November 30, 2010

Gallatin Police Department Finally Identify the Names of the Officers Involved in Taser-Death of Jeffry Woodward

Soulclap to the Gallatin News Examiner for getting their hands on the 199-page internal police investigation report into the taser-death of Jeffry Woodward. [SOURCE]

Villagers may recall that Woodward was killed in October 2009 by three unidentified Gallatin police officers.   It always amazes me that the police officers involved in these weekly taser-killings around the nation are so rarely identified in the initial press conferences and news articles.   In this case, the names remained unknown to the public for over a year.

According to the internal report, the Gallatin Police Department officers involved in the incident were Sgt. Chris Shockley, Officer Mark Hill, Officer Kris Ford and Officer James Perry.

The report backs up the department’s claim that Woodward was combative with officers, who used shackles, a K-9 dog and Tasers to bring him under control, even after he was handcuffed. Officers said Woodward exhibited “superhuman” strength while struggling, which was attributed to methamphetamine use.  The police figure that his death was tragic ... but, it didn't violate any police department policies or procedures.

The Woodward family disagrees.  Woodward’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Sumner County Circuit Court on October 26 — nearly one year to the date of the 33-year-old’s death — and the suit was moved to the U.S. District Court for Middle Tennessee on November 9.

The victim’s mother, Sandra Rutter and the victim’s widow, Andrea Woodward, seek a total of $21 million in compensatory and punitive damages from both the city and Taser International.

November 29, 2010

GOP No Longer Needs a Black Man as Chair, Therefore Michael Steele is Dead Man Walking Within Republican Party

The vote for the next chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) takes place in two months. The current GOP chairman, Michael Steele, indicates that he will be running for re-election. However, a significant bloc of Republican National Committee members wants embattled chairman Michael Steele to step aside, but the rank and file have failed to settle on a clear alternative. [SOURCE]

More than four dozen interviews with members of the 168-member central committee found fear that a badly damaged Steele could emerge from the wreckage of a knockdown, drag-out fight to head the party as it challenges President Barack Obama in 2012. While most agree that Steele’s time has been rough — and costly — the members also recognize that a leadership fight could overshadow gains that Republicans made in the midterm elections. [SOURCE]
You can’t keep spending the kind of money they’re spending every month just to operate the RNC,” said committee member Ada Fisher of North Carolina. “I would hope he would step aside.”

The question is who should be hired for the next two years, It’s not a matter of firing anybody,” said James Bopp, a committee member from Indiana who holds great sway among social conservatives on the panel. “I just don’t think Steele has performed at the level we need for the presidential cycle.”
Steele appears to have delivered for the Republican Party.  Didn't they just win a historic landslide victory in the mid-term elections earlier this month?    Shouldn't Steele get some credit for the fact that Republicans won at least 63 new seats in the House. Republicans picked up 10 governorships and added six Senate seats. The party also gained control of 19 state legislative chambers and now hold their highest level of state legislative seats since 1928.

I think that the Michael Steele served his ONLY PURPOSE for the Republican Party.   He was an African American face for the GOP elected in January 2009 to serve as a counterbalance for the remarkable election of Barack Obama ... the first African American president in our nation's history.

Be honest.  That is the ONLY reason that Michael Steele was elected GOP chairman in the first place.  The Republicans couldn't afford to have another old white man as their 'talking head'.   Michael Steele became the puppet.

Steele didn't mind.  In fact, he enjoyed it.   Steele did his 'Bojangles' best to entertain the media and the public when he first got elected. 

But, it's not January 2009 any longer and the Republican Party is now powered by the Tea Party ... and the GOP doesn't see any need to pretend like they are a diverse political party.   They are very comfortable being the party for white folks in America as evidenced by the prominent role that Senator McConnell (R-KY) and Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) have as party spokesperson.

Michael Steele served his role.   The Republicans are now laying the groundwork to remove him in January 2011.
He’s a wonderful man. He’s done a good job,” said Cindy Costa, a committee member from South Carolina. “But it would be better for him — and I want the best for him — to step down knowing he gave an honest shot and did a good job this election cycle.”
Dead Man Walking.

That's my view.  What say u?

November 28, 2010

The BDPA Insider - November 28, 2010

The BDPA Insider – November 28, 2010

What better way to start the day than with your weekly message from BDPA!

In this issue:
  1. Bemley Scholar Caroline Tremain Heads to University of Minnesota 
  2. BETF Executive Director Wayne Hicks Voted One of the Top 50 Amazing Tech Tastemaker
  3. Happy Birthday: George Williams, Past National BDPA President
  4. HSCC Testimonial: Matthew Clark (Detroit, 2008-2010) 
  5. The Power of 'Thank You' 
  6. Winter 2011 enrollment period is open for the BDPA IT Institute
  7. Zymic Webmaster Resources, 11/11/2010 (Nicholas Reid) 
Much love to National BDPA past president Milt Haynes for pulling this information together every week.  

Kudos to the following websites for providing the articles used in this week's BDPA Insider: BDPA Detroit Technology Automation Committee blog, BDPA Foundation blog, BDPA-In-The-News blog, BDPA Your Membership and Blacks Gone Geek.

Mississippi Powers-That-Be Ponder Criminal Charges Against the Police Officers Who Electrocuted Jermaine Williams

Jermaine Williams, 30, was electrocuted on multiple occasions by two taser-happy Cleveland Police Department officers, Stanley Perry and Bryan Gozan, who were attempting to arrest him on July 23.    The local coroner concluded that the taser-related death was a homicide.

The family has filed a $25 million civil lawsuit against the officers and the police department for wrongful death. They do not feel that the homicide was justified in any sense of the word.

The only open issue is whether or not the police officers will face criminal charges for their role in the killing of Williams.   The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations (MBI) completed its report concerning this taser-related death. [SOURCE]
The investigation is complete,” said MBI Spokesperson Jon Kalahar. “It was completed sometime this month. It was turned over to the Bolivar County District Attorney office to Ms. Brenda Mitchell a couple of weeks ago.  Ms. Mitchell decided that because she works so closely with the Cleveland Police Department, she did not want to handle the report.  She believed it would be best that it be handled by an outside agency such as the attorney general’s office."
Everyone is now waiting for the district attorney to determine if the officers were justified in killing Williams or if the case will be handed over to a grand jury for consideration of criminal charges.

The police continue to maintain that the extra-judicial electrocutions were proper.  Police chief Buster Bingham and his boys spin the story as follows:
Cleveland Police officers responded to a complaint around 3:18 a.m. of people loitering in the 700 block of Cross Street. During conversations, a bag of suspected cocaine was found on top of one of the vehicles where the individuals were standing.

As is normal procedure, the officers asked for identification of everyone. One particular individual gave the officers several false names. Another person, later identified as Williams, came up and said he was “gonna call someone.” He then grabbed the bag of suspected cocaine and ran.

An officer pursued him and finally caught up with Williams at Lucy Seaberry Boulevard and Cross Street. Williams would not comply and continued to resist the officer. The officer then deployed his taser gun on Williams.

Even then, according to the read statement, he was still combative and actually tried to take the taser from the officer. A second officer then arrived and Williams received a second taser jolt.
Other officers made it to the scene at which time they had to physically pull Williams’ arms out from under him. He was cuffed and officers noticed that he was having medical difficulties. Emergency services was called and prior to their arrival, the officers themselves gave Williams’ medical attention.
He was taken to Bolivar Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.   We figure that the MBI report may answer some of the open questions in this case:
  1. Did Williams die at the scene, on the way to the hospital or at the hospital?
  2. What happened to the bag of suspected cocaine? (did Williams ingest it;  was it recovered or not at the scene?) 
Please let this blog know if you have additional information to share about this taser-related death.

November 27, 2010

Am I Not Human? World AIDS Day

I realize that many of you are still full from the Thanksgiving feasts that you shared with friends and family. Disease and suffering are not likely to be on your mind.

But, this blog wants to remind you that between Thanksgiving and the holiday festivities to come, there's another important event often overlooked: World AIDS Day on December 1st.

AIDS is one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history, and especially devastating for the most vulnerable: children. Over 2 million children worldwide are HIV-positive, and 50% of infants infected with HIV from their mothers die before their second birthday.

The good news is that a proven solution for curbing mother-to-child transmission of HIV now exists: testing and counseling for mothers, combined with anti-retroviral drugs. But to make this successful on a global scale, the world must demonstrate the will to fund this solution.

World AIDS Day exists to mobilize support for taking the steps necessary to end the global AIDS epidemic. Soulclap to and the US Fund for UNICEF for issuing a call to all Americans to make a pledge to support solutions to end the AIDS epidemic now.

Worldwide, the funds to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS infections can't keep up with demand. There are 7,000 new infections every day, which means two people are still infected with the virus for every one starting treatment.

We are in an era of tight foreign-aid budgets, and developed nations are showing resistance to additional funding for preventing and treating AIDS. But as we go around shopping for friends and family this holiday, let's not forget to include the world's most vulnerable in our list of those we want to support.

Take action to help end the AIDS epidemic once and for all, and pledge to support life-saving programs around the world that protect children from HIV/AIDS and get treatment to those who are infected.

These Malawi victims are surely asking the universal question, "Am I Not Human?"

Roots of Humanity feels that each of us can fight against human rights abuses in the world. We simply need to do something. Protest. Meditate. Pray. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to blog on the 27th of each month. Just share information on behalf of our human siblings in all suffering areas who are either barred from communication by their governments, or lacking in technology to ask: Am I Not Human?

November 26, 2010

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: 'Black Friday'

(Th)ink is an editorial cartoon written and drawn
by cartoonist Keith Knight (the K Chronicles).

Old School Friday * Band Aid, 'Do They Know It's Christmas?'

Band Aid was a British and Irish charity supergroup, founded in 1984 by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia by releasing the record "Do They Know It's Christmas?" for the Christmas market that year.

The record was released on November 29, 1984, and went straight to No. 1 in the United Kingdom singles chart, outselling all the other records in the chart put together.  It became the fastest-selling single of all time in the UK, selling a million copies in the first week alone. It stayed at No. 1 for five weeks, selling over three million copies and becoming easily the biggest-selling single of all time in the UK.

November 25, 2010

Greenville County Officials Debate Criminal Charges Against Police in Taser Death of Andrew Torres

Andrew Torres was killed by two Greenville (SC) police officers who electrocuted him with their taser guns on August 9. The coroner ruled that the death was a homicide. The only remaining question is whether or not the police officers will be charged with a crime or not.

We learned that the Greenville County Solicitor Bob Ariail isn't willing to make the decision. He is punting the decision about whether to charge the police officers with a crime for their role in the death of Torres. [SOURCE]

Ariail said he has forwarded the State Law Enforcement Division's report on Torres death to 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett. He said he is sure that Brackett will handle the matter in an expeditious and professional manner.

Brackett will decide if criminal charges will be filed against the three officers involved in the August killing -- who have been identified as officers Dale Dirton, Kevin Hill and Eric Koepke.

November 24, 2010

OURstory: Charity Adams Earley (1918-2002)

The folks at the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) recently issued a provocative slideshow called 'The Facts'. It talks about the challenges faced by women in the IT industry.

If it is tough for women in 2010 ... how much tougher must it have been for a Black woman back in the 1940s?

That is the thought that came to me as I learned that Charity Adams Earley will be honored in the America I AM exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center on June 19, 2010 thru January 2, 2011.

It turns out that Earley held a degree in math and physics while attending Wilberforce University and the Ohio State University. She taught and attended graduate school before joining the Army. She did not let racism hinder her superior work. In fact, our BDPA Dayton chapter often celebrates their annual banquet at the auditorium in Sinclair Community College named after her.

At a time when a segregated military provided few opportunities for Blacks, Charity Adams was one of only two to hold a wartime rank in the WACs as high as major. A subsequent promotion made her a lieutenant colonel briefly before she left military service in 1946.

The Army first permitted Black members of the WACs to serve overseas in the winter of 1945, when it created the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, an all-Black unit, and assigned some 850 African American women to it. The unit, based in Birmingham, England, and later in Rouen, France, and Paris, routed mail to millions of members of the armed forces in Europe.

The assignment of Major Adams as the battalion commander seemed a natural choice. Having grown up in Columbia, S.C. -- her father a minister in the A.M.E. Church, her mother a teacher -- she joined the WACs in 1942. She was among 39 Black women in the corps's first training class, at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, and became one of its first Black officers. She then held administrative and command positions at Fort Des Moines for two and a half years.

The members of the 6888th postal unit were the first Black women many Britons in Birmingham had ever seen, and they shattered stereotypes.

"These WACs are very different from the colored women portrayed on the films, where they are usually either domestics or the outspoken old-retainer type or sloe-eyed sirens given to gaudiness of costume and eccentricity in dress," The Birmingham Sunday Mercury said. "The WACs have dignity and proper reserve."
After her military service, she received a master's degree in vocational psychology from Ohio State, then became a dean at Tennessee A&I College and Georgia State College. The Smithsonian Institution has included her in its listing of the historically most important Black women.

In 1996, Mrs. Earley was honored at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum for her wartime service. Before leaving Dayton for the ceremony in Washington, she said: "When I talk to students, they say, 'How did it feel to know you were making history?' But you don't know you're making history when it's happening. I just wanted to do my job."

We need to know OURstory for inspiration and direction. I hope that this blog post has been an eye-opener for you ... and for our daughters!

November 23, 2010

Taser Death: Denevious Thomas (Albany, GA)

It's happened again. This time unidentified Doughtery County Police officers decided to perform an extra-judicial electrocution of 36-year old Denevious Thomas when he was pulled over for a traffic stop in Albany, GA earlier this morning. [SOURCE]

Thomas' car was stopped near his home. In fact his aunts and other family members were nearby when the unidentified police officers drove away with his body still in handcuffs. The family members were understandably outraged and hysterical.
"He's dead. He's dead in handcuffs. It's not right," said Thomas' aunt Mary Ward.
His grandmother, who had kept her composure all morning, couldn't hold it in any longer.
"A dog deserves better than what he got, it's just so sad," grandmother Mary Ward cried.

The police spin the story this way: An unidentified Dougherty County police officer tried to pull over Thomas because he "appeared impaired". Police say that Thomas didn't stop ... and police chased him at a speed of about 30 miles per hour for a few miles until he crashed.
"The driver attempted to run from the vehicle. And in the attempt to take him into custody a taser was deployed," said Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek.
Cheek says Thomas struggled with the officer. After tasing Thomas, an unidentified officer put him in handcuffs and placed him inside the police car. When EMS crews arrived to check on Thomas' condition, Thomas was found to be dead, leaving behind his girlfriend Margaret Johnson and three children including a one-year-old.
"I'm still in shock, very much so. Because I was just standing in the doorway waiting for him to walk in," said Johnson.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is getting statements from everyone involved in this taser-related death. It seems very funky to me based on the little information that has currently been released.

Please let this blog know if you hear of any additional information.

Tune In Tuesday: The Drifters (White Christmas)

I'm officially in a Christmas mood. There are so many great Christmas songs that I think we will be popping up with them on and off over the next month or so.  

We begin today with an animated Christmas cartoon (by Joshua Held) featuring the vocal stylings of The Drifters, featuring Bill Pinkney on lead bass and Clyde McPhatter on tenor.

I'm curious ... what is your favorite Christmas song?

November 22, 2010

White House: The Rebirth of the American Auto Industry (VIDEO)

One of my summer jobs as a teenager in Detroit was working on the auto assembly line. I understand how important the auto industry is to America. It always amazes me when folks like Sarah Palin and other Tea Party activists continue to chant about how poor a decision it was to 'bail-out' the auto industry.

Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, discusses the President’s tough decisions on the American auto industry in light of the General Motors IPO:

What say u? Was the 'bailout' of the auto industry a good or bad policy decision by the federal government?

November 20, 2010

Perp Walk: House Panel Recommends Censure of Rep. Charlie Rangel

The House Ethics Committee recommended censure for Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), the most serious punishment it can hand out short of expulsion. Rangel was found guilty of 11 ethics violations, including failing to pay taxes on rental property, failure to report personal income, and improper fund-raising.

It is a sad day for any of us that admire this 80-year old man. Much of his legacy is tarnished by this recommendation. It is a reminder to all of us that we need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.

November 18, 2010

Taser Lawsuit: Family of Javier Aguilar Wins $1 Million from City of Roswell

The government officials in Roswell, New Mexico blinked. The city decided to pay $1 million rather than face a lawsuit into the extra-judicial electrocution of Javier Aguilar back in March 2008.

We are seeing more and more of these 7-figure settlements as the 'powers-that-be' realize that they cannot defend many of the taser-related deaths that are taking place each week in America.

November 17, 2010

Sarah Palin: 'I Believe I Can Beat President Obama' [VIDEO]

Sarah Palin is starting to drink the Tea Party kool-aid. It is becoming more and more obvious that she plans to take her experience as a half-term governor and losing vice presidential candidate into a 2012 campaign for the presidency. She says as much in a interview with Barbara Walters:

The Republican Party truly is feeling the rush of adrenalin from the recent mid-term election results. Do any of you truly believe that Sarah Palin is presidential material?

Rangel Found Guilty of Violating House Ethics

I'm very disappointed in Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). He allowed his arrogance, ego and pride to get in the way of his commonsense and ethics. As a result a House Ethics subcommittee was able to find him guilty of 11 ethics violations after a two-year investigation.

Rangel had been accused of 13 charges, including misusing rent-controlled apartments, using his office to solicit donations to an educational center and improperly filing taxes and financial statements. The committee found he had violated all but one charge; two of the counts were rolled into one in the final verdict.

The findings will be sent to the full committee, who will make a recommendation to the House regarding Rangel's punishment. The House ethics committee set a hearing for tomorrow on the appropriate punishment for Rangel, a Democrat who formerly wielded great influence as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

Subcommittee chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) noted,
"We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the law, and I believe we have accomplished that mission."
The last time this subcommittee held a trial like this was in 2002 against Rep. James Traficant (D-OH). Traficant was eventually kicked out of the House of Representatives. Nobody thinks that 80-year old Rangel will face similiar punishment. Possible sanctions include a House vote deploring his conduct, a fine and denial of certain privileges.

Rangel didn't to himself any favors when the subcommittee met earlier this week. He walked out of the 'courtroom' when the subcommittee lawyer acting as the matter's prosecutor spent just minutes cycling through the evidence against him. After playing video clips of a speech in which the Harlem Democrat admitted wrongdoing, the lawyer, Blake Chisam, called no witnesses, an apparent testament to the strength of the case against Rangel, who openly admitted on the House floor that he broke some rules.

There are some who say that Rangel didn't do anything more than others have done before.  African Americans have always known that we cannot get away with the same things that others get away with.  We still need to operate on the premise of doing twice as much to get half as far.

Rangel is learning the hard way that nobody is above the law. It is a sad way for this old lion to end his career.

Wordless Wednesday: Sextuplets in Ohio

November 16, 2010

GOP Congressman Cantor Supports Foreign Leader Against President Obama

I guess it is inevitable that the Republican Party leadership will begin to get a swollen sense of ego. They will begin to demonstrate a feeling of entitlement. They will start to think that they are "all that and a bag of chips".

That is all I can conclude as I heard about the promise that Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) made to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu last week. Cantor wanted Netanyahu to know that the GOP had his back. Cantor met with Netanyahu -- the same day when the actual U.S. Secretary of State met with Netanyahu -- and vowed that he and his GOP colleagues would protect and defend Israeli interests against his own Government. According to a statement proudly issued by Cantor's own office:
"Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington," the readout continued. "He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other."
Even Jewish power brokers were shocked at Cantor's statement of loyalty to Netanyahu. Jewish Telegraphic Agency's bureau chief in Washington, Ron Kampeas, declared that Cantor's statement was "extraordinary." He wrote that he could not "remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the President."

I suspect that we will hear Cantor backtrack on his pledge to Netanyahu soon. It is one thing to be ego-driven in private. It's another thing when you ego-driven statements go public.

Village Tips: In Business, Fear = 1000 Deaths

Please welcome Anthony Hall to the Electronic Village. He agreed to share a Villager Tip that might prove useful for many of us!

What is your worst sales or any type of presentation nightmare?

Is it spilling coffee all over your suit right before you go on? Or dumping a bowl spaghetti on your laptop and in your lap? How about getting a blue screen right in the middle of demonstrating your new software?

Everyone has had those kinds of near disasters and worse. You will have to be the judge, but I believe mine qualifies as a ‘worse case scenario’.

Imagine the scene: The historic German city of Bad Kreuznach, during Christmas, all white and lit up. The hardware partner had brought in all their software vendors, along with some choice prospective customers.

The wives and girlfriends are being entertained with shopping trips into town and a cruise on the Nahe river, a tributary of the Rhine. Dinners are set up in an old wine cellar below the hotel and small conference center. Everyone is having a merry time… except me.

I thought I was prepared; but it turned out, not quite well enough.

There is a panel of us vendors, fielding questions and tossing back answers – no problem. I am a rock.

But for some reason when it became my turn to have the floor to myself; it shifted beneath me and I could not regain my balance. It’s a good thing they couldn’t tell I was blushing.

Maybe I should have opened with a joke in German. I can do that much. Somehow I managed to get through it without totally falling all over the place, and ended on an up note.

Now on the surface, this may not seem like much; but the part I didn’t stress is that not only was I presenting in front of partners and customers, but also in front of all our chief competitors.

QStar, K-Par, KOM, BridgeHead and StorageQuest. How am I going to show my face at the next tradeshow or partner conference? I see these guys all the time; at shows or during RFQs (Request For Quotation).

Especially QStar.

We were pretty much #1 & #2, going back and forth in the rankings. They’d close a big deal, then we’d knock one out of the park. Sometimes they’d get a string of them going, and because I subscribed to their newsletter, I would know when they did.

My contemporary at QStar is a guy named Todd Deveney. We’d run into each other all over the place: from San Francisco to Vegas, Dallas to Chicago, New York to Orlando, London to Rotterdam, Hanover to Vienna.

Now Todd is a funny guy and keeps everyone laughing, but he can also make it sting. He’s good; and we’re always going at it.

I was in Munich a couple of years ago and while doing some shopping down town, came across a ‘Bob’s Big Boy’ sitting on the sidewalk. Like someone had just placed it there.

So I took a picture of it on my Blackberry and sent it to Todd saying, “I see they have erected a statue in your honor”.

He’s always giving me those kinds of cracks. Well, I got him with that one. We had a great laugh about it on the phone.

Todd was also there when I went down in flames, and he was real cool about it. I’ve always appreciated that about him, because he has never once mentioned it when we’re joking around. He’s a good friend.

What also helped me was the fact I acknowledged certain points that one or two of my other competitors made as part of my introduction. We had some good laughs later that night over a few “große Bier”.

This experience taught me that the only way to recover from such ‘disasters’, is to have people you can talk to about it with; ones who can really relate.

I also learned that if you look closely enough, such ones are all around you. One of them just might be in the most unlikely of places.

Maybe I’ll get that picture framed for Todd.

Copyright ©2010 Anthony Hall

Asante sana to Anthony for sharing his tip with us. Have any of you experienced similar issues with making presentations in front of people?

November 15, 2010

Taser Death: Troy Hooftallen (Punxsutawney, PA)

The facts on this case are murky. Family members indicate that Troy Hooftallen, 26, of Punxsutawney, PA died on Tuesday, October 19 after being electrocuted multiple times by the taser of an unidentified police officer. I came across this comment to a posting on Solomon's Words For The Wise blog:
"He was Tazed by Police twice and had Head Trama from being knocked to the floor and was Choked By police at the Same time. All this was done after Police were called to the scene For a Man who Overdosed on some kind of drugs. I know this from family members whom i have spoke with Personally. His Uncle who showed up to the scene even tried to pull the police off of him when he was being choked by the officer after being Tazed Not once but Twice. He was unable to move after being tazed so why did they tackle and choke him. This young man was in need of medical help not this kind of treatment from the police. Nice work guys."
Criminal investigators from the Pennsylvania State Police are currently investigating the death of Mr. Hooftallen. All we know for certain at this point is that he was transported to Punxsutawney Hospital and then to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy is being performed to determine the cause and manner of death.

Troy previously worked as the assistant manager at Price Chopper in Scranton. He was an avid Denver Broncos fan, enjoyed playing basketball, softball, lifting weights and being outdoors.

Please let this blog know if you hear any new information on this taser-related death.

November 14, 2010

Taser Lawsuit: Jeffry Woodward (Gallatin, TN)

Jeffry Woodward died as a result of electro-shock torture from Gallatin police officers last year.   Readers of this blog recall that Mr. Woodward called police on October 27, 2009 "to report a home invasion and that his mother was in danger."   He thought that someone had kidnapped his mother.

The police arrived.  They checked his home and saw that his mother was unharmed.   The police decided to arrest Woodward for "filing a false police report."    The video news report on what happened next is horrifying.

Unidentified Gallatin police officers took Woodward out of the car ... they allowed their police dog to bite him and they tasered him multiple times.  Not surprisingly, Mr. Woodward went into cardiac arrest and was soon dead.

All of this was witnessed by neighbors and Woodward's mother.   A recent lawsuit filed by Woodward's mother states,
"While on the ground with a police canine on top of him, officers subjected him to multiple Taser applications.  Eyewitnesses report that during this time, Mr. Woodward was crying out, 'Help me! Help me!' and that she was pleading with officers not to kill her son. ... (T)he gratuitous use of force by the defendant officers against the decedent was unnecessary and resulted in severe injuries and death."
Woodward's wife and mother have filed a lawsuit against Taser International (claiming it misrepresents its products as non-lethal and safe) and the Gallatin Police Department (history of allowing its officers to use excessive and illegal force on civilians, failing to discipline the officers for it, and covering for them by falsely claiming that the beatings were "justified and proper.")

Woodward's family are represented by Joe Bednarz of Nashville.   This blog is hopeful that successful lawsuits against Taser International will drive them into bankruptcy ... and that successful lawsuits against the police department will cause them to use tasers more responsibly.

November 13, 2010

2011 Blogging While Brown Conference: Call For Ideas (Deadline: 12/3/2010)

2011 BWB Call for Ideas Now Open!

This blog wants you to know about the opening of the Call for Ideas for the 2011 Blogging While Brown conference. This will be a Black Social Media Weekend extravaganza and you can help build it the way you want it.

For the first time attendees will be able to vote on ideas submitted. Ideas are being accepted for the following program tracks:
  1. Online Activism
  2. The Business of Blogging/
  3. Niche and Lifestyle Blogging
  4. Hands-On Technical Workshops
The deadline for submissions is December 3, 2010. So don't hold back.   Submit your ideas and help Gina and her crew take the 4th annual Blogging While Brown Conference to the next level in 2011. Next year the conference will be held in Los Angeles, CA on July 8-9, 2011.


November 12, 2010

Old School Friday * Patrice Rushen

Patrice Rushen was trained as a classical pianist. I remember enjoying her vibe back in the late 1970s when I was in college. Here are two of my favorite Rushen songs!

You can learn more about Patrice Rushen from her official website.   Are any of you ol' school enough to remember Sis. Rushen?

November 11, 2010

Blog Safari #45

Join our rhino guide, Nyabingi, as she takes you through the afrosphere to find some truly creative Black bloggers. We use this semi-regular blog safari to expose you to some Black bloggers that you might otherwise overlook. Visit the links below to enjoy these suggested blog posts!
Let us know if you come across any remarkable posts that should be shared in our next Blog Safari!

November 10, 2010

Taser Lawsuit: Linda Hicks (Toledo, OH)

I was glad to see that a lawsuit has been filed against the City of Toledo, the Toledo Police Department and TPD Officer Diane Chandler for their involvement in the taser electrocution of 62-year old Linda HicksVillagers may recall that Ms. Hicks was fatally shot by Officer Chandler on December 14, 2009 at Marria's Adult Family Home.

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio by Charles Boyk, Esq. against the following parties: the City of Toledo (for violation of civil rights and wrongful death); the Toledo Police Department (for violation of civil rights and wrongful death); Officer Diane Chandler, in her individual capacity (for violation of civil rights, gross negligence, assault, battery and wrongful death); and Marria’s Adult Family Home (for negligence and wrongful death).

Ms. Hicks was, at the time of her death, a 5’2”, 62-year-old woman who suffered from schizophrenia and a heart condition that required a pacemaker. She was a resident at Marria’s Adult Family Home.  Police were summoned to that location because Ms. Hicks was reported to be agitated and holding a pair of craft scissors in her room.

Crisis police were requested, but Officer Chandler and another officer, who were not crisis police officers, responded to the scene. Disregarding their lack of proper training with crisis situations and with the mentally ill, Marria’s Adult Family Home allowed the officers to approach Ms. Hicks with weapons drawn.

When the officers arrived at her room, Ms. Hicks was laying facedown on her bed with her hands under her pillow. She was asked to show her hands, and when she did not comply the officers proceeded to Taser her twice (without regard to her pacemaker). After the second shock, Ms. Hicks got out of bed and approached the two officers with the craft scissors in her hand.

At this point, Officer Chandler and the other officer successfully exited the bedroom into the hallway. For a moment, both officers were in the hallway while Ms. Hicks was still in her room. The second officer descended down nearby stairs and exited the scene, while Officer Chandler chose to remain in the hallway. As Ms. Hicks approached Officer Chandler, the officer proceeded to shoot and kill Ms. Hicks.

The lawsuit claims that this sad situation was wholly avoidable. Ms. Hicks was not given her proper medication by Marria’s Adult Family Home; if she had received her medication the scenario could likely have been avoided. The home also allowed Ms. Hicks to have access to the scissors and allowed non-crisis police officers to attempt to diffuse the situation.

I think that it may take lawsuits like this one to get police departments to take more proactive approaches to taser training.  Perhaps if the police have to pay the steep costs of lawsuits they will think twice before using their taser guns for convenience rather than for protection against immediate danger.

After all, how dangerous could a 5'2'' elderly woman with a pair of scissors actually be to trained police officers?

November 9, 2010

Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart Will Keynote 2010 BDPA New York Scholarship Awards Dinner

Melodie Mayberry-Stewart is the chief information officer for the state of New York. She was recently named one of the Top 50 African Americans in Technology. I'm looking forward to meeting her on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 in Brooklyn NY. I will be the master of ceremonies at the BDPA New York Chapter Scholarship & Awards Dinner. Ms. Mayberry-Stewart will be the keynote speaker.

The purpose of the dinner is to recognize the outstanding contributions of BDPA New York chapter’s community supporters and corporate sponsors as well as award college scholarships to our students, who are members of the BDPA Student Information Technology Education & Scholarship (SITES) program. The SITES program affords students the opportunity to get hands-on computer and web development training, exposure to various careers in Information Technology and develop professional and interpersonal skills (i.e. business etiquette skills, resume writing and team building). This program is designed to develop the next generation of IT Professionals, and encourage African American youth to explore careers in such traditionally underrepresented fields as Computer Science and Information Technology.

Another highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the winners of the Roger Dunn Memorial Scholarship and the Renee McClure Scholarship Awards. These awards go to BDPA SITES students who have demonstrated strong excellent leaderships skills. BETF helped to fund both of these awards in the past.

I hope that you will consider supporting this annual event with your presence in person or via an advertisement in the program guide. Those of you that are unable to find a business-related reason to support the chapter can do so with a tax-deductible donation to the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation.

Taser Death: Robert Neill, Jr. (Mt. Joy, PA)

I think that the Mount Joy Borough Police Department may have screwed up bigtime. They electrocuted a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran and former U.S. Marine with their taser guns last weekend. Robert Neill, Jr. was an unarmed 61-year old man described by those who knew him as a gentle person.

The Lancaster County Vietnam Veterans of America director, Gary Levinson, said
"He was just a really sweet person, a good guy. That's why this was just such a shock to hear something like this."
Mr. Neill made the mistake of calling the police for help. He thought he was being harassed by neighbors. The police thought he had a mental illness and they were coming to take him into custody for a mental commitment.

The police shade their side of the story when it is told to put the dead man in the worst possible light.
Here is what Fox affiliate WPMT reports:
“As the police tried to investigate the harassment claims Neil became very aggressive and combative. Neill continued to struggle with the officers after several attempts to calm him down and the officers used a taser on him which did calm him down.”
No shyt Sherlock!? You think that pumping 50,000 volts of electricity into a person might "calm him down"? Perhaps it is not the best way to handle an UNARMED senior citizen, but, why let the facts get in the way of a good story, huh?!

Anyhow, after unidentified officers from the Mount Joy Borough Police Department had tranquilized Neill through a mild dose of taser-torture, officers from two other agencies — the Susquehanna Regional Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police — arrived on the scene to “assist” the assailants. Thus fortified in their confrontation with the “aggressive,” “combative” man, the heroes once again deployed the taser against Neill. This succeeded in “subduing” the frantic man, who was collected by EMTs and died en route to the hospital. [SOURCE]

State police are investigating the unidentified Mount Joy Borough officers who used Tasers and mace on Neill.

Autopsy results are still pending. The Lancaster County coroner performed an autopsy Monday, but the results are pending a toxicology report.  

Please let this blog know if you become aware of any new information on the taser-related death.

Good News Tuesday: Jonecia Keels and Jazmine Miller (Spelman College)

Jonecia Keels and Jazmine Miller are full-time students at Spelman College. They are the 2010 Big Mobile on Campus winners.

There winning mobile application is called HBCU Buddy. HBCU Buddy is a mobile application created to educate and inform users, including both prospective and current college students, about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) across the United States.

The application opens with a directory profiling each HBCU with information on academics, admissions, research, student life, alumni and other details. After selecting a school students can navigate through the school – literally – by accessing virtual tours of buildings, on-campus videos, and local GPS and directions. The application also provides students with customizable social networking features to connect with each other, their school and community. Students can use the application to follow the latest on school club and campus happenings, local events, hot spots around the community and more.

Here is interview that Ms. Keel and Ms. Miller gave to NBC on HBCU Buddy:

The future face of technology is all around us ... and that is good news!

This blog plans to share some good news about people of African descent each and every Tuesday. You can help ... let me know if you see a good news story that you think would inspire our Villagers!

November 8, 2010

Keith Olberman is BACK!

Keith Olbermann will be back on his MSNBC show tomorrow. He issued the following note:

Statement To The Viewers Of Countdown

I want to sincerely thank you for the honor of your extraordinary and ground-rattling support.

Your efforts have been integral to the remedying of these recent events, and the results should remind us of the power of individuals spontaneously acting together to correct injustices great or small.

I would also like to acknowledge with respect the many commentators and reporters, including those with whom my politics do not overlap, for their support.

I also wish to apologize to you viewers for having precipitated such anxiety and unnecessary drama. You should know that I mistakenly violated an inconsistently applied rule – which I previously knew nothing about -- that pertains to the process by which such political contributions are approved by NBC. Certainly this mistake merited a form of public acknowledgment and/or internal warning, and an on-air discussion about the merits of limitations on such campaign contributions by all employees of news organizations.

Instead, after my representative was assured that no suspension was contemplated, I was suspended without a hearing, and learned of that suspension through the media.

You should also know that I did not attempt to keep any of these political
contributions secret; I knew they would be known to you and the rest of the public. I did not make them through a relative, friend, corporation, PAC, or any other intermediary, and I did not blame them on some kind of convenient 'mistake' by their recipients.

When a website contacted NBC about one of the donations, I immediately volunteered that there were in fact three of them; and contrary to much of the subsequent reporting, I immediately volunteered to explain all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired.

I genuinely look forward to rejoining you on Countdown on Tuesday, to begin the repayment of your latest display of support and loyalty - support and loyalty that is truly mutual.

It is nice to see that MSNBC listened to the voice of the people. Villagers who are so inclined should feel free to congratulate Keith on his return.

Taser Death: Mark Shaver (Brimfield, OH)

The penalty for stealing $990 worth of video-games from Wal-Mart Stores should not be death. However, 32-year old Mark Shaver was killed by taser-wielding police in Portage County, Ohio last week.

Here is the story as shared by the folks at E-Portage News. Mark Shaver and Stephanie Eikelberry, 29, entered the Brimfield Wal-Mart store on Tuesday, November 2nd. Shaver allegedly stole $990 work of video games and DVDs and then ran out of the store into a nearby apartment complex. He was chased by Wal-Mart security staff and Brimfield Police Department Sergeant David Knarr and a police dog named 'Havoc'.

Knarr and Havoc chased Shaver for over 1.5 miles before finding him in the woods. Sgt. Knarr didn't feel that Shaver showed respect quickly enough ... so he electrocuted Shaver multiple times with his taser gun. He was then subdued and handcuffed.

He was booked in the early morning hours of Saturday in the Portage County Jail. While in jail Shaver began vomiting and had some diarrhea. Shaver family members indicate that he was found later that weekend in his cell, face down, with no heartbeat. The family feels that the taser shock was part of what killed him.

Brimfield Police Chief Blough thinks that Shaver killed himself as he stated,
"My understanding is that for about 4 to 6 weeks he had been complaining of bad chest pains to his girlfriend, and he refused to go to the doctor. My understanding, is that he allegedly had a pretty strong heroine habit and smoked two to three packs of cigarettes a day. It had absolutely nothing to do with the taser."
I guess we will learn more when the autopsy report is issued.

November 7, 2010

The BDPA Insider - November 7, 2010

Former National BDPA president Milt Haynes issued The BDPA Insider for the week beginning November 7, 2010.

In this issue:
  1. BDPAtoday  [USA Edition]
  2. Black Faces in White Places by Randal Pinkett and Jeffrey Robinson
  3. IT Job Seeker Accountability Groups
  4. Microsoft Charlotte Campus Kicks Off Citizen Schools Computer Apprenticeship Program
  5. Bing does THIS & Google does THAT…
  6. Can BDPA IT Showcase Winners Join White House Science Fair Next Year?
  7. This Week in BDPA (Oct 31 – Nov 7)
  8. Rochester Post-Bulletin, 11/1/2010 (Charlie Perkins)
  9. Are your skills ready for the opportunities in networking?
  10. Tech Corps Ohio
  11. Newman Networks News November 4th, 2010
  12. How to Network: 7 Ways to Give, Not Just Receive
  13. Become a BDPA Lifetime Member and Be Part of the Founder’s Club
  14. Top 50+ Novels for Tech Geeks
  15. BDPA Today [Chapter Edition]
  16. Unemployed find old jobs now require more skills
       You can locate past issues of The BDPA Insider in the archives housed by Blacks Gone Geek.

      This Week in Blackness: 'George W. Bush Doesn't Care About Earthlings'

      Somehow I've managed to miss the fact that Elon James White is still putting out his This Week in Blackness videos. In fact, when I saw the topic for this week's episode I thought perhaps I had messed up and gotten the dates wrong. After all, this week the big political news was the beat-down given to the Democratic Party in the mid-term elections ... what was Elon doing with his emphasis on the forgotten George W. Bush?

      You be the judge!

      Do you plan to read George W. Bush book when it comes out?

      November 6, 2010

      Taser Autopsy: Coroner Rules that Death of Edmund Gutierrez is 'Homicide'

      Edmund Gutierrez will never celebrate his 23rd birthday.  He died on July 5th after a violent struggle with Imperial (CA) police officers.  The autopsy report labels Gutierrez's death as a homicide.  The question that needs to be answered by the local district attorney is whether this homicide will lead to criminal charges against the unidentified Imperial police officer who pulled the trigger.

      The autopsy report says the cause of death was “agitated behavior associated with alcohol and marijuana intake needing restraint and other unknown factors.”  The report also details significant blunt force trauma to Gutierrez. It mentions multiple abrasions and contusions to Gutierrez’s face, mouth, abdomen, back, arms and legs.

      The report also reveals that there were eleven marks consistent with police baton marks on Gutierrez’s legs.

      The police are quick to point out that had a blood alcohol level of 0.16, which is twice the legal limit. The toxicology report also showed that Gutierrez had marijuana in his system.

      Friends and family continue to seek justice for Gutierrez. They are upset about the lack of journalistic reporting on his death.   They hope that the release of this autopsy report will bring them closer to justice and truth.   You can learn more on the Justice for Gutierrez Facebook page.

      November 5, 2010

      Lakeesha Alert: Kiarra Robinson (Columbus OH)

      Villagers, we need your help. We know that the Amber Alert system only works for the Ambers of the world. For people of African descent we need to let the drums ring out with our own Lakeesha Alert! This blog is putting the call out for a Lakeesha Alert on a young woman who has been missing for a week in Columbus OH.

      Reggie Hillery is a colleague of mine in Columbus OH. He shared the following message on Facebook tonight:
      Hey Columbus- Help me find my niece Kiarra Robinson. She has been missing since Sat. Oct 30th. She is 17 yrs old and was last seen possibly on the North side or Hilliard area. She was wearing sweat pants, tank top and a blue hoodie.

      My family would appreciate all your help in locating her. Thanks for your help and prayers. Her picture is my profile picture.
      That is picture of Kiarra shown above.  Any support you can provide in helping Reggie and his family locate Kiarra would be very much appreciated!  Reggie can be reached via his email address or his Facebook page.