- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2007


City settles lawsuit by war protesters

A civil rights advocacy group has settled a lawsuit against the District over the Sept. 27, 2002, arrests of four persons during a protest against the IMF/World Bank and the impending war in Iraq.

The District-based Partnership for Civil Justice said Tuesday that the District agreed to pay each of the four persons $50,000 in addition to attorneys’ fees.

As part of the settlement, officers in the police Special Operations Division will receive training on how to deal with protesters as well as new guidelines for issuing permits and arresting protesters.

Each of the four plaintiffs will have their arrest records expunged.

The plaintiffs were Jeffrey Barham and Miles Swanson, who were part of the National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer program; Brian McAteer, who was filming the activity; and Laury Saligman, a bicycle racer who had paused to rest from her training routine to watch when she was arrested.

The group is currently litigating the class-action lawsuit also stemming from arrests that day of about 400 people in Pershing Park.

Residents rescued from balconies

Firefighters rescued several people from an apartment fire in Southwest yesterday.

Several people had to be removed from balconies using ladders to escape the two-alarm fire in the 200 block of I Street.

A firefighter was injured during the rescue with burns to his leg, fire department spokesman Alan Etter said.



Pilot error cited in fatal plane crash

Pilot error and weather conditions were to blame for a small-plane crash one year ago that killed all four persons aboard, federal investigators concluded.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s report, issued this week, does not name the pilot in the Feb. 22, 2006, crash.

Who was at the controls of the aircraft is in dispute as part of lawsuits filed by families of two dead passengers.

While Richard Potter owned the Lancair Columbia 400, his attorney has not agreed to the contention that he was flying the plane.

Mr. Potter, a Virginia home-builder, and three other men were returning from a Wake Forest University basketball game in North Carolina when they were diverted from Fredericksburg’s Shannon Airport to Stafford Regional Airport because of weather.

There was no evidence of mechanical failure, according to the report.

Also killed in the crash were Graham Green III, 57; Albert “Buck” Jacoby, 49; and Michael Gus Pappas, 47.

The families of Mr. Green and Mr. Pappas each filed $10 million lawsuits last fall against Mr. Potter’s estate. Mr. Jacoby, like Mr. Potter, was also an instrument-rated pilot.


Two beached whales can’t be saved

Two whales beached themselves in Virginia Beach and died.

The stranding team from the Virginia Aquarium was unable to save the two female pygmy sperm whales that came aground at the beach at Sandbridge on Tuesday afternoon.

One of the whales was dead when the rescuers arrived and the other was euthanized, a spokeswoman for the aquarium said.

The whales were 7 and 10 feet long.


Horse auctions put off to slow virus’ spread

State officials have canceled all public horse sales and auctions throughout Virginia.

The move is part of continuing efforts to stop the spread of the highly contagious equine herpesvirus.

Last week, officials placed a quarantine on 10 horse facilities in Northern Virginia.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture said five horses have tested positive for the virus, which attacks the respiratory system and is spread from infected horses through nasal fluids and bodily secretions.

The virus poses no known health threat to humans, but it can be spread by people on clothing, shoes and equipment.

The ban was ordered by the state veterinarian. It remains in effect through Monday.


Courthouse guard accidentally shoots self

A security guard at the federal courthouse accidentally shot himself yesterday morning but was not seriously injured, authorities said.

The man, whose name was withheld, had just reported for his shift and was putting the gun in his holster when it discharged, Supervising Deputy Jim Daily of the U.S. Marshals Service told WWBT-TV.

The bullet grazed the guard’s leg, and he was taken to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.

The man works for Akal Security, which contracts with the Marshals Service to provide security at the courthouse.



Board approves school changes

The Baltimore city school board has approved a sweeping realignment of the schools to address falling enrollments, aging buildings and poor student performance.

Over the next two years, four elementary and middle schools in the Cherry Hill neighborhood will be placed under the control of Towson University, seven city schools will be closed and three failing high schools will be restructured.

The failing high schools — Frederick Douglass, Patterson and Northwestern — will have a governing board.

The three high schools and the Towson-controlled schools will function much like charter schools as largely independent public schools.


Drunken driver gets 7 years in fatal crash

A Bethesda man was sentenced to seven years in prison yesterday for the drunken-driving death of a Montgomery County art teacher and sculptor.

The sentence for David Helms, 44, is part of a plea agreement announced early last month.

Helms pleaded guilty to negligent manslaughter and driving under the influence in the July 11 death of Leonard Cave, 61, a teacher at Northwest High School in Germantown who was a nationally known artist.

The school’s choral music teacher, Carolyn Gipe, survived injuries she suffered in the crash on a westbound on ramp to Interstate 70.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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