NEWS of the Day - August 9, 2013
on some LACP issues of interest

NEWS of the Day
on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...

We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...

U.S. orders most officials out of Lahore, Pakistan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department on Thursday warned Americans not to travel to Pakistan and ordered nonessential government personnel to leave the U.S. Consulate in Lahore because of a specific threat to that diplomatic mission.

In a travel warning, the State Department said the presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups posed a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan.

The personnel drawdown at the Lahore consulate was a precautionary measure and wasn't related to the recent closures of numerous U.S. diplomatic missions in the Muslim world, two U.S. officials said. The consulate in Lahore was scheduled to be closed for the Eid holiday from Thursday through Sunday and no reopening had been scheduled, one of the officials said.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the order by name and requested anonymity.

Earlier this week, 19 U.S. diplomatic outposts in 16 countries in the Middle East and Africa were closed to the public through Saturday and nonessential personnel were evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Yemen after U.S. intelligence officials said they had intercepted a recent message from al-Qaida's top leader about plans for a major terror attack.

None of the consulates in Pakistan or the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad were affected by the earlier closures.



Boston Bomb Suspect's Friends Indicted Over Backpack

by Erik Larson

Two 19-year-old Kazakh friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were indicted by a federal grand jury on claims they hindered the probe into the April 15 attack to protect their classmate.

Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakhstan citizens living in Massachusetts on student visas, were charged today with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstructing justice to impede the investigation, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz in Boston said in a statement.

This courtroom sketch shows defendants Dias Kadyrbayev, left, and Azamat Tazhayakov appearing in front of Federal Magistrate Marianne Bowler at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston on May 1, 2013. Illustration: Jane Flavell Collins via AP Images

This courtroom sketch shows defendants Dias Kadyrbayev, left, and Azamat Tazhayakov appearing in front of Federal Magistrate Marianne Bowler at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston on May 1, 2013. Illustration: Jane Flavell Collins via AP Images

The two friends are accused in the indictment of removing a laptop computer and backpack holding fireworks from Tsarnaev's college dormitory room on April 18 after authorities released pictures of Tsarnaev at the scene of the attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. They also agreed to dispose of the bag in a dumpster near their apartment complex, according to the indictment.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, if convicted, face as long as 20 years in prison on the obstruction count and five years on the conspiracy county, plus a fine of $250,000, Ortiz said. They also face deportation, according to the statement. An arraignment hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13.

Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to a 30-count indictment when he appeared in court July 10. Prosecutors claim he was motivated by extreme Islam and the U.S. military's killing of Muslim civilians. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov aren't accused of helping Tsarnaev plan the attack.

Previously Charged

Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov were previously charged on May 1 in a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors. The indictment moves the case forward because it comes from a grand jury that decided after reviewing the government's evidence in secret.

Tazhayakov's lawyer, Arkady Bukh, said his client “was in a bad place at a bad time” during the dorm room visit. Tazhayakov “loves the U.S.” and a trial will prove his innocence, Bukh said.

“There is no additional evidence in the indictment,” Bukh said in a phone interview. “For us, it's just a witch hunt -- the government is looking for someone to blame.”

Kadyrbayev's lawyer, Robert Stahl, said he was “disappointed” Ortiz decided to obtain an indictment.

“Dias is innocent and we look forward to proving that at trial,” Stahl said in a phone interview. “Dias cooperated fully with the FBI during two days of interviews without the benefit of counsel.”

The men's lawyers waived a scheduled court hearing in May on whether the government had probable cause to arrest them. They weren't released on bail and have remained in jail.

Tsarnaev Text

Tsarnaev and the Kazakh students began attending the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth at the same time in 2011.

Kadyrbayev received a text message from Tsarnaev on April 18 suggesting he go to Tsarnaev's room and “take what's there,” according to prosecutors.

“I would never think that message was an instruction to destroy evidence and that's how the government is trying to present it,” Bukh said.

Kadyrbayev gave the laptop to authorities and told them where he and Tazhayakov had disposed of the backpack, according to Stahl.

Another friend of Tsarnaev's, Robel Phillipos, 19, who is free on bail on charges of lying to investigators about the same visit to Tsarnaev's dorm room, is in plea negotiations, according to court records.

“The parties are engaged in negotiations aimed at possible resolution of this matter,” Phillipos' attorney, Derege Demissie, said in a filing.

The case is U.S. v. Kadyrbayev, 1:13-cr-10238, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston). The Tsarnaev case is U.S. v. Tsarnaev, 13-cr-10200, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).




Seeking Answers After Youth's Death in Police Stop


BAY HARBOR ISLANDS, Fla. — Israel Hernandez-Llach, a skateboarder and 18-year-old artist, was typically adept at dodging police officers while he tagged Miami Beach walls with his signature, “Reefa.”

But early Tuesday morning, after he rolled up to a shuttered McDonalds, his lookout with him, the police caught up with the teenager. Mr. Hernandez-Llach bolted, running through the streets and a building and over an iron fence, according to a report by the Miami Beach police. The officers ultimately stopped him, after firing a Taser to immobilize him, said Raymond A. Martinez, the Miami Beach police chief.

At 6:15 a.m., an hour after the police first spotted him, Mr. Hernandez-Llach, a former Miami Beach High School student and a Colombian immigrant, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The teenager was in medical distress after being shocked by the Taser, Chief Martinez said, and paramedics were called.

Chief Martinez said that the cause of death had not yet been determined and that the department was waiting for autopsy and toxicology reports. Mr. Hernandez-Llach had no other injuries, the police said. The department is investigating.

On Thursday, Mr. Hernandez-Llach's parents held a news conference and called for an independent investigation. The family's lawyers pointed out that had Mr. Hernandez-Llach been arrested he most likely would have been charged with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor that seldom ends in jail time. The teenager's only previous arrest had been for shoplifting, the police said.

“Those guilty of this must be brought to justice,” said his father, Israel Hernandez Bandera, who was a former Avianca pilot in Colombia, holding back tears as he spoke. “Not even animals deserve that kind of treatment.”

A friend of Mr. Hernandez-Llach's, Thiago Souza, 19, who served as the lookout on Tuesday, said he saw the police officers giving each other high-fives after deploying the Taser.

Family and friends called for a vigil on Thursday night and for two more vigils on Saturday at the location where Mr. Hernandez-Llach was shocked with the Taser. They are also trying to raise money for his funeral, relatives said.

“Art is nothing to be killed for,” said Offir Hernandez, 21, the teenager's sister.

The Miami Beach Police Department has faced scrutiny in recent years after a string of shootings and misconduct involving its officers. During Memorial Day weekend in 2011, eight Miami Beach police officers fired more than 100 bullets at an intoxicated motorist who was driving recklessly. Four Hialeah police officers also were involved.

The motorist was killed and four bystanders were wounded. More than two years later, the case is far from resolved. The Miami-Dade state attorney is weighing whether to bring charges against the officers.

Tasers are used by an estimated 17,000 law enforcement agencies around the world to subdue people who pose a threat, according to Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser International.

A 2011 Department of Justice report found that the devices are considered safe for a vast majority of those who are subjected to them and can save lives by immobilizing suspects. Taser use results in few injuries, the study found. Although people have died, the risk is extremely low, the report stated. Often, deaths are associated with pre-existing medical conditions, drug use or a subsequent fall. Continuous or repeated shocks are also associated with deaths, the report stated.

An estimated 500 people have died after being shocked by Tasers since 2001, according to data compiled last year by Amnesty International.

Jacqueline Llach, Mr. Hernandez-Llach's mother, described her son as frail; friends said he was skinny and about 5 feet 10 inches.

“The police could have done what they needed to do without killing him,” she said in her apartment, where friends had gathered to console the family.

Even in his native Barranquilla, Colombia, Mr. Hernandez-Llach had a knack for art, friends said. His talent flourished when he arrived in the United States. At Miami Beach High School, he won awards for his painting and recently had two sculptures accepted in a temporary exhibit at the Miami Art Museum, said Savannah Diaz, a friend and fellow student.

His artwork was on display at his parents' apartment in Bay Harbor Islands, just off Bal Harbour.

The teenager, who enjoyed pushing the boundaries of self-expression, also gravitated to photography and graffiti, Ms. Diaz said. She said he and his helpers would look for wall space in different corners of Miami, including Wynwood, which is known for its graffiti art, and Broward County.

Ms. Diaz, who graduated this year, said that her friend was not aggressive. “Israel is the most creative person any of us had ever met,” she said. “His life revolved around art and skating.”

Recently, he had started designing specially shaped skateboards.

This May, when friends graduated from Miami Beach High, Mr. Hernandez-Llach was not one of them. He had failed physical education, a subject he disliked, friends and family said.

“That's Israel,” Ms. Diaz said. “P.E. wasn't a priority. It was about his art work.”