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Timothy Zoll, the Ferguson Police Department officer who called the Michael Brown memorial on Canfield Drive "a pile of trash in the middle of the street," is on unpaid leave awaiting discipline.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch did a story on Zoll's remark, which was quoted in a Washington Post story by Jose DelReal. Ferguson authorities told the Post-Dispatch that DelReal misquoted Zoll:

But the city claims that the spokesman, Officer Timothy Zoll, was misquoted.

“He didn’t mean to refer to the memorial as trash, he said the driver may not have known what was there and accidentally drove over what was there,” said Jeff Small, a spokesman for the city.

At the time, Zoll denied ever making the statement DelReal attributed to him. The City of Ferguson, in addition to talking to the Post-Dispatch, issued a press release, repeating and defending what it would later admit was Zoll's lie.

Just a couple of hours ago, the City of Ferguson issued a new press release, stating that Zoll, once confronted with the results of the police department's investigation, admitted to making the "pile of trash" remark and "misled his superiors when asked about the contents of the interview."

The press release goes on to state that city officials are working "to relocate the memorial to a more secure location."

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According to an article in the Washington Post, on Christmas day someone ran over the memorial for Michael Brown set up in the middle of Canfield Drive, the spot where the young man's life was abruptly and violently brought to an end. The destruction was, apparently, intentional.

The Ferguson Police Department weighed in:

Officer Timothy Zoll, the Ferguson Police Department’s public relations officer, said that no crime had been reported in connection to the memorial’s destruction. He suggested that the department would look at any video of the incident, but he did not specify whether the department would investigate.

“I don’t know that a crime has occurred,” Zoll said Friday. “But a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?”

A pile of trash in the middle of the street. I suppose that's how Zoll and his Ferguson Police brethren viewed Michael Brown on August 9, too.

Sorry I don't have more to say. Words fail me right now.

Update: Timothy Zoll has been placed on unpaid leave and is awaiting discipline. See here for more information.

Discuss

Remember how prosecutors distributed a copy of Missouri’s deadly force statute that included an unconstitutional provision? The one that was handed out the day Darren Wilson's story would be told over and over, by Wilson and three other witnesses, and via recorded interview?

Well, that statute came up again in testimony before the grand jury, this time from Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. He was asked about the training officers receive on the use of force to effect an arrest and of deadly force.

Alizadeh:  Does your office, or does your department train your officers on when they can use force to affect an arrest and when they can use deadly force?

Jackson:  Yes, ma’am.

Alizadeh:  Other than what they learn at the police academy, anything that your department instructs them about?

Jackson:  Yes ma’am. That’s really continuing education. The post-training they are required where it includes firearms training, deadly force training every year. A lot of it is dictated by both state and federal law and Supreme Court decisions that sometimes change circumstances and deadly force. Fleeing felon rule, for example.

And there it was, the infirmity of the deadly force statute prosecutors previously distributed to grand jurors inadvertently plunked down right in front of the 12 people who most needed to understand it.

What would the prosecutors do? Why, shift the focus to questions about the bureaucratic minutiae of how the training gets done, of course.

Alizadeh:  So let me ask, I know and maybe this hasn't been testified about, but officers have to get continuous education to maintain their certification every year; is that right?

Jackson:  Yes, ma'am.

Alizadeh:  So every year officers have to have so many hours of continuing education, right?

Jackson:  Correct.

Alizadeh:  And that's put on by various organizations and entities, would that be fair to say?

Jackson:  Yes, ma'am.

Alizadeh:  And so there might be other entities that would give additional instruction or training on use of force to affect an arrest and the use of deadly force, but my question is, does your department itself train or instruct the officer or is there any kind of formalized training in your department, put on by your department about use of force?

Jackson:  Yes, ma'am.

Alizadeh:  And is that done as like in the form of giving them some written materials, or is that done as in some kind of class setting?

The questioning goes on about whether there's written literature that officers have to read, protocols on officer-involved shootings, and other similar sorts of things that don't have a damn thing to do with the need for training to reflect court-imposed changes to statutory law.

Citation: Vol. 21, p. 211-14.

Update: This post originally identified the Ferguson Police Chief as Jon Belmar. Belmar is the chief of the St. Louis County Police Department, not Ferguson.

Discuss

Below is a comprehensive witness list from the Ferguson grand jury. Here's a legend for some of the information:

"CSD" means Crime Scene Detective.

"DD" in the last column means "Document Dump."

"Feds" as the interviewer means both the DoJ and the FBI.

"Id." means the exact same statement as the preceding one.

The "1 at 2" format in the Testimony column and, occasionally, the Transcript column means Volume number at Page number.

The "Exhibit" references should not be taken as comprehensive. I just threw some in for convenience. There were over 100 exhibits entered.

Some of the identifying information might not make sense to you, like "minivan." These are markers I've been using to help me keep track of which witness is which as I continue my research.

If you see any mistakes I've made, please let me know! This thing took many hours and, for me, even short projects are hard when I'm trying to fit the information into HTML codes.

Because the index is so long I put the index below the flourish in case anyone wants to republish it to a group. A long intro can muck up a group's diary page.

Update: I changed the text around a little because of the way the intro showed up in a tweet.

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Witness 40, the woman who wants "to understand the Black race better" and "start calling them People." The woman who just happened to be at Canfield Green to see Michael Brown get killed.

Plenty has been written about Witness 40. Vyan introduced her to the Daily Kos community; BvueDem asked us to read Witness 40's testimony and statement to the police. Shaun King showed us that Witness 40 makes Sean Hannity's heart go pitter patter.

I want to round all this out by looking at how McCulloch, through his henchmen, Kathi Alizadeh and Sheila Whirley, handled Witness 40 before the grand jury. This, to my mind, is the part of the story that matters the most because of what it reveals of McCulloch's strategy and intent, up to and including the moment that prosecutor's threw Witness 40 right under the bus.

Follow me below for a review of the evidence.

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During his November 24 press conference announcing that Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown, Bob McCulloch made clear that the eyewitnesses were not a trustworthy lot. Among other things, he said:

Some [witnesses] even admitted that they did not witness the event at all but merely repeated what they heard in the neighborhood or others, or assumed had happened.
That quote can be found at the 5:06 mark of the video posted at the end of this diary. Because I haven't yet read all the witness testimony in the grand jury transcripts, I'll have to take McCulloch's reference to "some" witnesses at face value. So far, I've only found one and that one is important.

A closer look at the testimony by and about this witness gives lie to McCulloch's condemnation. There are two reasons why: The first is that the circumstances surrounding the revelation that a witness passed on someone else's observation actually strengthen the prosecutor's case. The second is the inadvertent admission by the prosecutors that they had two different standards for witness testimony.

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A story released today reveals that Bob McCulloch did not, in fact, release all the evidence that was put before the grand jury.

Among the items omitted: Dorian Johnson's two-hour interview with the FBI.

KSDK in St. Louis has the story.

A team of investigative reporters from around the country reviewed the transcripts released by McCulloch's office, which included law enforcement interviews with 24 witnesses. Most conspicuous in its absence was the joint federal-county interview with the witness who had been closest to the deadly confrontation, Michael Brown's friend Dorian Johnson.
McCulloch's office blamed the Feds:
McCulloch's executive assistant, Ed Magee, said the office released everything it still had when the case was closed, but had "turned over and relinquished control" of some FBI's interviews conducted in connection with the shooting.
There is one problem with this story that must be noted. The KSDK piece says:
McCulloch's office labeled the witness interview transcripts it released by witness number, up to Witness #64. But only 24 different witnesses' interviews with law enforcement were included in the information released.
KSDK is misunderstanding how the witnesses were numbered. The numbers are not limited to people who saw the shooting, which would be eyewitnesses. Rather, in the context of the grand jury, a witness is someone who testified. The Medical Examiner, for example, is a grand jury witness. There's text in one of the transcripts that explains this, but I don't have it handy.

There's video at the link. I don't know how to embed it.

In closing, I'll note that in Volume 11, the prosecutor attempts to discredit a witness by the sin of omission, pointing out that there was "no mention" of Michael Brown's hands being up in the witness's original statement.

It's laughable that prosecutors would think the same assumption should be drawn from their omission.

Update: Vyan posted the video in the comments and I somehow figured out how to do so myself. Here it is:

Discuss

Yes, you read that right. The grand jury was instructed to indict Michael Brown for assaulting a police officer. Not technically, of course, because Michael Brown is dead.

This is from Sheila Whirley's instructions just before the grand jury began its deliberations:

Now, what makes this a little bit different is that if you will look on page, the first page, it talks about assault of a law enforcement officer in the first degree. And that's part of the indictment because the officer is saying he was arresting him for assaulting him.

So that's what you would be considering in your deliberation and we have provided you with definitions of assault in the first degree, on the second page is assault in the second degree and the third degree. And then also a law enforcement officer's use of force in making an arrest. An officer can use force in making an arrest, got that laid out for you.

Vol. 24, page 134-35 (emphasis added). Right after that, Alizadeh jumps in to make her "correction" regarding the deadly force statute.

This is madness.  

Not that it mattered to the prosecution, but it was Wilson's burden to raise the deadly force statute as his defense. At trial.

Neither did it matter that what happened between Brown and Wilson was not some separate and isolated event but, rather, one point in a sequence of events that comprise the whole case that should have been heard by a jury. At trial.

The long and the short of it is simple: the grand jury was instructed to find that Michael Brown, a dead kid who literally cannot raise his voice in his own defense, committed a crime.

Discuss

By now you all know two critical components of how McCulloch and his team corrupted the grand jury proceeding in order to let Darren Wilson walk. First, the prosecutors gave the grand jurors a copy of the Missouri deadly force statute that contained an unconstitutional provision. Second, Darren Wilson was allowed over four hours before the grand jury to tell his scary tale about the Big Mean Black Guy.

Did you know these two things happened on the same day?

Do you know what happened in between the distribution of that statute and Wilson's testimony? The grand jurors heard the story Wilson was about to tell four, maybe five, different times.

I've been creating an index of the grand jury testimony, with cross references to exhibits and things like that.  Here are my notes from that day's proceedings.

Volume 5
Sept. 16, 2014

Page Content
5 Alizadeh distributes Missouri statute on deadly force
9 Exhibit 18: Recorded interview of Wilson's direct supervisor; sergeant on duty day of shooting
10 Playing of recorded interview with Wilson's direct supervisor
12-75 Testimony of Wilson's direct superviser; Sergeant [], Ferguson Police
31-34 Same, relaying words he says Wilson said to him; no mention of Ferguson Market
74 Gets to say what a great guy Wilson is
75-137 Testimony of Detective [], St. Louis Co. Police; mostly relays what Wilson told him
139 Recording of police interview with Wilson played; need to confirm interviewer
140-195 Testimony of FBI agent; relaying what Wilson told her
147 FBI interview was not recorded
195-End Testimony of Darren Wilson
Now, let's think about what preceded Darren Wilson Day -- it was Dorian Johnson's testimony. Here are my notes for that:

Volume 4
Sept. 10, 2014

Page Content
5-10 Playing video compilation of Dorian Johnson television statements
6 Exhibit 9: Collection of D. Johnson video clips
11-13 Playing of D. Johnson August 13 interview with FBI agent and SLC detective
12 Exhibit 10 (sic): Audio of witness interviews including D. Johnson above
13 Exhibit 11: DVD including video from Ferguson Market
13 Alizadeh references maps Johnson marked during above interview and drawing that she "can't find [] in my office right now"
14 Playing of video "snippets" from Ferguson Market
14 Grand juror asks how Ferguson Market video is relevant; gets blown off
16-End Testimony of Dorian Johnson
31-39 Same, re: events at Ferguson Market
45 Same, where Darren Wilson enters scene
71 Exhibit 15: Map of area for Johnson to mark
84 Alizadeh brings testimony back to Ferguson Market; calls Brown's actions "brash" and "indignant"
85 Alizadeh describes Brown's behavior to clerk as "threatening"
86 Alizadeh describes Brown's behavior as "intimidating" and "very much macho"
88 Alizadeh asks if Brown said "something ignorant" to Wilson as Wilson pulled away
99 Testimony returns to Johnson's narrative of altercation
172 Whirley asks Johnson to recount his legal troubles from four years prior
To summarize, prosecutors laid the groundwork for Wilson. By playing the Ferguson Market video, eliciting testimony about that incident, calling Brown "threatening," "intimidating," "indignant" and "kind of macho," asking "ignorant" questions of a Man in Blue and then leaving the grand jury with the impression that Dorian Johnson is a criminal, they created the image of Brown they wanted in the grand jurors' heads when the next day of proceedings began.

And when that day did begin, prosecutors dedicated a whole day to story after story after story of just why Wilson had to kill Brown -- right after giving the grand jurors a piece of paper that said, "It's okay for cops to kill a fleeing suspect."

Sometimes, I get so frustrated and angry while reading those transcripts that I want to just close the windows and my mind as to what really happened, and keeps happening. Then I look at this

and I begin anew. For her and all the mothers who know all too well what her pain feels like.
Discuss
Wanderer dances the dance of stars and space
A wanderer dances the dance of stars and space [NASA]
If we liken our planet to the universe, Daily Kos is but a solar system within the galaxy of politics.  Each member is not, however, a mere planet, but a star inhabiting the whole of the universe.  Each of us is alike in composition, yet unique in expression.
The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.
 - Carl Sagan, The Cosmos
In Memoriam is the astronomer hoping to assemble and honor those stars whose light has faded.  In 2013, those stars are Mentatmark, RiaD, cacamp and testvet6778, bedabing, Aeolius, GreenMountainBoy02, and Translator. Each of them, and all those memorialized below, is gone in the physical sense; as humans who loved and laughed and tried to improve upon life in the universe, they are now part of the past.
When all that's left to do
is reflect on what's been done
this is where sadness breathes
the sadness of everyone
 - Live, The Dam at Otter Creek
Sadness breathes when we mourn, yet oxygen is also needed to celebrate. Not just the lives of those who have passed nor the mark each left on the world. The celebration encompasses their existence in each of us.
We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands.
 - Carl Sagan, The Cosmos
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Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM PST

We Are All Newtown: Baby Teeth

by VetGrl

I remember way back, when my now 21-year old daughter started losing her baby teeth, feeling a little bit sad about the transition. Of course, the first tooth was exciting; she got to believe that there was a tooth fairy, a very cool entity who traded that tooth for what seemed like a lot of money to her. Each tooth after that, though, came with a hint of the future, that my girl would, a few years hence, get hips and breasts, have love interests, want gadgets instead of toys, choose her own clothes based on her unique style.

There's something about a child's baby-tooth-filled smile. It symbolizes her innocence, her purity even. Incapable of hate, except maybe for broccoli, unburdened by prejudices and resentments; loving fully and unconditionally; running through a room naked, dancing, singing. Just because.

In my 48 years, I've witnessed world events that stirred my soul, made me rejoice, or left me wanting for words, a means of understanding, and, sometimes, even a desire for vengeance; from incredibly vague bits I recall of the moon landing to the triumph of what is good and right that we are remembering in the wake of Nelson Mandela's passing, with wars and revolutions and too many mass shootings in between.

But nothing, nothing, I've witnessed compares to December 14, 2012, when 20 tiny human beings, some with all their baby teeth and most with some still, were massacred, their little bodies ripped apart by the multiple bullets the killer fired into them.

I learned of the massacre here. After finishing the things that needed doing that day, I popped into the site and saw weatherdude's diary, "When is the right time to talk about this bullshit?" Like everyone else, I was shocked and horrified. I cried.

As the hours and coverage wore on, rage was growing inside of me. I wrote a diary the next morning, which put my emotions, especially the rage, on full display. I remember being prepared to pull the diary if the community thought it was too vulgar, or too much too soon, when I hit "publish." That didn't happen; based on many comments, I'd simply put words to the raw emotions that so many others were feeling.

I was glad for that because it felt like I had done something, though very small, that mattered to people in a situation that we couldn't even comprehend.

It's almost one year later. I still cry when I think of those children who had their baby teeth and, for many, the belief that Santa Claus would soon be visiting. They'd been good; they were too young not to be.

One year later, and rage still rises within me. The source of that rage, however, has moved well beyond Newtown to the nation as a whole because we have failed, completely, to honor those children and protect all others from the horror that was that last moments of their lives.

Do I really need to provide the details in the U.S. beyond the big headlines like the shootings at LAX and the Washington Navy Yard? the NRA-sponsored recall effort in Colorado? the expansion of "kill at will" (aka "stand your ground") laws since those tiny people with baby teeth were torn apart by bullets?

Will we ever contemplate what our post-9/11 doctrine of kill first and ask questions later has done to people? Can we legitimately wonder whether the Newtown shooter's world wasn't formed, at least in part, by the emphasis on violence and revenge that took hold on 9/11?

Why aren't we holding "pro-life" politicians to their word?

How could we have done so little?  How could the massacre of those precious little people and those incredibly brave women who tried to save them, how could that have been insufficient???

One year later, it's still too much. How can it possibly be that this wasn't a turning point?

Continue Reading

Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:10 AM PDT

Central Ohio Kossacks: Meetup Photos!

by VetGrl

Central Ohio Kossacks had their third meetup yesterday, this time at The Tap Room in the historic German Village area, just south of downtown Columbus.  There was good conversation and lots of laughter.  thenekkidtruth was even inspired to write a diary about our gathering and the value of these meetups.

Here's who came:

Don midwest, who did all the real work putting this meetup together
freeport beach PA
here4tehbeer
hwy70scientist
lilypew
Lindylou
Major Kong, accompanied by Miss Scott
Silvia Nightshade
thenekkidtruth
VetGrl

What better way to start a photo diary than with some book nerds doing jazz hands?

jazz hands...and books
Introductions below the fold...
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