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Ex-Dallas officer indicted in connection with October shooting


After a Dallas officer was indicted and later convicted in the slaying of a 12-year-old boy during an interrogation in 1973, four decades went by before a Dallas County grand jury would indict another Dallas officer linked to an on-duty shooting.

Now there have been two in less than a week after a grand jury voted Tuesday to charge former Officer Cardan Spencer in connection with the October shooting of a mentally ill man. On Thursday, a grand jury indicted former Senior Cpl. Amy Wilburn in connection with the Dec. 9 shooting of an unarmed man who was sitting in a stolen vehicle after a car chase.

Spencer and Wilburn were quickly fired after their respective shootings, but the rare grand jury charges have left some officers stunned.

“Instead of handcuffing the criminals, we’re handcuffing the officers, literally and figuratively,” said Dallas Police Association president Ron Pinkston.

Neither shooting — unlike Officer Darrell Cain’s 1973 shooting of Santos Rodriguez — was fatal. Both victims are also seeking damages in civil court.

Spencer will now face a criminal charge stemming from the Oct. 14 shooting of Bobby Bennett outside his mother’s Rylie home.

The story made national news after a neighbor released surveillance video showing that Bennett, who was holding a knife, was standing still with his arms at his side when Spencer opened fire.

Bennett was originally charged with aggravated assault on a public servant, a first-degree felony, based on an account of the incident by Spencer’s partner, who had not seen the video beforehand.

He claimed that Bennett stepped toward the officers with the knife raised aggressively. But after the video went public, Chief David Brown ordered the charge dropped.

Brown fired Spencer days later. He said Spencer had argued that Bennett was clenching the knife in his hand, which couldn’t be seen on the video.

The chief’s quick decision to fire Spencer rankled many officers and Spencer’s attorney, who declined to comment Tuesday. Brown also had detectives seek a warrant for Spencer’s arrest, but a judge declined to sign it.  Continue reading here.

Dallas man tied to hackers pleads guilty to 2 charges

A Dallas man once linked to an underground hacking group pleaded guilty Tuesday in two cases against him related to a federal investigation into stolen computer data.

Barrett Brown, 32, pleaded guilty to transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, for threatening the FBI agents who were investigating him.

He also pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact in the unauthorized access to a protected computer. In that case, evidence showed Brown assisted a hacker in 2011 who stole information from the computers of the private intelligence firm Stratfor. Brown offered to communicate with Stratfor’s chief executive on behalf of the hacker to see if the executive had any “reasonable requests” to redact any of the information that was hacked, court records show.

And Brown pleaded guilty to interference with the execution of a search warrant and aid and abet for hiding his laptop computers from the FBI when they searched his mother’s home in 2012.

He faces up to 81/2 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $475,000, court records show. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 18.

Brown, who was viewed by some as a spokesman for the underground hacking group Anonymous, has been in federal custody since his arrest in 2012.

Ahmed Ghappour, one of Brown’s lawyers, said that his client will have served about two years in prison when he is sentenced and that he hopes that will be seen as enough. “We think he has served a considerable amount of time,” he said.

The most serious charge is the one involving threats to the FBI agents. Brown made some of the threats in a YouTube video he posted in which he said he would shoot any federal agents who came for him. Brown also said in a video that he would ruin one FBI agent’s life and look into his kids.

“There is no evidence that he had any intention of carrying out the threat,” Ghappour said. “At the end of the day, it was a poor choice to release frustration at a time when he felt cornered and not in his right mindset and plagued with worry about his mother.”

Brown’s mother, Karen Lancaster McCutchin, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for helping Brown hide the laptop computers and was sentenced last year to probation. Brown felt the FBI was targeting his mother for helping him, records show.

In a surprising move last month, the U.S. attorney’s office in Dallas asked a federal judge to dismiss a significant portion of one of its criminal cases against Brown related to a link to the stolen Stratfor data that Brown posted on a website. The charges accusing Brown of trafficking in stolen data and aggravated identity theft were dismissed. Continue reading here.

Allen Police Searching For Suspects After Morning Bank Robbery

Police in Allen are searching for several men who robbed a bank Wednesday morning.

According to police around 10:20 a.m. Wednesday morning, witnesses say two black men, who were heard speaking a foreign language, went into the Bank of Texas on Watters Road and robbed it.

Reports say one man had a long gun (rifle) and the other suspects had handguns. Another suspect stayed in a car.

Sergeant John Felty says police found the stolen getaway vehicle. They believe the suspects left the getaway car and took off in another.

As a precaution Norton Elementary and Erickson Middle school were placed on lockdown due to their proximity to the bank while police continue their search. The lockdown notice has since been lifted.

DPS helicopters and officers on the ground are currently combing the area west of the the Bank of Texas – south of West McDermot and north of Bethany Rd.

this is a developing story

Listen to audio here.

Democrats Abort Their Texas Takeover

Erick Erickson

Thus ends the campaign of “Abortion Barbie” Wendy Davis. I told the Democrats they couldn’t run a gubernatorial campaign in Texas on pink shoes and children ripped limb from limb. But the Cult of Moloch is so strong with them, they were convinced their gods would help them.

No more.

Under investigation from the FBI; off the campaign trail for neck surgery; losing women to the white, male Republican; and not getting enough support from south state Hispanic voters, poor old Wendy Davis is collapsing. The Democratic Governors Association chair says winning Texas is not a priority. The money isn’t going to be flowing to Wendy like she thought.

The Davis campaign made a lot of early mistakes, including relying on a bunch of out of state twenty-somethings who hate Texas, the ROTC, shaved arm pits, and wholesomeness. They air dropped yankees into Texas, pissed off the Texas press, and behaved in rather staggeringly un-Texas like fashion (“where is the pulled pork barbecue,” is a party foul even in Austin).

A barrage of ludicrous emails filling up reporters’ inboxes, staffers expressing disdain for things like ROTC that Texans kind of like, and the candidate herself running away from the issue that made and defined her — abortion — mired her campaign in the suck of mud.

The tone deafness of her Battleground Texas crew, whose fundraising dollars she counted as her own, but from whose statements she tried to distance herself, did her no favors either. Battleground Texas is just an operation of angry young feminists from up north and beta males intent on making Texas safe for trial lawyers, ripping up children, and hipsters. These efforts have not worked to make Davis any more appealing than the flannel plaid button downs, Che hats, and skinny jeans with coat hanger earrings of her door to door salesmen.

The kids and Wendy offended the sensibilities of natural allies and proved just how amateurish a group driven by the singled minded desire to rip up children and suck out their brains can be.

And now the Democrats are pulling the plug seven months early. They’re giving Wendy the treatment she’s okay with even into the eighth month. And the best comeback the Davis camp has is that the people pulling the plug are “DC Desk Jockeys,” which are exactly the type of people with which she has stocked her campaign and Battleground Texas. Takes one to know one.

The Cult of Moloch has another body on its altar today. They’ve turned on themselves and the scent of corpse is schadenfreudilicious.

Hey, tell me again how defining her early as “Abortion Barbie” was going to hurt my side!

Texas: Student Held After AK-47 and Handguns Found

A 17-year-old boy who had hidden a loaded AK-47 assault rifle in a bathroom at his San Antonio school and two loaded handguns in his backpack intended to “commit a violent act,” a school official said, but the plan was foiled Monday when his parents noticed the weapons were missing from their home and alerted school administrators. The unidentified boy, a sophomore, was taken into custody after he was found at Madison High School with handguns and ammunition stuffed into his backpack. He admitted to hiding the AK-47 in a trash can in the bathroom, said Aubrey Chancellor, a North East Independent School District spokeswoman. He also had a 12-inch knife, she said. No injuries or gunshots were reported in the school, which has 3,200 students. Ms. Chancellor said the boy had said he intended to make a series of demands during morning announcements. He had vowed to use the weapons, she said, if those demands were not met.

Good news for drone: County has insurance

By Howard Roden

As the aircraft sits somewhere on the bottom of Lake Conroe, Montgomery County officials can take solace that their unmanned drone is insured.

Called the Shadowhawk, the vehicle crashed into Lake Conroe Friday afternoon during a training session.

The remote-controlled drone is insured by a Dallas firm, the ACE Group, said Curtis Fitzgerald, safety officer with the county’s Risk Management department.

The Shadowhawk’s policy covers “roughly” $238,000, the “hard costs” of the unmanned aircraft such as the optics and avionics, Fitzgerald said. Soft costs include items such as training fees and warranties that cannot be recovered through an insurance policy, Fitzgerald said.

The MCSO obtained the Shadowhawk in October 2011 through federal grants from the Department of Homeland Security at a cost close to $500,000.

The unmanned vehicle was built by Vanguard Defense Industries, of Spring. Calls to VDI’s offices went unanswered Tuesday.

Lt. Brady Fitzgerald (no relation), public information officer for the MCSO, said the training involved the experienced operators of the drone.

“Certain insured people were authorized to use the drone,” Brady Fitzgerald said.

Brady Fitzgerald said dive teams from Constable Precinct 1 Lake Patrol were out looking for the drone, which was believed to have landed in an area as deep as 40 feet.

Brady Fitzgerald said the divers employed a “grid method” in hopes of locating the drone.

At least one Lake Conroe resident said she viewed an object that looked eerily similar to the drone.

“It was last Friday and I was intrigued. It looked too small to be a helicopter,” said Walden resident Karen Carrothers. “I turned my head and when I turned back, it was gone.”

She said she heard about the drone’s disappearance the next morning.

“I thought that had to be it,” Carrothers said.

Whether the aircraft has a warranty, or whether the MCSO has contacted Vanguard about a replacement drone, are items that remain unanswered. Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel did not return phone calls Tuesday.

Court Hears Testimony In ‘Good Samaritan’ Murder Trial

by Arezow Doost

Thomas Harper’s attorneys say he’s a devoted father who was trying to protect his children.

Harper is accused of killing a Good Samaritan after causing a multi-car crash that killed one driver, back in December of 2011. His trial started Monday morning.

Jurors heard frantic cries for help from a number of 911 callers.

“I heard a honk. As I look up I see a blue vehicle rear end us,” witness Zach Treible told the court, adding, “hit us… kept on going with no signs of slowing at that point.”

Investigators say Harper was speeding down Collins Street in Arlington, just a few weeks before Christmas. His two children were in the back seat of the full-sized SUV when he plowed into several cars.

At that point, investigators say 18-year-old Clarence Robinson went up to Harper’s crashed out SUV to try and help the man’s children.

Police say Harper pulled a gun and shot Robinson, who police describe as a Good Samaritan.

Defense lawyers presented the incident differently. Harper’s lawyers say the father didn’t want Robinson to touch his kids and even told the teenager to back off.

“We submit to you that the Good Samaritan sits right before you,” defense attorney Ezekiel Tyson told jurors as he motioned toward his client during opening statements. “He [Harper] shot him, [Robinson] yes. He didn’t shoot into the crowd. He didn’t shoot into everybody on the scene. He eliminated the immediate threat to his family.”  Continue reading here (+ video).

Mayor Mike Rawlings: Toyota didn’t move to Dallas because of DISD

By Matthew Haag

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said Tuesday that Toyota considered moving its national headquarters to the city but decided against it because of Dallas ISD.

In an interview on KERA’s Think, Rawlings said Toyota ultimately decided to relocate to Plano because of the schools in Dallas.

“We don’t get Toyota in Dallas because of the school system. We’ve talked to them. They want to be in Plano,” Rawlings said.

Rawlings said it’s difficult to sell a company on moving to Dallas when it has so many low-performing schools that produce few graduates. He said the schools played a role in 7-Eleven deciding to move its headquarters from Dallas to Irving recently.

“They looked at a lot of things — the location, cost of real estate,” Rawlings said about Toyota. “But they want a school … The 7-Eleven CEO said, ‘I need to be where our families are sending their kids to school,’ and they are not sending them to DISD.”

Toyota declined to comment about what cities the company considered besides Plano. Through a spokesperson, Toyota said it looked at several criteria, including cost of living, access to an airport and educational opportunities. Toyota considered both K-12 schools and higher education, the spokesperson said.

Dallas ISD spokesman Jon Dahlander, however, pointed out that the district has some of the best public high schools in the nation. And DISD is working to improve all of its schools, he said.  Continue reading here.

Prison terms for corrupt Panama Unit officers

A federal judge has sentenced a former South Texas law enforcement officer convicted of federal drug charges in McAllen to 10 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced former Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputy Jorge Garza on Tuesday. He was the first of nine former lawmen to be sentenced.

The men, some of whom were members of a drug-fighting task force called the Panama Unit, worked for the Hidalgo County sheriff’s office and Mission police department, but used their authority to steal drugs and sell them to traffickers.

The 60-year-old Garza was not a member of the Panama Unit, but he was the only one who took his case to trial. He was convicted of a conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance for his role in stealing drug loads.

Armed good Samaritan comes to the aid of purse-snatching victim

by Rucks Russell

A mother out with her two children to go shopping became the victim of would-be purse snatchers, but a good Samaritan armed with a gun came to the rescue.

“It happened so fast,” said Brenda Vasquez, who manages the Family Dollar store in the 3400 block of Orlando Avenue in northeast Houston.

She witnessed the assault.

“This lady opens her car door, grabs the woman’s purse and they reverse. While they’re trying to reverse, the lady is holding on to her purse still, chasing them all the way to the middle.”

That’s when a perfect stranger intervened. He happened to be in his car in the parking lot when it happened.

“And that good Samaritan came out, drew his weapon and scared them. And that’s when he pulled them out of the car.”

Someone snapped a picture of the man holding the two suspects at bay. A few minutes later, police arrived and took the male and female suspects into custody.

The man who first confronted them purchased some candy for his kids and drove away.

“The guy is something else,” said Vasquez. “He’s a hero.”

Police were not releasing the names of either the good Samaritan or the victim.

No one was injured.  See video here.