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Suspect in Boulder Colorado Shooting Charged With 10 Counts of Murder

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  • Colorado Police have filed 10 counts of first-degree murder against the 21-year-old man suspected of shooting and killing 10 people at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado on Monday.
  • The suspect allegedly used an AR-15-style weapon to carry out the attack just days after a judge struck down a ban on assault rifles in Boulder aimed at preventing exactly this kind of mass shooting.
  • Many have condemned the shooting and pushed for gun reform, including President Joe Biden, who called for a ban on assault rifles as well as high-capacity ammunition magazines and demanded that Congress not “wait another minute” to act.

Boulder Grocery Store Shooting

The suspect accused of murdering 10 people at a Sooper King grocery store in Boulder, Colorado on Monday has now officially been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder.

Law enforcement officials announced the charges in a press conference Tuesday morning where they named the suspect, who opened fire on customers and responding officers, as well as the victims of the attack. The incident comes less than a week after a mass shooting in Atlanta left eight dead, including six Asian women.

According to the Boulder police, the suspect is a 21-year-old man who lived in Arvada, a suburb of Denver about 65 miles from Boulder. He has reportedly “lived most of his life in the United States.” 

The police in Arvada have now said they had two encounters in 2018 with the suspect: one on a report of third-degree assault, which is a misdemeanor, and one of criminal mischief, though it is unclear if he was convicted of a crime.

Additionally, FBI officials already knew the suspect’s identity because he was linked to another person under investigation by the bureau. Federal law enforcement officials have also separately confirmed that the suspect used an AR-15 type of assault rifle.

That fact is significant because the attack comes just 10 days after a judge blocked the city’s ban on assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines. That ban was implemented in 2018 following the Parkland shooting to prevent mass shootings exactly.

According to a police affidavit made public Tuesday, the suspect purchased a semiautomatic pistol less than a week before the attack. It is unclear if he used that gun in the shooting, because the affidavit also said he had both that pistol and an automatic rifle.

Renewed Calls for Gun Reform

Many people took to social media to call for gun reform, including prominent politicians like Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct), who has lobbied extensively for common-sense gun control since the Sandy Hook shooting in his state.

“This is the moment to make our stand. NOW,” he wrote on Twitter. “Today, our movement is stronger than the gun lobby. They are weak. We are potent. Finally, a President and a Congress that supports gun reform. No more Newtowns. No more Parklands. No more Boulders. Now – we make our stand.” 

Murphy also noted that, before the Boulder shooting, the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on gun violence Tuesday, and urged Senators to come up with a legislative solution.

Those calls were also made in the Tuesday hearing by Murphy’s counterpart, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), who condemned Republicans for shutting down numerous Democrat-led efforts on common sense gun reform while failing to propose an alternative.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) shot back in remarks that were later widely circulated on social media.

“Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Cruz said. “What happens in this committee after every mass shooting is Democrats propose taking away guns from law-abiding citizens because that’s their political objective.”

Backlash Against Republicans and the NRA

Social media users slammed Cruz, and some accused him of being complicit in allowing gun violence.

Others also made similar arguments about Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Co.), a freshman representative who ran on a pro-gun platform and owned and restaurant in Colorado called Shooters Grill, where she encouraged people to open carry.

Many criticized her for not issuing a public statement about the shooting in her state on Monday, but instead sending a fundraising email capitalizing on the attack to push against gun reform in her ask for campaign donations. That backlash grew even stronger when she finally did release a statement the next day, where she accused others of using the attack for political gain and appeared ambivalent to her own efforts to do so.

“While some elected officials have already started using this shooting to advance a political agenda, I refuse to do so,” she said.

In addition to the direct criticisms on Boebert and Cruz, there were also a lot of people who took aim at Republicans at large.

“Most Republicans today believe a mail-in ballot should be regulated more heavily than an AR-15. They are trying to ban ballot drop boxes and early voting, not weapons of war. The Senate must protect the right to vote and we must defeat them with that vote in the states,” tweeted David Plouffe, a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama.

Obama himself issued a statement, decrying “coward politicians” and the “gun lobby that opposes any limit on the availability of anyone to assemble and arsenal.”

The condemnation of the National Rifle Association was echoed by many others, some of whom circulated a tweet where the organization applauded the judge who struck down the Boulder assault rifle ban, calling it “something to celebrate.” 

Currently, it is unclear what policy actions will come from the tragedies that have occurred in the last week. While speaking to reporters Tuesday, President Joe Biden called for a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and demanded that the Senate not “wait another minute” to take up background check bills that have already been passed by the House.

Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.

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Florida Appeals Court Grants Officers Involved in Shootings Privacy Protections Under Marsy’s Law

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  • A Florida appeals court sided with a local police union Tuesday, ruling that a state constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law can shield the identities of officers who shoot suspects if the officers are threatened during those incidents — an argument often made in police shootings.
  • Marsy’s Law grants privacy protections to victims of crimes, and a trial court previously sided with the city of Tallahassee and media, saying it could not interpret the law “to shield police officers from public scrutiny of their official actions.”
  • Lawyers representing the media called the new ruling a “setback for police accountability.”
  • The appeals court, however, argued that privacy protections would not stop an internal affairs investigation, grand jury proceedings, or stop a state attorney from later deciding that an officer was not a victim in a specific case.

Case That Lead To Appeals Court Ruling

Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals unanimously decided Tuesday that municipalities cannot make the names of officers who shoot citizens public if the officers themselves were crime victims.

According to Axios, that is almost always the argued case in police shootings.

The ruling stems from a case involving two Tallahassee officers who fatally shot a suspect in separate incidents. Florida’s Police Benevolent Association, the police union representing the two officers, argued in a lawsuit that the city shouldn’t release any information that would personally identify them as the shooters.

They cited Florida’s 2018 constitution amendment, called Marsy’s Law, which grants privacy rights to crime victims. They argued that the amendment applied to these officers because they were allegedly threatened in these use-of-force incidents.

The city and news media, however, argued that the documents identifying the two officers were public records under the Florida constitution. They also argued that officers acting in their official capacities cannot be victims.

The trial court had sided with the city and media, saying that the court “cannot interpret Marsy’s Law to shield police officers from public scrutiny of their official actions.”

It also added that the language of the law was not intended to apply to officers acting in their official capacity.

The police union appealed that ruling and the three-judge panel of the appeals court unanimously sided with the officers, saying that Marsay’s Law does not exclude “law enforcement officers … from the protections granted crime victims.”

Because of this, the judges said an officer who is a victim has the right to keep confidential, “information or records that could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family, or which could disclose confidential or privileged information of the victim.”

What Does This Mean for Police Accountability?

The judges said that keeping an officer’s identity private wouldn’t stop an internal affairs investigation or a grand jury proceeding. It also wouldn’t stop a state attorney from later deciding the officer was not a victim and bringing charges.

Still, a lawyer representing media organization issued a statement criticizing the ruling.

“Today’s decision was an unfortunate setback for police accountability. We respectfully disagree with the court’s reasoning and are considering our options,” Tampa lawyer Mark Caramanica said in a prepared statement.

See what others are saying: (News4) (Tampa Bay Times) (RawStory)

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Minneapolis Police Chief Testifies Against Derek Chauvin

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  • In a highly unusual move, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on Monday testified against former officer Derek Chauvin, who faces murder and manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd. 
  • In his testimony, Chief Arradondo said that Chauvin violated a number of departmental policies when he kneeled on Floyd’s neck, including rules on reasonable force, neck restraints, non-violent de-escalation, and rendering aid. 
  • Arradondo is now the highest-ranking public safety official to testify in the trial. It is rare for a police chief to take the witness stand against a fellow officer.
  • Experts said his testimony underscores the difficulty Chauvin’s defense will have in persuading the jury he did his job before, during, and after he kneeled on Floyd’s neck.

Chief Arradondo Testimony

The second week of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck, began Monday with a rare testimony from Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

It is unusual for a police chief to take the witness stand against a fellow officer and even more unusual for one to offer such sharp rebukes of a former employee.

In his testimony, Arradondo said  Chauvin violated several departmental policies when he kneeled on Floyd’s neck. 

The most important part of the testimony came from Arradondo’s remarks on defensive tactics and reasonable force. When shown a picture of Chauvin using the neck restrain on Floyd and asked by prosecutors if that was part of the department’s training, the chief said it was not.

“A conscious neck restraint by policy mentions light to moderate pressure,” he said. “When I look [at the picture], when I look at the facial expression of Mr. Floyd, that does not appear in any way, shape, or form that that is light to moderate pressure.”

“I absolutely agree that violates our policy,” he added.

Arradondo also noted that in order for use of force to be considered reasonable, it has to be applied throughout the entire encounter and a number of factors need to be taken into account, including the threat to the officer and others.

“There’s an initial reasonableness in trying to just get him under control in the first few seconds,” he said. “But once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back, that in no way, shape, or form is anything that is by policy, it is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.” 

Ongoing Trial

Chief Arradondo is now the highest-ranking public safety officer to testify against Chauvin. 

His testimony emphasizes the attempts of law enforcement officials to distance themselves from the former officer’s actions. As The New York Times wrote, the chief’s testimony “underscored the difficulty that Mr. Chauvin and his lawyers will have in persuading the jury that the officer was just doing his job when he pinned Mr. Floyd to the ground with his knee for more than nine minutes last May.”

That point is especially notable because in his questioning of Arradondo, Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, focused on the claim that the police department’s policies gave officers some room to determine the reasonableness of the use of force on a case-by-case basis, which the chief agreed with.

Still, in addition to holding firm that Chauvin did not use reasonable force in this case, Arradondo also emphasized that Chauvin violated department procedures on a number of policies. . For example, he noted that the former officer went against policies for non-violent de-escalation and rendering first aid, which the officers involved failed to give after detecting that Floyd did not have a pulse. 

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NBC News) (The Minneapolis Star Tribune)

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Students Watched Footage of George Floyd’s Death for Assignment on Derek Chauvin’s Trial

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  • As part of a class assignment, freshman students at a Texas high school were required to act as jurors in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is currently facing murder charges over his role in the death of George Floyd.
  • Parents complained about the assignment, which involved their children watching graphic footage of Floyd’s encounter with police, watching 45 minutes of Chauvin’s trial each day, and not being allowed to discuss the case with anyone for at least six weeks.
  • In a letter to the school, parents said, “This murder seen by millions around the globe was triggering and traumatizing for adults. Yet, you left students to handle their own emotions and mental health as they left your class, without proper and professional support.”
  • The school’s principal agreed that the assignment was not age-appropriate, and the district said the unapproved lesson has been removed.

Class Assignment Sparks Outrage

A Texas high school is facing criticism from parents over a class assignment regarding the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd— a death that sparked worldwide protests and discussion about racism and police brutality.

A teacher at Cedar High School in Dallas reportedly assigned their freshman students to watch the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter charges after kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.

Watching that trial meant the children also had to see graphic images and footage of the incident.

According to parents, the teacher never asked for their consent to carry out such an assignment. Parents, however, eventually learned about what was going on and wrote to the school, arguing that the trial could impact the mental health of their 14 and 15-year-old children.

“It is unfathomable to me that you felt it appropriate to force my child to watch George Floyd’s murder on television in your classroom and then move on with his day as if nothing had happened,” the letter to the school read, according to a local ABC station.

“This murder seen by millions around the globe was triggering and traumatizing for adults. Yet, you left students to handle their own emotions and mental health as they left your class, without proper and professional support.”

School Responds

The teacher, who has not been named, responded to the parental complaints with an outline of the project. That breakdown laid out plans for students to watch the trial for about 45 minutes each day because they would be “acting as actual jurors in the trial.”

“Therefore, every day, your child will be attentive to the actual trial, listening and paying attention to the evidence of both sides, defense and prosecution, during the trial,” the teacher explained.

The teacher’s memo even said the students were not allowed to speak with anyone about the case for at least six weeks, adding, “They may not text discuss what they hear with friends, siblings, or relatives – not even the family dog.”

In response to the growing outrage, Cedar Hill Independent School District officials issued a statement saying they were aware of the assignment.

“The assignment was not approved by campus or district administrators,” the school district told ABC News. “The matter has been addressed with the teacher, and the assignment was removed.”

In a separate response to parents, Cedar High School Principal Jason Miller wrote, “I don’t feel that viewing and discussing this case in school is age-appropriate for scholars.”

See what others are saying: (ABC News) (Insider) (WFAA)

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