Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo

  • Details emerge about jury picked for Colorado theater shooting trial

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 5 days ago

    At least two of the 12 jurors and 12 alternates reportedly have ties to the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, including a man who was a student there at the time. The man, known only as Juror No. 737, fled the building safely, but was childhood friends with the gunmen and went to prom with a victim.

    The niece of Juror No. 535 is also a Columbine survivor, according to Fox 31 in Denver. The woman's niece escaped physical injury, but was in the cafeteria that the killers tried to bomb.

    Both jurors were handpicked from a pool of thousands to decide if Holmes is guilty in the Colorado movie theater rampage that left 12 people dead and 70 others wounded in 2012.

    The three-month selection process involved summonsing 9,000 candidates, the largest jury summons in U.S. history.

    Until the very end, Holmes’ lawyers argued that prospective jurors would be too sympathetic to survivors. Defense attorney Tamara Brady said she was nervous “about whether Mr. Holmes can get a fair trial in this case or whether it’s just too big.”

  • Video captured 2014 Taser shooting involving S.C. officer Michael Slager

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 6 days ago

    Allegations of excessive force used on minorities are mounting against the South Carolina police officer recently caught on video fatally shooting unarmed suspect Walter Scott in the back.

    Julius Garnett Wilson alleges in a new lawsuit that he was tased by officer Michael Slager last August while lying face-down on the pavement.

    The North Charleston police officer, who is white, was terminated and charged with murder last week after a bystander’s video captured him firing eight shots at Scott after a traffic stop. The 50-year-old unarmed black man was running from the officer when he was struck four times in the back and once in the ear. He was buried on Saturday.

    The case has brought protests to North Charleston, where some residents say minorities have been unfairly targeted for decades.

    On Monday, Wilson and his attorneys met with reporters on the steps of city hall to hand out copies of their lawsuit and police dashboard video of the alleged abuse.

    Slager is among three patrolmen named as defendants in the suit along with the city of North Charleston, the police department and police chief Eddie Driggers.

    “Back up,” Slager yells. “I’m going to tase!”

  • North Charleston officer chuckled about adrenaline rush after shooting Walter Scott

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 7 days ago

    Shortly after fatally shooting Walter Scott in the back, North Charleston police Officer Michael Slager nervously chuckled about his adrenaline “pumping,” but also assured a caller that things would be all right, according to new audio clips published by two media outlets.

    “Hey. Hey, everything ’ s OK, OK?” Slager says in a phone call to someone believed to be his pregnant wife. “I just shot somebody. Yeah, he ’ s OK.”

    If Slager meant Scott, then he wasn ’ t OK. Slager fired his .45-caliber Glock eight times. Four bullets struck Scott in the back and one hit him in the ear. He died at the scene.

    The recording of the officer ’ s phone call and a conversation with a supervisor at the scene doesn’t show Slager — it’s audio only, from the patrolman’s uniform microphone that’s synched with his squad car’s dashboard camera.

    Last week, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) made public 4 minutes and 22 seconds of the dashcam video showing Slager stopping Scott for a broken taillight and then giving chase when Scott took off on foot prior to the shooting.

  • North Charleston police officer Michael Slager ‘didn’t create any issues nor was he an award winner’

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 11 days ago

    The rookie “was very enthused and ready to work,” a field training supervisor documented on Slager’s first day. “He wanted to be involved.”

    On Wednesday — five years and a month since that initial promising shift — Slager was stripped of his badge.

    Last weekend, Slager told the department he had feared for his life when Walter Scott took his stun gun in a scuffle after a traffic stop.

    But a bystander’s video shows Slager firing eight shots as the apparently unarmed black man runs away. The final shot from the officer’s .45-caliber handgun drops Scott face-first into the ground. Then Slager, who is white, approaches and cuffs the man’s hands behind his back.

    “I have watched the video, and I was sickened by what I saw,” Eddie Driggers, the North Charleston police chief, said at a news conference announcing the officer’s termination.

    “We think that is the humane thing to do and we are going to do it,” the mayor said.

    Related video:

  • Texas state trooper punished for Snoop Dogg Instagram photo

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 18 days ago

    It’s been a big week for marijuana busts in Texas.

    On Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that a trooper seized a staggering $24 million worth of marijuana during a recent traffic stop along the Mexico border.

    But a cannabis crackdown of a different kind is making even larger headlines in the Lone Star State.

    That’s because the state police snagged one of its own officers. The offense? Posing for a photo with rap star Snoop Dogg — who’s been very public about his affinity for pot.

    The snapshot, taken at Snoop’s request, shows veteran Trooper Billy Spears — wearing the department’s iconic uniform and cowboy hat — standing backstage with the rapper during Austin’s recent South by Southwest music festival.

    Snoop later published the photo on Instagram with the caption, “Me n my deputy dogg.”

    When the state police top brass caught wind of the photo, they informed Spears that he should have declined the photo op, given Snoop’s admitted indulgence in the illegal drug.

    “Refuse photos,” he wrote.

    There goes the Deputy Dogg badge.

  • Colorado theater gunman not a ‘monster,’ Arlene Holmes writes in new book

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 21 days ago

    “The first time I prayed for them by name and by wound, I was shaking, overcome,” Arlene Holmes writes in a new book. “Kept praying; made it through the list. Please, victims, please, feel my prayers. I pray for you by name.”

    The book, titled “When the Focus Shifts: The Prayer Book of Arlene Holmes 2013-2014,” was released March 9. The diarylike pages don’t offer any great insight on the case or her son’s mental condition. Most entries share her personal prayers — for victims, families, prosecutors and public defenders alike — courtroom observations, thoughts on mental illness and her own guilt.

    Caren Teves, whose son Alex was killed in the theater, called Arlene Holmes’ words an “insult to our son’s memory and to our family.”

    “I struggle to understand how this individual could possibly pray for, by name, the thousands upon thousands of innocent people who continue to be directly impacted by her son’s evil, premeditated acts,” she told Yahoo News. “The release of this book is nothing more than a calculated attempt to influence members of the jury. Almost three years after Alex was executed in that theater, she has never even extended the decent act of a simple apology.”

  • Ferguson grand jury wanted to make public statement, documents reveal

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 24 days ago

    It’s unknown what the 12 jurors wanted to say or what prompted them to seek an opportunity to be heard after the case was decided. The refusal came from St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Carolyn Whittington.

    The surprising request surfaced in an ongoing federal lawsuit of a grand juror against St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch. The juror, identified in court papers as Grand Juror Doe, seeks the court’s permission to speak publicly about his experience and wants immunity from prosecution.

    On Friday, McCulloch filed arguments and exhibits to bolster his motion for U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel to dismiss the case.

    By law, grand juries are sworn to secrecy. In Missouri, it’s a misdemeanor for them discuss evidence, witnesses or their votes. Their identities are seldom known.

    McCulloch’s lawyers maintain Doe should have taken his case up with Whittington, who swore in the grand jury and denied its effort to make a public statement.

  • Is Moore, Okla., the ‘tornado alley of tornado alley’?

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 25 days ago

    The bedroom community south of downtown Oklahoma City is in the heart of the nation’s so-called tornado alley and has been a frequent target for twisters. Of the nine funnels to hit between 1998 and 2013, four of them were big enough to claim lives and cause catastrophic damage.

    On Wednesday, as an unusually slow U.S. tornado season got off to a violent start, it happened again.

    For 12 minutes during the evening commute, a tornado packing winds estimated at 100 mph tore through the storm-tested town. Electrician Dean Mitchell and two of his colleagues were driving home from a job site when the twister trapped them and other drivers on Interstate 35 in Moore.

    “It’s like right in front of us,” one of the men exclaims on a video that Mitchell posted to Facebook. “Look! Look! Get away from the window!”

    “It’s going past us. We’re all right,” one of them says, more than 30 harrowing seconds later.

    Social media users were quick to comment on the eerie similarities between the path of the storm this week and the 14-mile-long path of the 1-mile-wide monster twister that ravaged the region in 2013.

  • Ferguson shooting suspect confessed on hidden camera, warrant reveals

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 28 days ago

    Williams was arrested March 15 and charged with two counts of first-degree assault, one count of firing a weapon from a vehicle and three counts of armed criminal action. An officer from the St. Louis County Police Department was struck in the shoulder. A member of the nearby Webster Groves Police Department was hit below his right eye. Both are now recovering at home.

    At a news conference announcing the arrest, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said that Williams’ confession was key to bringing the charges but declined to give details of how the admission was obtained.

    Late Monday, St. Louis defense attorney Jerryl T. Christmas, maintained that Williams is innocent.

    “My client reaffirmed to me that he was not the shooter in this case,” Christmas said in an email. “The real perpetrator is still at large and that should be our focus.”

    The pair drove throughout North St. Louis County while discussing the shooting. They ultimately went to Ferguson and the location where the shots were fired.

    (This story has been updated since it originally published.)

  • Ferguson shooting suspect gave false confession, lawyer says

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    The suspect charged with shooting two police officers during a demonstration in Ferguson, Mo., last week is now recanting a confession that he was the gunman, his lawyer told Yahoo News on Tuesday.

    “He told me that he never fired a weapon,” said Jerryl T. Christmas, attorney for Jeffrey Williams.

    Christmas said Williams, 20, was scared and in a “tremendous amount of pain,” having allegedly been pistol-whipped before being questioned by detectives.

    “I think under those circumstances he would have said anything,” Christmas said. “Anytime someone is questioned without counsel and then I see that kind of bruising, then I'm suspicious about any statements that he may have voluntarily given.”

    The lawyer said the injuries can be seen in the jail mug shot of his client.

    “He had bruising … you see the redness on the right side of his face,” Christmas said. “I don't see how they are denying it, it’s right there on their own mug shot. ”

    St. Louis County police have denied the abuse allegations for two days. On Tuesday, a department spokesman again called the accusations “completely false” without offering any potential explanation for apparent marks in Williams’ booking photograph.