According to APD's report, both off-duty policemen were working extra jobs in their official uniforms. They were sitting inside their marked APD squad car at Zaxby's near Ponce de Leon Avenue and Charles Allen Drive when they heard nearby gunshots fired just before midnight.
Moments later, the two officers saw a black four-door sedan speeding in reverse while headed northbound on Parkway Drive (Charles Allen Drive turns into Parkway Drive south of Ponce) with "one or more occupants" firing bullets in the opposite direction.
"As the occupants of the sedan observed the marked Atlanta Police vehicle and the two uniformed Atlanta Police Officers, one or more of the occupants of the sedan turned their firearms in the direction of the uniformed police officers and one or more of the occupants discharged their firearm at the officers," APD spokeswoman Kim Jones tells CL.
Both officers quickly fired shots back at the gunmen. The sedan's driver stopped the vehicle and the shooters ceased fire. WSB-TV this morning reported that nearly 70 shell casings were place at the crime scene, but so far no motive has been determined. No injuries were reported.
APD reports that authorities apprehended 38-year-old Derrick Newell and 26-year-old Marcellus White, two out of the three suspects in the car, and charged them each with two counts of aggravated assault and a single count of reckless conduct.
While Fulton County Jail records show that White still remains behind bars, no record of Newell's booking at the Rice Street facility could be found. We've asked APD to look into the discrepancy and will post an update if we hear back.
On. Nov. 11, Atlanta Deputy Chief Operating Officer Hans Utz and other officials in Mayor Kasim Reed's office were caught off guard by the baseball team's decision to move to Cobb. During a chaotic day of internal scrambling, Utz, who led the negotiations with the team, quipped that he doubted the Braves would rename themselves the "Cobb Crackers" or the "Smyrna Shitholes." He even wrote a haiku.
"The Braves might leave us / Becoming the Cobb Crackers / I feel bad for them," Utz wrote in one email.
Utz received a three-day suspension without pay for making inappropriate remarks about the fine folks of Cobb County. The suspension was prior to the release of more than 600 emails requested from local media, including CL, under the Open Records Act.
The city official apologized for his comments, calling them a "lapse in judgment" and an "ill-advised attempt at using humor to make a point about the Braves still being a part of the greater metropolitan region" after a "long, and frustrating day."
"They were not meant to disparage our suburban neighbors," he said.
Nevertheless, his comments have cause a bit of an uproar over the past 24 hours. Erhhart, who helped connect Braves executives with Cobb County officials, has called upon the city to ax the city official.
"He really needs to be fired," Ehrhart told the Marietta Daily Journal. "Calling the people who live in Cobb County 'crackers' or whatever expletive is not the type of behavior you need from somebody who's paid with taxpayer dollars."
1. Que, Indeed, Go Dreamer, and more at the Drunken Unicorn
2. Bobcat Goldthwait at Laughing Skull Lounge
3. Highlands Santa Stumble kicks off at Diesel Filling Station
4. Dax Riggs and Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel at 529
5. Martinis and IMAX: Winter Wonderland Edition at Fernbank
In the hours after the unexpected announcement, the mayor's communications team and policy advisers scrambled to put together a response. Those internal conversations included deciding how to highlight the decision's potential impacts on surrounding neighborhoods while making clear distinctions between the Braves and Atlanta Falcons stadium deals. Language in some of the emails would later lead to the suspension of Deputy Chief Operating Officer Hans Utz. In one message, he doubted that the Braves would refer to themselves as the "Smyrna Shitholes" and wrote a haiku about the "Cobb Crackers" leaving the city. (Utz, in a statement released last night, apologized for the remarks. That statement can be found in full below.) The following day, Reed addressed the media about the Braves' move and plans to raze Turner Field.
It all began at 9:03 a.m.
From: Carlos Campos (Interim Director of Communications)
To: Duriya Farooqui (Chief Operating Officer), Hans Utz (Deputy Chief Operating Officer), Anne Torres (Deputy Director of Communications), Melissa Mullinax (Deputy Director of Communications)
Time: 9:03 a.m.
Subject: Braves moving to Cobb County?
My phone and email are blowing up about a report in today's Marietta Daily Journal claiming Braves plan to move to Cobb County. We are being asked for comment. Anyone? I'm clueless.
- The Marriott Marquis, already doubling as the ritzy tribute digs (or the ritzy digs' hallways and elevators) in Catching Fire, was once again surrounded by cast and crew for more Mockingjay filming. As of Thursday, there were also reports of hovercrafts and gunfire near the Norfolk Southern building off Spring. (Simulated, all.) The film's main unit has moved to Newnan through the end of next week. Here is the Capitol, kind of. Here is something else. And here is...something else. (Here is a video of those somethings.)
MOCKINGJAY BEING FILMED OH MY GOD pic.twitter.com/UPw4cJF0JV
- ➳ (@ellolawrence) December 15, 2013
I really tried to avoid cliches about the season, dear readers. Really. And yet: The next in "a continuing series of winter-defying aural festivities," Respite from the Cold self-markets simultaneously as cozy and cuddly and gently psychedelic. The night will be full of music from Hopi Torvald, Nomen Novum, Moth Manos, Box Elder, Snowbride, Grant Evans, Motion Sickness of Time Travel, and Nows. Personal preference urges me to point you toward Snowbride, but I have a bias for white noise that ripples with life. At The Mammal Gallery starting at 9 p.m.; admission is $5.
Three more events after the jump.
According to the Georgia Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for Georgia fell to 7.7% in November. That is the lowest it has been in five years.
MARTA has started a pilot program to crack down on their elevators being used as urinals. Using increased lighting, better cameras and revolutionary splash sensitive "urine detection devices," MARTA hopes to make elevator odor overload a thing of the past. MARTA currently has the system in place in a secret location in one of the Midtown stations.
In a bizarre move, the five-member board of Georgia's state ethics commission voted to hire Robert Constantine, a former administrative law judge, to help the discombobulated agency carry out its day-to-day operations. The commission is currently dealing with the increased scrutiny of the federal government due to the commission's handling of campaign finance allegations made against Gov. Nathan Deal.
President Obama will commute the sentences of eight federal inmates sentenced to lengthy jail terms based on crack cocaine offenses. This reflects the administration's efforts to balance the disparity between mandatory sentencing based on possession of powder cocaine and crack cocaine, a disparity that many view as racially biased and politically motivated. The 2010 Fair Sentencing Act was the first major step in this effort. All of the pardoned inmates would have more than served their time under the current laws.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will pardon former billionaire tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, two members of the punk band Pussy Riot and the Greenpeace activists who were detained for protesting at a Russian oil rig. He will also pardon the journalists who were detained while covering the Greenpeace protestors. Putin announced a mass amnesty for at least 20,000 prisoners in all. This flurry of activity comes as the international spotlight focuses on Russia with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi fast approaching.
If you're looking for the perfect gag gift to round out your Christmas shopping, you might want to think twice before putting Ben Palmer's book, "Stock Photos with Captions," on your list. With its mix of idiotic, politically-incorrect, creepster captions, his compilation of mundane stock photos culled from the Internet puts a new twist on the meaning of "stocking stuffer."
"I wonder how long it takes him to get hard," reads one above a photo of a middle-aged woman and grey-haired man harmlessly collaborating in a corporate setting. Then there's the photo of televangelist Benny Hinn, arm outstretched while cradling the Bible, with a caption that reads: "Fall over dammit I'm healing you."
That sardonic sense of humor, paired with his penchant for pranks, pretty much sums up Palmer's comedic approach. Since moving to Atlanta two and a half years ago, the Ohio native has become a staple in the local comedy scene, with regular appearances at Uptown Comedy Club, Laughing Skull Lounge, Punchline, Hole in the Wall, and elsewhere.
But his preferred stage might be his Facebook page. He uses social media the way traditional standups use a hot mic. And his posts run the gamut, from seriously depressing screeds on his personal quest for meaning to totally inane comments left on Fortune 500 companies' sponsored pages.
"That's what I love to do, just get high and try to make people laugh on the Internet," he says.
I caught up with Palmer offline this week to talk about the differences between black and white crowds, the money he's earned from running TV court scams with friends on "Judge Joe Brown" and "Judge Alex," and the reason why his dad blocked him on Facebook.
I just want to tell you that I will not be giving anyone your book for Christmas because I'm scared of what they'd think of me as a result.
Ben Palmer: What? C'mon, they'll love it man. I just wouldn't show it to any kids.
So what was the inspiration for "Stock Photos with Captions"?
A new report says that Georgia's poverty rates have steadily climbed despite the recent recovery of the state's economy.
The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute this week released its latest policy report that says 1.8 million adults and children - about one in five Georgians - lived in poverty in 2012. Georgia suffered its highest levels in more than three decades and currently has the nation's sixth-worst poverty rate.
"The recent recession caused pain both for people already living in poverty and people who fell into it for the first time," GBPI Policy Analyst Melissa Johnson wrote. "Yet the long-standing barriers that continue to block Georgians from moving out of poverty stubbornly persist."
More than 60,000 children in Georgia live in low-income households, according to the report. Poverty across Georgia, the study says, has impacted 15 percent of all families, 20 percent of families with children, and nearly half of all single mothers with kids.
Georgia's poverty rates have disproportionately impacted some of the state's minority populations, GBPI's report says. While the study says 31 percent of Georgians are black, they comprise an estimated 45 percent of the state's impoverished residents. Meanwhile, Hispanics make up 9 percent of the state's overall population, but around 15 percent of those who are poor.
According to the study, residents below the poverty line are less likely to have higher education opportunities and access to health care. Forty-three percent of poor Georgia residents have jobs but many of the available employment opportunities don't offer enough compensation to fully provide for their families. In recent years, part-work time and long-term unemployment have both increased, contributing to Georgia's rising poverty rates.
And echoing findings in other reports, GPBI notes that Georgia's poverty rates rose faster in the suburbs than urban and rural areas. More than 1 million poor residents in Georgia have migrated from the city to more affordable residences in the suburbs. With many poor Georgians heavily dependent on public transit, access to better jobs or schools can become increasingly difficult.
Without key policy changes - including a higher minimum wage, affordable health care, and better education opportunities - GPBI says that poor residents will continue to rely upon government programs rather than help the state through paying more taxes.
"Unless Georgia addresses the fundamental causes of persistent poverty in Georgia, low-income Georgians will continue to struggle for economic survival instead of being valuable resources to the state," Johnson wrote.
We've included the full GPBI report after the jump:
Jurors this morning found Balfour not guilty on all counts after three full days of listening to the defense and prosecutors present their case. Last September, a Fulton County grand jury indicted the Gwinnett County lawmaker and Waffle House executive on 18 counts that included making a false certificate, theft by taking, and making a false statement and writing.
The charges followed a 2012 ethics complaint that accused Balfour of reimbursing mileage expenses for time he spent on a lobbyist-paid trip. He paid a $5,000 fine levied by the Senate Ethics Committee. Jim Walls of Atlanta Unfiltered first reported on the expense filings.
Prosecutors were unable to convince jurors that Balfour intentionally tried to pocket thousands from the state by double-billing his legislative expenses. Balfour, who was first elected to the Georgia Senate in 1992, on Wednesday testified in his own defense the state actually owed him more than $23,000 for 115 days where he didn't claim his $173 legislative per diem. His legal team tried pointing out that mistakes happened not only with his own record keeping, but also with state investigators.
"I should've gotten paid per diems for those days but for the fact that I didn't turn them in," Balfour said. "It wasn't important. I wasn't there for the money."
The defense also called upon several prominent former lawmakers including former Govs. Roy Barnes and Sonny Perdue; former Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson; and Georgia Court of Appeals Judge and one-time state Sen. William Ray to attest to Balfour's character.
Minutes after the verdict, Gov. Nathan Deal's office immediately lifted his Gold Dome suspension so that he can return to work for the 2014 legislative session.
Following the decision, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said he was "very disappointed" in the outcome, but defended his decision to bring to the case to trial.
"The GBI investigation revealed that Senator Balfour requested and received reimbursements for expenses he did not actually incur: miles he did not drive, days he did not work, hotels other people paid for," Olens said in a statement. "Those requests were too numerous and systematic to be simply isolated mistakes. If those requests had been submitted by an unelected state employee, they would have been prosecuted, and a state senator should not be held to a lower standard."
This story is still developing. We'll post more details when we have an update.
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