Police: Man crashed car in icy river, left girlfriend to drown

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 10:20 AM

Man Arrested After Allegedly Leaving Girlfriend To Die In Icy River

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

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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.” 

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. 

Details of those crimes were not immediately available. 

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2 police officers fired amid accusations they beat, kicked black man in face

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 3:16 PM

A trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol talks to a driver at a DUI checkpoint December 15, 2006, in Miami. Two Mississippi police officers were fired earlier this month after they chased a man who turned around at a driver's license checkpoint and allegedly beat and kicked him during his arrest.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol talks to a driver at a DUI checkpoint December 15, 2006, in Miami. Two Mississippi police officers were fired earlier this month after they chased a man who turned around at a driver's license checkpoint and allegedly beat and kicked him during his arrest.(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Two Mississippi police officers have been fired -- and could face criminal charges -- following an investigation into claims that they beat a black man, kicking him in the face several times, after he turned around from a police checkpoint earlier this month and led them on a high-speed chase. 

James Barnett, 36, of Laurel, told WDAM in Moselle that he was injured so badly he cannot currently work and will require surgery to his eye. His nose was also broken. 

Photos taken by the news station show Barnett’s face bruised and battered, his right eye bloodshot. Click here to see the photos. Warning: The images may be too graphic for some readers. 

Barnett said he was driving early the morning of May 16 when he came upon a driver’s license checkpoint being conducted by the Laurel Police Department. He said he turned around because he was driving without a license. 

Two of the officers at the checkpoint followed him.  

Barnett admitted to leading the officers on a high-speed chase for about 20 miles before stopping. 

“As I was getting out, they had their guns drawn on me, telling me to get out with my hands out and get on the ground,” Barnett told the news station. “So, I laid flat on the ground, face-down (and) they came up continuously kicking me in my face.”

Barnett said the officers, both of whom are white, stopped kicking him only when a Jasper County sheriff’s deputy arrived at the scene. He said the officers took him to a hospital, where they continued to taunt and harass him. 

At that point, four additional officers were there as well. All six stood around his bed, he said. 

“I (was) nervous because I’m thinking it’s going to be the end of my life in there,” Barnett said. “So, I played like I was asleep -- my eyes closed.”

Laurel police Capt. Tommy Cox, who held a brief news conference Monday with Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee, said supervisors realized quickly something about Barnett’s arrest was not right. 

“It became apparent to the supervisors on duty that there was a problem with the manner in which the arrest occurred,” Cox said at the news conference, streamed on Facebook by WDAM. “It has always been the policy of LPD that all use-of-force events are reviewed by several levels of supervisors and administration.”

An internal investigation began the morning of Barnett’s arrest and was completed the following day, Cox said. The findings of the investigation resulted in the firing of the two officers, whose names were not released. 

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is conducing an outside review of the case to determine if criminal charges are warranted, Cox said. Body camera and dashboard camera footage are being withheld until the investigation is complete. 

“The officers and administration of LPD take these kinds of allegations very seriously,” Cox said. “It should be noted that the internal investigation was initiated only hours after the incident, before any media attention, social media posts or even a formal complaint from the other individual involved.”

Barnett took to Facebook the day after his arrest, posting graphic photos of his injuries and demanding justice. He called the officers “low-life, sorry excuses for human beings” and said he was thankful God let him survive the beating. 

“I wouldn’t wish this on NOBODY,” Barnett wrote. “One even had the nerve to ask me, ‘How did those steel toes feel, boy,’ trying to get a rise out of me, but I just laid there and prayed.”

He wrote that he had never been so afraid in his life.

“I will not let this go. I don’t (want) this to happen to anyone else,” Barnett wrote

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Cox declined to say Monday if the department had received previous complaints about either officer. He also declined to speculate on why they decided to follow Barnett, whose name was not made public at the news conference, when he turned around at the checkpoint.  

Magee praised the department’s handling of the incident. 

“We have handled the situation as we do. It’s said that police can’t police themselves, but in certain instances, they can, and this is evidence of that,” the mayor said

Barnett pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in his first court appearance, WDAM reported. He is still scheduled to appear in court next month, at which time he said he plans to fight the charge. 

“I just want justice,” Barnett told the news station. “I want what’s right, done. They (did) me wrong, so something has to be done about that. 

“If you’re working for the law, do right by the law. Don’t uphold the law by trying to take the law into your own hands.”

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Trump appears on 'Fox and Friends,' talks MS-13, immigration, North Korea in taped interview

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 6:16 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 6:16 AM

President Trump Calls In To 'Fox And Friends'

President Donald Trump discussed MS-13, immigration, North Korea and the NFL’s new policy on national anthem protests in an interview that aired this morning on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”

>> Jamie Dupree: Trump renews attacks on Russia probe as lawmakers see documents

Here are the latest updates:

Update 6:44 a.m. Thursday: 

  • On a possible summit with North Korea: “If that happens, it’ll be a great thing for North Korea. Most importantly, it would be a great thing for the world,” Trump said, adding that he’d like denuclearization to be “done immediately, but physically, a phase-in may be a little bit necessary.”

  • On former FBI Director James Comey: “I would actually say, how is he going to explain to his grandchildren all of the lies, the deceit, all of the problems he has caused this country,” Trump said, adding: “I’ve done a great service for this country by getting rid of [Comey], by firing him.”

Update 6:15 a.m. Thursday: 

  • On MS-13: Trump called members of MS-13 “stone cold killers” and said Democrats are “sticking up” for the gang.
  • On immigration: “The whole system is corrupt,” Trump said, adding that he would only approve a congressional plan to bring back DACA if “it includes a wall, a real wall.”   
  • On the economy: "We have a great economy – probably the best economy the country's ever had."
  • On NFL national anthem protests: “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Otherwise, you shouldn’t be playing; you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

ORIGINAL STORY: President Donald Trump will discuss North Korea, immigration and the NFL's new policy on national anthem protests in an interview airing this morning on Fox News' "Fox and Friends."

>> PREVIOUSLY: Trump slams Comey, DOJ in wide-ranging 'Fox & Friends' interview

Brian Kilmeade's interview with Trump was taped Wednesday in Bethpage, New York, after the president appeared at a forum about MS-13, The Hill reported

Trump tweeted about the interview Wednesday night.

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"Will be interviewed on @foxandfriends tomorrow morning at 6:00 A.M. Enjoy!" he wrote.

>> See the tweet here

Please return for updates.

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House OKs $182M Wright-Patt expansion, military pay raise

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 11:37 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 11:37 AM

House OKs $182M Wright-Patt expansion, military pay raise
House OKs $182M Wright-Patt expansion, military pay raise

The House has passed a $717 billion defense policy bill that would give the military a 2.6 percent pay hike, the largest in nine years and allow for a major expansion at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The bill OKs a massive $182 million expansion of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at the base, one of the largest expansions in history.

The bipartisan 351-66 vote sends the measure to the Senate, where a key panel completed a companion measure in a closed-door session on Wednesday.

RELATED: Defense gets major increase pay raise for troops in budget plan

The new building would be funded at one time instead of broken into two stages. The Air Force had initially asked for $116 million with another $66 million to be requested in future years.

The annual measure sets policies and a budget outline for the Pentagon that are funded by a subsequent appropriations bill that typically follows its parameters fairly closely.

“To put it in perspective, this building would receive more military construction funding than Wright-Patterson received in military construction funding in the last nine years,” Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs, said earlier this month.

Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces pushed for multiple provisions included in the legislation including the NASIC expansion and expediting hiring of civilians into high-tech fields.

“All of the provisions I included in the National Defense Authorization Act remained in the bill and overwhelmingly passed the House today, bringing our community one step closer to getting $182 million for a new building at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Turner said in a statement. “I fought for key provisions in this bill to bolster our community, ensure the safety of our men and women in uniform, and keep our country secure.”

RELATED: Top Air Force leader to grads at Wright-Patt: ‘Our nation needs you desperately

The military got a major budget increase under the terms of a bipartisan pact passed earlier this year that the Pentagon's many allies in Washington promise will address shortfalls in military readiness such as pilot training, maintenance of equipment, and procurement of new weapons systems.

Readiness issues contributed to a situation in which almost four times as many military service members died in training accidents as opposed to combat. Just this spring, aviation accidents have claimed 25 lives.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said that the measure puts a particular focus on pilot training and retention.

"The key focus of this bill is restoring readiness to ensure that when our men and women in uniform go out on mission, they have the best equipment, the best training and the best support our nation can provide," Thornberry said.

The measure would block the use of operational military units or military equipment if President Donald Trump carries out plans for a massive military parade in Washington, D.C., if it would hamper military readiness.

Staff writer Barrie Barber and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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“Situation normal” as Trump cancels summit with Kim Jong Un

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 2:58 PM

After days of increasingly bellicose statements from Pyongyang, President Donald Trump on Thursday pulled the plug on a scheduled June 12 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but left the door open to future negotiations over efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

“If and when Kim Jong Un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions, I am waiting,” the President said at the White House.

Mr. Trump’s remarks came several hours after he sent a letter to Kim Jong Un, calling off their summit, as U.S. officials laid the blame directly on the North Koreans.

“While many things can happen and a great opportunity lies ahead, potentially, I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and, indeed, a setback for the world,” the President said.

Both in his letter to Kim, and in his public remarks, the President edged back toward some of the tougher rhetoric that had characterized the Kim-Trump relationship of last year, when the two men lobbed threats of possible military action.

“Hopefully, positive things will be taking place with respect to the future of North Korea. But if they don’t, we are more ready than we have ever been before,” Mr. Trump said.

His letter was even more direct.

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Mr. Trump wrote, labeling the cancelled summit a ‘missed opportunity.’

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers asked the Secretary of State – who happened to be at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – what would happen next, as Secretary Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would continue with the “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions against Pyongyang, and wait for the response of Kim Jong Un.

“I am hopeful that we can continue to have conversations so that we can put his back on track,” Pompeo said, though he admitted it was not clear why the North Koreans suddenly went from being willing partners to not answering phone calls.

“I don’t really know I want to speculate why they took those actions, because I don’t think we know,” Pompeo added.

“In some ways, it’s situation normal,” Pompeo said to one question. “The pressure campaign continues.”

Pompeo sparred with several Senate Democrats during the hearing, as he rejected assertions that the U.S. had rushed into a summit with Kim, and wasn’t really prepared to deal with a North Korean leader who is known for sudden course changes.

“Unfortunately, it seems that our chief diplomat is negotiating war,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) of Pompeo.

“From the beginning, when Trump impulsively decided that he would meet with Kim Jong Un, it has been clear that the summit involved very little preparation,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

“We cannot return to the name-calling and saber-rattling of the last year,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).

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