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    A Gwinnett County medical examiner's investigator was disciplined after he listed the cause of a man's death incorrectly twice. Channel 2's Tony Thomas learned the investigator listed Ray Neal's death as being due to natural causes when he'd actually been stabbed several times.  'There's no way. It was too much blood,' said Neal's sister, Michelle Smalls. The first officer to arrive at Neal's Lexington Drive duplex also found it suspicious, writing in a report, 'I observed a large amount of blood on the bed and underneath Ray Neal. I also observed blood on the walls in the bathroom and on the shower curtain.' But because Neal had several known illnesses, including hepatitus C, the investigator apparently believed the blood loss was part of his natural death. 'She was in. She went in all of 10 minutes and said it was natural causes. The funeral home director came to pick him up. When he walked in, he said, 'This is something totally different than what they said,'' Smalls said. TRENDING STORIES: Pregnant mother shot, killed shielding son during fight; shooter on the loose Officer fired shots at shoplifter in Home Depot parking lot, GBI says Police say no charges in confrontation between lawmaker, man inside Publix store Investigators said they later found stab wounds, on Monday, and the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. Police said the two-day delay hasn't hurt their investigation too much. 'We were aware of the situation prior to getting that final classification from the medical examiner's office,' said Cpl. Michele Pihera.  Neither the police nor Neal's family have any idea who might have killed the 61-year-old. 'Whomever did this, he knew them because he wouldn't let just anyone into his home,' Pihera said.
  • A U.S. judge ordered officials in a metro Atlanta county Tuesday to improve conditions at a local jail where women with mental health problems said in a lawsuit that they were subject to prolonged solitary confinement and dirty cells. Fulton County Sheriff Theodore Jackson must permit the women at South Fulton jail to have one hour of recreation time and two hours of free time each day and come up with a plan to provide clean cells and 'therapeutic activities,' Judge William Ray said. Ray granted a preliminary injunction sought by plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The sheriff's office said in a statement that it will 'continue to cooperate to the letter of the law' and is 'fully committed to the care of all persons in custody.' The suit was filed in April on behalf of the Georgia Advocacy Office and two homeless women diagnosed with serious mental illness who were being held in isolation at the jail. 'This injunction will likely save someone's life,' Sarah Geraghty, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. 'The extreme isolation imposed on women at the jail and the appalling conditions in the mental health unit have long been a recipe for disaster.' The lawsuit included pictures of cells strewn with trash and old food, feces and scum on shower mats, and messages written on the walls in food or feces. Lawyers have observed women in psychological distress lying on the floor, their bodies and the walls of their cells smeared with feces or food, according to the plaintiffs. Ray said the lawsuit was likely to succeed on its claims that officials were 'deliberately indifferent to the serious mental health needs of plaintiffs' and denied them programs and services based on their disability.
  • Firefighters are being called heroes after they rescued a father and his two children.  The family was trapped in a home in Kennesaw with fire and smoke raging through it. Firefighters who spoke to Channel 2's Chris Jose about the rescue said the flames were everywhere and they could barely see. On Tuesday, Jose spoke to Fire Chief Randy Crider, who said the crew got to the scene in seven minutes and it didn't take them long to pull out the 9-year-old boy and his sister. 'Going into a place where you can’t see your hands and face, you don’t know the exact layout of the residence,' Crider said. TRENDING STORIES: Pregnant mother shot, killed shielding son during fight; shooter on the loose Officer fired shots at shoplifter in Home Depot parking lot, GBI says Police say no charges in confrontation between lawmaker, man inside Publix store Crider said the 911 dispatcher kept the sister calm and told her what she needed to do to stay alive. 'Originally, her door was open. She closed her door,' Crider said. He said the sister stayed put until firefighters arrived. The brother had his bedroom door shut. He never left his room.  'They entered the bedroom windows, two windows at the same time,' Crider said of the firefighters. The team rescued the father from the garage. The chief said the actions of the dispatcher and the quick response time contributed to the happy ending.  Chastain spoke to the father when he came back to the house to meet with an insurance agent.  'He felt bad about everything, he knew how close it came. It could’ve been a lot worse,' Chastain said.  The chief said the fire started in the kitchen, where the father was cooking.  Paramedics rushed the children to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and officials said they're doing OK. 
  • A criminal justice reform group that launched Tuesday has brought together Democratic and Republican governors, a Black Lives Matter organizer and a Koch Industries executive in an unlikely collaboration focusing on finding solutions to problems like racial disparity and the effects of a 1994 crime bill in policing and prisons. Veteran criminal justice policy expert Adam Gelb said he formed the Council on Criminal Justice because the field seems ripe for consensus. He previously led the Pew Charitable Trusts' Public Safety Performance Project, which helped states with sentencing reforms, and worked with Congress on the crime bill. The group builds on a major criminal justice overhaul that passed Congress with rare bipartisan support and was signed by President Donald Trump last year. The First Step Act gives judges more discretion in sentencing, eases mandatory minimum sentences and encourages inmates to participate in programs aimed at reducing recidivism. More than 2 million people are behind bars in the United States, giving it the highest incarceration rate in the world and costing taxpayers $182 billion each year, the Prison Policy Initiative said. People of color also are overrepresented in the nation's prisons and jails, according to a nonpartisan group fighting mass incarceration. The Council on Criminal Justice has two initial research projects underway, with reports expected later this year. One is exploring incarceration trends by race and gender. The other is examining fallout from the 1994 crime bill passed under President Bill Clinton and largely crafted by then-Sen. Joe Biden, who's faced blowback as a Democratic presidential hopeful over the measure that some have blamed for the mass incarceration of racial minorities. The bill put stricter sentencing terms on crack versus power cocaine. The council includes former California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. It also has Charles Ramsey, a former police leader in Washington and Philadelphia, and Black Lives Matter lead organizer DeRay Mckesson. The group's co-chairs are Mark Holden, senior vice president for Koch Industries, the Kansas-based energy conglomerate of conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch; and Sally Yates, the former deputy U.S. attorney general fired by Trump after she refused to defend his travel ban on residents of some majority-Muslim countries. 'It's one of the few issues in which you do find some bipartisan consensus these days,' Yates said of criminal justice reform. 'We need to latch on to that and to latch on to this moment in time to be able to drive that forward.' For his part, Holden worked as a guard at a Massachusetts jail when he was in college, where he said he witnessed people with mental illness being 'warehoused.' 'From my perspective, there are a lot of failed government programs,' he said. 'This is the ultimate failed big government program that literally destroys lives and wastes money.' The council wants to raise $25 million over five years and already has a $2 million first-year budget from donors. Trustees and a 16-member board of directors will pick research topics but won't sign off on reports generated by task forces they appoint. The first task force, led by Republican former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, aims to find steps that a politically divided federal government can quickly take to improve public safety and the criminal justice system. Others on the 25-member board of trustees include CNN host and political commentator Van Jones, who heads the REFORM Alliance, a nonprofit focusing on changing the probation and parole system; California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who gave up her Republican Party affiliation last year; and Philadelphia's former Democratic mayor, Michael Nutter. Another trustee is Eddie Bocanegra, who spent 14 years in prison for a gang-related murder then went on to earn a degree from University of Chicago. He is now senior director of Readi Chicago, which seeks to help men affected by gun violence. 'Often people like myself with my background are excluded from these types of councils or meetings,' Bocanegra said. The trustees and directors serve three-year terms but are lifetime council members, as is the Georgia governor. The directors are choosing about 100 more lifetime members this summer. 'It's all the right people in the right places @ the right time,' Mckesson said.
  • United Parcel Service Inc. is responding to the growth in online shopping and pressures for speedy delivery by seeking to expand its drone deliveries and adding thousands of new spots where customers can pick up packages. The Atlanta-based package delivery giant said Tuesday it is adding 12,000 new package pickup locations inside CVS, The Michaels Co. and Advance Auto Parts stores. The new locations will bring to 21,000 the number of pickup points UPS has in the U.S. and to 40,000 globally. The company also announced that starting Jan. 1 it will offer pickup and delivery services seven days a week, adding service on Sundays. It said it is setting up a subsidiary that will focus on expanding its drone-delivery operations, limited now to delivering medical samples at a group of hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina. It filed for certification from the Federal Aviation Administration for the subsidiary, called UPS Flight Forward, to fly drones beyond line of sight, at night, and with an unlimited number of drones and operators in command. Still, Google is ahead of UPS on the drone front. In April, Google announced that its affiliate Wing Aviation received federal approval allowing it to make commercial deliveries by drone. It marked the first time a company has gotten a federal air carrier certification for drone deliveries. The approval from the FAA means that Wing can operate commercial drone flights in part of Virginia, which it plans to begin later this year.
  • Beware of brown recluse spiders this summer, as they are more active in the hotter months.  The venomous spiders are rare in Georgia, but you may be more likely to see them now while they are laying their eggs.  Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Eboni Deon talked to Mary Carol Sheffield with the University of Georgia Agricultural and Natural Resources program about how to spot one.  'Most spiders have eight eyes, but brown recluse spiders have only six eyes,' Sheffield said.  Sheffield said if you think you've been bitten by one, you need to call your doctor. The bites can be extremely painful -- even deadly.  'If a small child were bitten, it would be more problematic than it would be for an adult,' Sheffield said.  TRENDING STORIES: Pregnant mother shot, killed while shielding son during argument Police say no charges in confrontation between lawmaker, man inside Publix store GBI called to shooting involving officer at metro Atlanta Home Depot Deon talked to Nicole Photianos, who realized last year that her new home was infested with the spiders -- and the problem still hasn't been resolved.  'When the spiders got bad in the spring time, we had to move the kids out,' Photianos said. 'It was just too dangerous.' Photianos' friend was bitten last week while visiting her home.  'If my 3-year-old would have gotten bit, it could have been fatal, if it wasn't taken care of properly,' Photianos said.  Sheffield said the best way to keep them out of your house is to keep your home clean.  'Tidy up, reduce clutter,' Sheffield said. 'They like dark spaces that are undisturbed. They're called brown recluse because they are reclusive.
  • Channel 2 Action News has confirmed a toddler was hospitalized after he jumped onto a baggage conveyor belt and fell into a TSA bag room at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The boy’s mother told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Nicole Carr that the incident happened Monday afternoon behind the Spirit Airlines ticket counter. The child is from Gwinnett County and was traveling with his mother at the time of the accident. LIVE AT 6 ON CHANNEL 2: We’ll have details on how the airline and mother say the accident occurred, plus the latest on the child’s condition and the multi-agency investigation. #Breaking: We’ve confirmed a 2 yo boy has been hospitalized after jumping onto baggage conveyor belt , riding 5 minutes, falling into TSA bag room at Atlanta Airport. At 5, hear from his mother, Spirit Airlines on how this all happened, his condition. @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/YYGOwYBnm0 — Nicole Carr (@NicoleCarrWSB) July 23, 2019
  • A same-sex couple in Georgia said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that the U.S. State Department is unconstitutionally refusing to recognize their daughter's rightful American citizenship. The State Department's policy treats married same-sex couples as if their marriages do not exist and treats them differently from married straight couples in violation of the law and the Constitution, according to the suit filed in federal court in Atlanta. It was filed on behalf of Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg, whose daughter Simone was born in England in July 2018 via surrogate. Both men are U.S. citizens and are listed as her parents on the birth certificate. But because only one has a biological connection to her, the lawsuit says, the State Department is treating her as if she was born outside of marriage, triggering additional conditions for the recognition of her citizenship. A State Department spokesperson declined to comment, citing pending litigation. A child born abroad to married U.S. citizens is automatically a U.S. citizen as long as one parent has lived in the U.S., the lawsuit says. But there are additional requirements if the parents are not married or if only one is a U.S. citizen. Mize was born and raised in Mississippi, while Gregg was born in London to a U.S. citizen mother and British father and was raised in London with dual citizenship. The couple met in 2014 in New York, where Mize was living. Gregg soon moved to New York so they could be together, and the pair married in 2015. They moved to Georgia in 2017. A close friend in England agreed to be their surrogate. Mize stayed in England with her for most of the pregnancy, and Gregg joined them for the final five weeks. Both men were present for Simone's birth in July 2018 — Gregg cut the umbilical cord while Mize held her. They returned to their home in Decatur, just outside Atlanta, in September. Preparing to file their taxes in March, Mize went to get a Social Security Number for Simone to claim her as a dependent, he said in a phone interview. The Social Security office staff told him they needed a consular record of birth abroad or a U.S. passport for her and that he would need to get that from the U.S. embassy in London. The couple brought Simone to London in April, armed with their U.S. passports, their marriage certificate and Simone's birth certificate. Once the embassy staff realized both parents were men, they started asking invasive questions about how Simone was conceived and who the biological parent was, Mize said. After three hours of questions and waiting, Mize said, the embassy staff said Simone was not eligible for citizenship. Since she's the child of two men and not biologically related to both, the State Department treated her as if she was born 'out of wedlock,' the lawsuit says. And because Gregg, the biological parent, hadn't lived in the U.S. for five years prior to Simone's birth, the State Department determined she's not a U.S. citizen. Simone, who has British citizenship through Gregg, was allowed to return to the U.S. in April on a tourist visa. But that visa expires soon, leaving her without legal status here, which Mize says is a terrifying prospect. The lawsuit was their last resort, he said. It was filed by lawyers with Lambda Legal and Immigration Equality, advocates for LGBTQ rights. The law presumes that when a child is born to a married couple, both are legal parents, and the State Department routinely makes that assumption for male-female married couples, said Lambda Legal lawyer Karen Loewy. The department's policy does not apply that same presumption to same-sex couples despite a legal requirement to do so, she said. During their three-hour wait at the embassy, Mize and Gregg watched about 20 male-female couples come in, present the same documents they had provided and walk out with passports for their children, Mize said. None of them were asked how the child was conceived and whether they were biologically related, he said. Having experienced discrimination because of his sexual orientation in the past, Mize said he often wondered during the early months of Simone's life whether people were judging his family. But by the time they went to the embassy, he said, 'I was really starting to believe all that paranoia was unfounded.' When the embassy staff didn't recognize his marriage or his parental relationship to his daughter, he said, it all came rushing back. 'In that moment, every anxiety I've ever had in my life about being gay and different came into my body and I just wanted to cry,' he said.
  • Injuries already are mounting for an Atlanta Falcons' defense hoping to avoid a repeat of its 2018 health woes. Coach Dan Quinn confirmed Tuesday that safety J.J. Wilcox will miss the season with a right knee injury. Also, defensive tackle Michael Bennett has suffered a broken ankle and will miss the start of the season. Both were hurt on Monday's opening day of training camp. The injuries follow defensive end Steven Means' season-ending Achilles tendon injury in organized team activities in May. Means started four games in 2018. Wilcox worked with the first-team defense this offseason while Keanu Neal continued his rehabilitation from a knee injury. When Wilcox was hurt on Monday while covering wide receiver Christian Blake, Neal was one of the first players to offer comfort. 'I've been through it,' Neal said Tuesday. 'I knew what it's like to get that news. It sucks.' The loss of Wilcox is significant. Even though Neal is on track to reclaiming his starting job, Wilcox was expected to serve as the team's third safety. Neal and safety Damontae Kazee helped Wilcox off the field after the injury. Quinn said Neal had a message for the defense after practice. 'As we went to the team Keanu said, 'You just can't take it for granted. You never know when these opportunities can be taken from you,' ' Quinn said. 'It was so fresh in his memory that he shared that with the other defensive guys.' Atlanta lost linebacker Deion Jones and both safeties, Neal and Ricardo Allen, to injured reserve last season. The Falcons also lost running back Devonta Freeman and both starting offensive guards on the way to a 7-9 finish. The injuries at the start of training camp were quickly followed on Tuesday by a move to bolster the defense. The Falcons and former Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Allen Bailey agreed to a two-year, $10.5 million contract. Bailey, 30, had a career-high six sacks for the Chiefs in 2018. He could join practice on Wednesday. Quinn said the team began talking with Bailey at the start of free agency. The team placed an emphasis on finalizing new contracts for Jones and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett before completing the deal with Bailey. 'I'm really glad he wanted to be a part of this because we really wanted him to be here,' Quinn said. Bailey played college football at Miami and spent eight years with Kansas City. He has 19.5 career sacks. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • The winning numbers in Tuesday afternoon's drawing of the Georgia Lottery's 'All or Nothing Day' game were: 01-02-04-09-10-13-14-17-18-19-21-23 (one, two, four, nine, ten, thirteen, fourteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty-one, twenty-three)