National Roundup

Report: Officers handcuffed ­students in error

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Six of the 10 officers involved in arresting elementary students at a school in Tennessee violated their department’s policies, an internal police investigation determined.

Murfreesboro Police Chief Karl Durr said the case prompted police to respond to the community’s concerns with reforms, including giving officers the option to handle juvenile offenders informally, through their parents. The department also is developing a new policy for issuing citations to juveniles instead of the court-mandated practice of arresting all of them, he said.

Murfreesboro police arrested four children at Hobgood Elementary School and took them away — two in handcuffs — to a juvenile detention center in April, accusing them of being involved in some off-campus bullying weeks before. One handcuffed girl was arrested falsely, because no one double-checked her name against the juvenile delinquency petitions obtained by the school’s assigned officer.

An internal investigation report showed Maj. Clyde Adkison, Sgt. Greg Walker, School Safety and Education Officer Crystal Templeton, Officer Mark Todd, Sgt. Scott Newberg and Lt. Steve Teeters were cited for violations, The Daily News Journal reported.

Adkison was cited for “unsatisfactory job performance for failing to properly supervise this event,” according to the report.

Investigators found Templeton violated department policy under “unsatisfactory job performance, incompetence” because she “did not conduct a systematic and thorough investigation of the underlying incident.”

Walker, Newberg and Teeters were all found to have “failed to supervise” either Templeton directly or the situation in general, and Todd was cited for misusing sick leave; he called in sick the day of the arrests saying “the stress from what was going to happen made him feel like he was having a heart attack.”

The report found that most issues leading to the arrests stemmed from a failure to communicate between everyone involved. The chief said the schools and police have since established a formal communication process.

Murfreesboro police spokesman Sgt. Kyle Evans said the cited officers can dispute the findings before any disciplinary action.

Court dismisses lawsuit over  bodycam video

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court dismissed a public information lawsuit Tuesday without ruling on its argument that video from police body cameras are public record and should be released on request.

In not taking up the issue, the court noted that the video had already been released — two days after news organizations requested the footage in the July 19, 2015, traffic stop and fatal shooting of a black motorist by a white University of Cincinnati officer.

News organizations including The Associated Press sued Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters last year when he initially refused to release the police bodycam video. Deters released the material after the officer was indicted on charges including murder.

In Tuesday’s ruling, Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger wrote that the prosecutor was entitled to review the video first to determine whether any information had to be redacted; she noted that Deters produced the footage six days after he received it.

“We conclude that he responded in a reasonable period of time,” she said.

Messages were left for Deters’ office and the attorney representing the media groups.

Deters had asked the court to throw out the lawsuit, saying the issue was moot after he released the video. But Deters also said he wouldn’t object if the justices looked at the overall issue of releasing such video in the midst of investigations.

Among other arguments, the news organizations claimed that because a state-supported university created the video to document its officer’s activities, the video is a public record. The video also was kept by the Cincinnati police and county prosecutor’s office.

A retrial on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter is scheduled May 25 in Cincinnati for Ray Tensing, who was fired from the University of Cincinnati police department after his 2015 indictment.

A mistrial was declared Nov. 12 after a jury couldn’t agree on a verdict after a first trial in which jurors viewed his body-cam video. The two sides offered conflicting interpretations in court of what the video showed.

In a related case, the court ruled Dec. 6 that video footage from police cruiser dash cameras is public record that, with some exceptions, should be promptly released upon request.

Trump University settlement filed for judge’s review

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Lawyers for Donald Trump and former students of his now-defunct Trump University filed an agreement in court to settle lawsuits alleging that the president-elect defrauded them, signaling that a deal announced last month remains on track for a judge’s approval next year.

Trump agreed last month to pay $25 million to settle two class-action lawsuits in San Diego and one by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Under the terms, the president-elect admits no wrongdoing.
The filing late Monday puts a formal agreement in front of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel to determine if it is “fair, reasonable and adequate” under federal law. When announcing the terms in his courtroom on Nov. 18, Curiel called it “the beginning of a healing process that this country sorely needs.”

Curiel’s preliminary approval would trigger additional procedural steps — such as formally notifying class members and giving them an opportunity to object — and set the stage for final approval next year.
About 7,000 students who paid up to $35,000 a year are expected to be eligible for refunds of at least half of what they paid to attend seminars that promised to share Trump’s real estate secrets. Plaintiff attorneys agreed to waive their fees.

The lawsuits alleged that Trump University gave nationwide seminars that were like infomercials, constantly pressuring people to spend more and, in the end, failing to deliver on its promises. A San Diego trial that had been scheduled to begin Nov. 28 would have been pinned on whether jurors believed Trump misled customers by calling the business a university when it wasn’t an accredited school and by advertising that he hand-picked instructors.

Trump has strongly denied the allegations and said during the campaign that he would come to San Diego to testify after winning the presidency. Last month, Trump said he settled “for a small fraction of the potential award” because he needed to focus on the country.

The settlement spared Trump a trial that would have lasted weeks and guaranteed constant news coverage of a controversy that dogged him during the campaign.