CHICAGO (AP) — The sheriff who oversees one of the nation’s most crowded jails has voluntarily released video showing half a dozen incidents of excessive force by deputies at the Cook County Jail in Chicago.
The videos show violent encounters between jailers and inmates. In one, three officers drag an inmate with blood spattered on his shirt through hallways to a cell. Another shows an officer throwing a punch during a take-down of an inmate.
Thirteen officers were disciplined over the incidents.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced Friday that he’s decided to release videos in cases where a civilian oversight board has sustained allegations of excessive force without waiting for Freedom of Information Act requests.
Dart says “the public has a right to know when officers abuse the public trust.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Three Democrats are demanding that a Republican state lawmaker be disciplined after she distributed a video on Muslims that the General Assembly’s legal offices have said is so inflammatory that it could be viewed as religious discrimination.
On Thursday, Reps. John Ray Clemmons of Nashville and Johnnie Turner and Barbara Cooper, both of Memphis, wrote a letter questioning why the lawmaker wasn’t punished for distributing the video. They want action taken against Susan Lynn, a Republican from Mount Juliet.
The directors of the Legislature’s Office of Legal Services and the Office of Administration warned Lynn in a letter earlier this week about her distribution of a video titled “America’s Mosques Exposed! Video Evidence They are War Factories.”
Lynn said the Democrats’ letter was nothing more than election-year “hijinks.”
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Looking for new ways to engage with its audience, Facebook says people who use its Messenger chat service will soon be able to order flowers, shop for shoes and talk with a variety of businesses by sending them direct text messages.
And soon, if you haven’t “chatted” with those businesses on Messenger in a while, they’ll be able to send you a paid message that offers a special deal or encourages you to buy a product you liked before.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg used Facebook’s annual software conference Tuesday to describe its latest initiatives at a time when some reports indicate people may be sharing less personal information on the social network — either because of privacy concerns or the growing appeal of competing apps.
Analysts say that underscores the importance for Facebook of adding more features to its growing chat services: It needs to keep people engaged — and continue to learn about their interests for advertising purposes.
But Zuckerberg also reiterated Facebook’s goals for connecting people around the world, adding a jab that seemed directed at the likes of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump and others who have called for cracking down on immigration and rebuffing refugees.
“As I look around the world, I’m starting to see people and nations turning inward,” Zuckerberg said at one point during a keynote speech that mostly focused on new software initiatives. “I hear fearful voices calling for building walls and distancing people they label as ‘others.’ I hear them calling for blocking free expression, for slowing immigration, for reducing trade, and in some cases even for cutting access to the Internet.”
Zuckerberg went on to say he prefers optimism over fear and believes technology should be used “to build bridges” instead of walls. The billionaire tech mogul has previously backed efforts to ease U.S. immigration restrictions and provide more Internet access in developing countries.
Most of Zuckerberg’s talk, meanwhile, was focused on new ways that people can use chat services, live video and even virtual reality technology to help people communicate.
With its new emphasis on chatting with businesses, Facebook is joining several tech companies working to promote the use of intelligent software programs known as “chatbots,” which let businesses interact with customers in conversational language. Microsoft recently announced a similar effort with its Skype service, but Facebook appears further along.
Facebook already has more than 30 companies signed up to deploy chatbots on Messenger, including major corporations like CNN, eBay, Burger King and Bank of America. Facebook is also releasing programming tools that other companies can use to build their own chatbots for Messenger.
“We think you should just be able to message a business the same way that you message a friend,” Zuckerberg said, noting many people hate the experience of calling businesses on the phone.
Facebook is also making it easier for individuals to contact businesses by searching for their bots within Messenger or clicking on an ad in Facebook’s regular news stream. But Vice President David Marcus said the company wants to be careful not to annoy users by filling the Messenger app with unsolicited spam.
Facebook is testing a program that charges businesses for the opportunity to send a “sponsored message,” but they’ll only be able to contact people who are existing customers or have already messaged the business, Marcus said. Individuals on Messenger will be able to block future messages from a business at any time.
That’s consistent with the conservative approach Facebook has used to gradually introduce paid video ads on its main platform and commercials on its Instagram photo-sharing service. The company doesn’t want to risk driving people away with too many annoying ads, Marcus said.
“It’s a very high-quality, personal environment,” he said in an interview. “We want to keep it that way.”
The effort comes as more people are embracing the Internet chat service and its competitors. Messenger now has 900 million active users worldwide, while WhatsApp, another chat service owned by Facebook, claims 1 billion.
“More and more of our mobile time is spent within messaging,” said Ken Sena, an investment analyst at Evercore ISI, who examined the apps in a recent report. He’s one of several analysts who say they believe consumers would prefer talking to a business within the messaging app they’re already using, rather than download a separate app and create another user name and password for each business.
That’s already a popular model in some Asian countries, where people use China’s WeChat, Japan’s Line and other texting services to schedule doctor’s appointments, pay for meals, order merchandise or send gifts to their friends.
Facebook Inc. is also releasing a host of other tools for developers to build apps that work with its services, including software for streaming video from drones and other gadgets. The new video push is part of Facebook’s effort to compete against Twitter, SnapChat, YouTube and other rivals that are also vying to serve video-hungry viewers.
You can follow Brandon Bailey at https://Twitter.com/BrandonBailey or find his reporting at http://www.bigstory.ap.org/journalist/brandon-bailey
MODESTO, Calif. (AP) — Police in California have arrested two teen boys after a video was posted to social media that threatened a black student with a noose and a gun.
San Jose TV station KNTV reports (http://bit.ly/25XfQNV) police say the video shows a white student with a noose around his neck, shouting a slur and threatening the black student. A gun was also fired in the video.
The mother of the black student reported the Snapchat video to school officials and police.
Police say the two 16-year-old students attend Central Catholic High School. Their names have not been released. They have been charged with making terrorist threats, committing a hate crime and criminal conspiracy.
Central Catholic President Jim Pecchenino said in a statement that the school is investigating.
Information from: KNTV-TV.
GALLATIN, Tenn. (AP) — Authorities in Tennessee released video Thursday in which a police officer fatally shoots a woman approaching him while wielding a medieval-style ax.
The video shows Gallatin police Officer James Spray telling 40-year-old Laronda Sweatt, who was holding the ax, multiple times to stop approaching him before shooting her, The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/25OpeTO ) reported.
The suspect was black; the officer is white. The shooting comes amid a national debate and increased scrutiny over police treatment of black people and several deaths that have made international headlines.
“As (Sweatt) continued advancing and making aggressive movement with the ax toward our officer, Officer Spray fired two shots, striking Sweatt both times,” a news release from Gallatin police said.
Gallatin police spokesman Bill Storment said one of the bullets struck the handle of a sword that Sweatt was carrying in her belt. She was also carrying a ninja star and a folding knife, he said.
The footage was captured from a camera on Spray’s vest as well as from another officer’s vehicle.
Sweatt had become combative when Sumner County sheriff’s Deputy Gary Pickard accompanied housing authorities to serve an eviction notice on her Wednesday, authorities said.
Sweatt had injured Pickard before Gallatin officers showed up, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Susan Niland said.
According to Sweatt’s daughter, Alainna Sweatt, the 40-second video has been edited and doesn’t tell the full story.
“Before they start judging, people should see the entire, unedited video, so they can make their own conclusions,” Alainna Sweatt said.
Storment said the rest of the video footage shows officers driving to the scene and their efforts to revive Sweatt. The captured video was immediately handed over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at the scene before it was returned to the police department, he said.
Spray is on administrative leave pending an internal investigation. Storment said Spray had no disciplinary history or complaints since joining the department three to four years ago after working for other law enforcement agencies, including Nashville’s Metro Parks Department.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com
PEQUANNOCK, N.J. (AP) — A biker has been arrested four months after police say he led them on a chase through the streets of New Jersey that reached 160 mph — a pursuit he recorded on video and posted online.
Anthony Darrigo, 20, of Wanaque, was charged Wednesday with eluding police with risk of severe bodily injury and resisting arrest.
A police officer began chasing Darrigo on Dec. 10 after seeing him driving the motorcycle on its rear wheel on state Route 23. But instead of pulling over, Darrigo sped up, authorities said.
Officers from Pequannock and Riverdale later joined the pursuit.
A video from Darrigo’s helmet camera showed him weaving in and out of traffic on a highway and through a residential area, where the pursuit was then called off.
Darrigo then fled northbound onto Interstate 287. His speedometer showed him going 160 mph.
“Unbelievable, insane disregard for public safety is what pops into my mind,” Pequannock Police Capt. Christopher De Puyt told WNBC-TV.
Officers couldn’t read the motorcycle’s license plate because it had been bent up under the rear fender, De Puyt told the Daily Record.
But the video was posted on YouTube and police traced it to Darrigo.
Darrigo told NBC 4 in New York on Wednesday that he was “nervous” when police pulled him over.
“I don’t know why I did it, just all in the heat of the moment,” he said.
Police have seized his dirt bike, helmet, camera, laptop and jacket.
Darrigo, whose leg is broken from a bike crash about a month ago, said he’s been riding his entire life and will never stop. He said he plans to ride more carefully in the future.