Criminal Minds’ Matthew Gray Gubler And More Pay Tribute After Longtime Producer Harry Bring Dies – CinemaBlend

In a separate post, Joe Mantegna’s daughter Gia Mantegna, an actress known for The Middle, also noted loving Harry Bring’s updates about his life and about Criminal Minds, noting his posts “always made [her] smile.” Bring’s son Brad also mentioned in his own tribute that beyond his work, which also included producing work on popular shows such as Army Wives and The X-Files, Harry Bring was a loving father and always came to his games growing up even when he was working long hours and was tired from that work. He was a man who loved his family and who loved USC, the SF Giants, and the Rams, with Brad Bring noting he “embodied the Fight ON spirit of the Trojans.”

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Transgender Oath Keeper petitions for release from jail following charges relating to the Capitol siege, reportedly citing safety fears

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A member of a far-right militia who stormed the US Capitol building has petitioned to be released from jail due to safety concerns relating to her being transgender, according to BuzzFeed News.

Jessica Watkins, an Oath Keeper, charged with conspiring to attack the US Capitol building on January 6, filed for release pending trial on Saturday.

She alleged that she has been “treated harshly” and is at “particular risk in custody” because she is transgender, BuzzFeed News reported.

Watkins also argued that she is no threat to the public, the media outlet said.

The 38-year-old has been held in at least two facilities, including in the Montgomery County Jail in Dayton, Ohio. It is not clear where she is currently being held.

She is asking for the court to release her and instead consider home detention.

In a legal document seen by BuzzFeed, Watkins alleged that she had been mistreated in an Ohio county jail.

She claims that she was stripped naked and left “in a cell with lights on 24 hours a day for 4 days in full view of everyone,” according to her attorney.

This was in response to a hunger strike that the Oath Keeper went on in a bid to get treatment for an arm injury, the media outlet reported.

Authorities believe Watkins to be the leader of the Ohio State Regular Militia, a far-right group that shares members with the Oath Keepers.

Watkins is a former Army ranger, Afghanistan war veteran, and volunteer firefighter, BuzzFeed News reported.

She has also managed a bar in Woodstock, Ohio for the last two years, the media outlet said.

The Oath Keeper was arrested on January 18. She was indicted a week later on charges related to her activity in the insurrection.

Jessica Watkins social media posts

Watkins was pictured storming the Capitol building on January 6. She also confirmed that she stormed the building on Parler, taking a selfie in the building’s rotunda.

“Me before forcing entry into the Capitol Building,” she posted on Parler. “#stopthesteal #stormthecapitol #oathkeepers #ohiomilitia.”

Court filings from prosecutors against Watkins suggest that the Oath Keepers had spent months planning their attack on the Capitol.

A series of text messages obtained by the prosecutors suggest that extensive plans to storm Congress might have started in November.

“It is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights,” Watkins texted a contact on November 17.

“We need to go underground if this coup works,” she texted a few days later.

Watkins also personally trained recruits to prepare them for the deadly siege, prosecutors said.

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Criminal Minds Season 16 Release Date, Cast And Plot – What We Know So Far – Looper

TV has become increasingly serialized in recent years, but part of Criminal Minds‘ appeal was its ability to keep viewers coming back with an old school case of the week format. It would be weird for the writers to mess with the formula now, but if season 16 does turn out to be a limited series (at least to start), then it might make sense for the show to focus on one big case with a few smaller unsub side cases thrown in for good measure.

Season 16 could also provide the writers with an outlet to try riskier forms of storytelling that didn’t make sense in the final season. Shortly after the finale aired, Messer told Entertainment Weekly that the writers had toyed with the idea of including a format-smashing episode in the final season, but since they knew there were just 10 episodes left, they ultimately opted to play things safe.

“There was crazy stuff thrown out in the room, and we didn’t just shoot it down. We would say, ‘Okay, how could that happen?’ The idea of a live episode or… what do you call it?… a documentary film crew following the crew around,” she said. “We ended up exploring some of those, but ultimately we weren’t able to find a way to keep it true to the series.”

But now that season 16 of Criminal Minds could become a reality, the writers may have a chance to utilize some of their unconventional episode ideas while crafting a brand new beginning for the BAU.

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Oregon’s U.S. attorney won’t pursue criminal charges in Michael Fesser wrongful arrest case – OregonLive

The U.S. Department of Justice won’t pursue criminal charges against West Linn police or anyone else after investigating the 2017 wrongful arrest of Portland resident Michael Fesser, Oregon’s U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced Friday.

Williams said there was “insufficient evidence” to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that officers “willfully violated” Fesser’s civil rights or federal public corruption laws. The FBI and federal prosecutors found they couldn’t prove officers acted with the specific intent to violate laws.

“It is not enough to show that an officer made a mistake, acted negligently, acted by accident or mistake, or even exercised bad judgment,” Williams said in a statement. “Here, the government cannot prove that the manner in which Mr. Fesser was arrested violated a federally protected right, or that the actions taken by law enforcement officials were willful as defined above.”

The decision comes a year after the Justice Department announced it would lead a civil rights investigation into Fesser’s arrest on theft charges and nine days before Williams leaves office. Williams met with Fesser and his lawyer for more than an hour Friday morning.

READ all Oregonian/OregonLive coverage of the Michael Fesser case

The U.S. Attorney’s Office interviewed 18 people, including Fesser, current and former police officers, current and former West Linn city employees and community members in the investigation. It also examined about 28,000 pages of documents in response to 24 subpoenas for investigative, training, disciplinary, phone and financial records.

Three members of Congress last February called for federal prosecutors to examine the actions of West Linn police in building a questionable theft case against Fesser, who is Black, after The Oregonian/OregonLive revealed that West Linn had paid $600,000 to Fesser to settle his federal discrimination and wrongful arrest lawsuit.

West Linn police arrested Fesser in an investigation instigated by former Police Chief Terry Timeus as a favor for a friend. The police chief’s friend was Fesser’s boss, Eric Benson, a West Linn resident and owner of A&B Towing Co. in Southeast Portland.

Benson targeted Fesser because Fesser had complained about racist comments and harassment at work. All theft charges against Fesser were dismissed, and Benson paid Fesser $415,000 to settle a separate civil suit.

Because the investigation “raised issues concerning the broader policies and practices of the West Linn Police Department, ” the U.S. Attorney’s Office has offered to connect West Linn and its police to federal technical assistance on national community oriented policing, Williams said.

West Linn and its police remain committed to “earning back the respect and trust of our community,” said Jerry Gabrielatos, West Linn’s city manager, in a statement.

Since the case was publicized, West Linn fired the lead investigator in the case, Sgt. Tony Reeves, and West Linn Chief Terry Kruger, who took the job in June 2018. Fesser’s notice of intent to sue West Linn police arrived on the first day Kruger started as chief.

Last May, the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office said it would no longer call Reeves as a witness after finding he colluded with Timeus to pursue an unsupported arrest of Fesser for a personal friend of the chief’s.

That investigation also found that Reeves withheld key evidence, engaged in an illegal recording of Fesser, deleted racist and vulgar text messages he received from Fesser’s boss on his cellphone and disclosed Fesser’s confidential attorney-client information to Fesser’s boss.

West Linn police targeted Fesser using ” inappropriate and offensive investigative tactics, and lacked transparency, honesty and any sense of fair play,” the Clackamas County district attorney’s report said.

Paul Buchanan, Fesser’s lawyer, said he recognized the “high bar” required to support a federal criminal civil rights case and isn’t surprised by the outcome. He said he believes the federal inquiry was thorough.

“It’s healthy that local police had to undergo the scrutiny of this process from the federal government. I understand that, unfortunately, under current law, proving a federal criminal civil rights violation by the police is extraordinarily challenging,” Buchanan said. “As Cory Booker in the U.S. Senate has been advocating, we need a change in federal law to alter the kind of casual impunity that officers involved in this wrongful arrest displayed.”

Buchanan said he was disappointed that the U.S. Attorney’s office didn’t consider actions by then-West Linn Lt. Mike Stradley as criminal conduct, namely a November 2017 report Stradley made to his former colleagues at the Portland Police Bureau.

Stradley had contacted a Portland police gang enforcement officer that month after a grand jury indicted Fesser on first-degree theft charges. Stradley told the gang enforcement officer that there was a warrant for Fesser’s arrest and to be on alert because Fesser had made threats to assault his former boss, Benson, at A&B Towing, as well as Benson’s employees and made threats to “damage his business,” according to the police report.

That was blatantly false, Buchanan has argued, directly contradicting sworn statements that Stradley and Benson gave in the course of Fesser’s federal civil suit. Both said they had no knowledge of any threats Fesser had made.

Stradley’s information led Portland police to flag Fesser in the computer dispatch system as a potential danger.

“Mr. Benson repeatedly testified that Mr. Fesser had never threatened in him in any way. Stradley said that he knew virtually nothing about Mr. Fesser’s activities in the past several decades,” Buchanan said Friday.

“I believe Mike Stradley was attempting to bring about an aggressive arrest of Michael Fesser by making false statements in that police report. He put Michael’s life in danger. Maybe that doesn’t violate a federal criminal civil rights statute. But it should,” Buchanan said. “Making a false police report certainly violates Oregon state law. That should be especially true for a police officer.”

Stradley, who left West Linn police in 2018 to work as a training supervisor for the state’s basic police academy, was placed on paid leave a year ago. He remains on paid leave pending an “active investigation,” by the Oregon Department of Justice, said Linsay Hale, interim training director for the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

Buchanan said Stradley shouldn’t be allowed to return to teach “the next generation” of officers.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., who along with Oregon’s two U.S. senators had called for the federal inquiry into Fesser’s arrest, also expressed dismay on the outcome.

“I find it incredibly upsetting that Trump’s outgoing U.S. Attorney for Oregon has decided that he can’t make a case out on the clearly illegal and unjustified arrest of Michael Fesser,” Blumenauer said in a statement.

“However, in two weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would directly impact cases like this by making it easier for people to prove civil rights violations,” he said. “Mr. Fesser and all of those who have been wronged by police misconduct deserve justice.”

— Maxine Bernstein

Email mbernstein@oregonian.com; 503-221-8212

Follow on Twitter @maxoregonian

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At least two lawsuits filed against Texas' energy committee claim it was aware of shortcomings in the state's energy supply from previous winter storms

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At least two lawsuits have been filed alleging that Texas energy committee at the center of its ongoing power crisis knew of the state grid’s shortcomings from past winter outages.

A lawsuit filed in Harris County, which includes Houston, on Thursday is seeking up to $10 million in damages from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, for its lack of preparedness leading up to Winter Storm Uri that hit much of the southern US on February 14. 

It was filed by Fort Bend County residents Mauricio and Daysi Marin. Mauricio Marin still relies on oxygen after recovering from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and alleges the utility provider did not adequately prepare him for an extended outage, according to a report from Law360.

“ERCOT’s forecast for the maximum electricity that would be consumed far under-estimated the reality,” the lawsuit said. “As a result, millions were plunged into darkness and cold as a result of a loss of electricity.”

Another lawsuit filed in Nueces County on Friday goes a step further, alleging ERCOT was aware of its energy supply’s weaknesses following similar winter outages in 1989 and 2011 and could have done more to winterize its system prior to the February 14 storm that left roughly 4 million Texans without electricity and heat at its peak. Millions of residents are still without water.

“This cold weather event and its effects on the Texas energy grid were neither unprecedented, nor unexpected, nor unforeseen,” the Nueces County suit alleges.

A spokeswoman for ERCOT said the committee hadn’t yet reviewed the lawsuits, but will respond accordingly once they do.

“Our thoughts are with all Texans who have and are suffering due to this past week,” the spokeswoman told Insider. “However, because approximately 46% of privately-owned generation tripped offline this past Monday morning, we are confident that our grid operators made the right choice to avoid a statewide blackout.”

ERCOT investigated past outages and recommended winterizing at-risk generators and production plants, the Nueces County suit says. In the winter of 2011, however, generators that failed in 1989 failed again, indicating that ERCOT’s previous mitigation efforts “were not adequate, or were not maintained,” according to an investigation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee report in 2011 that is cited in the lawsuit.

“The massive amount of generator failures that were experienced raises the question whether it would have been helpful to increase reserve levels going into the event,” the 2011 FERC report said.

The suit alleges many of the same generators, transmitters, and distributors failed again starting February 14 in what could have been an avoidable catastrophe. The suit does not indicate the amount it is seeking from ERCOT and other energy providers.

Roughly 81,000 customers are still experiencing outages as of Saturday morning, according to a company that tracks outages across the state. Temperatures were forecast to rise on Saturday as well, providing some relief to Texans who had gone days without heat in freezing temperatures. 

When the unusual winter storm struck the state power plants malfunctioned right when demand for electricity shot up as people tried to stay warm. As a result, ERCOT was forced to cut power to millions of households because there wasn’t enough energy to go around.

As of Saturday, at least 37 people had died as a result of the storm and the resulting outages, according to a NBC report Friday. Many died from carbon monoxide poisoning from household generators or in their cars while trying to stay warm, while others died from hypothermia and exposure to brutally cold temperatures. Many areas are still under a boil water notice, meaning drinking water could be contaminated, as much of the state’s grid comes back online.

SEE ALSO: EXCLUSIVE: An asset manager overseeing nearly $100 billion divested from Exxon on concerns it is failing to move fast enough to address climate change

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