In Brief: April 16, 2021

Video: Chicago boy wasn’t holding gun when shot by officer

CHICAGO — Disturbing bodycam video released Thursday after public outcry over the Chicago police shooting of a 13-year-old boy shows the youth appearing to drop a handgun and begin raising his hands less than a second before an officer fires his gun and kills him.

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A still frame taken from Officer Eric Stillman’s jumpy nighttime body camera footage shows that Adam Toledo wasn’t holding anything and had his hands up when Stillman shot him once in the chest about 3 a.m. on March 29. Police, who were responding to reports of shots fired in the area, say the boy had a handgun on him before the shooting. And Stillman’s footage shows him shining a light on a handgun on the ground near Toledo after he shot him.

The release of the footage and other investigation materials comes at a sensitive time, with the ongoing trial in Minneapolis of former Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd and the recent police killing of another Black man, Daunte Wright, in one of that city’s suburbs. Before the Civilian Office of Police Accountability posted the material on its website, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called on the public to keep the peace and some downtown businesses boarded up their windows in the expectation that there could be unrest.

Small groups of protesters gathered at a police station and marched downtown Thursday night, but there were few signs of widespread demonstrations in the city.

“We live in a city that is traumatized by a long history of police violence and misconduct,” Lightfoot said. “So while we don’t have enough information to be the judge and jury of this particular situation, it is certainly understandable why so many of our residents are feeling that all too familiar surge of outrage and pain. It is even clearer that trust between our community and law enforcement is far from healed and remains badly broken.”

US expels Russian diplomats, imposes sanctions for hacking

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced Thursday the U.S. is expelling 10 Russian diplomats and imposing sanctions against several dozen people and companies, holding the Kremlin accountable for interference in last year’s presidential election and the hacking of federal agencies.

The sweeping measures are meant to punish Russia for actions that U.S. officials say cut to the core of American democracy and to deter future acts by imposing economic costs on Moscow, including by targeting its ability to borrow money. The sanctions are certain to exacerbate tensions with Russia, which promised a response, even as President Joe Biden said the administration could have taken even more punitive measures but chose not to in the interests of maintaining stability.

“We cannot allow a foreign power to interfere in our democratic process with impunity,” Biden said at the White House.

Sanctions against six Russian companies that support the country’s cyber efforts represent the first retaliatory measures against the Kremlin for the hack familiarly known as the SolarWinds breach, with the U.S. explicitly linking the intrusion to the SVR, a Russian intelligence agency. Though such intelligence-gathering missions are not uncommon, officials said they were determined to respond because of the operation’s broad scope and the high cost of the intrusion on private companies.

The U.S. also announced sanctions on 32 individuals and entities accused of attempting to influence last year’s presidential election, including by spreading disinformation. U.S. officials alleged in a declassified report last month that Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized influence operations to help Donald Trump in his unsuccessful bid for reelection as president, though there’s no evidence Russia or anyone else changed votes or manipulated the outcome.

With layoffs down and spending up, US rebound gains momentum

WASHINGTON — A much-awaited economic boom coming off the pandemic recession appeared to edge closer to reality Thursday with fresh data showing the pace of layoffs dwindling, consumers spending freely and manufacturing rebounding.

The latest barometers point to a U.S. economy that’s steadily regaining its health as vaccinations accelerate, business curbs are lifted in many states and more people are willing to travel, shop, eat out and otherwise resume their spending habits. Though many Americans who have lost jobs or income are still suffering, hopes are rising that the benefits of the recovery will spread further in the coming months to groups of people who have yet to benefit.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits tumbled last week to 576,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, a post-COVID low and a sign that layoffs are easing.

And sales at retail stores and restaurants jumped 9.8% in March, the biggest gain since last May, when the economy first started to rebound from the virus’ initial blow. With U.S. household savings high, economists are optimistic that the faster spending is sustainable.

“We are really kicking into that next gear now,” said Adam Kamins, senior regional economist at Moody’s Analytics. “Things are moving more decisively in the right direction than at any time in the past year.”

Shortage of intubation drugs threatens Brazil health sector

RIO DE JANEIRO — Reports are emerging of Brazilian health workers forced to intubate patients without the aid of sedatives, after weeks of warnings that hospitals and state governments risked running out of critical medicines.

One doctor at the Albert Schweitzer municipal hospital in Rio de Janeiro told the Associated Press that for days health workers diluted sedatives to make their stock last longer. Once it ran out, nurses and doctors had to begin using neuromuscular blockers and tying patients to their beds, the doctor said.

“You relax the muscles and do the procedure easily, but we don’t have sedation,” said the doctor, who agreed to discuss the sensitive situation only if not quoted by name. “Some try to talk, resist. They’re conscious.”

Lack of required medicines is the latest pandemic problem to befall Brazil, which is experiencing a brutal COVID-19 outbreak that has flooded the nation’s intensive care units. The daily death count is averaging about 3,000, accounting for a quarter of deaths globally and making Brazil the epicenter of the pandemic.

From wire sources

“Intubation kits” include anesthetics, sedatives and other medications used to put severely ill patients on ventilators. The press office of Rio city’s health secretariat said in an email that occasional shortages at the Albert Schweitzer facility are due to difficulties obtaining supplies on the global market and that “substitutions are made so that there is no damage to the assistance provided.” It didn’t comment on the need to tie patients to beds.

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Wright’s family wants stiffer charge for Minnesota ex-cop

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — Daunte Wright’s family members joined with community leaders Thursday in calling for more serious charges against the white former police officer who fatally shot him, comparing her case to the murder charge brought against a Black officer who killed a white woman in nearby Minneapolis.

Former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter in Sunday’s shooting of Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop. The former police chief in Brooklyn Center, a majority nonwhite suburb, said Potter mistakenly fired her handgun when she meant to use her Taser. Both the chief and Potter resigned Tuesday.

Potter — who was released on $100,000 bond hours after her arrest Wednesday — appeared alongside her attorney, Earl Gray, at her initial appearance Thursday over Zoom, saying little. Gray kept his camera on himself for most of the hearing, swiveling it to show Potter only briefly. Her next court appearance was set for May 17.

Wright’s death has been followed by protests every night this week outside the city’s police station, with some demonstrators hurling objects at officers who have responded at times with gas and rubber bullets before clearing the scene with a riot line. Hundreds of protesters gathered again Thursday night, shouting obscenities at police and shaking the security fence, hours after police in Chicago released graphic body camera video of an officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo in March.

“It is happening in every single city, every single day across the country,” Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told protesters earlier in the evening, before leading them in a chant of “Say his name! Adam Toledo!”“

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Honduran woman exits Utah church after 3 years in sanctuary

SALT LAKE CITY — After over three years living in a Salt Lake City church to avoid being deported, Honduran immigrant Vicky Chavez stepped outside Thursday with tears in her eyes as church congregants and friends cheered, celebrating her newfound freedom.

Chavez and her two young daughters took sanctuary in First Unitarian Church in January 2018 after she said she fled an abusive boyfriend in Honduras and sought asylum in the United States but was denied.

Chavez entered the United States illegally in June 2014 and was ordered deported by a federal immigration judge in December 2016. After exhausting her appeals in January 2018, Chavez had a plane ticket home to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. She instead accepted an offer of sanctuary from the church.

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Chavez said she received a notice from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday that she had been granted a so-called a stay of removal, which limits her risk of being deported for a year.

“Vicky’s life is no longer on hold,” Rev. Tom Goldsmith, the church’s minister, told reporters. “She leaves this church with a full grasp of the English language, a couple of hundred friends and the confidence to pursue her dreams.”

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