DOJ Report Criticizes Philadelphia Police Department’s Use of Deadly Force

Originally published on March 25, 2015, at NationofChange.org

After experiencing an escalation in police shootings and civil rights lawsuits, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey requested assistance from the Justice Department in 2013 to investigate the rising incidents of officer-involved shootings. On Monday, the Justice Department released its report criticizing the Philadelphia Police Department’s aggressive use of deadly force, lack of transparency, and inadequate training procedures. Marred by a history of misconduct and scandals, Philadelphia police officers have lost both the public’s trust and cooperation.

Conducted by the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office and written by the nonprofit Virginia-based CNA Corporation, the report issued 48 findings and 91 recommendations for the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) to reform its deadly force practices. Reviewing hundreds of departmental policies, manuals, and training plans, CNA conducted 164 interviews with community members and department personnel between 2007 and 2013.

During that period, the Justice Department found that 540 PPD officers discharged their firearms in 364 officer-involved shootings. 59% of the officers were white, 34% were black, 7% were Hispanic, and less than 1% of the officers were Asian. The average age of officers involved in shootings was 33 years old.

In contrast, 80% of the suspects were black, 10% were Hispanic, 9% were white, and 1% of the suspects were Asian. The average age of the suspects was 20 years old.

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Four Correctional Officers Sentenced to Prison for Covering Up Inmate Abuse

Originally published on March 21, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Four former corrections officers were sentenced to prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to beating inmates and covering up multiple incidents of abuse. Altogether, eight corrections officers have been convicted of conspiracy and obstruction charges related to severe beatings within the Macon State Prison (MSP) in Oglethorpe, Georgia. Although the former prison guards admitted that they were following orders from their superiors, no commanding officers have been convicted of any charges.

According to court documents, Macon State Prison inmate Terrance Dean engaged in a verbal and physical altercation with an MSP corrections officer on December 16, 2010. Responding to the incident, Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) members Darren Douglass-Griffin, Willie Redden, Ronald Lach, Kerry Bolden, Delton Rushin, Derrick Wimbush, and CERT Sergeant Christopher Hall placed Dean in handcuffs before escorting him from the room. Instead of taking him to the medical unit, the CERT officers escorted Dean to a gymnasium without any surveillance cameras.

Although Dean had his hands cuffed behind his back and was not resisting, the CERT officers viciously beat him for several minutes until Dean lost consciousness on the floor. After the beating the CERT officers transported Dean to the medical unit, where he was diagnosed with gross deformity to the head, five-inch long hematoma to the head and temple, laceration to the mouth, and closed head trauma. Non-responsive to verbal commands, Dean was transferred to multiple hospitals and diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.

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