Tag Archives: Louisiana

Henderson Police “Not Concerned About” Violent History of Newly Hired Deputy Police Chief Thedrick Andres

Newly hired Henderson NV Deputy Chief of Police Thedrick Andres shot Juan May during an off-duty incident while he was a sergeant at the Arlington Police Department in Texas

A photo taken earlier in the evening shows newly hired Henderson Deputy Police Chief Thedrick Andres and Juan May, the man Andres shot to death after a fight on a party bus.

In November, LaTesha Watson, formerly a deputy police chief with the Arlington (TX) Police Department was sworn in to replace Moers as the Henderson chief of police. Thedrick Andres, who served at the APD with Watson before retiring as a lieutenant, was subsequently hired to replace Long as Watson’s deputy police chief.

While there has been some unhappiness expressed over the department’s decision to pick candidates from out of state as replacements, Deputy Chief Andres’ work history would seem to be right on par with those working within Las Vegas area police departments. That history includes three incidents of violence, two of which involved the use of a firearm by Andres while he was off-duty, at the Arlington (TX) Police Department.

During what was described as a road rage incident, Andres pulled his gun on another driver after claiming that driver had threatened him with a hatchet. That “hatchet” that reportedly caused him to believe his life was in danger turned out to be a plastic ice scraper. Previously, while employed at the New Orleans Police Department, Andres was also accused of using excessive force in a citizen complaint.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

Party Bus Shooting

The most troubling incident from Andres’ past was his fatal shooting of a Marine veteran named Juan May in June of 2014. That incident began with a birthday party, which took place on a “party bus.” Although May and other relatives of his who were among the twenty people on that bus didn’t know Andres or that he was (at the time) a sergeant with the Arlington Police Department, the group picture above implies there was possibly some mutual friendships between them.

Juan May was murdered by Henderson Deputy Chief Thedrick Andres while he was a Sgt. at the Arlington Police Department

Juan May

According to descriptions, at some point someone (presumably May) jokingly suggested that Andres should dance on a stripper pole that was on the bus. That apparently offended Andres and led him to begin directing derogatory remarks at May and his relatives. This later escalated into a physical fight once they left the bus after Andres approached May and reignited the argument.

There are some differences in the details of what happened next among eyewitness statements. However, there are several common denominators among them. Everyone agrees that Andres is the one who approached May and began the final argument and that he had been drinking on the party bus. They also agree that Andres also hit Juan’s cousin, Patrick May, who was attempting to break up the fight.

The other point of agreement is that shortly after, when Juan May was walking back to his car, Andres began running to his own car. Witnesses state that “someone” yelled that he had a gun in his vehicle. Andres, in fact, retrieved that gun and killed May with it, later claiming he had fired in self-defense. Not surprisingly, he was eventually exonerated by a grand jury in spite of the retrieval of a weapon after a fight being pretty well established as an act of premeditation.

Police Chief Latesha Watson is Not Concerned

It shouldn’t be surprising that Chief Watson isn’t concerned about Andres’ past. Of course, she worked with him for years in Texas and obviously is the reason he was hired to be the second in command at the Henderson Police Department. In spite of the fact her statement that “if someone was found guilty of wrongdoing, then they wouldn’t have a job,” when applied to police officers is at best a technicality, it’s not something that should be unexpected.

The Henderson Police Department's newly hired Deputy Chief of Police, Thedrick Andres, and Chief of Police, LaTesha Watson

Thedrick Andres and LaTesha Watson

However, the lack of concern by the City of Henderson is something that should draw a few more raised eyebrows. After all, Watson and Andres were hired to replace two police executives who were forced to resign after sexual harassment claims were made against them and the Henderson City Council was caught covering that up by portraying it as a “mutual parting of ways.

In addition, Assistant City Manager Greg Blackburn, who previously resigned from a city government position in North Las Vegas after a sexual harassment scandal, is currently under investigation again for (you guessed it) sexual harassment in Henderson and Mayor Debra March has also just been sanctioned over ethics violations. (At this point, it takes a bit of searching to find someone in the Henderson city government that isn’t under some sort of investigation.)

When you consider all that, maybe you should look to hire someone who doesn’t already have a history that includes excessive force complaints and pulling guns on (or actually shooting) unarmed people while off-duty. Maybe that’s a good idea for the City of Henderson for PR reasons, if nothing else. You know, hire someone who is less likely to create yet another misconduct scandal.

Of course, Henderson is the city known for not prosecuting (and later promoting) a cop who was caught on video repeatedly kicking a man suffering from diabetic shock in the head, because “they train officers to do that in the police academy.”

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LA Supreme Court: It’s Reasonable to Believe “Give Me a Lawyer Dog” was Request for a Dog Who is a Lawyer

Lawyer Dog Louisiana Supreme Court Canine Attorney

Lawyer Dog should really ask Grumpy Judge to recuse herself. #JusSayin

Recently, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a ruling on a motion to suppress evidence against Warren Demesme, who is currently awaiting trial in New Orleans. By a 6-1 majority the court denied that motion, which maintained that statements Demesme had made should be thrown because the police had ignored his request for legal counsel during interrogations.

What’s gotten a lot of attention (and rightfully so) since that ruling is the courts’ contention that Demesme’s request was ambiguous and unclear. But even more so for the reasoning behind the ruling. Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Kyle Daly argued in his response to the motion that Demesme’s statement, “just give me a lawyer dog,” could be misinterpreted by a “reasonable officer” based on the use of the words “lawyer dog.”

In a brief accompanying the decision, Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton agreed that the defendant’s use of “lawyer dog” could be misconstrued to mean something else and therefore did not qualify as a request for counsel.

Via the Washington Post:

Warren Demesme, then 22, was being interrogated by New Orleans police in October 2015 after two young girls claimed he had sexually assaulted them. It was the second time he’d been brought in, and he was getting a little frustrated, court records show. He had repeatedly denied the crime. Finally, Demesme told the detectives:

“This is how I feel, if y’all think I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog ’cause this is not what’s up.” The punctuation, arguably critical to Demesme’s use of the sobriquet “dog,” was provided by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office in a brief, and then adopted by Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton.

Demesme subsequently made admissions to the crime, prosecutors said, and was charged with aggravated rape and indecent behavior with a juvenile. He is being held in the Orleans Parish jail awaiting trial.

The public defender for Orleans Parish, Derwyn D. Bunton, took on Demesme’s case and filed a motion to suppress Demesme’s statement. In a court brief, Bunton noted that police are legally bound to stop questioning anyone who asks for a lawyer. “Under increased interrogation pressure,” Bunton wrote, “Mr. Demesme invokes his right to an attorney, stating with emotion and frustration, ‘Just give me a lawyer.’” The police did not stop their questioning, Bunton argued, “when Mr. Demesme unequivocally and unambiguously asserted his right to counsel.”

Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton

Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton

Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Kyle Daly responded in his brief that Demesme’s “reference to a lawyer did not constitute an unambiguous invocation of his right to counsel, because the defendant communicated that whether he actually wanted a lawyer was dependent on the subjective beliefs of the officers.” Daly added, “A reasonable officer under the circumstances would have understood, as [the detectives] did, that the defendant only might be invoking his right to counsel.”

Bunton’s motion to throw out Demesme’s statement was rejected by the trial court and the appeals court, so he took it to the state Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in a ruling issued last Friday and first reported by Reason, could have denied the appeal without issuing a written ruling, which it does in most cases. But Justice Crichton decided to write a brief concurrence “to spotlight the very important constitutional issue regarding the invocation of counsel during a law enforcement interview.”

Crichton noted that Louisiana case law has ruled that “if a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal . . . the cessation of questioning is not required.” Crichton then concluded: “In my view, the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a ‘lawyer dog’ does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview.”

So…

There’s a lot of things wrong with that decision. The most obvious issue is that they didn’t actually provide him with a dog who is a lawyer, as they claim they thought he had requested. It’s probably not the wisest move to request a dog to represent you in court, but if he’s a good boy and graduated from an accredited law school, who am I to cast aspersions?

Of course, that’s kind of the biggest problem with the “logic” of this ruling. They couldn’t give him a “lawyer dog” because, outside of memes on the internets, it’s not an actual thing. At this point in history, not one single dog has ever managed to pass the bar exam. Not Lassie, not Rin Tin Tin, not Benji, not even Snoopy. Scooby Doo is way to high to even think about taking the SAT’s, let alone the LSAT’s, and don’t even get me started on Marmaduke.

If any dog could have pulled it off, it obviously would have been Brian Griffin, but he died tragically after eating chocolate out of the garbage years ago. So, he’s not available right now.

What it boils down to is, if somebody asks for legal council, as is their constitutional right under the Sixth Amendment, you shouldn’t just be able to pretend you didn’t understand them because they used some (not uncommon) slang. In fact, if for some reason they ask for a “lawyer dog,” but there aren’t any available (or willing to work pro bone-o), then you give them a lawyer human instead.

It’s hard to have a lot of faith in the U.S. Injustice System, especially after rulings like this (not to mention all the coerced confessions and false convictions they allow for). However, you would hope that some sense of common decency and shame would compel the next appeals court this goes in front of to render a proper ruling on this nonsense.

I have a suspicion this might be a big part of the reason why the State of Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.

Update: First of Two Louisiana Cops Charged in Murder of Six Year Old Jeremy Mardis Sentenced to 40 Years

Marksville, LA. Police Officer Derrick Stafford was sentenced earlier today to 40 years in prison for the November 2015 murder of six year old Jeremy Mardis. Last week Stafford was convicted of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter for the shooting of Mardis and his father, Christopher Few, who was badly wounded but survived. (See below for videos of the actual shooting.) Technically, Stafford was sentenced to 55 years, but the fifteen years he received for attempting to kill Few will run concurrent to the 40 year sentence.

As has been reported several times already on the CopBlock Network (primarily by Brian Sumner and also by me personally), Mardis was killed by Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. after a short car chase. Stafford and Greenhouse, who were working as Deputy Marksville City Marshals at the time, claimed that they had to defend themselves after Christopher Few had backed into Greenhouse’s vehicle.

However, body camera video showed that not only had Few, who was unarmed, stopped prior to the shooting, but that he had also raised his arms outside the window of his SUV. Other officers at the scene, including Marksville Police Lt. Kenneth Parnell, whose body camera recorded the video, did not fire their weapons and also testified that they did not do so because they did not “fear for their lives.” That “extremely disturbing” footage was later cited by Colonel Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police as one of the reasons why charges were filed against Greenhouse and Stafford.

After the shooting it was revealed that Few and Greenhouse were involved in a “love triangle” involving Few’s fiancee, Megan Dixon. Prior to the shooting there had reportedly been several prior confrontations between the two. Also, just prior to the beginning of the chase that culminated in the shooting, Few had been arguing with Dixon and attempting to convince her to come home with him.

Stafford and Greenhouse were both moonlighting as Deputy Marksville City Marshals at the time. In addition to that, Stafford worked full time as a Lieutenant with the Marksville Police Department. Greenhouse, whose trial will begin later this year, previously resigned from the Marksville PD and was working full time as an Alexandria City Marshal.

Full Body Camera Video

Louisiana Deputy Accused of Using Taser on His Fiancee During Domestic Violence Incident

A deputy with the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office appeared in court last week. In September, Deputy Victor Cass Butler was accused of using his department issued taser on his fiancee during a domestic dispute in Vidalia, Louisiana, where he lives. According to court files, the data saved on Butler’s stun gun shows that it was used “several times” that day.

Via the Natchez Democrat:

“From what I understand, it was a confrontation (at his residence),” [Vidalia Police Chief Joey] Merrill said.

Sources close to the investigation said Butler allegedly used the stun gun multiple times.

Merrill declined to give more details about the incident or how many times Butler reportedly used the stun gun on the victim, citing the ongoing investigation.

Following the incident, the victim was treated and released at a local hospital, Merrill said.

The stun gun allegedly used in the incident was sent to Alexandria to be evaluated, Merrill said. The stun gun has a computer system, Merrill said, that records the date and time of when the weapon was fired and how many times it was fired.

More information will be made public when VPD is able to get the records of the weapon’s use, Merrill said.

“This was an unfortunate event for both parties involved,” Merrill said. “We at Vidalia Police Department are going to investigate this case fully and make sure justice is served. We, as neighboring law-enforcement agencies, are going to move forward and get past this unfortunate event.”

In spite of how unfortunate this was for both of them, the fiancee who was tasered multiple times was apparently the only one that had to be treated at the hospital afterwards.

Also, although he was originally charged with aggravated battery, Deputy Butler, who had only recently been rehired by the CPSO and has since resigned from the sheriff’s department, has already had the charged reduced to just simple battery. He pled not guilty to that during his latest court appearance and is due back in court in April. By that time, a deal involving a fine and some community service should be ready for him to accept and get right back to work tasing people out on the streets.

If You Really Want to Eliminate Crime, Start By Abolishing The Police

This post was written by and originally published at the Libertarian Institute under the title “Want Crime to Go Down? Abolish the Local Police.” Posts and other content you think are worth sharing with the CopBlock Network can be sent in to us via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. Some tips to make it more likely that your submission will get posted to the CopBlock Network can be found here.

(Note: This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made. Some links may have been added within the text and images have been added. In addition, the conclusions expressed within this initial introductory summary represent my own interpretation of what is being stated within Grigg’s writings.)

In the post below, Will Grigg discusses the unnecessary, redundant and wasteful local police departments in tiny towns throughout the country. Examples such as the recent resignation of the entire police force in Bunker Hill, Indiana show that these departments serve no real purpose in relation to protecting those communities from the very few real crimes committed there. And as the ill-fated “police strike” that the NYPD engaged in when people failed to bow and scrape properly to their local Heroes showed, it’s not just limited to small, rural communities, either. In fact, Louisiana’s Evangeline Parish, whose sheriff successfully petitioned to limit their police force’s “service” to revenue generation, illustrates what the real intentions (and historical origins) of the police are.

Want Crime to Go Down? Abolish the Local Police

Bunker Hill, Indiana, is a village of 900 people. It has not been consumed by the maelstrom of criminal violence that – we are told – would descend on any community even briefly deprived of the divine protection offered by a police department. The village obviously didn’t need the department it had until December 12, when the Town Marshal and his four reserve deputies walked off the job to protest decisions by the town board.

“We have had issues with the town board, and there are some activities there where I felt like they were serving their own agenda,” former Marshal Michael Thomison explained. Most of his complaints had to do with proposed budget cut-backs, and a refusal on the part of the council to purchase body armor for all five members of the department.

“I did not want to send someone out there with bad body armor,” grouses Thomison. “I told them we have to provide this…. They were just not receptive to having a police department.”

It’s just no fun to play dress-up and swagger around the village unless the kids get the full costume and all of the accessories. The historical resonance of the village’s name notwithstanding, Thomison and his buddies were not under siege by heavily armed adversaries, nor was there any realistic expectation that they ever would be.

Crime is practically non-existent in Bunker Hill – the most recent report lists one violent and ten property crimes – and the village is fifteen minutes away from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office in the county seat of Peru (a deranged cartographer was apparently responsible for assigning city and county names). It’s therefore reasonable to consider the police department as an unnecessary expense, and a potential source of avoidable trouble. That latter consideration, ironically, was underscored by the disgruntled officers themselves, who have accused town councilors of asking them to conduct unlawful background checks on each other.  The municipal officials stoutly deny ever making such requests.

What is the purpose of inflicting a police department on a minuscule settlement where crimes against persons and property are practically unknown? The obvious answer is that while such towns might be welcome havens from private criminal violence, there can be no sanctuary from revenue collection – and this is the core function of government law enforcement agencies, as Sheriff Eddie Soileau of Louisiana’s Evangeline Parish has recently reminded us.

Soileau’s office is dealing with budget cuts, layoffs, and a Justice Department civil rights investigation, and is thus determined to pare operations down to the basics. To that end, he asked for, and received, an advisory opinion from the state’s Attorney General regarding the following question: Can he legally operate “without having law enforcement duties,” and simply carrying out the role of a tax collector?

The Louisiana State Constitution, replied the Attorney General’s office, specifies that he is to be “the collector of state and parish ad valorem taxes and such other taxes and license fees as provided by law.” Where law enforcement is concerned, the sheriff’s duties are a matter of discretion. He is required to “keep the peace and make arrests,” but is not required to appoint a specific number of deputies to carry out that function. “Should a sheriff choose not to appoint deputies to assist in his law enforcement role, we could cite no statute that would forbid such a choice,” concluded the AG’s opinion.

Odd as this might seem to people who were suckled on resilient myths about sheriffs and police officers as valiant defenders of the public and protectors of private property, Sheriff Soileau’s arrangement actually restores his office to its primordial purpose.

Following the Norman conquest of England, the existing kinship-based system for defense of property and settlement of disputes was supplanted by a feudal order enforced through royal appointees called shire-reeves or shire-riffs – antecedents of the modern sheriff. Their duty was to maintain the “king’s peace” by collecting taxes and preventing private efforts at restitution for injuries. It was impermissible for subjects to settle disputes among themselves, since this would deprive the royal treasury of the fees imposed through the embryonic state’s “justice” system.

This is the disreputable origin of the venerable office of the local sheriff, the only lawman whose occupation is even remotely compatible with the American constitutional tradition. A spare handful of contemporary sheriffs, at most, see their role as protecting property rights, rather than serving the privileged elite that preys on the public, and they can expect to be harassed and driven from office.

Everything the State says is a lie, everything it claims to own it has stolen, and every act undertaken to enforce the State’s edicts is a crime. The disappearance of a law enforcement agency enhances the personal security of those residing in any community where such a blessed development occurs.

Three New Orleans Police Officers Caught Selling Untaxed Cigarettes; Not Choked to Death

Late last month, six people including three New Orleans police officers, were indicted as part of an illegal tobacco smuggling ring. The scheme, which lasted just about one year, involved smuggling cigarettes and cigars across state lines in order to avoid paying federal and state taxes.

Officers Justin Brown and Joshua Carthon, of the New Orleans Police Department and Deputy Garrett Partman, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, are accused of accepting bribes in exchanging for transporting the products across state lines and providing protection during the trips.

Via TheAdvocate.com:

Federal prosecutors say the conspiracy began in September 2015, when two Gretna men, Jadallah Saed, 30, and Anwar “Tony” Abdelmajid-Ahmad, 29, started buying thousands of cartons of cigarettes considered by the authorities to be contraband because they had no state tax stamps on their packaging.

Authorities said the racket involved at least 15,000 cartons of cigarettes. It was unclear where they obtained the cigarettes.

Beginning in January, the indictment says, the two police officers, joined by Abdelmajid-Ahmad, would transport the cigarettes to another co-defendant in North Carolina, Atalla Atalla, a 38-year-old Wilmington man known as “Tommy.” The officers made their second trip in March but were joined this time by Partman, the indictment alleges.

The defendants face a host of charges, including conspiring to traffic contraband cigarettes, evading federal excise tax and interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises.

Partman, 31, resigned from the Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, said Philip Stelly, an agency spokesman. Stelly said Partman was hired in January 2010, but it was not clear whether he had been assigned to the city’s jail or the Sheriff’s Office’s civil division.

Meanwhile, the two officers, Brown and Carthon, were placed on emergency suspension without pay this week, officials said. Brown, 29, has been with the New Orleans Police Department for four years and most recently was assigned to the Special Operations Division.

Carthon, 32, is a seven-year veteran and most recently served in the 7th District, which covers New Orleans East. He previously was suspended for 25 days following an April 2014 drunk-driving incident in which he crashed his pickup while driving with a blood-alcohol content of .131. He also was involved in a fatal officer-involved shooting following an armed robbery last year, which the authorities deemed to be justified.

I’d say I was surprised by that last paragraph, but it’s getting hard to find a report of a cop who was (finally) busted that already didn’t have a long list of previous misconduct and very mild slaps on the wrist. One thing I did find just a bit odd was that, unlike Eric Garner in New York, the cops in New Orleans weren’t forced to choke any of these guys to death for selling untaxed cigarettes.

Even the “Tyrannical, Communist Dictatorship” of China Agrees Citizens Should Film the Police




Over the years, the government of China has received much criticism for its treatment of citizens and rightfully so. Although, their prisons aren’t quite filled to the level of the United States’ prison industry (or even the state of Louisana for that matter), China’s own prisoner and human rights abuses are pretty well documented since the establishment of state communism within the country shortly after the Second World War.

However, China is apparently getting ready to overtake the United States in yet another measure of freedom for its citizens. Following a well publicized and extremely controversial fatal case of police brutality within their own country last year, the Chinese federal government has announced new reforms that center around encouragement for citizens to film the police in order to deter them from committing abuses.

Via teleSURtv.net (based in Latin America):

In a surreal twist in efforts by U.S. law enforcement to evade filming, high-ranking Chinese government officials rolled out new protocols Monday not only confirming citizens right to videotape police making arrests, but encouraging it as a safeguard against police abuse.

According to the state broadcaster, CCTV, the Ministry of Public Security states: “Police should accept public monitoring and get used to implementing the law in front of cameras if members of the public record the actions without hindering law enforcement.”




The decision delivers on promises made by Chinese President Xi Jinping to address the excessive use of force by police. Many in China were outraged by the killing last year of Lei Yang by police back in May. Yang suffered fatal injuries by plainclothes officers for allegedly soliciting sex workers in the district of Changping.

“Reforming the way the police operate forces the traditional system to improve,” said Zhang Chao, an associate professor at the Henan Police Academy.

Under the new protocols, police must carry ID on them at all times, while plainclothes officers have to present their identification when approaching civilians.

While there is no law in China explicitly forbidding citizens from filming law enforcement, individual police officers have in the past prevented people from doing so.

It may not be long before that “at least we’re better than China’s abusive police state” refrain from police apologists no longer applies.

After Recent Shootings of Police, Cops Prepare to Double Down on the Police State

Police State Militarization Cop Block

The following post was originally published at TheAntiMedia.org under the original title “Here Are the New Tactics Police Are Preparing to Roll out in Your Communityand was written by Darius Shahtahmasebi.

In the post, Shahtahmasebi discusses how the police plan to respond to the recent shootings of police by citizens in several cities (this was written prior to the incident in San Diego) across the country. Not surprisingly, instead of stepping back and saying, “maybe all those times we unnecessarily shot people and/or refused to hold each other accountable for it or even essentially celebrated it had something to do with this” police nationwide are preparing to become even more militarized and violent toward the citizens they claim to protect and serve.

Here Are the New Tactics Police Are Preparing to Roll out in Your Community

Following the recent events in the United States, which have resulted in armed civilians taking on police officers—namely in DallasBaton Rouge, and most recently in Kansas City, Kansas —  police forces across the country are set to adjust their strategies and tactics.

An interesting detail to note is that on July 11, 2016 — following the first deadly attacks on police officers that occurred in Dallas — Reuters reported police were set to rethink their tactics in nearly half of America’s 30 largest cities. They evidently didn’t act swiftly enough (a number of deadly attacks followed shortly after). It’s either that or the suggested police tactics were never going to address the root causes of the problem we are facing.

So what kind of changes can we expect to see?

The most prominent change to occur is the pairing up of police officers. However, some more drastic suggestions are also in the pipeline. For example, the Indianapolis police force has said it will consider the use of robots to “deliberately deliver lethal force.” Denver’s police union has called for officers to be able to wear riot gear for local protests, and to be armed with AR-15 assault rifles while on patrol at the Denver International Airport.

In the wake of the Baton Rouge shooting, other changes likely to occur include: requiring that two cars respond to all calls, shifting officers to serve as extra backup, imposing increased security and surveillance, increasing the number of helicopter patrols, and suspending solo patrols.

It seems as if the police are considering all options — anything, that is, but refraining from summarily executing unarmed civilians in broad daylight. At the very least, they could start by prosecuting those responsible for such incidents. Apparently, however, that is too much to ask of those who are sworn to protect and serve.

America’s current president, elected on promises of hope and change, has told police officers across the country that “we have your back.” This is noteworthy because to date, there has been no concrete effort on the part of the president to address the underlying issues that have resulted in the uprising starting to unfold. To date, he has insisted on ploys that are nothing but politically acceptable attempts at pleasing all parties involved. I would go so far as to argue Donald Trump’s racist tirades do more for minority groups — by empowering and uniting them against his demagoguery — than Barack Obama has done his whole time in office, which has reflected his unwillingness to actually represent them on issues that grossly affect them.

The saddest part about this ongoing issue is that the tactics as suggested by satirical newspaper, The Onion, are more honest than any conversation our police departments or politicians are having about police brutality in the United States.

In particular, the outlet suggested the ability to ensure this can all legally be thrown out the window if a cop feels threatened” is something police forces across the country are so apt at implementing, The Onion need not have mentioned it all together.

Former Chicago Bears Superbowl QB Jim McMahon Urges NFL Allow Medical Marijuana For Players

Jim McMahon Medical Marijuana NFL

Jim McMahon, the Superbowl XX winning quarterback from the 1985 Chicago Bears, a team which is often considered one of the best all-time teams and arguably the best defense in the history of the NFL, has joined the long list of people advocating for the medical use of marijuana.

Currently, McMahon is battling symptoms attributed to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), such as early dementia, severe headaches, memory loss and depression, all of which have been attributed to the effects of multiple concussions and for obvious reasons are especially prevalent among people involved in contact sports.

Even in states in which medical marijuana has already been legalized, the National Football League prohibits its use among players. Anyone testing positive for marijuana use, regardless of local laws (even in Washington and Colorado, which both allow recreational use), are subject to punishments that increase with each instance.

McMahon made his statements advocating for marijuana as an alternative to opiates for pain management while appearing as part of a panel discussion by retired NFL players at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo. The panel was held at Manhattan’s Javits Convention Center.

Via the Sporting News:

The panel, according to the New York Daily News, was moderated by former Giants defensive lineman Leonard Marshall and included former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, former Broncos tight end Nate Jackson, former Broncos wide receiver Charlie Adams and former Jaguars offensive tackle Eben Britton.

McMahon, who is dealing with early dementia, severe headaches, memory loss and depression — all symptoms associated with too many concussions — believes he would be healthier now if he was allowed to use marijuana instead of pills during his playing career. Marijuana is an effective pain killer and less harmful than opiods, McMahon said.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are dying from [painkillers] and there’s not one case of people dying from the hemp plant,” McMahon said.

Britton added, “Juxtaposing my experiences with pharmaceutical drugs like Vicodin and Percocet, that made me angry and irritable, frustrated, didn’t get rid of any of the pain, made it difficult to sleep, increased my heart rate and made me feel crazy. On the other side of that there’s cannabis that helped me sleep, put me into a healing state of being where I was relieved from stress and anxiety as well as feeling the pain relief.”

Jackson, who appeared on an edition of HBO’s Real Sports that dealt with the same issue, added, “The owners of these teams are, by and large, wealthy men who are older and do not understand that this is a pretty innocuous substance.”

As is also mentioned in the Sporting News article, this offseason the Baltimore Ravens cut Eugene Monroe, a former first round pick who has campaigned publicly for the acceptance of medical marijuana in the NFL. Many people, including Monroe, have attributed that move to his strong advocacy for cannabis use, although the Ravens have denied that is the case.

Jim McMahon Superbowl XX MoonMcMahon, who was known as much for his flamboyant attitude and defiance of arbitrary or silly rules as he was for his play on the field, is no stranger to alternative medical practices or controversy. In one of the more famous photos from the build up to Superbowl XX, he mooned a helicopter while wearing a headband that said “ACUPUNCTURE” on it.

He later explained that he was just showing the media where he had received treatment for an injury he had received in a game the previous week. (The headband derived from an incident earlier in the season where he was fined $5,000 for having an Adidas label on his head band during a game and subsequently wore a headband with “ROZELLE” written on it in reference to the league commissioner, who had fined him.)

Jim McMahon Rozelle HeadbandIt’s silly and contradictory that the NFL approves the use of opiates and all kinds of other horrible pharmaceutical medications for players if they have a prescription (and sometimes without even having one), but prohibits the same medical rights for cannabis patients, even in locations where it can be legally prescribed by a doctor. In fact, it’s not at all unusual for players with lingering injuries to receive shots that numb the affected area in order to play during a game. Stories have even emerged of players receiving such shots in the locker room during a game in which they were injured.

So, it’s clearly not a case of the NFL being opposed to drug use in general or a concern for the safety or health of players. Their refusal to accept that playing in the NFL and improper care for concussions in the past increased the chances of players developing CTE alone is proof of that not being true.

The least they could do is give those players the option of using a safe and non-addictive option to treat the pain is inherent to the game. Being that there are different laws in the different cities which have NFL teams, there’s a small complication in the fact that some players would have access to legal medical marijuana while others wouldn’t because they state they live in still living in the dark ages.

However, in reality, all they would have to do is remove it from the list of drugs which they test for. Legally, they are not under any obligation to test for drugs, whether they are illegal or otherwise. Players certainly make enough money that they could set up residence during the offseason within the states that do allow its use for the next four or five years or so until it’s made legal not just for medical use, but for recreational use as well, nationwide. (That writings on the wall in big letters.)

2015 Was a Record Year For Exonerations of Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners

As originally reported by Mother Jones, a report from the University of Michigan Law School has declared that 2015 set a new record for the highest amount of people that have been freed after it was proven that they were wrongfully convicted. As detailed in the report, there were several reasons why innocent people ended up behind bars. that ranged from outright misconduct by prosecutors and police to those pressured into taking a plea bargain even though they were actually innocent.

Shockingly, there were actually 75 total cases in which no actual crime (even victimless ones) were even committed in the first place. Also, included within the 149 people released were five individuals awaiting the death penalty. Pointed out within the report is the fact that a combination of those two factors led to the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham in Texas, in spite of a wide range of evidence that the fire his three children died in was accidental and not a case of arson, for which he was convicted and subsequently killed.

It’s also worth noting that the vast majority of those wrongfully convicted resulted from the War On (Some) Drugs, many of which even if they had been valid would have involved non-violent victimless “crimes” in the first place.

Included below is the MotherJones.com article detailing the report and its conclusions:

Call it the Serial effect. According to a new report from the University of Michigan Law School’s National Registry of Exonerations, 2015 set a record for the number of wrongly convicted Americans who finally found justice. There were 149 people last year who were either declared innocent or otherwise cleared of the consequences of their convictions or guilty pleas. Many had served some lengthy prison time—the average exoneree had served nearly 15 years—for crimes they did not commit.

The data in the report paints a disturbing portrait of a criminal justice system riven with errors and official misconduct. Among the lowlights:

  • Innocent but pleaded guilty: An extraordinary number of the exonerations came in cases in which the defendants had pleaded guilty (65 out of 149), more than in any previous year since the registry started in 1989. These were mostly drug cases but also included eight homicides. Those who pleaded guilty to crimes they didn’t commit tended to be mentally ill, intellectually disabled, or under the threat of an even longer prison sentence should they try to go to trial.
  • No-crime crimes: Seventy-five exonerations came in cases where it turned out no crime had even been committed. A number of these were old murder cases involving arson. They brought to mind the sad story of Cameron Todd Willingham, whom Texas executed in 2004 for allegedly murdering his three children through arson, despite significant evidence that the forensic arson investigation that led to his conviction was mostly bogus. Those same sorts of bogus fire investigations played a role in five of six of the homicide cases that led to exonerations last year in cases where officials ruled that no crime had been committed. In those cases, the defendants were luckier than Willingham: The fires that led to their murder convictions were shown to be accidents, not arson, and their convictions were vacated.
  • False confessions: In 27 of the exonerations in 2015, including 22 homicide cases, the defendants confessed to crimes they hadn’t committed. Many of these people were juveniles, mentally ill, or intellectually disabled—precisely the folks currently overrepresented on death row.
  • Official misconduct: Prosecutors and cops don’t come out looking good in the new report. Official misconduct was a factor in 75 percent of the homicide exonerations, a number that’s even bigger in the cases where there were false confessions. Eighty-two percent of those were the product of misconduct by cops or prosecutors.
  • Death penalty errors: Five of the exonerees in 2015 were death row inmates, three of whom had been there more than 20 years—more evidence of serious flaws in the capital punishment system.

National Registry of Exonerations

The exonerations were clustered in jurisdictions where local prosecutors had made significant efforts to reform their practices to prevent wrongful convictions. The largest number came from Harris County, Texas, where a new assistant district attorney in the post-conviction review section discovered that a lot of the cases coming through her office involved defendants who’d pleaded guilty to a drug crime, only to have lab work come back months later showing that the stuff cops had seized from the defendants wasn’t actually a controlled substance.

Washington Post columnist Radley Balko has dug into this issue and found that Harris County isn’t the only place with the problem. The field tests cops use to test for drugs are notoriously unreliable, and they’ve mistaken everything from chocolate chip cookies to cheese and tortilla dough for drugs. Nonetheless, the false guilty pleas—usually made under pressure and the threat of even longer prison sentences from a jury trial—often aren’t thrown out when later testing finds an absence of drugs. In 2014, the Harris County district attorney’s office launched a Conviction Integrity Unit to try addressing such problems. The result is a startling number of drug crime exonerations just from that one office—73 of them so far.

Such units within prosecutors’ offices offer hope for reforms to the criminal justice system. But the new report suggests they have a mixed record that can depend largely on the drive of an individual prosecutor rather than systemic support. Harris County has shown lots of promise, as has a unit in Brooklyn, which has been responsible for the exoneration of 16 murder defendants in the past two years. A more discouraging example came in New Orleans, which launched a Conviction Integrity Unit during the district attorney’s reelection campaign, in partnership with the local Innocence Project. According to the report, the unit kicked off in January 2015, worked on a single exoneration, and gave it up a year later.

Media accounts and shows like Serial and Making a Murderer have raised awareness about the problems with the criminal justice system and the prevalence of wrongful convictions, but the report urges caution before declaring victory. “As with climate change, the significance of the issue of false convictions is now widely acknowledged, despite committed doubters,” the authors write. “In other respects, we are far behind. We have no measure of the magnitude of the problem, no general plan for how to address it, and certainly no general commitment to do so. We’ve made a start, but that’s all.”