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Caught On Cam: Security Guard Clings To Car

Kentucky police are searching for a shoplifter who made an extreme and dangerous getaway Monday.

An undercover loss prevention officer had her eye on the suspect dressed when he grabbed a toolbox and ran from a Crescent Springs Home Depot.

She gave chase, and wound up on the hood of the suspect’s car.

Security video shows the suspect stop the car abruptly, sending the security guard flying to the ground.

Self-driving car crash comes amid debate about regulations

A crash that caused an Uber self-driving SUV to flip onto its side in a Phoenix suburb serves as a stark reminder of the challenges surrounding autonomous vehicles in Arizona, a state that has gone all-in to entice the company by promising minimal government regulation. Friday night’s crash was blamed on the driver of an oncoming SUV that turned left in front of the Uber vehicle carrying two test drivers and no passengers. There were no serious injuries and the driver of the other car was cited for a moving violation. But images of Uber’s Volvo SUV rolled onto its side reverberated heavily on social media. Uber responded by briefly suspending its self-driving cars in its three testing locations Arizona, San Francisco and Pittsburgh as it investigated the accident.

Uber’s self-driving car program is rolling out amid questions about how much government regulation it should endure on issues such as accidents, insurance and reporting instances in which the person behind the wheel in test cars needs to take control of the vehicle. The San Francisco-based startup endured a shaky December rollout in California including running red lights that culminated in a standoff between Uber and state regulators who wanted more transparency and reporting. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey seized the opportunity and used lax regulations to entice Uber, which decided to ship more than a dozen SUVs to metro Phoenix.

“California may not want you, but Arizona does,” said Ducey, who took the first ride as a passenger in Uber’s self-driving cars last month.

Uber spokeswoman Taylor Patterson said the company is operating more than a dozen of the 21 vehicles it has registered in Arizona. Some pick up passengers. In Arizona, companies such as Uber only need to carry minimum liability insurance policies to operate self-driving cars. They are not required to track crashes like the one that occurred in Tempe on Friday or report any information to the state. That means that self-driving test cars are essentially treated like all other cars on the road.

Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said in a March 3 interview that the cars are safe and there is sufficient oversight under existing automobile rules.

“There’s a driver in the car,” he said. “The state oversight is: There are not cars without drivers in them.”

John Simpson of the California-based advocacy group Consumer Watchdog said Ducey has abandoned his responsibility to protect the public by buying into the hype surrounding Uber.

“It’s a fundamental responsibility of a governor of a state to make sure that when companies are using the state’s public highways as their own private laboratories, that there is some obligation to protect public safety,” Simpson said. “There are no rules in Arizona.”

In March, Uber obtained permits for two of its Volvo SUVS to again hit the streets in San Francisco. California’s rules for autonomous vehicles require a $5 million insurance policy, and the companies must reports accidents to the state within 10 days and release an annual tally documenting how many times test drivers had to take over. Also, unlike in Arizona and Pennsylvania, passengers are not allowed to ride in autonomous vehicles in California.

Ducey doesn’t believe self-driving car testing needs extra regulations because drivers can take over if something goes wrong, but his office said Monday after the accident that “public safety remains our top priority and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Kevin Biesty, deputy director for policy for the Arizona Department of Transportation, said the state could set up a system to monitor local police accident reports involving self-driving cars but chose not to do so.

“At this point we don’t see an issue if the vehicles are being operated safely they’ll be responsible for whatever issues arise, just like any driver,” Biesty said. Uber’s SUVs have been tooling around Phoenix and Tempe for more than three months, and police in both cities said they knew of no accidents before Friday. Other companies testing self-driving cars in Arizona include Waymo, a Google spinoff company, and General Motors. Intel has a fleet of self-driving cars that are being tested, although they are not used in autonomous mode on city streets, company spokeswoman Danielle Mann said.

There’s no Arizona state data showing how many accidents the cars may have been involved in or caused. Police in suburban Chandler said the Google cars have been in at least four wrecks over the past three years. None of the GM cars have been involved in accidents, said Kevin Kelly, the company’s spokesman for advanced technology projects. Uber’s recent crash comes amid a series of public-relations woes at the company, including an upheaval of its executive ranks and allegations that it routinely ignores sexual harassment.

The New York Times also revealed the company’s use of the “Greyball” program that helped Uber identify law enforcement agents who may be trying to catch it operating illegally in some places. The company’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, subsequently promised Uber would no longer use the program.

Delaware lawmakers eye reinstatement of death penalty

Lawmakers are poised to introduce bipartisan legislation to reinstate Delaware’s death penalty, which the state Supreme Court declared unconstitutional last year. Under the bill to be introduced next week, the death penalty could not be imposed unless jurors unanimously find, beyond a reasonable doubt, the existence of at least one aggravating circumstance making the crime eligible for capital punishment. Jurors also would have to unanimously find that each aggravating factor alleged by prosecutors had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. They would then have to unanimously determine beyond a reasonable doubt not just by a preponderance of the evidence, as the old law required that the aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating factors cited by the defense.

Finally, the judge would have to agree with the jury that aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances, and that the defendant deserves the death penalty. Conversely, a judge would have the discretion to sentence a defendant to life in prison, even if the jury found that the death penalty was warranted.

“Delaware has a long history of applying capital punishment cautiously, judiciously, and infrequently,” bill co-sponsor Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, said in a prepared statement. “These proposed changes would raise the imposition of such a sentence to a new level, removing what the court found objectionable and strengthening protections afforded defendants.”

In August, a majority of Delaware’s Supreme Court justices said the state’s death penalty law was unconstitutional because it allowed judges too much discretion in sentencing and did not require that a jury find unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant deserves execution. That ruling came after the U.S. Supreme Court said Florida’s death sentencing law, which like Delaware’s gave judges the final say, was unconstitutional. Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation requiring a unanimous jury recommendation before the death penalty can be imposed. That came after Florida’s Supreme Court struck down a law passed earlier in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed the death penalty to be imposed by at least a 10-2 jury vote.

Alabama is the only other state that allows judges to override jury decisions on whether an offender should get life in prison or the death penalty. Alabama lawmakers are scheduled to consider a bill next week to prohibit a judge from imposing a death sentence when a jury has recommended life in prison. Meanwhile, Delaware’s Supreme Court ruled in December that its earlier decision applied retroactively, sparing the lives of 12 men who had been on Delaware’s death row. Democratic Gov. John Carney has said he supports the ruling declaring Delaware’s death penalty law unconstitutional but has not promised to veto legislation reinstating capital punishment.

“I wouldn’t rule out, however, supporting a death penalty that applied only to those convicted of killing a member of law enforcement,” Carney said in an email Monday. “In some cases, specifically behind prison walls, capital punishment may be our only deterrent to murder.”

Last month, a prison guard was killed during an inmate riot and hostage taking at Delaware’s maximum security prison.

Democratic Attorney General Matt Denn has said he would support a law requiring a unanimous jury recommendation before a judge could impose the death penalty.

“Recent court decisions also require jury unanimity beyond a reasonable doubt for all facts necessary for the imposition of the death penalty,” Denn spokesman Carl Kanefsky said in an email. “The attorney general will support legislation that applies these standards to Delaware’s death penalty.”

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