The Latest: Romney delays announcement after school shooting

Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 7:48 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 @ 7:47 PM


            FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2018, file photo, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about the tech sector during an industry conference, in Salt Lake City. Romney plans to announce his Utah Senate campaign Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Three people with direct knowledge of the plan say Romney will formally launch his campaign in a video. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2018, file photo, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about the tech sector during an industry conference, in Salt Lake City. Romney plans to announce his Utah Senate campaign Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Three people with direct knowledge of the plan say Romney will formally launch his campaign in a video. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

The Latest on Republican Mitt Romney's plans to run for a Senate seat in Utah (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

Republican Mitt Romney says he's postponing an announcement planned for Thursday about Utah's Senate race because of the deadly school shooting in Florida.

People familiar with Romney's plans tell The Associated Press that he is preparing a bid to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch. Romney was expected to release a campaign video Thursday.

But Romney tweeted Wednesday night that, out of respect for the shooting victims and their families in Parkland, Florida, he will not make an announcement Thursday.

___

5 p.m.

Republican Mitt Romney is preparing to announce his bid for Utah's Senate seat held by retiring Orrin Hatch.

People familiar with Romney's plans say the 2012 GOP presidential nominee will release an announcement video on Thursday. They discussed his plans on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to do so publicly.

While some hope Romney would use the position to continue his biting criticism of President Donald Trump, those close to Romney say he will focus instead on Utah. They say Romney will suggest that Washington has much to learn from the state the former Massachusetts governor now calls home.

Romney's small team of longtime advisers plans to maintain a low profile. Romney is carefully designing his campaign launch to avoid media questions about Trump.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Broward County Sheriff visits Parkland school shooting victim in hospital

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 8:57 PM

Victims of the Florida High School Mass Shooting

The Broward County sheriff said he was honored to visit a young student who survived the Feb. 14 South Florida school shooting that's left a community reeling. 

>> Read more trending news

The Broward County Sheriff's Office published a photo of Sheriff Scott Israel holding the hand of Anthony Borges, 15, in his hospital room.

"Fortunately, he is recovering -- but has a long road ahead with more surgeries needed," the Sheriff's Office posted. "Please join us in praying for the swift recovery of Anthony and all the other victims of this horrific criminal act."

The Sheriff's Office said in the Facebook post that Borges was shot five times during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Seventeen people, including students and staff, were killed in the shooting.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, who admitted to the shooting, remains in custody at the Broward County jail after being ordered held without bond on 17 counts of premeditated murder.

As memorials for the shooting victims continue, students are demanding tighter gun control and walkouts are being planned in the wake of the tragedy. 

Trending - Most Read Stories

Maryland family, awarded $37 million in police shooting, may not get the full amount

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 2:18 PM

Korryn Gaines was a 23-year-old woman shot and killed by Baltimore police. Her family won a verdict against law enforcement for an initial $37 million. Gaines was shot and killed in her Randallstown home after a six-hour standoff with officers. A jury found the officer who killed her did not act reasonably.

BALTIMORE — The verdict of more than $37 million won by the family of Korryn Gaines, who was shot and killed by police two years ago, is one of the largest ever against law enforcement officers in Maryland.

But legal experts question whether her family will get all that money. Maryland’s cap on local governments’ liabilities in such cases — and the propensity of judges to lower large awards on appeal — make it unlikely that Gaines’ relatives and her young son, Kodi, will see the full amounts.

“While that’s a tremendous verdict, it’s certainly going to be subjected to challenges left and right,” said attorney Andrew G. Slutkin, who was not involved in the Gaines case but is regularly involved in large civil-claims cases.

“This will be litigated for years,” Slutkin said. “It’s going to be subjected to many motions in the trial court and the appellate courts as well.”

» Police: Teacher offered better grades in exchange for photos

Gaines, 23, was shot and killed in her home in Randallstown, an unincorporated community in Baltimore County, in August 2016 after a six-hour standoff with police. Kodi — who was 5 at the time — was struck by gunfire twice, in the face and the elbow.

A jury found that the first shot from the police officer who fired at Gaines was not reasonable, and therefore violated her and her son’s civil rights under state and federal statutes. The jury Friday awarded more than $32 million in damages to Kodi, $4.5 million for his sister, Karsyn, and smaller amounts to other family members.

However, the Local Government Tort Claims Act, which stems from a law enacted in the 1980s, generally limits a local government’s payout in a lawsuit to $400,000 per plaintiff, or $800,000 for claims connected to a single incident.

Even so, Baltimore County could be on the hook for more, experts said, because the jury found that the officer who shot and killed Gaines violated her and her son’s federal constitutional rights, the penalties for which are not capped by state law.

A. Dwight Pettit, who often represents plaintiffs who sue police officers but wasn’t involved in this case, predicted an intense fight in the appellate courts. “You’re starting at least at $800,000 and it could be more if the constitutional claims survive,” he said.

“A lot of these jurisdictions have become emboldened by the cap,” Pettit said. “They don’t think they have real exposure. If these jurisdictions had to pay out these large amounts of money, these police brutality cases would go away very, very quickly.”

Pettit won the largest jury award in Maryland history against a law enforcement officer in 2004 — a $105 million civil verdict against former Baltimore Police Officer Rodney Price, who killed a man he believed was having an affair with his wife.

» Erica Garner, daughter of chokehold victim Eric Garner, dies in New York

But a judge reduced that to about $27 million, and Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals ruled in 2006 that Price was not “acting within the scope of his employment” and therefore Baltimore’s government was not responsible for paying anything at all.

Plaintiffs have had a hard time collecting other large awards against police.

In 2006, a Baltimore Circuit Court jury awarded $44 million to Albert Mosley because of a 2003 encounter with an officer inside a city jail cell that left Mosley a quadriplegic.

Former Baltimore City Solicitor George Nilson said the city refused to pay the multimillion-dollar verdict in the case — arguing that it wasn’t responsible for covering awards against police officers who were found to have acted with malice — and eventually the plaintiff’s lawyers agreed to a $1 million payout.

Regarding the Gaines case, Nilson said: “Any award against the county would be subject to the state cap.”

Baltimore County government attorney Mike Field issued a statement after Friday’s verdict, saying the county is reviewing its options in the Gaines case, “including an appeal.”

Trending - Most Read Stories

Florida sheriff pushes for 'game changer' program to arm teachers

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 7:50 PM

Shooter Reportedly In Custody In Florida High School Shooting

Sheriff Grady Judd in Polk County, Florida, went on the news Saturday to talk about the so-called “Sentinel Program” as a possible legislative response to mass shootings like the one that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last week, that left 17 dead.

>> Read more trending news

Judd called the program a “game changer” by arming select educators whose backgrounds have been vetted thoroughly, who have been psychologically evaluated and trained in weapons more intensely than law enforcement by state standards.

The sheriff argued that the solution is not something he wants, but it’s something that must happen.

“We have got to wake up, wake up and understand that we have to have … specially trained people that have concealed firearms that can run to the threat and protect our children,” he said.

“Do you know that there is gun control on every campus in Florida -- and, I would submit, across the United States -- that you can’t bring a gun on campus. And no one does, except the crazed person, the active shooter. There has to be a line of defense,” Judd said.

“There’s no absolutes in life, but I can tell you this: At least two coaches were killed standing in front of and trying to protect kids. Don’t you believe it would be a game-changer if they had a gun to defend the children?”

Students and parents have responded to the mass shooting perpetrated by Nikolas Cruz by calling for stricter guns laws in Florida.

Many participating in the #NeverAgain campaign seem to agree that they don’t want to arm teachers, but want “genuine, lasting change.”

Trending - Most Read Stories

Republican mega-donor issues ultimatum on assault weapons

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 6:29 PM

WATCH: President Trump Addresses the Nation After Florida School Shooting

Al Hoffman Jr., a North Palm Beach real estate developer and major Republican donor, is cutting off donations to candidates who do not support a ban on assault weapons, according to a report in the New York Times.

>> Read more trending news

Hoffman said he would urge other Republican donors to support an assault weapons ban, according to the report. Hoffman announced the ultimatum in an email to half a dozen Republican leaders, including Jeb Bush and Gov. Rick Scott. Hoffman has donated millions of dollars to Republican candidates and causes over the years.

A critic of President Trump, Hoffman supported Jeb Bush during the 2016 presidential campaign and donated more than $1 million to Right to Rise, a super PAC that supported Bush’s brief candidacy, according to the report.

“I will not write another check unless they all support a ban on assault weapons,” Hoffman wrote in the email. “Enough is enough.”

The loss of Hoffman’s support could be especially harmful to Scott, who is considering a Senate bid this year. Republican Rep. Brian Mast also will not see any donations from Hoffman if he does not support new gun legislation, according to the report.

Hoffman, who has a history of speaking his mind, has threatened to cut donations before. In an interview with the Palm Beach Post in 2013, Hoffman said he would be reluctant to raise money for candidates who do not support “reasonable” gun control. The same year, Hoffman wrote a letter to former House Speaker John Boehner, urging him to also support gun measures.

Hoffman, a former Republican National Committee finance chair and ambassador to Portugal, further rankled Republicans in 2013 when he said President Barack Obama was right on gun issues, Hoffman made the comment after most Senate Republican and a few red-state Democrats blocked legislation to expand background checks for gun buyers.

Hoffman alluded to past mass shootings in his email after the deaths of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week. He said future gun massacres are inevitable without government intervention, according to the New York Times report.

“If we go from Orlando to Las Vegas, and now Parkland, you just have to know that there are others around the country just dreaming about staging another mass murder.”

Republican lawmakers in Florida have pushed back on gun control initiatives, despite the state being the site of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando -- the second-worst mass shooting in U.S. history that left 49 dead. Only the October shooting at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas claimed more lives, with 58 killed.

The day after the Parkland shooting last week, Senate President Joe Negron said his interest would be focused on improving school safety and access to mental health treatment – not restricting gun laws.

“My focus is on making sure that lawful citizens who are obeying the law and entitled to their constitutional rights have appropriate access to firearms,” Negron said.

Although several gun bills were introduced during the state’s ongoing legislative session, the only one likely to pass -- HB 1419 and its companion SB 1048 -- expands the rights of a licensed person to carry a concealed weapon inside a church or other house of worship.

Trending - Most Read Stories