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Christopher Mathias
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New York Reporter, The Huffington Post.

Entries by Christopher Mathias

The Public Still Can't See The Eric Garner Grand Jury Records, Court Rules

(0) Comments | Posted July 29, 2015 | 4:55 PM

The public still can't look at transcripts from the grand jury investigation into the death of Eric Garner, a New York appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A four-judge panel from New York’s Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, upheld a previous decision from a lower court that found no “compelling and...

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In His Own Words, Iraq and Afghanistan Vet Recounts Journey From Homelessness To Hope

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2015 | 3:44 PM


There were over 67,000 homeless United States military veterans in 2011. Craig Hinds -- who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq  -- was one of them.

But in 2012, Hinds, now 37, found a place to live: the Jericho Project's veterans-only Kingsbridge...

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Ramarley Graham's Mother Tells DOJ To Stop Dragging Its Feet

(1) Comments | Posted July 24, 2015 | 10:54 AM

NEW YORK -- It's been nearly two years since the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was reviewing the evidence in the death of Ramarley Graham, an unarmed black teen gunned down at his home in the Bronx in 2012 by NYPD Officer Richard Haste.

And it's been...

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Video Shows NYPD Officers Beating Brooklyn Man After He Appears To Surrender

(7) Comments | Posted July 23, 2015 | 10:51 AM

A surveillance video shows two New York City police officers punching and beating a Brooklyn man earlier this month, even though the man had put his hands up and appeared to be surrendering.

The footage shows NYPD officer Lenny Lutchman approach 24-year-old Thomas Jennings inside a grocery store in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn on July 7, the New York Daily News reports. Lutchman is holding a baton in his right hand and gently pushing Jennings with his left hand.

Jennings almost immediately puts his hands up, in seeming surrender. Although the two appear to exchange words, the video has no audio.

That’s when NYPD officer Pearce Martinez rushes into the frame and punches Jennings in the head three times. As Martinez puts Jennings into handcuffs, Lutchman can be seen hitting him with a baton before forcing Jennings’ head into the store’s countertop.

The criminal complaint against Jennings alleges he "resisted arrest" and "flailed" his arms inside the grocery store.

Jennings suffered lacerations above his eye. A photo provided by his attorney, Amy Rameau, shows Jennings' blood-stained undershirt from after the incident.  

"What they did to my client was criminal, and I hope [Brooklyn District Attorney] Ken Thompson will prosecute them for their criminal acts," Rameau told The Huffington Post.

The "incident is being investigated in its entirety," a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn DA's office said. An NYPD spokesperson also confirmed that the Internal Affairs Bureau was reviewing the video and had launched an investigation into the incident.

Lutchman and Martinez followed Jennings to the grocery store on July 7 after responding to a nearby burglary call. Jennings and an unidentified man had refused to pay for two slices of pizza at New York Fried Chicken, according to the criminal complaint. The other man allegedly threatened a restaurant worker with a switchblade and said that the pair wouldn't pay for the pizza. That's when he and Jennings grabbed two boxes of pizza and fled, the complaint said.

However, Jennings told the Daily News that he had tried to buy two slices of pizza but was one dollar short. When he went outside to borrow a dollar from somebody, the unidentified man allegedly drew a knife on the restaurant worker. 

Jennings was detained for nearly a week on charges of robbery, menacing, petty larceny, and resisting arrest. He was released on July 13, after the Brooklyn DA's office didn't convene a grand jury.

Rameau said she's confident the case against her client will be dismissed. She added that Jennings will pursue litigation against the officers. 

This will be the second lawsuit Jennings has filed against the NYPD.  Another lawsuit, still pending in federal court, accuses officers in the 81st precinct -- the same precinct where Lutchman and Martinez work -- of breaking Jennings' eye socket while responding to a dispute between Jennings and his ex-girlfriend. 

CORRECTION: This article initially stated that Jennings received a $12,500 settlement from a previous lawsuit filed against the NYPD. He did not; this would be his second suit against the NYPD, not his third. Another plaintiff received the settlement after suing officer Lutchman for excessive...

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It's Been One Year Since Eric Garner Died. Here's What's Happened Since.

(11) Comments | Posted July 17, 2015 | 12:08 PM

Friday marks the anniversary of Eric Garner's death from a fatal police chokehold in New York, but the aftermath of his death is far from over.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether Officer Daniel Pantaleo -- who put Garner into the prohibited chokehold -- should face federal...

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NYPD Officer Under Investigation, Accused Of Calling Woman A 'F**king Dyke' Before Assaulting Her

(151) Comments | Posted July 16, 2015 | 7:06 PM

An NYPD officer is under investigation for a possible hate crime after a Brooklyn woman accused him of assaulting her and calling her homophobic slurs, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn district attorney’s office told The Huffington Post Thursday.

Stephanie Dorceant, 29, was arrested in the early morning hours of...

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This South Dakota Town Refuses To Take The Confederate Flag Off Its Police Uniform

(398) Comments | Posted July 16, 2015 | 10:17 AM

The police chief and mayor of Gettysburg, South Dakota, aren't backing down after criticism of a Confederate flag patch on the local police department's uniform. Rather than remove the offending symbol, the town is embracing it even more.

“If it had anything to do with racism we’d take it...

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Cuomo Appointed A Special Prosecutor For New York Killings Involving Police

(13) Comments | Posted July 8, 2015 | 10:56 AM

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed an executive order Wednesday appointing a special prosecutor to handle cases involving civilians who die at the hands of police.

"We have seen this all across the country where there's a lack of trust in the criminal justice system, triggered by a...

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There Will Be A Trial In The Death Of Akai Gurley

(24) Comments | Posted June 23, 2015 | 7:01 PM

NEW YORK -- A Brooklyn judge on Tuesday turned down a request to dismiss the charges against New York City police Officer Peter Liang in the 2014 death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley.

Judge Danny K. Chun said in court Tuesday that he found the evidence in the case “legally sufficient”...

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Here's Kalief Browder's Heartbreaking Research Paper On Solitary Confinement

(126) Comments | Posted June 23, 2015 | 4:08 PM

Bronx Community College was proud of Kalief Browder.

At the end of the 2014-15 school year, the 22-year-old had an impressive 3.55 grade point average. He led study groups. He tutored other students. And on June 5 -- just one day before Browder died by suicide in...

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The Fight Over Eric Garner Grand Jury Records Continues

(75) Comments | Posted June 16, 2015 | 6:39 PM

NEW YORK -- Nearly a year after Eric Garner died at the hands of police, an appeals court Tuesday heard oral arguments over whether to unseal records from the grand jury investigation into his death.

A panel of four justices with the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court grilled...

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Anger And Grief At Vigil For Kalief Browder

(47) Comments | Posted June 12, 2015 | 10:51 AM

NEW YORK -- A vigil Thursday evening for Kalief Browder -- the young Bronx man who died by suicide this week after spending his teenage years in jail without a trial -- started with a prayer.

"We’re here for one reason and one reason only," Rev. Jackie...

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New York City Council Passes 'Ban The Box' Bill Restricting Use Of Criminal Records In Hiring

(102) Comments | Posted June 11, 2015 | 11:13 AM

NEW YORK -- Carl Stubbs, 63, stood outside New York City Council chambers Wednesday in anticipation of the council’s vote on the Fair Chance Act -- a bill that would delay when many of the city’s private sector employers can ask job applicants about their criminal history.

“I feel...

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The Death Of Kalief Browder Is An 'American Tragedy Almost Beyond Words'

(370) Comments | Posted June 8, 2015 | 1:14 PM

Kalief Browder, a young man from New York City who had gained national renown in recent years as a symbol of America's broken criminal justice system, took his own life this weekend, according to a report from The New Yorker. He was 22.

Browder was just 16 years...

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Mother Of Man Who Died In Police Custody Sues, Hoping For Release Of Arrest Video

(2) Comments | Posted June 5, 2015 | 5:55 PM

New York City police officers allegedly saw Barrington Williams selling MetroCard swipes inside the subway station at East 161st Street/Yankee Stadium in the Bronx on Sept. 17, 2013. When the officers approached the 25-year-old, he ran.

According to media reports at the time, officers caught up with...

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As New York's Stringent Medical Marijuana Program Takes Shape, A Dispensary Could Come To Brooklyn

(30) Comments | Posted June 5, 2015 | 10:53 AM

Brooklyn could become home to one of the 20 medical marijuana dispensaries expected to open across New York state as early as next year.

A company called PalliaTech announced Thursday it has signed a lease on a 3,000-square-foot space in downtown Brooklyn, where it hopes to dispense cannabis...

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Relax, Stop-And-Frisk Reforms Aren't Making New York City Dangerous Again

(49) Comments | Posted June 3, 2015 | 2:04 PM

Shootings are up in New York City for the second year in a row, and The New York Post thinks it’s because Mayor Bill de Blasio “ended” stop-and-frisk.

“How many New Yorkers must die before the mayor brings back stop-and-frisk?” read the apoplectic headline of a column...

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150 Years Of Heroism And Heartbreak In The New York City Fire Department

(11) Comments | Posted May 29, 2015 | 4:31 PM

New York City's Firemen's Memorial sits on a quiet corner of the Upper West Side in Manhattan. On one side, there's a carving of a firefighter atop a horse-drawn fire engine speeding toward billowing smoke. On the other side, an inscription:

To the men of the fire...
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How Manspreading Arrests Highlight What's 'F**ked Up' About Broken Windows Policing

(199) Comments | Posted May 28, 2015 | 4:51 PM

It’s bad subway etiquette, sure, but is it an arrest-worthy offense?

“Manspreading” -- the act of a someone, usually a man, taking up two subway seats by spreading his legs -- has rankled many train passengers for years. It became enough of an annoyance that the Metropolitan...

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Police Reform Advocates Call Bratton's Remarks On Filming Officers 'Outrageous' And 'Disgraceful'

(154) Comments | Posted May 21, 2015 | 5:08 PM

Police reform groups expressed outrage Thursday over NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton's complaint that too many people are filming police officers.

Bratton spoke critically on Wednesday about the practice of filming police encounters, saying it is often “agitating situations.”

“The cameras are everywhere, but when they start...

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