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U.S. senator looks to shoot down Trump bid to ease small arms exports

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for travel to Atlanta from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S, April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A senior U.S. senator said on Friday he would block President Donald Trump’s efforts to overhaul the weapons exports regime to make it easier for gun makers to sell small arms to foreign buyers.

Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was placing a “hold” on a notification last month related to the White House’s effort to switch oversight of the export of small arms, including assault-style and sniper rifles, from the Department of State to the less rigorous jurisdiction of the Commerce Department

Menendez issued a hold on a related notice in February, setting the stage for a potential standoff over the issue.

“As you no doubt are aware, firearms and ammunition – especially those derived from military models and widely in-use by military and security services – are uniquely dangerous,” Menendez wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

A State Department spokesperson said the department does not comment on congressional correspondence, but said the department is still looking at policies and regulations to ensure that arms export “supports U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives, while also ensuring U.S. industries have an even playing field on which to compete.”

The administration announced its overhaul of export policy last year. The move would generate business for gun makers such as American Outdoor Brands (AOBC.O) and Sturm Ruger & Company (RGR.N).

There is a long-standing precedent in which a handful of lawmakers, including the ranking member of the minority party on the Foreign Relations Committee, can object to and “hold” such a policy shift – or a weapons export deal.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Leslie Adler

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Fresno Police shooting: Video shows officer shoot an unarmed 16-year-old as he runs away

Police in Fresno, California, say that three different official departments have ruled the shooting justified.

The surveillance camera footage, provided by attorney Stuart Chandler, shows 16-year-old Isiah Murrietta Golding climb a fence and enter a small yard as he is being chased by two officers.

Murrietta Golding, wearing a gray sweater, lands on his feet and starts to run. One officer climbs the fence while the other gets into a crouching stance and fires through the fence, the video shows. Murrietta Golding then stumbles and falls to the ground.

In the police body camera footage, also provided by the attorney, someone off camera can be heard saying “good shot.”

Murrietta Golding’s parents filed separate wrongful death lawsuits against the city of Fresno and several of its officers in March 2018. Chandler, who represents Murrietta Golding’s father, said the suits were filed separately because the couple are divorced.

The bullet went through the back of the teen’s head, according to the father’s lawsuit, and he died three days later. The lawsuit claims the officer who fired had no “objective facts” to believe that Murrietta Golding was armed or reaching for a weapon. The teen was unarmed, the lawsuit states.

“The fact that the police department and the city of Fresno’s police auditor all agreed that this shooting was justified is troubling in light of the video that clearly shows that it’s not,” Chandler told CNN.

Lawsuit: Teen wanted for questioning

Citing police statements, the father’s lawsuit says that Murietta Golding was wanted for questioning in connection with a shooting one day earlier that had caused a fatal car crash. Fresno Police sought to question the teenager and pulled over a car in which he was a passenger, the lawsuit states.

The teenagers in the car initially complied with police. But Murietta Golding then took off running, the lawsuit states, leading to the fatal chase.

Fresno Police Chief Andrew Hall told CNN affiliate KSEE that the shooting was ruled justified by police’s Internal Affairs Bureau, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office and the City of Fresno’s Office of Independent Review.

“The use of lethal force in this case occurred while officers were investigating a homicide. The 16-year-old in this case was involved in the homicide with his brother and the brother was later arrested and pled guilty,” Hall said.

“The (surveillance) video represents a different vantage point and was not what the pursuing officers could see. The 16-year-old was also known to carry firearms and had jumped a fence into a child daycare center.”

CNN has reached out to the Fresno Police Department and the Office of Independent Review for comment.

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