Friday, March 27, 2015

News Helicopters, Crashes and Costs Vex Television Executives! Camera Drones are the Answer!

 courtesy of AZ Republic 
Phoenix, AZ--It was in July of 2007 when cops were chasing a fleeing pickup truck through the streets of Phoenix.  Also in pursuit were two TV news choppers that were covering this breaking story.
Soon the story of the day changed dramatically and tragically as the two news helicopters somehow collided in midair.  Two veteran pilots and gifted photojournalists that I knew personnaly were killed. 
The financial and personal damages of that event were beyond catastrophic and heartbreaking.   
Since 1960, there were 91 deaths and scores of serious injuries directly related to News helicopters alone. 
Another TV news pilot/reporter I once knew was Karen Key.  She was a young and very attractive lady that gained quite a following in Phoenix.  One day she was arrested by Phoenix police for DUI.  Quickly her news director unceremoniously sent her packing.  Some of her fans thought she deserved better treatment.
Key quickly was hired by another TV news organization in Denver.  In December of 1982 Key was flying to the scene of a light plane crash in Larkspur when the unthinkable happened.  Key and her mechanic were killed in a crash.  The local medical examiner revealed that Key was impaired by alcohol.
Today technology has delivered to us the camera drone.  You can hardly see a film or commercial anymore that was not partially filmed by a camera drone. They add a whole new depth and view of everything.
There are some 7,000 helicopters operating throughout the world.  Highly trained men and women pilot them however when they crash lives and property are lost.
As for the Multi-rotor camera drones there are nearly two million of them out there.  They are in the hands of unregulated civilians including teenagers. To date there has not been a single fatality or serious injury involving a multi-rotor camera drone. That’s despite all the news stories suggesting they could be dangerous.
News organizations worldwide have been decimated financially as their readers and views have chosen Internet providers for their news content. 
Helicopters cost between $1,500 and $2,000 an hour to operate and are the single largest newsroom cost.   The liability issues are yet another factor.
A professional grade, multi-rotor drone with a sophisticated 4K camera and livestreaming capability will cost between $9,000 and $15,000.  There are no fuel costs because rechargeable batteries power them. 
They can be operated with a single pilot doubling as the photographer or with a second person operating the camera with a second controller. 
There is a learning curve for operating the drones and cameras beyond what those selling these things would suggest however it’s not that difficult to safely master.
When drones collide it’s always just another day but for the cost of repairs.  Nobody dies or is crippled.  That’s not to say something tragic could never happen. That’s already been proven to be unlikely.
The FAA has taken on regulation of drones with unprecedented prior restraint tactics.  They have never done that before as they have always created conventional aircraft regulations in the blood of these killed or injured.
Worldwide news directors and editors have no choice here.  Either they embrace the drone technology or lose.  Drones are safe, effective and inexpensive.  The quality of drone video is no less than stunning. 
At this time the drone is not suited to replace every helicopter use in news.  They are not suitable for all but the end or a few glimpses of car chases. They move slower but they can get so much closer to newsworthy events than helicopters.
As for me, the news directors need to know I want to be a drone journalist.  I’d add this to my many years freelancing as an investigative TV news producer.  Whoever pays me can have my services.
The licensing issue right now is in the form of an FAA waiver certificate and operating under their conditions.  Within two to three years there will be some formal licensing at least for drones weighing more than four and a half pounds.
The first wave of drone journalists will be needed to teach those later joining the ranks.
Here is a link to the News helicopter accidents within the USA. 
I shot the story below with zero assistance from anyone.  I used my prosumer video gear on the ground and a $1,500 Phantom 2 drone with a GoPro camera.  I edited this on a small Macbook Pro with Final Cut-X software.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Debra Milke Had A Great Day Today…

The media crush after court

Milke and her legal team

Elevator Selfie With The Woman of The Hour!

Cases before Judge Mroz Today

The Kind of Ankle Bling You Don't Want!
Phoenix, AZ—I was in Courtroom 7D today to watch Judge Rosa Mroz enter her final orders on the Murder case of Debra Milke.
Before the judge took the bench I was greeted by a warm hug from Milke on this extraordinary day.  There were smiles and some tears during this somewhat emotional event.
I asked Milke to show me her ankle monitor she was required to wear since September of 2013.  She called it a sign of her Freedom, rather than an inconvenience.   She lifted the leg of her slacks to show it to me and I took the last picture of that device before a probation officer in a private area of the court removed it.
Germany sent reporters from ARD, RTL and Der Spiegel Magazine.  There were cameras galore when Milke and her lawyers left the court.
Milke will be at a press conference tomorrow morning and I will be in attendance.
Lawyers for Milke will have a lot to say and map out the massive civil lawsuit that was filed last Friday afternoon.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Crimefile Dronecam Over LAPD Investigation of an Accident in Sherman Oaks.

Sherman Oaks, CA—Today I saw the remains of a pretty nasty accident in this location and decided to shoot it with my dronecam.  Unfortunately I was too late and the third car involved was already removed. 
The LAPD offered no interference as I sent my drone up to get my shots. I made my name and phone number to the officer making the accident report so anyone the people involved could get a copy.  He will put that information into the report.
Hefty Wind gusts made my flight short and sweet.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Former AG Tom Horne Did Right By Debra Milke

Former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne
Phoenix, AZ—When the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals orderd a new trial for Debra Milke it set in motion her being cleared and freed. 
Former Attorney General Tom Horne quickly and very publicly vowed to appeal that ruling boasting he’d personally argue the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
After Horne's stepping out on a limb with his promise to appeal the case something amazing happened.  Horne acted on a constituent’s (someone I know really well) request to take a very careful second look at that case.  He did and everything suddenly changed.  Horne  waived appealing the case sending it immediately to Maricopa County for a retrial. 
Had Horne appealed the case Debra Milke would have languished another two to three years on Death Row.  Milke would have rotted there while the United States Supreme Court wrestled with a Petition for Review. 
This Monday morning at 8:30 AM Judge Rosa Mroz will hold court for the last time on the Debra Milke Case.  She will dismiss the case with prejudice and exonerate the quarter of a million dollar bail bond that kept Milke free for well over a year.  Milke will be free and have no criminal history record.  
Horne risked the wrath of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and those whose support he needed during his most difficult political time.  This ended his political career.  Horne let his conscience and heart decide the direction he’d take with Milke.
Horne quietly dropped the appeal in the interest of justice.  It’s not often that a politician will simply do the right thing risking it all. 
Tom Horne is an unsung hero here and will always have a special place in my heart for being gallant while under fire.   
Debra Milke has a lot of people to thank for intervening, advocating on her behalf and ultimately getting not only her life spared but getting her cleared of this crime.  
There are those that contributed money for Milke’s legal defense or others that kept her comforted and sane with many letters while she languished in the worst possible place. 
Debra Milke lost the very best part of her life and nobody can return that to her.  She did not deserve the real life horror story she lived. 
Horrible people caused Milke’s troubles and in the end it was the kind and generous people helped her.  The whole thing should never have happened.
It was James Styers and Roger Scott alone that murdered Milke's child who would be turning 30 soon if he was still alive.  We will never know what Christopher Milke’s contribution to this world might have been.   Perhaps that was even a bigger loss to Milke than her freedom.  Now Milke can mourn that loss. 
I don’t know what Milke’s plans are now but the choice is hers alone.  She needs to make up for lost time and do it all on her terms.  She needs to avoid negativity now more than ever.
Maricopa County should quickly come to terms with the lawsuit filed by Milke’s lawyers last Friday afternoon. 
Litigating their massive and cruel  blunders for years will be throwing good taxpayer money after bad.  Give this woman the many millions she deserves and deal with those cops and prosecutors that lie, cheat and steal the lives of innocent people.
Christopher Milke has no grave but this is where he perished.  I shot this video from my camera drone last summer:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Egregious Prosecutorial Misconduct Freed Debra Milke From a Conviction and Death Sentence.

Phoenix, AZ—Prosecutors went to the Court of Last Resort to salvage their soiled reputations and that of a disgraced former cop. Finally Debra Milke is free even though she already paid a price far greater than that of most convicted murderers in America. 
It was not just Prosecutorial Misconduct that freed Milke but it was really about her innocence.  
Had there been a retrial there was not a scintilla of a chance they'd have re-convicted Milke.  This was just nothing more than an "Hail Mary" effort to limit corrupt official's liability under the doctrine of Collateral Estoppel.  That's legalese that would decree in a civil lawsuit that since the judge let the trial commence, that the cops and prosecutors were acting in good faith. 
This has been a 25 yearlong odyssey that began December 3, 1989.  That day I met Milke as she was being booked into the Madison Street Jail on a charge of murdering her four-year old son Christopher.
It was just two hours earlier when Former Phoenix police detective Armando Saldate claimed Milke confessed this horrible crime to him.  He was told to record any interview with her but didn’t. He kicked out fellow officers and medical personal from a nurse’s office at the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department headquarters to preclude any witnesses.
Now at the jail using a hidden tape recorder I asked Milke if she told the police she had anything to do with the death of her son.  She became angry and responded, “That’s crazy, who told you that?  I had nothing to do with the death of my son!”
Since Milke had not been allowed to make a single phone call or get advice from anyone in that short time space it was obvious that there was never a confession.
At her trial Milke had a grossly ineffective and pathetic lawyer.  I was  never called as a witness where I could have played my crucial audio tape for the jury.  If I could record Milke why could't Saldate? 
The only evidence that convicted Milke was Saldate’s perjury where he claimed that Milke Confessed. Milke was sentenced to the Gas Chamber and spent decades in solitary confinement on Death Row at Arizon's Perryville Prison.
This changed after Milke finally got better lawyers and after more than a decade their efforts culminated in this final ruling that the case must be dismissed with prejudice.  That effectively and finally ended the 25 year nightmare of Debra Milke.

Aside of the relief for Debra Milke other victims of prosecutorial and police misconduct will benefit from the Milke ruling.   The most immediate beneficiary with be convicted killer Jodi Arias.  That's because cops destroyed computer evidence that would have supported Arias’ claim she killed her former boyfriend in necessary self-defense.
Prosecutorial misconduct is rampant in America.  Prosecutors routinely hide evidence from the defense lawyers that points to the innocence of their clients.  

Since the police investigate the cases with people are killed or injured they control nearly all the evidence that exists.  It’s here were is where the cheating begins.

Prosecutors and cops have nearly blanket immunity for their misconduct and that’s why they rarely face punishment even after they are caught red handed.   That immunity is obviously the root of the problem.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery went to the wall to protect the thugs in his office responsible for the Milke travesty.  Montgomery however could not succeed with the overwhelming evidence that exposed this epic misconduct.
Sadly the only people punished here with be the taxpayers.  There with be no discipline or criminal charges for cops or prosecutors. They won’t have to pay a single penny for their dastardly deeds. Taxpayer-funded lawyers will defend these creeps in court.
Milke now has serious legal help in the form of civil lawyers and they have filed a lawsuit on her behalf for the violation of her civil rights.
That 72-page complaint is a sordid saga of one outrageous act after another.  It should make every American’s blood boil.  We’d expect this kind of activity in Iran, North Korea or Hitler’s Germany but not here!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

LAPD Police Recruit Wanted For Homicide?

Pamona, CA—It was in the early hours this morning when an altercation ended in the shooting death of 23 year-old Salome Rodriquez, Jr.
The apparent location of this incident is Third and Main Streets. Police say that 27 year-old LAPD probationary officer, Henry Solis who was assigned to the Devonshire Division.  Police say that he failed to show up for roll call today. 
Solis has absolutely no duty under any law to make himself available for interrogation by anyone.  He also had the right to flee from the scene if he felt endanger of criminal attack.
This case has an odor to it since they are so quick to treat Officer Solis as a fugitive. 
Solis needs help.  He needs a criminal lawyer who can’t do much for him beyond shutting Solis up and negotiating reasonable bail.  Lawyers can’t investigate because if they become a witness they must withdraw from further criminal defense.
What Solis needs is me to quickly conduct a defense investigation so his lawyer has the necessary information to defend him. 
This has all the appearances of a self-defense case like I specialize in conduction.  Solis or his family would do well by calling me for advice.  I specialize in self-defense cases and have won the last 14 toHof 14 cases in court.   Solis needs to make himself available to police not for interrogation but booking assuming there is probable cause to arrest him.  He should not do this alone under any circumstances. 
Despite departmental regulations requiring every officer's cooperation during investigations, Solis needs to say absolutely nothing.  He may lose his job but may well avoid decades in prison.
Right now Solis is understandably afraid.  I would be willing to get him safely to a lawyer and help end this manhunt before it gets out-of-control.

I happen know a great L.A. lawyer with success in self-defense cases that has represented cops before.  He certainly would be interested in this case. 

Camera Drones and Woman, Times are a Changing!

Los Angeles, CA—The wildly popular camera multi-rotor camera drones had few women admirers.  Advances in technology has facilitated and enabled the drone camera industry explosion just in the last two years.
I became hooked on drones was slightly over a year ago however I was really disappointed by a lack of interest by women in this incredibly exciting and creative endeavor. 
Going to model aircraft flying fields was always an all male event.  Not a wife, daughter, girlfriend of the drone pilots were in sight.  Okay, I have a fondness for women and not seeing any of them enjoying something I’m relishing so much was disappointing.
I suspect that the perceived technical issues and mechanics of the drones had intimidated women.   There are four things a successful drone camera pilot needs to learn.
The actual piloting of an unmanned multi-rotor aircraft is really not too difficult to learn.  The technical issues like GPS and physical intricacies of the aircraft are absorbed with time.  Knowing how the cameras work and enjoying photography is important. 
Knowing how to edit video is really a must.  That used to be difficult but with the modern software products it’s a snap. 
The last needed skill is writing or story telling.  Drone videos need either music or a voiceover to cover the annoying motor noise of the natural sound.  This is easily accomplished with the editing software.  
YouTube is loaded with tutorials on everything you need to know.  Some instructional videos are better than others. 
Notwithstanding the FAA ban on commercial use of drones you cannot see a TV program, feature film or even a commercial that does not have drone video incorporated.  Many producers are flying drone operators off shore to capture the stunning images. 
Flying a drone is fun, addictive and satisfying.  I can only describe this a close as you can experience flying on a magic carpet.  It’s so empowering to see things from above.   One significant benefit is that you’ll never have to fear losing your life operating a drone. 
One additional thing is certain, there will be plenty jobs for those people that have embraced this wonderful technology. 
Finally, the good news is that women are beginning to actually love flying drones!  The intimidation has been reduced by drone marketing efforts and of course their seeing pre-teens operating drones doesn’t hurt.
Women need to know that there are lots of men that would enjoy sharing this hobby and teaching women about the these amazing devices.
I’m putting a drone documentary together.  I still need to assemble some important interviews and video but I landed an interview from an elegant, conventional pilot Abbe Lyle that loves drones.  Abbe lives up in Sacramento and is also a high profile drone pilot.  You can meet Abbe here.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Finally! The Simpsons Meet Celebrated Dutch Actress Carice van Houten!

Carice van Houten Guest Stars on THE SIMPSONS!
Los Angeles, CA—It was no secret that my favorite actress, Carice van Houten loves The Simpsons! I knew she made a stop on her last visit to L.A. to the Pico Ave Fox Studios to the Simpsons sound stage.  Van Houten left proudly sporting a Simpson’s souvenir jacket.
Carice van Houten is probably best known as the Red Witch, Melisandre in the wildly popular HBO series, Game of Thrones.   She’s also the winner of five, Golden Calf awards (The Dutch equivalent of our Oscar Award).  
Van Houten’s amazing talent first blew me away as the star of my all time favorite dramatic film, Paul Verhoeven’s, Black Book.   Now van Houten has found herself as guest star on the Simpsons.    Her character named Anneke van Houten will debut on the May 3rd episode.
This incredibly talented actress comes from a gifted Dutch family that’s deeply routed in in art, music, television and theater.  Aside from having great music and acting chops van Houten has mastered several languages including German, English and French. 
The album, See You On The Ice is a hit in Europe but has not been promoted well in the USA.  It was a labor of love for van Houten along with co-writer, producer and master international musician, Ken Stringfellow.  I love that album that’s entirely in English and available on iTunes.
Van Houten has had limited success in the USA being cast in such films as Valkyrie, Repo Men and The Fifth Estate. 
In coming months van Houten will appear in the both the Jessie Owen’s biopic, Race and Blumhouse Production’s, Incarnate.  Of course there are other film in various stages of development waiting to exploit van Houten’s exceptional talents.
Comedy has never been lost on van Houten who was raised partially on Laurel and Hardy films. Her great sense of humor is showcased on many six second films and pictures all over the Internet.
Hopefully Crimefile News can land a video interview of van Houten for this blog.  This actress is a real star that is Oscar quality in every respect.  I’m confident she will be cast in the right film where we will see that happen.
In the mean time very soon we will enjoy a bit of silliness that The Simpsons are known for with my favorite star!