Showing posts with label police violence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label police violence. Show all posts

Friday, February 4, 2022

'Shame on Them': DOJ Will Not Reopen Tamir Rice Case

"I think they're pitiful and pathetic, and at this point no one is going to get justice when it comes to police shootings in America," said Rice's mother.



February 1, 2022                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
The mother of Tamir Rice, who was shot to death at age 12 by a Cleveland, Ohio police officer, condemned the U.S. Department of Justice's decision not to reopen her son's case.  "Shame on them," Samaria Rice told Buzzfeed News Monday after receiving a letter from the DOJ regarding the Biden administration's decision. "I think they're pitiful and pathetic, and at this point no one is going to get justice when it comes to police shootings in America. It's disgusting I don't have an indictment for my 12-year-old son."

"Curing a defective state process... is consistent with the fundamental purpose of the federal civil rights laws and squarely within the mandate of the DOJ."

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who heads the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, told the Rice family in a letter dated last Friday that federal prosecutors who looked at the case could not prove that Rice's civil rights were violated intentionally when he was shot and killed by the officer.

The letter referenced Section 242 of Title 18 in the U.S. Code, which states that "an officer acted ‘willfully’ if he did so with bad purpose—that is, with the specific intent to do something the law forbids—to deprive a person of their constitutional rights."

"After viewing, and exhaustively evaluating the available evidence in this matter," Clarke wrote, "career prosecutors determined that the federal government could not meet this high standard."

Rice was killed in 2014 after a witness called 911 to report that he was playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation center in Cleveland. Officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed the boy less than two seconds after pulling up to the scene in a police car, according to video evidence.

The Trump administration said in December 2020 that it would not bring charges against the officer and a grand jury decided not to indict Loehmann as well.

The Cleveland Police Department has been under court-ordered supervision since 2015 after an investigation that began before Rice's killing found its officers had a "pattern or practice" of using excessive force and violating people's civil rights.

Samaria Rice sent four letters to the Biden administration asking the DOJ to reopen her son's case, citing the "long-standing and systemic excessive force problem" in the Cleveland Police Department as one reason to consider federal charges.

Fifty legal scholars signed one of the letters arguing that "covening a federal grand jury and prosecution under Section 242 is warranted."

The scholars cited two federal cases that demonstrate the fact of the case "satisfy the requirement" of Loehmann's intent to violate Rice's civil rights, including United States v. Couch:

The Sixth Circuit upheld jury instructions that explained the intent element to include "reckless disregard" of constitutional rights, and that intent could be inferred from circumstantial evidence. Specifically, the jury instructions in Couch included the explanation that "intent is a state of mind and can be proven by circumstantial evidence" and that it is "not necessary for you to find that the defendants were thinking in constitutional terms at the time of the incident, as a reckless disregard for a person’s constitutional rights is evidence of a specific intent to deprive that person of those rights."

In our view, the tragic and unnecessary shooting death of Tamir Rice presents an important opportunity for the Department to clarify and cement a clear, fair, and proper interpretation of Section 242 that fully realizes the purpose of the statute as enacted by Congress.

"Curing a defective state process—in this case, one that appears to have been impermissibly slanted to protect local white law enforcement officials from accountability in the shooting death of a young black child—is consistent with the fundamental purpose of the federal civil rights laws and squarely within the mandate of the DOJ," wrote the scholars.


This article originally appeared at CommonDreams.org. Originally published on February 2nd, 2022. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. 

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What really happened to Sandra Bland?

By Charles Brooks



We paid attention and took notice of the disturbing trend.  We read the stories and saw the videos of not only blatant police harassment but of vicious police violence visited not on black men – but on Black and Brown women.  All across the country we saw it over and over - Black women pushed, punched, kicked, and at times suffering this violence while being handcuffed by the police. In those cases that did managed to reach national attention, we saw that these Black women were college professors, house wives, bathing suit clad teenagers and yes – even pregnant Black women felt the brunt of this police violence. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What really happened to Freddy Gray?


An encounter on April 12th – a fatal encounter - between Freddie Gray and Baltimore City Police officers left Gray comatose with devastating spinal injuries.  Initial reports indicate that 80 percent of his spinal cord was severed leaving Gray with essentially a broken spinal vertebrae, and a crushed voice box.  Gray died from those injuries a week later on April 19th.  In the two months since Gray died from horrific spinal injuries occurring while in police custody, questions remain unanswered; what exactly happened to Freddy Gray and how did he die?  

A narrative quickly began to develop that Gray was somehow responsible for his own death. The original reports of Gray's death that determined that Gray died of a head wound from a bolt sticking out within the van. Then there were reports about another prisoner in the police van with Gray who disputed initial reports that he said Gray was “banging against the wall” and “intentionally trying to hurt himself”.  The public were fed a story line that framed Gray’s injuries occurring during what’s called a “nickel ride” – reminiscent of the cheap and rocky rides at the local amusement park. The prisoner is handcuffed but not secured with a seatbelt – so they will bounce around inside the van as the police van drives through traffic, making turns and sudden stops.

There was a “leaked” autopsy report that Gray suffered from what the report described as a “high energy” injury while making a comparison to injuries suffered from shallow-water diving accidents. The report states: The type of fracture/dislocation documented in imaging studies on admission is a high energy injury most often caused by abrupt deceleration of a rotated head on a hyperflexed neck, such as seen in shallow water diving incidents.”  

The autopsy report also revealed toxicology results where cannaboids and opiates were found while pointing out Gray’s apparent aggressive behavior as “yelling, banging and causing the van to rock”.  See this excerpt from the autopsy report: “…After the inner and outer doors were closed, it is reported that Mr. Gray could be heard yelling and banging, causing the van to rock.  No injuries that would suggest the use of a neck hold, Taser deployment or physical restraint, other than wrist and ankle cuffs, were identified…” 

As daily protests began to take hold, Baltimore quickly became the latest flashpoint in the national resistance to police violence as uprisings quickly followed suit across the country.  Protesters were routinely dismissed and characterized as “outside agitators” and a “lynch mob”.  The scent of a police coverup began to carry a heavy stench as community tensions escalate while critical questions were left unanswered. 

The winds of resistance blew stronger and stronger in Baltimore where within hours of laying Gray to rest, a rebellious confrontation with the police emerged. The world witnessed an open rebellion on the streets of America as images splashed across the television screen of Baltimore students hurling rocks, stones and metal pipes at a battalion of Baltimore police officers clad in military and riot gear.  These young people took matters into their own hands apparently disgusted by their own daily experience of police harassment and violence – they decided to fight back the only way they knew how. The images were so foreign to the typical American – they were more reminiscent of the battles in the Middle East of young Palestinians pummeling the Israeli military. While the rebellious actions in Baltimore were immediately and widely condemned as "thugs" by the president and yes, the mayor. 

In the two months since the Baltimore Rebellion in Baltimore, there are reported plans to build a $30 million youth jail, divert nearly $12 million allocated for Baltimore City schools towards pensions, thousands are fighting turnoff notices for delinquent water bills, while FEMA rejected Baltimore’s request for disaster aid to cover the millions lost in property damage.

The pressing question should be where will the next uprising take place and how will the people respond to the next case of police violence.  Over the last year or so, more and more people are realizing this is a real human rights issue that has become a national crisis. You have seen the many nationwide protests and acts of civil disobedience, and fierce uprisings attracting international support over this issue of police violence.  For years now, black and brown communities all across the nation recognized the police as an intruding force who have clearly abused their power thus shattering this notion of public trust.  But the recent rash of escalating police violence not only shows the apparent lack of accountability afforded to police officers but really provides some insight to the extent of the political support police departments across the country have. 



Eric Garner, was he resisting arrest or resisting harassment, Part I

Eric Garner, was he resisting arrest or resisting harassment, Part II

 
 


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Pres. Obama's Task Force: The Battle for the Public Trust begins...

By Charles Brooks

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
The interim report recently released by President Obama’s task force on policing will shed some light on their view of the public trust - a view that is not shared by those who seek more than just a laundry list of recommendations to address police violence.  The report was released just days before the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report of their investigation into the Ferguson Police Department – a flashpoint of racial frustrations and deep seated tensions unleashed in the face of aggressive and excessive policing.  A rather scathing report that detailed the apparent racist activities engaged not just by the Ferguson police officers but the Ferguson municipal government. However, the explosiveness of DOJ’s Ferguson report on the Ferguson Police Department should not be allowed to overshadow the president’s task force interim report because as the president himself said: “This time will be different,” President Obama said, regarding the effectiveness of the task force compared to prior ones, “because the President of the United States is deeply vested in making it different.”