HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — The attorney for an Alabama police officer accused of using excessive force on an Indian man asked a federal judge to acquit him after a second trial ended in a hung jury.
Jurors hearing the civil rights retrial of Madison police officer Eric Parker announced a deadlock in their fourth day of deliberations Wednesday and U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala declared a second mistrial. Parker didn’t show any visible reaction in court. The first jury deadlocked in September.
Parker is accused of violating the rights of Sureshbhai Patel (suh-REHSH’-by pah-TEL’), 58, in February, when Parker knocked Patel to the ground while investigating a suspicious person complaint. He testified the man aroused suspicion by trying to pull away from him.
Patel has said through an interpreter that he doesn’t understand English and didn’t understand the officer’s orders.
Parker, 27, declined to speak with reporters Wednesday as he and his family left the courthouse.
“He’s disappointed that there wasn’t an outright acquittal, of course,” said Parker’s attorney, Robert Tuten. Tuten added that the length of time jurors took to deliberate demonstrates the complexity of the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Posey said he will consult with the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to determine whether to pursue a third trial if Parker isn’t acquitted. Posey said Tuten’s request for an acquittal was a standard, procedural motion that he made during both trials and before the case was presented to the jury.
Attorneys on both sides said they’re ready to pursue the case again, if necessary — but Tuten said he hopes prosecutors decide not to.
“These cases are extremely expensive in money and time,” he said. “The basic evidence of the case is the same; it will always be the same. There’s no other evidence. There’s no other defense.”
Posey noted that such civil rights cases “are difficult because we have to prove not only that the defendant used excessive force, not only that he violated the Fourth Amendment, but also that when he violated the Fourth Amendment, he knew he was committing a crime, he knew he was doing something the law forbids.” Posey said most other criminal cases don’t require as high of a burden of proof.
Parker testified during the retrial that the actions and appearance of Patel were “in sequence” with those of a burglar. He told jurors it made “my alerts go up” when Patel walked away and wouldn’t answer questions.
Parker said he grew concerned when Patel reached for his pockets and when he pulled his hand free during a pat-down.
Patel wasn’t armed and suffered a spinal injury when he was thrown down face-first on a lawn. Parker said he lost his balance and fell on top of the man.
Jurors watched police video that shows Patel’s legs being swept from under him and the man falling face-first to the ground. Patel said his arms and legs went numb after the impact, and he could not stand on his own afterward.
Patel, who came to the United States to live with his son in suburban Huntsville, had been in the country only a few days at the time of the confrontation.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has apologized to the Indian government for Patel’s treatment, calling it a case of excessive force.
Patel has filed a civil lawsuit against Parker, and the city of Madison is attempting to fire him. Parker also faces an assault charge in state court.
Though the room was full of A-listers like Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan, Little Big Town, with their massive hit “Girl Crush,” and Chris Stapleton, who has written songs for most of Nashville, owned the 2015 Country Music Association Awards.
Stapleton, who has written for Bryan, Kenny Chesney, George Strait and others, was Wednesday night’s big winner with three awards — male vocalist, new artist and album of the year for “Traveller.”
Everyone cheered him on, from Lambert to Bryan, who won entertainer of the year.
“Watching Chris Stapleton have this night is so uplifting,” Bryan said onstage after he won the top award for a second time.
Stapleton, who was the lead singer of the bluegrass band The SteelDrivers, was on the brink of tears when he won his third prize at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
“About two years ago, I lost my dad and I made this record thinking about a lot of music he would like. … My mom is here tonight. I want to thank my mom,” said Stapleton. “I’m not going to take it lightly …I got to thank my wife again, she always pushes me to be the best I can be …I gotta thank all my cousins in Kentucky.”
Stapleton’s night wasn’t just about winning awards: He also turned in a show-stopping performance with Justin Timberlake, who tapped into his Memphis, Tennessee, roots as they strummed their guitars while singing “Tennessee Whiskey,” which Stapleton covered on his album. They followed that with Timberlake’s tune, “Drink You Away.”
The audience was in awe: Timberlake’s wife, actress Jessica Biel, watched excitedly and bopped her head while Keith Urban recorded the performance with his phone.
“Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton, thank you very much. I’m going to go home and practice,” Lambert said onstage when she won female vocalist of the year
It was Lambert’s sixth consecutive win in the category.
“I appreciate it. I needed a bright spot this year,” she said onstage.
Lambert could have been referring to her divorce to Blake Shelton, announced in July. Shelton, who performed at the live show on ABC, confirmed Wednesday just hours before the awards show that he and his fellow “Voice” mentor Gwen Stefani are dating. Underwood and Brad Paisley joked about the divorce at the top of the show.
“And of course we can’t ignore the breakup that rocked our world,” Underwood said, as the camera panned to Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog.
“On a completely unrelated topic, howdy Blake?” Paisley replied as the camera panned to Shelton, who laughed and clapped his hands along with the audience.
“Did you hear that duet that Blake did with Ashley Madison?” Paisley asked. Underwood replied: “That was with Ashley Monroe.”
That was followed by a pair of duets: Eric Church and Hank Williams, Jr. performed “Are You Ready for the Country” and John Mellencamp and Urban worked their guitars during “Pink Houses.” Thomas Rhett, whose “Die A Happy Man” is No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot country songs chart, performed with rockers Fall Out Boy.
Sam Hunt won over the audience with his performance of “Take Your Time,” while Underwood sang “Smoke Break” and Musgraves performed “Dime Store Cowgirl” sporting a cowboy hat and a shiny number revealing her legs and arms. Bryan sang his slow groove “Strip It Down,” while Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn also performed.
Little Big Town, who also earned applause for their performance of the ballad “Girl Crush,” won vocal group and single of the year for the No. 1 hit. The writers of “Girl Crush” won song of the year.
“Seventeen years ago this very month we became a band,” an emotional Kimberly Schlapman said onstage, standing next to band members Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet.
The foursome, along with Church, walked into the arena as the most nominated act with five. They lost music video of the year to Maddie & Tae’s “Girl in a Country Song” and musical event of the year to Church and Urban.
Bryan, who beat Lambert, Church, Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney for entertainer of the year, kissed his trophy multiple times when he won the night’s final award.
“Thank you Lord, thank you Jesus, thank you everyone in heaven looking out for me,” Bryan said. “This is the best business in the world with the best people.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Winners of the 49th annual Country Music Association Awards presented Wednesday night in Nashville:
Entertainer of the year: Luke Bryan
Male Vocalist of the Year: Chris Stapleton
Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert
Song of the year: “Girl Crush”
Single of the year: Little Big Town, “Girl Crush”
Album of the year: Chris Stapleton, “Traveller”
New artist of the year: Chris Stapleton
Vocal group of the year: Little Big Town
Vocal duo of the year: Florida Georgia Line
Music video of the year: Maddie & Tae, “Girl In a Country Song”
Musical event of the year: Keith Urban featuring Eric Church, “Raise ‘Em Up”
Musician of the year: Mac McAnally
ATLANTA (AP) — Several heavyweights of the 1960s civil rights movement asked a federal judge Wednesday to show leniency to a former Georgia state representative and civil rights activist who’s being sentenced this week on fraud charges.
Tyrone Brooks, an Atlanta Democrat, pleaded guilty in April to one count of filing a false tax document and no contest to five counts of mail and wire fraud. His sentencing hearing began Monday and U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg is expected to sentence him Friday.
An indictment alleged that Brooks solicited about $1 million in contributions from the mid-1990s to 2012 from individuals and corporate donors, saying the money would be used to fight illiteracy in underserved communities and for other causes. The contributions were made to the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, which Brooks had led since 1994, and to Universal Humanities, a tax-exempt organization Brooks founded in 1990.
Prosecutors have asked Totenberg for a two-year prison sentence. Brooks’ lawyers are seeking five years’ probation, citing his lifetime of dedicated civil rights work.
The Rev. Joseph Lowery, who helped the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought alongside King against racial discrimination, testified in a video message that Brooks has made “some serious and foolish mistakes,” but he urged Totenberg to find mercy.
“That’s a long time to be in prison,” he said of the prosecution’s request. “And it doesn’t serve any good purpose. It won’t help restore anything that has been lost.”
C.T. Vivian, another friend and confidant of King, said Brooks came into the civil rights movement as a young man eager to make a difference and has been doing so ever since. He said Brooks should be allowed to continue doing that.
“We need him out and moving about,” Vivian said.
Andrew Young, a former U.N. ambassador, congressman and Atlanta mayor, said under questioning by former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, an attorney for Brooks, that he’s always been impressed by Brooks’ dedication and that funding has always been an issue for the civil rights movement.
Federal prosecutor Kurt Erskine seized on a statement Young made, that “the letter of the law” applies to handling money. Erskine asked what he meant by that.
“I meant that you have to be accountable, and we always did the best we could to be accountable. We never used things personally,” but had to stretch and make do, Young said.
Prosecutors have acknowledged that Brooks has made a positive impact, but they argue he used his reputation and trust to solicit donations for personal expenses, including utility bills, dry cleaning, clothing, restaurant meals and cable bills.
A representative for the Coca-Cola Company testified Tuesday that Brooks’ influence in the community and relationship with company leaders affected the decision to donate to both Universal Humanities and GABEO.
“What makes us feel good about an organization is the people affiliated with the organization,” Johnson said.
Coca-Cola received solicitations from Brooks on behalf of both organizations detailing specific projects the money would be used for, and the company would not have donated had it been clear the money would be used for personal expenses, Johnson said.
Universal Humanities’ letterhead, which Brooks used to solicit donations, listed prominent people on its board of directors — people who told investigators they’d never heard of the organization, prosecutors said.
State Sen. Emanuel Jones testified Tuesday that he had never heard of the organization before he saw media reports about the investigation and hadn’t been aware that Brooks had listed him as a member of the organization’s steering committee in promotional materials.
“Once I learned of this organization, I was extremely dismayed and confounded,” he testified.
A FBI agent testified that large corporate donations deposited into the Universal Humanities and GABEO accounts would be transferred by check, marked as reimbursements, into Brooks’ personal account. There was no evidence that any of the money was used for literacy programs or other projects Brooks outlined in his solicitations, Special Agent Christy Parker testified Monday.
Brooks’ lawyers have argued their client solicited money for charitable causes and worked tirelessly doing charitable work. Brooks was not motivated by greed, but rather spent money sustaining himself and his work on social causes, and most of his donors would have been fine with that, knowing they were supporting his ongoing work, they’ve argued.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — If you’re starting to notice more ads on Instagram, it’s all part of Facebook’s plan.
Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has steadily built its advertising business to become the world’s second-largest digital ad platform after Google. Now it’s looking at ways to make more money from video ads and from newer services like Instagram, the mobile photo-sharing app that it bought for $1 billion in 2012.
Instagram recently announced it has over 400 million monthly users, surpassing the 300 million who use the rival social networking site Twitter. While Facebook has been introducing Instagram ads slowly — to avoid irritating users by overloading them with commercial messages — the company said in September that it would allow more kinds of ads, including longer video spots, on the photo-sharing service.
With those new formats, Instagram could produce more than $250 million in revenue for the current quarter, Evercore ISI analyst Ken Sena estimates. Businesses will spend about $600 million on Instagram ads this year — and nearly $1.5 billion in 2016, according to research firm eMarketer.
“When we talk to advertisers and ad agencies, they’re very interested in Instagram,” said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson.
One reason: In recent years, there’s been a debate over whether teens and young adults are forsaking Facebook in favor of newer, trendier online services. But Williamson said young adults are “very visually focused and pretty heavy users of Instagram.”
Facebook doesn’t disclose how much of its revenue comes from Instagram. The company beat Wall Street estimates on Wednesday by reporting third-quarter net income of $891 million, on revenue of $4.5 billion. Profit was up 11 percent, while revenue grew 40 percent from the same period a year earlier.
More than 1.55 billion people now visit Facebook at least once a month, up 14 percent from a year ago. Daily users increased by 17 percent, to 1.1 billion. As in previous quarters, Facebook said a majority of users are visiting Facebook on mobile devices, and mobile ads contributed 78 percent of the company’s ad revenue.
Those results drove Facebook’s stock up more than 3.5 percent in late trading, after shares closed Wednesday at $103.94.
Facebook has seen continued growth in revenue and users over the last three years, but the company is growing more slowly as it gets bigger. That’s led it to consider new ways of showing advertising.
Facebook is also increasingly introducing new ways for its users to share and watch video on the social network, positioning itself against Google’s popular YouTube service. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts Wednesday that Facebook users are now watching more than 8 billion video clips a day on the site, up from 4 billion in April. (Facebook counts any clip played for at least 3 seconds as a “view.”)
Analysts say Facebook has huge, untapped potential in both video and its growing stable of apps and services, many of which operate separately from the main social network. That includes Instagram, the WhatsApp messaging app and Oculus VR, which makes virtual reality gear.
More than 800 million people are now using WhatsApp, the messaging app Facebook bought for $19 billion in 2014, and another 700 million people use the Messenger service that Facebook developed internally.
While the company hasn’t spelled out plans to make money from those apps, chief financial officer David Wehner told analysts Wednesday that he’s confident “there are going to be opportunities” in the future.
Zuckerberg also cautioned that it will take time for virtual reality technology to gain wide adoption. But chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg stressed Instagram’s more immediate potential during the company’s quarterly earnings call.
For advertisers, she boasted, Facebook and Instagram are the “two most important mobile platforms out there.” Instagram offers advertisers the same targeting and measurement capabilities they can get with ads on Facebook, she added.
Facebook still handles less advertising than Google, its biggest rival, but its share of global spending on digital ads is growing, according to eMarketer. The firm estimates Facebook’s share will be 9.6 percent this year, up from 8 percent last year, while Google’s will drop from 32 percent last year to 30.4 percent this year.
Experts caution that Facebook must be careful as it introduces new kinds of advertising, so it doesn’t overwhelm or annoy users. The company worked closely with advertisers to make sure the first ads on Instagram “met a high bar” for aesthetics and creativity, Williamson said. Still, she said she’s recently seen “a couple of duds.”
Sandberg acknowledged that concern, telling analysts the company is monitoring the quality of ads closely.
NEW YORK (AP) — Comcast is expanding its Internet data caps to new markets in 5 Southern states.
The cable company is rolling out more caps as the Internet becomes an increasingly popular way to watch TV. Streaming video eats up more data than surfing the Internet and reading email.
Public-interest groups criticize the caps, saying they hurt innovation and make it more difficult for people to go online.
The Philadelphia company has had data caps in a small chunk of its market since 2012. In most markets, customers were charged $10 for every 50 gigabytes they went over a 300-GB limit.
Now Comcast is limiting data in a few new markets in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Virginia, while rolling out a $35 “unlimited” option to most of the areas that have caps.