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Tag: Excessive Force

Justice Department to Spend $20M on Body Cameras for Police

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department plans to help police departments equip officers with body cameras, The Washington Post reports. 

The DOJ is launching a pilot program to determine the impact of the cameras, which come at a time when protesters nationwide are accusing police of unlawful force and racism.

The plan is to spend nearly $20 million on cameras for dozens of departments.

“This body-worn camera pilot program is a vital part of the Justice Department’s comprehensive efforts to equip law enforcement agencies throughout the country with the tools, support, and training they need to tackle the 21st century challenges we face,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

Lynch said the idea is to learn what really happens when accusations are made.

“Body-worn cameras hold tremendous promise for enhancing transparency, promoting accountability, and advancing public safety for law enforcement officers and the communities they serve,” Lynch said.

A separate task force found that body cameras reduce the use of force by police.

“Now that agencies operate in a world in which anyone with a cell phone camera can record video footage of a police encounter, [body cameras] help police departments ensure that events are also captured from an officer’s perspective,” the report stated.

Justice Department to Investigate Extent of Law Enforcement Bias in 5 Cities

By Steve Neavling

The rash of shootings of unarmed black teens has prompted Attorney General Eric Holder to launch an investigation of law enforcement bias in five not-yet-named cities, the USA Today reports.

Holder said the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO., underscored the importance of an investigation.

To head the study is a team of criminal justice researchers who will make recommendations, Holder said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton welcomed the investigation.

“We must study the culture of policing … and the reason that the community responds the way it does,” Sharpton said in a telephone interview. He added that the Brown and Garner cases and others have “led to an even further erosion” of relations between police and communities already shaken by growing gun violence.


LA Times Editorial: Border Patrol Must Take Deadly Shootings More Seriously

By Los Angeles Times
Editorial Board

The new head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s internal affairs office made a troubling assertion late last week. Since 2004, he said, the agency has apparently taken no disciplinary action against any of its agents who have used deadly force.

That follows a report released in February by the nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum, which reviewed 67 shooting incidents by Border Patrol agents from January 2010 to October 2012, 19 of which were fatal, and accused the agency of violating accepted police practices and a “lack of diligence” in investigating agents’ actions.

The American Immigration Council reported in May that of 809 abuse complaints (a broader category) filed from 2009 to 2012, 40% remained unresolved, and in the resolved cases, only 3% found fault with an agent’s actions. Comparative statistics are hard to come by, but a study of 2002 data found that about 8% of complaints against civilian police officers were sustained.

The backlog of cases and the possibility that the agency has been unwilling to discipline its officers led Department of Homeland Security officials in June to replace the internal affairs director, James F. Tomsheck, with an outsider, former L.A. police officer and FBI Deputy Assistant Director Mark Morgan. It was Morgan who told reporters he had yet to find records of disciplinary actions against agents in deadly force cases. While it’s possible that there was no fault to be found, that seems highly unlikely.

It is clear that the agency must respond more quickly to complaints and must be willing to assess the behavior of its employees fairly and objectively when they use their weapons. In one 2012 case, a Border Patrol agent fired across the border into Nogales, Mexico, killing 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez; the boy, who the Border Patrol says may have been throwing rocks, was struck in the back by at least eight bullets. His family says he was merely walking home after playing basketball. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the family, but so far it has been unsuccessful in getting the agency to publicly identify the officer involved.

To read more click here.


Other Stories of Interest


Justice Department to Launch Broad Civil Rights Investigation into Ferguson PD


By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is launching a broad civil rights investigation into the Ferguson Police Department after an unarmed black teen was shot, leading to protests, unrest and more abuse from local cops.

The Washington Post reports that the investigation is expected to be announced as early as today by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

The Justice Department civil rights division, which has investigated excessive force in other police departments, will lead the probe.

The investigation will also include police departments in St. Louis County.

Investigators will be determining whether the department adopted polices and practices that led to civil rights violations.

Feds: Suspect Killed in Border Patrol Chase Was Unarmed But Gestured That He Had Gun

Steve Neavling

A suspect shot in the head and killed by a Border Patrol agent was not armed, the Arizona Daily Star reports.

The agent fired nine times, he said, after the suspect, Jose Luis Armbula, 31, turned towards him and gestured that he had a gun.

Border Patrol has been criticized for its deadly shootings, especially following a report late last week that accused agents of using excessive force dozens of times.

The Tucson sector already had two fatal shootings this year.


Report Finds Border Patrol Agents Used Excessive Force in 67 Cases Involving Rock Throwers, Others

Steve Neavling 

Border Patrol agents used excessive force in 67 cases, firing guns when it wasn’t necessary, according to an internal report, the Associated Press reports.

The Police Executive Research Forum questioned the shootings of rock throwers, especially when the attacks come from the Mexican side of the border. The 21-page report indicated that some agents may shoot at rock throwers out of frustration.

The report also found that some intentionally got in the escape route of assailants before opening fire, the AP wrote.

Border Patrol released revised guidelines about the use of force, saying not to shoot at drivers or rock throwers unless there is “imminent danger of serious physical injury or death” to them or someone else.

Family of Man Fatally Shot by FBI in New Orleans Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

Steve Neavling

The FBI used excessive force when fatally shooting a 37-year-old man during a drug sting at a New Orleans motel, a civil rights lawsuit filed Thursday by the man’s family alleges.

The Times-Picayune reports that the family of Allen Desdunes also claims that FBI agents and other law enforcement tried to cover up the details of the July 30 shooting.

In April, the Justice Department concluded its investigation of the shooting and said charges weren’t warranted. The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office also declined to pursue criminal charges.

Family members said Desdunes was unarmed when he came under attack during a drug sting.

Letter by Jail Inmate Prompted Wide-Sweeping Investigation of L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputies

Steve Neavling

What turned into the largest mass arrests of L.A. County sheriff’s officials in decades began with a single letter from a jail inmate, the Los Angeles Times reports.

FBI Agent Leah Marx testified that the probe began in June 2010 when a county jail inmate detailed a pattern of violence by deputies.

The letter prompted a joint civil rights and public corruption investigation after more inmates began describing excessive force, Marx said on the stand for one of the deputy’s trials.

One inmate told the FBI that deputies were offering contraband for a bribe.