DOJ Reaches Agreement to Reform Cleveland Police Brutality

Originally published on May 28, 2015, at NationofChange.org

The Justice Department and the city of Cleveland announced on Tuesday that they have entered into a court enforceable agreement to reduce systemic police abuse and repeated violations of the Fourth Amendment. Although the Cleveland Police Department (CPD) has not admitted any wrongdoing, the Department of Justice found that a significant amount of CPD officers utilize deadly and excessive force. With a lack of proper training and transparency, CPD officers now face a myriad of reforms and independent auditors in order to reinstate the broken trust between the police and their community.

At the request of Mayor Frank Jackson on March 14, 2013, the Justice Department began investigating allegations of excessive force and violations of the Fourth Amendment being committed by the CPD. The investigation included a comprehensive assessment of officers’ use of force, and CPD’s policies, procedures, training, systems of accountability, and community engagement. On December 4, 2014, the Justice Department announced that a significant amount of CPD officers used excessive force and constituted an ongoing risk to the public and their fellow officers.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that every American benefits from a police force that protects and serves all members of the community,” stated Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “The agreement we have reached with the city of Cleveland is the result of the hard work and dedication of the entire Cleveland community, and looks to address serious concerns, rebuild trust, and maintain the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. I am pleased to have the full cooperation of law enforcement and city officials in this effort. And I look forward to working with the entire community to build a stronger, safer Cleveland for residents and officers alike.”

According to the agreement, the CPD expects its officers to treat all members of the Cleveland community with courtesy, professionalism, and respect, and not to use harassing, intimidating, or derogatory language. CPD officers will no longer employ neck holds, assault handcuffed suspects, strike individuals in the head with their Taser or service weapon, use force against people verbally confronting them, pepper-spray compliant persons, or engage in retaliatory force. Officers will also use de-escalation techniques and allow suspects the opportunity to submit to arrest before using force against them.

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LAPD Shoot 15-Year-Old in Back for Standing Near Friend Holding Toy Gun

Originally published on February 15, 2015, at NationofChange.org

LAPD officers shot a 15-year-old student on Tuesday morning because his friend was playing with a replica gun as they were walking to school. Although the police claim the officers issued multiple warnings to drop the gun, nearby residents do not recall hearing any warnings before the shooting.

Around 7:45am on Tuesday, 15-year-old Jamar Nicholson and a small group of friends were walking to school dressed in their uniforms and khaki pants. As they entered an alley, one of Jamar’s friends pulled out a BB gun. Following up an investigation in the area, LAPD Criminal Gang Homicide Group officers noticed the replica gun mistaking it for a real firearm.

According to a police statement, the officers ordered Jamar’s friend to drop the weapon multiple times before opening fire. But nearby residents who heard the gunshots reportedly did not hear the officers issue any warnings. A moment before a bullet entered his upper back, Jamar heard someone yelling, “Freeze!”

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16 Unarmed Black People Killed by Police this Year

Originally published on December 13, 2014, at NationofChange.org

At least 16 unarmed black people have been killed by police officers this year including a woman and two children. According to law enforcement officials, these people lost their lives in instances of poor police training, miscommunication, justified tactics, and excessive brutality. Although the majority of unarmed individuals killed by police this year have been black, officers have also been killing unarmed people of other races.

On January 16, Jordan Baker was allegedly killed in a case of mistaken identity. Working off-duty as a mall security guard, Houston PD Officer Juventino Castro confronted Baker because he fit the description of some robbery suspects who had recently held up three stores while wearing black hoodies. Castro claims Baker charged at him, forcing the off-duty officer to shoot Baker to death. A grand jury is deciding whether to charge Castro with killing Baker.

In August, North Augusta Public Safety Officer Justin Craven was charged with misconduct in office for gunning down a 68-year-old unarmed man named Ernest Satterwhite. After a slow-speed chase that ended in Satterwhite’s driveway on February 9, Officer Craven ran up to Satterwhite’s car door and shot him to death. The prosecution sought to charge Craven with voluntary manslaughter, but the grand jury indicted him on a misdemeanor instead. Satterwhite’s family has filed a lawsuit alleging Craven had disobeyed orders and lied about Satterwhite trying to grab his gun.

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Justice Department Investigating NYPD Cop Caught Killing Eric Garner on Video

Originally published on December 5, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Wednesday that the Justice Department will conduct an investigation into the death of Eric Garner after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict the NYPD officer responsible for using a banned chokehold resulting in Garner’s death. Garner is one of at least nine unarmed black people killed by police in recent months. To date, no officers have been charged with the deaths.

Around 4:45pm on July 17, Eric Garner and his friend, Ramsey Orta, were discussing where to eat dinner when a fight erupted nearby. After Garner assisted in breaking up the fight, NYPD Officer Justin Damico approached Garner and accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes. Orta pulled out his phone and began recording the incident on video.

As Garner argued with Damico, Officer Daniel Pantaleo approached Garner from behind and attempted to grab his wrists. After Garner held his arms up in a nonthreatening manner and told the officers not to touch him, Pantaleo immediately placed Garner in a chokehold even though the maneuver has been banned by the department since 1993.

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Rookie Cop Guns Down 12-Year-Old on Playground

Originally published on November 24, 2014, at NationofChange.org

A 12-year-old boy died this weekend after a Cleveland police officer shot him in the stomach on Saturday. Responding to a 911 call concerning a possible juvenile aiming a probably fake gun at people, a first-year rookie and a 10-year department veteran arrived at the playground and shot the 12-year-old. The officers later realized the boy had been playing with a toy BB gun.

While visiting his friends in the playground area outside Cuddell Recreation Center around 3:30pm on Saturday, 12-year-old Tamir Rice acquired an airsoft pistol with the orange safety indicator removed. As Tamir sat on the swings, he pulled the toy gun out of his waistband pretending to shoot people. A Cleveland resident called 911 to report “a guy with a gun pointing it at people.”

“I don’t know if it’s real or not,” the caller admitted.

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