05 24 2016
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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  • Some hope killing will bring peace in Afghanistan     
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Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson addresses protesters

PHOTO: Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson addresses the crowd of protesters, asking them to stay on the sidewalk and not block traffic Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. The Missouri Highway Patrol took control of a St. Louis suburb Thursday, stripping local police of their law-enforcement authority after four days of clashes between officers in riot gear and furious crowds protesting the death of an unarmed black teen shot by an officer. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, David Carson)

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — A suburban St. Louis police chief on Friday identified the officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager ignited days of heated protests, and released documents alleging the teen was killed after a robbery in which he was suspected of stealing a box of cigars worth $48.99.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released police reports stemming from the case during a news conference where he also identified the officer involved as Darren Wilson, who has been on administrative leave since he shot 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, were suspected of taking the cigars from a convenience store in Ferguson that morning, according to police documents. Jackson said Wilson responded after a 911 call reported a "strong-arm" robbery just before noon. He said a dispatcher gave a description of the suspect, and Wilson encountered Brown a few minutes before another officer arrived.

Jackson said Wilson is a six-year veteran of the police department, but he refused to release any other details about the officer.

The family's attorney, Benjamin Crump, said Brown's parents were "incensed" after being blind-sided by the public announcement and allegations against their son.

"It's bad enough they assassinated him, and now they're trying to assassinate his character," he said.

Crump noted that police aren't releasing a photo of the officer but released photos from the store's security video that they say shows Brown grabbing a man inside the store. Crump said he hadn't seen the photos.

"(Police) are choosing to disseminate information that is very strategic to try to help them justify the execution-style murder of their son by this police officer in broad daylight," said Crump, who also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the teenager fatally shot by a Florida neighborhood watch organizer who was later acquitted of murder.

The video, dated Aug. 9, appears to show a man wearing a ball cap, shorts and white T-shirt grabbing a much shorter man by his shirt near the store's door. A police report alleges that Brown grabbed a man who had come from behind the store counter by his shirt and "forcefully pushed him back" into a display rack.

Johnson, Brown's friend, acknowledged to investigators that he and Brown were in the store and "that he did take cigarillos," his attorney, Freeman Bosley, told MSNBC. Bosley said he was aware of video but had not seen it.

Brown's uncle, Bernard Ewing, questioned whether Wilson really believed Brown was a suspect. He noted Johnson's account that the officer encountered the two young men and told them to get out of the street, and that Brown had his hands up when he was shot.

"If he's a robbery suspect, they would have had the lights on," Ewing said. "If you rob somebody, you would tell them, 'Get on the ground' or something, not, 'Get off the sidewalk.'"

"It still doesn't justify shooting him when he puts his hands up," he added. "You still don't shoot him in the face."

Brown's death has sparked several days of clashes with furious protesters in the city. The mood quelled on Thursday after the governor turned oversight of the protests over to the state Highway Patrol. State troopers walking side-by-side with thousands of peaceful protesters replaced the image of previous nights: police in riot gear and armored tanks.

But the police chief's announcement Friday was met with immediate disbelief and anger by several dozen community members who also attended the news conference, which was hastily held at a gas station burned during a night of looting earlier in the week in Ferguson, a town of 21,000 that is nearly 70 percent black and patrolled by a nearly all-white police force.

"He stopped the wrong one, bottom line," yelled Tatinisha Wheeler, a nurse's aide who was at the news conference.

A couple dozen protesters began marching, chanting "Hands up, don't shoot" and "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!"

Police have said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street during a routine patrol. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer's weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car before the struggle spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times, according to police.

Dorian Johnson has told media a different story. He said an officer ordered him and Brown onto the sidewalk, then grabbed his friend's neck and tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing. He said Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times.

Tensions in Ferguson boiled over after a candlelight vigil Sunday night, as looters smashed and burned businesses in the neighborhood, where police have repeatedly fired tear gas and smoke bombs.

By Thursday, there was a dramatic shift in the atmosphere after Gov. Jay Nixon assigned protest oversight to Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is black and grew up near Ferguson. He marched alongside protesters.

"We're here to serve and protect," Johnson said. "We're not here to instill fear."

The streets were filled with music, free food and even laughter. When darkness fell — the point at which previous protests have grown tense — no uniformed officers were in sight outside the burned-out QuikTrip convenience store that had become a flashpoint for standoffs between police and protesters.

"All they did was look at us and shoot tear gas," Pedro Smith, who has participated in the nightly protests, said Thursday. "This is totally different. Now we're being treated with respect."

President Barack Obama on Thursday spoke publicly for the first time about Ferguson, saying there was "no excuse" for violence either against the police or by officers against peaceful protesters.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said federal investigators have interviewed witnesses to the shooting.

___

Associated Press writers Jim Salter and Jim Suhr in St. Louis, Eric Tucker in Washington and Hillel Italie in New York, and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner, also in New York, contributed to this report.

___

Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier

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