Mom of boy shot by police wants officer convicted

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CLEVELAND (AP) — The mother of a 12-year-old boy shot by a Cleveland policeman says she wants him convicted for killing her son, who was carrying a pellet gun that police say looked real.
Tamir Rice was fatally shot Nov. 22 when officers responded to a 911 call about someone with a gun at a playground. Surveillance video shows the boy being shot within 2 seconds of a patrol car stopping near him.

Samaria Rice said at a news conference Monday that a friend had given her son the airsoft gun, which shot nonlethal plastic pellets.

The family’s attorneys say they want a transparent investigation. While a grand jury is expected to consider whether charges are merited, attorney Benjamin Crump, who has been involved in other high-profile cases involving the deaths of young black males, insisted that patrol officer Timothy Loehmann should be indicted without a grand jury hearing evidence.

Other attorneys have already filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city on behalf of Tamir’s family.

Samaria Rice said Monday that two little boys came to her door and told her Tamir had been shot twice in the stomach. She said she ran across the street to the playground and found Tamir on the ground and her 14-year-old daughter crying inside the same police car that Loehmann and his partner drove to the scene.
Crump said the girl told her mother that she had been tackled and handcuffed by police officers after she became upset because her brother had been shot.

A Cleveland police spokeswoman said on Monday that officials declined to comment.

Crump said he and attorney Walter Madison had been hired “to try to make sure this process is transparent and that it’s not swept under the rug as so many others.”

In the last few weeks, a grand jury in Missouri chose not to indict a police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr. and one in New York City decided not to charge a police officer who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold that led to his death.

“We don’t need to have another grand jury,” Crump insisted. “They can just indict the officer.”

In Ohio, the only way criminal charges can go to trial without an indictment is if a defendant waives the right to have a grand jury consider the evidence.

Crump is based in Tallahassee, Florida, and has represented the families of 18-year-old Brown and 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot by a man in Florida who said he was conducting a neighborhood watch.

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State lawmakers launch gun control coalition

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – State lawmakers have launched a nationwide non-partisan coalition to combat gun violence, in part because the Congress has failed to reform gun laws, members of the group said on Monday.

Some 200 lawmakers from 50 states have joined the alliance, American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention, said the group’s founder, Democratic New York State Assembly member Brian Kavanagh.

Kavanagh told a news conference the group would focus on state-level gun control reforms, including the prevention of interstate gun trafficking and tightening background checks on buyers.

Congress has “failed in its responsibility” to prevent gun violence, said Jose Rodriguez, a Democratic state senator from Texas.

“We can’t continue in the same path that we’ve been in as a country,” he said.

President Barack Obama had vowed to curb gun violence after a 20-year-old shooter killed 26 people, mostly children, at a Connecticut school in 2012. But the Senate rejected his proposal for wider background checks for gun buyers.

Lawmakers from eight states were at the news conference, including Virginia, Alabama, New Hampshire and Kansas. The only Republican lawmaker was state Representative Barbara Bollier from Kansas.

“We are a diverse group from red and blue states, and I am convinced our collective action will have an impact,” said state Representative Stacey Newman, a Democrat from Missouri.

The group has not released information on its preliminary donors, but Kavanagh said fundraising efforts were under way. Members are scheduled to hold their first meeting on Tuesday.

The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence said last year that states had led the way in passing gun-control laws. Eight states, headed by California, enacted major gun reforms since the Connecticut killings, it said.

Voters in Washington state last month also approved legislation to expand background checks for gun buyers.

The National Institute for Money in State Politics, in Helena, Montana, said last year that fewer than 10 percent of gun control measures introduced in state legislatures after mass shootings in 2012 became law.

Opponents of gun control outspent gun control advocates in the 2011-12 election cycle by about $800,000 to $21,000, institute figures show. More than half the anti-gun-control contributions were from the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun rights lobby.

(Editing by Ian Simpson and Dan Grebler)

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Beloit Police Ask Residents To Volunteer To Have Their Homes Searched For Guns

Police in Beloit are launching a new effort to reduce gun violence in which they’re asking city residents to volunteer to have police search their homes for guns.

Police Chief Norm Jacobs said he doesn’t expect the phone to be ringing off the hook with requests for police to search their homes. He nevertheless hopes the program will encourage people to think about gun violence as an infectious disease like Ebola, and a home inspection like a vaccine to help build up the city’s immune system.

“Gun violence is as serious as the Ebola virus is being represented in the media, and we should fight it using the tools that we’ve learned from our health providers,” he said.

Jacobs said he hopes some searches will result in the discovery of guns they didn’t know were in their own homes. He said that there’s also a chance they’ll find guns linked to crimes.

“That’s really what we’re looking for,” he said. “Maybe we’ll find a toy gun that’s been altered by a youngster in the house — and we know the tragedies that can occur there on occasion.”

There have been seven gun homicides in Beloit this year. Four of the victims were teenagers or young men in their 20s — like Melisha Holloway’s 20-year-old son Raymond, who was killed in April. Holloway said too many young men have given up on school.

“Pretty much all those kids and young men just need to be is educated,” said Holloway. “You have a lot of them that barely read at a fifth-grade level yet they’re 25 year-old-men. But they know how to work a gun. There’s something wrong with that picture.”

This week, 20-year-old Jajuan Logan was sentenced to 12 years in prison for Holloway’s murder.