Top 5 Live-WURD Monday June 8
1. Jury convicts female LA officer of assault in deadly arrest
Jurors on Friday convicted a female Los Angeles police officer of felony assault charges for repeatedly kicking a handcuffed woman who later died.
The jury of 11 women and one man reached its verdict after about two days of deliberations in the trial of Officer Mary O’Callaghan, 50. She pleaded not guilty to assaulting a civilian in the 2012 arrest of Alesia Thomas, 35.
O’Callaghan wiped her face, appearing to cry after the verdict was read.
Robert Rico, O’Callaghan’s attorney, said he plans to appeal.
“I firmly believe the evidence presented by the prosecution did not show her force was unreasonable or unnecessary,” he said, adding that he felt the jury’s verdict was “based on emotion” rather than legal standards.
Officers went to arrest Thomas at her home after she left her two children outside a police station.
2. Judge denies bid to dismiss charges against Bishop
A judge on Friday declined to dismiss bribery and other charges against State Rep. Louise Williams Bishop in a sting investigation after her lawyer argued that the case was too old and Bishop’s memory too weak.
Dauphin County Court Judge Scott Evans also turned down Bishop’s bid to have any potential trial held in Philadelphia, saying he had no authority to make that decision.
Evans did not rule on Bishop’s contention that prosecutors in the sting operation selected their targets based on race and that the entire case should be thrown out.
Bishop, 81, is among six current or former Democratic officials from Philadelphia charged with taking money from a lobbyist who sought political favors. Two former legislators have pleaded guilty, as has a former Traffic Court judge. A fourth is scheduled to appear in court today. All six are black.
3. Governor: 2 inmates must have taken days to pull off escape
Two murderers who used power tools to escape from prison must have taken days to cut through steel walls and pipes and break through the bricks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday as a $100,000 reward was posted for information leading to their capture.
Authorities were investigating how the inmates obtained the power tools they used in the “Shawshank Redemption”-style breakout over the weekend.
“It was a sophisticated plan,” Cuomo said. “It took a period of time, no doubt, to execute.”
David Sweat, 34, was serving a sentence of life without parole for the 2002 killing of a sheriff’s deputy. Richard Matt, 48, had been sentenced to 25 years to life for kidnapping, killing and dismembering his former boss in 1997.
“These are killers. They are murderers,” the governor said. “There’s never been a question about the crimes they committed. They are now on the loose, and our first order of business is apprehending them.”
4. Wolf’s first budget faces infighting in Harrisburg
“We’re coming to the point where we’re going to see just how good of a political figure Gov. Wolf is,” said Chris Borick, of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.
With the state facing a $1 billion budget shortfall, Wolf is pushing an ambitious spending plan that would bolster education spending while replacing the long-standing dependence on property taxes with increases in income and sales taxes.
“Gov. Wolf has three very simple priorities,” said Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan: “Funding schools with a reasonable severance tax [on natural gas drilling], eliminating the deficit, and reducing property taxes.”
Jennifer Kocher, spokeswoman for the Senate Republicans, said that Wolf’s proposed tax increases lack support in the chamber and that negotiations are necessary.
5. Texas officer suspended after pool party video shows him pulling gun on teens
A police officer in the Dallas suburb of McKinney is on administrative leave after a YouTube video showed a chaotic confrontation Friday between teenagers and police at a community pool in an upper-middle-class neighborhood.
The video opens as officers try to gain control of a group of teenagers at the pool. Several minutes into the video, an officer throws a teenage girl wearing a bikini to the ground and shoves her head down. Two teenage boys approach and the officer takes out his firearm and chases them away. He grabs the girl’s arm and simultaneously re-holsters his gun.
“On your face!” he orders and presses his hand to the back of her head and slams her face-first into the grass.
While other teens watch, the officer places both of his knees on her back.
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon