7:10 AM PT -- Cooper-Jones joined "TMZ Live" and had a strong message she wanted to deliver to Breonna's mom saying, "I know it has to be very uncomfortable to know that your child was taken away and no one went to jail as of yet."
And, her message to Tamika is "don't give up" on seeking justice. The Arbery family attorney, Lee Merritt, also said, even though there hasn't been video that's emerged in Breonna's case there's hope for justice because "we've seen cases take off because of public pressure."
The Ahmaud Arbery murder case is moving at lightning speed ... seemingly light-years faster than the Breonna Taylor case ... and TMZ's learned both of their mothers will join forces in their fight for justice.
Lee Merritt -- attorney for Ahmaud's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones -- tells us ... Ahmaud's mom is all set for a face-to-face with Breonna's mother, Tamika Palmer, Thursday in Louisville. It will be their first face-to-face meeting.
Wanda, who flew from Georgia to Louisville Wednesday night, is in for a busy day ... we're told after her sit-down with Tamika, she's scheduled to meet with lawmakers and local activists to fight for justice for Breonna.
Merritt will accompany Wanda as they lobby to have the Louisville police officers involved in Breonna's death arrested and charged. They will also lobby for federal intervention ... the feds could charge a civil rights violation ... something they did in the Rodney King case to secure convictions.
One item at the top of the agenda -- the Justice Act, which was just introduced in the State Senate and calls for police reform, transparency and accountability. Merritt tells us the bill doesn't go far enough to help Breonna's family get justice.
As we reported ... the 3 individuals charged in Ahmaud's murder -- Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan -- were indicted by a grand jury Wednesday, and are each facing 1 count of malice murder, 4 counts felony murder, 2 counts aggravated assault, 1 count false imprisonment and 1 count criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.
Meanwhile, the cops involved in Breonna's death have yet to be arrested. As you know, Breonna was shot 8 times after cops entered her home in the middle of the night looking for someone else. They also lied and said in the police report she was not injured.
Originally Published -- 1:00 AM PT
Guy Phillips -- the Scottsdale City Council member who mocked George Floyd's final words and got blasted by Arizona officials -- is apologizing, claiming he meant no disrespect.
The councilman addressed a crowd of anti-mask protesters Wednesday by wearing a mask and saying "I can't breathe" ... before removing it to disgusting cheers.
Of course, those were the 3 words Floyd repeated as he pleaded with the Minneapolis cops who were kneeling on his neck and back as he died.
Phillips' comments were swiftly blasted on social media, including by AZ Gov. Doug Ducey who called them "Just flat out wrong. Despicable doesn't go far enough." Ducey also suggested Phillips should lose his position for mocking Floyd's death.
Scottsdale Mayor W.J. "Jim" Lane also expressed his disappointment and said he hoped Phillips would recognize his fault and sincerely apologize.
Phillips is trying to do both, we guess. He's now saying ... "It was a stupid and insensitive comment that I shouldn’t have made, and I had no intention of disrespecting anybody."
He also directed his apology to the Floyd family, saying George "didn't deserve what happened to him, and I by no means was trying to make light of it by saying I can't breathe in a mask. Please accept my sincerest apology and that goes out to anyone who became offended."
And, just a reminder ... the councilman made his "stupid" comments at a rally against wearing face masks in a state and county with one of the nation's highest COVID-19 infection rates.
Forrest said it best ... stupid is as stupid does.
A Black Lives Matter protester allegedly took rubber bullets fired by LAPD officers right to the crotch, and he claims it caused him to lose a testicle. So, yeah ... he's suing.
Bradley Steyn -- a South African man who protested apartheid back in the day -- claims he was maimed by law enforcement during a May 30 George Floyd protest in L.A.'s Fairfax District.
He claims he witnessed police brutality, then became a victim himself when cops allegedly used batons to beat him in the chest ... before shooting him with rubber bullets at point-blank range.
Bradley claims he was hit in the inner thigh and genitals and has since suffered horrific pain and the loss of a testicle.
His attorney, Lisa Bloom, will hold a press conference with him in front of LAPD headquarters Thursday, where Bradley will speak on "the impact his beating and shooting has had on his life and family."
Bloom and Bradley will also reveal details of the legal action they are taking against the police department and call for specific reforms. Bloom says, "Police brutality is our national shame."
Cops in Georgia slammed a man to the ground while arresting him, and he says they broke his wrist -- problem is, they had the wrong guy and now he's suing for excessive force.
Antonio Smith claims he was unjustly roughed up and had his rights violated back in February by the Valdosta Police Department as officers attempted to arrest him.
Video of the incident shows cops approach Smith for reported suspicious activity at a Walgreens nearby, but he insists he was waiting at the Western Union for money from his sister.
As Smith begged cops to look into it further, another officer arrived and abruptly bear-hugged Smith from behind and told him to put his hands behind his back. He then violently body-slammed him and told Smith he was under arrest for a felony warrant.
Smith was screaming in pain and in his lawsuit claims his wrist was broken as officers held him down. The video shows the cops were clearly confused about who they were supposed to arrest ... and they realized Smith did NOT have a warrant out for his arrest.
According to the lawsuit ... the officer "treated him less than a human being." Smith claims once he was released, he still feared "additional ill-treatment" from the law enforcement around him, so he refused medical care.
Valdosta PD has released a statement admitting they made an error with the felony warrant, but insists Smith was the suspect reported for suspicious activity.
Police Chief Leslie Manahan says ... "We did have the right guy stopped that was causing the problem at Walgreens, it’s just unfortunate he was not the one with the felony warrants."
However, in the video and in the legal docs ... Smith claims he was not doing anything illegal -- just waiting for a wire transfer at Western Union.
Smith is suing the City of Valdosta, the officers involved in the incident and the police chief for damages for the excessive and unnecessary police force in violation of his rights. He also wants his medical expenses covered for his broken wrist ... which he claims healed abnormally and may require surgery to fix.
Rep. Karen Bass is worried Americans will forget about police reform if another major event captures headlines, and she's encouraging the public to keep the pressure on politicians.
The U.S. Congresswoman for California's 37th District joined us Wednesday on "TMZ Live," to talk about the police reform bill and the uphill battle to get it through the Republican-controlled Senate.
Bass said she fully expects the bill to get held up in Senate, and fears those delay tactics will kill the momentum created in recent weeks by Americans protesting for and demanding an overhaul of police departments.
The way the Congresswoman sees it ... the public has a very short attention span and if a hurricane or other major event goes down, she's afraid police reform will be knocked off the news cycle.
That's why she's imploring peaceful protests to continue nationwide -- she believes that's the only way lawmakers will act. And, if you're wondering what happens if the protests let up ... Bass says just look at what happened after the L.A. riots in response to the Rodney King verdicts.
Rep Bass says there is some reaching across the aisle going on ... but explains why folks need to hold their Senators' feet to the fire on police reform.
When the Minneapolis City Council vowed to disband its police department, everyone wondered how they'd fill the void -- well, a group called the Minnesota Freedom Riders might play a huge part.
During the immediate unrest after George Floyd was killed, citizen patrols organized across the city as trust in the police force plummeted. This included the Freedom Riders, who describe themselves as a group of individuals who banded together for a common cause -- protecting their community.
A spokesperson for the group of 45 volunteers tells TMZ ... they rotate patrolling northern Minneapolis. The men, mostly African-American, are licensed to openly carry handguns and/or assault rifles, and have regular weekly meetings to discuss their operation. We're told each patrolman's hours vary on the needs of their community.
And, so far ... there's a lot of positive info to report about the Freedom Riders' initiative.
For starters ... the Minneapolis PD has been receptive to it. We're told the Riders communicate with cops on a daily basis to share intel on community dealings and advise on what the police should handle.
On the flip side ... we're told the PD asks the group to assist on more neighborly matters requiring more trust -- like speaking with community members concerned about white supremacy groups -- along with handling "lesser crimes."
As the group puts it ... the Freedom Riders are NOT looking to replace the police -- they want to continue working as partners.
The group has also proven successful in thwarting violence in the recent weeks of unrest. During the riots, the Riders were able to prevent looting and structure fires in all of northern Minneapolis. They say their presence has also resulted in a reduction in street and gun violence.
Along with having police support, the Riders also have the support of the Minneapolis NAACP ... whose President Leslie Redmond tells us, "I'm working in an individual capacity to help start this separate entity."
She's launched a GoFundMe -- which has raised $20k so far -- to support the group's efforts in the community. We're told the money goes toward equipment, training, insurance, furthering education for the patrolmen and events for kids in the community.
As you may know, Minneapolis public schools and the University of Minnesota have cut ties with the Minneapolis PD, so there's a major void that needs to be filled with the "community-based safety" suggested by the City Council.
The Freedom Riders seem willing to answer the call.
Shout out to 3 Ohio cops who ended up playing football with a group of kids after someone called police to complain 5 black children had the nerve to be ... playing outside.
The incident unfolded, of all days, on Juneteenth in Shaker Heights, Ohio ... where you can see on video the trio of officers stuck around to take a few snaps and play with the kids ... instead of arresting or sending them home.
One of the kids' mothers, Wendy Brown, reportedly said cops told her, "I don't know who would do it, but someone called police on the kids, they said they were playing in the street so we came by." Wendy said the cop also told her, "We used to play in the street as kids."
They obviously channeled their inner children to join the fun. It was a pretty awesome scene as one of the kids played QB and tossed a spiral downfield as 2 cops battled for the ball.
As Wendy told FOX8, "We encourage them to go outside and just be kids, so they were just playing football out in the street like they do any other time." She recorded the pickup game with the officers and the video is spreading like wildfire.
Easy to see why -- this is a great example of cops connecting, in a meaningful way, with the community they police. More of this, please.
Malcolm Gladwell says the George Floyd killing is a tipping point for changing police culture in America ... but the solutions won't be simple, they will be long and hard.
"The Tipping Point" and "Outliers" author joined us Tuesday on "TMZ Live" and explained why simple solutions won't be enough to change the way police work is conducted in this country. He agrees, as many have said, Floyd's death was the catalyst Americans needed to stand up against police brutality -- but he warns fixing the problem won't be as easy as firing cops or reducing their budgets.
Malcolm also says it's not enough for good cops to simply step in when they see bad cops doing something wrong. Changing the "chain of command" culture is a theme he addressed in "Outliers" with a brilliant look at Korean airline pilots and what caused a series of crashes.
MG -- who just debuted a new season of his "Revisionist History" podcast -- says tackling policing issues will require a much harder look at deep cultural questions.
He reminded us there are 18,000 police departments across the country ... and in order to fix police culture on the whole, ya gotta visit each department and work with officers to help them be better at their jobs.
The good news, Malcolm says ... is that the nationwide activism in response to the George Floyd case has been a long time coming.
A cop enjoying his Starbucks Frappuccino says he got a nasty surprise halfway through, when he discovered a tampon floating around in his drink ... and there's now an official police investigation.
An off-duty LAPD officer purchased his Frapp Friday at a Starbucks inside a Target in Diamond Bar, CA. He used his police credit union debit card to buy the drink, and says he found the feminine hygiene product inside ... before marching back into the store to confront the staff.
We've confirmed the L.A. County Sheriff's Department took a report and is now investigating it as a possible food tampering incident. Deputies are pulling surveillance footage.
The L.A. Police Protective League is calling the incident a "disgusting assault on a police officer" and says it was "carried out by someone with hatred in their heart and who lacks human decency." They want whoever may be responsible exposed and fired. Fox 11 L.A. was the first to report this story.
A homeless man, asleep on the sidewalk, is now recovering from burns suffered when some asshat threw fireworks at him, and NYPD is asking for help to ID the perp.
Video of the disturbing incident shows a man on a Harlem sidewalk throwing lit fireworks at the homeless man in the early morning hours of Monday. They weren't little firecrackers either, because there was a pretty big explosion.
Police were called to the scene around 4 AM and found the 66-year-old man with burns to his back and leg. He was taken to the hospital and is said to be stable.
We're told cops are using the social media vid as part of their investigation, and Chief Rodney Harrison is asking anyone with info pertaining to the suspect's identity to call NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline.
NYPD sources tell us it's unclear what type of firework was thrown at the man.
New York, along with Los Angeles, has seen a surge in fireworks activity and complaints in recent weeks. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce a crackdown Tuesday.
6:36 AM PT -- 6/23 -- New surveillance footage shows the Columbus PD had nothing to do with the double amputee's prosthetic legs being removed ... it was protesters dragging him away from the scene that caused them to fall off.
The newly released video by the cops also shows the man throwing a sign and a bottle of liquid at police before they began to use their bikes and pepper spray to clear the streets.
A previous version of this story was based on reports that cops chased after him and took his legs before protesters got them back, but that does not appear to be the case.
A violent clash between police and protesters led to a double amputee getting blasted with pepper spray, but video of the incident shows cops did not take his prosthetic legs as well.
Witnesses say the young man was unarmed and non-violent when he got pepper-sprayed by Columbus, OH police officers Sunday, but footage shows he threw items at cops ... like a sign and a bottle of liquid.
The guy reportedly crawled on his hands to get medical help, but the video shows protesters almost immediately gathered around him to drag him away ... which caused him to lose his prosthetic legs. The legs can be seen disconnected on the ground near him in the video.
More video of the protests shows Columbus cops using their bikes as battering rams to attack the crowd, which is in stark contrast to Mayor Andrew Ginther's statement earlier in the week.
The Mayor said police could deal with violent protesters, but "those on the other side who are truly peaceful, who are truly non-violent, who are truly non-aggressive need to have the space and deserve to have the space to exercise their First Amendment rights, and we should embrace that." The Mayor and City Council also banned the use of peppery spray against non-violent protesters.
So, why the violent clash with peaceful demonstrators Sunday? The Mayor seemed to justify it by saying cops tried for more than an hour to clear the streets, but "they were met with violence from some and took action, including using mace and pepper spray as appropriate to keep crowds in sidewalks."
We've reached out to the police ... we're told they're investigating the incident.
Originally Published 6/22 7:40 AM PT
A prison inmate in Central Florida was allegedly beaten to death by a corrections officer as other guards watched.
51-year-old Christopher Howell died last week while serving a 4-year sentence at the Lake Correctional Institution near Orlando after a 2018 conviction for stealing some phone chargers and threatening people with a knife.
According to reports citing inside prison sources, Howell was allegedly beaten Thursday by a guard after he refused an order from within his cell. He was reportedly handcuffed and defenseless while at least 2 other officers stood by and did nothing.
Howell was later pronounced dead, but insiders think he died during the beating. The Florida Department of Corrections says it can't release the names of the officers involved due to an investigation, but does say all the guards were put on administrative leave.
This latest incident of alleged brutality is causing an uproar -- protests are scheduled for Tuesday to decry Howell's death, with some advocates calling for charges to be filed against the guards who were involved.
The FDC's Office of the Inspector General and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are reportedly investigating.
CALLING ALL CARS ... HELLO?! ANYONE? ANY CARS?
Oh, that's because there are NO MORE COP CARS in Fortnite -- and it seems to be the video game's way of acknowledging the real-life protests against police brutality.
All traces of police vehicles -- including SWAT vans -- have been removed from the game ... leaving many players wondering, why?
The Wall Street Journal cites a source at Epic Games -- the company behind the game -- who says it wasn't intended to be a political statement.
"I think it’s just us being sensitive about the issues many people in our audience are dealing with,” the source told WSJ.
The move has little to no impact on the actual gameplay -- you can't drive the cars around or anything like that ... they're basically decorative.
Epic Games hasn't spoken publicly about the issue -- but earlier this month, they posted a blog addressing the Black Lives Matter movement and the outrage over the killing of George Floyd ... and how it delayed the release of the Fortnite Season 3 launch.
"Recent events are a heavy reminder of ongoing injustices in society, from the denial of basic human rights to the impact of racism both overt and subtle against people of color," Epic Games said.
"The team is eager to move Fortnite forward, but we need to balance the Season 3 launch with time for the team to focus on themselves, their families, and their communities."
12:18 PM PT -- The alleged victim, a woman named Christina, says she went to visit her husband in September 2019 for a weekend of “love and laughter,” but was instead met with hostility by California Correctional Institution officers who she claims bullied her, forced her into demeaning situations and ultimately ... sexually violated her.
Christina says she’s still in shock over the ordeal, and has been left feeling debilitated, frozen, helpless, baffled and outraged.
She insists she was innocent of any wrongdoing, and says she's a victim of abuse of power at the hands of the CCI officers and has been left battered … something she wants no woman to go through. She adds … “I am married to and in love with an incarcerated man. This is not a crime, it does not make me a criminal.”
Allred says their lawsuit is being filed against the CCI, along with Adventist Health, the facility that conducted some of Christina’s allegedly unlawful exams.
Allred described Christina’s ordeal in graphic detail and described it as “state-sanctioned torture.” She says they are suing for sexual battery, battery, gender violence, sexual harassment, violations of various rights, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and invasion of privacy.
Christina’s seeking damages, along with a court order for prisons to stop the practice of body cavity searches of women trying to visits their inmate husbands.
A woman claims she was subjected to a "humiliating strip search" and sexual abuse simply because she was trying to visit her husband in prison ... so she's suing.
Women's rights attorney Gloria Allred is representing the woman and will be holding a news conference Monday at 11:30 AM PT to announce the lawsuit and reveal details. The alleged victim will also speak about her "shocking and traumatic experience."
TMZ will be live streaming.
According to Allred ... her client went to a California prison for a scheduled family visit with her incarcerated husband, but says she had to undergo a strip search upon arrival.
Then, the woman claims she was taken to a nearby hospital and subjected to an invasive body cavity search of her genital area. She was allegedly X-rayed and given a CT-scan of her body while in handcuffs, as well. The woman claims she did not consent to any of it.
Allred says the invasive search of her client's vagina and other private parts violated her rights, and claims law enforcement didn't even find any contraband on or inside her body. However, the woman says she was still blocked from seeing her husband.
More specifics of the case will be disclosed at the news conference.
Originally Published -- 11:16 AM PT
NYPD brass reportedly cooked up a story about officers getting poisoned at Shake Shack ... because the trio of cops who complained about a funny taste in their milkshakes never even got sick.
The cops in the middle of the "poisoned" milkshake conspiracy were not targeted by rogue, police-hating Shake Shack workers as the NYC Detectives' Endowment Association would have you believe.
According to the NY Post ... the 3 officers from the Bronx were on protest duty in Lower Manhattan when they ordered the shakes. Mind you, the cops used a MOBILE APP to order the drinks, which were packaged and awaiting pickup -- so employees wouldn't even have known the shakes were for cops.
The worst thing that happened to the cops was reportedly a bad taste in their mouths after gorging on the shakes. So, they tossed 'em and alerted a Shake Shack manager, who said sorry and made good with vouchers for free food and drink, which the officers accepted.
Would you accept free food and drink from a burger joint you thought "poisoned" your order on purpose?!? Didn't think so.
According to the report, things got hairy when the cops told their sergeant about the shakes, and the sergeant sent the Emergency Service Unit to set up a crime scene at Shake Shake for an evidence search, some 2 hours after the cops' first sip.
Meanwhile, the cops were rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where they were reportedly examined and sent on their merry way without ever showing the slightest of symptoms.
At the same time, a lieutenant from the Bronx fired off an email to the police unions falsely claiming 6 officers "started throwing up after drinking beverages they got from shake shack on 200 Broadway."
Detectives were put on the case, but it was apparently pretty easy to solve after reviewing surveillance footage and interviewing 5 employees. The report says video showed the shakes were normally made. No poison or funny business.
The reason for the bad taste seems to have been from a commonly used cleaning solution that wasn't thoroughly rinsed off the milkshake machine.
But, for some reason, the mounting evidence of a big nothing-burger didn't stop the NYC Detectives' Endowment Association from declaring cops were "intentionally poisoned by one or more workers at the Shake Shack" and fell "ill."
And, the evidence, or lack thereof, didn't stop Police Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch from making a show of visiting the cops in the hospital at the same time his union claimed police were "under attack" from a "toxic substance, believed to be bleach."
The since-deleted social media messages initially spread like wildfire, causing the burger joint to trend overnight and birthing the #BoycottShakeShack hashtag, which is still being tweeted by accounts.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison finally tweeted 8 hours after the alleged incident there was "no criminality" and it was all much ado about nothing. Literally nothing. Zip. Nada.
With egg on their face, the police unions eventually deleted their tweets and put out statements walking back their claims.
The city council has since demanded a probe into alleged "inflammatory" behavior by the police unions, and the NYPD says its still reviewing the incident.
Lana Parrilla played an evil queen in "Once Upon a Time" ... so it's not surprising she's not afraid to confront trouble ... like pointing a shotgun at a woman who she claims went on an expletive-laced rant and accused her of murdering 13 children.
Lana beelined it to L.A. County Superior Court for a restraining order against a woman named Antoinette Hinckley, a 50-year-old who allegedly showed up to Lana's crib twice in 5 days. According to Lana's docs, Hinckley harassed her to the point the actress was forced to show force.
According to docs, obtained by TMZ, the bizarre incidents began June 9 when Antoinette was walking barefoot in front of Lana's home. Lana said hello and asked, "Are you just going for a walk?" Lana says Antoinette laughed and said, "I just wanted to look someone in the eyes" before asking Lana, "How do you sleep at night?" Lana says she responded she sleeps well. Antoinette scoffed, "f*** off!!" before walking away.
The second incident went down on June 14 ... Lana -- who says Antoinette is a friend of a former male friend -- claims Antoinette rang the gate bell that morning and things quickly got crazy. Lana claims Antoinette started yelling and making up stories ... like alleging Lana owed her $400,000. She says Antoinette threatened her before making this bizarre allegation: "I have video of you murdering my 13 children last night."
In docs, Lana says she was scared for her life ... she called cops but also "grabbed a bat and an unloaded shotgun and went to the porch." Lana claims she confronted Antoinette and told her she needed mental help and to "get the f*** off my property." That's when Lana claims Antoinette shot back, "f*** you. I'm going to jump over this fence and beat the s*** out of you."
It's at this point when Lana claims she pointed the shotgun at Antoinette, who yelled back but walked away. Cops were called and ultimately tracked Antoinette down, telling her she'd be arrested if she threatened Lana again. But, Lana says it didn't end there ... she claims 45 minutes later a homeless man came to her gate and called for her. Lana says she fears for her life and worries Antoinette will send people she knows to her house to hurt her.
Antoinette must now stay at least 100 yards away from Lana, her home and workplace.
The actress has appeared in tons of TV shows ... including "Spin City," "Boomtown," "Windfall," "Swingtown," "Miami Medical" and, of course, "Once Upon a Time" where she spent 7 seasons on the hit ABC fantasy drama series.