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Published: Thursday, December 28, 2017 @ 6:54 PM
TROY, Ala. — A 17-year-old Alabama boy’s encounter with police over Christmas weekend ended with him bloodied, bruised and broken, and his family and the community are demanding answers from law enforcement officials.
Agents from Alabama’s State Bureau of Investigation are investigating the incident, which took place late Saturday night in Troy. Police officials there told WSFA in Montgomery that the teen, Ulysses Wilkerson, was spotted emerging from behind a closed downtown business around 11:52 p.m. that night.
Officers said the teen ran as they approached him, so they gave chase. WSFA reported that the officers said they used force after Ulysses failed to comply with orders to put his hands behind his back.
They also alleged that the teen moved his hands toward his waistband as though reaching for a weapon. Though no weapon was found on or near Ulysses, officers said that they returned to the area, retraced the path in which he ran and located a handgun on the ground.
The gun has been submitted to be processed for evidence, WSFA reported.
Ulysses’ family, who posted photos of the boy’s bloody and misshapen face on Facebook, argued that the officers tried to kill him. His mother, Angela Williams, wrote that the officers beat her son after he was already handcuffed.
Williams’ post, which showed a close-up of her son’s face, had been shared more than 82,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.
Ulysses’ father also shared multiple photos of his son on social media.
“As y’all can see, Troy police officers tried to kill my son,” the post from Sadot Wilkerson reads. “He has massive swelling and they can’t start surgery until (the) swelling goes down.”
The family told WDHN News 18 in Dothan that Ulysses suffered swelling to the brain and his eye socket was cracked in three places.
In the graphic photos, Ulysses lies in a hospital bed, his pillow smeared with blood from his battered face. One eye is swollen completely shut and his nose and lips are caked with dried blood.
One image shows handcuffs around at least one of his wrists.
Community activist Caros Chaverst Jr. also shared the images. Like Williams, Chaverst alleged in his Facebook post that police officers punched and kicked Ulysses while the boy was already handcuffed.
He also said that Ulysses ran from the officers out of fear after he and a friend were approached.
“Upon catching him, the police left him as seen in the pictures below,” Chaverst wrote. “An unarmed kid.”
A woman who said she drove by the scene Saturday night described for WDHN seeing the officers surrounding Ulysses, who was on the ground and appeared unconscious.
“You could see the swelling of his face (and) you could tell he had a lot of bleeding,” Brittany Patterson told the news station. “It looked like he was passed out or maybe in and out of consciousness.”
Patterson said the first thought that came to her mind was, “I hope they are not beating him.”
Chaverst wrote that it was hours after the incident before any of Ulysses relatives were made aware of what happened. Williams, in posting her son’s photo just before 5 a.m. on Christmas Eve, wrote that she was only then heading to UAB, where Ulysses had been transferred from Troy Regional Medical Center for possible facial surgery.
Chaverst urged his followers to demand that the Troy Police Department and the city release body camera footage so the truth behind what happened could be made public.
“This family is hurting,” Chaverst wrote.
The family told WDHN that Ulysses has been released from the hospital, but remains under medical observation. He will likely need surgery once some of the swelling in his face and head goes down.
Ulysses’ father told the news station that, though his son was handcuffed and was initially facing obstruction of justice charges, those charges have since been dropped.
WDHN reported that officials from the police department and the Troy mayor’s office have declined to comment on the case.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 11:11 AM
— Firefighters in Colorado recently rescued a German shepherd from a freezing river.
The Pueblo Fire Department posted the now-viral rescue on its Facebook page.
The 1-year-old pup, named Bill, was pulled from the Arkansas River by the department’s Ice Rescue team on Jan. 17.
The department is reportedly unsure how Bill ended up in the river, but he was reported as OK and reunited with his owner.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 11:23 AM
NEW ROADS, La. — An elderly Louisiana man whose home had no heat was found dead Wednesday morning, and his wife was hospitalized, after temperatures dropped into the teens overnight.
Paul Maker, 84, of New Roads, was found lying on the floor of his home by sheriff’s deputies, the Baton Rouge Advocate reported. Both Maker and his wife were disabled and wheelchair-bound.
The house had no heat, and the couple was afraid to run their space heaters because of the fire hazard, law enforcement officials said. Deputies went to their home Wednesday morning after a neighbor who often checked on the Makers called 911 to request a welfare check.
“He was in the house with his wife, and they were deathly afraid of running their space heaters overnight,” Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres told the newspaper. “This is just a sad situation.”
The couple’s children live in New Orleans and, upon learning of their father’s death and their mother’s hospitalization, could not travel the more than 100 miles to New Roads because most roads in south Louisiana were shut down due to the weather.
“I tried to call them all day yesterday to check on them and never got an answer,” Wanda Curly, the couple’s daughter, told the Advocate. “I knew the weather was bad, and I knew they couldn’t do a lot for themselves.”
The temperature in the house was about 20 degrees when deputies got there, Pointe Coupee Chief Deputy Coroner Joe Gannon said. Maker died of hypothermia.
Gannon said he believes Maker’s wife would have succumbed to the cold if the couple’s neighbor had not sought help.
“She would have been next, I think,” Gannon said.
Maker’s wife told deputies that she heard her husband fall in their living room around midnight, but could not check on him because she could not get out of bed on her own, the newspaper reported.
Curly said her parents moved to New Roads after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She and her siblings tried in vain to get them to relocate to New Orleans over the years, but the couple, who were together for more than 60 years, valued their independence.
She said her mother would have to move to the city under this week’s tragic circumstances.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 4:45 AM
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 4:45 AM
— A super blue blood moon? Yes!
It is happening on the last day of this month. A blue moon typically gets its name when it occurs as the second of two full moons in one calendar month.
But something very special will happen to the moon on this date. The full moon will pass through the Earth’s shadow during the early morning of Jan. 31 to give us a total lunar eclipse. During the time of the total eclipse, the moon will appear reddish in color, which is where it gets to be called a “blood moon.” Totality, when the moon will be entirely inside the Earth’s dark umbral shadow, will last a bit more than 1 1/4 hours.
The Jan. 31 full moon is also the third in a series of three straight full moon supermoons – that is, super-close full moons. It’s the first of two blue moons in 2018. So it’s not just a lunar eclipse, or a blue moon, or a supermoon. It’s all three – a super blue moon eclipse.
The eclipse will get underway at 6:48 a.m. EST/3:48 a.m. PST Jan. 31. You’ll have to be up high with a good view of the western horizon to see the eclipse when it is total, as the moon will be setting as the eclipse reaches totality.
Those in the western United States will be able to view the full eclipse. But don’t let the setting moon stop you from getting to see a good part of the eclipse. It still should be a neat sight early in the morning if skies are clear and it is not too cold.
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 10:20 AM
BURLINGTON CITY, N.J. — A New Jersey man has been charged in connection with his girlfriend’s death after police say he left her to drown following a crash in the Delaware River.
Jacob T. Garrett, 24, of Burlington City, is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, causing a death while driving with a suspended license and endangering an injured victim, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. He is being held in the Burlington County Jail.
Stephanie White, 23, of Burlington City, was killed in the crash.
Burlington City police investigators said that Garrett was speeding around 1 p.m. Sunday when his vehicle struck a parked minivan and went over a river wall into the water. The front end of the car broke through the ice on the surface and the vehicle became submerged.
Bystanders told detectives that they found Garrett standing on the roof of the car, yelling, “Help my girlfriend.” Then he fled the scene on foot.
“He left his girlfriend in the water to die,” Burlington City police Capt. John Fine told NBC New York.
Videos from the scene, including one obtained by NJ.com, show firefighters working to extract White from the car, a Ford Taurus. They had to go in through the rear window of the Taurus, which jutted from the icy surface of the river.
One video, which can be found here, shows the entire rescue, including the moment when rescuers pulled White’s body from the car.
First responders found White in the passenger seat, her seat belt still on, prosecutors said in a news release. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
A police K-9 officer tracked Garrett from the river to a nearby light rail platform, officials said. Investigators had the train he was on stopped at the next station, where he was taken into custody.
Garrett was soaking wet when he was found, NBC New York reported.
White’s friends and family mourned her on social media. Her mother, Ina White, posted a video tribute someone made in her daughter’s memory.
“Love and miss my daughter. My heart is broken,” White wrote. “Thank you for this tribute. I'll hold it dear to my heart always.”
“I love you, sis, Steph Birdy White. Words can't even explain,” another woman wrote. “You meant everything to me . You had a big heart inside and out. I miss you and you will never be forgotten.”
A GoFundMe page established by White’s aunt to help pay for her funeral expenses described the young woman as “loving, kind, soft spoken, (a) hard worker and loved by all that knew her.”
“She had so much innocence in her presence, and always smiled when she greet(ed) you,” Rosie White wrote about her niece. “Her mother can not financially afford funeral expenses for this, and any amount will help with burial costs.”
Stephanie White’s wishes were to be buried next to her grandmother in Maplewood Cemetery in Freehold, where she grew up.
The case against Garrett remains under investigation, and additional charges may be filed, prosecutors said.
NJ.com reported that Garrett has two previous criminal convictions, including a 2016 conviction of criminal sexual contact. He also served 93 days in jail, and received two years’ probation, the year before for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.