Victim’s girlfriend seeks justice after fatal shooting in Miami Beach

The girlfriend of a man shot and killed in Miami Beach last week is asking for the public’s help to bring Kamil Patel’s killer to justice.

Katy Park, who witnessed the shooting, started a GoFundMe page, seeking funds to raise the existing $5,000 reward being offered for information that leads to an arrest. 

On the page, Park describes the events before Patel’s death. Park said the she came to visit Patel who had just moved to South Florida from Texas for a job as the operations manager at the Prada store in the Bal Habour Shops. The two met in Dallas when Patel was working for Louis Vuitton.

Patel and Park went out in South Beach Thursday night for drinks and to sing karaoke. The two had drinks at Mac’s Deuce Bar in the 200 block of 14th Street and then headed down an alley on their way to Kill Your Idol karaoke bar just before midnight.

“That’s when time stopped. A small African American male got out of the passenger side of a white car pointing a gun at us,” Park said.  “He fired two shots that hit Kamil in the left shoulder and abdomen, then got back in the car and disappeared. I am alive because Kamil protected me. He didn’t hesitate. His last words were “Katy, keep walking.” 

Melissa Berthier, a spokeswoman for the city of Miami Beach, said Friday that the gunman was wearing a hoodie and took off in a white sedan with a temporary tag. The tag number may be CC34319.

“The description of the shooter is a thin black male with medium-length dreadlocks, wearing a dark hoodie,” she said.

Park described Patel as a loyal friend who loved his family more than anything or anyone.

Park said friends and family will hold a memorial service for Patel Saturday, which would have been his 30th birthday.

Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. 

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Video shows 7-year-old boy being led away from school in handcuffs

A 7-year-old boy was led away from his Miami school in handcuffs this week after he attacked a teacher, police and school officials said.

The video that shows the handcuffed boy and a police officer walking through the school grounds and eventually to a patrol car has gone viral on social media.

Miami-Dade Schools police said that Thursday the teacher told the boy, a student at Coral Way Bilingual K-8 Center, to stop playing with his food. Sometime later, the teacher was talking about the incident with another school employee when the boy attacked, punching the teacher on the back.

Police said the teacher tried to restrain the boy, but he continued to kick and punch, causing the pair to fall to the ground. While on the floor, the boy grabbed the teacher’s hair, police said.

Finally restrained by the teacher, the boy calmed down and went to the principal’s office, police said. School officials said several students and the other school employee witnessed the attack. School security cameras also recorded the incident, officials said.

Because of the boy’s recent behavior, school officials initiated Baker Act proceedings. The state law allows for judges, law enforcement officials, physicians, or mental health professionals to involuntary examine a person if they believe that person is likely to cause serious bodily harm in the future.

Miami-Dade school police said the boy’s father agreed that he needed mental health treatment, but his mother disagreed. She told police there was nothing wrong with him.

The student was taken to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami for evaluation.

“It is rare for students this young to be Baker Acted. However, this action was warranted to prevent his erratic and violent behavior from bringing further harm to others or himself,” said Ian Moffett, the chief of the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department.

Moffett also defended the department’s decision to handcuff the student and put him in a patrol car.

“The manner in which he was transported to the receiving facility was done in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures,” Moffett said. “Our Professional Compliance Unit is thoroughly reviewing this incident.”

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Teen reportedly shot during social media stunt gone wrong

Police in Tennessee said the shooting of 17-year-old boy this week was a social media stunt gone wrong.

According to the Commercial Appeal, Sherman Lackland, 21, told Memphis police that he shot his friend in the head Thursday while they were playing with guns inside a midtown restaurant.

Police said Lackland and his friend were filming a video as part of the “No Lackin Challenge” – a YouTube fad where people pull guns on each other. However, Lackland pulled the trigger and wounded the boy, police said.

Other “No Lackin” videos on YouTube show people trying to take friends by surprise by pointing a gun at them only for the other person pull out a gun in return. No shots are fired in the videos. 

Many people have commented on the video, noting the stunt is extremely unsafe and not how people should ever handle a gun.

“Pointing your gun at others is bad gunmanship. It’s the first rule of guns, only point at what you’re willing to shoot,” one wrote.

The name of stunt comes from the term “Lackin,” slang meaning unarmed.

Another social media “challenge” that encourages people to eat Tide laundry detergent pods has sickened dozens of teenagers in recent months.

Lackland, 21, faces charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a weapon.

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Jury convicts man in shooting death of ex-NFL player Joe McKnight

A Louisiana man was found guilty of manslaughter in connection with the deadly shooting of former NFL player Joe McKnight, the Jefferson Parish district attorney’s office said.

Authorities say Ronald Gasser, 56, shot McKnight during a 2016 road-rage incident in the New Orleans suburb of Terrytown. Gasser had been indicted on a second-degree murder charge but the jury returned a lesser verdict Friday night after roughly eight hours of deliberations, CNN affiliate WGNO reported.

Gasser would have faced the possibility of a life sentence for a second-degree murder conviction, but instead he faces up to 40 years in prison because of the jury’s decision to convict on the lesser offense.

“We offer our most sincere condolences to the McKnight family and hope they can find peace in knowing that justice has been served in this case. We also want to thank the jurors for their service and incredible attentiveness they spent following the evidence,” Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick said in a statement.

The altercation

The altercation began on the Crescent City Connection that crosses the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Terrytown, Sheriff Newell Normand said.

McKnight, driving his stepfather’s Audi Q7, cut off Gasser, who gave chase, Normand said. They stopped at the Terrytown intersection, where witnesses said the two men were “in a heated verbal exchange” from their vehicles until McKnight exited his vehicle.

The former athlete, who was at a passenger’s window of Gasser’s car, was shot in the right shoulder, the right chest and the hand. Gasser gave police a .40-caliber pistol and admitted shooting McKnight, Normand said in the first days of the investigation.

But authorities didn’t indict Gasser until some weeks after the shooting.

Louisiana’s self-defense laws demand police “get it right,” Normand said at the time.

A football star

McKnight, 28, spent his professional years with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.

He grew up playing football in River Ridge, a 30-minute drive from Terrytown. Before joining the NFL, he was named Louisiana’s “Mr. Football” in 2006, and The Times-Picayune newspaper named him the male high school athlete of the decade in 2009.

McKnight went on to play at the University of Southern California before being drafted in 2010 by New York, where he played until 2012. He sat out 2013, played 2014 with the Chiefs and 2015 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

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Mosque threat charge dropped in court but not in news release

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Friday touted his office’s prosecution of a man who “called in death threats” to a Los Angeles mosque.

“We will not turn a blind eye to violent threats,” Becerra said in a news release about the case against Mark Feigin. “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

The problem with Becerra’s statement is that it was issued two days after his prosecutors agreed to dismiss a felony hate crime charge against Feigin for making the threats in question.

“This is outrageous,” Feigin’s defense attorney, Caleb Mason, told CNN. “These statements are false and defamatory.”

Mason, a former federal prosecutor, said the attorney general’s office “dropped the charge because they don’t have a case — and they know they don’t have a case.”

The dustup over the language in the news release follows what appeared to be a resolution in the bitterly contested case in which Feigin was accused of threatening to kill members of the Islamic Center of Southern California in September 2016.

Prosecutors had persisted with a felony charge against him despite dwindling and contradictory evidence, as CNN reported in September. They did so despite significant evidence pointing to a second suspect who is the son of a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.

Prosecutors dropped the felony threat charge Wednesday in exchange for Feigin pleading no contest to the misdemeanor of making harassing electronic communications for anti-Muslim posts on the Islamic Center’s Facebook page — conduct he has always acknowledged.

According to Mason, Deputy Attorney General Natasha Howard read into the record that the misdemeanor charge “does not allege that Mr. Feigin made any calls to the Islamic Center or any of its employees” and that Feigin denies having done so.

Feigin also pleaded no contest to dissuading a witness for sending messages to a police lieutenant he accuses of falsely stating that he confessed to her.

The deal was struck after a judge agreed to a defense request to review the personnel file of the police lieutenant who said Feigin had spontaneously confessed to her. Mason had argued in court papers that he believed the lieutenant had previously been punished for dishonesty. He asked the judge to review her personnel file and turn over any relevant material that might be used to impeach her at trial. It is unclear what, if any, such material existed. The lieutenant could not immediately be reached for comment.

Feigin had been facing the prospect of years in prison if convicted of the felony threat charge. His plea deal calls for him to receive two years of probation, Mason said.

Feigin, a Realtor and part-time Uber driver, was arrested at gunpoint in October 2016. Police held a news conference a few days later at which they displayed weapons and ammunition — all of it legal, as it turned out — seized from his home in suburban Los Angeles.

Police said at the time that Feigin was responsible for leaving a hate-filled voicemail at the center September 19 and then making the threat call a day later. In both cases, the caller used the phrase “Muslim rats.”

Feigin acknowledged having harsh — some would say hateful — opinions. He called Muslims “filthy” in one of his Facebook posts and said they have no place in Western civilization. But Feigin insists he’s never crossed the line from opinion to threat.

Police later determined from phone records and a subsequent interview that the voicemail was left by a man named Michael Slawson, the judge’s son. Slawson, police would later learn, had made numerous calls to various mosques expressing his dislike of Islam. The Islamic center employee who answered the phone when the threat call was made has made contradictory statements regarding the identity of the caller.

He has told police he recognized the voice as the same person who left the voicemail a day earlier — now known to be Slawson. He has also told police he thought Feigin’s voice sounded the same as the threatening caller’s.

Slawson has not been accused of any crime. Both he and his attorney, Dominic J. Trutanich, declined comment earlier this week. Slawson’s father also declined to discuss the matter when contacted by CNN in September, saying it was “a family matter.”

Becerra’s office issued the news release following questions from CNN about the plea deal.

Neither Howard nor the press deputy, Tania Mercado, addressed questions about discrepancies between the court proceeding and the news release.

Feigin said he has spent a year of his life and about $200,000 fighting the charges. He said he was stunned to read the attorney general’s release after what he thought was a degree of vindication in court.

“The truth just doesn’t matter,” he said.

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