In Florida, officials at Love Grove Elementary School had Martina Falk's 6-year-old daughter Nadia involuntarily committed to a mental institution for two days for an evaluation after the girl allegedly threw a tantrum at school and threw chairs. Body camera footage shows the two deputies called to transport the child were skeptical about the assignment and that the girl was well behaved and chatty with them, with one of the deputies even calling her "very pleasant" and questioning whether school employees were provoking the child. That didn't stop them from taking her to the mental health facility.
Nedra Miller said she let officials at Florida's River Ridge High School know weeks earlier that her son would not be at school one day because of an appointment with an orthodontist. Her son, William, made the mistake of dropping a friend off at school that day. And when William tried to leave, a Pasco County Sheriff's Office deputy and Cindy Bond, a school discipline assistant, tried to block him as he drove away. The confrontation was caught on the deputy's body camera. "You're gonna get shot you come another f—ing foot closer to me," the deputy said as the boy tried to drive around them. "You run into me, you'll get f—ing shot." William wasn't shot, but he was suspended and later expelled from school. The sheriff's office is refusing to identify the deputy, saying they can't release his name while the incident is under investigation. It did confirm he's still working at the school.
The Alabama Department of Human Resources took Rebecca Hernandez's baby away from her after a drug test administered to Hernandez four hours after she gave birth showed she had opiates in her system. A later test showed no trace of drugs, and the state returned the child. Her doctor found Hernandez ate poppy seed bread the day before she gave birth and thinks that produced a false positive. The doctor says same-day drug tests are more prone to error and hospitals should rely only on lab tests before alerting the state to any problems. The hospital where Hernandez have birth, Crestwood Medical Center, said in a statement that it is "committed to following the law and regulatory requirements as well as ensuring the health and safety of our patient."
A former Transportation Security Administration agent has been charged with false imprisonment for tricking a woman into exposing her breasts to him. Johnathon Lomeli was working at Los Angeles International Airport when the woman tried to go through screening. Prosecutors say he told her he had to look inside her bra to make sure she wasn't hiding anything and had her hold her pants away from her waist so he could look inside. He then told her he needed to take her to a private room for further screening. But after they got on the elevator and were alone, he told her he could do the screening there. He had her lift her shirt up "to show me your full breasts." And he again looked down her pants. He then told her she had nice breasts and could leave.
City officials in Vancouver, British Columbia, say they are investigating whether a boat show violated local ordinances by featuring a squirrel waterskiing in an indoor pool. City laws prohibit people from having squirrels as pets and bar businesses "from using rodents in competitions, exhibitions, performance or events." Organizers say the squirrel's performance is a way to teach children about water safety.
Administrators at Pennsylvania's Valley Forge Elementary School called the cops on a 6-year-old girl with Down syndrome who pointed her finger like a gun at a teacher and said, "I shoot you." "She really didn't understand what she was saying, and having Down syndrome is one aspect, but I'm sure all 6-year-olds don't really know what that means," said Maggie Gaines, the girl's mother. "Now, there is a record at the police that says she made a threat to her teacher." School officials quickly determined the girl wasn't threatening the teacher, but they say school system policy required them to call the police.
Lourdes Ponce says her 16-year-old son is both autistic and epileptic. During a recent visit to a Fresno, California, El Pollo Loco, the boy had a seizure in a bathroom and fell to the floor. Ponce told her daughter to call 911. "We called paramedics for help, we did not call police," she said. Cops showed up anyway, and they handcuffed the teen and tried to put him in the back of a patrol car. The boy began to vomit, but Ponce says the cops did nothing to keep him from choking. Finally, she retrieved paperwork showing the boy has seizures and EMS was able to take him to a hospital. In a statement, the Fresno Police Department says the situation is under investigation.
The Virginia House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources committee has approved a bill that would define milk as being "obtained by the complete milking of a healthy hooved animal." It would bar plant-based milk products from being marketed as milk. The bill now goes to the full House for a vote.
The Arizona Department of Education inadvertently released the names, email addresses and other personal information of the nearly 7,000 parents whose children take part in a state education voucher program. The release included the disabilities listed for children with special needs. The Arizona Capitol Times reports the spreadsheet had this information redacted, but when journalists copied the document into a text reader all of the information was visible. Local media as well as a group opposed to vouchers received the information.
The Philadelphia district attorney's office has charged Philadelphia Police Officer Keith White with false reports to law enforcement authorities, intent to implicate another, and tampering with public records or information. White claimed that someone he arrested on drug charges attacked him, causing bleeding and damage to his teeth. That led to the defendant also facing charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, and reckless endangerment. But surveillance video later showed that White sustained his injuries when he tripped and fell and that the defendant did not resist arrest.
Saying she was treated with "deliberate indifference," a federal judge denied a motion by the Alameda County, California, sheriff's office to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit brought by Candace Steel. Steel gave birth in a jail cell in 2017. Steel says she screamed in pain and called for help for hours but was ignored by deputies. They responded only when they heard the cries of her newborn daughter. Steel had been charged with misdemeanor trespassing. That charge was later dismissed.
The Georgia State Patrol has fired 30 troopers, every member of the August 2019 Trooper School graduating class, charging they cheated on a speed detector operators class exam. The group had written a collective 133 tickets since graduation, and officials expect most of those citations will be dismissed.
Oregon's Supreme Court has approved a ballot referendum that would ban stores from having more than two self-checkout kiosks. The measure is backed by unions, including the Oregon AFL-CIO, who say it will save jobs. They say the kiosks also make it easier for minors to buy alcohol. But the Northwest Grocery Association says the machines let shoppers check out more quickly and with greater privacy.
A report by Chicago's Office of Inspector General found that city police officers regularly use department-issued placards to park personal vehicles in department lots when they attend Cubs and Bears games. The lots are supposed to be used only by on-duty officers.
An Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, judge sentenced Cody Gregg to 15 years in prison after Gregg pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Days later, a drug test found that the "cocaine" was actually powdered milk. Gregg withdrew his plea, and the judge dismissed the charge. Gregg had initially pleaded not guilty, but he changed his mind after spending two months in the Oklahoma County jail.
Australia's Department of Home Affairs says it wants to use facial recognition technology to limit children's access to online pornography. Those who want to watch porn would have their faces scanned and matched to the photos on their official IDs to prove they are adults. Critics say this would allow the government to know every porn site that any person goes to.
San Antonio, Texas, officials have agreed to pay $205,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Natalie Simms after a police officer conducted a cavity search of her on a public street. Simms says she was sitting on a curb when officers approached, told her they thought she might have drugs, and asked to search her car. She agreed. While Simms was being detained, she says a female officer arrived and began to frisk her. That officer pulled down Simms' pants and underwear and searched her vagina, pulling out Simms' tampon and holding it up for other officers to see. The cops found no drugs.
Drexel University in Philadelphia has agreed to pay the federal government $189,062 after a former professor at the school used federal grant money to make iTunes purchases and to visit strip clubs and sports bars. That professor, Chikaodinaka D. Nwankpa, the head of Drexel's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, agreed to repay $53,328 to the university and to resign.
Officials at St. Andrew's Primary School in Hull, England, have barred parents from packing any drinks other than water with their children's meals. They say the move is aimed at protecting students with allergies and reducing consumption of sugary drinks.
Eliana Bauta, a former employee of New York City's Human Resources Administration, has been sentenced to two years in prison for her role in the theft of more than $300,000 in emergency benefits money from her department. Bauta used part of the money she stole to pay someone to put a voodoo spell on a former boyfriend.
Jason Kirkbride's hair is neat, tidy, and short—too short for Hodgson Academy in England, according to his mother. She says she decided to get the 14-year-old's hair cut a little shorter than usual so he could go longer between visits to the barber. But school rules say hair should be no shorter than a No. 2 clipper, so the boy received three days' detention.
The Jackson County, South Dakota, Sheriff's Office posted a photo to Facebook of Chris Fox's van along with a message saying the van was "associated with confirmed criminal activity in Pennington County" and "appears to use the large antenna visible on the roof to intercept WiFi, stealing credit card information." These allegations weren't true. A Pennington County deputy says that department there has seen a spike in credit card fraud in that county, and some residents had feared the van might be involved, but they never had any confirmation of illegal activity. After talking to Fox, the Pennington County sheriff's office says it has confirmed nothing illegal was going on. Fox is a businessman who spends his winters driving to bicycle shows to buy bikes and parts to resell and touring national parks.
The Colorado State Patrol has charged James Grimes with reckless driving, driving more than 40 mph over the speed limit in a construction zone, and three counts of reckless endangerment. Grimes, who was clocked driving more than 100 mph, was reportedly racing another driver on Interstate 25. Grimes, a Denver sheriff's deputy, was on duty and transporting inmates at the time. The man he was racing, Daniel Franklin, was charged with DUI, driving more than 40 mph over the speed limit in a construction zone, reckless driving, and driving with no proof of insurance.
A "gross error" and an "unwarranted overreaction." That's how Ball State University President Geoffrey S. Mearns describes professor Shaheen Borna's decision to call police on a student who refused to sit where the professor told him to. The student, Sultan "Mufasa" Benson, arrived to find someone sitting in his assigned seat. Borna told him to take a seat in the back. Later, when another student left, Borna told Benson to move to that seat. Benson refused, saying he'd plugged his computer into a nearby socket and it was still charging. Borna told him to move or he'd call the cops. When Benson still refused, Borna called police. The police arrived and Benson left the classroom. Borna has since apologized.
The Oakland, California, city council has unanimously voted to ban landlords from performing criminal background checks of potential renters. They will also no longer be legally able to turn down renters because of a criminal conviction. The California Apartment Association opposed the law but says it will not challenge it in court.
Bladen County, North Carolina, Board of Elections Chairman Louella Thompson has rescinded a threat to have anyone who recites the "Pledge of Allegiance" at a board meeting arrested. At the January board meeting, some people in the audience were upset that the board does not say the pledge. During the public comments part of the meeting, one man led the crowd in reciting the pledge, and Thompson said she would have people arrested if they did that again. She repeated the threat days later when interviewed by media. But she came under fire, including from Gov. Roy Cooper, the man who appointed her to the board, and she later backed down.
When her 5-year-old daughter was bullied on a Dallas, Texas, school bus, Audrey Billings asked to see the videos. The principal gave her a verbal description of what happened. When she insisted she wanted to see the videos, the school system told her it would cost her $600 for each video, what they said it would cost them to redact the video. She reluctantly paid $600 for one video, which showed other students grabbing, pulling and poking her daughter with a pencil for 14 minutes while the bus driver ignored her cries for help. The school system says those students have been disciplined and the driver removed from that route. Billings says her daughter no longer rides the bus.
When the city of Seattle put former fire station 38 up for sale, it advertised it as a "unique residential dwelling." Thom Kroon agreed. He paid $712,000 for the building and spent thousands of dollars more remodeling it. For three years he used it as a residential building and office. Then he got a letter from the building inspector saying a complaint had been filed against him and ordering him to stop using the building as a residence because its only legal use was as a fire station. The city also sued Kroon, seeking $500 a day for each day he used the building as a residence. Kroon hired his own attorney and countersued. The city dropped its suit and issued a certificate of occupancy for the building, but Kroon is still seeking to recover his legal costs.
The Transportation Security Administration has apologized to Tara Houska after a TSA agent at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport grabbed her braids from behind, snapped them like reins and said "giddy up" Houska says when she complained about this, the agent responded, "It was just in fun, I'm sorry. Your hair is lovely." TSA said in a statement it "holds its employees to the highest standards of professional conduct and any type of improper behavior is taken seriously."
Berlin's construction industry has come to a near halt, with no new major construction and landlords performing only emergency repairs. The cause is a new rent control ordinance expected to take effect in just a few weeks. The city government plans to freeze rents for five years. Meanwhile, activists are collecting signatures to put a referendum on the ballot to seize the property of larger developers and operate it as public housing. City officials admit that the rental control law is extreme but say it is needed because of soaring rents and a housing construction market that has failed to keep pace with demand.
Former Prince George's County, Maryland, police officer Stephen Downey was sentenced to six months in jail after being convicted of assault and misconduct in office. Downey was called to a drug store, where he found a homeless man sleeping in a shipping container in the store's parking lot. He handcuffed the man and placed him in a patrol car and fastened the man's seat belt. Downey then punched the man in the face several times. Downey said he believed the man was going to headbutt him.
The Crescent Dunes solar plant in Nevada received $737 million in loan guarantees from the federal government in 2011, and officials hailed it as the future of solar energy. But Bloomberg News reports the plant had already been rendered technologically obsolete by time it opened in 2015. It hasn't produced energy since April 2019 and lost its only customer late last year. But taxpayers remain on the hook for the loan guarantees.
In Australia, the government of the state of Western Australia has defended the use of emergency services levy money to fund artwork for fire stations. The government has a long-standing, bipartisan policy that 1 percent of the cost any public buildings costing over $2 million must go to art. Some firefighters and government officials say emergency services levy funds should only go to firefighting equipment. But Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan says there's plenty of money to go around, noting that funding of brush fire battalions has increased by an average of 4.5 percent a year.
The Texas Department of Public Safety and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration thought they had a major drug bust on their hands. State troopers had found what they believed was marijuana, 3,000 pounds of it, in a U-Haul truck. DEA agents they called in confirmed it, and they arrested Aneudy Gonzalez for felony drug possession. He spent almost a month in jail before lab tests showed the "marijuana" was actually hemp.
The British Advertising Standards Authority has banned an ad for PC Specialist, which sells custom computers, because there are no women in the ad. The authority says the absence of women "strongly implied only men could excel in the specialisms and roles depicted" and "presented gender stereotypes in [a] way that was likely to cause harm." PC Specialist says the ad implied nothing about women. The company says its customers are "87.5% male, aged between 15 and 35 years" so that's who its ads are aimed at.
Liusdan Martínez Lescaille, 12, has been bullied repeatedly for wearing a kippah to school in Nuevitas, Cuba. Education officials have reacted by banning him and his brother from wearing the kippah to school. His parents, who are Sephardic Jews, say prosecutors warned them they could lose their guardianship to their children if they violate the ban.