Top 5 Live-WURD Thursday March 26
1. Mayor announces oversight board to address police shootings
Mayor Nutter on Wednesday announced the creation of an independent oversight board to ensure that recommendations from a Justice Department report on Philadelphia police shootings are carried out.The board will report to Nutter and will be chaired by JoAnne Epps, dean of Temple University’s law school. The Justice Department report, released Monday, found “significant strife” between Philadelphia police officers and the communities they serve, and outlined 91 recommendations for reform.
“It is clear that changes need to be made with regard to lethal force and the use of force,” Nutter said.The DOJ report noted that between 2007 and 2014 police shot at suspects 390 times. Police department records show 96 of those suspects were killed.Recommendations included overhauling officer training programs, specifying directives on the use of deadly force and streamlining disciplinary systems.
2. Tollefson gets 2-4 years for fraud, theft
Former sportscaster Don Tollefson was sentenced to 2 to 4 years in a state prison and 15 years probation Wednesday for felony money laundering, fraud and theft. Tollefson could be released in 18 months if he avoids further trouble in prison. His probation could also be reduced to 10 years if he makes full restitution to the victims from whom he took money.That total amount of restitution Tollefson owes was reduced from $340,000 to $164,000, and he will be required to seek counseling.
Tollefson expressed remorse as he addressed the judge who sentenced him for his sports-ticket scam.Informed that his victims in the court did not want him to address them, Tollefson directed his remarks to Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Rea Boylan. He wore handcuffs while doing so.
“Every day for me is a day of humiliating reflection for what I did to people who didn’t deserve what I did,” said Tollefson, adding that when he completes his sentence he hoped to find a way to make restitution and to help young people with addictions.
3. Prosecutors: Both brothers fired shots that killed Officer Wilson
Law enforcement officials say both Carlton Hipps and Ramone Williams fired fatal shots in the murder of Officer Robert Wilson, and prosecutors are weighing whether to seek the death penalty in the case. A preliminary hearing for the two men, scheduled for Wednesday, was delayed at the prosecution’s request because the investigation is ongoing. Assistant District Attorney Brendan O’Malley said a daylong hearing is scheduled for May 20. Video from inside the GameStop store where Wilson was killed, plus testimony from a dozen witnesses will be presented, he said.
“Both individuals fired shots that killed Officer Wilson,” O’Malley said. “That absolutely will be proven.” On March 5, Wilson was inside the store at 21st Street and Lehigh as part of his regular patrol. While there, he wanted to purchase a video game for his son. Witnesses said the two defendants entered the store and began shooting when they saw the officer. Police officials hailed Wilson, who was 30, as a hero. An “in-depth investigation into the background” of Hipps and Williams has not been finished, Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo said. That could factor into the decision to pursue the death penalty.
4. Bowe Bergdahl, once-missing U.S. soldier, charged with desertion
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who was recovered in Afghanistan last spring after five years in captivity, has been charged with desertion and misbehaving before the enemy, setting the stage for emotionally charged court proceedings in coming months. Army officials said in a statement that Bergdahl’s case has been referred to an Article 32 preliminary hearing, which is frequently compared to a grand jury proceeding in civilian court. The hearing for Bergdahl, 28, will be held at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in Texas, where Bergdahl has served since shortly after his recovery on May 31, 2014.
Under the misbehavior-before-the-enemy charge, Bergdahl faces a maximum punishment of confinement for life, a dishonorable discharge, a reduction to private and total forfeiture of pay and allowances since the time of his disappearance, Army officials said. The desertion charge carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison, a dishonorable discharge, a reduction to private and a total forfeiture of pay and allowances.
5. Poll: Philadelphians more positive about the city
Philadelphians are more positive about the city’s outlook than any other time in the past six years, according to a poll from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Nearly a half – 48 percent – feel the city is on the right track while 33 percent have an opposite opinion. Pew said that was the highest positive rating it has seen since beginning the poll in 2009, when Philadelphians held the opposite view.
The poll also found that 67 percent expect the city to improve in the next five years. Eighteen percent expect it to get worse.
– Nearly half of Philadelphians have no opinion on selling Philadelphia Gas Works while those who have a viewpoint reject a sale by a 2-1 ratio.
– Residents support the city’s decision last year to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana by a 2-1 ratio.
– Fifty-five percent said they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence in the city’s police officers to treat blacks and whites equally; 42 percent said they had “just some” or “very little” confidence.
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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