Crime & Justice

Crime & Justice
8:13 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Bastrop Sheriff's Deputy Avoids Charges in High School Taser Case

Noe Nino de Rivera was placed in a medically induced coma for 52 days after he was tased by a Bastrop County Sheriff’s Deputy at Cedar Creek High School on Nov. 20, 2013. He is now recovering at a rehab center in the Hill Country.
Credit Adam Loewy

A Bastrop County Sheriff's deputy who Tased a 17-year-old in the hallway of Cedar Creek High School last year will not face any charges.

The teenager, Noe Niño De Rivera, spent almost two months in a medically induced coma and is now in a residential rehabilitation center in the Hill Country. He is believed to have suffered a permanent brain injury.

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Secure Communities Controversy
12:02 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Will Travis County Be Sued For Participating in ICE Immigration Holds?

Numerous attorneys says Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton's participation in Immigration and Customs Enforcement's controversial Secure Communities program could lead to lawsuits.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Dozens of jurisdictions across the country have backed away from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation program known as Secure Communities.

But Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton is not backing away from the controversial program. And in response, a group of Austin attorneys announced Thursday they plan to start suing the county for its Secure Communities detentions.

As ICE writes, the program "prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, those who pose a threat to public safety, and repeat immigration violators." But critics charge the program has been overused and resides on shaky legal ground. 

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Borderlands
8:41 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Report Details Hundreds Of Complaints Against U.S. Border Agents

A new report lists more than 800 complaints made against U.S. Border Patrol agents; most include physical abuse. Here, an agent patrols the U.S.-Mexico border fence at in San Diego, Calif., last year.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 9:36 am

Physical abuse and excessive force top the list of hundreds of complaints filed against U.S. Border Patrol agents, according to a new report. The accusations include charges that agents kicked a pregnant woman, stomped on a man and physically forced a minor to sign a document.

Those accusations are in a report on government data about the complaints that was obtained by the advocacy group the American Immigration Council via a Freedom of Information Act request.

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Crime & Justice
2:57 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Texas 'Has No Plans' to Use Drug From Botched Oklahoma Execution

Update: After Tuesday night's botched execution in Oklahoma, Texas corrections officials say they have no plans to use midazolam in future executions. Midazolam was the first component of a three-drug cocktail administered to death row inmate Clayton Lockett yesterday. Read more about the execution here.

As KUT first reported in February, the state has supplies of midazolam on hand. But the Texas Department of Criminal Justice says in a statement that it "has no plans to change our procedures. Texas does not use the same drugs as Oklahoma as we use a single lethal dose of pentobarbital and we have done so since 2012.” 

Attorneys for death row inmates in Texas have unsuccessfully tried to find out who is selling compounded pentobarbital to the state. They're suing in civil court and making a case to the Open Records Division of the Office of the Attorney General that TDCJ should disclose its source. 

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Crime & Justice
12:23 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Botched Oklahoma Execution Prompts Questions About Lethal Injection

Amber Hunt AP

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 1:23 pm

The botched execution of death row inmate Clayton Lockett on Tuesday in Oklahoma is sparking a reassessment of lethal injection.

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Crime & Justice
12:53 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Could Europe Put a Stop to the Death Penalty in Texas?

Execution room in the San Quentin State Prison in California.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

This week, Oklahoma's Supreme Court stopped the executions of two convicted murderers. At issue: where the state gets its execution drugs. The state does not want to reveal its source.  

Texas also has long kept its lethal drug suppliers secret, although Attorney General Greg Abbott recently issued an opinion stating it's time to go public.  But as death penalty opponents increase the pressure to expose suppliers and to disrupt the supply of the drug, some states are reviewing their options on capital punishment.

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Crime & Justice
11:22 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Obama Seeks Wider Authority To Release Drug Offenders

President Obama signs the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010, as Attorney General Eric Holder and a bipartisan group of senators look on.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 3:17 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that the Obama administration is formulating new rules that would give it, and the president, far more latitude to pardon or reduce the sentences of thousands of drug offenders serving long federal prison sentences.

The move comes amid a broad national reconsideration of mandatory minimum sentences approved by Congress in 1986, when America's big cities were in the grip of a crack cocaine-fueled crime wave.

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Supreme Court
12:28 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Supreme Court Rejects Gay Wedding Photography Case

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 7:48 am

An appeal brought by a photographer who refused to take pictures of gay weddings was turned down by the Supreme Court on Monday morning. The court also refused to hear a challenge to a ban on campaign contributions by corporations, and allowed a district court case over U.S. surveillance to continue.

The photography case was brought by Elane Photography, a New Mexico business run by a husband-and-wife team who said their First Amendment rights allowed them to refuse service to a woman who had sought to hire the company to photograph her commitment ceremony with her partner.

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Crime & Justice
11:04 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Texas Facing 'Judicial Vacancy Crisis,' Report Claims

A new report says Texas' 10 vacant seats judicial seats translate into backlogged cases.
Credit Flickr user Brian Turner, https://flic.kr/ps/VxiMo

Texas is in a judicial vacancy crisis according to a report released today by the liberal Center for American Progress in Washington and Austin-based Progress Texas.

The report shows Texas has the most vacant federal judge seats of any state, with 10 spots open as of March 19. The report warns those 10 vacancies could grow to 13 if no action is taken, since three more seats are set to open up next year.

Those 10 vacant seats translate into backlogged cases, with especially high caseloads along the U.S.-Mexico border, the report notes. The majority of current and future vacancies also happen to be concentrated in the southern and western parts of the state.

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Crime & Justice
5:34 am
Wed April 2, 2014

15-Year-Old Found Safe After Search (Update)

Sianna Gholson
Photo released by Blanco Police Department

Update: An Amber Alert for a 15-year-old Blanco girl has been canceled. Blanco Police say Sianna Gholson was found safe.

Gholson was believed abducted Tuesday morning from Blanco High School.

But, again, she’s now been found and is safe.

Original Story (April 1, 5:53 p.m.): Authorities issued an Amber Alert Tuesday for a 15-year-old girl believed abducted from Blanco High School in Blanco, Texas at about 7:45 Tuesday morning.

Austin Police
6:35 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Man Shot by Austin Police Sgt. This Week Was Armed with BB Gun

Police surrounded the scene of a sergeant-involved shooting on Berkman Drive on March 18, 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Update: Austin Police made clear Thursday that the weapon in the hand of man who was shot this week by an APD sergeant was a pistol that fires BBs or pellets. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo spoke about that pistol in the hours after Tuesday’s shooting.

“When the sergeant sees it, he sees the suspect put it behind his back, allegedly, and then puts it back forward. The suspect at one point yells, ‘it’s a bb gun,’ or says, ‘it’s a bb gun, it’s a bb gun.’”

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Crime & Justice
11:15 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Reprimand, $20K Fine, No Jail Time For General's Sexual Misconduct

Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair as he arrived for his court-martial case Thursday at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C.
Chris Keane Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 5:45 pm

Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair avoided jail time Thursday and instead "was reprimanded and fined a total of $20,000 for inappropriate relationships with three subordinates in a closely watched court case," The Associated Press reports from Fort Bragg, N.C.

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Crime & Justice
6:00 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Questions Still Surround Decades-Old Murders at Lake Waco

The Lake Waco murders are the subject of a new story in Texas Monthly.
Texas Monthly

In 1982, a grisly triple homicide in Waco shook residents faith in their community. Three teenagers were killed, and local police struggled with the investigation. The murders were just the beginning of a story that spans decades and involves dozens of characters, many of which became obsessed with both the murders and how the case was prosecuted. Now a new story in Texas Monthly by Michael Hall raises troubling questions about how the state handles justice.

"If there's one thing for certain, it's that the Lake Waco murder case does stand on its own," Hall writes in the story, 'Murders at the Lake,' in the April issue of Texas Monthly

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Mexico
1:18 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Mexican Drug Lord Shot Dead ... For Second Time

Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, in an image from one of the quasi-religious books his cartel distributed.
Heriberto Rodriguez MCT/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 11:06 am

Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, one of Mexico's reputed drug lords, has now been killed twice.

Well, perhaps we should say that he's been declared dead for the second time.

The head of "the cultlike, pseudo-Christian La Familia cartel" was supposedly killed back in December 2010 during a two-day shootout with police.

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Borderlands
4:22 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Border Patrol To Limit Use Of Deadly Force Against Rock Throwers

A Border Patrol agent looks to the north near where the border wall ends as it separates Tijuana, Mexico, left, and San Diego.
Gregory Bull AP

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 3:17 pm

U.S. Border Patrol announced on Friday that it is changing its policy on using deadly force against moving vehicles and people who throw rocks.

The agency's chief, Michael J. Fisher, sent a memorandum to employees in which he said the policy is designed to help agents avoid dangerous situations.

This is an about-face for the agency.

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Crime & Justice
4:38 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Facebook Moves To Restrict Posts About Gun Sales

Facebook is planning to roll out new restrictions on posts about gun sales on its social networking site and on Instagram.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 4:01 pm

This post was updated at 10:30 a.m. ET on March 6.

Facebook said Wednesday that it will limit minors' access to pages and posts that offer firearms for sale, along with other measures intended to curtail illegal gun trafficking.

"This is something we've been working on for a while," says Facebook spokesman Matt Steinfeld. "We want to balance the interests of people who come here to express themselves while promoting an environment that is safe and respectful."

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Crime & Justice
1:14 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Austin Jaywalker Arrest Has People Asking: What is Failure to Identify?

Amanda Stephen is detained by two Austin Police officers. Her arrest was filmed, creating a social media firestorm.
Credit Chris Quintero

The controversial arrest of a jogger in Austin's West Campus neighborhood last week has made international news.

Thursday, Amanda Stephen was arrested by Austin police officers for jaywalking and a refusal to identify herself. Her arrest was caught on video. Subsequent remarks by Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo – "In other cities there's cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas" – prompted more online criticism and an apology. The story was picked up by everyone from The Huffington Post to the BBC

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Mexico
3:48 pm
Sun February 23, 2014

El Chapo's Arrest Punctures Drug Lord's Near-Mythical Status

Mexican Marines escort Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to a helicopter in Mexico City on Saturday.
Marco Ugarte AP

Originally published on Sun February 23, 2014 11:18 am

One of the world's most powerful drug lords has been captured. Mexico's head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was arrested in an operation that Mexican officials say involved the cooperation of U.S. authorities.

Guzman has been on the run for years and his capture puts an end to one of the longest and most profitable careers in the drug world. That capture began as the sun rose up over the hotel-lined beaches of Mazatlan early Saturday morning.

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Austin Police
9:03 pm
Sat February 22, 2014

APD Chief Apologizes for Sexual Assault Comment After Jaywalking Jogger Arrest (Update)

Amanda Stephen is detained by two Austin Police officers. Her arrest was filmed, creating a social media firestorm.
Credit Chris Quintero

Update: Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo apologized Saturday for comments he made during a press conference about the arrest of a jogger for jaywalking near the UT campus. During that press conference, Acevedo said that "In other cities there's cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas."

In his apology statement Saturday, Acevedo said that "the comparison was a poor analogy, and for this I apologize." You can read the full apology here.

Original Story (Feb. 21, 4:58 p.m.): Austin Police arrested a woman jogging by the UT Campus Thursday morning for not providing identification after being stopped. The incident was caught on video by a UT student, Chris Quintero, who witnessed the woman being taken into custody. 

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Crime & Justice
5:35 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Report: Law Officers May Violate U.S. Constitution When They Don't Knock

Civil rights group calls for clearer policies
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Texas Civil Rights Project says law enforcement officers may be violating the U.S. Constitution when they execute warrants without knocking. The organization released a report Tuesday that says 70% of surveyed jurisdictions do not have written “no-knock” policies and that many other counties and cities may have inadequate policies or do not effectively implement those they have. Jim Harrington, TCRP director, says that is putting citizens and officers at risk.

“It’s dangerous both ways. We have to get away from this idea, well, we just don’t [knock]. You know any time we say it’s a narcotics warrant, we just don’t do it,” Harrington says.

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