Good morning, Bulletin readers. In January, we teamed up with BuzzFeed News for an investigation into the growing number of shootings that go unsolved by the police. As a counterpoint, the article looked at one Baltimore homicide that did lead to an arrest and conviction — despite the prosecution’s thin case. Now, defense attorneys have used evidence we unearthed to help free the accused shooter, who’s always maintained his innocence.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: A Baltimore man featured in a Trace/BuzzFeed investigation was found not guilty in his murder retrial. Devon Little was sentenced to life in prison for a 2016 killing that he said he didn’t commit. He was freed last week after a second jury found him not guilty. Evidence shared in the retrial, including missteps by the lead detective, was first reported in an investigation by The Trace and BuzzFeed News that revealed how detectives at police departments across the country often fail to properly probe shootings, in part because of staffing shortages. Sarah Ryley has the update.
America’s recent uptick in gun violence was driven by an increase in homicides of people of color. Researchers at Boston University analyzed firearm mortality data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and found that an increase in gun death rates between 2014 and 2016 was led by young black and Hispanic men. The lead researcher in the study said the results point to the importance of community-specific interventions against gun violence, especially given the patchwork nature of gun laws across the country. Go deeper: Focusing on overall crime rates often ignores the metric that matters more: “Murder inequality.”
Nearly half of residents in Washington, D.C.’s poorest, high-crime neighborhoods know someone touched by gun violence. A Washington Post poll found that 46 percent of residents in Wards 7 and 8, east of the Anacostia River, were acquainted with someone who’s been shot or threatened with a gun in the last five years — 12 percentage points higher than the citywide average. Homicides in the District are up 6 percent year-over-year and gun assaults are up 13 percent.
The NRA says New York regulators have targeted an insurance company that services gun group members. A crackdown by the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo led to the end of the National Rifle Association’s Carry Guard insurance, which offered potential reimbursement to gun owners who shot someone while claiming self-defense. The NRA sued in response. In a new letter to the presiding judge, the gun group alleges that other insurance companies it works with have also faced scrutiny from the state, claiming that the New York Department of Financial Services took “selective-enforcement action” against AGIA Affinity, a broker that offers health and life insurance to NRA members.
Dayton, Ohio, shooting victims and their families have received $3.8 million. The Oregon District Tragedy Fund, which was set up within hours of the August 4 tragedy, allocated the sum to three dozen survivors and family members of the nine people killed. As of this month, more than 5,000 contributors had been donated to the fund. More money will be distributed next year, said the head of foundation that oversees it.
The killer in a domestic murder-suicide in Alabama had been mistakenly released from jail. The man was arrested on domestic violence charges last week for stalking his estranged wife, and a judge ordered him held without bail. But he was released on $2,500 bond, and the next day he fatally shot her and then himself. The local district attorney called it a “failure of the system” and said the matter was being investigated.
On average, the Philadelphia School District has a campus lockdown once every other school day. The most common reason is nearby gunfire. —Billy Penn