Monday, October 4, 2010
Corey Ward - Police and Cochran Firm Victim
The murder case State of Georgia vs. Ramond S. Bunn was dismissed without jury trial because a new Georgia law (enacted in 2006) gives judges the right to dismiss criminal cases when defendants plead self-defense. The case involved the police shooting of Corey Ward. I do not say "justice denied" because I am certain former officer Bunn is guilty, but because I agree with the Ward family that Bunn's case should have been decided by a jury.
MARY'S COMMENTARY: One dark Georgia night, two men used their vehicle to block a moving van driven by an African American teenager. Corey Ward, age 18, and his friends thought they were targeted for a carjacking. The men who did the maneuver to stop Corey's van were not in a police car, and neither were they dressed in police uniforms. Corey tried to get away from people he believed were criminals. Officer Raymond S. Bunn shot and killed Corey. The Atlanta policemen said they thought the van the young man drove was a stolen vehicle. The Tahoe belonged to Corey's mom.
Ward's murder is reminiscent of a similar incident when famous baseball players' son almost became the first unarmed black man police killed in 2009. However, 22-year-old Oscar Grant claimed that dishonor around 1:00 a.m. on New Years Day when San Francisco B.A.R.T. officers stretched Grant out on a cold train platform and shot him in the back before hundreds of commuters. Meanwhile, a thousand miles away, police officers followed Robbie Tolan and his cousin to Tolan's suburban home in Bellaire, Texas early on New Years' morning and harassed them. They pushed Tolan's mother to the ground when she came outside to see why policemen were on her front lawn. Police then shot Robie Tolan, but he lived. The peace officers in that incident also said they thought the van Tolan drove was stolen, and police may have said they shot unarmed Tolan in self-defense when he protested them abusing his mother. CNN's report about Tolan's shooting is at this link: http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/01/08/baseballer.shot/index.html
DO POLICE OFFICERS IN ATLANTA AND TEXAS HAVE COMPUTERS TO CHECK LICENSE TAGS AND SEE IF A VEHICLE IS STOLEN, OR DO THEY JUST DECIDE THAT CERTAIN VEHICLES ARE TOO NICE FOR YOUNG BLACK MEN TO BE DRIVING LEGALLY? Even the trains are not safe for African American youths. Oscar Grant's murder story, videos of his actual murder and the riot after his funeral, and comments from commuters and the communty are at this link: Oscar Grant - First Unarmed Black Man Killed by Police in 2009 - Next? http://www.nowpublic.com/world/oscar-grant-1st-unarmed-black-man-police-killed-2009-next
Like many officers who kill citizens, Bunn already had numerous charges of police brutality in his personnel file before Corey Ward's death. Prosecutors charged Bunn with felony murder, murder, and other charges. Bunn enjoyed good support from police organizations and media after his indictment. There are numerous articles online about the case, and some expressed fury that Bunn was indicted for Ward's murder. One differing viewpoint comes from a 2002 article by CounterPunch, called "Confronting Police Brutality in Atlanta," written by Jonathan S. Wright. His article carries details on this case and has information about 11 similar shootings in the Atlanta area in 2002. Wright's article is featured after my signature block and was available online at this link: http://www.counterpunch.org/wright0823.html (the cybercensorship staff frequently removes articles and videos that I link in my articles, so the entire CounterPunch article is below in this blog). Wright's article affords the opportunity to see the mood in the African American community at the time of Ward's shooting death.
Municipalities apparently cannot get their police officers to stop shooting young unarmed black men. The answer Georgia's legislature apparently came up with in 2006 was to enact a law providing that if a defendant claims self-defense, the presiding judge can dismiss the case and avoid jury trial, which is especially convenient when white officers kill black citizens in an area where the jury pool is comprised of mostly African Americans. This likely puts judges in a bad position, having the sole voice over very controversial cases that used to and still should be decided by juries. That is exactly what happened in former officer Bunn's case - the judge dismissed all charges against Bunn and prevented Corey's family from ever having their day in court. Nearly EVERY police officer claims self-defense when he kills a citizen. When Atlanta police staged a home invasion in the middle of the night on 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston and shot her in a hail of 36 bullets (a no-knock warrant case), they also claimed self-defense. The Cochran Firm got the wrongful death case and never filed suit - Dozier vs. City of Atlanta. Hezekiah Sistrunk and other plaintiffs' attorneys pretended to file an $18 million lawsuit, but no lawsuit was ever really filed and served to Dozier's defendants. Google "Cochran Firm Defrauds Kathryn Johnston's Survivors," or use this link: http://freespeakblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/cochran-firm-defruads-kathryn-johnstons.html -- Most police officers are honest people who are shocked when I share information with them about The Cochran Firm fraud and other injustices. But when their superiors are unjust even at the top (U.S. Department of Justice), what can they do?
Kathryn Johnston thought she was being robbed when police invaded her home (and I still think so), so the elderly lady shot at the police officers - one little shot from her shaking, wrinkled hands. And boy! They let her have it - at least 36 shots were fired at the elderly woman. Police then handcuffed poor Ms. Johnston as she lay on her floor bleeding from six bullet wounds. While the pitiful old black woman died, Atlanta police planted drugs in her home to fabricate an excuse for being there. Whenever police kill black people, they usually label it a drug case and/or claim self-defense. (Police have NO excuse whatsoever for killing Larry Neal, my mentally and physically handicapped brother, so the United States Department of Justice blocked any investigation and illegally withholds records, even under a black Attorney General. Dog abuse cases are always prosecuted, thanks to stronger animal protection laws. See my poem online, "Dog Justice.") It is time for Michael Vick to stop apologizing for his offenses. Vick was investigated, prosecuted, incarcerated, bankrupted, fired, and denegrated over dog abuse, while the Shelby County Jail in Memphis, Tennessee and the U.S. Government refuse to release records under federal subpoena or to answer a single Freedom of Information Act request about the secret arrest and WRONGFUL DEATH OF LARRY NEAL, a handicapped black man. Google that term or use this link:. http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com/
Georgia's 2006 law allowing judges to dismiss cases when defendants claim self-defense without proceeding to jury means it is possible that NONE of Georgia's murder-by-police cases may go before a jury ever again, even when a prosecutor convinces a grand jury to indict a policeman - which is hard enough. The 2006 Georgia law is wrong. Georgia Superior Court, where Bunn's murder conviction was dismissed, is the same court that denied the my family a right to proceed to trial by jury regarding THE COCHRAN FIRM FRAUD. The Cochran Firm did Memphis Shelby County Jail a favor by pretending (under contract) to represent the Neal family in a wrongful death civil action against the jail after Larry's murder while the law firm secretly held my brother's case inactive for 10.5 months of Tennessee's 12-month statute of limitaitons. The court seemingly reciprocated on behalf of criminals in the justice system. Georgia Superior Court actually issued an order claiming the law firm did not exist in Georgia, claiming our lawsuit against those frauds was therefore served wrongly (by a Georgia Marshal). Georgia courts also denied Troy Davis a new trial repeatedly, which prevented his new evidence that he claims would prove his innocence from being heard by a jury of his peers. Georgia courts also put Davis under a gag order to silence his claims of innocence. A single Georgia judge heard Davis' new evidence and recently determined to leave the man on death row, ruling that Davis' new evidence did not irrefutably prove innocence. One day, I hope America stops executing people, especially when the State does not irrefutably prove guilt.
The Constitutional right to trial by jury is all but gone in Georgia. That "right" is now completely discretionary when defendants claim self-defense - it is up to Georgia judges. Please REPEAL the unjust 2006 law that allows police officers to escape jury trials by claiming self defense when citizens are killed. Some police officers who claim self-defense may be telling the truth. Former officer Bunn may be telling the truth about his perception of circumstances that led to Corey Ward's shooting death. Everyone has the right to defend himself. But everyone should also have the right to trial by jury, including dead victims and their survivors. Let the jury decide. A Georgia Superior Court judge ruled in 2006 that The Cochran Firm does not exist in Georgia although the law firm is the most famous plaintiffs' firm in Georgia and is prolifically advertised on television, billboards, The Cochran Firm's website, in phone books and by legal referral services. In 2006, the law firm was also advertised on MARTA commuter train TV every seven minutes. Having to watch those commercials for The Cochran Firm's Atlanta office after Georgia Superior Court had declared it nonexistent and dismissed our lawsuit against the firm for defrauding my family made me physically ill as I commuted to and from work. Georgia Superior Court issued that ruling although The Cochran Firm is within spitting distance of the judge's chambers. Jury trials give power to the people, as the framers of the Constitution intended. Some judges misuse their positions of trust to give power back to the elite and the justice system itself in rulings that defy justice, decency, and reason.
Not only does Georgia's 2006 self-defense law apply to police killings, but any rich, well-connected Georgian can now murder someone and claim self-defense to dodge a jury trial; it is up to the presiding judge. The U.S. Constitution is the law of the land, but its power is eroded daily in state legislators and in Washington, D.C. by unrighteous lawmakers who do not care about the Constitution or respect their constituents' human and civil rights. Many judges are righteous, but some are definitely not. There are ways to ensure that one's case gets to a particular judge. Plenty of judges do not abuse the power of their positions. After carefully weighing the evidence, Bunn's judge may have dismissed his murder charges in good conscience. However, I hold that the case should have had a jury verdict just like Neals v. Cochran Firm should have. Jesus wept, and so did Corey Ward's family today. All Americans who value justice should weep with the Ward family for the loss of trial by jury. See the CounterPunch article below, which reported Corey Ward's death and captured the mood of the community when it happened in 2002.
August 24, 2002
A Line Drawn in the Street
Confronting Police Brutality in Atlanta
by Jonathon S. Wright
Shattered glass lies in piles in a vacant parking lot in Atlanta's trendy Buckhead district. Much of this glass can be traced to automobile break-ins, as late-night revelers sacrifice security for a free parking space. On July 14, however, the life of 18-year-old Corey Ward was ended prematurely in a different shower of glass, after an undercover Atlanta police officer shot and killed him.
Officer R. S. Bunn says that he shot Ward in self-defense, alleging that Ward attempted to ram him with an SUV after being ordered to stop. According to Bunn and his partner, Ward and five friends were attempting to steal a car when he identified himself as a police officer and attempted to make an arrest.
Ward's family and at least some of the people in the car with him tell a different story, claiming that Ward was wrongly profiled as a thief simply because he was a young black man driving a new SUV. They maintain that Bunn and his partner never identified themselves as police officers, and then shot him for no good reason.
A five-year veteran, this is not the first time that Officer Bunn has been accused of using unnecessary force. There are four other cases in his file in which claims have been brought. The only one of those four which resulted in any disciplinary action was the beating of Michael Jascomb during a drug arrest, and that centered on Bunn's failure to report the use of force. Although Jascomb was suffering from a retinal hemorrhage after the incident, his claim of excessive force was dismissed.
About a week after Jascomb's claim was dismissed, Bunn was accused of hitting Mark Norfleet in the head with his baton during an arrest. Norfleet's claims were dismissed entirely, as were those of Joe Summers, who accused Bunn and a group of other officers of taking him into an alley and beating him.
On September 3, 2000, Bunn was involved in an altercation with Ylia Lavender, who claimed that he punched her in the face without provocation, breaking her eye socket. Lavender's claim was dismissed due to lack of evidence, but she has since joined with the family of Corey Ward in bringing a suit against the Atlanta police. Her vision remains impaired due to the incident.
Rev. Markel Hutchins**, national president and CEO of the National Youth Connection, opined at an August 3 rally that these incidents are representative of a justice system that would "rather lock young black America up than lift them up," contending that "if the Atlanta Police Department had done their job and taken R. S. Bunn off the street in 2000, Corey Ward would be here today." Unfortunately, the case of Corey Ward appears symptomatic of a police department too willing to use deadly force. [NOTE BY MARY NEAL 11/2010: Beware of Markel Hutchin's interest in cases regarding police violence against minorities. Watch for possible attorney fraud against plaintiffs in civil actions that ensue.]
Twelve people have been shot by Atlanta police this year, the most since 1995, and five of the shootings have been fatal. At the time of the killing of Corey Ward there had been three incidents involving police shooting at cars within eight days, and, in the last month, two alleged prostitutes have been shot by undercover vice officers, prompting Police Chief Richard Pennington to suspend vice patrols temporarily.
On July 10, 18-year-old Aneika James was wounded after she allegedly stabbed a vice officer during an arrest at 5pm in Perkerson Park, an area heavily occupied by local children, despite the request of a park employee that the police cease patrolling the area at that time of day. Less than a month later, on August 5, 35-year-old Tessa Hardeman was fatally shot by another undercover vice officer after she allegedly pepper-sprayed him and stabbed him during an arrest.
On August 8, only three days after Tessa Hardeman's death, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a story outlining several complaints of police abuse by prostitutes, who claim that they are often taken advantage of by policemen who use their badge as a form of extortion. Maj. Leander Robinson, who is in charge of the criminal investigation unit that oversees the vice squad, suggests that these men could be posing as police using fake badges; however, in the face of these allegations, it remains difficult to discount the possibility of either of these women feeling forced to wield a knife in self-defense against an ill-intentioned assailant who was later revealed to be an officer.
Chief Pennington maintains that "This department has a great reputation in terms of not being involved in excessive force," and has promised to look into department policies and procedures with regards to both shooting at vehicles and vice squad patrols. However, the efficacy of disciplinary procedures for Atlanta-area police has been called into question recently, most notably in the November 28, 2001 issue of Creative Loafing, which exposed issues of gross miscommunication and lax discipline in the cases of ten Fulton County Sheriff's Deputies who had been charged with excessive force or reckless behavior either on or off duty but had faced little or no disciplinary action. The Creative Loafing report also documented a near-complete lack of communication between the Sheriff's Department and the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, the only agency with the authority to revoke the license of a peace officer in Georgia, meaning that a deputy whose license had been revoked could continue to hold onto his or her job and badge. As a result, community confidence in police disciplinary procedures has been sorely shaken.
To exacerbate matters, the city was recently split by the trial of Imam Jamil al-Amin, a trial regarded by many to have been biased and unfair. This spate of shootings has only served to charge the atmosphere further. When 300 protestors rallied peacefully on August 3 in support of the families of Corey Ward and Ylia Lavender, the hundreds of police lined up to "control" them seemed to signify a growing rift between Atlanta's police and its populace, a battle line already drawn, increasingly distinct. Sgt. V. Sellers, a supervisor in the zone where R. S. Bunn shot Corey Ward, states, "You can't even go to the restaurants anymore. Where are you going to park? What's the crowd like? Is my car going to get broken into? It's not even worth it. This is the battle we're trying to fight for the people of Atlanta." All of this martial symbolism begs one question: if there is in fact a war in progress, what can be done to bring peace to the streets of Atlanta?
The basic root of the conflict is our society's method of policing, a method that pervades our entire justice system, and that has led to the misguided and rhetorical declaration of a "war on crime". Our police department must evolve from a paramilitary organization into an organization that is integrated with the fabric of the community, an organization that provides for the public safety in a manner that doesn't make ordinary citizens feel uncomfortable every time they pass a uniformed officer. This transition could be effected by moving most officers from the crime fighting and investigation sectors of the department to a sector designated "Public Safety".
A small number of police should continue to perform "traditional" police jobs like responding to crime scenes, investigating crimes, and pursuing criminals. Officers in the Public Safety sector, on the other hand, would dramatically alter the community's view of police. They wouldn't be the faceless people who always show up too late; they would be the familiar faces from the everyday beat. The resulting trust would enable public safety officers to take the pulse of the community, to be a conduit of information from the community, and to solve minor problems before they escalate into violence. These officers would not carry guns.. The use of guns to "keep the peace" is counterproductive because guns inspire fear, which in turn inspires irrational and violent behavior, as well as distrust.
Shifting our policing focus to community-based Public Safety patrols would likely decrease the occurrence of violence in those communities, as is evidenced by lower crime rates in countries that have traditionally followed that approach. It would also allow police departments to provide much more intensive training for those officers who are permitted to carry guns, thus helping to minimize the abuse of firearms. The plan would take time and patience to implement, but would be a tremendous step forward in community-police relations.
The suffering of the families of Corey Ward, Ylia Lavender, Aneika James, Tessa Hardeman, and countless others demands justice. While a portion of this justice is manifested in holding police accountable for their actions, true justice cannot be achieved until we address the larger issue. It is time that the people of Atlanta not fear the police as much as they fear the crime that police are intended to fight. It is time that our police move away from their reliance on intimidation and guns as a method of controlling the populace, and instead invest in the communities they are hired to protect and serve. (Jonathon S. Wright can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org )
An Atlanta Journal Constitution article about the Corey Ward murder case being dismissed by the judge without jury trial, entitled"Family Protests Dismissal of Police Murder Charge," is at this link: http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/family-protests-dismissal-of-344348.html
Thanks for your interest in liberty and justice for ALL. Feel free to share a link or republish my articles on your website. That helps combat censorship. I had a fight publishing this for some reason and find that I am usually blocked from communicating with African Americans and prisoner advocacy groups I joined at Yahoo Groups, among other online sites. I published hundreds of articles in my Care2 Sharebook, but have a permanent DoS now at www.care2.com/c2c/share/sharebook/513396753 - Here is a brief summary of illegal censorship to prevent my advocacy for human and civil rights at Care2: First, the cyberdogs removed the "reply all" button on my Care2 email box to limit my communications. After publishing "Cochran Firm Fraud 1 and 2" videos in Care2 News Network and on my Care2 page (videos you can also see at YouTube) my ability to publish videos at Care2 was deleted for nearly a year. Next, my eCards started arriving to addressees blank - especially those carrying news regarding imminent executions and information about how to protest them (specifically, the planned execution of Thomas Arthur and the wrongful execution of Cameron Todd Willingham). Then, my Sharebook's RSS feed was interrupted for months. When I was publishing news about Hank Skinner's planned execution (a man who was denied a DNA test to prove his innocence), I found that I am no longer able to submit news at Care2 News Network at all. I assume from all of the interference that executioners know they are WRONG FOR THAT. It is interesting and should be taken as a warning that the same censorship staff that censors my exposing The Cochran Firm fraud also censors my advocacy for human rights for prisoners. It could be that The Cochran Firm is in league with private prison owners, which is disturbing when one considers that the firm does criminal law. At least when the lawyers defrauded my family, we only lost recovery of monetary damages due for Larry Neal's secret jailhouse murder, but people facing criminal charges could lose their freedom or their lives through that treacherous law firm. I am disappointed to say that my help requests to Care2 are not met with corrective action. Perhaps some Internet networks are "following orders" like the SS soldiers were in pre-WWII Germany. Internet censorship is the 21st century equivalent to Nazi book burning. Learn more about it at this article (link provided): INTERNET CENSORSHIP AMERICAN-STYLE http://freespeakblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/internet-censorship-how-they-do-it.html and watch some real-time cybercensorship at my YouTube channel - jkempp703.
Mary Neal's Google Profile - http://www.google.com/profiles/MaryLovesJustice - Get the RSS feed for my Care2 Sharebook at: http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/rss.html/513396753/0/ - Get the RSS feed for my Twitter KOFFIETIME at http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/59790083.rss - Current, urgent justice issues from a laywoman's viewpoint at my primary blog http://freespeakblog.blogspot.com/ (the name is a joke, believe me) Recommended articles - http://topsy.com/site/freespeakblog.blogspot.com - Address: MaryLovesJustice@gmail.com - NOTE: My friends notified me that my Twitter RSS feed does not work; my emails are sometimes stolen before I can read them; and my input has not been accepted at my Care2 Sharebook since I published an article about my phone being monitored and controlled. If you would like to share your opinion or give information, please write a comment below. Undoubtedly, much time and money has been spent to set up a Cointelpro law firm, and I am censored for reporting The Cochran Firm fraud and other injustices. Thanks!