Category Archives: National

Philando Castile’s Partner Gets Settlement

Diamond Reynolds

Diamond Reynolds

By MCNS Staff

Diamond Reynolds, who showed the world what happened after a Minnesota police officer killed her boyfriend, Philando Castile, agreed to a $800,000 settlement last Tuesday, authorities announced.

Police officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted on charges of manslaughter and of two counts of endangering Reynolds and her daughter this past June.

Philando Castile was one of at least 963 people who were killed by police officers last year according to the Washington Post and his death became one the most well known cases because Diamond Reynolds live-streamed the footage via Facebook. He was pulled over on July 6, 2016, in Falcon Heights, a suburb near Minneapolis and St. Paul. After Mr. Castile alerted Officer Yanez that he had a gun in the car, the situation escalated. Officer Yanez fired into the car seven times, striking Mr. Castile, and said afterward that he believed Mr. Castile was reaching for his gun.

“I, was scared and I was, in fear for my life and my partner’s life,” Officer Yanez told state agents investigating the shooting, according to a transcript. “And for the little girl in the back and the front seat passenger.”

However, photographs that were taken inside the car and presented as evidence showed that one of the bullets from officer Yanez’s gun passed through Mr. Castile’s seat and hit the back seat, inches from where the little girl was sitting. Additionally, Diamond Reynolds argued that Mr. Castile was not reaching for his weapon.

Ms. Reynolds, who was sitting in the passenger seat with her 4-year-old daughter seated behind her, began to live stream what was happening on Facebook Live, pleading with him to “stay with me,” therefore this footage was seen all over the world. Police then held her in handcuffs while her daughter watched and attempted to console her mother.

Therefore, Miss Reynolds served a complaint in a Minnesota court seeking relief due to the stop and emotional distress suffered during and after it, according to a resolution from the city of St. Anthony.

An agreement was reached Tuesday between Miss Reynolds and the city of St. Anthony as well as the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust on behalf of Roseville, another city in the region according to the Washington Post.

Under the terms announced Tuesday, St. Anthony will pay $675,000 toward the settlement, while Roseville and the insurance trust will pay $125,000. Part of the settlement will be put into a trust for Miss Reynolds’s daughter “and her future educational needs” once it is approved. Also, this past June, Castile’s mother reached a nearly $3 million settlement with the city.

Miss Reynolds said the settlement shows that what happened to her and her daughter “was wrong” and that while it would not erase the pain they feel, she hopes it allows them “to get our lives back and move forward.”

OK Cop Sentenced for Killing Daughter’s Black Boyfriend

Shannon Kepler was sentenced to 15 years.

Shannon Kepler was sentenced to 15 years.

By MCNS Staff

White former police officer Shannon Kepler in Tulsa, Oklahoma was sentenced last Monday to 15 years in prison for killing his daughter’s black boyfriend while he was off-duty, according to the Associated Press. The sentencing took place after four trials over the course of just under a year, including three trials that resulted in hung juries.

The former Tulsa officer was convicted last month of first-degree manslaughter in the 2014 slaying of 19-year-old Jeremey Lake. Kepler retired from the force after he was charged. Additionally, Tulsa County District Court Judge Sharon Holmes issued him a $10,000 fine.

In the first three trials, the juries were deadlocked 11-1, 10-2 and 6-6, thus requiring the judge to declare mistrials. Only one black juror was selected for each of Kepler’s four trials, therefore civil rights activists accused Kepler’s lawyers of purposely working to bias the juries.

Kepler’s lawyers claimed that the off-duty cop was trying to protect his daughter because she ran away from home and was living in a crime-ridden neighborhood. Kepler told investigators that Lake was armed and that he shot the 19 year-old in self-defense. However, police never found a weapon on Lake or at the scene, and several neighbors testified that they never saw a gun on him.

Kepler killed Lake just days before white police officer Darren Wilson killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Therefore, a national concern was raised about police killing Black people with more frequency than they kill people of other races.

Oklahoma law sets out a minimum sentence of four years for first degree manslaughter but it has no maximum term, so it is left to the judge to decide on the final punishment. The jurors also recommended a 15-year term.

Federal Judge Disallows Police Misconduct During Protests

By Malcolm Speaksindex

A federal judge ruled that St. Louis police are not allowed to shut down non-violent demonstrations and employ chemical weapons to punish protesters this past Wednesday.

This was a clear victory for The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, who filed a lawsuit in the U.S. district court in St. Louis on September 22 for the police use of excessive force and retaliation with chemical weapons against people engaging in activities that are protected by the first Amendment.

This retaliation includes the use of pepper spray and a tactic called “kettling,” where police officers form a square around protesters, thus boxing them in, to make arrests and prevent them from fleeing. Protesters who this tactic firsthand stated that officers clearly used excessive force.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry issued a preliminary injunction that limits police tactics in responding to protests as a result of complaints during protests after the Sept. 15 acquittal of White former officer Jason Stockley. He was acquitted on murder charges for his execution-style killing of Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24 year-old Black man, in December 2011.

“Plaintiffs’ evidence — both video and testimony – shows that officers have exercised their discretion in an arbitrary and retaliatory fashion to punish protesters for voicing criticism of police or recording police conduct,” Perry wrote.

Importantly, Judge Perry’s order disallows police from declaring an assembly to be unlawful and enforcing this declaration against people who are engaged in demonstrations, unless those persons pose an imminent threat of violence.

She also barred the use of pepper spray without probable cause to make an arrest and without providing clear warnings to protesters with a chance to heed them.

Keystone Pipeline Has Oil Spill

Keystone Pipeline Has Oil Spill

Thousands of protestors gathered across the Keystone XL pipeline's proposed route to stop its construction.

Thousands of protestors gathered across the Keystone XL pipeline’s proposed route to stop its construction.

By Free Radical

On Thursday, the Keystone Pipeline spilled  nearly 210,000 gallons or 5,000 barrels near the town of Amherst, SD. The pipeline, which is operated by TransCanada, runs from Hardesty, Alberta in Canada to Cushing, Oklahoma and Wood River/Patoka, Illinois.

Thursday’s oil spill further complicates TransCanada’s efforts to build the more controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Thy Keystone XL Pipeline, set to travel through Montana and South Dakota before joining an existing line in Nebraska, was the subject of continuous protests by various Native American groups and environmentalists during former President Barack Obama’s presidency. Obama eventually decided to halt construction of the pipeline but in March, President Donald Trump issued a permit for construction of the project.

Thursday’s spill comes a week before regulators in Nebraska are scheduled to vote on whether they will grant a permit for the pipeline to operate in the state. Land owners are concerned that oil spills would greatly damage their property. This is the third oil spill of the pipeline. Two, which spilled 400 barrels each occurred in 2011 and 2016.

This is if special concern to Native Americans such as the Standing Rock Sioux community who have repeatedly said that additional spills could threaten the Missouri River which is their only source of water. They have also said that the proposed pipeline would disturb their sacred grounds. According to the Washington Post, “one stone feature representing an area used for prayers and spiritual journeys with a grave extends into the pipeline corridor and would be destroyed.” There is also a section by the Cannon Ball River drainage by the Missouri River which were known to hold several holy sites where no warfare could occur.