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Jussie Smollett Sues Chicago for ‘Malicious Prosecution’ in Hate Crime Case

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  • After dropping charges against actor Jussie Smollett for making false reports about a hate crime allegedly committed against him, the city of Chicago sued Smollett, demanding he cover the cost of the investigation.
  • The suit specifically asked for over $130,000 to cover overtime paid to officers on his case. 
  • Now Smollett has countersued, saying he should not have to pay since he already agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond and accusing the city of “malicious prosecution” that brought him humiliation and emotional distress. 

Jussie Smollet’s Hate Crime Case 

Former Empire actor Jussie Smollet is suing Chicago for “malicious prosecution” and says he should not have to reimburse the city for the cost of the investigation into his hate crime claims.

Smollett made headlines in January when he said two masked men looped a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and yelled homophobic and racist slurs.  But after an investigation, Chicago police determined that the attack was staged by Smollett, who was then indicted on 16 felony counts of filing a false report. 

Smollett has maintained his innocence and prosecutors eventually dropped the charges against him in March, after he agreed to complete community service and forfeit the $10,000 bond he paid following his arrest. 

Now his lawyers are using that as a defense for why he should not have to pay for the cost of the investigation.

Smollett’s Counterclaim 

Smollett’s lawyers filed a two-count counterclaim against Chicago on Tuesday in response to its April lawsuit demanding that he pay over $130,000 to cover the 1,836 hours of overtime paid to police officers working his case. 

In the city’s lawsuit, it said it also intended to seek attorneys’ fees and a civil penalty of $1,000 for each of his false claims. However, Smollett’s legal team says the city “is not entitled” to any of this.

Smollett’s lawyers argued the city should not be allowed to hold him liable for the cost because it accepted the $10,000 from the actor “as payment in full in connection with the dismissal of the charges against him.”

The counterclaim adds, “The City cannot seek additional recovery from Mr. Smollett under the doctrine of accord and satisfaction.”

His attorneys also accused the city of “malicious prosecution,”  saying that Smollett suffered “humiliation, mental anguish, and extreme emotional distress” as a result of the city’s actions against him.

The claim specifically called out Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson and two other detectives, Edward Wodnicki and Michael Theis. The counterclaim says police released “false and misleading information,” which led media outlets to report that Smollett might have arranged the alleged attack.  

It also criticized the city for using claims from the Osundairo brothers, the men Smollett was accused of paying to carry out the alleged attack, to pursue criminal charges against him.

In response to the countersuit, Chicago police issued a statement Wednesday saying “The City stands by its original complaint and will continue to pursue this litigation.”

The city added, “The judge in this case has already ruled in our favor once, and we fully expect to be successful in defeating these counterclaims.”

Kim Foxx Announces Reelection Effort 

The same day as Smollet’s counterclaim, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx officially announced that she is running for reelection. Foxx currently has four challengers fighting for her spot and has the outrage over the Jussie Smollett case hanging over her head. 

Foxx recused herself from the case before Smollett’s arrest, saying she did so because she had conversations about the investigation with one of Smollett’s relatives. But a few months later, her office released documents citing a different reason, showing that she was advised to withdraw based on unfounded rumors that she was related to Smollett. Though she disagreed with the advice and called the rumors racist, she complied with the recommendation. 

Foxx’s office also faced intense scrutiny for abruptly dropping the charges against Smollett, which left both police officials and community leaders confused and frustrated. 

At the time, Chicago Police Department commander Ed Wodnicki called the reversal of charges a “punch in the gut” and said prosecutors did not discuss their decision with the police department prior to announcing it. 

Meanwhile, then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel and superintendent Johnson spoke out against the decision. “This is without a doubt, a whitewash of justice and sends a clear message that if you are in a position of influence and power you’ll get treated one way, other people will be treated another way,” Emanuel said.

In her campaign ad, she admitted to mishandling the Smollett case but argued that her opponents are attacking her personally over it to “undercut progress.” 

 “Truth is, I didn’t handle it well. I own that. I’m making changes in my office to make sure we do better. That’s what reform is about,” Foxx said.

But her opponents say it’s too late, and many believe the lack of trust surrounding Foxx’s leadership will affect her in her bid for reelection. 

See what others are saying: (Fox News) (The Washington Post) (Chicago Sun-Times

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Bodycam Footage Shows Officer Arresting Six-Year-Old At School

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  • Attorneys for the family of a 6-year-old girl released bodycam footage of an Orlando school resource officer arresting the young child.
  • The video shows the girl getting handcuffed with zip ties and sobbing as she pleads with the officers to let her go.
  • The officer made national headlines in September when he arrested that child as well as another 6-year-old in a separate incident that same day.
  • He was fired a week later because he failed to get the necessary permission from his department to arrest children under the age of 12.

Newly-Released Footage

Bodycam footage of a 6-year-old girl being arrested by a former Orlando police officer was recently released to the public by the attorney of the child’s family. 

The incident took place in September 2019 and led to the termination of the officer, Dennis Turner, a week later. The newly-released video shows Kaia Rolle reading a book with a school employee when two officers enter the room. 

“Okay, she’s going to have to come with us now,” Dennis Turner can be heard saying. 

“What are those for?” the little girl asked when she saw the zip ties. 

“It’s for you,” Turner responded, as the other officer put them around Rolle’s wrists. She immediately started crying and pleading for help, even begging the men for “a second chance.” 

Rolle’s sobbing continued as the officers led her outside toward the police car. 

“I don’t want to go to the police car,” she said through tears. 

“You don’t want to?” the officer who handcuffed her said. “You have to.”

After Rolle is put into the back of the vehicle to be taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center, the footage shows Turner back in the school. An employee asked him if the restraints on the child were necessary.

“Yes,” Turner replied. “And if she was bigger she would’ve been wearing regular handcuffs.”

The officer then added that the youngest person he’s ever arrested was seven-years-old. He continued with details and said that he’s arrested 6,000 people over the course of his career.

“She’s six?” Turner said when one of the school staff members told him Rolle’s age. “Now she has broken the record.”

Background

The police report states that the officers were responding to a complaint that Rolle had “battered three staff members by kicking and punching them” at her charter school, Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy. 

The child’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, told WKMG in September that Rolle suffers from a sleep disorder, sleep apnea, and had acted out as a result of not enough rest the previous night.  

Rolle was not the only child Turner arrested that day last September. In a separate incident, he also arrested another 6-year-old from the same school.

Dennis Turner had been working as the school’s resource officer. He retired from the Orlando Police Department in 2018 and was assigned to the Officer Reserve Program, which is made up of retired officers, according to the Orlando Sentinel.  

It is department policy that officers must get approval from a superior before arresting anyone under the age of 12. Turner did not get that approval before he proceeded with the arrest of both the children. 

The officer’s arrest of the six-year-olds made national headlines and sparked outrage from many across the country. An investigation into the incidents was opened and Turner was terminated from his job. The department told WKMG that the other officer, who is seen putting the zip ties on Rolle, was not aware that protocol was not followed. State Attorney Aramis Ayala said at a news conference in September that she would not be pursuing the charges against either child.

“I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline at any age,” Ayala said. “These very young children are to be protected, nurtured and disciplined in a manner that does not rely on the criminal justice system to do it.” 

See what others are saying: (WKMG) (NBC) (WESH)

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The School-To-Prison Pipeline Debate: SROs & Why Student Arrests Are Increasing…

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The existence of the school-to-prison pipeline has been debated for decades. The term is pretty self-explanatory, but it describes how children are funneled from schools to prisons through multiple school discipline and safety initiatives like zero-tolerance policies and school resource officers. The issue isn’t black and white because while there appears to be evidence, like the decrease in juvenile arrest rates, that suggest it isn’t a problem, there’s more to the story.

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Tik Tok “Skull Breaker” Challenge Leading to Severe Injuries

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  • Tik Tok has seen a new viral challenge that involves a person getting tricked into jumping into the air while two others kick their legs out from under them, causing them to fall onto the ground.
  • Multiple young people have suffered injuries as a result of the challenge, and it has been reported that one Brazilian teenager died.  
  • Concerned parents are striving to raise awareness of the dangers of the trend, and one student even started a non-profit organization to combat pranking and bullying after falling victim to the challenge herself.

Dangerous Online Trend

A new trend is making its rounds on the popular app Tik Tok— one that has led to serious injuries and received backlash from concerned parents.   

The “skull breaker” challenge involves three people standing in a line, shoulder to shoulder, under the pretense that all of them will jump into the air at the same time. But instead, only the middle person jumps while the two people flanking them kick their legs out from under them, causing them to slam into the ground. In most cases it appears that the middle person is tricked into the challenge, unaware that they will be knocked over.

The danger of the “skull breaker” challenge can be found in its name, as it quite literally has the potential to crack people’s heads open. Doctors are warning that it can result in broken bones, concussions, and brain bleeding, among other injuries. 

Tik Tok has expressed their disapproval of the challenge. The app told ABC News that the safety of their users is a top priority and they “do not allow content that encourages or replicates dangerous challenges that might lead to injury.”

Awareness Growing 

This new online fad is the latest dangerous trend among young people, akin to the Tide Pod challenge and the viral Tik Tok “outlet challenge” that prompted warnings from fire officials. A Brazilian teenager reportedly died from the “skull breaker” challenge, and more youth around the world have been seriously hurt.  

The recent virtual trend raised eyebrows in Daytona Beach, Florida in January, when two students convinced an unsuspecting third female student to perform the challenge for Tik Tok content. 

According to the Daytona Beach News Journal, the video has since been deleted. The News Journal reported that the victim’s parents were originally going to let the school handle it but ultimately decided to press charges. The Daytona Beach Police Department told TODAY that two students are facing misdemeanor charges of battery and cyberbullying as a result of the prank.    

On Feb. 8, an Arizona woman posted images of her injured son to Facebook, reporting a head injury as well as stitches and cuts to his face that stemmed from the skull breaker challenge.

“My son was asked to do a jumping contest with his 2 ‘friends,’ when he jumped up, the 2 boys kicked him, as hard as they could, so his legs flew out in front of him,” Valerie Hodson wrote. “He landed hard flat on his back and head, as he struggled to get up he lost consciousness, he fell forward landing on his face.”

“I really contemplated posting this, but I feel there needs to be awareness of this malicious cruel viral prank,” Hodson said.

Facebook: Valerie Hodson

Hodson’s son is not the only child to be hospitalized due to the skull breaker challenge. Teri Smith, a woman located in Alabama, also took to Facebook to discuss her son’s broken bones after falling victim to the prank.

“Prayers needed… Parker was unknowingly tiktok pranked which caused him to fall,” Smith wrote. 

Facebook: Teri Wimmer Smith

Similar pushes for awareness have been seen as impacts of the challenge have been felt by others around the country. In Portland, Oregon, 14-year-old Olivia Ross said she hit her head hard on the ground after she was tricked into the challenge by two seniors at her high school. 

“They just told me we were going to jump for a video. Of course I was excited since they were upperclassmen and they were asking me to be in their video,” Ross told KOIN 6. “But I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Ross and her mother, Lindsay Zobrist, decided the best course of action was to spread awareness of these types of viral pranks because they expect that many kids don’t know how dangerous they can be. They created a non-profit organization called Teaching Kindness Matters and are working to get school districts to include “pranking” in their definition of bullying. 

See what others are saying: (TODAY) (Forbes) (ABC13)

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