Suspect flees traffic stop, crashes vehicle, deputies say

A man was arrested after fleeing a traffic stop in the 20400 block of Holzwarth Road Friday and leading a deputy on a chase, the constable’s office said.

Constable Mark Herman’s Office said a deputy observed a traffic violation and pulled over a man later identified as Thompson Levarr Lavelle.

The deputy said as he returned to his patrol vehicle during the course of the traffic stop, Lavelle drove away and a pursuit ensued.

The deputy eventually lost sight of Lavelle’s vehicle, the constable’s office said.

Other deputies in the area learned Lavelle crashed his vehicle into a curb and ran from the area of Interstate 45 and FM 2920, but quickly found him and took him into custody without further incident.

Lavelle was booked into the Harris County Jail on felony evading charges.

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Mayor, police chief to meet with SW Houston residents to discuss uptick in crime

Mayor Sylvester Turner, Police Chief Art Acevedo and Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen will host a public safety community meeting for Meyerland residents at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

It will take place at the Kaplan Theater inside the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.

The meeting is a response to the recent deadly shooting of 10-month-old Messiah Marshall. He was in his father’s arms when he was shot and killed at an apartment complex along North Braeswood Boulevard and Chimney Rock Road.

In May, a 1-year-old was wounded by a stray bullet that struck him in the legs as he rode in his car seat in the back of his mother’s vehicle.

Residents are seeking solutions to the series of violent crimes in the area.

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Man charged after shooting family member in head, police say

A 24-year-old man is facing charges after authorities said he shot a man at an apartment 6320 Windswept Lane on June 25.

Toman Gonzalez-Turquiz is charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of assault of a family member for his role in the wounding of Carols Ramos.

Ramos, 33, was found around 1 a.m. with a gunshot wound to his head, according to police.

He was taken to an area hospital in stable condition.

Gonzalez-Turquiz was located and taken into custody at the scene, authorities said.

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Pair caught on camera using credit card stolen during robbery, police say

Sugar Land police are searching for two people who are accused of using stolen credit cards at stores in Houston and Stafford.

The cards were stolen during a robbery in Sugar Land on June 15, police said.

A woman said she parked behind a shopping center in the 1600 block of Kensington Drive around 8:45 p.m. As she opened a rear car door to retrieve her purse, a man with a gun took her purse and drove away in her car, according to police.

The woman described the gunman as a thin Hispanic man in his 20s with short hair. He was about 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighed about 100 pounds and was wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans at the time of the crime, according to police.

VIDEO: Surveillance video of people using credit cards stolen during robbery

One of the victim’s credit cards was used at a Walgreens at 5200 Westheimer Road and a Walmart at 11210 West Airport Blvd., police said.

After reviewing surveillance video, police saw a man and woman using the stolen card.

Anyone with information should call the Sugar Land Police Department at 281-275-2540 or Fort Bend County Crime Stoppers at 281-342-TIPS (8477).

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3 Astros lead charge in final All-Star Game voting ballot update

The final All-Star Game Ballot update was released and several Astros players are making a charge towards playing in Miami on June 11 in the 88th All-Star Game.

[CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR YOUR ASTROS PLAYERS]

Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer would be starters for the American League squad if the voting ended today.

Voting ends on Thursday. The selection show is July 2.

Altuve leads all second basemen, Correa leads all shortstops and Springer is third in outfield voting.

In the final update before voting closes, Altuve leads Yankees 2B Starlin Castro by more than 1 million votes.

Correa leads Indians SS Francisco Lindor by more than 580,000 votes.

Springer held at third in outfield voting, leading fourth-place OF Michael Brantley, of the Indians, by more than 290,000 votes.

If the results hold, it would be the first time in Astros franchise history to have three All-Star starters elected via the fan vote. In 2004, Roger Clemens, Lance Berkman and Jeff Kent all started for the National League team.

FIRST BASEMEN
1. Eric Hosmer, Royals – 1,419,887
2.Justin Smoak, Blue Jays – 1,348,233
3.Yonder Alonso, Athletics – 1,076,984
4.Miguel Cabrera, Tigers – 1,011,382
5.Carlos Santana, Indians – 966,199

SECOND BASEMEN
1. Jose Altuve, Astros – 2,925,041

2. Starlin Castro, Yankees – 1,737,446
3. Jason Kipnis, Indians – 957,179
4. Whit Merrifield, Royals – 589,154
5. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox – 551,841

THIRD BASEMEN
1. Miguel Sanó, Twins – 1,550,240
2. Jose Ramírez, Indians – 1,341,076
3. Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays – 1,191,244
4. Mike Moustakas, Royals – 1,067,150
5. Manny Machado, Orioles – 946,013

SHORTSTOPS
1. Carlos Correa, Astros – 2,229,857
2. Francisco Lindor, Indians – 1,648,532
3. Didi Gregorius, Yankees – 1,069,822
4. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox – 982,987
5. Troy Tulowitzki, Blue Jays – 783,649

CATCHERS
1. Salvador Perez, Royals – 2,150,223
2. Gary Sánchez, Yankees – 1,337,651
3. Brian McCann, Astros – 1,330,042
4. Welington Castillo, Orioles – 1,050,023
5. Yan Gomes, Indians – 895,482

OUTFIELDERS
1. Aaron Judge, Yankees – 3,442,597
2. Mike Trout, Angels – 2,559,173
3. George Springer, Astros – 1,619,385
4. Michael Brantley, Indians – 1,325,473
5. Avisaíl García, White Sox – 1,292,694
6. Mookie Betts, Red Sox – 1,223,195
7. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays – 1,055,645
8. Carlos Beltrán, Astros – 1,054,503
9. Brett Gardner, Yankees – 889,616
10. Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians – 885,443
11. Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox – 869,774
12. Lorenzo Cain, Royals – 829,284
13. Josh Reddick, Astros – 827,203
14. Kevin Pillar, Blue Jays – 801,968
15. Abraham Almonte, Indians – 684,675

DESIGNATED HITTERS
1. Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 1,366,962
2. Corey Dickerson, Rays – 1,267,234
3. Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 1,186,483
4. Matt Holliday, Yankees – 1,107,847
5. Evan Gattis, Astros – 885,391

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Officer who subdued Southwest passenger explains ‘ghost’ photo circulating online

Pamela Minchew, the Cleveland Independent School District officer who subdued an unruly passenger Sunday aboard a Houston-bound Southwest flight, said Monday at a press conference that she wanted to clear up any confusion about a photo featured on her Facebook page showing a shadowy figure at her side.

“It’s not a ghost,” Minchew said. “A lot of people think it’s a ghost. People are very confused about what it is. That is my paw-paw, who has passed away, who was in law enforcement. So, it’s actually supposed to be a tribute, and it’s an angel. So, just so there’s some clarification. I don’t need kids thinking there’s ghosts. There’s not ghosts. That’s what it is.”

Michew appeared to be an angel herself on Sunday, rushing to aid Southwest employees aboard the flight from Los Angeles to Hobby Airport.

“I just jumped up, self-identified and subdued her,” Minchew said.

Passengers cheered for Minchew when she reboarded the final plane bound for Houston.

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Click2Daily: Community supported agriculture in Fort Bend County

Driving through Fort Bend County, construction and new developments are everywhere you look, but tucked away in plain sight is Loam Agronomics.

It’s a 288-acre, sustainable, diversified year-round vegetable farm in Richmond located off the Grand Parkway between Sugar Land and Katy.

The growers use no synthetic chemicals or pesticides. It is a CSA, or community supported agriculture. It’s like crowdfunding for farms.

Each weeks costs $30. You have to buy in at least four weeks at a time, supporting your local farmer and the local economy.

PHOTOS: Loam Agronomics ‘crowdfunded farming’

“CSA program is one that we basically sell chunks of time to people. It kind of works like a subscription box service. Every week, we deliver boxes to drop sites all around town,” owner Scott Snodgrass said. “We are a direct marketing farm; we sell directly to the public. What that means is we get more of the margin that you’re paying, less of it goes to middle men or distributors.”

Loam Agronomics currently has 41 pickup locations in the greater Houston area.

People go each week to pick up their veggies. Each week, your box is full of eight to 12 different varieties of produce.

The Loam Agronomics website explains what each vegetable is and even provide recipes for those crops.

Snodgrass said this kind of exchange is the best for both farmer and consumer.

“We say conventional agriculture has left a bad taste in people’s mouths, that people are worried about their produce. They don’t feel like they have information about where their food comes from, but we provide people with where the piece of land their vegetables are coming from,” he said.

It is especially true for farmers, because their yield can be hit or miss.

“You can spend 12, 16 weeks growing a single crop and have no one to buy it and it perishes just within a few days, and it helps us to know we have guaranteed sales for those,” Snodgrass said.

At Loam, controlling the condition of the crops is the best way to make sure the crops are at their best when they reach your table.

“We shape beds, we cultivate, we weed our tractor implements and then we seed. A big process is hand, hand process, with people on the farm. Every piece of produce that comes in that box is hand-picked,” owner Clayton Garrett said.

The farm has a succession planting program, so the crops and rows are taken out in varying succession in order to have crops all year long, Garrett said. Of course, that all depends on Mother Nature.

“Weather affects us in a lot more ways than whether the farm is muddy or not. The soil moisture affects our planting and germination we are often looking at when is a rain or weather event going to happen on the farm and forecasting weeks ahead,” Garrett said.

The farm has been delivering fresh produce to its customers since November.

Construction is still ongoing at the farm, and the owners hope to have it completed in the coming year.

As more events are planned at the farm, eventually, customers will be invited to come out and pick their own produce.

For more information on how you can join Loam Agronomics, visit http://www.loamagronomics.com.

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Texas’ new immigration law is in court Monday. What’s happened so far?

A long day is expected in San Antonio on Monday as U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia hears a lawsuit over Texas’ controversial new immigration enforcement law. The measure, known as Senate Bill 4 or the “sanctuary cities” ban, has drawn fierce opposition in recent weeks as lawsuits and press conferences have piled up. Expect more fireworks as the day continues, and follow Texas Tribune reporters Julián Aguilar and Alana Rocha for updates.

Here’s what you need to know: 

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‘I used my mommy voice,’ says officer who subdued unruly Southwest passenger

The Cleveland Independent School District officer who subdued an unruly passenger Sunday aboard a Houston-bound Southwest flight said she was just doing what she had to do to keep her family and passengers safe.

Officer Pamela Minchew said Southwest employees aboard the flight from Los Angeles to Hobby Airport were phenomenal in their handling of the woman’s erratic behavior, moving her from an exit row seat to the back of the plane.

Minchew said the flight was about an hour away from Houston when the woman jumped over passengers and tried to open the emergency exit.

“When I (saw) she had the clear-plastic (cover) in her hand, I just jumped up, self-identified and subdued her,” Minchew said. “I did later find out that the door would not have opened in the air, but I did not know that while we were sitting there. … She had to grab the handle, so she was not getting a hold of that handle.”

Minchew, who said she is a nervous air traveler herself, said she was just thinking about her children who were on the plane and all the other passengers when she sprang into action.

“As my kids say, I used my mommy voice,” Minchew said. “I did command presence. At that point, I’m assuming everyone heard me say I’m an officer, because everybody stayed calm.”

VIDEO: Erratic woman prompts emergency landing

The plane made an emergency landing in Corpus Christi, where the troubled woman was removed.

Minchew, who has been on the job at Cleveland ISD for three weeks, said that the passengers cheered when she reboarded the final plane bound for Houston.

The flight landed in Houston about 6:30 p.m.

Passengers said the woman seemed disturbed before she boarded the airplane in Los Angeles. They said airport security even confronted the woman because she was shouting. Some wondered why the woman was allowed to board the airplane in the first place.

Southwest released the following statement about the incident:

“The Captain in command of Southwest flight 4519 today from Los Angeles International Airport to William P. Hobby Airport in Houston elected to divert to Corpus Christi International Airport after flight attendants notified the Captain and First Officer of a potential threat in the Cabin. Following an uneventful landing, local authorities met the aircraft at a gate and removed the disruptive passenger. The safe operation of every flight is our highest priority and we expect the aircraft to depart shortly to complete the journey to Houston.”

The woman’s identity was not immediately released, and it was not clear if the woman faces any charges in connection with the incident.

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Standoff underway at strip mall in northwest Harris County

Deputies were involved in a standoff Monday at a strip mall in northwest Harris County.

The incident was reported about 12:15 p.m. near the corner of Veterans Memorial Drive and Greens Road.

Harris County deputies said they were called to the area after reports of a disturbance. They said no shots have been fired.

Video from Sky 2 showed deputies with guns drawn standing near an auto repair shop. Several cruisers were also seen blocking a parking lot entrance.

Stay with KPRC 2 and Click2Houston.com for the latest on this developing story.

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Exotic animals and Texas law

Few people realize the illegal sale of exotic animals is estimated to be a multibillion-dollar-a-year business. In fact, officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department told KPRC 2 the black market for exotic animals is second only to the illegal drug trade.

“The thing about crime or criminals, if they can make a buck, they’re going to,” Lt. Brent Satsky, with Texas Parks and Wildlife, said.

Parks and Wildlife recently wrapped up an operation in the Houston area and found several exotic animals being sold illegally online or through various apps. The operation led to endangered and threatened species, as well as invasive species, being confiscated.

PHOTOS: Exotic animal bust

Tonight at 10 p.m., Channel 2 Investigates gets a firsthand look at the work being done to maintain the state’s natural balance.

“If we’re not looking at that, who else is going to do it,” Satsky said.

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JK Rowling marks 20 years since Harry Potter appeared

Wizarding legend Harry Potter’s tale has turned 20.

Author J.K. Rowling’s first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published in Britain on June 26, 1997.

Since then, it has sold more than 450 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 79 languages. The books’ magical world has inspired multiple films, spinoffs, memorabilia and amusement park attractions. The White Elephant Cafe, the Edinburgh spot where Rowling wrote the first book, has become an international tourist destination.

“20 years ago today a world that I had lived in alone was suddenly open to others,” Rowling tweeted. “It’s been wonderful. Thank you.”

Rowling’s publisher, Bloomsbury, will release four new editions of the book, one for each house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, in honor of the anniversary.

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U.S. Supreme Court tosses cross-border shooting case back to lower court

The nation’s highest court on Monday sent a case involving the cross-border shooting death of a Mexican teenager back to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for reconsideration.

That leaves the question of whether the teen’s family can sue the U.S. Border Patrol agent who fired across the Rio Grande and killed him unanswered. 

The case involves the 2010 death of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca during what officials called a “rock-throwing incident.” The teen was shot and killed by agent Jesus Mesa Jr., who was patrolling the banks of the Rio Grande in El Paso. Hernandez Guereca was on the Mexican side of the border, in Ciudad Juárez, when Mesa fatally shot him from the Texas side.

The teen’s family initially sued the U.S. government, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security and Mesa, alleging the teen’s civil rights had been violated. A district judge dismissed the charges because Hernandez was a Mexican national and was on Mexican soil when the shooting occurred.

An appellate court ruled in 2014 that Mesa could be sued in his individual capacity although the American agencies could not. Then, in April 2015, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Mesa, saying he was entitled to immunity because Hernandez was south of the Rio Grande when the shooting happened. 

The teenager’s family appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in October 2016, the high court agreed to consider the case. On Monday, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the 5th Circuit, ordering the court to revisit its previous ruling in light of other court decisions that have happened since. 

“The facts alleged in the complaint depict a disturbing incident resulting in a heartbreaking loss of life,” the court wrote. “Whether petitioners may recover damages for that loss in this suit depends on questions that are best answered by the Court of Appeals.” 

Attorneys for the family have argued that the lawsuit against Mesa should proceed partly because of a 1979 case, Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics. The court held in that case that violating a person’s Fourth Amendment rights, which guarantee protection from illegal search and seizure, gives them the right to pursue a legal challenge against a federal agent.

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Texas death row inmate loses at U.S. Supreme Court, could face execution date

A Texas death row inmate whose case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court could now face an execution date after the justices ruled against him in a 5-4 decision Monday morning split among ideological lines. The man was convicted in the 2008 shooting deaths of a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother in Fort Worth.

The question before the high court in Erick Davila’s case was whether claims of ineffective assistance of counsel during state appeals should be treated the same as during the original trial. Appellate courts throughout the country have ruled differently on the issue, a situation that often prompts the Supreme Court to step in. In the Monday opinion presented by Justice Clarence Thomas, the justices ultimately decided that the different types of lawyers should not be treated the same, making Davila’s case ineligible for consideration in federal court. 

“Because a prisoner does not have a constitutional right to counsel in state postconviction proceedings, ineffective assistance in those proceedings does not qualify as cause to excuse a procedural default,” Thomas wrote in his opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch. 

Justice Stephen Breyer, a notable death penalty critic, wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

“The fact that, according to Department of Justice statistics, nearly a third of convictions or sentences in capital cases are overturned at some stage of review suggests the practical importance of the appeal right, particularly in a capital case such as this one,” Breyer wrote in his dissent.

Davila’s case started in Fort Worth in 2008, when he fatally shot a rival gang member’s 5-year-old daughter and mother during a child’s birthday party, according to court documents. Davila, now 30, claims he only meant to kill his rival, Jerry Stevenson. In his confession to police he stated he was trying to get Stevenson and “the guys on the porch.”

If the jury had believed Davila only intended to kill one person, he would have been ineligible for a capital murder verdict and the death penalty would have been off the table. In this case, Davila must have intended to kill multiple people to be found guilty of capital murder.

During deliberations, the jury asked the judge for clarification on the intent issue, and the judge said Davila would be responsible for the crime if the only difference between what happened and his intention was that a different person was hurt. He did not affirm to the jury that Davila must have intended to kill more than one person to be found guilty.

It’s that jury instruction that Davila’s long, complicated case hinged upon. His lawyer at trial objected to the instruction, but was overruled. But in his automatic, direct appeal after being convicted and sentenced to death, his new lawyer never mentioned the judge’s instruction, even though that is the appeal where death-sentenced individuals raise what they think are wrongdoings from the trial. Afterward, during his state habeas appeal, which focuses on issues outside of the trial record, the lawyer didn’t fault the previous lawyer for not raising the issue on direct appeal.

The next step in the death penalty appeals process after going through state courts is to move into the federal court system. But federal courts generally can’t rule on issues that could have been raised in state appeals. So, when Davila’s current lawyer, Seth Kretzer, tried to claim his client’s direct appellate lawyer was inadequate for not raising the issue of an improper jury instruction by the judge, the federal courts said they couldn’t look at the issue because it could have been raised by the state habeas appellate lawyer.

“The way the law works right now is if the trial counsel made a mistake, the federal court could save the inmate’s life, but if the appellate counsel made the mistake, they would have to go ahead and execute,” Kretzer told The Texas Tribune in January.

One exception to this rule was created in 2012 by the Supreme Court in Martinez v. Ryan, which says that if a state habeas lawyer failed to question a trial lawyer’s inadequacy, the federal courts can review the claim to ensure that defendants are guaranteed a fair trial. But Davila argued that the Martinez exception should apply to inadequacy of the appellate attorneys, as well.

Federal courts have disagreed on this issue, with most circuit courts ruling that appellate lawyers can’t be treated the same as trial lawyers. But the often liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has previously ruled there is no distinction between the two.

During oral arguments on the case in late April, conservative justices appeared concerned that opening up the exception would cause a “flood” of appeals into the federal court system, but the left-leaning members of the court dismissed the idea. Justice Sonia Sotomayor predicted there may be an “initial uptick of claims until people settle down” and realize only a small number of cases are eligible for federal review.

The state of Texas also argued in its brief to the high court that in Davila’s case, none of the larger legal questions matter, because even though the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it couldn’t review the case based on its interpretation of the Martinez exception, it still reviewed the issue of the jury instruction and rejected Davila’s argument that it was improper.

This was the third Texas death penalty case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this term, which began in October and ends this week, but it was the first time the justices sided with the state over the inmate. In February, the court agreed with inmate Duane Buck that his case was prejudiced by an expert trial witness who claimed Buck was more likely to be a future danger because he is black. And in March, the justices sided with Bobby Moore, declaring that Texas’ method for determining intellectual disability for death row inmates was unconstitutional.

Davila’s lawyer, Seth Kretzer, told the Texas Tribune Monday after the Supreme Court announced its decision that the 5-4 ruling shows “why it’s so important to keep pressing these things.” Kretzer is looking into other possible appeals for Davila in the state courts, but recognizes that Tarrant County could soon set an execution date for his client.

“We took this case farther than anyone thought we would, and we intend to keep fighting it,” he said.

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Supreme Court reinstates President Trump’s travel ban

The Supreme Court is letting the Trump administration enforce its 90-day ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, overturning lower court orders that blocked it.

The action Monday is a victory for President Donald Trump in the biggest legal controversy of his young presidency.

Trump said last week that the ban would take effect 72 hours being cleared by courts.

The justices will hear arguments in the case in the fall.

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Protesters Surround Courthouse as First Major SB 4 Hearing Begins

Activists gather outside a federal courthouse in San Antonio to protest the state’s new ban on so-called sanctuary cities.  Kolten Parker

More than 100 activists flooded the federal courthouse in San Antonio Monday to voice opposition to the state’s new ban on “sanctuary cities” as the first major hearing on the new law gets underway.

Dozens of reporters, Democratic lawmakers and attorneys waited in line for about an hour Monday morning in front of the courthouse, which is expected to be packed. Groups including the Texas Organizing Project, Unite Here and LULAC rallied, chanting “Si, se puede” and “Hey hey, ho ho, SB 4 has got to go.” Several demonstrators carried signs reading “SB 4 is Hate.” Speakers including Austin City Council member Greg Casar, who was arrested in protest of the law earlier this year, rallied the crowd in English and Spanish.

Initially, courthouse security staff said they would only allow 15 of about 40 reporters present inside to cover the hearing. After reporters complained, security let in seven more members of the media.

Senator Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, said he showed up to the courthouse more than two hours before the hearing was scheduled to begin.

“Why? Because this is the most important lawsuit in the state and the country at this time,” Rodriguez told the Observer. “It’s anti-immigrant, racist, discriminates against Latinos.”

San Antonio — where Hispanics make up nearly two-thirds of city’s 1.4 million residents — is one of several cities, along with El Cenizo, Houston, Austin, Dallas and El Paso County, that are suing the state of Texas over Senate Bill 4.

At Monday’s hearing, national attorneys with the ACLU will argue that U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia should issue a preliminary injunction that would block SB 4 from taking effect on September 1 until the case is resolved. An immediate ruling isn’t expected and several attorneys have told the Observer they expect the case to end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law would ban any local police agency from adopting “patterns or practices” that limits cooperation with federal immigration agents, and threatens to fine or jail elected officials who run afoul of its provisions. The law will also allow police to question the immigration status of anyone being detained — not just arrested — thanks to what’s called the “show me your papers” provision.

Critics of the law say it violates the First, Fourth and 14th amendments and that it is discriminatory against Hispanics and other racial minorities.

Legislative debate on the highly controversial topic brought tears and even death threats on the House floor this session. The measure is Governor Greg Abbott’s crackdown on “sanctuary cities,” a term that broadly refers to communities who choose not to prioritize deporting undocumented immigrants.

Garcia is a Clinton appointee who in 2014 overturned the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The hearing is being held in the the facility’s largest courtroom and electronics are not allowed.

Attorney General Ken Paxton is set to get a hearing on his pre-emptive suit over SB 4 that he filed in Austin on Thursday.

For more on the ins and outs of the case, read our comprehensive explainer on SB 4 and the legal battle in English and Spanish. Check back for more of the Observer’s continued “sanctuary cities” coverage.

Staff writer Gus Bova contributed to this report.

The post Protesters Surround Courthouse as First Major SB 4 Hearing Begins appeared first on The Texas Observer.

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Philando Castile’s family reaches $3 million settlement

Philando Castile’s family has reached a $3 million settlement with the city of St. Anthony, Minnesota, according to a statement from the city and lawyers for the family.

Jeronimo Yanez, who is leaving the force, was acquitted June 16 of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety. Castile was killed July 6 during a traffic stop, and his girlfriend streamed the shooting’s aftermath on Facebook Live.

“The death of Philando Castile is a tragedy for his family and for our community,” the statement said. “The parties moved expeditiously to resolve potential civil claims resulting from this tragedy in order to allow the process of healing to move forward for the Castile family, for the people of St. Anthony Village, and for all those impacted by the death of Philando Castile throughout the United States.”

“No amount of money could ever replace Philando. With resolution of the claims the family will continue to deal with their loss through the important work of the Philando Castile Relief Foundation.”

The announcement comes a week after the family of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed in 2014 by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, reached a settlement in its wrongful death lawsuit against that city.

Brown, who was black, was killed by then-Officer Darren Wilson, who is white. The incident sparked outrage and protest across the country. An investigation by the Justice Department into the incident brought no charges against Wilson, who argued he shot Brown in self-defense as Brown charged at him.

Details of that settlement were not made public, though the original lawsuit shows the Brown family sought punitive and compensatory damages in excess of $75,000, in addition to attorney’s fees.

Castile’s death came one day after the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which was partly captured on bystander video and sparked widespread protests.

A more complete picture of what transpired during the July 6, 2016 traffic stop involving Castile was captured by police dash cam video and radio transmissions, which were released June 20.

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CBO score of Senate health care bill highly anticipated

The Congressional Budget Office as soon as Monday will give its report of the Senate GOP health care bill, and the results may well determine the fate of the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The highly anticipated score from the non-partisan agency will answer key questions about the impact of the Senate’s controversial legislation that was made public last Thursday. The analysis will also offer clarity to wavering Senate Republicans on whether to vote for the bill later this week.

The report likely won’t yield good headlines for Republicans.

The CBO score of the bill the House passed in May to repeal Obamacare produced several devastating headlines. The legislation would leave 23 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026 than under the Affordable Care Act, the CBO report said. It also predicted that while average premiums would be lower for the young and healthy, less healthy people would face “extremely high premiums.”

Some Senate Republicans have been frustrated by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to craft the bill largely behind closed doors, and have also expressed concern that one week is hardly enough time to study a 142-page bill — let alone the CBO report.

A spokeswoman for Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins said the senator “has a number of concerns and will be particularly interested in examining the forthcoming CBO analysis on the impact on insurance coverage, the effect on insurance premiums, and the changes in the Medicaid program.”

The report will also be closely scrutinized by Republicans lawmakers in the House, who will have to take up the Senate bill if it moves through the upper chamber.

“The principle concern is lowering the price of adequate health care insurance for hardworking Americans, and I want to see the CBO score on that,” said GOP Rep. Leonard Lance, who said he has “serious concerns” about the Senate bill. Lance did not vote for the House bill.

Health and Human Secretary Tom Price defended the Senate bill on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday.

“The plan in its entirety will absolutely bring premiums down because you increase competition, you increase choices for individuals,” he said. “You allow folks to be able to purchase the kind of coverage that they want, not that the government forces them to buy.”

But the CBO report is expected to show that many Americans, particularly those in their 50s and early 60s, would pay more under the Senate plan.

The bill would allow insurers to charge older enrollees up to five times the premiums of younger ones, compared to three times under Obamacare. Plus, it would tighten the eligibility threshold to receive federal subsidies. And, even if they qualify for subsidies, older enrollees would have to put a larger share of their income toward premiums than under Obamacare.

A preliminary estimate by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that a 60-year-old earning $40,000 would see his premium jump thousands of dollars in most parts of the country under the Senate plan. That’s because his premiums would be higher and his subsidy would be smaller, the analysis said.

In parts of Alaska, these changes would mean this 60-year-old would pay nearly $9,000 more a year for a silver policy, according to the Kaiser analysis, released Sunday. That’s a 253% increase.

But it’s not only older enrollees who would see big hikes. Kaiser found 40-year-olds earning the same amount would also pay more in many parts of the country. In Yuma County, Arizona, they would pay more than $2,100 more, or 52% more, because their subsidy would be less generous.

On the flip side, many younger Americans could see their premiums drop, and they could get heftier subsidies.

In Florence County, South Carolina, for instance, a 27-year-old making $40,000 a year would see his premium decline by more than $1,500 a year, or 38%, Kaiser found.

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Court to hear arguments in lawsuit over state’s ‘sanctuary cities’ law

A federal court will begin hearing arguments Monday in a lawsuit aimed at challenging Texas’s recently passed “sanctuary cities” law.

The law requires local law enforcement officials to carry out federal immigration directives, and it punishes sheriffs and police chiefs who defy the requirement. It also allows officers, during traffic stops, to ask people about their immigration status.

Houston leaders voted last week to join several other Texas cities, including San Antonio, Austin and El Paso, in a lawsuit over the law.

A federal judge in San Antonio is expected to hear some of the first arguments in the suit, while protesters are expected to gather outside the courthouse.

Without an injunction, the law would take effect Sept. 1.

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1 injured after chase ends with hit-and-run crash

A driver was injured Sunday after a chase ended with a hit-and-run crash on the East Freeway, according to police.

The crash was reported about 10 p.m. near the intersection of East Freeway and Kress Street.

Houston police said a gray car and a black car were chasing each other. They said both drivers pulled over in the 7200 block of the East Freeway and began arguing. They said the driver of the black car grabbed a weapon and got out of the car, and the driver of the gray car ran over him. They said the driver of the gray car fled the scene.

Police said the driver of the black car suffered serious head injuries and was taken to a hospital in grave condition.

Investigators said they are searching for the driver of the gray car.

Anyone with information about the case was asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.

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