The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

6 months ago

Anti-police activists need help after a day of protesting; Hoover PD officers save the day 

(Allan Rice/Facebook)

The world has a sense of irony, indeed.

On Thursday night, Hoover City Administrator Allan Rice shared a quick story of something that happened earlier in the day — something lighthearted, but also telling.

Rice on Facebook posted two pictures of young activists — at least one who can be seen wearing a T-shirt featuring handwritten criticism of law enforcement — surrounding a car, obviously at a loss.

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Apparently, as Rice explained, the group had spent the afternoon protesting the Hoover Police Department, but when they arrived back at their car to leave for the day, one tiny problem emerged: the keys were locked inside the vehicle.

Thankfully, the very people they were protesting were on-hand to help.

Showing their passion for public service and dedication to professionalism, at least two Hoover PD officers can be seen in one of the pictures as they work to gain access to the car’s interior.

Their efforts were ultimately successful, and the protesters were able to go on their way — all thanks to the officers.

“When you spend all afternoon protesting against Hoover Police Department and realize you locked your keys in the car, only to be rescued by…Hoover Police Department. Can’t make this stuff up,” Rice wrote.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 months ago

Auburn professor: ‘F*** every single cop’

(Jesse Goldberg/Facebook)

Jesse A. Goldberg, Ph.D., still has not started his first semester as a lecturer at Auburn University. However, the incoming professor continues to ignite controversy on social media.

A few months ago, Goldberg admittedly posted his “first controversial tweet” as an Auburn faculty member.

Ahead of starting his new job as a “Lecturer of African American & American Literature and Composition in the English department at Auburn University” this coming academic year, Goldberg said, “I know it’s just a mascot but I’m never gonna be able to call myself a ‘war eagle’ or say ‘go war eagles.’ Sorry.”

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“I can’t bring myself to enthusiastically and sincerely use a slogan/greeting/cultural signal with ‘war’ as a primary descriptor. Yeah I know I’m being a party pooper but it’s the kind of language thing that sticks with me,” he advised.

In reporting on that incident, Yellowhammer News noted that Goldberg’s Twitter bio read, “Lecturer @ Auburn U | Black Studies, Critical Prison Studies, Queer Theory, American Literature | Abolitionist | martial artist | views are mine | he/him/his.”

The following image utilized as his Twitter header seems to explain what he means by “Abolitionist:”

He further described himself as a “radical anti-racist white (Jewish) teacher.”

Goldberg on Wednesday apparently took his “radical” branding to heart.

The incoming Auburn lecturer tweeted the following (censoring added by Yellowhammer News):

F*ck every single cop. Every single one. The only ethical choice for any cop to make at this point is to refuse to do their job and quit. The police do not protect people. They protect capital. They are instruments of violence on behalf of capital.

The tweet came as a response to a post by the ACLU claiming that a protester in New York City was “abducted” by law enforcement officers. The NYPD has publicly explained that the protester was actually arrested on open warrants by plainclothes officers. Goldberg in his tweet asserted that the arrest was actually “kidnapping.”

Goldberg’s tweet has since been deleted and his account has been set to private. A screenshot of the tweet can be viewed here.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News on Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for Auburn University reacted to Goldberg’s tweet.

“We find Mr. Goldberg’s comments inexcusable and completely counter to Auburn values. Hate speech of any kind is simply wrong,” said Brian Keeter, the university’s executive director of Public Affairs. “Auburn is fully committed to the fundamental right of free speech, but we do not support hateful words or actions that degrade, disrespect or exclude. Especially during these difficult times in our nation, it’s vital that we reject crude stereotypes and work together to foster mutual understanding and respect within our communities.”

“Auburn officials are considering options available to the university,” he concluded.

While Goldberg’s Twitter account is not currently publicly viewable, his Facebook account is.

As of Thursday at 1:00 p.m. CT, his Facebook cover photo displayed a poem entitled, “Against the Police.”

(Jesse Goldberg/Facebook)

In a Wednesday Facebook post that was still on his page as of Thursday at 1:00 p.m. CT, Goldberg echoed the thoughts contained in his since-deleted tweet about police.

“ACAB. Yes, all. Police do not protect people. They protect capital. Cops are instruments of violence on behalf of capital. Literally the only ethical decision for a cop in this moment is to refuse to do their job, to quit. The only good cop is a cop who quits,” he wrote.

ACAB stands for “all cops are bastards.”

A separate Goldberg Facebook post from last week stated that he is a supporter of “prison & police abolition.” Numerous Facebook posts by Goldberg outline that he literally wants to abolish the police, as opposed to more prevalent “reforming” or “defunding” movements.

Goldberg recently wrote that he plans on teaching four classes exclusively online at Auburn this upcoming fall semester.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 months ago

Report: Doug Jones supports studying reparations, opposes ‘defunding’ the police

(Sen. Doug Jones/Facebook)

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) hit on several major topics in a telephone call with Southwest Alabama residents on Thursday, according to a report from Mobile’s FOX 10.

In the wide-ranging, one-hour tele town hall, Jones was reportedly asked by a constituent about the notion of slavery reparations in the United States. In response, Alabama’s junior senator pointed to a recently introduced bill sponsored by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).

That legislation “would establish a commission to study the impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African-Americans and make recommendations on reparation proposals for the descendants of slaves,” per Booker’s office. Co-sponsors include U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

“That’s a very, very complicated issue,” Jones said on Thursday, per FOX 10. “It’s a hot-button issue. But it’s also a very complicated issue. And I think we’ve got to do that.”

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He reportedly voiced his support for a nonpartisan commission of academics, among others, to study the issue of reparations and then make recommendations about whether (and, if so, how) black Americans should be compensated by the federal government.

“And I think right now is an interesting time, because I do think in America, we’re at a historic moment where people are now beginning to realize that we have not fulfilled America’s promise to have all people created equal – that there are still systemic problems in this country, systemic racism problems. We’ve got inequalities in health care jobs, the economy and within the justice system. So I think the time is right now to at least find a way that we can at least study an issue about the original sin of America, to try to do something to see whether or not, what is the appropriate way, or if there should be some type of reparations going forward,” Jones added.

Later in the call, Jones rejected the idea of “defunding” the police.

“That’s just not gonna happen,” the senator advised. “We want to make sure that we’ve got good people that we can encourage to go into law enforcement because that’s how you [get] better law enforcement.”

He further detailed that he opposed a criminal justice reform bill proposed by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) but supported a Democrat-backed bill on the subject spearheaded by Booker and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

You can read the full FOX 10 report here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 months ago

7 Things: Masks ordered for Alabama schools, health exec explains how masks can help Alabama, Brooks calls out Army command for declaring MAGA racist and more …

(YHN)

7. Officers denied service in Daphne

  • After leaving court, a few Daphne Police Department officers went to Five Guys where employees reportedly turned their backs on the officers with at least one employee saying, “I’m not serving them.”
  • A local TV station reported that the officers left the restaurant and went somewhere else and corporate is “working with the store’s franchisee to investigate this situation.” Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth expressed support for officers and criticized the incident on social media, saying on Twitter, “What direction are we going as a society when the men and women who protect us from harm cannot order a simple meal?”

6. Biden supports defunding police and whatever else the Democrat Party’s left-wing puts in front of him

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  • In an interview, former Vice President Joe Biden was asked if “some” police funding should be redirected, and Biden said “absolutely.” His 2020 presidential campaign has insisted that Biden doesn’t support defunding the police, but doesn’t think they need military equipment since this is how they “become the enemy” in communities.
  • Biden also called for police reform and prison reform, saying, “It should be a rehabilitation system, not a punishment system.” It’s not surprising that Biden has taken this position as calls to remove funding from the police have grown more popular among Democrats.

5. Supreme Court decisions continue to roll out

  • In a saga that has gone on for seven years, the United States Supreme Court has finally decided that moral and religious objections to birth control are a way around the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. The media is framing this as a “conservative decision,” but the final ruling was 7-2 with liberal judges siding with Little Sisters of the Poor.
  • In the case of President Donald Trump’s financial records and tax returns, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue their final rulings on the issues. Two of those dealing with subpoenas for records with the subpoenas are coming from the House Oversight Committee and the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committee. Trump claims that they don’t have the authority to request the records, but even if the court rules in favor of subpoenas, the records wouldn’t be made public unless done so by a court order.

4. Alabama small businesses getting more support

  • A new program called “Revive Alabama” has been announced by Governor Kay Ivey that will provide $100 million in coronavirus relief for small businesses throughout the state.
  • The maximum value that will be given out is $15,000; funds are available on a first come first served basis through the Alabama Department of Revenue. Revive Alabama is funded through the $1.9 billion the state received through the CARES Act.

3. Leadership at Redstone Arsenal under review for labeling MAGA racist

  • U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has said that some U.S. Army officials at the Redstone Arsenal in North Alabama might have violated the Hatch Act by using federal government resources to distribute “racist and partisan political propaganda.”
  • In a statement released by Brooks, he says that officials distributed “materials that, among other offensive things, labels President Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan or ‘Celebration of Columbus Day’ as white supremacist.” Brooks would like for the U.S. Army to conduct an investigation and hold the guilty parties accountable.

2. Madison County healthcare executive: Masks work — here’s how

  • Now that there’s a mask mandate in Madison County, there was a press conference held where Crestwood Medical Center CEO Dr. Pam Hudson explained how effective masks can be in the community, saying that if just 80% of the community wears a mask, transmission of the coronavirus would be cut by 90%.
  • Hudson said that the area has seen an increase in cases of the coronavirus, explaining, “Much asymptomatic transmission is likely going on.” She also encouraged people to consider “masking and social distancing as a temporary vaccination,” since an actual vaccine is still “months” away.

1. Masks ordered for Alabama schools

  • While masks aren’t a requirement across the state for schools restarting in the fall, the Alabama Department of Education has ordered 2.5 million reusable masks, which would be enough for each student and staff member to have three.
  • The department clarified that “local public health officials and local elected officials, local school systems will determine if facial coverings are required. There is not a statewide facial covering mandate.” Hoover City Schools and Montgomery schools have already said that they’ll have a mask requirement for pretty much everyone except for someone sitting at their desk in the classroom.

8 months ago

Report: Daphne police officers refused service at local Five Guys restaurant

(Daphne Police Department/Facebook, Jimmy Huddleston/Flickr, YHN)

Daphne Police Department officers were refused service by employees at their local Five Guys franchise, according to a report by WKRG.

Citing a “credible source,” WKRG on Tuesday night reported that a group of five officers had attempted to eat at the Daphne Five Guys after court.

“A group of employees turned their backs on the officers. One of the employees could be overheard saying, ‘I’m not serving them.’ The source said the officers walked out and went to another restaurant,” the TV station outlined.

Daphne Mayor Dane Haygood on social media wrote that he was aware of the WKRG report and had put the franchise’s owner in touch with police department leadership to figure out what occurred.

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The mayor said that he “certainly hope[s] that our officers were not refused service.”

“I am offering to buy these five officers their next meal. Who else wants to follow suit to show our support and appreciation for our men & women in blue?” Haygood concluded.

Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, a Republican candidate for Congress in AL-01, also made his thoughts clear in a Facebook post.

“No way we should look the other way on this stunt! These police officers are the only things keeping us and our family from being run over by crooks and criminals,” he remarked. “We have to make a stand every time we can for these frontline defenders. I also understand these young workers are just acting out what they hear and see on social media. The owner should use this event to show these kids just how wrong their actions were and invite the entire police department to share a meal with these kids. Come on parents step up and work with this business owner and police to teach these young folks just how to be responsible adults.”

The story has already caught the attention of people across the state, including Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL).

Ainsworth on Wednesday announced that he will be buying lunch for any law enforcement officers who eat at the Chick-fil-A in Guntersville from 11:00 a.m. — 1:00 p.m. CT.

“We appreciate the job you are doing to protect our community,” Ainsworth said to law enforcement officers in a Facebook post.

Five Guys corporate is also aware of the WKRG report. The restaurant chain tweeted, “We are very concerned about what has been reported and we are currently working with the store’s franchisee to investigate this situation.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 months ago

Charles Barkley dismisses ‘defund the police’ movement — ‘Most of the cops do a fantastic job’

(The Situation Room/Twitter)

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley this week spoke out against the “defund the police” movement gaining popularity among the far-left wing of the national Democratic Party.

Barkley, an Alabama native who attended Auburn University, appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” on Tuesday.

During the interview, Barkley stressed that the death of George Floyd while in custody of since-fired Minneapolis Police Department officers was a “disgrace” that all Americans should be upset about.

“And everybody wants to make it about black or white. This is not black or white, this is just about humanity,” Barkley said. “To see a grown man die before our eyes. If you’re not upset by that if you’re white, Jewish, Chinese, anything, there is something wrong with you.”

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The outspoken TNT basketball analyst called for “police reform” and criticized “clowns” in both parties that have not gotten reform done over the last decade. However, he clarified that “defunding” the police should not be on the agenda.

“We need the cops, most of the cops do a fantastic job, but instead of defunding and all this other stuff, let’s just do police reform. Everybody should be on board for that whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, conservative or liberal,” Barkley said.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 months ago

Police: Mobile man defecated in patrol car, threw feces at officers

(Mobile County Police Department/Contributed, YHN)

Kendal Benjamin, 32, was arrested on Tuesday after police officers responded to a domestic violence call. However, it was what happened after Benjamin was placed into custody that is making headlines.

Per Fox 10, the Mobile Police Department on Wednesday told local media outlets that Benjamin “slipped his handcuffs” while being transported to jail.

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He then reportedly proceeded to defecate and threw feces on the officers inside the patrol car.

Benjamin reportedly caused damage to the vehicle, as well.

Per Mobile County jail records, he now faces an assault with bodily fluids charge in addition to the original charges for which he was arrested: domestic violence assault in the third degree and criminal mischief in the second degree. Benjamin also faces a felony probation violation for each charge.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 months ago

Funds being raised for slain Moody Police Sgt. Stephen Williams’ family

(WVTM/Facebook, YHN)

A GoFundMe has been launched for the family of Moody Police Department Sgt. Stephen Williams, who was fatally shot in the line of duty on Tuesday evening.

Williams, 50, is survived by a wife and three sons. He served as a police officer for 23 years.

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The GoFundMe was launched early Wednesday morning. Donations will go to any needs that the Williams family has.

As of Wednesday at 10:30 p.m., the GoFundMe had already garnered about $33,000.

Donations can be made here.

RELATED: Ivey: Slain Moody PD Sgt. Stephen Williams ‘died a hero’ — ‘This senseless violence must end’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 months ago

Alabama AG: ‘No reason to believe’ that murder of Moody police officer ‘related to the unrest we’re witnessing across the nation’

(Moody Police Department/Facebook, YHN)

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday released a statement mourning the death of Moody Police Department Sgt. Stephen Williams, who was fatally shot in the line of duty on Tuesday evening.

Williams, 50, had been a police officer for 23 years, the last three years with Moody PD.

He was married with three sons.

“I was devastated to receive the phone call late last night that another one of our law enforcement heroes had lost his life,” Marshall said. “I have been slow to make a public statement today because, after a record-breaking year of law enforcement deaths in our state, words just seem so inadequate.”

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Marshall outlined, “Sergeant Williams was responding to a call for help at local hotel. He showed up, ready to assist, and was instantly shot dead. At this point, we have no reason to believe that Sergeant Williams’s shooting is related to the unrest we’re witnessing across the nation. Nevertheless, our state has been plagued in recent months by a lack of respect for law enforcement—most of whom are genuinely good men and women, from all backgrounds, doing an incredibly difficult job.”

A Facebook post from July 2018 shows that Williams helped secure a basketball hoop and basketballs for at-risk youth in his community.

“Whether black or white, law enforcement or civilian, we are all Alabamians,” Marshall concluded. “None of us benefit from lawlessness. As I shared with Moody Police Chief Hunt last night, my prayers and deepest sympathies are with the department and Sergeant Williams’s family. My Office stands ready to assist in any way that we can.”

RELATED: Ivey: Slain Moody PD Sgt. Stephen Williams ‘died a hero’ — ‘This senseless violence must end’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 months ago

Ivey: Slain Moody PD Sgt. Stephen Williams ‘died a hero’ — ‘This senseless violence must end’

(WVTM/Facebook, YHN)

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday morning released a statement mourning the death of Moody Police Department Sgt. Stephen Williams, who was fatally shot in the line of duty on Tuesday evening.

Williams, 50, had been a police officer for 23 years, the last three years with Moody PD.

He was married with three sons.

“I am deeply saddened to hear Sergeant Stephen Williams was killed in the line of duty last night,” Ivey said. “He served the Moody Police Department with distinction and had a long, honorable career in law enforcement. In the end, he died a hero, fulfilling the oath he swore to do — to uphold the community he served.”

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“Beyond his career in law enforcement, he was a father, and now, three children are left without their dad. We must not forget Sgt. Williams’ ultimate sacrifice was that of his family,” the governor continued.

“This senseless violence must end,” she concluded. “Every day, brave men and women who wear the badge put their lives on the line in order to keep us safe. We are greatly indebted for his service on our behalf. I ask the people of Alabama to join me in prayer for his family, friends and his brothers in arms.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 months ago

Moody police officer shot and killed in the line of duty — ‘A loss for all of Alabama’

(The Trussville Tribune/Facebook)

A police officer has been shot in the line of duty in Moody, Alabama, according to The Trussville Tribune.

A Facebook livestream from the Super 8 Motel in Moody showed a massive law enforcement response from multiple nearby agencies.

The condition of the officer shot was not immediately available. It was not immediately clear if anyone else was injured at the scene. ABC 33/40 reported that the officer was transported to a hospital from the scene.

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An officer told The Trussville Tribune that a suspect was barricaded inside the motel.

ABC 33/40 reported that two additional suspects were in custody.

This is breaking news and will be updated.

Moody is a city in St. Clair County, located in-between Birmingham and Pell City off of I-20.

UPDATE: 11:05 p.m.

CBS 42 reported that the officer was taken to UAB Hospital in Birmingham. WVTM is live-streaming from outside of UAB, where several police officers can be seen.

UPDATE: 11:45 p.m.

CBS 42 reported that the officer, Sergeant Stephen Williams, has died. Williams, 50, had been a police officer for 23 years, the last three years with Moody PD.

He was married with three sons, WBRC reported.

No other officers were injured during the incident, per the police chief.

The State Bureau of Investigation is on the scene. Williams reportedly suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

UPDATE: 12:15 a.m.

United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Jay E. Town released a statement on Williams’ death.

“Moody Police Sergeant Stephen Williams’ end of watch has come much too soon,” Town said. “Our condolences and prayers are with his family, friends, and fellow officers. His loss is a loss for all of Alabama. This serves as yet another heartbreaking and stark reminder of the perils encountered by law enforcement each day.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

12 months ago

Police: Alabama girl lied about assault from fake officer

(Opelika Police Department/Contributed, Pixabay, YHN)

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Police in east Alabama say a teenage girl was lying when she claimed a man impersonating a police officer sexually assaulted her.

The Opelika Police Department tells WTVM-TV that detectives recreated the incident, which was reported Feb. 19. They say that once the teen who claimed the assault was confronted with surveillance video from multiple sources, she admitted she was lying.

Police say they’re continuing to investigate, now focusing on the false report. No criminal charges have yet been filed.

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Because the teen involved is a juvenile, police say they won’t release any more details about the investigation or its outcome.

(Associated Press, copyright 2020)

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1 year ago

Dem State Rep. John Rogers calls for automatic death penalty with no appeals for convicted cop killers

(AHDC/Facebook)

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill that would add law enforcement officers as a protected class in the state hate crime statute.

Race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity and physical or mental disability are examples of current protected classes under Alabama law.

State Rep. Rex Reynolds’ (R-Hazel Green) HB 59 would provide that when a person is found guilty of committing a misdemeanor or felony against a law enforcement officer and it is shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the commission of the crime was motivated by the victim’s employment as a law enforcement officer, the person is subject to heightened criminal penalties.

The legislation comes amid what is widely viewed as a climate of increasing hostility and violence against law enforcement officers across the country and in Alabama, where seven officers have been murdered in the line of duty since the start of 2019. Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday held a powerful press conference about this epidemic. Reynolds is a former longtime police officer, as are several other members of the body.

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Debate on the bill was lengthy and spirited on the House floor on Thursday, although the final vote was bipartisan, with no members voting “nay.” State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) gave some of the most striking remarks, as he often does when he gets up to the microphone.

Adding law enforcement officers to the hate crime statute is a policy Rogers has supported since at least 2016. Nearly identical legislation was introduced last session by State Sen. Chris Elliot (R-Daphne) and State Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville). The legislation passed the House but got stuck in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Elliot is sponsoring the Senate version of the legislation this session as well.

Speaking about HB 59, Rogers said, “I support the bill, but it’s still not strong enough.”

The state representative from Jefferson County advised his “adopted daughter” was a law enforcement officer slain in the line of duty by an individual who shot her with specific intent to kill.

Speaking about individuals convicted of capital murder in the killing of law enforcement officers, Rogers remarked that in those cases, “The death penalty ought to be automatic.”

“I want to see them burn,” he noted.

Rogers lamented how long those individuals on death row can stave off their executions through appeal after appeal after appeal. He argued that individuals should not be allowed to appeal after being duly tried and convicted of the capital murder of a law enforcement officer.

“I’ve been through the whole process, I know what I’m talking about,” Rogers added.

“Sometimes it may be 25-30 years before they burn,” he decried. “And the State’s paying for it.”

“I’m for the hate crime [bill], but we still got to find a way to expedite [the death penalty process],” Rogers said. “I want to get it over with … you ought to be able to find a way to electrocute them as quick as possible, or whatever it is, instead of them just hanging around forever.”

Rogers also blamed the NRA for “the proliferation of guns.” He said guns are being stolen from houses and cars, as well as obtained at gun shows, and then used to commit crimes, including murder law enforcement officers. Rogers called for getting stolen guns off the streets and said “you’re asking for” law enforcement officers to be killed under open-carry policies.

The murder of law enforcement officers is already a capital crime and an aggravating capital sentencing factor under Alabama law. Capital crimes in Alabama are eligible for life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty. HB 59 would deal with crimes such as assault on a police officer.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 year ago

Gone but not forgotten: Bryant-Denny Stadium goes blue for slain Tuscaloosa PD officer

(Kent Gidley/Univ. of Alabama)

Tuscaloosa Police Department Investigator Dornell Cousette was remembered in a special way on Wednesday night, when the University of Alabama used Bryant-Denny Stadium to honor the fallen hero‘s life and show that they back the blue.

UA lit the iconic stadium blue from 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Former TPD Lt. Andy Norris shared stunning pictures of the scene on his Facebook page.

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Video taken inside the blue stadium showed a surreal scene.

On social media, UA Athletics said, “Tonight we honored the memory of Tuscaloosa Police Investigator, Dornell Cousette. Officer Cousette was a true hero. Thank you for your selflessness to serve our community. We will always remember you.”

You can view numerous high-quality photos of the night honoring Cousette courtesy of UA Athletics here.

(Jeff Hanson/Univ. of Alabama)

Additionally, Cousette’s police car will be parked outside the stadium at the Walk of Champions until approximately noon on Friday. This is intended to be a way for the community and public to come show their support for the officer, along with his family and fellow law enforcement officers.

(Ashley Gooden/Twitter)

Read about more ways to honor Cousette, including visitation and funeral services, here.

RELATED: ‘Will never be forgotten’: Ivey ordering flags to half-staff for Tuscaloosa PD’s Dornell Cousette

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 year ago

Tuscaloosa PD officer, Army veteran, shot and killed in line of duty — ‘He was a hero’

(CBS 42/Twitter)

Tuscaloosa Police Department Investigator Dornell Cousette was shot and killed in the line of duty on Monday evening. The suspected gunman is in custody.

According to WBRC, Cousette, 40, is a 13-year veteran of the department.

He was reportedly shot in the western part of Tuscaloosa while responding to the suspected location of a wanted individual.

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After arriving at the residential location, Cousette identified that individual, who fled into the house.

Gunshots were exchanged inside the house, with Cousette and the suspect both reportedly being wounded.

The officer was in critical condition leaving the scene and subsequently passed away at a local hospital from his injuries.

Tuscaloosa assistant police chief Mitt Tubbs said, “He was a great officer, everyone loved him. You could tell by the number of people that arrived at the hospital. He was well thought of throughout the department. He was a hero.”

Cousette’s passing brought words of mourning and solidarity from around the Yellowhammer State, including Attorney General Steve Marshall and other police departments.

As of press time, no details about the suspected gunman had been released, except that he was in custody and had previously been wanted on felony charges.

Cousette, a veteran of the U.S. Army, is survived by two daughters and a fiancée.

You can view a Monday night press conference featuring Tubbs and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox here.

“We often take the heroes around us for granted,” Maddox said. “We believe them to be invincible. We believe that the safety we enjoy comes without sacrifice. Tonight let us give thanks for the heroes of the Tuscaloosa Police Department. Let us give thanks for Investigator Cousette.”

Read more from WBRC and The Tuscaloosa News.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 years ago

‘Heroes’: Huntsville man goes on nationwide lawn mowing tour dedicated to law enforcement

(Rodney Smith, Jr./Facebook)

Alabama’s Rodney Smith, Jr. has once again embarked on a 50-state lawn mowing tour, with this one honoring the “boys in blue.”

The tour kicked off in Huntsville on Tuesday, where Smith was joined by police officers as they helped him mow. Smith is inviting officers in the areas he is traveling to across the country to similarly join him. He has even designed a special police lawn mower for their use.

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According to a post on Smith’s “Raising Men Lawn Care Service” website, this tour, entitled “Mowing with Cops,” is expected to take just over three weeks to complete.

“Growing up I always wanted to be a police officer, but God had other plans. Mowing lawns for FREE is my way of serving the public,” Smith explained.

He will mow for at least one member of the elderly, disabled, single parent or veterans community in each state.

“The goal of this tour is not just to have officers mow with me and to thank them for their service, but to also bring the community together around those who serve and protect us,” Smith said.

You can follow the tour on Smith’s Facebook page.


Smith further discussed the new tour in a national appearance on Fox News this week. You can watch that interview here.

RELATED: Rodney Smith, Jr. has mowed veterans’ lawns in all 50 states — ‘I remember asking God to use me’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 years ago

Grand jury gets case of soldier charged in Auburn officer’s killing

(ALEA/Contributed)

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — A grand jury will review evidence in the case of an Alabama soldier charged with killing a police officer and wounding two others.

The Opelika-Auburn News reports court records show 29-year-old Grady Wayne Wilkes did not request a preliminary hearing, sending the case to the grand jury.

Wilkes is charged with capital murder and attempted murder in the May shooting that killed Auburn police Officer William Buechner and wounded officers Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott.

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Court documents say the officers were responding to the call of a woman who said her live-in boyfriend had threatened to kill her.

The shooting started when officers knocked on the door. Wilkes, who led a combat infantry team with the Alabama National Guard, wore body armor and greeted them with a rifle.

(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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2 years ago

Tuscaloosa’s first African-American police chief to retire

(Tuscaloosa Police Department/Facebook)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The police chief of an Alabama city is stepping down to take a job with the University of Alabama System.

The retirement of 48-year-old Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson was announced at a news conference Wednesday. Anderson’s resignation takes effect Aug. 30.

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He was hired as chief in 2008 to replace former chief Ken Swindle. Anderson has been with the department since 1994. He is Tuscaloosa’s first African American police chief.

Anderson’s new job title is director of system security. News outlets report he will be responsible for security at all of the University of Alabama System’s campuses.

Tuscaloosa Police Assistant Chief Mitt Tubbs will be the interim chief after Anderson leaves and until the department hires a new chief.

(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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2 years ago

Tuberville on viral police harassment videos: Need ‘respect back for our law enforcement’

(@NYScanner/Twitter)

MONTGOMERY — During his speech to the River Region Republican Club on Tuesday, former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville commented on two viral videos showing New York City Police Department officers being doused with water and having objects thrown at them.

Tuberville said incidents like these are indicative of America’s societal and cultural problems.

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“One area that I’m very disappointed in, and all you have to do — there was a deal on YouTube and Twitter of these two policemen in New York harassed by kids pouring water on them,” Tuberville said. “They (the officers) couldn’t do anything about it. ”

The Republican U.S. Senate candidate lamented how law enforcement officials like the NYPD officers are treated across the nation.

“There’s no respect for our law enforcement. None,” he decried. “They make very little money. They put a gun on their [hip], a badge on their chest and a uniform [on] every day. They don’t make $50,000 a year and go out there and protect us.”

“We’ve got to help get that respect back for our law enforcement. Because freedom is not free,” Tuberville emphasized.

“Those guys go out there every day,” he continued. “If we lose them — I’ve talked to sheriffs, I’ve talked to police chiefs in this state, and they can’t hire anybody. Nobody wants to do it. Can you blame them? Can you blame them? Because they’re not being respected. They’re being spit on. They’re being laughed at. They have stuff thrown at them. We have lost — respect is gone in this country. And it’s because we took God out of the schools in the mid ’60’s. That’s where it all started.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 years ago

‘Our hero’: Slain Auburn officer’s neighborhood lights up blue to honor him

(WSFA/Twitter)

Neighbors of murdered Auburn Police Department Officer William Buechner are backing the blue in a very visible way, honoring the fallen hero’s life of selfless service.

As reported by WSFA, the Opelika subdivision that Buechner and his family lived in is showing their solidarity en masse.

In a moving tribute, many of the neighborhood’s homes have replaced their regular porch lights with blue lights, shining proudly in Buechner’s memory.

Tracy McDaniel is among those neighbors paying tribute to the officer and beloved community member.

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Tracy McDaniel’s home, as contributed by her. (Sally Pitts/Facebook)

McDaniels’ home is far from the exception. One photo shows an entire street the neighborhood turned blue to honor the fallen officer.

Photo by Samantha Xaysombath Smith (WSFA/Twitter)

“William was a lot of great things. A great man, friend, husband, and father, police officer, neighbor, the list goes on,” Smith explained. “His son will grow up to learn that his daddy was a hero, and we will forever remember that he was our hero too.”

Another woman in the neighborhood, who asked to remain anonymous when speaking with WSFA, said she was aware of at least 15 homes participating in the special tribute but expected that number to increase.

“We all have rallied to find each other more lightbulbs,” the woman said, “and contact those who have been out of town or may need assistance reaching their fixtures. It’s been a true team effort.”

The lights are reportedly expected to remain on at least through Saturday, the day after Buechner’s funeral.

Buechner is survived by his wife of three years, Sara; son, Henry; and step-daughter, McKenna.

“This village we speak of, he knows we will take care of Sara and the family,” Smith added. “After all, it does take a village. We back the blue.”

There has been a GoFundMe set up for Buechner’s family.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 years ago

Watch: Injured Auburn PD officer’s K-9 partner visits him in hospital

(Columbus Piedmont)

Auburn Police Department Officer Webb Sistrunk was critically wounded in the line of duty on Sunday night, but his road to recovery got a lift this week.

Sistrunk was airlifted Sunday to Piedmont Columbus Hospital in the shooting that fatally wounded Officer William Buechner and also saw Officer Evan Elliot transported to a local hospital.

Sistrunk’s status was downgraded on Wednesday from ICU to critical care, according to Jessica Roberts, Piedmont Columbus’ communication director.

While Sistrunk will continue to undergo a number of medical procedures moving forward, his spirits were lifted when his K-9 partner, Leon, paid him a special visit in the hospital.

Watch:

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Leon, whose third birthday will be in July, was actually with Sistrunk during the shooting but escaped unscathed, according to the Opelika-Auburn News.

“The Sistrunk family thanks everyone for their continued prayers for our officer and asks that you keep the Buechner and Elliott families in your prayers as well,” Roberts said in a statement.

Elliott has been treated and released from the hospital.

There has been a GoFundMe set up for Sistrunk to help cover medical costs.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 years ago

GoFundMe raising money for fallen Auburn PD officer William Buechner

(Blue Lives Matter/Twitter)

A GoFundMe has been established in memory of Auburn Police Department Officer William Buechner, who was shot and killed in the line of duty late Sunday night.

A representative of the fundraising platform has confirmed its authenticity to Yellowhammer News. The GoFundMe will establish a memorial fund to assist Buechner’s family.

While the initial goal was set at $10,000, the campaign has already blown through that benchmark in less than 24 hours, raising over $20,500 as of 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

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Buechner leaves behind a wife (Sara) and two children, including a one-year-old daughter.

In addition to raising funds, prayers are also being requested for the family.

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday ordered flags in Alabama to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Saturday to honor Buechner.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 years ago

Ivey orders flags to half-staff for slain Auburn PD officer William Buechner — ‘Will never be forgotten’

Flags fly at half-staff at Sumpter Smith Air National Guard Base in Birmingham (S.Ross/YHN)

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday ordered flags in Alabama to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Saturday to honor Auburn Police Department Officer William Buechner, who was shot and killed in the line of duty late Sunday night.

In a directive to state agencies, Ivey said, “Buechner laid down his life protecting the people of Auburn, and the entire state of Alabama mourns this tremendous loss.”

The governor also issued a statement to the public following the shooting, which resulted in the hospitalization of two additional Auburn PD officers.

Ivey noted that the shooting occurred one day after National Police Week.

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“Just last week, in Alabama and across the country, we honored the sacrifice of the men and women in law enforcement during National Peace Officers Memorial Week,” she said. “As we began this week, our state was met with the tragic news that shots were fired on three of our police officers, which took the life of Officer William Buechner and wounded two other officers.”

Buechner is the third Alabama police officer killed in the line of duty so far this year, after Birmingham Police Department Sgt. Wytasha Carter and Mobile Police Department Officer Sean Tuder. In 2018, the Yellowhammer State lost Mobile Police Department Officer Taylor Billa and Huntsville Police Department Officer Keith O’Neal Earle.

“Far too often, we are reminded of the grave sacrifice the men and women in law enforcement make each day and night they go to work,” Ivey emphasized. “Sadly, this year in our state three men did not have the chance to return home to their families and friends, all because they risked their lives to protect our communities.”

The governor continued, “The city of Auburn is somewhere I was able to call home for four important years of my life, and it will always have a very special place in my heart. I know that many others in Alabama and across the country are mourning this loss alongside Officer Buechner’s family and Auburn residents.

The other two officers wounded Sunday, who are expected to recover from their gunshot wounds, are Auburn Police’s Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott.

A manhunt lasted approximately eight hours before the suspected shooter was brought into custody, courtesy of teamwork between multiple local, state and federal law enforcement entities. WSFA has reported that the suspect was an active infantryman in the Alabama Army National Guard.

“I commend the members of state and local law enforcement who bravely pursued and successfully captured the shooter to ensure the safety of the many students and families in the Auburn area,” Ivey stated.

“We offer our support and prayers to the two officers recovering from their injuries and send prayers of comfort to the Buechner family,” the governor concluded. “The ultimate sacrifice of Officer Buechner will never be forgotten.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 years ago

Lee County DA to seek death penalty in shooting death of Auburn PD’s William Buechner

William Buechner (Auburn PD/Contributed, PIxabay)

Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes will seek the death penalty in the Sunday night shooting of three Auburn Police Department officers.

In a press conference Monday morning, local officials identified the officer who died as William Buechner, a decorated Auburn PD veteran.

They also confirmed the other two officers, who are expected to recover from their injuries, as Auburn Police officers Webb Sistrunk, serving since 2011, and Evan Elliott, serving less than a year on the force.

Pictured: Sistrunk, left, and Elliott, right. (Auburn PD/Contributed)

The Opelika-Auburn News reported that Hughes confirmed the suspect, who was captured after a manhunt that lasted over eight hours, will face a capital murder charge. The district attorney will seek the death penalty if the suspect is convicted on that charge.

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In the press conference, Auburn Mayor Ron Anders and Police Chief Paul Register thanked the police officers for their courageous service and asked for prayers for the families, loved ones and community involved.

The officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call at a mobile home park in the 3000 block of Auburn’s Wire Road when the shooting occurred.

Few details have been released about the suspect, however, the Opelika-Auburn News reported he served in the military, per officials. The suspect was reportedly wearing camouflage, body armor and a helmet during the shooting.

WSFA reported that the suspect has also been charged with three counts of attempted murder and one count of second-degree domestic violence. He is being held without bond.

Buechner began serving his community and the people of Alabama through the Auburn Police Department in April 2006. He is reportedly the first officer in Auburn PD’s history to be killed in the line of duty.

Watch the press conference:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn