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Latest from Jon Lewis

    Mistakes were made. A lot of mistakes and, in the end, they led to the murders of two Georgia Corrections officers.  The GBI has completed its investigation into the June 13 shootings of corrections officer Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue and found that some procedures were not followed. That, according to the report, led to the murders by inmates Ricky DuBose and Donnie Russell Rowe.  'The report outlines several security breaches that led to the escape that day,' says Department of Corrections Commissioner Gregory Dozier.   'The first was a breach in the inmates' search process,' Dozier says. 'We are aware that they were able to take a pen or a toothbrush on that bus that day.'  Dozier says the standard procedure should have included a strip search of the inmates but, instead, only included a pat down.  'They was a breach in the cuffing,' Dozier says. He says the inmates handcuffs should have been double locked, but were not. 'Within minutes after boarding that bus they were able to out of their cuffs, not just them but several others.'  'The inmates were not continuously supervised while on the bus,' Dozier says. 'There were two occasions: once on the grounds of Baldwin (State Prison) and once on the ground of Hancock (State Prison).'  The GBI reports also details how neither officer wore protective clothing. Billue's ballistic vest was found in his car while Monica’s stab vest was found at his home. In addition, the report says neither guard had their gun on them, nor had it secured. The guns were kept either in a box or on a shelf behind the two officers in the front compartment of the bus.  Dozier says, based on what happened, procedures have been changed.  Padlocks that secure the gate between the guards and the inmates will now only release the key when the lock is locked.  The security chief of the prison is now in charge of the inmate bus, instead of one of the corrections guards.  Inmates will, as was the policy, be strip-searched before entering a bus.  The killings of the officers prompted a nationwide manhunt for the escaped inmates. DeBose and Rowe were captured two days after the killings, after trying to carjack a car in central Tennessee.
  • A mother is locked up in the DeKalb County jail, charged in the hot car death of her daughter.  Police say 25-year-old Dijanelle Fowler is charged with second degree murder and second degree cruelty to children in the June death of one-year-old Skylar Fowler.  The girl's body was found inside the car in a parking deck of Emory Hospital.  The investigation into the girl’s death took a month.  “The timeline of her interaction with her child throughout the day,” says DeKalb police Captain Jerry A. Lewis. “Through the process of the investigation we were able to determine that some of the things that were told to us were not true.”  Captain Lewis tells WSB that the biggest discrepancy was the timeline involving how long the girl was in the car.  “The injuries that the child had for the amount of time that she said the child was in the vehicle do not match,” Captain Lewis says.  When the incident happened police went on the theory that the mother was getting her hair done for six hours while the one year old died inside the hot car.  Captain Lewis says there is a father, but that neither the suspect nor the victim lived with him. He has been notified of the girl’s death and the charges.  The charges against the 25-year-old do not include intent, nor do they need to. Captain Lewis says the cruelty charge allows police to also charge her with second degree murder due to negligence.  Surveillance video shows the woman leaving her car and entering the Northlake Tower Festival Shopping Center just after 10:00 the morning of the girl’s death. Fowler then leaves the shopping center at about four that afternoon.
  • He could not get out of jury duty, but to be honest, he really didn't want to.  “It really wasn't getting stuck,” says P. Harris Hines, 'I got my jury summons like everybody else. I always thought it was a pillar of a free society.”   So Hines missed his day job for jury duty. And what does he do? He's the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.   “I considered it an honor and a privilege,” Hines tells WSB. “My wife has done it, and my father some years ago. I'm part of the legal system and always try to be a good citizen.”   Hines was summoned to jury duty in Cobb County, and, even though he did not get chosen for a jury, he did find the experience a good one.   “I always believed, and believe now, that jurors seek to do that which is right according to the law,” Hines says, “and the people I was serving with, I feel good about them serving.”   Hines cannot remember if he has ever been called for jury duty before. The original date of his service was during a busy time for the state Supreme Court, so he asked to be rescheduled and his request was granted.
  • She is tall, slim, wears a bandanna, and she is wanted for two bank robberies.  The FBI and Marietta police are hunting for the woman suspected of pulling off two robberies. The first was at the Wells Fargo bank in Marietta, and the second at a PNC Bank in Sandy Springs.  “The fact that she's hit so close together, time wise, leads us to believe we will see her again,” says Stephen Emmett with the FBI.  The first robbery, at the Wells Fargo, happened on June 16 at the bank on Roswell Street NE. The second was 10 days later, on June 26 at the PNC Bank at 5640 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.  Both robberies were pulled off late in the afternoon.  In both cases the robber entered the bank, told an employee that this was a robbery, and walked away with the cash.  There were surveillance cameras at the banks and they took some very clear pictures of the suspect.  “I understand the pictures are innocuous, but make no mistake, a robbery is occurring,” Emmett tells WSB. “Someone, from the photographs, has to know who this person is.”  The individual in both robberies is described as a black female, 25 to 35 years old with a slender to medium build and wearing a bandanna.
  • It's a scam tech could affect anybody buying groceries or just about anything else.   This was at the Kroger on Highway 138 in Conyers. There are two suspects who approached one victim.   “They offered to let her use the employee discount for Kroger,” says Conyers Police Sergeant Kim Lucas, “while they faked completing a transaction at the self check out counter.”   Lucas tells WSB the opportunity for robbery happened when the victim turned away.   “An employee came up to assist them with that, she was talking to the victim, distracting her, and that's when this couple made off with the victims cash in hand,” Lucas says.   Lucas says the employee was not part of the scam, and was simply doing her job by offering to help.   Police do not have any of the reports of similar fifth but, Lucas says, there are, no doubt, more out there.   “Chances are this is not the first time that they've done this,” she says, “ and it won't be the last unless we catch them.”
  • Clergy from around the state are pleading with Georgia Senator Jonny Isakson concerning the current Healthcare bill before the Senate and the future of Medicaid in Georgia.  “Respecting dignity of people,” says John Berry, CEO of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia. “The Healthcare bill that was passed by the House of Representatives does not respect the dignity of human beings in the way they are treated with their health. And the Senate version appears, from a Medicaid perspective, if possible, to be even worse.”  Berry has been with the Society for 11 years and says he's seen everything.  “We have dealt with situations where people have told us ‘I have to choose whether to put food on the table for my children or provide medicines that I need to live a healthy life’,” Berry says.  A letter has been sent to Senator Isakson, signed by more than 100 clergy members, asking him to protect Medicaid.  Archdeacon Carole Maddox, with the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, is among those who have signed the letter.  “This is clearly not morally right,” Maddox says. “It is, instead, cruel and destructive.  “It is completely contrary to our call as Christians to care for the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the children,” Maddox says. “I can understand how Christians of good faith can find themselves on both sides of many issues. But healthcare is a no-brainer.”  According to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 19 percent of Georgians receive Medicaid, compared to the national average of 20 percent.  Nearly 2,000,000 people in Georgia receive Medicaid help, many of them children, seniors, the disabled, and veterans. The letter claims that federal Medicaid funding in Georgia would be cut by $4 billion over the next 10 years.  The Society also says that Georgia school districts would face a financial strain under the current bill. It says that Georgia schools received $30 million in Medicaid funds in 2015 to provide service for special education students and pay the schools for nurses and therapists.  The letter to the Senator has been signed by more than 100 clergy from around the state.
  • That notice that you got right now, throw it in the trash.'  Those words, that every Fulton County homeowner wants to hear, come from Commission Vice-Chairman Bob Elis concerning the 2017 tax assessments.  The county commission, in a unanimous vote, approved a measure that corrects the 2017 tax assessments by using the 2016 tax rates.  The decision by the board does not affect commercial properties and homeowners who have made improvements to their homes will also see an increase.  The corrective measure was sponsored by Commissioners Ellis, John Eaves and Liz Hausmann.  'The system is broken,' Hausmann says. 'It's inherently broken.'  Commissioner Emma Darnell says in addition to fixing a problem, the vote also shows that the Fulton County government is willing to listen.  The new tax assessments will be completed within a few weeks and then be sent out to homeowners by August. Those homeowners can still appeal the assessment, if they so choose.   'You can still appeal,' Ellis says, 'but, as for the new digest, you'll probably like it a whole lot better than what you have right now.”
  • Not every jail inmate is a bad guy and not all want to escape. Some try to help their guards.  A Polk County Sheriff's deputy owes his life to a work detail of six inmates who, instead of trying to get away, rendered help to the man until other authorities arrived.  It happen last week. It was a brutally hot and humid day and the officer was watching over a work detail. He was having some difficulties, so an inmate asked if he was alright.  'The guard said he was, but also told the inmate that he should call 911 on his cell phone if anything happens,' says Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats.  Moats tells WSB that, a few minutes later, the deputy wavered then collapsed due to the humidity.  'They (the inmates) rolled him over on his back,' Sheriff Moats tells WSB, 'took his gun belt off and his vest off and got ready to perform CPR when he started breathing.'  The inmates could have taken the officer's gun and car, but stayed with him instead.  'My guys were thinking the worst on their way over there,' Moats says, 'but, when they got there, all the inmates were with the officer. All were accounted for. They took care of him.'  The actions of the inmates do not surprise the sheriff.  'These guys are not bad guys,' Sheriff Moats says. 'They're people who just made a mistake and got caught.'  The Sheriff and his staff bought the inmates pizzas after what they did. The deputy’s family provided dessert.
  • The FBI is putting up billboards. Police are hunting all over the country for two escaped Georgia inmates who killed two corrections officers. And now the Georgia lottery is getting involved in the manhunt.  The lottery department will print out a second ticket whenever somebody buys a lottery ticket. That second ticket, which will not have lottery numbers, will feature information on Donnie Russell Rowe and Ricky DuBose, along with the pickup truck they stole.  The idea is that even though many people drive on the interstate, many more drive on back roads that feature gas stations that sell lottery tickets.  “By posting their information on every lottery machine in the state of Georgia, we can get as much information out to as many people as we can,” says Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley.  The lottery department is not stopping there, however.  “They are working on the Keno machines,” Matkley tells WSB. “That's going to take a little more time.  “The programmers have to get involved in that. So they are working on the Keno machines to see if they can put up the photographs during the commercials on those machines.”  The lottery department is also reaching out to other lottery departments in other states to “try and reach as many people as we can,” says Sheriff Markley.  Rowe and DuBose are suspected of killing corrections officers Christopher Monica and Curtis Billie while the inmates were being transported from one prison to another.  The pair carjacked a Honda immediately after the killings but abandoned that car and stole a 2008 white Ford F-250 pickup.  Police have not been able to locate the fugitives yet and hope the lottery will help track them down.  Sheriff Markley says the technology is brilliant but do not expect it to be used in every case.  “We don't want to overuse it, “Markley says. “The public gets desensitized to it. But this is important enough because there's public safety involved.”
  • A massive nationwide search is underway for two inmates who shot and killed two Georgia correctional officers in Putnam County.  “I saw two brutally murdered corrections officers. That’s what I saw,” Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “I have their blood on my shoes.”  The FBI, the GBI and other agencies said they are offering a $60,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the men identified as Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe. “One of these individuals is from Madison County, Georgia,” Sills said. “We know the other one is originally from middle Tennessee.”  The deadly shootings happened about 5:45 a.m. on Ga. 16 in Putnam County, between Eatonton and Sparta, The AJC reports. This prompted officials to place all Department of Corrections facilities across the state on lockdown for the foreseeable future.   The inmates overtook the guards, who were driving a transport bus. After disarming the officers, one of the inmates shot and killed them, Sills said.  The two fugitives are still believed to be driving the 2004 green Honda Civic that was carjacked just after the killings. The tag number is RBJ6601.  The duo broke into a home in Madison, dumped their prison clothes and escaped again, according to officials.
  • Jon Lewis

    Field Reporter

    Jon Lewis has been a reporter for WSB for 20 years starting in 1997. He is originally from New York. His top stories include going to Norway to cover Jimmy Carter receiving the Nobel Peace prize. 

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  • Police are investigating a shooting at a Starbucks in Cobb County. Channel 2's Ross Cavitt learned that a woman was shot outside the Starbucks at Paces Ferry and Cumberland Parkway Thursday afternoon. Witnesses said they heard a pop and then saw the gunman jump over the bushes and run to a waiting truck. Cavitt spoke to a witness who said the woman who was shot asked for help, but then left. The woman has been identified as Sheena Fisse, 31. 'She had come into the door and I heard from other people she asked for help and said she's been shot. She asked for help or announced she'd been shot and turned around and left,' Grant Wyckoff said. TRENDING STORIES: O.J. Simpson granted parole after 9 years in jail Police: Burglar thought he cut security wires, still caught on camera 10-year-old girl hit, killed while walking to store Police said Fisse was shot in the side and drove eight miles down the interstate to Fulton Industrial Boulevard where they found her. She was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Police said they are questioning one person in connection with the shooting. If you have any information, you're asked to call 770-499-3945. Woman shot outside Cumberland Starbucks, drives miles down the highway before stopping. Suspect at large. @wsbtv Ross Cavitt | WSB-TV (@RossCavittWSB) July 20, 2017
  • Police said a burglar broke into a local nail salon and got away with cash.Channel 2's Audrey Washington was in Gainesville where police said the man scoped out the shop for one specific reason.Police said the burglar targeted the salon because he knows the nail techs get tipped with cash. They said it's the same reason they want him off the streets before he hits another nail shop.Surveillance video obtained by Washington showed the man walk into the back door of the nail studio and spa inside the Lakeshore Mall before 8 a.m.'Somebody come in through the back door like you see in the video,' the business owner told Washington, 'He just randomly picked it and (was) lucky to get in.' TRENDING STORIES: Woman had $2 million in liquid meth hidden in cleaning jugs during traffic stop, police say 10-year-old girl struck, killed while walking to a store Man shoots AT&T work truck outside parked in front of his home While inside, the shop owner said that the man cut the wires to what he thought was the security system. It turned out the wires he cut were to the audio system, so the camera was rolling as the man made his way inside. 'Not fair for us or anybody or business owners,' the salon owner told Washington.Sgt. Kevin Holbrook, with the Gainesville Police Department, told Washington, 'He did not hit any other businesses in the mall. He went to this nail salon, probably knowing that they do a lot of cash business.'The owner wouldn't say how much the guy got away with and police are hoping someone will recognize the suspect in the video by his distinctive camouflage backpack. Meanwhile police are warning other nail salon owners in the area. 'If you do cash business, if you have employees that receive cash tips, do not keep large amounts of cash in your store,' Holbrook said.The salon owner said he added extra security to his back door and as for the suspect, police believe he lives in the area. Anyone with information is asked to give Gainesville police a call.
  • Sen. John McCain's treatment for brain cancer could keep him out of Washington for weeks, perhaps months, and yet it's unlikely anyone will challenge his extended leave. Congress has a long tradition in which no one questions ailing lawmakers taking time to recover. For starters, it's just poor form. And, frankly, it's up to the stricken member of Congress and their doctors to decide when — or even if — they return to work. Some have recuperated away from the Capitol for a year or more. It's an unwritten courtesy that often doesn't extend to the real working world where employees are forced to file for medical disability or take unpaid leave. Julie Tarallo, McCain's spokeswoman, said Friday that 'further consultations with Sen. McCain's Mayo Clinic care team will indicate when he will return to the United States Senate.' McCain had taken to Twitter on Thursday promising a quick return. 'Unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I'll be back soon, so stand-by!' said the six-term Arizona Republican and 2008 GOP presidential nominee. The 80-year-old McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer, according to doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, who had removed a blood clot above his left eye last Friday. He and his family are weighing his treatment, including radiation and chemotherapy. In the immediate aftermath of McCain's diagnosis, Republicans wouldn't speculate about what the temporary loss of McCain's vote would mean. But McCain's absence complicates Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plans for a Senate vote on a GOP health care bill to erase much of the Affordable Care Act. A vote is possible on Tuesday, but GOP defections plus McCain's likely absence could sink any chance even to get started. McCain wouldn't be the first lawmaker this year to miss votes, hearings and other legislative action. Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson remained in Georgia for several weeks earlier this year as he underwent two back surgeries and recuperated. Isakson missed the vote on confirming Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. In January 2012, then-Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. suffered a major stroke and didn't return for almost a full year, making a dramatic entrance by climbing the steps of the Capitol on the opening day of the following Congress. In a lawmaker's absence, congressional staff keep the office operating, send out news releases — one from McCain on Thursday blasted the Trump administration's Syria policy — and respond to constituents. Absences can leave the margin of control on a razor's edge. The month after Democrats won back the Senate in 2006, South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson had a near-fatal episode of bleeding in his brain that, at the time, threatened to shift the Senate's margin from 51-49 Democratic to 50-50 GOP control with Republican Vice President Dick Cheney the deciding vote. Johnson recovered but was away from the Senate for almost nine months. McCain is battling the same form of cancer that claimed the life of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., in August 2009. Kennedy was away from the Senate for extended stretches but returned on occasion to vote. 'There were times when Senator Reid had to juggle things because he had two senators absent, Senator Kennedy and Senator Byrd,' said longtime former Senate aide Jim Manley, who worked for both Kennedy and then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. 'Having said that, it really never, with a handful of exceptions, proved to be that big of a problem.' Kennedy also delegated some of his responsibilities as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee by farming out responsibility for bills before the panel to colleagues such as then-Sens. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. McCain has had Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., handle his duties as Armed Services Committee chairman. Unclear is whether Inhofe will steer the sweeping defense policy bill if the Senate begins debate in August. And, if legislative necessity should dictate that McCain return for a crucial, dramatic vote, there's precedent for that. Kennedy, who mostly stayed away from the chamber for fear of infection, returned to the Senate in July 2008 for a key vote. During McCain's first term, Sen. Pete Wilson, R-Calif., recovering from an emergency appendectomy, was wheeled in on a stretcher to cast the deciding vote on a GOP budget plan. And in 1964, California Democrat Clair Engle, whose own bout with brain cancer rendered him unable to speak, was wheeled into the Senate to vote for the landmark Civil Rights Act. Engle pointed to his eye and tried to mouth 'aye,' according to newspaper accounts at the time. In an earlier time, some senators were away from the chamber for years. Karl Mundt, R-S.D., suffered a stroke in late 1969 and refused to resign and allow a GOP replacement to be named. He held the seat until January 1973 and was replaced by Democrat Jim Abourezk. Sen. Carter Glass, D-Va., kept his titles of president pro tempore and chairman of the Appropriations Committee despite being absent because of frailty due to old age.
  • Embattled former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has opened a new consulting firm called Resilient Patriot, LLC that is advising private equity firms, according to one of his brothers, who says Flynn is 'moving on with his life.' Joe Flynn said his family also is in the early stages of starting a fund to pay for the legal bills his brother is racking up as he sits at the center of multiple probes into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. 'Mike's not a millionaire, not even close,' Joe Flynn told The Associated Press this week. 'This situation has put him in a tough spot financially. This is going to cost him a lot of money.' 'There's a lot of people that are big fans of his across the country,' he added. Several of Flynn's siblings plan to administer the fund for the retired Army lieutenant general, and are working on setting up a website and consulting with a lawyer about the legal intricacies of such a fund. Joe Flynn said they want to 'be as transparent as possible' and do it properly. After being forced into retirement in 2014 by the Obama administration, Flynn went on to set up a company that accepted speaking fees from Russian entities and later did consulting work for a Turkish-owned business. He joined the Trump campaign and then the administration as an early supporter. But the Trump White House ousted him after saying he mischaracterized conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. A wide range of his actions — including foreign contracts and payments, and whether he lied to officials — are under scrutiny by investigators. Joe Flynn said his brother is not independently wealthy, and depends on his Army pension. While his brother made some money consulting, Joe Flynn said much of that went into his company and to subcontractors. Now, with Resilient Patriot, Michael Flynn is advising private equity firms on deals they are considering, Joe Flynn said. He did not specify the firms. 'They use him to vet opportunities with his network,' he said. 'He's slowly starting to do that as a totally independent consultant.' While he said his older brother is doing well, 'There's still a cloud over him,' he said, adding 'I think he's not worried about going to jail or anything like that.' His son, Mike Flynn Jr., used the name Resilient Patriot on Twitter, but the work does not involve him, Joe Flynn said. Flynn Jr. sent numerous posts on Twitter about the conspiracy theories of Pizzagate, a fake new story suggesting a Washington, D.C., pizza shop plays a key role in a child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton. The conspiracy theory influenced a North Carolina man to fire a rifle in the restaurant in December. Michael Flynn has been spending most of his summer in Middletown, Rhode Island, where he and his wife grew up and where they built a home years ago. Flynn has spent time surfing and golfing there in recent days. The plans for a legal defense fund were first reported by Bloomberg.
  • Lately the Congressional Budget Office just can't get any respect. Republicans from the White House on down have worked to discredit the nonpartisan agency, in an effort to undermine its inconvenient findings that GOP health care bills would cause more than 20 million people to lose their insurance. Now all eight former directors of the agency, some of them Republicans and some Democrats, have signed onto a letter defending CBO and urging lawmakers to give it the respect it deserves. 'We write to express our strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency and on the agency's role in the legislative process,' the former directors say in their letter Friday to the top Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. CBO is a nonpartisan agency and acts as Congress' official scorekeeper, analyzing the costs and impacts of the bills lawmakers write. Most major legislation does not come to a vote without a CBO 'score' and these scores can be consequential in serving as the bottom line analysis of the impact a bill will have. CBO directors are approved by the House and Senate leaders. The current director, Keith Hall, was chosen by Republican Tom Price, who is now secretary of Health and Human Services but previously chaired the budget committee in the House. Price made the selection and it was blessed by the top Capitol Hill GOP leaders at the time. Hall has served since 2015. Nevertheless, in recent months Republicans have not liked what CBO has had to say about the GOP's legislation to repeal and replace 'Obamacare.' The biggest headlines have been the large numbers of consumers who would lose insurance under the GOP plans, plus the higher premiums for older Americans that would result. Many congressional Republicans have pointed out that CBO's predictions sometimes don't prove accurate. In one example Republicans often cite, the agency overestimated the number of Americans who would gain health coverage on the purchasing exchanges created by Obamacare. Two Trump White House officials, legislative director Marc Short and Brian Blase, special assistant to the president for the National Economic Council, went so far as to write an opinion piece in the Washington Post earlier this month pre-butting the agency's findings about Senate health care legislation. The estimates 'will be little more than fake news' the two claimed. The sitting leadership of the CBO does not respond to such attacks. But in an unusual move the past leadership got together to fight back. In their letter the former directors defended the agency's approach and the high quality of its research, while noting that a law's outcome over time can be difficult to predict in a dynamic economy. 'In sum, relying on CBO's estimates in the legislative process has served the Congress?_?and the American people?_?very well during the past four decades,' they conclude. 'As the House and Senate consider potential policy changes this year and in the years ahead, we urge you to maintain and respect the Congress's decades-long reliance on CBO's estimates in developing and scoring bills.' ___ Online: Read the CBO directors' letter at: An occasional look at what Capitol Hill is talking about
  • Meek Mill faced scrutiny during his highly-publicized rap feud with Drake and relationship with former girlfriend Nicki Minaj. Some may think Mill lost in both situations, especially after Drake's Grammy-nominated diss track 'Back to Back.' But the Philadelphia-bred rapper doesn't view it that way, saying there were other pressing issues in his life he considers as losses — from the death of close friends to a probation violation that landed him three months in house arrest last year. While wearing a gold pendant in remembrance of the late rapper and protege Lil Snupe, who was shot dead in 2013, Mill spoke with The Associated Press about his new album 'Wins & Losses,' which comes out Friday. He also touches on empowering young black youth, Minaj's ex-boyfriend Safaree Samuels being jumped during the BET Awards weekend and his aspirations of doing film. AP: What compelled you to name your album 'Wins and Losses'? Mill: Everybody saying that I'm losing and I lost. I lost my case. I lost my friends to the streets. Those things really meant something to me. I started off in the basement on a karaoke machine. Now I'm in million-dollar studios, making a lot of money being able to feed my family and take them out a crazy environment, still being able to wake up on my own time and do things how I want to do it. That's my definition of winning. I determine my definition of losing on this album. AP: Your single 'Young Black America' has a politically-charged tone. What do you want people to take away from it? Mill: It's an eye-opener for the young people for my culture. It's to help them open their eyes and see what they are really dealing with in real reality. A lot of rap isn't based off reality most of the time. Sometimes it's ignorant. ... I just wanted to give young people in our culture an understanding of what's going on. In one video, we got young kids with guns with KKK masks on, basically saying we killing our own. AP: What run-ins have you experienced with the law that youngsters can relate to? Mill: I was 18 and got beat up by a cop and almost killed by cops. I was just a statistic coming up. The cops are in a dangerous neighborhood thinking everybody else in the neighborhood is dangerous or everybody in the hood is killers. They caught me and treated me like I was a killer. I don't think that's really right. The cop gave me a 100 charges with trying to kill a cop. I don't want to kill a cop. They basically put me on probation for the rest of my life from that point on when I was 18. I'm 30 now and still on probation. I've been to jail three times from that one stint of probation. Any mistake you make, you'll be put in prison. Your freedom can be took. AP: Your relationship with Minaj and beef with Drake really put a spotlight on you. How did you take to the criticism? Mill: I'll look at the internet and see comments like, 'Meek got Nicki money.' You can't know nothing about Meek Mill if you saying something like that. They be like 'Meek Mill can't rap.'... 'Somebody wrote Meek Mill raps'. ... I came up on YouTube rapping since I was 14 years old. That's my importance to the streets. They seen me come up. My story is not a facade. AP: Did you have anything to do with Safaree being jumped? Mill: I don't know nothing about him getting jumped on. I pulled up and actually seen him getting into an altercation. You can look at my face and see that I was surprised. Me and my friends had a party at that spot that night, so that's somewhere we were supposed to be going. I don't communicate with him. I don't know him. I don't even want to base those guys in this interview. That's not even on my level. Street fights take place all the time. I ain't touch nobody. Didn't put no hand on nobody. I'm on strict probation. I'm just trying to handle my business and feed my family. I don't think those dudes are worthy of being talked about. AP: Does your short film, 'Wins & Losses: The Movie' make you want to get more involved in film? Mill: I want to do something that expresses the things we go through. The things we feel. I have a lot of older white friends who don't understand our culture. They might see ignorant or wild things and don't understand why it's going on. But I might have to break it down like, 'Yo, this guy is on drugs for 15 years.' I believe I can express things through film. ___ Online: ___ Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter at . His work can be found at