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Florida police officer, 28, killed in overnight confrontation with teenage suspect

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — It all started with a call about a suspicious person. A young man tooled around on a bright red bicycle, pulling up to parked cars and giving the door handles a good tug.

But within 25 minutes of the police call to the upscale suburban neighborhood, the emergency was no longer about a possible burglar on a bike. A flurry of police in tactical gear rushed the neighborhood after a police officer was shot and killed, leading an overnight search by foot and air for hours.

“I think I’ve got an officer shot right now,” a winded officer shouted into the police radio just before midnight Sunday from Emerald Hills, a neighborhood of lush tree-lined streets with parks and canals between Stirling Road and Sheridan Street. Forty-two seconds later the same officer gets back on the radio: “Yeah, I got an officer shot,” according to Broadcastify, a service that records police radio scanners.

With no time to wait, police grabbed Officer Yandy Chirino, rushing him in a police cruiser to Memorial Hospital, where doctors were unable to save his life. Chirino, 28, had been with the department for four years.

The suspect accused of killing Chirino is Jason Banegas, 18.

Few details about the confrontation were provided by police throughout the day Monday. By 5:30 p.m. police still had not booked the suspect in jail.

“I can tell you that (Chirino) was great person,” said Officer Christian Lata.

Lata said he last spoke to Chirino a week ago when the officer told Lata he spent his day off cheering on the Hollywood Police Athletic League’s youth football team in a match-up against a Miami youth league. “That’s the kind of person he was,” Lata said.

Police Chief Chris O’Brien’s voice broke as he shared the news of the young officer’s death at a news conference Monday morning. Chirino, the chief said, had been recognized multiple times in his short career and was Officer of the Month in June 2020.

Chirino’s death was a reminder that the men and women of the police force respond to crime scenes resulting in the worst days of somebody’s life and some of the worst things that humanity has to offer, O’Brien said.

“I want to remind everyone that the dangers our officers face on a daily basis are real,” O’Brien said. “Too often we take for granted or minimize those dangers.

“There are not many professions where you risk your life for the protection of others every single day and sometimes multiple times a day,” he said.

“Last night, officer Chirino left the safety of his home, came to work to protect his community and tragically will not be going home to his loved ones this morning.”

Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy joined O’Brien and other officers during the announcement: “To be here this morning united in grief and sadness with the loss of this young man is a reminder of the dangers our officers face every day and the fragile nature of human life.”

Chirino’s social media footprint reveals that he did a lot of living in a tragically short time for a man who didn’t reach his 30th birthday.

“Life is not really long,” the narrator says in a YouTube video Chirino posted six years ago.

“Let’s say the average person is 30 years old,” the unknown narrator continues in a feed Chirino used to create his own movie. “How much traveling have you done in 30 years?”

The video cuts to Chirino powering through the water on a jet ski with his girlfriend “Princess Maria,” zip lining and river rafting, among other adventures, in just one of multiple videos he posted of their travels to places such as Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Epcot and more — even learning to fly a plane.

Chirino graduated from Police Academy Class 308, and he selflessly devoted his life to law enforcement, O’Brien said.

Many took to social media Monday to express their sorrow.

“It’s always tough when the community loses a police officer in the line of duty,” Plantation Police Officer Joseph Mercogliano posted on Facebook. “But it hurts a lot more when it is one of your past cadets. RIP Officer Yandy Chirino (badge) #3534. The community, PA Class 308 and I will never forget you.”

Chirino was a soccer player and attended Miami Coral Park Senior High, according to an online profile, and graduated in 2011.

His social media presence reflected a young man with a big heart.

In 2014 the AXE Peace line debuted male grooming products and encouraged its followers to send in a photo of their love to #KissForPeace and the best would be featured in Manhattan on a Times Square billboard. The company tagged Chirino twice in 2014 writing “You’re kind of a big deal” and in another: “How does it feel to be famous? Your #KissForPeace just debuted in New York City!”

Banegas, police say, faces charges of first-degree murder, armed burglary, battery on a law enforcement officer, grand theft of a firearm and resisting arrest with violence.

At just 18, the suspected killer already has a lengthy arrest record. Banegas has had a string of run-ins with the police across Miami-Dade County on charges that include burglary, car theft and mischief, state records show.

In September last year, Miami Police detained Banegas on suspicion of having cocaine with intent to sell or distribute near a school, a charge that wasn’t pursued by prosecutors. In February 2020, Miami-Dade County Police held him on burglary and trespassing charges. In 2018, he was held on charges of stealing a car and resisting an officer without violence, the records show. The same year, Coral Gables police arrested him on a burglary charge, but prosecutors dismissed that case. In 2016, Miami-Dade Schools Police accused him of burglary and criminal mischief. In 2015, he was charged with resisting an officer without violence.

Early Monday morning investigators at the crime scene put yellow markers around clothing on a sidewalk. A Hollywood Police SUV was parked nearby. A bicycle was on the ground in front of the SUV near Mara Berman Giulianti Park at 4151 N. Hills Drive.

According to Elliot Kugelman, who lives in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, police had been warning residents that one and possibly two people on bicycles were going through the streets, testing car doors in order to rummage through them.

Kugelman said his son-in-law was contacted and told his car had been rifled through at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

After the shooting, Hollywood police, their SWAT team, and officers from neighboring agencies canvassed the area, knocking on doors and going through yards with dogs, searching for suspects, said Kugelman.

Several residents said helicopters circled overnight for long periods of time.

How and when police detained the suspect was not clear late Monday.

Susie Loberfeld and her daughter have lived in the neighborhood for seven years. Early Monday evening they tied blue ribbon around the tree in their front yard.

“We just want the Hollywood Police Department and Broward Sheriff’s Office to know that we feel for them,” Loberfeld said. “He was here protecting me and my family.”

On North 41st Street, nearly every house on the block had blue ribbons tied on trees or mailboxes.

A resident named Daphne, who declined to give her last name for safety reasons, learned of the teen’s arrest when a friend texted her late Monday morning. It unnerved her. She usually goes outside for a run or walk but felt unsafe Monday in a area that is usually filled with people running, walking dogs, pushing strollers.

“I just didn’t feel safe leaving my house. … They do so much for our community,” she said of the police. “I just feel so terrible that this guy lost his life over something so stupid.”

Monday evening, a makeshift memorial had been attached to the fence outside the park where the shooting happened. Bouquets of pink and purple carnations and yellow roses were left at the memorial. Someone printed a sign that said “Officer Yandy Chirino thank you for your bravery and protecting our community.”

A school-aged girl holding a single white rose walked over to the fence and taped a hand-written note to it: “Rest in peace officer Yandy Chirino may you rest In peace in heaven.”

———

(Staff writers Brooke Baitinger and Juan Ortega and staff photojournalist Joe Cavaretta contributed to this report.)

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China says 85% of citizens will use Mandarin by 2025

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BEIJING (AP) — China is launching an aggressive campaign to promote Mandarin, saying 85% of its citizens will use the national language by 2025.

The move appears to put threatened Chinese regional dialects such as Cantonese and Hokkien under even greater pressure, along with minority languages such as Tibetan, Mongolian and Uyghur.

The order issued Tuesday by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, said use of Mandarin, known in Chinese as “putonghua” or the “common tongue,” remains “unbalanced and inadequate” and needs to be improved to meet the demands of the modern economy.

Critics have sporadically protested changes to the education system and employment requirements that have steadily eroded the role of minority languages, calling it a campaign to eradicate cultures that don’t conform with the dominant Han ethnic group.

Along with the 2025 goal, the policy aims to make Mandarin virtually universal by 2035, including in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.

The promotion of Mandarin over other languages has sparked occasional protests, including last year in the Inner Mongolia region when the Mongolian language was replaced by standard Mandarin as the language of instruction.

China’s ruling Communist Party has denounced all such movements as a form of separatism and repressed them ruthlessly. It says language conformity is necessary for the sake of the economy and national unity.

The policy is backed up by legal requirements and the document issued Wednesday demanded strengthened supervision to “ensure that the national common spoken and written language is used as the official language of government agencies and used as the basic language of schools, news and publications, radio, film and television, public services and other fields.”

It calls also on officials to “vigorously enhance the international status and influence of Chinese” in academia, international organizations and at global gatherings.

Government attempts to promote Mandarin through its worldwide network of Confucius Institutes have been controversial, with critics denouncing them as an attempt to promote the party’s agenda and quash discussion of topics such its human rights record.

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This story corrects the day the State Council issued the order on language.



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Walmart said she shoplifted; jury awards her $2.1 million

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MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama woman who says she was falsely arrested for shoplifting at a Walmart and then threatened by the company after her case was dismissed has been awarded $2.1 million in damages.

A Mobile County jury on Monday ruled in favor of Lesleigh Nurse of Semmes, news outlets reported.

Nurse said in a lawsuit that she was stopped in November 2016 when trying to leave a Walmart with groceries she said she already paid for, according to AL.com. She said she used self-checkout but the scanning device froze. Workers didn’t accept her explanation and she was arrested for shoplifting.

Her case was dismissed a year later, but then she received letters from a Florida law firm threatening a civil suit if she didn’t pay $200 as a settlement, according to her lawsuit. That was more than the cost of the groceries she was accused of stealing.

Nurse said Walmart instructed the law firm to send the letters — and that she wasn’t the only one receiving them.

“The defendants have engaged in a pattern and practice of falsely accusing innocent Alabama citizens of shoplifting and thereafter attempting to collect money from the innocently accused,” the suit contended.

WKRG reported that the trial featured testimony that Walmart and other major retailers routinely use such settlements in states where laws allow it, and that Walmart made hundreds of millions of dollars this way in a two-year period.

Defense attorneys for Walmart said the practice is legal in Alabama. A spokesperson told AL.com that the company will be filing motions in this case because it doesn’t “believe the verdict is supported by the evidence and the damages awarded exceed what is allowed by law.”



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Republican Colleague Tom Reed Calls Lauren Boebert’s Vile Attacks A ‘Pox On All Our Houses’

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This “has to stop,” an outraged Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) said Monday of the racist and Islamophobic attacks by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), calling her behavior a “pox on all our houses.”

He was referring to Boebert’s appalling joke in a speech to constituents last week in which she suggested that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a Muslim, could be a suicide bomber.

“I … condemn the kind of comments that were made by my colleague in Congress towards a fellow colleague on the other side of the aisle,” Reed said on CNN’s “OutFront.” “This is a pox on all our houses.”

He added: “We have degraded to a point in the institution of Congress [to a] level of hate I’ve never felt before.”

This “rhetoric, this type of commentary, has to stop. We need to focus on the American people and solving their problems. That’s got to be the mission,” said Reed, the former leader of the House Problem Solvers Caucus.

This is the “institution of Congress, this is the People’s House, and we have to respect each other,” Reed added. American citizens “should be working together as opposed to engaging in what could be called antics of a high-school-level nature.”

Boebert claimed in her talk to constituents in Colorado that she had just stepped into an elevator with Omar at the U.S. Capitol recently when a concerned police officer rushed over before the doors closed.

“I look to my left and there she is, Ilhan Omar,” Boebert said with a laugh in a video clip of her tale. “I say, well, she doesn’t have a backpack, we should be fine.”

She also claimed she glanced at the Democratic lawmaker and said: “Oh, look, the jihad squad decided to show up for work today.”

Omar said none of that happened.

Boebert claimed she called Omar on Monday to apologize — but attacked her instead — and suggested Omar “sympathizes with terrorists.”

“I never want anything I say to offend someone’s religion, so I told her that,” Boebert recounted Monday in an Instagram video recapping the conservation.

But then Boebert said she told Omar that “she should make a public apology to the American people for her anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-police rhetoric.”

That’s when Omar ended the call.

Omar is calling for Boebert to face some sort of sanction from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), which is unlikely.

“To date, the Republican Party leadership has done nothing to condemn and hold their own members accountable for repeated instances of anti-Muslim hate and harassment,” Omar said in a statement Monday.

“This is not about one hateful statement or one politician; it is about a party that has mainstreamed bigotry and hatred. It is time for Republican Leader McCarthy to actually hold his party accountable.”

Also on HuffPost

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.





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