Top 5 Live-WURD Wednesday April 15
1. Reward of $20K posted in hit-run death of boy, 4
After a young boy was killed and a mother and her child were seriously injured in separate hit-and-run incidents Monday night, Philadelphia police asked for the public’s help in identifying the drivers responsible.
And they highlighted rewards posted in each case – $20,000 in the death of the 4-year-old boy in Kingsessing, and $10,000 in the case of the 19-year-old mother and her 2-year-old son in Fairhill. Mother and child remained in critical condition Tuesday at Temple University Hospital, police said.
At a news conference, Capt. John Wilczynski of the Accident Investigation Unit asked witnesses to either of the crashes to come forward.
“We’re just hoping that someone out there can get us some information about either crash,” he said.
2. Obama to remove Cuba from state sponsor of terror list
President Barack Obama will remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, the White House announced Tuesday, a key step in his bid to normalize relations between the two countries.
The terror designation has been a stain on Cuba’s pride and a major stumbling block for efforts to mend ties between Washington and Havana.
In a message to Congress, Obama said the government of Cuba “has not provided any support for international terrorism” over the last six months. He also told lawmakers that Cuba “has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.”
Cuba will officially be removed from the terror list 45 days after the president’s message was sent to Congress. Lawmakers could vote to block the move during that window, though Obama would be all-but-certain to veto such a measure.
3. Prison time for some Atlanta school educators in cheating scandal
A sentencing hearing on Monday was the final legal chapter of one of the most massive school cheating scandals in the country.
Educators were convicted April 1 of racketeering and other crimes related to inflating test scores of children from struggling schools. One teacher was acquitted.
One by one, they stood, alongside their attorneys, before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter.
The judge previously said he planned to sentence the educators to prison. When verdicts were reached, he ordered them directly to jail.
But on Monday he changed his mind and decided to allow prosecutors to offer them deals that would have allowed them to avoid the possible 20-year sentence that racketeering carries.
4. Ex-drug officer says he stole cash, planted drugs many times
A disgraced ex-police officer testifying against his drug squad colleagues acknowledged Tuesday that he stole drug money, planted evidence and lied on police paperwork too many times to count.
Jeffrey Walker told jurors that the Philadelphia Police Department drug squad targeted white “college-boy … khaki-pants types” who were “easy to intimidate.”
The squad stole as much as $110,000 at a time during violent, no-warrant raids, according to some dealers’ testimony.
Lead defendant Thomas Liciardello always got a cut of the stolen money, Walker said. The city’s police brass often announced the squad’s work with news conferences to announce large seizures.
More than 160 drug convictions have been overturned since Walker pleaded guilty and the others were named in a 26-count indictment. Scores of civil-rights lawsuits are pending. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has voiced his disgust with the squad’s alleged crimes while continuing his effort to reform the 7,000-member department.
5. Chicago to make reparations to police torture victims
Chicago will pay $5.5 million and make other reparations to dozens of victims of police torture in the 1970s and 1980s under a city law that human rights lawyers said was the first of its kind, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Tuesday.
The city also will provide psychological counseling, job placement aid and other services to torture victims through a proposed ordinance that is expected to be passed by the City Council.
Chicago and Cook County already have paid about $100 million in settlements and verdicts for lawsuits related to disgraced former Chicago police Commander Jon Burge, who was fired in 1993 and later convicted of lying about police torture in testimony he gave in civil lawsuits.
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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