Pastor Drops Lawsuit Against First Christian Church of Florissant Whistleblowers

Brandon Milburn preyed on children at First Christian Church of Florissant.
The senior pastor of a North County St. Louis megachurch has dropped his lawsuit against the four former congregants who publicly criticized him in the aftermath of serial child molester Brandon Milburn's 2014 arrest.

As described in a Riverfront Times investigation published last week, Milburn worked at First Christian Church of Florissant, or FCCF, as a paid intern and volunteer youth minister at various times from 2005 to 2012. County prosecutors charged Milburn last year with seven counts of statutory sodomy.

The charges came after two men accused Milburn of abusing them numerous times between 2007 and 2009. Both victims met Milburn through their family's ties to the church. Both were eleven years old when Milburn began molesting them.

However, questions arose about what FCCF senior pastor Steve Wingfield knew about Milburn back in 2012. A publicly disseminated "case study" written by an FCCF Sunday School teacher accused Wingfield of ignoring multiple warnings about Milburn's behavior around young boys and teens; in response, Wingfield sued the case study's author, as well as three other former FCCF members, for defamation.

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Dorian Johnson, Witness to Michael Brown Shooting, Sues Ferguson and Darren Wilson

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MSNBC screengrab
Dorian Johnson in one of his first TV interviews.

Dorian Johnson, the man who was walking with Michael Brown just before his fatal encounter with former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, is suing the City of Ferguson, Wilson and former police chief Thomas Jackson.

The documents, first obtained by the Post-Dispatch, claim that "without any provocation by Plaintiff Johnson and without any legal justification, Officer Wilson withdrew his weapon and fired it at Plaintiff Johnson and Michael Brown, Jr. as they fled and ran away from him, striking Brown several more times."

"The purpose of this lawsuit is to bring Darren Wilson to justice," says James Williams, Johnson's attorney. "Dorian Johnson was very courageous, as was the Brown family, for not letting this go."

Williams also revealed that while Johnson is currently still in the St. Louis area and that he will soon enroll at a four-year university to complete his bachelor's degree. Williams would not name the institution but said it is not in Missouri.

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ACLU Sues City of Pine Lawn for Police Corruption and Harassment

Jessica Lussenhop
ACLU's executive director Jeffrey Mittman and former Pine Lawn mayor Adrian Wright.

At a press conference this morning, former Pine Lawn mayor Adrian Wright announced that he is suing the city, disgraced former mayor Sylvester Caldwell, and former Pine Lawn police officer Jarred Anderson for using the city's police force to intimidate and embarrass him for political gain. The ACLU of Missouri is representing Wright, with help from the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP.

Wright was mayor of Pine Lawn until 2005, and has been a vocal critic of Caldwell for many years. Caldwell resigned in April after pleading guilty to extortion for demanding bribes in exchange for city contracts.

"I think you'll be shocked to find out what happened to Mr. Wright," said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri.

What happened in Wright's case is indicative of the habitual abuse of power by police in Pine Lawn, much of it at the behest of Caldwell, Mittman said.

"Ferguson and Pine Lawn are not alone," Mittman said. "We will be providing the proof."

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St. Louis Parking Ticket Policy Is a Racket, Class-Action Suit Alleges

Courtesy of Flickr/Lance McCord
Pissed about a parking ticket? Former St. Louis City Counselor Eric Banks has filed a class-action lawsuit against the city in circuit court, challenging its parking enforcement practices as a violation of constitutional rights. The suit seeks to represent anyone who received a citation for parking at an expired meter -- and was found liable after enduring the city's administrative hearing process.

Those hearings are the main issue in Banks' lawsuit. As the attorney describes it, he arrived for a hearing after getting a parking ticket he was convinced was unfair -- only to be told by the hearing officer that, unless he had evidence that the parking meter in question was broken at the time of citation, the officer would rule against him.

Then the officer did just that, even though the city hadn't bothered to send anyone to testify on its behalf, and even though Banks believed he'd identified procedural errors. The burden was entirely on Banks.

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Four Journalists Sue St. Louis County Police Over Arrests, Injuries During Ferguson

Danny Wicentowski
The night of the arrests in Ferguson.

Four journalists are suing the St. Louis County Police Department in federal court over their August 2014 arrests in Ferguson, claiming that their First Amendment right to freedom of the press was violated.

The plaintiffs are Ryan Devereaux, a staff writer at the Intercept; Lukas Hermsmeier, a freelancer reporting for Germany's BILD newspaper; Frank Herrmann, a U.S. correspondent for a group of German newspapers; and Ansgar Graw, senior political U.S. correspondent for Die Welt and Welt am Sonntag. All four were arrested in the early hours of August 19, 2014, ten days after the shooting of Michael Brown. At the time, tensions were still high as protesters came out nightly to West Florissant Avenue, and police were using tear gas and rubber bullets.

"I was really taken aback by the way that protesters and the media were handled from the moment I got there, by the police," recalls Devereaux, who is based in New York City. "I felt that in many circumstances the police were behaving irresponsibly, and at times dangerously, toward media and protesters alike."

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Woman Sues Florissant Police in Federal Court for Excessive Force, Civil Rights Violations

Joy Arnold and Officer Kyle Feldman just moments before the altercation at the center of a lawsuit.

Joy Arnold and the Florissant Police Department agree on one thing: She should never have been arrested on March 29, 2014.

Weeks before then, Arnold was pulled over in the north-county municipality and charged with an infraction for a "defective muffler." She was fined and entered into a payment plan with the city, but found herself short on funds for her February 2014 installment. She was able to pay only a portion at the beginning of the month, and a Florissant court clerk called to tell her she needed to get up to date or risk a warrant being issued for her arrest. Arnold did manage to make the payment before the end of February, and pay for March as well.

It didn't matter. Owing to a clerical error, Arnold's account was never brought up to date and a warrant for her arrest still went out. That's what led to a physical altercation in the Florissant jail that is now the center of a federal civil-rights lawsuit between Arnold and the city's cops.

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Grand Juror's View on Ferguson Investigation Could Inform Public Policy: ACLU of MO

UPI/Bill Greenblatt
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch.
When the Missouri Legislature convenes Wednesday, lawmakers will consider a host of bills aimed at issues spotlighted during Ferguson protests: wearable and dash cameras for cops, municipal traffic ticket revenue, police use of deadly force, special prosecutors for officer-involved shooting deaths.

But if legislators want to ask questions about the Ferguson grand jury, either to better understand the aftermath of Michael Brown's death or while considering changes to grand-jury protocol, only one person is allowed to answer: St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch. Per state law, the grand jurors who investigated the case must stay silent about it for life or face criminal penalties.

One grand juror, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, wants to change that.

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Grand Juror Sues McCulloch, Wants to Speak Out About the Ferguson Case

A grand juror is suing to prevent St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch from filing charges if the juror speaks about the Ferguson case.
Grand jurors typically live under a lifetime gag order preventing them from discussing their cases.

But there's been nothing typical about the Ferguson grand jury investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by then-Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson.

Now a grand juror is suing for the ability to speak out about the widely-publicized case, saying St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch is mischaracterizing the jury's decision in his multiple media appearances while jurors are forced to stay silent.

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Sunset Hills Mayor Accused of Striking Cyclist Faces Grand Jury, Impeachment

Tom Carlson
Mayor Mark Furrer's Mercedes parked outside Sunset Hills City Hall.
As the Sunset Hills board of alderman prepares to possibly impeach Mayor Mark Furrer for allegedly striking a cyclist with his car, a grand jury will investigate him for felony charges of assault and property damage, says the cyclist's attorney.

Court documents show Furrer is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Thursday, but attorney Michelle Funkenbusch tells Daily RFT Furrer will instead face a grand jury on Wednesday, with the jury's decision expected by Thursday.

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Columbia Asked to Pay $250,000 For Damaged Alligator

Ken Henderson, the "Gator Educator," doesn't mind showing affection to his reptile friends.
A Florida wildlife organization tied to a traveling "gator educator" is demanding the city of Columbia to pay up for injuring their alligator, a twenty-year-old, 100-pound, six-and-a-half-foot-long female gator named Babe.

Babe was one of seven alligators (along with a Burmese python, various turtles and a few dogs and cats) seized from Ken Henderson's van in June 2011 while he was parked in the Boone County Fairgrounds. He was charged at the time with nineteen misdemeanors, of which all but seven were dropped this past April, according to the Columbia Tribune.

But tragedy struck while the animals were being held for two months in 2011: Angel, a seven-year-old alligator, was allegedly placed in the same pen as Babe and the other five gators, which Henderson had explicitly warned animal control officers not to do. The other gators attacked and killed Angel. Babe also damaged her mouth and teeth.

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