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Activists demand release of Andres Guardado autopsy report

A coalition of community activists gathered Sunday at a street memorial in Gardena for Andres Guardado, who was fatally shot June 18 by an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy, and called on Sheriff Alex Villanueva to release the autopsy report of the 18-year-old.

“Villanueva has to be held accountable,” Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope said in a phone interview. “He is saying the investigation will be transparent, but he had blocked release of the autopsy. It is important not just for the family, but the whole city is watching this case.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department put a “security hold” on the Guardado case Monday, saying that “investigators wish to maintain the integrity of the investigation, and premature release of information could jeopardize the case.”

Activists believe the autopsy will provide crucial information about the killing of Guardado, who was speaking with someone in a car outside an auto body shop where he worked as a security guard when deputies arrived.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, deputies from the Compton station pulled up to the scene about 6 p.m. Authorities said that Guardado “produced a handgun” and that two deputies chased him on foot. When the deputies caught up, one of them opened fire on Guardado, officials said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Villanueva and investigators have not said what prompted the shooting and have released few details about the confrontation.

Family members and activists have expressed skepticism about the Sheriff’s Department’s version of events. Four days after the shooting, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors called for an independent investigation into the shooting.

Speaking to more than two dozen people near the site where Guardado was killed, Ali also called upon Compton Mayor Aja Brown to rescind the city’s contract with the Sheriff’s Department and to bring back the Compton Police Department, which was disbanded in 2000.

“Twenty years ago, the Compton sheriff’s station came into Compton,” Ali said, “and we want to draw attention to the historically murderous relationship between the … Sheriff’s Department and our community.”

Cliff Smith, representing the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police, also spoke at the sidewalk memorial. “We are in accordance with demands that the mayor and the City Council of Compton take responsibility for the sheriff’s [deputies] dispatched out of their station,” he said beforehand. “This is not a new demand.”

The shooting of Guardado came a little more than two weeks after video was released showing two deputies kneeling on top of a struggling man while a third deputy strikes the man five times with his knee.

The man was identified as Dalvin Price, who was arrested on suspicion of looting and assault with a deadly weapon.

Reacting to Price’s arrest — with tactics reminiscent of those that led to the death of George Floyd — Brown asked for an investigation into the incident, and Villanueva has called on the Board of Supervisors to “fully fund the [Sheriff’s Department’s] body-worn camera project.”

The gathering at the Guardado memorial took place as a community car wash was being held to raise money for the family. Last week, more than 100 protesters took to the streets and marched on the Compton sheriff’s station, where they were met with a dozen deputies in riot gear.

Organizers decided Sunday not to march on the sheriff’s station but instead support the car wash.

“We don’t want any disturbance,” said Noe Abarca, Guardado’s uncle, at the car wash.

“We are tired of police using the force on young people,” he added.

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Senate office says it lacks ‘discretion’ to release possible Biden complaint

WASHINGTON — A top Senate official reiterated Monday evening that the secretary of the Senate could not fulfill a request from former Vice President Joe Biden to find and release any documents pertaining to a complaint by a former staffer accusing him of sexual assault that she said she filed in 1993, but offered new detail about how her complaint would have been processed under policies at the time.

That alleged complaint would be about harassment that Tara Reade, the former staffer, says she experienced working in Biden’s office, not the alleged sexual assault.

Biden has denied the accusations. “I am saying unequivocally it never never happened and it didn’t,” he has said. ” “It never happened.”

In its second communication with Biden’s campaign of the day, the Secretary of the Senate’s office said it was “not aware of any exceptions in law” that would allow the disclosure of any workplace complaint filed against Biden.

A lawyer for the Democratic presidential candidate asked earlier if it could do so if the accuser also consented to its release.

Biden’s lawyer, Bob Bauer, had also asked the office if it could disclose the existence of any records, if not the record itself, and whether it could provide “procedural materials” that the relevant employment offices would have used to process a complaint.

The Senate office provided a 16-page document detailing procedures for the Senate Office of Fair Employment Practices for handling complaints about discrimination or “reprisal” from Senate employees.

Under that process, Reade’s first step would have been to submit a “request for counseling” — the first of three steps that might lead to a formal complaint and hearing. That counseling process involves informing the employee of their rights and responsibilities while also documenting their allegation.

Biden’s office would not have been notified of Reade’s allegation during this initial step, according to the employment practices. It would have been only if Reade moved into the next step, mediation.

In an interview with the Associated Press last year, Reade indicated that she “chickened out” after her initial outreach to the office. At the time, Reade alleged that Biden had sexually harassed her, stopping short of assault.

“They have this counseling office or something, and I think I walked in there once, but then I chickened out,” she said then.

NBC News has reached out to Reade to ask if she has additional detail about the process. On Saturday, Reade told NBC News in a text: “I filed a complaint re sexual harassment and retaliation but I am not sure what explicit words on that intake form until we all see it again.”

Julie Tsirkin contributed.

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Trump scolds his FBI director after release of DOJ’s Russia probe report

Michael Horowitz, the DOJ inspector general, found that although there were “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the FBI’s requests for court-ordered surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, the bureau’s decision to launch the probe was adequately predicated and not influenced by political bias.

While Wray acknowledged and pledged to remedy errors in the FBI’s handling of applications for surveillance warrants, he told ABC News in an interview that he did not think law enforcement unfairly targeted the Trump campaign and said it was “important” that Horowitz found the FBI was justified in opening its investigation.

That assessment diverged markedly with Barr’s reading of the IG report. The attorney general asserted in a statement that Horowitz’s review “now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”

John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut tasked by Barr with overseeing a separate probe into the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign, also cast doubt on Horowitz’s central judgment.

“Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.,” Durham said in a statement. “Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

The president sought to promote the IG report as a win for the White House, claiming that the 400-page document was “far worse than I would’ve ever thought possible” and detailed an attempted “overthrow” of his administration.

“They got caught red-handed, and I look forward to the Durham report, which is coming out in the not-too-distant future. It’s got its own information, which is this information, plus plus plus,” Trump said.

“And it’s an incredible thing that happened, and we’re lucky we caught them,” he continued. “I think I’m going to put this down as one of our great achievements because what we found and what we saw never, ever should … happen again in our country.”

Trump’s attack on Wray was hardly the first time the president has cast aspersions on senior law enforcement officials. The president has often condemned members of the “deep state” he alleges are embedded within intelligence community, and he repeatedly berated former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from oversight of the Russia probe.

The president appointed Wray to the FBI’s top job in June 2017 after the dramatic ouster of former director James Comey, which Trump later acknowledged in an interview with NBC News was influenced by the bureau’s ongoing Russia investigation.

After the release of Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s handing of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails in June 2018, Trump tweeted: “Comey will now officially go down as the worst leader, by far, in the history of the FBI. I did a great service to the people in firing him. Good Instincts. Christopher Wray will bring it proudly back!”

The president on Tuesday also railed online against Democratic lawmakers’ fast-moving impeachment inquiry, tweeting ahead of a news conference later in the morning by House committee leaders who are expected to reveal articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“To Impeach a President who has proven through results, including producing perhaps the strongest economy in our country’s history, to have one of the most successful presidencies ever, and most importantly, who has done NOTHING wrong, is sheer Political Madness! #2020Election,” Trump wrote.

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Political row over Usman Khan prison release deepens – Channel 4 News

1 Dec 2019

The political row over why Usman Khan was free to launch his deadly knife attack on Friday intensified today.

The political row over why Usman Khan was free to launch his deadly knife attack on Friday intensified today.

Claiming a law brought in under Labour made his release inevitable, the Prime Minister said he would bring in tougher sentences.

But the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised cuts to the criminal justice system saying “you can’t keep people safe on the cheap”.

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Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn trade blame for London Bridge knife attacker’s release

Khan, who was freed on parole 11 months ago with an electronic tracking device on his ankle, began his attack Friday afternoon as he was entering a conference intended to rehabilitate violent offenders and terrorists. He stabbed at least five people before he was tackled by members of the public and shot dead by police. The queen honored the bystanders who intervened as heroes.

Police on Sunday named the second victim of Khan’s attack: Saskia Jones, 23, a volunteer with the Cambridge University program that hosted the conference in London. Police had earlier named Jack Merritt, 25, who worked for the program. Three other victims were in the hospital recovering from their wounds.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, appearing on a BBC political affairs show, said “the reason this killer was out on the streets was because of automatic early release, which was brought in by a lefty government.” He was referring to the government of former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, which ended in 2010.

Host Andrew Marr repeatedly challenged Johnson, reminding his guest — and viewers — that Johnson’s Conservative Party has been in power for nearly 10 years.

Johnson refused to concede any responsibility. Whatever the Tories failed to do in the past, his government will fix it if he wins a majority in the Dec. 12 elections, he said.

“I think it is ridiculous, I think it is repulsive, that individuals as dangerous as this man should be allowed out after serving only eight years, and that’s why we are going to change the law,” Johnson vowed.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Johnson’s principal opponent in the elections, called the government’s early release of Khan “a complete disaster” and called for a “very full investigation.”

In a speech in York on Sunday, Corbyn took aim at the cuts to police forces since the Conservatives came into power — a deficit of some 20,000 officers compared to years before.

“A failure to recruit has left huge staffing shortfalls and staff supervising more cases than ever expected, posing again a serious risk to our security,” Corbyn said. “You can’t keep people safe on the cheap.”

Into this febrile mix, President Trump is scheduled to arrive for a meeting of NATO leaders on Tuesday and Wednesday. Trump in the past has found it irresistible to wade into British electoral politics, and all sides expect him to do so again.

As Johnson, a Trump ally, was swatting back blame, the Justice Ministry revealed that 74 people convicted of terrorist offenses are living under supervision in British society.

The Sunday Times reported that Khan “had been granted permission by his parole officer to travel to London even though he was one of 3,000 extremists” on the MI5 “watch list.” The MI5 is Britain’s domestic intelligence service.

Ian Acheson, a former top counterterrorism official, wrote that he had warned Conservative officials for years that they were treating released terrorists with “jaw-dropping” naivete.

Corbyn, who has long spoken out against military action, said Britain’s foreign interventions have fueled conflict and brought terrorism to Britain.

He told supporters he had warned against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and “we are still living with the consequences today.”

“The war on terror has manifestly failed,” Corbyn said. “Britain’s repeated military interventions in North Africa and the wider Middle East, including Afghanistan, have exacerbated rather than resolved the problems.”

Johnson has often accused Corbyn of siding with militant groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Opinion surveys of voting intent for the coming election have consistently shown Johnson’s Conservatives with a solid lead and clear path to majority government. But pollsters warn the electorate is still making up its mind — divided not only over parties and ideologies but Brexit — and they note that former prime minister Theresa May squandered her 20-point lead in days in the 2017 election.

Jo Swinson, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, accused Johnson of “politicizing” the terrorist attack, of turning it into a “distasteful” election issue.

Johnson said he would seek much tougher sentences for convicted terrorists.

“The suggestion that there’s some immediate law change, that you can do this with some tough rhetoric and, as he has done, link majority government to success in tackling terror, I just think it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth,” Swinson told the BBC.

Khan killed two of the very people who were tasked with helping him and other prisoners return to society as peaceful, productive citizens. Jones and Merritt were Cambridge graduates.

“What should have been a joyous opportunity to celebrate the achievements of this unique and socially transformative programme, hosted by our Institute of Criminology, was instead disrupted by an unspeakable criminal act,” university Vice Chancellor Stephen Toope said in a statement.

David Merritt, Jack’s father, described his son as a “beautiful spirit” who “always took the side of the underdog.”

He said his son would “not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily.”

Shami Chakrabarti, a top member of the Labour Party and an attorney, told the BBC, “I’m not prepared to say that any political party could have prevented what happened on Friday.”

Karla Adam contributed to this report.

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