Police Face Rights Probe

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- Spurred by the fatal police shooting of black teenager Tyisha Miller, federal authorities launched an investigation yesterday into the Riverside Police Department's use of force and treatment of minorities.

The probe coincides with an FBI criminal investigation into the death of Miller, 19, who was shot and killed by police after they attempted to rouse her in her locked car and she reached for a gun on her lap.

If the government finds that the police department's "patterns or practices" deprive people of their civil rights, it can seek a federal court order forcing reform.

Electrocuted Killer Bleeds

STARKE, Fla. -- A 344-pound killer nicknamed "Tiny" bled on his shirt as he was put to death in Florida's new electric chair, prompting demands that all executions be suspended and resulting in one stay.

Witnesses said the blood that stained Allen Lee Davis's collar and covered the front of his white shirt appeared to have come from his mouth and chest, but state officials and an autopsy said it was from a nosebleed.

The state Supreme Court postponed an execution scheduled for today after the condemned man's lawyer argued that the refurbished electric chair does not work properly.

Davis, 54, killed a pregnant woman and her two daughters, ages 5 and 9, during a 1982 robbery.


BARTOW, Fla. -- Joshua Earl Patrick Phillips, 15, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of an 8-year-old girl, Maddie Clifton, whose body was found under his waterbed in November. The jury conviction carried automatic life in prison.

MIAMI -- Eight U.S. Coast Guardsmen were suspended from law enforcement duty pending a review of whether they violated agency rules by using fire hoses and pepper spray to try to stop six Cubans from reaching shore last week, their commander said. The incident infuriated Miami's Cuban emigres, whose demonstrations blocked highways for hours.

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A near-total ban on smoking in offices was upheld by the state Supreme Court, 7 to 2, on the grounds that it is necessary to protect workers' health.

EAGLE LAKE, Tex. -- Amtrak's Sunset Limited, en route from Los Angeles to Orlando, struck a truck yesterday, derailing nine cars and injuring 18 people. Among the 217 passengers who were unhurt were Cindy McCain, the wife of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and their 13-year-old son, Jack.

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. -- Unable to ease public fears, Los Alamos National Laboratory canceled plans to release a common strain of bacteria into the atmosphere to test new toaster-size biowarfare detectors. At a hearing Wednesday in White Rock, about 10 miles downwind from the test site, Santa Fe resident Pat Wolf asked, "If it's so safe, why don't you release it into the office of someone in Washington, D.C.?"

BOSTON - Massachusetts s highest court ruled that live-in partners of Boston city employees may not receive city health insurance benefits, reversing an executive order issued in 1998 by Mayor Thomas Menino. The state s Supreme Judicial Court found that the city s benefits program violated a state law that forbids domestic-partner benefits for public employees.