Blog Posts by Jason Sickles, Yahoo

  • Ferguson father delivers plea for peace ahead of grand jury decision on Officer Darren Wilson

    ST. LOUIS — On the eve of what appears to be a grand jury decision in the shooting death of his son, Michael Brown Sr. issued a last-minute plea for no more Ferguson riots.

    “No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain — I want it to lead to positive change,” a very somber Brown says in a public service announcement released late Thursday. “I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation, but hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.”

    Brown’s son and namesake, 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr., was gunned down by a Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, on Aug. 9.

    Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown. (Facebook/AP Photo)Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown. (Facebook/AP Photo)Anxiety over the ruling has the St. Louis region on edge, as the public waits to see if the case of a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager will result in an indictment.

    A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case for three months and will decide if there is probable cause to charge Wilson, 28, with a crime.

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  • As Ferguson waits on edge for Michael Brown ruling, Officer Darren Wilson remains invisible

    Officer's friend: ‘I talk to him every other day. He’s doing OK’

    Ferguson police say this image of Officer Darren Wilson from Aug. 9 was mistakenly made public. (Screenshot)Ferguson police say this image of Officer Darren Wilson from Aug. 9 was mistakenly made public. (Screenshot)
    FERGUSON, Mo. — Where is Darren Wilson?

    While the world awaits the grand jury’s decision in the death of teenager Michael Brown, the police officer who shot him also remains somewhat of a mystery.

    Wilson has been seemingly invisible since the controversial Aug. 9 shooting. He reportedly testified before the grand jury last month, but has made no public statements.

    “I talk to him every other day, he’s doing OK,” a close friend of the officer told Yahoo News this week.

    The friend declined to elaborate. “Maybe after the grand jury ruling,” he said.

    That decision is expected any day. The grand jury convened Aug. 20 to begin hearing evidence in the case. It will decide if Wilson avoids being charged or faces the possibility of up to life in prison. 

    A representative with the St. Louis Police Officers' Association said he met with Wilson on Thursday. The officer has been under a lot of pressure and stress but seems confident in the outcome of the grand jury investigation, Jeff Roorda, the

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  • Video shows Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson leaving for the hospital after shooting Michael Brown

    Family says it appears claims of policeman's injuries were exaggerated

    Newly released video shows Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson leaving police headquarters to be examined at the hospital the day he fatally shot Michael Brown Jr.

    Wilson, wearing an untucked white T-shirt, is seen walking out of the building at 2:08 p.m., a little more than two hours after Brown’s death. He was accompanied by his union lawyer and other officers.

    At 4:30 p.m., surveillance cameras at the Ferguson Police Department capture Wilson and the other men returning from the hospital.

    The surveillance videos — obtained through the state’s open records law — were published late Friday in a story by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

    Wilson, who has not been seen in public since being put on paid leave, is under investigation for shooting the unarmed 18-year-old multiple times in broad daylight in the middle of a residential street.

    Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown Jr. (Facebook/AP Photo)Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown Jr. (Facebook/AP Photo)

    Last month, an unidentified source familiar with the investigation told the Post-Dispatch that Wilson said Brown punched him twice in the head during their

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  • Chief: Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson ‘immediately’ returns if cleared in Michael Brown's death

    Criminal charges would ‘most likely’ result in firing, he says

    Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson is surrounded by his officers as he leaves a news conference in August. (AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson is surrounded by his officers as he leaves a news conference in August. (AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)
    The Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown will be “immediately” returned to active duty if he is not indicted, Chief Tom Jackson told Yahoo News on Friday.

    Officer Darren Wilson has been on paid leave since the controversial shooting in early August.

    He would come back to a “not yet determined assignment,” the chief writes in an email.

    If the grand jury charges Wilson, Jackson said the officer would “most likely” be terminated “if it is a felony.”

    Officer Darren Wilson and shooting victim Michael Brown. (Facebook/AP Photo)Officer Darren Wilson and shooting victim Michael Brown. (Facebook/AP Photo)

    Attorneys representing the officer did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Wilson, a Ferguson officer for three years, has not spoken publicly since the shooting. It is unknown if the 28-year-old Wilson wants to return to the force.

    “I would be surprised if they put him back on the streets at least in the near future,” said Bob Gorsky, a Dallas attorney who has represented Texas police officers for nearly 40 years.

    Gorsky said the amount of backing Wilson gets from the Ferguson Police Department will likely

    Read More »from Chief: Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson ‘immediately’ returns if cleared in Michael Brown's death
  • Ferguson's neighbor warns residents to prepare for the worst

    Berkeley, Mo., resident: ‘It is very sad that we have to live in this fear’

    Demonstrators in Ferguson react to tear gas fired by police on Aug. 18 during protests over the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson) Demonstrators in Ferguson react to tear gas fired by police on Aug. 18 during protests over the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
    St. Louis-area resident Carolyn Colburn opened her front door two nights ago and had a bulletin from the City of Berkeley fall at her feet.

    “The grand jury decision regarding the Ferguson police officer shooting of Michael Brown is expected this month — rumored as the middle of November, possibly this week,” warned the “News Alert” from town officials.

    “It is important that we all plan ahead in the event that conditions warrant each of us to stay at or very close to our homes for several days,” stated the flier, which Berkeley distributed to 3,000 homes this week.

    Alert issued to Berkeley residents. Click image to read full document.Alert issued to Berkeley residents. Click image to read full document.Berkeley, a bedroom community with 9,000 residents, borders Ferguson, where the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager on Aug. 9 triggered protests and riots and sparked a nationwide debate on race, policing and justice.

    With few businesses in Berkeley, residents like Colburn do their shopping in neighboring Ferguson.

    “It is very sad that we have to live in this fear,” Colburn told Yahoo News by email.

    No date has been

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  • America all clear of Ebola — for now

    Volunteers being monitored, but patient treatments have ended

    DALLAS — For the first time in nearly 10 weeks, no Ebola patient is being treated for the deadly disease in the United States.

    America’s all-clear came Tuesday morning when Dr. Craig Spencer was declared virus-free and released from a New York City hospital.

    Spencer contracted the disease while treating Ebola patients in Guinea, but didn’t become ill until he returned home late last month. He had been in isolation at Bellevue Hospital Center since he was diagnosed with the virus on Oct. 23.

    “My recovery from Ebola speaks to the effectiveness of the protocols in place for health staff returning from West Africa at the time of my infection,” Spencer, a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, said in a written statement.

    “I am a living example of how those protocols work, and of how early detection and isolation is critical to both surviving Ebola and ensuring that it is not transmitted to others,” he said.

    Spencer, who is 33, is one of four people to receive their diagnosis in the

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  • U.S. was ill-equipped to handle Ebola rescues, State Dept. contract reveals

    Life-saving gear needed to fly sick patients was in storage as epidemic grew

    For now, the world has to rely on a small, Georgia-based flight company for Ebola evacuations. (AP)For now, the world has to rely on a small, Georgia-based flight company for Ebola evacuations. (AP)
    The air ambulance operation tasked with rescuing U.S. Ebola victims from West Africa was initially slowed by bureaucratic bungling and is now at risk of being overburdened as thousands of American troops deploy to fight the deadly disease.

    Yahoo News has learned the U.S. government spent millions last decade to develop and build two of the world’s only isolation chambers for flying contagious patients — but as the epidemic raged in West Africa this summer and American aid workers there needed evacuating, the medical inventions were packed away in a small-town Georgia warehouse.

    Click image to view entire contract for Ebola patient evacuations.Click image to view entire contract for Ebola patient evacuations.The troubling lack of preparedness by federal agencies forced the State Department to put up $4.9 million as part of a rushed contract to employ a commercial aviator to safely evacuate Ebola-infected Americans from West Africa.

    The Aeromedical Biological Containment System (ABCS), a tent-like structure that allows caregivers to treat a single patient in flight without infectious germs escaping, was engineered by

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  • Ebola outbreak over in Dallas, but other Texans still being monitored

    State doctor: ‘We’re happy to reach this milestone, but our guard stays up’

    A hazmat worker outside the apartment building of a Dallas nurse on Oct. 12. (LM Otero/AP)A hazmat worker outside the apartment building of a Dallas nurse on Oct. 12. (LM Otero/AP)

    DALLAS — Six weeks after the deadly Ebola virus was diagnosed here, health officials on Friday declared Dallas’ outbreak to be finally over.

    Monitoring of an unidentified hospital staffer who handled infected waste on Oct. 17 ended Thursday night. That person is the last of 177 people to be pronounced healthy after having contact with at least one of three Texas Ebola patients. Those in the group — which included health care workers, patients' families, first responders and even a dog — have all reached the 21-day mark, the longest incubation period.

    Thomas Eric Duncan in 2011 (Courtesy photo)Thomas Eric Duncan in 2011 (Courtesy photo)

    “Thanksgiving comes early,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in a written statement. “It’s a time to reflect on the sacrifices of our hometown heroes and the city, county, and school district employees that worked so hard, along with our state and federal partners, to keep us safe during the Ebola crisis.”

    Dallas became ground zero on Sept. 30 for the Ebola scare that has seized the nation’s attention. That’s when Thomas Eric

    Read More »from Ebola outbreak over in Dallas, but other Texans still being monitored
  • Ebola-free nurse Amber Vinson discharged from Atlanta hospital

    DALLAS – A wide-eyed and smiling Amber Vinson walked out of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta Tuesday afternoon, becoming the seventh Ebola patient to beat the deadly disease after treatment in the United States.

    “I'm so grateful to be well,” Vinson said during a news conference. “I sincerely believe that with God, all things are possible.”

    Some of Vinson's colleagues watched her on live TV in a break room at Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas. (Courtesy photo)Some of Vinson's colleagues watched her on live TV in a break room at Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas. (Courtesy photo)Vinson, 29, was one of two Texas nurses to contract Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan earlier this month in Dallas.

    She was admitted to Emory's serious communicable disease unit on Oct. 15 and was declared free of the deadly virus last week.

    “After a rigorous course of treatment and testing, we have determined that Ms. Vinson has recovered,” said Dr. Bruce Ribner, the unit's medical director. “She can return to her family, her community, and to her life without any concerns about transmitting this virus to any other individuals.”

    Vinson, wearing a gray suit and pink blouse, was accompanied at the news conference by her grandparents and an

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  • Washington school shooter Jaylen Fryberg's personal struggles revealed on social media

    Tweet: ‘I hate that I can't live without you’

    Students comfort each other following a shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington. (AP/Ted S. Warren)  CLICK for slideshow on Washington State school shooting.Students comfort each other following a shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington. (AP/Ted S. Warren) CLICK for slideshow on Washington State school shooting.

    Social media posts penned by the shooter in Friday’s rampage at a Washington State high school portray a head-over-heels teenager who grew more and more tormented when the relationship fell apart.

    Alleged Washington school shooter Jaylen Fryberg (Instagram)Alleged Washington school shooter Jaylen Fryberg (Instagram)Authorities have identified the gunman as Jaylen Fryberg. Fryberg’s Facebook page shows him living in Tulalip Bay, nine miles from Marysville-Pilchuck High School where police say two students were killed — including the gunman — and at least four others injured in the Friday morning tragedy.

    “I can't believe I just witnessed a shooting,” Austin Joyner, a student at the school, said on Twitter. “Kid came into the cafeteria and walked over to a table and pulled out the gun and shot 4-6 shots at students sitting down.”

    The Seattle Times reported that several students told them that Fryberg, a freshman, was responsible. Kobe Baumann, 14, told the paper that he was with Fryberg in English class shortly before the shooting, and that he appeared to be kind of nervous.

    “He sits right up in the

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