Anonymous Bitcoin Millionaire Funding MDMA Therapy for PTSD—Making Ecstasy Mainstream

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Over the past year, the world watched as bitcoin shot up in value turning those who had the foresight to invest in it into millionaires. Now, we are seeing the true power of this new creation of wealth as it manifests into charity. One charity, in particular, is paradigm shifting as it doesn’t seek to hold extravagant dinners or events to pat themselves on the back and get notoriety. Instead, the Pineapple Fund remains entirely anonymous and donates to causes governments wouldn’t go near—like MDMA.

As the NY Times wrote last month, the organization was started in December by an anonymous donor who goes by the nickname “Pine” and claims to be among the 250 largest holders of Bitcoin in the world. The fund aims to give away $86 million worth of Bitcoin, and has already given $20 million worth of the currency to 13 organizations, including million-dollar donations to the Water Project, which provides clean water to people in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights watchdog.

The Pineapple Fund has bankrolled everything from clinical trials of psychedelics for PTSD to teaching kids to read and write. The man, or woman, behind the curtain has shown that they intend on making the world a better place by challenging the status quo and couldn’t care less about taking any credit for it.

One of Pine’s funding projects is a group founded in 1986, called the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). MAPS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana.

As TFTP reported last year the government granted “breakthrough therapy designation” to a drug which was previously in the Schedule 1 category—MDMA or ecstasy—to treat PTSD.

The ‘party drug’ was used in Phase 2 trials on roughly 200-300 patients with severe PTSD. Results showed a remarkable improvement in most patients, with 61 percent reporting no PTSD symptoms after 2 months and 68 percent being PTSD-free after a year.

With the “breakthrough” status granted by FDA, Phase 3 trials can proceed much more quickly, and with input on “design, primary endpoint, and statistical approach” from FDA.

For the first time ever, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy will be evaluated in Phase 3 trials for possible prescription use, with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD leading the way,” said Rick Doblin, PhD. Executive Director of MAPS at the time.

The only problem with the FDA legalizing clinical trials is the fact that these trials cost money. That’s where MAPS steps in.

The very next day after going to the Pineapple Fund website, MAPS received a whopping 59.8 bitcoins or roughly one million dollars. This donation created a trend and the very next day they received 51.54 bitcoins from another anonymous donor. Only a few days after that, Lunyr (LUN) tokens worth over $769,000 were anonymously given.

The response was so overwhelming that Pine stepped up the game and announced last week that they would match the next $4 million donated to MAPS for the shared goal of attempting to cure PTSD with MDMA.

“PTSD is a severe condition that affects everyone from sexual assault survivors to military veterans,” wrote “Pine,” the Pineapple Fund’s founder in a statement last week. “Existing treatments have so much room for improvement, and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy has shown great promise. We’re offering the matching grant because we think the psychedelic and cryptocurrency communities can work together to finish funding Phase 3 clinical trials.”

The money raised and donated by Pine will allow MAPS to make MDMA-assisted psychotherapy legally available to millions of people suffering from PTSD. Because their research challenges the status quo, they receive no government funding and the group relies entirely on contributions from individuals, businesses, and foundations.

“The Pineapple Fund’s support is a dream come true,” says Doblin. “With no funding available for these trials from government agencies or major medical research foundations, legally available MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD will indeed be a gift to the world from the psychedelic science and cryptocurrency communities.”

As the cryptocurrency haters come out of the woodwork to claim there is “no value” in bitcoin or other altcoins, this is one of many scenarios that prove them wrong. As the world continues to wake up to the value of decentralized money, we can expect more amazing stories like this one. Please share this story to show others the true power and value of good people coming together and working outside of the centralized monetary system.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/anonymous-bitcoin-millionaire-mdma/

WATCH: Raging Cop Caught on Multiple Videos Choking People for No Reason

ChokeholdChokehold

New York City – Multiple videos have surfaced online showing an officer with the New York Police Department violently shoving and choking protesters during a demonstration in protest of the detainment of an immigration rights activist.

One Twitter user posted a video compiling cell phone footage from bystanders that shows the officer walking up to two different individuals who were not threatening him—appearing to choose them as random targets from the crowd—and choking them for no apparent reason.

The protest began after Ravi Ragbir, an immigrant from Trinidad and executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York, arrived at the federal building for a check-in with ICE officials and was detained.

A crowd of nearly 300 people gathered outside the building in protest of Ragbir’s detainment. The Hill reported that Ragbir has been “contesting a deportation order since 2006 and was granted prosecutorial discretion,” which means that Immigration and Customs Enforcement “delays execution of a final order of deportation for immigrants who are considered low priority.”

The Washington Heights Patch reported that according to the NYPD, officers began arresting protesters after “a group of people blocked a roadway near Foley Square.” A total of 18 individuals were arrested, including two city council members—Ydanis Rodriguez of Washington Heights and Inwood, and Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn.

Rodriguez was vocal about his opposition to the protest on Twitter and called out officers for using an illegal chokehold to assault protesters.

 “This is NOT how you treat people who are protesting for Human Rights,” Rodriguez wrote. “This is NOT what democracy looks like. We can’t call ourselves progressives and pro-immigrants when the [NYPD] is doing chokehold to us. Injusticia!”

While some reports claimed that Ragbir was put in an ambulance to be taken to a hospital after officers said he passed out during the meeting, the report from the Patch claimed that immigration officials decided to act on an 11-year-old deportation order against Ragbir, even though there a hold on the order was in effect until next week.”

The aggressive chokehold being used multiple times by at least one officer is concerning, especially when the officer was using such a move in broad daylight, in the middle of a crowd, knowing that he was surrounded by people and his actions were likely being filmed.

Keegan Stephen, the Twitter user who posted a video of the officer’s aggressive and illegal actions, also posted a close-up photo that appeared to show the officer’s last name is “Amador.”

Stephen also posted a Tweet that shows a civil rights complaint submitted by a citizen named Daniel Teitell, who claims he was harassed, assaulted and detained by “P.O. Numael Amador” and another officer referred to as “John Doe” in 2015.

“Mr. Teitell was standing in the park when he saw P.O. Amador and P.O. John Doe approach and interrogate a man seated on a bench.  Mr. Teitell filmed the interaction with his cell phone. One of the officers saw Mr. Teitell filming and immediately walked over. Twice the officer asked Mr. Teitell for identification and Mr. Teitell responded, ‘Am I being detained, or am I free to go?’ The officer then took the phone out of Mr. Teitell’s hand and placed him in handcuffs with the assistance of the other officer.”

The complaint went on to claim that the officers threatened Teitell, claiming that they could “simply issue him a citation for being in the park in the park illegally, but they were choosing to arrest him because he asserted his rights.” 

 

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/raging-cop-caught-multiple-videos-choking-people/

As Facebook Shoots Themselves in the Foot, New Social Media Platform Pays You to Post

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Last week, Facebook announced that they will be keeping all their users in happy little bubbles that won’t show them anything controversial, thus ensuring an entire social media platform devoted to pictures of what people are eating for dinner. Illustrating just how unwelcome this change was, after Facebook announced it’s changing the algorithm to focus on friends and family while excluding news and information, the company saw a near-instant drop of 4.4 percent—costing Mark Zuckerberg nearly $3.3 billion.

In a Facebook post last Thursday night, Zuckerberg said that public content from brands had inundated news feeds, overtaking posts from personal connections. By the end of Friday, Facebook shares were trading at $179.37, down more than 4.4 percent from Thursday’s price of $187.77, according to a report in Newsweek.

“Video and other public content have exploded on Facebook in the past couple of years,” wrote Zuckerberg in his post. “Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do—help us connect with each other.”

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

In a nutshell, this new move by Facebook places each user in their own bubble where they are assured to never receive anything that challenges their worldview as a means to keep them happy.

While this move may seem like a good idea to those who are easily triggered by information that may help them understand the world in a better light, it will inevitably create more divide in the future by creating these groups who constantly reinforce the same comfortable views fostering a phenomenon known as confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias or ‘myside bias’ is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. Placing everyone in their own bubble will, in essence, create multiple bubbles of people confirming over and over what could be an entirely skewed reality. When they actually do interact with others who don’t share that same skewed reality, the result could be disastrous.

The algorithm shift goes directly against the idea of open-minded thinking as paraphrased in this famous quote by Aristotle, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Facebook is moving to condition people to think that all information is happy and should never challenge their worldview. What could possibly go wrong?

While the future of social media may seem bleak on the side of Facebook, there is also amazing news on the side of innovation and free thought. To those who’ve been paying attention, they saw the problem presented by so many people using a similar system that is ultimately controlled by those who have an interest in mining your data for profit, controlling the political narrative, and essentially creating a personal database on billions of people, the likes of which corrupt governments salivate over.

Instead of trying to change the system of Facebook from within, several individuals came together to build a new system—which showed the obsolescence of the old. Thus, Steemit was born.

The general concept of Steemit is similar to other blogging websites or social news websites like Reddit, but the text content is saved in a blockchain. Using a blockchain enables rewarding comments and posts with secure tokens of value.

As stated in the Steemit White Paper:

Steem combines concepts from social media with lessons learned from building cryptocurrencies and their communities. An important key to inspiring participation in any community, currency or free market economy is a fair accounting system that consistently reflects each person’s contribution. Steem is the first cryptocurrency that attempts to accurately and transparently reward an unbounded number of individuals who make subjective contributions to its community.

Instead of becoming hubs for censorship and the centralization of power and wealth like other social media platforms and make hundreds of billions of dollars off content created by its users, Steemit bucked the system. Instead of leeching off the wealth created by user-generated content like Facebook does, Steemit returns most of its value back to the users by rewarding them with cryptocurrencies. As a result of this system, many people have begun to sustain themselves from the value created entirely on this platform.

According to the White Paper, the Steem community provides the following services to its members:

1. A source of curated news and commentary.
2. A means to get high quality answers to personalized questions.
3. A stable cryptocurrency pegged to the U.S. dollar.
4. Free payments.
5. Jobs providing above services to other members.

In essence, Steemit creates an entire economy out of social media in which everyone—not just the platform owners—benefit from the creation of content. It is a beautiful model that is constantly being improved and its future is bright.

If you are not on Steemit, please consider checking it out and joining in on the social media revolution. As the social media dinosaurs continue to crack down on users, censor their information, and create more division among humanity, Steemit is doing the exact opposite. Check out TFTP on Steemit today. 

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/facebook-social-media-platform-steemit/

Media Completely Ignores New FBI Info Suggesting Paddock Was a Vegas Arms Dealer

PaddockPaddock

New details have been released from the FBI’s investigation into the Las Vegas Shooting, and the information from suspect Stephen Paddock’s email account in the months leading up to the shooting is giving new insight into why he may have been hoarding two dozen guns in his hotel room.

The deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history was blamed on one man within hours, and the FBI has consistently claimed that Paddock was a “lone wolf” shooter who intentionally transported an arsenal of guns, ammunition, and supplies to his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, and then unleashed barrage of gunfire from the bedroom window that killed 58 people and injured more than 500.

While the surveillance footage from Paddock’s stay at the hotel has yet to be released, the newly unsealed court documents are finally giving some insight into his conduct in the months leading up to the shooting on Oct. 1.

An email exchange from [email protected], a Microsoft account FBI agents claimed was used by Paddock, was included in an affidavit reported by NPR. The date was July 6, 2017—about three months before the shooting—and while the FBI noted that it is unclear who is behind [email protected], the email account Paddock was contacting, the information included is significant.

“…[[email protected]] sent an email to [email protected] which read, ‘try an ar before u buy. we have huge selection. located in the las vegas area,’ Later the day, an email was received back from [email protected] to [[email protected]] that read, ‘we have a wide variety of optics and ammunition to try.’ And lastly, [[email protected] sent an email to [email protected] that read, ‘for a thrill try out bumpfire ar’s with a 100 round magazine.’ Investigators believe these communications may have been related to the eventual attack that occurred at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.”

In the first message, Paddock claimed that the recipient would have the opportunity to try out the weapons before they purchased them. He then wrote “We have huge selection,” indicating that he was not working alone, and he said he was located “in the Las Vegas area.”

While Paddock did live in Mesquite, Nevada, and reports claimed that he was a retired man living with his girlfriend, he made trips to Las Vegas often to gamble, and those who knew him described him as “low key and relaxed, a good guy.” His past included jobs with the IRS and the Department of Defense.

However, the email exchanges released by the FBI indicate that Paddock was presenting himself as some sort of arms dealer, sending an email that said, “for a thrill try out bumpfire ar’s with a 100 round magazine.”

The email address Paddock was contacting responded and said, “we have a wide variety of optics and ammunition to try,” which as the report noted, left investigators wondering if Paddock was sending test emails to another account he owned, or if he was contacting another dealer or a customer.

Federal agents were granted warrants to search Paddock’s Facebook, Instagram and Amazon accounts, along with a locked phone that was found in the hotel room. These details are the first that have been released from Paddock’s online communications, and the documents also include significant details about what the FBI has learned about Paddock’s girlfriend.

Within hours of the time police named Stephen Paddock as the suspect in the shooting, his girlfriend Marilou Danley was also named publicly. Authorities claimed she was visiting family in the Philippines, and they ultimately determined that she was not complicit in the massacre.

In addition to reports claiming that Danley told investigators that her fingerprints may be on some of the bullets stored in Paddock’s home—and they were—the report from NPR also noted that the timeline of Danley’s Facebook account suggests that she knew Paddock was involved in something.

After the first reports of gunfire happened at 10:08 p.m. on Oct. 1, Danley’s Facebook account was set to private at 12:38 a.m. and then deleted entirely at 2:46 a.m. But it was not until 3:30 a.m. that Paddock’s name was publicly released as the suspect in the shooting.

There are a number of questions remaining about how the shooting unfolded, and as The Free Thought Project reported last week, MGM Resorts International is now claiming that the hotel staff at Mandalay Bay had at least 10 interactions with Paddock in the days before the shooting.

A spokesperson for MGM told The Las Vegas Review-Journal that the interactions on Oct. 1 consisted of a room service delivery and a visit from housekeeping, and even though members of the hotel staff are trained to report any suspicious activity, they did not find any reason to do so when interacting with Paddock.

“Mandalay Bay staff, room service and housekeeping had contact with Paddock or entered his suite more than 10 times over the course of his stay, including the three days leading up to October 1. There were numerous interactions with Stephen Paddock every day at the resort, including a room service delivery and a call with housekeeping on October 1, all of which were normal in nature.”

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/media-completely-ignores-new-fbi-info-suggesting-paddock-vegas-arms-dealer/

WATCH: NYPD Cops Go Crazy, Beat Down, Taser Man Over Failure to Use Turn Signal

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Jay Brown Sr., a hospital housing administrator and seminary student caught a violent arrest on camera Jan. 11 in Rockaway, NY (Queens). Brown said the man driving the white Camaro, Stacy Marcellin, was pulled over by the NYPD and immediately harassed by New York’s finest. He said the police officer pulled Marcellin over for failure to use a turn signal. But before the incident was finished, the motorist would be tased and beaten.

Marcellin told Brown, “They’re about to pull me over because I’m black,” as he entered the parking lot of a local car wash. Brown says the police officer pulled over Marcellin and approached the car. Brown says the officer aggressively demanded the motorist’s drivers license by saying, “Give me your fucking license.”

That address angered the motorist who, according to the police officer, responded by saying he would “break his jaw.” While it’s difficult to hear exactly what the motorist said during the traffic stop, what can be heard seems to dispel all doubt.

The two were arguing, mainly over why the officer stopped him. He told the officer that he noticed him behind him and would never have neglected to use his signal. At any rate, the plains clothes officer called for backup, and a dozen police officers showed up.

Brown says black people are pulled over all the time in Queens for what TFTP and others have labeled “driving while Black.” He claims to have several nice vehicles he cannot drive on the city’s streets “five feet” without being pulled over. In a TFTP exclusive, Brown told us he’s been pulled over no less than 15 times in 4 years and simply avoids the area.

After waiting awhile, the motorist attempted to get out of the car. One of the other officers cursed at him and told him to stay in the car. The first officer returned, pulled out his taser, and pointed it at Marcellin’s face and began a tirade of f-bombs.

Brown told the officer he had to “remain professional” and cease using the foul language but the officer was not to be reprimanded. He explained, “When the man tells me he’s going to punch me in my face and break my fucking jaw…I’ve asked him six times for his license. He’s been refusing since then.”

The motorist claimed to have a “learners permit” but said he couldn’t find the license inside his wallet. Brown told us Marcellin was transporting the rental car from the lot to the car wash and back again, something he does daily. But what started out with him just doing his job, quickly turned scary for the young man. And what followed is sure to open an investigation within the NYPD.

After backup arrived, they facilitated the trigger-happy police officer in tasing the suspect. Police opened the car door, the man got out, stood up, and then was swarmed by the gang of police. They stood him up long enough to face the taser-armed police officer and allowed him to tase him. One officer can be seen stomping on the man’s hands, and another kicked him in the head.

”All because he did not signal,” Brown said adding, “This is what happens when you piss off the NYPD.”

“You just kicked me in my face. I didn’t do nothing,” the man said.

”He told me they were going to pull him over because he was Black…That’s crazy,” Brown concluded.

Members of the community recognized the man and, like Brown, said he is an Enterprise Rent-a-car employee. They said he was likely taking the car to the car wash for Enterprise when he was pulled over, which he was.

Clearly, the police would not allow the man to get out of the car, even after saying he could not find his license. They also threatened to tase him for making threats, none of which could be heard on camera. But what the video clearly demonstrates is a group of police officers holding up a man long enough for their angry colleague to be able to legally tase him.

Marcellin will likely seek legal counsel to properly determine if his 4th Amendment rights were violated. If so, with Brown’s video, he will likely win a civil rights lawsuit in court.

The practice of illegally stopping and frisking NY residents may have been ordered ceased, but Brown’s documentation of Marcellin’s potentially illegal traffic stop, his detainment, the violence perpetrated against him, and his subsequent arrest appears to be a four-wheeled version of the old stop and frisk shake-down.

You decide. Do you think the police treated the man humanely or indecently? Do you think a person of another skin color would have been treated differently? Like, comment, and share below.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/nypd-cops-go-crazy-beatdown-taser-man-failure-signal/

WATCH: Police Officer Reprimanded For Throat-Grab Incident in Kalamazoo


KALAMAZOO, MI — A police sergeant was reprimanded for inappropriately grabbing a man by the throat during a July 10 arrest on Kalamazoo’s Northside.

The grab was described by Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley as “a subject control method not taught or recommended.”

Hadley announced the reprimand Tuesday afternoon involving Sgt. Derrick Turner, a 10-year veteran officer who was patrolling the 700 block of Hawley Street on July 10, when the incident occurred.

A complaint about the incident was leveled by the family of Diante Churchwell, 20, of Kalamazoo. He and his younger brother were arrested that night.

After saying he had reviewed an internal investigation, KDPS policies, video evidence and the sergeant’s work history, Hadley stated in a press release that he would “sustain” the complaint about the incident “and found that Sgt. Turner violated the Use of Force Policy by utilizing ‘a subject control method not taught or recommended.’”

He said Turner was given a written reprimand by him for the violation of KDPS Policy and will undergo additional training.

Hadley said Turner had just arrested Churchwell’s 17-year-old brother Antonio at about 9:14 p.m. outside an abandoned house in the 700 block of Hawley Street when Turner and other officers were approached in an aggressive manner by Diante Churchwell. Hadley stated that Diante pushed pass some officers to find the officer who had arrested his brother.

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, KDPS released two body cam videos and a patrol car dash cam video of the incident.

“Sgt. Turner had every right to address the aggressive manner and approach utilized and displayed by Diante Churchwell,” Hadley said. “However the method he chose was not appropriate for the circumstances and fell outside KDPS policy.”

Hadley said, however, “I did not find the actions by Sgt. Turner to be malicious or egregious.

The charges come as a surprise to the family of Antonio and Diante Churchwell, their parents say.

Timeeko Churchwell, father of Diante and Antonio, said he has seen the body cam videos and thinks Diante was inappropriately grabbed by the throat. Attempts to contact the father Tuesday afternoon were not successful. But Rev. Strick Strickland, local NAACP president, said he is disappointed by the officer’s punishment.

“I’m not mad. I’m not angry. I’m disappointed,” said Strickland, who leads the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the NAACP. He said he hopes to meet with KDPS on Wednesday, Aug. 16, to learn how the decision was made and “talk about how we move forward from here.”

“We said initially that we were looking for accountability and also looking to make sure that there was no double-standard,” he said, speaking of police officers compared to other citizens. “However, if I put my hands around your neck it’s an assault. If you put your hands around my neck it’s an assault. But if KDPS puts their hands around your neck it’s a written reprimand. I find that to be unacceptable and distasteful at the least.”

Strickland met with a KDPS command officer days after the incident on behalf of the Churchwells. He said the incident was not one that involves a violation of civil rights but one in which the community wants to hold the police responsible for policing themselves.

Among other things Hadley noted in his findings, “It is evident from the officer’s body cam video, he (Diante Churchwell) was displeased with Antonio’s arrest and demanded to speak with the arresting officer. After being advised he would have to wait, he pushed his way through the scene where the arrest took place and vigorously walked toward Sgt. Turner. Diante Churchwell is heard utilizing racially charged language towards Sgt. Turner as he advanced towards him in an aggressive manner coming face to face with Sgt. Turner.”

Both Churchwell and Turner are African-American men.

“Video clearly captured Diante’s aggravated emotional state in his body language as well as verbal language,” Hadley stated, “which a reasonable person/officer would feel an assault is probable.”

Antonio Churchwell, 17, faces a charge of delivering or manufacturing a controlled substance (narcotics or cocaine) less than 50 grams; and for assaulting, resisting or obstructing a police officer. Police video shows Turner in a physical struggle with Antonio after ordering him to take his hand out of his pocket.

KDPS alleges that Turner found a bag of suspected crack cocaine in Antonio’s pants pocket.

The drug charge carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison upon conviction. The resisting and obstructing police charge is punishable by up to two years in prison.

Diante Churchwell, 20, faces a charge of attempted assaulting, resisting or obstructing police. That is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.

Source: http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2017/08/police_officer_reprimanded_for.html

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WATCH: Baltimore Officials Agree to Pay $135K to Unarmed Man Shot by Police


Baltimore’s spending panel has approved a $135,000 payment to settle a lawsuit filed by an unarmed man who was shot in the leg by police.

The payment to John Rau III settles the lawsuit he filed against police Major Byron Conaway and the Baltimore Police Department. The Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Mayor Catherine Pugh, voted for the deal.

At issue were the events of Sept. 28, 2015, near the 2400 block of Washington Boulevard in Morrell Park. Conaway approached Rau, suspecting narcotics activity, according to city officials.

Conaway said Rau did not respond to commands and refused to show his hands. Fearing Rau was armed, Conaway shot Rau in the thigh. No weapons and drugs were found on Rau.

Rau said he suffered physical, emotional, mental and financial injuries as a result of the shooting. He filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages.

City lawyers said they decided to settle the case after reviewing the facts and legal issues involved in the suit.

In 2016, Baltimore prosecutors said the police commander did nothing illegal and determined the shooting was justified. The prosecutor who investigated the case told The Baltimore Sun at the time that Conaway had no way of knowing that Rau wasn’t armed.

Prosecutors explain why they decided shooting by Baltimore police commander was justified
The shooting was captured by a surveillance camera.

Rau told investigators he couldn’t initially tell who Conaway was, then was startled when the officer drew his firearm and pointed it toward him, according to his taped interview with police.

“I ain’t do nothing, and you’re pointing a gun at me,” Rau said. “I just had a feeling he was going to shoot me. And he shot me.”

Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-shooting-settlement-20171011-story.html

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Judge Upholds $15M Verdict Against Lakewood in Killing of Unarmed Man

Leonard Thomas, a 30-year-old father and unarmed black man, was killed by police in 2013. A jury awarded more than $15 million to his family, and a judge has upheld the jury verdict.

A federal judge has upheld a $15.1 million jury verdict against the city of Lakewood in Pierce County, Police Chief Mike Zaro and two other Lakewood officers for killing Leonard Thomas during a 2013 SWAT operation, taking the opportunity to scold the defense for suggesting the jury was motivated by fear of racial backlash if it exonerated the officers for killing an unarmed black man.

In a blistering 69-page order published Thursday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein rejected a string of post-trial motions by Lakewood, Zaro and two other officers — Sgt. Brian Markert and Officer Mike Wiley — asking her to either reduce or set aside the verdicts, grant the officers immunity from liability or order a new trial.

Instead, Rothstein swept aside the defense’s stubborn rejection of the verdict and insistence in the face of all evidence that the unarmed Thomas, a 30-year-old father who was having an emotional crisis, posed a threat to police or his 4-year-old son when he was shot by Markert, a SWAT sniper, after a four-hour standoff at Thomas’ home in Fife.

Rothstein found there was ample evidence for the jury to have concluded that Zaro and the others acted outrageously, unreasonably and with malice and callous indifference to the life of Thomas, or the impact their actions would have on his young son and parents.

Thomas’ mother, Annalesa Thomas, said she’s grateful: “I am speechless and in tears and thankful beyond words,” she wrote in an email. “Leonard’s justice prevailed.”

Instead of trying to help Thomas, the judge wrote, every step police took that night made it more likely he would die.

But Rothstein reserved her sharpest comments to chastise the city’s lawyers for repeatedly implying that the case — and the jury’s verdict — was influenced by race.

In pleadings and during a Dec. 5 hearing, attorneys from the Seattle firm Keating Bucklin and McCormack — hired to represent the city — argued that community sentiment about police use of excessive force against African Americans improperly influenced the verdict.

At the hearing, attorney Richard Jolley told the court that “what the jury found here is that they weren’t going to go back to their individual communities and tell the people that they associate with, we found in favor of white cops that shot an unarmed black man.”

Rothstein took judicial umbrage at those remarks and the defense contention.

“Without any evidence — without any factual foundation whatsoever — defendants have chosen to malign one of this country’s most sacred civic institutions, the impartially selected petit jury,” she said.

“The suggestion that this jury flouted its charge and colluded to hold government officials liable merely to advance the jurors’ individual reputations is not simply frivolous; it is insulting to our constitutional order,” she wrote.

“And the notion that the American justice system can be characterized by an illegitimate solicitude for black victims of alleged police misconduct is so painfully ahistorical that one wonders whether Defendants advance this argument seriously,” she said.

She found the argument particularly vexing, she said, since it was the defense that successfully persuaded her to preclude showing prospective jurors a video about unconscious bias, that they helped pick and approved the jury, and “notwithstanding the fact, should it even matter, that none of the jurors were African American.”

In addition to $8.6 million in compensatory damages, the jury imposed $6.5 million in punitive damages: $3 million against Zaro, who was in command that night and who gave the orders that led to the shooting; $2 million against Markert, the sniper who shot Thomas in the stomach with a precision high-powered rifle; and $1.5 million against Wiley, who led an assault team that blew down the back door of Thomas’ house and killed the family dog, Baxter.

The city has argued that those damages would amount to a “financial death sentence” for the officers, since they are not covered by the city’s insurance.

“The jury’s conclusion that the Defendants’ escalation and use of force resulting in the death of Leonard exhibited malice, recklessness, or callous indifference to Plaintiffs’ rights was a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence presented to them,” the judge found.

The city of Lakewood declined to comment on the judge’s ruling.

“The city continues to have no comment as this is active litigation,” Brynn Grimley, communications manager for the city, said in an email.

For full story visit: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/scolding-defense-judge-upholds-15m-verdict-against-lakewood-police-in-killing-of-unarmed-black-man/

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Bypassed Police Sergeant Alleges Cheating on 2015 Lieutenant’s Exam


Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson could not substantiate allegations of cheating on a 2015 police lieutenants exam that allegedly benefited three women, one of whom is now married to Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.

But that’s apparently not good enough to satisfy Sgt. Hosea Word, who claims he was bypassed because of the cheating that benefited Johnson’s wife, Lt. Nakia Fenner, along with Lt. Maryet Hall, the wife of former First Deputy Supt. Al Wysinger, and Lt. Davina Ward, who was allegedly involved with then-Deputy Superintendent Eugene Williams.

Word filed a lawsuit in federal court this week, alleging that Johnson, Wysinger and Williams “shared the answers” to the 2015 exam “with certain female officers that they were dating or had married.”

The goal was to “manipulate the examination process and to ensure that their wives and girlfriends would score well on the lieutenant’s exam,” the suit alleges. The alleged cheating “enabled persons to be promoted who had not fairly and honestly earned that right.”

The episode is “part of a pattern and practice that includes rigging hiring and promotion examinations” that the city was aware of and chose not to remediate, the lawsuit states.

Word took the 2015 exam and ranked 280 out of 700.

His lawsuit names four defendants: the city of Chicago, Johnson, Williams and Wysinger.

It seeks a preliminary injunction “ordering removal of the promotion list tainted by the fraudulent testing” and the appointment of an “independent and impartial special master or third-party to oversee the testing process” at the police department.

If granted, such an injunction would also prohibit the city from retaliating against Word, reimburse him for attorney’s fees and expert costs, and award him “all relief to which plaintiff may be entitled.”

The Law Department refused to comment on the lawsuit.

Williams was a subject matter expert who helped develop the exam and was the “final reviewer of potential exam content.” He has repeatedly refused to discuss the coaching allegations and has since retired.

The three women were among 26 sergeants promoted after doing well on the test. Hall scored a No. 1 ranking. Fenner finished 17th. Ward was No. 24.

Last year, Ferguson cleared the three women of allegations that they cheated on the exam with help from Williams, now retired.

That’s even after interviewing 20 individuals, including “the chief who held an invite-only study group,” reviewing 300,000 emails and conducting searches of 600,000 files on the chief’s hard drive to locate relevant documents.

Ferguson did conclude that “historically based perceptions of preferential treatment . . . could be mitigated” with more rigorous controls throughout the promotional process.

The inspector general’s follow-up advisory also highlighted what Ferguson called a “matter of significant concern” that may have impeded his investigation into Johnson’s fiancee and the other two women, all of who recorded high scores on the exam and were subsequently promoted to lieutenant.

Although the inspector general has primary responsibility for investigating misconduct affecting hiring and promotions in the post-Shakman era, Ferguson noted that the police department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs “failed to forward the original complaint” about cheating on the 2015 lieutenants exam to his office in a “timely fashion.”

“The 13-month delay . . . hindered timely inquiry and may have contributed to the widespread failed recollections,” Ferguson wrote then.

Internal Affairs “should have forwarded the original complaint” to the inspector general’s office immediately as the police department hiring plan requires, he said.

In response, the police department “acknowledges limitations” in the process for drafting and administering promotional exams.

In a scathing report on the Chicago Police Department, the U.S. Justice Department discussed Ferguson’s investigation of Johnson’s fiancee and the others, and devoted a section to CPD’s much-criticized promotion process.

“In addition to litigation concerning the tests’ discriminatory impact, promotional exams also have been tainted with allegations of cheating and cronyism in the exam’s preparations or administration,” states the report. The women weren’t identified, but sources said the investigation was looking into allegations that Williams, a former finalist for police superintendent, improperly coached them.

Word’s lawsuit points to the DOJ report.

“When unqualified or under-qualified persons are promoted to higher ranks within the CPD, those persons are more likely to authorize or condone the use of excessive force against civilians and are not as knowledgeable or capable of employing or instructing others on de-escalation,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims the “wives and girlfriends” of Johnson, Wysinger and Williams “did not score in the top tier” of the 2006 lieutenant’s exam and that Wysinger’s wife was ranked 280 out of 700.

Source: https://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/bypassed-police-sergeant-alleges-cheating-on-2015-lieutenants-exam/

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WATCH: Ex-Commissioner Speeds But Shows Badge and Gets Out of Traffic Ticket

Knox County Commission candidate R. Larry Smith

An at-large County Commission candidate, also an ex-commissioner, got out of a speeding ticket in December after flashing a badge to a Knox County deputy.

R. Larry Smith was pulled over for going 60 mph on East Emory Road. The entire incident is captured on Sgt. Dustin Farmer’s police body cam.

“The reason I pulled you over is you were doing 60 (mph) back there on East Emory, OK,” Farmer said. “And normally that wouldn’t be a big issue, but there is just a lot of people coming through there right now, OK. I understand you’re in a hurry to get where you’re going and it’s New Year’s and the holidays, all right.”

Farmer asked Smith to show some identification and Smith haphazardly pulled out the badge while pulling out his ID.

“It’s all right, it’s all right,” Farmer said while waving his hand.

“All right, thank you, bud,” Smith said.

Knox County Sheriff Office spokeswoman Martha Dooley said the badge Smith pulled out is not the current badge used by anyone at the Sheriff’s office.

“It’s a different badge. I will tell you that. We changed over,” she said. “The current badge is circular with a star inside it.”

When reached by phone Friday night, Smith said the badge is a sheriff’s office-issued handgun carry permit he got in 2014. He said it expires later this year. He did not have a handgun in his vehicle when he was pulled over.

“I did not flash a badge as seen on the video. I did not flash a badge,” Smith said.

“(It was a) handgun carry permit issued to me on Oct. 8, 2014, issued to me by the Knox County Sheriff Office. I didn’t ask for any special treatment.

“I did not request not to be cited for the traffic violation,” he continued. “It was his decision not to ticket me.”

Dooley said the sheriff’s office is looking into the incident. She said the body cam video is legitimate.

“R. Larry Smith does have an active special deputy card that allows him to carry a weapon,” Dooley said in an emailed statement. “He was issued the card when he was a Knox County Commissioner and has renewed it ever since then.

“It’s up to the officer’s discretion in most incidents whether a warning or a ticket will be issued. Officer Farmer stated he had been warning drivers on Emory Road and intended to do the same when he stopped Smith.”

A star-shaped badge appears in former Knox County Commissioner R. Larry Smith’s wallet as he retrieves identification after being stopped for speeding.

Smith served two terms on commission representing North Knox County’s 7th District before leaving office because of term limits.

The USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee reported in October that a prosecutor decided not to press sexual battery charges against Smith although the alleged victim was “very credible.

Smith was accused of inappropriately touching the woman in her home while he was selling insurance on Feb. 27, 2017, according to the investigative file obtained by the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee. The woman said she was a friend of Smith’s family.

Source: https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/local/2018/01/12/video-ex-commissioner-speeds-but-flashes-badge-get-out-traffic-ticket/1030227001/

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