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Helping autistic man, therapist shot by Florida police unarmed with hands UP!!!!

(Reuters) – A video emerged online on Wednesday showing the moments before an unarmed black Florida man was shot by police as he lay in a street with his hands up next to an autistic patient whom he was trying to help, media reported.

Behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey was hospitalized after he was shot three times in the leg by a North Miami police officer during an incident on Monday, media said. You can see the video here.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/helping-autistic-man-black-therapist-shot-florida-police-044231095.html

The incident comes at a time when racihttps://www.yahoo.com/news/helping-autistic-man-black-therapist-shot-florida-police-044231095.htmlal tension is high in the United States. Protests have erupted in major U.S. cities during the past year and a half, as widely viewed videos of police shootings of black men drew attention to long-standing issues of race, policing and lack of accountability for officers.

Kinsey told WSVN-TV in Miami that he was trying to calm an autistic patient who had just ran away from an area group home. Kinsey said he found the patient sitting in a street playing with a toy truck.

A video that accompanied the news station’s online story showed a black man in a T-shirt and shorts lying on his back with his hands up next to a man, who appears to have an object in his hand.

“All he has is a truck. A toy truck. I’m a behavior therapist at a group home,” a man is heard saying in the cell phone video as police officers are seen with their weapons drawn.

The North Miami Police Department said in a statement that officers responded to a call of an armed suspect threatening suicide. Officers arrived at the scene and found an autistic man and an employee with an assist living facility.

At some point during the on-scene negotiation, one of the responding officers fired his weapon, striking the employee, police said.

The moment of the shooting was not captured on the video and it is unclear why the officer fired his weapon.

An officer has been placed under administrative leave. An investigation is ongoing with the assistance of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, the department said.

(Reporting By Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Average Americans Commit 3 Felonies a Day

Violent crime is down America, across the board, spanning two decades. Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced that the incidence of reported rape had hit a 20-year low. Homicides are down, as are juvenile violence and crimes committed against children. Crime rates have been plummeting since the early 1990s to such an extent that explaining the drop has become something of an obsession among criminologists and sociologists.

Part of the drop can of course be explained by mass incarceration—America leads the world in the percentage of its population behind bars. Putting one in every 100 citizens in jail causes its own problems, and there’s plenty of debate over just how much that incarceration has contributed to the fall in violent crime. But there’s no question that we’ve put lots of people in prison over the last 20 years, the crime rate has fallen, and part of the public likely believes (with some justification) that there’s a link betweent the two.

But there’s something else going on too, picked up in the blogosphere last week by George Washington University political science Professor John Sides. According to Gallup, since 2002 the percentage of the American public who think violent crime is on the rise has been increasing, even as actual violent crime rates continue to fall. Sides notes that from 1989 to 2001, perception and reality somewhat went hand in hand. But 2002 to 2003 saw a 19 percent leap in public perceptions that violent crime was on the uptick, and the figure has been going up in the years since—to 74 percent today. What’s going on?

From the time Richard Nixon made crime a national political issue in the 1970s, we’ve been conditioned by politicians and public officials to live in perpetual fear. Our baseline is that there’s too much crime, and that we aren’t doing enough about it. Despite that, there was an actually drop in public worry about crime that began in 1992 and continued until 2002. As noted, that drop corresponded with an actual decline in the national crime rate, something that hadn’t happened in 30 years. That crime rates going down for the first time in a generation was something new, something worth noticing. The 1990s were also generally an optimistic decade. The economy was humming. We weren’t engaged in any major wars. We didn’t have many worries, period.

Post-2002, the national mood soured. Terrorism, obviously a form of violent crime, was all over the news. The economy slowed down. Illegal immigration once again became a national issue, along with the false assumption that undocumented immigrants bring violent crime. And so we returned to a state of fear, though the crime rate continued to fall.These fluctuations in the Gallup poll are interesting, but it’s worth noting that the percentage of respondents who believe violent crime is on the rise has dipped below 60 percent only three times since 1991. This, again, despite the fact that violent crime has been in decline over the entire period.

Fear makes for easy politics. It both wins votes and primes us to give government more power at the expense of personal liberty. And that’s certainly true when it comes to crime. With the possible exception of an incumbent mayor, politicians only benefit from exaggerating the threat of violent crime. Senators, Congressmen, and even governors are rarely held responsible when the crime rate goes up. But they do win votes by proposing new powers for police and prosecutors to bring it down.

The result has been a one-way ratchet effect on crime policy. We’re perpetually expanding police and prosecutorial power, a process only occasionally slowed by the courts. Congress and state legislatures rarely take old criminal statutes off the books, but they’re always adding new ones. A 2008 report from the Heritage Foundation estimates that at the federal level alone, Congress has been adding about 55 new crimes to the federal criminal code each year since the 1980s. There are now about 4,500 separate federal crimes. And that doesn’t include federal regulations, which are increasingly being enforced with criminal, not administrative, penalties. It also doesn’t include the increasing leeway with which prosecutors can enforce broadly written federal conspiracy, racketeering, and money laundering laws. And this is before we even get to the states’ criminal codes.

In his new book, the Boston-based civil liberties advocate and occasional Reason contributor Harvey Silverglate estimates that in 2009, the average American commits about three federal felonies per day. And yet, we aren’t a nation of degenerates. On the contrary, most social indicators have been moving in a positive direction for a generation. Silverglate argues we’re committing these crimes unwittingly. The federal criminal code has become so vast and open to interpretation, Silverglate argues, that a U.S. Attorney can find a way to charge just about anyone with violating federal law. In fact, it’s nearly impossible for some business owners to comply with one federal regulation without violating another one. We’re no longer governed by laws, we’re governed by the whims of lawyers.Whatever one may think of Ayn Rand’s political philosophy or ethics, her criminal justice prophecy has proven unsettlingly accurate: In our continuing eagerness to purge American society of crime, we’ve allowed the government to make us all into criminals.

“There’s no way to rule innocent men.
The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals.
Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them.
One declares so many things to be a crime
that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

Ayn Rand 

NYPD cuffs on-duty postal worker in Brooklyn for yelling after police car nearly hit his truck, B’klyn Boro President furious — WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE

Top NYPD brass should deliver a strong rebuke to four officers and a lieutenant who cuffed an on-duty postal worker last week because he shouted at them, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said Tuesday.

Glenn Grays, 27, of East New York, says he was driving along President St. in Crown Heights on March 17 when an unmarked police car nearly hit his mail truck.

Frustrated, the postal worker shouted something out of his window at the unmarked police car — which promptly stopped, backed up and disgorged four plainclothes cops and a lieutenant.

From that point on, Grays’ run-in with the plainclothes police was captured on cellphone video by bystanders, who can be heard repeatedly asking the officers why the mailman was stopped.

The postal worker was carrying a large brown cardboard box when police approached him.

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“It is not a crime for someone to voice outrage after almost being struck by a vehicle … It is not a crime to state that you’re angry at someone who almost hit you. That is not a crime,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams stressed.

The video shows the cops asking him for identification, and Grays answers that it’s in his mail truck.

The cops then pull him away from the door — and the postal worker doesn’t resist.

He was cuffed and put in the back of the unmarked vehicle, which then drove away — leaving the postal van unattended.

“They place handcuffs on an on-duty postal employee delivering the U.S. mail. If they would do that to him in his postal uniform, they would do it to any person of color in that community,” Adams said Tuesday at a press conference, where he played the video.

Adams said the postal worker was brought to the 71st Precinct Stationhouse and issued a summons.

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Glenn Grays, 27, of East New York, says he was driving along President St. in Crown Heights on March 17 when an unmarked police car nearly hit his mail truck.

“They issued him a summons in hopes of sweeping this under the rug,” said Adams, who wants Internal Affairs to investigate the four cops and the lieutenant.

“It is not a crime for someone to voice outrage after almost being struck by a vehicle … It is not a crime to state that you’re angry at someone who almost hit you. That is not a crime,” he stressed.

Adams said the postal worker had never had any run-ins with the law before and had a clean record.

“He is traumatized,” Adams said.

The NYPD on Tuesday said the incident was under review.

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Todd Maisel/New York Daily News

Adams also noted the NYPD could be in trouble for leaving the mail truck unattended.

Grays’ mother, Sonya Sapp, from Fort Greene, told reporters she started to cry when she saw her son — one of six — getting cuffed in the video.

“ I worry about all my boys, every day, every second of every day,” she said. “I’m just sorry that it happened and I don’t want it to happen to anyone Else’s son.”

Adams also noted the NYPD could be in trouble for leaving the mail truck unattended.

“I believe there were federal violations. Number one, leaving that truck unsecured. Number, two, interrupting the delivery of mail. There are clear NYPD procedures when you are arresting a federal employee,” he said. “We don’t know if even those basic procedures were followed.”

Americans are bargaining away their innocence

The presumption of innocence helps to combat prejudice and prejudging in the U.S. criminal justice system. But because plea bargains have supplanted trials in our criminal justice system, that presumption does not apply to most cases in the United States.

Prejudice against the accused is quite common. Consider your own experience: If you see that a police car has pulled a driver over to the side of a highway, what do you make of the situation? Most people probably think to themselves, “Hmm, that driver was probably caught speeding.” Similarly, if you heard that one of your neighbors had been arrested, you would likely say to yourself, “I wonder what crime he committed.” It is a common reaction to presume that the authorities had a good reason to detain or arrest someone.

To protect the innocent, however, the law demands that incriminating evidence be presented in court. The Constitution says every person accused of a crime has the right to an impartial jury trial. If the jury is persuaded that a person is guilty, then that person can lose his liberty and be punished. That is a sensible procedure for a just system, and it is why Americans have taken pride in our Bill of Rights.

Unfortunately, the system that is described by our school teachers and that Americans see on television and in the movies is now defunct. Jury trials are now rare events in the United States. In fact, about 95 percent of the cases moving through the system will not go to trial. The overwhelming majority of cases will be resolved by plea bargains.

In a plea bargain, the prosecutor typically offers the defendant a reduced prison sentence if he agrees to waive his right to a jury trial and admit guilt in a brief hearing before a judge. Prosecutors use their power to pressure people who have been accused of a crime, and are presumed innocent, to waive their right to a trial and admit guilt.

We know this is true because prosecutors admit that this is what they are doing. The Supreme Court has approved these prosecutorial tactics in the landmark 1978 case, Bordenkircher v. Hayes. By a close 5-4 vote, the court said there was no constitutional problem with pressuring the accused to waive his trial and admit guilt. According to the court, there is no illegal coercion “so long as the accused is free to accept or reject the prosecution’s offer.”

But from a defendant’s perspective, plea bargaining extorts guilty pleas. Casual observers of our legal system will sometimes say that they would never plead guilty to a crime if they were innocent. An easy claim to make — but it is another thing when your freedom is actually on the line.

Imagine learning that the government has a “witness” who is willing to tell lies about you in court. And then your own attorney tells you that his best advice is for you to go into court, say you’re guilty and accept one year in prison instead of risking a 10-year prison sentence should the jury believe the lying witness. It’s an awful predicament for innocent people who get swept up in criminal cases. As William Young, then chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Boston observed in a 2004 opinion: “The focus of our entire criminal justice system has shifted away from trials and juries and adjudication to a massive system of sentence bargaining that is heavily rigged against the accused.”

Prosecutors do not set out to deliberately lock up innocent people. They’re dealing with crushing caseloads and believe that they are doing the best they can to administer justice fairly.

What happens when an innocent person has pled guilty, but regrets that decision later? The law is not very sympathetic. Rules vary across jurisdictions, but it is generally very difficult to retract a guilty plea and obtain a new trial — even when the government’s witnesses change their tune about what really happened. The government fights these legal moves all the time with the argument that the public has an interest in the “finality of judgments.”

Ironically, the prisoners who keep insisting upon their innocence face greater punishment. At the sentencing phase of a case, the judge typically wants to know if the convicted person will “accept responsibility” for his conduct and the consequences of his actions. Maintaining one’s innocence at sentencing will mean more, not less, prison time.

The same cruel twist will come into play down the road — when the innocent person becomes eligible for parole. Parole boards are looking for candidates who are contrite. Candidates who express remorse for their past actions stand a better chance than those who claim they have been unjustly imprisoned because they never committed the crime.

Some say that the nightmare scenario of innocents behind bars is inevitable because the system has to be administered by people — and people make mistakes. That truth should not be invoked to deflect consideration of reform proposals that can minimize unjust convictions. A re-examination of plea-bargaining practices is long overdue.