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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Wednesday
Mar042015

DOJ Will Not Charge Darren Wilson in Michael Brown Shooting

Brown Family / Facebook(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that former Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson will not be charged in the death of Michael Brown.

"There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson's stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety," the DOJ criminal report said.

According to the report, Wilson "saw Brown reach his right hand under his t-shirt into what appeared to be his waistband."

Accounts that Brown put his hands up are "inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence," the report says.

Witness accounts were "inconsistent" and "changed over time," it also said.

"The promise I made when I went to Ferguson and at the time that we launched our investigation was not that we would arrive at a particular outcome, but rather that we would pursue the facts, wherever they led," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. "Our investigation has been both fair and rigorous from the start. It has proceeded independently of the local investigation that concluded in November. And it has been thorough: as part of a wide-ranging examination of the evidence, federal investigators interviewed and re-interviewed eyewitnesses and other individuals claiming to have relevant information and independently canvassed more than 300 residences to locate and interview additional witnesses."

Holder added, "This conclusion represents the sound, considered, and independent judgment of the expert career prosecutors within the Department of Justice. I have been personally briefed on multiple occasions about these findings. I concur with the investigative team’s judgment and the determination about our inability to meet the required federal standard."

The Justice Department also released its investigation of the Ferguson police, which found a pattern and practice of discriminatory policing.

The report includes seven racist emails sent by Ferguson officers. In its review, the Justice Department found 161 use of force complaints against the Ferguson police from 2010 to 2014. Only one case was founded and no officer was disciplined.

Those conclusions came nearly seven months after a confrontation with Wilson that left Brown dead. In the wake of the controversial slaying of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, Brown’s death reignited a national debate over race in America and sparked protests across the country.

With its findings now public, the Justice Department is likely to seek agreement from the Ferguson police department to implement serious changes to its practices. But if negotiations fail, then the Justice Department would likely file a civil lawsuit against the police force, hoping a federal judge will force the police department to enact appropriate changes.

In a news conference late Wednesday, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said the city has cooperated with the DOJ, received the results of the investigation and has already acted on changes, including diversity training for police and African-American hires.

The city immediately placed three employees who allegedly sent racially-charged emails on administrative leave. One of the three has been fired and the fate of the others awaits the results of an internal investigation.

"That type of behavior will not be tolerated," Knowles said. "We must do better not only as a city but as a state and country."



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Wednesday
Mar042015

Gold Bar Robbery Possibly an Inside Job, Police Theorize

WTVD-TV(WILSON COUNTY, N.C.) -- Police suspect that the alleged armed robbery of a truck transporting bars of gold in North Carolina was an inside job as more details about the highway heist have emerged, according to a search warrant application that was obtained by ABC News.

Three suspects allegedly stole $4.8 million worth of gold after one of the two armed guards -- the driver and another man, both inside the truck's cabin -- said that he felt sick and prompted the driver to pull over, Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard Jr. told reporters on Wednesday.

That account is different from what was presented in the first police report on the case, which said that a mechanical issue caused the truck's driver to pull over.

“There is suspicion at this time that this could be an inside job due to the circumstances of the robbery," a Wilson County Sheriff’s Office detective wrote in a search warrant application to get access to one of the guards' cell phones, one of two search warrants in the case obtained Wednesday.

"The fact that the truck was robbed immediately upon it pulling over at an unannounced stop is suspicious in and of itself," the document added. "It is also suspicious because there are no markings on the side of the truck that would indicate the type of cargo contained therein. The suspects also went directly to the trailer and found the gold which was in unmarked five gallon buckets. It is not believed that this is a random act due to the nature and facts of this robbery."

The second search warrant application was to get access to the truck and the trailer it was pulling.

Woodard told reporters Wednesday that the case was "suspicious," but declined to reiterate the theory expressed in the search warrant that the robbery could have been an inside job.

Woodard shared sketches of the three suspects who allegedly bound the hands of the driver and the passenger, and a photo of a traffic cone that was placed behind the truck as the suspects allegedly removed the gold from the vehicle after breaking a lock on the back. The traffic cone had the marking of a company that only does work in Florida.

The truck was bringing gold and silver to Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and being driven on I-95 by armed guards employed by a Miami-based company, TransValue Inc., Woodard said.

One of the search warrants states that approximately $5 million worth of silver was left in the truck, meaning that when the truck left Miami on Sunday morning, it had close to $10 million in metals inside the back compartment, which, the sheriff said, was protected solely by a Master lock on the door.

"The suspects attempted to steal the truck and trailer but could not get the truck started," according to one of the search warrants. "The truck was in proper working condition so the suspects had to [have] not been experienced in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle. The suspects loaded the gold in the minivan and fled the scene."

The metal was owned by Republic Metals Corporation in Opalocka, Florida, according to a search warrant. The company did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

The police said they were seeking a search warrant for the phones of the armed guard who felt sick because of the suspicious nature of the case, but Woodard said at Wednesday's news conference that the driver and the passenger have not been considered suspects. Both men have been interviewed separately several times by police, Woodard added.

Woodard noted that the driver and the passenger apparently violated their company’s policies by exiting the vehicle without their firearms and leaving the firearms inside the truck.



Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar042015

Passengers Evacuate US Airways Flight After Smoke Fills Cabin

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(DENVER) -- Passengers on US Airways Flight 445 from Charlotte were told to evacuate the plane as soon as it landed at Denver International Airport on Wednesday, authorities said.

“The flight did have a smoke smell in cockpit. Evacuation slides deployed as plane was on the ground. Passengers were evacuated and bussed to concourse,” said Stacey Stegman, a spokeswoman for Denver International Airport, told ABC News.

While only one person was injured, everybody else arrived safely, said Stegman.

Brooks Robinson, of Atlanta, who was on the flight, described to ABC News the scene.

“The jet stopped abruptly on the taxiway and then passengers saw and smelled smoke,” he said.

“All of a sudden the captain comes over the intercom and goes, ‘Ladies and gentlemen evacuate, evacuate, evacuate!’ And you could tell he was a little…disturbed and a little shaken up,” he added.

“It got pretty smoky. I mean, me, I’m not one to really panic over minor stuff, but it was enough where I wanted to put my shirt over my face because it was kind of a foul smell and awkward odor,” said Robinson.

Robinson and many passengers took to social media, where they posted videos and pictures of the incident.

“Fire department ruled out fire as the cause of the smoke,” Stegman said.

She also said NTSB continue to investigate the cause.



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Wednesday
Mar042015

American Bison Slams Into Parked SUV in Yellowstone National Park

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(YELLOWSTONE, Wyo.) -- An American bison being trailed by cars inside Yellowstone National Park took its anger out on a parked SUV in its path, ramming into the car that had two passengers inside.

Tom Carter, a 60-year-old attorney from Texas, was sitting inside a Nissan Xterra with his friend, Suzie Hollingsworth, a Yellowstone tour guide, when they saw a group of bison approaching them head-on.

Carter pulled out his phone just in time to record a video of the bison veering off on its own and ramming their SUV.

“We did everything we could think of to do to avoid problems,” Carter told ABC News. “I figured that they would just keep running right by us at a full gallop but at the last minute it intended to hit us.”

“It was mad,” he said. “It pretty clearly intended to hit us.”

Carter, who spent six summers as a Yosemite tour guide in the 1970s, says the bison were being followed by “essentially a line of cars that was chasing them into us.” The incident occurred in an area of the park known as Lamar Valley.

Carter says the bison’s angry outburst is likely attributed to the agitation of the cars as well as the mild winter the area of Wyoming in which Yosemite is located has received.

“It’s been a really light winter and the animals are a lot more feisty this winter,” he said. “Normally the winters are so harsh they don’t want to expend any outside fuel.”

The bison caused nearly $2,800 in damages to the SUV, which belongs to Carter’s friend, Hollingsworth. Neither she nor Carter was injured inside the vehicle.

“We turned the engine off which was a good thing because the air bags probably would have deployed,” said Carter, who estimated the bison weighed around 2,000 pounds.

“We were never concerned about safety,” he said. “The buffalo picked on something about its own size. We were laughing about it because it was kind of crazy.”

Carter’s video of the mid-February event has received nearly 400,000 views on YouTube. He later posted a video showing the damage to Hollingsworth’s car.

He says the bison walked away unscathed. “It sort of shook its head and continued along the road,” Carter said.


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Wednesday
Mar042015

Detroit Bus Driver to Be Charged After Alleged On-Duty Doze Leads to Crash

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- After a four-month investigation, authorities said on Wednesday that the driver of a city bus who police said fell asleep at the wheel and then slammed into eight vehicles in suburban Detroit will be charged.

The 65-year-old driver, whose name has not been released, faces a charge of a 93-day misdemeanor, a moving violation causing serious impairment of bodily function. The driver was expected to turn himself in and be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.

Police said in October the SMART bus crashed into a Ford Explorer in West Bloomfield Township before plowing into seven other vehicles. Cameras on the bus caught the heart-pounding moment.

Police said there was one passenger on the bus at the time. That passenger was not injured. The driver said he'd fallen asleep, according to police, and had tried to brake and then swerved before the accident. Authorities called it the longest crash of West Bloomfield history.

"This accident, the crash scene was actually a half-a-mile long," West Bloomfield police Det. Lt. Curt Lawson told ABC News affiliate WXYZ-TV in Detroit.

"It was one of the biggest accidents that we have ever investigated in West Bloomfield history. It took four months to complete this investigation. ...We've very fortunate no one was killed during this incident,” he said.

A man and a woman, both age 79, who were riding in the Ford Explorer, were seriously injured in the accident. Several passengers in the other vehicles suffered minor injuries.

Authorities examined camera footage and the bus' recording device, as well as the victims' hospital records. The bus' brakes and mechanics were also investigated and the accident was reconstructed.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar042015

Trial of Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Gets Underway Wednesday

FBI(BOSTON) — The defense team for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev made a stunning admission at the beginning of the accused Boston Marathon bomber’s trial today: “It was him.”

“We’re all going to come face to face with unbearable grief, loss and pain caused by a series of senseless, horribly misguided acts carried out by two brothers, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar,” defense attorney Judy Clarke told the court. “We do not and will not at any point in this case sidestep or attempt to sidestep Dzhokhar’s responsibility for his actions. We think the question of ‘why’ is important.”

Clarke said it was that facet, the motive behind the deadly bombing, where the defense disagrees with the prosecution. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Clarke said, was the one “who self-radicalized” and the defense plans to show evidence that Dzhokhar was “enlisted” by his older brother. The defense team gave a hint of a similar potential strategy a year ago when they filed motions to obtain information the attorneys believed would show that between the brothers, Tamerlan was an “all-powerful force who could not be ignored or disobeyed.”

Earlier the judge seemed to strike a blow to such a defense, telling the court that whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is more or less culpable than his late brother is not relevant.

Dzhokhar has pleaded not guilty to the 30 counts against him, including charges of using a “weapon of mass destruction resulting in death.” The most serious of the charges could put him on death row if he's convicted.

The trial comes just under two years after twin explosions ripped through the crowd near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April 2013, killing three people – including an eight-year-old boy – and injuring some 260 others. More than a dozen of those injured lost limbs.

Prosecutors say Dzhokhar and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev were responsible for the death and destruction, and that the two were photographed dropping backpacks holding the bombs before the blasts. The city of Boston was paralyzed for days during an intense manhunt, during which the pair allegedly gunned down an MIT police officer.

Tamerlan was eventually killed in a shootout with police days after the attack in the Boston suburb of Watertown.

Dzhokhar was caught hours after that shootout, bloody and hiding in a dry-docked boat. While hiding, Tsarnaev penned an anti-American missive on the wall of the boat, saying, "The U.S. government is killing our innocent civilians, but most of you already know that.”

"We Muslims are one body. You kill one of us, you hurt [unintelligible] us all,” another section of the note read.

After opening statements, the prosecution will immediately force jurors to relive the emotional pain of the marathon attack. The first three dozen witnesses are expected to be bombing victims: amputees and others who were maimed along with the father of Martin Richard, the eight-year-old killed when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly planted a backpack containing a pressure cooker bomb at the boy’s feet. Their testimony will be followed by others impacted by the blasts, including Marathon organizers and business owners along Boylston Street where the finish line was.

While prosecutors focus today on Dzhokhar, authorities told ABC News they’re also investigating whether Tamerlan’s wife, Katherine Russell, knew of the deadly plot beforehand.

Russell is suspected of being the woman who accompanied Tsarnaev to a Macy’s in Boston two months before the April 2013 attack where the couple bought five pressure cookers – two of which were allegedly used to make the bombs placed at the marathon finish line. In an affidavit to search the Tsarnaev’s home, FBI agents said they were looking for clothing consistent with those seen on a security video at Macy’s.

Both lawyers for Russell and federal prosecutors declined to answer ABC News questions about Russell’s status, but a senior law enforcement official said she could face charges of misprision of a felony, or failing to notify authorities of a crime about to happen.

Days after Tamerlan was identified as one of the suspected bombers, Russell’s attorney, released a statement saying Russell was assisting the investigation into the bombing and was not aware of the plot beforehand.

“As a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife, Katie deeply mourns the pain and loss to innocent victims, students, law enforcement officers, families and our community,” the attorney, Miriam Weizenbaum, said then.


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Wednesday
Mar042015

LA Girls' Basketball Team Won't Be Disqualified for Wearing Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

Thomas Cordova/Daily Breeze(LOS ANGELES) — A girls' high school basketball team won't be penalized because it wore pink letters and numbers on its jerseys to support breast cancer awareness. But the coach is banned for the rest of the season.

Nathaniel Narbonne High School's team in the Harbor City area of Los Angeles appealed a decision that forced it to forfeit a 57-52 playoff win on Saturday against View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter High School because the pink on the uniforms was not an approved color, according to a league governing body.

On Tuesday, a three-person appeals panel said the team won't have to forfeit the win, but coach Victoria Sanders is out for the rest of the season, the Los Angeles Times reported. In addition, the team will be on probation through next season and the school can't host a girls' playoff game next year.

"Our biggest push was to just let the girls finish out the season, so we were glad they got their season back," Narbonne's athletic director, Kyla Berman, told ABC News. "The coach was OK with the decision that she wasn’t able to finish out the season."

Now that the top-seeded team's disqualification has been overturned, it will play in the championship game on Saturday with the approved colors of green, gold and black.

But Sanders won't be allowed in the arena. Instead, the boys' basketball coach, who Berman said already closely works with Sanders, will guide the girls' team.

"I can accept it," Sanders told The Times of the punishment.

Berman said the team players were "speechless" about the panel's decision to let them play.

"They were so excited. They and the parents were disappointed, of course, Vicki won’t be there," Berman told ABC News. "But Vicki just kept telling the girls, 'Just play.' They’re ready. She’s confident they will do what they need to do."

The California Interscholastic Federation's Los Angeles City Section, which initially disqualified Narbonne's team, did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News Tuesday.


Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar042015

1,400 Security Badges Lost, Stolen at Atlanta Airport

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- More than 1,400 security badges used by workers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport that offer access to private baggage areas, tarmacs and other secure locations reportedly have been lost or stolen, according to an investigation by ABC News station WSB.

The badges went missing between 2012 and 2014.

Airport officials said the badges alone wouldn’t be useful -- a personalized PIN number, specific to each employee, is also required in order for the badges to work.

“Due to those safeguards, we do not believe that lost or stolen badges pose a significant security threat to the airport,” Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport said in a statement.

Stephen Ganyard, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot and ABC News consultant, said the report is concerning.

“The airport said, ‘Well, they would have to have a PIN to get through a gate, they’d have to have a picture,’ but everybody knows they’ve been around places when somebody has a security badge and they say, ‘Oh, he has a badge, we’ll just let him in,’ or they can follow me through the door,” Ganyard said.

According to the WSB report, Atlanta’s airport does not use biometric screening for employees, which would include fingerprint or eye checks.

The Transportation Security Administration has refused to release statistics on missing airport badges across the country, citing security concerns.


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Wednesday
Mar042015

LAPD Shooting: Homeless Victim Stole French Man's Identity, Authorities Say

Ventura County Sheriff's Office(LOS ANGELES) — The homeless man fatally shot by Los Angeles police officers in a Sunday confrontation was living in the United States under the assumed identity of a French national, authorities told ABC News Tuesday.

The LAPD had identified the man as Charley Saturmin Robinet, a convicted bank robber who carried a French passport.

But Astrid le Moine, Press Attaché for the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles, said the French consulate later notified police of the usage of the stolen identity.

Arnaud Guillois, the press counselor at the French Embassy in Washington, told ABC News that the homeless man killed on Skid Row "is not French." French officials do not know the man's nationality at this time, Guillois said.

A call to the LAPD Tuesday seeking comment wasn't immediately returned.

Court documents confirm that the man who used the name Charley Saturmin Robinet was released from federal prison on May 12, 2014 after serving 14 years in prison.

A law enforcement source confirmed to ABC News that Robinet was 39 at the time of his death.

A 2005 court document notes that a state psychiatrist examined him and determined that he had a "mental disorder or defect" but it was unclear if he received treatment.

Witnesses at the shooting scene told KABC that the man was called "Africa" by people who knew him. The shooting took place on the city's Skid Row, a stretch of Central Los Angeles where many of the city's homeless congregate.

Footage obtained by ABC News shows Robinet entering his tent on the sidewalk shortly before police arrive at the scene.

At least two investigations into the shooting are underway.


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Wednesday
Mar042015

Ohio Suspect Turns Himself In After Facebook Exchange with Sheriff's Office

Butler County Sheriff's Office/Facebook(BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio) — Authorities in Ohio are crediting social media for their latest arrest.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office posted an alert on Facebook Tuesday about Andrew Dale Marcum, 21, who was wanted on a range of charges, including burglary (safe-cracking), abduction, assault and domestic violence.

Residents commented on the post. So did Marcum, apparently.

“I ain’t tripping half of them don’t even know me,” Marcum wrote from his Facebook account.

The sheriff’s office responded: “If you could stop by the Sheriff’s Office, that’d be great.”

County Sheriff Richard K. Jones also weighed in, posting a photo on Twitter showing a jail cell.

“Hey Andrew Marcum we’ve got your room ready…” Jones wrote.

 

 

Later in the day, Marcum relented, turning himself into authorities. Marcum appears glum, his eyes red in the booking photos posted following his arrest.

“Andrew Dale Marcum will be off Facebook temporarily, because there is no social media access in the Butler County Jail. He's turned himself in,” the office wrote in a new Facebook post. “Thanks to our Facebook and Twitter friends for helping turn up the heat.”


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