Louisville Police Chief Fired After Fatal Shooting of African-American Business Owner

I think it’s safe to say that we all have our eyes open.

David McAtee's Family
David McAtee’s Family

As reported by CNN.com

(CNN)The police chief of Louisville, Kentucky, has been fired after officials discovered two police officers involved in fatal shooting of a man during a protest over George Floyd’s death had not activated their body cameras.

“This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said on Monday. “Accordingly, I have relieved Steve Conrad of his duties as chief of Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD).

“Fischer identified the victim as David McAtee, a local business owner.

Protests, sometimes violent, have erupted across the nation after Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died while being arrested in Minneapolis last week.

In Louisville, the protests have centered on the death of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician who was shot multiple times when three LMPD officers entered her apartment by force to serve a search warrant in a narcotics investigation.

McAtee was shot as police and the National Guard were trying to disperse the protesters, police said Monday. The officials returned fire after they were shot at.

“We lost a wonderful citizen named David McAtee,” Fischer said. “David was a friend to many, a well-known Barbecue man.”

“They’ve nurtured so many people in their bellies and in their hearts before, and for him to be caught up in this, not to be with us today is a tragedy.”

The Louisville Metro Police Department and National Guard units were sent to clear a large crowd in a parking lot around 12:15 a.m., the police chief said early Monday.”

Officers and soldiers begin to clear the lot and at some point were shot at,” Conrad said at a press conference. “Both LMPD and National Guard members returned fire, we have one man dead at the scene.”

The Louisville shooting happened in the far western part of the city, where protests hadn’t taken place in previous nights.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said state police will also investigate McAtee’s death.

“Given the seriousness of the situation, I have authorized the Kentucky State Police to independently investigate the event,” Beshear said in a statement.

Russell Coleman, US Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, also said on Twitter his office has started an investigation, which will be carried out alongside the FBI Louisville office and state police.

Odessa Riley, a woman who was at the scene Monday, told CNN the shooting victim was her 53-year-old son.

“They killed him for no reason,” Riley said through tears.

Riley said she got a call a little after 1 a.m. that her son had been shot and killed, and she came to the scene and had been there since.

“All I want to do is just see my son before they bring him out, that’s all I want.” Riley said. She said she hasn’t heard anything from the police and was told to wait for the coroner.

McAtee, nicknamed “Yaya,” was “trying to make an honest dollar to take care of his rent and his bills,” Riley said. “And they gonna shoot him down like a dog, uh, uh, I don’t appreciate that.”

McAtee had told his mother that he fed police officers at the restaurant.

Mayor Greg Fischer met briefly with Riley Monday where she stood in the crowd, close to where McAtee was killed.

Fischer prayed for her, Riley said, and “I broke down and started crying, but he, the Mayor Fischer, he’s a good person.”

Peace, not violence, is what she wants, Riley said.

“The protesting is good, protest, for the other people to get what they deserve to,” Riley said. “They killed my son. My son don’t mess with nobody.”

“My son didn’t do nothing,” she said.

Investigators are interviewing several people “of interest” and collecting video from the scene of the shooting, the police chief said.

More information is expected to be released Tuesday, Conrad said.

Last week, seven people were shot in the downtown area in protests related to Taylor’s death after audio was released of Taylor’s boyfriend’s call to 911 the day of her death. Fischer said the shots came from the crowd, not the police.

George Flyod Killed By Minneapolis Policeman Who Knelt On His Neck During Arrest

We already have enough going on in 2020 and to see something like this is so disheartening and unacceptable. Our society should no longer be here! This is horrible, we have to do better. They can’t feel like it’s ok for this to happen to our African American community.

More on this story as reported by nytimes.com –

Mr. Floyd died after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by an officer’s knee, in an episode that was recorded on video by a bystander, sparking condemnation and protests.

George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died on Monday after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a police officer’s knee, in an incident that was recorded on video and that sparked large protests in Minneapolis.

The explosive footage above, recorded by a bystander and shared widely on social media early Tuesday, incited community outrage, an F.B.I. civil rights investigation and the firing of the officer and three colleagues who were also at the scene.

On Wednesday, the Minneapolis Police Department identified the fired officers as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng.

Mr. Floyd’s relatives have said that the officers should be charged with murder. “They treated him worse than they treat animals,” Philonise Floyd, Mr. Floyd’s brother, said on CNN. “They took a life — they deserve life.”

Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis was quick to condemn the officers’ actions, and on Wednesday, he called on prosecutors to file charges against the officer who had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

“I want to see a charge take place,” Mr. Frey said at a news conference, without specifying what charge he thought was warranted. “I want to see justice for George Floyd.”

What we know about Mr. Floyd’s death:

Mr. Floyd lived in St. Louis Park, a Minneapolis suburb. He was pronounced dead at 9:25 p.m. Monday at Hennepin County Medical Center, according to the medical examiner.

He grew up in Houston, in a black neighborhood south of downtown known as the Third Ward, and was raised in a house with his siblings and two cousins, Shareeduh Tate and Tera Brown. Their mothers were sisters, Ms. Tate said.

A reporter for a Houston television station posted a video clip on Twitter of Mr. Floyd scoring a touchdown at a high school football game nearly 30 years ago. He was a tight end for the Jack Yates High School team, and the clip shows Mr. Floyd leaping high into the air to catch a pass in the end zone during a 1992 game at Delmar Stadium in Houston.

Mr. Floyd graduated from Yates High in 1993, the Houston school district confirmed on Wednesday. Ms. Tate said her cousin moved to Minneapolis four or five years ago, and Ms. Brown said he talked about the city as a welcoming place.

“He was happy there. He had made friends and had talked about training to become a truck driver,” said Ms. Brown, 48, an accounting manager. “He came home for his mother’s funeral two years ago, and he told me he had decided to stay.”

Jovanni Thunstrom, the owner of Conga Latin Bistro in Minneapolis, said he employed Mr. Floyd as a bouncer at the restaurant, and was also his landlord.

“No one had nothing bad to say about him,” Mr. Thunstrom said. “They all are shocked he’s dead. He never caused a fight or was rude to people.”

Mr. Thunstrom said Mr. Floyd paid his rent last week and told him that he was looking for a new job because Conga Latin Bistro has been closed to on-site dining since March because of the coronavirus. “I lost a friend,” Mr. Thunstrom said.

In Houston, friends and relatives gathered on Tuesday to remember Mr. Floyd in Emancipation Park, a site that was originally purchased by former slaves in the late 1800s. The Third Ward, where he grew up, has been a hub of social activism in Houston for decades.

Ms. Tate said she saw the video from Minneapolis on Tuesday morning, but didn’t realize the man in the street was the cousin she grew up with.

“I remember thinking how horrible this was, that a family’s loved one was murdered in the streets. Maybe five minutes later I got the call confirming my cousin was on that video,” said Ms. Tate, 49, a registered nurse.

“I went back and looked. The first time, it didn’t have audio. The second time, the audio was on. I heard the first, ‘I can’t breathe,’ and I knew it was him.”

The arrest of Mr. Floyd took place on Monday evening. The Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement that officers had responded to a call about a man suspected of forgery. The police said the man was found sitting on top of a blue car and “appeared to be under the influence.”

“He was ordered to step from his car,” the department’s statement said. “After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”

The statement said that officers had called for an ambulance.

On Tuesday morning, without referring to the video recorded by a bystander, the police updated a statement, titled “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction,” saying that additional information had “been made available” and that the F.B.I. was joining the investigation.

The bystander video shows a white Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into a black man’s neck during an arrest, as the man repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe,” and, “Please, I can’t breathe.”

The video recorded in Minneapolis on Monday shows that after a few minutes, the man, lying face down in the street with his hands cuffed behind his back, becomes silent and motionless; the officer continues to pin the man to the pavement with his knee.

Bystanders plead and curse, begging the officer to stop and telling him the man’s nose is bleeding. Another officer faces the people gathered on the sidewalk. An ambulance medic arrives and, reaching under the officer’s knee, feels for a pulse on the man’s neck.

The medic turns away, and a stretcher is wheeled over. The arrested man is then rolled onto the stretcher, loaded into an ambulance and taken away.

The video did not show what had happened before the officer pinned the man to the ground by his neck.

Mr. Frey, the Minneapolis mayor, said on Tuesday that he did not know how the initial police statement, describing a “medical incident,” had come to be written, but he said he wanted to be “absolutely astransparent as possible.”

“It’s the kind of thing where you don’t hide from the truth, you lean into it, because our city is going to be better off for it, no matter how ugly, awful it is,” he said. “If it points out the institutional racism that we are still working through right now, well, good — it means thatwe’ve got a lot of work to go.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Frey tweeted that four officers involved in the case had been terminated. “This is the right call,” he said.

The Police Department’s statement said that no weapons had been used and that the officers’ body cameras were recording. Mr. Frey said at a news conference Tuesday that he had seen the video “taken and posted by a civilian,” but not the body camera footage.

He said he had asked the F.B.I. to investigate, and in a statement posted to Twitter said, “Being black in America should not be a death sentence. For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man’s neck. Five minutes.”

The F.B.I. is conducting a federal civil rights investigation, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement. The state bureau also said that it was conducting its own investigation at the request of the Police Department and that it would release its findings to the Hennepin County district attorney’s office.

We’ll make sure to continue to bring you information on this….

Hall Of Fame NBA Coach Jerry Sloans Dies At 78

Jerry Sloan coaching the Utah Jazz
Jerry Sloan

As reported by nytimes.com:

Jerry Sloan, who entered the National Basketball Association as an unlikely prospect for a Hall of Fame career but carved out one nevertheless, as an All-Star guard with the Chicago Bulls and one of the winningest coaches in league history, died on Friday at his home in Salt Lake City. He was 78. 

The Utah Jazz, a team he coached for 23 seasons, said the cause was Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Both illnesses were diagnosed in 2015, as the team had announced at the time.

Sloan had a low profile when he arrived in the N.B.A. in 1965. He had played for a small-college N.C.A.A. school, and, though he was tenacious on defense, he wasn’t a brilliant scorer.

But he became a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame after forging an N.B.A. career spanning a half-century. He became the fourth-winningest head coach in N.B.A. history and No. 2, behind Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, for longest tenure with one team.

A Little Positivity & Love from Chris Stokes

Chris Stokes in a blue cardigan sweater
Chris Stokes wearing a blue cardigan

It’s the weekend! During these crazy times we’ve all had the opportunity to slow down and really appreciate the better things in life. And although it may seem at times that what’s going on around us is terrible, take it in and accept it as time to get reconnected. The world, technology….society have a way of causing temporary amnesia. I’m happy to be able to refocus and reconnect. So be positive, make the best out of whatever life hands you and be happy!!! Hope everyone out there enjoys their weekend! ❤️❤️❤️

Music Industry Legend Andre Harrell Dies At Age 59

Andre Harrell

As reported by Variety.com –

Andre Harrell, a veteran music executive best known for signing a young Sean Combs to his first record deal and later went on to head Motown Records, has died. He was 59. The cause of death is as yet unclear.

DJ D Nice revealed the sad news while spinning on Instagram Live for his popular Club Quarantine series. Variety has yet to receive official word though sources have confirmed Harrell’s passing.

A native of New York, Harrell started his career in music as an artist, one-half of the rap duo Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. In 1983 Harrell teamed with Russell Simmons, the founder of Def Jam Records, and had one of his early experiences in the business working as a vice president and later GM of the label. He left to start his own record company, Uptown Records, where he signed Sean “Puffy” Combs. He later brought Mary J. Blige onto the roster and saw success with both artists in the late 1980s and into the 1990s.

Harrell would later find a home at MCA productions where he developed multiple projects in film and television in the 1990s and returned to the music business full-time in 1995 to run Motown Records as CEO. Through that era, the label was home such acts as Boyz II Men, Jodeci and Al B. Sure.

Harrell and Combs remained longtime friends and business associates and Harrell served as vice chairman of Revolt, Combs’ multi-platform music network, and a producer on its panel show “State of the Culture.”

A pioneer of hip-hop and R&B and black entertainment in general, serving as executive producer of Harrell could be seen at many red carpet events on both coasts. He appears in Diddy’s 2017 documentary “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story” and, according to IMDB, had been working on a TV miniseries about Uptown that was in the treatment phase at BET.

A true pioneer and trail blazer, you will be missed. Prayers and condolences go out to his family.

More to come…

On the set of Howard High with Chris Stokes

Chris stokes at Footage Films
Chris Stokes at the Footage Films Offices

Today marks the premiere of the Chris Stokes created series “Howard High”. Howard High is this generation’s Urban Glee. The concept, which was imagined by Chris Stokes pays homage to one of his favorite shows from his youth, “Fame”.

The show follows ‘Frank King,’ played by Brian White, (“Ray Donovan”/ ”Scandal”) a former honor roll student of the high school who is asked to come back and take a principal position at the school, not knowing that the school is on the verge of closing down because it has become the lowest-ranked school in the state. Frank also doesn’t realize that the only reason ‘Superintendent Thomas,’ played by Dorien Wilson, (“The Parkers”) offered him the position was so he could position him to take the fall and blame him for the school’s decline. To Frank’s surprise, there is major talent right under his nose within the performing arts music program. After firing the music teacher, and with the help of his friend and new music teacher ‘Michael Kirsh,’ played by singer Marques Houston, (You Got Served), Frank and his team just may be able to save the school! The show is also introducing newcomer (and Chris Stokes’ daughter), Chrissy Stokes, in the lead role of ‘Nicki Ross,’ a beautiful moody teenager who’s just moved to Los Angeles from Arizona, where she got into some trouble. She’s a bit shy, and in no rush to reveal the incredible singing talent that she has.

Take a backseat view of what it was like on set with the director below –

Howard High Behind The Scenes with Chris Stokes

Howard High Premiering May 1st on Urbanflix TV

Howard High promo image on Chris Stokes blog
Howard High-The Series

Make sure you catch the premier of Howard High, May 1st on Urbanflix TV.

Howard High School is on the verge of closing down because it has become the lowest-ranked school in the state. Needing someone to take the fall for the school’s decline, Mr. Thomas reaches out to former honor role graduate Frank King (Brian White) to take over as principal. To Frank’s surprise, there is major talent right under his nose within the Performing Arts Music program. After firing the music teacher, and the help of his friend and new Music teacher Michael Kirsh (Marques Houston) Frank and his team just may be able to save the school.

Don’t miss it!!

Online Popcorn Company Contributing to Covid-19 Relief

LockHeart Popcorn on Chris Stokes blog
LockHeart Popcorn

Hey guys! I wanted to introduce you to a new online popcorn company that’s on the rise and doing good in the community. LockHeart Popcorn is an African American owned and operated company. They work with local family-owned farms and food co-ops to bring quality products to their customers. Offering a true Artisan experience. It’s great to see a driven young African American company making positive change and growth. Go check them out by clicking the link LockHeart Popcorn

Actor Brian Dennehy Dies at 81

Brian Dennehy in Rambo: First Blood on chris stokes blog
Brian Dennehy in Rambo: First Blood

The entertainment world has lost a treasure today. Brian Dennehy, star of movies like Rambo: First Blood and Tommy Boy passed today at the age of 81 from natural causes. His career spanned decades in which he became such a recognizable household face. Our prayers and condolences go out to his family.

More as reported by Variety.com:

Brian Dennehy, the winner of two Tonys in a career that also spanned films including “Tommy Boy,” “First Blood” and “Cocoon,” and television roles including “Dynasty” and “Death of a Salesman,” died on Wednesday night in New Haven, Conn. He was 81.

“It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian passed away last night from natural causes, not Covid-related. Larger than life, generous to a fault, a proud and devoted father and grandfather, he will be missed by his wife Jennifer, family and many friends,” his daughter, actress Elizabeth Dennehy, tweeted on Thursday.

His agency ICM also confirmed the news.

In the 1995 comedy “Tommy Boy,” Dennehy was Big Tom, the father of Chris Farley’s character Tom, who takes over the family’s auto parts business with David Spade after his father dies. In Ron Howard’s 1995 hit “Cocoon,” Dennehy played the leader of the alien Antareans who leave lifeforce-giving cocoons in a a swimming pool near a retirement home.

The imposingly tall, barrel-chested Dennehy won his first Tony for his performance as Willy Loman in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” in 1999 and his second Tony for his turn as James Tyrone in a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” in 2003.

The actor made his TV and feature debut in 1977 — a year in which he made appearances in at least 10 series or telepics, including “Kojak,” “MASH” and “”Lou Grant,” and the films “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” and “Semi-Tough.” From that point he maintained a heavy work load for decades.

In 1982 his profile increased significantly thanks to his effective performance in the role of Teasle, the sadistic small-town police chief who is Sylvester Stallone’s lead adversary in “First Blood.”

In addition to “Cocoon,” he had significant roles in the 1983 thriller “Gorky Park” and in “Silverado.” He was second-billed, after Bryan Brown, in the well-constructed 1986 thriller “F/X,” in which he played a cop not part of the conspiracy, and in the 1991 sequel. He was fourth-billed in “Legal Eagles,” after the star trio of Robert Redford, Debra Winger and Daryl Hannah.

In 1987, in the flawed thriller “Best Seller,” he sparred ably with James Woods, who played a conman who approaches Dennehy’s policeman-successful writer with a deal that ought not to be trusted. Dennehy also starred in the 1990 crime drama “The Last of the Finest.” Amid a sea of work in TV movies, Dennehy appeared in the 1995 indie “The Stars Fell on Henrietta,” starring Robert Duvall; the next year he played Ted Montague, leader of the clan, in Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet.”

One of Dennehy’s most memorable film roles came in Alan J. Pakula’s 1990 adaptation of Turow’s bestselling novel “Presumed Innocent,” starring Harrison Ford as the Chicago assistant district attorney on trial for the murder of a co-worker with whom he had an affair. Dennehy played his boss, who’s up for re-election and has multiple divided loyalties, with a subtlety that was absolutely necessary. Another signal moment was auteur Peter Greenaway’s 1987 film “The Belly of an Architect,” in which the actor starred as the title character.

The actor was perhaps the foremost living interpreter of O’Neill’s works. In 2009 Dennehy starred on Broadway as Ephraim Cabot in a revival of the playwright’s “Desire Under the Elms,” and in 2012 he played Larry Slade, the former lefty seeking to drink himself to death, in O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh” at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, reprising the role in 2015 when the production, also starring Nathan Lane, was revived at the BAM Harvey Theater in New York City.

Underscoring his adeptness with the physical business of being an actor, a scene in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” in which a drunken Tyrone gets onto a table to unscrew many of the bulbs in a lit chandelier left many in the audience with the fear that the actor would tumble off the stage even though they knew Dennehy was not really drunk.

Dennehy had a decades-long association with the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, where most of his explorations of O’Neill originated. He first appeared at the Goodman in 1986 in the title role of Brecht’s “Galileo” and first paired with the theater on O’Neill with a 1990 revival of “The Iceman Cometh” in which he played Hickey. In 1996 he starred there in O’Neill’s “A Touch of the Poet,” playing the tyrannical, Falstaff-like Con Melody.

After his Tony-winning performance in 2003 in O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” he took on the playwright’s obscure, posthumously published one-act “Hughie” at the Goodman in 2004, revisiting the show again in 2010 in repertory with Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape.”

Dennehy headlined the Goodman’s 2009 “A Global Exploration: Eugene O’Neill in the 21st Century” festival in the revival of “Desire Under the Elms” that subsequently transferred to Broadway.

The production of “Death of a Salesman” that won Dennehy his first Tony originated at the Goodman, later went to the West End and was brought to the small screen on Showtime in 2000, resulting in an Emmy nomination for Dennehy as well as a SAG Award and a Golden Globe. The New York Times called it “the performance of his career.”

In the early to mid-’90s Dennehy starred as a Chicago police detective in the “Jack Reed” series of TV movies, several of which he also wrote and directed.

Brian Manion Dennehy was born in Bridgeport, Conn. He served in the Marines from 1959-63, after which he studied history at Columbia, attending the university on a football scholarship. He subsequently earned his MFA in dramatic arts from Yale.

Dennehy made his Broadway debut in 1995 in Brian Friel’s “Translations” opposite Dana Delany. After “Death of a Salesman” and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” the actor played Matthew Harrison Brady in a 2007 revival of “Inherit the Wind” opposite Christopher Plummer as Henry Drummond. And in 2014 he starred opposite Carol Burnett and Mia Farrow in a revival of A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters.”

Dennehy also received Emmy nominations in 1990 for his role as a defense attorney in the telepic “A Killing in a Small Town”; in 1992 both for his role in the Scott Turow-based miniseries “The Burden of Proof” and for his role as serial killer John Wayne Gacy in the TV movie “To Catch a Killer”; in 1993 for his role in the miniseries “Murder in the Heartland”; and in 2005 for his role in Showtime’s “Our Fathers,” about the Catholic church’s conspiracy, centering on Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, to conceal sexual abuse.

Reviewing “Our Fathers,” Variety lauded “the ever-brilliant Brian Dennehy in a knockout perf as an outspoken priest who uses the pulpit to denounce Law’s leadership.”

In 1981 he recurred on “Dynasty” as D.A. Jake Dunham; the next year Dennehy starred as a fire chief in the brief-running ABC sitcom “Star of the Family.” He tried series television again in 1994 with ABC’s brief-running “Birdland,” in which he played a hospital’s chief of psychiatry, and in NBC’s 2001 sitcom “The Fighting Fitzgeralds,” in which he starred as the reluctant paterfamilias of an unruly Irish clan.

In the highly regarded 1989 TV movie “Day One,” the actor played Gen. Leslie Groves, who oversaw the development of the atomic bomb. In 2000 he starred as Gen. Bogan in the Stephen Frears-directed TV adaptation of nuclear armageddon thriller “Fail Safe.”

Denney was married twice, the first time to Judith Scheff. He is survived by second wife Jennifer Arnott, a costume designer, whom he married in 1988; three daughters by Scheff, actresses Elizabeth and Kathleen, and Deirdre; as well as son Cormac and daughter Sarah with Arnott.




New Series “Howard High” directed by Chris Stokes and starring his daughter set to release May 1

chrissy stokes on chris stokes blog
Chrissy Stokes on Chris Stokes Blog

While we are all still trying to make sense of these unprecedented times, we are finding ourselves turning more to entertainment for solace. For me, I’ve been streaming like crazy. I’m truly living the quarantine and chill life lol. And this May, May 1st to be exact my new series Howard High will be premiering on Urbanflix TV. The show which I call and “Urban Glee” is a nice “wholesome” show that the entire family can watch. Speaking of family, I was lucky enough to be able to work with my talented daughter Chrissy on this project. Chrissy plays the star of the series Nicki Ross.

Here’s a synopsis of Howard High:

High School is on the verge of closing down because it has become the lowest-ranked school in the state. Needing someone to take the fall for the school’s decline, Mr. Thomas reaches out to former honor role graduate Frank King (Brian White) to take over as principal. To Frank’s surprise, there is major talent right under his nose within the Performing Arts Music program. After firing the music teacher, and the help of his friend and new Music teacher Michael Kirsh (Marques Houston) Frank and his team just may be able to save the school.

It premieres May 1, 2020! I hope that you all can enjoy and find some comfort in it while we’re all enduring this pandemic together.