In case you somehow missed it, Beyoncé absolutely dominated the Super Bowl halftime show, showcasing her hot new single, “Formation,” and announcing her upcoming world tour. The Texas Queen is once again aiming for world domination.
Texas Tragedy — It’s like a bad rerun: One seemingly senseless shooting, and another unarmed black man shot by police. In the first case, “a 19-year-old killed his mother and two neighbors before turning his gun on himself in a shooting that brought SWAT and various emergency vehicles” to Uvalde on Friday, writes the Associated Press. “Investigators haven’t determined a clear motive for the shootings,” though one of the neighbors might have had some sort of romantic relationship with the teenager’s mom. As for the second incident, police in nearby San Antonio have “pledged a thorough investigation of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by an officer” on Thursday, according to Reuters. As with other instances of police shootings, it’s not a “perfect” case, i.e. the suspect was wanted for being a felon in possession of firearms. During a traffic stop, the man allegedly “got out of the car quickly and spun toward the officer” with a cell phone in his hands, before being shot. “Protesters have said the shooting was unwarranted and similar to numerous other incidents in recent months that have raised questions about racial bias in U.S. policing in which unarmed African-Americans were fatally shot by officers.” On San Antonio tabloid has announced plans to publish all San Antonio police officers’ addresses in wake of the shooting.
Less Affluent — It looks like affluenza teen Ethan Couch is finally going to be treated like an adult. Over the weekend, Couch was moved from the juvenile facility he’d been held at since being returned from Mexico to an adult facility. While he might get a taste of what real punishment looks like, it’s not clear yet if that’ll be the extent of it. “Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said Couch’s case remains under the juvenile court’s jurisdiction,” according to the AP. “Anderson said he felt more comfortable with Couch ‘in a more secure environment.’ Anderson and prosecutors had pushed Judge Timothy Menikos last week to transfer Couch to an adult jail, but the judge sided with Couch’s attorneys and agreed to hold him in the juvenile facility. The judge later changed his mind and met with Couch’s attorneys on Thursday, district attorney spokeswoman Samantha Jordan said.” As USA Today noted, “Attorneys say Couch will be in juvenile court again Feb. 19. It’s expected at that time the judge will transfer the case to adult supervision upon Couch’s 19th birthday in April.” Couch “faces 120 days in jail if the courts decide he violated the terms of his probation. Prosecutors said Couch won’t get credit for the month he spent in a Mexico City jail.”
Less Offensive — Sex offenders aren’t exactly the most sympathetic of criminals, but the restrictions placed on them often go beyond cruel and unusual, especially if they’re trying to reform. Considering Texas’s habit of being tough on crime, this latest move seems unusual. “A broad legal challenge has led more than 20 towns in Texas to ease restrictions over the last few months on where sex offenders can live instead of fight a costly battle in court,” writes the AP. The effort came thanks to the Texas Voices for Reason and Justice group, which sent letters to about 45 towns a few months back “demanding they repeal residency restrictions. The nonprofit, which is critical of sex offender laws it considers ineffective, also has sued 14 towns and has a powerful ally — the state attorney general’s office.” At issue are small “general law” towns that can’t enact ordinances (like banning sex offenders from living in specific areas), not expressly allowed by the state Legislature. Small towns aren’t exactly pleased with the idea, which was hatched by Greg Abbott when he was still Attorney General, and some are pushing back, though others have simply repealed their local ordinances. It’s an interesting fight likely won’t have any winners.
Expanded — The Sandra Bland lawsuit just got a lot bigger. The deceased woman’s mother has “added 10 Waller County officials in a federal lawsuit over her daughter’s 2015 death in the Waller County Jail,” writes the Texas Tribune. Bland’s mother “originally sued the Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who arrested Bland, his agency, Waller County and two of its jailers. A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Feb. 18 in a Houston federal court.” While the inappropriate actions of DPS Trooper Brian Encinia have been noted, nothing has really come of the sometimes conspiratorial tales of what happened at the jail where Bland is determined to have committed suicide, which makes it seem unlikely that Bland’s mother’s scorched earth lawsuit will get too far. Apart from Encinia, Bland’s mother “alleges two screening officers at the Waller County Jail — along with 10 other jail officials including the sheriff — neglected Bland after her booking, failing to check on her or seek medical attention once she was found in her cell. Bland’s mother also says the county is responsible for placing her in a cell alone and where a ‘large garbage can, garbage bags, exposed beams, cords and other items,’ were available to her daughter, after she had said she was once suicidal.” Encinia’s criminal case will be heard in March.