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Louisville reaches $12 million dollar settlement with family of Breonna Taylor as her killers walk free

None of the officers who took part in the senseless killing of Taylor will be arrested or are expected to face justice.

Elias Marat

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(TMU) – Six months after police killed emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor in her home during a botched raid, the city of Louisville, Kentucky, has agreed to a settlement with Taylor’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit. According to The Louisville Courier-Journal, the settlement could be “as high as $12 million.” The mayor of Louisville is expected to announce the settlement this afternoon in a joint press conference with the Taylor family attorneys.

However, as is normally the case in such settlements over police killings, none of the officers who took part in the senseless killing of Taylor will be arrested or are expected to face justice after blindly unloading their weapons into her apartment in a no-knock raid, striking her as many as eight times.

The absence of justice in the case of Breonna Taylor and passing of the bill to taxpayers is sure to enrage police accountability advocates, who have described the case as “murder” and have filled the internet with viral memes demanding that authorities “arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor,” namely Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove.

On the night March 13, the undercover officers obtained a no-knock search warrant intended to find illicit drugs.

Louisville Metro Police deployed a battering ram to force their way into the apartment before Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker fired a warning shot that struck an officer. Police responded with 35 rounds, including 10 rounds fired “blindly” by an officer.

Walker maintains that the officers failed to identify themselves, but police claim that they knocked first.

Police also claimed in their initial report that Taylor was not injured by their bullets, which later turned out to be an obvious lie.

In April, Taylor’s family – through Attorney Ben Crump – sued Louisville for wrongful death, excessive force, and gross negligence. In their complaint, the said that the Louisville officers “entered Breonna’s home without knocking and without announcing themselves as police officers. The Defendants then proceeded to spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life.”

Last week, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron – a hardcore conservative who is politically close to police unions in the city and state – announced that he had empaneled a grand jury to determine whether the Mattingly, Hankison and Cosgrove would face criminal charges for the death of Taylor. He still has refused to put forward a timeline for any charging decision.

However, the move by the city to settle the civil lawsuit brought by Taylor’s family will allow the officers to avoid any criminal charges and retain their freedom.

The Courier-Journal reports that the settlement for the killing of Taylor “is expected to dwarf the biggest payout previously made by police,” which was for $8.5 million in 2012 and settled a case of wrongful imprisonment, not an officer-committed shooting. “In addition to the payment, the deal is expected to include several policing reforms, including a requirement that commanders approve all search warrants before they go to a judge,” the newspaper added.

The settlement includes reforms on the handling of warrants by police, according to the Associated Press. In June, the city banned the use of “no knock” warrants amid increased unrest and public outrage over the case, and police brutality toward Black people in general.

Taylor had been studying to be a nurse and worked at two local hospitals as an EMT during the ongoing pandemic before her killer’s bullets tragically cut her life short.

Two of the officers involved in the case have been placed on paid administrative leave while Brett Hankison was fired.

Corruption

Ex-cop who showed off nude photos of murder victim Lauren McCluskey faces no charges

Elias Marat

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Lauren McCluskey, a student at the University of Utah, was murdered by a stalker in 2018 after police officers largely ignored her pleas for help. Instead, the officers acquired nude photos of the young woman and shared them between themselves.

And now, two years later, the former University of Utah officer who disseminated explicit photos of the 21-year-old victim has been cleared of any criminal charges.

On Thursday, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office announced that former officer Miguel Dera would not be prosecuted despite the clear misconduct of him acquiring and then sharing the photos of McCluskey.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill admitted that the officer’s actions were “definitely reckless,” but no state laws exist on the books that address such offenses, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

“We realized there was no real statute we could use for this case,” Gill explained. “We’re incensed like everyone else by the behavior. It was inappropriate. But if there’s not a statute, there’s nothing we can do.”

McCluskey was shot to death in 2018 by Melvin Shawn Rowland, 38, who had been harassing and blackmailing the young student for weeks prior to her killng. Rowland took his own life hours after murdering McCluskey, according to police.

The two had briefly dated in 2018 before McCluskey ended the relationship after finding out Rowland had lied about his age and criminal past. Rowland was a convicted sex offender who proceeded to stalk and extort McCluskey.

When McCluskey reached out to campus police to end the harassment, Deras was assigned to the case. McCluskey provided the explicit photos to the officer in hopes that he would use them for the investigation.

Instead, Deras shared the photos of McCluskey with at least three of his male coworkers without any work-related reason, according to an investigation by the Utah Department of Public Safety. The DPS report also found that lewd comments were allegedly made about the images.

In the days prior to her death, McCluskey complained about campus police failing to follow up or update her, according to 911 transcripts.

While the district attorney claims that “no real statute” could have been used to pursue justice in the case, Gill all-too-conveniently waited until precisely one day after the state could have filed misdemeanor charges against the former officer for abusing evidence. However, the statute of limitations has now expired.

“We just got it so late and were limited in what options we had,” Gill said.

Family attorney Jim McConkie said that Lauren McCluskey was also abused while she was alive by the officer, who saw fit to share her photos and brag about them without her consent mere days before she was murdered.

“What Gill is saying to women with this decision is, ‘We can’t help you. Don’t come to us,’” McConkie said.

McCluskey’s parent’s, Jill and Matt McCluskey, have expressed outrage about the failure to file charges.

“Instead of helping her, Deras showed her images to other male officers and bragged about it,” the parents said. “A consequence of Gill’s decision is that women will hesitate to report extortion and harassment for fear that the private information they provide will be compromised, or even leered at, by officers for reasons unrelated to her case.”

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Corruption

“She’s done”: Unreleased video shows bloody, chaotic scene after botched Breonna Taylor raid

Elias Marat

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(TMU) – Police body camera footage has been released that shows the moments immediately following the fatal raid on Breonna Taylor’s home.

In the video, officers with the Louisville Metro Police Department SWAT team can be seen clearing her apartment as her body laid motionless in her hallway for several minutes. The officers eventually check for a pulse before stating, repeatedly, “She’s done.”

The footage is just one small component of the over 250 videos and more than 4,000 pages of documents from the case was released Wednesday, and comes as Taylor’s family and community advocates continue to demand transparency and justice for the 26-year-old woman.

In addition to revealing the disturbing details about the botched raid, the video footage also raises fresh questions about why police targeted her home in an effort to prosecute her ex-boyfriend.

Following the shooting, one police lieutenant who arrived at the scene told investigators, “something really bad happened.”

In another video, Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker can be heard answering an officer who demanded to know who else might be in their apartment.

“Nobody, my girlfriend’s dead,” he replied.

Walker had just walked out of the apartment and surrendered to SWAT officers, who can be heard saying “The female is supposedly the one that’s shot.”

After officers cleared various parts of the apartment for several minutes, they finally addressed Taylor’s body, asking “Ma’am, can you hear us?”

Another officer checked her pulse before declaring, “She’s done.”

Another officer can be heard telling the others not to turn their body cameras off, and as he examines the bullet casings strewn across the floor he says, “Is that theirs? No that’s ours, the only casings look like 9mils.”

Taylor was shot at least six times in the undercover raid by three officers while shade and Walker had been sleeping. The police had a no-knock search warrant intended to find Jamarcus Glover, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend who was wanted on drug charges.

Louisville Metro Police deployed a battering ram to force their way into the apartment before Walker fired a warning shot that struck an officer. Police responded by firing a barrage of rounds into the apartment, including 10 rounds fired blindly by Officer Brett Hankison, who has since been fired.

Walker maintains that the officers failed to identify themselves, but police claim that they did so clearly.

In the video, Walker is in a distraught state and tells the police why he fired as they broke into the apartment, saying “We didn’t know who it was.”

An officer responded by telling Walker that they announced themselves three times. However, Walker and other neighbors deny that the officers announced themselves during the no-knock raid.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has also supported the police claim and attempted to argue that the warrant was not a no-knock because police supposedly announced their presence before entering the apartment.

The video footage depicts a grisly scene, with bloodstains and bullet holes across the walls while Taylor’s lifeless body lies on the floor.

In a phone recording also released on Wednesday, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Glover tells the mother of his child, “Me and Bre ain’t been around each other in over two months, damn near two months.”

Glover had been arrested on the night prior to the early-morning raid on Taylor’s home, raising questions about why police executed the fatal no-knock raid to begin with.

Contrary to disinformation being spread by police supporters and online conspiracy theorists, police found no drugs at Taylor’s apartment and she was not a target of the LMPD investigation.

On Sept. 23, a Kentucky grand jury announced three counts of first-degree “wanton endangerment” in the first degree against former officer Hankinson for blindly firing into another apartment. A $15,000 cash bond was also attached to the charges, none of which are directly related to the killing of Taylor.

Attorney General Cameron said that the grand jury charged the former detective because the shots passed through her apartment walls into a neighboring apartment, endangering the lives of her three neighbors present at the time.

The other two officers involved in the raid, Sgt. John Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove, face zero charges and remain on the force.

Taylor’s family is continuing to demand that the attorney general recuse himself from the case and be replaced by a special prosecutor. Cameron has also opposed the lifting of a gag order from the grand jurors after two members of the jury sought legal help that would allow them to go public.

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Corruption

Oklahoma jailers tortured inmates by shackling them to wall, playing “Baby Shark” on repeat

Elias Marat

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(TMU) – Three former employees at a jail in Oklahoma are facing charges of cruel treatment of prisoners after they forced inmates to listen for hours to “Baby Shark,” the infamous children song beloved by toddlers and loathed by parents.

According to inmates, Oklahoma County Jail detention officers Christian Miles and Gregory Butler, both 21, along with former supervisor Christopher Hendershott, 50, conspired to cruelly treat the prisoners when shackling them and securing them to the wall while subjecting them to the song on repeat, resulting in “undue emotional stress on the inmates who were most likely already suffering” from being restrained against the wall.

The three former jailers face misdemeanor counts of cruelty to prisoners, corporal punishment to an inmate, and conspiracy, according to Oklahoma County District Court records.

On at least five separate occasions this past November and December involving five separate inmates, Miles and Butler placed the inmate in an empty attorney visitation room before shackling them to the wall, forcing them to stand for up to two hours at a time, while blaring “Baby Shark” on repeat from tinny computer speakers.

The two jail employees saw this as a joke, and Hendershott failed to take any disciplinary measures or halt the cruel treatment when he heard complaints from inmates.

The case is eerily reminiscent to the treatment of terror suspects during the so-called “Global War on Terror” during the George W. Bush era, when CIA agents and interrogators at Camp X-Ray detention camp on Guantanamo Bay Naval Base would play music on repeat for hours as a means of psychologically torturing prisoners, according to the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report.

Video surveillance footage from the Oklahoma County Jail also depicted the officers carrying out the sadistic acts.

Oklahoma District Attorney David Prater said that the three employees acted  “conjointly, willfully and wrongfully” in a “cruel or inhuman manner” to inflict further stress and psychological pain on the inamtes.

Prater later told The Oklahoman that he “would have preferred filing a felony on this behavior,” but the facts wouldn’t fit the charge.

“It was unfortunate that I could not find a felony statute to fit this fact scenario,” he added.

“Baby Shark” is an infamous campfire sing-along which became a viral hit after South Korean company Pinkfong produced a music video of the sticky, repetitive song. The song, which begins with the lyric “Baby shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo,” also became the unofficial theme song for the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball, who won the 2019 World Series but failed to qualify for the expanded post-season this year.

However, the dreaded earworm of a song has also become associated with more nefarious uses.

Last year, officials in West Palm Beach, Florida, earned worldwide notoriety after they weaponized the song as an anti-homeless measure to prevent the unhoused from sleeping on city property alongside other songs like the the auto-tuned abomination Raining Tacos.

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