My Mother, Stopped For Driving While Black

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By Milen Mehari for Other Worlds – When the police pulled their guns on my mother, I reached for my phone and told her to be calm and do as they say. My parents and I had just been swarmed by police cars, sirens blaring, as we drove on I-64 through Virginia. Shock and fear consumed my family as we came to a stop and were ordered out of the vehicle at gun point. A third car even showed up to stop traffic.

Study: Flaws In How Police Use Body Cameras

A police officer wears a body camera on during an anti-Donald Trump protest in Cleveland, Ohio, near the Republican National Convention site July 18, 2016. Credit: Courtesy of JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images​

By Larry Greenemeier for Scientific American. At a time when police across the U.S. are being watched warily by the citizens they serve, many departments are embracing wearable cameras to document their interactions with the public. Police and rights activists alike had hoped recording incidents on patrol would help discourage violence against officers as well as increase transparency in how police treat citizens. But a report released this week questions how much law enforcement agencies are telling the public about the use of the cameras—and the footage they collect. The latest body-worn camera scorecard from the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, working with technology and policy consulting firm Upturn, examined 50 U.S. police departments and pronounced them lacking in most of the study’s eight criteria. These benchmarks include how well police protect the privacy of those they record, whether officers are allowed to review footage before filing their reports, how long the footage is retained and whether civilians can view footage in which they appear.

Chicago Police Release Video Of Officers Shooting Unarmed Black Teen

Neighborhood vigil for Paul O'Neal, killed by Chicago cops July 29, 2016

By Sebastian Murdock for Huffington Post. Chicago police on Friday released video that shows the moments right before they fatally shot an unarmed black teen last week. Paul O’Neal, 18, was shot in the back while fleeing from officers last Thursday night after allegedly stealing a Jaguar in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook. Body camera footage released Friday shows an officer firing rounds into the vehicle as it swiped cop cars. Officers can be seen then giving chase to O’Neal on foot. The teen hopped a fence into a residential back yard, where he was shot multiple times in the back. Police said the officer who killed O’Neal did not have a working body camera, according to ABC 7. “Bitch-ass motherfucker,” an officer can be heard saying as he delivers a kick to O’Neal, who lies motionless on the ground. Other officers yell at the teen to put his hands behind his back. “They shot at us too, right?” an officer can be heard asking. O’Neal did not have a gun on him.

Authorities Investigating Officers Who Made Racist Comments

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By Elizabeth Preza for AlterNet – Officials in Texas are investigating two Austin police officers after video surfaced of a brutal arrest of an African-American elementary school teacher during a traffic stop that culminated in one officer telling her police are wary of black people because of their “violent tendencies.” The Austin American-Statesman obtained video of the June 2015 incident, which shows a routine traffic stop develop into a violent altercation as Officer Bryan Richter pulls 26-year-old Breaion King from the driver’s seat and throws her onto the ground.

Cop Who Shot Philando Had “Bulletproof Warrior” Militaristic Training

Officer Jeronimo Yanez (pictured), the cop who shot Philando Castile

By William N. Grigg for the Free Thought Project. Yanez underwent a 20-hour seminar on “Street Survival” taught by Illinois-based Calibre Press, which teaches courses on the subject to police officers nationwide. The company’s “Street Survival Seminar” overview displays a monomaniacal focus on that most important of all policy considerations, “officer safety.” It treats every police encounter as a combat situation in which only one life truly matters – that of the government’s armed emissary, not that of the citizen who is supposedly being protected and served by him. A brief video excerpt from a “Street Survival” course shows a presenter lecturing officers about the need to visualize shooting someone as part of the “Psychological Game” necessary to “win” encounters with what trainees are told is an implacably hostile public. “That’s winning, ladies and gentlemen,” he declares.

Stop Using One Study To Pretend Racism Doesn’t Exist In Police Shootings

A demonstrator raises his hands in front of police in riot gear during protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US, July 10, 2016. — Reuters - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/demonstrations-flare-in-cities-across-the-us-video#sthash.Gcan1PQ1.dpuf

By Samuel Sinyangwe for Medium. This week, a new study reported by the New York Times made waves in the ongoing national discourse on race and policing. “Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings,” the headline read. The study’s most striking — and most reported — finding was that officers were about 24% less likely to shoot at black people compared to whites in what the researcher defined as similar situations. Upon further inspection, there are a number of issues that call this finding into question. First, this headline-grabbing result is based on data from one police department — Houston. That means that the most audacious conclusion this study can hope to offer is that racial bias may not explain shootings by Houston police. But even that conclusion is suspect. First, it’s clear in looking at the data that Houston police department uses deadly force against black people at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts. For example, since 2013, 57% of people killed by Houston police have been black despite black people comprising only 25% of Houston’s population.

Chicago Police Settlements Cost Taxpayers $210 Million Plus Interest

Chicago Police officer yells at reporters and photographers to get back as officers take into custody a protester during a scuffle at a bicycle barricade on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, December 24, 2015. (photo: AP)

By Mercy Yang for Reader Supported News. As the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers stir up national debate on law enforcement practices, a new database unveils hundreds of Chicago Police Department misconduct lawsuit settlements between 2012 and 2015 ― costing a whopping $210 million in total and revealing yet another financial burden on taxpayers. “Settling for Misconduct,” an extensive database from The Chicago Reporter published this week, highlights allegations of Chicago’s excessive policing methods, ranging from false arrest to unwarranted killing, particularly in Latino and black communities, leading to 655 settlements in four years. Multimillion-dollar police misconduct settlements, such as the one stemming from the killing of Chicago teenager Laquan McDonald, tend to garner national attention. But the database reveals that the City of Chicago pays much smaller sums of money to plaintiffs on an average of every other day. The average payment was just $36,000.

Afromation Protest In Baltimore Against Police Violence

Afromation protest 7-16-16 by Larry Cohen

By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. The Afromation protest in Baltimore stood up for black life and the importance of black culutre in the face of ongoing killings. To understand the reasons for protests in Baltimore and across the nation, we must look at the “race-based trauma” caused by police killings. As we prepared to march, I was talking with two of our colleagues. They described how it felt to be an African American man and see video of people who look like them being killed by police for no reason. It creates a trauma that requires them to act in order to stop it. The demands of the Afromation protests are reasonable: 1. An all-elected civilain complaint review board to give communities control of the police and self-determination; 2. A ten percent cut in the police budget away from militarization of the police and surveillance of the community with the funds used for community programming.

Chicago Does Little To Control Police Misconduct – Or Its Costs

The Cavadas said they returned home in the morning to emptied drawers, clothing spread across the floor and their son’s broken video game player. The warrant they had repeatedly asked to see was sitting on the kitchen counter.

Alfonso wanted the officers responsible to be fired. He called a reporter from Univision that morning, and he and his wife told their story on camera. Then they filed a complaint with the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), the agency responsible for investigating the most egregious complaints against officers. And, when they still hadn’t received a response from IPRA almost two years later, they filed a civil lawsuit.

Less than six months after the Cavadas filed their lawsuit, the city attorneys who were representing the officers came to them with a rare offer. The officers would agree to have judgment taken against them. It’s the civil law equivalent of a guilty plea, and it happens in fewer than 5 percent of police misconduct cases the Reporter analyzed. The Cavadas accepted the offer; the city paid Alfonso, Patricia and Ricardo $40,003, to be split among them. The city also paid their attorney’s fees.

Despite legally admitting wrongdoing, the officers weren’t disciplined and paid no money out of their own pockets.

In April 2015, four years after the Cavadas filed their complaint with IPRA, they received a letter. Their incident was marked as “not sustained.”

Even in the small fraction of cases like the Cavadas, where the city admits that the officers are liable for violating someone’s civil rights, the Reporter found that IPRA almost never finds the officers responsible.

The Reporter identified 151 officers named in 26 civil lawsuits in which officers admitted wrongdoing and made an offer of judgment. IPRA opened investigations in just nine of those cases, according to a Reporter comparison of lawsuits to agency records and incident dates.

Of those, only one officer was found responsible for misconduct by the oversight agency. He was Detective Dante Servin, whom IPRA recommended be fired for shooting Antonio Cross and killing Rekia Boyd while off duty in 2012. (He resigned in May, two days before a Police Board hearing was set to begin to consider IPRA’s recommendation.)

A spokeswoman for IPRA noted in an email that the factors considered in determining civil liability are different from those considered by IPRA, which is charged with determining whether an officer violated the Police Department’s internal policies.

For the Cavadas, that distinction doesn’t change the fact that the officers who hurt them were never held accountable or the feeling that the system is stacked against them.

“There is no justice here,” Alfonso said. “That is what we want, justice. But there was no justice.”

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By Jonah Newman for The Chicago Reporter – Most of these cases conclude as they occurred – outside of the public glare. People know about the high-profile police shootings of civilians and the multimillion-dollar settlements that result. But most cases are lesser known and settle for far less. Half of all cases paid out $36,000 or less, but they also contribute to a mounting taxpayer bill that goes largely unchecked by the mayor or City Council. The City of Chicago spent more than $210 million for police misconduct lawsuits from 2012 to 2015, according to a Chicago Reporter analysis.

A Black Ex-Cop Tells The Real Truth About Race And Policing

Police in riot gear arrest Charles Brooks of Pine Lawn in front of the Ferguson Police Station on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. About 150 demonstrators gathered outside the police department demanding the dismantling of the Ferguson Police Department and resignation of Mayor James Knowles III. Earlier in the day Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson turned in his resignation. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

By Redditt Hudson for Vox. On any given day, in any police department in the nation, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with. That’s a theory from my friend K.L. Williams, who has trained thousands of officers around the country in use of force. Based on what I experienced as a black man serving in the St. Louis Police Department for five years, I agree with him. I worked with men and women who became cops for all the right reasons — they really wanted to help make their communities better. And I worked with people like the president of my police academy class, who sent out an email after President Obama won the 2008 election that included the statement, “I can’t believe I live in a country full of ni**er lovers!!!!!!!!” He patrolled the streets in St. Louis in a number of black communities with the authority to act under the color of law.

Taxpayer Surprise: Police Misconduct Suits Cost More Than Advertised

COP21 Police watch tear gas on 11-29-15

By Emily Hoerner for Injustice Watch – Chicago’s announcement that it agreed on Tuesday to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging police misconduct barely tells the story. The settlement still must be approved by City Council, which already this year has approved $12.3 million to settle police misconduct cases, including $3.2 million to settle two cases in May. But the cash-strapped city repeatedly borrows the money to pay verdicts and settlements, leaving taxpayers on the hook for far more money than that approved by City Council for years and years into the future.

Heather Doyle Found Guilty, Jailed For Complaining About Police Abuse

Heather Doyle on Solomons Island

By Seed Coalition for SEED. Heather and another activist with Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction (SEED) climbed a crane on a site being used for the construction of a massive fracked gas export terminal in the community of Cove Point, Maryland. They hung a banner from the top of the crane that read “Dominion, go home. No gas exports. Don’t frack Maryland. Save Cove Point.” The climbers’ lives were jeopardized when law enforcement officers tried to remove them from the crane in an unsafe way — an allegation that the state’s attorney didn’t challenge in court. The complaint Heather filed that is central to this case stems from her being assaulted during the extraction by a 6’4”, 285 lb. cop while surrounded by numerous officers, Dominion employees, and contractors. A statement about the assault and endangerment was released after the court process from that action ended, in order to not incriminate the defendants when they had open legal cases.

First Amendment Hasn’t Stopped Police From Harassing Copwatchers

Lauren Walker / Truthout

By Kit O’Connell for Truthout – At a protest in downtown Denver, on April 29, 2015, a police officer stole Jessica Benn’s smartphone. Benn had been filming her husband, Jesse, from the safety of the sidewalk as police arrested him. That was enough for her to be targeted and to have her property illegally seized. “An officer just stepped up to me and grabbed it right out of my hand,” she told Truthout. “Right behind him was an officer in SWAT gear who then took me and pushed me up against a bus with a baton across my neck and held me there.”

Police Invent Murder Charge To Keep Man In Jail After Acquittal

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By Baynard Woods for The Guardian. Feb. 27, 2016, Baltimore, MD – For the more than 240 days since Keith Davis was shot in the face by Baltimore police, he has nursed his wounds from a jail cell, facing a barrage of charges on allegations that he robbed an unlicensed cab driver and fled. Davis was the first police-involved shooting since the death of Freddie Gray in police custody set off citywide protests in April. And while Gray became a household name as representative of the more than 1,000 people who are killed by police each year, activists have held up Davis as an example of how Gray and others like him might have been treated by the law enforcement system if they had lived. On Thursday, a jury found Davis not guilty on all the charges but one.

Federal Prosecutors Declined Police Prosecutions 96% Of The Time

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By Brian Bowling and Andrew Conte for Trib Live – Federal prosecutors declined to pursue civil rights allegations against law enforcement officers 96 percent of the time since 1995, a Tribune-Review investigation found. The Trib spent six months analyzing nearly 3 million federal records on how the Justice Department and its 94 U.S. Attorney offices handled criminal complaints against law enforcement officers from 1995 through 2015. The records include matters referred to Justice by the FBI and other agencies and those it opened on its own.