Breaking Patterns of Misconduct and Building Accountable Police Culture Through Civil Rights Enforcement
In January 2022 NPAP launched our inaugural impact litigation program to support NPAP members working to challenge patterns of police and corrections officer abuse and misconduct. Funding for this program comes from #startsmall, a grant program of Twitter/Square CEO Jack Dorsey.
The primary goal of this program is to provide direct assistance to our members as they develop and litigate cases for injunctive relief, and to expand their capacity to take on entire police departments and jails. This program focuses on supporting members in regions that have historically lacked strong infrastructural support for civil rights attorneys, as well as suburban and rural communities.
With this funding, NPAP is able to co-counsel with individual members and fund the costs of litigation in select cases.
Our legal director, staff attorney and legal fellow are the backbone of this program, providing assistance and expertise in pre-suit investigations, including but not limited to submitting freedom of information requests, litigating disputes over records, recruiting additional plaintiffs, and helping experts to analyze data and identify patterns. We also serve as full-partners in the litigation if a case is filed.
If you are interested in applying for co-counsel support from NPAP, please know we are prioritizing:
- Cases from NPAP members based in regions lacking robust support networks for civil rights lawyers, underserved regions, and suburban or rural communities who have identified an individual instance of misconduct and are interested in investigating law enforcement agency policies, customs and training practices.
- Cases from NPAP members based in regions underserved by civil rights lawyers as well as suburban or rural communities who already have evidence to support claims of systemic issues but need additional attorney support to effectively litigate the case.
At this time, only current NPAP members are able to apply for co-counsel support. If you are a civil rights attorney, legal worker, or law student working to challenge police misconduct in your community, we encourage you to become a member.
Beyond litigation, our co-counsel program includes adding pattern and practice litigation training to our continuing legal education (CLE) curricula. This permissions-protected section of our website will be available to all members and will include models and examples of pleadings, discovery requests, and legal memoranda used to sue police departments and jails for unconstitutional patterns and practices.
Below are the current cases NPAP is working on.
Javon Kennerson was 37 years old when he died in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, while incarcerated at Catahoula Correctional Center, a private prison facility operated by LaSalle Corrections, LLC. Despite Mr. Kennerson’s severe and obvious mental health issues in the weeks preceding his death, staff at LaSalle failed to provide the most basic care for him, allowing Mr. Kennerson’s mental and physical health to rapidly deteriorate under their watch.
Glendening et. al v. Howard et. al is a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of individuals currently being held pretrial while on the waitlist for an evaluation or treatment bed at Larned State Hospital. The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) runs the forensic unit at Larned State Hospital, and has for years used a waitlist for bed space in the unit.
In December 2021, the average wait time for competency evaluations and restoration treatment for people facing criminal charges was 11 months, with instances of wait times as long as 13 months. In some instances these delays are so severe that an individual may spend more time waiting in jail for an evaluation or treatment bed, pretrial, than they would face in prison if they were convicted.
We are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to reduce these unconstitutional, unlawful and health-deteriorating wait times for evaluations and treatment.
Lewis et. al. v. Rosenberg Police Department is a case filed against the City of Rosenberg, TX, the Rosenberg Police Department (RPD), and five officers responsible for the illegal and violent detention, search, and arrest of Michael Lewis, 67, and Regina Armstead, 57.
RPD has an extensive history of using unnecessary force to affect detentions and arrests, prolonging detentions without reasonable suspicion, conducting unreasonable searches, unjustifiably seizing property, and failing to accommodate medically vulnerable people with disabilities. In fact, they have been sued multiple times in the past for very similar conduct and there are dozens of civilian complaints alleging similar behavior.
NPAP hopes that this case will provide an opportunity not only for these 5 officers to be held accountable for their abuse of Ms. Armstead and Mr. Lewis’ rights, but for the entire Rosenberg Police Department to be held to account for its history of abuse of civilian civil rights, and forced to implement meaningful policy changes that will prevent the recurrence of such abuses in the future.
In August 2022, a recording was leaked of Sam Dobbins—the white Chief of Police of the Lexington, Mississippi Police Department (LPD)—saying “nig***” and “fa**ot,” and telling an LPD officer that he would not care if the officer “killed a motherf**ker in cold blood.”
Harris et. al. v. Dobbins et. al. is a lawsuit filed on behalf of Robert Harris, Darius Harris, Eric Redmond, Malcolm Stewart, and Peter Reeves against Sam Dobbins (former Chief of Police of Lexington, MS), Charles Henderson (Interim Chief of Police of Lexington, MS), the City of Lexington, and the Lexington Police Department.
All of the plaintiffs in this case have experienced harassment, coercion, threatening conduct, and often brutal mistreatment at the hands of the Lexington Police Department, and this suit seeks redress not only for those injustices, but for the ongoing harm they face as a result of continued customs and practices. Black civilians in Lexington are subject to a systemic deprivation of liberty under the Lexington Police Department - a deprivation that cannot continue.
Kevin Desir had been in custody of the Broward County Jail for four days when, on January 17, 2021, he suffered a mental health crisis. Though initially called to intervene in Mr. Desir’s self-harm, six Broward County Sheriff’s deputies fatally attacked him and failed to provide medical treatment as Wellpath medical personnel looked on without intervention.
Broward County Jail has an extensive history of using excessive force and providing inadequate medical care, resulting in a 1995 consent decree. Despite this consent decree, Broward County Jail continues to violate the constitutional rights of the people it incarcerates. Wellpath Management has a similar record of needless death and inadequate care, a concern that was raised when Broward County Jail contracted with them in 2018. At the time, there were no less than 24 federal lawsuits related to inmate deaths and 145 federal lawsuits related to negligent care.
As the Desir family seeks justice for a man who was a beloved father, son, and brother, this case aims to ensure no other families will be forced to endure such a loss. By holding Broward Sheriff’s Office and Wellpath Management accountable, their hope is to prevent these actors from continuing their pattern of fatal abuse.
- AsiliA Law Firm - Tampa, FL
NPAP is suing the Alabama Department of Corrections ("ADOC") and Wexford Correctional Healthcare on behalf of Joseph Allen Renney, an Alabama man currently incarcerated at Limestone correctional facility. Mr. Renney is a diabetic who suffered a partial amputation of his left foot, including all of his left toes, due to ADOC and Wexford’s policies of inadequate care. As early as April 2021 a podiatrist who saw Mr. Renney recommended that Mr. Renney undergo a surgical amputation of the tip of his left big toe to prevent the spread of infection the “sooner the better.” That surgery did not occur until October 2021 and resulted in the removal of Mr. Renney’s entire big left toe. The delays and denials of treatment are pursuant to ADOC's understaffing and over incarceration crisis. We are seeking justice for Mr. Renney and to address the underlying cause of his injury.
- Law Office of John Batson - Augusta, GA
- The Rice Firm LLC - Birmingham, AL
On March 2, 2022, Edwards arrested and transported Gary Thomas, Jr., 32, to Washington County courthouse where he roughly removed a handcuffed Mr. Thomas from his patrol car and pushed him to the ground face-down in the courthouse parking lot as fellow former Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Mizelle stood by and watched. Mid-assault, Edwards also removed his body-worn camera and placed it in the trunk of his car.
The National Police Accountability Project and Littlejohn Law are suing Washington County, Sheriff Johnny Barnes of Washington County, Chief Willie Williams, and the Town of Plymouth for their failure to ensure law enforcement comply with constitutional and statutory standards, Edwards for his abuse of Ms. Moore and Mr. Thomas, and Mizelle for his use of force on Mr. Thomas and failure to intervene, as well as those police officers who failed to intervene.
- Littlejohn Law, PLLC - Charlotte, NC
Jackson County, Oregon and the City of Medford have an extensive history of law enforcement abuse and taking extreme actions to hide their misconduct by sealing records when they are sued.
NPAP is representing the ACLU of Oregon and Oregon Justice Resource Center as intervenors to unseal the records and ensure the public has access to information about the two law enforcement agencies that police them.
- Albies Stark & Guerriero - Portland, OR