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Latest Georgia news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. EDT


Federal judge voids Georgia ‘heartbeat’ abortion restriction

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal judge is permanently blocking Georgia’s 2019 “heartbeat” abortion law, finding that it violates the U.S. Constitution. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled against the state Monday in a lawsuit filed by abortion providers and an advocacy group. Jones had temporarily blocked the law in October, and it never went into effect. The new ruling permanently enjoins the state from ever enforcing House Bill 481. The measure sought to ban abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” was present, with some limited exceptions. Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Jones found the law violated the 14th Amendment. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who has supported the restriction, immediately vowed an appeal.


Analysis: Georgia tracing smaller share of infections

ATLANTA (AP) — An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis finds Georgia public health investigators are reaching a smaller share of people who may be infected as the number of COVID-19 cases rise in the state. The newspaper finds that contact tracers interviewed 37% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 between June 23 and July 8, down from 60% between May 15 and June 22.  Georgia State University public health Professor Harry Heiman says that with the number of coronavirus infections soaring in Georgia, it may be impossible to keep up. The state Department of Public Health says it has 1,225 contact tracers as of July 1, exceeding a 1,000-person goal set earlier by Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey.


Parents of slain Atlanta girl plead for help to find killer

ATLANTA (AP) — The parents of an 8-year-old Atlanta girl slain near the site of an earlier police killing pleaded for the public to help find whoever is responsible. In an emotional Monday news conference, the family announced an “all-hands-on-deck” effort that will include canvassing several neighborhoods with flyers, and a new hotline for tips and a total of $50,000 in reward money. Atlanta police released images late Sunday of a second person of interest in the killing of Secoriea Turner on the Fourth of July. It happened near the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by a police officer.


Advocates seek law change to end citizen arrests in Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) — Civil rights groups called for Georgia lawmakers to repeal the state’s 19th-century citizen’s arrest law Monday. But some Republican lawmakers voiced concerns that without the law, property owners might not have the authority to detain thieves until police arrive. The law came under criticism after it was initially used as a justification for the white men who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, near Brunswick in February. Advocates say the law is steeped in racism and slavery, and was used to round up escaped slaves and then to justify lynching African Americans. Efforts to repeal the law failed this year. The House Judiciary Non-civil Committee is holding a hearings this summer, and changes could be considered next year.


Up next for police defunding advocates: Win local elections

ATLANTA (AP) — Amid Americans’ national reckoning on racism, a coalition of progressive groups is forming a political action committee to back local office candidates who want to redirect money away from police departments into other social services. The Justice Fund has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and plans immediately to begin accepting contributions and vetting candidates to support. It’s an outgrowth of the “Defund the Police” movement. Organizers described the PAC to The Associated Press as a counter to the political power of police unions and a way to continue educating voters about what the “defund” push means.


Georgia’s coronavirus death toll passes 3,000

ATLANTA (AP) — Three thousand and one. That’s the number of people in Georgia who’ve died after contracting the coronavirus, according to data released Sunday by the state Department of Public Health. Confirmed cases and hospitalizations have been rising sharply in the state over the past few weeks. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has been locked in a battle with local officials over whether they have the power to implement virus restrictions that go beyond his orders. Kemp says no, but local governments across the state are doing it anyway, with several cities including Atlanta implementing mask requirements and other restrictions.


Police: 1 hospitalized after shooting at Atlanta house party

ATLANTA (AP) — Police say one person has been hospitalized after a man opened fire at a house party in Atlanta early Monday morning. News outlets report Atlanta police found 35-year-old Ismaael Aleem with multiple gunshot wounds when they responded to a call about the shooting around midnight on Monday. News outlets report Aleem was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition. The Atlanta police spokesman says Aleem told officers there was an argument between the suspect and other people at the party before the shooting. The victim told officers he doesn’t know why he might have been targeted. Atlanta police are searching for the suspect. They did not reveal his identity.


GBI: Police fatally shot 2 armed men in separate incidents

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation will be reviewing two killings of armed men by authorities on Sunday. GBI press releases said 47-year-old Rodney Morrison had a knife when he was shot in a field in Leesburg. Authorities said deputies were trying to serve him with court paperwork when he brandished a knife and fled. Leesburg police officers arrived and one of them shot him. Chamblee police meanwhile received multiple 911 calls about an armed man along Buford Highway. They say they found 28-year-old Marcos Reyes and tried to de-escalate the situation but shot him after he fired a gun at them. No officers were wounded.

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