US protests: Seattle businesses sue city over 'occupied' protest zone

New York police officer arrested and charged with using illegal choke hold

A group of Seattle businesses, property owners and residents on Wednesday sued the city over its tolerance for an “occupied” protest zone.

The group said officials were complicit in depriving them of their rights to their property.

The plaintiffs, including a tattoo parlour, car repair garage and property management company, stressed in the lawsuit that they were not trying to undermine the Black Lives Matter message of the “Capitol Hill occupied protest".

“Rather, this lawsuit is about the constitutional and other legal rights of plaintiffs, which have been overrun by the city of Seattle’s unprecedented decision to abandon and close off an entire city neighbourhood," the lawsuit read.

It said that decision left the area unprotected by police, "unserved by fire and emergency health services, and inaccessible to the public at large".

The Seattle City Attorney’s Office said it had not yet seen the lawsuit but would review it.

After three shootings in the area on consecutive nights starting last weekend, Mayor Jenny Durkan said the city would wind down the protest zone.

Ms Durkan said the city would first encourage protesters to leave voluntarily, and that police would return to the precinct.

But neither she nor police chief Carmen Best gave a specific time for when that would happen.

Colorado

The governor of Colorado told the state’s top prosecutor on Thursday to reopen the investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old African American man put into a chokehold by police who stopped him on the street in suburban Denver last year.

Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order directing state Attorney General Phil Weiser to investigate Mr McClain’s death and possibly prosecute the three white officers involved.

McClain’s name has become a rallying cry during the national reckoning over racism and police brutality following the deaths of George Floyd and others.

“Elijah McClain should be alive today, and we owe it to his family to take this step and elevate the pursuit of justice in his name to a statewide concern,” Mr Polis said in a statement.

Police in Aurora received a call about a suspicious person wearing a ski mask and waving his arms as he walked down a street on August 24, 2019. Police say Mr McClain refused to stop walking and fought back when officers confronted him and tried to take him into custody.

One of the officers put him in a chokehold that cuts off blood to the brain, something that has been banned in several places in the wake of Mr Floyd’s death.

According to police body-camera video, McClain tells officers: “Let go of me. I am an introvert. Please respect the boundaries that I am speaking.”

He was kept on the ground for 15 minutes, then paramedics gave him 500 milligrams of a sedative to calm him down. He suffered cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and was declared brain dead on August 27. He was taken off life support three days later.

A forensic pathologist could not determine what exactly led to his death but said physical exertion during the confrontation likely contributed.

Mississippi

An appeals court has upheld a ruling that a Mississippi police officer was justified when he shot dead a black Louisiana man, who called police after a car crash.

US District Judge Keith Starrett ruled in September that Officer Aaron Jernigan was protecting himself when he shot Marc Davis of LaPlace, Louisiana, in 2017.

On Monday, the Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals agreed with Mr Starrett's ruling.

Davis, 34, was driving on a Mississippi highway on June 2, 2017, when he was involved in a car crash.

He called police and Mr Jernigan arrived, but an argument developed and Mr Jernigan shot Davis three times. He later died at the hospital.

The officer said Davis physically assaulted him, tried to take his gun and refused orders to stand down.

Yoshanta Albert, mother of Davis's five children, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2018, claiming Mr Jernigan shot Davis unexpectedly and without a warning shot.

The lawsuit also claimed Mr Jernigan used excessive force.

Mr Starrett threw out the lawsuit, saying Mr Jernigan did not use excessive force and if he did, he was "entitled" to, given the situation.

"This is not what justice looks like: a child without a father," Ms Albert said, as she waved a photo of her daughter Leah, 2, standing next to her father's casket.

"I waited three years. His death was swept under the rug."

New York

A New York police officer was arrested and charged with administering an illegal choke hold, police said on Thursday.

It was the first such charge against an NYPD member since state legislators made choke holds illegal, after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police.

David Afanador, 39, turned himself in and was charged with second-degree strangulation and first-degree attempted strangulation.

If convicted he faces up to seven years in prison.

The charges suggest authorities may believe the man, identified by the Queens District Attorney as Ricky Bellevue, 35, passed out while Mr Afanador was arresting him.

Mr Afanador, who is Hispanic, was suspended without pay since Sunday.

That day video emerged of the officer, holding his arm around the neck of an African-American man on the boardwalk of Rockaway Beach while trying to arrest him.

Updated: June 27, 2020 04:08 AM

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