The latest local news

Des Moines man facing murder charge says he was protecting himself

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A man charged with murder says his actions in an Urbandale bar fight are protected by Iowa’s “stand your ground” law.

The Des Moines Register reports that a judge has set a hearing for Aug. 20 to consider the motion filed for 49-year-old Rodney Henricksen. He’s pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the Jan. 18 death of Joshua Sadlon, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The motion says Henricksen was defending himself from an intoxicated and aggressive Sadlon. Henricksen told three people at the bar that Sadlon had threatened his life. The law says a person doesn’t have to retreat before using deadly force if he or she reasonably thinks his or her life is being threatened.

According to police reports, Henrickson punched Sadlon numerous times in the head and face, then picked up him up and slammed his head onto a concrete floor.

The motion says Henricksen was entitled to use reasonable force to preemptively strike at Sadlon to avoid injury to himself.

GOP lawmaker: FBI has evidence Russian bots were fanning flames before Charlottesville violence

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(CNN) — Republican Rep. Tom Garrett, who represents Charlottesville, Virginia, said Monday that FBI officials told him and other members of Congress that Russian actors were attempting to sow discord around the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville last year before the event took place.

Garrett revealed the information publicly for the first time in an interview on CNN over the weekend and clarified separately that the activity took place before the rally.

“It was before. Via bots, the internet, and social media,” Garrett said. “I’m frustrated because either both Republicans and Democrats do not understand what the Russians are actually doing, or they don’t want to tell the truth about it, or both.”

Garrett’s recollection of the meeting with FBI officials was confirmed by fellow Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Virginia Republican who was sitting next to him during the briefing. Griffith recalls “jumping out of his chair” when he heard the news. Garrett asked if the information was classified, and FBI officials told him it was not.

Both congressmen say the FBI was clear that the interference was contained to social media posts and the internet and that they were told that there was no evidence that there was any Russian influence on the ground.

Two sources connected to the Senate Intelligence Committee also confirmed that there is evidence of Russian activity around the Charlottesville rally. They point out that the discord was not all connected specifically to the Unite the Right Rally, but more about the debate surrounding the removal of Confederate statues across the country. The purpose of the Unite the Right Rally was to protest the removal of a statute of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from downtown Charlottesville.

Garrett, who sits on the House Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees, argues that the information is an example of how the federal government is not paying close enough attention to the broad implications of the Russian threat.

“Oligarchs and people like Putin use things like this racial divisive fight, which ignores the commonalities we have regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, this is the sort of thing they do,” Garrett said. “As a member of homeland security, seriously that’s what scares me most.”

Garrett’s comments were echoed by Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican, who tweeted a response to the CNN report, saying, “Few Americans understand Putin’s agents are now picking at the scabs of every cultural skirmish we have — from race to guns to media tribes.”

Mom warns parents after mosquito bite leaves 6-year-old son in ICU

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A North Carolina mom recently used Facebook to warn parents about La Crosse encephalitis, a virus transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

“And so it’s breaking all of our hearts to see the spunkiest one out of five brothers down,” LoriAnne Surrett told WLOS .

The heartfelt words about her son Noah have been shared more than 1,400 times on Facebook.

Her 6-year-old was hospitalized last weekend. Saturday he complained of a headache and eventually had a seizure.

“I’ve got five kids, and this is absolutely the scariest thing I’ve every been through in my life,” she said. “I literally thought my kid was gone when I saw him.”

Before this past weekend, Surrett said she’d never heard of the disease, which is transmitted by a bite from an infected mosquito. According to the CDC, there are about 63 cases each year.

La Crosse encephalitis often involves inflammation of the brain, and, along with seizures, it can cause coma and paralysis.

“This is something no parent should have to go through over a mosquito bite,” Surrett said.

She said doctors are hopeful antibiotics and seizure medication will help. Noah’s mostly asleep in his hospital room as he recovers. He will likely spend at least five more days in the hospital.

“He screams out in pain from the headaches, and he’s really just like a zombie,” Surrett said. “It’s scary, it’s really scary. I don’t want no parent to have to go through this.”

Surrett hopes her 768 heartbreaking words on Facebook encourage other parents to watch for symptoms, including fever, headache and nausea.

“I’ve lived here my whole life. They say it’s known and common, but I’ve never heard of it and I want people to know that this can happen.”

Surrett said she and her husband took every precaution they could to prevent mosquito bites. She’s been encouraged by the outpouring of love on social media.

Attorney for man beaten by Baltimore officer says the cop had a history of ‘antagonizing’

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(CNN) — The Baltimore police officer caught on video punching a man for 12 seconds has “a history of antagonizing and aggravating” that victim, the man’s attorney told CNN on Monday.

Warren Brown represents Dashawn McGrier, who got pummeled by the police officer Saturday morning.

Brown said his client was arrested by the same officer in June and charged with assaulting the officer, disorderly conduct, obstructing and hindering, and resisting arrest. A trial date for the case has been set for later this month.

According to Brown, McGrier was trying to restrain a young lady the officer had encountered when the officer turned his ire to McGrier, grabbed him off a bicycle and threw him to the ground.

“This officer has a history of antagonizing and aggravating my client,” Brown said.

The Baltimore Police Department said in a press release that one of the officers was familiar with the man beaten in the video but did not elaborate. BPD has not corroborated the allegations by Brown.

BPD said the officer has resigned, but have not identified him. But James Bentley, spokesman for the Baltimore mayor’s office, said the officer who resigned is Arthur Williams.

CNN’s attempts to reach Williams have not been successful.

Digital records could be solution to recorder’s office move

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - Rock Island county records could all soon be available digitally.

That is if the county board and the county recorder decide to hire U.S. Imaging to scan each record into a database.

The county recorder presented the idea to the board at a meeting on Monday, August 13.

The idea comes as the recorder is looking for ways to move her office out of the old county courthouse and into the county office building across the street.

The board voted to demolish the old courthouse last month, but until the recorder's office is moved, the building cannot be knocked down.

The issues is that the county's records books are too heavy for the county office building to structurally support.

"If we don't go ahead with the digitizing then we have to find some place else to go," said County Recorder, Kelly Fisher. "So the only way we can get into the county building is if we get the records digitized and move the books to the basement."

If the office and the board decide to digitize the records, a team of eight people would come to the office, and under the supervision of the Rock Island County Sheriff's Department and the Rock Island County Recorder's office, they would scan and digitize those heavy books into a database.

They would work 24 hours a day, seven days a week for two weeks.

This move would allow the 22-pound books to be stored away from the office, and get the County Recorder working alongside peers.

"It makes sense for the county because we could be in the county building with all the other county offices we work in conjunction with," she said.

The project could cost more than $1 million. For Rock Island County Administrator Jim Snider, he looks at the price tag as being less of a hardship than taking on a new piece of property.

"The operative word here is investment," he said, "not necessarily another burden to the tax payer with reoccurring costs, so we're hopeful."

Fisher said her office would be willing to pay the county back with revenue that her office generates.

She said that until her office is moved, the courthouse cannot be demolished.  Snider said the courthouse is expected to be torn down sometime in 2019.

Illinois inspectors climb over, under fair rides for safety

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The legs of the carnival ride called “Downdraft” rise and spread before they start to spin, the empty cars on the ends leaning outward, as amusement ride safety inspectors Bill Szerletich and Brian Brown watch.

A bystander at the midway of the Illinois State Fair suggests that a true inspector would take the ride himself. They do, sometimes, Szerletich said last week. In fact, his boss, Labor Department Director Joe Beyer, had just been there a day earlier, testing a ride.

“He’s our crash-test dummy,” Brown joked.

The annual fair opens in about eight hours, but Szerletich, Brown and four other Labor Department inspectors continue their checking and rechecking of about 65 carnival rides at three different locations on the fairgrounds.

“They’re underneath this equipment, on top of it, they’re looking at every piece of it, every connection, every pin, everything,” said assistant Labor director Chris Wieneke. “Each ride, there’s a set time period for how long it takes — it takes exactly how long it takes to go over every inch of that ride and then wait for any fixes that have to be done to make sure it can operate safely.”

The inspectors crawl up, over and around about 4,000 rides a year at various amusement parks, street fairs, and carnivals, Wieneke said, looking for anything amiss that could lead to injury.

Incidents such as one in July 2017 at the Ohio State Fair, in which a car came loose from a whirling ride, killing one and injuring seven, are cataclysmic and make tragic headlines. But injuries on amusement-park rides are “a rare event,” said Ken Kolosh, statistics manager for the National Safety Council .

The National Safety Council has analyzed carnival injuries at fixed-site parks — Six Flags, for example — since 2003. Its latest report, of 2015 data , found about 1,500 injuries, or less than one per 1 million rides.

In other words, the council estimates there is a one-in-1.25 million chance you’d be injured if you step up and strap in.

Kolosh cautions, however, that the analysis is only of fixed-site attractions, not mobile ones like at county or state fairs that only operate for brief periods. No one has analyzed that data, Kolosh said. The reason, primarily, is that fixed-site operators have turnstiles that count attendance and even ridership. Festivals such as the state fair might count gate entrances, but there’s no way to count carnival riders.

That’s where experience plays a part. The Illinois inspectors aren’t reinventing the wheel each time they see a new octopus-shaped twirler.

That was evident when Brown stepped up on Chopper Charlie, another whirling ride with four-seat helicopter-shaped compartments. He spots a loose nut almost by intuition and carefully marks it in his notebook.

“We see these rides several times a year,” Szerletich said. “You get used to seeing things, know what to look for.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that nationally in 2017, there were 29,400 emergency-room visits because of amusement-park attraction injuries. But “amusements” are broadly defined. Spokesman Thaddeus Harrington said they include fixed-site midways and mobile carnivals, water parks, inflatable slides and “bounce houses,” and coin-operated or free attractions at restaurants and shopping centers.

The fair is underway, but the inspectors aren’t gone. Wieneke said they’ll make unannounced inspections through Sunday’s close, not only of the equipment, but to ensure operators — and the riders — are following the rules.

Parents play a part, too. The Labor Department publishes guidelines for safe riding and the National Safety Council encourages fair-goers to aggressively report things that don’t look right and remember that age, height and weight restrictions are for safety. In short, council president and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said, “If you ever feel uncomfortable, do not go on a ride or down a slide.”

After all that, Wieneke acknowledged he still holds his breath until it’s over.

“A little,” Wieneke said. “We’re always afraid of the unexpected happening. That’s why we go through the trouble of doing full inspections on rides that maybe we’ve seen before during the year. That’s why we do the unannounced inspections as we go through the fair.”

Peter Strzok fired from the FBI

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(CNN) — The FBI has fired Peter Strzok, an agent who was removed from the Russia probe last year for sending text messages disparaging President Donald Trump, Strzok’s lawyer said Monday.

Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s attorney, said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich ordered the agent’s termination on Friday. Goelman said that the deputy director’s decision comes after the head of the office that normally handles disciplinary actions decided Strzok should instead face a demotion and 60-day suspension.

“The decision to fire Special Agent Strzok is not only a departure from typical Bureau practice, but also contradicts Director (Christopher) Wray’s testimony to Congress and his assurances that the FBI intended to follow its regular process in this and all personnel matters,” Goelman said in his statement.

Strzok’s firing was earlier reported by The Washington Post.

Man charged with impersonating a cop said he was sent to “watch all the crazies”

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DAVENPORT, Iowa – A man was arrested last night after impersonating a police officer and damaging hotel property.

Dimitri Martin, 29, was arrested at the Quad City Inn off of Brady Street in Davenport at 10:25 p.m. on August 12. Police filed two separate criminal complaints. He is not affiliated with Dimitri Martin, the comedian.

According to one affidavit from the Davenport Police Department, Martin willfully impersonated a police officer. He told the clerk at the front desk that he was sent to the location by the police department to “watch all the crazies.”

A separate affidavit filed at the same time also charges Martin with vandalism. This document says Martin ripped lights off of the walls and threw a chair off of the balcony, breaking it. It also says he smashed a large window. The damages add up to over $800.

Martin was officially charged with Impersonating a Public Official and Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree. He was taken to jail.

WQAD partners with RK Dixon to Make My Non Profit Run Better

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This year, RK Dixon is focusing on helping Quad City area non-profits run better. By concentrating on a single region, we are able to increase the overall prize allocations and make a more dramatic impact for winning organizations.

Through the Make My Non-Profit Run Better program, RK Dixon has donated more than $570,000 to help 501(c)(3) non-profits in Illinois and Iowa. Over the course of 13 years, our contest has created positive changes that have helped countless people who benefit from the services these non-profits provide.

Non-profits based in the following counties are eligible for participation:

Jackson, Clinton, Scott, Muscatine, Louisa, Des Moines and Henry counties in Iowa and Jo Daviess, Carroll, Whiteside, Rock Island, Henry, Bureau, Mercer, Henderson, Warren and Knox counties in Illinois.

You can register your Quad City area non-profit starting, August 21st. For more information, click here to visit their website. 

Iran’s Supreme Leader: No war or talks with US over sanctions

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(CNN) — Iran’s Supreme Leader is standing firm against reimposed US sanctions, saying Monday there would be “no war, nor will we negotiate with the United States.”

“Beside sanctions, they [the US] talk about war and negotiations,” Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said in a speech published on his official website.

“They talk about a spirit of war to frighten the cowards,” said Khamenei, adding that they US played a “poor game” when it came to negotiations.

His comments come after the Trump administration’s first wave of reimposed sanctions kicked in Tuesday, following the withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year.

The 2015 Obama-era deal, agreed by the US, Iran, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russi, restricted Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

But Khamenei’s comments also appear to contradict Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who last Monday said that Iran was willing to hold talks with the US to resolve the matter — something Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton dismissed as possible “propaganda.”

European partners stand by deal

European partners have stood by the deal, implementing measures to protect EU companies doing businesses in Iran, even as Trump warned in tweet they faced the fallout of US sanctions.

“Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

Some companies have already heeded that warning. Last week German carmaker Daimler announced it had suspended its activities in Iran “until further notice according to applicable sanctions.”

The collapse of the Iranian rial since Trump announced the US would pull out of the nuclear deal has already wreaked economic havoc, and the first wave of sanctions will likely hit the vulnerable economy further.

In Monday’s speech, Khamenei admitted that while the economy had taken a hit, this was largely due to domestic matters, rather than international sanctions.

Last week’s reimposed sanctions affect, among other things, the purchase or acquisition of US dollars by the Iranian government, the country’s auto industry and trade in gold or precious metals.

Another phase of US sanctions will be reimposed in November and will target Iran’s crucial oil industry.

Illinois Supreme Court rules city liable in trip-and-fall accident

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DANVILLE (Illinois News Network) – The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that a central Illinois city is liable for a woman injured on its uneven sidewalks, a precedent that could affect cities across the state.

The state’s high court said the city of Danville wasn’t immune from a lawsuit a woman filed after she tripped on an uneven seam in a sidewalk there.

Barbara Monson tripped on the sidewalk in 2012 and sued the city for not fixing it. Lower courts ruled that the city wasn’t liable but the Illinois Supreme Court disagreed, saying laws that give Illinois municipalities immunity weren’t as important as the common law requirement for them to keep their property in working order. The Supreme Court said in its ruling that it is “the common-law duty of a local public entity to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition.”

Typically, state law grants cities a certain level of immunity from getting sued, which the two lower courts agreed with, but the Supreme Court said the common law responsibility for a city to maintain its structures was more important.

“I’m very disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling,” said Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch Director Travis Akin, who says this ruling could open the floodgates to people seeking paydays via lawsuits with cities.

“This could expose cities across the state of Illinois to unnecessary and absolutely ridiculous litigation moving forward,” he said. “These communities could be nickeled and dimed with these small claims that may be more beneficial to just settle than to pursue in court.”

Akin said that this could affect an Illinois municipality regardless of whether or not they face a lawsuit or not. Cities that carry liability insurance could see higher costs of underwriting since this poses a new risk for a claim.

The opinion said that the city may have been OK had they marked the spot in the sidewalk as damaged.

The court sent the case back to the lower court to be decided.

Officials with the City of Danville had left town for a conference and were not made available to comment on the ruling.

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