The slayings of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks have law enforcement agencies getting proactive about recording their officers in the field by adding body cams ... TMZ has learned.
We spoke to a few of the companies supplying body cameras to law enforcement, and both tell us they've had an influx of inquiries over the past month. Nick Hamner of 10-8 Video in Tennessee, tells us his business has seen more than a 70 percent increase this month in calls from law enforcement agencies looking for specs and pricing.
Hamner says 10-8 serves mostly middle and smaller sized police and sheriff's departments ... meaning less than 200 officers. From what he's heard, he says most of them are preemptively scouting, because they're expecting body cams to be mandated ... whether it be by cities, states, or even from the feds.
Likewise, Will Walker of PatrolEyes out of Michigan -- which outfits a couple hundred U.S. police agencies, and over a dozen overseas -- tells us the recent spike in body cam interest mirrors what they got in 2014 ... after Michael Brown was fatally shot by a cop.
That rush for body cams was evident by 2016, when, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly half of all U.S. law enforcement agencies had slapped body cams on their officers and deputies.
Walker says the latest increased sales aren't just for law enforcement, though. Other customers include process servers, tow truck drivers and sometimes even parties in a bad divorce.
It should be noted -- in wake of Floyd's death and the Brooks' shooting, several police departments in the country have announced policy changes to make body cams mandatory going forward, but so far, they're only required in 2 states.
Special moment from Lil Wayne on Sunday night -- he perfumed his 2009 track, "Kobe Bryant" ... with new lyrics to honor Mamba and Gianna.
It all went down at the BET Awards -- where Wayne debuted a new music video for the song, performing in front of the screen with Kobe's name on it.
The original lyrics already painted Kobe as a legend:
"He the greatest on the court ...
And I'm the greatest on the verse.
Goin' for the 4th ring like it was his 1st...
Gotta get the gleam. Do it for Kareem ...
2-4 so nice. My flow is so mean."
But, in the wake of recent events, Weezy updated the track to acknowledge the passing of Kobe and Gianna.
"Two fingers for the Mambacita. I’m screamin’ 'Black Mamba matters.'"
He continued ... "Heart goes out to Vanessa and the whole Black Mamba family."
"G-O-A-T like Kobe Bean, rest in power and hope for peace.”
Vanessa acknowledged it on her IG page -- calling the performance a "beautiful tribute."
Kobe, Gianna and 7 others passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26. He was 41. She was only 13.
NBA superstar Ja Morant says he went too far by reposting an anti-police statement to his social media pages ... and now, he's apologizing for it -- saying, "I know there are good cops '12' out there."
If you missed it, somebody edited Morant's Memphis Grizzlies jersey so it spelled out "F**k 12" ... and Ja reshared it on Instagram with the caption, "nah fr tho."
Morant also posted it on Twitter, writing there, "want dat on my jersey fr."
But, Ja's endorsements of the image -- which came after reports claimed the NBA is considering allowing players to replace their jersey names with messages in their return to action next month -- was met with immediate backlash.
And, just hours after he reshared the pics, he took them down and issued a mea culpa.
"I want to first apologize for reposting something that didn't clearly and accurately convey what I wanted to share," Morant said.
"My post was intended to focus on the bad cops who get away with the murder of unarmed Black men and women, and those who continue to harass peaceful BLACK LIVES MATTER protestors."
Ja continued, "I know there are good cops '12' out there. I know some, and a few are family. I am thankful to the cops at Murray State who took care of me, and the cops who continue to watch over me with the Grizzlies."
"We NEED good cops to step up and make sure others cops are not abusing their power."
In the apology, Morant went on to call for justice for Breonna Taylor, and added, "There have been too many Black lives taken by police that could have been prevented."
"You may see me as just a basketball player and I may lose fans for taking a stand, but I won't stay silent."
For their part, Ja's Grizzlies team reshared Ja's apology on their social media page as well.
Martin Gugino remains hospitalized after that violent shove to the ground from cops in Buffalo -- but at least he's getting showered with love and support.
Gugino's attorney, Kelly Zarcone, tells TMZ ... the 75-year-old has received more than 1,000 messages of support, some even handwritten and delivered by snail mail. Supporters sent gifts too ... like an autographed book from an author, an original painting and some religious jewelry. Someone also made, by hand, a prayer blanket, which we're told is on its way to the hospital.
It's unclear how much Martin will rack up in hospital bills but no doubt it'll be substantial -- he's been in since June 4. Initially, Kelly says Martin didn't authorize any GoFundMe accounts, but Martin's changed his tune since then because Kelly says he now realizes he'll need all the help he can get to cover his medical and recovery costs.
We're told Martin's reading all the comments on the GoFundMe accounts -- as well as the letters and emails -- which have been very comforting while he continues to recover in the hospital's rehab wing.
The support, of course, is a stark contrast to the death threats Martin received just a little over a week ago. As we reported ... the barrage of threats left Martin feeling unsafe about going home, once he's healthy.
Emily Sears -- a model known for starring in some saucy Carl's Jr. ads -- is recovering from successful brain surgery ... and looking forward to getting her life back after a major health scare.
Emily tells TMZ ... she underwent a craniotomy last week in order for surgeons to remove a cavernoma, a cluster of abnormal blood vessels that was irritating her brain tissue and causing seizures.
The model says she was in a store in L.A. back in April 2019 when she had her first seizure and collapsed, which led to her diagnosis.
Despite trying several medications to deal with the issue, she had at least 5 more seizures before suffering a bad fall near the end of the year ... which is when she decided to schedule brain surgery to remove the cluster.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic delayed her procedure, but she was finally able to have it done last week ... and it was an extremely intricate process.
We're told, Emily's surgery took more than 5 hours because the cavernoma was against the speech area of her brain ... so doctors had to wake her up in the middle of it to test her speech with flashcards, to make sure they didn't remove any vital tissue.
Thankfully, Emily says the surgery was a success -- the whole cluster was removed -- and she's happy and healing and eager to return to normal living.
Get well soon!
St. Louis lyricist Chingy (real name Howard Bailey Jr.) shot to fame after his debut single "Right Thurr" took to the airwaves and became the party anthem of the 2003 summer and set the stage for his first album, Jackpot.
Since Jackpot, Chingy has released a handful of awesome rap albums but none have had the same pop success.
Cops in Aurora, CO came in like a military unit to forcibly remove -- not to mention pepper spray -- peaceful protesters who were watching a violin performance to honor Elijah McClain.
This went down Saturday in City Center Park, where a musical vigil had been planned to pay respects to Elijah -- who died while in custody of Aurora PD last year -- which was incredibly symbolic, seeing how Elijah played violin himself. At one point, the police had seen enough.
In the video, captured by a vigilant bystander, you can see the jarring juxtaposition play out live on camera. At first, you hear the violinists -- some of whom are said to have been underage -- beautifully playing in unison, and the next minute ... cops are storming the place.
The woman recording can be heard -- along with others -- openly yelling "No!" at what's about to happen next ... forcible removal and literally pushing the protesters out of the park, while shutting down the performance. Pepper spray started getting dispersed at one point too.
As police in riot gear were spraying protesters with pepper spray and using batons to push them back at the #ElijahMcClain protest in Aurora today, this man began playing the violin. One of the most surreal scenes I’ve ever seen. Music is powerful. #9News pic.twitter.com/3adLTuBZB7— Marc Sallinger (@MarcSallinger) June 28, 2020 @MarcSallinger
A reporter on the ground captured an even more surreal moment ... as cops were literally pushing up against protesters, a violinist on stage started playing soothing melodies.
The protesters stood their ground as long as they could -- several even formed a human barrier around the violinists to protect them from the police. Communal chants also erupted ... with phrases like, "Why are you in riot gear? I don't see no riot here!"
Eventually, the protesters were forced to the parking lot ... but they didn't let that ruin the get-together. Some violinists followed along and continued on the pavement. The protesters even broke out in song, singing "Lean On Me" ... in what proved to be a powerful statement in response to the brutality they'd just gone through, for no reason at all.
UPDATE: There is a small contingent of protestors that are arming themselves with rocks & sticks and continue to ignore orders to move back. This is now an unlawful assembly. Disperse.— Aurora Police Dept. 👮🏼♀️👮🏾♂️😷 (@AuroraPD) June 28, 2020 @AuroraPD
Peaceful protestors & community members should move to the s/w parking lot by the library. pic.twitter.com/SqBeF0Z4MJ
If you're wondering what Aurora PD had to say about this, they claimed the crowd was getting unruly and some were even arming themselves and hurling projectiles at the squad. In the end ... the police say only 3 people were arrested for violating lawful orders after warnings were given.
It's unclear why cops just didn't stand back ... this was almost entirely a peaceful protest and especially given what police did to Elijah, they could have just watched from a distance.
Cam Newton is getting a new lease on football life -- for at least a season, anyway -- 'cause the New England Patriots have signed the veteran quarterback to a deal.
The ex-Carolina Panthers star -- who took his team to the Super Bowl in 2015 -- has agreed to a one-year contract with the team, which is said to be incentive-based ... so not a whole lot of money upfront. Definitely a ton of opportunity though for the former starter, especially if he performs well. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport says the contract is worth up to $7.5 mil if he hits all his bonuses.
Cam will presumably get some decent playing time and the chance to become the first-string QB for the Pats -- seeing how they got a relatively new guy in Jarrett Stidham in that spot right now ... this, of course, after Tom left the team this past off-season to head to Tampa.
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Long story short ... the top spot is kinda up for grabs in New England, and if Cam can prove he's capable of performing again at a high level, he may very well fill in as the team's new franchise quarterback. Granted, he's had an up and down trajectory since his SB year -- mostly due to injuries. That said, we've all seen what Cam can do when he's healthy ... the guy was the league's MVP in 2015.
The bright side ... the dude looks like he's been staying in great shape, as he's been posting a ton of workout videos lately after being released by the Panthers. Seems like he's ready to step in and play -- and it would appear Kraft, Belichick and co. agreed.
Do we hear a new era coming in the distance? Perhaps ... perhaps.
3:06 PM PT -- The concert venue where Chase Rice packed the house has responded to the disaster from Saturday night, and they basically say ... we did what we could, and we'll try harder next time.
The Brushy Mountain Group tells TMZ ... "All local requirements were abided by for the recent concert, and numerous precautions were taken. We drastically reduced our maximum venue capacity of 10,000 to 4,000 maximum capacity (lower than the state’s advisement of 50%) with less than 1,000 in attendance Saturday night providing ample space in the outdoor lawn area for fans to spread out to their own comfort level."
They add, "All guests were given temperature checks prior to entering the venue and free hand sanitizer was provided to everyone at entry. All vendors and staff were advised to wear masks and gloves when interacting with guests, and bandanas were available for purchase on-site." They go on to say they were unable to further enforce physical distancing their signage recommended, and are looking at alternatives for future shows ... including adding stanchion dividers, implementing a drive-in style arrangement, or just postponing concerts outright.
Chase Rice got back to touring this weekend -- and to kick things off ... the guy allowed thousands of people to flood a concert venue, with ZERO regards for coronavirus safety.
The country singer held his first show in a while Saturday night at former prison-turned-event center called the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, Tennessee. It usually can hold 10,000 bodies for a concert, but this weekend ... only 4,000 were allowed through.
Still, that proved to be more than enough heads to pack in tight and cluster together for Chase's return to the stage. That's exactly what happened, something he filmed himself.
As you can see, swarms of people are too close for comfort -- not practicing even the slightest hint of social distancing -- and practically NOBODY is wearing a face mask, Chase included. It's more about the people on the ground though -- they're the ones truly at risk.
It also doesn't help that Chase was leading them in a sing-along moment -- which probably exacerbated any type of potential 'rona molecules already flying through the air. And, of course -- like many other parts of the country -- COVID-19 cases are spiking in TN as well.
Weirdly enough, the Brushy Prison's site says it clear as day that they'll be adhering to social distancing -- but it looks like they must've missed their own memo come showtime.
What's even stranger about all this is that a handful of other venues for Chase's upcoming concerts are actually drive-in type facilities, which would ease concerns we see here. So, was this s*** show of safety just a flub or a one-off? Hard to say for sure right now.
At any rate, we've reached out to Chase's team for comment ... so far, no word back.
Originally Published -- 12:14 PM PT
Another day, another person going berserk over face mask policy -- only this time, it happened down in Texas ... and food went flying everywhere.
A new video of a supermarket 'Karen,' if you will, is making the rounds online, which shows a lady having a complete and utter meltdown inside what appears to be a Fiesta Market in Dallas ... after she was apparently asked to put her mask back on to check out.
Welp, she didn't like that order ... so she decided to empty out her cart and chuck her groceries all over the floor -- all while cursing out the staff, customers and anyone else who was listening. Eventually, she ran out of steam and stormed out.
Keep in mind, word around the Internet is this woman came IN with a mask -- but for whatever reason couldn't see it through to the end. That's insane -- because the Trader Joe's 'Karen' did the exact same thing. Started strong, but then waffled at the finish line.
At this rate, these unmasked crusaders are gonna go hungry because they can never seem to complete their grocery store runs. More for the rest of us, we suppose 😝
Pride and Black Lives Matter came together this weekend for a meaningful demonstration in the city where George Floyd was killed ... which left a fortified police station with a whole new look.
Sunday marked the start of the Stonewall Riots 51 years ago in Greenwich Village in NYC -- which went down in history as a momentous time and major step forward for gay rights at the time -- and all these years later, Minneapolis' LGBTQ+ community showed out to honor the anniversary ... while continuing to voice support to BLM and decrying George's death.
A massive gathering went down right in front of Minneapolis' First Precinct -- where people chanted, rallied and expressed support for Black Trans Lives in a demonstration of unity.
Some folks also went streamer happy on the police building, which appeared to be blocked off with military-style barricades and wall barriers. We'll say this, the multi-colored rainbow colors give it a much-needed makeover ... and some light-hearted vibes that go a long way these days.
It's been great seeing Pride and BLM partnering up the way it has these last few weeks. Just goes to show -- justice and equality can be a powerful, unifying force.
A sperm whale that got caught in a giant fishing net got a much-needed hand from Italian divers, who captured the incredible rescue on camera ... up close and personal.
This heartwarming scene went down Friday off the coast of Lipari, where some biologists working at a turtle recovery center noticed the whale not too far from the shore. It was static, so the team contacted the Coast Guard ... which sent a group of divers to investigate.
Sure enough, the whale's tail had been tangled in what's been described as an illegal net -- and if you watch the video that the divers were able to film ... you can see it's wrapped around tight and made it just about impossible for the sea creature to swim freely.
Well, the divers got to work and two of them went underwater -- with cameras rolling -- and they started snipping away with knives and cutters until the whale could shake itself free. Unclear how long it took, but we imagine a fair amount of time was spent on this.
At one point, you see one of the divers caressing the whale ... presumably to let it know they meant it no harm or to calm its nerves. Whales are mammals, BTW, and they're super smart.
Anyway, once the whale was free ... it swam away calmly, and per to reports on the ground -- a few other whales were waiting attentively nearby to receive their friend. Neat!
4:45 PM PT -- 6/29 -- Cops say they responded to a call of an abandoned car after a citizen attempted to offer assistance to the woman and her kids. Police claim the mother "reportedly became combative" with the good samaritan.
Police say "officers intervened when the mother attempted to walk on the interstate out of concern for the safety of her and her children."
In the end, cops say no one was arrested or injured during the incident.
Tampa cops responded to a call about a woman in distress who was walking in the street with her kids ... and it turned into a gutwrenching scene of the children being ripped away from their mom.
Police got the call of a woman "under severe mental distress." When they arrived in the downtown area, they saw her walking in the road with her 5 barefoot kids.
The way police handled the situation is raising lots of questions ... in particular, whether this was the way to handle and de-escalate the situation.
You see one cop holding the woman against a fence, while one of her daughters stands by her side. Then, another cop held the girl with one hand as he restrains 3 of her brothers who are trying to free their sister from the officer.
Police eventually took the woman to a hospital for a psychological evaluation. They also took the kids to the hospital so they could be near their mom.
This is yet another example of how important it is for police to assess non-violent situations and figure out ways of de-escalating without causing needless trauma, force or worse.
Originally published -- 6/28 8:33 AM
Well, Donald Trump loves his white supremacists, because he just gave his stamp of approval on a protest where one of his loudest supporters is screaming "white power."
It's a bizarre demonstration/counter-demonstration ... a line of golf carts traversed streets around Sumter County, Florida with Trump supporters, as Trump protesters lined the streets.
You hear demonstrators, mostly seniors, boil over in anger ... there's no physical contact, but it's intense.
True-to-form Trump retweeted the video, saying, "Thank you to the great people of The Villages. The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon!!"
Again ... one of his most vocal supporters is the guy who screams "white power" ... one of Trump's "great people." So, he's not even masking it anymore.
Sacha Baron Cohen did what he does Saturday ... he went undercover at a right-wing militia event and when he started belting out a hateful, racist song ... and the crowd was more than happy to sing along.
It went down in Olympia, Washington, at the "March for Our Rights 3" rally.
Sacha came as the honcho of a political action committee, or so he said ... according to the Daily Beast. He hired a security team so no one could cut him off mid-song.
Check out the video ... Cohen is decked out in overalls, fake facial hair as he began singing about injecting former President Obama, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the World Health Org. and others with the "Wuhan flu." You hear people in the audience join in. And then, he suggests an alternative ... "chop them up like the Saudi's do," and the crowd chimes in.
The rally was reportedly organized by the Washington Three Percenters. The reference to 3 percent is an unsubstantiated claim only 3% of the members of the American colonies fought in the War of Independence.
Holy shit 😂— Spek (@spekulation) June 27, 2020 @spekulation
Sacha Baron Cohen infiltrated the Washington 3% (local rightwing militia) event in Olympia a few minutes ago. A last-minute big donor paid to sponsor the event, and hire security... And then that security kept the organizers from getting on stage to stop Cohen. 😂 pic.twitter.com/mllLkKBcpZ
Not everyone at the rally was cool with the song .... one city councilman said this ... “He came on stage disguised as the lead singer of the last band, singing a bunch of racist, hateful, disgusting s***,” adding, “His security blocked event organizers from getting him off the stage, or pulling power from the generator.”
The councilman also claimed the crowd turned on Cohen and security whisked him away in a waiting ambulance. Nevertheless, listen to the clip ... there are plenty of folks singin' along.
It's unclear if Cohen pulled the prank for another season of "Who is America?"
Mike Tyson was a goner if he thought he could walk the super-crowded Venice Beach boardwalk undetected ... because even with a mask, Iron Mike was an easy mark.
Mike was checkin' out shops along the famous boardwalk Saturday, and it seems everyone recognized him and most wanted -- of course -- a selfie.
Mike obliged, as most normies struck a fighting pose with fists clenched. Tyson played along.
Unclear why Mike was there ... no film crews in sight. It's probably just as simple as this ... it was a beautiful day in SoCal and perfect for a little sand and surf.
BTW ... L.A. is experiencing an explosion of coronavirus cases. Check out the crowd, and the masks -- or lack thereof.