An Auburn University student who was also on the football team was murdered last Sunday morning. Jakell Lenard Mitchell, 18, died from gunshot wounds to the chest. Police have arrested 22-year-old Markale Deandra Hart of nearby Camp Hill and charged him with murder. The shooting took place outside the Tiger Lodge apartment complex, where many Auburn students live. It is just a few miles from the Auburn campus. “My thoughts and prayers are with Jakell’s family and friends, who are suffering through this senseless tragedy,” said Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn, who added that he was saddened and devastated over Mitchell’s passing. This is not the first time this particular apartment complex has been the scene of a tragic shooting. In the summer of 2012, Desmonte Leonard shot and killed three people at a party there. He was convicted of capital murder for killing former Auburn players Ladarious Phillips and Ed Christian, as well as DeMario Pitts. Leonard’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 20.
A White police officer has made a statement that has gotten him in trouble with his police union. Chris Magnus, chief of police of the Richmond Police Dept., joined peaceful demonstrators last week. He was in uniform and holding a sign that said, “#BlackLivesMatter.” The Richmond Police Officers Association objected to the move by Magnus, not based on his stance, but on the fact that he was wearing his uniform. The association claimed that the state government’s code prohibits police officers from participating in political activity while in uniform, according to mediaite.com. Magnus responded on Facebook by saying, “When did it become a political act to acknowledge that ‘black lives matter’ and show respect for the very real concerns of our minority communities? This should not be about ‘us versus them.’ It should be about finding ways to build bridges and address the schism that exists between many of our residents and police.”
District of Columbia
Congressional staff members staged a walkout last week to protest the decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Mo., and in New York City not to indict police officers that killed unarmed Black men. Dozens, possibly hundreds, of Senate aides and workers showed solidarity with demonstrators across the U.S. who were protesting the decisions. They stood on the Capitol steps with their hands in the “hands up, don’t shoot” posture that demonstrators around the country are using to protest. “We’re coming out here to let them know, no, it’s not business as usual; our lives matter. We’re asserting our humanity and our dignity,” a congressional staffer told The Huffington Post. “Even though we go to work in these prestigious buildings among prestigious people, we go home and we’re still profiled, we still are part of those statistics. It could have been any one of us who was Eric Garner, who was Mike Brown.” In addition to the congressional aides taking part in the protest, Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat representing Texas, took part as well. In addition, the protestors represented more than just African Americans, as Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans also participated.
A judge has ruled that a woman who drove her kids into the ocean in Daytona Beach was insane and therefore is not guilty of child abuse. Ebony Wilkerson of South Carolina will not face attempted murder charges either. Circuit Judge Leah Case ordered another hearing to determine if Wilkerson should be committed for treatment or released with court supervision. The mother of three drove her van into the sea off Daytona Beach last March. Bystanders saw the van go into the water and rushed to pull Wilkerson out and the kids before the van went under water. Judge Case is set to evaluate reports and testimony from psychologists who interviewed Wilkerson in the weeks following her arrest. Wilkerson has waived her right to a trial by jury, and also told the judge she was capable of making such a decision. She also told the judge she was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The community of Union City, just outside of Atlanta, is in shock over the tragedy that struck an area youth coach last week. Jonathan Magwood became paralyzed after jumping off of a trampoline and landing in such a way that he broke two vertebrae in his back. The tragedy occurred at a gathering to celebrate the end of the football season for the kids. Although the beloved coach underwent surgery after the accident, he remains in the hospital in critical care. “Hopefully with some rigorous rehabilitation, he will be able to move everything below his neck again,” his fiancé told WSB-TV in Atlanta. “We’re standing on God’s faith for that.” Families of the players want to help Magwood, who they say has done so much for their boys. A fundraising website has been set up and friends, students and their families are also raising funds to help his family with long-term medical care and special equipment, such as a ramp for his home.
The NBA’s Atlanta Hawks have hired Nzinga Shaw as its first chief diversity and inclusion officer. Shaw’s duties are to guide Hawks executives “so that they can engender inclusivity in every facet of the business,” said a press release. Shaw will report directly to Hawks CEO Steve Koonin. The hiring comes about after remarks made by owner Bruce Levenson and general manager Danny Ferry were deemed “racist.” The remarks were revealed to the public before the season. As a result, Levenson is selling his majority share of the team, and Ferry has taken an indefinite leave of absence. Shaw said in a statement that her goal is to help the Hawks “continue to rebuild trust and partnership in the Atlanta community.” Shaw recently worked in a similar capacity at Edelman, a public relations agency.
Two White women have pleaded guilty to charges in connection to a series of hate crimes against Blacks in the state that included driving over and killing someone. Shelbie Brooke Richards and Sarah Adelia Graves pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the federal hate crime law. In addition, Richards pleaded guilty to concealing information about the death of James Craig Anderson, a Black man killed outside of a hotel in Jackson. Six others are involved in the case and awaiting sentencing. Richardson admitted that she encouraged one of the six to hit Anderson with his vehicle, and lied about it before admitting it to investigators.
The fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson isn’t the first time area police have used questionable tactics on a young man. Last week, a lawsuit against a Ferguson cop who reportedly choked and hog-tied a 12-year-old boy was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. The lawsuit was filed in 2012 and alleged that Justin Cosma, a Ferguson police officer, and his partner, Richard Carter, approached the youngster who was at the end of his driveway checking his family’s mailbox. He was not wearing a shirt. Reportedly without provocation or warning, the officer grabbed the boy around the neck, threw him to the ground and tied his hands and his feet together, which is called hog-tying. Once they released him, he had to go to the hospital for treatment of bruising, scrapes and cuts, and choke marks, the lawsuit alleged. Cosma and Carter reportedly claimed that they used force on the child because he resisted arrest. Cosma is one of several officers of the Ferguson Police Dept. that are under investigation by the Justice Department, according to the Huffington Post.
Grammy award-winning artist John Legend and his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, did not participate in the peaceful demonstrations that took place across New York City last week after a grand jury failed to indict police officers in connection to the death of Eric Garner. However, the two high-profile celebrities did their part by arranging and paying for food trucks to feed protestors. In addition, the couple had the trucks take any leftover food to the homeless. Big name athletes such as LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Reggie Bush and more have worn t-shirts during their public pre-game practices that bear the words “I Can’t Breathe.”
The estate of reggae icon and Grammy-winning musician Peter Tosh announced last week that over the next year, 10 percent of all net income from streaming and downloads of the Tosh song “Equal Rights” will be donated to the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. “Brown and Garner are symbols of an issue that needs to be urgently addressed in America,” said Brian Latture, manager of the Peter Tosh brand and CEO of the entertainment management firm MegaSource Group. “Equal Rights” was released in 1977 but still accurately voices feelings prevalent in communities today. Tosh pleads, “I don’t want peace, I want equal rights and justice.” Rolling Stone magazine called the song “unblinking… over deliciously spongy roots grooves.” “Equal Rights” is available for purchase on Itunes and Amazon.
The FBI has stepped in to investigate the hanging death of a Black teen in Blandenboro after local police deemed it a suicide. The family of 17-year-old Lennon Lacy criticized area police for the ruling after the young man was found hanging from a swing with a dog leash and belt. The state medical examiner ruled it a homicide; however, that was based on reports from law enforcement that the family felt lacked proper investigation. The family says there are a lot of unanswered questions about the case, especially in light of the fact that Lacy was in a close relationship with a woman in the area. For instance, why was the teen wearing someone else’s shoes that were too small for him when he was found? Where did the belt come from, since the family says it was not his? Why was there bruising on his face? His family and teammates from the local football team also indicated he did not suffer from depression or mental illness. According to his mother, he had washed his football uniform and packed his bag in preparation for the big football game that day. The FBI is now investigating the death.
The autopsy conducted on the 12-year-old boy shot by a Cleveland police officer has been completed and the boy’s death has been ruled a homicide. The medical examiner’s report says that Tamir Rice was shot in the abdomen and the bullet damaged a major vein and his intestine. Rice was shot by police officer Tim Loehmann outside of a city recreation center on Nov. 22 after police responded to a 911 call that someone was waving a gun around. Surveillance video from the park showed the boy being shot by Loehmann within two seconds of when the police car pulled up. Rice was carrying a pellet gun, which shoots harmless pellets. Last week, it was revealed by the media that Loehmann has a history of having difficulty in properly dealing with firearms. The case is under investigation, with a grand jury to decide if criminal charges will be filed against Loehmann.
A 36-year-old mother of two has become the first female firefighter to die in the line of duty in Philadelphia. According to the New York Daily News, Joyce Craig Lewis became trapped in the basement while battling a house fire in northeast Philadelphia on Dec. 9. Her actions contributed to getting an elderly resident out of the house safely, according to the fire department. The 11-year veteran was taken to Einstein Medical Center and was pronounced dead at approximately 4 a.m., according to the station. She is survived by a 16-year-old son and a 16-month-old daughter. “We have two families who have suffered a loss this morning, the firefighter family, and the person who lost their life, their family,” Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said in a press conference from the hospital, according to NBC. A procession of fire vehicles led an ambulance with her body down the Schuylkill Expressway to the medical examiner’s office. Black bunting was hung from firehouses. “We suffered a tragic loss here this morning,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told NBC.
A Seattle police officer will not face any criminal charges for punching a handcuffed suspect in the eye, according to CBS affiliate Channel 46. The officer, Adley Shepherd, reportedly punched Miyekko Durden-Bosley so hard that he broke the orbital bone of her eye, while she was handcuffed. The incident began with a domestic violence call, when Durden-Bosley was reportedly intoxicated and behaving erratically outside of a Seattle man’s home. The man’s mother had called police to the home. When Shepherd, 38, arrived on the scene, Durden-Bosley was reportedly acting in a belligerent manner and yelling profanity at the officer. Allegedly, the officer shoved the 23-year-old woman in the back of his police cruiser, and she then kicked at him. Shepherd reportedly reacted by punching her in the eye. Shepherd suffered no visible injuries according to court documents. Durden-Bosley, however, had a visibly inflamed black eye and the whites of her eyes were extremely bloodied. The punch fractured the orbital of her right eye. The entire incident was caught on an in-car video. Shepherd was placed on paid administrative leave. According to area news reports, the Washington State Patrol investigated the situation and declared that the officer’s actions fell in line with training and policy because Durden-Bosley struck him. The King County prosecutor reviewed the evidence and determined there was not enough to prove the punch was unreasonable.