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Police killed a Black Army veteran outside his home. His family wants answers.

Valerie Cobbertt noticed differences in her older brother, Gulia Dale, every time he returned from an active-duty tour in Iraq.

“We didn’t know the spectrum of everything he dealt with,” Cobbertt said in an interview Monday. “I would notice loud noises bothered him. I remember he would say, ‘Don’t slam the car door.'”

So it came as no surprise when she learned that Dale, 61, a retired Army major who was activated on Sept. 11, 2001, and who, she said, had post-traumatic stress disorder, was triggered by a barrage of fireworks that were deployed July 4 by his neighbors on Clive Place in Newton, New Jersey.

Dale’s wife, Karen, called 911 that evening because she was concerned about his behavior. She told a dispatcher that her husband had a gun and was leaving their home, according to a recording of the 911 call released by the New Jersey attorney general’s office.

Cobbertt, who filed an internal affairs complaint with Newton police Aug. 5, believes police would have responded differently had her brother been white and not Black.

“His wife called for someone to come and help because she feared that he may take his own life,” said Cobbertt, 52, who lives in Bloomfield. “She called for someone to help. She said it twice. When they came, that was not the case. They murdered my brother.”

Cobbertt and Dale spoke at a vigil held for Dale on Saturday in Newton, a town in Sussex County about 60 miles northwest of New York City. The town’s population was estimated at 8,019 in July 2019, 89.7 percent of whom are white, according to census data. Black people account for 4.7 percent of Newton’s population.

Newton police declined to comment Monday, referring all questions to the state attorney general’s office, which is investigating Dale’s death in pursuance with a state law enacted in January 2019. The law requires the attorney general’s office to investigate deaths that occur during encounters with on-duty law enforcement officers or while the decedents are in custody. The employment status of the three officers who responded is unclear.

Officers Steven Kneidl and Garrett Armstrong shot at Dale shortly after 9:30 p.m. on July 4, the attorney general’s office said in a statement this month.

A redacted video released by the attorney general’s office shows that Dale was trying to leave in a pickup truck when police arrived. At that point, “the officers’ body-worn cameras were activated and recording the events that transpired,” the statement says.

Dale heeded the officers’ commands to get out of the vehicle, according to the statement and the body-camera videos. Dale then opened the rear driver’s side door and briefly leaned inside before he closed the door, video appears to show. He then got in the driver’s seat as officers repeatedly yelled, “Get out of the truck.” According to the attorney general’s office, Dale again got out of the vehicle, this time “with an object in his hand.”

Kneidl and Armstrong then fired their guns at him, striking the vehicle and fatally wounding Dale, authorities said.

A .45-caliber Glock 21 firearm was recovered near Dale, the attorney general’s statement says.

Karen Dale, who could not be reached for an interview Monday, could be heard on the 911 call saying: “The cops are on their way. For you. Because you’re acting crazy.”

Cobbertt said her brother was having a PTSD breakdown, a mental disturbance.

“I think what played a big factor were those fireworks in his area,” she said, adding that they might have triggered his condition.

She said she believes that because of her brother’s race, police took no measures to de-escalate the situation.

“They see us differently. And they treat us differently,” she said.

She also questioned why police responded with their guns drawn.

Cobbertt and Rick Robinson, chairman of the Newark Civilian Complaint Review Board, contend that the police department has not been transparent enough. They said they want to see unedited video of the encounter and to know the identity of a third officer who was at the scene. The attorney general’s office said that officer has not been publicly identified because the officer did not fire a weapon.

In an interview Monday, Robinson said Dale served honorably for 30 years, including in Operation Desert Storm, and worked at the Defense Department and the Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County, New Jersey.

“We’re talking about somebody who had a stellar background,” Cobbertt said. “He worked at the Pentagon. You can’t just get into that job. They do extensive background checks for everything. You couldn’t have a blemish on your record in order to get a job like that.”

She said Dale was the second oldest of six children and the only boy.

Robinson, the chairman of the Newark NAACP Criminal Justice Committee, organized the vigil for Dale, which drew about 50 people. He said the redacted videos have raised questions about the police response.

“The video shows two officers,” he said. “But it was really three officers. It doesn’t show the entire footage of the entire matter.”

Newton is a small town, Robinson said, which is why he believes officers should have known they were responding to the home of an Army veteran in distress triggered by the Fourth of July holiday. Dale lived in the town — where he and his wife raised three daughters — for 28 years, his sister and Robinson said.

“He was not given the benefit of the doubt,” Robinson said. “This is what’s actually troubling to the family.”

Like Cobbertt, Robinson said he also believes police did not use tactics to fully gauge the situation.

“In this particular instance, we have an armed forces hero, and he was taken away from his family and from the community, and it is really shameful that the engagement resulted in something like this,” Robinson said.

Steven Young, the president of the National Action Network of South Jersey, attended the vigil Saturday and has made efforts to set up a meeting between Cobbertt and the attorney general.

According to the attorney general’s office, investigators met with Dale’s family and their attorney to review the video recordings on July 30. Cobbertt said an uncle attended the meeting on her family’s behalf out of concern that the videos would be too graphic for her and Karen Dale.

“If you’re a veteran and you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, when you hear all these guns, these fireworks and all that, it brings triggers back to your mind of being in a war zone,” Young said. “So your approach should have been thinking that way, as well.”

He added: “We got the 911 call stating that he needs help, not to be assassinated.”

Cobbertt said she and her siblings, as well as Dale’s wife, are distraught and in shock.

“He just needed help,” she said. “If they would have approached him differently, he would still be alive.”

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Pop mogul Simon Cowell was a racing flop with ‘awful’ £35,000 horse he owned with Ant and Dec – that didn’t win a penny

SIMON COWELL conquered the music world – but his foray into racing ended in disaster with an ‘awful’ £35,000 horse he owned with Ant and Dec.

The music mogul, 62, has done it all with bands like One Direction, Little Mix and solo acts Olly Murs and James Arthur, to name but a few.

Cowell owned an 'awful' £35,000 horse with Ant and Dec - but the runner didn't win a single penny in six races

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Cowell owned an ‘awful’ £35,000 horse with Ant and Dec – but the runner didn’t win a single penny in six racesCredit: PA:Press Association
Cowell remains a massive racing fan and loves Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby

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Cowell remains a massive racing fan and loves Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby

His Syco label – plus shows such as Britain’s Got Talent – have dominated the entertainment industry and brought him an estimated net worth of £385m.

A lover of Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby, he looked perfectly poised to strike a knockout blow in the world of thoroughbreds.

But it turns out his runner was far from No1 in the charts – and never even finished better than fifth during a doomed six-race career.

Things looked promising at the start.

Named It’s A Yes From Me, the runner was trained with the respected James Fanshawe and sent off at 8-1 for his first race in June 2014.

But coming last of five by 13-and-a-half lengths was unfortunately about as good as it got for the gelding.

A month’s rest followed before he was sent off at 40-1 in a six-furlong sprint at Doncaster.

But there he could only manage fifth again, and it was same at Redcar the next month.

‘Dreadfully slow’

By October that year – with further finishes of sixth and tenth – It’s A Yes From Me came second-last in a one-mile race at Kempton.

One analysis of the race warned punters the horse was ‘one to tread carefully’ with.

Well, Cowell and Ant and Dec took that advice to heart as they never raced him again.

The horse was penniless from six races, never finishing high enough to recoup some of that £35,000 investment.

It’s doubtful Cowell, with hundreds of millions in the bank, lost any sleep over that.

But Ant and Dec revealed just how bad things has got with the horse during an interview last year.

Dec said of It’s A Yes From Me: “It was awful, it was a dreadfully slow horse.

“It wasn’t a racehorse it was just a horse, because it didn’t race.

“Every time we got to the BGT studio Simon would say, ‘I keep paying stable fees on this horse, but I’ve never seen it run’.”

Cowell originally wanted to name the nag after himself, but they settled on It’s A Yes From Me when they bought it in 2013.

‘It was awful’

Dec revealed its eventual fate: “I think it got rehomed.”

Of course it’s not all been bad for Cowell at the races.

He was one of the exclusive few at the Epsom Derby in June, having a great time with partner Lauren Silverman and Piers Morgan.

And two weeks later he was at Royal Ascot – where he first discovered his love of racing.

Cowell told SunSport’s Matt Chapman during a chat at Epsom: “I’ve got my son Eric with me today.

“My mum and dad years ago used to take me to Ascot and I was probably about his age – seven or eight.

Cowell with partner Lauren at Epsom earlier this year

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Cowell with partner Lauren at Epsom earlier this yearCredit: Getty
It's A Yes From Me trails behind in last during one of his six races

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It’s A Yes From Me trails behind in last during one of his six races
The music supremo tweeted about his horse's bad start... which never got much better

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The music supremo tweeted about his horse’s bad start… which never got much better

Most read in Horse Racing

“So the fact I can now bring him to the races as well is brilliant. It brings back a lot of good memories.

“Making TV shows is my passion. But racing is actually my second passion.”

He hasn’t made that passion the money-maker his music label is, but don’t rule out Cowell staging his own comeback at the track in the near future.

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Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply. Begambleaware.org


Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org

Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply. Begambleaware.org


Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org
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Minnesota wildfire doubles in size, creates its own weather

A wildfire in northeastern Minnesota more than doubled in size Tuesday, growing to more than 19,000 acres, after it produced pyrocumulous clouds that generated lightning and even raindrops, fire officials said.

The Greenwood Fire’s growth, most of which happened Monday afternoon, prompted firefighters to leave McDougal Lake, about 80 miles south-southwest of Duluth, officials said. Authorities fear that structures might have been destroyed or damaged.

“We had crews embedded, and as this fire took off, it was quite an effort to communicate with forces on the ground so they could get out,” said federal fire incident spokesman Clark McCreedy.

The pullout was a success, and no injuries were reported. However, downed trees and necessary cleanup mean crews have been unable to assess damage around the lake, McCreedy said.

In addition to the firefighter pullout, 159 dwellings were evacuated Monday, according to an update from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Cabins, homes and recreational sites remain under threat, the group said.

Patrick Prochaska, a Minneapolis resident who built a cabin near McDougal Lake in 2012, told NBC affiliate KARE that he watched via security camera as flames mostly bypassed his property Monday, causing minor damage.

“I was feeling very scared,” he said. “At the same time, I could see that it was not doing anything to the house, and it was kind of reassuring.”

The fire in and north of Superior National Forest has mostly performed according to the weather, fire officials said. On Monday, with dry fuel on the ground and temperatures in the high 80s, it was an expanding inferno punctuated by strobes of lightning.

“The winds were drawn into the fire from all directions,” the incident’s fire behavior analyst, Michael Locke, said in a video update Tuesday. “It created what we call pyrocumulous clouds. And really high in the atmosphere … you’d see a thunderstorm, and in fact they went high enough to produce a few sprinkles of rain and even some lightning.”

Temperatures dipped into the mid-70s Tuesday, and the blaze mellowed. “The real story was cloud cover and cooler temperatures,” McCreedy said.

More of the same, and possibly rain, was in the forecast, giving officials hope that they might be able to close the book on an unusually active and dry fire season in Minnesota.

Experts have said climate change has set the stage for extreme weather, including an increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere.

Firefighters — 426 were assigned to the Greenwood event — have been confronted with “prolonged, severe drought,” making parts of Minnesota look like the fire-prone West this summer, McCreedy said.

The Greenwood Fire, which was detected Aug. 15, is believed to have been sparked by lightning.

So far, firefighters have scored no containment, and areas including McDougal Lake, Sand Lake and the Highway 2 corridor have been under mandatory evacuation orders. The federal Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was closed Saturday “due to active and increasing fire activity, extreme drought, limited resources,” the National Forest Service said in a notice.

Officials set a goal of Sept. 1 for full containment.

“We’re probably going to get more of that moderating weather for the rest of the week,” McCreedy said. “That opens the door for fire crews to make progress on the ground.”

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Hiker survives grizzly bear attack at Denali National Park

A tourist from Indiana was attacked and injured by a grizzly bear at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska on Monday night, park officials said.

The 55-year-old tourist, whose name was not released, was hiking alone in dense fog in the Thoroughfare Pass area when a mother bear and multiple cubs charged him from nearby bushes, the National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday.

He had puncture wounds to a calf, his left ribs and his left shoulder, the agency said.

The victim used bear spray that might have cut the attack short, the park service indicated. He walked 1.5 miles to a visitor’s center where “medical personnel” vacationing at Denali treated him as a park bus driver called 911, it said.

The hiker was taken to a medical center near the park before he was transferred to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, about 120 miles away, park officials said. He was stabilized at the Fairbanks hospital, they said.

“Due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved,” the park service said. “Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.”

Grizzly bears are federally protected as a threatened species in the lower 48 states. According to the National Wildlife Federation, fewer than 1,500 grizzlies are left in the lower 48, but they thrive, comparatively, in Alaska, where they have a population of about 31,000.

The backcountry area of the attack is closed for one week as a precaution, the park service said.

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