Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo

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

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 5 hrs 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 1 day 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 4 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 10 days 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.

  • Police: Ferguson gunman arrested, may not have been targeting officers

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 12 days ago

    Police on Sunday charged Jeffrey Leehoust Williams of St. Louis County in the shooting Thursday that seriously wounded two officers during a protest in Ferguson.

    According to a criminal complaint, Williams was in an older model Pontiac Grand Am just after midnight when he fired three shots in the direction of the Ferguson Police Department. Two of the three shots struck officers standing in a police riot line.

    St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch told reporters Sunday afternoon that Williams claims police were not the intended targets. Williams told investigators he was involved in a feud at the time and had fired the shots in connection with that dispute, according to McCulloch.

    “I’m not sure we completely buy that part of it,” the prosecutor said. “I wouldn't say he wasn't targeting police. I’m saying right now the evidence we have supports filing the charge that he may have been shooting at someone other than police and struck the police.”

    McCulloch said some statements made by Williams are supported by physical evidence, but others aren't.

  • Ferguson gunman who shot police officers remains at large

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 14 days ago

    An intense manhunt for the gunman who shot and severely wounded two police officers in Ferguson, Mo., has yet to yield a suspect, St. Louis County Chief of Police Jon Belmar announced late Friday.

    “I cannot tell you at this time that an arrest is imminent,” Belmar said at a news conference.

    Investigators are following dozens of leads, but still need the public’s help, the chief said.

    “We've received scores of tips … but we haven’t been inundated,” he said.

    The shooting occurred early Thursday in front of the Ferguson Police Department just as a small group of protesters began to disperse.

    The injured men, who have not been identified, were standing side by side in a line of 25 officers when three shots rang out.

    A 32-year-old officer from nearby Webster Groves was struck in the face, and a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County was shot in the shoulder. Both were rushed to a local hospital in serious condition, but released about 12 hours later.

    “I would hope that they’re going to have a full recovery,” the chief said Friday.

    Belmar initially described the shooting as an “ambush” and felt confident the “shots were directed exactly at my officers.”

  • Grisly police photos from Ferguson shooting spark emotional response

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 14 days ago

    St. Louis County Police shared a series of images on its Facebook and Twitter accounts showing the blood-spattered helmet and abandoned nightstick of the 32-year-old officer who was shot in the face. A second officer was shot in the shoulder.

    The photos “show the unfortunate reality of what occurred last night,” St. Louis County Police Sgt. Brian Schellman told Yahoo News via email.

    If messages on the department’s Facebook post are any indication, the reality check was received. H undreds commented on the graphic images.

    “This picture makes it all too real,” Chrissy Dawson Lewis posted. “Praying for our officers and families.”

    “This is hard to look at,” wrote Jen Stockhausen.

    “I would prefer not to see photos like this,” Mary Kate Schulze commented. “I have police officers in my family and don’t need to witness photos like this.”

    Jeff Roorda, a St. Louis police union official, put it this way: “These are real human beings that bleed when you prick them.”

    “I know that he’s home with his loved ones,” Roorda said.


  • Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson resigns

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 16 days ago

    The 57-year-old commander has been the frequent target of critics since Ferguson landed in the national spotlight last August when a white patrol officer fatally shot an unarmed black teen.

    “It is with profound sadness that I am announcing I am stepping down,” Jackson wrote in a letter to city leaders.

    By nightfall, news of Jackson's exit brought demonstrators back to Ferguson.

    “It's incredible out here. It feels like the old days of protest,” DeRay Mckesson said on Twitter. “There are a lot of new faces out here. And that's great. The movement lives as it grows.”

    Mckeeson, one of the more prominent voices of last year’s Ferguson activists, also tweeted a photo of demonstrators hanging a “Racism Lives Here” sign on the police department’s flagpole.

    “It’s wild just walking on the Ferguson PD lot like this,” Mckeeson wrote. “Months ago, they would've had 100 riot police out here. How times have changed.”

    Jackson, who has led the suburban St. Louis force for five years, did not attend a news conference announcing his departure.

  • Ferguson grand juror pushes back in battle to discuss Darren Wilson case

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 21 days ago

    Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson had reason to fear unarmed teen Michael Brown when he fatally shot him last August — it’s now the conclusion of both state and federal authorities.

    But just two days after the Justice Department released findings of its probe, a grand juror from the St. Louis County investigation continues to advance a legal battle with prosecutor Robert McCulloch, perhaps calling into question Wilson’s innocence.

    On Friday the unidentified juror filed a 21-page memorandum arguing why U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel shouldn’t dismiss their lawsuit against McCulloch.

    [Related: Holder says U.S. will dismantle Ferguson Police Department if needed]

    McCulloch, the county’s chief top prosecuting attorney for 24 years, encountered heavy criticism for refusing to charge Wilson himself or appoint an outside prosecutor.

  • Ferguson PD's internal review of Michael Brown's shooting death remains a secret

    Jason Sickles, Yahoo at Yahoo News 23 days ago

    The criminal investigation of Officer Darren Wilson's shooting of Michael Brown was handed off to the St. Louis County Police Department. But Ferguson police were still required to comply with internal procedures to immediately document and review the use of force.

    “Early and accurate reporting helps agency credibility,” state the guidelines Chief Thomas Jackson signed in 2010.

    Yet, in the Brown case, Yahoo News reported that the “use of force” report had not been completed as of at least seven weeks after his death. Now that it’s finished, Ferguson is declining to make it public.

    It’s not the first time routine documents have been withheld or excessively redacted in the controversial case.

    The next big development in the Brown narrative is expected to come this week with the release of findings from a months-long Justice Department investigation of the Ferguson police. Excessive force and possible civil rights violations have been the focus of the probe.