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Son killed, father hospitalized after Opa-Locka bound plane crashes after takeoff from Bimini

Sat, 2021-04-17 17:11

SOUTH BIMINI, Bahamas (WSVN) — A small plane headed for South Florida crashed after takeoff in Bimini, leaving a young man dead and sending his father to the hospital.

According to the Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority, the Piper Navajo PA-31 bound for Opa-Locka took off from Bimini International Airport in South Bimini and crashed in shallow waters at the end of the runway, Friday night.

Authorities said the victims were a father and son. The son was killed, and the father was rushed to a hospital in the Bahamas.

Family members identified the deceased victim as 20-year-old Kyle Wade and his father as 59-year-old Andre Wade. They said Kyle had recently gotten his pilot’s license.

An investigation is underway to determine what caused the crash.

Mars helicopter’s first flight could happen on Monday

Sat, 2021-04-17 16:07

(CNN) — The Ingenuity helicopter is preparing for its historic flight on Mars Monday if everything goes according to plan. The first powered, controlled flight on another planet will take place at 3:30 a.m. ET on April 19, according to NASA.

Unlike when the helicopter’s fellow traveler, the Perseverance rover, landed on Mars on February 18, we won’t be able to see images or know if it was successful right away.

The helicopter team will be in mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, early Monday morning to receive and analyze the first data from Ingenuity’s flight attempt.

Live coverage will be available on NASA’s site Monday morning beginning at 6:15 a.m. ET, and a postflight briefing is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET Monday afternoon.

The flight was originally scheduled for April 11 but shifted after a command-sequence issue was discovered when the helicopter went through a system of preflight checks with its software.

Ingenuity conducted a high-speed test of its rotors on April 10, but the command sequence ended early due to a watchdog timer that expired. This early end of the test happened when the helicopter was trying to shift the flight computer from preflight into flight mode.

The helicopter team determined a software fix that will change the way the helicopter’s two flight controllers start up. This should ease the transition from preflight to flight for both the hardware and software.

The helicopter team received data on April 16 showing that the helicopter successfully completed its rapid spin test.

Now, the chopper needs to autonomously fly through the thin Martian atmosphere, with no help from its teams on Earth.

First flight

Ingenuity, which is a technology demonstration, will fly for about 40 seconds total on Monday. The 4-pound helicopter will spin up its two 4-foot blades, rise up 10 feet (3 meters) in the air, hover, make a turn, take a photo, and touch back down on Mars.

If this first flight is successful, Ingenuity could fly up to four more times over the coming weeks.

The little helicopter has checked off multiple milestones so far, like wiggling its blades and surviving the freezing cold nights on Mars.

Radio signals take 15 minutes and 27 seconds to cross the current gap between Earth and Mars, which spans 173 million miles (278.4 million kilometers).

“Mars is hard not only when you land, but when you try to take off from it and fly around, too,” said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at JPL, in a statement. “It has significantly less gravity, but less than 1% the pressure of our atmosphere at its surface. Put those things together, and you have a vehicle that demands every input be right.”

Capturing first flight

The Perseverance rover, which helps the helicopter and its mission team on Earth communicate with each other, will receive the flight instructions from JPL. The rover will then send those plans on to the helicopter. Perseverance will be parked at an overlook 215 feet (65 meters) away from the helicopter so it can safely watch the flight and capture images and videos.

After some initial tests of the blades before flight, Ingenuity will spin up the rotors and conduct its flight. The preflight tests will allow the helicopter to configure the pitch of the blades to help it lift up.

“It should take us about six seconds to climb to our maximum height for this first flight,” said Håvard Grip, flight control lead for Ingenuity at JPL, in a statement. “When we hit 10 feet, Ingenuity will go into a hover that should last — if all goes well — for about 30 seconds.”

During this hover, the helicopter will capture images 30 times per second to feed into the navigation computer, making sure Ingenuity remains level and in the middle of its 33-by-33-feet (10-by-10-meter) air field.

Ingenuity will use a second higher-resolution camera pointing toward the horizon to capture images each time the helicopter is aloft.

Once the helicopter lands on Mars, it will send back data through the rover to Earth.

Lower-resolution black-and-white images from the helicopter’s navigation camera likely will be available first, followed by the color image the next day. The rover will also send back images and video from several of its cameras. Perseverance has been practicing capturing video of the helicopter as it has tested its blades in recent days.

“The Wright brothers only had a handful of eyewitnesses to their first flight, but the historic moment was thankfully captured in a great photograph,” said Michael Watkins, director of JPL, in a statement. “Now 117 years later, we are able to provide a wonderful opportunity to share the results of the first attempt at powered, controlled flight on another world via our robotic photographers on Mars.”

That first black-and-white image from the helicopter’s navigation camera is key because “that will help us localize where the helicopter landed,” said Tim Canham, Ingenuity operations lead at JPL.

Grip, the chief pilot for Ingenuity, will be analyzing the first data returned from the helicopter to determine if it lifted, hovered, rotated and landed successfully.

“The primary purpose of this project is to get that detailed engineering data that we can see the performance of the vehicle, and then that data can be used by future projects to make even bigger and better helicopters,” Canham said.

Future flights

Members of the Ingenuity team are nervous but excited looking ahead to this historic moment, which they have been preparing for over the last eight years.

There are four possibilities for Monday: full success, partial success, insufficient or lack of data, or failure, Aung said.

“From day one of this project our team has had to overcome a wide array of seemingly insurmountable technical challenges,” Aung said. “We got this far with a never-say-die attitude, a lot of friends from many different technical disciplines, and an agency that likes to turn far-out ideas into reality.”

After the first flight, Ingenuity will get a “rest day” to charge up using its solar panel. The team will use data sent back by the helicopter that week to plan its next flight.

The cadence between flights will get progressively shorter. Ingenuity could fly four days after the first flight, then three days after the second flight and so on. The latter flights could see the helicopter rising as high as 16 feet (5 meters) and performing lateral movements up to 50 feet (15 meters) out and back.

“Once we get to the fourth and fifth flights, we’ll have fun,” Aung said. “We really want to push the limits. It’s not every day that you get to test a rotorcraft on Mars. So we want to be very adventurous.”

J-Lo, H.E.R. and Selena Gomez will headline a streamed concert to support Covid-19 vaccine distribution

Sat, 2021-04-17 14:59

(CNN) — Pop and rock stars are planning a global broadcast and streaming special to support equal vaccine distribution.

Hosted by Selena Gomez and featuring Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, Foo Fighters, J Balvin, and H.E.R., the “VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World” will take place on May 8.

It will be a part of Global Citizen’s Recovery Plan for the World campaign to end the pandemic and help people recover.

“The Concert to Reunite the World is celebrating the hope that COVID-19 vaccines are offering families and communities around the world,” Global Citizen said in a news release. “We are calling on world leaders to step up to make sure vaccines are accessible for all so we can end the pandemic for everyone, everywhere.”

The goal will be to “ensure equitable vaccine distribution around the world, tackle COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and celebrate a hopeful future as families and communities reunite after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine,” according to the international advocacy group.

Multiple organizations and political leaders have supported the concert, including the World Health Organization (WHO), European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and the State of California, the release said.

“I’m honored to be hosting VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World,” Gomez said in a statement. “This is a historic moment to encourage people around the world to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them, call on world leaders to share vaccine doses equitably, and to bring people together for a night of music in a way that hasn’t felt possible in the past year. I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

The event will air at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, CBS, YouTube, and iHeart broadcast radio stations and app. It will also be broadcast at 11 p.m. ET on FOX.

An extended version will be streamed on YouTube, including YouTubers Daniel El Travieso, Kati Morton, and ShootforLove.

This concert follows Global Citizen’s collaboration with Lady Gaga in April for the “One World: Together At Home” livestream concert that raised money to fight Covid-19.

Prosecutor who implied boy was armed when shot put on leave

Sat, 2021-04-17 14:39

CHICAGO (AP) — A prosecutor who implied in court that 13-year-old Adam Toledo was holding a gun the instant he was fatally shot by a Chicago police officer was placed on leave a day after a video showing the boy’s hands were empty was released to the public.

“In court last week, an attorney in our office failed to fully present the facts surrounding the death of a 13-year-old boy,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx spokeswoman Sarah Sinovic said in a statement. “We have put that individual on leave and are conducting an internal investigation into the matter.”

During an April 10 bond hearing for 21-year-old Ruben Roman, who was with Adam when he was shot March 29, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy appeared to suggest that the boy was still holding the gun as Officer Eric Stillman pulled the trigger.

“The officer tells (Adam) to drop it as (Adam) turns towards the officer. (Adam) has a gun in his right hand,” Murphy said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “The officer fires one shot at (Adam), striking him in the chest. The gun that (Adam) was holding landed against the fence a few feet away.”

But Murphy did not explain what the video and screenshots show: That Adam had nothing in his hands when he was shot and had dropped or tossed the weapon away less than a second before the officer pulled the trigger. Police found the gun next to a fence a short distance away after the shooting.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Foxx told staffers in an email that the language in the proffer that Murphy read in court “did not fully reflect all the evidence that had been given to our office.”

But on Friday, Sinovic suggested that Murphy may not have had access to all of the video that was released to the public on Thursday when he made the comments, telling the Sun-Times: “It’s still under investigation what videos were available to (Murphy). We’re still trying to figure out what he had access to when he made the statements in court.”

The office did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press on Saturday requesting more information, including who else saw the video footage before the April 10 hearing.

Images of the boy raising his empty hands as he was shot have elicited anger in the Little Village neighborhood where he lived and died, and elsewhere the city.

Roman was arrested at the scene on misdemeanor charges of resisting or obstructing a peace officer but he was later charged with felony counts of child endangerment, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and reckless discharge of a firearm after investigators determined that he fired the gun several times before police arrived.

He remains in custody at Cook County Jail after a judge ordered him held on $150,000.

FDOH reports over 6,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday

Sat, 2021-04-17 14:32

There have now been more than 2.16 million reported cases of the coronavirus in Florida, with 34,404 deaths.

As of 2 p.m. Saturday, the Florida Department of Health reported 2,162,067 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 6,341 from Friday’s update.

The state also reported a single-day increase of 74 deaths.

There are now 468,908 total confirmed cases in Miami-Dade County and 227,738 total cases in Broward.

The total number of cases in Palm Beach County has now reached 138,476 and 6,731 total cases have been reported in Monroe County.

Health officials reported 88,130 hospital admissions statewide.

For a full breakdown of the cases in Florida, click here.

Queen Elizabeth bids farewell to Prince Philip at intimate funeral

Sat, 2021-04-17 14:18

(CNN) — Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II sat alone through Saturday’s funeral of her late husband, Prince Philip, in what was an emotional yet muted affair that took place as a nation healed from a pandemic, and a rift that saw Prince Harry step back from the royal family.

The intimate service at St. George’s Chapel, within the grounds of Windsor Castle, was attended by 30 people including members of the royal family.

Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, died at the age of 99 on April 9 in Windsor Castle. He was the nation’s longest-serving consort — the name used to describe the spouse of a reigning monarch — and had been married to the Queen for 73 years.

With her head bowed, the Queen sat alone as she made her final farewell to her husband during the sad and subdued event — by royal standards. The duke was intimately involved in its planning, selecting the music and ensuring the ceremony reflects his military affiliations and personal interests.

The sparse congregation did not sing along to the music during the service, as per health restrictions. A four-person choir more than made up for it, with their voices filling the chapel with the hymns chosen by the duke including “Melita” by J. B. Dykes.

The event was poignant as it echoed, on a more grander scale, the lonely devastation of the pandemic — which has taken more than 120,000 lives in the UK and forced countless families to grieve in pared-down funerals.

It also happened amid a family rift, being the first time Prince Harry has attended a publicized event with his family since his bombshell interview with his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and Oprah Winfrey.

Despite speculation of their dynamic, Prince Harry and his brother Prince William were seen chatting and walking together after the service.

Those in attendance on Saturday included senior members of the royal family as well as relatives and close friends of the duke, among them Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden, Penny Brabourne, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, and Prince Donatus, Landgrave of Hesse.

All members of the congregation wore a face covering, as dictated by England’s current coronavirus restrictions.

But while the ceremony is limited to 30 people inside, in line with public health rules, more than 700 military personnel are providing ceremonial support outside in honor of Prince Philip’s own decorated military career. Members of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, British Army and Royal Air Force are all in attendance.

Philip maintained close ties with the military community throughout his life after completing his naval service in 1953, including holding the position of Captain-General of the Royal Marines.

Ahead of the ceremony, the duke’s coffin — draped with his personal flag, his sword, naval cap and a wreath of flowers laid on top — was taken to the chapel from Windsor Castle in a procession led by the Band of the Grenadier Guards.

In keeping with the duke’s wishes, the coffin was carried by a modified Land Rover, which he helped design.

The vehicle was followed in a procession on foot by senior members of the family. Princes William and Harry were reunited as they walked in the same row behind the coffin with their father, Charles, and other relatives, including Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.

The brothers were separated by their first cousin Peter Phillips, the son of Princess Anne, and not shoulder to shoulder.

Family members were not dressed in military uniform, in a break with tradition, instead donning morning coats with medals or day dresses.

The subject of clothing emerged in recent days after some British media reported Prince Andrew wished to wear an admiral’s uniform. Andrew stepped back from his royal duties in 2019 over his ties to disgraced financier and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Some of the duke’s closest aides, including his private secretary and personal protection officer, were also in the procession.

The Queen arrived at the chapel separately, attended by a lady in waiting. The monarch and the late duke had been in a bubble with some members of their household for the last year and therefore she is not eligible to join a support bubble with other members of her family.

Meanwhile, the rest of the congregation, including Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall; Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge; Princess Beatrice; Princess Eugenie, and other family members arrived at the chapel by car.

The Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, was not in attendance after her doctor advised against international travel. She will be watching the ceremony from home.

The service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor, the Right Reverend David Conner, and the archbishop of Canterbury Welby and is expected to last for 50 minutes. Ecclesiasticus 43 and John 11 was among the readings.

The four-person choir accompanied by the organ sang pieces selected by the duke, including Benjamin Britten’s “Jubilate in C,” a piece he commissioned for the St George’s Chapel Choir.

The choir also sang an adaptation of Psalm 104, which the duke requested to be set to music by William Lovelady. The piece was sung at a concert celebrating Prince Philip’s 75th birthday.

The Dean then gave the commendation and the duke’s coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault, where many members of the royal family have been laid to rest. The vault, set beneath the chapel, was built by George III, who is one of several kings buried within.

The vault will not be Philip’s final resting place. When the Queen dies, the remains of Prince Philip will be transferred to the King George VI memorial chapel to lie next to her.

At the duke’s request, the end of the funeral service was marked by the Buglers of the Royal Marines sounding “Action Stations,” an announcement that would traditionally be made on a naval warship to signify that all hands should go to battle stations.

The Archbishop of Canterbury then pronounced the Blessing before the ceremony was concluded with the national anthem.

A life of service

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined the millions of people watching the service on Saturday, tuning in from his country residence of Chequers, a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed Saturday.

Tributes to Prince Philip have poured in from well-wishers around the world, many of whom have remarked on the duke’s extraordinary life and his service to the Queen.

Born in 1921 in Greece as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, his family was forced into exile when the Greek monarchy was overthrown by a military revolt when he was still a baby.

He joined the Royal Navy in 1939, the same year he first met Elizabeth, and served during World War II. They married in 1947 and, following the Queen’s accession to the throne in 1952, he gave up his rank of lieutenant commander to support her in her royal duties.

He played an active role in the royal family before he retired from public engagements in 2017.

The royal family entered a two-week period of mourning following his death, and many broadcasters in the UK postponed key programs as a mark of respect.

Speaking of his grandfather after returning to the UK last week, Prince Harry said he was “a man of service, honor and great humor … with a seriously sharp wit.”

Harry’s brother William, the Duke of Cambridge, said Prince Philip was an “extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation” with an “infectious sense of adventure.”

Peloton Tread+ owners told to stop using the treadmill in ‘urgent warning’

Sat, 2021-04-17 13:15

(CNN) — A US government agency issued an “urgent warning” for users of Peloton’s Tread+ following multiple dangerous incidents with the machine, including a child’s death.

In a news release Saturday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said it has become aware of 39 accidents involving the treadmill, including “multiple reports of children becoming entrapped, pinned, and pulled under” the $4,295 device. The CPSC said it’s urging customers with small children and pets to stop using the machine immediately.

The statement comes after a March incident with the machine that involved a child’s death. Peloton CEO John Foley sent a letter to Tread+ owners at the time, saying the warning comes after a “tragic accident involving a child and the Tread+, resulting in, unthinkably, a death.”

The CPSC released a video showing a small child playing with a powered-on treadmill while it lifts off the ground and the child becomes pinned under it. The agency released details of other incidents, including a child being injured when an adult was using it and “pets and objects” also being sucked beneath it suggesting “possible harm to the user if the user loses balance as a result.”

Peloton blasted the CPSC in a release Saturday, calling its warning “inaccurate and misleading.” Peloton said there’s “no reason” to stop using the machine if safety instructions, such as correctly using its safety key, are followed. It also said that the Tread+ should be kept away from children under 16 years old and pets “at all times.”

Specifically, Peloton took issue with the video released by the CPSC. The company said that if the treadmill’s safety key had been used properly, that could have avoided the “kind of incident that this video depicts.”

“The Tread+ includes safety warnings and instructions in several places, including in the user manual, in a safety card left on top of the Tread+ tray on delivery, and on the product itself,” Peloton said.

The CPSC said it’s continuing to investigate “all known incidents” with the machine. It suggests owners stop using the machine if they have small children or pets are at home. If customers want to continue to use it, the unit should be kept in a locked room away from children and pets, and it should be unplugged when not in use. The commission requests people to report incidents on its website or on its hotline at 800-638-2772.

A voluntary recall wasn’t issued by the agency because Peloton hasn’t agreed to a corrective action, such as a repair or replacement, nor is it stopping the sale of the Tread+, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Consumer Reports, the nonprofit consumer watchdog group, called Peloton’s actions “outrageous” and said the company was not putting safety first.

“You’d think that the CPSC could easily order a recall in a case like this, but it can’t, thanks to laws on the books that put corporate public relations ahead of children’s lives,” said William Wallace, manager of safety policy at Consumer Reports, in a statement. “This warning by the CPSC indicates that Peloton is not putting safety first, and there’s little the agency can do about it right now beyond alerting the public.”

The Peloton Tread+ is the most expensive treadmill in the company’s hardware lineup. It recently released a cheaper treadmill, which doesn’t appear to be affected by this warning.

Treatment ban creates uncertainty for trans youth, families

Sat, 2021-04-17 11:54

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Before he began receiving hormone therapy eight months ago, Dylan Brandt felt insecure and out of place. Then the 15-year-old transgender boy started taking testosterone in August.

His mood improved, and his mother said he became more outgoing.

But in the coming months, Dylan and his family face a difficult choice. His home state, Arkansas, passed a law prohibiting gender confirming treatments for minors, the first state to do so.

“The thought of having to go back to how I was before this is just devastating because that would set me back on everything,” said Dylan, who lives in Greenwood, near the Oklahoma border. “I don’t want to go back.”

Unless opponents are successful in blocking it with a lawsuit, Arkansas’ ban will take effect late this summer. The measure prohibits doctors from providing gender confirming hormone therapy, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18 or referring them to other doctors who provide that care.

It’s already created confusion, sadness and pain for hundreds of transgender youth, as well as their families and health care providers. With other states considering similar bans, it’s a preview of the difficult choices that other families could face around the country.

“My families are in a state of panic, asking what state should they move to, saying their child is threatening to kill themselves,” said Dr. Michele Hutchison, who runs a clinic at Arkansas Children’s Hospital that has served about 200 families and has a waiting list of several dozen more. “They want to know what they should do next and we don’t have a clear answer for them.”

Hutchison’s clinic is by far the biggest provider of hormone therapy and other medical support for transgender young people in the state. Gender confirming surgery is not performed on minors in Arkansas.

Since the bill was approved, four young people in Hutchison’s program have attempted suicide, she said. Other patients have called the clinic to ask if they’ll be able to get their medications on the black market if the ban takes effect.

“My fear is that’s going to happen,” she said. “They’re going to find a way to get them, and it’s going to be dangerous because they won’t be monitored for side effects.”

Those concerns were what prompted Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a social conservative who has signed other measures restricting transgender people’s rights, to veto the treatment ban. Hutchinson said the bill went too far, especially since it wouldn’t exempt youth already receiving care.

“If this bill is passed, what happens to those young people that are currently under treatment?” Hutchinson told reporters when he vetoed the measure. “That makes my heart hurt to think about it.”

The majority-Republican Legislature easily overrode Hutchinson’s veto, and supporters of the ban have said transgender youth should wait until they’re 18 to make such decisions. Some compared the prohibition to other ones minors face, such as for smoking or drinking.

“We’ve all done some things when we’re under 18 that we probably shouldn’t have done, and the children of Arkansas deserve to be protected,” Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum, who introduced the ban, said during a House debate on it last month.

But comments like those, families of trans youth and health professionals say, are leaving a false impression that these treatments are available on short notice and with little thought.

Before they can even begin treatment, transgender youth must go through months if not years of counseling and therapy to ensure they’re making the right decision. They also undergo lab work beforehand and are regularly monitored by doctors.

“This is not done lightly on the patient or the parent side,” said Dr. Stephanie Ho, a Fayetteville physician who provides hormone therapy to about 10 to 15 trans youth. “This is not done lightly on the provider side.”

Multiple medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, oppose the bans and experts say the treatments are safe if properly administered.

Puberty blockers, which delay the physical changes caused by puberty, are considered reversible. Hormone therapy, which can help transgender people match their bodies with their gender identity, can have outcomes that are more permanent, such as enabling transgender men to have facial hair and a deeper voice.

For Andrew Bostad, it took two years after he came out as transgender before he began hormone therapy. The 15-year-old, who lives in Bauxite in central Arkansas, described his life before the treatments as if living in a cloud that was choking him.

“I used to be very shut off, angry at the world in general. I was just shut off from everyone,” Bostad said. “Once I started testosterone, I was able to live my life and just move on with who I was supposed to be my entire young adult life.”

The uncertainty transgender youth face right now is compounded by Arkansas’ other restrictions on trans youth enacted this year, and the bills that are still advancing in the Legislature.

One law Hutchinson has signed bans transgender girls and women from sports teams consistent with their gender identity. Another allows doctors to refuse to treat someone because of moral and religious objections.

Arkansas lawmakers are considering a “bathroom bill” aimed at preventing transgender people from using public restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Another bill would allow teachers to use the former names and genders of transgender students, which opponents say takes away their identity and could increase an already high risk of bullying of transgender youth. Legislators are also looking at expanding the treatment ban to include criminal penalties for doctors who violate it.

Treatment bans similar to Arkansas’ have been proposed in at least 20 states. Several of the measures have failed, but they have won approval in the Montana House of Representatives and the Alabama Senate. Several bills are pending in Texas, including one that would effectively categorize the targeted treatments as child abuse and expose parents to the possibility of criminal charges.

Other states are also considering transgender athlete bans similar to ones enacted so far this year in ArkansasMississippi and Tennessee. Another ban was sent to North Dakota’s governor last week.

For many families, the cost of uprooting from Arkansas is too high. But staying and traveling across state lines regularly for doctor’s appointments and prescriptions will also be expensive, and involves navigating a patchwork of surrounding states that are also considering treatment bans.

“You’re basically kicking these people when they’re down,” Ho said. “They have very little resources to begin with and now you’re going to make them choose between rent and their child’s life.”

Dylan’s mother, Joanna, said ending his treatments isn’t a viable option. Though she’s hopeful the law won’t take effect, she’s already looking at the possibility of moving.

Bostad and his mother say they’re looking at other sources for the treatments outside Arkansas, saying they can’t afford to leave. But, even if they could, they’re adamant about staying in Arkansas despite the ban and other restrictions.

“We can’t let them get what they want out of this,” said Brandi Evans, Andrew’s mother. “I’ve always been the person to stand up to the bullies, and this is a big one so I refuse to go down without a fight.”

Four Sikhs among victims of Indianapolis mass shooting

Sat, 2021-04-17 11:31

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis’ tight-knit Sikh community mourned Saturday as members learned that four Sikhs were among the eight people killed in the mass shooting at a FedEx warehouse.

The Marion County Coroner’s office identified the dead late Friday as Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jaswinder Kaur, 64; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74.

Deputy Police Chief Craig McCartt, said Hole apparently began firing randomly at people in the parking lot of the FedEx facility, killing four, before entering the building, fatally shooting four more people and then turning the gun on himself.

It was not clear if Sikhs were targeted.

Police Chief Randal Taylor noted that a “significant” number of employees at the FedEx facility are members of the Sikh community. Some members gathered at a local hotel Friday looking for information on family and friends.

“I have several family members who work at the particular facility and are traumatized,” Komal Chohan, who said Amarjeet Johal was his grandmother, said in a statement issued by the Sikh Coalition. “My nani, my family, and our families should not feel unsafe at work, at their place of worship, or anywhere. Enough is enough–our community has been through enough trauma.”

There are between 8,000 and 10,000 Sikh Americans in Indiana, according to the coalition. Members of the religion, which began in India in the 15th century, began settling in Indiana more than 50 years ago and opened its first house of worship, known as a gurdwara, in 1999.

The attack was another blow to the Asian American community a month after six people of Asian descent were killed in a mass shooting in the Atlanta area and amid ongoing attacks against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hole’s motives remained unclear Saturday.

“While we don’t yet know the motive of the shooter, he targeted a facility known to be heavily populated by Sikh employees, and the attack is traumatic for our community as we continue to face senseless violence, said Satjeet Kaur, Sikh Coalition Executive Director. “Further traumatizing is the reality that many of these community members, like Sikhs we have worked with in the past, will eventually have to return to the place where their lives were almost taken from them.”

Paul Keenan, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis field office, said Friday that agents questioned Hole last year after his mother called police to say that her son might commit “suicide by cop.” He said the FBI was called after items were found in Hole’s bedroom but he did not elaborate on what they were. He said agents found no evidence of a crime and that they did not identify Hole as espousing a racially motivated ideology.

A police report obtained by The Associated Press shows that officers seized a pump-action shotgun from Hole’s home after responding to the mother’s call. Keenan said the gun was never returned. Indianapolis police said Friday that Hole opened fire with a rifle.

Smith, the youngest of the victims, was last in contact with her family shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday, family members said in social media posts late Friday. Dominique Troutman, Smith’s sister, waited hours at the Holiday Inn for an update on her sister. “Words can’t even explain how I feel. … I’m so hurt,” Troutman said in a Facebook post Friday night.

Weisert had been working as a bag handler at FedEx for four years, his wife, Carol, told WISH-TV. The couple was married nearly 50 years.

McCartt said Hole was a former employee of FedEx and last worked for the company in 2020. The deputy police chief said he did not know why Hole left the job or if he had ties to the workers in the facility. He said police have not yet uncovered a motive for the shooting.

The killings marked the latest in a string of recent mass shootings across the country and the third mass shooting this year in Indianapolis. Five people, including a pregnant woman, were shot and killed in the city in January, and a man was accused of killing three adults and a child before abducting his daughter during an argument at a home in March. In other states last month, eight people were fatally shot at massage businesses in the Atlanta area, and 10 died in gunfire at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.

Ohio teen arrested with AK-47 in Times Square subway station, police say

Sat, 2021-04-17 10:31

(CNN) — An 18-year-old from Ohio is facing weapons charges after officers patrolling a Times Square subway station on Friday found him with an AK-47 and a loaded magazine, police said.

Saadiq Teague was arrested Friday afternoon, the New York Police Department said.

Teague was sitting down while charging his phone at the subway station, and had the unloaded AK-47 in front of him, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the situation told CNN on condition of anonymity. The teen also had a gas mask with him, the source said.

Police have not said why the teen had the weapon and loaded magazine.

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted congratulations to the officers on routine patrol who confiscated the items.

“This story could’ve had a tragically different ending, but thanks to these diligent cops it ends with the suspect in handcuffs,” Shea tweeted Friday.

Teague is charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree; criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree; and criminal possession in the third degree relating to an ammunition clip, according to the New York Police Department.

Teague also was charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia in the second degree, Detective Annette Shelton said.

CNN was unable to identify an attorney for Teague but reached out to the Legal Aid Society to see if it is representing him. Teague may not have been assigned an attorney yet because the arrest is so recent, Red Haskins of Legal Aid told CNN.

CNN has sought comment from Teague’s family in Ohio and the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Restaurants desperate for workers offer $400 signing bonuses

Sat, 2021-04-17 09:37

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Want to work at a restaurant during a pandemic? If the answer’s “no,” would $400 cash change your mind?

South Florida restaurants are so desperate to fill critical jobs they are taking a page from the playbook of Silicon Valley headhunters: signing bonuses.

Social-media users might’ve spotted restaurants’ recent all-caps advertisements on Facebook and Instagram: A “$200 hiring bonus” at Riverside Hotel in downtown Fort Lauderdale, seeking entry-level servers and shift managers. Blocks west on the New River, seafood restaurant Rivertail has offered a “$250 signing bonus,” hoping to fill seven jobs. Around the corner, Mexican eatery Bodega Taqueria y Tequila promises the biggest sign-on bonus of all: $400.

Andrew Walker could hardly turn down Bodega Taqueria’s tantalizing offer to become a prep cook and collect hundreds in cash after spotting the ad on Facebook.

The 23-year-old student needed a reliable job with flexible hours since moving from New York to Fort Lauderdale in January to finish his GED. “I was like, ‘Uh, I could use $400.’ Let’s do it,” says Walker. “I get a lot of respect here. I like being in the kitchen.”

Walker admits he probably would have kept scrolling past Bodega had the cash incentive not caught his eye. “I think it’s a great idea,” he says. “It’s bad times out there and this gives workers extra money they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Hospitality experts argue the drought in employees can be explained with three theories: fear of returning to closed spaces during a pandemic, ex-employees leaving the restaurant world for good, and the ease of collecting unemployment benefits.

Emi Guerra, whose Breakwater Hospitality Group operates the Wharf in downtown Fort Lauderdale, thinks it’s the last one that’s driving the staff shortages. Despite falling unemployment numbers in Florida new applicants aren’t calling him back, and new hires simply aren’t showing up for work.

“There’s definitely some truth to people becoming jaded and lazy (in the pandemic),” says Guerra. “Here’s how it works: We’ll get over 100 applications for one position. We’ll call back 30 of them to see if we can schedule a face-to-face job interview, and of those, we’ll get through to maybe eight. Six or seven will be no-shows and you’ll maybe get one person to show up.”

This started happening in March at Rivertail, the seafood restaurant Guerra co-owns with chef Jose Mendin. Being short seven employees forced him to cut dining capacity in half and turn away paying customers. Out of desperation, he offered a signing bonus of $250, any position, with a single string attached: The cash was payable only after 90 days of employment.

“We were purposely taking fewer tables so we could handle the volume. We had to find a creative way to fill in the staffing gaps,” Guerra says.

But has Guerra’s gambit been successful? Not really, he says.

“I don’t know if it’s moved the needle a lot,” he says. “We definitely did get an increase in applicants but it hasn’t solved the problem.”

A National Restaurant Association survey released in February found there were 2.5 million fewer restaurant jobs nationwide as of Dec. 1 than during the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association estimates 600,000 Florida workers were laid off and 10,000 restaurants were forced to close. Statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor in late March showed that fewer than half of those lost jobs have returned.

In mid-March, facing 17 vacant jobs at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila and 15 more at its sister location in Miami Beach, the restaurant’s human resources director, Adriana Tecedor, came up with a radical idea: $100 signing bonuses for new employees.

“At first we weren’t getting any traction, nothing,” Tecedor says. “Then we jacked it up to $400, and boom. Lots of applications fly in. It catches people’s attention. As long as our incentive is higher than anyone else, they’ll come to us before taking another opportunity.”

Along with Walker, the cash helped Tecedor recruit several new employees, half of them poached from the kitchens of other South Florida restaurants, she says. New hires must stay employed at least 30 days to receive a third of their signing bonus (about $133), and 90 days to collect the full $400.

“We are pushing every boundary possible because I’ve never seen a job market so bad,” she says. “Just like it’s a seller’s market in real estate, it’s an employee’s market for restaurants. From our perspective, they’re making a decent of amount of money staying home (on unemployment) and not working.”

The slump in willing job candidates has stressed out restaurateur Anesh Bodasing for months. There are two weeks left until his fast-casual eatery Tiffin Box – which he likens to a “Chipotle but with Indian food” – debuts inside the Delray Beach Market food hall. But Bodaseng is short nine employees to staff the new location so, worried about opening on time, he decided to offer a $150 referral bonus to existing employees to recruit fresh faces.

“I’m trying not to panic right now because everyone’s in the same kind of boat,” says Bodasing, whose staff consists mostly of high-school students. “A lot of people don’t realize how short-staffed restaurants are. No one’s coming in. If I don’t fill those jobs in two weeks we’ll have to run a skeleton crew in Delray to make it happen.”

His kiosk inside the Delray Beach Market, though much smaller than his flagship Tiffin Box in West Palm Beach, requires more staff to handle the food hall’s seven-day-a-week schedule. Bodasing says he plans to introduce $200 cash bonuses for new hires.

“It’s a ridiculous thing to me. Say I hire five employees in 90 days. I have to pay $1,000. That’s insane,” Bodasing says. “I know there are people who legitimately need unemployment money. But there are also a lot of people under 30 who should go back, too, and they’re not, because their stimulus outweighs what they could earn in a restaurant.”

Samantha Garcia, 17, is now $300 richer after referring two of her high-school friends to work at Tiffin Box. The extra cash will help the West Palm Beach server pay her parents’ bills and replace the tires on her car.

“This money’s going to inspire a lot of people to get their jobs back,” Garcia says. “People my age or a bit older can work, but a majority of people are being lazy right now.”

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

Sat, 2021-04-17 08:28

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million people Saturday amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.

The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal. It is bigger than Chicago (2.7 million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.

And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.

When the world back in January passed the bleak threshold of 2 million deaths, immunization drives had just started in Europe and the United States. Today, they are underway in more than 190 countries, though progress in bringing the virus under control varies widely.

While the campaigns in the U.S. and Britain have hit their stride and people and businesses there are beginning to contemplate life after the pandemic, other places, mostly poorer countries but some rich ones as well, are lagging behind in putting shots in arms and have imposed new lockdowns and other restrictions as virus cases soar.

Worldwide, deaths are on the rise again, running at around 12,000 per day on average, and new cases are climbing too, eclipsing 700,000 a day.

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, one of the World Health Organization’s leaders on COVID-19.

In Brazil, where deaths are running at about 3,000 per day, accounting for one-quarter of the lives lost worldwide in recent weeks, the crisis has been likened to a “raging inferno” by one WHO official. A more contagious variant of the virus has been rampaging across the country.

As cases surge, hospitals are running out of critical sedatives. As a result, there have been reports of some doctors diluting what supplies remain and even tying patients to their beds while breathing tubes are pushed down their throats.

The slow vaccine rollout has crushed Brazilians’ pride in their own history of carrying out huge immunization campaigns that were the envy of the developing world.

Taking cues from President Jair Bolsonaro, who has likened the virus to little more than a flu, his Health Ministry for months bet big on a single vaccine, ignoring other producers. When bottlenecks emerged, it was too late to get large quantities in time.

Watching so many patients suffer and die alone at her Rio de Janeiro hospital impelled nurse Lidiane Melo to take desperate measures.

In the early days of the pandemic, as sufferers were calling out for comfort that she was too busy to provide, Melo filled two rubber gloves with warm water, knotted them shut, and sandwiched them around a patient’s hand to simulate a loving touch.

Some have christened the practice the “hand of God,” and it is now the searing image of a nation roiled by a medical emergency with no end in sight.

“Patients can’t receive visitors. Sadly, there’s no way. So it’s a way to provide psychological support, to be there together with the patient holding their hand,” Melo said. She added: “And this year it’s worse, the seriousness of patients is 1,000 times greater.”

This situation is similarly dire in India, where cases spiked in February after weeks of steady decline, taking authorities by surprise. In a surge driven by variants of the virus, India saw over 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week, bringing the total number of cases to over 13.9 million.

Problems that India had overcome last year are coming back to haunt health officials. Only 178 ventilators were free Wednesday afternoon in New Delhi, a city of 29 million, where 13,000 new infections were reported the previous day.

The challenges facing India reverberate beyond its borders since the country is the biggest supplier of shots to COVAX, the U.N.-sponsored program to distribute vaccines to poorer parts of the world. Last month, India said it would suspend vaccine exports until the virus’s spread inside the country slows.

The WHO recently described the supply situation as precarious. Up to 60 countries might not receive any more shots until June, by one estimate. To date, COVAX has delivered about 40 million doses to more than 100 countries, enough to cover barely 0.25% of the world’s population.

Globally, about 87% of the 700 million doses dispensed have been given out in rich countries. While 1 in 4 people in wealthy nations have received a vaccine, in poor countries the figure is 1 in more than 500.

In recent days, the U.S. and some European countries put the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine on hold while authorities investigate extremely rare but dangerous blood clots. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has likewise been hit with delays and restrictions because of a clotting scare.

Another concern: Poorer countries are relying on vaccines made by China and Russia, which some scientists believe provide less protection that those by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Last week, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged the country’s vaccines offer low protection and said officials are considering mixing them with other shots to improve their effectiveness.

In the U.S., where over 560,000 lives have been lost, accounting for more than 1 in 6 of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped, businesses are reopening, and life is beginning to return to something approaching normalcy in several states. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to 576,000, a post-COVID-19 low.

But progress has been patchy, and new hot spots — most notably Michigan — have flared up in recent weeks. Still, deaths in the U.S. are down to about 700 per day on average, plummeting from a mid-January peak of about 3,400.

In Europe, countries are feeling the brunt of a more contagious variant that first ravaged Britain and has pushed the continent’s COVID-19-related death toll beyond 1 million.

Close to 6,000 gravely ill patients are being treated in French critical care units, numbers not seen since the first wave a year ago.

Dr. Marc Leone, head of intensive care at the North Hospital in Marseille, said exhausted front-line staff members who were feted as heroes at the start of the pandemic now feel alone and are clinging to hope that renewed school closings and other restrictions will help curb the virus in the coming weeks.

“There’s exhaustion, more bad tempers. You have to tread carefully because there are a lot of conflicts,” he said. “We’ll give everything we have to get through these 15 days as best we can.”

Fire sparks at Hallandale Beach construction site

Fri, 2021-04-16 22:48

A fire sparked at a construction site in Hallandale Beach.

The fire burned in the 2000 block of South Ocean Drive, Friday.

Broward Sheriff’s Fire Rescue responded to extinguish the blaze.

A 7News viewer sent in video of the fire alongside the roadway.

No injuries were reported.

Remember, if you see news happening and can do so safely, take a picture or shoot video and send it to:

Crews capture 12-foot gator found roaming Coral Gables neighborhood

Fri, 2021-04-16 22:33

Crews captured a 12-foot alligator after it was spotted roaming a Coral Gables neighborhood, police said.

Coral Gables Police units responded to an emergency call about an alligator walking around Mitchell Drive, last Saturday, just after 10:45 a.m.

Crews with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program were called to wrangle the large reptile.

The gator put up quite the fight before it was eventually hauled away.

Infection Detection: South Florida father-son team develops device able to detect COVID

Fri, 2021-04-16 22:24

Even as COVID vaccines are becoming more available, the rate of infections is still rising, and that’s why a South Florida father-and-son team is using technology to try to stop outbreaks before they begin. 7’s Kevin Ozebek has this special assignment report, “Infection Detection.”

We are used to COVID tests looking like this, but two South Florida inventors say there is an easier way.

Dr. S. Howard Wittels, Tiger Tech Chief Medical Officer: “Who wants something stuck in their nose rather than placing a non-invasive quick test, two to four minutes, on their arm?”

Dr. S. Howard Wittels and his son, Tiger Tech CEO Harrison Wittels, developed a mini-EKG armband. It has been used by the military for years to monitor the heart function of soldiers and track their health.

But at the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Wittels decided to test the bands on his COVID patients.

Dr. S. Howard Wittels: “We started to see a change in the heart rate variability and the EKG on patients, so we started to see that the COVID patients had very specific biomarkers to them.”

COVID-19 causes inflammation to the heart and blood vessels, so the Wittels and their team realized they could update their device with light sensors that can detect that inflammation.

They call it the COVID Plus Monitor.

Harrison Wittels, Tiger Tech CEO: “It’s meant to be a rapid, non-invasive and reusable pre-screener.”

The monitor is strapped to the arm, and the user sits still for about three minutes. If the monitor flashes green, there is no inflammation, and no further COVID testing is needed.

If a red light comes on, the person is most likely infected.

Harrison Wittels: “What it’s telling you is, there is a high probability that this person is undergoing a state that is, statistically, similar to an individual with COVID.”

The Wittels say it can provide a positive COVID result much quicker than the nasal swab test.

Dr. S. Howard Wittels: “The PCR is really only accurate on day five or six of the infection. The COVID Plus picks the infection up on day zero.”

Doctors began testing the COVID Plus Monitor at the Miami Rescue Mission last summer.

Dr. Pete Gutierrez, Miami Rescue Mission Clinic: “I was more than happy to have that done, because at the time, we didn’t even have tests to test people for COVID.”

Using the monitor to pre-screen and identify possible COVID patients has allowed the mission to save money on expensive nasal swab tests.

Dr. Pete Gutierrez: “That was very helpful, because that gave me the opportunity to take everybody every day and test them before we went to work.”

The COVID Plus Monitor was also tested at a school in Las Vegas and showed a 100% accuracy rate.

Jeremy Gregersen, Meadows Head of School: “This is a game changer for schools across the world. If we can get these devices in the hands of schools, more and more children will get to go to school in person, which is something we really believe in.”

The Wittels recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the COVID Plus Monitor, which allows them to distribute the devices.

Harrison Wittels: “I’m excited to see that the technology is working out there, but at the same time, there’s a lot of work to do.”

This father-son tech team is hoping their invention becomes a useful tool in the fight against COVID.

29 chihuahuas, dachshund mix dogs up for adoption in Miami-Dade

Fri, 2021-04-16 21:12

Almost 30 dogs will be up for adoption at Miami-Dade Animal Services this weekend after they took them in from a South Florida caregiver.

According to officials, 29 Chihuahua and dachshund mix dogs were taken in from a caregiver, who agreed to let animal services take custody of the canines.

Officials said the caregiver had gotten overwhelmed while trying to find homes for the rescued dogs. They added they found the dogs in good condition with no evidence of animal neglect or cruelty.

No citations were given to the person who originally took the dogs in, officials said.

The dogs will be available for adoption starting on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Miami-Dade Animal Services Pet Adoption & Protection Center, at 3599 NW 79th Ave., in Doral.

Officials said all of the dogs were examined and have either been spayed or neutered.

Worker airlifted after forklift falls on him at Hialeah business

Fri, 2021-04-16 19:09

Rescue crews airlifted a worker to the hospital after a forklift fell on him while on the job in Hialeah.

Hialeah Police and Fire Rescue crews responded to the scene of the incident at a business near West 81st Street and 32nd Avenue, just before 2 p.m., Friday.

Investigators said the 33-year-old victim was awake and alert when they reached him.

He was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in unknown condition.

No one else was hurt.

4-year-old accidentally swallows dime, which leads to doctors finding cancerous tumor

Fri, 2021-04-16 19:07

DALLAS (CNN) — Miracles come in all shapes and sizes.

But for 4-year-old Charlotte Mason of Dallas, hers came in the form of a dime.

“She swallowed a coin,” her mom, Moriah Mason said. “This angel child who never really does anything weird like that. She doesn’t chew Legos or beads.”

Charlotte’s curiosity got the best of her last month when it happened, sending her family on a rush to the emergency room to have the dime removed.

But that dime turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“[The doctors] came back and said, ‘we don’t want to say anything, but we are referring you to an oncologist tomorrow.’”

The doctors found a cancerous tumor the size of a tangerine near her collar bone.

Charlotte was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.

“It didn’t feel like it could actually be real. That my child, has cancer,” Mason said.

While she was originally only thought to be at an intermediate risk, two recent biopsies have shown she’s likely a very high-risk patient, leaving her mom wondering, what could have happened if it weren’t for that dime.

“She’s strong. She’s stubborn. But none of that would have mattered if we hadn’t caught it when we did.”

They still have a long road and a dangerous surgery to remove part of the tumor later this month.

But for the time being, they are just thankful they can begin her journey to healing.

“I think I am going to be thankful for that dime, permanently.”

Anyone interested in donating to help the Mason family with medical costs, they have set up a GoFundMe account.

The family has also set up a Facebook page, so those interested can follow along her journey.

Police release surveillance video of man in connection to 2 Miami Shores burglaries

Fri, 2021-04-16 19:02

Police have released surveillance video of a man who, they said, broke into two Miami Shores homes in broad daylight.

The security footage shows a man knocking on a door. According to Miami Shores Police, he asked the homeowners if they were interested in landscape work.

The video shows the man as he walked back to a Nissan Rogue where a driver was waiting for him.

Police said the man broke into a home near Northwest First Avenue and 102nd Street on Jan. 19, at around 3 p.m.

Detectives said a woman who was inside screamed at the time told them he ran off when she screamed.

Surveillance video from her neighbor captured that same SUV speeding away.

About 45 minutes later, police said, another home burglary was reported near Northeast 95th Street and Eighth Avenue. They said a window was forced open and the same vehicle was seen there as well.

Investigators said the SUV is a silver 2011 to 2013 Rogue.

If you have any information on these burglaries or the man’s whereabouts, call Miami Shores Police or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.

Ex-Buffalo officer wins pension years after being fired for trying to stop fellow cop’s chokehold on suspect

Fri, 2021-04-16 18:51

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A Buffalo, New York, police officer who was fired for trying to stop another officer from using a chokehold on a handcuffed suspect has won a yearslong legal fight to overturn her dismissal and collect her pension.

A state Supreme Court judge cited the changing landscape around the use of force by police and a new “duty to intervene” statute that the fired officer, Cariol Horne, championed following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“Quoting the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘the time is always right to do right,’” Judge Dennis Ward wrote in his decision.

Horne on Wednesday called it a bittersweet victory, coming during the murder trial of former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with causing Floyd’s death while other officers did nothing to stop him.

She is pushing for the nationwide adoption of “Cariol’s Law,” which would require police officers to step in if they witness another officer using excessive force and retroactively protect them from retaliation. The law was adopted in Buffalo in October.

Officers “don’t want to lose their livelihood,” Horne said. “But no amount of money should be over somebody’s life.”

“I could be on top of the world, but I’m looking at everybody else and they’re in a swamp. How can I feel good about that?” she said a day after Tuesday’s legal victory.

In his decision, Ward said support for Horne has grown recently “in the wake of a renewed national and local awareness of the problem of excessive force, and with police officers who intervene now being seen as heroes.”

Horne was a 19-year veteran and a year away from collecting her pension when she faced departmental charges after pulling fellow Officer Gregory Kwiatkowski’s arm from around the neck of domestic violence suspect Neal Mack in November 2006.

“I yelled, ‘Greg, you’re choking him,’ and he didn’t stop,” Horne recounted during an interview in June. “I grabbed his arm from around his neck. … That was the only physical contact that I had. And they fabricated a story and said that I did all of these other things that I didn’t do.”

She was fired in 2008 after an arbitration process determined she had put the lives of the officers at the scene in danger. The firing was previously upheld by the same court that eventually overturned it.

A mother of five, Horne’s youngest was a year old at the time.

“Now I am able to help them be where they should be financially,” she said, “because when when I took a dive into financial ruin, they went in there with me.”

Kwiatkowski, who is white, went to prison in 2009 after pleading guilty to deprivation of civil rights for using excessive force against four Black teenagers suspected of shooting a BB gun. Prosecutors said Kwiatkowski slammed the teenagers’ heads onto a vehicle while yelling obscenities at them. He was sentenced to four months.

Mack also is Black, as is Horne.

Ward’s decision noted that the original hearing officer “lacked significant information about the conduct of Officer Kwiatkowski and his (mis)use of physical force in effecting arrests.”

He reinstated Horne as an officer from 2008-2010 and granted back pay and benefits.

The city did not oppose Horne’s latest legal petition.

“The city has always supported any additional judicial review available to Officer Horne and respects the court’s decision,” a statement from spokesperson Michael DeGeorge said.