Why Cops Sometimes End up Shooting

Police Criticized for Use of Force Often Have No Other Choice

Originally published in The Epoch Times

An officer directs traffic for the funeral of slain New York City Police Officer Rafael Ramos, one of two officers murdered while sitting in their patrol car in an ambush in Brooklyn last Saturday afternoon on December 27, 2014 in New York City. (Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)

An officer directs traffic for the funeral of slain New York City Police Officer Rafael Ramos, one of two officers murdered while sitting in their patrol car in an ambush in Brooklyn last Saturday afternoon on December 27, 2014 in New York City. (Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)


Police officer John Cardillo was responding to a call in a restaurant in the Bronx in the 1990’s with three other police when they encountered their suspect. At five-foot-nine he was only about 135 pounds, but so high on a cocktail of hard drugs that he could use his body as a weapon.

“His eyes were completely dilated—he looked like a zombie,” said Cardillo, who retired from the NYPD after a decade and went on to do consulting work with police forces around the country and work as an on-air media analyst.

Years later, though, when asked to recall some of his experiences with suspects on mind- and physiology-altering drugs, that night in the Bronx comes to mind. When the man stole a baseball bat from the restaurant owner, it took four extremely strong male cops to subdue him. They later marveled at the insanity they’d witnessed and the fact that nobody had been injured.

“We could not pry the guy’s fingers off the bat,” recalled Cardillo. “We pepper-sprayed this guy, we used our baton on this guy. Later on we found out he was on a mix of crazy drugs—crack, heroin, PCP.”

Read the rest of the article here.


The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger on his New Book and Crazy Life

originally published on Poynter.org

Britain GuardianWhen you see Alan Rusbridger in person, there’s almost an expectation that he will be 10 feet tall and able to breathe fire. After everything he and his media outlet, the Guardian, have been through in the past few years, it seems like a reasonable expectation. WikiLeaks. The UK phone hacking scandal. Snowden.

The impression I got after hearing him speak Wednesday night at the New York Public Library is that he’s humble, witty and committed to protecting the future of reporters and the free press. Wherever they might hail from.

As if life as editor of the Guardian wasn’t enough to stay busy, in 2010 he also made an ambitious plan to take up the piano again. He set out to learn, in one year, Chopin’s Ballade No.1. The one-movement piece is considered by the world’s best pianists to be among the toughest ever composed.

Rusbridger spent 20 minutes a day, for one year, to achieve the task. The result was his book, “Play It Again.”

“The book is partly about having a crazy life,” Rusbridger said. His interview with New York Public Library’s Paul Holdengraber was part of an annual “who’s who” series that includes authors, intellectuals, and influential social figures.

Rusbridger said the additional task in an already incredibly busy life actually helped prepare him for each day’s events.

“I made it almost religious that I would find the time,” he said. “In times of great stress it helped a lot. It feels as though that 20 minutes prepares you.”


Taking Back New York’s Meanest Streets, One Person at a Time

this article originally appeared on the front page of the July 25 print edition of the Epoch Times. Read the full article here.

(L-R) Shanduke McPhatter, Council member Jumaane Williams, and Suavee Edgar McPhatter walk through the streets of East Flatbush near the Glenwood Houses on July 19. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—Even though he’s been in and out of the criminal justice system for almost 12 years of his life, 35-year-old Shanduke McPhatter has a positive outlook on the future, and he shares it with others.

As a former gang member of the Bloods (famous for its rivalry with the Crips), McPhatter knows from personal experience that it’s not always easy to make the right choices, especially in high-crime and low-income areas. But now he knows there are choices, and he wants to tell others.

Two years ago, the lifelong resident of Brooklyn and father of three founded the nonprofit group, Gangstas Making Astronomical Changes, to help uplift people caught up in what his group calls the “street life.”

“What triggered it (changing) was just the level of violence I kept seeing,” said McPhatter, who said he simply became fed up with spending his life in a destructive cycle. “I changed my state of mind.”

The charismatic McPhatter exuded that new state of mind—positive, engaged, hopeful, and energetic—as he walked through the public housing project called the Glenwood Houses last Friday, July 19. He was part of a group of about a dozen like-minded individuals putting a grass-roots initiative called Occupy the Corners into action.

It’s a long journey to reach Glenwood, an island of plain-faced brick apartment buildings attached in a labyrinth of footpaths at the far end of south central Brooklyn. Situated between East Flatbush and Canarsie, getting there requires a ride to the end of the Nos. 2, 4, 5, or L subway lines, followed by a 20-minute bus ride.

Read the rest of this article originally appeared on the front page of the July 25 print edition of the Epoch Times by clicking here.

Compassion goes a long way when reporting on tragedies like Boston & Newtown

By Genevieve Belmaker for Poynter

Journalists are often warned about the perils of getting emotionally involved with stories and subjects, but when reporting on a tragedy there’s always room to act as a human being first and a reporter second.

Reporting on the pain of the small college town of Blacksburg, Va., after the horrific 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, my natural instinct was to grieve with the folks there. At the time, though, I didn’t know how to use my emotions as a compass to help me connect with people I needed to interview.

But six years later, I know that for journalists in such terrible situations our humanity is a strength, not a weakness.

Bill Leukhardt, a reporter with the Hartford Courant, has seen tragedy from both sides. His stepdaughter, Lauren Rousseau, was one of the teachers killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.

Leukhardt, whose wife is also a journalist, said during a recent symposium at Columbia University dealing with breaking news, trauma and the aftermath that they understood why they received so many media inquiries after their stepdaughter’s death. But that didn’t make it any easier to open up for interviews.

The symposium was presented by Columbia Journalism School’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma on Monday in New York City for an audience of mostly working journalists and journalism students.

Leukhardt and many other panelists had an overarching message for reporters speaking to the grieving: show compassion and acknowledge loss.

“Kindness is what really resonates with families,” Leukhardt said, adding that when people who knew victims don’t want to be interviewed, leave them alone. “Be respectful, be kind.”

Read the rest here at Poynter

Online Journalists Killed in 2012 was Record High

In its annual assessment of journalists killed worldwide, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says 70 journalists were killed in 2012. The New York-based press freedom organization categorizes murders as those with a confirmed motive, those with unconfirmed motives, and the death of media workers (employed in the industry but not reporting the news directly).

According to CPJ statistics there were 31 additional murders in 2012 that they have been unable to confirm the motive for, and 2 additional deaths that were media workers.


Mourning a South African Legend

South Africa is mourning the loss of photographer Alf Kumalo who died of renal failure in a Johannesburg hospital.

The award-winning photographer made a name for himself documenting apartheid working for several publications, including the well-known Drum magazine.  Kumalo was 82 and leaves behind 9 children.

In a statement on his passing, the African National Congress (ANC) said that Kumalo’s death has “robbed South Africa of a rare and significant talent that was pivotal in raising social consciousness and exposing the brutality of the apartheid administration.”


Journalists Kidnapped–or Just Working?

AP Photo of Baker Atyani

It’s impossible to ignore that there is a very bizarre, inherent bias in the media world against journalists who are not western. I first noticed it when I started trying to do a story about the dangers and difficulties that Arab journalists face working in Gaza and the West Bank. Nobody was interested except for Arab publications.

In a similar vein, it’s interesting that western media haven’t yet picked up the story about a Jordanian journalist and his local crew working in the Philippines who might have been kidnapped.

Different local media have covered the story, with widely conflicting takes on what has happened to the reporter, Baker Atyani, and his crew.

Atyani works for Al-Arabiya TV.

Even if it turns out that the group was not kidnapped, and are simply off the radar because they are working on a story, it’s curious that mainstream western media hasn’t made a mention of it. It makes me suspicious there might be an inherent bias against giving too much play to stories involving the work–and plight–of Arab journalists.