New Orleans Cop acquitted of police brutality in beating of black senior citizen

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Hat Tip: Associated Press, NPR’s News andViews blog. 

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) — A former police officer accused in the videotaped beating of a man in the French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina was acquitted Tuesday by a judge who heard the case without a jury.

“I didn’t even find this a close call,” said District Judge Frank Marullo.

Robert Evangelist, 37, had been charged with beating Robert Davis, 66, during an arrest videotaped by an Associated Press Television News crew the night of October 8, 2005, about six weeks after Katrina.

Evangelist, who elected to have his case heard by Marullo without a jury, pleaded not guilty to second-degree battery and false imprisonment. Marullo acquitted him of both counts.

Marullo watched videotapes of the beating and its aftermath and he noted that Davis could be seen struggling on the tape for several minutes.

“This event could have ended at any time if the man had put his hands behind his back,” the judge said.

Evangelist and Lance Schilling were fired after being accused of the beating. Schilling killed himself June 10.

A third officer, Stuart Smith, was accused of a misdemeanor charge of simple battery against Associated Press producer Richard Matthews. Marullo threw out that charge because prosecutors improperly used a statement he made to police, said Smith’s attorney, Eric Hessler.

Smith served a 120-day suspension and remains on the force.

The officers said Davis, who had returned to New Orleans to check his property, started a confrontation after they stopped him on suspicion of being drunk. Davis, who was booked with public intoxication but never charged, said he hadn’t been drinking.

Davis testified Tuesday that he was headed to buy cigarettes in the French Quarter when he asked a police officer what time a curfew took effect that night. Before the officer could answer, a different officer cut him off, Davis said.

“Those were ignorant, unprofessional and rude officers,” Davis recalled saying as he walked away from the policemen.

Moments later, an officer grabbed him from behind, threw him against a wall and punched his face, Davis testified. His assailant uttered a racial epithet during the attack, he said.

“I don’t remember very much after that point,” Davis said.

Franz Zibilich, one of Evangelist’s attorneys, said his client “acted appropriately and well within police standards.”

Dr. Frances Smith, who treated Davis at an emergency room, testified that he suffered facial fractures. Davis said he still feels lingering physical effects from the attack.

I suppose Lance Shilling killed himself because he knew that some Klansman on the bench would acquit him.

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House Judiciary Committee finds a pair and issues contempt of congress charges against Bolton and Miers

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The House Judiciary Committee found a pair, manned up, and issued contempt of congress charges for the White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.   Wow.  The Republicans actually called this move unnecessary and unprecedented with straight faces.   Incredible.  

Let me get this straight, y’all can call President Clinton’s secretary to testify in front of Congress about some hat pin he gave Monica Lewinsky but Bush’s White House Chief of Staff and Counsel cannot testify before Congress about the selective firing of U.S. Attorney’s who refused to comply with orders to investigate and indict Democrats on spurious claims of vote fraud to save GOP members of Congress in last year’s election.   Hmmm.

Obama courts black voters

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Associated Press Writer

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is reaching out to fellow blacks in his first advertising effort in South Carolina, a minute-long spot scheduled to begin airing Wednesday on 36 radio stations with predominantly black listenership.

The Illinois senator has been careful not to be defined strictly as a black candidate and risk alienating white voters, but he and rival Hillary Rodham Clinton are in a close fight for the black voters who traditionally make up half of the Democratic primary turnout in South Carolina. The radio ad allows Obama to target his appeal to black audiences.

Presidential hopeful, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., waves at supporters after speaking at the National Council of La Raza conference in Miami Beach, Fla., on Sunday, July 22, 2007. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Clinton enjoys strong support in the black community and is married to former President Clinton, who is wildly popular among black voters. Obama’s advisers say their biggest challenge is introducing him to voters who certainly know who Clinton is, but may not know much about Obama or even that he is black.

The ad makes it clear with excerpts from Obama’s speech to the NAACP. He ticks off problems facing the community — more black men in prison than in college, serious illnesses disproportionately affecting blacks and the argument that it takes a hurricane to show the rest of the country about problems of race and poverty.

“I know what you know,” Obama says. “Despite all the progress that’s been made we have more work to do.”

Soft jazz plays in the background as a deep-voiced announcer describes Obama as a Christian family man, a former civil rights lawyer and state legislator. “It’s time for Barack Obama,” the announcer says repeatedly.

Obama is running two ads on television in Iowa, but the radio spot is his first in South Carolina.

A poll of South Carolina adults by CNN/Opinion Research Corp. conducted last week found Clinton leading with 39 percent, followed by Obama with 25 percent. A poll last month by a different pollster, Mason Dixon, had Obama narrowly ahead.