(TMU) — On April 9, 2018, the Palmers experienced every family’s worst nightmare. Everett Palmer Jr., a veteran and father of two children, had died while in police custody, they were told. Months later, the family was just as shocked when an independent pathologist said Palmer’s body was missing its throat, heart, and brain.
Two days before his death, Everett had made a trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to deal with an outstanding DUI warrant stemming from a 2016 arrest. He never returned. According to police, when Everett showed up to Pennsylvania he was immediately sent to York County Prison because of a suspended license.
Little was known about what happened after that until July 2018, when the York County Coroner’s report and autopsy results spelled out the official narrative of how Everett died.
According to the autopsy, Everett had become “agitated” while incarcerated inside his single cell and started to slam his head against his cell door. Subsequently, Everett became unresponsive and officers “restrained” him and took him to the prison’s clinic for resuscitation. Palmer was pronounced dead at the York Hospital at 5:46 a.m.
The coroner’s office—whom, it was later revealed, had outsourced the autopsy to an independent company—determined that the cause of death was “complication following an excited state, associated with methamphetamine toxicity, during physical restraint.” Autopsy results also listed a sickle-cell disorder as a contributing factor.
Forensic Pathology Associates, the third-party firm who conducted the autopsy, declined to describe the manner of Palmer’s death but York County Coroner Pamela L. Gay said methamphetamine alone could be responsible, though she does not know how Palmer acquired the drug while incarcerated.
Looking for answers, the Palmer family hired civil rights attorney Lee Merritt and an independent pathologist who made a series of shocking discoveries. First, Everett’s body was badly bruised. Additionally, his throat, heart, and brain had been removed.
Merritt claims he was issued several half-truths, lies, and anomalous statements in response to these missing organs. Initially, he says, the York County Coroner’s Office said they did not remove the organs. They later admitted they had removed them, only to blame the missing organs on the independent firm.
“This entire case smacks of a cover-up,” Merritt said in a recent interview.
However, York County Coroner Pamela L. Gay says the removal and storage of organs in this manner for further investigation is routine and abides by guidelines.
The independent pathologist who discovered the missing organs went even further in saying that the manner of death should be considered a homicide. Given that Everett was in the chain of custody of police before, during, and after his death—and was in a single-cell unit at the time he sustained his injuries—homicide would suggest there is a possibility the police were involved.
“We’re gonna get answers to what led to his death, and we do that with everybody,” Gay recently stated as the case began to receive more attention. “We’re going to do this the right way.”
But for the Palmer family, the ordeal has been going on for two years and many critical questions remain unanswered.
In an interview with NY1, Rose Palmer, Everett’s mother, expressed her disbelief at the autopsy conclusions.
“My son was a perfectly healthy young man, and my son is not going to bang his head on a cell,” said Rose. “My son was not a troublemaker, not at all, he was a very gentle, kind man.”
Everett’s brother, Dwyane Palmer, said his brother was in very good health, a “gentle giant” who served as a U.S. Army paratrooper, and that he did not have sickle-cell disorder. While the family admits Everett had “some history of drug use,” that history never included meth. Furthermore, the family says prison processing reports do not corroborate that Everett was intoxicated when he first arrived and do not mention any drug paraphernalia items having been found.
While the York County District Attorney’s Office isn’t discussing the case further until the coroner’s office provides more information, a lingering question for the family is whether the organ removal could have been a way to conceal the cause of death.
Another family attorney, Marlon Kirton, suggested this, saying it “makes no sense, unless you’re trying to maybe avoid people knowing how he died; which was maybe by asphyxiation.”
Dwyane Palmer echoed his mother in saying he doesn’t believe what the authorities tell them. The family has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to acquire surveillance from inside the prison.
“We know that there are good people in that prison system. We appeal to them to come forward and share what they know,” Palmer said in an interview. “It’s been over a year and we want some answers…We want closure. If something criminal happened, and I believe something criminal did happen, we want the people that was involved in that to be held accountable.”
Anti-Gay Hungarian Politician Resigns After Being Caught Fleeing 25-Man Orgy
An anti-gay politician in Hungary who claimed to be a champion of so-called “Christian values” and represented the country’s ruling ultra-conservative Fidesz party has resigned in disgrace after being caught attempting to flee from a 25-man orgy on Friday.
Joszef Szajer, who represented Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, resigned on Sunday after the humiliating incident in Brussels, where the well-known anti-LGBTQ politician was caught in the all-male orgy that took place in the red light district that is home to a number of gay bars.
Szajer being caught literally with his pants down is the most humiliating downfall possible for the conservative politician, who made a name for himself as a senior figure who helped spearhead Orban’s assault on LGBTQ rights since he was elected prime minister in 2010. Szajer played a key role helping to rewrite Hungary’s constitution to “protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman,” according to The Times of London.
On Sunday, Szajer resigned after admitting that he flouted Belgium’s stringent lockdown rules to attend the sex party, reports Politico. According to the Brussels pubic prosecutor’s office, police intervened after neighbors reported a loud “night-time disturbance” in an apartment. They eventually found over 20 people in one apartment, incuding Szajer and other diplomats, the New York Times reports.
“We interrupted a gang bang,” one police source told Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure.
During the raid, police noticed Szajer desperately attempting to climb out of a first-floor window before “fleeing along the gutter,” according to the public prosecutor’s office.
Police also discovered drugs in Szajer’s bag. The right-wing politician denies having taken drugs on that night.
“A passer-by reported to the police that he had seen a man fleeing along the gutter; he was able to identify the man. The man’s hands were bloody,” the public prosecutor’s statement said. “It is possible that he may have been injured while fleeing. Narcotics were found in his backpack.”
“The man was unable to produce any identity documents,” the prosecutor added. “He was escorted to his place of residence, where he identified himself as S. J. (1961) by means of a diplomatic passport.” The initials and year of birth both match those of Szajer.
On Tuesday, Szajer confirmed that he was present at a “private party” before apologizing for breaking lockdown rules.
“After the police asked for my identity — since I did not have ID on me — I declared that I was a MEP,” the disgraced politician said.
“The police continued the process and finally issued an official verbal warning and transported me home,” he added. “I deeply regret violating the [coronavirus] restrictions, it was irresponsible on my part. I am ready to stand for the fine that occurs.”
Szajer also added that he hopes that the matter is seen as “strictly personal” and doesn’t reflect on his ideological cohort or his country.
“I ask everyone not to extend it to my homeland, or to my political community,” he said.
Szajer was a founding member of the Fidesz party in March 1988. The far-right party has cast itself as a defender of conservative Christianity and frequently uses harsh anti-gay rhetoric. It recently proposed a law to ban gay adoption.
He is married to Tunde Hando, a Constitutional Court judge who formerly served as former president of the National Judiciary Office.
In a statement, Szajer’s conservative allies praised the politician for his service to the cause of Hungarian nationalism and so-called Christian values.
“On behalf of ourselves and our entire political community,” they said, “we, the members of the Fidesz-KDNP European Parliament group, thank Jozsef Szajer, who played a crucial role in enabling Hungarian civic conservatism and Christian democracy to occupy their rightful place in the European political arena.”
However, Szajer’s resignation – which is widely seen as a scandalous result of his insatiable need to participate in what the media is calling a “gay orgy” – is a major blow to the reputation of Fidesz, which has ruled the country for the past decade.
Colombia Considers Ending ‘War on Drugs’ by Legalizing Its Huge Cocaine Industry
A controversial bill is making its way through Colombia’s legislature that could see the South American nation end its destructive war on drugs by effectively legalizing cocaine and subjecting the drug to government regulation.
The bill, which has the backing of the leftist opposition and its centrist allies, hopes to put an end to the so-called war on drugs in favor of effective counter-narcotics strategies and evidence-based policies to curb drug abuse.
For nearly half a century, Colombia has faced the ravages of an anti-drug policy that criminalizes the coca leaf while fueling the growth of monstrous drug trafficking organizations and illegal armed groups and death squads vying for control of the cultivation of coca and production of cocaine.
Under the proposed bill, cocaine would be decriminalized and the state would purchase the entire coca harvest in the country and channel it towards a legal industry that distributes cocaine to users for pain relief rather than recreational use. The policy would also see the state provide raw materials to Indigenous artisans who would have a chance to produce foods, medicinal products, tea, and baking flour using the plant.
Supporters of the bill hope that it would allow hundreds of thousands of illegal coca farmers out of a shadowy black market overseen by cartels and violent armed groups and into a homegrown, government-regulated industry.
“This policy would mean cutting organized crime off from the coca leaf, and it would cut consumers off from organized crime,” Senator Ivan Marulanda of the centrist Green Alliance told Vice World News. “The Colombian state would distribute it to users under a public health program, effectively through physicians who would evaluate if a person is apt for taking cocaine for their pain. And then it would be high-quality cocaine.”
“Another important thing here is that not all consumers are addicts,” Marulanda added. “Less than 10 percent of cocaine consumers are addicts.”
Throughout the Andes, the consumption and use of the coca leaf has been a part of the cultural and social traditions of native peoples for centuries. In Bolivia, which is the world’s third largest producer of cocaine, the coca leaf was decriminalized through widely-hailed policies that prioritized respect for human rights and community participation.
“The war on drugs is a law-and-order policy against drugs that thinks of drugs as a criminal offense,” Marulanda said. “It’s also a persecution against the coca plant, the leaves of which are used to produce cocaine.”
“That policy has not changed since the 1980s,” the senator continued. “Actually, Colombia’s drug policy has only become more entrenched, more stubborn, and more severe in its application. We’re now in the year 2020. Yet Colombia exports 90 percent of the cocaine in the world today … We’re inundated with cocaine and inundated with deaths and violence. We’ve lost sovereignty over Colombian territory to the dominion of organized criminal mafias.”
Even former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who ruled the country from 2010 to 2018, has affirmed that a new approach to drugs is needed. Last year, Santos participated in a study that concluded that drugs including cocaine, ecstasy and opiates could potentially be less harmful than tobacco or alcohol yet are seen as dangerous narcotics primarily due to cultural biases and politics, rather than actual science.
Calling the classification of such drugs as dangerous narcotics “a political decision,” Santos noted that Colombia is “probably the country that has paid the highest price for the war on drugs.” Continuing, he said that for decades, his country has been saddled with an unwinnable drug war that causes “more damage, more harm” to the world than practical approaches to regulating the sale and consumption of drugs in a “good way.”
While most politicians and experts in Colombia agree that blanket repression isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to drug use and the problem of criminal drug cartels, the bill will likely face stiff opposition both within the country and from the United States, which has urged the country to continue waging a war on drugs.
The government of President Ivan Duque Marquez is signaling that it is planning to step up the war to stamp out illicit cocaine production.
Over the weekend, Colombian Minister of Defense Carlos Holmes Trujillo told Reuters that the military was considering restarting aerial fumigation of the countryside with the dangerous herbicide glyphosate to halt the cultivation of coca, the base ingredient of cocaine.
The practice was ended in 2015 due to widespread concerns by the World Health Organization (WHO) causes cancer and harms the environment, but the Duque government maintains that fumigation is necessary to halt the flow of cash to illegal armed groups. The policy has been supported by the United States, whose Environmental Protection Agency disagrees that the chemical is carcinogenic.
“We’ve been going 40 years with a policy that costs billions of U.S. dollars with zero success and so much cost and destruction,” Marulanda said. “Let’s try out this other policy. Because something that hasn’t worked in the last 40 years is something that’s just not going to work.”
Cher Escorted World’s Loneliest Elephant To a New Life in Cambodia
A 36-year-old elephant who garnered worldwide sympathy after being dubbed “the world’s loneliest elephant” will be turning the page on a dark chapter of his life and enjoying brighter days ahead at a renowned sanctuary in Cambodia, thanks to the hard-fought efforts of U.S. pop star Cher.
Kaavan had long been Pakistan’s only Asian elephant, and suffered from poor health and wretched conditions at a dilapidated zoo in Islamabad, where the bull elephant was unable to exercise and gained excessive weight while living in a structure decried by animal rights groups as totally inappropriate.
Now relocated to Cambodia, Kaavan will now make the province of Oddar Meanchey his home, where he will live in a special wildlife sanctuary along with 600 other elephants.
“Cambodia is pleased to welcome Kaavan. No longer will he be ‘the world’s loneliest elephant,’” Cambodia’s deputy environment minister, Neth Pheaktra, said. “We expect to breed Kaavan with local elephants – this is an effort to conserve the genetic fold.”
When Kaavan’s companion died in 2012, the suffering pachyderm was forced to contend with isolation and descended into “zoochosis” – a type of mental illness brought about by miserable living conditions and solitude, reports BBC. Scarred both mentally and physically, he soon earned the ignominious title of the “world’s loneliest animal.”
However, after years of suffering in silence, animal rights groups turned Kavaan’s plight into a cause célèbre – with Cher using her social media clout and the wildlife protection group she co-founded, Free the Wild, to back the campaign in 2016.
“I thought, ‘how can I fix this? How can I save an elephant who’s been shackled to a shed for 17 years and who is a thousand miles away?’,” Cher said in a statement distributed by the Smithsonian Channel, which is filming a documentary about Kaavan. “This is Free The Wild’s first big rescue and I am so proud.”
When Islamabad’s High Court finally shuttered the zoo over its squalid conditions and issued an order freeing Kaavan in May, granting animal welfare group Four Paws International (FPI) permission to relocate the creature, Cher called it one of the “greatest moments” in her life.
For years, Four Paws has worked alongside Cher and Free the Wild to secure Kaavan’s release.
Ahead of his trip on Monday, Cher was filmed serenading Kaavan in Pakistan with her classic song, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.”
On Monday, Kaavan and Cher arrived in Cambodia and were greeted with fanfare from animal conservationists and officials.
“I’m so happy and I am so proud he is here,” Cher told AFP at Siem Reap airport. “He’s a wonderful, wonderful animal.”
Kaavan had a peaceful flight and conducted himself “like a frequent flyer” during the journey from Pakistan, said Four Paws veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil. Kaavan even ate and slept during the “uneventful” flight and showed no signs of stress, reports the Guardian.
On Friday, prior to the journey to Cambodia, Cher met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and thanked him on Twitter “for making it possible for me to take Kaavan to Cambodia.”
In a statement from Khan’s office, the prime minister and former cricket superstar extended an invitation to Cher to continue engaging in environmental initiatives in Pakistan.
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