NYPD Officer Convicted for 2014 Shooting Death of Akai Gurley

On Thursday, a Brooklyn jury convicted NYPD Officer Peter Liang of manslaughter and official misconduct for the fatal shooting of Akai Gurley in 2014.  On November 20, Mr. Gurley, a black, 28-year-old father of two entered the stairwell of a public housing apartment building with his girlfriend, Melissa Butler.  One floor up, Officer Peter Liang entered the dark stairwell with his gun drawn.  In the confusion that followed, Officer Liang discharged the weapon and, possibly after a ricochet, Mr. Gurley was shot in the chest.  After the shooting, both Officer Liang and his partner failed to provide any treatment, instead, walking past the body and radioing to the police department as Ms. Butler struggled to administer CPR.

Though cited as an accident by the police department and the city, the death of Mr. Gurley was immediately compared to other police shootings of unarmed black men, including the killing of Michael Brown a few months earlier.  Throughout the trial, relatives of Mr. Gurley claimed the shooting was one more representation of a “culture of police violence against black men.”  Officer Liang, facing up to 15 years in prison, will be sentenced in April


Justice Antonin Scalia’s Death Inspires Homage and Conflict

The death of Antonin Scalia, 79, while on a hunting trip at a west Texas ranch, surprised the nation and provoked a range of reactions from Washington to Twitter.

Conservatives admired him, liberals criticized him, but almost all agree that Justice Scalia had a tremendous impact on the court, bringing a dedicated conservative approach to Supreme Court opinions and forcing originalism and textualism into the mainstream of American jurisprudential practice.

Already the fight over Justice Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court has begun.  Mitch McConnell came out quickly to urge that the President withhold a nomination, while other Republicans threatened to block any appointee of President Obama.  But with almost a year left in office, the Obama administration plans to move forward with a nomination.  Democrats promise that, if Senate Republicans refuse to allow hearings and a vote, they will “empty the arsenal,” making sure “this is seen as the radical, unprecedented act of obstruction that it is.”


Over 80,000 Refugees Have Arrived in Europe This Year

A new tally by the United Nations shows that more than 80,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Europe, by boat, in the first six weeks of 2016.  That number is greater than the number of people who migrated to Europe during the last four months of last year.  The refugee influx has led to deaths related to migration—over 400 this year, according to the U.N. high commissioner for human rights.  And with 500,000 refugees expected to arrive in Germany, alone, this year, the refugee crisis will continue to be an issue for domestic governments and the international community.


Families of Drug Cartel Murder Victims Sue Money Laundering Bank

Four families, all of whom had relatives murdered by Mexican drug cartels, brought suit this week against HSBC, a multi-national banking conglomerate, for its admitted role in laundering $881 million for the Juárez, Sinaloa, and Los Zetas cartels.  The families, all U.S. citizens, are suing under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows U.S. citizens to sue parties that provided material support to terrorist organizations.  They allege that, by laundering mass amounts of money for cartels that committed the attacks on their relatives, “HSBC knowingly contributed directly to the international drug and trafficking trade, including the ‘brutal acts’ that accompanied it.”  Zapata v. HSBC Holdings Plc will be litigated in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas.