the public,” Pidot said.

Supporters of the trespassing to collect data law argue it protects property and privacy rights, two things Wyoming tends to pride itself on.

“We hold the protection of private property in very high regard,” state Sen. Leland Christensen, a Republican lawmaker who chaired the committee that oversaw the bill’s legislative process, told ABC News.

“People that own property, either good or bad actors, deserve to be protected on their private property,” said Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Western Stock Growers Association, a trade association that supported the bill during the legislative process. Magagna said most industrial cattle grazing practices are designed to avoid pollution, and that Wyoming’s trespassing laws needed to be updated.

But opponents argue that Wyoming already has strict trespassing laws in place for private property.

“The Wyoming law is totally unnecessary to criminalize trespass onto private land,” William Funk, a professor of law at the Lewis and Clark University, wrote to ABC News in a statement. Funk also argued that collecting data is a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

According to Ratner, the law will have a chilling effect on his attempts to report pollution.

Kraham, of Columbia University, said: “The really big issue here is that the appropriate response to citizen scientists and resource protection is for the state to step up its enforcement as opposed to silence those who are bringing the issues to the public attention.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



US Air Force’s Secret X37-B Space Plane Launches on Fourth Mission

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

US Air Force(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) — A secretive space plane owned by the United States Air Force launched Wednesday morning on its fourth mission to space.

Strapped atop an United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, the X-37B space plane had a smooth ascent into space, quickly reaching Mach 1 — the speed of sound — as it traveled to its place in low Earth orbit.

While it is not known how long the plane’s fourth mission will last, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base said last month the plane will be testing a Hall thruster, a type of propulsion system that could one day be used to power spacecraft on long-haul missions.

Measuring 29 feet in length and having a 15-foot wingspan, the unmanned re-usable orbital test vehicle looks like a miniature version of NASA’s now retired space shuttles.

Like the space shuttle, the X-37B lands on runways, though it does so without pilots at the helm.

The plane touched down last October at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, marking the end of its third mission and 674 consecutive days in space.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Double Your Dollars

Aaron Hernandez Allegedly Involved in Prison Fight, Law Enforcement Officials Say

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) — Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, just a month into a life sentence on first degree murder charges, was in “a two-on-one fight” that sent him to a segregation unit at a Massachusetts prison, law enforcement officials confirmed to ABC News.

Hernandez was convicted last month in the murder of his friend Odin Lloyd, whose bullet-riddled body was found a mile from the mansion Hernandez shared with his fiancé and toddler daughter.

Hernandez is now serving life without the possibility of parole at the MCI-Shirley Souza-Baronowski Correctional Facility, which is where he was sent to Special Management Unit on Monday night after he was allegedly involved in an attack on another inmate, several law enforcement sources said.

“It was two-on-one, he was part of the two,” said one prison official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. A second source said the inmate was beaten in his cell and that it appeared “gang related.”

After the fight, prison officials found that the former NFL standout had been inked with a new tattoo that references the Bloods gang, the sources said.

“The victim in the fight was some absolute nobody. He was just trying to show he’s down with the Bloods, a scared man looking at life in prison,” a source said.

“We cannot comment on specific prisoners,” said Chris Fallon, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Correction.

Hernandez’s attorneys, James Sultan and Michael Fee, did not immediately return calls and emails seeking comment.

Hernandez is now slated to go on trial for the double murder of two men who were shot in a drive-by Boston prosecutors say was sparked by a spilled drink on a dance floor at a popular nightclub. A third man was wounded in that July 2012 attack. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers have said he will be vindicated.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Clean Up Resumes Following Oil Spill Off Southern California Coast

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

ABC News(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) — California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a statement of emergency in Santa Barbara on Wednesday after a ruptured pipeline off the coast leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil.

The leak was first reported around noon on Tuesday when an onshore pipeline broke, allowing crude to reach a storm drain that empties into the ocean.

At least two oil slicks that when combined cover approximately nine miles of the Santa Barbara coast have been identified by the Coast Guard.

The cause of the rupture is not yet known but Coast Guard crews were able to stop the leak by 3 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said.

Nearby Refugio State Beach was evacuated and officials did not say if the beach would be re-opened in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The pipeline was built in 1991 by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline, which said it shut down the flow of oil.

“Plains deeply regrets this release has occurred and is making every effort to limit its environmental impact,” the company said in a statement.

The spill occurred along the same stretch of coastline that was decimated in a 1969 spill that helped spark the modern day environmental movement.


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Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

Video: Substitute Teacher Uses Belt to Discipline Students

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

WJLA(BRANDYWINE, Md.) — New video apparently shows a substitute teacher in Maryland beating a student with what appears to be a leather belt.

In the video, children can be heard screaming as they try to run away.

The alleged incident took place on May 15 at Gwynn Park Middle School. The video has already been seen hundreds of thousands of times online.

The circumstances behind the teacher’s behavior aren’t known, but town residents and parents are outraged.

The substitute teacher, who has not been identified, has been removed from the classroom, according to the school.

In a statement, the school called the teacher’s actions “improper.”

The school said it “does not condone this type of behavior, and it is not representative of the level of professionalism and respectful conduct of the team at the school.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



‘Miracle Baby’ Unhurt After SUV Crashes Into Crib

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

KOMO-TV(BELLEVUE, Wash.) — A 9-month-old in Washington State is being called a miracle baby after an SUV slammed through the part of the home and into the crib he was sleeping in.

Somehow, the boy wasn’t harmed.

The accident happened Tuesday in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue. Investigators say the 34-year-old driver accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes while pulling into the apartment complex.

Bellevue Police Officer Seth Tyler said the boy’s parents were shaken.

“The parents were frantic at the time of the crash. They heard the commotion, they went into the room, obviously saw the car in their baby’s room and grabbed their child,” Tyler said.

The crib was heavily damaged by the impact. But miraculously, the baby was fine. Medics on the scene checked the baby’s condition — and determined that he was uninjured.

For now, the family is staying with a neighbor because the home sustained significant damage.

The driver of the SUV has not been charged after authorities deemed it an accident.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Loyal Listeners Club

Large Tornado Hits Mineral Wells, Texas; ‘Extensive Damage,’ Cops Say

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 by

Posted in National News

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(MINERAL WELLS, Texas) — A large tornado touched down in Mineral Wells, Texas, Tuesday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

Damage stretched over a two-block area, according to a reporter with ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas.

Jennifer Sabian with the Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s office told ABC News there are reports of significant damage.

“There were three tornadoes that touched down in Mineral Wells city limits and several that were outside of the city limits and there is significant damage to Mineral Wells,” she said.

The town, with a population of about 16,000 people, is located about 50 miles west of Fort Worth.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



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