California Has a High Rate of Police Shootings. Could a New Open-Records Law Change That? – The New York Times

By Tim Arango
Feb. 12, 2019

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“LOS ANGELES — After her son, Eric, was killed by the police in Los Angeles two years ago when officers mistook a water pistol he was holding for a real gun, Valerie Rivera channeled her grief into activism. She joined Black Lives Matter and lobbied the state legislature to open to the public California’s records on police shootings, which have long been hidden.

She wanted, she recently wrote in a court filing, to “understand what really happened, and to advocate for change so that officers do not kill civilians, and are held accountable when they do, so that other families do not have to suffer as mine has.”

Her efforts paid off. Under a new state law, Ms. Rivera and other members of the public can now request to see the investigative records, prying open for the first time California’s strict secrecy laws regarding police shootings and serious misconduct by officers.

But, just as activists and state lawmakers have sought to bring decades-old investigative records to light, police unions have tried to jam the door shut. While police departments have said they would comply, police unions up and down the state, including in Los Angeles, have filed lawsuits challenging the law, arguing that it shouldn’t be applied retroactively. The union lawsuits have succeeded in some jurisdictions in getting temporary stays from the court.”

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An Innocent Man Who Imagined the World as It Should Be – by Jesse Wegman – NYT

“In the end, John Thompson got to live 14 years as a free man — the same number he spent on Louisiana’s death row, condemned for a 1984 murder he didn’t commit.Seven times the state set a date for his execution. Weeks before the seventh, in 1999, a private investigator hired by his lawyers discovered a crime-lab report that prosecutors had hidden from the defense, and that led eventually to Mr. Thompson’s exoneration in 2003.Some exonerees are so relieved to be out of prison that they never look back. That was not Mr. Thompson. After his release (the jury at his retrial acquitted him in 35 minutes), Mr. Thompson set out to hold to account the prosecutors and other officials who had fought for so long to kill him.”

Undercover Officers Ask Addicts to Buy Drugs, Snaring Them but Not Dealers – The New York Times


“The 55-year-old crack addict counted his change outside a Harlem liquor store. He had just over a dollar, leaving him 35 cents short of the cheapest mini-bottle.The 21-year-old heroin addict sat in a McDonald’s on the Lower East Side, wondering when his grandmother would next wire him money. He was homeless, had 84 cents in his pocket and was living out of two canvas bags.Each was approached by someone who asked the addict for help buying drugs. Using the stranger’s money, each addict went to see a nearby dealer, returned with drugs, handed them over and was promptly arrested on felony drug-dealing charges. The people who had asked for drugs were undercover narcotics officers with the New York Police Department.”

Source: Undercover Officers Ask Addicts to Buy Drugs, Snaring Them but Not Dealers – The New York Times

Many good comments clarify that the behavior of the New York City police here is despicable.