Friday's Headlines & Surprises: Excessive Force?
- Shoot 15 times, ask softball questions later: The parents of Ashley MacDonald, the 18-year-old Huntington Beach girl killed by two police officers, filed an excessive force lawsuit yesterday in U.S. District Court, according to Christine Hanley at the Times. According to their suit, Kenneth MacDonald and Lisa Marie Guy claim that the officers didn't need to shoot Ashley 15 times--apparently, even as she was on the ground--for their own safety last August. Of course, Ashley hadn't been an angel. She was high on Meth, wielding a knife and ranting. The couple also allege that police illegally searched their home and lied about their daughter's fate after the killing. They're seeking $40 million in damages. In California, police officers are given incredibly wide latitude to execute their powers and so it wasn't surprising that they were cleared of wrongdoing by independent, non-biased, er, well, hmmm . . . they were cleared by fellow cops in the sheriff's department. This reminds me of Tricky Dick Nixon's line: If the president does it, it's not illegal.
- Beached Whale: Read a novel years back with the premise that evil Chinese communist forces undermine the USA by increasing the illegal narcotics flow to our shores. It was a so-so book. But now we've got Zhenli Ye Gon, the 44-year-old Shanghai-born, Mexican businessman who was indicted yesterday for running one of the world's largest meth operations, according to the Associated Press. Ingredients such as pseudoephedrine were apparently shipped from Asia to Mexico and Central America. Ye Gon's lawyer says his client is innocent and is working on explanations for why cops found $207 million in his Mexico City mansion. In recent years, he's reportedly lost $125 million in Vegas casinos. But here's the local hook that hasn't yet been explored: In March, officials at the Venetian hotel-casino, one of Ye Gon’s favorite resorts, loaned him a private jet so he could fly to--drum roll, please--Orange County. Underworld figures in OC? Naw.
- Traffic woes: Orange County transportation officials drove north yesterday to visit their cousins in LA, suggest better highway coordination and offer plans to, at least, partially deregulate carpool lanes. If the relationship is anything like what OC Weekly experiences with sister paper LA Weekly, nothing was accomplished except engrossed nail filing, faint head nods and sighs. As expected, the LA transportation folks said they might “consider” OC ideas to improve traffic flow, but noted their different philosophy. Different in this context means superior, I'm sure. They apparently like bottlenecks. Times reporters Rong-Gong Lin II and David Reyes write that “the two counties have a history of marching to different drummers.” Translation: Nothing is going to get done.
- OC sex predator nabbed in FL: The 19-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita honors student met a 34-year-old man on Craigslist in late May but she didn't know that he is a convicted sex offender. Donna Jou is now missing and yesterday authorities arrested John Steven Burgess, who'd fled to a Jacksonville, Florida Motel 6 to consume cocaine and enjoy prostitutes. It doesn't look good for Donna. She was last seen in June jumping on the back of Burgess' motorcycle. Earlier this month, sheriff's deputies recovered a plastic tool box a little over a mile from Burgess' house. It contained his vanity license plate, a black motorcycle helmet, rope, rubber gloves and a scrub brush, according to reporter Kimberly Edds. In 2003, Burgess pleaded guilty to groping a 14-year-old girl. “He picked up my daughter, and he didn’t bring her back,” Reza Jou told Edds. “He needs to explain why.” Dave Lopez at KCBS Channel 2 has a related story here.
- Well, at least he looks presidential! I'm giving you abundant notice because you're going to need to save your pennies for this one: Go see U.S. Senator/Lobbyist/Actor/Lawyer/Nixon Watergate mole and likely Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson next Tuesday in OC. You'll want to take a photo with Tennessee Fred too. Cost? Just $2,300 per person. Greg and Mona Williams are so sweet to loan their $5 million Newport Coast estate for the occasion. The fun begins at 5:30 p.m. Call Julie Paule at (951) 325-8040 for more information. Go ahead. Do it. I'm certain the media won't be allowed in--except for, perhaps, Mickadeit. His colleague, Gordo Dillow, will be too busy thinking up ways to taint the jury pool for the cops in the upcoming MacDonald excessive force trial.
- The AG's bullshit mountain grows: You might recall that the attorney general and Karl Rove fired a group of Republican assistant U.S. attorneys because they weren't targeting Democrats enough in the view of the White House. The AG can't keep his stories straight on the scandal, which gives Jon Stewart of Comedy Central ample material. He concludes, “Alberto Gonzales is saying basically there are problems, of which he cannot speak, for which he is responsible yet not to blame. And that he is the only one who can clean up the mess that he can neither confirm or deny exists.” Watch the clip here.