Minneapolis, MN— A man was shot and killed in Minneapolis Saturday making it the second homicide this month in the city once dubbed by the New York Times as “Murderapolis” when the murder rates soared to 99 in 1995. Most of the victims were young and attached to street gangs during that period. Teenagers could be gunned down for wearing the wrong colored clothing (usually red or blue- colors claimed by rival gangs), or for “disrespecting” someone. Killings often occurred over turf wars, but seemingly little disputes could cause senseless murders– in one case, a man was allegedly killed over a 50 cent pool game dispute.
The sentencing guidelines in effect during most of these murders required a minimum sentence of 30 years before the defendant was eligible for release. Many of these offenders are now approaching this period. The legislature has since changed the penalty to natural life in prison without the possibility of parole in Minnesota for first-degree murder cases.
On Wednesday, a 20-year-old man was shot and killed when rival gang members opened fire at a group of people who were holding a memorial. The two killings bring the city’s murder totals to eight for the year. The victims of the last two murders have not yet been publicly identified. Although any homicide is tragic, Minneapolis is far behind the totals of 1995.
From January to April 2016, there have been reports of 126 rapes and 541 robberies in the city according to the Minneapolismn.gov site.
MINNEAPOLIS– May 12, 2016– A Minneapolis man, so far only identified by relatives and friends by the nickname of “Lil’ Dee,” was gunned down while riding as a passenger in a vehicle. The fatal daytime shooting occurred on a busy highway near Seed Academy and Harvest Preparatory School, although no other injuries were reported by the police. Witnesses said multiple parties engaged in an argument that ended in a car accident and murder. Numerous shell casings were recorded as evidence along with witness statements. The fear is that the shooting could be gang-related. Police are investigating the possibility that the incident was in retaliation to previous shootings in the area. This is the 9th homicide in Minneapolis this year.
CHICAGO– May 15, 2016–The fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old girl in her upper chest and the shooting death of two other men on Saturday, marked Chicago’s 213th, 214th, and 215th homicide since January 1, 2016. The city had 489 murders in 2015. There have been 1,280 shooting victims so far this year in Chicago running at a faster pace than in 2015 when the total was 2,988 victims
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Minneapolis, MN—-(May 16, 2016) — 23-year-old Lyuba Savenok, mother-of-two, and 26-weeks pregnant, was stabbed to death at her home in Eden Prairie, Minn. Saturday. Her husband, Yeveginy Savenok (30), was taken to the Hennepin County Jail where he was being detained on a probable cause hold for murder. He had apparently fled the scene in the company of the couple’s two children, ages 3 and 4, before surrendering to the local police. The two had been married for about six years, and neighbors report that there had been a police presence at their residence on multiple occasions in the past.
It is likely that second-degree murder charges will be filed by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office with the option of presenting the case to a Grand Jury for consideration of first-degree murder charges at a later time. The Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines call for a 306-month sentence for 2nd-degree murder (with intent), and natural life for 1st-degree murder. First-degree murder can be established in at least seven ways in Minnesota. A relevant section of the murder statutes here is the clause that provides, “causes the death of a human being while committing domestic abuse, when the perpetrator has engaged in a past pattern of domestic abuse upon the victim or upon another family or household member, and the death occurs under the circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life.” Of course, it is unclear whether the defendant will be charged with any crime at this point because the facts are known only to the police and the prosecutors at this time.
Minneapolis– May 17, 2016–Yevgeniy “Eugene” Savenok (30) was charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the death of his wife, Lyuba Savenok (23) and the unborn child Tuesday. According to 2014 court filings she had been beaten and abused by her husband. He was afraid she was going to leave him and take the kids with her reports said.
Georgia– May 21, 2016–The police have killed another citizen using a Taser, this time on Interstate 85 at Mile Marker 55, about an hour from Atlanta. The two deputy sheriffs were white, and so was the victim, Chase Sherman (32). Mr. was traveling in a rental car with his parents and fiance en route to Destin, Florida. Sherman had been exhibiting bizarre behavior since he had ingested synthetic marijuana a few days earlier and bit his girlfriend and attempted to jump out of the vehicle. His family became concerned for his and their safety and called 911. The incident was captured on video and shows the deputies Tasering Sherman approximately 15 times after he was handcuffed inside the car. You can hear his mother begging the police to stop and later sobbing after Sherman was killed during the process.
The New York Times reported, “Mr. Sherman’s mother and his fiancé, Patti Galloway, watching from the front of the car, the deputy shot him several times with the Taser, and the second deputy punched him in the head.” “Mr. Sherman can be heard saying “O.K. I’m dead, I’m dead,” as he was shoved to the floor and wedged between the front and back seats. “I quit, I quit,” he yelled, the Times says. Shortly after that, he was dead.
COMMENT: The video clearly depicts the police using excessive force, and they should be prosecuted, or at a minimum, fired and banned from police work. Too many times we have learned that police use Tasers with unadulterated force and purpose having little if any training. Mr. Sherman was suffering from a severe panic attack and hallucinations likely induced by synthetic marijuana. The deputies used brute force from the moment of their arrival, and their aggressive posture and actions needlessly exasperated the situation: They apparently lacked the capacity and knowledge to deal competently with this medical emergency.
Although we think Tasers may have some value as a tool to address violent subjects, training is essential. The policies regarding the use of Tasers must be stringent, and there must be continuing education provided by a full-time staff consisting of experts trained in the utilization of the deadly weapon. We saw none of that in the video in this case.
ROAD RAGE MOTORCYCLE ASSAULT TRIAL RESULTS IN HUNG JURY IN HASTINGS, MN
HASTINGS MN– May 26, 2016. Road rage led to second-degree criminal assault charges for a Rosemount, MN man. He was alleged to have punched a motorist through the window of his SUV and then threatened him while wielding a knife. The penalty carried a mandatory minimum 36-month sentence in prison. During the trial, the driver of the vehicle testified that John Emerson became angry following a road incident, dismounted from his Harley Davidson, reached through the truck window, punched him and brandished a knife. The man’s girlfriend and a 12-year-old daughter who were passengers in the vehicle at the time tearfully recounted the details before the jury this week.
Emerson’s defense attorney, Robert D. Miller of Minneapolis, told the jury that the alleged victim had reacted angrily when Emerson was driving on the shoulder of the highway from Prescott, Wisconsin to Hwy 10 in Minnesota because traffic was heavy and his bike was overheating. Emerson testified that the motorist cut hit him off and aggressively followed him into Hastings where the incident occurred. The jury was hopelessly deadlocked, and a mistrial was declared. Miller said, “I am always pleased when jurors listen attentively and decide cases based on the facts and the law.” Robert D. Miller is considered one of the leading criminal defense attorneys in Minnesota having won an acquittal in a first-degree murder case six months after becoming a criminal defense attorney.
Minneapolis– June 19, 2016. The death toll for Minneapolis homicides rose to 11 with the recent killing of Travis Washington (30) who was shot to death in his North Minneapolis home. A 39-year-old male suspect has been arrested in connection with the murder.
St Paul, MN– July 7, 2016 –Philando Castile, 32, a St. Paul school cafeteria employee, was shot and killed following a traffic stop for a suspected tail light infraction Wednesday night.
The St. Paul man died Wednesday night after being shot by police in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, a suburb of St. Paul. The event was caught on a video that has been seen by over a million viewers.
Castile, who had no criminal history, can be seen in his T-shirt that is soaked in blood. Early reports indicate that Castile told the police officer that he had a conceal and carry permit and was in possession of a weapon. There is no indication at this time that he was reaching for the gun. The New York Times that Castile had “been shot several times, slumping against the woman who was recording the scene. As she did so, her 4-year-old daughter sat in the back seat, and an officer stood just outside the driver’s side window, still aiming his gun at the mortally wounded man at point-blank range.” The women can also be heard saying, “Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him,” she said. “You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”
The Gov. of the state, Mark Dayton, has promised a full investigation. However, he waited nearly 13 hours before he made a statement at all. He had spoken with a representative from the White House about a federal investigation. A few hours earlier, Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota, who seemed shaken by the video showing Castile, as he died, also pointed to the role of race. “Would this have happened if the driver were white if the passengers were white?” he asked. “I don’t think it would have.” The Times reports that “Representative Betty McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat, had called for the Justice Department to investigate earlier Thursday.” Critics have called Dayton’s comments unfounded, racist and unfortunate. Bill O’Reilly said such remarks place police officers across the board in grave danger.
President Obama weighed in on the fatal shooting saying, “What’s clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents,” and that such shootings are “are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.”
St Paul, July 10, 2016 — Protesters took to the streets, avenues, and freeways across the nation over the past few days mainly in response to white police officers shooting black men. A section of Interstate 94 in St. Paul was shut down for more than five hours resulting in 21 police officers injured and over 100 arrests. (Protesters were reacting to the questionable killing of Philando Castile (32) of St. Paul by a Falcon Heights Police officer during a routine traffic stop for a broken tail light and other similar shootings in the country). Participants of the St. Paul protest told police that two children got sprayed with mace during the melee.
Police spokespeople said that the “rioters” had thrown hard objects at the police causing physical injury and denied intentionally spraying children with mace. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said the officers “acted with extreme professionalism, extreme patience, extreme tolerance to try” to continue “to protect the ability of the people to protest peacefully, but drawing the line when peaceful acts of protest turn into acts of violence.
A video was taken by Castile’s girlfriend shortly after the fatal shooting apparently gave the impression that the Falcon Heights officer killed Castile in cold blood. In the aftermath, it has been discovered that the police department has been accused of questionable stop and seizure practices in the past. A lawyer for the police officer in the shooting case is now claiming that his client was reacting to the presence of a gun. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the St. Anthony police department is hinting that although Officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was not wearing a body cam, the squad video has captured some relevant footage. There is speculation that Yanez thought he was stopping a potentially armed robbery suspect. However, such a notion appears to be belied by the notion that the officers did not approach the vehicle with guns drawn as protocol dictates in felony stops.
ARE THE POLICE ENGAGED IN RACIAL PROFILING?
The fact that Castile has been pulled over at least 52 times in the last couple of years for minor offenses has fueled speculation that police are engaged in racial profiling (Castile is black).
Racial profiling is not a new subject. For years, lawyers across the nation have urged courts to take notice of stops made by police where the driver or the occupants are members of a minority race. A study in Arizona revealed that Blacks are approximately six times more likely to be stopped on the Interstates there than white people. Native Americans are pulled over at even a higher rate. The statistics came to light after neutral groups surveyed actual drivers and their race on the Interstates and then compared their findings to the race of those stopped on the Interstate. The problem remains mostly hidden because most states do not require their officers and departments to track the race of people stopped by the police. Minnesota does not mandate that the police maintain such records and studies that rely on agencies to voluntarily provide this information are inadequate and incomplete.
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