Louisville to pay $12 million in landmark Breonna Taylor settlement
The city of Louisville, Kentucky has moved to settle the wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Breonna Taylor after her death at the hands of police conducting a no-knock drug raid that targeted someone who actually lived miles away.
Taylor, a 26-year-old employed as an EMT, was asleep in bed shortly after midnight on March 13 when cops allegedly knocked down the door of her apartment without identifying themselves; her boyfriend, who was legally armed, assumed the home was being broken into and opened fire. Taylor was killed in the crossfire, having been shot at least eight times.
Officers were apparently targeting an ex-boyfriend of Taylor’s. Taylor’s family says that he was already in police custody at the time of the raid.
Police department representatives maintain that officers did knock and give the inhabitants ample time to answer the door before opening it with a battering ram, and the settlement does not require the city to admit fault. No officers have yet been charged in the incident while a grand jury investigates. One cop, who discharged his weapon ten times, has been fired.
However, along with a $12 million award to Taylor’s family, reform measures will be implemented, like a housing credit to incentivize officers to live in the neighborhoods they police, requiring social workers to accompany officers on certain calls, and other reforms. Taylor’s lawyer indicated the settlement was historic in scope and likely one of the largest ever. —Margaret Brady
Whistleblower alleges hysterectomies are being performed at ICE facility without consent
A nurse at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainment facility in Georgia has filed a whistleblower complaint, alleging that doctors have been removing the uteruses of immigrant women in abnormally high numbers and without consent.
Dawn Wooten, a licensed practical nurse, was employed for three years at the ICE center in Irwin County. In one instance described in her complaint, a patient who’d gone in for surgery on an ovarian cyst was half-awake from the anesthesia when she overheard her surgeon saying that he’d taken out the wrong ovary. The patient wound up losing both ovaries, and having a total hysterectomy. She became infertile, when she still wanted children.
Wooten also says she was told by inmates at the detention center that they’ve had hysterectomies performed and didn’t know why. She said nurses were uncomfortable with the practice of one gynecologist in particular, whom she called “the uterus collector.”
ICE denies the whistleblower’s claims, but Democrats in Congress sent a letter to the Office of the Inspector General on Tuesday demanding an investigation. In the letter, congressional representatives note the dark history of sterilization in the United States, with the procedure often being performed on women of color, disabled women, and incarcerated women for eugenic purposes. —MB
JK Rowling’s new book 'Troubled Blood' receives social media reaction
J.K. Rowling has not died, but if you logged in to Twitter this week, you might have thought she had. The 55-year-old author’s fifth book in the Cormoran Strike series Troubled Blood was released on Tuesday, sparking a #RIPJKRowling hate campaign on Twitter. The book is about Detective Strike’s quest to find a male serial killer who poses as a woman to murder his victims.
Upon realizing that Rowling was not dead, one Twitter user wrote, “Almost had a f—ing heart attack when I saw that hashtag…” Another Twitter user wrote, “in memory of jk rowling. she ain’t dead, but she killed her own career by proudly hating trans people & no one would really miss her that much anyway #ripjkrowling”
This is the third time in less than a year celebrities and others on social media have attacked Rowling for sharing her views on what it means to be female, and expressing concern about the mental health of transgender people. In July, Rowling tweeted a Cambridge medical paper, which states, “Psychiatry sits on this knife-edge: running the risk of being accused of transphobia or, alternatively, remaining silent throughout this uncontrolled experiment.” —Melanie Wilcox
Pfizer CEO said a COVID-19 vaccine could possibly be released by the end of this year
Americans will likely have access to a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation.
“We have already manufactured hundreds of thousands of doses, so just in case we have a good study readout, conclusive and FDA, plus the advisory committee feels comfortable … we will be ready."
Distribution before the end of 2020 depends when regulators like the Food and Drug Administration issue a license, he said. Bourla turned down money from the federal government to create the vaccine.
"When you get money from someone, that always comes with strings,” Pfizer’s chief executive said. “They want to see how you're going to progress, what type of moves you're going to do, they want reports. I didn't want to have any of that. Basically, I gave them an open checkbook so that they can worry only about scientific challenges, not anything else. And also, I wanted to keep Pfizer out of politics, by the way."
In partnership with BioNTech, distribution will reach its initial enrollment target of 30,000 participants next week for its phase three trial. Then, they will expand to testing a more diverse group of 44,000 candidates who have chronic health conditions. —MW
Gucci heir alleges years of sexual assault
Alexandra Zarini, the granddaughter of Aldo Gucci who founded the Italian fashion empire before it became owned by a French company today, announced via lawyers this week that she was sexually abused since age six by her stepfather Joseph Ruffalo. Zarini alleges her mother Patricia Gucci and her grandmother Bruna Palomba were aware of the abuse and kept it covered up.
The LA Times reports, “bringing a case from so long ago was not previously viable in California. But a change in state law that took effect this year, AB 218, provided a three-year window to file cases that otherwise would have expired because of the statute of limitations.”
Zarini’s lawyers said that she felt motivated to report when she realized other children could be at risk. “On occasion, Zarini would research Ruffalo online and see what he was up to. She saw something that made her suspect her former stepfather was volunteering at a children’s hospital, and felt compelled to file a crime report with the Beverly Hills Police Department, which she did in 2019.” —Mary Rose Somarriba
The 'Fresh Prince' house is up for rent on Airbnb
If you are a resident of Los Angeles County and are longing to book a coronavirus-era staycation, preferably with a ‘90s theme, you’re in luck. On Sunday, Will Smith posted on Instagram that the iconic house from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” will be available for rent on Airbnb.
“YOOOO!! Y’all think we should rent out the @FreshPrince house?? We’re making it happen with the squad @airbnb!! #FreshPrince30th,” Smith captioned a photo of himself in front of the stately facade.
Available one-night dates are Oct. 2, Oct. 5, Oct. 8, Oct. 11 and Oct. 14, and would-be guests can start booking on September 29. Although it’s a mansion, to keep things socially distant, visitors can be booked only in groups of two and must be from the same household in LA County.
Guests will reportedly have access to the “Will” character’s wardrobe, poolside lounge and more. Philly cheesesteak (in honor of where the Fresh Prince was “born and raised”) will be served.
The best part? This is a cheap staycation costing only $30 a night, in honor of the show’s 30th anniversary (it ran on NBC from September 1990 to May 1996). As part of the arrangement, Airbnb will be making a donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia. —MB
Good News of the Week
A young woman helped her dad’s small business this week when she tweeted a cry for support. "I wouldn't normally do this, but my dad's taco truck business is struggling, he only sold $6 today," Giselle Aviles wrote in a tweet on Saturday. "If you could retweet, I would appreciate you so much!!" By Sunday night, her note had been retweeted 2,000 times and she told her dad he might have a busy day. When Elias Aviles showed up at his food truck at 8 a.m. on Monday, CNN reports, “a line of customers already awaited him—some who had been waiting as early as 6 a.m. . . . She appreciates the support for her dad's business and has since made an Instagram page for more customers to find his truck.” —MRS
Watch of the Week
A little boy gets hearing aids and hears his mother’s voice. These never get old.
Miss our “Articles of Note” section? Subscribe to Verily Daily emails and check out our new suggested reading at the bottom, in our new “May We Recommend” section.