On Tuesday, December 6th, the City of San Jose, California agreed to pay Dawit Alemayehu $525,000 in settlement for permanent brain damage he suffered at the hands of San Jose police officer Jorge Garibay. Alemayehu was 26 in 2013 when he was arrested on suspicion of public drunkenness. Following a miscommuncation between Alemayehu and another officer about removing his belt while handcuffed, Garibay knocked Alemayehu face down to the concrete ground with a leg sweep.
Civil Rights Litigation, Generally: News and Publications
On December 5th, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services published its report, The State of Policing in the United States, Volume 1, at a White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs briefing in Massachusetts.
"One of the recommendations of the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing was the delivery of an annual report on the state of American policing, which would provide an updated overview of events and changes in policies and practices, as well as their impact on police officers and the public. This inaugural report reviews law enforcement activities and developments from January 2015 to March 2016 and offers research and other resources for more in-depth analysis. Divided into three sections, the first part identifies the many ways in which the field was tested, including topics such as excessive use of force. The second section discusses community policing approaches and other strategies that police used to engage their communities and enhance public safety. The third section examines the impact of events and policies on law enforcement officers and their work."
On November 4th, 2016, a federal jury awarded $3 million to the family of Jason Moore, who died at 31 in 2011 after being Tased four times by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer while naked and unarmed.
The jurors found that former Ferguson Officer Brian Kaminski used excessive force on Moore, as well as failing to properly monitor, discipline and supervise his fellow officers. During his encounter with Moore, Kaminski fired his Taser four times, three of which after Moore had already fallen to the ground and without providing time for him to respond to Kaminski's commands.
On October 14, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer approved a settlement in the amount of $1 million for Teresa Sheehan, who in 2008 was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly shot in her San Francisco apartment after police responded to a report that she had threatened a social worker with a knife.
Amanda Sloan, a 30-year-old mother of three, was originally arrested and booked for speeding away during a traffic stop and allegedly discharging a gun out of the sunroof of her car. She scaped from jail and was placed on the county's Most Wanted list. Arrested again after her mother tipped the police off to her location (reportedly stressing that she would attempt "suicide by cop"; deputies shot her five times during the second arrest), Sloan was taken to the Santa Cruz County Main Jail, where she continued to threaten suicide. On July 17, 2013, she was found dead in her cell.
"Police have great power. Civilian recording of police officers serves the public’s vital interest in ensuring that police exercise this power lawfully. Video taken by civilians using cameras and cellphones has on many occasions exposed police misconduct that would otherwise remain hidden. Many recordings, such as the famous Rodney King sequence, have begun with relatively innocent, unremarkable conduct before quickly becoming violent. Video has spurred action at all levels of government to address police misconduct and to protect civil rights. Civilian recording serves important purposes not met by police dashboard and body cameras."
Brief of National Police Accountability Project in Support of Petitioners Richard Fields and Amanda Geraci. Authored by David Milton, Law Offices of Howard Friedman, PC with Patrick G. Geckle and John Burton.
“A federal judge has rejected the settlement of a lawsuit stemming from the New York Police Department's surveillance of Muslims, saying the proposed deal does not provide enough oversight of an agency that he said had shown a “systemic inclination” to ignore rules protecting free speech and religion.” New York Times, Tuesday November 1, 2016, pg A1 (http://nyti.ms/2dVYoqI)
Also see NY Law Journal, Wednesday November 2, pg. 1:
Associated Press investigative series: www.ap.org/nypd
On September 27th, 2016, New York City agreed to pay $5.75 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of Bradley Ballard, a mentally ill and diabetic Rikers Island prisoner who was found naked and covered in excrement after being locked in his cell for six days. The settlement is reportedly the largest ever paid by the city over the death of a prisoner in its custody.
In October 2012, the Salem, Oregon police department responded to a welfare check call for Chase Hammer, 27, who was reported to be suicidal and armed. When police encountered Hammer, he was approaching his home, holding a revolver upside-down and by the butt. The officers did not give Hammer any time to comply with their commands, and within moments of giving them, an officer shot and killed him.
Jimmy Warren was arrested on December 18th, 2011 by Massachusetts police investigating a Roxbury break-in. When an officer later saw Warren and another man walking in an area park, they fled. Warren was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm found in a yard near his arrest.