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Security guard suspended after he’s caught on video throwing shoes at a homeless man

A Toronto security guard has been suspended following the release of a video that appears to show him violently hurling a pair of shoes at a homeless person lingering on Yonge Street this week. The quarrel between the pair began just after 8 a.m. Wednesday, during the morning rush to work. A homeless man and a security guard can be seen on the video weaving through the onslaught of pedestrians, clearly in the middle of an altercation.

Caught on video

The video that captures the next moments is shaky at first, but you see the guard standing in front of a building at 60 Yonge St. He takes off his jacket, walks toward the other man, and then appears to throw something at him. The argument continues until the guard picks up the homeless man’s shoes and hurls them at him. One strikes the man in the ribs, the other in the back of his leg.

The person who recorded the video did not want to be identified, but in a email to CBC Toronto said they saw the security guard punch the homeless man before the filming began.

Security firm is investigating

The security guard works for GardaWorld security, which told CBC Toronto that they are investigating what happened.

“GardaWorld was forwarded the video taken by the bystander. Upon receipt, it was immediately transferred to our corporate security team for investigation,” the firm said in a written statement. “The employee in question has been suspended pending further investigation.”

It’s unclear, however, whether the incident could result in criminal charges.

Security Guard Suspended After He's Caught On Video Throwing Shoes At A Homeless Man

This security guard is under investigation after being caught on video throwing shoes at a homeless man. (Submitted to CBC)

Const. Victor Kwong said it’s hard to tell whether the security guard breached any laws just by looking at the video.

“What we have to do is keep in mind of what this didn’t capture as well,” Kwong said. “We have to step back and take a look at the whole picture and see why it is the situation got to where it is.”

But a spokesperson for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty said that regardless of what sparked the altercation, the security acted inappropriately.

“I’m sure that security guard has his own side, but I don’t think that there’s any good explanation for why someone could act that way,” A.J. Withers said.

‘Homeless people are invisible to most people.’ – A.J. Withers, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

Withers says the video is disappointing, but not surprising. This happens far too often in Toronto, the poverty advocate said.

“Homeless people are dehumanized all the time and often victims of violence,” Withers said. “I’m sure it’s shocking to many people but, sadly, it’s something that we hear about or see all the time.”

The man in the video told CBC Toronto that he has been homeless for several years. Several people can be seen walking by him during the confrontation, but none try to stop it.

“It’s heartbreaking that no one intervenes, but it’s also not surprising,” Withers said. “That’s what you see on the street all the time, right? Homeless people are invisible to most people.”

CIA director warned Russian security service chief about interference in election

Former CIA director John Brennan said Tuesday that he personally warned the head of Russia s intelligence service last year that Moscow s interference in the U.S. election would backfire and cause severe damage to the country s relationship with the United States. Describing a previously undisclosed high-level discussion between Washington and Moscow, Brennan said in a phone conversation with the head of Russia s domestic security service, the FSB, that American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in the election. In congressional testimony, Brennan said that such meddling would destroy any near-term prospect of improvement in relations between the United States and Russia. Brennan said that the FSB chief, Alexander Bortnikov, twice denied that Russia was waging such a campaign, but said he would carry Brennan s message to Russian President Vladi mir Putin.

[Political chaos in Washington is a return on investment for Moscow[1]]

I believe I was the first U.S. official to brace Russia on this matter, Brennan said. His remarks came at the start of his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee as part of that panel s ongoing investigation of a Russian influence campaign in the 2016 presidential election, as well as whether there was collusion or coordination between Moscow and members of the Trump campaign.

Team Trump s ties to Russian interests

Brennan led the CIA during a critical period last year when U.S. intelligence agencies concluded[2] that Russia was not only attempting to disrupt the election but was actively seeking to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and help elect Trump. Brennan was among the top officials who briefed then-President-elect Trump on that conclusion which represented the consensus view of the CIA, the FBI and the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

[FBI in agreement with CIA that Russia aimed to help Trump win White House[3]]

Brennan became so alarmed by the Russian intervention last fall that he held classified meetings with top congressional officials to impress upon them the unprecedented nature of Moscow s interference. Brennan testified that he was disturbed by intelligence that surfaced last year showing a pattern of contacts between Russian agents or representatives and individuals with links to the Trump campaign. I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind, Brennan said. He emphasized that the information he saw did not amount to proof of collusion or cooperation between Trump associates and Russia, but said that it served as the basis for the FBI investigation.

With that remark, Brennan appeared to identify the point of origin of the FBI investigation that began last July the first time that a U.S. official has provided insight into what prompted the bureau probe.

[Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence[4]]

He said that the targets of those Russian approaches may not even have been aware of the nature of the contacts, because Russian services often disguise their efforts by using intermediaries. Many times [U.S. individuals] do not know that the individual they are interacting with is a Russian, Brennan said. The former CIA chief is the latest in a series of senior Obama administration officials to appear publicly before Congress in hearings that have often produced damaging headlines for Trump. Earlier this month, former acting attorney general Sally Yates testified that she expected White House officials to take action [5] after warning that then-national security adviser Michael T. Flynn had misled administration officials about his contacts with Russia.

At that same hearing, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said that Moscow s leaders must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations with a minimal expenditure of resource, a reference not only to the outcome of the 2016 race, but the chaos that has characterized the early months of the Trump administration. Brennan has feuded publicly with Trump over the president s treatment of intelligence agencies. In January, he lashed out at Trump[6] for comparing U.S. spy agencies to Nazi secret police. Brennan was particularly offended by Trump s remarks during a speech at CIA headquarters on the day after he was inaugurated. Trump used the CIA s Wall of Honor a collection of engraved stars marking lives of agency operatives killed in the line of duty to launch a rambling speech in which he bragged about his election victory.

Brennan called the appearance despicable and said that Trump should be ashamed.

Read more:

Trump angrily calls Russia investigation a witch hunt, and denies charges of collusion[7]

Justice Department ethics experts clear Mueller to lead Russia probe[8]

Comey prepared extensively for his conversations with Trump[9]


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NC sergeant killed by inmate worked in understaffed prison …

Bertie Correctional Institution was understaffed in the month that Sgt. Meggan Callahan was killed there allegedly by an inmate who beat her to death with a fire extinguisher. State figures show that in April, when Callahan died, roughly one of every five correctional officer positions at the eastern North Carolina prison was vacant. Bertie isn t the only state prison with staffing problems. Statewide, about 16 percent of officer positions are vacant.

It s unclear whether better staffing would have saved Callahan s life. But some experts interviewed by the Observer said that s a possibility. Brian Dawe, executive director of the American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network (ACOIN), said Bertie like most of the nation s prisons appeared to be badly understaffed, based on the numbers that state prison officials provided to the Observer. Dawe, whose group shares research to help correctional officers, said that prison leaders who operate without sufficient staff roll the dice with people s lives.

And this time it came up snake eyes, he said.

Said Gary Harkins, former research and information director for ACOIN: People can get killed when you don t have enough staff. It s as simple as that. The inmates literally say, You all are understaffed, so if we wanted to, we could overtake this prison.

Sierra Gravitte, former N.C. correctional officer

David Guice, the state s chief deputy secretary for adult correction and juvenile justice, said he does not yet know whether better staffing at Bertie would have made any difference the day that Callahan was killed. But he said that Gov. Roy Cooper has asked him to review the circumstances to ensure this doesn t happen again.

Prison leaders plan to examine many factors, including staffing patterns, Guice said. Many of North Carolina s maximum-security prisons are operating dangerously short of staff, current and former correctional officers told the Observer. One former officer, who rushed to a colleague s defense after she was slashed in the neck by an inmate at Lanesboro Correctional Institution, said the attack might have been prevented with more staff. At Bertie, Callahan was responding to a fire set inside a trash can on the evening of April 26 when an inmate beat her to death with the fire extinguisher she d brought to douse the flames, state officials say. Inmate Craig Wissink, who has been serving a life sentence for murder since 2004, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with Callahan s death.

When Callahan was attacked, two other officers were nearby, according to Anthony Jernigan, who heads the State Bureau of Investigation office that covers northeastern North Carolina. One of those officers fell and hurt her knee when she went to Callahan s defense, Jernigan said. About 60 inmates were also near Callahan when she was attacked on April 26, Jernigan said. Experts said that better staffing at the prison likely would have meant more eyes and ears on what inmates were doing, faster response times and more officers on the scene.

They might have had enough officers to subdue that inmate before he got that fire extinguisher from the sergeant, said Robert Webster, a former captain at two North Carolina maximum-security prisons.

When you don t have adequate staff to manage the inmates, and there s an incident, unfortunately people can get hurt and sometimes people even die, Webster said.

Severely understaffed

State prison officials refused to say how many staff were on duty the day Callahan died. They contended those numbers constitute sensitive public security information. But prison officials did release the monthly figures, which show that the prison had 211 officers available to work in April. Those officers must cover two shifts and a number of them are off, sick or on vacation at any given time so only a fraction of the total staff was likely available to work the day shift on April 26. Bertie now houses about 935 inmates. At other prisons of comparable size, officers told the Observer, it s common for about 50 or 60 officers to work the day shift.

There are no national standards for minimum staffing at prisons, experts say. But Harkins said the numbers provided by North Carolina suggest Bertie was severely understaffed. A prison with 1,000 inmates should have a total of at least 300 to 350 officers, he said.

If you had more staff, then you might have been looking at hurt staff instead of dead staff (on the day Callahan died), Harkins said.

It s so dangerous

At Lanesboro, 45 miles southeast of Charlotte, it was common for 42 officers to watch about 1,200 prisoners on the night shift, according to Gregory McCoy, who worked there as a correctional officer from 2009 to 2016. That works out to about one officer for every 29 inmates.

It s not safe, McCoy said. All it would take is for five or ten guys to decide we re going to take over the prison. And we don t have enough staff to fight back. Early on the morning of Nov. 15, 2013, Lanesboro had just four officers in the chow hall to oversee the 100 inmates who were there for breakfast, McCoy said. Had there been more, he said, one female officer might never have been assaulted.

McCoy heard the officer curse and saw her struggling with an inmate. He ran over and subdued the prisoner. But by that time, the officer was already bleeding profusely. Inmate Donny Mosley, who is serving time for second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon, had slashed her face and neck with a razor-like weapon.

I think if I hadn t gotten over there in time, (Mosley) probably would have cut her throat, McCoy said. The gashes in the officer s face and neck required 39 stitches.

But if another staff member had been standing beside the officer that morning, there s a possibility (Mosley) would have kept walking, McCoy said. At Polk Correctional Institution, north of Durham, two or three officers are routinely put in charge of monitoring more than 200 inmates in the chow hall, said Sierra Gravitte, an officer who this month resigned from the prison after four years on the job.

It s so dangerous, Gravitte said. It puts officers lives in danger to be honest.

The inmates literally say, You all are understaffed, so if we wanted to, we could overtake this prison.

Recruiting challenges

Finding people who are willing to work as prison officers isn t easy. The pay is low an average of the about $35,000 annually at maximum-security prisons and the work is dangerous and demanding. Once every eight hours last year, a North Carolina prison officer was assaulted.

Guice, the prison leader, acknowledged that the state faces significant staffing challenges. Many of the large maximum-security prisons such as Bertie and Lanesboro are located in rural areas, where recruiting can be difficult. State prison leaders say they are holding many hiring events and partnering with schools and military bases to fill jobs. And they say pay increases approved by the legislature in 2015 will also help with recruiting. The state has recently made offers to about 400 officer candidates, so the vacancy rate will likely drop, Guice said. But while North Carolina typically hires about 1,800 to 2,000 prison officers per year, it usually loses about that many as well.

We ve got to find a way to retain the people who work for us, Guice said. We ve got a lot of folks who are not staying with us.

Prison leaders say they have begun assigning new officers career readiness coaches, who provide pointers on dealing with inmates, keeping themselves safe and attaining career goals. Prison leaders say that when staff vacancies at a prison rise, they make adjustments, such as moving prisoners, reducing inmate programs and sending fewer staff members to special training.

Over-reliance on overtime?

To cope with the shortages, many prisons have also paid hundreds of thousands each year for overtime. Statewide, correctional officers received more than $12 million in overtime in 2015, the Observer found. Some correctional officers have more than doubled their income by working overtime.

One Polk officer made $29,800 in salary in 2015. She earned an extra $36,500 in overtime that year, records show. In 2014, a Lanesboro officer was paid $29,800 but made another $35,600 in overtime. Officers said excessive overtime work can leave them burned out and exhausted. Angela Smith, who worked as an officer at Tabor Correctional Institution from 2010 to 2014, said she was often asked to work overtime because the prison was so understaffed.

When your shift starts at 5:30 a.m. and you work 12 hours and you get told you’re held over till 9 (p.m.) you’re not alert. You’re tired. Your morale goes down,” she said.

The staffing shortages also put officers in danger, Smith said.

You can only spread people so thin, she said. If inmates wanted to jump another inmate or take somebody out that day, that would be the time to do it when you re understaffed. SEANC presents check to Callahan family

The State Employees Association of North Carolina has presented a check for more than $4,000 to the family of Meggan Callahan, the prison sergeant who was killed inside Bertie Correctional Institution last month. In accepting the check, Callahan s mother. Wendy, said her daughter loved her job and she was very good at her job. She was a leader and she trained people well. We are very proud as a family of what Meggan did, according to a news release issued by SEANC.

Callahan was responding to a fire at Bertie on April 26 when an inmate beat her to death with the fire extinguisher she d brought to douse the flames, state officials said. In April, when Callahan died, roughly one of every five correctional officer positions at the prison was vacant, state figures show.

SEANC President Stanley Drewery, who presented the check to Callahan s family, is a former prison employee and he said he knows about the dangers caused by prison understaffing.

We just wanted to show our support as a SEANC family, Drewery said during the check presentation. I know we cannot give her enough to bring her daughter back, but we want to give her love and show her support for the sacrifices her daughter made for each and every one of us.

Ames Alexander

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