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Louisville Mayor Calls for “Thorough Investigation” Into the Killing of Breonna Taylor

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  • Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was shot eight times and killed by three Louisville police officers who incorrectly entered her home on a search warrant.
  • The suspect they were looking for lived in another part of the city and had already been apprehended.
  • When the officers entered, Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker thought their home was being broken into, prompting Walker to shoot at one of the officers, who sustained an injury. Walker has been charged with assault and attempted murder. 
  • A complaint against the officers states that they shot around the apartment “with a total disregard for the value of human life.” Some shots even made it into the neighboring house. None of the officers have been charged.
  • The shooting happened in March but did not make headlines until this week when Benjamin Crump, Ahmaud Arbery’s lawyer, took on the case. Louisville’s mayor is also requesting a thorough investigation.

Mayor Speaks Out

The mayor of Louisville said Tuesday that a serious investigation needs to be conducted after a woman was shot eight times and killed by police who entered her home at night, looking for a suspect who lived in another part of the city. 

“As always, my priority is that the truth comes out, and for justice to follow the path of truth.” mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement. “I have spoken with LMPD Chief Steve Conrad about this case and he is well aware of the need for a thorough investigation.”

Breonna Taylor Killed by Police

On March 13, Breonna Taylor, an EMT, was asleep in her apartment with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. According to an April complaint, which was obtained by the Courier Journal, three officers in plainclothes arrived there at around 12:30 a.m.

The officers were acting on a search warrant, but the suspect they were looking for lived in a different part of the city. He had already been apprehended in his own home by officers earlier that day. 

The complaint claims that the officers did not knock on the door and entered unannounced. The Louisville Metro Police Department has since said that the officers had a no-knock warrant, meaning they would not have to do so if they thought identifying themselves could be dangerous. When they got into her home, Taylor and Walker thought they were breaking in. Police say that Walker, who has a license to carry, shot at one of the officers, prompting them to fire back. 

The complaint says the three officers did so “with a total disregard for the value of human life.”

“Shots were blindly fired by the officers all throughout Breonna’s home and also into the adjacent home, where a five-year-old child and a pregnant mother had been sleeping,” the complaint reads. “Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times by the officers’ gunfire and died as a result. Breonna had posed no threat to the officers and did nothing to deserve to die in their hands.”

The three officers have been identified as Brett Hankinson, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly, all of whom have been placed on administrative reassignment. According to the complaint, Cosgrove has a prior history of shooting a Louisville resident seven times. 

The complaint also claims that Hankinson has a history of using unnecessary force and corruption as an officer. This includes incidents where he has sent citizens to the hospital after being tased and pepper-sprayed, fought with citizens, broken car windshields, and punched someone so hard that he himself needed stitches. 

Case Gets National Attention

This complaint alleges battery, wrongful death, negligence, and excessive force against the officers. No charges have been pressed against them. On the other side, Walker is being charged with attempted murder and assault, as his shot hit and injured Officer Mattingly. Neither Walker or Taylor have any criminal history. 

While the shooting occurred back in March, it did not make national headlines until Taylor’s family hired Benjamin Crump to represent them. Crump is also representing Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed while running unarmed in a Georgia neighborhood. 

“This was a botched execution of a search warrant where they already had the person they were searching for in custody,” Crump said in a statement. “We stand with the family of this young woman in demanding answers from the Louisville Police Department.”

The LMPD has not issued public statements about the case because the investigation is ongoing. Online, the case has started to get attention from prominent politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Kamala Harris. 

See what others are saying: (Courier Journal) (NBC News) (Washington Post)
Note: This article has been edited to include updated information about the no-knock warrant LMPD claims its officers were issued.

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New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns

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  • The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
  • The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
  • The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.

CDC Issues Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.

While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus. 

The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.

Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.

Mitigating Spread of Variant

“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”

The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.

“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.

“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times) (NBC News)

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Former Michigan Gov. and 8 Others Charged Over Flint Water Crisis

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. (Al Goldis/AP)

  • Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis
  • By Thursday, eight more former state and city officials were charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to extortion.
  • Flint residents have long awaited this news. In 2019, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against 15 officials and said they would start the investigation from scratch, citing concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

Rick Snyder Charges

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Thursday that it had filed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.

The most high-profile figure to be charged was former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, he was hit with two counts of willful neglect of duty.

He was the state’s top executive when local officials decided to switch the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.

The switch was supposed to be a temporary cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water wasn’t treated properly for corrosion, so lead-contaminated water was released into the homes of people all over the city. Because of that, 12 people died and at least 90 were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.

Snyder appeared in court this morning via Zoom, pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. If convicted he could face up to a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine.

His charges alone are significant because they make him the first governor or former governor in the state to ever be charged with a crime for alleged conduct while in office.

8 Others Charged

Along with Snyder, eight others were charged, including a former state health director Nick Lyon. Lyon received nine charges of involuntary manslaughter, among others.

Richard Baird, one of Snyder’s closes advisors was changed for extortion, perjury, and obstructions of justice. Others who were charged include:

  • Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former chief of staff and Vice President Mike Pence’s former communications director.
  • Dr. Eden Wells, a former chief medical executive for the state Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Darnell Earley, former Flint finance director and state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Gerald Ambrose, former state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Howard Croft, former Flint Public Works Director.
  • Nancy Peeler, the state’s director of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting for the health department.

Flint residents have waited a long time for justice over the water contamination issue. Prosecutors previously dropped all 15 criminal charges tied to the Flint case in 2019 and said the investigation would begin again from scratch.

At the time, they cited concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

It also wasn’t until last year that the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Detroit News) (Detroit Free Press)

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Three Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19 Following Capitol Attack

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  • At least three Congressmembers have tested positive for COVID-19 following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) believe they contracted the virus after locking down in close quarters with numerous Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
  • Jayapal and Schneider are calling for those who did not wear a mask to face consequences.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman Tests Positive

At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after locking down in close quarters with other House members during Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 

Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, warned that members may have been exposed during the lockdown. He recommended that everyone who was isolated inside should get tested for the virus. 

On Monday Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) became the first to announce that she tested positive. Watson Coleman believes she was exposed while in the Capitol lockdown. In her statement, she cited the multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks while inside. Video footage from Punchbowl News shows a Democratic lawmaker handing out masks and a handful of Republicans declining to take one. 

Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor. While she said she is only experiencing cold-like symptoms, she tweeted that per a doctor’s suggestion, she headed to a local hospital for antibody treatment. She also encouraged those who sheltered in place to get tested. 

More Cases Follow

Later on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she too had tested positive, also blaming a lack of mask-wearing in the Capitol. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she said Republicans created a superspreader event and demanded consequences for their actions. 

Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she wrote. 

“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable,” Jayapal added. 

“I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) echoed her frustrations on Tuesday after releasing a statement saying he has become the third House member to have tested positive following the lockdown. 

“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he wrote.

Like Jayapal, he is calling for sanctions against those who opted to not wear masks. 

Many health officials feared that this lockdown could lead to a surge in cases. They also worry that the mob itself could lead to a superspreader event as most of those who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks and were crowding together both inside and outside of the building.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (NBC Chicago)

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