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Dec 31, 2014 6:11 PM

Key developments in police-communities tension

The Associated Press

The killings of two unarmed black men by white police officers in Missouri and in New York this summer touched off protests and a national debate over police conduct that intensified after grand juries declined to indict the officers.

Tensions escalated further after two New York Police Department officers were killed Dec. 20 by a man who suggested in online posts their slayings were in retaliation for the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb, and of Eric Garner in New York. The gunman, who was black, committed suicide.

Some key developments amid the tension between police and communities:



New York City plans to honor the two ambushed police officers by naming streets near their homes for them.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the plan Wednesday. The council is expected to take it up next month.

Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot dead in their patrol car in Brooklyn. Detective Rafael Ramos Way and Detective Wenjian Liu Way would be on the Brooklyn blocks where the officers lived.

The officers were posthumously promoted to the rank of detective.

FBI Director James Comey plans to attend Sunday's funeral for Liu. Ramos' funeral was last weekend.



Two police officers fatally shot a man who was in a car they had stopped in southern New Jersey, but authorities weren't releasing further details Wednesday other than that a handgun was recovered at the scene. A witness said he didn't see a gun.

Bridgeton police officers shot one of two people who were in the car they had stopped Tuesday night, prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said. A handgun "was revealed and later recovered," she said.

Witnesses said passenger Jerame Reid was shot after he was ordered out of the car.

Teenager Denzel Mosley said he watched the scene unfold from the attic of his house. He said Reid's hands were in "plain sight" and he didn't see a gun.

"They (police) were telling him, 'Get out the car,'" Mosley said. "They was like, 'Stop!' and they started shooting."

The two officers were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.



Several protesters tried to rush into police headquarters in downtown St. Louis on Wednesday, and officers used pepper spray on them.

Protesters posted an eviction notice on the door of the police station, citing reasons why Chief Sam Dotson and others should be removed. When several tried to enter the building, officers blocking them used pepper spray to push them out.

Protesters say they wanted to occupy the building for more than four hours, representing the time Brown's body was in the street after he was fatally shot by a Ferguson officer on Aug. 9.

Five people were arrested. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said a counter-protester who yelled racial slurs at protesters was arrested for assault.



Activists protesting recent police killings staged a peaceful die-in, lying on the ground and pretending to be dead, during First Night, Boston's popular New Year's Eve celebration.

Dozens of people participated in the brief protest in front of the Boston Public Library on Wednesday evening while others held signs saying "black lives matter" and "a young black man is two times more likely to be shot dead by police than a white young man."

Police reported no arrests or disruptions to nearby festivities.

City officials had urged activists to hold off on the die-in, saying it wasn't appropriate for the family-friendly event.



Indiana state police say a man who wrote threatening letters to law enforcers and fired a gun at officers outside his home has been shot and wounded during a gunfight.

Sgt. Jerry Goodin says troopers and officers with the Jennings County Sheriff's Office went Wednesday to the man's home near the town of Commiskey to serve arrest warrants for intimidation. He says the man had written threatening letters to local law enforcement and elected officials.

Goodin says the man ran into his home, grabbed a gun and fired on the officers, who fired back. He says it's unclear if the man was wounded by the officers or by himself.

The man has been hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.



The parents of a man who died weeks after a scuffle with police in Davenport, Iowa, have asked for an autopsy to ensure officers didn't play a role. They say they don't blame the officers for the death of Victor Jose Sarabia Gomez but want an autopsy as reassurance the altercation with police didn't lead to his death.

Police Chief Don Schaeffer says officers on Dec. 6 tried to pull over Gomez, who had a revoked driver's license. Authorities say Gomez refused to cooperate in his arrest, struggling with officers.

Police say Gomez had minor abrasions but refused medical attention. His family says he suffered body aches and migraines after the incident.

Gomez was admitted to a hospital Dec. 21 after suffering seizures his friends said happened after he smoked a controlled substance, the Quad-City Times reported. His family said he fell into a coma after being diagnosed with having suffered a brain aneurysm. He died Christmas Eve.

Scott County Sheriff Dennis Conrad says his office is investigating Gomez's death and an autopsy has been performed. He won't release details, saying he's awaiting toxicology results.



Authorities initially concerned that two Los Angeles police officers had been ambushed Sunday, just days after the two New York officers were killed, said Wednesday that wasn't the case.

The officers drove into the line of fire in a tough area of Los Angeles where gang members were shooting at rivals in another car, prosecutors said.

No one was injured after one of the officers returned fire. One person was arrested at the location, and another person was arrested Wednesday in Las Vegas.



A man shot and killed by police after he tried to run down officers with his car in a Philadelphia suburb had posted an online video threatening to kill police and FBI agents and had been committed to a mental health facility by his mother, authorities said.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said officers feared Joseph Pacini would kill them and harm bystanders Tuesday.

Five officers fired about 20 shots at Pacini, and no officers were injured, he said.

"Unfortunately, this guy made the threats," Chitwood said. "Unfortunately, this guy made the commitment to dying. Unfortunately, his wishes played out."

Police said when officers stopped Pacini at an intersection and ordered him out of his car, he reversed and slammed into a police vehicle and prepared to run over other officers.

Pacini did not have a weapon but could have used the car to harm pedestrians or other motorists, Chitwood said.

Pacini had posted online videos with rambling messages and threats after a detective left a message for him regarding an altercation Monday at a fitness club. Pacini said police had tortured him and demanded the detective "back off." If police tried arresting him, he said, there would be "catastrophic consequences."

Pacini's death comes a little more than a week after a man who made similar threats shot the two NYPD officers dead in their patrol car. The NYPD officers' attacker had referenced in online posts the killings by white police officers of unarmed black men. Pacini, who was white, didn't reference those deaths in his postings.


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