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DA took months to press charges in BLM shooting


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
May 10, 2021
Civil rights shooting, exoneration questions, religious revival, waste water, police abuse, consolidation cuts, and it's a trap. Today is Monday, all day.

Bedford County's district attorney has brought dozens of charges against a man for firing a 12-gauge shotgun at civil rights marchers last August, striking one in the face and endangering 19 others.

The announcement from DA Lesley Childers-Potts came days after Spotlight PA and The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown learned the prosecutor had been given the results of a State Police investigation into the shooting in early March — and just one day after the news organizations asked why she hadn’t acted on it.

Terry Myers, 51, of Schellsburg, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which could be punished by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Myers was also charged with 19 counts of reckless endangerment and simple assault.

Charges were also brought against the marcher Myers shot, Orsino V. Thurman, 37, of Wisconsin, who police allege shot back. 

THE CONTEXT: In August 2020, a group of 20 or so Black Lives Matter activists began a 745-mile march from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C. to mark the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream Speech." 

At 11 p.m. on Aug. 24, the group stopped alongside a rural highway near a towing garage and home owned by Terry Myers's father.

State Police initially said that Myers confronted the marchers outside of his father’s home. Police said an argument escalated, which led to gunfire.

But a Spotlight PA review of footage taken that night showed there was no confrontation, and the official affidavit states the same. Initial statements from the police and a slew of online misinformation only heightened tensions.

"People need to know what happened," Max Bulger, a Schellsburg resident, said in March. "Otherwise, everyone is going to keep arguing over two different stories. It makes it hard to know what is what."

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"I feel like we are doing a disservice to the people in the jail and really the taxpayers of Allegheny County."

—Allegheny County Council Member Bethany Hallam on County Executive Rich Fitzgerald's absence at monthly Jail Oversight Board meetings

VACCINE UPDATE: Pennsylvania is dropping its own map of COVID-19 vaccine providers and says people looking for a shot should go to the federal government’s provider map instead. They can also check Spotlight PA's state-specific map and county-by-county provider listing here. Those with limited or no internet access are urged to call a new federal vaccine-finder hotline at 1-800-232-0233.
» BE PREPARED: Everyone — regardless of political affiliation — can vote May 18 on four ballot questions. Here's a breakdown of each one. Plus, WHYY has a great primer on the appellate court judge candidates. We'll have more resources in the days and weeks ahead.
Some robin eggs found in Shady Grove. Thanks, Neal W.Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us at @spotlightpennsylvania.
LEGAL FLAWS: A surge in Philadelphia exonerations has raised questions about decades of homicide probes and a potentially much larger pattern of police misconduct, The Inquirer reports. A new database compiled by the paper aims to catalog a growing list of related claims of deprivation, abuse, and threats used by investigators.

DEEP DIVE: A New Yorker profile calls state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) the embodiment of a resurgent form of Christian nationalism and the "belief that God intended America to be a Christian nation." Mastriano's possible 2022 run for governor will get help from a recently raided Rudy Giuliani in Chambersburg this week, per ABC27. 

WATER WOES: Clean water advocates have taken legal action demanding an end to Harrisburg's piping of raw sewage and stormwater into the Susquehanna River, WITF reports. They want to intervene in a years-old lawsuit they say has failed to slow overflows averaging 800 million gallons a year into the Chesapeake Bay tributary. 

POWER ABUSE: A Bucks County township allowed a former police officer accused of sexually abusing four boys he met on the job to quietly retire with a "work-related disability," more than $180,000, and a monthly pension, the Courier Times reports. James Christopher Carey was arrested last month on more than 100 counts of child sex abuse.

JOB LOSS: The consolidation of six Pennsylvania state universities could cost 1,500 jobs, per a new study that compares the local impacts to those of a plant closure or shift elimination, Inside Higher Ed reports. The system is facing a $52 million deficit and has undertaken a diversity, equity, and inclusion push it hopes might also help stem enrollment losses.
MURDUR MYSTERY: A "Saturday Night Live" spoof on the Delco-set "Mare of Easttown" is a tour de force of eastern Pennsylvania phonetics. "Murdur Durdur: An Extremely Pennsylvania Crime Show" isn't real but the Gritty cameo, vaping pretzel, and vernacular make it feel real.

THERE'S A TRAP FOR THAT: If you want to do your part to curb the dreaded spread of spotted lanternflies in Pennsylvania but aren't comfortable with this kind of extremely hands-on approach, Allegheny Front brings word of a no-muss-no-fuss trap for the more squeamish bug stompers among us.

ICE COLD: Ice cream maven Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry's fame) has entered the race for Philadelphia district attorney, sort of. Cohen is backing incumbent DA Larry Krasner and slamming the soft-serve ice cream Krasner's foes are using to brand him "soft on crime," NBC10 explains.

ART WALK: Pittsburgh Orbit has a guided tour of a very informal art exhibit in Pittsburgh's Skunk Hollow, a place you won't find on any map. It's an expansive collection of tin can pole art, tell-tale devils, martini glasses, hearts, arrows, and “Try Try Try” steps.

LISTEN UP: "Land & Power" is an award-winning podcast from WESA on the displacement of residents from a Pittsburgh apartment complex. It should be required listening for residents of the city, but also anyone else interested in how development works and who it affects. Get started here.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Friday's answer: Ventriloquist

Congrats to our weekly winner: Myles M.

And congrats to our daily winners: Mary Ellen T., Irene R., Craig W., Mike B., Dixie S., Jodi R., Susan D., Neal W., Joan S., Barbara F., Suzanne S., Don H., Bruce B., Virginia B., Virginia C., Vince C., Jill M., Kevin H., Meg M., Beth T., Christine M., Al M., Anna T., Elizabeth W., Elaine C., Jill A., Kim C., Steve D., Kerri G., Bob R., Karen W., Lex M., Carol D., Yvette R., Mary Kay M., Susan R., Heidi B., Dennis M., Neil W., Dianne K., Bill C., Daniel M., Patricia R., Becky C., Linda H., Richard D., Michelle T., Theodore W., Kate P., George S., Brandie K., David W., Paul H., Lance L., Jimmy N., Christine M., Jackie S., Thomas B., James B., Jeff M., Fred O., Betsy R., Ann and John P., Helen G., Carl K., and Judy M.
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