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Widow of James Brady Dies at 73


Sarah Kemp Brady, who became a prominent gun control advocate after her husband, former White House Press Secretary James Brady, was shot during the attempt on President Ronald Reagan's life in 1981, died Friday after battling pneumonia, her family said in a statement. She was 73.

"Sarah courageously stepped up after Jim was shot to prevent others from enduring what our family has gone through, and her work has saved countless lives," the family's statement read.

John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the attempted assassination of President Reagan and of related charges. James Brady, Reagan, police officer Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy were shot March 30, 1981, as they left the Washington Hilton Hotel. Shot in the head, Brady suffered the longest lasting injuries.

He had been partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair since the assassination attempt, and his speech was slurred. James Brady died in August at age 73. The medical examiner's autopsy found the cause of death to be the gunshot wound and its consequences.

In 1989, Sarah Brady, who was an elementary school teacher, became affiliated with Handgun Control, Inc., which was renamed the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in 2001. She became chair in 1991.

"Our nation has lost a great hero, and I have lost a dear friend," Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence President Dan Gross said in a statement. "I am certain that she would want nothing more than to know we are carrying on her and Jim’s legacy with the same fiery compassion and dedication that made her so remarkable."

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, known as the Brady Bill or the Brady Law, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. It required a five-day waiting period and background checks for handgun purchases.

"There are countless people walking around today who would not be were it not for Sarah Brady’s remarkable resilience, compassion and – what she always said she enjoyed the most – her hard work in the trenches with this organization, which she continued right up to the very end," Gross said.

Sarah Brady is survived by her son James "Scott" Brady, Jr. and her stepdaughter Melissa "Missy" Brady Camins. 

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ron Edmonds

Parole Violator Swings Knife at Police: Cops


Police in New Haven have arrested a 22-year-old parole violator who took a kitchen knife into his bedroom and swung it at officers who confronted him on Thursday, authorities said.

According to police, Ryan Cortez admitted to smoking marijuana and PCP prior to the encounter. His mother called police to their home on Rosette Street out of concern for her son, who went into his room with a filet knife and closed the door.

Officers tried to talk to Cortez, who was lying in bed, but he ignored them, police said. One officer put his hand on Cortez's shoulder, at which point Cortez swung the knife at him and "fought violently."

Cortez finally dropped the knife after a K-9 grabbed his forearm. Police said he pushed an officer to the ground and fell on top of him before police were able to put him in handcuffs.

An ambulance brought Cortez to the hospital for treatment of a dog bite from the K-9. Police said he was aggressive and violent toward hospital staff.

According to police, Cortez has a history of violence and was in violation of his parole.

He was arrested and charged with four counts of criminal attempt to assault police officers, four counts of second-degree threatening, four counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, four counts of interfering with police officers, carrying a dangerous weapon and criminal attempt to commit animal cruelty.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police Department

Schwarzenegger "Furious" Over Ind. Religious Freedom Law


Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger blasted Indiana's controversial religious freedom law, saying he was "furious" Republicans supported it and that it's “bad for the country” and bad for his Republican Party.

“As an American, I’m incredibly concerned about what happened in Indiana this week and the threat of similar laws being passed in other states," Schwarzenegger wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Friday morning. "As a Republican, I’m furious. Divisive laws like the one Indiana passed aren't just bad for the country, they're also bad for our party."

On Thursday, lawmakers in Indiana and Arkansas approved revisions to the laws to include protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals from discrimination, after a widespread outcry from businesses and gay-rights groups.

Schwarzenegger, who served as California's governor from 2003 to 2011, said focusing on such measures “neglects” a large number of “critical” voters. As an example, he noted that since the battle over California's Proposition 8 in 2007, the percentage of registered Republican voters dropped from 35 percent to 28 percent today.

“Maybe that’s a coincidence,” the action-movie star said. “But there is no question that our party is losing touch with our voters, especially with the younger ones who are growing the registration rolls.”

Schwarzenegger said in order for the GOP to grow, the party must focus "on real solutions to problems Americans are facing," like infrastructure, cost of airport delays, the need to higher graduation rates and clean air.

Schwarzenegger cited the social media response to Indiana’s measure, saying it didn't just come from “eccentric” California but rather from across the country: "According to Zignal Labs, as of Wednesday night, #StandWithIndiana had been tweeted 5,571 times. Meanwhile, #BoycottIndiana was tweeted 430,728 times."

He urged the GOP to learn from NASCAR, the NBA and businesses like Wal-Mart who opposed the legislation.

"Those businesses are doing the right thing, but they have also done the math. As a party, we need to take a similarly realistic look," Schwarzenegger wrote.

"What happened in Indiana should be a teachable moment for us," he added.

Photo Credit: AP

Man Kills Self at Universal Studios


A man died from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound near the new "Despicable Me" ride at Universal Studios Friday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

A woman who works at a restaurant at the park called park security officers after seeing her ex-boyfriend within the park.

The two have a child together, but he had two restraining orders against him after incidents at the park. One was after he allegedly vandalized her car in the parking lot and another inside the park about a week ago.

A deputy found the man in a secluded designated smoking area, but when she asked him to stand up, he instead pulled out a gun and shot himself.

Aerial footage showed rides in the area of the suicide had been stopped and the area was cleared of parkgoers. Because of the isolated area of the shooting, park visitors heard the shot but did not witness it.

Parkgoers said all they knew was that a man with a gun was nearby.

Universal Studios said it was working with authorities.

"LA County Sheriff's has confirmed there was a possible suicide on our property. We are working closely with law enforcement and corporate security," a spokesperson for the theme park said in a statement.

"The safety and security of our guests is always of utmost importance. Business remains open."

No one else was injured. It's not clear if the man was an employee or a park visitor.

Universal Studios is owned by NBCUniversal, the same parent company as NBC 4.

Conan Nolan, Kate Larsen and City News Service contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: KNBC

Waterbury Considers Fireworks at Holy Land


Officials in Waterbury are considering moving this year's Fourth of July fireworks display from the traditional site above Municipal Stadium to Holy Land USA, a hilltop visible from much of the city.

"It could be good, because anybody who goes to the highway can see the fireworks. It’d be nice to see the cross. I think it’d be beautiful," said Willie Dilday.

Above Municipal Stadium is where Waterbury looked for fireworks on the last Fourth of July, and many people did their looking from the Bunker Hill neighborhood.

But that cross is exactly why Jim Jemele says there should be no fireworks show above Holy Land.

"I think that's out of the question. I don't think any fireworks should be at Holy Land. It's a holy spot. Fireworks don't belong there, OK? They belong at the stadium," he said.

It shouldn’t be hard for Mayor Neil O’Leary to win permission from Holy Land to set up the launchers there. He’s part of the nonprofit group that bought the hilltop two years ago.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Malloy Proclaims "Husky Weekend" as UConn Heads to Final Four


The UConn women's basketball team is heading to the Final Four, and

Gov. Dannel Malloy has proclaimed "Husky Weekend" in their honor


The state will observe "Husky Weekend" from Friday through Sunday, when the UConn women will take on Maryland in Tampa. If they win, the governor will extend "Husky Weekend" through the title game on Tuesday.

Malloy is asking residents to show their Husky pride by wearing UConn gear or white-and-blue clothing and displaying UConn flags and signs.

"The UConn women’s basketball team leads the nation in strength, spirit and drive, and under the leadership of Geno Auriemma have reached their eighth consecutive Final Four," Malloy said in a statement.

"We will be cheering the team on this weekend, and I urge all Connecticut residents to show the nation how proud we are of our hometown team. Let’s get behind them – and let’s show the nation what UConn basketball is all about," the governor added.

The UConn women are competing in their eighth Final Four in a row and seeking their third straight national title.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

"Don't Kill Me, Man: Victim Begged


The man who says he was the victim of a baseball bat attack after a crash in Miami-Dade, Florida, said he pleaded with his attackers for his life.

"Don't kill me, man," Roger Flores, 55, said he told his attackers, whom police have identified as Brian Boyd, 19, and Rovantai Payne, 20. Both men face a bond hearing Saturday.

Despite the violent assault, Flores said he is a forgives his accused attackers. "I'm a father, I have sons and I forgive," he said.

Police say Flores' truck was hit from behind by a car driven by Boyd, with Payne as his passenger, near Southwest 112th Street and U.S. 1 around 5 a.m. Thursday.

Boyd came up to Flores' truck, started pounding on the window and told Flores to drive away, according to an arrest affidavit.

When Flores refused, Boyd jumped into the bed of his truck and smashed the back window, then crawled into the truck and began choking and punching Flores, police said.

Meanwhile, Payne grabbed a baseball bat and started hitting the truck, smashing the windshield and passenger window, the affidavit said.

The men got in the truck and started hitting him with the baseball bat at one point, Flores said. He later told officers he was about to lose consciousness when he saw police lights approaching.

When the officers arrived, Payne and Boyd were in the bed of the truck. Both jumped out but Payne started hitting the truck with the bat in front of the officers, the affidavit said.

After they were arrested, Boyd struck an officer twice, kicked out the rear window of a police cruiser, and later, at the police station, threw chairs, struggled with officers and threatened to "f--- each one of y'all up," police said.

Boyd and Payne are scheduled to appear in bond court Saturday to face charges including burglary with aggravated battery and criminal mischief for their alleged attack on Flores.

Payne was also charged with resisting an officer without violence, while Boyd was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and threats to a public servant.

It was unknown if they have attorneys.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections

House on Fire, Wires Down in Shelton


Firefighters are responding to Stendahl Drive in Shelton, where power lines are down and flames are coming from the outside of a home, according to the Echo Hose Fire Company.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske

Noose at UConn Health Not the First at CT Construction Sites


The noose found hanging at a construction site outside Farmington's UConn Health Center isn't the first to turn up at job sites managed by Turner Construction, according to the NAACP in Connecticut.

NAACP spokesman Scot X. Esdaile said hate crimes have been reported at Turner Construction sites for nearly a decade.

The most recent occurred in 2007 in Stamford, when, according to the Wilton Villager, a construction worker at the Royal Bank of Scotland found nooses near his work site.

"Ten years later and we still haven't gotten it right. The common denominator is Turner Construction in Connecticut," Esdaile said. "It's extremely important that the FBI and professionals that know how to deal with hate crime deal with it swiftly and decisively."

Esdaile said he plans to reach out to the Hartford NAACP on Monday and hopes to arrange a sit-down meeting with officials from both UConn Health Center and Turner Construction.

"Turner Construction needs to eradicate this problem because it's been lingering around for almost a decade," Esdaile said.

Turner Construction released a statement Thursday saying the company has a "zero tolerance policy for harassment and is committed to a harassment free workplace."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man's Throat Slashed, Left in Car


Police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are investigating the brutal killing of a young father whose body was left inside a car with his throat slashed, and was later discovered by a group of children.

The victim, 24-year-old Jamai Francis, is described by family members as a dedicated father to a five-year-old little girl. Speaking exclusively to NBC 6 South Florida, Francis' family, still reeling from the news of his death, say he was a fun person who was all about family.

"Every time you use to see him, he's always laughing, smiling, cracking jokes. Just a fun person to be around," sister Elizabeth Aderly says.

Aderly also shared a video of her late brother at a birthday party for his daughter making cotton candy and jumping around inside the bouncy house.

Francis' other sister, Kadisha Davis, was too emotional to speak on camera.

Aderly says she just spoke to her brother early Thursday. The two spoke fondly of upcoming plans for Easter weekend.

"We were just standing right here talking and laughing," she says.

According to his sisters, Francis left for his girlfriend Vonisha's house located in the 200 block of 24th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale Thursday evening.

Vonisha could not speak through tears, but her mother, Veronica Williams, said Francis was kind and always treated the family well.

"He was happy, sweet and always smiling," Williams said.

From there, the women say he left the house for unknown reasons Thursday evening just after dark.

A few hours later, the neighborhood turned into a crime scene as police responded to calls about a dead body left in an idling car.

According to neighbor Myrtle Blakey, children were outside playing basketball around 10 p.m. in the area of 228 Southwest 22nd Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. That's when they spotted the car going around in circles.

"All of a sudden the car stopped. They went up to see the car, what was going on, and he was laying back. His throat was cut," Blakey says.

The group of children also claim to have seen another man running out of the car. This claim has not been verified, but the police investigation into the death is ongoing.

Anyone with information is urged to call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vonisha Williams

14-Year-Old Girl Missing From New Britain


Police have issued a Silver Alert for 14-year-old Brianna Williamson, who disappeared from New Britain High School on Wednesday morning, according to her mother.

Brianna's mother, Marycela, said her daughter went to the school nurse around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and by 9:10, she was gone. School officials called home to say they didn't know where Brianna was.

Family members said Brianna has never run away before. They haven't seen or heard from her since Wednesday and they don't know who she's with.

"I'm scared, you know, she could be in danger," Marycela said. "I'm not sure."

Brianna is 5-foot-1 and weighs 87 pounds. She has brown eyes and brown hair and was last seen wearing a black Hollister jacket, black pants and black "Toms" shoes.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call New Britain police at 860-826-3000.

Photo Credit: Family Photos

Pa. Woman Tried to Join ISIS: Feds


A Philadelphia mother of two who goes by the name of "YoungLioness" on Twitter was arrested by federal authorities Friday and charged with trying to support ISIS with money and resources.

Keonna Thomas, 30, appeared in court in full black dress with only her eyes showing just hours after her arrest. According to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. attorney’s office, she wanted to join, fight with and die for ISIS.

The only reason she didn’t get on a plane last Sunday to put her plan into action was because federal agents spooked her two days before the flight when they raided her home, federal prosecutors argued, saying Thomas was a flight risk and should be detained.

The North Philly woman, who neighbors said lived quietly with her two daughters and grandmother, posted statements on Twitter accounts that led authorities to believe she was not only intent on supporting the terrorist organization, but also looked forward to martyrdom, prosecutors allege.

Thomas, also known as Fatayat Al Khilafah and YoungLioness on social media, began communicating with a man who identified himself as a violent jihadi fighter in December of 2013, according to the complaint. She talked with him about donating money "to the ISIS brothers" and traveling to get more money.

Posts from her Twitter accounts also included statements about dying for the cause.

"I see why the mujahideen [violent jihadi fighters] Sacrifice Dunya [life on earth] for Akhirah [the afterlife] there's no comparison," Thomas tweeted around Jan. 1, 2014, according to the complaint. A few days later, "Only thing I'm jealous of is when I see the smiles of shuhadaa [martyrs]."

Federal agents say Thomas communicated with two other co-conspirators about her travel plans and routes to enter Turkey. In one conversation on Feb. 17, a man who'd already traveled to Syria told Thomas his beliefs were so strong he'd either shoot or behead his own wife if she betrayed him. Thomas responded, "cutting head is more personal," according to the complaint.

"You probably want to do Istishadee [martyrdom operations] with me," the man said to Thomas that same day. Her alleged response: "that would be amazing ... a girl can only wish."

FBI agents say they tracked dozens more tweets and electronic messages from Thomas, who they say last week bought a plane ticket to fly from Philadelphia to Spain on March 29 after researching how to get from Barcelona to Istanbul.

Three American flags dot the front awning of Thomas' home on North 10th Street, which has been under surveillance by the FBI for the last week, according to neighbors who watched agents arrest Thomas Friday morning.

"She didn't bother nobody. She came and gone, she was always in her religion attire, you know," said neighbor Roni Patterson, whose children play with Thomas' kids.

Thomas will remain in custody. Her next court appearance is April 8.

If convicted, Thomas would face a maximum of 15 years in prison.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the videotaped beheadings of two American aid workers, two British aid workers and 21 Christians in Libya and burning alive a Jordanian Air Force Pilot in a cage.

Photo Credit: Susan Schary

Veteran Awarded Service Medals 50 Years Later


Fifty years after serving in the Korean War, a veteran from Connecticut finally got the medals he earned for his service in the U.S. Army.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, of Connecticut, joined Rep. Annie Kuster, of New Hampshire, on Friday to present 84-year old John Ekenbarger with five service medals.

Ekenbarger, formerly of Stafford Springs, was held prisoner by North Korean forces for almost three years. He was released in 1953 and returned to Stafford Springs, where he went on to raise a family, according to a news release from Courtney's office.

“The resilience it took for Mr. Ekenbarger to return from the terrible experience of being held prisoner by enemy forces, and rejoin his community is inspiring,” Courtney said in a statement Friday.

“I am honored to help preserve the story of Mr. Ekenbarger’s service and sacrifice by securing these medals, which will be an important part of his family’s heritage for future generations,” the congressman added.

Photo Credit: Office of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney

"Revenge Porn" Defendant Sentenced


A San Diego man convicted of identity theft and extortion after posting more than 10,000 sexually explicit photos of women to his so-called "revenge porn" website was sentenced on Friday to 18 years behind bars.

The sentencing of Kevin Bollaert ended an all-day hearing where a number of victims told of the humiliation inflicted by his website. Bollaert burst into tears as he listened to testimony from his mother and victims.

The sentence was at the high end of the range; Bollaert faced a maximum of 20 years. In explaining his punishment, the judge noted that he stacked the sentencing terms based on the multiple victims.

Considering credits for good behavior, Bollaert could be eligible for parole after 10 years, the judge noted.

Bollaert also must pay $10,000 in restitution.

It was the first case of its type in the United States, and California was the first state to prosecute someone for posting humiliating pictures online. Bollaert was convicted of 27 counts of identity theft and extortion in connection to the thousands of photos posted online.

Once they were published, Bollaert would then demand hundreds of dollars from individuals to remove their photos through a second website he owned.

Prosecutors called Bollaert "vindictive" and claimed he took pleasure out of hurting his female victims with the internet being his "tool of destruction." 

In court Friday, his parents told the judge their son has said he has shown remorse.

"He has said many times he wishes he never made the website...If he could go back and change it all, he would," they said in a statement to the court.

One after another victims shared how they were damaged by Bollaert's actions.

"It's just broken me on a level that's not describable," one woman told the court. "The only thing I have left is shame and anger."

Another explained how she is haunted by her photos being made public, saying,"If someone looks at me? Are they remembering me?" She also described her experience as a daily struggle.

A third victim said she has a hard time acknowledging Bollaert as a human being.

The case centered on a now defunct website called YouGotPosted.com, created by Bollaert so ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends could submit embarrassing photos of victims for revenge. The photos also linked to victims’ social media accounts.

Prosecutors say those who wanted to get the pictures taken down were redirected to another one of Bollaert's sites, ChangeMyReputation.com. There, the victims were charged $300 to $350 to have their photos removed.

State law prohibits anyone from putting identifiable nude photos online after a breakup, punishable with $1,000 or six months in jail.

Car Stolen With Dog Inside in Boston


A Massachusetts woman just wants her pet back after a dog walker's vehicle was stolen with the animal inside.

Boston Police are investigating the theft of the vehicle in the city's West Roxbury neighborhood. The dog walker was bringing another dog to its home at 585 Baker Street in the city's West Roxbury neighborhood when she saw her car, containing Pooh, a Shih Tzu/poodle mix, driving away.

Pooh's owner, Iris Sonnenschein of Brookline, shared photos of the dog.

"Please spread the word so we can get our dog back!" she wrote in an email.

The vehicle is a dark blue 2011 Subaru Outback with a Thule ski rack and Massachusetts plates reading "168 DC7."

Police responded to the theft around 2:30 p.m. Thursday. The car's owner's credit card, which was also in the vehicle, was used and declined at the Newton Highlands MBTA station around 3 p.m. and a Dunkin Donuts on Beacon Street in Brighton at 3:39 p.m.

Anyone with information on the theft of the car should call Boston Police at (617) 343-4566.

Anyone who sees Pooh is asked to call Sonnenschein at (617) 775-9872.

Photo Credit: Iris Sonnenschein
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Men: Taxi Kicked Us Out for Kissing


Two Chicago men say they were kicked out of a taxi on a city highway because they kissed in the backseat of the vehicle.

Passengers Shadi Ramini and Seth Day said they were on their way to get drinks with friends Wednesday night when they ordered a Blue Ribbon taxi through the Uber app, and then were kicked out on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, leaving one of the men injured.

“We shared just a very small kiss, like a big peck, like, excited to go out,” said Ramini.

Ramini said the cab driver saw the kiss and told them he would not take them to their destination.

The driver then allegedly pulled over on Lake Shore Drive between Montrose Avenue and Irving Park Road, telling the men to get out of the car.

“I got out and then Seth still refused to get out of the car,” said Ramini, adding that about 20 feet up the road he saw Seth get out of the car as the driver took off.

"He gets tripped up in the car and that’s where he got injured," Ramini said.

Day suffered scrapes and bruises on his arms and torso, and road burn on his lower back.

“He’s still, he’s very shaken up about it,” Ramini said.

Day told NBC 5 via email that he will be OK physically, but said, “I should be able to kiss whoever I want.”

“If it had been a female I was kissing, there would have been no problem.The fact that this all happened is mind-blowing to me,” he said. “I hope that this brings up more awareness in general for this issue.”

The men say they ordered the taxi through Uber but Uber said the driver was not employed through their company.

“No rider should ever have to go through an experience like this,” Uber said in a statement. “Not only is this Chicago taxi driver’s behavior unacceptable, it’s in clear violation of Illinois’ non-discrimination law and Uber’s zero tolerance discrimination policy. The driver was immediately removed from the platform.”

The driver leases his cab through Blue Ribbon Taxi in Chicago.

"It is not appropriate [for drivers] to stop like that unless they are threatened in some way," said Alex Jelovac, office manager of Blue Ribbon Taxi, who said discrimination based on sexual orientation is "not allowed at our company."

According to the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Human Rights Act “prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation.”

“It is a civil rights violation for any person to deny or refuse the full use and enjoyment of public accommodations, including such travel services as cab and taxi services, based upon unlawful discrimination,” the department said in a statement. “The Department of Human Rights would need to investigate any complaint to determine if there is substantial evidence of discriminatory conduct.”

Ramini and Day say they reported the incident to Chicago police. While no charges have been filed as of Friday, police said the incident is under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago

Escaped Ill. Killer Back in Custody


A convicted killer who attacked a guard and escaped a Kankakee jail facility earlier in the week was back in police custody early Saturday, officials said.

The Kankakee County Sheriff's Department announced Kamron Taylor's arrest in a message on Facebook. No details about Taylor's arrest were immediately released.

Taylor, 23, was recently convicted of murder and was awaiting sentencing when he got away from the Jerome Combs Detention Center at about 3 a.m. Wednesday.

Taylor allegedly escaped from his two-man cell, hid in the jail facility and attacked a guard when he walked by, beating and choking him, Kankakee County Sheriff Tim Bukowski said. He then took the guard's keys, uniform, and 2012 Chevy Equinox.

Police about five hours later found the vehicle allegedly used in Taylor's escape in the 1100 block of South Lincoln, but Taylor remained on the run until late Friday night.

More than two dozen officers searched the area for days, believing that Taylor had stayed in the area. Officials said they believed someone was helping Taylor and late Friday night increased the reward for information leading to his arrest to $25,000.

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SF Cops May Be Fired Over Texts


San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr said Friday he is recommending several officers be fired over accusations that they have exchanged racist and homophobic texts.

Two officers who were involved in the racist text scandal have resigned. Suhr said Friday he expects more officers may do the same.

"It just makes me sick to even talk about this," Suhr said. "There were eight standing officers who engaged in such repulsive conversation via text that I have suspended them and they have been referred to the police commission with a recommendation of only termination."

In addition to the two officers who have resigned, two were reassigned and sent to the police commission for discipline. Four others face lesser punishments.

The names of the officers have not been released by police, but attorneys representing them have identified them as Michael Robison, Noel Schwab, Rain Daugherty, and Michael Celis.

The texts included slurs against blacks, Mexicans, Filipinos and gays. They also feature officers and civilians using the phrase "White power" repeatedly.

What’s now been dubbed “Textgate” stemmed from a federal investigation into Sergeant Ian Furminger, who was convicted in February of fraud and conspiracy. Investigators searched his private cell phone and uncovered countless racist and homophobic text messages, some of which were exchanged with other San Francisco police officers. Court documents revealed by federal prosecutors in a motion to deny bail made some of these texts public.

One read, “All n___s must (expletive) hang.”

In another, someone asks him, “Do you celebrate [Kwanzaa] at your school?” to which he replies, “Yeah, we burn the cross on the field. Then we celebrate Whitemas.”

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said this shows an endemic problem plaguing the SFPD.

“This is very unusual because we’re getting a view of sort of what’s going on between at least this group of police officers from one police officer’s private cell phone,” Adachi said. “We would not know this if it were not for the federal corruption trial and investigation that resulted in learning about these texts.”

Tony Brass, the attorney representing Celis, said it’s unclear whether San Francisco can even terminate these officers because of a law that indicates the department has a statute of limitations on when it can act or penalize an officer for conduct. Brass said he believes SFPD knew about these text messages for more than a year – passing that statute.

"Naturally the texts are offensive and the community has legit concerns, but terminating a police officer is not that simple," Brass said. "There are rules."

Adachi issued the following statement Friday:

“Chief Greg Suhr’s recommendation to terminate officers accused of sending racist and homophobic text messages is a step in the right direction, and I strongly encourage the police commission follow suit.
The characterization of these hateful statements as innocent banter is dead wrong. This casual dehumanization leads to real life suffering and injustice. It foments a toxic environment in which citizens fear and distrust the police, brutality reigns, and good officers are less effective.
The chief and the police commission should require all SFPD officers to undergo at least 25 hours in racial bias training. Furthermore, they should institute a policy requiring officers who witness a colleague engaging in racial bias to report it to their superior officers or face discipline.
Training and reinforcement is the only way to ensure that racial bias by police does not harm our citizenry.
We look forward to reviewing all the cases and reports made by the officers involved in sending or responding to the racist texts. We expect that this will significantly widen our investigation."

NBC Bay Area's Kristofer Noceda, Jean Elle and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Bay City News Service

Manager of Waterford Company Embezzled $1 Million: Police


Waterford police have arrested a manager of a local supply company who is accused of embezzling more than $1 million from the company.

The arrest comes after business officials conducted a financial audit after discovering discrepancies in billing and noticing that paperwork was missing.

The audit revealed that around $1.1 million missing, police said.

Todd C. Francis, 51, of Brooklyn, who worked as operations manager for the company for around 10 years, turned himself in to police on Monday after learning there was a warrant for his arrest.

He was charged with first-degree larceny and held on $175,000 bond.

Photo Credit: Waterford Police

Demolition Underway at Historic Hartford Building


An abandoned historic building on Main Street in Hartford is being torn down today after a massive fire on Thursday morning.

The fire that broke out early yesterday left 1363 Main Street, a building built in the 1890s, structurally unsound and city officials decided it was in risk of collapsing, so heavy equipment was brought in and the building is coming down.

During demolition, only one side of Main Street street is open, with one lane going in each direction.

Kenneth Onalty, 46, was rescued from the building yesterday and brought him to Saint Francis Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Police later arrested him in connection with the blaze.

He admitted to "squatting" inside the abandoned building for two months and burning a paper bag inside to stay warm, police said. He has been charged with third-degree trespassing and reckless burning, police said.

Firefighters spent three hours battling the blaze, allowing fire to burn through the roof instead of sending firefighters inside. They then fought the flames from above.

South Windsor-based company Environmental Services, Inc. is demolishing the building and crews are expected to remain in the area over the next week to clean up the site. applied for a permit for emergency demolition.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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