MIAMI — A gunman shot at and injured a county robbery detective during an undercover surveillance in Northwest Miami-Dade, authorities said, the latest in a series of attacks against law enforcement officers in recent months. The Robbery Intervention Detail detective was grazed or hit by fragments in the face, Miami-Dade police said Monday. “Our officer, thank goodness, is doing OK. He’s going to be alright,” Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez told reporters outside Jackson Memorial Hospital, where the detective was being treated. The department did not say whether the gunman ...
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Memphis (AFP) - The southern US city of Memphis braced itself for unrest Friday as authorities prepared to release a video depicting the fatal assault of a Black man by five police officers who, the victim's mother said, "beat him to a pulp."
The police officers, who are also Black, were charged with second-degree murder in the beating of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, who died in hospital on January 10, three days after being stopped on suspicion of reckless driving.
"They had beat him to a pulp," Nichols's mother RowVaughn Wells told CNN, sobbing as she described him in hospital. "He had bruises all over. His head was swollen like a watermelon. His neck was bursting because of the swelling."
"I knew my son was gone," Wells said.
Memphis police chief Cerelyn Davis said the graphic video, which will be released after 6:00 pm Central time (0000 GMT Saturday), shows Nichols crying out for his mother.
"What I saw on this video was more of a groupthink sort of mentality. And no one took a step to intercept or intervene," Davis said. "And that's why the charges are as severe as they are."
Davis compared the video to footage of the 1991 Rodney King beating, which sparked days of riots in Los Angeles that left dozens dead.
"I was in law enforcement during the Rodney King incident, it's very much aligned with that same type of behavior," Davis said. "I would say it's about the same, if not worse."
Nichols's death at the hands of police drew immediate comparisons with the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, another Black man whose suffocation by a white police officer in Minneapolis was caught on film.
Video of Floyd's death spread rapidly, sparking a massive wave of at times violent protests nationwide and beyond, and reviving scrutiny of race relations and a culture of police brutality in the United States.
President Joe Biden, anticipating protests after the Memphis video's release, called for calm, saying "outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable."
The police officers were taken into custody following a rapid internal investigation that found them to have deployed excessive use of force and to have failed to render aid.
In addition to second-degree murder charges, the officers are also facing indictments for aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping.
Four of the five were released from jail after posting bail, US media reported Friday, citing jail records.
Police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder over Floyd's death, in what was seen as a landmark case.
Chauvin, a white veteran of the Minneapolis police force, knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly 10 minutes, indifferent to his cries and the warnings of distraught passersby.
In another of a long series of police killings, an officer was found guilty in 2021 of manslaughter after she shot dead young African American man Daunte Wright, claiming she mistook her gun for her taser during a traffic stop in a suburb of Minneapolis.
RowVaughn Wells on Friday accused police of initially trying to cover-up her son's beating, coming to her door to say he had been arrested for drunk driving and pepper-sprayed and tasered after being hard to handcuff.
They said he was being treated by paramedics and would be taken to hospital but that she could not visit him.
Doctors called days later to say he was in cardiac arrest and his kidneys were failing, and that she needed to visit as soon as possible.
"People don't know what those Black police officers did to our family," Wells said.
"They have brought shame to their own families. They brought shame to the Black community."
A lawyer for one officer, Desmond Mills, said his client was innocent of second-degree murder.
"That requires that they prove that Mr Mills acted with a reasonable degree of certainty with regard to his actions, that his actions were certain to cause death. And that's just simply not the case," said Blake Ballin.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors have charged three members of an Eastern European criminal organization with ties to Iran's government with conspiring to assassinate a journalist and activist who is an American citizen, Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Friday.
Rafat Amirov, Polad Omarov and Khalid Mehdiyev were charged with murder-for-hire and money laundering for their role in the thwarted Tehran-backed plot, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
"The victim publicized (the) Iranian government's human rights abuses, discriminatory treatment of women, suppression of democratic participation and expression and use of arbitrary imprisonment, torture and execution," Garland said.
Garland did not name the alleged victim, but Mehdiyev was arrested last year in New York for having a rifle outside the Brooklyn home of journalist Masih Alinejad, a longtime critic of Iran's head-covering laws who has promoted videos of women violating those laws on social media.
Amirov was arrested on Thursday and will have a pretrial hearing in federal court in Manhattan later on Friday. Omarov was arrested in the Czech Republic earlier this month.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; editing by Richard Cowan and Jonathan Oatis)
The "love hormone" oxytocin has long been thought key to behaviors including pairing up with a partner and nurturing offspring, but a new study in prairie voles is raising doubts.
The research found that voles bred to lack functioning receptors for oxytocin were still able to form strong pairs, produce young and nurse -- all behaviors previously believed to depend on the hormone.
Prairie voles are one of the few mammals that mate for life, and are often used to study social behaviors like pair-forming in animals.
In past studies, voles given drugs that stopped oxytocin being processed no longer formed pairs, and mothers failed to produce milk for their young.
Psychiatrist Devanand Manoli and neurobiologist Nirao Shah produced genetically altered prairie voles without working oxytocin receptors, and then observed how the mutant male and female voles behaved.
To their shock, the mutant voles appeared to have no difficulty pairing up with non-genetically altered partners, and mutant females could still deliver and nurse young, unlike those in the drug-driven studies.
"We were certainly surprised," said Manoli, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
The results suggest that oxytocin is not the main, or only, driver of activities like partnering or nursing, he said.
"What the genetics reveals is that there isn't a 'single point of failure' for behaviors that are so critical to the survival of the species," he told AFP.
'Very complex behaviors'
That didn't mean there were no differences, however.
Some male mutant voles that paired with ordinary female partners didn't show the aggression towards interloping females that would normally be expected.
And while mutant females produced and nursed litters, some had fewer pups per litter than their counterparts, and fewer of their offspring survived to weaning, the paper published Friday in the journal Neuron explains.
Pups born to mutant mothers also tended to weigh less, suggesting that they were not able to nurse as effectively.
The study only involved pairing of mutant voles with "wild-type" partners, and the researchers said pairings with two mutant partners could produce different results.
Still, as a whole, the findings suggest a different picture of oxytocin's role in several important behaviors.
That could be because animals bred without the receptors developed "other compensatory pathways" that helped them pair up and nurse, said Shah, a professor at Stanford University.
But the researchers suggest it likely means oxytocin is only part of a set of genetic factors that control social behavior.
"What I think our studies reveal is that there are multiple pathways that regulate these very complex behaviors," said Manoli.
Oxytocin has sometimes been suggested as a way to treat attachment disorders and other neuropsychiatric issues, but there is little settled science on how effective it is.
Now the researchers hope to investigate what other hormones and receptors may be involved in behaviors like pairing and nursing.
"These other pathways might serve as new therapeutic targets," Manoli said.
© 2023 AFP