BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore officials on Wednesday authorized their largest settlement in a case involving alleged police misconduct: a $9 million award to a man who spent 21 years in prison for a wrongful murder and rape conviction.
In contrast to this settlement with James Owens, the city reached a $6.4 million settlement with the family of Freddie Gray, a young man who suffered a critical spinal injury in the back of a police van in 2015, triggering major protests and the city’s worst riots in decades.
In a statement via his lawyers, Owens said a settlement could never amount to true compensation, saying “no amount of money can make up for the years” he lost in prison. His legal team said the 57-year-old man, who will receive a series of payments over years, did not wish to speak directly to reporters.
Defense lawyer Charles Curlett Jr. said the authorized settlement concludes a period of “prolonged litigation and uncertainty” for Owens, who was cleared by DNA evidence of a young woman’s 1987 rape and slaying after a state court granted his request for post-conviction testing. He was freed in 2008.
“We are gratified to have reached an agreement in an amount that is appropriate given the facts of this case,” Curlett said in a phone interview.
In a statement to the five-member Board of Estimates, the city’s law office recommended approval of the settlement even though the Baltimore police force and the detectives who were sued “dispute virtually all of the material facts alleged by Mr. Owens.”
The messy case involved three members of Baltimore’s 1980s-era squad of detectives who were the basis of the TV crime drama “Homicide: Life on the Street,” a 1990s series based on a book by a former Baltimore Sun reporter.
Owen had filed a lawsuit against the city that was set to go to court in the coming weeks. In making its recommendation to settle, the law office cited the unpredictability of a jury trial and the “current legal environment surrounding the Baltimore City Police Department.”
Baltimore recently concluded its first year under a federal oversight program requiring expansive police reforms. The police force also made headlines earlier this year due to an explosive racketeering trial involving a corrupt unit of detectives.
The 1987 case was focused on the robbery, rape and killing of 24-year-old Colleen Williar, a college student and phone company employee. Police found no physical evidence linking Owens to the crime, but charged him on the basis of allegations made by one of Williar’s neighbors.
FISA Warrant For Carter Page Exposes Weak Basis
The Saturday release of the FBI’s heavily redacted FISA warrant application for Carter Page reveals that the Obama administration, eager to make a case to spy on a US citizen (and arguably the Trump campaign) cobbled together a combination of facts and innuendo from Page’s business dealings in Russia, several press reports of varying reliability, and of course, the infamous Clinton-funded “Steele Dossier,” which the FBI went to great lengths to justify despite being largely unable to verify its claims.
Perhaps the most concerning takeaway, however, is the stark disconnect between the FBI’s multiple allegations against Page versus the fact that he hasn’t been charged with a single crime after nearly two years of DOJ/FBI investigations.
Once issued, the FISA warrant and its subsequent renewals allowed the Obama administration to better spy on the Trump campaign using a wide investigatory net. As such, the October, 2016 application painted Page in the most criminal light possible, as intended, in order to convince the FISA judge to grant the warrant. It flat out accuses Page of being a Russian spy who was recruited by the Kremlin, which sought to “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law,” the application reads.
In order to reinforce their argument, the FBI presented various claims from the dossier as facts, such as “The FBI learned that Page met with at least two Russian officials” – when in fact that was simply another unverified claim from the dossier.
‘Pirate Attacks’ More Common In Caribbean
Modern-day pirate attacks in the Caribbean and Latin America are out of control, according to a Wednesday report which found a 163% spike in pirate activity that led to the loss of $948,690 in stolen goods. The report, produced by nonprofit group Oceans Beyond Piracy, found that 59% of the attacks involved robberies on yachts.
“We have observed a significant increase in violent incidents and anchorage crime, particularly in the anchorages of Venezuela and the recent violent incidents off Suriname in the first part of this year,” says Maise Pigeon, the report’s lead author. “Pirate activity in 2017 clearly demonstrates that pirate groups retain their ability to organize and implement attacks against ships transiting the region.”
Pirates have hit waters off the coast of Suriname hard.
In April, at least a dozen fishermen from Guyana went missing or were feared dead following a pirate attack in the area.
Guyana President David Granger called the attack a “massacre.”
And a fishing boat captain was shot dead after his ship was attacked in May. The rest of his crew survived.
The buccaneers also attacked anchorages in Venezuela, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Colombia and St. Lucia. -Marketwatch
Synopsis: Texas School Shooting
Around 7:40 a.m. CDT on May 18, 2018, Dimitrios Pagourtzis began to open fire in the art classroom at Sante Fe High School. The shooter has been taken into custody, 10 people have been fatally shot, and 13 others have been wounded.
From the perspective of those who were there
“I was sitting in my classroom and I heard very loud booms and I didn’t know what they were. I was confused but after I heard screaming, I figured out what they were, got up immediately and started to run. I almost ran out of the school but I hid instead with the other students. I was there for maybe 30 minutes I was on the phone with my mom the whole time. They found us and escorted us.” – Paige Curry (student)
“I heard people were hurt and the gunshots were from a classroom maybe three doors down. I heard five [shots] maybe. It was one boom, then another boom very loud. It wasn’t rapid.” – Paige Curry (student)
“You could smell the gunpowder that came from the gun. We were all scared because it was near us.” – Liberty Wheeler (student)
“The teachers told everybody to run after three shots were heard so we all took off and ran into the trees. Then we heard four more shots so we jumped the fence into some dude’s house and ran into a car wash. While we were sitting down trying to figure out what just happened I saw a girl who had been shot in the kneecap.” – Tyler Turner (student)
“A kid came out. He had a black-like trench coat on, a sawed-off shotgun with a pistol grip, and I seen something sharp on his chest. Then, he turned, and instead of looking our way, he just grabbed the backpack and went right back into the art room. We shut the door in our classroom, turned off all the lights, did everything we could to get the students safe. Then, the teacher actually ran and pulled the fire alarm, because we had no service to call 911 to let anyone know that there was a shooter.” – Damon Rabon (student)
‘Nobody was expecting this….nobody’
“He is a quiet boy. You would never think he would do anything like this.” – Stelios Sitaras (Greek Orthodox Priest)
“[Pagourtzis] was actually a pretty nice kid. Nobody was expecting this….nobody.” – Christopher Kurass (student)
“He’s been picked on by coaches before for smelling bad and stuff like that and he doesn’t really talk to very many people. He wears a trench coat every day and it’s like 90 degrees out here. I heard that he wore a shirt today and it said ‘born to kill,’ the shirt he was wearing, I don’t even know how the school can allow that.” – Dustin Severin (student)
“We also know information already that the shooter has information contained in his journal and cellphone that he said that not only did he want to commit the shooting, but he wanted to commit suicide after the shooting. As you probably know, he gave himself up and admitted at the time that he didn’t have the courage to commit the suicide that he wanted to take his own life earlier.” – Texas Governor Greg Abbott
On April 30th, 2018, Dimitrios Pagourtzis posted a photo of his shirt that said “Born To Kill” on his Facebook.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis posted numerous images of his black trench coat that he wore during the shooting, which had fascist and occultic pins/decals.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis made a Facebook post explaining the symbolism behind his pins/decals: “Hammer and Sickle = Rebellion, Rising Sun = Kamikaze Tactics, Iron Cross = Bravery, Baphomet = Evil, Cthulu = Power.”
Dimitrios Pagourtzis also posted a photo of a handgun, knife and tactical flashlight to his Instagram page.
Law enforcement also reports that the suspect posted an image of a Pentagram with the caption “dangerous days” on the Friday before the shooting.
Active shooter plan, and two armed police officers
On March 19, 2018, Sante Fe High School conducted an active shooter drill, which was hosted by the Santa Fe ISD Police Department.
“There was about 30 seconds to three minutes of straight chaos,” said Damon Rabon. While other students began to panic, Rabon and others who remembered the training they received acted upon their impulses. “Me and a couple other students were like, ‘Get in the corner, we’ve done this before, grab the desk, barricade the door. We were doing all that like we were taught to do.”
During the shooting, there were 2 armed police officers walking around the school. One officer was shot when the officer approached Dimitrios Pagourtzis, while other officers talked with Dimitrios Pagourtzis. Dimitrios Pagourtzis finally surrendered after officers talked him into surrendering. The episode of horror lasted around 30 minutes, according to witnesses and court records.
The school district agreed last fall that it would begin to arm teachers under the Texas school marshal program, which is designed to arm teachers in order to protect students.
What if teachers were armed? Could they have prevented more students from dying? If more teachers volunteer to arm themselves in states that allow these programs, some of these atrocities might be prevented in the future.
- Cynthia Tisdale (Substitute Teacher)
- Glenda Anne Perkins (Teacher)
- Sabika Sheikh (Student)
- Chris Stone (Student)
- Jared Black (Student)
- Shana Fisher (Student)
- Kimberly Vaughan (Student)
- Angelique Ramirez (Student)
- Christian Riley Garcia (Student)
- Aaron Kyle McLeod (Student)
The family of Dimitrios Pagourtzis released a statemement on May 19, 2018, saying that they are “shocked and confused” by what happened and the incident “seems incompatible with the boy we love.”
The shooter’s parents and classmates say that they saw no warning signs or any sort of trouble before the shooting.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis used his dad’s shotgun and .38 revolver.
These are the facts that have been released to the public so far, and as time goes on more will be revealed.
While evaluating all the evidence, eyewitness accounts, and stories, there is one conclusion that must be drawn from this event.
It starts in the home.
It starts with the parents.