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Darden withdraws as attorney for Hussle’s accused killer

WAVE NEWSPAPERS — Chris Darden — a former prosecutor best known for his work in the O.J. Simpson murder trial — has withdrawn as the defense attorney for the man charged with killing rapper Nipsey Hussle and injuring two other men in South Los Angeles, a judge said May 10.

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By Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Chris Darden — a former prosecutor best known for his work in the O.J. Simpson murder trial — has withdrawn as the defense attorney for the man charged with killing rapper Nipsey Hussle and injuring two other men in South Los Angeles, a judge said May 10.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teresa Sullivan noted that she granted Darden’s request to withdraw from the case and appointed the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office to represent Eric Ronald Holder Jr., 29.

Darden — who left the downtown Los Angeles courtroom before the case was called — posted on Facebook shortly before the hearing that he was on his way to withdraw from the case.

“As for my reasons for withdrawing I don’t know whether I will disclose them later or not,” Darden wrote in a lengthy Facebook post. “I only know that as a lawyer it is my duty to protect the rights of my clients even in the face of threats or angry mobs. … I cannot understand why in 2019 some people would deny a black man his 6th Amendment right to counsel of his choice. Or why defending such a man should invite threats not only against me but against my children too. … Just as they were in 1995. Cowards never change.

“These days these cowards don’t send letters instead they sit anonymously behind keyboards threatening a man’s mother and children. And some folks think that’s funny. It isn’t and I won’t ever forget it.”

Holder — represented at his April 4 arraignment by Darden — is charged with one count each of murder and possession of a firearm by a felon, along with two counts of attempted murder.

The charges, to which Holder pleaded not guilty, include an allegation that he personally and intentionally discharged a handgun that caused great bodily injury and death to the rapper on March 31.

Holder remains jailed in lieu of $5 million bail while awaiting his next court appearance June 12, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to require him to stand trial.

Holder, an aspiring rapper, could face a potential life prison sentence if convicted as charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He is accused of fatally shooting the 33-year-old Hussle — whose real name is Ermias Joseph Asghedom — at about 3:20 p.m. March 31 in front of the Marathon Clothing store the singer owned in the 3400 block of West Slauson Avenue in Hyde Park. Two other men also were wounded in the attack, though only one of them was hospitalized.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Holder got into a personal dispute with Hussle outside the store, then left and returned with a handgun.

Hussle was shot in the head and body and died at a hospital, according to police and the coroner’s office.

The police chief declined to discuss the nature of the disagreement between Holder and Hussle but stressed the shooting appeared to be a result of that dispute, not any type of gang rivalry or feud.

“We believe this to be a dispute between Mr. Hussle and Mr. Holder,” Moore said. “I’m not going to go into the conversations, but it appears to be a personal matter between the two of them.”

Holder was arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies about 1 p.m. April 2 in the 9000 block of Artesia Boulevard in Bellflower after a witness called authorities to report seeing a person believed to be Holder.

Hussle’s longtime girlfriend, actress Lauren London, posted a message on Instagram along with a series of photos.

“I am completely lost,” she wrote in the poem-formatted message.

“I’ve lost my best friend/My sanctuary/My protector/My soul…/I’m lost without you/We are lost without you babe/I have no words.”

London, known for her work on “ATL” and “Entourage,” had been with Hussle for about five years, and the couple had a 2-year-old son, Kross.

Holder has a criminal record that includes a 2009 arrest and charge of domestic battery against the mother of his child, The Blast reported. He pleaded down the battery charge by agreeing to complete an anger management treatment program and stay 100 yards away from the woman, according to the report.

He was also arrested in 2012 and charged with carrying a loaded gun. He made a deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to six months in Los Angeles County jail. According to court records, Holder was ordered not to “own, use or possess any dangerous or deadly weapons, including firearms, knives or other concealable weapons,” The Blast reported.

Hussle transformed himself from a South Los Angeles gang member to a rap musician and channeled his success into efforts to help others stay out of gangs. He bought shoes for students, re-paved basketball courts and provided jobs and shelter for the homeless.

Hussle helped renovate a Mid-City roller rink and redeveloped the strip mall that housed his clothing shop, where he was fatally wounded.

This article originally appeared in Wave Newspapers

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Community

OPINION: MACRO Success Depends on Qualified Oaklanders Who Know Our Neighborhoods

We always knew that we would have to fight for good pay and benefits.

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Back view of rescue service team member holding a bag and standing next to the vehicle with rotating beacons

Jobs in Oakland Series

Oakland is finally nearing implementation of a model program that will provide a humane alternative model for low-level emergency calls that do not require a police response.

Faith in Action East Bay (FAIEB) and other members of the Coalition for Police Accountability were deeply involved in a year-long community process, especially in targeted neighborhoods, that included town halls, participatory research, and stakeholder meetings, to develop an appropriate program unique to Oakland.

Two significant concerns were emphasized. Oaklanders overwhelmingly believe that hiring and training diverse, qualified residents that reflect the community they serve is essential to building public trust.

We always knew that we would have to fight for good pay and benefits.

“If they’re hiring us, what kind of jobs will they be?” was the common question. In February 2019, FIAEB members prepared lunch for 70 unhoused neighbors testifying to the Oakland Police Commission.  We heard repeatedly: “when we have emergencies, we need someone to call — who is not the police.”

Out  of  that,  came  the  inspiration  for  the  Mobile  Assistance Community  Responders  of  Oakland  (MACRO),  focusing  on:

  1. A non-police response  to  appropriate  low-level  911  calls;
  2. Centering de-escalation, trauma-informed care, and connecting residents to local services;
  3. Well-trained community responders, who reflect the neighborhoods they serve;
  4. Excellent jobs that attract exceptional candidates and have low turn-over;
  5. A dedicated MACRO phone number for residents who don’t want to call  911;
  6. Community engagement in pilot development and implementation.

Despite the city administration’s attempt to undermine the design of MACRO, we can ensure that it succeeds by calling on our councilmembers to give clear direction to the city that:

  • MACRO job descriptions accurately reflect the complex, challenging nature of these emergency response jobs and remove unnecessary requirements that block otherwise qualified applicants who are from the neighborhoods they serve.
  • Ensure $70,000 salaries to fairly compensate MACRO responders and ensure a stable workforce.  This is work previously done by police officers who are paid almost double.  Impacted Oakland neighborhoods need and deserve good jobs.
  • Do not divert 42% of MACRO’s staff budget to unnecessary highly paid positions that do not meet the core mission of emergency response.

Black and Brown folk have long done similar, low-paid, devalued work in homeless outreach, violence interruption, and drug counseling. Alternative crisis response is a new, expanding job market. Other jurisdictions are already expanding initial pilots. This is the moment to make sure MACRO responders are properly compensated, can afford to live in Oakland, and can become long-term experts at serving our community.

This is the moment for our City Council to insist that MACRO be implemented for success.

——————————————————————-

This opinion is part of Gay Plair Cobb’s Series on Jobs in Oakland. She is the Chief Executive Officer, Emerita, of the Oakland Private Industry Council, Inc., dba Oakland Partners in Careers. (Disclosure: She is married to Post News Group Publisher Paul Cobb.)

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Crime

California Ends Mandatory Minimums for Non-Violent Drug Offenses, Ending Archaic War on Drugs Era Policy

The bill, authored by state Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo of Los Angeles, was backed by a coalition of state and national groups, including the California Public Defenders Association, Drug Policy Alliance, and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and a range of drug treatment professional.

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An injectable drug is loaded into a syringe while prescription medication is strewn about haphazardly.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Tuesday to end mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses, laying to rest an archaic vestige of the War on Drugs and “tough-on-crime” policy era in California and acting on the recommendations of a state commission created to suggest changes to California’s criminal justice system.

SB7 ends mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug offenses, giving judges the discretion to assign alternative consequences, such as probation, treatment, or rehabilitative programs, where determined appropriate. Current law prohibits judges from doing so even for drug offenses involving marijuana, which the state has legalized for recreational use and licensed sale.

Such mandated sentencing, implemented in the late 1980s at the height of the War on Drugs, has been criticized for its role in mass incarceration and, in recent years, critics have pointed out that the laws reflect the difference in the government’s approach to the crack cocaine epidemic, which disproportionately impacted African Americans, and the opioid addiction crisis, which has heavily impacted white Americans. Some other states have already repealed their mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

The bill, authored by state Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo of Los Angeles, was backed by a coalition of state and national groups, including the California Public Defenders Association, Drug Policy Alliance, and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and a range of drug treatment professional.

“Our prisons and jails are filled with people — particularly from communities of color — who have committed low-level, nonviolent drug offenses and who would be much better served by non-carceral options like probation, rehabilitation and treatment,” Weiner said in a written statement after Newsom’s signing. “[SB7] is an important measure that will help end California’s system of mass incarceration.”

The Committee on Revising the Penal Code, a committee established in 2019 to recommend changes to California’s criminal laws, recommended ending mandatory minimums in California in its first annual report in 2020. “Aspects of California’s criminal legal system are undeniably broken,” the report stated at the time. “The current system has racial inequity at its core,” and “people of color are disproportionately punished under state laws.”

Ending mandatory minimums was just one of 10 recommendations made by the committee. Others included establishing a process for reviewing the sentences of people already sentenced under unduly harsh sentencing laws, eliminating incarceration for certain traffic offenses, and requiring that short prison sentences be served in county jail instead of prison.

Legislators are considering some of the committee’s other recommendations.

    This story was written using information from the Drug Policy Alliance and the Committee on Revising the Penal Code.

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Community

Solano County Participates in Celebrating National Forensic Science Week

Bureau of Forensic Services employees who participated in celebrating last week’s National Forensic Week were congratulated by Randy Wampler, laboratory director for the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Forensic Services. 

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Criminalist Sam Mahil pipetting a blood specimen at the forensic lab. Photo courtesy of Solano County Bureau of Forensic Services

Bureau of Forensic Services employees who participated in celebrating last week’s National Forensic Week were congratulated by Randy Wampler, laboratory director for the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Forensic Services. 

“As noted in a resolution passed by Solano’s County’s Board of Supervisors, we recognize you for vital public service in your work as forensic scientists.”

Forensic science plays an important role in the investigating of crimes throughout the county and nation, from exonerating the innocent to identifying the guilty, said Wampler. It also plays a critical role in public outreach and crime prevention.

“As we celebrate the dedication and commitment of the professionals working in our forensic laboratory and the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, we also recognize that their work is essential to the fair and ethnical administration of justice,” Wampler said.

Forensic science is essentially the application of scientific practices to evidence for use in criminal justice.  The Solano County DA Forensics Lab uses forensic science for drug and alcohol analysis, as well as toxicology from blood samples, primarily for use on DUI cases.  In general, forensic science can also be used for DNA analysis, fingerprinting and other methods for identifying individuals.

“What we work with is physical evidence,” said Wampler. “When physical evidence is collected from a crime or crime scene, the forensic lab will conduct the scientific analysis on that evidence and come to conclusions on anything as it relates to, such as a white powder being methamphetamine, or a blood alcohol” measurement.

Wampler further noted that forensic science plays an important role in public outreach and crime prevention.

“While the majority of the work we do is reactive to the crimes that have already occurred, we can provide results in hopes that future crimes can be avoided,” Wampler said.  “For example, many times property-related crimes are carried out by individuals addicted to drugs. By solving these property crimes, we may be able to identify those individuals and get them into treatment programs in hopes of reducing recidivism.”

For more information on the Bureau of Forensic Services and the work they do, contact the lab at 707-784-4400 or email SCDABFS@solanocounty.com.

The Vallejo Post’s coverage of local news in Solano County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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