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$100M lawsuit filed over injuries suffered in police van

By PAT EATON-ROBB for the Associated Press

Lawyers for Randy Cox, a Black man who was paralyzed from the chest down in June when a police van without seat belts braked suddenly, filed a $100 million lawsuit Tuesday against the city of New Haven, Connecticut.

FILE – Doreen Coleman, left, mother of Richard “Randy” Cox Jr., walks with civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump during a march for Justice for Randy Cox on Dixwell Avenue in New Haven, Conn., Friday, July 8, 2022. At right is Attorney Michael Jefferson. Lawyers for Cox, a Black man who was paralyzed from the chest down in June when a police van without seat belts braked suddenly, filed a $100 million lawsuit Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, against the city of New Haven. (Arnold Gold/New Haven Register via AP, File)

Cox, 36, was being driven to a police station in the city June 19 for processing on a weapons charge when the driver braked hard, apparently to avoid a collision, causing Cox to fly headfirst into the wall of the van, police said.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Cox’s legal team is still in talks with the city but filed a federal negligence lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court to make sure Cox is compensated for his suffering.

“If we say we respect life and respect Randy Cox’s life experiences and people like Randy Cox, similarly situated, then we have to show that by action, not just by rhetoric,” Crump said. “Not just say we care about Black lives, but we have an actual duty in New Haven and throughout America to show that we believe Black lives matter.”

In the lawsuit, the city and the officers involved in Cox’s transport are accused of negligence, recklessness, use of excessive force, denial of medical treatment and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Cox’s supporters say the police mocked his cries for help after he was injured and accused him of being drunk and faking his injuries. Police video shows the officers dragged him by his feet from the van and placed him in a holding cell at the police department before paramedics finally took him to a hospital.

“The treatment of Mr. Cox while in the custody of the New Haven Police Department was completely unacceptable, and the City of New Haven is deeply committed to doing everything within its power to ensure an incident like this never happens again,” Mayor Justin Elicker said.

LaToya Boomer, Cox’s sister, said, “We don’t want any lip service; we want action. The action can’t come from me, it has to come from the people have those jobs, being the mayor or the police commission or someone with any of those titles. I’ll be waiting.”

The case drew outrage from civil rights advocates like the NAACP, along with comparisons to the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore. Gray, who was also Black, died in 2015 after he suffered a spinal injury while handcuffed and shackled in a city police van.

Five officers were placed on administrative leave in Cox’s case.

New Haven officials announced a series of police reforms this summer stemming from the case, including eliminating the use of police vans for most prisoner transports and using marked police vehicles instead. They also require officers to immediately call for an ambulance to respond to their location if the prisoner requests or appears to need medical aid.

People trapped, 2M without power after Ian swamps SW Florida

By CURT ANDERSON from the Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction in southwest Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, damaging the roof of a hospital intensive care unit and knocking out power to 2 million people before aiming for the Atlantic Coast.

Curious sightseers walk in the receding waters of Tampa Bay due to the low tide and tremendous winds from Hurricane Ian in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. (Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel via AP)

One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States barreled across the Florida peninsula overnight Wednesday, threatening catastrophic flooding inland, the National Hurricane Center warned.

The center’s 2 a.m. advisory said Ian was expected to emerge over Atlantic waters later on Thursday, with flooding rains continuing across central and northern Florida.

In Port Charlotte, along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the storm surge flooded a lower-level emergency room in a hospital even as fierce winds ripped away part of the roof from its intensive care unit, according to a doctor who works there.

Water gushed down onto the ICU, forcing staff to evacuate the hospital’s sickest patients — some of whom were on ventilators — to other floors, said Dr. Birgit Bodine of HCA Florida Fawcett Hospital. Staff members used towels and plastic bins to try to mop up the sodden mess.

The medium-sized hospital spans four floors, but patients were forced into just two because of the damage. Bodine planned to spend the night there in case people injured from the storm arrive needing help.

“As long as our patients do OK and nobody ends up dying or having a bad outcome, that’s what matters,” Bodine said.

Law enforcement officials in nearby Fort Myers received calls from people trapped in flooded homes or from worried relatives. Pleas were also posted on social media sites, some with video showing debris-covered water sloshing toward homes’ eaves.

Brittany Hailer, a journalist in Pittsburgh, contacted rescuers about her mother in North Fort Myers, whose home was swamped by 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water.

“We don’t know when the water’s going to go down. We don’t know how they’re going to leave, their cars are totaled,” Hailer said. “Her only way out is on a boat.”

Hurricane Ian turned streets into rivers and blew down trees as it slammed into southwest Florida on Wednesday with 150 mph (241 kph) winds, pushing a wall of storm surge. Ian’s strength at landfall was Category 4 and tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane, when measured by wind speed, to ever strike the U.S.

Ian dropped in strength by late Wednesday to Category 1 with 90 mph (144 kph) winds as it moved overland. Still, storm surges as high as 6 feet (2 meters) were expected on the opposite side of the state, in northeast Florida, on Thursday.

The storm was about 55 miles (90 km) southwest of Orlando with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) at 2 a.m. Thursday, the Miami-based hurricane center said.

A hurricane warning remained in effect north of Bonita Beach, about 31 miles (50 km) south of Fort Myers, to Anclote River including Tampa Bay and from Sebastian Inlet to the Flagler/Volusia county line.

The center discontinued a hurricane warning between Bonita Beach and Chokoloskee. A tropical storm warning from Chokoloskee to Flamingo on the state’s southwest tip also was discontinued.

Hurricane-force winds were expected across central Florida through early Thursday with widespread, catastrophic flooding likely, the hurricane center said.

No deaths were reported in the United States from Ian by late Wednesday. But a boat carrying Cuban migrants sank Wednesday in stormy weather east of Key West.

The U.S. Coast Guard initiated a search and rescue mission for 23 people and managed to find three survivors about two miles (three kilometers) south of the Florida Keys, officials said. Four other Cubans swam to Stock Island, just east of Key West, the U.S. Border Patrol said. Air crews continued to search for possibly 20 remaining migrants.

The storm previously tore into Cuba, killing two people and bringing down the country’s electrical grid.

The hurricane’s eye made landfall near Cayo Costa, a barrier island just west of heavily populated Fort Myers. As it approached, water drained from Tampa Bay.

More than 2 million Florida homes and businesses were left without electricity, according to the PowerOutage.us site. Nearly every home and business in three counties was without power.

Sheriff Bull Prummell of Charlotte County, just north of Fort Myers, announced a curfew between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. “for life-saving purposes,” saying violators may face second-degree misdemeanor charges.

“I am enacting this curfew as a means of protecting the people and property of Charlotte County,” Prummell said.

The Weather Underground predicted the storm would pass near Daytona Beach and go into the Atlantic before veering back ashore in South Carolina on Friday.

The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia all preemptively declared states of emergency. Forecasters predicted Ian will turn toward those states as a tropical storm, likely dumping more flooding rains into the weekend.

At Freedom House, these Black men saved lives. Paramedics are book topic

From NPR

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — John Moon stands on the 2000 block of Centre Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. He’s in front of a building that houses the Hill District Federal Credit Union, but he points to a plaque affixed to the stone façade commemorating the Freedom House ambulance service, widely acknowledged as the first paramedic program in the United States.

A group shot of Freedom House paramedics.
Heinz History Center

A half-century ago, Moon was a Freedom House paramedic, and he remains fiercely proud of it: The service, staffed overwhelmingly by Black men from the neighborhood, revolutionized emergency street medicine on the same blocks where many were underemployed, or even believed to be “unemployable.”

“We were considered the least likely to succeed by society’s standards,” said Moon, who was 22 and a hospital orderly when he started training to join Freedom House. “But one problem I noticed is, no one told us that!”

Today, however, Moon worries that Freedom House is in danger of being forgotten – a victim not just of time, but of the deliberate erasure of its memory.

“Unfortunately, today there are probably people who live here that has never heard of Freedom House ambulance service,” he said.

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Their story is committed to the page

American Sirens” (Hachette Books), by Kevin Hazzard, tells the story of Freedom House, which operated from 1967-75, its historic accomplishments, and its unjust and untimely demise.

Moon, himself, plays a central role. He spent much of his childhood in an Atlanta orphanage before relatives living in the Hill adopted him. As an orderly at Oakland’s Montefiore Hospital, he was astonished one night when two Black men entered with a patient on a stretcher, giving orders and clearly in command – a nearly unimaginable thing in those days. Moon learned they were from Freedom House, and he vowed to follow in their footsteps.

Cover of American Sirens: The Incredible Story of the Black Men Who Became America’s First Paramedics by Kevin Hazzard.

Hachette Books

Hazzard sketches other key characters. One is Peter Safar, the storied Viennese-born anesthesiologist and Holocaust survivor who invented cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, in the 1950s, while working in Baltimore. Safar was also interested in emergency street medicine at a time when ambulances were driven by police, volunteer firefighters or even mortuary workers with little to no medical training. For victims of car crashes, heart attacks and gunshots, there was no on-site treatment, only an imperative to get them to the hospital as quickly as possible. Mortality rates were high. In the 1960s, working at Pittsburgh’s Presbyterian Hospital, Safar developed a plan to do emergency street medicine, but he had no means to implement it.

Enter Philip Hallen, a former ambulance driver who was now president of the Maurice Falk Medical Fund, a local foundation. Hallen also saw the need for street medicine, especially in the Hill, which was medically underserved. He reached out to James McCoy Jr., a Hill-based entrepreneur who ran a job-training program called Freedom House Enterprises. After connecting with Safar, the men took the unusual step of recruiting their first class of “paramedics” – a job that, technically, did not yet exist – from the Hill itself.

“So, what you end up with was, you know, a number of guys maybe who were fresh back from Vietnam. A number of guys maybe who were fresh out of prison. A number of guys who were in-between jobs, because literally they’re picking people up who they see kind of wandering the streets,” said Hazzard, an Atlanta-based writer and former paramedic.

The rigorous training paid off, Hazzard writes: Serving just the Hill and Oakland at first, Freedom House saved lives that would have been lost before. Tour the Hill today with Moon, for instance, and stops will include the site of his first call for a heroin overdose, as well as the story of how he became, he believes, the first paramedic to intubate a patient in the field. The latter story involves another key figure in the book, Nancy Caroline, a doctor who in later years was Freedom House’s medical director.

Doctors speak of Freedom House’s success

“They were the first true paramedic program in the world,” said Ronald Stewart, a Canadian expert in emergency medicine who was medical director for Pittsburgh’s Public Safety department in the 1970s and ’80s.

“It just amazes me, the quality of the program they were able to develop,” said Jon Krohmer, a Michigan-based expert in emergency medicine and a board member of the National EMS Museum.

One intangible impact of Freedom House was the community pride it generated: Highly trained technicians – dozens of them, over the years — were saving lives in their own neighborhood, which was often ignored by the rest of the city.

“Often times, when a person would call for assistance, they would say, ‘Don’t send the police, send Freedom House,’ ” said Moon.

The flip side: Hazzard recounts that some white patients refused treatment by Freedom House, even though their lives might have been at stake.

Freedom House defibrillator.

Heinz History Center

Freedom House operated under a city contract – meaning that for years, the Hill had better emergency care than the rest of the city, where ambulances were still driven by police. But, in fact, emergency medicine was in the midst of a revolution sparked in part by “Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society,” a 1966 report by the National Academies of Sciences/National Research Council. In this atmosphere, Freedom House’s influence spread nationally, too. Under a contract from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Freedom House director Dr. Caroline wrote the first national curricula on emergency street medicine.

Saving lives gets in the way

But despite such successes, in “American Sirens,” Hazzard writes, a new Pittsburgh mayor, Pete Flaherty, began to withhold support from Freedom House. At least one issue was racism: The overwhelmingly white police force saw the work of the overwhelmingly Black paramedics as an incursion onto their turf.

“There are many within Freedom House who eventually came to the conclusion that, you know, the problems that we’re having with City Hall are not what we’re doing, but rather who’s doing it,” said Hazzard.

Headshot of author Kevin Hazzard.

Hachette Books

Funding cuts were followed, in 1975, by the absorption of Freedom House into a new citywide EMS department. Many Freedom House paramedics stayed on, but most say they were treated poorly, their years of experience discounted. John Moon recalls being forced to “ride as the third person on a two-person crew.”

“I endured a concerted effort to eliminate as many, if not all, of Freedom House employees as humanly possible, and it was very, very successful,” he said.

But Moon himself persisted: In 2009, he retired as assistant chief of the department. These days, he is one of the main advocates for keeping the memory of Freedom House alive.

Savoring their memory

Public remembrances include the plaque on Centre Avenue (which was the headquarters of Jim McCoy’s Freedom House Enterprises), and another on the site of UPMC Presbyterian, where the Freedom House ambulance service actually operated (though the original building is gone). Heinz History Center also houses a Freedom House display as part of its permanent exhibit “Pittsburgh: A Tradition of Innovation.”

Moon hopes “American Sirens” helps spread the word. But in any case, Freedom House lives on in his heart.

“I owe Freedom House a debt that I don’t think I will ever be able to repay,” he said, “because they’re the ones that instilled that motivation and that drive into me that I could do something no matter what it is, no matter what the hurdle, no matter what the barrier.”

Shortage of new police cars has some Virginia departments concerned: ‘Ford canceled all of our orders’

From WTVR News Richmond

PETERSBURG, Va. — Law enforcement agencies across Central Virginia, including Virginia State Police, are facing challenges acquiring new police vehicles this year.

Maj. Robert Ruxler with Colonial Heights Police said he believes the issue is nationwide as police departments and sheriff’s offices routinely buy new vehicles because of the miles they quickly rack up.

“We would run for 100,000 miles before we actually pull them out of service,” Petersburg Chief Travis Christian explained. “We’re quickly approaching those numbers right now.”

But now there is a problem trying to replace aging police cars in the Tri-Cities that date back from 2011, 2015 and 2017.

“The accessibility of vehicles is usually pretty easy,” Capt. Damon Stoker with Hopewell Police said. “But now I think, universally, they’re harder to come by.”

Colonial Heights got the bad news about their July 2021 order from Ford on Monday.

“We were notified that Ford canceled all of our orders for 2022 Police Interceptors,” Ruxler said.

Ruxer said the department was given the option to purchase 2023 vehicles, but with a caveat.

“The cost was increased by approximately $7,500 per vehicle,” Ruxer said. “Fortunately, our city is very supportive and understood our needs for police vehicles and was able to work with us to make this purchase.”

Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian
Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian

Christian said Petersburg has been seeking 15 new cars for over six months.

“We’ve been trying since actually late December of last year to find vehicles, we can’t find vehicles,” Christian said.

Because the cruisers are hard to find and buy, Petersburg decided to lease. But that that still came with another issue.

“So even though we can purchase more vehicles by way of leasing, there’s still a delay in getting those vehicles because the manufacturers, can’t produce the vehicles fast enough for us to purchase,” Christian said.

Poster image (43).jpg

Stoker said Hopewell is still expecting several 2022 models, but like many agencies they are also looking to save money while still equipping their fleet.

“Hopefully we can make a deal with our sheriff’s office,” Stoker said. “They got a vehicle that’s used, got some mileage on it… It’s outfitted for a police K-9 and hopefully we can get that from them.”

State police also got the cancellation notice for more than 100 2022 models. As a result, the agency will now be getting 2023 models at the increased price.

Judge bars enforcement of Delaware ‘ghost gun’ restrictions

By RANDALL CHASE for the Associated Press

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A federal judge has issued an injunction barring Delaware from enforcing provisions of a new law outlawing the manufacture and possession of homemade “ghost guns,” which can’t be traced by law enforcement officials because they don’t have serial numbers.

Friday’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by gun rights advocates after Democratic Gov. John Carney signed a law last October criminalizing the possession, manufacture and distribution of such weapons as well as unfinished firearm components.

Judge Maryellen Noreika denied a motion by Democratic state Attorney General Kathleen Jennings, the sole defendant, to dismiss the lawsuit. She instead granted a preliminary injunction in favor of the plaintiffs to prohibit enforcement of certain provisions pending resolution of the lawsuit.

The judge wrote that without an injunction, the plaintiffs would “face irreparable harm … because they are threatened by criminal penalties should they engage in conduct protected by the Second Amendment.”

While declining to issue a permanent injunction, Noreika said that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in their arguments that a ban on possessing homemade guns violates the Second Amendment, and that the prohibition on manufacturing untraceable firearms is also likely unconstitutional.

Noreika said Jennings had offered no evidence to support her assertion that the prohibitions don’t burden protected conduct because untraceable firearms are “not in common use and typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”

Jennings similarly failed to substantiate her argument that the prohibitions on possession and manufacturing are “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

At the same time, however, Noreika said restrictions on the distribution of unfinished firearm frames or components do not unduly burden a person’s Second Amendment rights. She noted that such components are still available if they include serial numbers and manufacturer information and are obtained from federally licensed gun dealers.

The judge also held that a provision restricting the distribution of instructions for using a three-dimensional printer to produce a firearm or component is not an unjustifiable regulation of speech under the First Amendment.

“The statute prohibits only the distribution of functional code,” the judge wrote. “It does not prohibit gunsmiths and hobbyists from exchanging information about how to use their 3D-printer to manufacture a firearm, or for instructing individuals on how to program their 3D-printer to make the firearm of their choice.”

Mexico City police injured by explosion at protest

By FABIOLA SÁNCHEZ and FERNANDO LLANO for the Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — An explosion occurred outside Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office on Thursday, injuring police as protesters demonstrating ahead of the anniversary of the 2014 disappearance of 43 students clashed with officers clad in riot gear.

A police officer grimaces in pain as he is aided by paramedics after being injured by an explosive device thrown by protesters during clashes outside of Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office in Mexico City, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. The demonstrators were marching ahead of the anniversary of the 2014 disappearance of 43 students of a teachers’ college in Iguala, Guerrero. Multiple police were injured by the explosion and loaded onto ambulances. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Those injured by the explosion were loaded onto ambulances. Broken glass and blood were visible.

Members of a bomb squad cordoned off the area. One undetonated object that an explosives technician recovered appeared to be a small pipe bomb — a tube with two capped ends.

Mexico City’s police department said that 11 police officers were injured by shrapnel from fireworks and some suffered bruises. They were all taken to hospitals and the injuries were not considered life threatening.

The protest was just one of a host of activities planned in advance of Monday’s 8th anniversary of the students’ disappearances. Protests that includes relatives of the disappeared students have usually remained peaceful.

Thursday’s demonstration started that way too, with chants and speeches. Most of the protesters boarded buses and left before a small group that stayed behind clashed with police.

Some masked protesters threw rocks and launched bottle rockets into police lines. Others spray painted areas around the building with demands for the missing students’ safe return.

The police bunched together, crouching below their plastic shields and were engulfed in smoke.

“I was in the entrance to my store when four bombs went off like bottle rockets which is what they launched at the Attorney General’s Office, toward the windows,” said 19-year-old Jose Rivera Cruz, who sells clothing to one side of the office. “There was smoke and they closed the metro bus station (across the street). And most of the police were running and trying to get to the patrol cars and the ambulances.”

As more police arrived to help the injured and secure the area, the protesters left, he said.

On Sept. 26, 2014, local police in Iguala, Guerrero abducted 43 students from a radical teachers’ college. They were allegedly turned over to a drug gang and never seen again. Three victims were later identified by burned bone fragments.

Last month, Interior Undersecretary Alejandro Encinas, who leads a truth commission investigating the case, called it a “state crime” and directly implicated the military, among other state actors including local and state police.

Former Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam, who oversaw the original investigation into the disappearances, was arrested last month on charges of torture, official misconduct and forced disappearance. Last week, Mexico arrested a retired general, who had been in charge of the local army base in Iguala when the abductions occurred.

Dozens of student protesters arrived at the Attorney General’s Office aboard buses Thursday morning. Police with helmets and riot shields formed several lines of defense in front the entrances.

On Wednesday, activists had vandalized the exterior of Israel’s embassy in Mexico City. Mexico is seeking the extradition from Israel of another key figure in the investigation of the students’ disappearances.

Wily seal that cruised to pond surrenders at police station

From the Associated Press

BEVERLY, Mass. (AP) — A gray seal that wandered into a Massachusetts pond and evaded authorities’ attempts to capture him turned himself in Friday after waddling up to the local police station.

The gray seal first appeared earlier this month in Shoe Pond in the city of Beverly, northeast of Boston. The animal is believed to have traveled to the pond from the sea via a river and drainage pipes.

The seal quickly became a local attraction and was even named “Shoebert” after his chosen pond.

Firefighters and wildlife experts used boats and giant nets in an effort to capture the wily animal Thursday, but gave up after several fruitless hours. Early Friday morning, however, Shoebert left the pond, crossed a parking lot and appeared outside the side door of the local police station looking, according to a police statement, “for some help.”

The seal was quickly corralled by a team of wildlife experts, firefighters and the police department’s “entire midnight shift,” according to a Facebook post from the Beverly Police Department.

“Shoebert appeared to be in good health and was a little sassy in the early morning hours,” the department noted.

The seal was transported to Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, where aquarium staff will perform a medical exam before releasing him back into the wild, Sarah Callan, manager of the aquarium’s animal rescue program, wrote in an email.

“He is acting like a typical, feisty, 4-year-old gray seal,” Callan added. “We are planning to release him in a quiet, remote location near other seals.”

Seattle mayor appoints Adrian Diaz as city’s police chief

From the Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has named Adrian Diaz as the city’s new police chief.

FILE – Then-Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz addresses a news conference in Seattle, on Sept. 2, 2020. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has named Diaz as his pick for permanent chief of the Seattle department. Harrell on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, announced his intent to appoint Diaz, who has served as interim police chief since 2020. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Harrell on Tuesday announced his intent to appoint Diaz, who has served as interim police chief since September 2020.

“Throughout this process, we’ve heard Seattleites’ clear expectations for the Seattle Police Department: effective public safety, meaningful community engagement, and a commitment to accountability and continuous improvement,” Harrell said in a written statement. “I am confident that Chief Adrian Diaz will provide the leadership necessary to advance these critical priorities and make Seattle safe for all residents.”

Harrell had encouraged Diaz to apply for the permanent role and chose him after a committee appointed by the mayor identified Diaz, Seattle Police Department Assistant Chief Eric Greening and Tucson Police Assistant Chief Kevin Hall as finalists for the position, The Seattle Times reported.

The Seattle City Council must confirm Harrell’s selection.

In a public forum last week, the finalists fielded questions about alternatives to police response, culture within the department and violence in the city. Diaz indicated support for increased policing alternatives and reform within the department, but he spoke more about his previous experience than about new ideas.

Diaz joined the agency in 1997 and has worked in the Seattle Police Department’s patrol and investigations units. He also served as assistant chief of the collaborative policing bureau before he was promoted to deputy chief.

Diaz said in a statement Tuesday that he was committed to ensuring that community is at the forefront of the department’s work and engagement.

“I approach this work with optimism, mindful of the trust that was shattered by the events of 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, of the combined trauma of community and our officers alike, and of the long path towards reconciliation ahead of us,” Diaz said.

Former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best resigned in August 2020 after a tumultuous summer of racial justice protests in Seattle and nationally, sparked by the police killing of Floyd in Minneapolis.

Best, Seattle’s first Black police chief, said at the time that she quit in protest of efforts to decrease police spending.

The Seattle City Council voted in late 2020 to shrink the budget of the Seattle Police Department by about 18%, which was less than the proposed cuts that prompted Best to resign and far less than the 50% some advocates had sought.

The council at the same time approved hiring more than 100 officers and has since approved money for incentives as it has, like many cities, struggled to retain and attract police.

City Council members and residents had criticized Best for the department’s response to the 2020 protests against police brutality — which at times included tear gas, pepper spray and other less lethal weapons.

As interim chief, Diaz reworked the department’s crowd management policies and procedures, reducing the need for police use of crowd control tools, the statement from the city said.

Harrell and Diaz have said little about how they will navigate reform within the department, which has been under a federal consent decree for a decade because of sustained issues of force and bias within the department.

Harrell said in the statement that Diaz understands the department must continue striving for excellence, reject bias and complacency, and act on the needs of the city’s communities.

Milwaukee police sue city over inadvertent gun discharges

From the Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee’s police union is suing the city over service weapons that officers say aren’t safe because they have inadvertently fired without anyone pulling the trigger.

It’s the latest legal action involving the P320 model firearm manufactured by SIG Sauer, including a case filed in Philadelphia in June by a U.S. Army veteran who suffered a serious leg injury when his holstered gun discharged. SIG Sauer, based in Newington, New Hampshire, has denied the P320 model is defective.

The Milwaukee Police Association says the department-issued handguns have inadvertently misfired three times in the last two years resulting in injuries to two officers.

Most recently, a 41-year-old officer was shot in the knee on Sept. 10. In July 2020, Officer Adam Maritato, who is a party in the union’s lawsuit that was filed this week, was unintentionally shot in the leg by another officer’s holstered gun.

The lawsuit alleges that when the city purchased the guns in 2019, it knew, or should have known, about the discharge and safety issues. It also says that during training for the weapons, the city “failed to disclose that the P320 had issues with discharging without a trigger pull, and the officers relied on the safety training to be accurate and complete.”

The lawsuit accuses the city of endangering the safety of its officers and the public by issuing the firearm. The union is asking a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge to force the city to pay damages for the officers’ injuries and to replace every department-issued P320 with another firearm.

“It is unacceptable that we now have hundreds of cases around the country with known unintentional discharges and the city is failing to act,” union President Andrew Wagner said in a statement Tuesday.

Wagner said the union filed the lawsuit after the latest shooting because it had not heard anything since it formally notified the city in June 2021 that it needed to replace the guns for “known safety issues.”

The Milwaukee city attorney did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Blind dog rescued from hole at California construction site

From the Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters have rescued a 13-year-old blind dog that fell into a hole at a California construction site.

This image provided by the Pasadena Fire Department showing firefighters pose with a Cesar a blind dog that was rescued from a hold in Pasadena, Calif. on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. Firefighters have rescued a 13-year-old blind dog that fell into a hole at a California construction site. The dog, named Cesar, lives next to the site in Pasadena with his owner. He apparently wandered onto the site, said Cesar’s owner Mary, who declined to give her last name. (Pasadena Fire Department via AP)

According to KABC-TV, the dog, named Cesar, lives next to the site in Pasadena with his owner. The dog apparently wandered onto the site, said Cesar’s owner Mary, who declined to give her last name.

Cesar then fell into the hole, which was about 15 feet (4.5 meters) deep and 3 feet (0.91 meters) wide, around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Mary was alerted by the barking of her other dog. Cesar responded and she could hear he was no longer in her own yard. A Pasadena search and rescue team soon responded to the scene.

Pasadena Fire Chief Chad Augustin said confined-space rescues present unique challenges for firefighters.

“There’s a lot of steps we need to do to make it as safe as possible. For not just the dog but also our rescuers,” Augustin said.

The team hooked up a series of ropes and pulleys to lower one team member into the hole. It took the team member about 12 minutes to reach the dog, secure him in a harness and bring him back to the surface.

Cesar appeared to be healthy and uninjured after he was retrieved from the hole. He shook off a heavy coat of construction dirt and dust and was reunited with his owner at the scene.