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City school board approves staff raises, talks school year 'do-over' law

Bowling Green Independent School District employees should expect a 3% raise after the district’s school board met Monday to conduct business and hold an annual planning session, with the new “do-over” school year law as one key discussion item.

Calling the pay raises “well-deserved” and sorely needed after the district opted not to give them last year amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, Bowling Green school Superintendent Gary Fields lauded the efforts of district staff.

“Our 630 employees have been amazing over this past school year,” he said.

In the past 10 years, Fields said, the district has granted employees an average raise of just under 1%, which he acknowledged has not kept up with the cost-of-living increases other public sector employees receive.

“We have to move the needle,” Fields said, adding that the larger than average 3% increase is given “in acknowledgment that we didn’t give a raise” last year.

The board also discussed the newly enacted Senate Bill 128, which enables students to retake or supplement courses they’ve already taken. The law also gives high school senior athletes fifth-year eligibility if they choose to repeat a year, The Associated Press said.

Fields said the new law has presented several logistical challenges for staff to manage, including what classes a student could retake, scheduling hurdles and other issues.

Interested applicants have until May 1 to apply for the Supplemental School Year Program through a form available on the district’s website. After that deadline passes, it’s on the district’s school board to decide whether to accept all the applications or none of them, and it must make a decision by June 1.

The board also took action to create additional teaching positions for a new gifted and talented instructor and two new teachers who will work with the district’s English learner students at the elementary school level.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.

Man accused of deadly downtown shooting arraigned

A Bowling Green man accused of carrying out a deadly shooting downtown was arraigned Tuesday.

Dederic Anderson, 29, appeared via video conference for arraignment in Warren Circuit Court on charges of murder, two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, tampering with physical evidence, second-degree fleeing or evading police and convicted felon in possession of a handgun.

Anderson is charged in the Jan. 10 shooting of Tayveon Bibb, 23, of Bowling Green, in the 3000 block of East Main Avenue.

Appearing before Warren Circuit Judge Steve Wilson, Anderson was appointed a public defender and entered a not guilty plea.

Anderson’s attorney, Alyson McDavitt of the state Department of Public Advocacy, requested a pretrial conference to take place after having an opportunity to review evidence with Anderson.

“I believe there’s a lot of video evidence based on testimony from the preliminary hearing, so it will take a while to go through that,” McDavitt said.

Anderson was directed to return to court July 7.

The Bowling Green Police Department investigated the shooting.

Officers were downtown shortly after midnight Jan. 10 in response to a report of people possibly having guns at Three Brothers Bar.

Police patrolling on foot behind the business heard gunshots from the front of the building and ran toward the scene, where Bibb was found on the sidewalk.

BGPD Detective Rebecca Robbins testified in a preliminary hearing in Warren District Court that Bibb was shot five times.

Robbins said interviews with witnesses enabled police to learn about an ongoing feud between Bibb and two men, Anderson and Antwan Britt.

The detective testified at the preliminary hearing that police learned of prior physical altercations involving the men and threatening messages sent over Snapchat.

Anderson was developed as a suspect, and he came to BGPD headquarters Jan. 16, denying any involvement in the shooting at the time and telling detectives he was at a friend’s house on Kelly Road.

Police made contact with two other people who were at the house, and they said they traveled in separate vehicles with Britt and Anderson downtown in the early morning hours Jan. 10.

Robbins testified that one of the vehicles drove away shortly after stopping on East Main Street and that the driver of the other vehicle was told to remain inside.

That person reported that Britt later told her that he had fired a shot during the incident, Robbins said.

Anderson reportedly confessed in a subsequent statement to police.

“(Anderson) stated he observed Mr. Bibb, he said Mr. Bibb punched him in the face and then (Anderson) began shooting three to four times,” Robbins testified. “He said Mr. Britt was with him when he shot but did not state whether Mr. Britt had fired any rounds.”

Robbins said police collected shell casings from the scene that suggested they were fired from two firearms.

Britt, 23, was located by police in a Glasgow apartment and arrested on a charge of murder. His case is pending.

According to court records, he was found in an apartment with Megan Sequeira, 34, of Scottsville, who was arrested on a charge of first-degree hindering prosecution/apprehension, which is pending in Barren County.

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.

Grand jury declines to indict man in homicide case

A Warren County grand jury declined to indict a man who was arrested in the deadly shooting of a Rockfield man.

Kentucky State Police arrested Daniel Moore, 35, of Rockfield, on a charge of first-degree manslaughter after police investigated the Feb. 14 death of Russell Heard, 74, who died from a gunshot wound outside his home on Galloways Mill Road.

The case was sent to a grand jury after a preliminary hearing in February, but when the case was presented to grand jurors on Wednesday, they returned a no true bill.

Moore was ordered released from the Warren County Regional Jail later that day, court records said.

At the preliminary hearing, KSP Detective Courtney Milam testified that witnesses told police Moore went to the residence to retrieve a gun that had reportedly been taken from him.

Milam testified that police learned Moore went there to confront Bradley Heard, Russell Heard’s son, and that a witness saw Moore take out a gun and hold it in front of his waist while going up to the house.

Witnesses said Moore’s firearm was pointed at the ground in front of his belt buckle and he did not point the weapon at anyone when he arrived, Milam said.

Witnesses reported that Russell Heard came out of the house and met Moore in the driveway and attempted to get his son to come out to resolve the issue, but at some point a verbal argument ensued between Moore and Russell Heard.

Police said Bradley Heard, 37, then came out of the house and charged at Moore with a knife, stabbing Moore in his left shoulder.

“Bradley came out of the residence charging at (Moore) with a knife in each hand,” Milam said at the court hearing. “(Moore) said he fired a warning shot toward the ground to deter him, but Bradley kept advancing with those knives so he shot Bradley three times.”

Russell Heard was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Moore was located later that day by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office in a vehicle on Russellville Road traveling to an area hospital.

In a statement he later gave to police, Moore claimed he did not shoot Russell Heard and that he was alive on his porch when Moore left, though witness accounts disputed Moore’s statement, Milam said in February.

Bradley Heard was treated at The Medical Center for gunshot wounds, was released from the hospital March 16 and taken to the Warren County Regional Jail on a charge of first-degree assault.

He was indicted last week on the assault charge by a grand jury and arraigned Tuesday in Warren Circuit Court.

During the arraignment, conducted via video conference, Warren Circuit Judge Steve Wilson mentioned that the grand jury declined to indict Moore, to which Bradley Heard reacted with surprise.

A not guilty plea was entered on Bradley Heard’s behalf and a public defender appointed to represent him. He has a pretrial conference set for June 22.

Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron said there are no plans to bring Moore’s case before another grand jury. “Generally, unless additional evidence is brought forward we do not re-present to a grand jury, although we always have that ability,” Cohron said.

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.

Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death

MINNEAPOLIS – Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murder and manslaughter for pinning George Floyd to the pavement with his knee on the Black man’s neck in a case that touched off worldwide protests, violence and a reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.

Chauvin, 45, could be sent to prison for decades.

The verdict set off jubilation around the city and nation. People flooded the surrounding streets in downtown Minneapolis, running through traffic with banners. Cars blared their horns. Floyd family members who had gathered at a Minneapolis conference room could be heard cheering and even laughing.

The jury of six White people and six Black or multiracial people came back with its verdict after about 10 hours of deliberations. Chauvin was found guilty on all charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

His face was obscured by a COVID-19 mask, and little reaction could be seen beyond his eyes darting around the courtroom. His bail was immediately revoked, and he was led away with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Sentencing will be in two months.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson followed Chauvin out of the courtroom.

As the judge asked jurors if they reached a verdict, a hush fell on the crowd in a park adjacent to the courthouse, with people listening to the proceedings on cellphones. When the verdict was announced, the crowd roared, many people hugging, some shedding tears.

At the intersection where Floyd was pinned down, a crowd chanted, “One down, three to go!” – a reference to the three other fired Minneapolis police officers facing trial in August on charges of aiding and abetting murder in Floyd’s death.

Janay Henry, who lives nearby, said she felt grateful and relieved. “I feel grounded. I can feel my feet on the concrete,” she said, adding that she was looking forward to the “next case with joy and optimism and strength.”

An ecstatic Whitney Lewis leaned halfway out a car window in a growing traffic jam of revelers waving a Black Lives Matter flag. “Justice was served,” the 32-year-old said. “It means George Floyd can now rest.”

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said the verdict sends a message to Floyd’s family “that he was somebody, that his life matters.”

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison commended the bystanders at Floyd’s slow-motion death who “raised their voices because they knew that what they were seeing was wrong,” and then “told the whole world” what they saw.

Ellison read the names of others killed in encounters with police and said: “This has to end. We need true justice. That’s not one case. That’s social transformation that says no one is beneath the law and no one is above it.”

The verdict was read in a courthouse ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire and patrolled by National Guard troops, in a city on edge against another round of violence – not just because of the Chauvin case but because of the deadly police shooting of a young Black man, Daunte Wright, in a Minneapolis suburb April 11.

The jurors’ identities were kept secret and will not be released until the judge decides it is safe to do so.

Floyd, 46, died May 25 after being arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes at a corner market. He panicked, pleaded that he was claustrophobic and struggled with police when they tried to put him in a squad car. They put him on the ground instead.

The centerpiece of the case was the bystander video of Floyd gasping repeatedly, “I can’t breathe” and onlookers yelling at Chauvin to stop as the officer pressed his knee on or close to Floyd’s neck for what authorities say was more than 9 minutes. Floyd slowly went silent and limp.

Prosecutors played the footage at the earliest opportunity, during opening statements, with Blackwell telling the jury: “Believe your eyes.” And it was shown over and over, analyzed one frame at a time by witnesses on both sides.

In the wake of Floyd’s death, demonstrations and violence broke out in Minneapolis, around the country and beyond. The furor also led to the removal of Confederate statues and other offensive symbols such as Aunt Jemima pancake syrup.

In the months that followed, numerous states and cities restricted the use of force by police, revamped disciplinary systems or subjected police departments to closer oversight.

The “Blue Wall of Silence” that often protects police accused of wrongdoing crumbled after Floyd’s death: The Minneapolis police chief quickly called it “murder” and fired all four officers, and the city reached a $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family as jury selection was underway.

Police-procedure experts and law enforcement veterans inside and outside the Minneapolis department, including the chief, testified for the prosecution that Chauvin used excessive force and went against his training.

Medical experts for the prosecution said Floyd died of asphyxia, or lack of oxygen, because his breathing was constricted by the way he was held down on his stomach, his hands cuffed behind him, a knee on his neck and his face jammed against the ground.

Chauvin’s attorney called a police use-of-force expert and a forensic pathologist to help make the case that Chauvin acted reasonably against a struggling suspect and that Floyd died because of an underlying heart condition and his illegal drug use.

Floyd had high blood pressure, an enlarged heart and narrowed arteries, and fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in his system.

Under the law, police have certain leeway to use force and are judged according to whether their actions were “reasonable” under the circumstances.

The defense also tried to make the case that Chauvin and the other officers were hindered in their duties by what they perceived as a growing, hostile crowd.

Chauvin did not testify, and all that the jury or the public ever heard by way of an explanation from him came from a police body-camera video after an ambulance had taken the 6-foot-4, 223-pound Floyd away. Chauvin told a bystander: “We gotta control this guy ’cause he’s a sizable guy ... and it looks like he’s probably on something.”

The prosecution’s case also included tearful testimony from onlookers who said the police kept them back when they protested what was happening. Darnella Frazier, 18, who shot the crucial video, said Chauvin just gave the bystanders a “cold” and “heartless” stare.

She and others said they felt a sense of helplessness and lingering guilt from witnessing Floyd’s death.

“It’s been nights I stayed up, apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting and not saving his life,” Frazier testified, while the cashier at the neighborhood market, Christopher Martin, lamented that “this could have been avoided” if only he had rejected the suspect $20 bill.

To make Floyd more than a crime statistic in the eyes of the jury, the prosecution called to the stand his girlfriend, who told the story of how they met and how they struggled with addiction to opioids, and his younger brother Philonise. He recalled how Floyd helped teach him to catch a football and made “the best banana mayonnaise sandwiches.”

Other reactions

Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, said Chauvin’s conviction was correct but only one step in the fight for justice.

He said in a statement that true justice requires Americans to understand that “Black Americans are being treated differently every day” and that millions live in fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last.

Obama said the country needs to follow up on the verdict by taking concrete steps to reduce racial bias in the criminal justice system and to redouble efforts to expand economic opportunity in marginalized communities.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressed thanks to Floyd “for sacrificing your life for justice.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Congress must keep working on legislation “to bring meaningful change” to police departments.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the chamber’s only Black Republican, said he is thankful for a verdict that shows “our justice system continues to become more just.”

Telephoning Floyd’s family after the verdict, President Joe Biden said of himself and Vice President Kamala Harris: “We’re all so relieved.”