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Cleveland Ordered to Pay $6 Million to Family of Tamir Rice

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Cleveland Ordered to Pay $6 Million to Family of Tamir Rice
The city of Cleveland will pay $6 million to the family of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police in 2014, based on a settlement agreement that allows the city to avoid a high-profile federal civil rights trial.

Lawyers for Rice’s family said Monday that “no amount of money can adequately compensate” for the boy’s loss.

“In a situation like this, there’s no such thing as closure or justice,” attorneys Jonathan S. Abady and Earl S. Ward in a said statement, according to the New York Times“Nothing will bring Tamir back. His unnecessary and premature death leaves a gaping hole for those who knew and loved him that can never be filled.”

The agreement, which must still be approved by a probate court, was announced early Monday. The city of Cleveland – including officers and police dispatchers involved in the incident – does not admit any wrongdoing based on the terms of the settlement, according to reports.

Last year, a Cuyahoga County grand jury decided against indicting Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann, who fired at Rice on November 22, 2014, outside a city recreation center. A 911 call to police had reported a male holding a gun that was “probably fake.”This information was not passed on to police sent to the scene.

Rice had an Airsoft replica that lacked an orange safety feature that would have indicated it was not real. Loehmann shot at Rice almost immediately after exiting his squad car, claiming Rice had reached for his waistband. Rice, shot once in the torso, was not offered first aid by the officers and died the following day.

The settlement, revealed in a court filing from US District Judge Dan Polster, calls for a total of $5.5 million to go to Tamir Rice’s estate, with Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, and sister, Tajai Rice, to receive $250,000 each.

Tajai Rice, 15, was with Tamir at the Cudell Recreation Center the day her brother was killed. Surveillance footage of the shooting shows her running to be near her brother once he was shot. Officer Frank Garmback, Loehmann’s partner, stopped her and forced her to the ground. The officers handcuffed her and put her in the back of their squad car as her brother lay dying mere feet away.

The city will pay $3 million this year and $3 million in 2017. The Rice family agreed in March to enter settlement talks with Cleveland. The city of Cleveland has not commented on the settlement, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty has come under much scrutiny for his handling of Rice’s killing. Prior to the grand jury proceedings, McGinty hired two police use-of-force experts to write reports on Rice’s killing. Both reports found police acted reasonably during the encounter. McGinty’s office also asked several experts to officially comment on the legality of the shooting; they all said the officer used justifiable force in shooting Rice.

The Rice family has accused McGinty of soliciting expert reports to “make opinion early to soften the blow” ahead of a grand jury decision exonerating the officers involved, while McGinty has openly questioned the motives of the Rice family’s attorneys.

Two independent experts have countered, saying the shooting was unjustified. “The officers engaged in reckless tactical decision making, they unreasonably placed themselves in harm’s way, and Officer Loehmann’s use of deadly force was excessive, objectively unreasonable and inconsistent with generally accepted police practices,” wrote Jeffrey J. Noble, a former deputy police chief in Irvine, California.

In late December 2015, following a recommendation from Prosecutor McGinty, a grand jury decided against indicting Loehmann, saying the officer had a “mistaken, yet reasonable belief” he would be shot when Rice pulled the replica gun from his waistband.

Upon the decision, McGinty called the shooting a “perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications” but said that the evidence did not point to criminal misconduct by police.

Rice’s death came only two days after a grand jury in St. Louis County decided not to indict Darren Wilson, a former officer with the Ferguson Police Department in Missouri, over an August 2014 incident in which Wilson fatally shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. The fatal police shootings of both Rice and Brown, as well as many other people of color in the US, have triggered mass demonstrations against racial profiling, police brutality, police impunity, and the overall police-court-prison system in America.

The US Department of Justice is reviewing Rice’s shooting to surmise whether officers committed federal civil rights violations. Yet, to prove such violations occurred is not easy. To successfully bring federal civil rights charges, a US prosecutor must prove an officer was not negligent or reckless but that he or she “willfully” deprived someone of their rights.

A March analysis by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found that, from 1995 to 2015, federal prosecutors chose not to levy charges against US law enforcement officers alleged to have committed civil rights violations in 96 percent of relevant cases.

The settlement comes as the latest in a string of agreements between major US police departments and loved ones of fatally shot individuals killed by police in efforts to avoid a public court case following a wrongful-death lawsuit.

Last year, Baltimore agreed to pay $6.4 million to the family of Freddie Gray, who died inside a police van. In July, the family of Eric Garner, who died after he was put in a chokehold by New York City police for selling individual cigarettes on the street, was paid $5.9 million. The family of Walter Scott, fatally shot in the back by a South Carolina officer amid a traffic stop, settled with North Charleston for $6.5 million in October.

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Three Disney World Employees Among 17 Arrested in Florida Child Sex Sting

Three Disney World employees were among the 17 people arrested in a child sex sting operation in Florida, law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday.

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Three Disney World Employees Among 17 Arrested in Florida Child Sex Sting

Three Disney World employees were among the 17 people arrested in a child sex sting operation in Florida, law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday.

In the operation, dubbed “Operation Child Protector,” undercover officers posed as 13- and 14-year-old children on social media and online dating apps between July 27 and Aug. 1.

The undercovers made contact with each of the suspects before proposing they meet at a location in Polk County, where they were busted.

In total, the arrests led to 49 felony and two misdemeanor charges. Those arrested were aged 26 to 47. All were from Central Florida except for one 33-year-old man from California.

“What you see on this board … are deviants. Incredible deviants,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference on Tuesday, motioning to photos of the alleged pervs. “They travel from as far away as Clewiston, Florida. One even came from Los Angeles.”

“Much to their chagrin, instead of meeting with young children, they were met by law enforcement officers who were online undercover posing as children.”

Kenneth Javier Aquino, 26, a lifeguard at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World, was arrested while still wearing his Disney polo shirt and swimsuit, according to the sheriff’s office.

Aquino engaged in an online conversation on social media with an officer, posing as a 13-year-old girl, authorities said. He then asked the “girl” to send photos, and sent her an explicit video of himself, police said.

Aquino told officers he is a Navy veteran and has a pregnant girlfriend.

Jonathan McGrew, a 34-year-old custodian at Disney World, was nabbed by an undercover officer posing as a 13-year-old girl.

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McGrew allegedly told the “girl” that he wanted her to come over and have sex with him and his girlfriend, 29-year-old Savannah Lawrence, who also works as a custodian at tourist mecca.

McGrew sent her explicit videos of him and Lawrence performing sexual acts on each other, authorities said.

A rep for Disney World didn’t immediately return a message.

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China Reports First Human Death from Monkey B Virus

China has reported the first human infection and death in the country caused by a rare infectious disease found in primates known as the Monkey B virus.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a 53-year-old veterinary surgeon who worked in a research institute specializing in nonhuman primate breeding in Beijing dissected two monkeys in March and became ill about a month later.

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China Reports First Human Death from Monkey B Virus

China has reported the first human infection and death in the country caused by a rare infectious disease found in primates known as the Monkey B virus.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a 53-year-old veterinary surgeon who worked in a research institute specializing in nonhuman primate breeding in Beijing dissected two monkeys in March and became ill about a month later.

He began experiencing nausea, vomiting, fever and neurological issues, and died in May.

Blood and saliva samples were tested and researchers in April found evidence of the Monkey B virus, also known as the herpes B virus.

Researchers said a male doctor and female nurse who were in close contact with the victim tested negative for the virus.

The Monkey B virus is prevalent among macaque monkeys but infection among humans is extremely rare. Since the virus was identified in 1932, just 50 cases have been reported, with the majority of those in North America. Untreated B virus infections in humans are serious, however, with a fatality rate of about 80 percent.

Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, and progress to more serious complications such as swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

Laboratory workers and veterinarians in close contact with the animals are most at risk as people typically get infected with the virus if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque, or have contact with the monkey’s eyes, nose or mouth.

But the virus is unlikely to mutate in a way that poses a problem to the general population. Just one case of human-to-human transmission of the virus has ever been documented.

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U.S. Remembers 9/11 Terrorist Attacks as The Pandemic Changes Tribute Traditions

Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign, drawing both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to pay respects at the same memorial without crossing paths.

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U.S. Remembers 9/11 Terrorist Attacks as The Pandemic Changes Tribute Traditions

Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign, drawing both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to pay respects at the same memorial without crossing paths.

In New York, a dispute over coronavirus-safety precautions is leading to split-screen remembrances Friday, one at the Sept. 11 memorial plaza at the World Trade Center and another on a nearby corner. The Pentagon’s observance will be so restricted that not even victims’ families can attend, though small groups can visit the memorial there later in the day.

Trump and Biden are both headed — at different times — to the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Trump is speaking at the morning ceremony, the White House said. Biden plans to pay respects there in the afternoon after attending the observance at the 9/11 memorial in New York.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is also due at ground zero — and then at the alternate ceremony a few blocks away.

In short, the anniversary of 9/11 is a complicated occasion in a maelstrom of a year, as the U.S. grapples with a health crisis, searches its soul over racial injustice and prepares to choose a leader to chart a path forward.

Still, 9/11 families say it’s important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the trade center, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001, shaping American policy, perceptions of safety and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.

“I know that the heart of America beats on 9/11 and, of course, thinks about that tragic day. I don’t think that people forget,” says Anthoula Katsimatides, who lost her brother John and is now on the board of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum.

Friday will mark Trump’s second time observing the 9/11 anniversary at the Flight 93 memorial, where he made remarks in 2018. Biden spoke at the memorial’s dedication in 2011, when he was vice president.

The ground zero ceremony in New York has a longstanding custom of not allowing politicians to speak, though they can attend. Biden did so as vice president in 2010, and Trump as a candidate in 2016.

Though the candidates will be focused on the commemorations, the political significance of their focus on Shanksville is hard to ignore: Pennsylvania is a must-win state for both. Trump won it by less than a percentage point in 2016.

Around the country, some communities have canceled 9/11 commemorations because of the pandemic, while others are going ahead, sometimes with modifications.

The New York memorial is changing one of its ceremony’s central traditions: having relatives read the names of the dead, often adding poignant tributes.

Thousands of family members are still invited. But they’ll hear a recording of the names from speakers spread around the vast plaza, a plan that memorial leaders felt would avoid close contact at a stage but still allow families to remember their loved ones at the place where they died.

But some victims’ relatives felt the change robbed the observance of its emotional impact. A different 9/11-related group, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, set up its own, simultaneous ceremony a few blocks away, saying there’s no reason that people can’t recite names while keeping a safe distance.

The two organizations also tussled over the Tribute in Light, a pair of powerful beams that shine into the night sky near the trade center and evoke its fallen twin towers. The 9/11 memorial initially canceled the display, citing virus-safety concerns for the installation crew. After the Tunnel to Towers Foundation vowed to put up the lights instead, the memorial changed course with help from its chairman, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Tunnel to Towers, meanwhile, arranged to display single beams for the first time at the Shanksville memorial and the Pentagon.

Over the years, the anniversary also has become a day for volunteering. Because of the pandemic, the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance organization is encouraging people this year to make donations or take other actions that can be accomplished at home.

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