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Victim identified in Arthur Ashe Boulevard homicide

At approximately 1:43 a.m., Tuesday, June 2nd, RPD officers were called to the Rodeway Inn in the 3200 block of N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard for a report of a person shot. They quickly located a victim, Jermaine R. Stroman, 30, of Chester, VA lying in a third floor hallway. He had been shot.

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The Richmond Police Department is investigating a homicide that occurred last night on the city’s north side.

At approximately 1:43 a.m., Tuesday, June 2nd, RPD officers were called to the Rodeway Inn in the 3200 block of N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard for a report of a person shot. They quickly located a victim, Jermaine R. Stroman, 30, of Chester, VA lying in a third floor hallway. He had been shot.

He was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:55 a.m.

Anyone with information about this homicide is asked to contact Detective G. Bailey at (804) 646-6743 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or www.7801000.com or the P3 smartphone app. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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RPD Seeking GRTC Pulse Assault Victim, Man Wanted for Attacking Woman

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From RPD:

Richmond Police detectives are asking for the victim of a recent assault on a GRTC Pulse bus to come forward.

At around noon on August 31, 2020, security video shows a man rising from his seat on a GRTC Pulse bus. As he steps towards the back of the bus, he intentionally and forcefully strikes the victim, seated directly behind him, in the head. The suspect pretends to slip, and then slips near the driver. We covered the victim’s face for her safety, but detectives would like to speak to her about the incident. The suspect eventually exited the bus.

The same man is suspected in two other random attacks on women in the City of Richmond, as well as another assault of a woman in Henrico County.

At around 10:15 a.m. on August 31, 2020, security video shows the elderly victim using a cane to cross East Broad Street at North 4th Street. When she reaches the sidewalk, the suspect punches her in the face with such force she’s knocked to the ground. The suspect walked away.

At around 3:45 p.m. on July 21, 2020, security video shows the victim on her phone and the suspect seated directly in front of her. As the bus approaches a stop, the suspect leans back and elbows her in the head and chest. The suspect again pretends he slipped and fell, then elbows the victim in the head a second time. The suspect exited the bus.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. Both Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Activists say bill ending police stops for pot odor is ‘small step’ for marginalized communities

The state Senate approved a bill Friday that would prohibit search and seizures based solely on the odor of marijuana. Activists say this is a small step toward ending adverse enforcement against marginalized communities.

Capital News Service

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By Andrew Ringle

The state Senate approved a bill Friday that would prohibit search and seizures based solely on the odor of marijuana. Activists say this is a small step toward ending adverse enforcement against marginalized communities.

Senate Bill 5029, introduced by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, passed with a 21-15 vote.

Chelsea Higgs Wise, executive director of Marijuana Justice, a nonprofit pushing for the statewide legalization of marijuana, said her group is excited to see the bill move forward.

“This is a small but important step to decriminalizing Black and brown bodies of being targeted by this longtime policing tool, which was really created by politicizing the war on drugs,” Higgs Wise said.

Black people are more than three times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia compared to white people, according to 2018 data from the ACLU. Even after marijuana was decriminalized in July, Higgs Wise said police stops initiated on the smell of marijuana continue to adversely affect minority groups.

“The odor of marijuana is something that our undocumented community is anxious about because it’s life or death and separation from their families,” Higgs Wise said.

Higgs Wise said there is still “a long way to go” before demands for full marijuana legalization are met, but right now she wants legislators to focus on ending the enforcement of remaining marijuana-related penalties.

Marijuana decriminalization legislation approved by the General Assembly earlier this year went into effect in July. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana results in a $25 civil penalty, reduced from a $500 criminal fine and 30 days in jail for having up to half an ounce.

Higgs Wise said true reform goes further; clearing records, releasing people jailed for marijuana offenses and eliminating the $25 fine.

“All of that has to stop to meet the full demand of legalization and fully, truly decriminalizing marijuana and Black and brown bodies in the eyes of the police,” Higgs Wise said.

Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Dana Schrad said the organization opposes the bill.

“Enacting this type of legislation allows and promotes smoking of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle, which is a fundamental disregard for maintaining a safe driving environment for motorists,” Schrad said in an email.

Other amendments in the bill reduce certain traffic violations from primary to secondary offenses, which Schrad said could make it difficult for officers to issue citations on the road and creates risks for other drivers.

The bill, and another in the House, reduce other traffic penalties from primary to secondary offenses, such as driving with tinted windows or without a light illuminating the vehicle’s license plate.

Claire Gastañaga, executive director of ACLU Virginia, said police have “gotten comfortable” with using the smell of marijuana as a pretext to stop and frisk.

“Occasionally, they’ll find evidence doing that of some other criminal activity, but many times they don’t,” Gastañaga said. “As a consequence, it provides an excuse for essentially over-policing people who have done nothing wrong.”

Gastañaga said the end of the overcriminalization of Black and brown people will come after legislators legalize marijuana and commit to reinvesting equitably in those communities. A resolution approved by the General Assembly earlier in the year directed the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study and make recommendations for how the commonwealth should legalize marijuana by 2022.

Gastañaga said SB 5029 sends a strong message to the police and the public.

“This would take [away] that pretextual tool for police stopping people on the street, or for demanding to search a vehicle,” Gastañaga said.

The bill needs approval from the House of Delegates and a signature from Gov. Ralph Northam before it can become law, which would take effect four months after the special session adjourns.

House Bill 5058 similarly aims to end police searches based on the odor of marijuana. The bill, introduced by Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, reported Wednesday from the House Courts of Justice committee by a vote of 13-7.

“A disproportionate number of people pulled over for minor traffic offenses tend to be people of color,” Hope said during the committee meeting on Wednesday. “This is a contributor to the higher incarceration rate among minorities.”

Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said during Wednesday’s meeting that when people feel they are being targeted by the police, they’re less likely to report crimes or act as witnesses in prosecutions. He said ending such traffic stops is necessary to reform the criminal justice system and make communities safer.

“Reforming our criminal justice system means bringing back legitimacy to it,” Descano said.

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Suspect in custody following shooting at 7-Eleven at Chamberlayne and Azalea Avenues

Police found an adult male suffering from apparent gunshot wounds upon arrival. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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From Richmond Police:

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, officers responded to the 5200 block of Chamberlayne Avenue for several reports of a person shot at the 7-Eleven store, located at the intersection of Chamberlayne Avenue and Azalea Avenue. Once on scene, they found an adult male suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

An adult male suspect is in custody.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Major Crimes Detective K. Hughes at (804) 385-7269 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones also may be used. All Crime Stoppers reporting methods are anonymous.

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