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Protest updates: Robert Fullers half-brother fatally shot by California police; Portland, Oregon, cuts nearly $16M from police budget

6 min read
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/18/robert-fuller-half-brother-shot-atlanta-cop-not-state-witness/3208018001/

The half-brother of Robert Fuller, a Black man found hanging from a tree in Palmdale, California, was fatally shot by police on Wednesday, according to a family attorney.

“This afternoon I had to notify the sisters of Robert Fuller that their half-brother Terron Jammal Boone was killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in Kern County,” Jamon Hicks said in a statement.

Also Wednesday, the attorneys for Atlanta police officer Devin Brosnan said he did not agree to be a “state witness” in the case against Garrett Rolfe, the ex-officer who was charged with felony murder and 10 other counts in the death of Rayshard Brooks.

A closer look at some recent developments: 

  • Oakland, California, officials launched a hate crime investigation after finding several nooses on trees at a city park.
  • The Mississippi GOP condemned Lowndes County Supervisor Harry Sanders’ racist remarks about Black Americans, saying it does not represent the party.
  • The city council in Portland, Oregon, voted Wednesday to cut nearly $16 million from its police budget after calls to “defund the police.”

Our live blog will be updated throughout the day. For first-in-the-morning updates, sign up for The Daily Briefing.

California deputies fatally shoot half-brother of Black man hanged in park

The half-brother of a Black man found hanged in a Southern California park was killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies Wednesday after they say he opened fire on them.

Detectives with the sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit were tracking a man who was wanted for kidnapping, spousal assault and assault with a deadly weapon but when they tried to stop his car, he opened the door and began shooting, authorities said.

Deputies shot and killed the man. A woman in the car was wounded in the chest and was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening while a 7-year-old girl in the car wasn’t hurt, sheriff’s officials said.

The man was identified as Terron Jammal Boone by an attorney representing the family of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old man who was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale last week. Officials say the death appeared to be a suicide but family members have disputed that.

Boone had been charged Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court with assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, domestic violence and criminal threats.

Oregon’s largest city, Portland, cuts nearly $16M from its police budget

The Portland City Council voted Wednesday to cut nearly $16 million from its police bureau’s budget and reallocate those funds to social service programs. The 3-1 vote comes amid calls to “defund the police” sparked by the death of George Floyd that prompted nationwide protests against police violence.

“Never in my life would I have imagined we could cut so much so quickly out of a police budget,” Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said on Twitter, although some protesters had demanded cuts up to $50 million.

Mississippi GOP condemns local supervisor for racist comments

The Mississippi GOP issued a statement Wednesday condemning a Republican supervisor who made racist remarks disparaging Black people. 

Lowndes County Supervisor Harry Sanders said Monday that because Black people were “taken care of” during slavery, they were now “dependent” on society. Sanders doubled down on his comments Tuesday, saying, “Hell, it’s what I think.”

“The remarks made by Supervisor Sanders do not represent the platform or values of the Mississippi Republican Party and I condemn them,” Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Lucien Smith said in a statement. “This is the time for our leaders to bring us together, not create division.”

On Wednesday, Sanders told The Clarion Ledger of the USA TODAY Network that he would step down as board president if the majority of the five-member board voted him out. 

Sarah Fowler, The Clarion Ledger (Jackson, Miss.)

California city finds nooses at city park, launches hate crime investigation

The city of Oakland, California, has launched a hate crime investigation after finding several nooses at a city park, Mayor Libby Schaaf announced Wednesday. During a press conference, Schaaf said the nooses were found late Tuesday on about five different trees at Lake Merritt east of the downtown area. The nooses have been removed.

“These have no place in our city at any time but especially at this time,” Schaaf said.

Johnna Watson, a spokesperson for the Oakland Police Department, told USA TODAY in a statement that several community members have reported the nooses were used as exercise equipment.

“One community member claimed ownership of the ropes and stated that he intentionally placed the ropes on the tree limbs for exercise and games several months ago,” the statement said.

Attorneys dispute DA’s claim that Atlanta officer will be ‘state’s witness’

Attorneys for officer Devin Brosnan refuted Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr.’s assertion that Brosnan would be a “state’s witness” in the case against Garrett Rolfe.

At a press conference, Howard said Brosnan had agreed to testify against Rolfe, charged with 11 counts, including felony murder, in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks last week.

Attorney Amanda R. Clark Palmer told USA TODAY in an email that Brosnan cooperated with the DA’s office when he was interviewed Tuesday, “just like he will cooperate with the GBI or any agency conducting an investigation into Mr. Brooks’s death.”

She called Howard’s decision to charge Brosnan “irrational” and said “there is no agreement between Mr. Brosnan and the DA’s office for Mr. Brosnan to be a ‘state’s witness.’”

In a separate statement, attorney Don Samuel called the charge against Brosnan a “rush to misjudgment.”

Samuel said, “Brosnan’s conduct Friday night was exemplary.” Samuel added Brosnan’s “head hit the pavement and he suffered a concussion” in the struggle with Brooks.

– Jordan Culver

Attorney: Cops can’t be suspended without pay in Breonna Taylor case yet

The officers in the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky can’t be suspended without pay until an investigation is complete because of the “lack of indisputable evidence of wrongdoing,” the city’s deputy general counsel said in a memo obtained by The Louisville Courier Journal of the USA TODAY Network.

Annale Taylor, who formerly worked for the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, wrote to the city’s human resources director that there is “disputable evidence as to whether misconduct occurred.” 

“This doubt can only be resolved, if at all, by a thorough investigation,” she wrote. 

“Unlike the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, there are no video or audio recordings of Ms. Taylor’s death. Without this sort of indisputable evidence of wrongdoing, under law and contract, the Chief cannot suspend officers without pay until an investigation is completed,” Annale Taylor wrote on Monday. 

— Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.)

Fired Atlanta officer Garrett Rolfe charged with felony murder

Former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe was charged Wednesday with 11 counts, including felony murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, in the killing of Rayshard Brooks, the latest in a string of Black people dying after altercations with police.

If convicted, Rolfe is facing the possibility of the death penalty or life in prison. Arrest warrants have been issued for Rolfe and fellow officer Devin Brosnan, who was also at the scene and is facing three lesser charges.

“We’ve concluded at the time that Mr. Brooks was shot that he did not pose an immediate threat of death,” Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said.

Howard also said that rather than provide timely medical attention to Brooks after the shooting, as required by city policy, Rolfe kicked Brooks as he lay on the ground and Brosnan stood on the dying man’s shoulder.

– Jorge L. Ortiz and Jordan Culver

More on protests

Contributing: The Associated Press

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