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Thursday, February 21, 2019
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ABC News(CHICAGO) -- Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested in Chicago for allegedly filing a false report of a crime, police said.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi announced via Twitter early Thursday morning that Smollett "is under arrest and in custody of detectives."

Smollett turned himself into police Thursday at 5:15 a.m. local time and made a statement to police before being taken into custody. His lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, were not present at the time.

Chicago police will hold a press briefing Thursday at 9 a.m. local time, Guglielmi said.

Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men near his apartment in Chicago. The two men, Smollett initially said, shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him as a rope was wrapped around his neck and a chemical compound was poured on him. The alleged assailants yelled "MAGA country," a reference to President Donald Trump's "Make American Great Again" slogan, police were told.

In an interview with ABC News' Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, Smollett said he was heartbroken when he found out that people questioned his story.

Police identified and questioned two "persons of interest" captured on surveillance video near the scene around the time of the alleged attack. The men, who are brothers, were arrested on Feb. 13 but then released without charges, with police saying they were no longer considered suspects.

While being questioned by investigators, the brothers claimed that Smollett paid them to help orchestrate and stage the crime after he became upset that a letter threatening him, sent on Jan. 22 to the Fox studio where Empire is filmed, did not get enough attention, sources told ABC News.

On Wednesday, Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false crime report. By that evening, police officially had classified the actor as a suspect in the ongoing investigation. Detectives subsequently presented evidence to a Cook County grand jury.

"That was a pretty hateful allegation, and it really put a terrible look on Chicago," Guglielmi said. "Chicago trusted this young man. We loved Empire. And we took this very seriously that something this hateful could happen in our city."

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ogolne/iStock(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) -- Nearly a year after they went on strike and inspired educators nationwide to do the same, West Virginia teachers wielded their power again and this time politicians were quick to listen.

Just hours after West Virginia teachers went on strike for the second time in a year, the state House of Delegates voted, 53-45, to indefinitely table an omnibus education bill the educators saw as retaliation for the job action they took last February.

The vote prompted the teachers' unions to announce they would return to classes on Thursday.

While Senate Bill 451 -- loathed by teachers because it proposed establishing the state's first charter schools and funds for private school vouchers -- appeared dead, the state's three biggest teachers' unions continued the strike for a second day on Wednesday to "make sure this is a dead deal."

"We believe that there is still a minute opportunity for something to happen," Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said at a news conference at the state capital building in Charleston Tuesday night.

Despite calls from Gov. Jim Justice and Steven Paine, the West Virginia superintendent of schools, for teachers to go back to work on Wednesday, the teachers' unions instructed educators to return to the state Capitol building instead to make sure the state Senate leadership knows they mean business.

"We cannot trust the leadership in the Senate," Fred Albert, president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said at the news conference. "We are staying out one more day to ensure that this is a dead bill."

With little warning and a lot of anger, Mountain State teachers went on strike Tuesday, prompting school administrators in 54 of 55 counties to cancel classes for more than 200,000 students.

The strike was called Monday evening in protest of state Senate Bill 451.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As one storm leaves, a new one will cross the country through the weekend.

The departing storm, which wreaked havoc on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Wednesday, brought up to 6 to 11 inches of snow for the Plains into the Great Lakes. Just a few inches fell from Washington, D.C., north to Boston, but it snarled travel throughout the day.

This latest snowstorm pushed many cities in the Upper Midwest into the snowiest February on record, from Minnesota to Wisconsin. In the South, more than 4 inches of rain produced flash flooding from Arkansans to Tennessee and down to Alabama and Georgia.

As the new storm gathers strength in the Southwest, 11 states are under snow and wind alerts.

The storm already brought some rare snow to Las Vegas overnight. Snow also fell in the mountains outside of Los Angeles and San Diego, slowing down traffic.

By Friday, the storm will move east, joining with moisture in the Gulf of Mexico and spreading snow and heavy rain from the Gulf Coast into the Upper Midwest once again.

The western storm becomes a powerful low pressure in the Plains by Saturday with possible severe weather for the mid-Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley and Tennessee Valley. Tornadoes, hail and damaging winds are all possible. Very heavy rain is also likely in the South with flooding possible again in Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

To the north, heavy snow will fall once again from Kansas to Iowa and into Wisconsin.

By Sunday, the storm system moves into the Northeast and the entire East Coast, with heavy rain from Atlanta to New York City and Boston. Some snow and ice is possible in New England.

One to two feet of snow is possible in the Arizona and Colorado mountains, with up to a foot in the Midwest and the Great Lakes. Heavy rain will fall in the South, on top of all the rain that fell this week, making flooding likely. There could be 4 to 5 inches of rain from Louisiana to Kentucky.

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Newark Police Department(NEWARK, N.J.) -- A bus driver is under arrest after she allegedly passed out behind the wheel from a heroin overdose and rolled through an intersection and into a tree. There were 12 children on the bus at the time, all with special needs, but none were injured.

Lisa Byrd, 57, was charged with 12 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, driving while impaired and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The crash took place in Newark, New Jersey, as she was driving children home on Wednesday at about 1 p.m. Video obtained by New York ABC station WABC-TV showed the bus rolling at a slow rate of speed through an intersection -- covered with snow from an ongoing storm -- and hitting a small tree by the side of the road.

"Driving while impaired is dangerous enough, but adding children to the situation is particularly irresponsible and heinous," Newark Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose said at a press conference Wednesday.

Police sources told WABC the woman is suspected to have been on heroin. It is not clear when she took the drug.

Byrd had to be revived on the scene with Narcan by medics, police said. Narcan, the brand name for the drug naloxone, is used to treat an opioid overdose, including heroin.

She was taken to University Hospital in Newark for further treatment.

"Endangering the lives of Newark children is something we will not tolerate," Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. "We are grateful that none of the students were injured and that no other residents were harmed due to this incident."

The 12 children on the bus, ages 5 to 13, were from the 14th Avenue School, police said. They were assessed on scene by paramedics, but none suffered injury.

Officials said Byrd's driver's license was suspended from 1996 to 2006, though they did not specify why it was revoked.

F&A Transportation, which employed the driver, did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

The bus and towing company is located in East Orange, New Jersey.

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WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- A New York man was arrested Wednesday after he intentionally drove his car into a family of eight, killing a woman and injuring multiple children, police said.

Jason Mendez, 35, was charged with murder after he allegedly crashed into the family after getting into an argument with one of them, police said.

A 32-year-old woman was killed as the remaining family members, including six children, were injured, police said. A 35-year-old man and three of the children were listed in serious condition, but none of their injuries appeared life threatening.

Mendez faces one count of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder, but police may file additional charges.

The deadly crash happened outside of a 7-Eleven in Haverstraw, New York, about 35 miles north of Manhattan, around 2 p.m. The suspect allegedly got into an argument with the 35-year-old male victim.

"The male suspect had a verbal altercation with a member of the family moments earlier. The suspect then proceeded to enter his vehicle, which was parked in the 7-Eleven parking lot, and drove the vehicle forward striking eight family members," the Haverstraw Police Department said in a statement. "The suspect then reversed the vehicle and drove forward again, striking the family members for a second time."

Witnesses said the children ranged in age from an infant to about 10 years.

"She was laying on the ground," Allison Rodriguez, a witness, told ABC New York station WABC-TV, referring to the woman who was killed. "Nobody was around her. We just kinda knew she wasn't gonna make it."

Police said they found the suspect waiting in his vehicle when authorities arrived at the scene.

"The suspect was brandishing a knife and failed to comply with the responding officers' verbal commands to drop the knife," the department said in a statement. "The suspect was subsequently tased, subdued and taken into custody without further incident."

Mendez, of Washingtonville, New York, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday night and is due back in court next week, according to WABC.

"The investigation is still ongoing and it is anticipated that several additional charges will be filed," Haverstraw Police Department said. "The names of all involved parties are being withheld at this time due to the ongoing investigation."

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amphotora/iStock(HOUSTON) -- The Harris County District Attorney's Office in Houston said Wednesday it would review at least 1,400 criminal cases with ties to Houston Police Department officer Gerald Goines, who allegedly lied about using a confidential informant to justify a botched "no-knock" home raid on Jan. 28.

Twenty-eight of the cases under review are open, according to the office.

"Although the criminal investigation of Officer Goines is ongoing, we have an immediate ethical obligation to notify defendants and their lawyers in Goines' other cases to give them an opportunity to independently review any potential defenses,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement Wednesday. “Our duty is to see that justice is done in every case."

Goines was relieved of duty in the wake of the raid and is under criminal investigation, according to the statement.

Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58, were killed during the raid and five officers, including Goines, were wounded. The officers entered the home without warning and were met with gunfire "immediately upon reaching the door," according to the Houston Police Department.

The FBI said it opened a civil rights investigation into the officers involved on Wednesday and the Houston Police Department said it would largely end the use of "no-knock" search warrants.

"We as a police department have uncovered some malfeasance, we've taken it seriously, and we're not just looking at what's front of us, not just what's at the end of our nose," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a press conference Wednesday. "We have cast a wide net to make sure we identify any problems, most importantly procedures and methods so we can avoids things like this in the future."

The department also announced a new policy mandating undercover officers wear body cameras during raids.

"We have to very critically look at our actions," Acevedo said. "From adversity comes opportunity and I think the opportunity that it's provided me as your police chief is to really do a gut check with our department."

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Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false report after allegedly staging the attack against himself in Chicago, police and the state attorney's office confirmed to ABC News.

The charge of felony disorderly conduct carries a penalty of one to three years in jail, according to the criminal statute.

 "Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest," Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter.

Thus far, "they have no communication from him to do that," Guglielmi told ABC News.

While police are not actively looking for Smollett because "this is not a violent crime," he said, "the longer this goes, the more we have to do what we have to do" and "then we have to take a different approach."

"We want to do this as peacefully and respectfully as possible," Guglielmi added.

Police do not currently know where Smollett is and "his attorneys have not shared where he is at this point," he said.

"In the end, this is only a class 4 felony. He will get through this and we want to make it as easy as possible for him to do it. But again, it is about accountability," Guglielmi said.

Smollett will appear for a court hearing in a Cook County courtroom Thursday at 1:30 p.m., officials said.

Smollett's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, released a statement following the announcement saying they intent to "mount an aggressive defense."

"Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense," the statement read.

 After weeks of investigation into Smollett's claim of being attacked last month by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs while physically beating him and leaving him with a rope tied around his neck, the Chicago Police Department on Wednesday afternoon officially classified Smollett as a suspect in an ongoing criminal investigation for filing a false report.

The announcement, in a tweet from the Chicago Police Department's verified account, represents another stunning twist in an investigation that has seen more than its share of such developments.

The tweet also announced that detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury.

Meanwhile, in yet another development in the case, video of what appears to be two brothers -- who are cooperating with authorities and have told police that Smollett paid them to buy materials including masks and rope, and stage the attack, according to sources -- purchasing the items at an area hardware story has been obtained by Chicago ABC station WLS. News of the video was first reported by CBS Chicago station WBBM.

While Chicago police officials confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that authorities are maintaining a dialogue with Jussie Smollett's attorneys, they remain anxious to re-interview the actor himself.

"We are hopeful that we’ll have a chance to ask the questions that we have," Guglielmi said.

"It doesn’t matter what the investigation shows," Guglielmi said. "If you have information that's helpful to law enforcement, it behooves you to contact authorities and share that information. We have been very diplomatic and have been working with him and his attorneys. We got information, and that's what we want to run by him."

If Smollett does not come in to speak with police, he said, "We’re going to go with other methods to create a culture of accountability.”

 Later Wednesday, an official briefed on the Smollett investigation confirmed to ABC News that attorneys representing Smollett met with police and prosecutors in Chicago today. Lawyers and police would not immediately detail the substance of the discussion.
(MORE: Feds investigating whether Jussie Smollett played a role in sending threatening letter sent to 'Empire' studios addressed to him)

The CPD's latest public stance comes after two federal officials confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating whether Jussie Smollett played a role in sending a threatening letter addressed to him at the Chicago studio where "Empire" is filmed, prior to the alleged Jan. 29 attack.

The letter, which was sent Jan. 22, is currently in an FBI crime lab for analysis, one of the sources said.

The allegation concerning the alleged attack and the letter -- made by brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who are cooperating with investigators in the probe -- has not been officially confirmed.

The Osundairo brothers have also told investigators that Smollett paid them to help him orchestrate and stage the Jan. 29 attack that Smollett said occurred near his Chicago apartment, sources said. Police have not independently verified these allegations and no one has been charged in connection with the case.

“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," Smollett attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement Saturday. "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."

Smollett told police that on Jan. 29, he was walking on a street near his apartment around 2 a.m. when he was set upon by two men. The attackers allegedly shouted racist and homophobic slurs before hitting him, pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him —- possibly bleach -— and wrapping a rope around his neck, he told detectives.

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Fedorovekb/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Federal authorities have arrested a Marine veteran and U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant who they said was stockpiling weapons and "espoused extremist" and racist views for years as he sought to launch a major attack.

"The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country. He must be detained pending trial. ... The defendant is a domestic terrorist," prosecutors said in a court document filed in Maryland federal court Wednesday, arguing that Christopher Paul Hasson should be detained.

 Hasson allegedly compiled a list of prominent Democratic congressional leaders, activists, political organizations, and MSNBC and CNN media personalities, including apparent references to Joe Scarborough, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Kamala Harris, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to court documents.

Hasson was arrested by agents of the FBI Baltimore Field Office and the Coast Guard Investigative Service on Friday on gun-related charges.

"The criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland charges Mr. Hasson with possession of firearms and ammunition by an unlawful user or addict of controlled substances, and with possession of tramadol, the Justice Department said.

Hasson, 49, is currently assigned to Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C. He'd been living in his Silver Spring, Maryland, apartment since June 2016, when he signed his lease, authorities said.

A source familiar with the matter said the Coast Guard tipped the FBI off to Hasson, and then the FBI and Coast Guard jointly investigated him.

Details of his case were laid out in a court document filed Tuesday, seeking his detention until trial.

Court documents -- which don't include any actual attack plan -- alleged that in a draft email Hasson wrote on June 2, 2017, making reference to Olympic park bomber Eric Rudolph, he said, "I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth. I think a plague would be most successful but how do I acquire the needed/ Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax not sure yet but will find something."

He then allegedly discussed an "interesting idea" of "start[ing] with biological attacks followed by attack on food supply."

"Liberalist/globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples esp white. ... No way to counteract without violence... Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch," Hasson allegedly wrote.

According to court documents, he allegedly said he was, "Looking to Russia with hopeful eyes or any land that despises the west’s liberalism. Excluding of course the muslim scum" and had to "take serious look at appropriate individual targets, to bring greatest impact. Professors, DR’s, Politian’s [sic], Judges, leftists in general."

Months later, court document said, in September 2017 -- about seven weeks after the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally -- he allegedly sent himself a draft letter, which he apparently wrote for a known American neo-Nazi leader.

In the letter, he allegedly wrote: "I am a long time White Nationalist, having been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military. I have served in 3 branches currently serving as an Officer (never attended college) with 2 years till I hit mandatory retirement at 30." He said he "fully support[s] the idea of a white homeland ... We need a white homeland as Europe seems lost."

From January 2017 to January 2019, he conducted online searches and made thousands of visits online for pro-Russian, neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature, court documents said.

Investigators said Hasson lived in "a cramped basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland," and when the FBI raided it, they found a total of 15 firearms and "conservatively" more than 1,000 rounds of mixed ammunition.

Investigators also found more than 30 bottles labeled as HGH (human growth hormone), which authorities said were intended "to increase his ability to conduct attacks."

On Dec. 27, 2018, court documents said, Hasson performed an internet search for “joe Scarborough” (“Scarborough”), after viewing a headline claiming that Scarborough referred to President Trump as “the worst ever.”

The Coast Guard released a statement late Wednesday.

"An active duty Coast Guard member, stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC, was arrested last week on illegal weapons and drug charges as a result of an ongoing investigation led by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, in cooperation with the FBI and Department of Justice. Because this is an open investigation, the Coast Guard has no further details at this time," according to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Hasson is due in court Thursday for a detention hearing in Maryland, the Justice Department said.

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Prathaan/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The number of hate groups in the U.S. has reached an all-time high, even as membership in the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi outfits have fallen, according to a report by a legal advocacy organization that tracks them.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's annual "Year in Hate and Extremism" report counted 1,020 hate groups in the nation, an increase of 7 percent from the 954 tallied in 2017.

The previous record for hate groups in the country was in 2011, when 1,018 were counted at the "height of a backlash" against the first black president of the U.S., Barack Obama, said Heidi Beirich, director of intelligence for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This year's report showed that the number of hate groups has grown for four straight years.

"This time period dovetails with [Donald] Trump's campaign and then his presidency, a period that has seen a 30 percent increase in the number of these groups," Beirich said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center defines a hate group as an organization that in its principles or statements from its leaders attacks or maligns an entire class of people typically for their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Several groups on the list have blasted the organization for political bias and exaggerating the threat of hate. Some organizations have also sued to have the hate-group label removed. In 2018, the SPLC publicly apologized and paid out $3.4 million to political activist Maajid Nawaz for including him on its anti-Muslim extremist list in 2016.

California, the country's most populous and solidly Democratic state, had the most hate groups with 83; followed by Florida with 75 and 73 in Texas, according to the report.

The report also showed the number of white nationalist groups climbed 48 percent from 100 in 2017 to 148 in 2018.

"These are basically racists who wear suits, khakis, and polos who argue for a white ethnostate, a white political space controlled by whites," Beirich said.

She said the number of black nationalists groups also jumped 13 percent from 233 in 2017 to 264 in 2018.

"These are groups that are typically anti-Semitic, anti-LGBT and anti-white. They are very different than some of the white hate groups that we talk about often and track since they have virtually no supporters or influence in mainstream politics, much less the White House," Beirich said of the black nationalist groups.

The center's report also found that for the third straight year, the number of Ku Klux Klan groups fell from 130 in 2016 to 51 in 2018, and the number of neo-Nazi groups fell 7 percent from 121 in 2017 to 112 in 2018.

"The Klan has begun to be a part of the white supremacist movement that just isn't attracting many folks to its message," Beirich said. "It's simply becoming less important, which is a big change."

The report shows as the number of hate groups has risen, so has the number of hate crimes.

The FBI shows the number of hate crime incidents reported increased about 17 percent in 2017 compared with previous year.

She pointed to a two-week period around the midterm elections in November when the country saw suspects professing to be white supremacists go on shooting rampages.

On Oct. 27, Robert Bowers, 46 -- who authorities said "made statements regarding genocide and his desire to kill Jewish people" -- shot and killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Bowers is believed to have posted his intent to commit the massacre on the social media platform Gab, which is popular with white supremacists and the alt-right, investigators said.

On Oct. 26, Cesar Sayoc, 56, was arrested on charges of mailing more than a dozen pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, other high-profile liberal figures and CNN. Sayoc called himself a white supremacist and was found in a van plastered with pro-Trump stickers, investigators said. He has pleaded not guilty to charges.

On Oct. 24, Gregory Bush, 51, allegedly shot and killed two African-Americans at a Kroger market in Louisville, Kentucky. A grand jury charged him with murder and hate crimes because he allegedly targeted his victims based on their race, prosecutors said. Bush pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Beirich said a total of 40 people were killed in hate crimes in the U.S. and Canada in 2018.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Over 2,000 flights have been grounded — many in the Washington, D.C., area — as a winter storm moves through the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Wednesday.

Schools in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Omaha are all closed for the day and federal offices in D.C. are shuttered.

Here's the latest forecast:

The snow began in D.C. as drivers hit the roads for their morning commutes.

The Virginia State Police said its troopers responded to 380 crashes and trapped cars as of rush hour Wednesday morning.

D.C.'s Reagan National Airport saw over two inches of snow while the Baltimore airport in Maryland and Dulles International Airport in Virginia recorded over four inches.

D.C.'s snow is transitioning to sleet and rain over the afternoon.

As the storm crept up the coast it brought snowfall to Philadelphia, where up to three inches is possible, and New York City, which is expecting four inches.

Boston will see a burst of snow followed by rain overnight, with only scattered showers for the morning commute.

The storm will move out Thursday morning leaving lingering snow across northern New England.

In the Midwest, snow fell through the morning in Minnesota, leaving some roadways in the Twin Cities buried under eight inches of snow.

With over 30 inches of snow so far, Twin Cities residents are seeing their snowiest February on record.

Meanwhile, in the South, heavy rain is falling from Mississippi to Kentucky, potentially bringing dangerous flooding.

Nashville may see its wettest February on record.

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DNY59/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court moved Wednesday to limit states’ ability to seize private property involved in a crime, saying the forfeitures are subject to Eighth Amendment protection against excessive fines.

Tyson Timbs, a 37-year-old recovering opioid addict from Indiana, brought the case after state officials seized his $42,000 Land Rover following a drug conviction in 2013. A judge had sentenced Timbs to probation and a modest $1,200 fee. Timbs’ argued the subsequent seizure of his vehicle by Indiana was excessive and unconstitutional.

“The protection against excessive fines guards against abuses of government’s punitive or criminal law-enforcement authority. This safeguard, we hold, is fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty, with deep roots in our history and tradition,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the court’s opinion.

“The historical and logical case for concluding that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming,” she said.

The impact of the decision could be significant, legal experts say, likely triggering action in states nationwide to move toward limits on civil asset forfeiture.

In the 26 states and District of Columbia that report forfeiture activity, law enforcement agencies collected more than $254 million in funds and property in 2012 alone, according to an analysis by the Institute for Justice, a non-profit libertarian public interest law firm.

“Instead of simply saying you were transporting heroin and the state is seizing your vehicle, a state would now most likely have to go a little further and consider whether that seizure was excessive or prohibited under the Eighth Amendment. That would mean a hearing or evidentiary finding,” said Christopher Riano, a lecturer in constitutional law at Columbia University.

The decision also means Timbs will get his Land Rover back or compensation from the state for the comparable amount.

The opinion by Ginsburg, which she read aloud from the bench, was her first since undergoing cancer surgery in December. It is also an indication that, as the court had said in the weeks before her return to the court Tuesday, Ginsburg continued to work from home during her recovery.

Indiana had argued that the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause does not apply to so-called “in rem” forfeitures, or action targeting property – not an individual -- solely because of its role in criminal activity. The state argued that because Timbs used the Land Rover to buy drugs, the vehicle was a criminal tool.

But the court, citing precedent, disagreed, saying that such seizures are “at least partially punitive” against the individual and subject to constitutional limits.

Civil asset forfeiture – the ability of authorities to seize private property used in a crime – has become a lucrative revenue source for states and a tool to exact punishment, in many cases without insomuch as a court hearing.

For decades, critics have panned the practice as “policing for profit” and an example of unchecked government overreach.

“There can be no serious doubt that the Fourteenth Amendment requires the states to respect the freedom from excessive fines enshrined in the Eighth Amendment,” wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch in a concurring opinion.

Gorsuch and Justice Clarence Thomas, while agreeing with the conclusion in the case, offered different reasoning. They said protection against excessive files was among the “privileges or immunities of citizens of the U.S.” guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment and that Indiana violated that privilege, not a “due process” right.

“Petitioner argues that the forfeiture of his vehicle is an excessive punishment. He does not argue that the Indiana courts failed to proceed according to the law of the land… His claim has nothing to do with any process due him,” Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion. “I therefore decline to apply the legal fiction of substantive due process.”

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Newport Beach Police(NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.) -- A man has been arrested through DNA and genetic genealogy in the decades-old cold case killing of 11-year-old Linda Ann O’Keefe, who was strangled to death in Southern California in 1973, authorities said.

O'Keefe was last seen alive on July 6, 1973, as she walked home from summer school, the Newport Beach Police Department said. Her body was found the next day -- but decades went by without an arrest.

O'Keefe's suspected killer, James Neal, who lived in Southern California in the 1970s, was arrested this week in Colorado where he had been living, said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, who was 12 himself at the time of the murder, at a Wednesday news conference.

Neal worked in construction at the time of the crime, officials said. He left California after the alleged killing and went to Florida where he changed his name, officials said.

DNA recovered from O'Keefe shortly after her death was put into the Combined DNA Index System -- the law enforcement database known as CODIS -- but there was no hit, Spitzer said.

Through genealogical DNA, though, investigators corroborated the DNA from O'Keefe's body and the DNA obtained from the suspect, according to Spitzer. The genealogical hit came in January, officials said.

It is not clear if Neal, 72, will waive extradition, Spitzer said.

"We have never forgotten Linda," Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis said at the news conference.

O'Keefe's parents have since died, Spitzer said, but her sisters have been notified about the arrest.

The novel investigative technique of genetic genealogy takes an unknown killer's DNA from a crime scene and identifies the suspect through his or her family members, who voluntarily submit their DNA to genealogy databases. Since April 2018, genetic genealogy has helped identify more than two dozen suspects.

This allows police to create a much larger family tree than using CODIS, said CeCe Moore, chief genetic genealogist with Parabon NanoLabs. Parabon has worked on the majority of the cold cases cracked through genetic genealogy, including O'Keefe's case.

Last year, 45 years after O'Keefe's body was found, police released these sketches of her suspected killer.

Parabon used the DNA from the crime scene to predict the suspect's eye color, hair color and skin color. The sketches depict what the suspect may have looked like at 25 years old as well as an age-progressed version.

The lead bringing officials to Neal came after these sketches were released, authorities said Wednesday.

“But now, 45 yrs later, I have a voice again. And I have something important to say. There is a new lead in my case: a face. A face that comes from DNA that the killer left behind. It’s technology that didn’t exist back in 1973, but it might change everything today.” #LindasStory

— Newport Beach Police (@NewportBeachPD) July 7, 2018

The police department last year also "live-tweeted" O'Keefe's story from her perspective, narrating the final day of her life in real-time, exactly 45 years later.

“Hi. I’m Linda O’Keefe (or Linda ANN O’Keefe, if I’m in trouble with my mom). Forty-five years ago today, I disappeared from Newport Beach. I was murdered and my body was found in the Back Bay. My killer was never found. Today, I’m going to tell you my story.” #LindasStory

— Newport Beach Police (@NewportBeachPD) July 6, 2018

“I’m wearing a dress today… It’s white, with light blue flowers on it, and dark blue trim. My mom made it. She makes a lot of my clothes, and my sisters’ clothes. She’s really good at sewing, and we don’t have a lot of money for fancy store outfits anyhow.” #LindasStory

— Newport Beach Police (@NewportBeachPD) July 6, 2018

“Let’s see… What else can I tell you about me?? I’ve always been *really* good at tidying up. Mom says I’m like a ‘little mother’ and always keep my room very neat. Whenever I clean up, I ask her to come see. I like hearing her tell me that I did a good job.” #LindasStory

— Newport Beach Police (@NewportBeachPD) July 6, 2018

The Twitter campaign did not lead to the suspect's identification, but it did create an emphasis on the case and opened doors for the case to be pursued with renewed efforts, officials said.

According to police, O'Keefe normally rode her bike to summer school. But that day, she was dropped off.

While waiting to use the school phone, O'Keefe went outside. Her friend later told police a turquoise van stopped next to O'Keefe a few times as she walked.

O'Keefe then called her mother from the school office, and her mother told her she was busy sewing and that she should walk home, police said.

A woman later told police she saw O'Keefe standing next to a turquoise van and talking to the driver -- a white man in his mid-20s or early 30s.

“The van is parked along the curb, just before the intersection of Marguerite and Inlet Drive. The front passenger door is open, and I’m standing right beside it. Jannine will remember that she sees the driver: a man, white, in his mid-20s or early 30s.” #LindasStory

— Newport Beach Police (@NewportBeachPD) July 6, 2018

But O'Keefe never came home. Her family called the police and officers then joined the search for the 4-foot-tall girl with long brown hair and blue eyes.

“Officers are searching everywhere. Back then, there were vacant fields south of Pacific View and east of Marguerite. They search the fields, the reservoir, the neighborhoods, the streets. Nothing.” #LindasStory

— Newport Beach Police (@NewportBeachPD) July 7, 2018

“Officers are searching Fashion Island. The Back Bay. On foot. By car. By helicopter. Jeeps are used in the places the patrol cars can’t get to. Still… nothing.” #LindasStory

— Newport Beach Police (@NewportBeachPD) July 7, 2018

That night, a woman who lives in the bluffs above Back Bay heard a voice scream, "Stop, you’re hurting me," police said.

The next day, a man visiting that area found O'Keefe's strangled body, police said.

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tillsonburg/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Grieving officers of the New York Police Department gathered Wednesday at an emotional funeral for Detective Brian Simonsen who was killed by friendly fire while responding to a robbery last week.

Simonsen, 42, and his partner "made the decision to move toward the danger" at a Queens T-Mobile store on Feb. 12, Police Commissioner James O’Neill told the mourners at Wednesday's funeral. "They did so because people needed them. They did so because they make tough decisions others are unable or unwilling to make. They did so because they are NYPD cops."

Simonsen, a detective, was "exceedingly good at his job," O'Neill said.

"After these crimes, victims who were once confident find themselves suddenly afraid. There is a loss of trust, a loss of belief in their fellow human beings," he said. "But Brian was always able to walk into the most chaotic of situations and calm things down – really communicate and reach people."

"Being an NYPD cop is what Brian dedicated his life to for 18 years, 11 months and 12 days," spending his entire career at the 102nd Precinct, O’Neill said.


Today we say our final goodbyes to #NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen, killed in the line of duty last week. Whether it was as a police academy recruit (in this 2000 photo) or as a seasoned investigator, Brian was always the one you wanted next to you when decisions mattered the most. RIP

— Commissioner O'Neill (@NYPDONeill) February 20, 2019


The fallen detective lived on Long Island but drove nearly 70 miles each way so he could work in Queens.

"He fell in love with his community, and the community fell in love with him," O’Neill said.


The 102nd Precinct would like to thank everyone for their continued support, thoughts, and prayers during this very difficult time.

— NYPD 102nd Precinct (@NYPD102Pct) February 14, 2019



#FDNY #Battalion47 #Engine265 #Ladder121 #Station47 and all FDNY members support @NYPDnews as they lay to rest Detective Brian Simonsen, who made the Supreme Sacrifice on February 12. This tribute is displayed on FDNY ambulances and fire companies throughout the city.

— FDNY (@FDNY) February 20, 2019


Simonsen is survived by his mother, Linda, and his wife, Leanne, a nurse.

Simonsen "faced several heartaches as a teenager" when his dad and sister died months apart, said his cousin and fellow NYPD officer Sean Peterson. But Simonsen immediately became a "rock" to support his family, said Peterson.

After meeting his wife, a Chicago native, in Las Vegas, "Brian knew he had found the one," said Peterson, and she became the "missing piece of the puzzle that completed Brian's life."

"To Leanne and Linda, and to all of Brian’s loved ones, know this: Our family is your family," O'Neill said.

To the officers gathered in the pews, O'Neill urged them to never "forget why you chose to become police officers ... never forget that Brian lived to protect all New Yorkers, and his legacy protects us still."

Simonsen was his precinct's union delegate and attended a union meeting on the day of his death, authorities said. He decided to respond to the call in Queens even though he didn't have to, authorities said.

In a chaotic scene at the T-Mobile store that unfolded within seconds, seven officers shot 42 rounds, authorities said. The officer who responded with Simonsen was shot and injured.

Two suspects are in custody. The suspects' weapon was an imitation gun, authorities said.


Detective Brian Simonsen represented what it means to be a great cop — to go beyond the call of duty. Today, we mourn the loss of a hero who went in harm’s way & celebrate a life dedicated to service. We’ll forever be indebted to Brian & his family. The NYPD will #NeverForget.

— Chief Terence Monahan (@NYPDChiefofDept) February 20, 2019



Later this morning we gather with first responders from across the nation to honor and lay to rest NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen.

— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) February 20, 2019


"All of the police officers at that tragic shooting will carry their grief with them for the rest of their lives," O'Neill said, adding, "Those cops responded to a call for help. They did not hesitate. And they are not to blame."

"The two people responsible for Brian’s death -- the only two -- are the career criminals who decided to go to that store on Tuesday night and commit an armed robbery," O'Neill said, his voice shaking.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also spoke at the emotional service.

"I hope all New Yorkers and all Americans look at this example ... of all the goodness that a police officer can bring to a community," he said.

"Even after this tragedy Brian kept giving back, still taking care of others. He wanted to be an organ donor to make sure he could continue to save lives and he did," the mayor said.

He continued, "We have lost one of our very best. We will never forget him."

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Ildo Frazao/iStock(CHARLESTON, W. Va.) -- Nearly a year after they went on strike and inspired educators nationwide to do the same, West Virginia teachers wielded their power again and this time politicians were quick to listen.

Just hours after West Virginia teachers went on strike for the second time in a year, the state House of Delegates voted 53-45 to indefinitely table an omnibus education bill the educators saw as retaliation for the job action they took last February.

But while Senate Bill 451 -- loathed by teachers because it proposed establishing the state's first charter schools and funds for private school vouchers -- appeared dead, the state's three biggest teachers' unions said the strike would continue for a second day to "make sure this is a dead deal."

"We believe that there is still a minute opportunity for something to happen," Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said at a news conference at the state capital building in Charleston Tuesday night.

Despite calls from Gov. Jim Justice and Steven Paine, the West Virginia superintendent of schools, for teachers to go back to work on Wednesday, the teachers' unions instructed educators to return to the state capital building instead to make sure the state Senate leadership knows they mean business.

"We cannot trust the leadership in the Senate," Fred Albert, president of West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said at the news conference. "We are staying out one more day to ensure that this is a dead bill."

With little warning and a lot of anger, Mountain State teachers went on strike Tuesday, prompting school administrators in 54 of 55 counties to cancel classes for more than 200,000 students.

The strike was called Monday evening in protest of state Senate Bill 451, which seeks to overhaul education.

The state Senate sent the bill back to the House of Delegates Monday with amendments to allow the establishment of charter schools in the state. The bill also provides public money to fund vouchers called "education savings accounts" for parents who home-school their children or send them to private school.

The House of Delegates voted to put the bill it on the back burner just hours after teachers went on strike.

"The Senate can amend it into another education bill. We can't take anything for granted," Jennifer Wood, spokeswoman for the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, told ABC News. "There is a history with the Senate leadership. Teachers don't feel like they argue in good faith."

Despite the bill including raises for teachers, Albert said educators were "left no other choice" but to go on strike to stop the erosion of public education in the state.

Randi Weingarten, president of the nationwide American Federation of Teachers, posted a message on Twitter Tuesday saying the Republican-dominated West Virginia Senate "is keen to destroy public schools & retaliate against its teachers."

Lee, the West Virginia Education Association president, said the Senate bill was rammed through and sent back to the House of Delegates with little to no input from teachers.

"It appears that they are more interested in listening to the outside interests than they are the educators across West Virginia," Lee said at news conference Monday.

State Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson County, said the bill has "great provisions" in it, including additional 5 percent pay hikes on top of 5 percent raises teachers won after striking nine days last year. The bill also creates a $250 tax credit for teachers on the purchase of classroom supplies or other educational materials.

He said the bill's goal is "getting our education system out of the doldrums."

"Why would anyone want to stand in the status quo and stay in the past?" Carmichael said.

Last year's West Virginia teachers' strike, which started on Feb. 22, was followed by strikes in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and most recently Los Angeles and Denver.

West Virginia has no comprehensive collective bargaining statutes, meaning public school budgets are set by state legislatures and not local school boards like in California and Colorado.

In states like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and Kentucky, strikes by teachers are considered illegal and educators risk being fired for participating in them. Because teachers in those states have shown statewide solidarity in their job actions, state government leaders have had little choice but to bargain.

"What's happened in all these places is over the course of the last 10 to 15 years is that people have tried to make good schools and students front and center have gotten demeaned, disparaged, called names, schools have been divested," Weingarten told ABC News in an interview last week. "And so what has happened ... is a sense of possibility that when you join together you can indeed be stronger together, but you have to join together on a mission that the community really adopts."

The West Virginia strike comes ahead of one being planned by Oakland, California, teachers on Thursday.

The Oakland public school teachers' contract expired in July 2017. The union and the Oakland Unified School District began bargaining on a new contract in December 2016, but after 30 negotiating sessions encompassing 200 hours of bargaining, an impasse was declared on May 18, 2018. Both sides agreed to mediation but that failed to break the stalemate.

As part of the negotiations, an arbitrator was assigned to do a fact-finding report. The report showed an 18.7 percent annual turnover rate for teachers in the school district.

To stem the tide of teachers exiting the Oakland Unified School District, which has more than 37,000 students, the union is asking for a 12 percent raise over three years, smaller class sizes and more support staff. The school district has offered a 5 percent raise over three years, retroactive to 2017.

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Sarasota Police Department(SARASOTA, Fla.) -- The remains have been found of a missing teenager in Florida who may have witnessed a murder more than a year ago, police announced Tuesday night.

Jabez Spann was 14 when he vanished on Sept. 4, 2017, in Sarasota, Florida. A week earlier, a woman who witnessed a murder allegedly saw Spann at the crime scene as well, the Sarasota Police Department said.

Human remains were found along a fence line in a rural area of Manatee County on Saturday afternoon, and forensic experts used dental records to identify them as Spann's. The teen's family has been notified, police said.

"Dental records were a match," Sarasota Police Deputy Chief Patrick Robinson said at a press conference Tuesday night. "It's unknown how long those skeletal remains were at the location, where they were located, or if they were transported there from somewhere else."

Police wouldn't speculate on whether Spann's death is connected to the shooting in Sarasota he may have witnessed just before his disappearance.

"This will be handled on its merits alone," Robinson told reporters. "We'll be going back and basically starting from the beginning, scouring our case files to ensure every lead, every tip was followed up on, everything was handled a hundred percent. We are going to run this thing to the end."

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