Judge tosses verdict in ‘Cannibal Cop’ case

A former New York police officer left jail on Tuesday after a judge stunned prosecutors and overturned his conviction in a sensational case accusing him of plotting on the Internet to kidnap, kill and eat young women, including his wife.

Judge Paul Gardephe ruled late Monday that there was insufficient evidence to support a jury’s guilty verdict in the kidnapping conspiracy conviction of Gilberto Valle. He agreed with defense arguments that the defendant’s bizarre exchanges in fetish chat rooms about cannibalizing women never put anyone in danger.

At a hearing Tuesday before his release, Valle, 40, dubbed the “Cannibal Cop” by the tabloids, smiled at his family and hugged his attorneys in court. The judge set bail at $100,000 and ordered home detention in Queens for the defendant after prosecutors told him they intended to appeal his ruling.

Valle was arrested in 2012 after his wife discovered disturbing material on his computer and reported it to the FBI. He was convicted in March 2013 on the conspiracy charge — which carries a possible life term — and a misdemeanor count of illegally accessing a law enforcement database.

— Associated Press

Regulations urged for parasailing operators

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday declared parasailing to be risky and urged the U.S. Coast Guard to require that operators be licensed.

The NTSB said there are currently no regulations for operator training, no requirements for equipment inspection and no requirements to suspend operations in bad weather.

Some 3 million to 5 million people participate in parasailing each year, with about 325 operators in the United States and its territories, including Puerto Rico. The Parasail Safety Council estimates that 73 people died in parasailing accidents between 1982 to 2012, with 429 seriously injured in the course of taking 130 million rides. Council founder Mark McCulloh said he supports the NTSB’s recommendation for the Coast Guard to license operators.

The NTSB also recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration review regulations intended to avoid collisions between parasailing devices and aircraft.

— Associated Press

Victim’s father loses suit over shooting: A jury on Tuesday rejected a civil rights lawsuit filed by the father of an unarmed man who was shot and killed by a transit officer at a San Francisco Bay Area train station. The jury found there were no deep family ties between Oscar Grant III and his father, Oscar Grant Jr., who was in prison at the time of the shooting and remains behind bars for murder. The shooting on New Year’s Day 2009 sparked racial tension because the transit officer is white and Grant, 22, was black. The shooting was depicted in director Ryan Coogler’s feature film “Fruitvale Station.”

— Associated Press