Things That Matter

One Of The Police Officers Killed In Dallas Was An Iraq War Veteran And Latino

What started as a peaceful protest against police brutality in downtown Dallas, Texas, on July 7 turned into a scene of nightmarish violence. In total, five police officers were murdered by a sniper, with seven others injured. Among those killed was 32-year-old Patrick Zamarripa, a father and Iraq War veteran. There has been an overwhelming outpour of grief over Zamarripa’s death, from family, friends and even celebrities.

Patrick Zamarripa’s family was confused, scared and shaken as the gunfire broke out at the downtown Dallas rally.

During a protest against police brutality, gun shots rang out. It wasn’t long until people realized there was a sniper on a roof targeting the police officers at the rally.

It was his father, Rick Zamarripa, who first confirmed on social media that his son had died in the gun fire.

Most of you already know this by now today in Dallas , my son is a police officer in Dallas he was working there the…

Posted by Rick Zamarripa on Friday, July 8, 2016

When news broke of Zamarripa’s death, friends, families and celebs took to social media to express their grief.

Cousins, siblings and his parents were devastated to hear that the Navy veteran was killed.

It is so heartbreaking.

Zamarripa had survived three tours of duty in Iraq before returning to Dallas and joining the Dallas Police Department to protect the freedoms he fought for overseas.

Texas Ranger Joey Gallo was in disbelief over the death of Zamarripa.

A couple months ago @nomazara26 and I were walking down the street in downtown Dallas. When an officer stopped us, Mazara and I immediately became nervous, "I know who you guys are" he said. "Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara, can I get a picture with you guys please?" It was definitely a first for me and Nomar to have an officer, a true hero, want to meet us. His name is Patrick Zamarripa, one of the officers killed in last nights shootings in Dallas. I'll never forget how kind and down to Earth he was. We ended up having a 15 minute conversation about sports with him. He was an avid Rangers fan. But more importantly a great person, and family man. Please keep Patrick, and all the officers affected and their families in our prayers today. #prayfordallas

A photo posted by Joey Gallo (@joeygallo24) on

Gallo remembered a time when he and teammate Nomar Mazara were stopped by Zamarripa while walking around. Instead of being in trouble, Zamarripa was just approaching them as a fan asking for a photo and some small chitchat.

“I just couldn’t believe it, when I found out that he was one of the officers that had been killed” Mazara told ESPN. “I was glad I had a chance to take that picture, especially because he was a police officer. He’s a hero.”

Cuba Gooding Jr. had also met Zamarripa while in Dallas and was deeply impacted by his tragic death.

“I cried today when I heard that,” Gooding Jr. told TMZ. “I cried. That’s all I’ll say.”

There have already been memorials for the officers lost on July 7. Zamarripa’s mother was there.

“He was so proud and loved being a father to her,” Valerie Zamarripa, told 20/20. “She [his 2-year-old daughter] looks just like him. I just don’t know how she’s going to be looking for him and not see him anymore.”

Family, friends and strangers are coming together to raise money to help Zamarripa’s family.

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Credit: gofundme.com

READ: Listen To Jennifer Lopez, Prince Royce And Selena Gomez Pay Tribute To Victims Of Orlando Shooting

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A New Florida Law And Lack Of Testing Facilities In The State Means Miami-Dade County Won’t Be Prosecuting Misdemeanor Pot Cases

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A New Florida Law And Lack Of Testing Facilities In The State Means Miami-Dade County Won’t Be Prosecuting Misdemeanor Pot Cases

Marc Fuyà / Flickr

There is good news out there for marijuana users in Florida as prosecutors in Miami-Dade county announced they will no longer prosecute minor marijuana cases. The news comes as a result of new state law, the so-called “hemp bill,” which went into effect July 1, that has legalized hemp but has also caused much more costly problems. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office released a memo last week saying there is no police crime lab in South Florida that currently tests for a cannabis chemical that gets users high. This has now created a new challenge for law enforcement in trying to tell the difference between hemp and cannabis.

“Barring exceptional circumstances,” Miami prosecutors will no longer be prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana possession cases. When it comes to large amounts, enough for felony charges, police will now have to get lab tests to verify if it is real marijuana, not hemp. 

Credit: @fguzmanon7 / Twitter

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a memo that authorities can’t “visually or microscopically” tell the difference between marijuana from hemp, which only has very small amounts of THC chemicals that it’s counterpart does. Now, due to the new law in effect, laboratory testing must be done. 

“Because hemp and cannabis both come from the same plant, they look, smell, and feel the same. There is no way to visually or microscopically distinguish one from the other,” the memo states. “Similarly, since hemp can be – and is – also smoked, there is no olfactory way to distinguish hemp from marijuana.”

Rundle says due to the “Hemp Bill,” state prosecutors now need an expert on hand to testify that a substance is marijuana to prove their cases in court. This also means lab tests will have to be conducted by authorities to verify a substance. However, those lab tests come at quite the price according to Rundle. 

“Up until now, there was no laboratory expense involved in marijuana prosecution cases, as any necessary testimony was from the Miami-Dade Police Department Forensic Services Bureau Crime Laboratory personnel,” the memo reads. “Since every marijuana case will now require an expert, and necessitate a significant expenditure by the State of Florida, barring exceptional circumstances on a particular case, we will not be prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana possession cases.”

The Miami-Dade Police Crime Lab currently doesn’t have the practice to perform a marijuana analysis. But according to Rundle, the department is in the process of developing the methodology to do so.

Credit: @repwilson / Twitter

While the Miami-Dade crime lab currently does not have the capability to test for THC, this is all set to change in the next three to six months. According to Rundle, the eased enforcement of marijuana is a temporary thing until the county lab can perform such tests on their own.

“In the meantime, if there are any DEA certified private labs that can perform such testing in significant cases, and the police departments are willing to pay for such testing, then the prosecution of these cases could move forward,” Rundle said in the memo. “Once the MDPD lab can again conduct such testing themselves, then this all becomes moot. This is just a stumbling block and not a death knell to the prosecution of marijuana cases.”

The decision for the state to stop prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana possession cases highlights the growing obstacles for law enforcement in Florida and across the country in states where recreational marijuana is still considered illegal, but hemp is now allowed.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, prosecutors have been coming across this problem since the bill went into effect in July. They say the added expense of sending marijuana to labs outside of the state and getting expert witnesses to testify in court makes those options “prohibitive in all except the most serious of cases.”

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder says the state’s new regulations could be a dangerous move when it comes to enforcing marijuana laws as a whole. “This agency and most agencies around Florida will not be making marijuana arrests,” Snyder told West Palm Beach TV station WPTV. “Until we have a lab that can test, law enforcement efforts around marijuana are dead in the water.”

Nonetheless, as the attitude of marijuana as a whole has loosened in recent years, the enforcement of misdemeanor marijuana cases in Miami were not being prosecuted as aggressively as in the past. This might be a continuing trend in counties an states where hemp is legal but marijuana is not. 

READ: A Married Florida Cop Is Suing A Dating Website For Allegedly Using His Picture In Advertisements Without His Permission

A New Study Finds That Mexicans Are Dying Because Of Guns Illegally Coming In From The U.S.

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A New Study Finds That Mexicans Are Dying Because Of Guns Illegally Coming In From The U.S.

Jay Heike / Unsplash

The conversation of gun control is back on the consciousness of many Americans after the deadly shooting of 31 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The 21-year-old gunman of the El Paso shooting reportedly chose a powerful AK-style rifle to commit what is being called “the deadliest attack targeting Latinos in recent U.S. history.”  However, these types of weapons have also made their way across the U.S.-Mexico border where many are being brought there illegally by mostly American citizens.

In 2018, the homicide rate in Mexico hit a record high of 35,964, which is up 12 percent from the year before, according to the country’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography. Of those killings, at least 20,005 were gun-related deaths.

Credit: @bejaminnorton / Twitter

As the number of homicides has risen in Mexico due to gun violence there is a growing sense of urgency from Mexican officials to see something get done. The AK-47 has been known to be the gun of choice for cartel groups and is being used to kill countless Mexican citizens, every week. 

As these powerful assault rifles make their way illegally from the U.S. into Mexico, they are being used in cartel-related violence and drug trafficking efforts. The overwhelming majority of guns used by drug cartels in the country’s deadly turf come illegally from the U.S., since the Mexican army is the only legal seller in the country.

According to the San Diego Union- Tribune, the illegal trafficking of these powerful weapons has fueled the already increasingly dangerous and deadly conditions in the country. The underground market for the weapons is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and will only keep rising. 

Jack Riley, a retired DEA agent, told the Union-Tribune that these cartel groups are choosing these U.S.-made weapons for two primary reasons: their efficiency and because the weapons are a status symbol. He also says that the majority of these funneled weapons are passing through Mexican ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, which includes on the busiest, the San Ysidro-Tijuana port.

“It is really important to these criminal organizations, who stay in business by the threat of violence and through the use of violence; and the tools that they prefer to do that with are American-made guns,” Riley told the Union-Tribune. “There is a tremendous market for them and unfortunately there’s a ton of people in the United States willing to do business with some of the cartels.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is now urging the United States to “control the indiscriminate sale of weapons” after recent mass shootings.

Credit: @jennfranconews / Twitter

The shooting in El Paso, Texas has prompted President Lopez Obrador to put pressure on the U.S. to curb the gun proliferation that is now taking the lives of Mexican citizens. He has also mentioned that the Mexican government was looking into the possibility of accusing the El Paso shooter of “terrorism” and requesting his extradition to face charges in Mexico.

“We are very respectful of what other governments decide, but we think that these unfortunate events, which occurred in the U.S., should lead to reflection, analysis and the decision to control the indiscriminate sale of weapons,” Lopez Obrador said at a news conference in Mexico City last Monday.

Similar to the U.S., citizens in Mexico have the same right to bear arms but when it comes to the sale of weapons, the country has tighter restrictions. Most citizens are only able to purchase lighter handguns or nothing more powerful than a .38 caliber gun as assault weapons are banned. Also, the sale of weapons from one citizen to another is prohibited.

The numbers show that the gun problem in America had crossed over across the border as 70 percent of guns seized across all of Mexico have U.S. origins, According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Credit: @frankluntz / Twitter

Mexico is in the midst of turbulent times as the number of people murdered hit more than 33,000 people last year, a record high. This was especially the case for Tijuana, where the popular tourist city that saw more than 2,500 homicides just last year. This gave the city the unwanted distinction and title of “the most violent city in the world,” where almost every single gun that was seized by police since 2016 came from the U.S., according to the city’s chief of police.

There is an “importance of going after both of these things, not just immigration, narcotics, the flow of illegal money, but the tools with which these criminal organizations rely,” Riley told the Tribune. “And for far too long there hasn’t been enough emphasis both by the Mexicans and to a certain extent by us, for a variety of political reasons, to really go after the gun smugglers.”

Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here.

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