Things That Matter

A Texas Police Officer Gave A Homeless Man A Sandwich Made From ‘Dog Feces’ And He’s Back To Work Already

Congressman Joaquin Castro called out a San Antonio police officer who was fired after colleagues reported him for feeding a dog feces sandwich to a homeless man but who successfully appealed his case. The incident happened in 2016, but Castro was reacting to an investigative journalism series on KSAT-12 called “Broken Blue.” 

Matthew Luckhurst, a bicycle patrol officer, was placed on indefinite suspension after the act was reported. However, Luckhurst won his case appeal through a loophole last March. San Antonio authorities insist he is still suspended and has not been reinstated to his job. 

Joaquin Castro calls out the San Antonio Police Department.

“One police officer gave a feces sandwich to a homeless man, was fired, appealed, got his job back,” Castro said of the importance of the “Broken Blue” series’ examination of San Antonio police corruption. 

The Texas representative believes law enforcement unions court public distrust when they side with bad officers.

“Police unions too often stand by bad officers regardless of how bad they’ve acted. It severely undermines public trust. I also believe the umbrella unions, such as the AFL-CIO, have a responsibility to speak up to help change this,” Castro continued. “These are some of the reasons I cannot support the further expansion of collective bargaining specifically for police unions across the country. Not until the disciplinary process is fixed and bad officers are properly held accountable.”

City Manager Erik Walsh echoed Castro’s feelings on collective bargaining to KSAT news

“Current collective bargaining agreement limits the Chief’s ability to appropriately discipline officers that deserve to be disciplined. We intend to bring those issues to the next contract negotiation with the police union,” he said.

The San Antonio Police Association (SAPOA) responds to Castro’s tweets. 

SAPOA released a statement saying the “Broken Blue” series was nothing short of an attack on the San Antonio police. The statement called the series “misleading and sensationalistic” and said that the cases featured were old and resolved several years before. 

“This series attacks SAPOA and our members by saying we’re too powerful and that we make it difficult to remove ‘problem’ officers,” Michel Helle, president of SAPOA, said in a statement. “While I agree we’re a strong organization when it comes to the discipline and appeals process, our role is simple and transparent: ensure that the rights of officers are observed and protected.”

SAPOA claims that in 10 years there have only been 40 “indefinite suspension” cases with 2,300 total police officers, making up .00017 percent of the force. Skeptics might say a lack of disciplinary action doesn’t necessarily equate to a lack of wrongdoing, which is precisely the issue many critics of law enforcement have.

In the Atlantic’s 2019 piece about police accountability, reporter Ted Alcorn suggests that local police departments lack the transparency that allows public scrutiny. 

“Compared with other institutions of municipal government, police departments are unusually insulated from scrutiny,” Alcorn wrote. “Whereas other agencies give the public an opportunity to comment on policy changes before they go into effect, the decisions of law enforcement may be shared only after the fact, if at all. While the police chief usually answers to the mayor, city councilors, or members of a police commission, those officials can be reticent about second-guessing their public-safety officials.”

Luckhurst was able to win his appeal through a legal loophole. 

Colleagues reported that on May 6, 2016, Luckhurst fed a dog feces sandwich to a homeless person while on bike patrol. While there were no witnesses to the incident or bodycam footage, police officers found out because Luckhursthad been allegedly bragging about it. 

At first, Luckhurst challenged the events. Instead, he claimed that while clearing an encampment filled with litter, he told a homeless man to toss a piece of feces with a piece of bread he had picked up. Then, Luckhurst challenged the May 6 date. He claimed he had medical documents that meant he wouldn’t have been able to bike from April 6 to June 14, 2016. 

An arbitrator decided that because of the date flub and a lack of evidence that Luckhurt’s indefinite suspension should be voided. His indefinite suspension was shortened to only five days. Last May, Chief William McManus said they overturned the decision because a policy requires punishments to be doled out with 180 days of the incident. 

“He is still facing a separate indefinite suspension and we will vigorously defend the decision to terminate him,” McManus said.

However, Luckhurst has not returned to work because of a different incident where he was placed on indefinite suspension. In June 2016, police allege that Luckhurst defecated in the woman’s bathroom stall at the police department’s Bike Patrol Office. Officers say he spread “a brown, tapioca-like substance” on a toilet seat, according to My SA. 

Luckhurst is currently on indefinite suspension while he awaits the outcome of this arbitration. 

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Police Say The Abused Boy Who Was Rescued By An Orlando Waitress Endured ‘Torture’

Fierce

Police Say The Abused Boy Who Was Rescued By An Orlando Waitress Endured ‘Torture’

Netflix

The tragic story of Gabriel Fernandez, an eight-year-old boy who was abused and tortured by his own family members made headlines last year when his story was created into a Netflix documentary. The six-part crime documentary detailed how Fernandez’s murder came about due to local government failure and was a reminder that we all have a responsibility to keep our eyes out for victims.

Now, an Orlando waitress is being hailed for doing just that.

Flavaine Carvalho saved a child abuse victim after spotting bruises on the boy’s face and arms.

Carvalho (who works as a waitress at Mrs. Potato restaurant in Orlando, Florida) was on the clock on New Year’s Day serving a family that had walked into the restaurant when she noticed their 11-year-old boy. Realizing that the boy had nothing to eat, Carvalho asked if there was something wrong with the food. The boy’s stepfather explained that the boy would eat dinner at home later. It was then that Carvalho noticed bruises on the boy’s face and arms.

“I could see he had a big scratch between his eyebrows,” Carvalho explained in a press conference to FOX 35. “Couple of minutes later, I saw a bruise on the side of his eye. So I felt there was something really wrong.”

It was then that Carvalho said she knew that she had to do something. “I could not see the boy going away without any help,” she explained.

Coming up with a plan, Carvalho wrote a large note to the boy that read “Do you need help?”

The waitress stood behind the boy’s parents so that they couldn’t see and held up the sign for the boy. When he nodded, Carvalho immediately called the police.

According to the 911 call, Carvalho told the dispatcher “I’m super concerned and I don’t know what to do, can you give me some advice?” Carvalho said to the dispatcher. “The boy is with bruises and he’s not eating.”

After authorities arrived, they interviewed the boy, who accused his stepfather of abuse, saying that he been tied up, hung from a door, hit with a broom, and handcuffed. The boy also said that his parents kept food from him as punishment.

Police claimed that the doctors who examined the boy said that they found bruises on his face and arms and said that he was approximately 20 pounds underweight.

Police confirmed that the boy’s stepfather has been charged with three counts of aggravated child abuse and child neglect. The boy’s mother has been charged with two counts of child neglect and admitted to knowing about the abuse and failing to help him.

The boy and another 4-year-old child were fortunately removed from the home and are now in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Police on the case have described the experience that the child endured as “torture.”

“To be honest what this child had gone through was torture,” Detective Erin Lawler told WFTV9. “There was no justification for it in any realm of the world. I’m a mother and seeing what that 11-year-old had to go through, it shocks your soul.”

The abusive parents have now been identified as the boy’s stepfather, Timothy Wilson II, 34, and the boy’s mother Kristen Swann.

“The lesson here for all of us is to recognize when we see something that isn’t right to act on it… This saved the life of a child,” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said of the incident.

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Vanessa Bryant Shared The Sweetest Throwback Photo Of Kobe For Her Daughter Natalia’s 18th Birthday

Entertainment

Vanessa Bryant Shared The Sweetest Throwback Photo Of Kobe For Her Daughter Natalia’s 18th Birthday

Stephen Dunn / Getty

Life goes on.

Almost a year after her father Kobe Bryant passed, Natalia Bryant is gearing up for college and celebrating her life in progress. On Tuesday, to celebrate her daughter’s 18th birthday, Vanessa Bryant showered her daughter with tributes and words of wisdom in an Instagram post.

Vanessa posted a handful of tributes to Natalia on Instagram, including old photos of the 18-year-old her father, Kobe.

The late LA Laker, who died last year on Jan. 26 with his 13-year-old daughter (Gianna) and several others in a tragic helicopter crash, could be seen in the photos. In one of the images, Vanessa and Kobe held baby Natalia in an image taken on the Los Angeles Lakers court.

“Daddy’s little princess, Natalia. ❤️🎉🎂🎉#18#BirthdayGirl,” Bryant captioned one of the photos.

In another post, Vanessa expressed how proud she was of the woman Natalia has become.

“Mommy and Daddy are so proud of the young lady that you are. You have displayed so much strength and grace throughout the most difficult year of our lives,” she wrote in the post. “Thank you for stepping in to help me with your little sisters. You’re such an incredible big sister and a beautiful role model to so many people. Thank you for being kind, polite and gracious in everything that you do. You have no idea how happy and proud mommy and daddy are that you’re our daughter. We love you always and forever, forever and always. Happy 18th birthday to our first born, Natalia, our principessa!”

Last week, Bryant revealed that Natalia has college on the mind.

In a separate post shared to Instagram, Vanesa revealed that her daughter has New York on the mind when it comes to getting her Bachelor’s. “NYU is one of her top schools. (@nataliabryant chose not to apply ED to her top 5 schools). I will do my best to keep her in Cali just like I kept her daddy here,” she commented.

There’s no doubt that in the wake of her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gigi’s deaths, Vanessa Bryant and her family have received quite the outpour of support from fans. Look up just about any hashtag with their names and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of images of the two deceased Bryant family members and just about as many fan accounts. The images and tributes have meant to be a eulogy to the two basketball players that lost their lives too soon.

Yet, recently Vanessa Bryant revealed that the ongoing support hasn’t always been so positive for her.

In June, Vanessa Bryant opened up about having to take action and remove herself from all the social media love she and her family have received in the five months since her husband and daughter’s deaths.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CBbChSkBeuP/?utm_source=ig_embed

In a post to her Instagram page, the mother of four, sent a note to fans to let them know that she and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalia, had decided to block fan pages in an effort to keep away from the constant pictures of Kobe and Gianna popping up on their “Explore” pages. In her post, Bryant underlined that she was only blocking the accounts to make sure she was continuing to heal and that it was not being done out of malice.

“Thx so much for all the [love]. @nataliabryant and I have unfortunately had to block fan pages because it’s been really hard to go online and constantly see pics of our beloved Gigi and Kobe under every single square of our explore pages. Blocking the fan pages has helped change the algorithm,” Bryant wrote in a post to her Stories on Instagram.

Vanessa continued to explain that “We [love] you all but please understand that we had to do this for our own healing not because we don’t appreciate your [love].”

Bryant’s Instagram page was made to be private soon after her husband’s death likely for similar reasons.

In a separate Instagram story to her own account Vanessa’s daughter Natalia shared, “We hope that people understand although these fan pages have good intentions, they make moving forward harder since they are constant reminders. Blocking the accounts have helped change the algorithm but we can not go public until the fan pages stop. We love all of your sweet intentions and we hope you understand.” 

Understandably, Bryant and her daughter are sheltering themselves from further hurt during this time.

Here’s hoping their fans continue to support them through this decision and understand their motives. Fortunately, while Bryant and her daughter Natalia have made their accounts private, they are still making their content available through other pages. Recently, Bryant revealed that she had decided to pay tribute to her late husband and daughter Gigi by commemorating their lives with tattoos.

Last week, Bryant took to Instagram to reveal she’d made the decision to honor her husband and daughter with two new tattoos.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CBR38QADoyb/?utm_source=ig_embed

Both images were shared with the public via Nikko Hurtado, the artist behind Vanessa’s ink work.

“Shoutout to @nikkohurtado for coming over and helping me get my Gigi’s sweet message transferred on me,” she wrote in a caption to her Instagram page featuring a video of her new tattoo honoring her daughter. The details of the tattoo aren’t totally visible but in the comments, Bryant revealed that the tattoo features her late daughter’s handwriting. “So happy I can see my Gigi’s handwriting everyday ❤️ #mambacita,” she replied.

Bryant also shared a video of herself receiving another tattoo, this time for Kobe.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CBR3vpUjEOf/?utm_source=ig_embed

In a post to her Instagram page, Bryant shared another video of herself. This time the video revealed that she was actively receiving a shoulder tattoo that is meant to honor her husband.

“I wanted my boo boo’s @kobebryant sweet message transferred on me,” Bryant explained in the caption of the photo.

For fans of the Bryants it’s important to note that while Vanessa and Natalia aren’t looking at fan accounts, the art is still available for you to view if it makes you feel better during this time.

Additionally, fans who want to keep up with Vanessa and Natalia and see how they continue to heal can follow friend accounts or stay in touch with us for updates!

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