National & Local News Archives for 2016-01

Four teenagers have been charged as adults with raping an 18-year-old woman on a Brooklyn playground last week, authorities announced Tuesday morning. Authorities said the teens—who they identified as Onandi Brown, 17, Ethan Phillip, 15, Shaquille Cooper, 15, and Denzel Murray, 14—are charged with rape by forcible compulsion, two counts each of criminal sex act and sex abuse. The woman told authorities that she had been drinking beer with her father in Osborn Playground in the Brownsville neighborhood when five teens came into the park and forced the father to the leave before taking turns sexually assaulting her, officials said. Authorities are investigating claims by two of the teens, who in separate interviews told authorities that the father and the daughter were having sex when they discovered them in the playground,

a law-enforcement official said. “They indicated that father is the one who put her in this compromised position and they took advantage,” the official said, adding that the suspects claim that as they walked into the playground, “One of them says ‘we’ll take it from here.’” The two suspects also told investigators that they believe their sex acts were consensual. No one answered the door at the father’s apartment Tuesday. The four teens remained in police custody at Brooklyn precincts Tuesday morning and were waiting to be transferred to Brooklyn Criminal Court for arraignment, officials said. It wasn't immediately clear if any of them had attorneys. The 17-year-old declined to speak with police, the official said. The three others were interviewed by investigators with the NYPD and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. Police apprehended a fifth suspect, a 17-year-old male from Brooklyn, at his school Tuesday morning. The incident took place around 9 p.m. Thursday. The 39-year-old father and the woman told police they were at the playground drinking beer when the five teens approached and told the father to leave, the official said. The father told investigators that one teen had a handgun. Police haven't determined if a gun was used in the attack, but the father was the only person who mentioned seeing a gun in interviews, an official said.

The woman told police she and her father chose a spot near the handball courts “to be away from the police,” one official said. The woman had been estranged from her father and had only recently reconnected with him, a second official said. The father had lost custody of the woman at two years old, the official said. The woman had then been adopted at a young age and had grown up outside the city, the official said. The woman had come to live with father over the summer and had been staying with him and a woman who he was living with, who isn't her mother, the official said.

The father told investigators that after the men arrived, he ran away, returned and tried to chase them away, but was run out of the park a second time by three of the boys, the official said. He said he returned with two police officers that he had flagged down, officials said. Police determined that the man had stopped at a deli less than two blocks away to make a 911 call but was turned away, the official said. A deli worker who was behind the counter at the time told police that he turned the man away because he couldn't make out what the man was saying, the official said. The father initially ran past a marked police car, then circled back eventually making contact with officers who returned with him to the park to find the woman with signs consistent with a sexual assault, officials said. The victim told police that after her father departed, the teens took turns sexually assaulting her, the official said. The officers called for a supervisor and an ambulance, which responded and took the woman to a local hospital, police said. The victim and her father were initially uncooperative, an official said. Authorities are waiting on the results of DNA and toxicology tests, officials said. —Henrick Karoliszyn contributed to this article.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Iran was holding 10 U.S. Navy sailors and their two small Navy boats after the boats had mechanical problems and drifted into Iranian waters, but American officials have received assurances from Tehran that they will be returned safely and promptly. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told The Associated Press that the riverine boats were moving between Kuwait and Bahrain when the U.S. lost contact with them. U.S. officials said that the incident happened near Farsi Island, situated in the Persian Gulf. They said that some type of mechanical trouble with one of the boats caused them to run aground and they were picked up by Iran.

The sailors were in Iranian custody on Farsi Island at least for some time, but it's not certain where they are now. The semi-official Iranian news agency, FARS, said the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's navy has detained 10 foreign forces, believed to be Americans, and said the sailors were trespassing in Iranian waters. FARS also reported that one of the 10 sailors was a woman. "We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly," Cook said. The incident came amid heightened tensions with Iran, and only hours before President Barack Obama was set to deliver his final State of the Union address to Congress and the public.

It set off a dramatic series of calls and meetings as U.S. officials tried to determine the exact status of the crew and reach out to Iranian leaders. Secretary of State John Kerry, who forged a personal relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif through three years of nuclear negotiations, called Zarif immediately on learning of the incident, according to a senior U.S. official. Kerry "personally engaged with Zarif on this issue to try to get to this outcome," the official said. Kerry learned of the incident around 12:30 p.m. EST as he and Defense Secretary Ash Carter were meeting their Filipino counterparts at the State Department, the official said. The officials were not authorized to discuss the sensitive incident publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The incident came on the heels of an incident in late December when Iran launched a rocket test near U.S. warships and boats passing through the Strait of Hormuz. Meanwhile, Iran is expected to satisfy the terms of last summer's nuclear deal in just days. Once the U.N. nuclear agency confirms Iran's actions to roll back its program, the United States and other Western powers are obliged to suspend wide-ranging oil, trade and financial sanctions on Tehran. Kerry recently said the deal's implementation was "days away." ___ Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Bradley Klapper in Washington and Nasser Karimi in Tehran contributed to this report.


The Cook County Jail in Chicago - the biggest single-site jail in the United States - was placed on lockdown on Tuesday after staffing dropped below normal levels, said Cook County Sheriff's spokesman Ben Breit. Eighteen percent of day shift workers - 142 correctional officers - said they could not come for the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift for various reasons, including illness, family issues and the cold weather, he said. Inmates will still go to court hearings and have visitors, but recreation and other programs were canceled, he said. Breit said this level of lockdown was not uncommon when staffing was low. The jail currently holds around 8,500 inmates, but has capacity for many more. (Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Fiona Ortiz, Chizu Nomiyama and Phil Berlowitz)


Late Friday evening (Jan. 8), reports surfaced that the New York Police Department stripped an officer of her gun and badge. The policewoman in question was handed departmental charges in the death of Staten Island’s Eric Garner in July 2014. The New York Daily News reports that Sgt. Kizzy Adonis will be facing four counts of “failure to supervise.” She was one of the supervising officers on location of Garner’s death, who passed away from a chokehold after repeatedly stating “I can’t breathe.” The officer who enacted that deadly force, Daniel Pantaleo, hasn’t faced any departmental charges, and a Staten Island grand jury also failed to indict him for Garner’s death. The 43-year-old’s widow, Esaw Garner, said despite these recent developments, “When I get an indictment or a prosecution, then I’ll be happy.”



2016-01 | 2015-12

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