Over 60,000 officers assaulted in 2020, with 31% sustaining injuries: FBI


(NEW YORK) -- More than 60,000 law enforcement officers were assaulted in the line of duty in 2020, including more than 40 who were killed, according to the FBI.

The total of 60,105 was an increase of 4,071 from 2019, with FBI drawing on reports from some 9,895 law enforcement agencies.

Among those assaulted, about 31% sustained injuries. In 2020, 46 officers were killed, down from 48 in 2019, FBI data showed.

Most of the assaults on officers happened after they responded to disturbance calls, including family quarrels and bar fights, according to the FBI.

"Police officers across the country are facing an increase in violent crime and violent acts committed against them," said Laura Cooper, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. "Facing these dangerous situations is another reason why it has been difficult for police agencies to find recruits who want to put on a uniform and put their lives on the line."

Vernon Stanforth, president of the National Sheriffs Association, said the staggering numbers weren't a surprise "after this troubling year for law enforcement."

Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund President Jason Johnson said the increased assaults on officers come at a time when they're "seemingly under attack on all fronts."

In the first nine months of 2021, 54 officers were feloniously killed while on duty compared with 37 over that same time period in 2020, according to the latest FBI data. Among those deaths, 20 were unprovoked attacks.

A new LELDF report showed that from June 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021, in the wake of George Floyd's killing and the subsequent protests, the percentage of officers quitting or retiring had increased by double digits compared with 2019.

This year, high-profile police killings have already dominated headlines, including the case of Chicago officer Ella French, who was shot during a traffic stop in August.

French, 29, was the first Chicago police officer since 2018 killed in the line of duty and the city's first female officer killed in the line of duty since 1988.


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COVID-19 updates: 'National emergency' declared on children's mental health


(NEW YORK) -- The United States has been facing a COVID-19 surge as the more contagious delta variant continues to spread.

More than 726,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while over 4.9 million people have died from the disease worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Just 66.7% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the CDC.

Latest headlines:
-10 states see rise in hospital admissions
-UK records highest daily death toll since March
-'National emergency' declared on children's mental health

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern.

Oct 19, 2:56 pm
Secretary Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has tested positive for COVID-19, a DHS spokeswoman confirmed to ABC News.

Mayorkas, who is fully vaccinated, "is experiencing only mild congestion," a statement said.

Mayorkas will work from home, the statement said. Contact tracing is underway.

ABC News' Luke Barr

Oct 19, 1:00 pm
Pfizer vaccine 93% effective against hospitalizations for 12-18 age group

A new CDC study found that the Pfizer vaccine was 93% effective against hospitalizations for adolescents ages 12 to 18 from July to September.

The researchers also found that nearly all (97%) of adolescents’ ages 12 to 18 who were hospitalized with COVID-19 were unvaccinated.

ABC News' Sony Salzman

Oct 19, 12:30 pm
10 states see rise in hospital admissions

Ten states -- all of which have colder temperatures -- have seen upticks in hospital admissions in recent weeks, according to federal data: Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wyoming.

However, nationwide, just under 58,000 Americans remain hospitalized, a major drop from 104,000 patients at the end of the summer, according to federal data.

Death rates remain high, with more than 1,000 Americans dying each day, according to federal data.

Over the last month, the U.S. has reported approximately 45,000 COVID-19 deaths, including nearly 7,600 deaths in the last week.

ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos

Oct 19, 11:48 am
UK records highest daily death toll since March

The United Kingdom recorded 233 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the highest total since March 5, according to government data.

In a statement confirmed by ABC News, issued before the new figures were published, the prime minister’s office said it was keeping a "very close eye" on the numbers and urged people to get their booster shots.

"We have seen case rates rising, we've started to see some indications that hospitalizations and death rates are increasing also," a spokesman for the prime minister said. "It's important that the public understand that getting your booster jab is just as important as getting your first and second dose."

ABC News' Guy Davies


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Freshman fraternity member at Kentucky dies from 'presumed alcohol toxicity'


(NEW YORK) -- A freshman at the University of Kentucky died from alcohol toxicity Monday night after he was found unresponsive at his fraternity house, officials said.

University police officers were called to FarmHouse Fraternity at about 6:22 p.m. Monday where Thomas Lofton Hazlewood, an 18-year-old fraternity member, was unresponsive, the university said.

The agricultural economics major was taken to a hospital where he died, the university said.

Hazlewood's cause of death was "presumed alcohol toxicity" pending investigation, and the manner of death was ruled an accident, the Fayette County Coroner's Office said.

"Foul play is not suspected, but police are investigating the circumstances of his death," the university said in a statement Tuesday.

FarmHouse Fraternity CEO Christian Wiggins said in a statement, "We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Thomas 'Lofton' Hazelwood, a new member of the University of Kentucky chapter of FarmHouse Fraternity. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and loved ones as well as the entire community. We have encouraged all members and new members to cooperate with any investigation prompted by Mr. Hazelwood’s death."

"The thoughts of the entire UK community are with his family and all those who knew him," the university said.


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Would-be Ahmaud Arbery jurors air strong opinions on killing, defendants


(NEW YORK) -- The second day of jury selection in the high-profile murder case of Ahmaud Arbery commenced Tuesday, with prosecutors and lawyers finding it tough to impanel an impartial jury.

"I guess I would call it murder," one potential juror vented on the three white Georgia men accused of chasing down and killing Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man.

Another would-be panelist put it bluntly when asked in court about his opinions of the case that has dominated headlines nationwide, but particularly in south Georgia, saying, "I'm sick of it." Several potential candidates said they were worried about their safety if selected to serve.

In the first day and a half of the courtroom proceedings, no jurors have been selected and at least 14 of the first 40 questioned under oath so far have been dismissed, while others have yet to be individually questioned or told they may be called back. At least three of the potential panelists let go are Black and one is Hispanic, causing attorneys for Arbery's family to be concerned.

"We certainly believe that there should be Black and brown voices, as well as white voices on the jury," one of the family's attorneys, Lee Merritt, said in an interview with ABC News' Linsey Davis on Monday evening.

About 1,000 residents of Glynn County received a jury summons and questionnaire, or about 1 out of 85 eligible people living in a county that, according to U.S. Census data, is 69% white, 26% Black and 7% Hispanic.

The three defendants are Gregory McMichael, 65, a retired police officer, his son, Travis McMichael, 35, and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, 52. They have all pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment stemming from the Feb. 23, 2020, fatal shooting of Arbery in the unincorporated Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick.

The McMichaels claim they thought Arbery was a burglar and were exercising their rights under the state's citizens' arrest law, which has since been repealed. Travis McMichael is also claiming self-defense after allegedly shooting Arbery three times with a shotgun during a fight, according to his attorney.

Bryan made a cellphone video of part of the fatal confrontation, which is now being used as evidence against him and the McMichaels. Bryan's attorney said he was only a witness to the crime, but prosecutors counter that he was an active participant in the pursuit of Arbery.

On Tuesday, the second batch of 20 potential jurors was sworn in by Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy R. Walmsley, who was appointed to preside over the Glynn County trial. Under general questioning from Walmsley, nine of the candidates raised their hands affirmatively when asked, "Have you for any reason formed or expressed an opinion in regard to the guilt or innocence of the accused?"

When asked by lead prosecutor Linda Dunikowski if there was anyone in the room who wanted to serve on the jury, no one raised their hand.

In an indication of how small Glynn County is, at least five jurors said they knew one or more of the defendants or some of the witnesses Dunikowski said could be called to testify.

One potential juror said she knew Jackie Johnson, the former Brunswick District Attorney. Johnson, the first prosecutor to get the case, was indicted in September on a felony count of violating her oath of office by allegedly "showing favor and affection" to Gregory McMichael, with whom she once had a working relationship, and a misdemeanor count of hindering a law enforcement officer.

During the questioning of individuals on Monday, some of the would-be panelists did not shy away from sharing their opinions.

"I think Mr. Arbery was probably in terror. I'm trying to be honest here," a woman referred to as Juror No. 4, a retired accountant and auditor, said under questioning by defense lawyers.

After acknowledging her negative feelings toward Travis McMichael, she said, "He shot a man who had been running through his neighborhood who didn't appear to have done anything wrong. What would I call that? I guess I would call it murder."

A man referred to as Juror No. 2 said during questioning that he has shared the video of Arbery's slaying on social media and discussed the case with his brothers -- one of whom is also among the potential jurors summoned.

"I'm sick of it," Juror No. 2 said of news of the case. "It's everywhere. It's around my job. Everywhere I look, it's there."

ABC News' Janice McDonald contributed to this report.


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Family of Elijah McClain reaches settlement with Aurora, Colorado


(NEW YORK) -- The family of Elijah McClain has reached a settlement with the city of Aurora over his violent arrest and subsequent death, city officials said.

"The city of Aurora and the family of Elijah McClain reached a settlement agreement in principle over the summer to resolve the lawsuit filed after his tragic death in August 2019," Ryan Luby, the deputy director of Communications and Marketing for Aurora, told ABC News.

He said city leaders will sign the agreement as soon as the family completes a separate process to determine how any settlement proceeds will be divided among themselves. Until then, "the parties cannot disclose the settlement terms," but so far, no amount was discussed in the most recent hearing on Oct. 8, Luby said.

"The court will now determine allocation of the proceeds between Ms. McClain, the parent who raised Elijah McClain by herself, and LaWayne Mosley," attorneys for Elijah McClain's mother, Sheneen McClain, told ABC Denver affiliate, KMGH-TV.

A lawyer for Elijah McClain's father also confirmed a settlement has been reached.

"Nothing will bring back his son Elijah, who he loved dearly, but he is hopeful that this settlement with Aurora, and the criminal charges against the officers and medics ... will allow his family and the community to begin to heal," attorney Mari Newman, on LaWayne Mosley's behalf, told ABC News.

The settlement comes over a year after the family filed a 106-page federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Colorado, accusing several officers and paramedics of violating Elijah McClain's civil rights and negligently causing his death.

Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old massage therapist from Aurora, Colorado, was confronted by police on Aug. 24 while walking home from a convenience store, after a 911 caller said they saw someone "sketchy." He was unarmed.

He was wearing a ski mask at the time because, according to his family, he had anemia, a blood condition that can make people feel cold more easily.

Body camera video shows that the officers told Elijah McClain he was "being suspicious," to which he replied, "I have a right to go where I am going."

Officers placed him in a carotid chokehold, which restricts the carotid artery, cutting off blood to the brain, according to an independent review of his death released in February. Elijah had earlier pleaded with them, saying he is non-violent and at one point was heard on the body camera footage saying that he can't breathe.

When EMTs arrived at the scene, he was administered a shot of 500 milligrams of ketamine and was then loaded on an ambulance, where he had a heart attack, officials said.

Elijah McClain went into cardiac arrest. The incident led to his death on Aug. 30, three days after doctors pronounced him brain dead and he was removed from life support, officials said. The Adams County coroner ruled the cause of McClain’s death to be undetermined.

Initially, no charges were brought against the officers involved in the incident.

However, in January, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser launched a grand jury probe into Elijah McClain's death. In September, a state grand jury returned a 32-count indictment against the three officers -- Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema -- and two paramedics -- Jeremy Cooper and Peter Cichuniec -- in the case, charging them with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, among other charges.

Sheneen McClain called the charges "a step toward justice" at the time.

"I'm still praying for them to be in prison. My son's murderers and their accomplices all need to be in prison for what they did to him," she told ABC News. "They had no right to stop him. They had no right to handcuff him, brutalize and terrorize him, or inject him with ketamine."

The Aurora Police Association Board of Directors defended the officers following the indictment, saying in a statement, "There is no evidence that APD officers caused his death. The hysterical overreaction to this case has severely damaged the police department."

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson and Aurora Fire Rescue Chief Fernando Gray both said that each of their departments will continue to cooperate as the judicial process moves forward.

Last month, the Colorado attorney general issued a report following a 14-month probe into the actions of the Aurora Police Department in the wake of Elijah McClain's death and found the department had a pattern of racial bias, as well as excessive force.

The report also found Aurora Police arrested people of color "1.3 times more than whites based on population percentage alone."

The AG office recommended changes to policies, training, record-keeping and hiring as a result of the report.

ABC News' Ivan Pereira, Sabina Ghebremedhin, Deena Zaru and Courtney Condron contributed to this report.


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DNA evidence from decades-old unsolved child murders heading to private lab


(ATLANTA) -- Police are taking DNA evidence from decades-old unsolved child murder cases to a private lab in Utah in the hopes of finding "concrete answers for the families," Atlanta's mayor said.

From 1979 to 1981, at least 29 Black people, mostly kids and adolescents, were killed in the Atlanta area, according to the mayor's office. The first two victims were a 14-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy who vanished within days of each other, the mayor's office said.

The slayings became known as the "Atlanta Child Murders."

Wayne Williams was long been considered the suspect but was never convicted in the cases, ABC Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV reported. In 1982, Williams was convicted of killing two adults and he's currently incarcerated, according to WSB-TV.

This week, investigators are taking the evidence to a private lab in Salt Lake City "that specializes in analyzing deteriorated DNA," Atlanta police said.

"Considering the emergence of new science and technology related to DNA testing, the Atlanta Police Department realized an opportunity to re-evaluate evidence from the Atlanta Child Murders case," police said in a statement Tuesday. "As with all murder cases, our investigators dedicate countless hours of time and energy to successfully solve cases and bring some sense of closure to victims’ relatives."

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tweeted, "It is my sincere hope that there will be concrete answers for the families."


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NYPD officers face discipline due to alleged Black Lives Matter protest misconduct

iStock/Juliana Vilas Boas

(NEW YORK) -- The NYPD's oversight agency has recommended the department discipline 65 officers who are accused of misconduct during last year's anti-racism protests.

The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board received over 750 complaints concerning alleged NYPD officer conduct following the Black Lives Matter demonstrations during summer 2020, according to the agency. Only 313 complaints fell within the board's jurisdiction.

It found 42 substantiated complaints of misconduct concerning 65 officers.

The board recommended serving charges against officers in 37 complaints, Command Discipline B in 11 complaints, and Command Discipline A in 19 complaints.

The recommended disciplinary actions are the most severe forms of punishment against NYPD officers. According to the CCRB website, charges prompt an administrative trial that may lead to lost vacation time, suspension or termination.

Command disciplines are recommended for misconduct that does not rise to the level of charges, but is emblematic of an issue more severe than poor training, according to the board. An officer can lose up to 10 vacation days as a result of a Command Discipline -- Schedule B is the more serious of the command disciplines.

CCRB review states that there have been challenges in the investigation "due to the failure to follow proper protocols, officers covering their names and shield, officers wearing protective equipment that did not belong to them, the lack of proper use of body-worn cameras, as well as incomplete and severely delayed paperwork."

An NYPD spokesperson told ABC News that the department has assisted the CCRB in its investigations by providing body camera footage and "thousands of pages of records."

"The NYPD has made significant strides and continues to work toward making our discipline processes transparent," Deputy Commissioner Public Information spokesperson Sergeant Edward Riley said in a statement to ABC News. "Like any citizen, police officers should be afforded a presumption of innocence until and unless proven guilty."

Any discipline as a result of an NYPD administrative trial will be made public in the NYPD's online discipline database, according to Riley.

In January, New York Attorney General Letitia James also filed a lawsuit against the NYPD over its handling of anti-racism protests across New York City, accusing the department of failing to address issues of abuse of power against civilians.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller told reporters at the time that the lawsuit "doesn't seem to meet the standard of a federal monitor. It doesn't seem to illustrate a pattern of practice, which is required under the law … But we will, as with most civil lawsuits, address those assertions in court."


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Trump sits for deposition in lawsuit brought by demonstrators alleging assault


(NEW YORK) -- Former President Donald Trump sat for a deposition Monday at Trump Tower in New York City that lasted "several hours," said an attorney for the plaintiffs suing him over an alleged assault.

"The deposition of Donald John Trump went not unlike any other deposition, any other employer that I've examined under oath," the attorney, Benjamin Dictor, said.

The lawsuit stems from a 2015 protest outside Trump Tower that followed then-candidate Trump's comments that Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists.

A demonstrator, Efrain Galicia, was "violently attacked" by Trump's security personnel as he attempted to retrieve a sign that security had confiscated, the attorney said.

"Mr. Trump is responsible for those actions," Dictor said Monday after the deposition. "The public sidewalks are sacred."

"Rather than protest peacefully, the plaintiffs intentionally sought to rile up a crowd by blocking the entrance to Trump Tower on 5th Avenue, in the middle of the day, wearing Ku Klux Klan robes and hoods," Trump said in a statement released following the deposition. "When security tried to deescalate the situation, they were unfortunately met with taunts and violence from the plaintiffs themselves. Seeing this for what it is, prior to my deposition today, the Court dismissed almost all of the plaintiffs’ claims -- except for a baseless claim for injuries they never suffered, and the temporary loss of a worthless cardboard sign which was soon thereafter returned to them."

"After years of litigation, I was pleased to have had the opportunity to tell my side of this ridiculous story," Trump said in his statement.

Monday's deposition began at 10 a.m. and Trump "answered questions for several hours with his lawyer present," Dictor said.

Dictor said he looked forward to presenting Trump's sworn testimony to a jury as soon as possible.

Dictor declined to describe specific answers the former president gave to specific questions. However when asked to describe the deposition, Dictor said, "You all have seen the president for many years on the news, almost every night for five or six years now. The president was exactly as you would expect him to be."

"He answered questions the way you would expect Mr. Trump to answer questions, and conducted himself in a manner you would expect Mr. Trump to conduct himself," the attorney said.

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Judge agrees to delay sentencing of former Gaetz associate as cooperation continues


(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- A federal judge in Central Florida has granted a request from attorneys representing Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector of Seminole County, to delay his sentencing after prosecutors said Greenberg was providing investigators more information about his activities in relation to an ongoing federal probe.

As part of a federal investigation into Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, Greenberg -- Gaetz's self-described one-time wingman -- has been steadily providing information and handing over potential evidence that could relate to the Florida congressman and others in the sprawling probe, sources familiar with the investigation have previously told ABC News.

Judge Gregory A. Presnell granted the motion to delay Greenberg's sentencing, but told Greenberg's lawyers and the government that this would be the final extension.

"I'll grant the motion, but absent something really extraordinary, this is the deadline we have to meet," the judge said.

Greenberg pleaded guilty in May to multiple federal crimes, including sex trafficking of a minor and introducing her to other "adult men" who also had sex with her when she was underage. Greenberg agreed to provide "substantial assistance" to prosecutors as part of their ongoing investigation.

Federal prosecutors told the judge they needed more time due to the breadth of leads Greenberg has handed over and the "number of lines of investigations" investigators are pursuing.

"This is obviously not a normal situation," U.S. attorney Roger Handberg told the judge. "Mr. Greenberg is a prolific criminal."

"Mr. Greenberg was not alone," Handberg added. "This is an unusual situation with a number of lines of investigation we are pursuing."

Prosecutors told the judge that at times in the ongoing probe, the information provided by Greenberg "takes us places we aren't anticipating."

As part of his cooperation, Greenberg has provided investigators with years of Venmo and Cash App transactions and thousands of photos and videos, as well as access to personal social media accounts, sources said.

Gaetz has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime.

"When I became aware of some of Greenberg's misdeeds, I deeply regretted my friendship with him," Gaetz told Pensacola ABC affiliate WEAR earlier this month. "I do believe that it's fair for the people of Northwest Florida to judge me based on the associations that I've had, and I deeply regret my association with Joel Greenberg politically, socially and otherwise."

Greenberg faces a minimum of 12 years in prison.

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell dies from COVID complications

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts

(WASHINGTON) -- Former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, died Monday morning due to complications from COVID-19, his family said in a statement.

"He was fully vaccinated. We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment," the family said. "We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American."

Powell was 84 years old.

Peggy Cifrino, Colin Powell's longtime spokesperson, confirmed to ABC News that Powell was successfully being treated for a few years for multiple myeloma, a cancer of blood cells, that compromises the immune system. She also confirmed that Powell was scheduled to soon receive his third COVID booster shot and that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Powell served under four presidents -- Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- at the very top of the national security establishment, first as deputy national security adviser and then as national security adviser. Finally, he was appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the senior ranking member of the U.S. armed forces and top military adviser to the president.

He was the first African American ever to hold that post and the first Black secretary of state.

During his many decades in public life, time he helped shape American defense and foreign policy. He was in top posts during the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the downsizing of the military after the end of the Cold War, the 1989 invasion of Panama, the 1991 Gulf War, the 1992-93 engagement in Somalia and crisis in Bosnia, and the Sept. 11 attacks and U.S. invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Colin Powell," Bush said in a statement. "He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam. Many Presidents relied on General Powell's counsel and experience. He was National Security Adviser under President Reagan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under my father and President Clinton, and Secretary of State during my Administration. He was such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend. Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man."

President Joe Biden also extolled Powell as "a patriot of unmatched honor and dignity" and noted their long-standing relationship dating back to Biden's time in the Senate.

"Colin embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat," Biden said in a statement. "Colin led with his personal commitment to the democratic values that make our country strong. Time and again, he put country before self, before party, before all else—in uniform and out—and it earned him the universal respect of the American people."

"Above all, Colin was my friend. Easy to share a laugh with. A trusted confidant in good and hard times. He could drive his Corvette Stingray like nobody's business -- something I learned firsthand on the racetrack when I was Vice President," he wrote.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the first African American to head the Pentagon, reacting to the news, said he feels "as if I have a hole in my heart."

"The world lost one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed," Austin told reporters on a trip to the nation of Georgia. "And I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor."

Powell as soldier, statesman

During his military career, Powell received at least 11 military decorations including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his actions in the Vietnam War. During his second tour of Vietnam in 1968, Powell was one of the victims of a helicopter crash that left him and several of his comrades injured. He was still able to rescue his fellow serviceman from the burning helicopter and was awarded the Soldier's Medal for his actions.

For the next two decades, Powell moved back and forth between the military and the heart of government in Washington.

After a tour of duty in Korea as a battalion commander in 1973, Powell served in former President Richard Nixon's administration as a recipient of a prestigious White House fellowship, where was assigned to the Office of Management and Budget. Following this fellowship, Powell served as a staffer in the Pentagon.

The media spotlight first found the four-star Army general during the 1991 Gulf War, when, as head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he appeared on television screens across the world. With his steady gaze, he conveyed intelligence, certainty and straightforwardness.

After the allied coalition expelled the Iraqi army from Kuwait, Powell's celebrity grew, and his name became synonymous with integrity for many Americans across the political spectrum.

Powell retired from the Army after the Gulf War, and his supporters urged him to run for president, touting him as the only candidate with the moral stature needed to unite the country and heal longstanding racial wounds. Powell twice said he wasn't interested in running for president, but left open the possibility of an appointed position such as secretary of state.

From 1994 to 2000, Powell was engaged in several notable humanitarian and personal efforts. In 1994, he, former President Jimmy Carter and former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., embarked on a peacekeeping mission in Haiti, in which they were able to help bring to an end to military rule and establish an elected government for the country.

In 1995, Powell published his autobiography, "My American Journey," in which he touched on everything from his military experiences to more personal matters. Powell was also a co-chair for America's Promise, a non-profit organization geared toward empowering young people, for which he served as chairman from 1997-2000.

The Powell doctrine

At the 2000 Republican National Convention, Powell won standing ovations and helped Bush in his efforts to put a "new face" on the Republican Party and reach out to African Americans, who traditionally favored the Democratic Party.

Powell was sworn in as the 65th secretary of state on Jan. 20, 2001, and would soon play a pivotal role in another conflict. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the homeland, Powell worked to build an international coalition and used his long military experience to help design a strategy for the war on terrorism. He tried to prepare the country for a different type of war, one where the enemy might be hard to identify.

"I was raised a soldier, and you are trained, there is the enemy occupying a piece of ground. We can define that in time, space and other dimensions, and you can assemble forces and go after it," Powell said at the time. "This is different. The enemy is in many places. The enemy is not looking to be found. The enemy is hidden. The enemy is very often right here within our own country. And so you have to design a campaign plan that goes after that kind of enemy."

It was Powell who told the United Nations and the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed an imminent threat, assertions that later proved to be false. He told ABC News' Barbara Walters in Sept. 2005 that he feels "terrible" about the claims he made in that now-infamous address arguing for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

When asked if he feels it has tarnished his reputation, he said, "Of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now."

"George Tenet (then CIA director) did not sit there for five days with me misleading me. He believed what he was giving to me was accurate," he said. "The intelligence system did not work well."

"There were some people in the intelligence community who knew at that time that some of these sources were not good, and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up. That devastated me," he added.

While Powell ultimately supported the president's decision to invade Iraq, he acknowledged that he was hesitant about waging war.

"I'm always a reluctant warrior. And I don't resent the term, I admire the term, but when the president decided that it was not tolerable for this regime to remain in violation of all these U.N. resolutions, I'm right there with him with the use of force," he said.

Casper Weinberger, secretary of defense for seven years under Reagan and Powell's former boss, said the position of secretary of state was "perfect" for Powell.

It was under Weinberger's tutelage that Powell honed the "Powell doctrine" -- that a country should avoid intervening in international conflicts unless there is a vital interest and a clear, achievable goal.

The doctrine was inspired by lessons learned from U.S. involvement in Vietnam and principles Powell took to heart from a military philosophy book, "On War," published in 1830. He first read it as a student at the National War College in the early 1970s.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Powell's career "legendary."

"By the time he retired from military, he was arguably the most respected and celebrated American in uniform," Blinken said in remarks from the State Department on Monday.

"I believe Secretary Powell's years as a soldier are what made him such an exceptional diplomat. He knew that war and military action should always be a last resort, and to make that so, we need our diplomacy to be as robust and well resourced as possible," he said.

The Powell legacy

Throughout his service in the military, Powell never made his political leanings known. Although he served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, it wasn't until 1995 that Powell announced that he had registered as a Republican. He formally supported the candidacy of Democratic presidential candidates Lyndon Johnson, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

The reelection campaign of former President Donald Trump brought out Powell's political side in the last years of his life, when he called on voters not to support the incumbent, Republican president.

"I think he has not been an effective president," Powell told CNN's Jake Tapper in June 2020. "He lies all the time. He began lying the day of inauguration, when we got into an argument about the size of the crowd that was there. People are writing books about this favorite thing of lying. And I don't think that's in our interest."

"The values I learned growing up in the South Bronx and serving in uniform were the same values that Joe Biden's parents instilled in him in Scranton, Pennsylvania," Powell said in a video message at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. "I support Joe Biden for the presidency of the United States because those values still define him, and we need to restore those values to the White House."

After the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Powell told CNN he "can no longer call myself a fellow Republican" and that "we need people who will speak the truth."

In many ways, Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, was the embodiment of the American Dream.

Raised amid the poverty of the South Bronx, he went to public schools, including the City College of New York. It was while attending City College that Powell joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps and discovered his passion for a military career. He once said he "found himself" while studying there. He rose to the top of his ROTC class, and when he graduated he earned the title of cadet colonel, the highest-ranking position in the corps.

In a statement on Powell's passing, Obama harkened back to a 2008 interview in which he defended the Democratic nominee from swirling conspiracy theories and offered a teaching moment in what it means to be an American.

"'The correct answer is, he is not a Muslim; he's a Christian," General Powell said. "But the really right answer is, 'What if he is?' Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?'"

"He never denied the role that race played in his own life and in our society more broadly," Obama wrote. "But he also refused to accept that race would limit his dreams, and through his steady and principled leadership, helped pave the way for so many who would follow."

Powell spent his entire adult life in service to his country. He leaves behind his wife, Alma Powell, and his three children, Michael, Linda and Annemarie.

On Monday night, Peggy Cifrino, the spokesperson for Powell, confirmed to ABC News in a statement that Alma Powell also tested positive for COVID-19 and is now home after having been treated at Walter Reed.

"Mrs. Powell tested positive for COVID too. Her symptoms were mild. She went to Walter Reed with the General. She was treated and went home. She was not admitted. She feels fine and is recovering. She had both of the Moderna vaccinations," Cifrino said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Key takeaways from trial of 3 men in Ahmaud Arbery killing: Day 1


(GLYNN COUNTY, Ga.) -- As the trial of three white Georgia men charged with the 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery got underway Monday with jury selection, Arbery's father said he is "focused on justice."

The first group of prospective jurors was called to the Glynn County, Georgia, Courthouse to begin the arduous task of selecting a panel to hear evidence in the case.

Arbery's family and their attorneys said they are not taking anything for granted.

"It is a lived experience for Black people in America that we can never take for granted that a white person will be convicted for killing a Black person, no matter how much evidence we have," Ben Crump, one of the Arbery family's attorneys, said during a news conference outside the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia.

'I know my son was lynched'

Arbery's father, Marcus Arbery Sr., said he and his family are relying on the prayers of supporters from across the nation to get them through the trial that the lead prosecutor said could take until Nov. 19 to complete.

"I'm focused on justice," Arbery Sr. said. "I know my son was lynched, lynched by a white mob."

The three defendants are Gregory McMichael, 65, a retired police officer, his son, Travis McMichael, 35, and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, 52.

All three defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment stemming from the Feb. 23, 2020, fatal shooting of Arbery in the unincorporated Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick.

Prosecutors alleged Arbery was jogging through the neighborhood when Gregory McMichael saw him and thought he resembled a burglary suspect seen on a security video posted online by his neighborhood association. Gregory McMichael and his son allegedly armed themselves and with guns, and with the help of Bryan chased down Arbery in their pickup trucks, prosecutors said.

Travis McMichael allegedly shot Arbery three times with a shotgun after he was cornered and began fighting with Travis McMichael in the street. The fatal encounter was partially video recorded by Bryan on his cellphone and is poised to be the most significant piece of evidence prosecutors plan to present to the jury.

The McMichaels are claiming they were exercising their right to make a citizens' arrest under a state law that was repealed following Arbery's death. Travis McMichael is also claiming he shot Arbery in self-defense, according to his attorney.

Bryan claims he was just a witness to the incident, according to his lawyer. But prosecutors allege he was an active participant in the pursuit of Arbery and that he attempted to use his truck to block Arbery's path.

In addition to state charges, all three men have been indicted on federal hate crime charges.

First 600 prospective jurors questioned

About 600 of the 1,000 prospective jurors who received questionnaires in the case were called to the courthouse on Monday to begin voir dire or the process to whittle down prospective the jury pool to 16 impartial people, including four alternates.

About 20 of the would-be jurors spent Monday afternoon answering general questions as a group before lawyers began questioning individual jurors. While Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy R. Walmsley, who was appointed to preside over the Glynn County trial, allowed the media to observe and livestream the general questions of the group, he barred cameras from filming questioning of individual prospective jurors.

During the general questioning of the first batch of prospective jurors, 13 of the 20 said they had already formed an opinion on the guilt or innocence of the accused based on pre-trial publicity.

Before the actual questioning of potential jurors began, a hearing was held on what questions prosecutors and defense attorneys will be allowed to asked candidates.

In addition to how much prospective jurors know about the case and whether they can put that aside and decide the case solely on the evidence presented in court, defense attorneys for the McMichaels proposed 30 additional questions. Many of the defense questions pertained to thoughts on racism, the Black Lives Matter movement and whether would-be jurors believe the Confederate flag -- which the McMichaels had on their pickup truck -- as a symbol of racism.

Linda Dunikowski, the lead prosecutor in the case, objected to more than half of the defense questions, calling them too broad or unrelated to the evidence, including whether prospective jurors supported the Black Lives Matter movement or participated in any social justice demonstrations before or after Arberry's death.

"That question has absolutely nothing to do with what the defendants did on Feb. 23, 2020, and participating in a constitutionally allowable peaceful assembly about social justice has absolutely nothing to do with these defendants," Dunikowski said in court.

Walmsley said he'll allow some of the defense questions, but ruled most of them, including questions on gun ownership, were too broad or would lead prospective jurors to prejudge the evidence.

Walmsley also said he would not allow the attorneys to ask whether the prospective jurors are "concerned about your safety, your reputation, your livelihood if you were to be a juror on this case." Robert Rubin, an attorney for Travis McMichael, said that was likely the most important question on the list.

"This is a case that has garnered significant attention in this community as well as around the country, and I have no doubt that the 1,000 or so individuals that were summoned when they received that summons, reacted in some way to that," Walmsley said. "This is not an easy thing for anybody."


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How schools are struggling to serve lunch amid supply chain hurdles


(NEW YORK) -- School routines have been upended amid the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result of recent nationwide supply chain problems, there are new challenges for free lunch programs.

From distribution delays and shortages of fresh foods to cafeteria supplies like trays and tongs, districts across the U.S. have had to rework breakfast and lunch options for students.

In Alabama, Alexander City Schools took to social media earlier this month to warn parents on Facebook that due to a lack of food deliveries from suppliers, their breakfast would be impacted in the coming weeks.

"In previous weeks we have not received our food deliveries due to suppliers who are short on supplies, drivers and even warehouse employees," the Oct. 9 post said, adding that it opened accounts with outside vendors to get more supplies. "If possible, we ask that you feed your student breakfast prior to school or try to send a snack."

The schools in Alexander City also had to alter their menus to fit the supplies they were receiving instead and notified parents of the limited menu selections, but confirmed that "at no time were our students not offered or served a meal for lunch or breakfast."

"This is a situation that is frustrating for you as a parent, and for us as well as our ability to feed our students is being greatly impacted," the post said.

Tonya Grier, a Child Nutrition Program Director for Dothan City Schools, told GMA its district, which is nearly three hours from Alexander City, has seen similar issues.

"Deliveries from our primary distributor continue to be unpredictable; we’re no longer confident of arrival until we see the truck at the back door. There are still multiple items (food and non-food) that are marked as “out” on our orders, but the vendor is working to find and offer substitutes for items that are in short supply from manufacturers," Grier told GMA. "We are working to secure products from other distributors, but they too face the same challenges related to supply chain disruptions."

"Particularly troubling is the shortage of supplies to serve food. We’re used to subbing out food items to make a menu; that happened occasionally even before COVID-19. But if we can’t get trays, cups, and cutlery to serve food to students, that’s a totally different challenge for us," Grier said. "We serve an average of 9,400 meals a day (breakfast and lunch combined), and the volume of food and supplies needed to do that means going to our local grocery stores and warehouse club is not a viable option for us."

Dothan Superintendent Dennis Coe told GMA that "the uncertainty of food supplies" has created "an extra layer of stress and anxiety for staff."

"This exacerbates our existing difficulties in hiring qualified staff," Coe said of the current issues facing the schools in Dothan.

The school district's Public Relations Information Officer Megan Dorsey added that with students home for fall break until Oct. 20, they believe "some stress on food shortages" may be alleviated.

In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $1.5 billion investment to provide assistance for schools to respond to supply chain disruptions and feed students.

"Throughout the pandemic, school food professionals have met extraordinary challenges to ensure every child can get the food they need to learn, grow and thrive," the USDA said in a release. "But circumstances in local communities remain unpredictable, and supply chains for food and labor have been stressed and at times disrupted. These funds will support procurement of agricultural commodities and enable USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to enhance the toolbox for school nutrition professionals working hard to make sure students have reliable access to healthy meals."

School Nutrition Association President, Beth Wallace, hailed the waiver as "a huge relief for school nutrition professionals who are working so hard to serve our students healthy meals in the face of unprecedented challenges."

Over the past several months, Wallace said their organization has scrambled "to secure foods and supplies for our students’ meals and re-working our menus when our orders have been canceled or deliveries delayed."

A survey by the SNA heading into the 2021 school year found that 97% of school meal program directors nationwide were concerned about continued pandemic supply chain disruptions. Of those concerned, the SNA said 65% cited it as a "serious" concern.

Issues reported in the survey included "canceled orders, food and supply shortages, product substitutions, price increases, delayed and canceled deliveries often with little or no advance notice."

Chalkbeat, a nonprofit organization that focuses on education news, started a self-submission form for parents, administrators and districts to report similar food program situations with respect to the supply chain woes.

In Newark, New Jersey's largest district, Patrick Wall told GMA that shortages extend beyond just food and lunchroom supplies, but to cafeteria workers creating "horrible" lunch options for kids because it's "difficult to prepare meals from scratch."

"In response, the district has begun outsourcing some of its meal production. Last month, it made a $3.9 million 'emergency purchase' of pre-made meals from a vendor," he said.


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Gunman who ambushed three Texas deputies, killing one, remains on the run: Police

Houston Police Department

(HOUSTON) -- A gunman authorities said shot three Texas constable deputies, one fatally, during an "ambush" outside a Houston nightclub remained at large on Sunday afternoon.

The incident unfolded around 2:15 a.m. on Saturday outside the 45 Norte Sports Bar in the Independence Heights neighborhood of north Houston, according to the Houston Police Department, which is leading the investigation.

Three Harris County Precinct 4 constable deputies were working an extra job at the club when they went outside to address "a disturbance" that "may have been a robbery," Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief James Jones said during a news conference.

Two of the deputies entered the parking lot and began to arrest a possible suspect when a second suspect emerged and opened fire with an AR-15 rifle, striking both, precinct officials said Saturday.

The officers were identified on the precinct's Facebook page as deputy Kareem Atkins, 30, who had been with Precinct 4 since January 2019 and died of his injuries, and deputy Darrell Garrett, 28, who was employed at Precinct 4 since March 2018 and was shot in the back and underwent surgery. He is in the intensive care unit at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston, authorities said.

Atkins had recently returned to work from paternity leave, officials said. He leaves behind a wife and two children, including a 2-month-old baby, officials said.

Upon hearing the gunshots, deputy Juqaim Barthen, 26, who was employed at the precinct since September 2019, rushed to help and was also shot in the foot, James said.

The Houston Police Department said an individual was detained near the scene and was interviewed by detectives.

"At this time, he is not believed to be the shooter," the agency said in a post on Twitter.

Officer Keith Smith, a spokesperson for the Houston Police Department, told ABC News on Sunday afternoon that a massive search is ongoing for the suspected gunman and that police are asking for the public's help in identifying and capturing him. The suspect is described as a heavy-set, bearded Hispanic man in his early 20s who was wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.

"We hope a suspect is in custody soon and I hope for swift and quick justice for that individual because he ambushed my deputies," said Constable for Precinct 4 Mark Herman. "This is very tragic. I do believe that good always trumps evil and what happened ... was evil."

Jones, with Houston Police, also described the shooting as an "ambush."

Garrett's fiancee, Lajah Richardson, described the three deputies who were shot as not just colleagues but "best friends."

"They called each other brothers, did everything together," Richardson told ABC station KTRK in Houston, adding that she has yet to tell Garrett that Atkins was killed.

She said her heart goes out to Atkins' widow.

"I hurt for her because she has two babies she has to look after and she has to be the mom and the dad," Richardson said.

She said Garrett was conscious after undergoing surgery but has yet to speak.

"When the nurse spoke with him, he asked if he could understand and he asked him to 'squeeze my hand if you can understand me,'" she said. "Darrell squeezed his hand a little bit."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Ahmaud Arbery murder case may evoke Georgia's history on race: Experts

Glynn County Sheriff's Office

(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) -- In a state that didn't have a hate-crime law until this year and where vigilante citizens' arrests were sometimes permitted by the government, three white men are set to go on trial for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man prosecutors allege was "hunted down and ultimately executed" while out for a Sunday jog.

Jury selection begins on Monday in the high-profile case that sparked nationwide protests and sent Georgia lawmakers scrambling to rewrite the state's statutes. Legal experts say they expect the graphic details of how the 25-year-old Arbery was gunned down to be intertwined with Georgia's long history of racial unrest.

Lee Merritt and Benjamin Crump, the Arbery family attorneys, have called the killing a "modern-day lynching" and said the accused are now trying to use Georgia's laws at the time of Arbery's death to defend their actions.

"There's some segment of that community that believes what they did was a good thing. That's not a fringe opinion. That defense is what their lawyers are hanging their hat on," Merritt told ABC News.

The three defendants are Gregory McMichael, 65, a retired police officer, his son, Travis McMichael, 35, and their neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, 52.

"Just to think about what I have to go through in the midst of the trial ... it's really scary," Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, told ABC News. "Some days I have my doubts of getting justice for Ahmaud."

On Saturday, dozens of protesters rallied in front of the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, to demand justice for Arbery's family.

The defendants are not facing state hate crime charges because at the time of Arbery's killing Georgia was one of just four states that didn't have such a law. Upon signing Georgia's new hate-crime law in June, Gov. Brian Kemp cited the Arbery case, saying, "We saw injustice with our own eyes."

The McMichaels have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and aggravated assault. Bryan has also pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

The three men were also indicted on federal hate crime charges in April and have all pleaded not guilty.

According to court documents and evidence presented at previous hearings, the men plan to invoke Georgia's "citizen's arrest" statute as a defense, a pre-Civil War-era law that was repealed in May primarily due to the Arbery killing. Kemp called the measure an "antiquated law that is ripe for abuse."

"The remarkable part of this is that the case that caused the law to change is the one that’s now being tried. That doesn’t happen very often, if ever," Ronald Carlson, a law professor emeritus at the University of Georgia Law School, told ABC News.

Attorneys for the McMichaels filed a motion this week asking a judge to allow the jury to hear that at the time of his death Arbery was on probation. In an angry response, Crump said the request is a last-minute "attempt to assassinate the character of Ahmaud Arbery."

"The family and our legal team have faith that the court will see through this tactic and deliver Ahmaud and his family justice," Crump said. "If these killers get off without consequence that sends a message that lynching Black men in 2021 carries no penalty."

A large jury pool

Brian Buckmire, a homicide public defender in Brooklyn, New York, and an ABC News contributor, said despite the large jury pool he believes "it's going to be extremely difficult" to find 12 impartial people plus alternates to serve on the panel.

"It's going to be on the tip of their tongues and in the back of their heads," said Buckmire, who is also an anchor for the Law & Crime Network. "I think it's going to be hard to find someone who already hasn't come up with a conclusion to this case."

Since Arbery's killing in February 2020, the case has frequently been in the national spotlight as protesters took to the streets for days to demand the suspects be arrested and as two district attorneys recused themselves.

Former Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson, the first prosecutor to get the case and who once had a working relationship with Gregory McMichael, was indicted in September on a felony count of violating her oath of office by allegedly "showing favor and affection" to Gregory McMichael and a misdemeanor count of hindering a law enforcement officer. Johnson, who lost a reelection bid in November 2020, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Bombshell video and racial slur

Travis and Gregory McMichael were arrested on May 7, 2020, more than two months after Arbery's death. They were charged with murder when a cellphone video surfaced showing them blocking Arbery's path with their pickup truck on a street in their Satilla Shores neighborhood near Brunswick.

The footage shows Arbery attempting to go around the McMichaels' parked vehicle only to run into Travis McMichael. The video shows the two men fighting and Travis McMichael firing the first shotgun blast, hitting Arbery in the chest, his white T-shirt immediately seen soaked in blood. He attempted to run but collapsed and died at the scene, the video shows.

An autopsy found that Arbery was shot two additional times, once in the upper left chest and in the right wrist, authorities said.

Bryan, who took the video as he drove up on the scene in his truck, was arrested about two weeks after Travis and Gregory McMichael.

"That’s going to be the star of the show and it will be shown more than once," Carlson said of the video. "I would say, Rodney King, George Floyd and the Arbery videos are three of the most key pieces of criminal case demonstrative evidence that we’ve ever seen."

The video was played at a preliminary hearing in June 2020, a proceeding that resulted in a judge ordering the three defendants to stand trial for murder.

Afternoon jog turns deadly

Arbery was out for a Sunday afternoon jog on Feb. 23, 2020, through the mostly-white Satilla Shores neighborhood when he stopped and went into a house under construction, according to evidence presented at the preliminary hearing. A surveillance video showed Arbery, who lived in another neighborhood of Brunswick, inside the unsecured house looking around and leaving empty-handed.

Arbery continued jogging past the McMichaels' home, where Gregory McMichael spotted him and believed he matched the description of a burglary suspect seen on a surveillance video posted online by his neighborhood association, according to his lawyer.

Investigators allege that Gregory McMichael and his son armed themselves and chased after Arbery in their pickup truck. Bryan allegedly joined the pursuit and, according to prosecutors, attempted to use his truck to block Arbery's path.

During the June preliminary hearing, Richard Dial, a special agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, testified that Bryan told investigators that he heard Travis McMichael yell a racial slur to Arbery as he lay dying on the ground.

Self-defense argument

Travis McMichael contends he shot Arbery in self-defense.

In an attempt to allege Arbery had a propensity to be aggressive when confronted by law enforcement, defense attorneys motioned to get Arbery’s past run-ins with police and a 2018 mental health diagnosis indicating he may have suffered from schizoaffective disorder presented to the jury. Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy R. Walmsley, who was appointed to preside over the Glynn County trial, rejected both requests deeming them irrelevant to the case.

Carlson said the trial judge might seek to strike a balance and not allow prosecutors to introduce racist messages they allege Travis McMichael texted to friends or his vanity license plate of the Confederate flag.

"The judge will, of course, work very hard to try to make sure that the racial aspect of the case, racial animus, racial dislike does not play a huge role in emotionalizing the case," Carlson said. "But it's certainly not helpful to the defense."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coast Guard investigates vessel owner, operator following California oil spill

(File photo) - dehooks/iStock

(LOS ANGELES) -- The owner and operator of a ship will be questioned as part of another marine casualty investigation after a pipeline leaked thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The agency has designated the MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, the owner of the MSC DANIT, and the Dordellas Finance Corporation, the operator of the vessel, as parties of interest into the investigation into a Jan. 25 incident in which an anchor was dragged during a heavy weather event that impacted the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The incident occurred in "close proximity" to the underwater pipeline known as Elly, which was the source of the leak that spilled up to 144,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean, according to the Coast Guard.

Investigators from the Coast Guard boarded the container ship at the Port of Long Beach on Saturday as part of the probe, authorities said. The "party in interest" designations provide the owner and operator of the MSC DANIT the opportunity to be represented by counsel, to examine and cross-examine witnesses, and to call witnesses who are relevant to the investigation, according to the Coast Guard.

The investigation into the oil spill is ongoing.

Cleanup crews are continuing to remove crude oil from California's southern coast after thousands of gallons were leaked from a broken pipe earlier this month.

The U.S. Coast Guard has removed about 1,281 gallons of an "oily water mixture" from the Pacific Ocean since the pipeline operated by Amplify Energy about 4.5 miles off the coast of Huntington Beach since the leak was reported on Oct. 2.

Thousands of gallons of oily water mixture have been recovered from the water and beaches by the Coast Guard and other response teams. Dozens of oiled wildlife have also been treated by veterinarians.

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