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Chicago Police Prosecutors Accused Of Colluding To Convict Four Innocent Black Teens, Report

A damning report unsealed Wednesday reveals allegations of collusion among Chicago police and prosecutors to win murder convictions against four Black teens, known as the Englewood Four, the  Chicago Tribune   reports.

The men– Michael Saunders, Vincent Thames, Harold Richardson and Terrill Swift– are using the scathing 7-page document drafted in March 2012 as a key piece of evidence in separate lawsuits against police. Arrested as teens, the men claim cops and Cook County prosecutors conspired against them to obtain wrongful convictions in the 1994 rape and murder of 30-year-old Nina Glover.

They spent 15 years in prison before DNA tests in 2011 matched Glover’s body to dead convicted murderer Johnny “Maniac” Douglas . A judge threw out their convictions and later granted the men certificates of innocence.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the document should be unsealed given recent developments in a pending lawsuit from one of the victims, the Tribune report says. It details an interview by FBI special agent Jeffrey Moore of former Assistant State’s Attorney Terence Johnson , one of two prosecutors who worked with detectives in approving charges against the four Black men.

Johnson alleged that police fed forced statements to the Englewood Four. Prosecutors in the felony review unit approved charges only to maintain cushy relationships with officers and other misconduct.

The strategy was to use the subjects against each other ,” the unsealed report said. “ They [Englewood Four] were told the detectives needed a witness, and if they were forthcoming and credible, they would be the witness .”

 

A prosecutor named in the report told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday that any allegations of misconduct are simply “false.” Lawyers for police and prosecutors said unsealing the report was an attempt to use media to push a wrongful conviction agenda.

The Cook County Board also approved a $5.6 million settlement Wednesday with Swift, who also tentatively settled with the city for an as-yet undisclosed amount, according to the Tribune. A ttorneys for the city in the pending federal cases of the three other men filed a motion asking a judge to schedule a settlement conference.

We hope the men continue to fight in a case that is symbolic of problems in the criminal justice system, not just in Chicago, but across the nation.

SOURCE: Chicago Tribune , Chicago Sun-Times

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Video Game Helps White Teaches Understand Unconscious Racial Bias

R esearchers at the University of Wisconsin are hopeful that a video game can help reduce implicit racial bias in K-12 classrooms.

They are spending the summer designing a virtual reality program with teachers from two school districts. The game puts teachers in real life situations that Black students encounter at predominantly White schools, Education Week reports.

Players experience microaggressions , such as being mistaken for other students of color.

“If you are calling students by the wrong name, a very simple strategy is to get to know them as individuals,” Christine Pribbenbow , a senior scientist, told Education Week.

Pribbenbow, who heads the project, said that typically happens because teachers group students together in their minds by race—not as individuals.

Unconscious teacher bias is pervasive and powerful, a study from Johns Hopkins University found. White teachers who expect Black students to underachieve often act unconsciously to reinforce their expectations.

Pribbenbow has experience creating video games that address bias. She was one of the lead developers of a video game called Fair Play , which lets users experience the first year of graduate school from the perspective of a Black student named Jamal.

In the game, Jamal experiences microaggressions, tokenism, and other forms of implicit bias from students and professors. A fellow student, in one encounter, assumes Jamal is on campus as a worker for a catering company.

Professors who played that game were later surveyed to assess their takeaways. A change in perspective was one of the most important results.

Pribbenbow said, “A critical piece in decreasing bias is being able to step in students’ shoes and understand what they are going through.”

Researchers are hopeful that the new video game will be as effective for K-12 educators as Fair Play has been for college professors.

  SOURCE: Education Week

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WATCH: Baltimore Cop’s Body Camera Reportedly Captures Him Planting Drugs

WATCH: Baltimore Cop’s Body Camera Reportedly Captures Him Planting DrugsWATCH: Baltimore Cop’s Body Camera Reportedly Captures Him Planting Drugs

T he Baltimore Police Department and city prosecutors are investigating body camera footage flagged by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender as depicting an officer planting drugs in January, the  Baltimore Sun  reports.

Police said they have not reached any conclusions about the conduct of officer Richard Pinheiro , who was identified as the officer in footage by the public defender’s office. The public defender’s office also identified two other officers in the video, which garnered national attention Wednesday, as Hovhannes Simonyan and Jamal Brunson .

One officer has been suspended and two others have been placed on administrative duty, the report says. Prosecutors and police have placed cases involving the officers under review as well, the reports says.

The video reportedly shows Pinheiro placing a soup can containing a plastic bag into a trash strewn lot. After his body camera automatically turned on and captured him placing the can in the lot, he announced that he was going to search it. He then retrieved the can and removed the plastic bag filled with white capsules.

An alert from the public defender’s office to prosecutors about the video last week led to a heroin possession charge being dropped against the man arrested for the drugs, The Sun reports.

This is a serious allegation of police misconduct ,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis,  NBC News reports. “ There is nothing that deteriorates the trust of any community more than thinking for one second that police officers … would plant evidence of crimes on citizens .”

Baltimore police released three other videos of the incident in question to provide “ other perspectives,”  however, the flagged footage has prompted an investigation into whether Pinheiro re-enacted the recovery of a bag of drugs once their body cameras were turned on.

An Office of Community Oriented Policing Services report concluded that research to understand the impact of body cameras is lacking but cameras should help cops to protect and serve people. This “ protect and serve ” can only be put into action in Baltimore once the department reaches success with proving that all of its officers are following rules governing the technology.

SOURCE: NBC News , The Baltimore Sun

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McDonald’s Employee Allegedly Tells Virginia Officer ‘I Ain’t Serving No Police’

A uniformed law enforcement officer claims a McDonald’s employee refused to serve him at a Henrico County, Virginia restaurant because he’s an officer, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Scott Naff , with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said the worker told him, “I ain’t serving no police,” and closed the drive-thru window after he paid for a meal, according to the officer’s wife, Cathy Naff , who wrote about the alleged incident and posted it to Facebook.

Cathy Naff stated that the incident happened while her husband was on a break at about 7 p.m. on July 13. A different employee eventually served her husband. Later that evening, she vented on social media, and the post received 3,500 shares by Monday, according to The Times-Dispatch.

The couple, “shocked” by what happened, decided to alert the restaurant’s corporate office and the franchise owner.

Freda Thornton , who owns the restaurant, apologized. Thornton clarified in a statement on Tuesday that her restaurants serves all customers, “including all authority figures who protect our wildlife and natural resources,” The Times-Dispatch reported.

Thornton added: “We regret this situation as it goes against our standards of providing a welcoming experience to everyone, and we have taken the appropriate action to resolve this situation,” declining to specify what disciplinary action she would take.

Cathy Naff told the newspaper that her husband “is one of the great guys” who would have treated the worker with respect.

“This situation is about how a law enforcement officer was treated by an employee of a local establishment who should have been trained by their employer and properly supervised on how to treat their customers,” she added.

SOURCE:   Richmond Times-Dispatch

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