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Wednesday
Apr262017

Federal judge rules Trump cannot punish sanctuary cities by withholding funds

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A federal judge in San Francisco ruled Tuesday that President Donald Trump cannot punish so-called sanctuary cities by withholding federal funds.

The policies of sanctuary cities vary but in most cases provide some protections to unauthorized immigrants by not fully cooperating with federal immigration authorities. Trump has repeatedly called for cutting federal funding to these cities, which include New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, Seattle and Boston.

Tuesday's ruling grants a request for a preliminary injunction halting part of an executive order signed by Trump that involved stopping the flow of money to communities that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The City and County of San Francisco and Santa Clara County filed the lawsuit in question, saying billions of dollars of funding are at risk. However, the Trump administration has said the amount of funding that will be withheld is much lower. The government argued in its response that the suit lacks standing because the order did not change existing law and because the counties that filed it were not named as "sanctuary jurisdictions" in the order.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus responded to the ruling in a briefing with reporters Tuesday night, calling it "clear forum shopping" and "an example of the ninth circuit going bananas." The Trump administration previously criticized the ninth circuit following its decision to uphold a block of Trump's executive order temporarily halting travel from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Priebus added that the White House would be taking action to appeal the ruling and expressed confidence in the situation's future, saying, "we'll win at the Supreme Court level at some point."

A subsequent statement from the White House Tuesday night said, "Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our nation."

Executive Order 13768, titled "Enhancing the Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," was issued on Jan. 25 and outlines a number of immigration enforcement policies, including one to "[e]nsure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds, except as mandated by law."

In his decision, U.S. District Judge William Orrick expressed concern at the broadness of the order and sided with the counties, saying the order "by its plain language, attempts to reach all federal grants not merely the three mentioned at the hearing."

The judge called the order "an example of the President's use of the bully pulpit," saying he cannot threaten to withhold funds so broadly.

"And if there was doubt about the scope of the Order, the President and Attorney General have erased it with their public comments," Orrick wrote. "The President has called it 'a weapon' to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his preferred policies of immigration enforcement, and his press secretary has reiterated that the President intends to ensure that 'counties and other institutions that remain sanctuary cities don't get federal funding in compliance with the executive order.'"

The counties have demonstrated that they are currently suffering irreparable harm because the order will deprive them of billions that support core services in their jurisdictions, according to the judge's decision.

"Federal funding that bears no meaningful relationship to immigration enforcement cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the president disapproves," Orrick wrote.

The Trump administration has said that sanctuary cities allow dangerous criminals back on the street and that the order is needed to keep the country safe.

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said that city officials have the responsibility to "make sure all of our residents feel that they are a part of the community" and that they can keep the streets "safe."

"This is why we have courts -- to halt the overreach of a president and attorney general who either don't understand the Constitution or choose to ignore it," Herrera said, adding that about $2 billion in funds were at stake in San Francisco alone.

The city would have lost access to funds for medical care, roads and transportation, among other services, Herrera said.

"Because San Francisco stood firm, that's not going to happen here or anywhere else in the United States," the city attorney added.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said, "The Court upheld the 'Government’s ability to use lawful means to enforce existing conditions of federal grants or 8 U.S.C. 1373.' The Department of Justice previously stated to the Court, and reiterates now, that it will follow the law with respect to regulation of sanctuary jurisdictions.

"Accordingly, the Department will continue to enforce existing grant conditions and will continue to enforce 8 U.S.C. 1373. Further, the order does not purport to enjoin the Department’s independent legal authority to enforce the requirements of federal law applicable to communities that violate federal immigration law or federal grant conditions."

The injunction marks the second setback for Trump's immigration agenda. The first iteration of Trump's controversial travel ban -- a major part of his campaign platform -- was blocked in federal court and then withdrawn in favor of the second iteration, which has also been blocked by a federal court.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr262017

Boston overrun by wild turkeys

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- The capital of Massachusetts is under attack -- by turkeys.

The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, or MassWildlife, issued a notice urging citizens to be vigilant in the event of a turkey attack.

Officials from MassWildlife said, “March through May is breeding season for wild turkeys, which means some turkeys may be seen acting aggressively or completely ignoring the presence of people. Males will puff out their feathers, fan their tails, and ‘strut their stuff.’”

The best way to scare off a wild turkey, they said, is to make loud noises. You can also spray the birds with a hose. Dogs may also be “an effective deterrent.”

Wild turkeys have been spotted in and around the city. On April 6, two turkeys crossed six lanes of traffic on I-95 during rush hour, forcing cars to swerve around them.

MassWildlife said the birds are relentless and should be avoided: “Turkeys may attempt to dominate or attack people that they view as subordinates. And this behavior is observed most often during breeding season.”

The birds have charged people in acts of aggression in the neighborhood of Brookline and terrorized residents in Foxborough, where the Patriots play.

Luckily for some, breeding season makes for good hunting. Licensed wild turkey hunting is permitted in the spring and fall, with spring season running from Monday, April 24, to May 20.

Jack Buckley, director of MassWildlife, said, “We want to make both hunters and potential hunters aware of Wild Turkey Hunting Season because it is a great recreational activity for individuals and families.”

Not so much for the turkeys.

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Tuesday
Apr252017

NTSB investigating small plane that crashed into Texas pond

KTRK-TV(HUNTSVILLE, Texas) -- The NTSB is investigating a small plane crash in Texas on Tuesday.

The Cessna 421 crashed into a small pond in Huntsville around 10:38 a.m., Texas Department of Public Safety Public Information Officer Sgt. Eric Burse told ABC News. The plane was departing Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport, but it is unclear where it was headed to, Burse said.

The body of the pilot has been recovered, according to ABC Houston station KTRK-TV.

Witnesses told authorities that the plane was on fire when it struck some trees before crashing into the pond, near FM 980.

Chopper footage from KTRK-TV showed the downed trees as well as several first responders, which included the Huntsville Fire Department as well as a search-and-rescue team.

Further details about the incident were not immediately available.

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Tuesday
Apr252017

Florida sheriff's deputies pull suspect from burning car after pursuit

Marion County Sherrifs Office(SUMMERFIELD, Fla.) -- Sheriff's deputies in Central Florida said they pulled a suspect from a burning car after the man led them on a pursuit.

Dash cam video from the Marion County Sheriff's Office shows four sheriff's deputies as they extract the man from an overturned van and extinguish the fire.

On Sunday, deputies received a tip that a man known by the alias "Gold Teeth" was en route in a white Dodge van to rob a home in Summerfield, Florida, the sheriff's office said in a Facebook post.

Deputies searching the area located a van matching the description at a convenience store and attempted a traffic stop when the driver, identified as 28-year-old Scott Michael Beekman, left the location, the sheriff's office said.

Beekman led officers on a pursuit while "driving recklessly and endangering other motorists in the east and west bound lanes," the sheriff's office said in the post. Another motorist attempted to block the westbound lane with his vehicle, but Beekman was able to avoid him.

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During the pursuit, Beekman swerved abruptly on Southeast Highway 467 before he struck a stop sign and a tree, police said. Beekman was trapped on the driver's side when the van caught fire, according to the sheriff's office.

In the video, two deputies "carefully advanced" toward the van with their guns drawn while another deputy walks toward the van with a fire extinguisher to deter the flames.

Deputies then broke the van's windshield and were able to pull Beekman out, police said. In the van, deputies found a loaded .32 caliber pistol and a loaded .22 caliber rifle, both located near the driver's seat.

Marion County Fire Rescue arrived and put out the rest of the fire and Beekman was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries. He was later released and booked into the Marion County Jail, where he remains, Marion County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Lauren Lettelier told ABC News.

In a statement, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods praised the deputies for their bravery and the citizens who intervened for their help.

"The deputies involved in the search, the pursuit and the rescue of this suspect performed their duties valiantly," Woods said. "They not only prevented what could have been a major crime, but they also saved this individual’s life despite the danger involved. We are also thankful for the citizens who jumped into action to help our law enforcement. They are all heroes and we are proud to have these deputies serving the citizens of Marion County."

Beekman was charged with fleeing with disregard to safety of person or property, three counts of possession of a weapon or ammo by a convicted felon, possession of a short barreled gun, rifle or machine gun and driving with a suspended or revoked license, the sheriff's office said. It is unclear if he has retained an attorney.

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Tuesday
Apr252017

Controversial police footage shows unarmed youths detained at gunpoint in Grand Rapids

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images(GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.) -- Police in Grand Rapids, Michigan, are saying they followed protocol after a video was released showing officers holding a group of unarmed black teens at gunpoint on the ground.

"Guys, get on the ground. Keep your hands out," a Grand Rapids police officer tells a group of youths in the video. "Just follow our directions and we'll be all right, OK?"

This March 24 exchange, which was caught on body camera, came after a report of a group of teenagers carrying a gun; however, police later learned these youths weren't armed. A police spokesman said the officers' actions followed protocol and displayed "professionalism ... throughout the entire ordeal," though the spokesman added that "it is unfortunate ... the teens had to endure this."

But some parents are outraged by the stop. "We can't stop thinking of the fact that -- what if one of our babies had made the wrong move?" Shawndryka Moore, whose 14-year-old son was among the teens forced to the ground, said at a community meeting with police earlier this month, according to Michigan Live. "And they wouldn't be here with us tonight -- would you be OK? Would it be proper protocol then?"

The March 24 incident happened after Grand Rapids police responded to a report of 100 teenagers fighting, but police only found about 20 or 25 youths and no fight, Grand Rapids Police Public Information Officer Terry Dixon told ABC News Tuesday.

A citizen flagged down an officer at the scene and asked the officer if the police were looking for group of teenagers with a gun, Dixon said. The citizen gave the officer a description of five or six teens; one teen allegedly dropped a revolver, picked it up and tucked it in his waistband, the citizen told police, according to Dixon. Police shared that information with other officers via radio, Dixon said.

About two blocks away from where the witness said he saw a teenager with a gun, an officer approached five boys, including some who appeared to match the descriptions given by the citizen.

The officer told the youths to get on the ground and waited for other officers to arrive, Dixon said.

Body camera footage, provided to ABC News by ABC affiliate WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, shows a cop standing next to the driver's door of his patrol car, using the door as a shield, and pointing his gun at a group of people.

"Guys, get on the ground. Keep your hands out," the officer says, and some of the youths comply.

"Come over here. Keep your hands where I can see them and get on the ground," the officer says.

While all five youths were on lying face down on the ground, one youth asked, "What did we do?"

"Just follow our directions and we'll be all right, OK?" the officer says. "Calm down, calm down, calm down, OK. It'll be all right."

After other officers responded, "One by one they had each teen stand up, put their hands above their heads and walk toward the officers," Dixon said. "Each one of them was put into the back of a police car ... until the officer was able to determine there was no gun."

Officers then called the teens' parents and after a series of quick interviews, they discovered there was no gun and this was the wrong group of teenagers, Dixon said.

The teens were all "very cooperative" and "nothing illegal was found on any of them,” according to the incident report.

The five youths included two sets of brothers and all of the teens’ mothers came to the scene, police said. One officer said in the incident report, "I explained the situation and the reasoning as to why we proceeded the way we did to all three of the mothers."

The mothers "were all a little shaken," but two "seemed to understand," the incident report said. The third mother "was very upset with police and was not willing to hear our reasoning and explanation," the incident report said.

The officer said in the incident report that they "attempted to explain ... that the boys matched the descriptions of males that allegedly had a gun” but that mother “was very upset and unwilling to listen."

One parent, seen on body cam footage, appeared emotional talking to officers; she said, "All this stuff that goes on in this world, I worry about my kids every day. That's why I don't let them go nowhere."

An officer responded to her, "He just happens to be possibly in the wrong place in the wrong time, matching the clothing these kids had, OK?"

Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky later sat with the youths and their families and showed them the video, walking them through why the officers did what they did, Dixon said. Rahinsky also apologized to the youths and their families, Dixon said.

"We were responding to credible information from a witness who said he saw a gun ... the officers acted according to procedure," Dixon said. "There was professionalism displayed throughout the entire ordeal."

"It is unfortunate, on the flip side of this, that the teens had to endure this," Dixon added.

On April 11, at the Grand Rapids City Commission meeting, Moore said, “We ask for something to be changed. ... We don't want this to happen to any other child."

“The department certainly is empathetic towards the families," Rahinsky said, according to WZZM-TV. "If that’s your teenaged son being ordered to the ground at gunpoint, I recognize the emotional response that that elicits."

"I wish we lived in a community or a country where we don’t take guns off of young men ... but we do," Rahinsky said, WZZM-TV reported. "We take guns off of teenagers with some frequency."

Dixon said last Friday police found themselves in a similar situation with a group of teenagers and responded the same way, and police did recover a gun. Dixon said that seven guns have been recovered from juveniles this year.

Since the incident, Rahinsky has held an "Open Office Initiative" to hear from community members, and he has scheduled another "Open Office Initiative" for this Friday.

"I know that the same level of energy and engagement that ensued after the incident on March 24 will also be directed at the issue of youth violence," Rahinsky said in a statement. "This community and this department places the utmost importance on our most valuable resource, our youth. This Friday, April 28, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., I will once again hold open office hours. No agenda, no appointment, just collaboration."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr252017

Florida wildlife officers searching for monkey on the loose

Keri Locke(SILVER SPRINGS, Fla.) -- A monkey on the loose in Florida has surfaced in photographs and caught the attention of state wildlife officials.

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers, the snapshots and video taken over the weekend appear to be that of a rhesus macaque.

Primate researchers say a large and feral colony of these monkeys live in the Silver Springs area, but Sunday’s sighting happened 50 miles south in Apopka.

“It was a little too big to be a raccoon, a little too brown, and as we got a little closer it kind of turned and looked at us and it was a monkey,” Apopka resident Keri Locke told ABC Orlando affiliate WFTV-TV.

Elena Lamar, deputy director of animal operations at Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, warns against getting too close to these monkeys.

“They’re not really keen on eye contact,” Lamar added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr252017

New US Secret Service director to be named

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- ABC News has confirmed that the Trump administration has settled on a new appointment for U.S. Secret Service director.

Former Marine general and Acting Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Randolph "Tex" Alles is the pick for the position, law enforcement and government sources tell ABC News.

Selecting an outsider would be a big shift for the insular agency, which has long promoted its leaders through the ranks.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr252017

Trapper’s rescue of alligator ends with a kiss

WPLG/ABC News(TAMARAC, Fla.) -- A trapper in Florida sealed his rescue of an injured alligator with a kiss.

The 8-foot alligator was visibly injured and bleeding Sunday while resting on the median strip along a road in Tamarac, Florida, according to authorities.

“It appeared that maybe it was hit by a car, because it had some road rash from the nose up to its spine,” Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Will Medina told ABC Miami affiliate WPLG-TV.

Enter a trapper whose job was to contain the reptile, an ordeal captured on cellphone video that lasted nine minutes.

Wrapping the gator’s mouth with duct tape, the trapper puckered up and delivered the reptile a kiss on its snout.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Apr242017

Arkansas carries out first double execution in U.S. since 2000

iStock/supparsorn(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- Arkansas has executed Marcel Williams, 52, just after 10:30 PM local time on Monday. His was the second execution of the night, making this the first double execution in the country since 2000.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker had halted Williams' execution while his attorneys argued whether the night’s first execution had gone properly. Williams was sentenced to death for the 1994 rape and murder of 22-year-old Stacy Rae Errickson after kidnapping her at gunpoint from a gas station in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

The first executed inmate, Jack Jones, was declared dead at 7:20pm local time on Monday, at the state’s Cummins Unit. He was sentenced to death for the 1995 rape and murder of 34-year-old bookkeeper Mary Phillips in Bald Knob, Arkansas.

Arkansas had scheduled eight executions over an 11-day period before the end of April, when its supply of a lethal injection drug expires. One inmate was put to death last week, though the first three executions were canceled because of court rulings.

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Monday
Apr242017

Ex-teacher who allegedly kidnapped teen planned to run to Mexico, prosecutors say

Siskiyou County Sheriff(YREKA, Calif.) -- The former Tennessee teacher who authorities say kidnapped his 15-year-old student then allegedly spent over a month on the run with her had planned to flee to Mexico, federal prosecutors said.

Tad Cummins, 50, a married father and grandfather, went missing with 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas on March 13, authorities said. An Amber Alert was issued for Elizabeth, while Cummins was wanted on allegations of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. The duo was found on April 20; the teen was "healthy and unharmed," authorities said, and Cummins was taken into custody.

Cummins allegedly plotted their getaway from the moment he was suspected of having an improper relationship with the teen, according to a motion filed by federal prosecutors Monday supporting detention for Cummins.

"The logical inference is that the defendant ... fled to avoid criminal charges," prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Cummins planned to reach the Mexico border and then head to countries further south.

Cummins allegedly obtained a "small watercraft and conducted a test run to cross into Mexico across the water from San Diego," prosecutors said. "The defendant also considered the feasibility of a land crossing into Mexico."

Prosecutors claim that in an effort to evade capture, Cummins deliberately left a "misleading note with his wife regarding" which direction he was traveling. Cummins also allegedly altered his appearance, switched license plates twice, disabled the car's GPS system and used aliases for himself and the teenager, prosecutors said.

Cummins and Elizabeth were found on April 20 at a remote cabin in northern California near the Oregon border after over a month on the run.

Cummins was arrested on a state warrant for aggravated kidnapping and he faces a federal charge of transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He appeared in federal court in Sacramento, California, Monday, where he did not enter a plea. Cummins is expected to be extradited to Tennessee.

The teenager was found "healthy and unharmed," authorities said. She has returned to Tennessee and is in a "safe location with family and friends where she is comfortable and resting," said attorney Jason Whatley, who is representing the Thomas family.

Cummins, who was fired one day after the alleged kidnapping, had allegedly researched teen marriage online, specifically the age of consent, according to law enforcement officials.

One of Elizabeth's schoolmates reported seeing her and Cummins kiss in his classroom on Jan. 23, according to a school district investigative report, but both denied the claim. A school report from January reads that neither one "admitted to behaving inappropriately towards the other."

Elizabeth’s father, Anthony Thomas, told ABC News after Elizabeth was found, “She may not be exactly ... the person she was because there’s a lot of experiences she’s had."

"I'm not allowed to ask her about things that happened along the way right now," he said.

Elizabeth’s father said the family is instead keeping "things positive."

"I go in there and tell her how much I missed her, how much I love her and how much her dog missed her," Anthony Thomas said.

"I think she has the determination to really go somewhere in life," he said. "But right now she really needs a lot of help."

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