The New York City medical examiner’s office Friday confirmed what demonstrators had been saying for weeks: A police officer’s choke hold on a man being arrested for selling loose cigarettes killed him. The death has been ruled a homicide.


A mother in Washington State is behind bars after police say she set her husband on fire because he molested her 7-year-old daughter.

Tatanysha Hedman, 40, allegedly told police that shooting her husband, 52-year-old Vincent Phillips, was “too nice,” KVI reported last week.

Hedman was arrested on July 17, the day after Phillips ran into a convenience store in Renton with severe burns, asking for help. When authorities arrived, Phillips told an officer, “My wife did it,” according to the Renton Reporter.

Hedman allegedly confessed to pouring gasoline on her husband because he “hurt” her daughter. Phillips is not the child’s biological father. Days later, police recommended that he be charged with first-degree child molestation, KOMO News reported.

Phillips is hospitalized, while Hedman is in jail on assault and arson charges. Her bail was set at $500,000.

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NEW YORK (AP) — A chokehold used by a white police officer on a black New York City man during his arrest for selling untaxed, loose cigarettes last month caused his death, the medical examiner announced Friday, ruling it a homicide.

Eric Garner, 43, whose videotaped confrontation with police has caused widespread outcry and calls by the Rev. Al Sharpton for federal prosecution, was killed by “the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police,” said medical examiner spokeswoman Julie Bolcer.

Asthma, heart disease and obesity were contributing factors, she said.

Chokeholds are prohibited by the New York Police Department. The case is being investigated by prosecutors on Staten Island, though Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Justice Department is “closely monitoring” the investigation.

The NYPD didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the medical examiner’s ruling. The officer who put Garner in the chokehold was stripped of his gun and badge pending the investigation, and another was placed on desk duty. Two paramedics and two EMTs were suspended without pay.

Police Commissioner William Bratton has said the officer appeared to have placed Garner in a chokehold and has ordered a top-to-bottom redesigning of use-of-force training in the NYPD.

In provocative comments Thursday, Sharpton called for the officers to be charged criminally. Sharpton believes chokeholds are used disproportionately on minorities.


Police say Tony DeFrances was “despondent” over being demoted when the 60-year-old allegedly walked into his office in downtown Chicago Thursday morning and shot his boss — a married father of three who was also DeFrances’ longtime friend — before fatally shooting himself.

Family friends say victim Steven LaVoie, the 54-year-old CEO of foodservice supply chain technology company ArrowStream, was “stable” after surgery but remained in critical condition as of Thursday night, the Tribune reports. He was shot in the head and stomach.

DeFrances had reportedly requested a one-on-one meeting with LaVoie Thursday morning, less than a week after DeFrances had been demoted as part of a company-wide downsizing. Just before 10 a.m., ArrowStream employees told the Sun-Times they heard several shots from LaVoie’s office; the two men reportedly struggled before DeFrances turned the gun on himself.

Various reports listed DeFrances as the company’s chief technology officer who according to the its website had been with the company “virtually since its inception.” (As of Friday afternoon, his name and bio had been removed from the company’s website. )

According to the Sun-Times, a statement issued Thursday by the LaVoie family read in part:

“A horrific personal tragedy has happened today to two families… Our thoughts are also with Steven’s extended family, the employees of ArrowStream, who mean so much to Steven. Finally, our prayers are with the other family affected by this tragedy.”

The Bank of America building where the shooting occurred was not evacuated during the incident. Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy told NBC Chicago the incident was “a workplace violence issue,” adding, “I can’t see how this could have been a security issue.”

DeFrances was not legally licensed to carry the gun used in the shooting. Police say the married father of three didn’t have a state Firearm Owners Identification Card and did not say to whom the gun was registered, if registered at all.


With war raging on between Israel and Hamas and the death toll on the rise, prayers for peace in the Middle East are needed now more than ever.

HuffPost Live’s Caroline Modarressi-Tehrani sat down with Insight Meditation Society co-founder Sharon Salzberg and HuffPost’s Executive Religion Editor Paul Raushenbush to discuss the call for peace in Gaza and what a potential resolution to the conflict would entail.

“I think that we need a chance,” Salzberg said. “We need to not be engaged at the kind of hyperactive level where we can’t see one another and we’re just responding out of hatred and fear.”

Raushenbush looked to historical figures to shed light on the current turmoil.

“A constructive engagement with violence … is the reason we turn to people like [Martin Luther] King and Gandhi as prophets,” he said. “The violence that they were confronting was horrific, yet they waged peace in an intentional, effective way.”

What makes Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi different from other leaders is that they never lost touch with humanity even while fighting injustice, Raushenbush added. And for this, he values their constructive and effective approach.

With no end in sight, sometimes looking to the past provides solutions, but the direction from here remains uncertain.

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation here.

Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!


It may be surprising to learn that many convicted domestic abusers are currently allowed to legally buy guns. Federal law prevents abusive spouses and co-parents from legally having guns. But convicted abusers of dating partners, those facing restraining orders, or convicted stalkers can currently pass a background check and legally buy an AR-15.

This is the reality, but it’s not the perception. In Purple Strategies’ recent survey of women voters, sponsored by Everytown for Gun Safety, majorities presumed these other types of abusers could not legally have guns. So not surprisingly, eight in ten women (81%) support Senator Klobuchar’s (D-MN) proposal to expand the definition of abuser to include stalkers and abusers of dating partners. (Note: At Purple, I led this polling effort; this post reflects my own views.)

Support extends across party lines. The survey included an oversample of an additional 200 Republican and Independent women; over three-fourths (77%) of them support this proposal. Even 75% of women who own guns support the bill. This is consistent with this recent Huffington Post/YouGov poll, showing a majority of Republicans (of both genders) support this proposal.

Not only does the Klobuchar bill close a loophole most women are unaware even exists, most also feel it will make women safer. Over half (62%) say the law will make women safer, including 51% of Republicans and Independents.

Those who might know best say the law could be even more helpful. The 44% in our survey with personal experience with domestic violence or stalking, and the 25% with personal experience with gun violence, are particularly likely to feel the proposal will make women safer (64%, 70%).


Why is support so transcendent? Perhaps because three-fourths of women (and over two-thirds of Republicans an Independents) feel we can both protect 2nd Amendment rights while also keeping guns out of dangerous hands. Only a fifth (19%) say every gun law is an infringement on the 2nd Amendment.

And while many may think guns are a third rail of American politics, women say they will reward, not punish, a candidate for supporting this expansion of the definition of abuser. By 3-to-1, women say they are more likely to vote for a candidate with this view. Even among Republicans and Independents, more will reward a candidate.

So while some wonder if stronger gun laws are too restrictive, or too controversial, remember most women assume the laws are stronger than they actually are. And remember this sobering reality: In the last decade, more women were killed by an intimate partner using a gun than troops killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Come November, women across party lines may reward candidates working to solve problems, rather than leaning on partisan perceptions.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Friday rushed through a $225 million bill to replenish Israel’s missile defense system, and House approval was expected in the final hours before lawmakers began a summer break.

The money will go to restocking Israel’s Iron Dome, which has been credited with shooting down dozens of incoming rockets fired by Palestinian militants over three and a half weeks of war. The vote came two days after the Pentagon announced ammunition deliveries to the Jewish state and as a planned 72-hour cease-fire between Israel and Hamas unraveled almost as quickly as it began.

Efforts in the Senate to approve the money stalled Thursday night after Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma sought cuts elsewhere in the budget to pay for the aid. Earlier, senators attempted to lump the Israel money into a broader spending bill that included border security and wildfire assistance money. That bill failed to get the necessary 60 votes on Thursday, and the House had little interest in it, anyway. Friday’s separate Israel bill passed by voice vote.

The Iron Dome system has emerged as a game-changer in the current round of violence, with Israeli officials citing a success rate as high as 90 percent.

The system uses radar, advanced tracking technology and anti-missile batteries to follow the trajectory of an incoming rocket or mortar and determine if it is headed for a major population center. If an urban area is threatened, interceptors are fired to detonate in the air in close proximity to the missile. Projectiles not posing a threat are allowed to fall in empty fields. The system targets short-range rockets with a range between 2 miles and 45 miles; interceptors cost as much $100,000 apiece.

Created by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Iron Dome has enjoyed strong U.S. technological and financial support.

Throughout its history, the U.S. has provided more than $700 million to help Israel cover costs for batteries, interceptors, production costs and maintenance, the Congressional Research Service said. The total already appeared set to climb above $1 billion after Senate appropriators doubled the Obama administration’s request for Iron Dome funding for fiscal 2015. Now it seems likely to rise even further, with President Barack Obama expected to sign any bill swiftly into law.

It’s unclear, however, how quickly the new supplies might reach the battlefield. And Israel and Hamas may be in for a prolonged fight.

A cease-fire arranged by the United States and United Nations collapsed shortly after its start Friday morning, with at least 40 Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers killed. And the apparent capture of an Israeli infantry officer set the stage for a major escalation in a conflict that already has devastated large swaths of Gaza.

The Obama administration, which had grown increasingly irritated with the mounting Palestinian casualties, condemned the capture as “absolutely outrageous.” More than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 60 Israelis, mostly soldiers, have been killed in the last 25 days.

Some of Congress’ Iron Dome money could go to U.S. defense contractor Raytheon, which can manufacture components of the system after a March 2014 agreement between Israel and the United States. The two companies also are collaborating on a system targeting mid-range rockets that can travel between 45 miles and 200 miles to protect Israel against Hezbollah in Lebanon and President Bashar Assad’s government and Sunni extremists in Syria.

With an eye on Iran, Israel also is developing a deterrent against longer-range threats. The next generation of the Arrow system is scheduled to deploy in 2016.

Shortly after the Gaza conflict erupted, Obama praised the missile defense systems as proof of America’s commitment to Israeli security. His administration sent the Israeli request to Congress for more Iron Dome money even as the president and Secretary of State John Kerry have been seeking a humanitarian cease-fire.


The MoneyPak card, used to transfer cash by those without access to conventional bank accounts, has also caught the eye of criminals, from a Maryland jail gang to an online prostitution ring in North Carolina.


An SBS News reporter and Al Jazeera English contributor was caught in the middle of direct gunfire Thursday near the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crash site.

The Australian news service said that journalist Nick Lazaredes is “lucky to be alive” Friday. Lazaredes told SBS Radio he was leaving the MH17 crash site when shooting broke out around him and his group.

“We hit the ground,” he said. “Eventually our driver managed to get us out of the situation. He took off his shirt, which was white, and waved it out of the car. We put our heads down and we drove out. We were fired upon again as we drove out.”

Fighting in Ukraine has quickly resumed despite the announcement of a one-day ceasefire Thursday. Lazaredes told colleagues that the area is still very much in conflict, stating, “there’s no ceasefire. No ceasefire at all.”

SBS News reporter Calliste Weitenberg tweeted updates about Lazaredes’ condition:

While it’s unclear whom the gunfire was coming from — and whether the SBS crew was being directly targeted — Lazaredes said he and other journalists are referring to the aggressors as pro-Russian “separatists,” SBS News reported. Earlier this week, Lazaredes tweeted about a threat his crew received from a separatist gunman:

Last week, The Guardian published a long list of instances of journalists in Ukraine being intimidated by pro-Russian separatists and anti-Russian Ukrainian groups alike, compiled by Reporters Without Borders. Aleksei Matsuka, editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian regional news website Novosti Donbassa, told the Committee to Protect Journalists that there are no independent Ukrainian journalists left in the city of Donetsk. “They have fled the region since pro-Russia separatists started targeting and kidnapping reporters,” Matsuka said.


Growing up in Guatemala, Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes watched many of his peers succumb to drugs, gangs and crime.