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Corey Jones’s family sang the gospel song “Victory is Mine” as they walked out of a Florida courthouse, celebrating after a judge handed a 25-year sentence to a former police officer for killing the stranded black motorist in 2015.

Fired Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja on Thursday became the first Florida law enforcement agent in nearly 30 years to be convicted and sentenced for an on-duty killing — and one of only a few officers nationwide.

Raja, 41, had told investigators he fired after Jones pulled a gun on him, but an audiotape of their encounter led prosecutors and jurors to believe Raja instigated their altercation. And last month a jury convicted Raja of manslaughter and attempted murder in the death of the 31-year-old musician who was gunned down after his SUV stalled on the road home from a nightclub performance.

“We knew what the truth was and we stood by that,” his father, Clinton Jones Sr., told reporters after Thursday’s sentencing. He said he never doubted Raja was the aggressor. “Because of the son we had raised and the type of character he had, we knew … it wasn’t our Corey.”

The families of both Raja and Jones had packed Circuit Judge Joseph Marx’s courtroom, but there was hushed silence as Marx pronounced sentence. He could have given Raja a life term, a sentence prosecutors sought.

“This has been a heartbreaking case,” Marx said. “I think it has had a profound effect on every single person who sat through this trial.”

Raja’s wife, Karine, had sought leniency so her husband could be a father to their two young children. She said the media and others had unfairly portrayed him as “a monster, the angel of death.” Raja, in blue jail jumpsuit, looked down often as she spoke.

“The wrong person was chosen to be a sacrificial lamb,” she said. “Raja is the man you wanted serving and protecting you.” His attorneys vow to appeal.

Prosecutors contended Raja escalated a seemingly routine interaction into a deadly confrontation with Jones, a housing inspector and part-time drummer. Raja’s attorneys argued his actions were in self-defense both for a police officer and under Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law.

Raja, of Asian descent, was in plain clothes for an auto burglary investigation team when he spotted Jones’ SUV at 3:15 a.m. on Oct. 18, 2015. Jones was headed home from a nightclub performance by his reggae band when his vehicle stalled on a dark highway off-ramp. He had a concealed-weapons permit and carried a handgun, purchased days earlier to protect his $10,000 drum set, which was in the SUV.

Raja, wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap, drove an unmarked van the wrong way up an off ramp within feet of the SUV.

Prosecutors said Raja never identified himself as an officer and acted so aggressively Jones must have thought he was about to be carjacked or killed. Raja’s supervisor testified the officer had been told to don a police vest if he approached a civilian. He didn’t, nor did he pull his badge.

What police didn’t know at first was that Jones had been talking to a tow-truck dispatcher on a recorded line. That recording shows Jones saying “Huh?” as his door opens. Raja yells, “You good?” Jones says he is. Raja replies twice, “Really?” with Jones replying “Yeah.”

Suddenly, Raja shouts at Jones to raise his hands, using an expletive. Jones replies, “Hold on!” and Raja repeats his demand.

Prosecutors believe Jones pulled his gun and tried to run. Raja fired three shots; Jones ran down an embankment. Prosecutors said he threw his gun, but Raja fired three more times, 10 seconds after the first volley. One of the bullets pierced the man’s heart. Jones was also hit in both arms.

Prosecutors said Raja, not knowing of the audio recording, sought to deceive investigators. He claimed he said “Police, can I help you?” as Jones jumped from the SUV. He also told them Jones leapt backward and pointed his gun, forcing him to fire. Raja said Jones ran but turned and again pointed his gun, forcing him to fire the second volley.

Prosecutors charged Raja with manslaughter, saying his actions created the confrontation and showed “culpable negligence.” They also charged him with attempted murder, saying no matter which of Raja’s six shots killed Jones, the second volley was a conscious effort to kill the fleeing man.

The last Florida officer sentenced for an on-duty killing was Miami’s William Lozano in 1989. The Hispanic officer fatally shot a black motorcyclist who he said tried to hit him. A passenger died when the motorcycle crashed. Three days of rioting followed.

Convicted of two manslaughter counts in a Miami trial and sentenced to seven years, Lozano never served time. State appellate court justices dismissed the verdict, saying the case should have been moved from Miami because of racial tensions. Lozano was acquitted at a 1993 retrial in Orlando.

Source: Fox News National

A former police officer in Florida has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted in the shooting death of a driver whose car had broken down.

Circuit Judge Joseph Marx issued the sentence Thursday to Nouman Raja,41, a former officer in Palm Beach Gardens who was found guilty of killing of 31-year-old Corey Jones on Oct. 18, 2015.

“This has been a heartbreaking case,” Marx said. “I think it has had a profound effect on every single person who sat through this trial.”

Nouman Raja listens to Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis during his sentencing hearing Thursday, April 25, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Fla.(Associated Press)

Nouman Raja listens to Chief Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis during his sentencing hearing Thursday, April 25, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Fla.(Associated Press)

Prosecutors said Jones, who was a member of a reggae band, was heading home from a performance at a nightclub when he pulled off to the side of the road after his car broke down.

Raja, who was dressed in plainclothes and driving an unmarked white van as a part of an auto burglary investigation team, approached Jones but never properly identified himself as a police officer, prosecutors said.

Jones had a concealed-weapons permit and was carrying a handgun.

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At the time of the encounter, Jones had been on his phone, talking to a tow-truck dispatcher and the call was recorded. But police were not initially aware of the recording.

“You good?” the police officer is heard asking Jones.

“Yeah,” Jones responds.

Suddenly, Raja shouts at Jones to raise his hands, using an expletive. Jones replies, “Hold on!” and Raja repeats his demand.

Prosecutors believe Jones pulled his gun and tried to run away, Raja fired three shots and Jones ran down an embankment.

Jones then threw his gun, but Raja fired three more times, 10 seconds after the first volley. One of the bullets pierces Jones’ heart while other shots hit him in both arms, according to prosecutors.

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Prosecutors said Raja, not knowing of the tow-truck dispatcher recording, sought to deceive investigators. He claimed he said, “Police. Can I help you?” as Jones jumped from the SUV. He also told them Jones leaped backward and pointed his gun, forcing the officer to fire. Raja said Jones ran but turned and again pointed his gun, forcing the officer to fire the second volley.

Raja was charged with manslaughter and attempted murder. His sentencing marks the first time in 30 years that a Florida law enforcement agent has been convicted and sentenced for an on-duty killing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National

A white former Chicago police officer convicted of killing a black teenager was emotionally distraught in the days that followed the 2014 shooting, according to a newly released psychologist’s report.

The report was among nearly 90 unsealed court filings related to Jason Van Dyke’s prosecution released Wednesday in response to a lawsuit by media organizations.

Dr. Laurence Miller, a psychologist hired by the defense, worked with Van Dyke as he prepared for trial. In April 2016, the Florida-based psychologist interviewed Van Dyke via Skype.

Van Dyke told Miller that “time froze” when he shot Laquan McDonald 16 times, the report said. The 41-year-old officer added that he was “not that good a shot with the handgun” and thought the shots may have missed the 17-year-old as he walked down the road while holding a small knife.

“He (recalled) thinking, ‘Why isn’t (McDonald) falling, why isn’t he stopping?'” the report said.

Dashcam video of the shooting shows Van Dyke continued firing when McDonald was on the ground.

Miller noted Van Dyke said he didn’t feel like himself upon returning to work. He told Miller that when co-workers came to shake his hand, “I just felt shell-shocked.” The officer declined to join his partner days later in pursuing a gun-wielding suspect after the call for help came from the same 7-Eleven where they had parked before pursuing McDonald, Miller said.

“His partner ran after the suspect while Van Dyke stood by the car ‘pretending to be looking,'” wrote Miller.

A key moment from the trial excluded from the psychologist’s report was when prosecutors cross-examined Miller. Just before arriving to the scene, Van Dyke told his partner, “Oh my God, we are going to have to shoot the guy,” according to Miller.

Van Dyke was sentenced in January to nearly seven years in prison. With credit for time served while awaiting his sentencing and projected day-for-day credit for good conduct, records show Van Dyke is scheduled to be released in February 2022.

Source: Fox News National

An Alabama teacher whose infant was diagnosed with cancer received over 100 sick days from coworkers who pooled their own together so he could spend time with his child.

David Green, a teacher at Mae Jemison High School in Huntsville, ran out of sick days at work, according to his wife, Megan, who posted a plea to Facebook last month.

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She detailed that the family wanted Green to be able to spend time with Kinsley, their daughter who at 10 months old was diagnosed with leukemia and undergoing chemotherapy at a hospital in Birmingham.

“Kinsley is the biggest daddy’s girl and needs him to be here as often as he can, so she would be so thankful for any donated days so she can spend time with her Daddy.”

Green’s wife asked any educators throughout the state if they could donate their own sick time — and they pulled through.

According to WHNT, teachers and administrators donated more than 100 of their own sick days for Green, who reportedly only need roughly 40 days.

Educators in the Huntsville, Alabama area donated more than 100 of their own sick days to David Green so he could spend time with his family.

Educators in the Huntsville, Alabama area donated more than 100 of their own sick days to David Green so he could spend time with his family. (Courtesy of Megan Green)

The principal of Goldsmith Schiffman Elementary told the news station that a teacher at the school “took the news story and [emailed] it out to the entire faculty.”

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“You know, you want to send words of encouragement, you want to do something to help, but this was a real physical way that we could help him and his family,” Anna Kachelman, a first-grade teacher at the school, said.

Anyone looking to assist the Green family can find their GoFundMe page and Amazon wishlist online.

Source: Fox News National

As Congress and the White House have struggled to reach a deal on immigration reform, a D.C. think tank released a study Wednesday estimating that about 33,000 more illegal immigrants than previously thought were graduating from U.S. high schools every year.

The study, released on Wednesday by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), reached a 98,000 figure after applying public school graduation rates, among subgroups, to the estimated total number of illegal immigrants who reached high school graduation age (125,000). A previous estimate from 2003 put the number of illegal-immigrant high school graduates at 65,000.

MPI, which describes itself as a “nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank,” reported that California and Texas graduated the most illegal immigrant students with 27,000 and 17,000 respectively. Those two states represented 44 percent of the graduates while Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois graduated at least 4,000 each — 5,000 in Florida’s case.

Many, if not all, of those 98,000 students likely won’t obtain protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — which protects around 680,000 who came to the U.S. as minors — as the administration has refused to accept requests from individuals who never held protected status.

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DACA likely will be a part of any immigration deal that Congress passes since Democrats repeatedly have demanded the president address that through legislation.

The number of graduates could be higher given that MPI used Census data to inform its study. Noting that illegal immigrants had an incentive to stay undetected, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor looked at the issue but bypassed population surveys and looked at data including border apprehensions and visa overstays.

The joint study, released in 2018 with Yale University, estimated that about 22.1 million illegal immigrants lived in the United States — roughly double the 11.3 million figure that MPI cited in its research.

MPI’s estimate came as the Trump administration has pressed Congress to address the growing crisis at the southern border. As unprecedented numbers of migrants have tried crossing the border, law enforcement agencies have faced limits over how long they could detain migrants — and ultimately had to release some into the United States and Mexico.

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The study also came amid questions over how much tax money U.S. citizens have paid in support of services for illegal immigrants — an issue that President Trump and many others have highlighted during his administration.

Trump’s Commerce Department appeared to address the issue in 2018 when it announced it would add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census. Democrats blasted the administration for depriving states and localities of data used to provide government services.

A 2017 study found that illegal immigrants consumed at least $100 billion a year in taxpayer benefits — including from federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.

Although Trump has threatened to shut down asylum entry, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appeared to focus on building a southern border wall and fortifying ports of entry. Describing the department’s “robust relationship” with the military, Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan told Fox News’ Dana Perino that even without Congress’ assistance, he expected substantial progress on a border wall in 2019.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, meanwhile, indicated she wanted to address economic issues before tackling immigration in Congress.

“Our view of how we go forward is if we can change people’s financial security … if we can give people confidence, end some of their insecurities about their own economic situation, there will be a better atmosphere among some who are opposed to immigration in the country,” she said earlier in April.

The California Democrat also pushed back on the president’s rhetoric, accusing him of engaging in “tantrums.” “We all know we need to secure the border,” she said at a party retreat in April.

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“We don’t need a lecture or tantrums from the president on that score,” she added. “But, we do want to work together for comprehensive immigration reform, and I am pleased to see it reported that [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell is ready to talk about that because we have a symptom at the border.”

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) reportedly started drafting immigration legislation to propose after the House addresses DACA and the Temporary Protected Status program. Although legislation has been introduced to address those issues, they awaited action in the House Judiciary Committee.

Source: Fox News National

The death certificate of Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger revealed that the notorious criminal died last year from “blunt force injuries of the head.”

The document obtained by Fox News from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources on Thursday showed that the 89-year-old was found dead on Oct. 30, 2018 at 8:21 a.m.

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The death certificate of Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger revealed that the notorious criminal died last year from “blunt force injuries of the head.”

The death certificate of Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger revealed that the notorious criminal died last year from “blunt force injuries of the head.” (West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources)

He sustained injuries as a result of being “assaulted by other(s),” which occurred in his “prison cell” at the U.S. Penitentiary, Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, W.V., the certificate said.

The “final manner of death” was deemed to be a homicide, according to the document.

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The death of Bulger, who was a fugitive for 16 years and sentenced to life in prison in 2013, came after he was moved from a prison in Florida and had a stop in Oklahoma City before arriving at the high-security facility in West Virginia.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News National

A pipeline company was fined nearly $3.35 million on Thursday for causing the worst California coastal spill in 25 years.

A judge issued a fine and penalties against Plains All American Pipeline for a 2015 spill that sent 140,000 gallons of crude oil gushing onto Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles. The spill from a corroded pipeline blackened popular beaches for miles, killed wildlife and hurt tourism and fishing.

Federal inspectors found that Plains had made several preventable errors, failed to quickly detect the pipeline rupture and responded too slowly as oil flowed toward the ocean.

Plains operators working from a Texas control room more than 1,000 miles away had turned off an alarm that would have signaled a leak and, unaware a spill had occurred, restarted the hemorrhaging line after it had shut down, which only made matters worse, inspectors found.

Last year, a Santa Barbara County jury found the Houston-based company guilty of a felony count of failing to properly maintain its pipeline and eight misdemeanor charges, including killing marine mammals and protected sea birds.

Plains apologized for the spill and paid for the cleanup. The company’s 2017 annual report estimated costs from the spill at $335 million, not including lost revenues.

The fine was well short of the more than $1 billion in penalties prosecutors had sought. However, additional damages could be levied at a July restitution hearing.

“We take our responsibility to safely deliver energy resources very seriously, and we are committed to doing the right thing,” the Houston-based firm said in a statement Thursday. “We are sorry that this release happened, and we have and will continue to work hard to re-earn the trust of area residents.”

The spill crippled the local oil business because the pipeline was used to transport crude to refineries from seven offshore rigs, including three owned by Exxon Mobil, that have been idle since the spill.

Plains has applied for permission to build a pipeline.

Conservation groups that oppose offshore drilling in the area are opposed.

“It’s great to see Plains All American Pipeline held accountable for the ecological catastrophe they brought to the Gaviota Coast in 2015. That stretch of coastline has some of the last untouched bluffs and beaches in all of Southern California,” Mark Morey, chairman of the Santa Barbara chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, said in a statement. “But the idea that this company would be permitted to continue operating in such a naturally rich and unique area is absurd.”

Source: Fox News National

One of the seven puppies that were rescued after being dropped behind the back of a dumpster in California last week has died, according to animal services.

The foster volunteer who took in the pups said they believe the one who died was either the runt of the litter, or might have been at the bottom of the plastic bag that was dumped behind an auto parts store in Coachella on April 18.

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“He was just so weak and held on for as long as he could,” the foster wrote in a Facebook post. “When I got him he was pale and kind of flat looking, so I think he was the cushion that saved his siblings.”

The volunteer believes “he was at the bottom and took the hit when all of his siblings landed on him,” but the other six dogs, who were around 3 days old when they were discovered last week, are “thriving.”

Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, was arrested at her home in Coachella, California, on Monday, officials said.

Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, was arrested at her home in Coachella, California, on Monday, officials said. (Riverside County Animal Services)

Surveillance footage was released of 54-year-old Deborah Sue Culwell allegedly dumping the litter of pups. She was arrested at her home on Monday, where Riverside County Animal Services found and impounded 38 dogs living in squalor.

“Most of the dogs appeared to be in somewhat healthy condition, but some were aggressive or fearful,” John Welsh, of Riverside County Animal Services, said in a news release. “The house was in a state of disrepair.”

Authorities impounded 38 dogs from Culwell's home.

Authorities impounded 38 dogs from Culwell’s home. (Riverside County Animal Services)

The 38 dogs are currently being cared for at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms, where veterinarians said none of the dogs appear to have serious illnesses.

Culwell, meanwhile, still maintains ownership of the dogs, according to Welsh. He said that each day the 38 dogs remain in the care of Riverside County Animal Services, Culwell is billed $570 in boarding and care fees. That number excludes the cost of “vaccinations, examination fees, medications, nor state-mandated fees” that are necessary for the dogs.

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Officials said Culwell has 10 days to request a hearing to maintain or relinquish ownership of the dogs, but after that period is over, animal services can work to rehome the dogs.

Culwell faces up to seven felony counts of animal cruelty. According to online records from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, she’s scheduled to appear in court on June 18.

Source: Fox News National

Kansas child welfare authorities investigated two reports of possible abuse or neglect involving a Wichita couple in the 17 months before their 3-year-old son was found dead in his crib.

The Kansas Department of Children and Families on Thursday completed its investigation into the April 12 death of Zaiden Javonovich, who authorities believe was dead days before his body was discovered.

In a report summary obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request, the agency said it found physical abuse and neglect in the case but provided no other details.

Zaiden’s mother, Brandi Marchant, 22, and his father, Patrick Javonovich, 28, are charged with felony murder and child abuse in Zaiden’s death. His body was found April 11 when police went to the home after receiving a call about a domestic disturbance. Zaiden’s 4-month-old brother, who is Marchant’s son, was found injured and hospitalized in critical condition.

In November 2017, the Department of Children and Families investigated possible emotional abuse after a report that Marchant made homicidal and suicidal statements in front of the children. One child who reported a homicidal statement mentioned Zaiden, according to the report. Several people were interviewed but investigators could not substantiate the claim.

A year later, the department was told the younger boy tested positive for marijuana at birth. The case could not be investigated as an abuse/neglect case because medical officials did not indicate the boy’s health was hurt by marijuana use, the summary states.

Instead, a Family in Need of Assessment case was started. A social worker who met with the couple found both children appearing healthy, with all necessary supplies for the infant, according to the report. The parents, who are not married, completed a federally required plan of safe care and in another visit, Marchant completed a Department of Children and Families safety plan. The case was closed Jan. 14.

The Wichita Eagle reported the agency rejected a request for information about the younger boy. Spokesman Eric Smith confirmed the department received a report of alleged abuse and is investigating.

Source: Fox News National

A white former Chicago police officer convicted of killing a black teenager in 2014 was emotionally distraught in the days that followed the shooting, according to a newly released psychologist’s report.

The report was among nearly 90 unsealed court filings related to Jason Van Dyke’s prosecution released Wednesday in response to a lawsuit by media organizations.

Dr. Laurence Miller, a psychologist hired by the defense, worked with Van Dyke as he prepared for trial. In April 2016, the Florida-based psychologist interviewed Van Dyke via Skype.

Van Dyke told Miller that “time froze” as he fired 16 shots at Laquan McDonald, the report said. The 41-year-old officer added that he was “not that good a shot with the handgun” and thought the shots may have missed the 17-year-old as he walked down the road while holding a small knife.

“He (recalled) thinking, ‘Why isn’t (McDonald) falling, why isn’t he stopping?'” the report said.

Miller noted Van Dyke said he didn’t feel like himself upon returning to work. He told Miller that when co-workers came to shake his hand, “I just felt shell-shocked.” The officer declined to join his partner days later in pursuing a gun-wielding suspect after the call for help came from the same 7-Eleven where they had parked before pursuing McDonald, Miller said.

“His partner ran after the suspect while Van Dyke stood by the car ‘pretending to be looking,'” wrote Miller.

A key moment from the trial excluded from the psychologist’s report was when prosecutors cross-examined Miller. Just before arriving to the scene, Van Dyke told his partner, “Oh my God, we are going to have to shoot the guy,” according to Miller.

Van Dyke was sentenced in January to nearly 7 years in prison. With credit for time served while awaiting his sentencing and projected day-for-day credit for good conduct, records show Van Dyke is scheduled to be released in February 2022.

Source: Fox News National


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