NC firefighter clearing storm debris killed by suspected drunk driverBY MARK PRICEmsprice@charlotteobserver.comLINKEDINGOOGLE+PINTERESTREDDITPRINTORDER REPRINT OF THIS STORYOCTOBER 09, 2017 8:05 AMA Burke County firefighter was hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver around midnight Monday while answering a call about storm debris on a roadway.Triple Community firefighters were dispatched to the site of a fallen tree that was blocking several lanes of Highway 70 near the Drexel intersection, according to media outlets. Triple is about 70 miles northwest of Charlotte, near Morganton.The firefighter was identified as Jason Keith Hensley, 40, according to the Observer’s news partner, WBTV. He died instantly, media outlets reported.ADVERTISINGBurke County was under a Tornado Warning on Sunday evening and a tornado was confirmed to have touched down around the southeast of Morganton in Burke County.Firefighters were in the process of clearing debris when a vehicle traveling east on Hwy 70 struck Hensley, WBTV reported.The North Carolina Highway Patrol charged 58-year-old Randall Stewart with driving while impaired, driving without a license, reckless driving, not wearing a seat belt, possessing marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia, reported WBTV.Stewart allegedly struck two other vehicles that were parked at the scene including Hensley’s personal vehicle which had the emergency lights activated, troopers told WBTV.
Werner Heisenberg : We are not sure which side of the road the chicken was on, but it was moving very fast.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — When Grand Rapids Police Officer Adam Ickes told his shift commander that the driver in a wrong-way crash he was investigating was Josh Kuiper, he was quick to say the then-assistant prosecutor was “hammered” and “visibly intox.”
Ickes’ initial analysis of the crash scene was captured in recorded police phone conversations with then-Lt. Matthew Janiskee and Sgt. Thomas Warwick.
But before the recordings were made public last month based on an MLive Freedom of Information Act request, Ickes downplayed his word choice and dismissed the notion that Kuiper showed signs of being visibly intoxicated during a May 11 deposition with Brian Molde, an attorney at Johnson Law, PLC.
The contrasting statements between the deposition and “unrecorded” phone conversations have led Molde and attorney Vernon “Ven” Johnson to accuse Ickes of falsifying a police report and lying under oath. They said they plan to recommend a perjury charge against Ickes to the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office. Johnson Law is the attorney for the crash victim, who was injured when Kuiper crashed his truck into his parked vehicle.
“This is a guy who the city and the Grand Rapids Police Department knows he falsified his police report,” Johnson said of Ickes. “He absolutely knew (Kuiper) was hammered … this man should have been fired.”
Molde and Johnson are representing Daniel Empson, who is involved in lawsuits against Kuiper and three of the bars that they said allegedly over-served Kuiper on Nov. 19.
During the May civil deposition, Molde questioned Ickes’ use of the word “hammered” and said the word choice indicated that the officer was certain Kuiper had been consuming alcohol to the point he was intoxicated prior to the crash.
“No,” he said, according to the deposition transcript. “I knew he had been drinking. The use of the word hammered is what I used. I wouldn’t — in my verbiage I don’t say ‘had been drinking,’ I normally say intoxicated, intox, you know. He had been drinking, I knew that much.
“Apparently I used hammered today — that day. That’s just the term I used.”
Ickes went on to say that he doesn’t know why he used the term “hammered” but that it has caused him “a lot of grief over the last few months.” He also said Kuiper didn’t slur his words that evening, and that he couldn’t smell any alcohol on his person following the crash.
In his police report, Ickes wrote that alcohol was suspected as a contributing factor in the crash. He indicated that no alcohol test was offered, and wrote in his narrative that no breathalyzer was offered “due to dexterity performance.”
“He actually stood quite well, had good balance,” Ickes told Molde during the deposition. “(He) didn’t have any overt signs of heavy intoxication, but he stated he had been drinking, there was a crash, so, I had to do, you know, to check to make sure.”
Ickes put Kuiper through three sobriety tests. The officer told Molde that Kuiper’s performance during his dexterity tests made him change his opinion regarding whether he was “hammered.”
However, his impression of Kuiper’s performance varied between what he told his shift commander that night and his analysis shared with Molde six months later.
“He got through the alphabet, hand dexterities were OK,” Ickes said to Janiskee, according to police phone recordings. “He said he couldn’t do the one-foot stand because his knees were not great so I skipped that one. Then we did the walk and turn, which wasn’t awesome at all. I’ve got two that were passable, one that wasn’t good.”
When Warwick showed up on scene, he called Janiskee on the city phone line he believed wasn’t recorded, and told him Kuiper was “f—-ed up.”
In January, Sgt. Stephen LaBrecque was asked by Chief David Rahinsky to conduct an operating-while-intoxicated investigation regarding the Nov. 19 crash. He reviewed Ickes’ body-worn camera footage as part of the investigation, and interviewed witnesses.
In his report, LaBrecque wrote that Kuiper’s speech was slow and deliberate, and that he had to think before answering questions. He also said Kuiper paused after the letter “F” while reciting the alphabet, before continuing, and that he lost his balance slightly during the walk-and-turn test, causing him to step backward to the left.
Ickes told Molde he didn’t have any concerns with how Kuiper answered his questions, and said he didn’t notice the pause or the slight loss of balance seen by LaBrecque.
“Again, that’s his interpretation of things,” Ickes said to Molde. “I don’t know how he feels. I know how I feel about the tasks and I’ve told you that I felt that it was performed well enough and I couldn’t tell you what this sergeant’s interpretation is.
“The determination I made at the scene is the one that I made. I’m not going to go back and arm chair quarterback myself on the video or what his determination is.”
Kalamazoo Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting, acting as a special prosecutor for the case, determined there was no evidence of neglect of duty or obstruction of justice on the part of Ickes.
After reviewing all available materials related to the crash, LaBrecque concluded that the former prosecutor was driving his truck while intoxicated.
“Based on the information gathered in this investigation as well as my experience of nearly 27 years as a police officer, and several years as a crash investigator, Mr. Kuiper operated his truck while intoxicated/impaired by alcohol and caused a crash that resulted in serious injuries to Mr. Empson,” LaBrecque wrote in his report.
Kuiper was later charged with a felony for reckless driving causing serious impairment of a body function and a misdemeanor moving violation causing serious impairment of a body function. He is currently appealing the charges, claiming the victim’s fractured shoulder didn’t constitute as a serious impairment.
Despite Police Chief David Rahinsky’s recommendation to have all three officers terminated from their positions, city officials suspended Ickes and Warwick for 160 hours without pay. Warwick was also demoted from sergeant to patrol officer, while Janiskee was fired.
“Lying on a police report is grounds for termination,” Johnson said. “Every single police report (Ickes) writes from now on should be called into question. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want this guy pulling me over and lying on a police report.”
Johnson and Molde are hoping to strengthen Empson’s civil lawsuits against Kuiper and the three establishments that served him alcohol.
Attempts to contact the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association for comment on behalf of Ickes were not immediately returned.
COLUMBUS — A preliminary hearing for a South Solon driver accused of fatally injuring a Barnesville man in a construction zone early Saturday morning has been scheduled for Oct. 10 in the Franklin County Municipal Court. Edward A. Torres, 30, is facing one count of aggravated vehicular homicide while impaired, a second-degree felony, and aggravated vehicular homicide while driving reckless in a construction zone, a third-degree felony, according to the court’s website. Torres is suspected of being impaired when he struck and killed Steve L. Cook, 59, on Interstate 70 in Franklin County. Torres was released from the Franklin County Jail after Callif Bonding LLC posted a surety bond on his behalf. He was ordered not to consume alcohol or abuse drugs as a condition of his bond. A 2009 Honda Odyssey operated by Torres entered the eastbound lanes of I-70 at Hilliard-Rome Road at 1:35 a.m. Saturday before moving into the construction zone where three right lanes were closed to traffic. He passed a marked deputy sheriff’s cruiser that had emergency lights activated. “He drove around barricades and around construction equipment before striking a worker,” said Columbus police Sgt. Brooke Wilson, who oversees the Accident Investigation Unit. According to the affidavit, “Mr. Torres came upon a large pavement roller in the middle lane of those closed lanes and switched to the rightmost lane. Mr. Torres took his eyes off the roadway to look down at his cellular phone and when he raised his head to look back at the roadway there was a construction worker … directly in front of him.” The Odyssey then struck Cook, who was taken to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center and pronounced dead. Investigators noticed Torres had an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the cup holder of the Odyssey just adjacent to the steering wheel, according to the affidavit. He told authorities he had a few beers to drink. Investigators reported he had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath. Court records show Torres was convicted of an operating while impaired charge stemming from a 2008 stop when he was 21 years old. In that case, he did not have have the headlights of the vehicle turned on and attempted to turn where there was no road. His blood alcohol came back at .203 — more than twice the legal limit (0.08) in Ohio, Clark County records show.
Salvador Dali : The Fish.
Judge Catherine Steenland of the 39th District Court in Roseville refused to cooperate with police officers who responded to the scene of an incident and her vehicle was impounded, WWJ-AM (950) reported while citing unidentified authorities.
“A compliant was made, and as Judge Steenland is a sitting judge responsible for the city of Roseville, the matter was turned over to the Michigan State Police for investigation,” Roseville Police Chief James Berlin said in a news release Monday morning.
State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said the matter was turned over by Roseville police last week.
“They took the report and figured it was a judge in their jurisdiction, so they turned it over to us,” Shaw told The Macomb Daily Tuesday morning. “We are currently investigating it. We haven’t interviewed the judge.”
Shaw is not sure when an investigator will attempt to contact Steenland to arrange an interview.
Details about the traffic incident have not been released.
Steenland has been on medical leave since July 21, but took a few days off prior to that due to pain, Chief Judge Marco Santia told The Macomb Daily.
“I have not talked to her since I was notified about what happened,” Santia said.
He said Steenland is scheduled to return to work from medical leave on Oct. 17.
“Because of the matter being in the public eye, I’m probably going to have that discussion” sooner, Santia said.
The chief judge said the police chief officially notified him on Monday about the hit-and-run incident.
“But I had heard some rumors the week before,” said Santia, who added that he heard the incident occurred Sept. 27.
The 39th District Court’s jurisdiction also includes the city of Fraser.
Steenland wound up on the opposite side of the bench after she was arrested in June 2008 and charged with drunken driving for an incident near West Branch in Ogemaw County.
Steenland, 41 at the time, initially told a Michigan State Police trooper she had not been drinking and that she tried to turn the vehicle around in a driveway but backed up too far, plunging into a ditch. She admitted she had a couple of beers but insisted she was not drunk. According to a police report of that incident, Steenland failed four field sobriety tests, including at least five attempts to recite the alphabet.
A Michigan State Police laboratory report of Steenland’s blood revealed her blood-alcohol content was 0.23 percent –- almost triple Michigan’s legal standard of intoxication of 0.08 percent.
She later pleaded guilty to driving while impaired by alcohol. At her sentencing in July 2008, Steenland was ordered to serve 31 days in jail, with credit for one day behind bars. The sentencing judge suspended the balance of the jail term on the condition Steenland complete six months informal probation in which she was required to attend an alcohol highway safety program, a victim impact panel and pay $100 in prosecution costs. She also was ordered to pay fines and fees totaling $700.
The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission later accused her of misconduct, stemming from her arrest. In lieu of a formal complaint, the judicial board and Steenland reached a settlement agreement that called for her censure and 90-day suspension from the district court bench without pay.
Steenland is the wife of Roseville City Clerk Richard Steenland.
Pardon the pun, but the marijuana industry has been growing like a weed for years — and it has rapidly changing perceptions about the drug among the public to thank for it.
According to a CBS News poll conducted in July 1979, just 27% of those surveyed believed marijuana should be legal. Comparatively, 69% thought it shouldn’t be legal. Fast-forward to April 2017, and CBS News’ latest survey finds that an all-time record of 61% believe pot should be legal nationally, while just 33% now oppose the idea. This growing acceptance and favorability of marijuana has some pro-legalization enthusiasts and investors thinking that lawmakers on Capitol Hill may be coerced to change the drug’s scheduling sooner rather than later.
The result of this shift in opinion on pot has dramatically boosted sales of the drug in the United States. A Marijuana Business Daily report released this year estimates that legal-cannabis sales could grow by around 30% in 2018, and by an aggregate of 300% between 2016 and 2021 to approximately $17 billion. It’s this shifting opinion and rapid growth rate that have marijuana stock investors so excited about the industry’s prospects.
Marijuana’s huge speed bump in the road
But there’s one catch, and it’s a pretty big one: Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. As a Schedule I substance, it has no recognized medical benefits and is considered to be on par with heroin and LSD.
During the Obama administration, the Cole memo, named for President Obama’s deputy attorney general, James Cole, acted as a guide for how the federal government and legalizing states would coexist. According to the memo, states would be allowed to legalize and expand cannabis programs as long as they held to strict regulations, including ensuring that no minors got their hands on cannabis, and that states set strict regulations for driving under the influence. It also meant states had to take extra precautions to ensure that marijuana wasn’t trafficked interstate.
During the Obama presidency, federal regulators were generally hands-off when it came to the practices of individual states. Under the Trump administration, that may soon change.
In February, now-former White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested that the Trump administration would take a more hands-on approach to regulating pot relative to the previous administration, though he failed to elaborate exactly what that might entail.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on the other hand, leaves nothing to hide when it comes to his feelings about marijuana.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions strikes fear in the marijuana industry
For example, in May, Sessions sent a letter to congressional leaders asking them to repeal the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which protects marijuana businesses in legal states from federal prosecution. In other words, Sessions has been looking for the OK from his peers from the get-go to go after medical-marijuana businesses. This action would build on previous commentshe’s made suggesting crime follows drug use, and that cannabis is anything but medicine.Sessions recently doubled down on his anti-marijuana view by candidly responding to a reporter’s question during a press conference in San Diego following a record-breaking narcotics seizure. According to Reuters, Sessions reminded everyone in the room that the federal law banning the sale of marijuana “remains in effect,” and that “I’ve never felt that we should legalize marijuana.” These 11 words are everything you need to know about the head of the Justice Department in regard to how he feels about weed.
The silver lining for pot businesses and marijuana stocks to this point has been the adherence to the Cole memo, as well as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which hasn’t allowed federal funding to be used to prosecute cannabis companies. But the tide may be shifting, which could give Sessions the ammo he needs to shut down legal-weed operations.
For instance, the House Rules Committee last month blocked a vote on the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, which would provide the exact same exemptions for pot businesses in legal states as in previous years. This is an amendment that has to be voted on and added to the budget each and every year. The blockage of this vote by the House may keep the amendment out of the 2018 budget, paving the way for Sessions to wreak havoc by using federal dollars to prosecute medical-cannabis businesses.
Marijuana isn’t a priority for Congress
Even if marijuana stocks and pro-legalization enthusiasts manage to catch a break by having the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment included thanks to its passage in the Senate, there’s still not a whole lot to cheer about. When push comes to shove, marijuana remains a very low priority for lawmakers in Washington, despite the shifting sentiment among the public.
Over the past couple of months, lawmakers have been devoting nearly their entire dockets to healthcare reform and tax reform. On top of these potentially major legislative changes, there’s the federal budget, the debt-ceiling debate, and Trump’s desire for an infrastructure bill. There’s next to no incentive, or time, for lawmakers in Washington to focus on legalizing cannabis.
Even if there were time, this Congress seems highly unlikely to pass any favorable weed laws. Aside from Jeff Sessions’ being dead set against seeing marijuana expand any further, Republicans remain in control of both houses of Congress. According to a Gallup October 2016 poll, Republicans are just one of two groups still opposed to the expansion of weed, along with senior citizens.
With the deck still stacked against marijuana stocks, and expected to remain that way for years to come, investors should do their best to temper their expectations.
Say Goodbye to the Old iPhone: This Could Be 40X Better
iPhone mania is back, and there’s potentially billions up for grabs. But if you think Apple is the best way to play the pending iPhone tsunami, think again. One tiny company holds the patents to an invaluable, tiny component inside Apple’s newest iPhone — and Apple has to pay up every time it puts this technology in its phones.
Don’t wait until the name of this company is on everyone’s lips.