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Criminal charges


Agitated and hallucinating from alcohol and heroin withdrawal, inmate Angel Ramirez took a swing at a jail guard and missed.

What followed, according to investigative documents obtained by The Associated Press, was a quick punch back from the guard that put Ramirez on the floor. Then he was dragged away, beyond the view of security cameras, and three other guards were called in. Inmates later told investigators they heard screaming and the sickening crack of nightsticks against bone.

Ramirez, 50, died of numerous blunt-impact injuries that included a ruptured spleen, shattered ribs and a stomach filled with blood. When a jail investigator interviewed the guards — eight months later — they insisted Ramirez was struck only once and only in self-defense.

That July 2011 case is among three deaths in New York City's jails over the past five years in which inmates were alleged to have been fatally beaten by guards. Yet in none of those cases was anyone ever charged with a crime.

"It's outrageous," said Ramirez family attorney Scott Rynecki, who is suing the city and provided the investigative document to the AP. "You have to have a better system in place."

The lack of accountability in the city's jail system was singled out time and again in a scathing federal review issued this month.

The government lawyers focused on juvenile facilities at the huge jail complex called Rikers Island but said their conclusions probably extend to all Rikers jails. They found that beatings often occurred out of view of security cameras, internal investigations took months to complete, and guards falsified or otherwise failed to properly fill out use-of-force forms documenting incidents.

The result, they wrote, is "a culture in which staff feel empowered to use force inappropriately, in ways that go outside the bounds of written policies, because they know they are unlikely to face any meaningful consequences."

A Correction Department spokesman wouldn't comment directly on Ramirez's case but stressed that newly appointed Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte believes excessive force is "absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated on his watch."

Ponte has begun rewriting use-of-force policy, installing more security cameras and revising the recruitment and training of guards, spokesman Robin Campbell said.

Criminal cases against correction officers are notoriously rare and difficult to prosecute. That's because attorneys representing jail guards expertly challenge the credibility of inmate witnesses, a code of silence permeates the ranks of officers, and inconsistencies in video footage and statements are easily exploited by defense lawyers, experts say.

Prosecutors, for example, say they didn't have enough evidence to charge anyone in the 2009 death of Clarence Mobley, a 60-year-old inmate who was awaiting transfer for a psychiatric evaluation when he hit a guard with a meal tray. The officer struck back.

An autopsy report said Mobley, who weighed 115 pounds, suffered a lacerated liver, three broken ribs, a bruised lung, scrapes and bruises on his back, buttocks, head and arms, and severe internal bleeding. He didn't get medical attention after the fight and was found dead in his cell 45 minutes later. His family settled a lawsuit over his death for $525,000.

Earlier this year the family of 52-year-old Ronald Spear, who died after being kicked in the face by guards, settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $2.75 million. He had claimed in court papers that he was retaliated against by guards for contacting lawyers about his difficulties receiving treatment for kidney disease.

In all three cases, the city medical examiner's office ruled the deaths were homcides.

Union leader Norman Seabrook, president of the powerful Correction Officers' Benevolent Association, said that while any officer who illegally uses excessive or improper force should face criminal charges, the rarity of such prosecutions is proof of how frivolous many of the allegations against his members are.

In Ramirez's case, the guard who struck him was brought up on disciplinary charges, but no decision on a punishment has been reached. An administrative judge recommended two others involved be suspended without pay for 20 days, but the correction commissioner has yet to decide their fate.

Prosecutors didn't believe they could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ramirez's death was a criminal homicide, said Terry Raskyn, a spokeswoman for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson. She said prosecutors investigate every allegation of guard misconduct and have brought cases involving assault and attempted murder.

Ramirez, a chronic drug user brought to Rikers after failing to make $750 bail on misdemeanor drug possession charges and endangering the welfare of a child, was pulled out of the medication line and stuck in a hallway after he acted erratically and told an officer "he was seeing people throwing knives at him and trains going around his bed," the report said. Hours later, he was walked back to his bunk without receiving his medication.

Later that night, an increasingly agitated Ramirez repeatedly asked about his "meth," went digging through a garbage can and disturbed other inmates, according to witnesses. Then he took his swing at the guard.

In a photograph taken by guards under department protocol to document the use of force, a shirtless Ramirez, with a crucifix tattooed across his chest, slouches against a wall in the shower area with an apparently dazed look. Hours later, he was dead.

Other inmates reported hearing Ramirez screaming and the sounds of someone being clubbed. One said he also heard Ramirez saying "No mas."

One inmate working as a suicide prevention aide said in a statement that he went to a bathroom to find out what was going on and saw guards beating a handcuffed Ramirez "with nightsticks coming down hard."

"This was not just a homicide," the aide, Jason Jackson wrote. "It was a cold, heartless, corrupt murder."
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The Portuguese training

The 29-year-old could face a fight to be fit for his nation's World Cup opener on Monday after leaving the session prematurely nuskin hk

Cristiano Ronaldo set alarm bells ringing for Portugal on Thursday as he failed to complete his side’s training session and left the pitch in Campinas with a large ice pack on his left knee.

The Real Madrid forward has been struggling with tendinosis but returned to action for 66 minutes in Portugal’s 5-1 friendly win over Ireland on Tuesday.

After that, the 29-year-old told reporters he was “99.9 per cent fit”, nuskin hk but participated only in stretching with his team-mates on Thursday and left the pitch with his knee in an ice pack after signing autographs for fans.

Ronaldo then watched the rest of the session from the bench and his fitness remains a cause for concern ahead of Portugal’s World Cup opener against Germany in Salvador on Monday.nuskin hk

The Ballon d'Or winner has been hampered by injury problems ever since Real Madrid's Champions League final win over Atletico Madrid.nuskin hk

The longest row release

A Japanese court on Thursday ordered the release of the world's longest-serving death row inmate, saying investigators had likely fabricated evidence and ordering a retrial in a murder case that left the man behind bars for nearly half a century nuskin hk.

The Shizuoka District Court suspended the death sentence for 78-year-old Iwao Hakamada, a former professional boxer convicted in the 1966 murder of a family. More than 45 of the 48 years he has spent in jail have been on death row, making Hakamada the longest-serving such inmate, according to Guinness World Records.

Hakamada was sentenced to death in 1968, but was not executed because of a lengthy appeals process. It took 27 years for the Supreme Court to deny his first appeal for a retrial. He filed a second appeal in 2008, nu skin and the court finally ruled in his favor on Thursday.

The court said DNA analysis obtained by Hakamada's lawyers suggested that investigators had fabricated evidence. It ordered a retrial in the case, making Hakamada only the six death row inmate to get a retrial in Japan's history of postwar criminal justice. Four of the previous inmates were acquitted in their retrials, while the fifth case is still pending.

Thursday's ruling underscores Japan's much-criticized closed interrogations, which rely heavily on self-confession. Hakamada had confessed in a closed interrogation.

Hakamada was convicted of killing a company manager and his family and setting fire to their central Japan home Glass House, where he was a live-in employee.

Home furnishing decoration tax

The home renovation tax incentive HRI scheme will run for two years.
CONSTRUCTION GROUPS HAVE welcomed a new scheme to give a tax incentive for homeowners to carry out home improvements.

The home renovation tax incentive (HRI) scheme will run for the next two years and give a tax credit of 13.5 per cent on money spent on renovations between €5,000 up to a maximum of €30,000.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said during his budget speech that qualifying work would include work such as window-fitting, plumbing g-suite in oldham, tiling and plastering.

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) has said that the incentive will encourage people to use registered builders and discourage black market construction which is damaging standards in the sector.

“Given recent issues such as Priory Hall, it is imperative that standards are upheld which may not be the case with operators in the shadow economy g-suite manchester,” according to SCSI president Micheál O’Connor.

Pat Barry of the Irish Green Building Council also said that the initiative will hinder “tax dodging cowboys” in the shadow economy but insisted that more targeted measures to boost environmentally friendly construction are still required:

However the tax rebates above a certain level, g-suite cardinal must be targeted at measurable improvement in energy performance of the house, rather than just boosting construction for its own sake.

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