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Bucks’ Brown decries ‘police intimidation’ during arrest – See for yourself

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MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee police chief has apologized to Sterling Brown and says officers have been disciplined for acting “inappropriately” after the Bucks player was zapped with a stun gun during his arrest for a parking violation in January.

Brown, who is African-American, said in a statement Wednesday that the incident was “an attempt at police intimidation” and that it “shouldn’t happen to anybody.” Community groups in Milwaukee have criticized police for how they handled Brown.

Police Chief Alfonso Morales’ apology at a news conference Wednesday came as police released body camera footage that showed how a simple interaction over an illegally parked car quickly escalated. The video, which was released because an internal investigation had concluded, represents another setback for a department that for years has tried to rebuild its image and relationship with Milwaukee’s black residents after several high-profile cases of police misconduct.

Police did not identify the races of the officers, but most of the officers in the video appeared to be white.

It began around 2 a.m. on Jan. 26 in a Walgreens parking lot. As Brown walks out of the store, an officer standing by Brown’s car asks him for his driver’s license. When Brown gets close to his car’s passenger door, the officer touches Brown and he tells the officer not to touch him.

“Back up! Back up!” the officer yells. “For what? I ain’t did nothing,” Brown responds. Brown eventually shows the officer his driver’s license.

The conversation between the officer and Brown is testy as they wait for additional squad cars to show up. Brown says he has no problem with the officer’s questions and the officer responds that he touched him “because you got up in my face.”

“I got up on your face? Really?” Brown responds in disbelief.

It takes a turn for the worse when Brown, surrounded by four officers near his car, is asked to take his hands out of his pockets. Almost immediately a scuffle ensues, with the officers swarming over Brown and one yelling “Taser! Taser! Taser!”

Brown is heard groaning in pain on the ground, although he’s barely visible from the camera’s viewpoint.

Brown was not charged with anything.

“Our department conducted an investigation into the incident, which revealed members acted inappropriately and those members were recently disciplined,” Morales said at the brief news conference.

“I am sorry this incident escalated to this level,” he added.

He left without taking questions. He did not identify the officers or say how they were disciplined.

Brown, in his statement released Wednesday, said the experience “was wrong and shouldn’t happen to anybody.”

“What should have been a simple parking ticket turned into an attempt at police intimidation, followed by the unlawful use of physical force, including being handcuffed and tased, and then unlawfully booked,” he said. “This experience with the Milwaukee Police Department has forced me to stand up and tell my story so that I can help prevent these injustices from happening in the future.”

The Milwaukee Bucks signed the 6-foot-6 guard from Southern Methodist University in Texas last summer in a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Later in the video, after officers used the stun gun, Brown can be heard having a conversation with someone away from the view of the camera.

“They tased me for no reason,” an agitated Brown says.

“I asked you to step back and you didn’t do it,” the officer who had the initial interaction with Brown responds. Later, that same officer mocks Brown while talking to another officer about what happened, saying he thought Brown “was being an ass” and “trying to hide something.”

“And now he’s like, ‘I’m a Bucks player, blah, blah, blah.’ So what,” the officer says.

City officials’ concern over the content of the video was apparent earlier this week when Mayor Tom Barrett said he found it concerning.

Fred Royal, the president of the NAACP in Milwaukee, said Wednesday that he “didn’t see anything that would warrant” a stun gun being used on Brown.

“I find it disturbing that an officer would incite an argument over a parking citation,” Royal said.

A day before releasing the body-camera footage, Morales posted a video on YouTube to reiterate his commitment to rebuilding the public’s trust in the department.

“If there’s ever an incident where one of our members makes a mistake, unnecessarily escalating a situation, I’m going to be honest and transparent about it,” he said. “In those incidents, where we have made mistakes and are wrong, I’m sorry.”

Morales was appointed chief in February, following the retirement of Edward Flynn, who held the position for 10 years.

Last year, Milwaukee paid $2.3 million to settle a lawsuit over the death of Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill black man fatally shot by a police officer after the officer roused him from a park bench downtown. The officer said he shot Hamilton 14 times in self-defence because they got into a struggle when the officer frisked him for weapons.

In 2016, the city paid $5 million to settle a lawsuit by 74 black residents who said police illegally strip-searched them between 2008 and 2012. The city is considering settling a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union in Wisconsin, which is representing eight residents who say police targeted them for stops because they were African-American or Latino and because of the high-crime areas where they lived.

In early May, police and prosecutors began investigating four officers who were involved in the violent arrest of a black man in a majority African-American neighbourhood. Video from a bystander showed a group of officers kicking and punching the man on the ground while he was restrained. Police presented their body-camera footage of the encounter, which showed the man aggressively charging at officers and trying to punch them.

Ivan Moreno, The Associated Press




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Ottawa intervenes to get 13-year-old ball player to Little League World Series

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OTTAWA — Thirteen-year-old Dio Gama will get to play baseball in the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania after all.

Gama’s team, the Whalley Major Allstars from Surrey, B.C., had thought they would be without the young outfielder after a federal judge ordered a review of the family’s immigration case last month.

There were fears Gama would be blocked from re-entering Canada if he travelled to the U.S. for the tournament without status in Canada.

But the federal Immigration Department will issue Gama a temporary resident permit in order to allow him to accompany his team to the Little League World Series, The Canadian Press has learned.

The temporary permit is the result of an intervention by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. A senior Immigration official says the $200 application fee for the permit will also be waived.

Gama was instrumental in his team making it to the Little League World Series, head coach Mike Marino said Wednesday, calling him one of the team’s strongest batters and a role model for his teammates.

“As a player, we think he’ll probably be one of the best hitters at the tournament,” he said. “He’s a great kid, he’s a kind kid. All the boys on the team look up to him.”

Gama was born in the U.S. to Mexican parents and has lived in Canada for three years. But the family’s immigration case is complicated in part by a drug-related charge and guilty plea by Dio’s father, Noe, that led to his deportation from the U.S. in 1997 and a 60-month prison term in Mexico.

Earlier this week, Whalley Little League president Gavin Burke told The Canadian Press the team didn’t expect their teammate would be able to travel to Williamsport, Penn.

“I think they’d love to see Dio back with them,” Burke said at the time.

“He’s part of the team. The kids have been together since the beginning of June … I would expect that there’s a void.”

On Tuesday, an official in Hussen’s office refused to comment on any specific immigration cases within the department, but did say that the office was aware of Gama’s situation and that it was under review.

Immigration officials worked through local Liberal MP Ken Hardie’s office to ensure Gama would have the paperwork he needed to play in the tournament.

He will be issued a temporary resident permit that will be valid until the end of the month.

Canada begins play at the Little League World Series against Panama on Friday. The event starts on Thursday.

— With files from Melissa Couto in Toronto; follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press



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FIFA defends bans for ‘false’ info, tarnishing reputations

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Justifying an overhaul of its ethics code, FIFA asserted Tuesday that people who “tarnish the reputations of others” must be banned from soccer.

The Associated Press revealed Monday that a new offence of defamation had been added to the document governing the conduct of participants in soccer, with scope for a ban of up to five years from the game.

While the code provides no precise definition of defamation, FIFA has now provided further context in a statement, saying it is “the act of communicating false information that harms the reputation of an individual or a group.” The ethics committee would determine what constitutes “false information.”

Amid criticism from some football federation presidents of his decision to oust the organization’s ethics judge and prosecutor in 2017, FIFA President Gianni Infantino decried “fake news and alternative facts about FIFA” during a speech to member associations. When later asked to provide examples, Infantino backtracked, saying it was “my feeling … there are a lot of people spreading a lot of wrong and false information.”

FIFA said the new defamation offence “exists in most legal systems.”

“The world of football is not immune to conduct that aims to tarnish the reputations of others and … must be sanctioned accordingly,” the Zurich-based governing body said. “The article concerning defamation is not only there to protect FIFA, but also to protect any other person covered by the code who may be subjected to discriminatory or defamatory statements in the context of FIFA events.”

FIFA outlined the “landmark changes” in statement published a day after the AP disclosed how the new code, which was distributed without a public announcement to soccer officials, varied from the previous 2012 edition. FIFA did not provide any written explanation for the changes when the AP first posed a series of questions by email about the new code two weeks ago.

One of the most symbolically significant alterations is the word “corruption” being completed removed from the primary English version of the code. FIFA said this change has “no material impact on the actual infringements that are pursued.”

But cases of bribery, misappropriation of funds and manipulation of matches must now be prosecuted within 10 years of the offence. In the previous edition of the code, prosecution for “bribery and corruption” was not subject to a “limitation period.” American investigators uncovered corruption in soccer going back decades before dozens of officials and entities were indicted in 2015.

“Although the new code has introduced new time limits for certain serious infringements, the ethics committee believes that ten years (or 15 years if an investigation is open) is a sufficient period of time in which to complete the investigation in cases of serious infringements,” FIFA said. “This change will bring more legal certainty to the world of football by ensuring that potential infringements to the code are dealt with in a swift manner.”

Officials now face a minimum five-year ban for bribery.

FIFA said changes to the ethics code “ensure more transparency.” The organization has declined to make ethics judge Vassilios Skouris or prosecutor Maria Claudia Rojas available to answer media questions since Infantino abruptly removed their predecessors from their posts in 2017 with hundreds of cases pending.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said in a report scrutinizing FIFA governance that Rojas “does not really meet the profile of a ‘prosecutor.'” The European lawmakers also said Infantino has removed independent officials who “might have embarrassed” him by doing their duty.

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Rob Harris is at https://twitter.com/RobHarris and https://facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Rob Harris, The Associated Press


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