National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

The Michael Brown Case

The Michael Brown case is now all over the news.  The Washington Post has a front page headline, “FBI Will Investigate Shooting in Mo.”  It also has a helpful article, “What do we know about the shooting of Michael Brown, and of Brown himself.”  According to the reports, Brown had no history of trouble with the law.  He was supposed to start college this week.

Police have not disclosed the identity of the officer who shot and killed Brown.   One can imagine the rationale for that.  There have been emotional protests and some violence by crowds.   Concerns for the officer’s safety, and perhaps for family members, could be the primary rationale.   That might justify a slight delay in releasing the name, perhaps to give a  family (if there is one) a chance to make some temporary arrangements, or for the department to arrange a security plan on the chance that protesters will go to the neighborhood.  However, it has now been several days and it is now necessary and appropriate for the officer to be identified.

The authorities keep saying that their investigation will be thorough.  Good.  That’s what we want to hear.  But deeds are more important than words.   At this point, it is important to know whether the officer has been the subject of police brutality lawsuits, and what were the outcomes of those cases.  On the other hand, maybe this officer has an unblemished record.  That would be good to know as well.

Michael Brown lost his life on Saturday.   We need to find out what happened and why.   Cases like this have 2 parts–the initial incident and then the response.   As bad as the initial incidents are; an inadequate response can be even more disturbing because it can be an indication of deeper problems within the police institution.  Fecklessness or, worse, abetting criminal conduct.  So far, the police have handled the Brown case very badly.

More here.

 

Problems at the Border Patrol

From the Washington Post:

FOLLOWING MONTHS of damning disclosures about the use of deadly force by Border Patrol agents, Department of Homeland Security officials tightened the rules of engagement this spring. But it remains unclear whether U.S. Customs and Border Protection — with 43,000 agents, the biggest federal law enforcement agency — will end what appears to be a culture of impunity that has shielded agents from consequences and even meaningful investigations following senseless and unjustified killings.

Full editorial here.

Hundreds of Misconduct Complaints Not Investigated

From the Los Angeles Times:

The head of internal affairs for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal government’s largest law enforcement workforce, was removed from his post Monday amid criticism that he failed to investigate hundreds of allegations of inappropriate use of force by armed border agents, officials said….

For years, Customs and Border Protection officials have refused to tell families of those injured or killed by border agents if internal affairs had determined that an agent had acted improperly, or if any disciplinary action was taken.

Between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2013, for example, at least 22 people were killed by Border Patrol agents, mostly on the Southwest border, and many more were injured. Hundreds of immigrants and others filed formal complaints of official misconduct, including beatings, sexual abuse and other assaults.

Only 14 agents were disciplined during that four-year period for violating use of force policies, according to data provided to The Times on Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

 

Cleveland Officers to be Prosecuted for Barrage of Gunfire

From Cleveland.com:

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cuyahoga County grand jury Friday indicted six Cleveland police officers for their roles in a 2012 police chase and shooting that left two people dead and carved deep schisms into the community. The grand jury charged Patrolman Michael Brelo with two counts of voluntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony. The panel also accused five supervisors of dereliction of duty…

On Friday, McGinty said that after officers fired more than 100 shots at the car, Brelo started shooting again and fired at least 15 shots, including fatal ones, downward through the windshield into the victims at close range as he stood on the hood of Russell’s car.

“This was now a stop-and-shoot, no longer a chase-and-shoot,” McGinty said. “The law does not allow for a stop-and-shoot.” …

“Let’s be clear what happened here,” McGinty said about the case. “(Russell) was fully stopped. Escape was no longer even a remote possibility. The flight was over. The public was no longer in danger because the car was surrounded by police cars and 23 police officers in a schoolyard safely removed from pedestrians and traffic.

The Pearlie Golden Case

From CBS News:

HEARNE, Texas — Friends say 93-year-old Pearlie Golden still shopped at the grocery store and greeted friends with a jubilant “Hey, baby!” Now they and the mayor of this small Texas town want the police officer who shot and killed her gone.

The fatal shooting of “Miss Sulie” – as residents say she was widely known – has raised tensions in Hearne and the Texas Rangers are investigating what led the officer to fire on Golden while responding to a 911 call at her house this week.

Hearne police have said in a statement that Golden “brandished a gun” when officer Stephen Stem, arrived Tuesday night.

Dozens of protesters, including some who came in from Houston, marched to police headquarters on Thursday and were met there by Mayor Ruben Gomez, who said he will recommend that the officer be fired during Saturday’s City Council meeting.

Double Standard for Shootings

From the Star-Tribune:

An Albuquerque police official says investigators waited more than 48 hours before they interviewed the officer involved in the troubled department’s latest shooting.  Deputy Chief Robert Huntsman tells KOB-TV (http://bit.ly/1pz2JzK ) there were several reasons for the delay in interviewing the officer who killed 19-year-old Mary Hawkes on Monday…. the department likes to give officers time to de-stress after a shooting.

If John Q. Citizen uses a gun in self-defense, the police do not give him/her a few days to “de-stress.”  Shouldn’t the police be held to the same, or perhaps even a higher standard?

Albuquerque Police: There is a Pattern of Excessive Force

CNN:

Albuquerque, New Mexico, police officers killed a 19-year-old as he “lay motionless on his back,” an unarmed drugstore robber who was walking away from officers and a 25-year-old veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who threatened to shoot himself in the head.

So says the U.S. Justice Department, which on Thursday issued a report lambasting the Albuquerque Police Department for a longstanding history of police brutality and unnecessary deadly force….

“For too long, Albuquerque officers have faced little scrutiny from their superiors in carrying out this fundamental responsibility,” the report says. “Despite the efforts of many committed individuals, external oversight is broken and has allowed the department to remain unaccountable to the communities it serves.”

To conduct its review, the Justice Department “reviewed thousands of pages of documents, including written policies and procedures, internal reports, data, video footage, and investigative files,” the report says. It also interviewed command staff, rank-and-file officers and community members, and held four community meetings where residents “provided their accounts of encounters with officers.”

Deputy Accidently Shoots Woman During Raid

From Buckeye Country 105.com:

A Ross County law enforcement official is on paid leave after firing a shot that eventually killed a woman during a drug raid.

Members of the U.S. 23 Task Force raided a known drug house along U.S. 23 in southern Ross County late Wednesday night. As soon as they got inside, they found a woman with a head wound on the couch in the living room.

“It was discovered later that a bullet had accidentally discharged from outside the door of the trailer and went through the outside wall of the trailer and into the living room,” said Ross County Sheriff George Lavender.

The bullet struck Krystal Barrows in the head. She was flown to OSU Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, but she died from her wounds….

The sheriff says he was outside the home at the time of the raid and never heard a shot go off. He thinks it probably happened at the same time a flash-bang grenade was used as agents entered the home. Those devices are used to distract and confuse suspects.

And for the Nth time, those grenades also confuse the police–and that too often endangers people unnecessarily.

More here.

Groups Protest Dallas Police Dept

From the Dallas Morning News:

The families of several men killed or wounded by Dallas police officers lambasted the department Thursday for what they said was a pattern of excessive force, civil rights violations and police brutality under color of law.

The newly formed Mothers Against Police Brutality held a news conference at City Hall where they called for a U.S. Justice Department investigation of the Dallas Police Department’s deadly force practices.

“It is not a black problem,” said Collette Flanagan, whose son Clinton Allen was fatally shot this year by a Dallas police officer. “It is not a Hispanic problem. It’s not a poor people’s problem. It is our problem” ….

Late Thursday, Police Chief David Brown issued a statement saying that he shared many of the group’s concerns.

“I look forward to working with this group, and moving forward towards positive changes for our department,” Brown said.