Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 26th, 2015


Got to stare at ugly pictures of handicapped soldiers and civilians “collateral damages”

It’s impolite to stare.

But when it comes to severely injured soldiers, maybe we don’t look enough; or maybe we’d rather not see wounded veterans at all.

That’s the message you get from photographer David Jay’s Unknown Soldier series.

Jay spent three years taking portraits of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but before that — for nearly 20 years — he was a fashion photographer.

His stylish, artful images appeared in magazines like Vogue and Cosmopolitan.

“The fashion stuff is beautiful and sexy — and completely untrue,” he says.

Truth became the focus of Jay’s work for the first time about 10 years ago, when he started The SCAR Project, a series of portraits of women, naked from the waist up, with mastectomy scars.

Around the time he was taking those photos, he was also trying to comprehend the news coming from Iraq and Afghanistan.

May 25, 2015 3:43 AM ET

“We hear about ‘this number of men were killed’ and ‘this many were injured,'” Jay says, “and we think of them — maybe they got shot — or we don’t really picture what these injured men look like.”

So Jay visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, D.C., and one of the first injured soldiers he met there was Capt. Nicholas Vogt.

In 2011, an explosive device detonated under Vogt’s feet in Afghanistan, nearly killing him. His legs had to be amputated.

(Thousands around the world are being exploded every day by cluster bombs and land mines, furnished by the US and England. England provided cluster bombs to Israel, 3 days before cease fire in 2006, in order to prevent people from returning home. 10 years later, the UN are still demining south Lebanon))

“I had never seen anything like it,” Jay says. “It appeared that he ended at his waist.”

He asked Vogt if he would be willing to be photographed.

“And Nicholas was very kind and said, ‘Listen, I understand what you’re doing but I don’t think I can take part in that, certainly [not] right now,'” Jay recalls.

About a year later, Jay was back at Walter Reed and from across the room he heard someone yell, “Hey, photographer!”

This time, Vogt wanted to participate. He’d been working hard at his recovery and seeing results. He was swimming a lot and he had a girlfriend (a nurse at Walter Reed who is now his fiancé). Vogt gave Jay permission to take his picture, but he had some parameters.

“I wanted to make sure there was action, it was movement,” Vogt says. “Because I didn’t want to portray myself as someone that’s just waiting for medical retirement and going to be stationary for the rest of my life.”

David Jay delivered. In his portrait of Vogt, he captures that sensation of jumping into a swimming pool and feeling your body descend to the bottom. Vogt’s arms are stretched out and his eyes are tightly shut. Beneath his black swim trunks, there is nothing.

Vogt doesn’t know how other people will react to the portrait, but he’s glad he did it. “I just know I felt fulfilled afterwards,” he says. “I felt like it represented me as a person. Yeah, I was happy with the result.”

Army Spc. Jerral Hancock sits for a portrait with his son Julius. It is believed that Hancock was trapped under the wreckage of his Army tank in Iraq for half an hour before he was rescued. Courtesy of David Jay/Unknown Soldier hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of David Jay/Unknown Soldier

Army Spc. Jerral Hancock sits for a portrait with his son Julius. It is believed that Hancock was trapped under the wreckage of his Army tank in Iraq for half an hour before he was rescued.


Other portraits in Jay’s Unknown Soldier series are more graphic.

Take Army Spc. Jerral Hancock: On his 21st birthday, a roadside bomb hit the tank Hancock was driving in Iraq. The explosion sent shrapnel into his spine, paralyzing him.

Jay’s photographs of Hancock show him with his young son — in one, their eyes are fixed on each other; in another, they’re looking at the camera.

In both, the veteran is bare-chested, revealing his tattoos and the mangled skin and bone where his left arm was amputated.

Then there’s Sgt. Joel Tavera: When a rocket hit his Humvee in Iraq, he received third-degree burns across two-thirds of his body, including almost all of his face.

Jay believes these wounds belong to all of us: “You can imagine how many times each of these men and women have heard a parent tell their child, ‘Don’t look. Don’t stare at him. That’s rude.’

I take these pictures so that we can look; we can see what we’re not supposed to see. And we need to see them because we created them.”

Jay believes seeing is one step closer to understanding.

The Library of Congress has acquired images from his Unknown Soldier collection as part of its visual documentation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Patsy Z shared this link

As our lives go on as usual today, lets remember our vets, who’s lives are changed forever– and often lost.

Photographer David Jay says, “I take these pictures so that we can look;
we can see what we’re not supposed to see. And we need to see them because we…

Rogue narcotics officer offers blistering testimony

In his 24 years as a Philadelphia narcotics investigator, Jeffrey Walker testified at countless court hearings, providing the evidence that sent dozens of drug dealers to prison.

As long as the Narcotics Field Unit kept the headline-grabbing drug busts coming, he told a federal jury, its supervisors never asked too many questions.

We produced big jobs. They liked that,” he said. “As for the bosses, it’s nothing but a dog and pony show.”

Former Philly cop Jeffrey Walker

He took the witness stand again Tuesday – this time to implicate himself and 6 of his former colleagues as rogue cops who terrorized the streets with gang-like efficiency.

Over five hours, Walker painted a devastating portrait of the tactics members of his elite narcotics squad employed to keep drugs off the street, the bosses happy, and their own wallets fat.

As he told it, they lied in court hearings, planted evidence, and conducted dozens of illegal searches, asking for warrants after the fact.

They beat up drug suspects and pocketed their money.

And over beers after work, they would proudly compare themselves to dirty cops in the movie Training Day or the corrupt Los Angeles drug squad in the TV series The Shield.

“We used to joke,” the 46-year-old disgraced officer turned star government witness said, ” ‘That’s all Hollywood. This is real life. They ain’t got nothing on us.’ ”

Slump-shouldered, paunchy, and dressed in a drab prison jumpsuit, Walker cut a far different figure on the witness stand than the dreadlocked enforcer that others have described from their encounters with him in his prime.

With his testimony, prosecutors sought to establish the backbone of their case against Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Perry Betts, Michael Spicer, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser.

Walker began cooperating with the FBI following his own arrest in a 2013 FBI sting.

After he was caught planting drugs and robbing a suspect’s house, he said, he flagged for agents the 20 questionable drug busts that now make up the case against his former colleagues.

Asked Tuesday why he agreed to turn on the rest of the squad, Walker replied, “I decided I wanted to save myself.”

That answer is likely to provide ample ammunition as defense lawyers get their chance to cross-examine him Wednesday. Already, they have referred to Walker in court as a “despicable, rotten liar and thief,” and a “narcissistic, amoral creep.”

Under questioning Tuesday from Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen McCartney, Walker matter-of-factly walked jurors through his career as a rogue cop – from the first time he pocketed drug money as a young officer in West Philadelphia’s 16th District to the bigger hauls and bigger paydays after he joined the Narcotics Field Unit.

They operated under the leadership of Liciardello, he said, who directed them to a certain type of drug dealer – “white boys, college-boy types, khaki pants” – whom they could easily intimidate and slap around.

“I was very loyal to the guys,” he said. “I would lie for them. I would steal for them. I would abuse people for them. I wanted to be part of the squad.”

Much of Walker’s testimony corroborated stories told by the government witnesses that preceded him.

Describing a 2007 raid in which members of the field unit are accused of stealing $97,000 from drug dealer Robert Kushner’s City Avenue apartment, Walker recalled a moment that Kushner described in detail during his own time on the stand.

Soon after entering the apartment, Liciardello spotted a photo on Kushner’s wall of mobster John Gotti, the Gambino crime family’s “Teflon Don.”

Walker recalled Liciardello’s calling Kushner in jail to say: “You ain’t no gangster.”

In describing other incidents, however, Walker occasionally contradicted previous testimony.

Earlier Tuesday, Howard Wilson told jurors that in 2006, Liciardello and others took $38,000 in drug money his nephew had stashed in a backpack hidden in his basement clothes dryer.

In Walker’s retelling, the money was found in a Timberland shoe box stuffed into the appliance.

And though he explained his testimony as a way to help himself in his own case, McCartney’s questioning revealed another possible motive for Walker’s extensive cooperation – a bitter feud with Liciardello.

By 2009, Walker said, he felt himself being squeezed out of the squad.

First, the others refused to work with him, and he was partnered with Norman. Once Norman left the squad, Walker spent most days patrolling the streets by himself – a violation of police policy.

He became the target of cruel jokes.

They teased him about his messy divorce and took photos of him when he fell asleep on surveillance jobs. After he underwent gastric bypass surgery, they called him names such as “Staple Stomach” and “Zip Mouth.”

That tension came to a head in 2013, Walker said, when Internal Affairs investigators began investigating a complaint from a city prosecutor about Liciardello’s behavior in court. Walker, who had testified in the same case, was called in to answer questions.

Normally, when one of the squad’s members was brought before Internal Affairs, a supervisor would call in a favor and get a heads-up about the complaint so squad members could work out a believable cover story, Walker said.

This time, Walker didn’t wait for that meeting. He told investigators that Liciardello and the rest were dirty, but didn’t share details.

Somehow Liciardello found out, Walker testified, and that night unleashed his wrath. In a series of text messages shared with jurors, Liciardello berated Walker for the betrayal.

“You are dead to everyone in this squad,” Liciardello wrote. “The problem you have is you’re now a rat. I hope you die.”

Despite their falling out, there were still times Walker felt desperate to win back Liciardello’s trust, he said.

He told jurors he once lied in court about a drug buy to cover one of Liciardello’s mistakes.

Asked by McCartney, the prosecutor, whether he ever stopped to think about how his false testimony affected the men his lies sent to jail, Walker responded: “I didn’t think of them as being humans. They were criminals. It never crossed my mind.”

When did you start to think differently, McCartney asked.

Walker replied: “Since being in jail myself.”

Walker will return to the stand Wednesday to face what is expected to be a highly charged cross-examination.




May 2015

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