Crime in the News - FindLaw Blotter
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Is It Legal to Shoot Someone Carrying a Fake Gun?

Four police officers shot and killed a man in Oakland who approached them with a fake gun last week, SF Gate reports. The officers' body cameras were not on, as they were doing paperwork rather than detaining anyone.

The police said they were shocked to discover the gun was a replica. The shooting is being investigated by Oakland's homicide unit and internal affairs division, as well as the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. But if the officers reasonably believed that the replica -- and therefore the threat to them -- was real, then the shooting of Richard Perkins, 39, was legal.

Accidents and Animals: Pet Hit and Run Laws

There generally are not specific criminal laws regarding hitting a dog or other pet with a car and fleeing, as there are with people. But you may be cited for animal cruelty or for ignoring property damage notification obligations for failure to report hitting a pet in some states.

Penalties for accidentally hitting a pet with a car depend on the breadth of state animal cruelty laws, which are based either on intentional acts or failure to act on behalf of an animal, as well as on state hit and run statutes and the definition of property. The California Vehicle Code, for example, provides that failure to report damage to property after an accident is a misdemeanor, and pets are -- in another statute -- defined as property.

According to some reports, there are a million animals killed on American roads every single day, so let's look at what you should do if you find one.

Fake Calculator App Facilitated School Sexting Scandal

Students in a Colorado high school possibly face felony charges for texting lewd photos. Hundreds of images have been exchanged and stored on phones using an app that is masked as a calculator, CNN reports.

Officials have not yet disclosed how many students are involved in the sexting scandal at CaƱon City High School, but it appears to be big trouble for many. Convictions could lead to sex offender status for the kids. Police have seized several phones with hundreds of photos.

School Stabbings: 4 Attacked on UC Merced Campus

A student at University of California Merced yesterday stabbed four people on campus with a hunting knife, the Los Angeles Times reports. A construction worker heard a fight in a nearby classroom and went to stop it, only to find that a student had already been stabbed and that he would be next.

The construction worker, Byron Price, chased the assailant out of the building. Reportedly the student tried stabbing people as he ran, and managed to hurt two more before he was stopped. Two campus police officers chased and shot him to death on a pedestrian bridge on campus, according to UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland.

As of 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on November 2, a total of 999 people have been killed by police in the year 2015. And even if that total reaches 1,000 before December 31st, it will still trail last year's number of 1,108.

Fatal police interactions have been hard to track until very recently, but and the Washington Post have started to compile databases of police killings and analyzing the data. And several high-profile homicides in the last two years have focused the media's attention on an overwhelming but previously under-reported policing issue.

This weekend we're all winding our clocks back an hour. (Or our cell phones and smartwatches are doing it for us.) Some of us, author included, consider Daylight Saving Time an antiquated hassle that needs to go the way of the horse and buggy. But some new crime statistics make a pretty good argument to make Daylight Savings Time permanent.

It turns out that having more daylight in the evening (a function of setting our clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time) reduces crime rates. So perhaps we can't just junk this weird time shift that no one understands without creating some safety risks.

These days, road rage incidents have become more common and more publicized. Fortunately, most are harmless yelling back and forth. Unfortunately, not all end in anger and hurt feelings. Some road rage incidents turn fatal.

That was the case in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a driver opened fire on a truck, killing a 4-year-old in the back seat.

Hit and Run Driver Tweets Photos

A man tweeted a photo of a boy he killed this weekend, leading police to him. Trevius Williams,16, was picking up bread for his mom at the corner store when he was fatally struck by a car in Jacksonville, Florida, reportedly driven by Keenan Mikel Slaughter, 19.

Photos of the bleeding corpse, posted by the driver, went viral and led police to the perpetrator. The graphic images infuriated Williams' mother, Connie Cole. She told reporters, "To be honest, I'm enraged ... I don't know whether to be mad or sad ... How dare you do that? How dare you stand over my son's mangled bloody body and take a picture of him?"

Feds Seize Lethal Weapons in Epic Ghost Gun Bust

Ghost guns are haunting our communities. Weapons without serial numbers that circumvent gun control measures are a risk to public safety yet are in wide circulation.

Last week, federal officials busted eight men in California responsible for the manufacture and distribution of hundreds of these weapons. Undercover agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives bought or seized more than 230 homemade assault rifles and silencers in a major takedown, the biggest in California Central Valley history.

Avoid Home Security Scams. Are You a Target?

Your home is secure and everyone knows it. You've got that sign in your yard that advertises your security system, and it deters crime. Or does it?

Home security system scams are not new but they are on the rise. The targets of these scams are almost asking for it. Or, more precisely, they are advertising their vulnerability.

Find out how you can avoid doing the same and keep your home safe.