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Headlines for Thursday, December 28, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press.

Survey Asks Child Advocates About Treatment of Gay Couples

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — State auditors have found that less than a quarter of the court-appointed advocates for foster children surveyed say prospective same-sex parents are treated differently than heterosexual couples. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that auditors also found that about 37 percent of those surveyed were aware of a child who was moved from or denied a placement in an LGBT home. In the report released earlier this month, auditors said the results couldn't be taken as a sample of all guardians ad litem because the total response rate was only 34 percent. The auditors also noted that many didn't answer the question about how same-sex couples are treated. Former Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said the survey clearly encouraged "only those who believe an issue exists" to respond.

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Overnight Shooting in Lawrence Leaves 30-Year-Old Woman Dead

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — Lawrence police say a 30-year-old woman is dead following an overnight shooting in south Lawrence.  Police confirmed this (THUR) morning that Lei Ala A.Turner died from a single gunshot wound to the chest.  Police were dispatched to the August Place Apartments (2310 West 26th Street) shortly after 11 pm Wednesday where officers found Turner. Despite efforts to save her at the scene, Turner died from her injuries.  According to a news release from police, investigators have identified a suspect in the incident, and are working to locate him. Initial information indicates the shooting may have been accidental.

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DA Won't File Charges Against Officers in Topeka Man's Death 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Shawnee County district attorney says he does not plan to file criminal charges against two Topeka police officers in the fatal shooting of a black man earlier this year. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay announced his decision Wednesday in connection with the September 28 shooting of 30-year-old Dominique White near a park in east Topeka. Kagay released a seven-page legal analysis that said White acted suspiciously after the officers responded to a report of shots being fired in the area. The analysis said White struggled with police and reached for a gun. The analysis said no reasonable judge or jury would find that the actions of the two officers were unlawful. 

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Attorney: Deadly Force Unnecessary in Kansas Man's Shooting 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for the family of a black Kansas man fatally shot by police says family members believe officers violated his constitutional rights and did not need to use deadly force. In an interview Thursday, attorney Gillian Cassell-Stiga also said police body camera footage shows that 30-year-old Dominique White was "clearly trying to run away" when two Topeka officers shot him September 28 near a park. Cassell-Stiga also disputed the local prosecutor's claim in his report that the footage shows White reached toward a gun in a pocket just before officers shot him. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay announced Wednesday that he would not file criminal charges against the officers. He declared their use of force reasonable and showed reporters body camera footage. Topeka police have launched an internal investigation.

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Kansas Delaying Launch of New System for Driver's Licenses

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is delaying the launch of a new computer system for issuing driver's licenses. The Department of Revenue announced Wednesday what it called a "slight delay" for the KanLicense system that was supposed to launch January 2. The announcement came less than two weeks after a state audit raised questions about whether the system would be ready. The new system would replace a decades-old system and initially was to be deployed early in 2012. The department said the latest delay will be "only a matter of days or weeks" and that driver's license offices will remain open. Revenue Secretary Sam Williams said testing showed that the system needed a little more work. He also said launching it as planned would have required hundreds of state employees to work on New Year's Day.

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Department of Health and Environment Says Black Babies at Higher Risk of Death in Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A new report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is raising concerns about the mortality rate for African-American babies. The report found that the overall infant mortality rate of 5.9 per 1,000 live births in 2016 was unchanged from the year before and in line with the national average. But the death rate for African-American babies was 15.2 per 1,000 live births, which was nearly three times higher than the mortality rate for white or Hispanic infants. KDHE spokesman Jerry Kratochvil said the agency is unable to explain the disparity, but it is consistent with national patterns. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the KDHE analysis, which covered the five-year period from 2012 through 2016, found that the leading causes of infant death in Kansas were congenital anomalies such as heart disease, Down syndrome and spina bifida. Other leading causes of death included prematurity and low birth weight, accidental death or unexplained causes such as sudden infant death syndrome, and maternal factors such as complications during pregnancy or delivery. 

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Kansas Highway Patrol Says Winter Conditions Contributed to Fatal I-70 Accident 

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) — Icy conditions on Interstate 70 are being blamed for an accident that killed a Nebraska woman, her two daughters and a family friend after the pickup truck they were in fell off a bridge in Dickinson County near Abilene. The accident happened Tuesday morning amid heavy snowfall. The Kansas Highway Patrol's crash report says 47-year-old Lisa Luft was driving a 2001 Dodge Dakota that struck a guardrail due to weather conditions. The truck traveled 230 feet along the guardrail, then another 150 feet on top of the guardrail before falling about 25 feet off a bridge, coming to a rest on its top. The Kansas City Star reports that Luft and her two daughters, 20-year-old Brianna and 14-year-old Aria, were killed, along with Brianna's friend, 18-year-old Saleena Senzee. All four were from Kearney, Nebraska.

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Police Investigating Body Found in Kansas River

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas City, Kansas police are investigating a body found in the Kansas River. Officer Zac Blair in a statement said that a water pollution staffer found the body Thursday morning near James and Third streets. The Kansas City Star reported that fire department crews helped retrieve it from the river. Blair told the newspaper that police think the body belongs to a male but said the identity and cause of death is unclear. He said the body appeared to have been on the riverbank for a while.

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Kansas City NAACP Branch Opposes Weapon-Screening Effort

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City's NAACP branch says it opposes a weapon-screening effort in the city's Westport bar and entertainment district that involves privatizing some sidewalks in the area. The Kansas City Star reports that the city council voted in favor of a pair of ordinances to allow the city to relinquish its ownership of sidewalks along the district's main corridors to the Westport Community Improvement District. Another of the ordinances will allow metal detection checkpoints on weekend nights starting in the spring. Opponents worry the approach could lead to discrimination and sets a bad precedent of giving away public assets to private interests. NAACP officials say the ordinances may "increase civil rights violations, and increase racial tension." The civil rights organization plans to formally announce its opposition at a news conference tomorrow (FRI).  

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Johnson County to Get Bike-Sharing in 2018

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Officials in Johnson County are embracing the concept of a bike-sharing system. The Kansas City Star reports that the Mid-America Regional Council awarded transportation funding in 2014 to BikeWalkKC to expand bike-sharing into Johnson County. The county hopes to begin installing the system next spring under the BCycle banner. Residents will be able to grab a rental bike from a nearby station and return it to either the same place or another spot closer to their destination. BCycle already operates on the Missouri side of the Kansas City area, with more than 40 stations serving residents. Johnson County hopes to place a total of 70 bikes in several parks and at the new Arts & Heritage Center. County officials say bike-sharing can be a convenient and cheap transportation option.

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Wichita Police: Man Wounded After Firing at Officers During Pursuit

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A suspect is hospitalized but expected to survive after being shot in the jaw by police in Wichita. Deputy Police Chief Troy Livingston says a man shot at officers responding to a disturbance call at a business on Wednesday. Police returned fire. Officers were not struck by gunfire and the man took off in a stolen car. Police say the suspect shot at an officer during the chase and swerved the car at another officer deploying stop sticks. The chase ended with a crash and the suspect was apprehended. He is hospitalized in fair but stable condition. A woman who was with the man is in custody. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the investigation.

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Actor Eric Stonestreet Buys Kansas State Band a New Truck

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Actor Eric Stonestreet is helping his alma mater make some beautiful music. The Kansas State graduate donated a new box truck to the Wildcat marching band to transport equipment just before the band left for the Cactus Bowl in Arizona. Stonestreet is known for playing the character Cameron Tucker on the televison series "Modern Family."  Stonestreet graduated from Kansas State in 1996 and regularly returns. Last year he joined the marching band as the Wildcat football team played rival Kansas University in the Sunflower Showdown. The Wildcats won.
 

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