Judge releases body cam video in tragic shooting of 6-year-old boy

Judge releases body cam video in tragic shooting of 6-year-old boy

A tragic criminal case in Louisiana demonstrates the power of police body cam video to affect the justice process. This week a Louisiana judge released video of the killing of a 6-year-old boy by two police officers at the end of a high speed car chase. When the officers opened fire, they didn’t know the child was in the back seat. But a viewing of the body cam video of a third police officer on the scene contradicted their claims that the suspect driving the car had just rammed them, and therefore posed an imminent risk, justifying the use of deadly force. The video shows that the suspect was actually stopped with his hands in the air, apparently surrendering, when police opened fire with a barrage of lethal bullets. The suspect was severely wounded, and the child killed. This key video evidence lead to indictments of the two police officers for second degree murder.

The death of an innocent child for any reason is tragic, but to lose a child at the hands of law-enforcement officers sworn to protect and serve the community is maddening. And incidents during which police officers seem to use excessive, sometimes lethal force in video recordings are appearing in the media more and more frequently. Some of these incidents even lead to prosecutions. Though most cops prosecute their duties honorably and effectively, within the limits of the law, video evidence from camcorders, dash cams, and now ubiquitous cell phones, and increasingly, body cams worn by the police officers themselves, have contributed to a growing awareness that cops sometimes cross the line, using inappropriate and even criminal levels of force during arrests and other interactions with the public.

Police are often resistant to wearing body cams. A police union in Boston, Massachusetts recently insisted that a pilot body cam program remain strictly volunteer, then encouraged its members not to join. However, these devices have provided crucial evidence that’s allowed prosecutors to make better decisions. The use of body cams should not only be encouraged, but should be mandatory for all police officers who regularly interact with the public and have a reasonable chance to make arrests. The devices can safeguard honorable officers falsely accused of brutality and other offenses, and bring to light the poor behavior and decisions of those officers who transgress. Either way justice is served.

There are of course privacy issues and related concerns to work out. Who views body cam video, and how frequently? Are officers allowed to view the video before making their reports? Are officers allowed to turn off their body cams at will, or should they constantly record? What degree of discrepancy between police testimony and body cam footage is required  to trigger an investigation, or warrant charges? When, if ever, should body cam video be released to the public? These questions are important, but intelligent people of good will can, with the right amount of inquiry and debate, answer them. The most important thing is to deploy this helpful technology as quickly and widely as possible, to aid police throughout the country, along with the rest of the criminal justice system, in their mission to protect and serve the people.

Learn more about this tragic case (CNN.com)


Photo: By West Midlands Police from West Midlands, United Kingdom (Lapel cameras  Uploaded by tm) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Town Hall: President Obama discusses the terminology of terrorism

Town Hall: President Obama discusses the terminology of terrorism

President Obama answered a difficult question from a concerned American Citizen, regarding why he refuses to use the term “radical islamic terrorism” (and related terms) to describe ISIS and other terrorist groups. According to the President, it’s a manufactured issue, and use of the term is inaccurate, and unfair to majority Muslims who do not condone the brutal actions and ideology of these violent groups.

This has been a divisive issue for Americans, with right-leaning citizens happy to embrace the term, while more politically liberal ones generally prefer alternatives, like “radical jihadist terrorists.” According to the President and prominent members of his administration, it’s not worth using the term in question if we end up offending muslims, especially Muslim governments whose cooperation we require to achieve our national security goals.
“President Barack Obama has taken a lot of criticism from political opponents over his rhetoric when it comes to terrorism. But on Wednesday at a CNN presidential town hall, he was asked to defend why he refuses to say “Islamic” terrorism to a Gold Star mother.

“My son gave his life for acts of terrorism,” audience member Tina Houchins told Obama at the town hall moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Do you still believe that the acts of terrorism are done for the self-proclaimed Islamic religious motive? And if you do, why do you still refuse to use the term … Islamic terrorist?”” (CNN.com)

Learn more about President Obama’s town hall (CNN.com)

Photo: Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Israel’s Shimon Perez dead at 93

Israel's Shimon Perez dead at 93

Shimon Perez, nobel laureate and former Isreali Prime Minister, has died at 93 following complications from a massive stroke he suffered two weeks ago. Peres advocated a two state solution for the Israeli-Pelestinian conflict, and shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for the Oslo accords, in 1994. He was the first Israeli Prime Minister to speak before a Muslim country’s legislature, when he addressed the Turkish government. President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.


“Shimon Peres, the Israeli elder statesman who shared a Nobel Prize for forging a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, has died. He served as a constant force for generations in Israeli politics.

The 93-year-old died after suffering a massive stroke two weeks ago. He was reported to be making progress but doctors said he took a turn for the worse Tuesday.

In top leadership roles over the decades — including Prime Minister and President — the Labor Party veteran became a face of the Jewish State, instantly recognized and well-respected in Israel and across the globe.” (CNN.com)

Learn more about Shimon Peres’s life and death (CNN.com)


Photo: By World Economic Forum from Cologny, Switzerland – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2005, CC BY-SA 2.0

Watch Tonight’s Presidential Debate Streaming Live – Trump, Clinton – 9:00 pm ET

Watch Tonight's Presidential Debate Streaming Live - Trump, Clinton - 9:00 pm ET

Monday, September 26, 9:00 pm ET – Finally Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet in person face to face, for a live debate.

Watch Presidential Debate Streaming Live (NBCNews / Youtube)


Photo: By Donald Trump August 19, 2015 (cropped, resized).jpg: BU Rob13 Hillary Clinton by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg: Gage GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Golf legend Arnold Palmer dies at 87

Golfer Arnold Palmer dies at 87

Perhaps the greatest golfer who ever lived, Arnold Palmer, has died from complications from heart failure, at the age of 87. Over his long career he revolutionized the sport of golf, won the admiration of legions of fans across multiple generations, and enjoyed a long retirement, pursuing successful business opportunities and lucrative celebrity endorsements. Palmer served in the U.S. Coast Guard as a young man (shown in the photo accompanying this post) before furthering his education and embarking on his professional career.


“Arnold Palmer — the pants-hitching, chain-smoking son of a greenskeeper who helped transform golf from an elite country club pursuit in to a sport for the masses, winning every major honor the game has to offer along the way — died Sunday at age 87, Palmer’s company and the U.S. Golf Association said.

Alastair Johnson, chief executive of Arnold Palmer Enterprises, told The Golf Channel — which Palmer co-founded, among his many successful business enterprises — that Palmer died Sunday afternoon from complications of heart problems. (The Golf Channel is a unit of the NBC Sports Group…” (NBCNews.com)

Learn more about Arnold Palmer’s life and career (NBCNews.com)


Photo: By U.S. Coast Guard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons”

China’s first space station is falling to earth

China's first space station is falling to earth

China has lost control of it’s older space station, which will fall to earth next year. China’s made great strides in space science, launching its second space station, and successfully landing a robotic probe on the moon. But as is expected when mastering a new technology and complicated endeavor, the emerging space power isn’t free from mishaps.

“While the gaze of the world was pointed upwards last week as China launched its second ever space station into orbit, the nation appears to have more quietly acknowledged that it has lost control of its first such space station module.

At a press conference last Wednesday in the lead-up to the launch of the Tiangong–2 space lab, Chinese officials confirmed that its predecessor prototype, called Tiangong–1, will fall into Earth’s atmosphere sometime in the latter half of 2017…”

Learn more about China’s space station that’s falling to earth (science alert)

Photo: CNSA / Science Alert

Earth’s Oxygen is slowly leaking away, according to scientists

Earth's Oxygen is slowly leaking away, according to scientists

Well, you’ve read the title of this post. Oxygen is leaking away from our planet’s atmosphere, into space. And we like oxygen, because, well…breathing. So, should we worry? Probably not, because the process is so very slow, happening over millions of years. But the issue may have significance for the long term future of our planet. And it’s a fascinating story, because despite the best efforts of scientists, the reason for this strange seepage is still a mystery.

“Don’t panic, but researchers have discovered that oxygen is (very) slowly draining out of Earth’s atmosphere, and right now, they’re not sure why.

By analysing air bubbles trapped inside ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, a team from Princeton University has found oxygen levels have dropped by 0.7 percent in the last 800,000 years, and figuring out why could be crucial to predicting our planet’s future…” (Science Alert)

Learn more about oxygen leaking from our atmosphere (Science Alert)



Photo: By THEBLITZ1 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain

Riots in Charlotte following shooting of African American

Riots in Charlotte, NC after shooting by police of Keith Lamont Scott

The management of Face Activities extends our sympathies to the people of Charlotte, North Carolina, enduring a second night of riots following the tragic killing of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, an African American motorist, by police. Though the investigation is ongoing and accounts of the event differ, it’s clear that far too many black men are shot by police in the U.S.

We must pull together as one people, regardless of social class or ethnicity, to demand justice, and reform. The loss in human potential, and the trauma to the family members left behind and the communities damaged by these tragic deaths is far too great to tolerate any longer. The fact that the officer who shot Scott is also African American illustrates that this is a complex issue, and we must seek long-term, systemic solutions.

Scott’s family, the NAACP and Jennifer Roberts, Charlotte’s Mayor, have urged the protesters to keep their demonstrations peaceful. But sadly a person was shot during the rioting, by a civilian, and remains in on life support, in critical condition. The city’s African American community is in an uproar, after police officers, looking for another man with a warrant, came upon Scott, and shot him to death, after claiming he drew a gun and wouldn’t comply with their commands.

The family disputes the police account, and claims the deceased was merely reading a book in his car when he was approached by police, with fatal consequences. They insist he was unarmed, waiting for his son to return home from school, while police insist they found a gun on the scene, but no book. Some of the police were wearing body cams, but according to North Carolina law they won’t be released to the public.

Learn more about the riots in Charlotte, and Keith Lamont Scott (CNN.com)


Photo: nbcnews.com



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