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Minneapolis Police Who Murdered Australian Woman After 911 Call Hadn’t Turned Their Body Cameras On

Minneapolis Police Shooting Australian Justine Damond Nevada Cop Block

Just before midnight on Saturday night (7/15/17), police in Minneapolis responding to a 911 call shot the woman who had made that call. Justine Damond, an Australian who was living with her fiance and his son, had called to report that she heard what sounded like someone being assaulted near her home.  Justine, who was due to be married to Don Damond next month, died as a result of the shooting.

Neither officer that responded to her call has been publicly identified yet. Currently, both of them have been placed on paid vacation while their coworkers “investigate” what happened. As of yet, no official explanation has been given for why one of the police officers decided he needed to shoot Damond.

According to a statement to the media, the officers had not turned their body cameras on and their dash cam “did not capture the incident.” No explanation for why those cameras were not turned on was provided either, although Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has stated she intends to find that out.

Via the Guardian:

Her stepson, Zac Damond, said she had called police after hearing a noise near her house.

“Two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call of a possible assault just north of the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue S just before 11.30pm Saturday,” the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement, according to the Star Tribune. “At one point, an officer fired their weapon, fatally striking a woman.

“The BCA’s investigation is in its early stages. More information will be available once initial interviews with incident participants and any witnesses are complete … The officers’ body cameras were not turned on at the time and the squad camera did not capture the incident. Investigators are attempting to determine whether any video of the incident exists.”

The two officers involved are on paid administrative leave.

Her stepson said Damond, 40-year-old Sydneysider, was “passionate” and his “best friend”.

“Basically my mum was shot for reasons I don’t know,” he said in a video posted on Facebook on Monday morning. (Video embedded below – editor)

“I just know she heard a sound in the alley so then she called the police and the cops showed up and she was a very passionate woman, she probably thought something bad was happening and then next thing I know they take my best friend’s life.”

Details are still lacking at the moment and this story will be updated as those details emerge. However, what this story obviously illustrates is two things that I point out often here at Nevada Cop Block. First, the police cannot be trusted not to murder someone when they show up. They won’t do it every time, but you just never know when they might. So you should avoid calling 911 unless absolutely necessary (and you should do everything you possibly can to minimize or even eliminate that as a necessity) and unless you are comfortable with the possibility that the person you called them could end up dead. In fact, you might even be the one that gets killed.

Secondly, the police cannot be trusted to film themselves, whether that be via body cameras or dash cams. People still need to film the cops any time they interact with them for whatever reason. Otherwise, there’s a decent chance that they will “forget” to term them on or that they will “malfunction.” Even when that fails, the police still have control over whether that video will be released (and plenty of excuses not to).

It shouldn’t be up to the cop who is about to murder someone to turn the camera on that would document that. It also shouldn’t be up to police departments, who have a history of covering up for cops that kill, to release them to the public when they actually exist.

**Update** Justine Damond, who was dressed in pajamas at the time, was shot by Officer Mohamed Noor. Damond was reportedly talking to Noor’s (still unnamed) partner on the driver’s side of the patrol car when Noor fired across his partner and through the window from the passenger seat.

Statement By Step Son Zac Damond

Minneapolis Rally/Protest on Sunday

Bullshit Written by Officer Noor’s Lawyer

“A Wonderful Sign of Building Trust”

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“What Happened in Vegas” Anti-Police Brutality Documentary to Show at Anthem Film Festival (Freedom Fest) July 20th

What Happened In Vegas Ramsey Denison LVMPD Documentary Movie Police Brutality

On July 20th at 3:20pm, “What Happened in Vegas,” the documentary by director Ramsey Denison about police brutality, corruption, and cover-ups within the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (AKA: “Metro“) will be screening during the Anthem Film Festival. The annual film festival, which takes place from July 19th to the 22nd, is part of Freedom Fest, which is also held annually here in Las Vegas.

The screening will be held at the Paris Hotel and Casino, which is located on the Las Vegas Strip. Passes for an entire day, as well as all access passes for the entire festival, can be purchased in advance at their online ticket link. (Freedom Fest tickets are also available at the same link.) In addition, tickets for individual screenings can be bought at the door for $10.

As has been previously reported here at Nevada Cop Block, What Happened in Vegas premiered at the Ciniquest Film Festival in March and received rave reviews from critics during multiple showings there. This will be the second screening held here in Las Vegas. Previously, in April, the movie showed at the Las Vegas Black Film Festival and won the award for best documentary.

What Happened in Vegas focuses on the murders of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, and Stanley Gibson by Las Vegas police officers and the cover ups of those murders by the leadership of the LVMPD. All three of those shootings were extremely controversial and heavily debated at the time they took place within Las Vegas.

However, none of them received widespread coverage by the media outside of Las Vegas. That lack of publicity for police killings and the role the local media, politicians, and casinos play in that is a major focal point of the movie. In addition, several cases of police brutality, racial profiling, and false arrests by members of Metro are also highlighted.

(Full Disclosure: I am personally in the movie. Stanley Gibson was a personal friend of mine and I also contributed general knowledge about other cases that I have learned through involvement with Nevada Cop Block and police brutality activism within Las Vegas.)

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Update: Second Mistrial Declared; Cincinnati Cop Ray Tensing Gets Away With Murder of Sam Dubose

For the second time, a jury has stated that it was deadlocked and unable to reach a decision on charges filed against University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing for the July 2015 murder of Sam Dubose. (See videos embedded below for body camera footage of that murder.) The jury initially indicated this morning that it was unable to reach a decision, but were told to go back and continue deliberating. Later this afternoon they returned and stated they were still deadlocked. As a result, Hamilton County Judge Leslie Ghiz has declared a mistrial.

Although it hasn’t been officially announced yet, there won’t be a third trial. So that effectively means Tensing has officially joined the ever expanding club of police officers who have gotten away with murder, including three just this week alone (Tensing, Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, and St. Paul Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez).

Of course, in order to have their killings declared justified all police officers need to do is state that they “feared for my life” and in order to get a mistrial they just need one of the twelve members of a jury to buy that rationalization. So that bar is incredibly low and that’s mostly by design. The system itself is tilted heavily in their favor and those running that system not only are their friends and co-workers, but have the further incentive of self preservation to push it even further in that direction.

In Tensing’s case, he claimed that he was in danger of being run over by Dubose as he attempted to drive away from a traffic stop the University of Cincinnati police officer had initiated because of a missing front license plate.

Via NBC News:

Tensing asked DuBose for his driver’s license and registration, which he failed to provide. The officer then ordered him to step out of his car and tried to open the door, but DuBose refused. The car began to pull away

With one hand still inside the car, Tensing yelled, “Stop! Stop!” before firing his gun at DuBose, striking him in the head. The car then began traveling out of control before coming to a stop.

Tensing’s bodycam captured the incident.

The men had a conversation for about one minute and 50 seconds before it escalated with Tensing and DuBose in a struggle. Within just a few seconds, Tensing fired his gun.

Two other officers were on scene, and their body cameras captured other angles of the shooting’s aftermath.

Those alternate angles captured by the other officers on the scene, as well as testimony from experts who examined those videos, contradicted Tensing’s claims that he was being dragged by, and in danger of being run over by, Dubose’s car.

It’s also been questioned whether the stop for something as trivial as a front license plate was merely an excuse used to justify a racially motivated profiling of Dubose. Officer Tensing’s unusually frequent history of traffic stops (when compared to other University of Cincinnati police officers) and the high percentage of minorities involved in those stops bolsters those claims.

Of course, the judges, prosecutors, and media are usually on the side of the cops and the general public is taught from the day they are born to believe cops are heroes that never lie or do anything bad. So it’s not that hard for them to at least find that one juror who will refuse to find a cop guilty, regardless of the actual facts presented during a trial. That’s a big part of why it’s almost impossible to convict a police officer regardless of the actual facts on the rare occasions when they get caught doing something outrageous enough to get charged in the first place.

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Update: Officer Jeronimo Yanez the Latest Cop to Get Away With Murder After Philando Castille Verdict

Earlier this afternoon, a jury in Minnesota reached a verdict in the trial of St. Anthony Police Officer Jeromino Yanez. Yanez had been charged with second degree manslaughter after he shot Philando Castille seven times in July of 2016. At the time Yanez decided to start shooting, Castille was reaching for his ID that Yanez had asked him for seconds earlier. Presumably, Officer Yanez was afraid that he was instead reaching for a (legally registered) gun that Castille had informed him of. Castille’s girlfriend, who was also in the car along with their four year old daughter, live-streamed, via Facebook Live, his final moments and her own treatment by the police after the shooting. (Video embedded below.) Philando Castille’s “crime” consisted of having a broken taillight.

Sadly, but not at all surprisingly, the verdict that was announced was “not guilty.” The glaring reality that cases like this and those of Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby, who was also issued a license to murder just last month, serve as grim reminders of is that, even on the rare occasions when cops are charged with a crime after unnecessarily killing someone, it’s close to impossible for them to be convicted. Of course, even beyond the basic pre-conditioning of society of the provably false notions that the police are always right and never lie, the deck is always stacked in their favor during these show trials.

A judge controls what evidence can be presented to the jury and what will instead be excluded because it is “inflammatory” or prejudicial. Meanwhile, the onus of presenting that evidence falls to the prosecutor’s office, who work with the police on a daily basis and are dependent on maintaining good relations with them for every other case they pursue. Most trials against police officers are as much a forfeit as they are a loss.

Not only that but the bar is set incredibly low for police officers, even when they kill people that were clearly innocent. All they have to do is wear their Magic Uniform (sometimes they don’t even have to do that) and use those Magic Words, “I feared for my life.” That fear doesn’t have to be justified or even in any way rational. A cop simply has to state that they were afraid and it’s up to the prosecution to somehow prove that this heroic, fearless defender of the public was not in fact afraid for no good reason.

Plus, the media always does their part for the home team helping to glorify the heroic cop and demonizing the victim. Regardless of the circumstances or what you can see with your lying eyes on a video it’s always portrayed as a “tragic mistake” or that victim’s fault. Then they build up sympathy for the killer cops by telling you how much they have already suffered by losing their job and feeling really bad about what they did (oftentimes in spite of evidence to the contrary).

Of course, anyone else charged with a crime generally also ends ups being fired and rarely has the unwavering support of a police union to cushion that blow. yet, nobody says they should just walk free based on that “hardship.” Not to mention the deadly consequences of those officers’ actions inflicted upon those they kill and their families afterwards.

I’ve warned cops and their cult of followers in the past, and in spite of the fact I know there’s pretty much zero chance they will listen, I’ll warn them again: accountability is something you should be seeking for your own sake, as well as for the sake of common decency and there are consequences when you actively work to prevent it.

No justice, no peace” isn’t always just a catchy little slogan to be chanted.

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LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera Only Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter For Murder of Tashii Brown

On Monday June 5, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo announced during a press conference that Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer Kenneth Lopera would be charged with involuntary manslaughter for the murder of Tashii Brown (also identified as Tashii Farmer in initial news reports). Along with that charge, he has also been charged with “oppression under color of office.” Both of those charges are low level felonies, carrying just one to four years of potential jail time. (See the first video embedded below for footage of the press conference.)

As has been previously noted here, Tashii was choked to death on May 14th at The Venetian Hotel and Casino, which is located on the Las Vegas Strip after askeing Lopera and another officer for help, stating that he thought someone was chasing him. Instead of providing that help they began treating him as if they were going to arrest him, making him more afraid and leading to him attempting to run away.

Ofc. Lopera chased him into the Venetian’s parking garage, tased him seven times, assaulted him repeatedly, and then used an illegal rear naked choke hold to kill him. In spite of the fact that Tashii Brown had not committed any crime or been suspected of doing so and was not attempting to attack anyone (including the police officers present) physically and was only trying to get away, he was violently attacked and eventually choked to death. (See body camera videos embedded below.)

Lopera could have actually helped Brown instead of treating him like someone that needed to be arrested, thus likely avoiding the entire confrontation. Also, at the time that he began choking him, Brown was already being held down my at least two security guards working for the Venetian. So there was no reason whatsoever for Lopera to commit the murderous act that he did that night or even any of the abusive acts that preceded it. In addition, even after being told several times (at least) by other officers to release Brown, Lopera continued choking him for over a full minute.

What’s more, Metro spokesmen have even admitted that Brown had not committed any crime, was not suspected of a crime at the time, and in fact would not have been charged with any crime had he survived Lopera’s attack. That, of course, came during an earlier press conference in which LVMPD Undersheriff Kevin McMahill (who has a history of his own) smeared Brown’s name in Metro’s now very familiar strategy used to justify the violent behavior of their officers when they kill someone and went out of his way to refer to him as “the suspect.”

Much has been made in the media about this having been the first Las Vegas police officer to be charged with a crime after killing a citizen. And as much of an outrageous fact as that is, that certainly could be viewed as a very small step in the right direction. However, instead of being charged with the crime of murder, which he actually committed, Officer Kenneth Lopera has only charged with involuntary manslaughter, essentially saying that it was just an accident and carrying only a four year maximum sentence. The reality is that it wasn’t involuntary and it wasn’t manslaughter.

This amounts to a cover up designed to appease the public that they knew would be outraged by the typical routine whitewashing of police violence in Las Vegas. They charged him with the bare minimum possible to buy themselves a little time until everyone forgets and they can let him off on a sham trial after the district attorney throws the case. It was a preventable and very much intentional act by Ofc. Lopera. It wasn’t something that just happened or an accidental result.

It was murder.

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