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Wednesday
Nov262014

Exclusive: Police Officer Darren Wilson Discusses Firing Deadly Shot

ABC News(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson discussed his account of the moment he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

Wilson said Brown was charging at him, disregarding the officer’s instructions.

“I started backpedaling, ‘cause he’s just getting too close and he’s not stopping,” Wilson told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

“After I fired the second round of shots, he gets about eight to 10 feet [away]. And as he does that, he kinda starts to lean forward like he’s gonna tackle me. And eight to 10 feet is close and what I saw was his head. If he’s gonna tackle me, he’s gonna tackle me at that point. And I looked down my barrel of my gun and I fired,” he continued.

The Aug. 9 shooting sparked months of protests, drawing national attention to the St. Louis suburb.

Wilson said he was driving to get lunch by himself -- just a normal day, he says -- when he encountered Brown and a friend walking in the middle of the street, “single-file on the double-yellow line.”

Wilson, 28, says he instructed the pair to walk on the sidewalk.

The first person, Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, ignored Wilson, the officer said.

“And then Michael Brown came next and he had to exchange some explicit words with me,” Wilson said. “He had said, “F*** what you have to say.”

“First words to you?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Yeah,” Wilson responded.

At that point, Wilson says he noticed cigarillos in Brown’s hand, noting that Brown and Johnson matched the description, he says, of suspects in the theft of cigars from a nearby convenience store earlier that day. Wilson said he wasn’t sure whether Brown was armed.

“I got on the radio and I asked for assistance,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he parked and tried to get out of his vehicle, when Brown again cursed at the officer and slammed the officer’s car door.

“I…again taken aback because I’ve never been trapped in my car,” Wilson said. “I use my door to try and push him back and yell at him to get back. And again he just pushed the door shut and just stared at me.”

“So you’re staring each other down?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Yeah, he stared at me, like almost over top of me…looked like he was trying to intimidate me," Wilson said. "And as I looked back at him, all of a sudden punches started flying…He threw the first one and hit me in the left side of my face."

Wilson said he doesn’t believe he could have done anything differently that day, and says he has a clean conscience.

“The reason I have a clean conscience is ’cause I know I did my job right,” he said.

Following Monday’s announcement that a grand jury declined to bring charges against Wilson, Brown’s relatives released a statement, saying, “We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequences of his actions.”

Wilson said he feels remorse about the outcome of the altercation.

“I think those are grieving parents who are mourning the loss of their son,” Wilson said.

“Nothing you could say, but, again, you know, I’m sorry that their son lost his life. It wasn’t the intention of that day. It’s what occurred that day. And there’s no…nothing you could say that’s gonna make a parent feel better,” he added.

Watch George Stephanopoulos' full interview with Darren Wilson below:


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Winter Storm Causes Power Outages Throughout Northeast

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wednesday's winter storm has left almost 400,000 customers without power in the northeast.

Public Service Company of New Hampshire spokesman Martin Murray says, "The reason that this has occurred is we really had wet, heavy snow, that's fallen on evergreen trees and there hasn't been a lot of wind to push that snow off so instead they've been weighed down and they've interfered with power lines and equipment."

In New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, 293,000 customers are without power.

In New York, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, nearly 100,000 customers are without power.

It's expected to take days to restore power in some areas.

The storm is also impacting Thanksgiving travel. As of Wednesday night, 4,624 flights were delayed and 735 were cancelled, according to the flight-tracking company FlightAware.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Snow, Rain Threatening Millions of Thanksgiving Travelers

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Wintry weather is bringing travel delays for many Americans on Wednesday, causing problems on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

As of Wednesday night, 4,624 flights were delayed and 735 were cancelled, according to the flight-tracking company FlightAware.

More than 46 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles away from home in the coming days, the country’s highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2007, according to AAA.

Residents along the East Coast should expect heavy rain from a nor’easter, with the rain then changing to snow. Snow is expected across parts of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and interior New England.

Some areas off the Atlantic coastline could see 4 to 8 inches of snow.

Snow is also expected in the plains and Midwest, affecting parts of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the northern Rockies. Heavy, occasionally pounding rain is expected in the Pacific Northwest.

The East Coast storm is expected to pass through by Thursday, leaving travelers hopeful that their return trips will be uneventful.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Video of Police Shooting Cleveland Boy with Toy Gun Is Released

File photo. (iStock/Thinkstock)(CLEVELAND) -- The video of a Cleveland police officer shooting a 12-year-old boy who had a toy gun was released on Wednesday after the department consulted with the boy's family.

Police initially withheld the video from the public while discussing handling of the disturbing footage with the family of Tamir Rice, the boy who was shot in a playground on Saturday.

"The family did not initially want the video to be released, but after reviewing it... expressed their wish to us" to make it public, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said on Wednesday.

Williams urged the public and the media to be cautious in the handling of the video.

"I want people to bear in mind this is a 12-year-old boy... The family will have to view it over and over," he said.

Rice was killed after a 911 caller reported a boy waving a gun around. The orange dot that is put in the barrel of toy guns had been removed and police said it was indistinguishable from a real weapon.

“We are honoring the wishes of the family in releasing this and also in the spirit of being open and fair with our community,” Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said.

The grainy video shows Rice walking around the playground and the sidewalk, occasionally pointing the toy at passersby or at objects. Police played a recording of a 911 call a man made after spotting the boy brandishing the toy gun and narrated the video because at times it is hard to see details of the video.

"He's sitting on the swing right now, but he keeps pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people," the caller said.

"I don't know if it's real or not," the caller added.

The video shows the caller sitting in a gazebo near the boy and walking away before police arrive.

A police car pulled up and two officers, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, exited the car, drawing their weapons.

An officer gave the boy an order three times to "show your hands" before shooting him. ABC News affiliate WEWS TV identified the officer who fired as Loehmann, 26, a rookie who joined the force in March. Garmback, 46, had been an officer since 2008.

Police also played the 911 dispatcher's message to police, relaying the 911 caller's report.

"He keeps pulling the gun out of his pants and pointing it at people," the dispatcher says.

It's not clear if police knew the caller had mentioned the gun could be fake.

"Shots fired. Male down. Black male. Maybe 20," an officer said in the 911 recording reporting Rice had been shot.

Rice's family issued a statement after the video was released, saying that the "situation could have been avoided and that Tamir should still be here with us."

"The video shows one thing distinctly: the police officers reacted quickly," read the family's statement in part. "We understand that some of you are hurt, angry and sad about our loss. But let’s use those emotions in a way that will contribute to positive efforts and solutions that bring change to Cleveland, Northeast Ohio and cities across the nation as it relates to how law enforcement officials interact with citizens of color."

Both officers are on administrative leave during the investigation, Tomba said.

Police tried to revive the boy after the shooting, Tomba said.

"Tamir was given first aid in under four minutes and approximately three minutes after that, our emergency service showed up and they provided medical service to the young man," he said.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Michael Brown's Parents 'Taken Aback' by Darren Wilson's 'Clean Conscience'

Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, standing outside the Ferguson Police Department Monday night. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- The family of slain Ferguson teenager Michael Brown is hurt and "taken aback" by Officer Darren Wilson's statement that he has a "clean conscience" and couldn't have done it any differently.

Brown's parents appeared in New York with the Rev. Al Sharpton and the families of other African Americans who were killed by police. Sharpton said it would be the first Thanksgiving for these families "with an empty seat at the table."

They spoke a day after Wilson emerged publicly for the first time in months and told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos his version of what happened on Aug. 9 when he shot and killed Brown following a confrontation.

Earlier this week Wilson was cleared by a St. Louis County grand jury of any criminal activity in Brown's death.

At one point during the interview with Stephanopoulos, Wilson said he doesn’t believe he could have done anything differently that day and that he had a clean conscience. "The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right,” he said.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Brown family, said on Wednesday the parents have been doing media interviews in New York and he said it is hard "listening to them break down over and over again" as they discuss Wilson's comments about their son.

"It was very hurtful to the parents when he said he had a clear conscience... They were taken back... They thought he had no regard for their child," Crump said.

The lawyer said that Wilson "tried to villify" Brown, who was 18, by saying the teenager had a fierce look and that Brown had stared at the officer "like he was trying to intimidate me."

"I expected him to say my heart is heavy, my conscience is troubled. He didn’t say that," Crump said.

Sharpton said that in Wilson's grand jury testimony, which has been released, the officer said the area where the shooting occurred was a high crime area. "That shows prejudgment... It goes to his state of mind," Sharpton said.

In the interview with ABC News, Wilson said, "I’m sorry that their son lost his life. It wasn’t the intention of that day. It’s what occurred that day. And there’s no … nothing you could say that’s going to make a parent feel better.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Boy Scout Tops Dad’s Total, Earns Most Merit Badges

iStock/Thinkstock(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) -- Josh McCoy has earned a whopping number of Boy Scout merit badges.

It took him three years but in November, the 14-year-old from Alexandria, Virginia, collected his 135th merit badge, the most a scout can currently get.

McCoy, a member of Troop 1145, said his motivation was a bit personal — his father, Tim McCoy, had earned 82 as a scout and he wanted to beat his total.

“I’m a very competitive person,” he told ABC News. “After that, there was so many left to do so I wanted to keep going and then [I] wanted to just finish them. … Not many people do it.”

His mother, Darlene, sewed a special sash so all the badges would fit.

“It’s actually two sashes sewn together,” McCoy said. “The Boy Scouts don’t actually have one sash that holds them all.”

From tying knots and programming a robot to scuba diving and playing the bugle, the badges represent activities that McCoy has mastered or at least seriously dabbled in. McCoy said some of his merit badges had involved three to four hours of learning and work — and others, a bit longer.

“It took me two years to learn how to play 15 songs,” he said about bugling.

He said his favorite merit badge was geocaching, in which the scout uses GPS to find a location.

“I did that with my dad and it was a lot of fun,” he said. “Now it’s a hobby of mine.”

His least favorite: backpacking 70 miles over the course of four trips. He completed it in a month and covered an additional 20 miles.

McCoy said that before becoming a Boy Scout, he had no clue about what he wanted to do for a career.

“I think it’s worth it,” he said of earning merit badges. “You learn a lot of skills. … I have a good sense of what I want to do. Engineering.”


More ABC US news | ABC World News


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Couple Who Has Fostered 92 Children Fights to Adopt Child in Africa

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Jessica and Jason Neal are like any loving parents figuring out how to care for their large family, but what sets them apart is they believe they always have room for one more.

“We have two biological children, we have adopted six, we’ve done foster care for 92 kids and we are waiting to adopt one from Africa,” Jason Neal told ABC’s Robin Roberts.

The Neals describe their life as “unperfectly perfect organized chaos,” but they wouldn’t have it any other way, Jessica Neal said.

Jessica and Jason, both 41, met in 1993. After getting married, they moved to a small town in Ohio. Jessica desperately wanted a large family, so she was devastated when her doctor told her she could not conceive.

Despite the doctor’s prognosis, the Neals had two biological children, Kira, 17, and Dayton, 16. Jessica was told to stop trying after her doctors found a large tumor in her hand that grew during each pregnancy. She was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation in her right hand and arm, and eventually had to have half her palm amputated.

Not letting this sidetrack their ambitions for a large family, Jessica and Jason decided to become involved in foster care. At the same time, Jason had gone into ministry as a youth pastor, and the couple quickly realized they could have a big impact in kids’ lives through foster care.

In 2001, Jessica and Jason relocated to St. Cloud, Minnesota, where Jason had been hired as a pastor at a local church in the community. Jessica later got a job with the city’s reserve police force.

The couple continued fostering for the next decade. Whenever the Neals would get a call that a foster child was in need of placement, they wouldn’t hesitate to bring the child home.

“Somebody’s got to step in to the gap,” Jason said. “Somebody’s got to be willing to put their heart on the line for these kids.”

The Neals said they treated all of their foster children as their own, providing new pillows and new clothes to each to help them feel at home.

“You get to take the tag off something, that’s really special,” Jessica said.

Jessica and Jason said they also held family meetings to check-in with their biological children, Kira and Dayton, who both were vital parts of their fostering.

“It’s all contributed to who I am as a person and who I want to be,” Kira said.

“It’s constant chaos, and constant fun,” Dayton echoed. “Because no matter what happens, you have someone to be with.”

In 2006, the Neals decided to adopt twins Miriam and Malachi, as well as their older brother, Titus, and little sister, Ruthie, all from Minnesota.

“We went from two kids to six kids overnight,” Jason said.

The twins, now 10, have medical challenges. Miriam suffers from an autoimmune disorder and needs infusions twice a month. Malachi suffers from a vascular disorder that often leaves him in chronic pain.

Despite the medical hardships and the family’s mounting financial difficulties, the Neals adopted again. In 2010, Josie, then 4, came into their lives through private adoption in Minnesota.

“I think we make a mistake in America where we try to shelter our kids from all the pain in the world,” Jason said. “I want to teach my children how to make a difference.”

Now, the couple faces a new challenge. On a recent mission to Liberia, West Africa, with Teamwork Africa, a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing churches in Liberia, Jessica met an 8-year-old boy named Emmanuel. The boy has cerebral palsy and does not talk, but the Neals decided they would try to adopt him.

“I met his eyes and I just knew at that moment that’s my guy,” Jessica explained. “I just fell in love.”

However, dealing with an international adoption includes many unexpected difficulties, most notably the $15,000 in adoption fees they still need to bring him home.

In the meantime, the Neals have stayed involved with Teamwork Africa and remain in touch with Emmanuel through a local pastor and his community.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Why This NFL Player's Post on Ferguson Has Gone Viral 

Joel Auerbach/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- NFL player Benjamin Watson is one of countless Americans still struggling to understand Michael Brown's shooting death at the hands of a Ferguson, Missouri police officer.

Watson, a tight end for the New Orleans Saints, poured his heart out in a viral Facebook post late Tuesday. He described himself as confused, embarrassed, offended, angry and sad for a variety of reasons.

"I'm angry because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes," he wrote.

The post has been shared more than 150,000 times on Facebook, and it appears Watson's honesty is what made the update go viral. Fans commented that they are "proud" of the athlete and "in awe." "Tears running down my face," one woman wrote.

 

 

Watson also addressed the racial tension that's sparked demonstrations across the country, saying the problem is "sin," not "skin."

"Sin is the reason we rebel against authority," he wrote. "Sin is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. Sin is the reason we riot, loot and burn."

Watson said he will never really know what happened between Brown and Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot the unarmed teenager this summer.

"I'm sympathetic, because I wasn't there so I don't know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance ... Or maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led him to eventually murdering the young man to prove a point."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

The Most Popular, Non-Turkey Thanksgiving Dishes, by State

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For just about everyone, Thanksgiving means a turkey on the table. But if you live in Colorado, Idaho or Nevada, you're probably also looking forward to a big-'ol helping of frog eye salad on the side. Or maybe some persimmon pudding if you're a Hoosier, or pineapple casserole if you live in the Palmetto State.

Those are some of the most popular, non-turkey Thanksgiving dishes, by state, according to a survey by The New York Times.

The newspaper enlisted Google's help to do it, asking the Internet search authority to scour Thanksgiving week data going back 10 years, by state, to find the most searched-for, most distinct non-turkey dishes. The New York Times then compiled the data, listing not only the most popular, but also the top 10 contenders.

Not all of the results are bizarre-sounding to out-of-staters: there are lots of hits for familiar Thanksgiving dishes like pumpkin pie, candied yams, meat loaves and stuffings. There are also signs of the times, with frequent searches for meatless or gluten-free versions of holiday favorites.

Folks in Tennessee love their spinach maria -- essentially, a cheesy spinach casserole -- but regional desserts like Coca-Cola cake and Butterfinger cake also make their list. 

If you dine in Utah on Thursday, expect some equally cheesy funeral potatoes on the side.

Washington state, not surprisingly, loves their smoked salmon dip, and while pumpkin whoopie pie is popular in lots of New England states, it's nowhere more popular than in Maine and Vermont.

The New York Times has the entire survey broken down as an interactive list with links to recipes and other info, as well as a handy map of the U.S. that shows the most popular results, by state, at a glance.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov262014

Exclusive: Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson Tells George Stephanopoulos He's Having a Baby

ABC News(NEW YORK) --  Police Officer Darren Wilson, who has been in seclusion since the fatal shooting of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown, revealed to Good Morning America Wednesday that he and his new wife are expecting a baby.

Wilson, 28, had earlier told GMA anchor George Stephanopoulos that he had gotten married since the Aug. 9 shooting that has rocked Ferguson and much of the country.

In an installment of the exclusive interview released Wednesday, Wilson mentioned that his wife is pregnant.


 
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ABC News Radio