The Week in Review
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 29 This week of superstar survivors, audacious criminals, and horrifying object lessons on the risks of cutting mental-health services kicks off with a story about God, the beloved fictional deity who's spent the past several centuries being vociferously thanked for everything by everyone, from Grammy winners to Biggest Losers. So allow us to rally a cheer for Steve Johnson, the wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills who broke new ground by dropping what should have been an easy, game-winning pass and blaming no one but God. As the New York Daily News reports, the ball-based blasphemy took place yesterday in Orchard Park, New York, where the aforementioned Bills were locked in battle against the Pittsburgh Steelers. "Johnson had a perfect pass in his hands that would have given his team an overtime victory over the heavily favored Steelers," reports the NYDN. "Instead of walking off the field the hero, however, he dropped it. Devastated, the 24-year-old watched in horror as the Steelers drove back down the field for the game-winning field goal." Following the game, Johnson took to Twitter to call bullshit on the Creator. "I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!!" Despite his righteous fury, Johnson remains a believer, closing his ef-you tweet with the mandatory gratitude: "THX THO..." Condolences to all.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30 In real news, the week continues in downtown Seattle, where this morning brought a deadly flurry of drama to the King County Courthouse. Details come from the Seattle Times, which identifies our tragic protagonist as George Payne Jr., a 29-year-old Auburn man with a history of depression and trouble with the law. "Payne pleaded guilty in April to a single count of felony harassment after he threatened employees at an Auburn bar who had evicted him for not paying his tab and for being drunk," reports the Times. "He received a 90-day sentence. He served 60 days, was released, but was returned to work-release after violating the terms of his probation..." Which brings us to this morning, when George Payne Jr. arrived at the courthouse for a day of work release and had a suicidal fit, throwing a chair through an 11th-floor window and jumping to his death. Heartbreaking after-the-fact details will be supplied by George Payne Sr., who'll tell the Times that his son had almost completed his jail sentence, had recently been accepted to the University of Washington, and had spent the previous night at Harborview due to deepening depression.
••Also today: 26-year-old Michael LaRosa—the unmedicated mentally ill man who allegedly killed a stranger with a hatchet two weeks ago on Capitol Hill—was charged with first-degree murder and ordered held on $5 million bail. Defending the steep bail, King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg revealed that LaRosa is a suspect in another killing of another man on another Seattle sidewalk, which occurred one day prior to LaRosa's alleged murder of 58-year-old Joseph LaMagno. Stay tuned.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1 The week continues with more dangerous insanity in Seattle, this time in Pioneer Square, where this morning a woman allegedly entered a building, approached a man sitting at a table, and stabbed him in the neck with a pen, after which she fled and allegedly committed three more assaults before being wrestled to the ground by police and booked into King County Jail. Today also brought the annual Day Without Art, commemorated by countless citizens of the world with remembrances of those lost to and affected by AIDS, and by Washington D.C.'s National Portrait Gallery with the cowardly banishment of a David Wojnarowicz video depicting ants crawling on a crucifix following outbursts from butt-sore Christians.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 2 Nothing happened today, unless you count the letter sent to the Department of Justice by the ACLU of Washington, requesting a federal investigation of the Seattle Police Department following a rash of alleged civil-rights violations, including but not limited to the beating of an inmate, the kicking of a cooperating suspect, the punching of a jaywalker, the choking of a suspect in custody, repeated threats to "beat the fucking Mexican piss" out of an innocent Latino bystander, and the killing of John T. Williams. Among the components of the requested investigation listed in the letter by ACLU-of-WA executive director Kathleen Taylor: "why the police initiated or escalated the confrontations... whether officers view the use of force differently when they are confronting a person of color; why the officers chose not to use de-escalation tactics in responding to perceived law violations in order to avoid the use of violence; whether SPD employees who witness excessive force promptly reported it... and what caused contradictions between the initial statements of the officers involved and other evidence."
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3 Speaking of investigated menaces, today we turn to Tony Giles, the 53-year-old Renton man who enjoyed a career as an elite girls-basketball coach until 2003, when he was convicted of boning his pupils and sentenced to 20 months in jail. Then things got really interesting: As Seattlepi.com reports, Giles's post-incarceration life has been a tour of sordidness, involving charges of assault, accusations of stalking, and alleged sexual deviancy. But today Tony Giles was sentenced to three years in federal prison for something else entirely—identity theft, stemming from Giles's "collecting [of] government benefits under an assumed identity taken from an infant who died in 1960," reports Seattlepi.com. "Prosecutors contend Giles used the falsified ID to get a job at Boeing and move in the community without disclosing that he is a sex offender." And oh yeah: "He is scheduled to face a jury early next year in another matter in which he is accused of attempting to grab a pregnant woman's crotch."
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 4 Nothing happened today, unless you count the New York Times story that confirmed our fears that the week's dangerous wave of crazy will likely continue. "As community mental health systems fray under the strain of state budget cuts and a weak economy, law enforcement officers across the nation are increasingly having to step in to provide the emergency services that clinics have typically offered the mentally ill," reports the NYT, offering two terrifying quotes. The first, from Laura Usher of the National Alliance on Mental Illness: "States across the country are cutting their mental health budgets, and people who are serviced by state mental health programs are the poorest, and they're unable to get services any other way. The community mental health system is broken."
The second, from Forest Park, Oklahoma, police chief Amanda Bittle: "[It's] cheaper for your department to buy a $59 bus ticket and send [abandoned mental patients] as far away as you could. I know that's disturbing, but that's the reality of what's happening."
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 5 The week ends with a heartening remembrance of a heartbreaking event countless citizens will never forget: the murder of Teresa Butz, the Seattle woman who was asleep with her partner/fiancée in their South Park home when the pair was awakened by an intruder who raped and stabbed them both. Butz's injuries proved fatal, her partner/fiancée's did not, and tonight, after 16 unimaginable months, the surviving partner/fiancée took the stage at the Tractor Tavern, where she sang selections from Take You with Me, a CD of songs honoring the life of Teresa Butz. According to eye- and ear- witnesses, it was astounding, with Butz's partner/fiancée moving the crowd to tears with her own perfect composure. The CD is available at www.angelbandproject.org, with sales benefiting the Voices and Faces Project, devoted to helping survivors of rape and sexual abuse.
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