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Sanford Police Department launches internal investigation amid Trayvon Martin info leaks

Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 @ 5:52 AM
Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 @ 5:52 AM

An internal investigation is underway on Tuesday at the Sanford Police Department, as police try to figure out who leaked information about George Zimmerman's statement to investigators the night Trayvon Martin was shot and killed.

Martin's parents said they are furious about the new developments. They said the people at the police department are trying to tarnish Trayvon's reputation.

It's been a month since the shooting, but now a friend of 28-year-old Zimmerman is defending him.

Zimmerman's friend Joe Oliver said Zimmerman was trying to do the right thing, but it went terribly wrong.

"He didn't do anything except defend himself. It became a life and death situation," said Oliver.

WFTV asked Oliver why Zimmerman said he shot the unarmed 17-year-old.

"When the evidence comes out, you'll get the answer," said Oliver.

"Is he remorseful?" WFTV asked.

"He's extremely remorseful; cried for days after it happened," said Oliver.

Oliver would not go into details, but WFTV confirmed that Zimmerman told police he walked away from Martin when the non-emergency 911 operator he called instructed him to go back to his car.

That's when Zimmerman said Martin allegedly confronted him and then punched him in the nose so hard Zimmerman fell and bashed his head on the sidewalk.

Then Zimmerman pulled out his gun and shot Trayvon.

Some of the folks who support Trayvon said they do not believe that story. Others said even if Martin did punch him, that would not give Zimmerman a reason to kill.

Sources said that Zimmerman did not go to the hospital that night, but he did go later and provide police a picture of his injuries.

WFTV also learned that there may be an eyewitness to the altercation between Martin and Zimmerman.

WFTV also learned that Martin was in Sanford that weekend because he was suspended from school for 10 days, after officials caught him with a bag that had traces of marijuana.

The attorney for Martin's parents said that is not relevant. The information about that bag may have been leaked by someone at the police department.

"Even in death, they are still disrespecting my son," said Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father.

The city manager said if he finds out who did it, he or she could be fired.

WFTV's legal expert said Zimmerman could still face charges, despite the new information.

Bill Sheaffer went on to say that a grand jury does not have accept what Zimmerman has to say, and they will look at all the evidence before they make a decision on filing charges.

The city of Sanford has appointed 23-year veteran Captain Darren Scott as its new acting police chief.

On Monday, City Manager Norton Bonaporte made the announcement.

The city has launched a search for an interim police chief. Police Chief Bill Lee temporarily stepped aside last week.

WFTV found out Zimmerman hasn't been seen at his workplace in the city of Maitland since the shooting, but cameras spotted Maitland officers guarding the office on Monday.

Police said the security watch was taken out of an abundance of caution, in case angry protesters show up at the office complex.

A rally in Sanford for Trayvon supporters did not attract the number of people that organizers expected on Monday.

Last week a crowd of about 8,000 people showed up for support but on Monday night, only about a third of that number showed up.

"Because the number may have been smaller, the purpose is still as large," said supporter Beverly Ellis.

"I think they still got the support, but a lot of people probably had things to do," said supporter Theresa Jackson.

People at the rally said despite the smaller crowd, the support is as strong as ever.

Could medical marijuana help fight the opioid epidemic?

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 3:57 PM

What You Need To Know: Opioids

New research suggests medical cannabis may play a key role in ending the opioid epidemic plaguing the nation.

>> Read more trending news

The findings from Aclara Research, a cannabis patient and consumer insights group, come soon after President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in the U.S. as an estimated 175 Americans die from opioids each day.

The study, which will be released in full in early 2018, was conducted in partnership with pharmacists active in the cannabis industry and included online surveys of more than 400 patients using prescription opioids nationwide.

» RELATED: Trump declares US opioid emergency but pledges no new money

Researchers also examined 500 pharmacists’ perceptions of medical cannabis and its role in the industry.

According to the Aclara study, the preliminary findings showed that 67 percent of the patients stopped using opioid medications after using medical cannabis.

» RELATED: Walgreens to begin selling OTC Narcan to combat opioid epidemic

And another 29 percent reported a decrease in the number of opioid medications used after starting medical cannabis.

Thirty percent of the patients said they stopped using any and all prescription drugs after using medical marijuana.

» RELATED: US gun death rate up for second straight year, drug deaths rising faster than ever

Of the 500 pharmacists surveyed, 87 percent said medical cannabis should be legalized, and 69 percent said pharmacists should dispense medical cannabis and counsel patients on medical cannabis use.

Another recent study, published in the Public Library of Science last week, found opioid users were more likely to stop usage if they had access to medical marijuana.

» RELATED: What is fentanyl? 10 things to know about the potentially deadly drug

That study involved 66 patients using opioids to treat chronic pain. Over a 21-month period, patients who used medical cannabis were 17 times more likely to stop using opioids, and patients who didn’t use cannabis on average increased their opioid use by 10 percent over that time period, according to the research. 

Research from 2014, published in the Journal of the American Medical Associationalso found states that had legalized medical marijuana saw lower rates of fatal opioid overdoses.

Aclara researchers said they will continue to collect data and examine the results in conjunction with additional pharmacy partners. The study’s final results will be released in January 2018.

Read more about the study at aclararesearch.com.

What You Need to Know: Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome

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Spit test could diagnose concussion in kids, study says

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 3:53 PM

Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game in April of 2017 in New York City. Scientists believe they may be close to a new spit test to help diagnose concussions and determine the duration.
Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Maxime Chanot #4 of New York City FC holds his head after a clash of heads form a corner kick during the New York City FC vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game in April of 2017 in New York City. Scientists believe they may be close to a new spit test to help diagnose concussions and determine the duration.(Tim Clayton - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

It can be difficult to tell how a long a concussion will last. However, a spit test may soon be able to diagnose and determine the duration, according to a new a report. 

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from Penn State University recently conducted a small experiment, published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal, to explore whether saliva can be used to identify prolonged concussion symptoms, which can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, balance problems, double or blurry vision. 

First, they examined saliva, discovering that it contains five small molecules called microRNAs, which influence protein levels. 

MicroRNAs also exhibit some predictive functions, because they include genetic fragments that reveal specific information about an individual’s health.

“Because of their abundance, stability in fluctuating pH levels, resistance to enzymatic degradation, and essential role in transcriptional regulation, miRNAs make ideal biomarkers,” the study read.

>> Related: Which high school sports have the most concussions? 

They then tested their theory by observing 52 children, teens and young adults. They measured the patients’ microRNAs by asking them to spit in cups. 

After analyzing the results, they found the microRNAs in saliva correctly identified children and adolescents with concussions 85 percent of the time. It also identified  those who had symptoms for at least a month. Standard surveys commonly used by doctors are only about 65 percent accurate.

Researchers said a concussion spit test could offer several benefits, including management of the condition and symptom testing.

“The miRNAs associated with prolonged concussion symptoms have potential utility as a toolset for facilitating concussion management. This tool could ease parental anxiety about expected symptom duration. An objective prolonged concussion symptoms tool could also inform clinical recommendations about return-to-play and school-based accommodations,” the authors wrote

Researchers did note that some patients used anti-inflammatory medicine, which could have altered their findings. They also acknowledged the size of the of study, explaining that a larger cohort would be needed to verify conclusions. 

>> Related: Football players under 12 at high risk of brain injury, study finds

In the future, they hope to study other biomarkers, such as blood, that could also yield the same results. 

Woman helps raise more than $40,000 for homeless veteran who gave her his last $20

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 3:50 PM

File photo - Man carrying gas can to car at roadside
Sam Edwards/Getty Images/Caiaimage
File photo - Man carrying gas can to car at roadside(Sam Edwards/Getty Images/Caiaimage)

A New Jersey woman has helped raise more than $44,000 for a homeless man who helped her when she was in a time of need. 

>> Read more trending news

Kate McClure was driving on I-95 in Philadelphia recently when her car ran out of gas. According to PhillyVoice.com, McClure got out of her car to walk to a gas station when she was approached by a homeless man, identified only as Johnny. Johnny told McClure to get back in her car and lock the door. He later returned to the vehicle with a can of gas. He had purchased the gas with what little money he had. 

McClure, who was in town to visit a friend, didn’t have anything to give to repay Johnny at the time, so she told him she would return. 

She kept her word.

According to a post online, McClure says she returned to visit Johnny, 34, at his spot by the side of the interstate with clothes, food and money. Each time, Johnny showed gratefulness and generosity.

“One day, I stopped to see him and had a few things in a bag to give him, one of which was a box of cereal bars so he could have something that he could carry around and eat,” McClure wrote. “He was very appreciative as usual and the first thing he said was, ‘Do you want one?’ Another time I dropped off (two) Wawa gift cards and a case of water. The first words that came out of his mouth were, ‘I can’t wait to show the guys’ -- there are (two) others he hangs out with, and they all take care of each other.”

McClure still felt compelled to do more for Johnny, so she created a GoFundMe account, hoping to raise $10,000 to help get Johnny a car, an apartment and some materials and amenities. 

In less than two weeks, McClure raised more than $44,000.

“With the money, I would like to get him first and last month’s rent at an apartment, a reliable vehicle and 4-6 months worth of expenses,” McClure wrote. “He is very interested in finding a job, and I believe that with a place to be able to clean up every night and get a good night’s rest, his life can get back to being normal. (I) truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break.”

Johnny told PhillyVoice.com that he was once a licensed paramedic and also served in the Marine Corps. He said he moved to Philadelphia last year with plans to start a new job, but when things fell through, he became homeless. 

He says now he wants to get a job at the Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville, New Jersey, and hopes to one day become recertified as a paramedic.

“(This) changes my life,” he said.

New York AG investigating fraudulent net neutrality comments to FCC

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 3:19 PM

Surrounded by DACA recipients and immigration activists, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during a press conference to announce the filing of a multi-state lawsuit to protect DACA recipients, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, September 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Surrounded by DACA recipients and immigration activists, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during a press conference to announce the filing of a multi-state lawsuit to protect DACA recipients, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, September 6, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday that his office is investigating tens of thousands of comments posted to a notice of the FCC’s proposed change to net neutrality rules after learning that they were made by impersonators.

>> Read more trending news

The investigation was launched six months ago, after researchers and reporters learned that the comment process, which is integral to the agency’s procedure for determining such rule changes, was being usurped by fraudsters who submitted an enormous number of fake comments, Schneiderman said Tuesday in an open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

“While some of these fake comments used made up names and addresses, many misused the real names and addresses of actual people as part of the effort to undermine the integrity of the comment process,” Schneiderman wrote. “That’s akin to identity theft, and it happened on a massive scale.”

He said that the identities of tens of thousands of New Yorkers were fraudulently used.

“Analysis showed that, in all, hundreds of thousands of Americans likely were victimized in the same way, including tens of thousands per state in California, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and possibly others,” Schneiderman wrote.

He said his office tried nine times over the course of five months to get records from the FCC necessary to investigate the apparent identity theft. He said his office and the FCC have shared information with one another before, but that despite offers to keep the records confidential, as done in the past, New York officials have “received no substantive response to our investigative requests.” 

“We all have a powerful reason to hold accountable those who would steal Americans’ identities and assault the public’s right to be heard in government rule making,” Schneiderman wrote. “If law enforcement can’t investigate and (where appropriate) prosecute when it happens on this scale, the door is open for it to happen again and again.”

He urged Pai and the FCC to “reconsider its refusal to assist in my office’s law enforcement investigation.”

“In an era where foreign governments have indisputably tried to use the internet and social media to influence our elections, federal and state governments should be working together to ensure that malevolent actors cannot subvert our administrative agencies’ decision-making processes,” he wrote.

Pai previously pledged to try to repeal the net neutrality regulations enacted under the Obama administration, which treat internet service providers as if they were utility companies that provide essential services, like electricity. The rules mandate that they give equal access to all online content and apps.

Pai distributed his alternative net neutrality rule plan to other FCC commissioners Tuesday in preparation for a Dec. 14 vote. Although the FCC’s two Democrats said they will oppose the proposal, the repeal is likely to prevail as Republicans dominate 3-2. The vote for net neutrality in 2015 was also along party lines, but Democrats dominated then.

Schneiderman said that his office’s investigation is not about net neutrality, but is instead about “the right to control one’s own identity and prevent the corruption of a process designed to solicit the opinion of real people and institutions.”

“Misuse of identity online by the hundreds of thousands should concern everyone – for and against net neutrality, New Yorker or Texan, Democrat or Republican,” Schneiderman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.