Illinois Public Media News
Charges have been dropped against a Champaign teen whose friend was fatally shot in a scuffle with city police last fall.
16-year old Jeshaun Manning-Carter was charged with resisting a peace officer in connection to that confrontation on October 9th. Kiwane Carrington died after being shot in that incident... after a report of a break-in at a home on West Vine Street. Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Reitz says Manning-Carter has upheld his end of the bargain by staying in school, staying out of trouble, and completing a 6-week county-funded counseling program called Parenting with Love and Limits with his mother. Rietz says dropping charges against the youth was not based on an inability to prove them. She says the goal of this case, as with any other in the juvenile justice system, is to set a youth on the right track.
"If he had not finished the program, if he was not going to school, if he was getting in trouble, I would have gone forward with the trial if that was what we needed to do," says Rietz. "This is not a question of whether or not we had the evidence to support the charges. It's simply the standard operating procedure in juvenile court when we're trying to get kids the help that they need." Rietz says counselors maintain contact with the teen's family, and he'll continue to attend the READY school in Champaign.
Rietz concluded in December that Champaign officer Daniel Norbits fired accidentally, and would not face criminal charges from the incident. He remains on paid administrative leave. The results of a city of Champaign investigation into police policy are expected next week. Two experts outside the city... Retired Urbana Police Chief Eddie Adair and retired McLean County Judge John Freese are conducting that study, but any changes to policy will be up to City Manager Steve Carter.
A federal judge in Chicago ruled on Friday that the news media will have to wait to see a key document in ex-governor Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial. But it may not be for long.
Judge James Zagel says the public SHOULD have access to the so-called "Santiago proffer" prosecutors filed this week. But he's giving the defense until Monday to request redactions.
The proffer is essentially a legal battle plan, where the government lays out its testimony, witnesses - even some new evidence. The government filed the proffer under seal, but news outlets moved to have it opened up.
Sheldon Sorosky, the ex-governor's lawyer, says releasing new evidence on the eve of the June trial date could taint potential jurors.
"It releases the government version of what they feel is their best shot", says Sorosky. "And the public just feels that's the official version of events, or the only version of events."
Still, Judge Zagel says "it's conceivable that very little - if anything - will be redacted." He'll make his final decision on Wednesday.
Feedback gathered in a community forum on police-community relations in Champaign is now online at the city's website.
More than 300 people attended the March 15th forum, which city officials organized in the wake of criticism following the shooting death of Africa-American teenager Kiwane Carrington during a scuffle with police.
Comments from each of the forum's discussion table are now in a 43-page report. They include responses to the forum's main questions about police-community relations and how they can be improved.
City Community Relations Specialist Garth Minor says the Community Forum Working Group --- made up of city officials and community members --- will meet Thursday morning to start going over the report, looking for common themes.
"Once we find those themes, then the next step will be to prioritize and develop those themes into action items", says Minor. "This information then will be shared with forum participants for their review and comment. All of that information then will be compiled into a final report that will be presented to the city manager for implementation."
Some of the recurring ideas from the Community Forum included the need for mutual respect between police and young people, and increased contact between police and young people in non-crisis situations.
The Champaign County Coroner's office has released the identity of a woman whose death is being investigated as a murder by the Coroner and Champaign police. But Coroner Duane Northrup is not saying how 58-year old Jean Butler died. She was found dead at her home in the 400 block of East Columbia Avenue yesterday afternoon after suffering what officers describe as 'severe injuries.'
Police were called there around 3:30 yesterday after a report of a fight between two men outside the home - a fight believed to have broken out after Butler's death. 54-year old Maury Butler was arrested, and charged with first degree murder. An autopsy on Jean Butler is scheduled for Saturday. An inquest may be held at a later date.
An internal City of Champaign investigation into a fatal police shooting last fall is winding down.
City attorney Fred Stavins says the two outside experts the city asked to conduct the study have completed much of their work looking into last October's shooting death of 15 year old Kiwane Carrington. Police say they confronted Carrington and another teenager as the two were trying to get into an acquaintance's home on Vine Street - an officer's firearm went off and hit Carrington during a scuffle.
Stavins says retired Urbana police chief Eddie Adair and retired McLean County Judge John Freese continue to meet, but their fact-finding portion of the review is generally complete - and he says that's only one segment of the overall investigation.
"There's been an internal investigation that involves police personnel", says Stavins. "And subsequent to that, there'll be another review by another group in the police department --- the Firearm Discharge Board."
Stavins says any ultimate changes to police policy or other outcomes of the report will be up to City Manager Steve Carter. He says the goal is to determine whether the Carrington incident should lead to changes in policy. But Stavins says it will not second-guess a state police investigation that cleared Chief RT Finney and Officer Daniel Norbits of criminal wrongdoing. Carrington's aunt has filed a wrongful -death lawsuit against the officers and the city.
A McLean County judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Urbana School District against a Normal-based district over a former teacher now imprisoned for child molestation.
In dismissing the lawsuit Tuesday, Judge Scott Drazewski said Unit 5 was immune from the civil action because it is a public body, and also said Urbana District 116 missed the legal deadline for filing.
The Urbana district was seeking $1 million, saying it wanted the money to help cover the $2 million it paid to settle claims filed by nine girls molested there by teacher Jon White after he left McLean County. Urbana officials say Unit 5 failed to disclose that White had been forced to resign.
White is serving 60 years in prison for molesting two girls in Unit 5 and the nine in Urbana.
30 to 50 cadets at Rantoul's Lincoln's Challenge program could face expulsion over a fight in the academy's dining hall Sunday night.
The National Guard-sponsored academy is for students who dropped out of high school but want to rebuild their lives. National Guard public affairs director Major Brad Leighton says the fight apparently grew out of a dispute over a basketball game earlier yesterday. He says today staff are trying to sort out how the fight developed into an incident that brought about 20 Rantoul police officers to the hall, looking at surveillance tapes of the cafeteria.
No one was reported seriously injured.
Leighton says Lincoln's Challenge works on a military basis and has a zero-tolerance policy against fighting, so cadets involved may be kicked out of the program. Academy director Peter Thomas says the school is working as normal today.
The FBI in Illinois says weekend raids in Ohio and Indiana are part of an ongoing investigation led by the FBI in Michigan.
Raids were conducted in all three states and at least three people were arrested, two in Ohio and one in Illinois.
Federal warrants were sealed, but one federal law enforcement official says some of those arrested face gun charges. That official also says they're pursuing other suspects.
A militia leader in Michigan said the target of at least one of the raids was a Christian militia group.
George Ponce, who works at a pizzeria next door to a home raided in Hammond, Ind., said he and a few co-workers stepped outside for a break Saturday night and saw a swarm of law enforcement officers.
Ponce said officers yelled "get back inside'' and told them the house was being swept for bombs. He estimates agents took more than two dozen guns from the house.
A Chicago man accused of terrorism is scheduled to be in court Monday, but some of the public proceeding may be held in private.
Prosecuctors say the case against Tahawwur Rana includes classified information.
Information the government would like to use against him, but information the government would not like to trot out in a public courtroom.
That's why much of Monday's s hearing may be closed.
The judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys will likely discuss how they'll handle evidence that falls under the "Classified Information Procedures Act," or CIPA.
The act allows prosecutors to protect certain information by using only partial evidence, a part of a recording or a document.
Prosecutors would present the evidence to the judge who then decides how much of it can be seen by defense attorneys.
Rana has been charged with supporting another Chicagoan - David Headley - as he helped plan the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that killed more than a hundred and sixty people.
Champaign, Urbana and University of Illinois Police were conducting special patrols on the U of I Urbana campus Friday, following a report of a home invasion and aggravated battery early Friday morning.
Authorities say that as the occupant of an apartment in the 400 block of East Healy was opening her door... she was grabbed from behind, and struck in the face several times. She was treated at a local hospital.
The attacker is described as a 35-year old black male, 5 foot 10, 170 pounds, wearing a dark shirt, jeans, and tan hat.
A sketch is on line at www.publicsafety.illinois.edu
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